Tag Archives: LGBTQ Romance

Blog Tour: Resurrection Men by Steven Harper

Resurrection Men - Steven Harperp

Steven Harper has a new MM historical romance out: Resurrection Men. And there’s a giveaway.

Arthur Tor steals the dead for a living. As a resurrection man, he creeps around graveyards with his shovel, hoping to dig up corpses so he can sell them to the local medical college and pay his tuition there. He also holds a strange position in underground society. If someone is dying a slow, painful death, the family members come to Arthur and beg him to end their loved one’s pain. Arthur can never refuse, and he helps the dying cross the threshold without more pain in a process he calls the Black Rounds. Unfortunately, the local judge has gotten wind of Arthur’s activities and has sworn to send him to prison—or the hangman’s noose.

Jesse Fair has fled his corrupt family in Baltimore and landed in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he becomes the town gravedigger and, eventually, the undertaker. He works hard to help grieving families through their pain with warmth and compassion. Some of these families make odd requests for their dearly departed, and Jesse discovers that the undertaker often has to deal with the absurd side of death. But his nefarious family is still searching for him. Relentlessly. And once they find him, Jesse will have to make a terrible choice.

When Jesse catches Arthur in the act of robbing a grave, the two of them form a strange friendship and even stranger partnership that digs deep into social taboos—and into their own souls.

In his first book since his critically-acclaimed novel The Importance of Being Kevin, Steven Harper spins a heartfelt, uplifting story of suspense, life, and love against the backdrop of a Michigan town at the edge of the frontier.

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Giveaway

Steven is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card:

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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

A resurrection man watched the funeral, and his expression was hungry. He stood behind the huddle of funeral-goers clustered around the grave and didn’t speak with anyone, which was how Jesse spotted him. Dead giveaway, so to say. Jesse stared at him from the corner of one dark eye. The resurrection man wasn’t yet twenty. Brown as a dead tree. Straight brown hair under a frayed brown cap, long nose, sharp jaw, long brown coat mended twice, worn brown shoes that were nonetheless carefully polished. Someone who was used to hiding who he was.

The resurrection man met Jesse’s eye for a flick. He had good eyes, that one—clear and blue and strong—and Jesse touched his cap in salute. Jesse had a gravedigger’s build, wiry and a little short, able to throw an eight-pound shovelful of dirt six feet toward heaven, and he could hold his own in a fight against two men half again his height. The resurrection man was taller, whipcord, and Jesse bet he wore gloves to keep his hands clean when he robbed night-time graves. No one who saw him by day would know what he did at night.

When their eyes met, blue on brown, it created something interesting and indefinable, like that boundary moment when water touches a burning coal, or warm ocean air brushes chilly shore. The resurrection man looked away. Jesse clicked his tongue in mischief—and the chance to make some money.

The coffin rested on a pair of beams set across the grave Jesse had dug only that morning. Jesse always put a scattering of sawdust and few pine branches in the bottom of his graves so the coffin wouldn’t rest on dirt. It made no difference to the deceased, mind you, but it made the family feel better. Two solemn boys pulled the beams away, and the pall bearers lowered the coffin with ropes braced around their necks like pulleys while the preacher said his final bit. While all this was going on, the resurrection man slipped away, confirming Jesse’s suspicions that the man was a grave robber who knew the best time to leave was when the family was occupied.

As the family drifted off, Jesse barely overheard a man and a woman in conversation. The woman murmured, “He won’t get up and come after us, do you? He’s stubborn enough to try.”

“Jesus, I hope not,” the man muttered back. “That copper-plated sumbitch was bad enough when he was alive. I can’t think what he’d be like lurching around dead.”

Death brought out the truth among the living. Jesse looked in the direction the resurrection man had taken and gave himself a private nod. It was going to be an interesting evening.

Jesse finished filling the grave of Mr. Elmer Pitt (b. 1803, d. 1889), then went home to the little shack he occupied at the edge of Highland Cemetery, made himself a pot of strong coffee on his bachelor stove, dropped a slug of Irish in it, and waited until sunset. When the early autumn night slid in cozy among the gravestones, Jesse put his shovel back over his shoulder and strolled toward the grave of Elmer Pitt. There was time to enjoy the walk and think about how to spend the money he would shake out of the resurrection man. It had been a while since he’d passed a good night’s drinking and fighting at a pool hall. Or maybe he’d buy a new pair of boots.

The trek was easy. Didn’t matter that it was dark. Jesse had dug plenty of graves in Highland Cemetery and knew the place like the end of his shovel. He even had a map of the place tacked to the wall of his shack, with every grave picked out in careful precision. People thought that graveyards laid out the dead in neat, cornfield rows, but Highland’s graves made a swirling mosaic that twisted around the hills and trees, creating stars and flowers and teardrops that only god and Jesse’s map could see. Jesse had taken over as the main gravedigger in Ypsilanti from Mr. Suggs two years ago. Mr. Suggs himself currently rested in a grave well back from the road that Jesse himself had dug with extra care. Jesse didn’t run the cemetery—that job belonged to the great and gloomy Frederick Huff, who issued daily orders from the caretaker’s house and only emerged to complain at Billy Cake and the other fellows who worked the cemetery. But it was Jesse who dug the graves.

Highland Cemetery had opened twenty-some years ago, a little ways before Jesse was born, and it had stolen away all the business from Prospect Cemetery. Didn’t seem to matter that Prospect was half a mile closer to downtown Ypsilanti, with its growing Normal School and expanding railroad system. Prospect still failed to prosper.

Problem was, Prospect had both proven too small, so the city had bought a big chunk of loamy hillside outside Ypsilanti and named it Highland Cemetery. The local Catholic community had been scandalized at the idea of sharing eternity with Protestants and even Lutherans, so they had bought a bit of land right across the road for their own dead, keeping Mr. Suggs, and now Jesse, busy digging graves for both. Meanwhile, the townsfolk stopped using Prospect Cemetery entire, and no one seemed interested in paying Jesse Fair or Billy Cake to even trim its trees, so these days the verge ran wild. The inhabitants didn’t complain.

It was a serpent night, with the chill breeze hissing in the leaves. Jesse wound through the stones until he came to the new grave of Elmer Pitt. The thin glow of a little lantern on the ground illuminated the markers from the bottom up, and the familiar quiet sound of a wooden shovel biting earth came to Jesse’s ears. Resurrection men always used wooden shovels. They made less noise. Jesse crept closer.

The resurrection man had already made good headway and was knee-deep in the ground at the head of the grave. Two canvas drop cloths lay beside him, one to catch the dirt, and the other to receive Elmer Pitt. Jesse noted the well-worn leather gloves covering the resurrection man’s hands. The man also had a crowbar and a length of rope.

“So you’re from the University Medical School,” Jesse said in the dark.


Author Bio

Steven Harper

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a last name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the name Steven Harper. He grew up on a farm in Michigan but has also lived in Wisconsin and Germany and spent extensive time in Ukraine.

So far, he’s written more than two dozen novels and over fifty short stories and essays. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, lifts weights, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him. He teaches high school English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s funny.

Author Website: http://www.stevenpiziks.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/steven.piziks

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevenPiziks

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/250784.Steven_Harper

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Sundowners by R.L. Merrill Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A powerful vampire seeking the truth behind a betrayal and hoping to atone for his past meets a grad student and begins a powerful romance just as a pack of vicious vampires begins to descend on their town in author R.L. Merrill’s “Sundowners”, the first book in the series of the same name.

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The Synopsis

From the author of the supernatural suspense series Gifted (Healer, Connection) comes a new queer paranormal romance series.

