Lloyd Meeker visits with Blood and Dirt!

BloodDirt_cvr-Full Size

I’m thrilled to welcome Lloyd Meeker to the Red Carpet today to talk about his new release – another Russ Morgan thriller *hurrah*! all the details below – and he also shares generous answers to my probing questions in a revealing interview :).

What would be the title of your life story, if it were a book? That’s a really powerful question. I’d have to pick Stumbling into Beauty, because like everyone else’s, my story is full of drama—orphaned at age five, childhood sexual abuse, minister in a church that had no room for my true sexuality, taking my private pilot’s license, conducting a community orchestra, trying to live as straight, breakdown, divorce and bankruptcy, starting over, getting sober, surviving dances with cancer. The list goes on. Everyone’s list does.

I’ve been lucky, though. Over and over along my particular journey I’ve inadvertently found beauty as a gift inside seeming hardship, some glimmer that has always led me to claim an as-yet undiscovered fragment of myself I hadn’t known I was missing. The result is I’m happier than I’ve ever been before. I have more sense of wonder at life and the world in general now than I did as a boy, more trust in where I’m intuitively headed even if I don’t always see where I’m going.

What is it about this book you’re most proud of? A couple of things. I really like Russ Morgan as a person. [Clare sez: me too!] We have a lot in common, from psychic sensitivity to sobriety, and I’m proud of how he grows in this story. Although I envisioned an arc for him from the start, he evolved in ways I didn’t expect when I began writing it. I believe this is one of the first mystery novels to be set in the burgeoning marijuana industry, and I’m proud of that. And I have to confess I think it’s a pretty good story overall.

What’s the best bit for you of the creative process? And the worst bit? The very best bit is when the basic idea hits, and I start making notes. Out of that chaos an actual story begins to appear. It’s magic! Worst bit is the self-doubt that hits me around the time a book is released. Some inside voices say it’s a stupid, shallow, flawed and irrelevant book, and I should be ashamed for trying to foist it on readers.

How important is a Happy Ever After to you in your books? HEA is not essential for me. What is essential is that my protagonist earns the end of his story, that it reflects the qualities of his journey, and that the conclusion represents some personally satisfying element of justice or balance. I prefer if that ending comes in a “happy” package, but it doesn’t have to. When the reader finishes the story, he just has to feel Yeah, that’s right. That’s my litmus test.

What do you enjoy – or find difficult! – about the role of secondary characters? I love how you can hike out into a secondary character without having to be so damn responsible for their actions. Lorena, the past life lady in The Companion, is so into the spirit world that she’s barely able to function in the material world, and would make a very difficult protagonist. But she was marvelous fun to write as Shepherd’s guide.

In Blood and Dirt, I fell in love with Billy Ellis, the content farm-boy I might have been in some other life. When I was a farm-boy I raised hogs for 4-H, and belonged to Future Farmers of America, as if the skinny little kid with thick glasses that was me could have ever made being a farmer work. It was wonderful to share Billy’s happiness in the ranch work, and his soul-deep relationship to the land.

Long vs short? In writing, that is! What’s your preference? I love long! Short can also work well, if it’s meaty enough. (I really am talking about short stories, you know!) My primary concern is for the story to be complete. I’m happier if the story is long-ish. I started on Blood and Dirt expecting it would be around 80k words. By the time I finished, it was only 50k. I’m praying it’s complete.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received, on your writing or otherwise? When Traveling Light, my first serious novel, came out in 2011 I was terrified I’d put out a pretentious joke. One of my first reviews on Amazon was from Victor J. Banis, one of the great pioneers of gay fiction. He said, “This is a beautifully written novel, an almost perfect marriage of style and one that defies easy classification. In fact, it’s not really much like anything I’ve read before […] What it is, for certain, is a wonderfully compelling read.”

I soared. And I began to believe in myself as a writer in a way I hadn’t before then. What he said changed me. It didn’t fix my neuroses, but it gave me hope. I’ve clung to that hope ever since.

If you weren’t sitting there right this very moment answering my book of questions, what else would you be doing? I have to go to the gym this morning. And then I need to get serious about getting on with the draft of my next book. And then…

Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence? Before the first sentence. The title is the story idea for me, or at least the story idea comes with a title. I have a bunch of primo titles, some six or seven years old, just waiting for me to write what belongs under them. I may never get to them all, but I love having them there, waiting for me.

What makes you laugh, in or out of fiction? I wish I knew, and I wish I could make other people laugh more often than I do. My sense of humor is not my strong suit. I love wit and whimsy, but I think I laugh hardest when I encounter a surprise that I can lose myself in. George Carlin made me laugh so hard.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work? Jim Frey taught me so much through his workshops and books. One day in a workshop he said, “If you find yourself bogged down in too much cleverness, stop. Just tell the story.” So when I find myself struggling with a plot idea or a passage that is too contrived, or a distraction, I try to refocus on the story, and just tell it.

