Love Wins Anthology

Because love should always win. ❤

It’s been a tough week for me, and I know I’m not alone in this. Fortunately, I received a little nugget of light today that lifted my spirits. I know the LGBT+ community is facing a tough four years, but now that I’ve had time to mourn and process what happened on Tuesday, I’ve gotten to the point where I just want to turn up the gay.

love-winsAnd what better way to start than by announcing the release date for Dreamspinner Press’s Love Wins Anthology! The collection of short stories with positive and uplifting endings will be released December 12th, and all proceeds will be donated to LGBT organizations in Central Florida.

I’m so happy that I could do something positive and meaningful to show my support for the victims of the Pulse shooting and offer a helping hand to those in desperate need of it. I fear the…

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Interview: Brooke Edwards

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I recently connected with fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Brooke Edwards. While we write different sorts of stories, we definitely found common ground in a story well told. To help celebrate the release of Brooke’s novella, When Fate Falls Short, I asked her a few questions about her process, and what’s coming up next!

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We’ll begin at the end: Did you start writing this story knowing it wouldn’t have a happy ending for all concerned? 

This one was a bit difficult in terms of how it came to be! I started with the characters and the central idea of this love triangle between Nathan, Sean and Jesse. While I knew someone would end up hurting, I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen in the end until I was writing it. The story itself came out piece by piece over nearly a year so it was definitely a journey for me too.

 

How did you get from love triangle to Nathan dying and his heart being donated to Jesse?

Goodness, I wish I had a satisfactory answer to that question, it’s one that haunted me the whole way through! I think I needed a reason for the relationship between Sean and Jesse to be so difficult and having Nathan forever there between them, especially just his memory, seemed like the best way to make that work. There was this wonderful, heartbreaking kind of beauty in the idea of Nate’s heart finding it way back to Sean like that only for it to not work out.

 

One of the aspects of When Fate Falls Short I loved was the realism. The fact that bad things happen (even to good people) and we have to deal with them. I felt for Sean and Jesse (and Nathan, of course), but could so easily see why it wasn’t going to work out for them. Were you tempted to give Sean and Jesse a happy ever after?

I love that you connected with the realism too – as much as I love the HEA aspect of fiction, the ones that hit me the hardest are exactly that. When bad things happen to good people and all you can do is try and keep your head above water. There were definitely points where I thought about scratching the ending and having at least a more hopeful ending for Sean and Jesse but in the end I left it alone because that ending felt right.

 

I like to imagine that Sean and Jesse meet again five years down the road, and that maybe things are easier for them this time around. Do you think you’ll ever revisit their story?

As tempting as bringing them back together once they’re in a better place sounds, I have to say that for me, their happily ever after isn’t with each other. I definitely have plans to revisit their characters – one of my current projects is a spin-off with the boys’ best friends! The ending for that one is definitely a lot more optimistic and shows that although I left Sean and Jesse in bleak situations, they definitely don’t stay that way forever.

Good to know, and after reconsidering the story, I think that’d be the best outcome for all.

 

25629618I’ve read your other Dreamspinner Press title Mens Rea. It’s another great slice of life, and quite different in tone. Do you plan out your stories in advance, or do you start writing and see where they go?

Mens Rea will always be special, in no small part because it was my first published piece. I would like to say that it was a much more straightforward process and that I went in with a detailed plan and everything flowed but I would definitely be lying. Writing is all-immersive for me and I often start with the best intentions and find myself utterly overruled by the characters. They usually come first, more-or-less fully formed and running the show. I’m simply the often frustrated mouthpiece!

 

Do you begin with an outline, or just an idea?

I usually begin with only the vaguest idea rather than an outline or detailed plot. The characters are the ones who carry it from there.

 

What are you writing now?

I’m working on that little spin-off and playing with a few possibilities for a culinary series. Outside of writing, cooking and baking are real passions of mine so combining all of them has been teasing me for a long time. The characters have taken the wheel from me again though so we’ll just have to see how that one goes!

 

I’m looking forward to both projects! The combination of food and romance always works for me, and I’m eager to revisit Sean and Jesse through the stories of their friends. Thank you for visiting with me today and good luck with your works in progress. J

Thank you so much for having me! It’s been wonderful chatting about this story with you ❤

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30858688When Fate Falls Short

Childhood sweethearts Nathan Maxwell and Sean Adams took ten years to realize they belonged together, followed by ten years of bliss. When it is snatched away, Sean is left alone with the aftermath. Lost and grieving in a world that doesn’t make sense without Nathan by his side, he struggles to keep himself afloat… until he meets Jesse Lawrence.