Praise for Connection: “The romance element is complemented nicely by the relentless action and adventure throughout, creating an emotionally intense and page-turning narrative…A fast-paced and fun fusion of supernatural romance and mainstream thriller.” ~Kirkus

Vampire Creed Lowell drifts from town to town working with the elderly as a night nurse and looking to avenge his harrowing past. His youth and vitality make him a favorite of his patients and his gifts bring them peace. At long last he’s arrived in the place where he hopes to find the truth about those who betrayed him…but first he finds an unexpected love with a man who might understand him—or end him.

Grad student Roman San Angelo is struggling to handle his courses, teaching schedule, and research for his dissertation on an obscure cult. He spends every spare moment with his beloved yet demanding grandmother Frances who’s recently moved to an assisted living facility—and he’s fascinated by her night nurse, who is able to bring out the inner light which had faded during her battle with dementia. Something about Creed doesn’t add up, however, Roman finds himself fighting an undeniable attraction. His concerns multiply when Roman discovers a connection between Creed and a bizarre series of vampire-wannabe assaults in the area. A moment of weakness leads to a night of passion between them, and the promise of something more, and yet Roman can’t shake his concern that Creed is not what he seems.

Creed knows better than to bring a mortal into his world, even one who could help him find the link between the pack of violent vampires preying on the people of Santa Cruz and Creed’s past. When he discovers Creed’s secret, Roman is ready to step outside his comfort zone and accept everything a life with a vampire entails, and when Creed disappears, Roman will go to the ends of the earth to find the man who brought the light back to his grandmother and the warmth back to his own heart.

*This book contains violence and sexual content. It is meant for audiences 18+

The Review

For any readers or cinematic aficionados out there who know their vampire history, the book immediately serves up some great callbacks to iconic vampire stories, with the narrative taking place in Santa Cruz, CA, the same location as the iconic The Lost Boys film. Yet this is no retelling, as the author ups the stakes and delivers an LGBTQ+ driven urban fantasy and supernatural horror narrative with an adult romance spin. The mystery and suspense of the narrative were so engaging, and the rich setting of Santa Cruz played such a unique and in-depth role in the narrative.

Yet it was the beautiful balance of mythology and character growth that really drew me into this story. The heated and passionate romance that bloomed between Creed and Roman was felt powerfully throughout this story, while the rich mythos that the author created allowed for some really unique and original takes on the vampire lore overall, allowing for a beautiful fusion of LGBTQ+ romance and supernatural urban fantasy. 

The Verdict

Adrenaline-fueled, passionate, and entertaining, author R.L. Merrill’s “Sundowners” is the perfect first book in a brand new LGBTQ Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy series. The unique take on the vampire lore we’ve all come to know, as well as dashes of twists and turns that include cults, magic, and heated romances will have readers flocking to read more of this incredible author’s work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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R.L. Merrill has a new MM paranormal romance out: Sundowners. And there’s a giveaway.

Vampire Creed Lowell drifts from town to town working with the elderly as a night nurse and looking to avenge his harrowing past. His youth and vitality make him a favorite of his patients and his gifts bring them peace. At long last he’s arrived in the place where he hopes to find the truth about those who betrayed him…but first he finds an unexpected love with a man who might understand him—or end him.

Grad student Roman San Angelo is struggling to handle his courses, teaching schedule, and research for his dissertation on an obscure cult. He spends every spare moment with his beloved yet demanding grandmother Frances who’s recently moved to an assisted living facility—and he’s fascinated by her night nurse, who is able to bring out the inner light which had faded during her battle with dementia. Something about Creed doesn’t add up, however, Roman finds himself fighting an undeniable attraction. His concerns multiply when Roman discovers a connection between Creed and a bizarre series of vampire-wannabe assaults in the area. A moment of weakness leads to a night of passion between them, and the promise of something more, and yet Roman can’t shake his concern that Creed is not what he seems.

Creed knows better than to bring a mortal into his world, even one who could help him find the link between the pack of violent vampires preying on the people of Santa Cruz and Creed’s past. When he discovers Creed’s secret, Roman is ready to step outside his comfort zone and accept everything a life with a vampire entails, and when Creed disappears, Roman will go to the ends of the earth to find the man who brought the light back to his grandmother and the warmth back to his own heart.

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Giveaway

R.L. is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47254/?


Excerpt

Sundowners meme - R.L. Merrill

Chapter One

Creed

January

“Well, Mr. Lowell, I think we have everything we need. Your references all check out, and you passed your background check. Can you start on Friday?”

What a relief! I smiled and leaned against the wall of my dingy hotel room. Thank goodness for excellent references. I inhaled the combination mildew/chlorine smell caused by the permanent dampness from the ocean and the indoor swimming pool below my room, glad . This was the break I needed, or my current accommodations would soon go from bad to worse.

“Thank you, yes. What time does the evening shift start?” I kept my fingers crossed while I waited for the answer.

“Six o’clock. Just come to the front desk and our evening supervisor will get you set up. Lexi’s great. She’ll show you the ropes.”

“Wonderful. Thank you for this opportunity.”

“We should be thanking you, Mr. Lowell. You’re overqualified for the position, and we’ve had a difficult time keeping our evening staff. I hope this works out for the both of us.”

I thanked Yvonne, the Human Resources director, once more before disconnecting. Then the victory dance commenced.

“Did you hear that, Rhonda? We’re in!”

My red Doberman rested her jaw on her paws and made an old lady noise, indicating that she’d rather be napping than dancing.

I would not be thwarted, however. I danced a West Side Story routine across the room to the kitchenette and reached into the fridge with panache. There was one last bag of A-positive that I’d been sipping on since arriving in Santa Cruz, and now I could finish it off since I’d have a steady supply in just two days’ time. Not that I needed much—especially not when I was working—but it was important to never let my energy stores deplete. It affected my judgement and my ability to do the work that was so desperately needed.

I did a spin and a box step before kicking my leg out, and throwing my arms back in a layout. Hopefully I’d find a patient who knew the old dances at Puesta Del Sol, my new place of employment. They were the most fun to work with.

I reached into my lone duffel bag, which contained seven sets of scrubs, a suit, three white t-shirts, a pair of jeans, a Harvard hoodie, two pairs of shoes, and a small photo album that contained cherished pictures of my parents and younger siblings. The rest of my belongings and resources were hidden in pre-paid storage facilities around the country for when I got desperate…or had to run.

My family was all gone now. My little sister was the last, and she’d passed away four months ago according to the hometown newspaper in Macon County, Georgia. I read every copy that I could get ahold of through the local libraries. The internet had been such a great invention. Even though I hadn’t been home in nearly forty years, I’d managed to keep tabs on everyone. They’d all lived mostly happy, satisfying lives and died of natural causes at advanced ages, which was the best I could have hoped for.

But now that I had no worry of repercussions for my family, I could finally seek out the truth.

Puesta Del Sol was hopefully the end of the line. The last assisted-living home where I’d worked in Albuquerque had led me here, to Santa Cruz, California. “Go west, young man,” turned out to be the advice I’d needed all along.

I was determined to find those responsible for sending me on this decades-long exile. It wouldn’t be long now. It was time to set things straight, and it seemed fitting to be back near where it all started.

March 2019

Two months later, the trail of promising leads had gone cold. Still, I loved my new life in California. I was surrounded by a competent and diverse staff at Puesta Del Sol that knew how to run a place of healing and hope with patients who were happy and well cared for. And I loved Santa Cruz. It was almost enough to make me consider letting go of the past.

What a great place for a guy like me. It was easy to fit into the college town that was also a magnet for transients, tourists, and folks who were followers of alternative lifestyles. Not only were there practitioners of Eastern religions and schools of thought, but also those who claimed to be creatures of the night, a holdover from the vampire craze that swept the area after a hit movie in the ’80s made them cool. I occasionally even found folks who didn’t mind a little role play.

My love of music meant I was a frequent guest of The Catalyst, a large music venue, bar, and eatery located downtown that drew fans from all over the Bay Area. One night they’d feature punk, the next rap, and sometimes even classic rock bands made their way to the club.