Cover art – what do you like best/least? You know, like most gay men (and many straight women!) I love a shot of a muscular, tanned, male torso. The stuff of fantasies. But really, in most cases that probably says very little about the story. If I already know the book is gay fiction, a male body is no surprise. The cover art I like best actually says something about the story underneath the cover, and gets me excited about it, rather than playing to my lust. Which is too easy to do.

What’s the most adventurous thing you ever did? Come out. I was married and in my forties, and on the brink of a breakdown. For me coming out was like committing suicide and being reborn—terrifying and liberating at the same time. I felt I’d been dropped into a different world where I didn’t know the rules, didn’t know much of anything, not even what I really wanted. I had no clue. I had to build new relationships with my family and with people who thought they knew me. It’s been a profound adventure so far, and I’m aware there’s so much more, just waiting for me to grow into it.

You can be anywhere on earth – where would it be? To live? Probably somewhere on the Oregon coast. Or a condo in Madrid. Or an island in the Caribbean. Guess I have to stay put here in Florida until I can figure that out!

What did you want to be as a child? A mighty sorcerer. I still do. That’s never changed.

Reviews – read them or not? Absolutely, I read them. I’m still looking to understand who “my readers” are, so I’m vitally interested in what people say about my work. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a review is a description of one person’s experience with one of my stories and not a judgment from Olympus, but once that’s clear to me I usually do okay reading reviews. I don’t go to GoodReads often, though. Maybe once a month. To me there’s a distinction between criticism and attack that doesn’t seem to be a part of the GR culture.

How do you keep sexual tension alive and kicking in a book? By being open about it. I am so not a fan of silent, pining angst! If you want something enough, speak the f**k up! Having sexual energy out in the open, even if nothing happens with it, is far more interesting to me than secret longing. Being open speaks to the courage of the character to take risks, and to take initiative. Let the characters work it out between them, instead of forcing them to fight against the unspoken and all the accompanying misunderstandings. That’s really tedious to me.

What’s your favourite trope/set-up/cliché in fiction? Although it’s far more than a trope, my favorite structure in fiction is The Hero’s Journey. It’s so flexible, so powerful, and most good storytellers have given up trying to get away from it.

What’s your view on ensuring fiction includes diverse characters? Don’t tell the same story over and over. That’s like selling a truckload of paint-by-numbers canvasses of the same scene. Diversity of story leads to diversity of characters, and vice versa, so start with a different story and see where it leads. Simply painting the hero with blue eyes instead of green, or making him a policeman instead of a cowboy or alpha wolf does not advance real diversity, imho.

Or plot devices – for example, what might happen to our stories if we couldn’t use homophobia as a plot device? We should start finding out, even if homophobia is still a terrible and dangerous fact in real life. I believe we as authors of gay fiction have often (not always) relied on homophobia as a convenient emotional rallying point, a kind of shorthand to identify good guys and bad guys.

If you could time travel, where and when would you go? If I could be a rich aristocrat, probably Vienna in the late 18th century. To hear Mozart play his own work would be amazing. And I’d gladly stay around for Beethoven, too. I’d avoid Paris, though, lol!

What’s the one thing you’d change in the world tomorrow if you could? Serious or frivolous! I would make it so every person had to experience the emotional and physical impact of their conscious behavior toward others. Enlightened self-interest would make compassion and kindness paramount, and it couldn’t be faked.

You’ve won the lottery – what’s the first thing you’d buy? Comfortable homes for my two sisters.

~~Thanks so much for visiting the blog today, Lloyd! ~~

BLOOD AND DIRT is available at Wilde City Press in all formats.

Discover all Lloyd’s books and news at his website.

BLURB: Family squabbles can be murder. Psychic PI Russ Morgan investigates a vandalized marijuana grow in Mesa County Colorado, landing in the middle of a ferocious family feud that’s escalating in a hurry. Five siblings fight over the family ranch as it staggers on the brink of bankruptcy, marijuana its only salvation. Not everyone agrees, but only one of them is willing to kill to make a point. Russ also has a personal puzzle to solve as he questions his deepening relationship with Colin Stewart, a man half his age. His rational mind says being with Colin is the fast track to heartbreak, but it feels grounding, sane, and good. Now, that’s really dangerous…

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE
Saturday

“Russ Morgan Investigations is nearly invisible,” Evan Landry said as he settled elegantly in front of my desk. It was an accusation, but I assumed he meant well and it was intended for my own good. “You don’t even have a website. You really should embrace the twenty-first century.”

