Archive for the ‘Author Interview’ Category

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Welcome to the blog of Sid Love. I feel very honored to have you stopping by here.

Thanks for having me. 🙂

We don’t often see an interview or guest post from you, though you are a fervent blogger with an very active website and reading group. Is there a reason you usually don’t do interviews?

The biggest element is time: I never have enough. So I have to pick and choose carefully what I can fit into my schedule.

Talking from experience I can say that your blog is a true pleasure to follow because it’s smart, interesting and funny but yours is quite special because of the phenomenal photographs you’ve taken and posted there. How come you are such a fantastic photographer? Did you study for it? And where does the passion for it come from?

Thanks for the compliment. 🙂 I try to keep it interesting.

I’ve been studying photography most of my life. When digital became relatively cheap and common place, I took that as my cue to dive in. It’s far cheaper to download pics to a computer than take film in for developing. Over the years, I’ve developed my style, which is generally color-saturated and detailed. I like rich, deep colors in my pictures. As I was developing my photographic skill, I was also learning how to post-process in Photoshop. Taking a picture is only the first step. It’s what you do with it afterward that makes a photo special.

I spend much of my days immersed in words, either writing them or editing them. Turning to a purely visual hobby is restful and exercises a different part of my brain.

You have written quite a few different novels/stories. Do you have a preferred genre to write in?

My preferred genre is m/m, but if other characters start yelling in my ear, I tend to listen. I never want to limit myself in any way.

On top of being a writer, an amateur photographer and still working a day job, you are also known as a very good editor. How are you able to keep up?

Honestly? I have no idea. 🙂

Blue RiverYou newest release ‘Blue River’ is coming from Dreamspinner Press on October 9th as a re-release. Why is it released anew and can you tell us something about it?

A much shorter version of Blue River was published by MLR Press a couple years ago. However, it was released as part of a mass presentation of holiday stories and got lost in the crowd. I thought the story deserved a wider audience, so I got my rights back, revamped the story, almost doubling its original length, and offered it to Dreamspinner. I’m very glad they accepted it. Here’s the blurb: 

Photography genius Ethan Mars is out and living the fast life in Los Angeles until a mysterious mist in Topanga Canyon sends him back in time. There he meets Quinn Parker, a farmer who has hidden his homosexuality from everyone, even Margaret, his fiancée. Falling in love is the last thing Ethan expects, and the last thing Quinn can allow—in 1863, being gay can get him killed. When Ethan is unexpectedly offered a way home, he faces an impossible decision: go back… or stay?

I did a lot of research for this one. It seemed I was stopping every other sentence to check things out. Did they have toothpaste? What about toilet paper? How did they preserve food for winter? How did they kill a chicken for dinner? It was endless! And I loved every minute of it.

If I look at your blog I see another book coming this month called Transgression, another totally different book from what I can tell so far. Is there something you can or are willing to share on that one?

Transgression 300x469This is a case where I had two other stories already started, but a character insisted I stop work on them and tell her story. In Transgression, you meet Sky Kelly, a pre-op trans woman living in Los Angeles. You also meet Zach Fox, Ricky Giraldi, Liza Dabrowski, Gus Fischer, and Ethan Stonebridge. All of them are interesting, and half are hiding something. 

This is different from anything I’ve written before. I loved writing this story, and I’m excited to hear what readers think.

Some of your books are published by a publisher ( dsp and mlr) while others you choose to publish yourself at Voodoo Lily Press, the publishing company you have with author, A.J Rose. How do you decide what to publish where?

I like Dreamspinner, so I hope to place a story there once in a while. But I also like the discipline of self-publishing. I’m kind of a control freak, and being able to handle or oversee every step of a manuscript from start to finish appeals to me a great deal. 

Transgression will be self-published because it contains characters or storylines publishers may not want to accept. I am not limited in what I want to write if I self-publish. AJ and I take our self-pubbed works very seriously and release a professional product. It’s important to us that readers’ enjoyment of our titles is not lessened by bad covers or editing. To that end, we take great care to offer them the best book we can produce.

And do you find it hard for you and AJ to work so closely together, considering you’re both authors with strong personalities?

When AJ and I are writing, we’re in our own little worlds. Once in a while, we’ll share something about our story or ask for an opinion, but mostly, we save that for when neither of us is immersed.

Time to do the shorties 🙂

Favorite food? King crab. It’s expensive, so I don’t get it often, but I love it.

Favorite color? All the colors of the rainbow. 🙂

Favorite author? Oh, no! Not going there. I enjoy too many to choose only one.

Favorite book? Impossible to choose.

Favorite way to spend a day off? In bed. ‘Nuff said.

Favorite movie? Can people really choose only one?

Favorite music or song? I have many, but lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Hurts. Theo Hutchcraft has an incredible voice. 

Favorite clothes? Anything comfortable, and the fewer, the better.

Favorite season? Summer. It will always be summer.

I’m curious to know who your biggest influences are. Not just writers, but others as well. Is there a particular teacher or family member that made a big difference in your life that you could tell us about?

My Uncle Dan is a big influence. I’m talking about life things. You know, the importance of being honest with yourself and others, and the value of friendship and having a strong sense of ethics. Whatever “goodness” is in me was nurtured and encouraged by family and close friends.

Do you have any other hobbies that people might find interesting?

I enjoy astronomy. Uncle Dan has a large telescope, and we use it whenever I’m at his place. I taught myself to play guitar years ago, and I sing fairly well. AJ is the piano player in the family, but I can play by ear. I’m pretty much interested in everything!

What can we expect from the author Theo Fenraven? What is in the works?

Another Precog book is in the works, though I might not get that out until next year. I have a couple of SF books in mind, and AJ and I are finally coming around to the idea of writing something together.

At the end of this interview I would like to ask you if there is anything else you would like to mention or share?

I want to thank my readers. Without you, there’s little point in getting published. I appreciate all of you, and I want to send special thanks to those of you who’ve sent me email or otherwise found a way to tell me how much you enjoy my stories. I love hearing from you.

Thank you so much for doing this interview !

~ As told to Danielle

GIVEAWAY

Besides participating in this interview Theo kindly offered a give-away of his new release “Blue River”

If you want to enter leave a message below answering why you would like to read this book

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CONTEST WILL END ON 13th October, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time!!

Thank you for coming over to the blog of Sid Love to answer some questions! It’s a great pleasure having you here ! 🙂

Well, it’s lovely to be here! Thanks for having me.

When I look at your bio I notice you started writing not too long ago but wanted to for quite some time before that. What made you take that final step?

Being so stressed in my job that I had to do something.  I’ve always been creative – I paint, sew, play the clarinet – but I haven’t been able to do those things for a while because the demands of my job were simply too much. Then when the job became so stressful that my health suffered, it was time to do something. My doctor actually said that I needed an outlet, something to focus on. So I thought about that idea for a book I’d had a year previously….

Now you’re writing full time did it change your life ? And if it did, was it all positive or were there also negative sides to that?

Oh WOW – has it changed my life.

Well, losing the EDJ certainly changed my life. My friends comment these days that I look so much happier. But as for writing full-time, I love it! It’s wonderful to spend a day on the laptop and at the ned of it, I can read it over and think, “YES! It was a good day.”

There’s only one negative that I can see. I have to be VERY self-disciplined. When I go down to my little writing room by the sea, it’s easy. There are no distractions and I just get on with writing. When I stay at home? That’s another story. It’s SOOOOOO easy to get distracted… the Internet, friends on Facebook (Yeah, Max Vos, I mean you… 🙂 ) stuff round the house, the Internet, shopping, the Internet… Yeah, you get the picture…

You self-publish some stories as well as publishing with Dreamspinner. Is there a reason why you use both?

Learning to Love: Michael & Sean (Learning to Love, #1)When I submit a book to Dreamspinner, there’s a waiting time till I find out if it’s been accepted, then five-six months before it comes out. When I self-publish, once I’ve finished the book, it’s off to my beta readers. That’s usually about a week – damn, they read fast! – then off to Sue, my editor, and then I sit down and run it through the software before uploading it onto Amazon, All Romance, etc…

It’s a faster process and I get to see the results of my labor faster, too. Especially as now my writing pays the bills..

