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RELEASE DAY! READ THE ENTIRE FIRST CHAPTER HERE! As the Sun Sets (Love for the Seasons, 3) by RJ Jones

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RJ is back with the third installment of her Love for the Seasons series.

This story is about Scott (who features briefly in book one) a paediatric oncologist who burns out watching kids die in his care. He’s been celibate for a year. He’s emotionally broken and takes an A&E position in Brighton hoping a sea change is what he needs to get his life back in order. What he didn’t expect was to meet Ben, a childhood nurse with a clinically depressed dog. How does Ben help Scott pick his life up? Just how much of Scott’s history influences his day to day life? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Here’s the blurb:

A sea change could be just what the doctor ordered.

Doctor 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 to 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**

(Keep scrolling to read the entire first chapter)

 

Books #1 and #2 are now available on Kindle Unlimited.

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Buy links:

As the Leaves Fall   As the Ice Melts   As the Sun Sets

 

Chapter One:

HOW DO you know if you’ve made the right decision? What tells you to go left instead of right? Is the devil you know really any better, or is he just as fucked up as the other guy?

I could stay in London, stay in paediatric oncology—even though it sucked the life from me—and continue living a half-life. I had no partner and no desire. My sex life had become non-existent by choice. My passion for my work had been flushed down the toilet along with my relationship with Noah.

On the other hand, I had an offer to move to Brighton and start a new role as a consultant paediatrician in the Accident and Emergency department at the children’s hospital. Would I be happier there? Dealing with kids who had been in a car accident or unwittingly drank a bottle of cleaner didn’t mean I wouldn’t have to deal with kids dying. I may see less of it than I did in oncology, but…

Should I run away and start a new life by the sea? Was it running or knowing when to move on? Could it be as simple as taking an offer to get out of a city that was sucking my soul to the point I didn’t recognise myself anymore? Wasn’t the ocean supposed to be healing?

When I first received the offer from Brighton, I’d thought about telling Noah, but after the last time I saw him, I thought better of it. I didn’t know if I still loved him or not, but we’d been good together, and I missed the closeness, the intimacy, and the company. You couldn’t call what I’d done at the sauna intimate. It was fucking. Pure and simple. Well, maybe not so pure. But I had used anonymous sex like a drug to get out of my head after a bad shift the same way some people used drugs or alcohol.

I’d become addicted to the endorphin rush sex could bring, and I kept telling myself it was a better form of therapy than illicit substances or booze. Anonymous sex meant I went home to Noah feeling better about my day and not dwelling on the fact I had just told a young couple that their beloved child wasn’t responding to treatment and there was nothing else I could do. I was a doctor, for fuck’s sake. Unless they counted on a miracle, I was their last hope, and to watch that hope sputter and die in front of me killed a little part of my sanity each time.

Maybe drinking would have been less damaging, but I vowed to never touch alcohol.

Looking back—hindsight is a wonderful thing—I couldn’t even say I enjoyed the sex at the sauna all that much. I’d been safe, always, but the men I’d been with—and God knew there were many—had been nothing but substitute hands. Which, when I thought of Noah and how much we’d been in love, made my infidelity all the more foolish and shortsighted.

When Noah kicked me out for the last time, I hit rock bottom. Unless I wanted to end up like my parents and self-destruct, I knew I had to reassess my life and stop going to the sauna. My inability to distance myself emotionally while working in the paediatric oncology department still sucked the life from me, but I had stopped using sex as a distraction. Instead, I cried. I got angry at the world and threw things around my flat in frustration and cursed God for giving babies cancer their little immune systems had no chance of fighting. Then I cried some more, retreating into myself. After all that, I got up the next morning and prayed it would be a good day.

But there were some happy times in amongst all the crap. My job could be rewarding and fulfilling. Not every child I saw succumbed to the disease, and I revelled in the way some patients seemed to take on the world, as well as the cancer, and win. Those were the times that made me look forward to going to work, knowing I could help save a life and save the parents from the heartbreak of burying a child.

That was what drove me.

I’d always wanted to work with kids, had always understood them. They could be brutally honest and innocent as hell at the same time. I hadn’t yet met a child I couldn’t talk to. When I was initially offered the position in oncology four years ago, I jumped at the chance, keen to get my hands dirty and kick cancer’s arse. I was ambitious—if a little naïve—and ready to take on the world. It was almost an obsession to give the patients the best chance of survival I could. I did everything I could to stop cancer ravaging their little bodies. I studied new treatment methods, researched what alternative medicines other countries were trialling, and subscribed to every relevant medical journal I could.

But despite doing everything humanly possible, sometimes it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t just the loss of young lives that had sent me over the edge. It was the loss of my chosen career. As much as I hated cancer, I also loved it. I loved the complexity of it and how it seemed determined to outsmart the medicine I threw at it. Sometimes I won, which made me feel like I’d not only saved a life, but saved the entire world. In the eyes of the parents, I had. I’d saved their world, and to me, there was no greater joy.

So, when I stumbled upon the A&E position at the children’s hospital in Brighton advertised through the BMA website, I thought why the fuck not? I could still help kids, maybe save a life or two. Because God knew, trying to help kids with cancer was slowly killing me.

Maybe trying to save a kid’s life and actually succeeding more often than not would enable me to be me again. I may be able to have a taste of that same joy once more. Maybe the salty air and wide-open ocean would do me some good. Maybe I could have sex again. Then again, maybe not. It’d been close to a year since I’d been touched by another man. I wasn’t sure I knew what to do anymore.

Decisions. Which was the best one?

Stay or go?

London or Brighton?

Only time would tell if I’d made the right choice, I guess.

I signed the contract.

I wondered briefly if Noah was still with that guy with the long hair.

I shook my head. It no longer mattered.

I couldn’t go back now anyway.

 

I FOUND a small flat not far from Brighton Marina and a short walk to the hospital. After spending most of the day unpacking, I took a walk along the beachfront, sure I’d find a chippie nearby so I could grab some dinner. I had unpacked most of the kitchen items but had yet to come across the crockery. I’d find that box eventually.

I walked almost all the way to the pier before I came across some shops. Most of what I’d seen on my walk so far were mansions and upmarket apartments overlooking the beach. As summer was fast approaching, the weather wasn’t too cold but I still needed a jacket and scarf, and I hoped the nearest chip shop had the heat going. I must’ve walked into the gay part of town, as a few rainbow flags flew proudly from the odd flat window and storefront. I should’ve done some research on the area before I committed to the move, but my head hadn’t been in the right place. When I signed the employment contract, I didn’t care where I went, as long as I left London and oncology behind.

I truly hoped the wide-open spaces of the coast was what I needed.

After paying for my fish and chips, I took my meal down to the beach and sat on the edge of the promenade wall. I wasn’t far from Brighton’s famous pier, and I made a mental note to explore the area more thoroughly after I settled into the flat. I didn’t start work for another week, which gave me plenty of time to check out my new neighbourhood and surrounding area.

Tearing open the chip shop paper, a waft of salt and vinegar threatened to knock me over. It was heaven, and my stomach rumbled loudly after not eating all day. I had lost weight over the last year. There were a lot of days I couldn’t bear the thought of food, and I hoped this was another aspect of life I would be able to eventually enjoy again. I was a mess, but I knew how to fix myself and get back the old me, and as I sat on the beach, dinner in hand and the breeze making sure summer stayed away for a little bit longer, I was confident this was the break I needed.

Closing my eyes, I breathed in the fresh salty air, filling my lungs and mentally purging everything that was my old life in London on an exhale. I opened my eyes, stared out at the churning waves, then dug into my dinner.

I’d nearly finished eating when I saw a guy running along the beach with his dog. There weren’t that many people about, the cold obviously keeping them at bay, but this guy seemed to revel in the wind as he ran. I couldn’t see his features. He wasn’t running fast but his dog appeared to be slowing down. The guy coaxed his dog along with the odd pat on his leg and an encouraging “come on, Happy” but Happy was having none of it. With a final lurch, Happy flopped on the beach, all four limbs spread out as he panted into the pebbles. The guy waved at his dog and kept running. Was he just going to leave his dog on the beach? What if Happy decided to wander off? Surely he was about to turn around and come back for his companion? But, no. He kept going and Happy continued to lie on the pebbles.

With my dinner finished, I should have started the walk back to my new flat, but I didn’t want to leave Happy alone, scared he’d be left behind or roam up to the road and into traffic. My mind wandered. What would I do if the guy didn’t come back? Where could I take Happy? Was there a shelter nearby? I couldn’t have him in my flat, the lease didn’t allow it. Happy got up and sniffed around, occasionally digging then rolling in whatever he’d managed to dig up while I tried to come up with a solution for him. He lay on his back in the pebbles, his feet in the air, and I thought he was about to start rolling in something again, but when he didn’t move, I realised he must’ve fallen asleep. About ten minutes later, Happy rolled over and sniffed around once more. He seemed calm and content to stay in roughly the same spot his owner had left him. It was only a few more minutes before Happy’s tail started going ten to the dozen. I glanced up the beach and saw Happy’s owner running back, minus his shirt, which I could see swaying from the back of his shorts where he’d tucked it in the waistband. Happy didn’t move—except his tail was still wagging madly—till his owner ran past and Happy trotted beside him again. The guy reached down and scratched the dog’s ears while he loped along.

I watched until they ran out of sight.