Tonight was a perfect opportunity to blend in as a lineup of alternative bands from the eighties was playing. I’d worn my black suit, skinny tie, and black Dr. Martens. I’d even slicked my dark auburn hair back and donned black eyeliner for the hell of it, the makeup highlighting my eyes, so blue they made people stop and stare. Of course, the rest of the package could also be to blame for that. My pale, freckled skin fit the role of a night walker perfectly to round out the look.

I made my way through the crowd to the bar and ordered a beer. A willing playmate soon appeared, and the game was on.

The young man, dressed in a velvet waistcoat and ruffled poet’s shirt, saw me approach the bar and immediately perked up. I took a swig of my beer and nodded at the Goth. When I moved away from the bar, I felt him at my back as I headed to a dark corner. Once there, I leaned against the wall and waited.

The young man approached with a sly smile, and I took it as an invitation. I reached for his shoulder, turned him around slowly, and pulled him back against my chest, enjoying the way his body fit against mine.

“I have your permission?” I whispered in the young man’s ear. “I promise you’ll enjoy it.”

The young man turned to face me and his eyes widened in surprise. “Here?”

I smiled at him and ran a finger down his neck, enjoying the way he shivered. The energy from his excitement would have been enough to nourish me, but I was feeling greedy tonight.

“Yeah, just um, be safe about it.”

I bathed him in a wave of calm. The manipulation of energy was effortless for me now. “You’re in good hands, my friend.” I turned him around and stopped him when he went to loosen his belt. “Relax, I’ve got you.”

I slid his long curly blond hair to the side. I had ways of making the experience pleasurable, so I poured energy into giving this guy one helluva good time, one he’d remember for years to come. He just wouldn’t remember that a vampire sank his teeth gently into his neck and took sustenance from his body.

Give unto them what they require.

Take only what you need to survive.

I would never forget what I’d been taught.

“Blessed be.”

After a few sips, I felt my playmate shudder against me and let out a satisfied moan. A few more pulls and his body tensed, gasped, and shuddered once more. It was nice to know I hadn’t lost my touch.

It had been a long time since I’d chanced feeding in public, but I felt safe here. Santa Cruz had welcomed me with open arms, and I wanted to stay.

The young man raised his arm and cupped the back of my head. He pressed his ass back against me, and I knew it was time to end this tryst.

“Thank you,” I whispered against his ear, and then pressed a kiss to his neck.

“I should be thanking you,” the guy said. “What’s your name?”

I disappeared into the crowd before the young man turned to look, and I was out of the club before he could wonder what happened.

I rarely drank blood—it was an infrequent need to maintain my existence as long as I had plenty of human energy to manipulate—and I always made sure my partner enjoyed it. But the act often left me feeling…empty. I worked hard to help others live a more satisfying life, and after all this time, I sometimes resented that I couldn’t pursue happiness of my own. I would have loved to take that young man home and enjoy more than just an Exchange. Someday I would find…someone. But not until it was safe. Not until I’d done what I came here to do.


Author Bio

“With a strong plot, an expertly crafted cast of supporting characters, and deep empathy, Merrill’s novel will keep readers hooked.” —Publishers Weekly review of Typhoon Toby.

Whether she’s writing contemporary romance featuring quirky and relatable characters or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, R.L. Merrill loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after. Winner of the Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, and a Foreword INDIES finalist for Summer of Hush, Ro spends every spare moment improving her writing craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after.

She writes diverse and inclusive romance, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and pens horror-inspired music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net.

You can find her connecting with readers on social media, advocating for America’s youth, raising two brilliant kids, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Stay Tuned for more…

Author Website: https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/rochellerlmerrill

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9828914.R_L_Merrill

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/r-l-merrill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/R-L-Merrill/e/B00PI6Q1LI

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First Born Sons by Vincent Traughber Meis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A group of Coastal Californians faces racism, wildfires, and their own demons in author Vincent Traughber Meis’s “First Born Sons”.

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The Synopsis

A group of coastal Californians battle wildfires, racism, and their own demons in five distinct narratives set in late 2019 and 2020.

First Born Sons is populated by a cast of LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies who struggle to find love, comfort, and fulfillment. As the novel progresses, characters interact across the separate narratives and are brought together for a birthday and a disastrous Black Lives Matter demonstration. A man returning to the horrors that made him leave Mississippi, a blind gay man flirting with love, an FTM transgender starting hormone therapy, a woman struggling to protect her sons from her ex-husband’s surge to right-wing politics, and a teenager with two gay dads searching for his Black surrogate mom paint a disturbing tableau of modern-day America.

The Review

This was such a powerful, emotional, and relevant read. The author did an incredible job of layering this drama with rich and powerful character development, story-driven narratives that span the world, and themes that speak to the communities most impacted by the surge of violence and bigotry that is affecting our world right now. The author finds natural and relatable ways of infusing issues such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, and so much more into the story, weaving together a narrative that feels heartfelt and evoked strong emotional responses from readers, from sadness and grief to outrage and hope all at once.

Yet it was the character growth that truly spoke to me as a reader. The relationships and personal turmoil that really affected these characters were really humanizing and allowed readers to feel seen and heard in this narrative. For me, it was the scenes involving Lamar, George, and Byron that really popped off the pages of this novel. From the shocking initial chapter introducing these characters to the cruel reality of police profiling and brutality to the strong emotional and physical relationship that develops between the two of them over time, and all of the prejudices that their pasts and present bring to their relationship felt so impactful to get lost in through this narrative.

The Verdict

Shocking, moving, and engaging, author Vincent Traughber Meis’s “First Born Sons” is a must-read drama. The brilliant character development and emotional themes that the author brings to life so beautifully will have readers unable to put this book down, and the blend of intimate moments and powerful societal studies that this book brings to life will have readers eager for more from this powerful author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Vincent Meis grew up in Decatur, Illinois and graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans.

He has worked as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, publishing many academic articles in his field as well as articles about teaching ESL overseas. He has also traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Central and South American. He is fluent in Spanish. As result of his travels and time abroad he published a number of pieces, mostly travel articles, but also a few poems and book reviews, in publications such as, The Advocate, LA Weekly, In Style, and Our World in the 1980’s and 90’s. His travels have inspired four novels, all set at least partially in foreign countries: Eddie’s Desert Rose (2011), Tio Jorge (2012), and Down in Cuba (2013) and Deluge (2016). Tio Jorge received a Rainbow Award in the category of Bisexual Fiction in 2012. Down in Cuba received two Rainbow Awards in 2013. Deluge won a Rainbow Award in 2016. Recently his stories have been published in several collections, including WITH:New Gay Fiction, Best Gay Erotica Vol 1and Best Gay Erotica Vol 4. In December 2019, his fifth novel Four Calling Burds will be published. In 2021, he has published two books with NineStar Press, The Mayor of Oak Street, a novel, and Far from Home, a collection of short stories.

https://www.vincentmeis.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B6T5WWHK/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F61680454-first-born-sons%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DsDwIiz2aFA%26rank%3D4&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Devil’s Chew Toy (Hayden & Friends Book One) by Rob Osler Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A gay relationship blogger teams up with a take-charge lesbian and a feisty bull terrier to find a missing go-go dancer and take down an international crime ring in author Rob Osler’s “Devil’s Chew Toy”, the first book in the Hayden & Friends LGBTQ+ Mystery Series! 

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The Synopsis

Perfect for fans of T.J. Klune, Becky Albertalli, and David Levithan, this hilarious, big-hearted LGBTQ+ mystery follows an unlucky in love—and life—gay relationship blogger who teams up with a take-charge lesbian and a fiesty bull terrier to find a missing go-go boy and bring down an international crime ring.