But publishing with Dreamspinner is wonderful. They take care of everything – covers, publicity…

I like having the best of both worlds.

Looking over your backlist I see an impressive list built in a short time. I see for starters the ‘Learning to Love’ series that has three books so far, all with very different personalities in them. In part one we meet freshman students Michael and Sean and we are introduced to their friend Evan, who gets his own story with Daniel in part two.

Did you know when you started the first book and introduced us to Evan that there would be a part two where he would be chasing his own happily-ever-after? Or was it something that came to you as you write Michael and Sean’s story? And then part 3 with Cris and Josh who also are introduced in an earlier book?

Learning to Love: Josh & Chris (Learning to Love, #3)I was half way through Michael & Sean when I realized there would be a sequel. I mean, Evan HAD to have his Happy Ever After! But by the time I ‘d started Evan and Daniel’s book, I’d already worked out that there would be four books in the series in total.

And from my own opinion I am very much looking forward to a part 4 in this series as I really would like to find out how you will continue this and I kind of need you to make it alright (without spoiling too much). Is it coming and when?

Ahhhhh… Part 4 is on my To Do list, and will be submitted to Dreamspinner early next year, so hopefully it should be out by the summer. It’s the final year of studies for Michael, Sean, Evan, Daniel and Chris – Josh will still have Medical school, of course – and a lot happens. I cannot tell you how many people have messages / emailed me about Sean, wanting to know if he’s going to be alright.  I love that boy – would I let anything bad happen to him? Hmmm…..

But part 4, Final Exam, is a pulling together of different storylines. Evan and Daniel take time to explore another side to their marriage, one which has been emerging throughout parts 2 and 3. Josh and Chris are still a fairly new couple, and there are bumps in the road to contend with. But Michael and Sean have a tough time ahead, and they’ll only get through it with their friends and family to support them.

Waiting for a Prince (Island Tales #1)Continuing through your backlist, we see the ‘Island Tales’ a series you are self-publishing which has different characters in each story but centres on the Isle of Wight. Can you tell me why you decided to write this series using separate and non-related characters?

Interesting question. Just because Mark and Sam (from Waiting for a Prince) didn’t turn up in the next tale, September’s Tide, please don’t assume that’s the last you’ll see of them. In fact, they turn up in the third tale, which should be out before the end of the year. And Andy and Richard, at the Beach Shack café in Steephill Cove, turn up in both books – and will be in the third. (They’re real people, by the way. They’re waiting for the day when someone ask them “Are you the guys in the books?”) And they’re straight, before anyone asks.  🙂

I liked the idea of setting lots of different stories on the Island. I love this place. It’s beautiful, tranquil and definitely an inspiration.

I have at least three more books planned for the Island Tales series.

Coming to the ‘Collars and Cuffs’ series that has had a very successful start with “An Unlocked Heart” with the second part “Trusting Thomas “ being released tomorrow (Are you nervous?)

An Unlocked Heart (Collars and Cuffs, #1)You take the reader into the world of BDSM with this series. Is that a genre you always wanted to explore as a writer?

I’m ALWAYS nervous when a new book comes out, even after (*counts on fingers*) eight books.

I’ll be honest. I got half way through 50 Shades of…. and gave up. And then I thought, what would a gay version look like?  I love the BDSM books by Sean Michael, Anna Martin, SJD Peterson, Patricia Logan… so it was something I wanted to try. I loved the idea of making the books primarily a love story, with added BDSM. I often get reviews that say they’re not hardcore BDSM – they were never intended to be. But when I get readers telling me that they LOVE how different the book is, or that they don’t usually read BDSM but loved An Unlocked Heart – that is huge for me.

We get introduced to Thomas in the first part as Leo‘s Business partner so it is great to see he is getting his own story in this part. Can you share something with us about the new book “Trusting Thomas”?

I loved Thomas from the start. This is a kind, patient, gentle man who trains Doms and subs alike, but has never had his own submissive. He’s content with his life, rattling around in his big house, running the club, but when a friend asks him to help him by taking on a sub, Thomas can’t say no. He isn’t prepared for such a damaged young man, however. Peter has been through a lot, and it’s going to take him a while to trust another Dom.

The book is Thomas and Peter’s journey, and I loved watching them take those all important steps to realizing that they needed each other.

What does worry me is  the reaction to the age difference. At the start of the book, Thomas is 55 and Peter is 26. When I read Slow Bloom by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox (LOVE that book!) it didn’t bother me in the least that Jack was 48 and Ricky was 19 when they started… But I know there are readers out there for whom this will be an issue. Not an insurmountable one, I hope.

Trusting ThomasYou’re already well known for your special way of combining smoking hot mansex with romance. Is this something you really have to work at, or does it come naturally for you while writing?

LOL. I see my books like a film in my head. And seeing as some comments were made in my earlier books that there was too much sex, I am now always careful to rein in my men. If the sex moves the story along, then yes, okay boys, off you go, the bedroom’s thatta way… If it doesn’t? Sigh…

Something else that worried me about Trusting Thomas is that there’s a lot less sex than in my previous books. When you read it, you’ll see why. And if you like less sex with your story? Come on in – you’ll like this one.

Knowing where in the story I want my characters to make love? That’s easy..

Writing the scenes? That’s harder. They have to be right. That’s why beta readers are so valuable. And to be honest? I love writing sex scenes. If i can read it back and see the action in my head, I’m pleased.

Time for my shorties I would say 🙂

Favorite food? OMG – I don’t really have one, I like food! (Though chocolate would be near the top of the list)

Favorite color? Gold

Favorite author? Can’t answer that one – FAR too many to choose from

Favorite book? See above!

Favorite way to spend a day off? Going down to the beach, walking along the shore, listening to the waves…. Happy sigh

Favorite movie?  Oh dear. Nope. Too many again.

Favorite music or song? I really like Classical music, but then there’s the Beatles…..

Favorite flower? Roses – preferably with a perfume

Favorite clothes? I love wearing dresses

Favorite season? Summer

At the end of this interview I would like to ask you your plans. What’s coming from K.C. Wells?

Making it PersonalOOH! Just last week I had an idea for a short story, based around the characters of Blake and WIll from Making it Personal. That will be out very soon

And speaking of Making it Personal, I will be writing Rick’s story early next year.

Ideas are coming at all from all angles lately. I can’t keep up with them!

And in January Dreamspinner are releasing my first ever co-authored novel! Parker Williams (aka Will Parkinson) and I have written a book, Someone to Keep Me. It’s a BDSM story, which fits into the Collars & Cuffs world. At the moment Will and I are planning the next book, Damian’s Discipline, and there’s a third book in the pipeline. That will be it for the BDSM books – we DO have other ideas, however…  😉

And is there anything else you would like to share with us here?

Wow – I think I’ve covered everything – except I would like to thank all the readers out there who read my books. It’s been wonderful so far to share all these stories in my head. Thank you, all of you.

Thank you very much for this interview and your time.

Thanks – it was fun!

~ As told to Danielle

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In addition to participating in this interview Miss K.C Wells has generously offered a giveaway of her new novel “Trusting Thomas” coming October 7th.

Are you just as excited as I am to read this book? Let us know and leave a comment below

Goodluck!

CONTEST WILL END ON 10th October, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time!!

MoonandStars_headerbanner

We are so happy to have you here on the Blog of Sid Love. Thank you for stopping by.

When I look at your blog I see you like to call yourself a globetrotter. Where does that love of travelling come from?

ZO: I grew up in the ex-pat community, meaning my parents were always around people from all corners of the world who’d landed in Belgium to work there. Once they moved on, we’d sometimes go visit them. This is how I traveled to Thailand and Ruanda. We also have more relatives in the US than in Europe since my great-aunt married a GI after WWII and settled in the Midwest. Any excuse to visit them was good enough!  Now I have friends from all over the world too. Australia/New Zealand is on the (long) list of places I still want to go.