The shadow of a congenital heart defect has hung over Jesse like a dark cloud all his life. Nathan’s death saves Jesse’s life by providing the heart Jesse needs to survive, and a chance encounter between their best friends plants Jesse in Sean’s orbit. But how well can a love triangle between a dead man, his grieving lover, and the one with his heart beating in his chest possibly turn out? Real feelings and pure intentions might not be enough.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

Dreamspinner | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | ARe

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Connect with Brooke: Facebook | Twitter

 

 

Available Now: Counting Fence Posts

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I’ve passed the ten book mark, therefore I should no longer be anxious about new releases. Right? Wrong. Every new book represents another little piece of me out there in the world, and each of my books carries a story I care about and characters I love and want the best for. My greatest hope is that my readers will care just as much, that reading each of my stories will leave them feeling satisfied and hopefully happy they stumbled into one of my worlds. That my characters will be the ones they remember.

Counting Fence Posts represents a slightly new direction for me. More normally I write characters who are fairly secure in regards to their sexuality. In some cases, they live in a society where there is no bias. No discrimination. In others, my characters are mature enough to know who they are and to love themselves for it.

Writing a questioning character is a somewhat fraught exercise, particularly in this genre – because there is no one way to be queer. People have been trying to chart and define queerness for decades, and while we might find comfort in labels, in finding our tribe, no one can live the question that is us, but us – individually. So my characters are always going to be their own kind of person – gay, straight, or somewhere in between – and not all of them are going to fully understand who they are. In writing them, I want to allow them time to be confused, to mislabel themselves and to make mistakes. To sometimes be offensive – because they’re human – but because I like to write good guys, to always have compassion in their hearts. To be open to new thought, new love. Ready for their happy ever after.

Counting Fence Posts begins Henry and Marc’s story and, for this chapter and the next, Marc is going to ask a lot of questions. While fielding them, Henry will have a few of his own. Ultimately, though, they’re doing what people have been doing since the beginning – they’re connecting, jostling, clashing and mingling. They’re forming a relationship together, one of emotion and attraction. They may not be the answer to one another’s questions, but if they don’t ask, they’ll never know.

I hope their journey appeals to you as much as it did to me, and that you’ll cheer for them as I do. ❤

Because I have two books releasing within a week of one another, I’m doing one big tour for both. Details of my giveaway and tour stops are below. I hope you’ll follow along for excerpts, character interviews, playlists, games, recipes and behind the book posts!


CountingFencePostsORIG-final-01Counting Fence Posts

There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.

As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight…maybe…and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat…and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.

Amazon | Amazon UKB&N | Kobo | ARe | Dreamspinner Press

 

Giveaway

Prize: A copy of When Was the Last Time and Out in the Blue plus a $25 credit at the Dreamspinner Press store.

Terms: Rafflecopter runs from 12:00 AM EST 7/23/2016 to 12:00 AM EST 8/3/2016. Giveaway is open internationally. Gift card value is US dollars. Winner will be contacted via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Two Books, One Tour

7/23     Counting Fence Posts Gay Book Reviews

7/25     Counting Fence Posts The Novel Approach

7/26     Counting Fence Posts Love Bytes

7/27     Both Books!    Dreamspinner Blog

7/27     Best in Show   Gay Book Reviews

7/27     Best in Show   Queer Sci Fi

7/27     Best in Show   Here Be Magic

7/28     Counting Fence Posts Joyfully Jay

7/28     Best in Show   Diverse Reader

7/29     Best in Show   Foodie Friday

7/29     Counting Fence Posts Divine Magazine

8/1       Best in Show   Sinfully

8/2       Best in Show   Prism Book Alliance

Coming Soon: Best in Show

Best in Show is the second title I have releasing in July! This story is one of my favourite things I’ve written. It’s cute and funny and has a little mystery wrapped around a sweet love story. Or the beginning of a love story. I have more adventures planned for Julian and Mac! It’s also the first time I’ve written paranormal and I had a lot of fun with Mac both as a house cat and as the sweet human being he is in between times.

Alexandria Corza designed the cover for this book. I’m so thrilled with it. I wasn’t as sure of what I wanted for this story, but she took my ideas and came up with the perfect blend of fun and mystery!

Best in Show is available now for pre-order on the Dreamspinner website. You can also add it on Goodreads. Read on below for the cover copy and a brief excerpt!

Solitary mystery writer Julian Wilkes doesn’t want a pet, but his sister persuades him to visit Lingwood Animal Rescue, where he is immediately taken with a large ginger tabby cat. Before he can settle into the joys of cat ownership, however, he discovers something very unusual about his new companion.