 

THE FOLLOWING day, after finishing my unpacking and sorting out my flat, I walked along the beach again. This time I found a kebab shop and I sat in the same spot I had yesterday while I ate. Today was a bit warmer but the breeze was still cool, and I huddled in my jacket as I devoured the garlicky goodness. It was lucky I didn’t have someone to go home to. My breath would be awful.

Just as I was about to head home, I saw Happy running beside his owner again. Sure enough, the large dog came to a slow halt and spread out on the beach as his owner continued running. I watched Happy for a while. He seemed a cheerful sort of dog as the occasional passer-by stopped and gave him a pat. That was probably how he got his name. I had always wanted a dog, but my working hours were long and unpredictable. Still, it’d be nice to go home to someone again.

After throwing my rubbish in a nearby bin, I wandered over to meet Happy. When I got closer, I could see he was an old Labrador. His golden coat was matted with the grit he’d been rolling in and his muzzle showed a hint of grey. When I approached, Happy looked up at me with large, sad brown eyes and a droopy mouth. Now I wondered how he got his name. He looked downright miserable.

I scratched his ears. “Hello, Happy. I see you’ve been rolling around getting dirty again.” Happy pushed his head into my hand and thwapped his tail before rolling onto his back. “Does that mean you want a tummy rub?” I took his muffled grunt as a yes and knelt down to rub the soft fur of his belly. Happy lapped it up. He may have looked clinically depressed, but his wagging tail and soft grunting told me a different story.

A few minutes later, Happy rolled over, got to his feet, and stared up the beach. I was being completely ignored, so I guessed he had had enough of me. When Happy’s tail started swishing, I looked up to see Happy’s owner returning from his run. He was still a fair way off, but I could tell it was him just by how excited Happy had become. That was my cue to leave.

I scratched the old Lab’s ears and gave him a pat on his rump. “See you next time, Happy. Be good.”

I headed towards the road for the walk home. I’d been in Brighton for two days, and it didn’t escape me that the longest conversation I’d had so far was with a dog.

The following day I walked along the beach a little earlier and explored that part of the city. Brighton Pier was bustling with late-April tourists.

From a distance the pier was huge, but it wasn’t until you were on it that you realised just how large the wooden structure was. There were roller coasters and fun rides, games arcades and restaurants, dodgem cars and a carousel. It was a kid’s dream and a parent’s budget nightmare. Standing against the railing, I watched kids of all ages run about, driving their folks crazy. I spotted an elderly couple sitting on a bench eating ice cream. There were people holding hands as they ambled around, arms heavy with bags full of their purchases and winnings. Everyone was smiling and laughing, and I couldn’t help but feel… not happy as such, but more relaxed and content as the late sun warmed me. I vowed to come back to the pier when the weather was a little better and spend the day.

Yes, moving to Brighton had so far been a good thing. I could breathe a little bit easier.

When I stepped off the pier, I saw Happy lying on the beach in his usual position; his owner was far off in the distance still running the other way. I knelt down beside him and said hello before rubbing his belly. Happy stood and licked my hand, his rough tongue scraping over my skin, before nuzzling his snout in my chest then lifting up to lick my face. He still looked miserable, though. Maybe it was just his way. Happy sat next to me and we looked out at the ocean together as I ran my hand down his back and over his fur. Before long, Happy stood and moved away, his focus directed down the shoreline. I knew his owner was returning from his run, and again I took that as my cue to head home. With a light scratch of Happy’s ears, I said goodbye, then walked home feeling lighter than I had for months.

Happy and I continued our routine for the next three days, then it was time for me to start my job at the A&E department at the children’s hospital.

I told myself I wasn’t nervous.

 

 

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BLOG TOUR, EXCERPT, AND GIVEAWAY Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

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Title: Two Natures
Author: Jendi Reiter
Release Date: September 15th 2016
Genre: LGBT fiction, MM Romance

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Two Natures is the coming-of-age story of Julian Selkirk, a fashion photographer in New York City in the early 1990s. His faith in Jesus helped him survive his childhood in the Atlanta suburbs with an abusive alcoholic father, but the church’s condemnation of his sexual orientation has left him alienated and ashamed.

Yearning for new ideals to anchor him after his loss of faith, Julian seeks his identity through love affairs with three very different men: tough but childish Phil Shanahan, a personal trainer who takes a dangerous shortcut to success; enigmatic, cosmopolitan Richard Molineux, the fashion magazine editor who gives him his first big break; and Peter Edelman, an earnest left-wing activist with a secret life.

Amid the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and the racial tensions of New York politics, Julian learns to see beyond surface attractions and short-term desires, and to use his art to serve his community.

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Saddle Road Press

**Kindle Price $0.99 from February 20th – March 17th ** (normally $9.99)

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Honors:
2016 Rainbow Awards: First Prize, Best Gay Contemporary General Fiction; First Runner-Up, Debut Gay Book
Named one of QSPirit’s Top LGBTQ Christian Books of 2016

EXCERPT

The back of the warehouse had a fire escape that you reached by crawling through one of the windows that was propped open with a stick. Refugees from the dance floor came and went, seeking brief hits of sobriety from the sting of cold air on their flushed faces, or trading smokes and other items in hand-to-hand transactions with a studied casualness. I followed Phil out there. He was hunched over the rusty railing, flicking ash down to the street two stories below. I leaned on the railing next to him, saying nothing. He wasn’t able to ignore me for long.

“What’re you doing here?”

I shrugged. He didn’t know what to make of my silence. Next to us, two guys in knit stocking caps shook hands a little too long and then ducked inside through separate windows. I wished I’d brought my own hat and coat, like Phil who’d had the sense to retrieve his parka before braving the elements.

“You think you’re too good to fight with me?” he needled me again. “You gonna call your rich daddy to teach me a lesson?”

“My daddy would kick your faggot ass into next week,” I said, “just like he did to me.”

Phil took a long drag on his cigarette and tossed it over the edge. “Sucks to be us, huh.”

“Guess so.” I almost caught him smiling, but then he turned away, pretending to watch this boy and girl at the far end of the terrace who were sucking each other’s faces hard enough to create a vacuum seal.

“So what’s the problem here?” I asked. “I thought we sort of connected that first night at New Eden, but now you’re being a jerk.”

“Don’t play dumb.”

“I’m not playing.” I dared to touch the back of his hand lightly. What if we were wrong and he wasn’t one of us, just slumming in fairyland? The pavement was a long way down.

He flinched but didn’t shake off my touch. “Frank told me you were talking shit about me,” he muttered. “How you didn’t think I was good enough for him because my pop drives a truck for the paper company.”

“Oh, shit. First of all, that’s not what I said, and second —”

“I’m proud of my pop, okay? He might be an asshole, but he works hard for every damn thing in his life, and so do I.”

“Phil — ” I grabbed his shoulders. He loomed over me like a prizefighter awaiting the bell. Why couldn’t I fall for a pretty boy like Tomas, who would never risk damaging his hands in a fistfight? “Phil, listen. I like where you come from. I like everything about you. I only talked trash to Frank because I wanted to put him off you.”

He blinked, confused, breathing hard. “So now you have…are you happy?”

“No…I’m sorry. It was a stupid thing to do. But, I mean, I’m happy you’re here with me…alone, right now.”

He stepped back, out of reach. “Why should I believe anything you say?”

In response, I sneezed, twice. Yankee weather wasn’t kind to me. Phil made for the window, to continue our conversation inside, I hoped. But the tonsil-hockey couple had already had the same idea and, with the obliviousness of lovers, had pulled the stick in after them. Phil rattled the unyielding window frame. I added my useless efforts to his.

“Must’ve latched itself from the inside,” he said. “I know how these places are built.”

“Did you work at the paper factory too?”

“What is this, a job interview?”

“Just making conversation.” I sneezed again. Phil kicked the window. “You think you can break in?” I asked.

“The panes are too small, dumb-ass. We couldn’t get through.”

“No, but you could break the one near the latch and reach in and open it, like a burglar.”

“Why me?”

“Because I’m just a poser.” I flicked my wrist at him.

“Yeah, sorry about that. I was really pissed off.”

“Try taking your aggressions out on that glass.”

“And then what? My hand’ll get cut to shreds.”

“In the movies, the burglar usually wraps his jacket around his arm or something.”

“I see you’ve appointed yourself the brains of this operation.”

“You said it, Bugsy.”

Phil scoped out the window, looking for the best spot, but the panes closest to where he thought the latch might be were boarded up.

So much for our caper. I shifted from foot to foot, trying to warm up.

“Here, put your arms through my sleeves.” Phil arranged his parka over us so that he covered my back like a cape. I tucked myself into the curve of his body, feeling his growing hardness through his jeans.

“I never thought you would like me,” he said after awhile. His breath was hot against my neck.

“Why not?”

“Because you’re one of those, what are they called, the beautiful people?”

“You look pretty fine yourself,” I said. One side of my face was warm where his stubbly cheek was pressed against mine; the other side was whipped by the wind.

He heated up my whole body by kissing me right then. I opened my mouth to his tongue. Just then, under the cold black sky, we were the two luckiest boys in the world, to have found this corner where nobody would notice us falling into each other’s arms.

Of course, we couldn’t go further than that without risking frostbite in some very inconvenient places. Disengaging from my embrace, Phil suddenly hoisted himself up to sit on the railing. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Brilliant idea. Why didn’t I think of that.”