By all accounts, Mr. Landry was a successful restaurateur, so I was sure he knew all about promotion through websites and social media. I’d also heard he was ruthless and domineering. I got the domineering part right away.

I nodded, unashamed. “It’s true, I probably should, although personal referrals seem to work best for my business. Isn’t that how you found me?”

“Yes.” He seemed oblivious to the implication. “I want you to find out who trashed my sister’s marijuana grow,” he said, as nonchalant as if he’d asked for more coffee. His aura, however, was a mess, swirling bright red with fury. He was very good at hiding what he felt.

“You’ll find out it was my non-biological sister,” he said, making disdainful air quotes around the word, “Marianne Ellis. But I want proof.”

Interesting. Here in Colorado a case involving marijuana was inevitable, I supposed, but this was my first.

He brushed something offensive and invisible off his slacks. “I’d like you to start today on-site at the ranch, which is just south of Grand Junction. I’ll pay whatever your rate, travel, and per diem are. I want the bitch nailed. Quickly.”

I smiled, hoping I didn’t look too amused by his unexamined sense of entitlement. “Assuming we come to an agreement, I’ll be glad to drive up Monday.”

He frowned. “I want you there today. It’s Saturday. Even with weekend traffic you can be there by four at the latest.”

It might have occurred to him that I had obligations preventing me from jumping into my car at that moment, but apparently he’d dismissed that possibility as unimportant.

He fixed me with a glare that was undoubtedly successful on sous-chefs. “You said on the phone that you were available to take a new assignment.”

“And I am. I’ll be glad to get there Monday. I have a commitment here in Denver tomorrow I need to honor.”

“You came highly recommended,” he said, changing tack. “I hope I haven’t been misled. You don’t strike me as being very responsive to a client’s interests.”

“Just the opposite,” I said, only mildly offended. “I take my commitments very seriously, including one to you, should I make it. That means you don’t have to worry about me jumping ship if someone comes by with a more attractive offer. I won’t do that for you, but I won’t do it to you, either.”

He pursed his lips. “Okay.” He sounded miffed. “Monday, then.”
Continue reading

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Interview with author A. B. Gayle

GifStarI recently featured A. B. Gayle’s new book on my blog, and she followed it up with answers to my interview questions. The details of the new release follow.

Tyler Knoll’s Just for Fun by A.B. Gayle

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Clare: Tyler’s adventures in these episodes are all centred around his thoughts, experiences and desires. And what a rollicking time he has! LOL As a reader, I ask myself, is he a “real” character – a vehicle for the author – a moralist and adventurer for our times – or maybe a cipher? Can you give us a brief overview of Tyler, as *you* see him?

AB: Hi Clare. Thanks for inviting me to your blog. That’s a good question. Tyler is probably a part of myself. The innocent part, the bit that says and thinks dumb things. As such, he became a vehicle for me to explore a number of situations. I wanted to create a character who is naive and good hearted, but is a lot wiser than they appear. Maybe he’s the Forrest Gump of the MM world!

Clare: Tyler is all about the first person POV! *smile* What do you enjoy about writing in this style? And what are the frustrations? Do you have any ongoing preference in your books?

AB: ***Chuckles*** We’ve discussed this before, and I delved into the topic once before on the Dreamspinner Blog here. In short, I find it easier to immerse myself in the character in first person. As Tyler says, “I feel stupid saying Tyler did this and Tyler did that. You know who I am. The name is on the cover, and this way I don’t get my he’s mixed up. Unless it’s a ménage, of course, and then it’s always a bit tricky as to who’s got what where. But, rest assured, I don’t plan on having any of them. Not until I’m a bit older. Or a better writer. Whichever comes first.”

In this book, particularly, it suited the situation because Tyler is so much in his head he’s oblivious to what is happening around him. As his friend Dilbert notes later, he has very few lines of his own dialogue because so little of what he thinks about actually comes out. But in life, none of us know what is going in each other’s heads. We can only guess or try to interpret from body language.

There are dangers in this however, as some readers can’t identify or empathise with people they don’t agree with. None of us like to be thought of as stupid. So to have a character like Tyler can be off-putting. I hope they will persist with the story and see that he’s like this because he’s nervous. He’s been told all his life that he’s not as good as anyone else and he believes it.

The big difference in my book is that he gradually changes as he starts to gain confidence and survive his adventures. So, in that respect, he is unlike Forrest Gump.

Clare: As an author/reader, I can’t miss the asides in the books about MM romance tropes, as well as more general editing references, and comments on reviews etc. How did you feel about including these? Did you find it empowering, cathartic or just plain fun?