When Hayden McCall’s new crush suddenly disappears, the twenty-something gay ginger relationship blogger and middle-school teacher teams up with a take charge butch lesbian, a gentle giant, and a feisty bull terrier to find the missing guy. 

Driven by a belief that the police won’t take the crime seriously, the improbable crime fighters prove that friendship — fueled by a lot of caffeine — has the power to bring down a diabolic international crime ring.

The Review

I absolutely loved this book. The humorous and captivating story balanced out so well with the rich and diverse characters. The pacing and atmosphere that the author crafted within this narrative were so engaging for a reader to dive into, and each scene and character felt alive on the page as if you could just step right into it. The themes the author explores in this book, from police brutality to the struggle of being “illegal” while living in the United States and so much more made the heart of this narrative feel so important as well.

The thing that really stuck out to me as a reader was the LGBTQ-driven themes and how prominent the ammeter sleuth meets crime thriller and humorous cozy mystery genres were within the story itself. The dynamics between Hayden, Hollister, and Burley were great to see, and getting to see the evolution of their friendship was so fun to connect with. Yet the actual mystery aspect of the narrative kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing the truth behind this young dancer’s disappearance. 

The Verdict

Captivating, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Rob Osler’s “Devil’s Chew Toy” is a must-read ammeter sleuth meets LGBTQ+ humor and crime thriller! The way these cozy mystery reads have gained more and more popularity, especially in the face of the hit Hulu original series Only Murders in the Building, has given bright and original stories like this the spotlight they deserve, and the author’s unique blend of humor, wit, and charm with important themes and heartfelt character growth will have readers eager for more of this engaging series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Prior to Devil’s Chew Toy, Rob Osler’s short story, Analogue, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, won the Mystery Writers of America Robert L Fish Award as part of the 2022 Annual Edgar Awards. Rob lives in California with his long-time partner and a tall gray cat. 

Website: http://robosler.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/roboslerwriter

Twitter: http://twitter.com/robosler

Instagram: http://instagram.com/roboslerwriter

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3pb3YYz

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57997935-devil-s-chew-toy

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Author Q&A

On writing:

How did you do research for your book?

As DEVIL’S CHEW TOY is a contemporary novel set in a city I’m extremely familiar with, there was not a heavy research task. Also, because the two main characters are VERY amateur sleuths, I could avoid needing to get a lot of police procedure right—though there is some police interaction. That said, it’s amazing how many little questions arise in every chapter that require a pause and some desk research. 

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

The hardest character to write was Hollister—not that she was too challenging. I strove to be respectful of Hollister’s identity as a Black lesbian in America without going so deeply into her character that hers became a story that wasn’t mine to tell. 

The easiest character to write was Hayden McCall. Why? Because there’s a whole lot of me in him. We are both naturally shy and smaller of stature (though he’s shorter and slighter). I took Hayden on the type of adventure—with a bolder, stronger, and more courageous friend—that I would love to go on.

There are many cozy mysteries out there….What makes yours different?

My story features two extremely amateur sleuths, one mild-mannered gay ginger and one butch lesbian. I’ve heard from some reviewers and readers that while pairing a gay and a lesbian as the main protagonists is not unprecedented it is uncommon. Also, I intentionally wrote a story in which the queer characters are neither the villains nor the tragic victims. 

What advice would you give budding writers?

Understand that whatever amount of patience you have will be depleted and then some. Publishing moves in increments of months. It takes a long time—and a lot of collaborators—to bring a book to market.

Your book is set in Seattle. Have you ever been there?

I set the book in Seattle because it’s my “Spirit City.” I lived there for nearly twenty years and loved it. Given as much time as it takes to write a book, I wanted to return to Seattle and its neighborhoods and hills and waterways during the long writing process.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I have been a marketing and branding strategist for many decades, both at agency/consultancies and at technology corporations. I think the general mind set of prioritizing activities that matter most has helped me with all aspects of writing and the navigating the publishing process.

How long have you been writing?

I actually started my professional career as advertising copywriter writing television commercials for Kellogg’s and Tropicana and Procter & Gamble. Fiction writing also uses words to communicate but that’s about the only commonality I’ve found! It’s the difference between landing one memorable message versus telling a compelling, captivating story over three hundred-plus pages. Trust me, a novel is way harder.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

You know, I really never do. But then I’m not much of a procrastinator either—not that they’re the same thing. My biggest challenge is going off on a tangent with a character or a scene that needlessly complicates the story and “writes me into a corner.” I do a lot revisions.

What is your next project?

I have recently sold my second short story to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. It features a fifty-something cross-dressing whacky amateur sleuth named Perry Winkle who solves a murder at his Palm Springs condo community.

What genre do you write and why?

I write traditional mysteries because that has been the genre I have always most loved to read. And I feature LGBTQ+ main characters because I am gay and we need more books—of all genres—that represent the great and glorious rainbow of humanity. 

What is the last great book you’ve read?

Two spring to mind. The first: THE SAVAGE KIND by John Copenhaver, who also happens to be a very nice human being. This novel—no surprise—won the Lambda Literary Award for best mystery this year. The second: DEAD LETTERS FROM PARADISE by Ann McMan is sheer delight. Both books are truly terrific.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

“I can’t wait to read the next one!”

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

Both Hayden and I are gay, mild-mannered, quiet, but good for an occasionally humorous one-liner. We both play tennis and enjoy big personalities. As Hayden says, “we balance each other out.”

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?

The characters are so distinct in my head, I can’t picture a known movie star playing either Hayden, Hollister or Burley. However, I can see Della Rupert, the oddball proprietress of Barkingham Palace, played superbly by Melissa McCarthy.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?

Stanley Kellogg’s “Falling Hard,” of course! This song, which was made up along with the new country star himself, reoccurs throughout the story. Fun fact! After the book was published, a good friend, Ben Davis, and I completed the lyrics and Ben wrote the music and produced the track. It’s on my website. Check it out!

What were the biggest rewards with writing your book?

Hearing from readers that they enjoyed it. 

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

Long.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Every time you are certain you’re done working on a book, know that you aren’t.

Which authors inspired you to write?

Agatha Christie and Armistead Maupin.

What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?

There’s a line that 91-year-old Jerry delivers in reply to Hayden’s question: “How did you get to be so wise old man?” Over the whistle of the kettle, Jerry replies, “I managed to live a long damn time.”  That “damn” was an Eff-bomb until the final edit. It was the only strong swear word in the book. By removing it the book avoided an R rating, if you will. But I still love the idea of Jerry saying the line with more gusto!

On rituals:

Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?

No snacking. But I do try to drink plenty of water.

Where do you write?

I have a home office. I’ve never been able to do the coffee shop thing. I am too easily distracted.

Do you write every day?

Not every day. But I do write most days. 

What is your writing schedule?

I usually write in two- to three-hour spurts. In a mystery, context and pacing is so important I am not skilled enough to dipping in and out.

Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?

Nope. I just plop my butt down and starting tap, tap, tapping. I will say I find it very difficult to stop writing before I finish a chapter, even in the roughest draft form.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

No. But I do use notebook paper to scribble plot ideas before I write.

Fun stuff:

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

The seventies. The music was awesome. Though I’m still wary of bell bottom pants.

Favorite travel spot?

Switzerland.

Favorite dessert?

Raspberry rhubarb pie

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you? 

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Tales of the City

All the Light We Cannot See

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I set off for Alaska to work on fish processing barge after my sophomore year at college. If fish were running, the shift was 16 hours, every day until all the fish were processed. I still don’t know why I did it, but I returned two more summers. 

Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.

I have been life-long tennis player and watcher. I can usually name the top twenty men players—and often in order!

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

Rob Osler writes traditional mysteries featuring LGBTQ+ main characters. 

What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

We are social creatures who need human interaction.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

Inventing Anna by Shonda Rhimes on Netflix.

What is your theme song?

“Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. 

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

“The Seaside” by The Lazy Eyes

What is something that made you laugh recently?

Jinx Monsoon’s roast performance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Hi-lar-ious.

What is your go-to breakfast item?

Toast and yogurt with berries.

What is the oldest item of clothing you own?

I have a green argyle sweater I bought in Seattle thrift store about forty years ago.

Tell us about your longest friendship.

Twin girls, Kelly and Shelly. I grew up with them. We went to elementary, middle school, high school and then to the same out-of-state college! Just a few months back, I did a book event at the wonderful Boise bookshop Rediscovered Books. Guess who was in the front row?

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Willy Ames who played the role of Tommy on Eight is Enough.

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Guest Post: Adding More Color To Cozies

Adding More Color to Cozies

Within the mystery genre are several sub-genres, including suspense, hard-boiled, noir, historical, amateur sleuth, police procedural, detective, and cozy. Perhaps the one in the list that is least familiar to most readers is the cozy. If the term is new to you, just think of Jessica Fletcher and Murder She Wrote or most of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries. The hallmarks of a cozy are the avoidance of gratuitous violence, graphic sex, and profanity. But being on the tamer end of the mystery spectrum doesn’t mean a cozy can’t deliver a terrifically entertaining read packed with engaging characters, adventure, intrigue, and loads of humor. 

Given the nature of cozies, they have tended to appeal to a more conservative audience, predominately featuring white and straight main characters in smaller towns populated with other white and straight residents. That said, there have been many truly great exceptions. To name drop just a few: Dean James Simon-Kirby Jones series that features a gay vampire (now that’s different!), Stephen E. Stanley’s Luke Littlefield series, Michael Craft’s Claire Gray series, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Ellen Hart’s Jane Lawless series, among others, and Kellye Garrett’s HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE. 

While diverse cozies are nothing new, it seems there are more coming than ever before. And that’s a very good thing.

Michael Craft is back with DESERT GETAWAY, a delightful new Dante (gay guy) and Jazz series (Black woman P.I.). Raquel Reyes’s MANGO, MAMBO, AND MURDER (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery), Mia P. Manansala’s ARSENIC AND ABODO, Jennifer J. Chow’s DEATH BY BUBBLE TEA, Frank Anthony Polito’s RENOVATED TO DEATH (yes, gay 😊), and Zac Bissonnette’s A KILLING IN COSTUMES (also gay). And yes, my own debut novel, DEVIL’S CHEW TOY, features a gay, ginger middle-school teacher and gay dating blogger and his amateur sleuth partner, a Black butch lesbian.

Representation is important. While I hope the murders and other crimes that anchor even cozy mysteries don’t befall readers, it’s important to have book options that put diverse characters at the center. True inclusion isn’t relegated to the periphery. I, for one, enjoy reading stories I can relate to because of a shared experience with a character and characters that introduce me to new cultures and experiences. That’s an adventure. That’s transportive and escapist. Isn’t that why we read fiction? 

And here’s the best part: a good book is a good book. So even straight readers can enjoy a great mystery with diverse main characters. 

So hooray for the new wave of diverse cozies. They promise any mystery lover a delightfully colorful read.

Conjure Lake (Ambrosia Hill Book 1.5) by Rebecca Henry Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After a woman takes it upon herself to raise her younger brother after the tragic loss of their parents, a move into their family cottage home in upstate New York turns into a deadly trial as they realize an ancient curse threatens their new home in author Rebecca Henry’s “Conjuring Lake”, the latest book in the Ambrosia Hill series.

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The Synopsis

When feelings are more than a warning, they become haunting.

Eighteen-year-old Serena is attending university on the west coast when her life is flipped upside down. After the untimely death of her parents, Serena returns to New York City to care for her seven-year-old brother, Jack. As financial pressures mount, Serena makes the difficult decision to move them to their family’s heritage lake house in upstate New York.

Jack hasn’t spoken to anyone but her since their parents’ death and Serena’s only focus is learning how to become a full-time mother to her little brother with the hope that she can save him from his sorrow. But when the siblings arrive in the tiny and isolated town of Corvin Grove, they realize their family’s name raises eyebrows from the townsfolk as the two settle into the abandoned lake home.

It doesn’t take long for the siblings to discover that things inside the gothic house are not what they appear to be. An ancient witch has cursed Conjure Lake and if they stay in Korwin Cottage, they may never make it out alive.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of horror, gore and child endangerment. There are references to past animal death.

Publisher’s Note: This book is related to the Ambrosia Hill series.

The Review

I absolutely loved this read! The author did an incredible job of crafting a unique story that could be read all on its own without missing a beat, and yet fits into the mythos and world that the author crafted in the first book in the Ambrosia Hill series, Amethyst. The way the author was able to build upon the magical background and history of this small town from the first book and highlight the more haunted and chilling atmosphere that the first book hinted at was great to read. The book fits perfectly into the YA genre, as the younger protagonists allowed younger readers to get a sense of connection while also paying homage to the most ancient process of magic itself.

The character growth was truly the heart of this novel once more. The author’s specialty in all of her works has to be creating beautiful characters that people will come to love, identify with, and feel for in their journey. The special bond between Serena and Jack was so relatable to me as an older brother. I loved the inclusion of LGBTQ storytelling and character development in this book, something the author touched upon in the first book. The connection the author made to characters from the first book and the way the town itself seemed to become its own character, as the hardships that befell the town for so long seemed to impact the townspeople themselves, very much reminding me of the townspeople in Stephen King’s It. 

The Verdict

Haunting, captivating, and entertaining, author Rebecca Henry’s “Conjuring Lake” is a must-read YA LGBTQ Paranormal and Fantasy Romance novel of 2022! The amazing amount of depth and emotion that the author pours into the narrative and the care for which these characters develop and evolve in their own right, from Jack’s desire to gain knowledge to Serena’s journey to gather her own power and strength to face life’s challenges, really mad me care as a reader for this world the author has crafted and made it feel truly magical in nature. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Rebecca Henry is an American author living abroad in England. She is a devoted vegan who gardens, practices yoga, crafts, travels the world, and bakes. Rebecca’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and she is obsessed with anything and everything witchy! Besides writing fiction, Rebecca is also the author of her vegan holiday cookbook collection and green living lifestyle book. Her love for animals, baking with her family, having a plant-based diet, and cruelty-free, green lifestyle inspired her nonfiction novels. You can find all Rebecca’s books on Amazon.

https://www.rebeccahenryauthor.com/

Blog Tour: Higher by Roz Alexander

Higher - Roz Alexander

Roz Alexander has a new FF holiday romance out: Higher. And there’s a Giveaway.

Where do dreams go to wait?

Tali Blue is definitely going back to finish her last semester of rabbinical school…eventually. When she moved back to her hometown seven years ago to help her grandparents raise her younger sisters, she planned on it being temporary. Now though, she has a stable job and a stable life surrounded by the people she’s known forever. It’s all just fine – and then there’s the incredibly annoying surprise of Maple.

Maple never meant to be successful. She just wanted to make weird art and practice her Ladino. And just like that, 15 years of adulthood has built a solid career, a great reputation as an art instructor, and a lackluster love life. It doesn’t help that she’s been spending all her free time consumed with making it as a Sephardic Jew into the Jewish art world that never seems to have space for her. And it definitely doesn’t help that she’s strictly a butch-for-butch queer. And then comes a sex goddess in the form of short, chunky, smoking hot, and incredibly nervous, butch, Tali Blue.

When Tali’s love of family, Maple’s art ambitions, and a Rosh Hashanah effort to #savethebees force these two together, both of them may learn that the only way out is up, together. This new year the honey is dripping on a lot more than apples. Higher is a steamy, butch-for-butch, grump-sunshine sapphic romance about what happens when you choose to take your dreams higher.