You state you like your men a bit damaged yet with an inner strength and you’re always in search of their happily-ever-after, for which I am most thankful 🙂 Why do you like your men that way most I wondered?

ZO: I’m a nurse by training although I’ve been working in IT for the last ten years (still in the hospital). I guess I have a strong nurturing side! It also explains why I’ve never written a book without a hospital scene in it. So I guess I also have a slight sadistic side. Let’s say I hurt them to make it all better (did that come out right?)

DiplomacySeeing your releases, you like to write about different personalities. If I just look at your novels you have in Jack the diplomat and Lucas the liaison for the British embassy in ‘Diplomacy’. In ‘Facade’, we enter the model world and get confronted with Bad Boy Nicky and body for hire Jonas and in ‘The Hand Me Down’ we get confronted with issues like death and age as well as relationships in different levels.

Can you tell me why you love to explore such different angles to your stories all the time? Where do you get your inspiration?

ZO: Inspiration comes from just about everywhere. Diplomacy was inspired by growing up around all sorts of nationalities in a community of uprooted people who all traveled to Belgium to work. I’m pretty sure some US intelligence service has at least one file on me…

Façade was born after reading about the bad boy of fashion John Galliano, and seeing one of my favorite actors in a costume that inspired the cover of Façade!

The Hand-me-down has a longer history.  In this case the three characters intrigued me separately and I realized they’d work really well together somehow. The two older men were inspired by aging porn stars (isn’t research grand?), the younger one by an actor (who shall remain nameless) after I saw him in a movie where he played a naïve, not-too-smart character who is seduced by an older man into finding out which side his bread is buttered on. That character feeds into my nurturing side again. The book raised some controversy, because some people didn’t understand how one man could give his lover away to another, but I let my three character tell their own story and it was rather complex psychologically. I’m not sure I did it justice, but I love the story, warts and all.

Clouds and RainThen of course, we have the ‘Clouds and Rain/Wrangler’ series, where we meet the ranch men! How did you come up with the names of the ranches: The Blue River Ranch and the Blackwater Ranch?

ZO: Water or rain always plays a part in my stories and it definitely does in this series. The area the stories are set in is near a river and close to the mountains, so I came up with White River Ranch (like White Water Rafting on rugged, tumultuous rivers), but when I needed a name for Gable’s ranch I kept going back to Blackwater (dark, murky and hiding many secrets), but I didn’t like the black/white juxtaposition. Since Gable didn’t want me to chance the name of his ranch, I figured Hunter would be more easy-going and his ranch got changed to Blue River. 

I personally adore this series and I am over the moon to see a new release from it. Those men have a way of getting into your heart and I think they have so many stories to tell. In ‘Clouds and Rain’ we meet Gable and Flynn and we see them both grow into amazing men. When you wrote this first book, did you think up front that it would be turning into a series? We also get introduced with Grant in the first book in a not so positive way and we get surprised in part two with the love story of Grant and ranch owner Hunter. What made you write the second book about him and why give him his happy ending?

ZO: It was the challenge of showing that one person’s point of view can be so very different from another person’s. Gable is bound to have a hard time thinking of Grant as a good person because of the hurt Grant caused him (both physically and emotionally), but when Hunter gets to know this man a lot better than he knew him before, he sees a man with strong ties to a family that isn’t legally his, and Hunter starts to see why Grant did what he did.

Some readers still can’t see past Grant-the-baddie because they like Gable so much, but for me it really has everything to do with perception. I can see both sides of Grant. He’s certainly not perfect and made some bad choices, but on the other hand, he was between a rock and a hard place and I understand why he did what he did. I’m glad at least some of my readers agree with me!

Earth and SkyWhere in part three you go in again a different direction bringing in hothead convict Rory and partnering him up with Tim who’s the brother of the ranch foreman, Hugh, who is also a familiar character in the books. Makes me wonder which road you are going to follow in the next one! How do you come up with these characters for this series and how are you able to weave them all together in the different stories, as that is one of the things I particularly like myself, always seeing them coming back ?

ZO: The series grew very organically, actually.

Clouds and Rain was inspired by a dream I had after seeing a particularly sad looking picture of one of my favorite actors. He was wearing a hat in the picture and looked pretty much like my “Gable” on the cover of the book.

In that dream I figured out he looked so sad because he’d injured his foot and couldn’t look after his horses anymore (as far as I know, this actor doesn’t own a ranch). So I gave him a helping hand in the form of Flynn and the rest, of course, became Clouds and Rain.

When that story was finished, I realized I’d written a very one-dimensional bad guy in the form of Gable’s ex Grant and set myself the challenge to have that character redeem himself.  Could I turn a character every reader loved to hate into the main character of a romance? This story became Earth and Sky.

Earth and Sky had three secondary character that intrigued me. In that story Grant and Hunter caught two horse thieves: one was a psycho and probably beyond redemption, but his sidekick was more interesting to me. Rory seemed like the type of guy who always got into trouble and couldn’t get a break. Mix him with do-gooder Tim, wrangler at the Blue River and youngest brother of foreman Hugh and a romance was born. This became Floods and Drought.

In Floods and Drought, Rory is rescued from flood water by Deputy Sheriff Kelly Freed and taken to the hospital in his helicopter. One of the men going in search of Rory is ranch hand and former lawyer Cooper Nelson. My muse told me these two weren’t strangers and had met in a “former life” and this is how Moon and Stars came to be!

Let’s talk women for a change. You introduce us in the various wrangler stories to interesting women who are powerful in their own way like Izzie and Callie and even Lisa. Are they based on your own reality? What can you tell us about them?

ZO: In the beginning of the series Izzie is a bit of a tom boy, working the ranch with her brother and acting very much like one of the guys. It’s not said explicitly, but if you ask me one of her reasons is that it’s the only way she can get close to Hugh, who is married, albeit not very happily, to Izzie’s sister. Once Lisa and Hugh break up, she finds Hugh is actually returning her feelings and she becomes more like the daughter her mother wants her to be and becomes a wife and mother herself.

Floods and Drought (The Wranglers, #3)Calley is a complex character. The first review of Moon and Stars stated that “Calley has been treated like the victim with all the gay men rallying round the poor helpless female when in actual fact she has only ever reaped what she sowed” and sort of says it all. I think she likes all these men rallying around her to help her out and consciously or unconsciously facilitates this. She seduced Grant into an adulterous affair, Gable into donating sperm and Cooper into working for her for free. She’s also more than happy to let Cooper and Kelly take care of her paternity troubles.

That said she also has a big heart, taking on foster children next to her own and doing a few other things that become clear in the course of Moon and Stars for which I don’t want to spoil too much. 

I don’t know if these women represent women in my own life. I have a rather complex relationship with women and maybe that seeps through in both complex females and the fact I tend to kill them off. LOL!

Your new release came out on September 23rd and it’s the 4th part of the Cloud and Rain series  titled Moon and Stars. What would you like to share with us about this book?

ZO: Moon and Stars deals with two men who had a rather intense, but sadly short-lived relationship in college, and who, fifteen years later, are both very different men. That doesn’t mean the attraction isn’t still there, but it does mean a few false starts and lots of baggage to carry around. This story is a little lower on the heat scale than most of my novels, because these guys took their time ;-),but fear not!

Nearing the end I would like to throw in my shorties 🙂

Favorite food? Chicken. Could eat it every day (and I often do), especially in oriental style dishes.

Favorite color? Purple. No question.

Favorite author? Too many to mention, but since you asked: Dan Savage. I love his caustic humor and honesty. Even when his opinions aren’t the most popular ones. I reread his books regularly.

Favorite book? Almost always the last one I read. In this case that would be Aaron by JP Barnaby.

Favorite way to spend a day off? Knitting while watching some series on DVD. I know I should say “writing”, but that would be only a partial answer!