AB: I like to think of it as a tribute to them! I did a stint of preofessional editing for a while and beta for a couple of people (who return the favour). I have huge respect for good editors, but I don’t think a lot of readers truly appreciate how influential they can be to a book. Around that time, I read a stack of books written by a best selling author. The quality and style of the books varied a lot. It was more than just plot and character difference, I suspect it reflected who had edited it. At one stage, she switched to self publishing and lots of avoidable errors slipped in. Homophones etc.  She very much belongs to the category, “If you don’t see the problem, how do you know your editor has done it correctly?” Lots of readers don’t care about things like this. I do, so they leap out of the page at me.

I even contacted another author who often has the “bugle/bulge” mistake and offered to proof read his books to catch that type of thing, but he regretfully declined as his partner of many years is his editor and would be offended if anyone else helped.

I think what I was trying to point out that we are very much at the mercy of our editors. They are the hidden foundation stones of our stories. They can make or break our reputations. There are some great ones out there but they are not all perfect.

I’ve even heard cases where authors give the rough story to their editor and rely on them to make it right.

Words matter to me.

But I’ve strayed off topic and ignored the fact that you asked me whether the asides empowered me. Were they cathartic or just plain fun? All three. I’m too sensitive to reviews , ratings and sales. I doubt this book will be a best seller (sorry Lily). It’s probably more of a book for authors who will chuckle, identify wth some of the asides but not want to admit to that publicly. Perhaps there is something about Aussie humour that allows us to laugh at ourselves.

Clare: In more general matters – what would be the title of your life story, if it were written?

AB: Been there, done that.

Although that phrase has a condescending edge to it. Going there and doing that? Want to go there and do that? When I look back at my life to date it has been filled with lots of different experiences and I hope I have many more before I die.

Clare: As an author, what do you think is the best part of the creative process?

AB: Coming up with an idea that you feel is different to what has already been written. Which is also the biggest source of writer’s block. But when it happens, you have to grab it.

Clare: Long or short? Stories, that is LOL. Tyler’s are shorties, but I’ve read your novels, so know you write both. What advantages do you find in either?

AB: Humor – short, definitely. But I find short stories difficult to write which is why I don’t participate in calls for submissions for anthologies. All the shorts I’ve written have not been well received. Or if they have been, people complain that they are too short. I have great respect for authors who can pull off good short stories. They are not easy to write.

Clare: How do you rate the importance of secondary characters? Are they of major interest in your books, or in a supporting role?

AB: Have you got an hour?

I did a great workshop once with Tere Michaels who demonstrated how secondary characters could be used and were needed to drive a plot forward. It’s not easy, but once you get the hang of it, they can really make a book feel more real. However, sometimes they take over the book and their personality dwarfs that of one or both of the main characters. That can be a distraction.

It’s a personal thing. I was taught that a romance in particular consists of a string of scenes between your two major characters wth other stuff providing the filler. The main growth of your characters (the emotional arc) should be through their interaction with each other and from the impact of the circumstances they find themselves in.

In my writing therefore I avoid the trope where a lot of this change stems from the interfering family member or best friend. When the communication lines and dialogue flow better in the scenes wtth a secondary character, I wonder whether the “couple” truly are the best fit.

That doesn’t mean I avoid having secondary characters or that they can’t have an active role with the character or the plot. In fact, the longer the story, the more you need them to add spice and colour. Keeping the spotlight and focus on the main pairing is the tricky bit.

Clare: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received, as a person or an author?

AB: Not sure it’s the best, but the one I get most at work and in writing is thanks for my help.

Clare: You can be anywhere on earth – where would it be, and why? And/or what would you do there?

AB: ***Grumbles*** I hate these questions! I travel a lot and have seen many places. I love Australia, but I fell in love with Italy. Think “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Not so much for the scenery, mainly because of the food!

Clare: The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. Carl Jung (1875-1961)

Is there a specific quotation that lingers in your mind when you write?

AB: Not so much a quote as the underlying  lesson from The Cocktail Party by T.S. Eliot. People need to be allowed to change. We tend to pigeonhole and categorise people when we meet them. Even if we were correct in our assumptions, if they change or make an effort to be different, we have to adapt our thinking to this. The corollary of this is the scenario parents and families face in “coming out” stories. The person they always knew hasn’t changed but our picture of them has to. We have to reconfigure our brains to see them differently (as they want to be seen) and accept them as such. It’s a fascinating topic.

Sorry it’s not a short quote and thank you for taking the time to listen to my ramblings. Perhaps I can give a plug here to the great interview you did for me a while back on sequels: What Happens After the Last Page is Turned.

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Clare: Thanks, AB and good luck with the new release:

Title: Tyler Knoll’s Just For Fun Series (Books 1-4)
Genre: Satire, humor, gay, gay romance, LGBT
Length: Novella
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Synopsis
Tyler Knoll was born one wild, stormy night in April 2013.

