Brian’s Story

Brian’s story began two and a half years ago when I realized I’d been naming all the cheating exes of my characters “Brian.”

Poor Brian

I didn’t know then that Building Forever would become a series. I simply wanted to tell Charlie’s story. But Simon came equipped with a best friend and a dastardly ex, so when one of my first round readers asked for Frank’s story, I began to wonder if Brian might have a story too.

Obviously, he did. Everyone has a story tucked back there somewhere. I wasn’t sure I could do Brian justice, though. Redemption stories are difficult to do well and I wanted not only to give Brian a good story but for my readers to fall in love with him—or at least forgive him. That meant figuring out why. Why he couldn’t commit. Why he was having so much trouble settling down.

One of the most interesting things you can do as a writer is to take a secondary character from one book and give them a book of their own. I put a lot of effort into making my secondary characters feel real and I get a lot of lovely compliments about them! Turning them into a lead requires a fair amount of work, though. You have to retain the personality traits that make them such a good support character in the first book and meld them with who this person turns out to be.

In Frank’s case, this meant that the party boy persona he presents in Building Forever turns out to be something of a cover. I actually loved this, because it gave Frank as a man a much deeper texture. I don’t really talk about his sexual identity in Renewing Forever, other than confirm the fact he is gay. But when I sketched out his life, his love-life in particular, no relationships popped up. And he’d only had a very small number of “affairs,” Simon being the most significant. Surely having his heart broken at nineteen didn’t ruin his life?

It did and it didn’t. Frank never quite got over Tom, but not because Tom is his one and only (even though he is). Frank is demisexual. He loves to flirt and he loves to make others feel good but has to really care for someone before he wants to go there. When you consider his story with this information, a whole lot more about him makes sense.

So when I considered Brian as a lead character, I knew I had to come up with a good reason for his serial non-monogamy. My readers would need to know why he couldn’t commit. I sketched out and rejected a lot of reasons before eventually deciding that like Frank, Brian’s “course” had been diverted at a very young age. But again, I don’t outright state that what happened to Brian when he was fourteen is the root cause of his inability to commit. I hint at it, and his secret is definitely a source of angst and pain for him. It’s also something he’s never shared, which is one good reason why his relationship with Simon failed.

But I also hold Simon up to a little more scrutiny and suggest that maybe he wasn’t able to give Brian what Brian was looking for. This is partly Brian’s fault. He is unable to be “wholly Brian” with Simon—for reasons that may never be clear. But it’s also Simon’s fault for holding on to something that wasn’t a good fit—because it was comfortable enough. For not realizing that he also needed more.

Relationships are hard work, even when they’re good, and one of the themes of this series has been second chances. These stories are about men who have loved and lost and think that’s it, they’re done. So when they do fall for someone else, they have half a lifetime’s worth of experience—and hurt, and joy—to offer, which changes the stakes. Brian’s story is at once the most dramatic of the three in this series, but also in a way the easiest. His happy ever after is mostly a matter of finally finding the right guy—but to keep that guy, he needs to make the right moves. He also needs to finally, at long last, be himself.

I loved writing this book. I loved getting to know Brian and seeing him happy at last. I also enjoyed introducing him to Mal, who gives perhaps the greatest speech I’ve ever written in the epilogue of any book. Mal talks about living out loud, and his message is one that resonates through Chasing Forever, the entire series, and perhaps all of my contemporary novels.

So it’s my hope that readers will not only forgive Brian but rejoice in his happiness—and the happy ever afters I’ve given to all of the characters in this series. ❤

 

Chasing Forever

ChasingForever_500x750Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

Coming December 10, 2018
Preorder at Riptide Publishing

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New Release: Renewing Forever

It’s release day for Renewing Forever! This book is for everyone who ever wondered about the one who got away. In Renewing Forever, I combined two of my favourite tropes: friends to lovers and second chances.

Frank and Tom were best friends and each other’s first love. Maybe each other’s only love. But the night Frank finally found the courage to kiss Tom, everything went wrong.

Now, thirty years later, they have the chance to set everything right.

This story broke my heart a few times, but the ending is one of the most solid happy ever afters I’ve ever delivered. It’s deep and true. And despite the sad times, there is plenty of fun to be had as Frank and Tom reconnect and look for ways to renew a broken down resort, and their own forever.