“We’ll climb down. It’s no big deal.” To prove his point, Phil lifted his hands off the railing, with the crazy grin of a kid on a rollercoaster, balancing only on that beautiful rear that I worried would never be mine if he took a tumble onto the cement.

“Am I scaring you?” he teased.

“Don’t be an idiot.”

“Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” He took hold of the railing again, and I went back to breathing. “I’ve done roof repairs since I was sixteen and my pop kicked me out of the house. My balance can’t be beat.” He nudged me with the toe of his boot. “Come on, just do what I do and you’ll be fine.”

Slowly, following his lead, I gripped the icy metal and swung myself over the edge, inching my hands down the bars until my feet were dangling just shy of the railing one story below. There were stairs between the levels, but they were gated off with a barrier that was too high and sharp to climb over.

“Phil — ” I called out, my voice sounding thin as a thread blowing in the wind. What I really wanted was to ask him to catch me, but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. “Is it true what they say, that you shouldn’t look down?”

“I dunno, try it and let me know how it goes.” He swung his legs in toward the lower level, letting go of his handhold once his feet were secure. Sparing me further humiliation, since my pants were sliding down, he pulled me in. The ladder attached to the bottom of this level ended eight or nine feet above the street, child’s play compared to what we’d just done. He stole a couple more kisses while I got my second wind.

“Why’d your father kick you out?”

“Found my magazines.”

“Reading or posing?”

“Hey, I never thought of that — would’ve beat freezing my ass off on old man Henderson’s shingles.” He gave mine a love tap. “Up you go.”

Swinging over the railing was no more fun the second time around, but the squeaky ladder managed to hold our weight, and at last we smacked down on hard ground.

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About the Author

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Jendi Reiter’s books are guided by her belief that people take precedence over ideologies. In exploring themes of queer family life, spiritual integration, and healing from adverse childhood experiences, her goal is to create understanding that leads to social change. Two Natures is her first novel; a sequel is in the works. Her four published poetry books include Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree, 2015) and the award-winning chapbook Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010). She is the co-founder and editor of WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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BLOG TOUR, EXCERPT AND GIVEAWAY! How the Other Half Lives by Clare London

 
 
Length: 20,000 words
 
 
 
Blurb
 

Compulsively neat freak meets chaotic slob: can their living space survive the conflict?

Martin Harrison keeps himself to himself and his Central London flat as neat as a new pin. Maybe he should loosen up and enjoy more of a social life, but in his mind, that’s tantamount to opening the floodgates to emotional chaos. He agrees, however, to join the flat-sitting scheme in his building and look after another tenant’s flat in exchange for a similar watch over his when he’s travelling for his work.

A floor away in the same building, Russ McNeely is happy with his life as a freelance cook and a self-confessed domestic slob. He also joins the flat-sitting scheme, both to be neighbourly and to help keep his flat in order, as Russ also travels for his work.

For a while, the very dissimilar men never meet. Martin is horrified at the mess at Russ’s flat, while Russ finds Martin’s minimalist style creepy. But in a spirit of generosity, each of them starts to help the other out by rearranging things in their own inimitable way.

Until the day a hiccup in the schedule brings them face-to-face at last.

 
Excerpt
 

There’s no way I think Ethan’s amusement is justified, no way at all. I suppose I imagined he would share my righteous horror at the experience I’ve just been through. No… suffered is the appropriate word.
“Holy crap in a handbasket, Martin, if you could only see the expression on your face! Was it really that bad?” He laughs, rather too loudly and too long for my liking. “Come on, we’re living in a sophisticated city, in a hub of the civilised world, not some kind of ghetto. These are very smart flats, and the tenants have to pass some kind of credit check before moving in. Your upstairs flat-sit can’t have been the hellhole you so graphically describe.”
“It was.” I’m still shuddering at the mere memory. “Initially I thought the place had been burgled. I’ve never seen such a mess in my life. Everything jumbled together. Nothing labelled, stacked properly, or cleared away.” Ethan’s still laughing at me, and I don’t approve of his levity. “There were dirty plates, Ethan. Lots of them, and not just in the sink! I found an umbrella in the bathroom, a car maintenance kit in the kitchen, and some correspondence pinned to the wall in the lobby with a fork. Like a…. Like a spear.” It remained the most aggressive vision. “There was dust on the top of every door frame, and a very disturbing colour scheme on the walls of the living room. I had a headache after my first evening visit.”
“So, what do you have to do? Do you have to live there while the owner’s away?”
Thankfully, I catch that glint of mischief back in his eye. “Very amusing, I’m sure. No, I only have to check in on a daily basis. Make sure that the alarm is set, turn off lights that have been left on—every single one, Ethan!—and collect up the post. Sensible things like that.”
“Post?”
From the sly look on Ethan’s face, I suspect he’s still provoking me. “What about it?”
“I believe you can tell a lot by a person’s post.”
“I believe so too,” I reply dryly. “But if that’s the case, I’m not much the wiser, having waded through a mass of free flyers and invitations to various gourmet events. The owner appears to be in the catering trade, or has ambitions to be. Unless they’re a professional gamer—there were several magazines with lurid covers of impossibly cantilevered animated women, or surly assassins dressed in camouflage, with guns larger than their own torsos.”
“How the other half lives,” murmurs my so-called friend, unable to hide his grin. “You sorted through it for the owner, then?”
“Well, of course I did.” I can feel a slight flush on my cheeks. “Among other things. The owner obviously needs help, and I… had a spare hour. For example, I put the car kit and the umbrella back in the hall, and took a large pile of bedding from the living room to the dresser in the bedroom. Then back in the living room, I sorted a total mess of CDs into alphabetical order.”
I’m slightly disturbed that I sound like someone’s domestic help, but I’m also secretly impressed with how efficient I’d been in the allotted time. “Oh, and there was a hideous smell in the bathroom. I was going to alert the caretaker of the building, but upon investigation, I found a filthy bottle of stagnant liquid in the linen cupboard by the boiler. I disposed of that, of course.”
“Of course,” Ethan murmurs.
“I did find washing-up the crockery particularly challenging. The tenant appears to cook extensively and uses some very eccentric, exotically flavoured ingredients. If left to dry on the china, they stain—that’s all I’ll say about it.” I finally acknowledge Ethan’s amusement at my expense. “You’re the one who told me to show some neighbourliness.”
“So, you found out who owns this flat?”
“Um. Well, barely.” One would think Ethan assumed some ulterior motive in me, like common curiosity or something equally alien to my calm self-sufficiency. “A person called McNeely, initial R. Apart from that, I have no information. The owner never turned up for the introductory meeting. The management committee provided the key and the details, including the signed agreement to my access.” I shift, inexplicably uncomfortable for a moment. “I’m not sure all of this meets your criteria of making new friends and influencing people, so perhaps I should just let it drop.”
Ethan raises an eyebrow sceptically. I think we’ve either been friends for too long, or else his empathy is improving.
“Okay.” I sigh heavily and a little petulantly. “I’ll persist with it. Actually, I had some ideas for a shoe storage rack in the hallway and more efficient shelving in the kitchen. He might be interested in that, as I’ve never seen so many ill-assorted utensils scattered all over the counter. And I did think a formal message board for him would be an excellent idea.”
“He? Him?” Ethan’s eyelids flicker and his mouth tightens, as if he’s trying hard to keep his expression neutral. Maybe my empathy is improving too.
“I saw his flat, remember? I saw the post. And—” I’m racked with another shudder. “—I saw the piles of unfolded laundry. It’s a male tenant. Please don’t ask me to elaborate.”
“Underwear?” Ethan is relentless. “I believe you can tell a lot by a person’s—”
I glare at him and he bites back the rest of the sentence. “I can assure you, I didn’t stay any longer than necessary. I was going to play some of the CDs that had been left out of their cases, just to check whether they were still serviceable, but I couldn’t get the equipment to work.”
Ethan frowns. “It was broken?”
“No, no.” I’m impatient with him now, and although I like his company, I’m hoping he’ll go soon. There’s something disturbing my thoughts, and I need to wipe the whole flat-sitting episode from my mind. I need to settle back in my own place, on my own, with my things around me. I need… peace. “The place was the most appalling jumble, Ethan. I just couldn’t find the remote control. Then when I was about to lock up and leave, I found it under the—”
Now it’s my turn to bite off my unfortunate words, but it’s too late. Ethan’s all but pounced on me.
“Where, Martin? Where did you find it?”
“Under the laundry,” The flush is all over my neck now. “If you must know, it was under a pile of boxer shorts illustrated with a character called Super Mario.”

 
Author Bio
 

Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

Website: http://www.clarelondon.com
Blog: http://clarelondon.livejournal.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/clarelondon
Facebook chat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/clarelondoncalling/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/clare_london
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/clarelondon
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/clarelondon

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BLOG TOUR, EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT AND GIVEAWAY! Operation Better Tomorrow by Brandi Evans

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Title: Operation Better Tomorrow
Author: Brandi Evans
Release Date: November 29th 2016
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: MM Romance

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BLURB

The interview of a lifetime.

When Aaron Strickland’s assigned to write a feature article on Caleb Douglas, the first openly gay soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, he’s over-the-moon. Meet a sexy, real-life hero? Yes, please. And in the weeks leading up to their interview, the former soldier becomes a recurring player in Aaron’s fantasies.

A man Caleb can’t forget.