Favorite movie? Longtime Companion. See the answer to the next question to know why.

Favorite music or song? For a Friend by The Communards. I know this dates me, but I was young in the Eighties and lived through the fear of AIDS. This voices it so well.

Favorite flower? I’m not big on flowers because I’m very sensitive to intense smells and the pollen tend to make me sneeze. Also, plants don’t like me. They die on me all too easily.

Favorite clothes? Jeans and a warm sweater. I’m usually cold!

Favorite season? Autumn. I love rain and storms and I love the colors this season brings.

For the last question can I ask what is next on your list? and is there going to be a Cloud and Rain 5 and 6 and….? 🙂

ZO: I’m writing a fifth one, and this will most likely be the last. I’ll never say never, though! It’s also time to write something else, outside of this cowboy world. I just haven’t decided what yet.

Thank you so much Zahra for taking the time to do this interview . It was my great pleasure talking to you.

ZO: Thank you for the lovely, deep questions and for having me!

~ As told to Danielle

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MOON AND STARS
(Wranglers #4)

Reviewed by Danielle

Moon and StarsBLURB: A Clouds and Rain Story

After an affair with a married DA led to scandal and disbarment, Cooper Nelson left his legal career in shambles, and found solace working as a hand at the Blue River Ranch. Eight years later, during a rare visit into town, Cooper bumps into Kelly Freed, a man he left behind fifteen years earlier when he started out as an attorney. Unfortunately, Kelly is running for sheriff and his wife is terminally ill, so Kelly can’t even consider rekindling their relationship. Cooper knows from sad experience that hiding the truth leads to lives being ruined, so for his part, he refuses to be anybody’s dirty secret.

In the meantime circumstances at neighboring Blackwater Ranch have taken a desperate turn. Gable’s friend Calley has breast cancer, and when Gable and Flynn take in Calley’s kids, they need help from their friends. Cooper and Kelly’s combined talents are put to work to ensure Gable can make a bid to become the legal father of his children, and that Calley’s affairs are in order if worse comes to worst. For Cooper, staying away from Kelly was never easy, and now with a common cause, Cooper finds he can’t stop himself from seeking the man out.

REVIEW:

First let me start off with saying how overjoyed I was to see a new story in this series. I have been a big fan from the start of the first ‘Clouds and Rain’ story. Going through life together with the characters of the Blue River and Blackwater ranches has been an incredible journey.

If you haven’t read the first stories I don’t think this one will make much sense to you and are well worth the read.

While I love the weaving together of the characters of the first three stories, it could be problematic for a new reader. But I love the fact that Miss Owens just went with that concept trusting on a solid fanbase and giving them a series that involves all the characters from the first three parts and not going for a story that could be easily read as a one shot. I would like to applaud her for that!

In ‘Moon and Stars’ we find Kelly who wants to be the town sheriff and ranch hand Cooper. As you read the story, you find that these guys go back a long time. We also get introduced to Kelley’s wife, and Cooper’s friend, Nina.

On top of that, we get treated to a story within a story as we also follow Gable and Flynn (from Clouds and Rain) as they help out the mother of Gable’s children, Cally. They must find a way to adapt their lives to a new situation that is out of their control. I don’t want to go in detail too much as it is so worth reading it yourself, feeling the emotions of the story and the blurb is already pretty clear on what to expect.

That is what got to me the most with this part of the series, the many different ways of handling, managing and experiencing emotions. There is denial, struggle, open grieving, insecurity but also love, family bonding and togetherness.

Where you follow the love story of Cooper and Kelly, the main characters of this story, you feel their struggle. Their denial and insecurity, their love, grief and want. There is also the story of the side characters that pulls you in.

For me, it felt so good to get reacquainted with the familiar characters from the first three stories.

There is, of course, also the critic you can have as a new reader if I have to name something.

Reading both Kelly’s and Cooper’s backstory, you find out that they both have had to struggle in life. Kelly with his best friend and wife Nina becoming terminally ill and Cooper with having to deal with the scandal that cost him his lover and his lawcareer. Getting pushed by Nina, they cautiously take baby steps towards each other.

As a reader, you get thrown in a totally unexpected angle when you find out more about Cally’s helpers in her shop and the kids she has taken underwing, as we are introduced to Sadie, Ryan and young Noah.

I cannot wait to see more of them hopefully in the next part. The story is really well-written – it reads so easily and with all the storylines there, you never feel confused and you can easily follow it all at a nice and comfortable pace.

The one thing that baffled me a little at the end  was the treatment of Bill, Cally’s ex-husband. Yes. he was not a terrific guy and their marriage wasn’t great but where and when did he turn out to be the bad guy?  The author used him in a way to get Kelly and Cooper working together on something and the idea is there but for me, it felt a bit like ‘ok, we need a bad guy to work against’ and that in my opinion wasn’t necessary.

I hope that Miss Owens won’t wait too long with the next book in this series. There is so much more to tell and so many characters searching for a happy ending, that I  am sure she is more than capable of providing.

Summing it up, I would say I come to a good 4 star rating. A nicely written story with great characters and because of the fact that I think the author really stuck out her head to give her fans more of the life of her former characters instead of going for a more standalone story, I will add a 0.25 star to the review – in total, coming up with 4.25 as a final rating.

Danielle’s Rating:  four-stars_0 [4.25 stars!]

LINK: Dreamspinner Press

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Danielle is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: DANIELLE’S REVIEWS
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ABOUT ZAHRA OWENS

Zahra Owens LogoZAHRA OWENS is a multi-lingual globetrotter who loves big cities, but also has a weak spot for the wide-open spaces that are so rare where she lives.

She likes her men either tough on the outside but with a huge soft center, or strong, silent and damaged.  She makes it her personal goal to find them their happy-ever-after, the road there often leading via hospital beds, villas with gorgeous vistas or ranges full of horses.

Zahra is a proud member of the Rainbow Romance Writers, the Romance Writers of America, and is also a member of  RWA’s Professional Author’s Network.

If Zahra had her wish, a day would have at least 36 hours, because how else would she find the time to finish all the novels still inside her head?

Visit her web site at http://www.zahraowens.com/, and on Facebook or Twitter.

ᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜ

!! GIVEAWAY !!

In addition to giving this interview, Zahra kindly offered to do a giveaway of her new book Moon and Stars. Leave a message below to tell us what you liked about the first three books and why you want to read this one? Also, include your email ID so that we can contact you directly in case you win!

Don’t forget to “FOLLOW THIS BLOG”. The widget is on the top of this page where you can either subscribe to this blog via email or if you are a wordpress user, you can “Follow” it through your READER!

Why do you need to follow? – To get instant updates on the winner announcement, or other giveaway events that are planned to be hosted on this blog or simply for the reviews and author interviews that are posted here.

If you are on Facebook, join our official Group: The Blog of Sid Love

===================================

CONTEST WILL END ON 7th October, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time!!

(As told to Danielle)

A very big warm welcome to popular author J.P Barnaby. It is a great pleasure and honor to have you here at the Blog of Sid Love.

Hi Dani – it was an honor to be asked. Thank you so much! I’m really excited to see what questions you decided on.

We sheduled this interview when your novel ‘Charlie, Rentboy’ was released but with your approval hopefully I can add some questions about former novels?

When I saw the promotion and the blurb of ‘Charlie, Rentboy’I was sold. I really wanted to read the book as I  was very curious about what you came up with for this controversial topic. Did you surprise many fans and followers with writing this particulair story?

I wouldn’t think so. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook sees the pictures of me hanging out with my friends in the adult entertainment industry. More than a few porn stars are also escorts, so these guys are my friends. I wanted to write about them in a sex positive way.

I have to say when reading the story it is easy to love Charlie or to sympathize with David, or you can make a easy connection with John. When you started this story did have both these characters set in your mind or did they began existing during the story?