Of course, Tyler might tell you he was born twenty years earlier, but should we believe anything he says? That’s for you to decide.

In Tyler’s first adventure—like many a gay man before him—he was SNARED by gay porn, wallowing in tales of bigger, stronger, harder….

Then his fickle mind was seduced and SHREDDED by the prospect of BDSM and slavery.

When a Big Misunderstanding SLASHED at Tyler’s sanity, almost costing him his life, he turned to another genre for his salvation. But even this encounter proved potentially hazardous—not from freezing temperatures, but at the hands of irate fans.

Finally, tired and SCREWED by his all his trials and tribulations, he discovers—like many storybook heroes before him—that sometimes Mr. Right is closer than we think.

Buy linkstk-640

Everyone who bought SNARED gets a 20% discount at buying the Just for Fun composite from the WIP website! Check the website for details.

 

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/?p=1278
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-tylerknoll039sjustforfuncompositebooks14-1839904-149.html
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tyler-knolls-just-for-fun-ab-gayle/1122175760?ean=9781925222548

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Liam Livings – the hilarious true story behind Wrong Room, Right Guy + giveaway

wrong room possFrom the talented Liam Livings:

What is the story behind this story?

True story. Honestly! A long time ago, in a land far far away, there was a man called Liam Livings who…Actually, sorry about that. So, basically, I’d been to UK Meet at least once, and I’d written a blog post HERE about the benefit for authors going to those sort of events. Basically, writing can be quite lonely, you don’t know what you don’t know, and meeting authors and readers face to face is great fun and gives you the opportunity to talk writing and books in a heroically geeky and deep way no one else would cope with. On one of the comments to this post someone mentioned the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) and said they had local chapter meetings authors could attend.

I joined the RNA – money very well spent, they require that you’ve written a novel of at least 30,000 words with a romantic element within it, and that you’ve not paid for the book to be published, so it must be ‘traditional publishing model’. http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/join/full_and_associate_membership
They’ve since changed their membership criteria to include independent publishing, but way back in 2013 they hadn’t. The details of independent publishing and RNA membership will be on their website from September 2015.

I went to the RNA’s London and south east chapter meeting and had a whale of a time (see HERE). Everyone was wonderfully welcoming, I made some great friends, and learned so much at the workshop. I’ve continued attending as often as I can, and have recently started taking Clare London with me. It’s always such fun watching some people’s face when Clare and I say we write gay romance. Gay as in two men? I usually scrabble about and say it’s not erotica, but it does have some sex in it, which sometimes gets a few nodded heads. Clare and I are gradually trying to convert them to gay romance, one chapter meeting at a time 😉

[Clare interjects: 🙂 ]

Anyway, but more of that’s not for now. So at this first meeting I got talking to Jean Fullerton who used to chair these London chapter meetings, and it turned out we live a hop skip, a nail bar and a hairdressers away from one another in Essex, and she had just started setting up a local Essex writers group, Waltham Abbey Writers (WAW). This was separate to the RNA arrangements in Chelmsford and was for writers of all ages, abilities, experience and genres, and did I want to come along.

I took the same approach I’d taken up to that point and still do, when it comes to writing questions. I said yes. My only proviso is anything involving horses and line dancing, but that’s not for now either…

Jean Fullerton gave me the details of where WAW met and one Monday evening a while ago, I drove to the village hall about 15 mins from my house.

I walked into the village hall and cautiously poked my head around the door of the largest room. ‘Is this the writers group?’ I asked, taking in a room full of mostly pretty athletic looking men of various ages, mostly in track suit bottoms and T shirts. And I don’t mind telling you right here, right now, I did feel something stirring inside me. Oi oi, saveloy, this lot of blokes look pretty fit, I’ll have a right laugh talking plot and character with them.

This thought was quickly dashed on the hard rocks of reality when one of the men walked towards me, wiped his nose on the back of his hand – again, nice track suit bottoms that seemed to hang nicely around the groin area, and some pretty spiffing trainers too – and he said, ‘Na mate, that’s next door I fink.’ (Before anyone accused me of being snobbish about people from Essex, I’ll just say 1) that was what he said, and there’s nothing wrong with an Essex accent any more than a Yorkshire, Bristol, Scottish accent 2) Mum and Dad were born and grew up in Essex and I think it’s a wonderful place to live with mostly lovely people 3) TOWIE has an awful lot to answer for when it comes to people’s perception of Essex 4) I have cousins, aunties and uncles who grew up and still live in Essex and I won’t have a word said against it and finally 5) I live in Essex and I welcome it in all its slightly brash, east end overspill, beautiful coast line, concrete new towns, chocolate box villages, forest on the edge of London ways. I welcome all of it with open arms. – coughs – Back to the story now…

I profusely apologised to this man and wished the ground would open up and swallow me, while backing slowly out of the room. It was at this point I caught the writing on a black board propped at the back of the room, behind a table covered in tea and coffee making facilities. In white chalk it read: Cocaine Anonymous, followed by a number of points listed below. I didn’t have chance to read the points, turns out they were the 12 steps, which I researched later online. All I could think of was how I wasn’t going to get to see the athletic, weather worn men in the sometimes too tight track suit bottoms ever again.