Years earlier, lost in the throes of depression and PTSD after an ambush left his body and soul scarred, Caleb was on the brink of giving up when a magazine article changed his life forever—an article written by Aaron. Emerging from the depths of his pain, Operation Better Tomorrow—part homestead, part halfway house for those down on their luck—was born.

Tragedy lurking on the horizon.

As the days pass, Caleb and Aaron’s tragic pasts bind them in ways they aren’t prepared for, but it also leaves them vulnerable. Pushing forward means breaking down walls they’ve built to protect themselves, and just as they’re poised on the precipice of happiness, a darkness descends on the homestead, a hatred that will leave one man clinging to life and the other willing to risk everything to save him.

Watch the Operation Better Tomorrow Book Trailer

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

“Have you ever given head in a public place?” Aaron asked as he relaxed back into Caleb’s arms.

After the party had wrapped up, Aaron had invited Tyler and Dean back to the cabin, and Caleb had graciously agreed to the impromptu visit. Aaron should’ve asked his lover first. This wasn’t his cabin, after all, no matter how at-home he felt, but he’d thought having an old friend here would be good for Caleb, especially after the emotional bombshell Brian and Bethany had dropped on him. A night of emotional oblivion with good friends and good wine was exactly what his lover needed. Besides, Dean and Tyler were a hoot.

Tyler reminded Aaron a bit of Leo. Insanely handsome and suave. Not that he compared to Caleb. No one did.

Aaron waited for Dean to answer. They’d started their evening inside, but after Dean and Tyler had put their daughter to bed, the quartet had ventured to God’s Ice Cream Scoop and a civil conversation about adopting their daughter had somehow devolved into a sexually-charged game of “Have You Ever…?”

Dean glanced at his husband, a baby monitor blinking red between them, and his lips trembled as if trying to fight a smile. “No, never given head.”

Caleb chuckled, shaking Aaron as he did. “I guess we know what Tyler’s answer will be.”

“Guilty as charged,” Tyler said, lips curling upward. “But in my defense, Dean had just returned home from his first deployment—well, his first deployment since we’d gotten back together—and I’d missed the holy fuck outta him. When he got off that plane dressed in his ACUs, I lost my mind. I hadn’t seen him in a year, at least in the flesh, and I had to have him right then, right there.”

“Luckily,” Dean said, “we found an unlocked janitorial closet and—”

“And I had my way with him.”

Dean draped an arm around his husband. “He was an animal. To this day, I still get hard every time I smell any pine-scented cleaner.”

“Why do you think I keep the house so clean, babe?”

Oh yeah, Aaron liked the hell out of these guys. Seeing them together gave him hope that happily-ever-afters actually existed.

He laced his fingers with Caleb’s and tugged his lover’s arms in a manner that tightened his embrace. Aaron wanted what Dean and Tyler had. Since Stephen had died, he’d never considered himself a forever kind of guy. He was thirty-one years old, and he’d never had anything even remotely resembling a long-term relationship. Even with Leo. But with Caleb, he’d never wanted forever more.

“Okay, okay, it’s my turn,” Dean said. They’d taken turns asking questions, each round getting increasingly more inappropriate, which made the game so damn fun. “Have you ever—”

The walkie at Caleb’s hip squeaked, and Mama’s frantic voice boomed through the speaker. “Caleb, get up here now. The House’s on fire.”

What!

All four men jumped to their feet, Caleb grabbing the walkie, and they ran toward the cabin. “What happened?” Caleb snapped.

“Someone threw a fucking Molotov cocktail through the goddamn window.” Aubrey was usually so laid-back, so hearing the fear in her voice underscored just how bad this was.

Caleb and Aaron exchanged glances. “Gary,” they said in unison.

 

Buy Link:

Samples of the book can be downloaded here:

https://www.loose-id.com/downloadable/download/sample/sample_id/501/

 

*****GIVEAWAY: Win an Amazon Kindle!!!!*****

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About the Author

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Brandi Evans was raised by a caravan of traveling Gypsies. She spent her days learning the ways of her people and her nights lost in legends as old as time. Okay, not really, but that’s way more interesting than the truth!

In reality, Brandi grew up the oldest child of an ordinary family. Grade school, middle school, high school. Nothing extraordinary happened until she left the nest. She joined the military, went to college, got married, and became a mom. And somewhere along the way, she discovered she liked to read—and write!—stories hot enough to melt eReaders.

These days, she calls The Natural State home where she lives with her hubby, two beautiful daughters, two dogs and a cat who has yet to realize she doesn’t own the place. Soldier. Wife. Mom. Multi-published smut writer. Brandi’s life might not be “traveling Gypsy” interesting, but she’s had fun. And in the end, isn’t that all that really matters?

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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BLOG TOUR, EXCERPT AND GIVEAWAY! Two Ruined Christmas Eves by Christ McHart

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Title: Two Ruined Christmas Eves
Author: Chris McHart
Release Date: November 30th 2015
Genre: Holiday, mm romance, short story

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BLURB

It’s Christmas Eve, and folk music star Jonas is on his way to the most important gig of his career, the Volksmusik Stadl. Well, he would be if heavy snowfall hadn’t stopped him on the highway.

Fritz has to accompany his grandparents to the biggest folk music event in southern Germany, the worst punishment for a metal fan, especially on Christmas Eve.

When these two men meet at the concert after-party, sparks fly. Will this Christmas Eve be something special after all?

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | All Romance

Goodreads

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

“I guess it’s not your usual style of music?” Jonas asked. He just had to know if he was right.

“What gives me away?” The man grinned sheepishly, averting his eyes.

Such a shame. He had beautiful eyes. “The wristbands. I don’t see them here much.” He wasn’t going to comment on the clothing. Yet.

The man ran a finger over the collection on his wrist, all of them entrance bands to festivals. Rock and metal, if Jonas wasn’t mistaken.

“Yeah, I’m more of a hard music kind of guy,”

“I figured. Don’t worry, nobody cares about this here. They are all pretty easygoing. I’m Jonas, by the way.” He extended his hand. The other man shook it.

“I’m Fritz, nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” Jonas smiled and held Fritz’s hand a second longer than necessary. Fritz had great hands, strong, not too soft. Jonas trailed his thumb over Fritz’s, a mostly innocent gesture. Fritz looked up, his eyes wide, but not appalled. Score. His gaydar rarely failed him, and this was no exception. He had some sort of reputation, and it was not the shy, heterosexual He was out–outer than out. And astonishingly, nobody cared.

Giveaway: Win a $10 Amazon Giftcard

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About the Author

cmh

I’m a writer of M/M romance and M/M erotic romance from Germany.

I’ve always had stories in my head, but a while ago I allowed them to get out and on paper. Looks like it has been a good decision, although the more stories I write, the more I have in my head. Maybe I’ll have all of them out someday, and there’ll be nothing more to write, but for the next years, I don’t see that coming.

When I’m not writing, I spend time with my family (I have the best husband EVER) and try to keep all my animals happy. I also enjoy gardening and cooking, although I’m still looking for someone to clean up afterwards. And, of course, I love reading, whenever I have a quiet moment.

Writing and reading is my break from everyday stress and I hope you join me!

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

Sign up for Chris McHart’s Newsletter here!

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GUEST POST AND EXCERPT! Drawn In by Barbara Elsborg

Art profile portrait of beautiful man with body of athlete. Photo.

Blurb

Undercover police officer Kell has crossed the line. He’s become trapped in an abusive relationship with his violent thug of a boss and sees no way back without wrecking months of work. The hope of ever being involved with someone who respects him seems a distant dream.

Private investigator Gethin is depressed that the bulk of his work involves following unfaithful partners. He knows just what it’s like to be cheated on. Even worse, his relationship with his ex is complicated and Gethin can see no way of breaking free of a guy who so desperately needs him.

A chance encounter brings Kell and Gethin together, entwining their lives with secrets and danger. They both have reasons to keep things casual. But there are consequences to zipless fucks. Not only do they have to survive people trying to kill them, they need to trust each other and keep their wits about them, while ensuring their hearts stay intact.

Little guest post – FACT IS STRANGER THAN FICTION

It’s much easier when writing a story to set the tale in places you know reasonably well. When I started out writing, I set my stories in New York and then Bogota but I’d never been out of the UK. Now, I know better though Google is so good at providing relevant information, I don’t feel quite so pressurized to stick to places I know.

In Drawn In, I needed to use a beach on the south coast of the UK that was dark and quiet. Suitable for people smuggling. I decided on Pett Level Road, Winchelsea Beach. I checked it out on Google Earth and it looked perfect. Then to my disbelief, on 4 Aug 2016, five Iranians who’d crossed the Channel in a dinghy landed in exactly the spot I’d chosen. If the book had already been published, I might have worried!

Picture of the beach shown below  © Copyright Oast House Archive and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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EXCERPT

The cat yowled as Gethin pulled back into the traffic. He could hear it scratching at the inside of the carrier. He’d never had a pet as a kid though he’d lived in foster homes that had dogs. No cats. Gethin never bothered getting attached to anything or anyone. After his parents died, nothing had been permanent in his life.

He hadn’t realised the cat was out of the bag until the damn thing leapt onto his lap with an outraged snarl and sank its claws into his thigh. He almost drove off the road.

“Jesus Christ. Get off.” He tried to grab the thing by the scruff of the neck and it scratched his hand. “Ouch.”