The character for Charlie always existed because he’s based on a real friend – Eli Lewis (http://www.EliLewisOnline.com) who I met at Hustlaball in New York last year. He’s an amazing, charismatic, warm and funny guy who I thought would make a great character. John came later. I knew I wanted someone that not even Charlie could resist.

The surprise for me about this story was the content, which was an easy read with much little drama and so different from what we are used to seeing from you. As I said in my review I applaud you for doing that but why?

Actually, there were two reasons:

1. I have a few friends in the adult entertainment industry, and they are generally viewed in such a negative light in fiction, especially rentboys. In most fiction, you find desperate, addicted boys who have been abandoned by their family and cast out by society. While that does sometimes happen, in my experience, it’s not the norm. Most of the time, they are just regular guys looking for a way to make the rent and stay ahead.

2. When Aaron was released on October 2012, I actually had reviewers who were afraid to read it. A lot of people told me they were waiting to be “in the right mood” to start it. I realized then that I need to expand the range of my stories.

AaronTalking about your previous stories, I would like to ask about the use of technology in your books. The smexting in ‘Lessons Learned’ was hot and effective. And then of course, there’s ‘Aaron’ where the guys come together over a computer programming project. Also, because of Spenser’s deafness, he and Aaron are able to communicate by chatting online. It’s so awesome seeing that medium used as a type of therapy for these guys. Was this motivated by your own work with computers? 

Yep – write what you know, and I know computers. My friend Rowan Speedwell is a master of weaving realistic detail from just about any subject into a book, and I wanted to do that, so I added a bit of my programming knowledge to Aaron. Plus, I am shy as well, and I know that it’s so much easier for me to talk to people over text than actually speak aloud.

Was this something you knew you wanted to show when you started forming the story or did it come to you as the characters evolved?

It was always a part of the story, as much as Aaron’s inability to be touched, and Spencer’s speech patterns.

Talking about Aaron, that story created a lot of buzz. Do you mind me asking what motivated you to write ‘Aaron’? How did you come up with these two characters?

Aaron is my seven-year-old self dealing with the devastating effects of sexual abuse. I came up with the story late one night when Aaron woke me out of a sound sleep and started whispering about monsters in the dark.

Originally, I’d planned for Spencer to be blind, however, it seemed rather convenient with Aaron’s scars. I wanted Spencer to have his own issues so that their relationship would feel balanced.

Are there any one of your characters that you would like to date?

Ethan Bryant from the Forbidden Room series. He’s an incredibly complex character, and I’d love to spend several hours under his paddle and his hands in the room.

What I also am curious for is this: you do interviews with porn stars on your website. Why did you decide to do this and how did it come about?

One of the reasons I put porn stars on my covers is to help promote them just as they promote me. The interviews started a while back when I started talking to friends about getting their pictures and a bit of personal information in the world to humanize them. A lot of people treat them as if they only exist from the waist down.

We know that there is coming a sequel to ‘Charlie, Rentboy’ (one I am definitly looking forward to btw J) but I wonder is there also a sequel to Aaron coming as it feels more like a HFN than an HEA?

The Survivor Books (of which Aaron is the first) will have a total of three books: Aaron, Painting Fire on the Air (release date: Sept 27, 2013), and Spencer. Painting Fire on the Air is about Ben, Juliette’s older brother, but Spencer will be a continuation of Aaron and finish their story.

I would like to throw out my shorties to you, J:

Favorite food? Pizza, hands down.

Favorite color? Silver.

Favorite author? This is a very hard choice. I’m a big fan of Stephen King, Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child, Cameron Dane, Kele Moon’s M/M stuff, and a whole list of other authors.

Favorite book? I can’t pick just one. How about a top 5?

Finding Zach by Rowan Speedwell (followed closely by her new book Illumination coming Sept 30th)

Omorphi by Cody Kennedy

The Eden Series by Kele Moon

Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest

Rough Canvas by Joey W. Hill

Favorite way to spend a day off? Reading

Favorite movie? The Core

Favorite music or song? Music soundtracks, particularly by John Williams.

Favorite flower? I don’t think much about flowers one way or the other – lilacs, I suppose.

Favorite clothes? Jeans and a big comfy hoodie.

Favorite season? Fall, definitely.

Painting Fire on the AirBefore signing off, I would like to ask you something about your new release that comes out September 27th through DSP – ‘Painting Fire on the Air’.  What would you like to share about this new story?

Painting Fire on the Air is the story of Ben, older brother of Juliette from Aaron. He’s devastated by his sister’s murder, and finds a harsh way of dealing with the pain. The phrase “painting fire on the air” refers to fire flogging, in which the Dom loads a kevlar flogger with 70% iso-propyl alcohol and sets it on fire. Drake Jaden, my friend and the cover model for the book, describes the sensation like a bad sunburn for just a second, and then the pain receds until the next strike. Another model, Chris Yosef describes the feeling as “the breath of God”. It’s fascinating.

The book is a great read for anyone interested in BDSM or not. The portions of the book in Ben’s POV are great for those who are into the lifestyle, or just enjoy reading about it. While Jude’s POV is more of a “what the hell is wrong with these people” kind of perception, and the reader learns about the lifestyle right along with him.

Thank you so much for doing this interview . Goodluck on the current releases and the new releases coming .

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such interesting and targeted questions. I really appreciate the care with which you took to find out more about me to do such a beautiful interview. ❤

Thank You J.P. and thank you, Elizabetta for joining me in prepairing this interview.

:: @-@-@ ::

On top of doing this interview Miss J.P Barnaby kindly offered a giveaway of her latest release Charlie, Rentboy. Leave a comment and a message to the author in the comment department as for why you should win this book.

Thanks and Good Luck Danielle

ABOUT J. P. BARNABY

J. P. Barnaby, an award-winning gay romance novelist, is the author of over a dozen books including the Little Boy Lost series, the Forbidden Room series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.

Website: http://www.JPBarnaby.com

Blog: http://www.jpbarnaby.com/#blog

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JPBarnaby

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JPBarnaby

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CONTEST WILL END ON 30th September, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time!!

As told to Danielle…

Hey Dan I’m so pleased and honored to have you here at the Blog of Sid Love 🙂

Smooch! Glad to be had. Lol.

First of all, can you tell us something about yourself?

I’m the one the extraterrestrials abducted and threw back, and as the spaceship doors were closing you could hear them scream: “and for God’s sake, clean the probe!” English translation: I’m a photographer/author located in the mid-west. I specialize in m/m photography

People might know you as an amazing cover artist. How come you decided to write a full novel ?

I had come to a point in my life where I thought it was essential to tell a mainstream gay love story; something that people who weren’t gay could read and still identify with because of the universal components of the romance.

Searching the net I saw you wrote a novella in 2008 called Cover Boy which got very different kind of reviews.  Why did it take you over 5 years to write this new book?

I was very busy with the photography end of my business, but I saw that we were making enormous strides toward equality and I wanted to pen something that people of every generation could read and understand that love chooses; we don’t, no matter the gender or persuasion.

Some people call your book “Memorizing You” your debut novel why ?

I consider it a debut novel because it has all the essential elements of a full novel with complete characters with full storylines, as opposed to the novella which, to me, is a longer short story. In a full novel you have the time to really convey details of everyone’s personalities and lives. You become more involved with the intricacies of the plot because of this.

Can you tell us something about Memorizing you and how it came to exist?

Memorizing You is an old-fashioned love story in the same vein as every love story that came before it. But with two boys. It’s about friendship that becomes something more. It slowly unveils flowering love into full bloom. There is nothing more life-altering than that moment you realize you suddenly care for someone so deeply that they have changed the meaning and course of your life. From Romeo and Juliet, to Wuthering Heights, to the Harlequins we have been served the hetero version. I wanted to add to message with a serious gay version. This is truly about love. It’s not an erotic novel. I couldn’t do that and aim for a mainstream, and in particular, YA audience. But I, also, did not want you to walk away from this book unaffected. Love is important. It is meant to be felt.

Are there any parts of the main characters (Ryan and Dave) or even significant characters Connor and Rosemary based on you or on your life?