I was very sad at this thought.

In all honestly, I had a quick debate with myself about jumping in my car and driving home.

I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t. I crossed the foyer of the village hall, past a board of notices flapping in my windy, disappointed wake, knocked on a door and walked into a much smaller room filled with a group of women, a trestle table covered in bread pudding and mugs of tea, coffee and orange squash. ‘Is this the writers group?’ I asked quietly.

Jean looked up from her ipad, smiled and said of course it was, and make myself at home, help myself to tea and coffee and there’s bread pudding if I wanted it too.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful introduction to a local writers group. There was a wide variety of experience from Jean who’s had 6 books published by a mainstream publisher and has an agent, me, who’d had no books published, but 4 contracted to be published by small independent gay romance / gay fiction publishers, to those who had written short stories for weekly magazines, and those who had always promised themselves they would write, but had never got round to it. Tea was drunk, bread pudding was eaten, those who wanted read extracts of their writing and we critiqued it in a constructive way. One of the ground rules of the group, and we keep to this to the day, now I’m helping Jean and Victoria run it, is we don’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to, and we’re there to provide support and guidance for everyone to write how they wish – be that publication, or writing for themselves.

I returned home, still if I’m honest with myself, feeling quite sad that the writers group didn’t consist of the athletic weather worn men in the sometimes too tight track suits, and that evening and once I’d mourned the loss of track suits, the men and all that it entailed, I told the BF about my escapades with the men in the track suit bottoms and T shirts, and walking into the wrong room. He listened intently and while in bed together a bit later that evening, he said, ‘That’s hilarious. You should write that as a story. That’s the start of a story. And then this could happen, and how about if that happened, and then what about if this happened. And you could have a character who does this, and how about including someone who does that…’

‘Stop, I need to get my notebook,’ I shouted. I think one of the cats jumped off our bed then. I returned to bed with my notebook and over the next twenty minutes we talked about what could happen in the story, and what the characters could be, and his links with a magazine publishing company were useful too, and of course we agreed it had to have a happy ending. Cos who doesn’t like a happy ending?

I frantically scribbled it all down in my note book, and a few months later I spent a month writing it. And the story as it’s published, is pretty much exactly as we talked about that evening in bed together, both mourning the fact I wouldn’t get to see the men in the track suit bottoms ever again.

*******

GifStarTo win a copy of one ebook from any of Liam’s published books, please answer the following question in the comments below:

What was your wrong room experience  or the best mistake you’ve ever made?

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THE BOOK: Wrong Room, Right Guy by Liam Livings

Simon’s the wrong man in the wrong place; trying to teach English to kids who couldn’t care less, he’d really rather be a writer – but it’s only when his best friend bullies him into it that he takes the plunge and joins his local creative writing group. Even then things don’t quite work out the way he planned; blundering into the wrong room at the Village Hall he encounters a group of recovering cocaine addicts and he wants to know more … which is the start, for Simon, of a double life and a whole new secret identity, not to mention an intriguing relationship …

Buylinks: Manifold Press : Amazon.co.uk : Amazon.com

About Liam Livings

Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.

You can connect with Liam

Twitter @LiamLivings

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/liam.livings

Blog http://www.liamlivings.com/blog

Website www.liamlivings.com

Sue Brown – The Layered Mask + Giveaway

layeredmaskNow out from Dreamspinner, SUE BROWN’s extended Regency love story.

Threatened by his father with disinheritance, Lord Edwin Nash arrives in London with a sole purpose: to find a wife. A more than eligible bachelor, and titled to boot, the society matrons see to it he’ll be shackled to one of the girls by the end of the season.

During a masquerade ball, Nash hides from the ladies vying for his attention. He is discovered by Lord Thomas Downe, the Duke of Lynwood. Nash is horrified when Downe calmly tells him that he knows the secret that Nash has hidden for years, and that he sees through the mask that Edwin presents to the rest of the world.

And then he offers him an alternative.

BUYLINKS: DreamspinnerAmazon.comAmazon UKARe

Giveaway: $15 giftcard for Amazon or Are.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bodyguards 4 by RJ Scott – out TODAY!