Gethin was on the motorway, not supposed to pull onto the hard shoulder unless it was an emergency. Unexpectedly sharing a car with a wild animal counted as an emergency. The cat hissed like a pissed off snake and jumped onto the top of the dashboard. Gethin flicked his indicator, pulled off and put on his hazard lights.

No way was he opening a door and risking the animal making a break for it. He unfastened his seatbelt and reached to grab the carrier from the backseat. He had no idea how the thing had escaped.

“Should have called you Houdini,” he muttered.

Wrestling the animal back to safety proved tricky. The cat braced its legs to try and stop Gethin sliding him in, gripping the outside of the carrier with sharp claws. A moment later, Gethin had more scratches and the cat lay sprawled in the footwell, its malevolent stare making its feelings quite clear.

“Nice, kitty.” Vile, spitting, fucking bastard. His hand was bleeding.

Subtlety and speed were called for. Gethin distracted with one hand while he made a grab with the other, and managed to get a firm grip on the back of the cat’s neck.

“There. That wasn’t so bad. Just calm down.”

He stroked it a couple of times, and the cat growled. Before it could wriggle free, he shoved it backward into the carrier and breathed a sigh of relief when he’d pushed the metal gate closed. He clipped the fastening in place. Oh fuck. Two fastenings. That’s what he’d done wrong. The cat’s yowls and hisses increased in volume.

“I love you too.”

He resisted the impulse to toss the carrier on the backseat, and instead put it there carefully before switching off his warning lights and pulling onto the carriageway.

When he’d parked outside the motel, he called Dieter’s mother. “I’m outside. Bring something to cover the cat. They might not allow them in the room.”

“I’ll be out in a minute.”

Gethin was desperate for a coffee. He was shattered. He yawned and rubbed at the scratch marks on his hands.

Zena opened the car door and slipped into the passenger seat. She glanced in the back and sighed. “That’s not Tigga.”

“What? He was outside your house. It says Tigger on his collar.”

“That’s Miranda’s cat. He’s called Tigger with an er not an a, and there’s no white tip at the end of his tail.”

“Oh fuck,” Gethin muttered.

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Buy Links

Amazon US

Where to find Barbara

www.barbaraelsborg.com

https://twitter.com/BarbaraElsborg

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2856948.Barbara_Elsborg

https://www.facebook.com/barbara.elsborg

https://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Elsborg/e/B0036LFNJ8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1474378170&sr=1-1

 

 

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RELEASE DAY! Blueprint (Out of the Blue, #4) by RJ Jones

Hi everyone, RJ here!

Just a quick reminder that Blueprint, #4 in the series is out today!

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For those of you that have read the series, this is the one you’ve been waiting for – Jet’s story! He’s so adorable and quirky, I can’t wait for you to read it. Here’s a quick excerpt:

 

“Again?” Gray’s voice penetrated Kylie’s and I removed my earbuds. I hadn’t expected them home so soon. “You can’t still be thinking about him.”

I played dumb. “Who?”

“Who were you thinking about?” Kris stepped up behind Gray, who stood on the other side of the breakfast counter, a knowing look in his eye. “Ooh. You made cupcakes!”

I slapped Kris’s hand away before he had the chance to steal one. “They’re not for you.”

“Jet got laid a couple of weeks ago, and he’s been mooning ever since,” Gray grumbled.

“Cool. Who was it? Anyone we know?” Kris didn’t seem to have a problem that I’d had a date, unlike my brother, who said he didn’t but really did. “Are you seeing him again?”

Gray glared at Kris.

“What?”

“I didn’t get his name,” I said before they started arguing about my love life. “I wish I had, though. His jaw could, you know—” I waved my hand around as I sought for the right word but came up empty. “—cut stuff.”

“Stuff?” Gray raised his eyebrow. “You’re a teacher, for God’s sake, and all you’ve got is ‘stuff’?”

“Hey. It’s drama. I teach people how to be fabulous, not fucking Hemingway.”

Kris snorted. “He’s right, you know.” He turned his attention back to the cupcakes cooling on the counter. “So why all the treats?”

“I’m making them for the new neighbors.” I turned off the oven as I talked, then wiped my hands on my apron. Yes, I wore an apron, but instead of something boring like ‘Kiss the Cook,’ mine had an arrow and said ‘Deliveries in the Rear.’ “Do you know who it is yet? I poked my head out the door a little while ago, but all I saw were big beefy men carrying furniture and I didn’t want to interrupt. Well, I did, but I forced myself not to. I hope it’s a nice couple.”

 

For those of you that haven’t started this journey yet, here’s the blurb:

If only building the foundation for a lasting relationship was as easy as drafting the blueprint.

Jet Black doesn’t date. Even if he wanted a man beyond sex, his ever-watchful identical twin scares potential suitors away. Jet lives with his brother, but since Gray fell in love with Kris, Jet feels like a third wheel. Despite their bond, Jet knows he needs to move out and experience life for himself, whether Gray likes it or not.

After his father dies in a boating accident, Ethan Nichols is devastated. As the last survivor of his family, he realizes the need to put down roots. He leaves Australia and returns home to San Francisco and his old architectural firm. But there’s more to building a new life than simply moving house.

Jet and Ethan’s first encounter is brash and anonymous, but when Ethan moves across the hall, their lives become irrevocably linked. Jet is quirky and fun loving, while Ethan is rock steady and dependable. There’s no denying the passionate spark between them.

But Ethan is looking for a more solid foundation than Jet is ready to offer. Until Jet learns to spread his wings and trust Ethan with his darkest secrets, building a life together will be impossible.

**This can be read as a standalone, however it is best enjoyed reading the series in order as side characters play a major role.**

If you want to read the first chapter for free, head on over to my blog here.

Links:

Goodreads   Amazon   All Romance   Smashwords   iBooks

 

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BLOG TOUR, EXCERPT AND GUEST POST! His Scar by Erin E. Keller

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His Scar

by Erin E. Keller

Genre: Contemporary

Word count: 33,666

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Date of release: September, 24 2016

Blurb:

A car wreck leaves Ryan with a facial scar he believes people find unsightly. But not Sean, a smiling tattoo artist who doesn’t judge a book by its cover.

Sean manages to find the beauty in everyone, including gruff and defensive Ryan. He refuses to be put off by the hard mask behind which Ryan hides. But convincing Ryan to open his heart is proving to be quite a challenge.

When someone from Ryan’s past offers him what he wants most in the world, Ryan has a decision to make. Which voice will he listen to –­­ his heart or his head?

 

EXCERPT:

We sit at a table and the conversation is really pleasant, so nice that unusually I move my hair away from my face twice without even realizing.
“You should do that more often,” Charlie murmurs, leaning a hand on my arm.

“I don’t think I’m ready. I can’t stop thinking it must be a bit … horrifying.”

“You see it like that. Listen, Ryan. Obviously, people can see it. And it’s natural they might stiffen for a second when they notice it. But I can tell you it isn’t because of scorn or disgust. It’s because the first thing you think is that something bad happened … and you feel speechless. I mean, you feel sorry.”

I look at Charlie and feel deeply touched. I squeeze the hand she leaned on my arm and tilt my head sideways.

“Thanks, Charlie,” I whisper, smiling.

“And above all, yes, it’s true you have a scar, but there’s a guy staring at you.”

Suddenly I raise my head, surprised. “What?”

Charlene nods her head to my right and I turn, gazing around, trying to figure out who’s looking at me.

I immediately understand as soon as I see a mass of honey-blond curls. Sean. I blink and move my hand up from the table to greet him. Sean smiles and lifts his glass.

And a second later I yelp in pain because Charlie’s nails dig into my arm.

“Do you know him?” she mouths excitedly. She seems shocked and ready to explode.

“Well, yes. He is … he works near the library.”

“But do you see how he looks at you? Ohhh, you have to invite him over to join us!”

“Did you hit the beer tap before sitting down? No way!”

“But he’s so nice! Look at that cute face!”

“Charlie … ”

“Mmm, and those thick lips …”

“Charlie.”

“And how soft his hair must be!”

“CHARLIE!” I scream this time, causing her and Frank to both jump. Immediately I lower my voice and move closer to my friend. “Number one, I don’t know him that well. Number two, I’m not exactly single. Number three, I don’t even know if he’s interested in me. I don’t even know if he’s gay!” I keep my voice low, almost conspiratorial.

Charlie looks at me, showing she understands, and nods like I’m a small child. “Honey … number one, you don’t need to know what size underwear he wears to invite him over to our table. Number two, single or not, I don’t expect you to have sex on the table in front of us. It’s a public place, in case you didn’t notice. Number three, trust me, love. The way he looks at you, he’s gay and he’s interested in you. You know, if his eyelashes had hands, you would be naked right now.”

I look at my friend as if she’s an alien. I will never get used to the way she can floor me.

“Sorry, but what am I supposed to do about it?” I murmur, shaking my head. “I don’t think …”

I haven’t even finished my sentence when, to my horror, I see Charlie standing up and heading towards Sean. I give Frank an imploring look, but he only shrugs.

“This is between you and her,” he says, lifting his hands with half a smile.

“But she’s your wife!” I look over at Charlie who’s now talking to Sean.

“I know, but I love her for what she is.” Frank chuckles, crossing his hands over his belly.

“I do, too,” I whisper, my voice trembling when I see her coming back with Sean.

Oh my, and now?