About the Series:

This entire Hot for the Holidays series is about queer Jewish people (and the people who love them) falling in love and having hot, explicit sex that can be read in any order and all year round.

Universal Buy Link | Goodreads


Giveaway

Roz is giving away a $10 bookshop.org gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47250/?


Excerpt

Higher meme

Forty-five minutes later Tali was done ha-cha-cha-ing down the hot oatmeal, scrubbing every inch of her body, and blow drying her short hair into something resembling a nice coif. She exited the bathroom into her bedroom, not unlocking the bathroom door into Anna’s room. Let her have to walk around as payback! It was a holdover from childhood when Beth and Anna played pranks on each other and Tali.

She was about to whip off the towel and dive into her closet for an outfit when she realized Maple was sitting on her bed. Looking at her.

She gripped the towel tighter, conscious of how it barely met across her hips. “What are you doing in here!”

“Want me to avert my gaze?” Maple’s tone was pure hunger, even while a teasing glint shone in her eyes.

“Why are you always early to everything? It’s ridiculous! Did Anna send you up?”

“Why are you always so late? And, yes. Both of your sisters did. I’m sure they’ll find this amusing that I made it just in time.” She stood and took a step toward Tali, who backed up, her shoulders and ass meeting the doorframe. “You don’t look embarrassed though, so maybe you’re as amused.”

“It’s a towel, why would I be embarrassed?” Tali swallowed around a surprising lump in her throat. And had it suddenly gotten much warmer in the room? She glanced over to double check she’d remembered to close the windows that morning. Yep, shut tight. The AC must be off or something.

“What is this look then? Is it your tell?” Maple was practically purring, a sound Tali didn’t realize humans were capable of until that moment.

“I’m great at poker. No tells here.” But her voice was growing faint, which indeed seemed to be a tell all on its own.

“No? What about me?” Maple was almost on top of her now, and Tali was torn between putting a hand out to stop her, and gripping her floral button-up to pull her closer. So many of their conversations took place over the phone and through text. Having her there, in front of her, reminded her how handsome and tall she was. How strong her arms looked. How irritating that smirk was. “If I wanted to kiss you, for example. What would my tell be?”

“Uh.” Tali felt herself at a crossroads. Maybe one they’d been at for some time. “You lick your lip.”

Maple startled at that, the smooth top energy sliding away for a moment while she considered that information. “In a sexy way?”

And here was the moment Tali knew it was up to her to choose what path they’d take. She wasn’t sure how to move forward in either direction, so she chose honesty. “Yes.”

Maple’s smile was staggering before it turned dangerous. She placed a hand on the wall above Tali’s shoulder and leaned in until they were a whisper apart. And then she slid her tongue slowly across her bottom lip, staring into Tali’s eyes.

“Yes,” was all Tali could manage. Yes, like that. Yes, please kiss me. Yes, I want this. Yes, yes, yes.

Maple’s other hand slid up the side of the towel, reaching the top and tucking her fingers under its edge. The look she gave Tali turned to one seeking permission. And Tali was going to give it, was going to enthusiastically consent to whatever came next, was going to…

“TALI!” Beth shouted as she swung the bedroom door open. “You locked the go—”

Tali moved faster than she could ever remember moving in her life. She meant to spin back into the bathroom and slam the door behind her, but Maple’s hand was still tucked into the towel.

So, instead, she pulled herself free of the fabric, falling naked onto the cool blue tile. Maple, eyes round as the moon, spun away from her, holding up the towel to block the sight from Beth while she managed to move forward and shut the door with her foot.

Forget every embarrassing moment before this. This is how I die of embarrassment. There’s no coming back from this. Beth will literally never let me live this down. And Maple…

Tali groaned and rolled around on the floor helplessly. She was stuck in here without her towel and with no clothing. Maybe she’d take up sewing and emerge one day in a beautiful button-up and slacks made out of the Moomins shower curtain.


Author Bio

Roz Alexander

They are a physically/progressively disabled, white, trans person with ADHD and have more interests than time in the day. You can find them spoiling their three terrible cat-beasts; connecting to their Jewish culture through moon-worship, plantcraft, and cooking traditions; and making weird art when they’re not writing or stewarding a native pollinator garden with their beshert.

Author Website: www.rozalexander.com

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritesRoz

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rozalexanderbooks/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21096037.Roz_Alexander

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roz-Alexander/e/B0917ZWFZ2

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Blog Tour: Daisy’s Adventures in Love (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Daisy's Adventures in Love - Nikki Sitch

Daisy Sitch has a new MF romance with a strong trans sub arc, Love, Lust & WTF?!! book two: Daisy’s Adventures in Love. And there’s a giveaway.

Daisy’s Adventures in Love picks up where Love, Lust & WTF left off. Daisy’s finally found her match. Or has she? Is Brad really the one? And is Daisy ready for the surprising new challenges that a larger family might bring her?

Experience Daisy’s adventures, diving into love, family and fun. Daisy’s heart is on fire, for her girls, for Brad and for his kids. But as Daisy’s family potentially grows bigger, new unsettling—even terrifying—challenges arise. Daisy and Brad find themselves on a tightrope- one in which falling may mean the loss of one of their children. When you love more, you have more to lose.

To triumph, Daisy must dive deeper into not only love, but diversity, gender issues, transphobia, sexuality struggles, acceptance and the true meaning of motherhood. Luckily Daisy and Brad are not alone. Supported by a diverse cast of friends, including Kyle a psychologist who specializes in LGBTQ+ youth and family counselling, they chart a new-bigger and less predictable- life together.

Opportunities for growth abound. Kids growing and changing like crazy, love is anything but smooth and simple. Daisy’s gal pal chats bring her back to the crazy world of dating, a time she wants to avoid like the plague.

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Nikki is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47249/?


Excerpt

Brad

My fishing trip was great. Much-needed time away, just me and my buddies at the lake. On my way home, I picked up Kari and Kris from their mom’s. I was exhausted from the trip but could tell immediately that something was up with Kari. And it was big. She had a look about her. Tight. Scared. Held in.

When she asked if we could chat one-on-one tonight, I said, “Sure thing, sweetie, happy to chat with you about anything.”

But I wondered what it was I’d been missing. And for how long.

For some reason, my mind went to a video I’d watched of some daredevil hippie-type dude on a tightrope—no, a slackline—strung between two towering rock pillars.

Well, that’s a weird image. Why would that come to mind?

After supper, Kris asked to watch a movie. I got him all set up in the bonus room so Kari and I could chat in relative privacy. “Dad, I’m nervous talking to you about this, but I need to do it NOW. I’ve waited long enough. I’m just going to blurt it out. You can ask questions after.”

I nodded. I hadn’t always been good at, well, just listening. But funny how important it can be. Something told me it was one of those times to close my mouth and open my ears. My baby girl had something important to share with me.

Just listen.

Kari took a deep breath and exhaled, “Here goes nothing. I’m a pansexual transboy.” Silence. I waited.

Shocked, but desperately trying not to show it.

Kari blew out another huge breath and added, “There I said it.”

A what?

I sat very still. Attempting to process what I’d just heard. A feather could have knocked me over. Nothing could have prepared me for this. My brain was trying to process but I didn’t even know where to start. I limited knowledge about either word Kari had muttered.

Kari continued, “I know this is coming at you fast. I’ve researched and soul-searched and internalized this over the past few years. I’ve never felt right as a girl. It always felt wrong. I felt

awkward. It just took me a while to figure out what felt right. And before you ask, no, this isn’t a phase. The reality is: I am a transboy.”

I nodded, playing for time.

The video came back to me then, an overpowering image and feeling. The slackline, only it was me that was on the tightrope. I was balancing precariously over a steep faced gorge, with nothing but air and sharp rocks below.