Bodyguards 4

Book 4 in the Bodyguards Inc series: Out July 31st

BUYLINKS:  http://rjscottauthor.blogspot.com/2015/01/undercover-lovers.html

Book 1 – Bodyguard to a Sex God

Book 2 – The Ex Factor

Book 3 – Max and the Prince

Blurb:

Ross and Kyle’s story.

Even if Ross and Kyle make it out of this alive, will the secrets in Kyle’s heart stay safe? 

Kyle gets caught up in a case that is entirely unrelated to Bodyguards Inc. Not only does he abruptly need time off, but he has to have absolute trust and complete support from Ross without being able to tell Ross a thing.

CIA Agent Stefan Mortimer needs Kyle’s help with a case of a geneticist and a missing formula. Trouble is being led right to Kyle’s door, endangering the life of the team he has built and the man that he loves.

Going undercover, with Ross as his husband, is the worst kind of torture in so many ways, but it is the only answer. Kyle and Ross may well live through this but Kyle is convinced his heart won’t survive.

Excerpt

Chapter 1 

As soon as Max left the room, Kyle reached for the phone. He hesitated, with his fingers an inch from the handset, and listened to its beep indicating a call waiting.

Stefan Mortimer was at the other end of the call. That was a name Kyle hadn’t expected to hear again for a very long time, and the fact the man had contacted Kyle didn’t bode well. Especially considering Kyle thought, his and Stefan’s association had been put to bed a long time ago. A twinge of guilt accompanied the memories. He’d been the one told to leave, he was the one who’d had no choice but to go, but leaving Stefan behind had never sat well with him.

A combination of anxiety and fear fluttered in his chest as he picked up the handset and pressed the button to connect.

Only to be offered a line that was dead.

“Stefan?” Kyle said to the empty air. For a second he held the receiver to his ear, then, very deliberately, replaced the handset in the cradle. Kyle rested his head on his hands, scrubbing his face to clear the tension. When the door opened, he knew it was Ross. He always knew when it was Ross.

“He got cut off,” Ross announced.

Kyle nodded. “So I see.”

Ross sat down in the visitor’s chair directly opposite. “Is he a new client? Should I start a file for him?”

“No, an old….” How could he describe Stefan? Ex-lover, partner, old friend? “Someone I knew.”

Ross eased forward in his chair, his gray eyes bright with interest. “Knew? Like you used your experience as a spy to know?” he asked in his usual inquisitive tone.

“From before,” Kyle said. He was deliberately vague. As he was every time anyone at Bodyguards Inc. skirted near what Kyle used to do for a living. Ross loved to tease that Kyle had been CIA black ops. To be honest, Ross wasn’t that far from the truth—but that had been a long time ago now.

Giveaway
Competition to win $15 Amazon/Are giftcard, and 2 further prizes of RJ Scott e-books – closes 8th August at 00:01 GMT (London)

asterisk-by-digium1a Rafflecopter giveaway

One Marine, Hero by @emlynly–sexy, suspenseful #gayromance #military

He’s a hero to everyone
but himself

“A well planned, well executed romance with an awesome mystery.”

— Tessa, Inked Rainbow Reads

OneMarine,Hero-400x600

Hot Marines, plenty of romance,
& a touch of mystery
Coming August 17 to Dreamspinner Press

Pre-order your copy at Dreamspinner Press

Read the first 4 chapters now

One Marine, Hero

Romance, Mystery/Suspense, Hot Marines!

by EM Lynley

If you enjoy military men, danger, sizzling romance and a peek behind the scenes at the White House, don’t miss this one!

This is a story I really enjoyed writing! As some of you know, I used to work as a White House economic adviser. Some of my behind-the-scenes experiences with Marine One on the White House lawn are included here.

If you recall a few months ago I mentioned taking helicopter flying lessons. They were research for this book! You’re really in for a treat this time around.

Pre-order at Dreamspinner Press
Add to your Goodreads shelf
ARC/Blog Tour Sign-up sheet (Reviewers only)

 

He’s a hero to everyone but himself.

Marine helicopter pilot Captain Jake Woodley struggles after receiving the Medal of Honor for a mission where he didn’t bring every man back alive. Being called a hero and having his photo plastered across the news makes him hate himself more. He despises his cushy job flying with the Marine One squadron, carrying the president and other officials, when he’d rather risk something, even death. He gets his wish when he’s ordered to fly a series of classified trips.

Matt “Beau” Beaumont has been relegated to covering the fashion beat after getting downsized from a hard-news position. But an unexpected invitation to a White House dinner might be the boost his career needs. Offering a hot marine an after-dinner blowjob wasn’t on Beau’s agenda, but when Jake takes him up on the proposition, some phenomenal casual sex soon blossoms into a relationship both of them crave.