“Hi!” the Irishman says with his usual funny, almost adorable smile.

“Hi,” I answer, having a little coughing fit.

“Can I?” Sean asks, taking a stool.

“Well, if I said no, that would be rude,” I murmur.

For an instant I’m afraid Charlie’s going to slap me. Frank looks at me with little sympathy while Sean stands there with the stool, not moving.

“Oh. I’m sorry. Charlene told me … nothing. I don’t want to disturb you,” he sputters, putting the stool back in its place, getting ready to walk away.

I know I have to do something. Every time it comes to Sean, I say something terrible, and I feel bad about it.

“Hey!” I call him back, reaching out my hand. “I’m sorry. C’mon, sit down … I have a bad temper, I know. I promise I’ll try not to insult you for the rest of the night.” This wasn’t much better, but at least it was a start.

Mini Guest Post:

Everything started with a commercial.

I was watching a movie, and this new commercial came up. The protagonist was one of my favorite men ever: Gaspard Ulliel. He’s so handsome, so elegant, so sexy. And there’s one thing about him that has always fascinated me: the scar on his face (his scar is small, and if you don’t know where it is you can barely notice it). But during the commercial, he has this sullen and angry look that inspired me and gave me the perfect image of Ryan. A difficult man to handle, an angry and scarred man.

I remember I’ve seen a scene with my mind’s eyes, a very specific one. The one that takes place in the cafeteria where Sean wants to make Ryan smile. I saw Sean’s hands reaching out and Ryan pulled back.

I built the whole story around that scene.

And Ryan has been my very first original character.

Personale note: I have many scars, but despite having chosen Ryan as the narrator of this story, I’m more similar to Sean 🙂

 

BUY LINKS:

JMS BOOKS SITE – 20% OFF   AMAZON.COM   KOBO.COM

 

ABOUT ERIN E. KELLER

Erin is Irish in her heart and soul, and she hopes she’ll move to the Emerald Island one day. She lives with her husband and their cats in a house near a wheat field.

She has been writing for years, but she admits she is a very undisciplined writer. The problem is that handling a couple of jobs makes it almost impossible to write every day.

She loves letting her mind wander through the real world.

She likes to write contemporary M/M romance, because she loves love.

And men.

For more information, visit www.erinekeller.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erin.keller.186

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ErinEKellerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Erin_Author

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

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/103152514961032905794/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6917343.Erin_E_Keller

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kellereerin/

 

 

 

 

 

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BLOG TOUR, EXCERPTS, INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY! Dead Camp Series by Sean Kerr

Dead Camp Book 1

Sometimes the past refuses to stay buried, and sometimes it comes back to bite you in the ass.

 

Blurb

Eli is an ancient vampire with an ego the size of a planet and a sex drive to match, but his tumultuous past left him broken, so he hides from humanity and cowers from love, left to endure the crushing guilt that haunts his every waking moment. Even his best friend, Malachi, a ghost who is hopelessly in love with Eli, remains unaware of all that transpired in London. Malachi can never know the truth.
When the Angel Daniyyel pays an unwelcome visit, Eli must face his secrets, secrets that he has tried so long to hide. To make matters worse, a chance encounter with the most beautiful man he has ever seen shatters his beloved isolation, pushing him into the world of the living once more. Something about this strange man seems so familiar, but Eli can’t even remember who he was before he became a vampire, never mind explain the unwanted emotions the enigmatic stranger ignites in his dead heart. So Eli has a choice – return to the world that ruined him, or continue his self-imposed exile with no hope of salvation.

Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published December 22nd, 2015 by eXtasy Books
Erotic Romance, Gay, GLBT, Historical, Horror, Paranormal, Vampire
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Dead Camp Book 1 Excerpt

With a sickening wet sound, his body finally broke free of the earth. A cry of agony burst from between his perfect lips and his head fell back against my shoulder. I felt his long eyelashes brush against my neck as his eyes flickered in defiance of the blackness trying to consume him.
“Stay with me fella, stay with me, we’ll be home in a jiffy.”
Home, back to my castle, what the fuck was I thinking? I was out of my little fucking mind. I didn’t know the man. I owed him nothing. I had an Angel in my dining room and a German soldier in my dungeon and to top things off, I lived with a ghost. Yet I still wanted to take him home? No, I was intent on taking him home, I had decided that the moment I saw him.
But why, why should I get involved, why should I tread that path again, the path that could only lead to pain. It always did. And yet, as I held him in my arms I felt it, something inescapable, something that I could not understand, a stirring, a feeling, like something found when all hope of ever finding it had been forgotten. Something complicated.
A tingle of warning trickled up and down my spine making my hair stand on end. I lowered the hunk to the ground, slowly, carefully and whispered into his perfectly shaped ear. “Remain quiet.”
In a flash of lightning speed, I leapt into a tree, clinging with one hand to a thick branch while my legs wrapped around its thick girth. Someone was out there and not just Mr Fuck Me He’s Perfect. The smell of human, living heart pumping human was unmistakable, that incomparable odour carried on the wind to entice my nostrils and excite my senses, and I was dutifully excited. But there was something else there too, a feint undercurrent, an elusive aftertaste that went beyond sweat and skid-marks, an elusive scent that pricked at my memory, the smell of Demon.
I saw him then, a German soldier winding his way through the field of corpses. His uniform, a grey green feldbluse replete with bottle green collar and shoulder straps, made him almost invisible amongst the branches and the sludge. I could not see his face beneath his field cap but I could easily make out the eagle and swastika emblem embroidered on the bottle green cloth and I noted with disgust the Sturmgewehr semi-automatic rifle hanging loosely from his shoulder.
The Nazi stood barely six metres away from my injured future husband. Do not move lovely man, I said to myself, do not move and don’t make a sound and if you can, be still your beating heart, because to me it sounded like a jackhammer pounding through the forest. He was frightened and in pain. His eyes darted everywhere looking for me, desperate for me, pleading for me to drag him out of that Hell.
I saw the agony flash across his face before the sound escaped his lips. My entire body tensed. Too late, the soldier heard his pain.
He was running then, running towards my Adonis in the pit. Without hesitation, I soared through the air and landed with feline grace before him. The soldier fell backwards with a bloodcurdling scream. The rifle landed at my feet and I picked it up, rising to my full magnificent height, slowly and with purpose, relishing every moment of fear that blossomed across the soldiers white features. I snapped the weapon as easily as though it were a twig and threw the shattered weapon at his feet, watching with satisfied relish as he scrabbled backwards in the mud, his mouth curling away from his face as his terror burst from his throat.
“Demon! You are not from the camp. What are you?”
My teeth extended and my eyes flashed black. My Vampire was out. In one swift movement, barely visible to the human eye, I leapt at him, pulling him off the floor with effortless ease, lifting his flailing body high above my head. I threw him with all my might at the nearest tree. His spine snapped with an audible bang as his fragile body wrapped itself backwards around the trunk of the trembling pine, his lifeless body sliding to the ground and my stomach rumbled. Dinner was served.

 

Dead Camp Book 2

It is said that the Devil is in the detail, but what if the Devil was in you?

Blurb

The world is at war, a war determined to involve Eli, whether he likes it or not. Hitler, his dark army of feral vampires, and even the Devil himself, all conspire against Eli, leaving him no choice but to fight back, risking Malachi’s soul in the process.
Eli is determined to find Ethan’s father, no matter the cost to himself or Malachi, and in a place filled with death and unending cruelty, Eli realizes that some truths should remain buried, and some truths are just too terrible to bear. When the old enemy, demons from Eli’s dark past, find him once more, they reveal a secret so impossible, so terrible, that it pushes Eli to the very edge of his endurance. They took his boyfriend from him once, and the secrets that they reveal about the man he once loved threaten to strip Eli of everything that he holds dear, pushing him to the edge of his sanity.

Eli thought that he had nothing left to lose, but at Welwelsburg Concentration Camp, he realizes that he was very wrong.

ebook, 206 pages
Published February 15th, 2016 by eXtasy books
Erotic Romance, Gay, GLBT, Historical, Horror, Paranormal, Vampire

 

🌟 Extasy Books 🌟 Amazon US 🌟 Amazon UK
🌟 Nook  🌟 Kobo 🌟 Add To Goodreads

 

 

Dead Camp Book 2 Excerpt

Three prisoners had died in my block that night, two elderly and one young man not old enough to grow pubes. It sickened me. Never, in all my years, had I witnessed such a callous waste of human life. And then to see my fellow prisoners undressing the dead, striping their cold stiff bodies before my unbelieving eyes horrified me even more, and I clung onto Jakob’s broken body for dear life. All around me the clunk of bodies against wood and concrete. My eyes tried not to see and my ears tried not to hear.
A cold clammy hand gently caressed my arm and I nearly shot off my shelf in shock. I didn’t scream. I refused to scream.
“My friend, I’m sorry, my friend, but you must undress him. The rubbish men will be here soon and you must strip him of all clothing before they take him. Please, you must do this for him—they will be less kind than you. Do you understand?”
“Why? Why must we do this?”

“His clothes are of value, my friend. They will be re-used for the next intake.”