Macavity Birch is cursed. By day he is a large tabby cat. At night he can be himself—a human male with ginger hair and oddly yellow eyes. He didn’t mean to end up in the animal rescue, but he never meant any harm when playing the prank that resulted in his curse, either. Happily, Julian adopts him. But while exploring his host’s home, he discovers the diary of a long-dead relative.

Unfortunately, not all of Mac’s ancestors are dead and buried. His great-great-great-grandmother is very much alive, and she’s a powerful witch who doesn’t take kindly to the sharing of family secrets. When Mac reveals himself to Julian in order to save him from bigger trouble, he achieves just the opposite, plunging Julian deeper into a magical mystery with him.

Coming July 27, 2016. Available now for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press!

(And elsewhere: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | ARe)

Excerpt

No way was he adopting a female dog. Julian could too easily imagine the canine version of Alicia following him around his house, nosing him away from his desk chair or comfy chair, pantry, TV remote, Kindle, or Madeleine Lingwood’s diary. Anything that brought him joy. She’d stand by the door with a coiled leash dangling from her mouth, tilt her head, and make her eyes go all gooey. Guilt him into walking her through the neighborhood, or worse, to the park near the woods.

He didn’t want any sort of moth-eaten mongrel, either. The only thing worse than having his sister harangue him about his social life—or lack thereof—would be owning an ugly dog. Nope, he absolutely was not going to get suckered into adopting a three-legged, blind dog with no ears or tail. Nor would he be taking home any glossy showpiece of a thing. If he was going to do this—get a dog and walk it and try to meet people while out walking it—he needed one as unassuming as him. Brown-eyed, brown-haired, average height, a touch on the cuddly side, with a stubborn curve across his belly because he liked doughnuts (and danishes and muffins, but only the bite-sized kind) and the only sit-ups he ever did were getting out of bed in the morning.

There were no dogs on the other side of the window. He could hear them barking—a faint chorus of yaps and howls—but the cats lazing about on various towers and platforms, draped across carpeted tunnels and curled into the corners of litter trays, seemed unconcerned. They also appeared completely uninterested in the face at the window. Julian had never felt more invisible. Well, except to the cat staring at the window with wide, slightly panicked eyes.

Sitting at the top of the highest tower, the big ginger tabby wore an expression of quiet desperation. Its—his?—large amber eyes said: Get me out of here. A kitten clawed its way onto the platform beside the big cat. It clung precariously close to the edge for all of a second before the ginger tabby nudged it off with a distracted swipe of a rather large paw. The kitten tumbled from view. Julian thought to check that it didn’t lie broken on the floor, but he couldn’t shift his gaze from the ginger tabby. Forget the kitten, the large cat seemed to communicate. A darker patch of fur over one eye lifted slightly. Just take me home.

Julian touched a fingertip to the window. “I want that one.”

 

Coming Soon: Counting Fence Posts

I have two new titles releasing with Dreamspinner in July! The first is Counting Fence Posts, a contemporary romance featuring two guys who are forced off the road during a blizzard. Trapped together in a rental car, they begin to talk and soon discover that the undercurrent of tension between them isn’t really hostile. More, it stems from layers of misconception, and given the chance to talk… Well, first they quarrel. Then they talk some more. As the snow surrounding the car deepens, so does their conversation, and they figure out that the tension between them is really a mutual attraction.

Bree Archer designed the cover for this book and I love it! As always, she really captured the feeling of my story and my characters. She is such a joy to work with!

Counting Fence Posts is available now for pre-order on the Dreamspinner website. Read on below for the cover copy and a super brief excerpt, which is one of my favourite snippets of conversation. Oh, and that second title? Watch this space. I’ll be doing another post for Best in Show in a couple of days. The cover for that one is super cute!

CountingFencePostsORIG-final-01

There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.

As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight…maybe…and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat…and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.

Coming July 23, 2016. Available now for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press!

Excerpt:

They’ve collected their luggage from the trunk so they can get into some warmer clothes while they wait out the storm. I love this snippet because it’s a great example of how their conversation goes for the first half of the story. The snappishness and frustration. Them trying to figure each other out.

“Are you going to get changed right there?” Marc was giving him an odd look.

“No, I’m just going to put this over top. Like layers.”

“You’re going to look ridiculous.”

Henry shrugged. “At this point, nothing we do is going to detract from the fact we’re stranded on the side of a country highway, where we ended up in defiance of a travel advisory. I don’t think me being stuffed into two or three layers of clothing is going to make a difference.”

“It’s Christmas Eve. Like anyone was going to stay put. And Boston is only—”

“Two hundred miles away. I know.” Henry kneaded the space between his brows before glancing sideways at Marc. “Are you always this stubborn?”