I had so many questions. I felt so much love for my oldest child right now, lots of confusion, and I just wanted to hold on to my not-so-little girl.

I struggled for balance.

I’d heard the terms before, I guess, but I didn’t really know what they meant.

But I could feel the breeze. The air flowing over me, high on that slackline. I couldn’t panic there. I couldn’t lose my cool or pretend what was happening to my daughter was an affront to me. An affront at all. It wasn’t about me—it was about her, and if I reacted wrong and lost my balance, maybe it wouldn’t be me that fell—it would be her dropping so far, end over end, flailing onto the sharp and unsympathetic rocks so far below.

What do I do?

But some instinctive part of me knew what to do. I folded her into my arms, next to my heart, where she belonged. Always. I felt her try to pull away, but I wasn’t ready to let her go, and I pulled her in closer for another minute before releasing her.

“Dad, you haven’t said anything. What are you feeling?” Kari whispered.

Holding her, I felt my balance coming back. I was scared, still. Scared for her. But I knew something at that moment.

“We aren’t on a tightrope,” I said.

“What?” she asked.

Oops, that was my outside voice. That must’ve sounded extremely weird to her.

“Sorry sweetie, I’m a bit shell shocked. But we’re going to be fine.”

I didn’t know that. Some part of me knew that peril surrounded us—surrounded her, who I would’ve gladly fallen off any cliff to save, but I also knew that it wouldn’t be an act of physical bravery on my part that would help. It would be something else.

Summoning that something else, I said, “I want to be respectful in my response. It’s a lot to take in all at once. But I want you to know that I love you and I’m here to support you through anything and everything, always.” I exhaled, clearly understanding that things had changed in a big way. Not knowing quite what to do. I stared at my girl sitting on the couch. I heard the birds chirping outside. Nothing had changed for them. “How do I support you, Kari? What do you need from me?”

Kari released the air she’d been holding in, and a small smile touched the corners of her lips. “Ok, there are a few things I need from you right now: I would like you to start calling me Carson, not Kari. Also, use the pronouns ‘him’ and ‘he’. I know this will take some getting used to, but I’d appreciate it if you’d start trying immediately. I’ve closed the door on Kari; she’s gone.”

Gone? What do you mean gone? You’re sitting right here. You’re Kari, but you’re not.

My brain was scrambling, trying to find some semblance of logic and organization. I was grasping at straws and failing miserably.

I felt the air again. The high cliffs and the endless fall below. I was back on the slackline. I knew I shouldn’t say anything until the swirling stopped.

I’m not on a tightrope. We’re not on a tightrope.

If Kari was gone, I now had Carson.


Author Bio

Nikki Sitch is a mom, volunteer coach, landman, athlete, and more recently, she discovererd her passion as a writer. A Land Negotiator in the Energy Industry by day, Nikki fills her off hours, when not writing, with things she loves to do: spend time with family and friends, swim, bike, rollerblade, read, travel, golf, and walk.

Nikki wrote Daisy’s Adventures in Love, her second book, while living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her two boys and one dog.

Daisy’s Adventures in Love is Nikki’s second book and is a continuation from Love, Lust and WTF – Daisy’s Dating Adventures. Stay tuned for book three, picking up Daisy’s adventures where Daisy’s Adventures in Love leaves off.

Author Website: https://nikkisitch.ca

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/nsitch/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/nikkisitchauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/NikkiSitch

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nik6ix/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22078002.Nikki_Sitch

Author Amazon: https://Amazon.com/author/nikkisitch

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DC Pride 2022 Review

DC Comics returns for their second annual collection of heroes, villains, and everyone in between celebrating all things Pride related in the graphic novel “DC Pride 2022”.

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The Synopsis

DC’s 2022 celebration kicks off with more stories, more characters, and more pride than ever before! The DC Pride 2022 creative teams, and the characters they’re developing stories for, include:

• Alysia Yeoh and Batgirl by Jadzia Axelrod and Lynne Yoshii

• Aquaman (Jackson Hyde) by Alyssa Wong and W. Scott Forbes

• Green Lantern (Jo Mullein) by Tini Howard and Evan Cagle

• Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy by Dani Fernandez and Zoe Thorogood

• The Ray by Greg Lockard and Giulio Macaione

• Superman (Jon Kent) by Devin Grayson and Nick Robles

• Tim Drake by Travis G. Moore

• A Multiversity: Teen Justice kickoff story spotlighting Kid Quick and written by the miniseries team, Danny Lore and Ivan Cohen!

• An introduction by activist, actress, and real-life superhero Nicole Maines that will include a teaser for her upcoming Dreamer project!

• Pinups by P. Craig Russell, J.J. Kirby, and more!

The Review

Just because the month of June has come and gone doesn’t mean all things Pride must come to an end. Pride is a year-long celebration here on Author Anthony Avina’s Blog, and I had to share this special review of DC’s Pride Anthology. The wonderful array of varying artwork and designs reflected the beautiful collection of writers who brought these powerful and shining heroes to life on the pages of this collection. The inclusion of newly revealed heroes like Jonathan Kent’s Superman and Tim Drake’s Robin as LGBTQ+ heroes was a welcome addition to the roster of characters this collection housed. I loved the action and connectivity to the larger DC Universe within these stories as well.

I absolutely adored the sheer volume of representation these stories and characters had. From Asexual and Bisexual heroes sharing what it means to truly be themselves, to powerful Trans heroes expressing the ever-expansive understanding our culture is starting to understand of the gender identities we all have, this collection had it all. As a special note, I was absolutely floored by actress, activist, and newly revealed writer Nicole Maines with her powerful introduction to this year’s Pride anthology. I’ve been a fan of hers since her introduction to Supergirl as Dreamer, and her honesty, strength, beauty, and sheer talent all shined through so brightly in this collection’s introduction. She is such an inspiration and I cannot wait to read Dreamer’s upcoming series.

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The Verdict

Heartfelt, emotional, and captivating, DC Comic’s “DC Pride 2022” is a must-read LGBTQ+ driven comic book anthology and one of my top reads of 2022. The bright and inspiring artwork blended well with the uplifting, romantic, and heartening stories the authors told through these amazing characters across the DC Multiverse and beyond. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Guest Blog Post and Blog Tour Blast For Author M.D. Grimm’s “Sapphire: Home and Abroad” with OWI Blog Tours

Hi everyone! Thank you for joining me today. I hope you’ll give author M.D. Grimm a warm welcome as we hear some fantastic insight into the development of “Sapphire: Home and Abroad”.


Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Sapphire: Home and Abroad.” This is the latest entry in The Stones of Power. I am overjoyed and relieved to finally release a new book in this series. After re-publishing back titles, I can now work on new projects. So, if you like magic, surly, anti-hero mages (wizards), and a fun setting with quirky supporting characters, this series might be for you!

So… Morgorth. He’s a difficult character, isn’t he? I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting into when I wrote the first book over ten years ago. I have an affinity for dark and/or damaged characters. Their journey and trials as they become better people is something I never grow tired of either writing or reading. One of the worst things in the world is for a writer to be bored with a character and/or a story. And when it comes to series, I strive to have a character(s) that needs to overcome something as they evolve over the course of several books. If I’m not interested in their journey, then why would anyone else be?

“Ruby: Lost and Found” was the third book I ever published. It presented Morgorth in a time of his life where he was bored with being a villain. He’d embraced the label after his peers, fellow mages, decided he simply had to be one because of his birthright: being the seventh son of a seventh son, which they determined meant he was to be the Destroyer of their world. It is said that we often create our own monsters, and in this case, it was true. Morgorth became what his peers already thought he was. However, when Aishe crashes into his life, the desire to be something different awakens within him. In my opinion, he becomes an anti-hero. Or, as he would say, a dark mage. He’s not out to wreak havoc on the world but he’s certainly not going to play by the rules, either.