“And what of his body, what will become of Jakob?”
“You don’t want to know, my friend.” His whispered words made every hair on my body stand on end. A sound outside caused him to return to his unsavoury task with renewed urgency. “Quickly, they are here.”
What followed felt like a dream. I had undressed many a man under many circumstances, but that was a first. Already poor Jakob stiffened, and it pained me to hear and feel his bones crack as I gently prised his pale thin body from the clothes. I whispered my apologies into his unhearing ears and I hated my eyes for glancing across his pale dead flesh.
I had to free them, all of them. That place, that death camp, it had to end.
I lifted his dead naked body into my arms. Emotion, so alien to me, invaded the shrivelled blackness that was my soul, and I knew my eyes betrayed my grief. Emotions made you weak. Emotions made you vulnerable, emotions hurt. And I was hurting. The passing of that human, that mortal man I had known for less than a day, had brought back that affliction from which I had been running from for so very long.
I had only opened my heart to the world again but for the briefest of moments. And already I felt pain.
Gideon hurt me. He made me feel unloved, unwanted, he made me feel ugly. How I would crave for his touch, how desperate I was for his love, to feel the thrill of his fingers upon my bare flesh, to feel his attraction to me, to feel wanted. But all he ever did was refuse me. Every time I tried to touch him, he turned me away. He was not in the mood, he told me to come back later.
Come back later.
But later never came.
I carried that pale body into the grey wet misery of morning. The sun was trying desperately to penetrate the thick layers of brooding clouds that clung stubbornly over the camp, but the sun was losing. Rain dripped incessantly from the skies, melting the remaining snow into a muddy slush. Grey skies, grey ground, grey people. The camp drained the colour out of everything. Welwelsburg was like me, a vampire, sucking the life out of everything it encountered, sucking away hope and dignity, leaving nothing but pale grey husks clinging to the brink of existence.
Two men stood next to a large flatbed trolley. Dead, naked bodies lay crumpled in a pile on top of the trolley, legs and arms sticking out at all angles like some grotesque starfish. I saw children amongst the corpses.
Pale white flickering figures surrounded the trolley. Insubstantial wisps of lives spent before their time. The rubbish men looked at me expectantly but I could not move for the sight of those spectral beings and I clutched Jakob’s dead body tightly to my chest, unwilling to relinquish my charge. If I put him on that trolley then he would be dead, another lump of cold meat on the pile. He deserved more than that.
The ghostly figures turned to look at me, each one knowing me, seeing me, seeing me see them. And they smiled at me. Cold shivering prickles erupted across my skin as their eyes took me in and they were such kind eyes, such trusting eyes. A figure pushed its way between them, its shadowy form brushing gently against the others as it came to stand before me.

 

Dead Camp Book 3
 
 
 

Blurb

To understand the present, you must first understand the past.
As Wewelsburg castle burns, Eli carries Isaiah to safety. So much is lost, Malachi is gone, the Demon from Eli’s terrible past is reborn into a world already at war, and to make matters worse, Gideon is back. Yet, before Eli can even reach the sanctuary of his home, he learns a painful truth about Gideon, the truth of why he left him, and Eli can barely hold onto his own sanity. Eli quickly understands that not everything in life, or death, is black and white, and sometimes to protect the ones we love, we have to make the greatest sacrifice of all.
Something is coming. Eli can feel it, there, in the darkness, taunting him. The truth of his own mysterious identity. But the road to the truth is paved with the pain of a story that he has to hear, a story that will change his perception of history forever, a story of great love, and a story of two lovers who died to change the world. He does not want to hear it, he does not want to believe it, but if he is to understand who he was, if he is to understand why he was made Vampire, he has no choice but to listen as history unfolds before him.
With Morbius close at his heals, the truth is finally out, and Eli can either allow himself to be crushed beneath the burden of his own identity, or allow the world to be consumed by the evil knocking at his door.
Death is just the beginning – love is the end.

Dead Camp Book 3 Excerpt

Running, again. All my life, running. Paderborn forest flashed by in a blur of verdant violence that hurt my retinas it looked so lush, so majestic, all so fucking beautiful. It made my skin crawl. Everything around me looked so bloody…green. That was Eli’s thing, not mine. I preferred the immutable hardness of concrete, the undeniable strength of steel, give me brick and marble as opposed to never-ending trees and grey mountains, anytime.
While Eli cowered from the world surrounded by the thick stone walls of Alte, I hide amidst the pumping hearts of the living, yet we both remained fugitives against our own history. The truth, that thing that I feared for so very long, finally there for all to see, fucking us in the ass. History now hammered at our door, and nothing could keep it at bay.
How much did my blood reveal? How much of the truth did he drink? The look on his face as my blood hit the back of his throat, it burned my flesh away to reveal the liar he always suspected me to be. I saw it in his eyes, it blossomed there like a bad joke, the dawning realization of all that I had kept from him, the sudden knowledge that I made him.
Still, not all the truth filled his mouth. That shit storm would come soon enough, more crap than I could shake a stick at. Everything that happened in Judea, everything that transpired in London, all of it, all of it there for him to see at last. A stranger once told me that the truth would eventually bleed out, no matter how far from Eli I ran, and there I stood, bleeding.
“Don’t let me go back to Eli,” I asked of him.
“You love him that much?”
“Yes.” I did love him that much, enough to spend twenty-six years entombed in a block of ice.
It was my choice, my decision. To remain free meant returning to Eli, for I could not resist his pull any longer, and they would have followed me, as they always followed me, straight into the arms of my beloved Eli. I could not allow that to happen. I had to protect Eli at all costs.
Centuries of love, and still not enough time. A man must know his worth. A man must know his own name. A man must learn the truth of his own heart. I remained but a teacher, and Eli my pupil, and now I would have to set him free.
My God, had it come to that? The end, finally here? The weight of history pounding at the door, I could hear it, I could feel it tearing at my skin, trying to get in, telling me that it was over, that Eli no longer needed me. Time. Fucking time. Endless bloody time. Now, there was none. I was free, running through the forest towards him, towards one of the most important figures that history had ever known. So yes, the time had come, my freedom proved that, but it was the pain in my heart that told me so.
I stopped, my world spinning around me in a dizzying frenzy of utter panic. Bile filled my mouth. The final end. History, about to convulse in agony, and we would be at the centre of it.
They would be coming for me. They would be coming for Eli. They would be coming for the Spear.
I felt the cold fingers of fear grip my chest and squeeze my heart with cruel intent. The pain, so sharp, so terrifying, ripped through my body until I lay on my knees gasping, trembling, blinded by agony and helpless. My hands dug into the nearest tree, fingers digging into the bark, digging into the wood, until the sap ran freely over my knuckles, the tree indelibly wounded, as I myself lay ineradicably wounded. The thing, the splinter, moving inside me, burning its way through me, seeking out my Vampire heart, ate away at my resolve, and offered me visons of a past mortality.
Blood drawn to blood. History drawn to history. Death drawn to death.
I heaved myself to my feet, determined to move, determined to go on. There was still time, time for me to tell my story, time for me to lay it bare before the one I loved. Time for him to forgive me.
For so long I denied Eli my blood, but in that one moment of pity, as he lay on that hill above the ruins of the camp, tired, desperate, I allowed him to feed. My blood is strong, the strongest of us all, and it filled his mind with so much information, all of it so fleeting and momentary, a cacophony of images that would burn anyone less than he. Thank fuck he did not have time to see it all, not there, on that mountainside under the shadow of so much death, it would not seem fitting somehow.
It would not befit the man that he used to be.
I feared what it would do to him, the knowledge of his own identity. If he had looked into my blood long enough, he would have seen the burden of his own dark history staring back at him, and I feared that it would destroy him now as surely as it destroyed him then, all those years ago in a world that did not know any better. It remained a burden that killed a part of me with every passing day. I lost Eli on the day I turned him, and from the moment that he first looked upon me with his Vampire eyes, I knew that he could never truly be mine. Another owned his heart, and the truth of it tortured me for hundreds of years. Eli was but on loan, until the day that another should claim him as their own.
That stranger in Rome, he knew, he knew this day would come — he knew everything, that funny little man who became my friend.
 
 

 

Bucket List

  1. Retire to Barcelona where I can write, surrounded by gorgeous Spanish men
  2. Write an episode for Doctor Who
  3. Write the next Alien film
  4. See my Dead Camp series made into a film or a Netflix series
  5. Go on a world cruise on a Luxury Liner
  6. Travel around America and Canada (there are some people there I particularly want to visit!)
  7. Earn enough from my writing to enable me to give up the day job.
  8. Share a bed with Hugh Jackman
  9. Be the first gay man to play the role of Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webbers Sunset Boulevard
  10. I want a naked house boy to attend to my every need – possibly in the shape of Hugh Jackman or Henry Cavill.

 Author Interview

What quirks do you have?

When I am on my own writing, I like to put DVD’s of Doctor Who on. Old Doctor Who’s, from the 60’s and 70’s. Tom Baker is my Doctor, and I have them all, so they are very well used discs lol. I also like to put on old black and white B movies, especially my wonderful collection of Universal monster movies. The Bride of Frankenstein has to be my favorite of all time. 

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Cinema. And I have a massive blu ray collection because I am a huge film buff. I also love to play my PS4. I have lost many a day strapped to the controller. I also love to make cards and i am about to start making all my Christmas cards. And cooking!!