About the Book

RenewingForever_500x750Renewing Forever

Frankie and Tommy once dreamed of traveling the world together. But when seventeen-year-old Frank kissed Tom, their plans ended with a punch to the jaw and Frank leaving town without looking back. Thirty years later, Frank’s successful career as a journalist is interrupted by his uncle’s death and the question of his inheritance—the family resort where his childhood dreams were built. When he returns to the Pocono Mountains, however, he finds a dilapidated lodge and Tommy, the boy he never forgot.

Tom’s been keeping the resort together with spit and glue while caring for Frank’s uncle, Robert—a man he considered father, mentor, and friend—and his aged mother, who he refuses to leave behind. Now Robert is gone, taking Tom’s job with him. And Frank is on the doorstep, wanting to know why Tom is still there and why the old lodge is falling apart.

But before they can rebuild the resort, they’ll have to rebuild their friendship. Only then can they renew the forever they planned all those years ago.

Available now at all retailers!

ebook:
Riptide | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords

paperback:
Riptide | Amazon |B&N

 

What Reviewers are Saying:

Quote

“Second-chance romances are my absolute favorite kind when well done (as this was), and I could really relate to Frank!” —Andrea D., Reviewer

“Many of us met someone when we were young and never had it turn into a relationship. Some of us wonder what would have happened if it did. This book is for all of us who wanted to try again.” —Susan, Goodreads review

“This is a beautifully written romance with two main characters you can’t help but fall in love with.”  ­—Diane, Goodreads reviewer

 

Tour and Giveaway Details!

I’m doing another Instagram Tour! Follow along for a chance to win one of my previously published books!

#RenewingForeverTour

Riptide Tour

The giveaway for my Riptide Tour is $25 to spend at the publisher’s store and a swag pack of bookmarks, postcards and stickers.
(All my giveaways are open internationally. Comment on any post to enter!)

Monday 11/12
Bayou Book Junkie http://bayoubookjunkie.blogspot.com/
Boy Meets Boy Reviews https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com/
Love Bytes Reviews http://lovebytesreviews.com/
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews https://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com/

Tuesday 11/13
Creative Deeds https://creativedeeds.wordpress.com/
Erotica for All http://eroticaforall.co.uk/
Joyfully Jay https://joyfullyjay.com/
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/

Wednesday 11/14
La Crimson Femme https://lacrimsonfemme.blogspot.com/
Novel Approach http://www.thenovelapproachreviews.com/
OMG Reads http://omgreads.com/blog/
TTC Books and More http://www.ttcbooksandmore.com/

Thursday 11/15
Book Reviews and More by Kathy http://www.bookreviewsandmorebykathy.com/
Delighted Reader http://delightedreader.com/
Dog-Eared Daydreams http://www.dogeareddaydreams.com/

Friday 11/16
Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents http://fangirlmomentsandmytwocents.blogspot.com/
MM Good Book Reviews http://mmgoodbookreviews.com/
My Fiction Nook http://www.myfictionnook.com/

Win a Copy of Renewing Forever!

Annabeth Albert will be posting a giveaway in her reader group this week, for an ebook copy of Renewing Forever.
Annabeth’s Angels

Did you know my cowriter, Jenn Burke, has a new reader group? She will also be hosting a giveaway this week.
Jenn’s Epic Adventurers

Frank’s Story

I have a Big Book of Ideas. My “book” is actually scattered across several notebooks and my ideas are sandwiched between outline sketches, snippets of dialogue, pages of brainstorming for plot points, and journal entries. There is no order to any of it—but I always know which book to grab when I’m looking for my notes about a specific idea.

Frank and Tom’s story happened in two separate notebooks. I had an idea for a story about an abandoned resort and the guy who was living in one of the broken-down cottages. And then I had a character sketch for Frank, who one of my beta readers had loved and wanted me to write a book for. When I married those two ideas together, this story was born.

Renewing Forever is different from anything else I’ve ever written. Before coming together in these pages, Frank and Tom had been leading such full lives–and yet, there was always something missing. With this story, I not only got the chance to fill that gap for both of them, but to right a wrong and restore the balance to these two lives!

If you’ve read Building Forever, you’ll enjoy a visit with Simon and Charlie in this book, and will hopefully get a little more curious about Brian’s motives–in the past and for the future. But if you’re new to the series, Renewing Forever stands alone as a complete novel and love story.

Read the first few chapters!