My initial goal for this series was to challenge myself to write an anti-hero. I’m not quite sure if I succeeded or not, but I can’t argue with the result. Morgorth is wonderfully flawed, his struggles are real, and his desire to be worthy of his mate, Aishe, pushes him into uncomfortable situations and makes his choices harder. What I love most about Morgorth is his refusal to surrender. Despite the abuse he survived as a child, the hatred from most of his peers, and the struggle with his own internal demons, he continues to fight. The closest he came to defeat was in the previous book, “Lapis Lazuli: Forgotten and Remembered,” but even then, even without Aishe kicking his butt into gear, I don’t doubt that after a bit of time in self-pity, he’d roll up his sleeves and start fighting again. It’s one of the things I love most about him: he continues to get up every time he’s knocked down.

Due to the abuse from his father, Morgorth has always carried a deep-seated rage inside him. Unfortunately, it led him to unleashing his pain on innocents until he made a promise to his mentor that he would stop perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Morgorth has grown a lot from book one to book eight, but the core of him hasn’t changed. He still carries the rage, only now he channels it into protecting those he loves. He still has a darkness inside him, a thirst to hurt others, and yet again, he targets it at other villains and in defense. I find that the hardest balance to strike with such a complex character is letting them evolve without changing who they are at their deepest core. I didn’t want Morgorth to lose his edge. I didn’t want it to seem as if he simply flicked off his past trauma and that it no longer affected him. That is unrealistic and an insult to folks who live with trauma. However, he did find the tools and the support to work through his trauma and to use his rage for good instead of evil.

And how did he do that? By finding a mate who accepted all of him. With Aishe, he found the motivation and the reason to work on himself. That’s what I love most about their partnership—they make each other better and stronger. 

The Stones of Power 1-8 are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects.

For fans of the Saga of the Bold People series, I just finished the first draft of “Resistance,” book 3. I hope to release it October 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for that! I am also booked (pun intended) solid this year, working on the next shifter book, the next Stones of Power book, a couple single titles, and the next On Wings Saga book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Sapphire: Home and Abroad

M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy book out, Stones of Power book 8: Sapphire: Home and Abroad.

The Dark Mage, Lord Morgorth, and Aishe of the Ravena Tribe, are to become bondmates.

Morgorth is equal parts nervous and excited. He wants to unite with Aishe in the sacred dialen ceremony, to proclaim their devotion to the world, to show everyone that Aishe is his equal and deserving of respect. After all they’ve survived together, why shouldn’t they make the cosmic promise before friends and family? But duty must often come before pleasure. When Morgorth’s estranged mentor, Master Ulezander, comes to him with a time-sensitive mission involving a major stone of power, Morgorth has little choice but to acquiesce.

Aishe knows his mate struggles with the revelation of his true destiny, after a lifetime of defining himself as the future Destroyer of Karishian. All he can do is reassure Morgorth that being the Savior is a far better fate for both of them. But as Morgorth and Aishe leap through worlds and dimensions in pursuit of a stone of power, more pieces to the puzzle of Morgorth’s destiny are revealed. And they form an image of sacrifice and tragedy.

The dark cloud of an ancient enemy looms ever closer, and the path to becoming the Savior might prove more monstrous than that of the Destroyer.

About the Series:

Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life. Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths.

However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them. But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness. Enter the world of “The Stones of Power.”

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Excerpt

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Morgorth stepped forward and stretched out his arms. He murmured a series of words under his breath and an opaque pinprick of light appeared. I stepped a bit closer, fascinated. The pinprick grew into a swirling, pulsing liquid silver gateway. It was beautiful and ominous. It made no sound, and yet gave off pressure that I felt against my body, and the hair on my arms stood on end.

The few trees bordering the clearing creaked and groaned as they bent away from the portal. I didn’t hear anything—not birds or squirrels, not deer. Nothing was near us, and the poor, stationary trees were doing their best to also get away.

Morgorth fisted his hands and widened his stance, still muttering. His skin glowed, and I silently shifted to his side. His eyes were a burning amber, his expression set in stubborn determination and intense concentration. Sweat slid down his face. The portal pulsed a bit faster, the beat knocking against my ribs. What was he doing?

Then the silver gained a bluish color before darkening to mossy green. Morgorth grunted and lowered his hands, though his magick still glowed.

“Take my hand,” he said in a stiff, strained voice. “And hold on tight, to both me and your bow.”

I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. I clung to my bow as I took his outstretched hand and pressed to his side. His skin was hot to the touch but not burning.

“What can I expect?” I asked.

“Discomfort and weirdness,” he said with a hint of a smile. “Just don’t let go.”

“Never.”

Then Morgorth ran and yanked me with him. We dove into the portal without hesitation, and he was right about the discomfort and weirdness. It wasn’t the emptiness of teleportation nor the whiplash of magickal speed. Morgorth charged through the swirling green, dragging me along. The green slipped over my skin and hair like cold putty and tried to capture my feet in its murk. It seemed to last forever but I was certain it was only a moment or two. Then we were somewhere else.

I caught my breath and stumbled forward, still clinging to Morgorth. He didn’t let go either, his magick still at the surface. He took a cloudy crystal from one of the many pouches at his waist and bent to place it at the base of the portal.

This time, I heard his word of magick.

“Lelleknau.”

Words of magick were supposed to be nonsensical, something each mage created for themselves. It was personal, each new word linked to a spell and used for nothing else. It took both words and hand flourishes for a mage to cast a spell or secure an enchantment. It was different for magick healers like myself. It wasn’t so much magickhealers used, it was our life essence, gifting a part of ourselves to our patients. Give too much and it could kill us. The missing part of our essence would replenish over time, faster if we were happy and balanced.

To open a portal and redirect it was remarkably heavy magick, and my mate never ceased to leave me in awe of his abilities and his continual growth in both strength and intelligence.

“Will the crystal leave the portal open?” I asked.

He nodded. “Only on this side, though. We don’t want anyone or anything following us.”

“I doubt any of Vorgoroth’s creatures want to follow.”

Morgorth shrugged and straightened. “I don’t want to take the chance. And I wasn’t just thinking of my minions.”

He was thinking of our guests. Probably about Lyli.

I sighed. Yes, that girl was fearless and far too curious for her own good. And wherever Lyli went, Olyvre wouldn’t be far behind. Then Elissya would also come.

“This will also prevent any of the creatures here of getting inside. The crystal is also a shield.”

“Clever.”

“Draining,” he said with a sheepish grin. His magick settled into his core, causing his eyes and skin to lose their glow. “It won’t hold for long. In and out, no sightseeing.”

I snorted and glanced at our surroundings. “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

A thick, dense jungle surrounded us, and I was only now noticing the oppressive heat. My skin broke out in sweat and my clothes soon stuck to me in the most uncomfortable way. I exhaled sharply and let go of Morgorth to wipe at my brow.

“Aye, in and out, please.”

Morgorth grimaced as well and readjusted the bag.

“I hope you can track the bloody thing.”

“I don’t sense magick like on Karishian so it shouldn’t be a problem to open my third eye and spot the box. And if for some reason that doesn’t work, I can always try to meditate and find its aura and track it back to its location.”

“Wouldn’t the box shield the stone’s power?”

“Its power but not its signature. According to Melondia, the box doesn’t have enough layers to truly block it. Think about the layers of Geheimnis. A mage could use their third eye but not spot the stones I have in the tower because the barriers are too thick.”

I nodded, and he closed his eyes. This place did feel… empty. Magick was everywhere in Karishian, in the land, the water, in the creatures. In the sky and in the clouds, and in the sun. In the air itself. I didn’t like it here. I shuddered and fingered my bow. The familiar texture of the wood soothed me just enough to unclench my muscles.

I kept an eye on our surroundings as Morgorth once again called to his magick.


Author Bio

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M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/

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Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

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