A lot of people have asked me that, but none are based on me. There are scenes that have happened to me that I included such as the opening scene about the hand and the bike ride. That was how I was “awakened”. It is a true story in its entirety.

The ratings are through the roof and this is kind of a stereotypical question but could you ever have imagined that it would be received so well?

I actually expected the opposite and was prepared for that because it is a simple love story. Every time I read a review now I am just so completely happy that people got what I was doing with this.

Now that we know a bit about Memorizing You and how it’s doing and how it came to exist, how about telling us a little more about the man behind the author? Who is Dan Skinner?

A simple, quiet guy. I love my work. I really can’t expand on that. It sums it up pretty good.

Can you tell me what you like to do when you have free time?

I rarely have spare time, but when I do I now run and workout. Really got into running because it helps me think

Hope it’s okay if a shoot you some quick questions about some of your favorites 🙂 ?

Favorite food?

Sloppy Joes.

Favorite clothes?

Ones that don’t off.

Favorite movie?

Hard to pick one. I’m a Stanley Kubrick kook. I’ve studied his films to learn my art.

Favorite book?

A Separate Peace

Favorite author?

Many, many,many. But right now I’m consuming everything Lee Child. Reading all the Jack Reacher novels.

Favorite actor or actress?

Helen Mirren

Favorite song?

Forever Young (any artist. One Direction just did a version that’s very nice.)

Favorite color?

Blue

Favorite flower?

Orchid… because they have to be nurtured.

Favorite season?

The ones in between really hot and really cold. lol

What I would like to ask you at the end of this interview is this. Is there something coming regarding Memorizing You like a short follow up on it? Or is there anything new from you in the works?

Everyone has asked if there will be a sequel. There will not be. The ending was written so that every individual reader could imagine their own. I have two other works that are already written but I am slowly proofing them. I’m a perfectionist

Is there anything left you would like to share with your readers ? 🙂

Yes. A lot of reviews for my book people have said that they were emotionally affected by it. That was what I wanted because I wanted people to feel how REAL the love was between these boys. But that has scared off some people from buying and reading the book. They have actually used those words, and I have sat back with my mouth open at the response. This is a love story..not a horror story. There is nothing to be afraid of when you actually CARE about the characters. That, in my estimation, is the whole point of reading! Give it a chance.. the reward is.. you will believe!

I would like to thank you so much for doing this interview and visiting our blog. I wish you good luck on all your upcoming projects.

Smooch again. My pleasure

Thanks again. 🙂

Dani (elle)

=============================================

Memorizing YouBLURB: Two highschool boys from different walks of life: Ryan, a handsome athlete, and David, an average joe from a blue collar family, discover their desires, stealing their kisses under the cover of an old oak at night. Their love begins a secret life, hidden from their families, friends, and classmates. As their passion grows, so does the danger of their discovery. Their only hope is to create a separate world where every kiss is a treasure and every moment… memorable.

First love. Secret love. Unforgettable love

REVIEW:

Fascinating…intriguing…special…unique…different…

Just a few words that come to mind when I read this book. I have trouble in how to comprehend it all. How do I  put into words the impact this novel has on its reader? How to give it a place inside so to speak.

What I want to feel is hope and everlasting love; a love so strong it survives anything and everything. What I’m scared of feeling is hopelessness, anger, and loneliness.

This book is more than just a novel. It’s a journey. It’s a reflection on life, it is making history and telling a life’s tale with words.

Still, how to put it in words for a review is difficult, as I  have the strong belief that whoever reads this novel will see it in a completely different way.  It is that personal for everyone who decides to pick it up.

I noticed that although I wanted to get started, on the other hand I was frightened to do so. Slightly being affected by the all attention and the rating of this book will do that to someone I guess. After having spoken to the fantastic Dan Skinner,  found myself even more drawn in.

From the moment I started to read it absorbed me. It wouldn’t let me go, it was so different. As I said before, it’s a life tale with all the ups and down in it. I refuse to go into details because as I said, in my honest opinion I strongly believe you as a reader will read your own interpretation in this story.

For me the hardest part in this story was the ending was it a Happy-For-Now or was it just a small promise? I cannot deny that I prefer a Happily-Ever-After but in this story the HFN seems to fit. Though dare I say that I hope the author will write a little follow up on their progress or should it just be left as it is?

I do want to offer this. It is unique to quote one of the words I started this review with.

DANIELLE’S RATING:  [4.75 stars!!]

In addition to participating in this interview Dan kindly offered to do a give-away of his bestselling novel “Memorizing you”.If you would like a chance to win leave a comment and tell us why you really want to read this book 🙂

Good luck  Dani (elle) 🙂

After MidnightBlurb:

Gordon Frost is a survivor. He survived a war that ravaged the nation, and he made it through the orphanages and crime-ridden slums that followed. With few prospects for the future, Gordon carved out a niche for himself in the expanding drug trade of Lexington, PA. It’s not pretty, but it’s his, and it beats what he was doing before. But a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time results in a brush with death, going by the name of Adam. Afterward, the life that seemed good enough before, isn’t quite the same.

Adam Blake is an assassin on the brink of being terminated by the very organization that controls him. He completed his mission, but not without being seen. With his secrets in danger of being exposed by Gordon, Adam knows he should kill the smart-mouthed redhead, but finds himself intrigued by the troublesome civilian instead.

When Gordon’s knack for finding trouble combines with the dangerous consequences of Adam’s indecision, their worlds intertwine in an explosive way.

Title:  After Midnight

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: self-published

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Pages: 244 pages

Available at: Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Are

INTERVIEW

My excitement is at STALKER-LEVELS at this moment!  I’m so THRILLED to welcome SANTINO HASSELL, author of the newly released “After Midnight” to The Blog of Sid Love.  Santino is best known for being the co-author of “In the Company of Shadows” (one of my all-time favorite reads).  After Midnight is his first solo, self-published effort!

Susan:  For those that are new to you and your writing, tell us a little about yourself!

SH: Hey Susan J I’m really stoked to me here. It’s my first interview, so be gentle. And, for those that don’t know me, I’m Santino Hassell. I used to go by the nickname Sonny, and those of you who are fans of The Godfather will know why. If I had to describe myself in a nutshell, I would say that I’m a proud bisexual dude living in NYC, a writer of LGBT fiction, an educator, a reader, a gamer, and a wannabe solo-traveler. 

I’ve been writing for the past couple of decades, almost as soon as I was in my first Creative Writing class in high school, and consider it to be a large part of who I am. But other than being a writer, I dedicate the majority of my days to teaching (my other biggest love). 

Susan:  And how’d you get into writing? 

SH: It all started in freshman year of high school (20 years ago, JFC). We took up journaling for a Creative Writing class and I think I was the only person in there to take it seriously. I started recording everything in my journal (this shitty spiral notebook) from my thoughts, nightmares, memories, to song lyrics and poems. I was in a band for a couple of years so there were a LOT of emo/angry song lyrics. I used to write fictional accounts of things that happened to me, mostly changing the names and leaving everything else the same, as a way to record important things that happened. 

I stopped writing for several years after high school, but was re-introduced when my ex-wife introduced me to the amazing thing known as slash fandom when I was around 20 or 21. There was no going back from there. I participated in fandom primarily as a reader, reviewer, and host website before actually starting to write, and eventually veered off to original slash. That’s where everything took off and I began taking it seriously.

AMblogtourbadgeSusan:  You co-wrote “In the Company of Shadows”, the epic online series (with such a loyal, intense following…I’m a HUGE fan!)  How did the process of writing After Midnight differ?  

SH: Writing alone was a big change from writing with Ais. We were able to motivate each other, bounce ideas off each other, and brainstorm to put together all of the puzzle pieces. Writing a novel alone was so different, especially because the first draft was originally intended to be something I was going to write for fun with a “pantser” attitude.  