RenewingForever_500x750Renewing Forever

Frankie and Tommy once dreamed of traveling the world together. But when seventeen-year-old Frank kissed Tom, their plans ended with a punch to the jaw and Frank leaving town without looking back. Thirty years later, Frank’s successful career as a journalist is interrupted by his uncle’s death and the question of his inheritance—the family resort where his childhood dreams were built. When he returns to the Pocono Mountains, however, he finds a dilapidated lodge and Tommy, the boy he never forgot.

Tom’s been keeping the resort together with spit and glue while caring for Frank’s uncle, Robert—a man he considered father, mentor, and friend—and his aged mother, who he refuses to leave behind. Now Robert is gone, taking Tom’s job with him. And Frank is on the doorstep, wanting to know why Tom is still there and why the old lodge is falling apart.

But before they can rebuild the resort, they’ll have to rebuild their friendship. Only then can they renew the forever they planned all those years ago.

Coming November 11, 2018!
Riptide | Amazon B&N | Kobo | iBooks Smashwords

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

New Release: Building Forever

It’s release day for Building Forever! I’m terrifically excited about this release because, while I love all my books, this one is special. I blogged about the long road to publication last week, so today I’m just going to raise a glass and say, “I sincerely hope you enjoy this one.”

 

About the Book

BuildingForever_400x600Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Available now at all retailers!

ebook:
Riptide | Amazon B&N | Kobo | iBooks Smashwords
paperback:
Riptide | Amazon | B&N

Read the first two chapters.

 

What Reviewers are Saying:

“I knew when I laughed out loud on page two that this would be a winner for me.” —Jess Gabriel, Reviewer

“The characters are complex and relatable, the writing is smart and engaging.” —Melinda R, Reviewer

“Honestly, I read this in one sitting and didn’t want it to end. I can’t wait to read more.” ­—Kirstin Aroca, Reviewer

Quotes

Tour and Giveaway Details!

As always, opening this newsletter gives you an entry in my subscriber giveaway! This time I’m giving away an ARC of Renewing Forever, the second book in this series!

I’m doing another Instagram Tour! Follow along for a chance to win one of my previously published books!

#BuildingForeverTour

Riptide Tour

The giveaway for my Riptide Tour is $25 to spend at the publisher’s store and a swag pack of bookmarks, postcards and stickers.
(All my giveaways are open internationally. Comment on any post to enter!)

Monday 10/15
Jessie G Book Reviews http://jessiegbooks.com/
Joyfully Jay https://joyfullyjay.com/
MM Good Book Reviews http://mmgoodbookreviews.com/
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/

Tuesday 10/16
La Crimson Femme https://lacrimsonfemme.blogspot.com/
OMG Reads http://omgreads.com/blog/
On Top Down Under http://ontopdownunderbookreviews.com/category/blog-discussions/blog-tours/
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews https://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com/

Wednesday 10/17
Bayou Book Junkie http://bayoubookjunkie.blogspot.com/
Dog-Eared Daydreams http://www.dogeareddaydreams.com/
My Fiction Nook http://www.myfictionnook.com/
The Day Before You Came http://www.thedaybeforeyoucame.com/

Thursday 10/18
Book Reviews and More by Kathy http://www.bookreviewsandmorebykathy.com/
Boy Meets Boy Reviews https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com/
Erotica for All http://eroticaforall.co.uk/
The Novel Approach http://www.thenovelapproachreviews.com/

Friday 10/19
Creative Deeds https://creativedeeds.wordpress.com/
Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents http://fangirlmomentsandmytwocents.blogspot.com/
Love Bytes Reviews http://lovebytesreviews.com/

Win a Copy of Building Forever!

I’ll be stopping by three Facebook reader groups this week to give away a copy of Building Forever.

Monday 10/15
Annabeth’s Angels

Wednesday 10/17
Keira Andrews Romance Readers

Friday 10/19
A.M.’s Pot O Gold

Publishing is a Journey

Last month I promised my newsletter subscribers a story. Here it is…

Publishing is a journey that requires a lot of patience. Books have to be written and revised, submitted, accepted (hopefully), revised again, edited to within an inch of their precious lives, and then, finally, made available for purchase. For me, on average, eight to eighteen months can pass between typing “The End” and seeing my book in readers’ hands.

Then there are the books that take a more circuitous route to publication.

Shortly after my first book came out, I submitted a second book to my publisher, one I thought was much, much better than the first. They declined it. I was understandably hurt, but not truly devastated, as I was still new to publishing, and figured that because my first book hadn’t been that big a seller, the publisher might not have much confidence in me. Besides, I had a backup plan. Jenn and I were writing something fun.