Marc’s jaw set, his chin lifting slightly, and a muscle flickered somewhere toward his ear. He looked mad, bad, and dangerous to know—and despite being half-numb, Henry’s cock twitched in interest. Dammit.

“You’re pretty stubborn yourself, Auttenberg. And I prefer determined.”

“I prefer Henry.”

Excerpt: Quiet as a Mouse by Asta Idonea

Dreamspinner’s Daily Dose releases today. This year’s theme is ‘A Walk on the Wild Side’, with the call being for stories about unique shifters. Asta Idonea answered with a cute story about a church mouse with a passion for music, and his church’s musical director.  Quiet as a Mouse is short, sweet and available today. Read on for the synopsis, an excerpt and where to buy!

QuietasaMouseCoverQuiet as a Mouse

Upon moving to a new town, shy shifter Paul is instantly smitten by local choirmaster Cale. Wanting to spend as much time with Cale as possible, he becomes the proverbial church mouse so he can enjoy Cale’s music without revealing his feelings.  But when Cale sees him and traps are set, Paul faces a difficult choice. What does he want out of life, and does he have the courage to go after it? Will he be a man… or a mouse?

Available now at the following retailers:

Dreamspinner Press |ARe |Amazon US |Amazon UK

Excerpt

Religion wasn’t the reason he was here. Every member of the group knew that, and he suspected one or two judged him for it, but for the most part, he’d been welcomed into the church choir with open arms. Believer or atheist, they could all agree on their love for fine choral chants. What he hoped none of the others knew was the fact it wasn’t only the music that kept him coming back week after week. Not God, not music, but a man gave rise to his devotion. And that man was the choir’s musical director, Cale Abbott.

Paul first saw Cale a few weeks after he moved to the small town in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. A lifelong music lover, he heard of a forthcoming organ recital at the local church and decided to go along, partly for the performance and partly for company. A close call had almost led to the discovery of his secret at his last abode, and he had been forced to beat a quick retreat. He worked as a freelance illustrator and could earn his living from anywhere with a decent Internet connection, so he’d packed up his bags, dropped a pin into the map, and ended up here. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to make an impromptu move, and it wouldn’t be the last. It was a price he had to pay, given what he was, and yet no matter how many times he went through it, the first few weeks were always the hardest. Settling into a new place, trying to blend with the locals, establishing a new routine; all these things required a certain fortitude that went against his shy nature.

An audio version of this excerpt is available here!


Author Pic 2015About the author:

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

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

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

Where to find her:

Blog |Facebook |Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Amazon Author US | Amazon Author UK

 

 

Available Now: Out in the Blue

I really enjoy writing short stories. Despite the word count limit, a short story is an invitation to examine something more closely–an idea, an event, a slice of life. In “Out in the Blue” I take a look at what it feels like to be forty-five and ever aware of the big question: Is this all there is? I’m two years older than Jared and not single, or male, but I’ve never written my characters with an extreme bias toward one gender or another. I write people. So I found it easy to slip into Jared’s thoughts and examine what it must feel like to be alone and lonely, not as physically capable as he was twenty years ago, and facing a career change after years of allowing himself to become very isolated.

Every time I finish a new story, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. Until I have had to rip it to pieces, stitch it back together, and read it ten more times, it’s my favourite. It’s usually right around the copy edit phase that my co-writer Jenn gets a note from me saying: I hate this story. Everyone is going to hate this story. Why did I write this?? That never really happened with “Out in the Blue”. I hope everyone else likes it as much as I do!

“Out in the Blue” will be released to subscribers of Dreamspinner’s 2015 Daily Dose Package “Never Too Late” sometime in June. For those who did not subscribe, you can buy this story now at the Dreamspinner website and other major retailers. Links below. 🙂

OutintheBlueLGOut in the Blue

At forty-five, Jared Tailler suddenly feels old. When his employer grounds him, he starts thinking in terms of measuring his coffin. Well, not quite, but he’s creakier and hairier than he was ten years ago, and his closest relationship is the one he has with his frequent-flyer card.

It’s time to get out there.

On the first day of a five-day hiking trip, he meets Finley Macrae, a younger, seemingly brighter man. As they inch together in halting steps, Jared learns he’s not the only one lost out in the blue—Fin’s good cheer hides a turbulence deeper than Jared’s midlife crisis. Maybe together they can find the trail to happiness.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Daily Dose package
“Never Too Late.”

 Amazon | ARe | Dreamspinner Press

Reviews

“This short novella is sweet and sexy and touching…”
— Goodreads review

“I truly loved this story. It’s short…will only take about an hour to read, but it’s packed full of depth and emotion.”
— Smitten With Reading