When my writing matured some and I decide to rewrite and revise, I wanted to focus on ensuring that After Midnight could be read independently from ICoS, but also that my characters in After Midnight felt as real and genuine as readers have said my characters in ICoS are. I was used to instantaneous feedback from Ais about whether or not she could hear my character’s voices clearly, and in the second, third, fourth (you get it) drafts of After Midnight, it was more of an ongoing process.  

That was one of the things I had to learn to adjust to. Being confident in myself and stop over-analyzing every line before I even ship the manuscript off to a beta!

Susan:  I love Gordon, the MC of the book.  He’s so…cool, but uncool…open but guarded…a walking contradiction.  Is he inspired by anyone in your real life?  

SH: Gordon is a combination of many different people in my life; more so their feelings and frustrations rather than their actual personalities. 

I know so many people who are talented, attractive, and wonderful, but despite the fact that they are AMAZING, they still feel like what they do and who they are, aren’t good enough. So combine that with all of the people I know who feel stuck in their jobs, their locations, or even their relationships—and you get Gordon. An insecure guy who feels that he isn’t worth as much as his friends, and who is too afraid to crawl out of the rut he’s dug himself into, but who still manages to be someone that people care about and gravitate towards.    

Susan:  Gordon and Adam aren’t “traditional” romance heroes.  If you had to try and convince a romance reader why they should read After Midnight, what would you tell them? 

SH: Even though they’re not traditional heroes, Gordon and Adam are intense, their story is gritty, and their journey ends up both passionate and explosive in the end. They don’t instantly fall in love, they don’t show affection the way some romance characters do, but there is no denying that they are drawn to each other despite all of the obstacles trying to keep them apart.

Susan:  How have you found this entire experience of publishing your first book?

SH:A little intimidating and nerve-wracking but ultimately enjoyable and educating. Everything feels really big and overwhelming, but with the help of amazing friends and an awesome team of people, it’s finally coming together in an exciting way. It’s been quite a ride.

Susan:  You’re definitely going to grow a huge fanbase from this book!!! So, tell us, what’s next for you…anything exciting in the pipeline for us to look forward to?  

SH: I have a lot of projects lined up, but the one I’m focusing on next is the second draft of a contemporary paranormal novel that focuses on the journey of a psychic who is determined to solve a murder. I’m excited about that one and it’s totally different than everything else I’ve written. 

Susan:  Thanks so much, Santino, for spending time with us! It was a TREAT!!!!

SH: Thank you so much for having me!

About the Author

Santino Hassell is the co-author of the popular epic series “In the Company of Shadows” and the newly released solo project “After Midnight”. When not writing, he works in education, is a single dad to two amazing kids, and can be found either reading, playing video games, or complaining about the failure of New York’s public transportation system.

www.santinohassell.com

www.facebook.com/santinohassellbooks

www.twitter.com/santinohassell

www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell

 GIVEAWAY

The author has an “After Midnight” swag package up for giveaway that includes a free copy of the ebook along with “After Midnight” branded mason jar glass, koozie, pens, mousepad, and matchbox.

AMgiveawayswag

To win, all you need to do is LEAVE A COMMENT to this post:

Follow the given format to enter yourself into the contest:

Name*:
Email ID*:
The format in which you’d prefer to read the book, in case you win*:
Message to the author:

Don’t forget to “FOLLOW THIS BLOG”. The widget is on the top of this page where you can either subscribe to this blog via email or if you are a wordpress user, you can “Follow” it through your READER!

Why do you need to follow? – To get instant updates on the winner announcement, or other giveaway events that are planned to be hosted on this blog or simply for the reviews and author interviews that are posted here.

If you are on Facebook, join our official Group: The Blog of Sid Love

===================================

CONTEST WILL END ON 21stptember, 2013 @ 11:59 PM Central Time!!

Andrew Q. Gordon is not just an author I respect, but someone whom I consider as a very good friend. He is an amazing person who never hesitates to help out or guide someone when asked. A talented brain – that can come up with such innovative storylines that it would leave you amazed. He is the author of (Un)masked, The Last Grand Master and his newly released Purpose, who has brought through his works a new dimension to M/M fantasy books.

I am super-excited to welcome him on the blog today to get him talking. Join me in making him feel loved and participate in the contest he brings to you.

==::~~::==

IMG_1755Andrew, I heartily welcome you to The Blog of Sid Love. Let me tell you, I was hoping you’d bring along your little one to this interview but I guess you were scared that she would steal the limelight from you heh.