In the spring of 2014, Jenn and I sent a manuscript and series pitch to Carina Press, which they accepted, and you all got to meet Felix and Zed in the five books of the Chaos Station series. Buoyed by the success of our ragtag crew and their rust bucket of a ship, I submitted a book of my own to our publisher, only to have it declined. This time I was a little more devastated because I LOVED the book I’d submitted. So I contracted a freelance editor, revised it, and sent it to Dreamspinner Press. They snapped it up, and you all got to meet Max and Jake in Block and Strike, which will forever be the book of my heart.

A few months after the release of Block and Strike, I submitted a proposal for a three book series called This Time Forever. I’d already written the first book, Building Forever, and I loved, loved, loved it (I love all my books). Although science fiction will always be my first love, I adore sweet contemporary romances that take ordinary people and challenge them to find love. In every way, Building Forever felt like a natural follow up to what I’d started in Block and Strike—more opposites attract, more family dynamics, more struggles with identity and purpose, and more sweet romance. The book and series were declined.

Enter the darkest period of my publishing career to date. Rejection happens for all sorts of reasons, many of which are beyond an author’s control—or scope. But it still hurts. And the more you love a book, the worse it feels. But despite my propensity for flailing and entirely useless panicking, I’m actually a very optimistic person. When things start to darken, I’m the first to look for a new source of light. So I did a lot of soul searching and then sketched out three options.

One was to self-publish, two was to send the proposal to another publisher, and three was to seek representation with an agent. After talking all three options over with family and friends, I decided to go with option two and sent my manuscript and proposal to Riptide Publishing. They loved the book. Tweeted about it the day they got the proposal and called me with an offer seven days later. I was absolutely elated, as I had previously considered Riptide Publishing beyond my reach. I had the idea my writing might not be good enough, and that my audience might not be big enough.

While hammering out the details of my contract with them, I mentioned that I was currently writing more science fiction (To See the Sun) and they literally contracted that on the spot. Then March happened.

I was horrified by the revelation of what had been going on behind the scenes at Riptide and once again had to consider the direction of my career, and the fate of a book (and series) that I felt was my next big step. After much back and forth, I decided to honor my contracts and stay with Riptide. You can read my post regarding that decision here.

So here we are—over two years after Charlie first spoke to me through a mouthful of Cheez-Its—on the eve of the publication of Building Forever. I’m enormously proud of this book, and I hope you all enjoy meeting and spending time with Simon and Charlie as much as I did, and that you go on to meet Frank and Tom in Renewing Forever (November 12), and find it in your hearts to give Brian a chance in Chasing Forever (December 11) as he pursues my wounded hero, Mal.

I’m not entirely sure what’s up next for me, but getting these three books out into the world has been an incredible accomplishment! I feel like these are my best books to date and I’m proud of the fact I was able to knuckle down and write each one despite various challenges. I’ve been exhausted and many, many times I’ve felt like quitting. But over and again, when the darkness threatened to descend, I kept looking for a window… and kept finding one.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my husband and I just bought a bagel shop. So far, the upside of the venture (and there is only one right now) is that I’ve been so busy learning how to clean the bagel kettle and baking oven that I barely have time to fret over the ratings and rankings of my books. Although I’m exhausted in a different sense, this has been a really cool development. I’ve been trying for five years now to care less. I want to love my books—as they are—and be able to release them to others who may or may not love them, and to be happy with that. Now, I’m too tired to worry about it for the most part.

This is not the end of my writing career, however, only a much needed slow down as I come off of editing four books back to back and promoting five to publication in the space of five months. Next up I’m treating myself to a book I’ve been thinking about for three years. I’ll be returning to my first love, science fiction, and combining it with elements that pop up in nearly every book I write: a journey to self, unexpected attraction, and lots of adventure.

Given the pattern established in my career, I’m understandably nervous about submitting another book to my current publisher (:D), but I do have an outline for a follow up to To See the Sun, and plans to publish it sometime next year by any means necessary.

And, of course, I have more contemporary ideas brewing. Obviously I’m going to have to write a romance set in a bagel shop at some point…

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope I’ve inspired other writers to keep going, and readers to keep reading. ❤

Building Forever

BuildingForever_3DcoverCharlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Preorder Building Forever at Riptide Publishing for early access—meaning you can start reading at midnight tonight (EST). The book will be available everywhere else on Monday.