When Beau’s extracurricular research uncovers defense department funding anomalies, he soon discovers the trouble goes higher than he imagined. Just as events start to make sense, the investigation puts Beau and Jake in deadly danger. It takes a daring play by Jake—risking everything he loves—to uncover the truth.

Read the first 4 chapters now

Pre-order your copy!

 

A Raffelcopter Giveaway

 

About the Author

EM at GRL book signingEM Lynley writes gay erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. A Rainbow Award winner and EPIC finalist, EM has worked in high finance, high tech, and in the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing hot, romantic man-on-man action. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.

 

She is the author of Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells, the Precious Gems series from Dreamspinner Press, and the Rewriting History series starring a sexy jewel thief, among others.

 

Visit her online WebsiteBlogFree ReadsFacebookTwitterNewsletterPinterest

Email: em@emlynley.com

On the red carpet – Mickie B Ashling

Please welcome my fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Mickie B. Ashling, to talk about her new release.

And when you read where it’s set, you’ll realise how VERY apt it is for me, after the tooth-saga-beset year I’m currently experiencing! Ah well, what doesn’t kill us, and all that … :).

Now over to Mickie …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fractured1bThank you for inviting me to share an excerpt from my latest release Fractured. As an avid reader, I’ve come across every sort of character imaginable: firemen, vampires, shape-shifters, doctors, polo players, cops, teachers, you name it, I’ve seen it. The one thing I rarely find are stories featuring dentists. Let’s face it, almost everyone agrees on one thing—dentists rank up there with morticians and tax collectors. Most people associate them with pain and financial ruin, when they’re only trying to make things better, not worse. Imagine what your life would be like without teeth. Pretty grim if you ask me. Nowadays, you can get replacements with a lot less pain and trauma than in years past. But enough with the PSA. What I’m trying to say is we need dentists as much as we need our cops, firemen, and teachers. Let’s take them out of the Dark Ages and try to see them in a better light. The majority of them are pretty cool, and some are even drool worthy. What are the odds of falling in love at first sight in a dental chair? Stranger things have happened, and they’re usually happening in my world.

Like the previous novels in this series, Fractured is set in a San Francisco dental clinic. Characters from Impacted and Bonds of Love make guest appearances but Fractured can be read as a stand-alone. My latest dentist is Lance Roberts, new to the Bay Area and hoping to find the perfect sub to complete his Dominant nature. Roque Celdran is a struggling Mexican-American who’s just suffered some facial trauma due to an unfortunate encounter at a BDSM club. Neither man expects to find romance in this incongruous setting, but they do. Here’s the official blurb and a short excerpt.

Blurb
Roque “Ro” Celdran dreams of a better life, far away from the hand-to-mouth existence of his migrant worker family. He moves to San Francisco to study Landscape Design but finds himself short of cash. Tony, Ro’s identical twin, comes up with a plan to help Ro make ends meet. The BDSM club Tony frequents is looking for gay men to act as submissives to the Dommes-in-training. Ro reluctantly takes the job and falls headfirst into a world he neither understands nor desires.

Lance Roberts is the new doctor at the dental practice started by Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy. On the surface, he seems to have it all: the Mensa IQ, blond and blue-eyed good looks, and the determination to make it in his competitive field. Underneath lies a frustrated Dom in search of the perfect sub who can handle his obsessive behavior and debilitating need for control.

When Ro ends up in Lance’s dental chair, the last thing either one expects is a physical and mental connection. Ro’s attraction to “White Bread” never pans out, and Lance’s weakness for Latinos always leads to a dead end. Could this time be different? What happens between the two alphas leads to a lot of soul-searching and some surprising conclusions.

Bio
Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

Fractured is now available in paperback or e-book format at Dreamspinner Press HERE.

You can contact Mickie at mickie.ashling@gmail.com or leave a comment on her website at http://mickieashling.com or her blog http://mickiebashling.blogspot.com.

Excerpt
Dr. Roberts walked in before Ro turned on the music, and he removed one earbud so he could hear the doctor talk. He exuded the same confidence that had set Roque at ease when they’d first met, and this morning he was a welcome sight. An easy smile creased Lance’s face as he greeted him. The light-blue gown made of some papery fabric made him look like one of the surgeons on his grandmother’s favorite telenovela. Dr. Roberts epitomized everything Roque ever dreamed of in a man, although he was just as unattainable as the proverbial stars he longed to reach. He could only imagine Tony’s caustic remarks about his attraction for “white bread.” Was it the blond hair and blue eyes that yanked his chain, or was it everything else the man symbolized? Now wasn’t the time to psychoanalyze his feelings for the good doctor. There would be more time in the future to figure out what, if anything, was drawing him toward the guy. Hell, he probably had a wife and two kids waiting at home.
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