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

One of the most surprising things I have found through this experience is the readership of such books. I wrote Dead Camp because I wanted to write something as a gay man, from a gay perspective, for gay people. Yet, this genre, M/M romance, gay fiction, whatever you may call it, is read by a huge, enormous readership of wonderful, supportive, and very kind women. Married women with children, single women, just lots of fantastic women. I had no idea. When my Facebook presence began to grow, it was only then that I realised this fact, and I have met so very many wonderful women who have really enjoyed my books, and who really love this genre of M/M fiction, and that surprised me more than anything. I assumed, stupidly, that I was writing for a primarily gay audience. WRONG! And I am so glad, because I have now been accepted into a world that I never knew existed, and I love it, and I love the people who inhabit it. 

Which is your favorite of your own stories?

Up until now, I would have said Dead Camp book 2 because that was a pure joy to write and all the Shakespearian humour in it was a huge amount of fun to do. Also, the gas chamber scene was something that helped birth the entire series to begin with and I cried a lot when I wrote that. I felt every moment of that chapter to my bones. However, then Dead Camp 3 came along. It was an impossible project because the subject matter is so contentious and it was very difficult to research the era. It also contains one of my absolute favourite chapters so far in the series. I can’t say too much about it, but that last chapter of Dead Camp 3 broke me, in so many ways.

 

An E-Copy of Dead Camp 1

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Hi everyone, my name is Sean Kerr, and I am a 46-year-old gay man living in Cardiff, Wales, with my husband of 28 years, Derek. We have two cats, Rita and Harry, and a host of tropical fish.
By day, I am an Interior designer, and I have had a shop, Home Zone, in Cardiff with my amazing business partner Jayne, for eleven and a half years. It has, and continues to be a struggle, the recession hit a few years after we opened, and it has been challenging to say the least. I consider myself to be lucky though, because the shop pays me a wage, and I have been lucky enough to furnish my house with lovely thigs because of it, and I really do have some spectacular curtains lol.
I worked on building sites for years, and I used the money earned from that to put myself through college, specialist paint techniques etc. I trained in fine art, and then I went out and painted murals on client’s walls, and created Roman Bathrooms and fantasy, hand painted bedrooms, all the rage back in the late eighties and nineties. I then became the Interior Designer for a large DIY chain, and that is where I met Jayne, my business partner, and the rest is history.
By night I am an Author, and I am proud to be an author for Extasy Books. I currently have three books under my belt, with extasy about to release Dead Camp 3. I am also working on a secret project at the moment, something between book 3 coming out, and starting book 4 in the Dead Camp series. I love writing, so very much. It has always been my dream, and the wonderful Extasy Books has made my dream come true, and it is a world that I am totally in love with, and I hope to be a part of for a very long time to come.

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Image

GUEST POST and EXCERPT! In Vogue by Lucia Laurent

untitled

Title: In Vogue

Author: Lucia Laurent

Word Count: 108k

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Publisher: Ink & Smith Publishing

Release Date: September 29, 2016

 

 

BLURB:

King of New York fashion and editor-in-chief of the prestigious Couture magazine, Miles Brodeur loves his demanding job and a routine that means he always knows what’s coming next. Deeply involved in the magazine’s content and culture, Miles doesn’t have the time or the desire for a relationship.

Alexander Mackenzie is a former model turned magazine editor who is just learning about the politics that exist at the intersection of high fashion and publishing. He’s always dreamt of turning Miles’ head and one night, at a glamorous party, his fantasy becomes reality. But Miles’ workaholic nature conflicts with Alexander’s belief that “there’s more to life than what’s printed on the pages of a magazine.”

Despite their fundamental differences, Alexander can’t help but follow Miles back to New York, and once there it becomes clear their association could be addicting–and possibly life-changing.

Set in a world where the beauty of art and the written word collide, Miles is confronted by a fundamental question: is someone ever worth slowing down for?

GUEST POST:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author

Since guest posts almost always involve some kind of a text about how the author came to write their book and what struggles they faced, and you’ve probably reads tens of these already, I thought I could spice it up and offer you something a bit different. So here we go, here’s ten things you probably didn’t figure out until you’ve become a published author.

  1. It’s all about knowing the shelves you put your book on. Is it romance, fantasy, crime, thriller? How do you see your book? It’s all about having a clear vision in order to find your audience.
  2. Writing is the easiest part. Editing is slightly more painful, depending on who you work with and how much you’re willing to say goodbye to. Regarding this, I’d say to have an open mind. Sometimes people see what you can’t because you are emotionally too involved. The hardest part by a mile is promoting it. You wrote a book? Awesome. So did hundreds of thousands of others. What are you gonna do about it?
  3. Reviews are your friend. Go get ’em. Be nice when asking, give away free copies for honest reviews, figure it out. They are the best way to pursuade people to buy your book.
  4. Social media. Talk about your book. But talk about other things too. Find your voice, relate to other authors, figure out what your place in the community is. The same old “Buy my book, it’s out on XX/XX/XXXX” will get you nowhere. And it’s boring in nowhere.
  5. Don’t burn any bridges. Got a bad review? Rant about it to your friends in private. Never post your bad emotions online. Be graceful and yell on Snapchat to your closest people who won’t tell.
  6. Writing is a business. And you should treat it as such. Hard work on all the steps – writing, editing and promoting will eventually pay off. You just have to keep going.
  7. How else are you going to get a glimpse of other people’s worlds? Connect with them, give them feedback! They’ll appreciate it as much as you do when someone does the same for you! Plus, it’s the best thing in the world.
  8. You’ll feel like you didn’t do enough. And that’s actually great – it means you still have that spark to keep going! So push forward, and do more! Great thing about this era is ebooks exist and you can get your book to be a huge success at any time, not just right after the launch!
  9. Go beyond your core readership. Your mind should be set to getting everyone to read it, not just the people you’re sure would enjoy it. Don’t settle.
  10. Your book probably won’t become a bestseller and that’s okay. It’s your baby, and as long as you are happy with results, you did great. If not, consult tip no#1 and try some more.

untitled2AUTHOR BIO:

Lucia lives in Europe, often switching it up between cities and people. She’s a fan of all things fashion, music and pop culture as well as a firm believer in studying your way to excellence.

Lucia thinks she’s a really good organizer when in fact her apartment is way messier than she’d like to admit. She spends way too much on shoes and plane tickets. Her soft spots are desserts, but a good meal of any kind will always get a “yes, please.”

In Vogue is Lucia’s first novel. Hopefully, it won’t be her last.

 

 

EXCERPT:

“Is that why David Beckham has been featured multiple times on the pages of your life’s work? Does your criteria seriously consist of one thing—a man’s ass?”

“Well the ass is a man’s best asset,” Alexander smirks, holding the martini glass up. “And don’t call the magazine my life’s work. There are far more important things in life, Miles Brodeur, than what’s printed on the pages of a magazine.”

“And what might those be?” he presses, although whatever Alexander comes up with will never convince him. He already feels the arousal slightly leaving his body, even though Alexander is looking at him the way he hasn’t been looked at by anyone in a very long time.

Pages of a magazine. And this man called himself an editor. No wonder Miles skipped London Fashion Week. It seems to be made out of cotton candy fluff.

“Love,” Alexander shoots back, his eyes wide and sincere. Staring directly at him, as if Miles’s whole life story was written behind his eyelids.

“Ah, the classic answer.” After letting out an audible sigh, Miles slightly bows his head, signaling the end of the conversation, an act he mastered years ago. He feels like someone’s poured ice water over his head. He should have realized Alexander would be the kind of person who looks for a partner who will reach for the stars with him.

“If you’ll excuse me, I see my friend waiting for me. Thank you for the interesting conversation, Alexander.” His smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes when he looks at the young man before him. Zia, Miles’s longstanding best friend and Couture’s creative editor, has been lounging by a different bar, waiting patiently for Miles for the duration of this conversation. Miles shouldn’t use him as an excuse, but he does anyway.

Confusion is crystal clear on Alexander’s face, but that doesn’t stop Miles from turning on his heel and making his way toward that bar, Zia, and relative sanity.

Miles’s mind races, droplets of sweat forming on his forehead. The blue lines of his suit form a beautiful contrast to the ivory color of the floor as he strolls elegantly across the enormous hall, avoiding the tables filled with people interested to hear him speak. It’s not that he feels bad; only too much. His brain is in overdrive once again, and the alcohol he consumed not making it any easier for him to physically process it all.

Love was Roberto Luciano’s spring couture collection for Dior in 2009, which Miles oversaw Zia shooting in the gardens of Versailles.

Love was the thousands of hours of work that went into producing a one-of-a-kind bustier beaded with ivory pearls and a full skirt, evoking the classical romantic femininity of Dior’s silhouette. Miles still remembers the words Roberto said to him after he had shown the collection.

“It is our job to make people dream.” His Italian accent still rang bells in Miles’s mind, as if he was hearing him say it for the first time.

And to fall in love, Miles always added to the quote whenever he recalled that moment. Hopelessly, foolishly in love.

It’s what Miles always took for granted, knowing better than to question it. The Earth’s population might as well be divided into dream makers and dreamers. And dream makers don’t get to experience dreams. Artists don’t get to see happiness, because for them regularity isn’t optional; it is to be avoided at all costs. The list goes on in Miles’s head, always ending with the same conclusion. Some get to choose love, some get to choose their dreams. Only the lucky few get to have both. Miles has never been one of them.

Links: 

Amazon Pre-Order: http://goo.gl/65YGqA
Goodreads: http://goo.gl/q0YUB5
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lucia_laurent
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lucia_laurent/
Website: http://www.inkandsmith.com/invogue