That’s true, Sid. People look at her and they forget I’m here. But she’s napping after running her poor Papa [me] ragged all day.
So Purpose came out a few months back. I remember you were pretty excited about it prior to its release. How has the response been overall? Does it satisfy you?
First the negative. Sales weren’t what I had hoped. Given how different it is, I was hoping for something of a break out with it, but it didn’t happen.  On the other hand, the response from those who did read it has been very positive. Some of the reviews and comments have blown me away. Purpose even earned me author of the Month for July on another review site. So, it’s hard to not be happy with the results.
There has been a consensus among the ones who have already read Purpose that this book is different – and I mean good different; the out-of-the-box concept has left a good impression on them. How does that make you feel?
It’s always a bit unnerving when you break away from the pack and take a different path. When I wrote Purpose, I knew it wasn’t going to follow the usual tropes.  I didn’t want to write about vampires, or shifters – which seem to be incredibly popular – so I tried to create something new. That people have liked it has been rather gratifying.
How did you develop the characters of Will and Ryan, especially Will/Gar, who is the one hosting the Spirit of Vengeance?
Like most characters, they evolved as I wrote them. Originally Will was going to be more of a Hero/Secret Identity kinda character – one who had a normal day life, but morphed into Gar when needed. As the idea for the story advanced, it made more sense to write it how I did; with Gar being the dominate persona and Will being permanently shunted to the background.  Ryan was harder to write because he started out nothing like how he ended up. My first thought was for the story to open with Ryan being one of a long line of side kicks, the others either dying or leaving. Once I abandoned that, it required a complete rewrite to fit the ‘new’ Will/Gar.
Tell us more about a Spirit of Vengeance.
Ah well, that would be telling a lot. I can’t go into too much detail or else I’d give away a lot of the plot.  When the story opens, we know that Will has been possessed by an entity that he dubs the Spirit of Vengeance because it requires him to avenge the innocent who have been murdered. It allows Will to know who was killed, how, where and who did it.  Basically the souls of the innocent won’t rest until he avenges their death. In exchange for being the hand of vengeance so to speak, the Spirit gives the host – Will in this case – enhanced abilities – both physical and mental – to carry out the tasks.  It also creates havoc on the host’s personal life, not to mention creates a few moral dilemmas.
Did it ever concern you that Purpose was more focused on the Fantasy genre than the typical M/M Romance?
Not when I was writing it. LOL I don’t think when I wrote this I meant it to be a MM Romance as much as LGBT Fiction.  The difficulty is most publishers of LGBT Fiction are romance publishers. So while there is an element of romance, enough to be included in the genre, it is not a romance per se. Had I really thought it through better, I might have worked a bit more on the romance elements to make them work a bit better for those readers whose main interest is MM Romance, not just LGBT Fiction.
(Un)Masked(Un)Masked, The Last Grand Master and now Purpose – all your books till date have been Fantasy genred. Is this genre what you prefer to write in?
I don’t see either (Un)Masked or Purpose as fantasy. Paranormal, supernatural, maybe a bit of sci-fi, but fantasy to me is more magic and wizards and swords etc.  That said, no, fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, isn’t really the genre of choice for me.  My first three stories, Second Shot, Bettor To Lose, and The Trial of Jordan Colmar, which were posted for free on the Gay Authors website, were contemporary romance – well the trial novella tied up some issues from Second Shot, but there wasn’t a whiff of fantasy, paranormal or supernatural in the bunch.  So I like to experiment with different genre’s.  After Book 2 of Champions, my next book will be a contemporary romance.
It is sad, but a true fact that there isn’t enough reader base to follow this genre. What do you think is the real issue with that?
Honestly, I think there is the readership for M/M [well LGBT really] Fantasy, it’s just a matter of reaching them. But most publishers of M/M fiction are romance focused with readers who are focused mostly on romance. Some readers enjoy MM romance across all genres, but clearly there are fewer who like fantasy and especially high fantasy.  The other issue is for romance readers, the thrill of the MC pairing getting together is what drives the enjoyment of the story. Once the MC are together, the rest of the plot isn’t as interesting. With most fantasy novels being series, the thrill of getting together is usually long gone by the second book and beyond.  The multi-book nature of fantasy is not only accepted with fantasy readers, it’s expected. So there is a reader base, the trick is finding it.
So what, according to you, should a Fantasy author do?
I think M/M & LGBT Fantasy Authors need to think outside the norm. The readers are there, it’s a matter of letting them know about the books. I think what needs to happen – and I’ve been toying with trying to set this up – is for authors to band together to create a LGBT Fantasy website that readers can visit – that they want to visit – to learn about the new titles coming out.  I’ve yet to work out the particulars of what exactly this would be, but I have some ideas.  The first difficult task will be finding other authors to work with me to create the site and provide enough content that readers will want to visit.
The Last Grand Master (Champion of the Gods, #1)What comes next from Andrew Q. Gordon then?
I’m working to finish the sequel to TLGM – more on this in the next answer. I’ve also started work on a contemporary novel about a gay single dad who is trying to raise his son, go to college and still be able to date.  It’s started but it has a ways to go.
You have been a lot secretive about this sequel for TLGM. Why don’t you share with us what’s in store for Ferrell and Miceral in the second book?
Oh, Book 2 of Champions has been a devil for me.  The original draft was about five times the length of TLGM – yes 5 times as long.  With edits it might have been about 3 times as long, but that was about 3 times too long for publishers to be interested.  So I’ve had to rewrite almost all of it and that has been a tough slog for me, because I’m trying to keep it consistent with the rest of the story. Otherwise I’d have to rewrite the remaining books and that isn’t the story I want to write.  The basic gist of what happens next is Farrell and Miceral set off in search of Kel – Farrell’s distance ancestor. It will follow my original idea of visiting all the different continents of Nendor.  This will take them from Ardus to Dumbarten.
Do you have a title for it then? 
Yes. I actually have titles for the rest of the series, at least tentative ones.  Book Two is going to be called The Eye and The Arm. It will all make sense by the end of the book.
Which are the authors who have inspired your hobby to write?
Most important would have to be Helen Chappell.  She was my writing teacher, but she is now my friend. She has encouraged me for 10 years to keep at this so I owe her a great big thank you.  I also admire Anyta Sunday. She pushed me to try to be published.  I see how much she does and am in awe. I keep trying to be more like her.
Is there something new you are reading currently?
I just finished Lily Velden’s; Same Page. I want to read Book 2, The Race Is On, but I also have two other books on my list – Thick As Thieves; by Tali Spencer and Loving Aidan, by Ashavan Doyon. So I have to choose which one I’ll be reading next.
Do you write everyday? What is it that you do when you aren’t feeling too inspired to write?
I try to write every day, but I’d say on average it’s about every other day right now.  To be honest, I’m never without inspiration. It’s usually a lack of time that stops me.  With a toddler, work and getting married in 3 weeks, I’ve got my hands full some times.
Tell us about the happiest moment of your life.
That’s the easy question yet. The day ‘lil q was born. I was in the delivery room when she was born and I got to be the first person to hold her. I was super tired, but it was a day like no other.
Let’s play a quick round of this or that with you. I bet you know this goes on, so let’s begin, okay
a) Movies or Books? 
Books – movies are over way too fast and they’re usually based on books anyway
b) Romance or Fantasy?
LOL – Fantasy – nuff said
c) Night Owl or Early Riser?
Early Riser – wayyyyy took early.
d) Boring Law or Awesome Fiction 😛
Boring law! Oops. Sorry, I lost my mind for a moment – Awesome fiction – of course!
e) Boxers or Briefs (bahaha!)
Hahaha – neither – I wear Trunks/Boxer Briefs. 😛
f) Spring or Fall
That’s tough cause they’re so similar, but fall.
And before I conclude, I want you to list ten attributes that would truly describe you – Good or bad, we don’t really care!
10!?!?!? Are you mad?!? Fine – in no particular order
1)   Likes to cook.
2)   Prone to be lazy if you let me.
3)   Short tempered in the face of stupidity
4)   Vivid imagination
5)   Family man
6)   More silly than serious – even at work if I’m not careful
7)   Generous
8)   Hopeless Romantic
9)   Caffeine Addict
10) Sports Junky
Do you have any advice for all the aspiring authors?
Develop an on-line presence and develop a fan base before you start to publish books for sale. There are so many books published every week that building a fan base is essential to getting your work in the hands of readers. Practice your craft as much as you can, be open to criticism – even negative comments have a kernel of truth in them and never think you know it all.  That about covers it.
What would you say to your fans who have been reading and loving your work?
Sorry for the long drought. Live has gotten in the way a bit.  After I get married on Sept 27th, I hope to throw myself into writing a bit more and have at least two, hopefully three new works out next year and in the years to follow.
Thank you for being here. I really enjoyed to have a chat with you.
Thank you, Sid. I’ve enjoyed our friendship quite a lot and hope to continue it for years to come.
==::~~::==

The Beginning of Purpose

Even though David never appears in the book – he died forty years before the book begins – he is an essential part of the book.  David was Will’s first love who was killed right about the time the Purpose chose Will as Its host.

Losing the man he loves shapes Will – as it would any of us I suppose – but not as much as being host to a spirit of vengeance.  In Goodbye, I show a bit of the back-story of Will’s feelings for David. It takes place on the one-year anniversary of David’s death.

The other purpose, if you will, is to show the beginning of the ‘death’ of Will. Turning into the hand of vengeance, one that is required to kill the guilty was at odds with Will’s personality.  After the desire for revenge against David’s killers wore off, Will had to confront who…what…he’d become.  We learn in the book [and since it’s in the blurb I’m not giving away anything] that Will hides behind a made up persona to shield himself from what he’s doing. Purpose is about many things, but one of them is Will trying to reclaim his humanity and in the process, his life.

PurposeBlurb:

Forty years ago the Spirit of Vengeance—a Purpose—took William Morgan as its host, demanding he avenge the innocent by killing the guilty. Since then, Will has retreated behind Gar, a façade he uses to avoid dealing with what he’s become. Cold, impassive, and devoid of emotion, Gar goes about his life alone—until his tidy, orderly world is upended when he meets Ryan, a broken young man cast out by his family. Spurred to action for reasons he can’t understand, Gar saves Ryan from death and finds himself confronted by his humanity.

Spending time with Ryan helps Will claw out from under Gar’s shadow. He recognizes Ryan is the key to his reclaiming his humanity and facing his past. As Will struggles to control the Purpose, Ryan challenges him to rethink everything he knew about himself and the spirit that possesses him. In the process, he pushes Will to do something he hasn’t done in decades: care.

Buy link: Purpose from Dreamspinner Press

Goodbye:

Tears dripped off Will’s chin, he didn’t even try to stop them.  One year, one long, lonely miserable year and all he had left were the tears.  David, his David, the one with the beautiful eyes and ever-present smile, lay beneath his feet, resting forever. 

Will ignored the damp, wet dirt soaking the knees of his jeans.  What did it matter?  There were days he wished he died that night, so they weren’t apart. 

“I know it’s been a year, David, but it still hurts, hurts so bad I scream some nights.  If you wonder why I don’t come more often, I can’t.  My heart hurts so much I want to tear it out just to stop the pain.” 

Squeezing his eyes tight didn’t stop the tears; nothing would.  Unbidden, memories of David flashed into focus.   Another thing he couldn’t stop.  Not now, not here, not today.  They consumed him.

“Something happened to me after you died, something I don’t understand.  You would’ve figured it out.  Fixing screwed-up heads was your field, not mine.”

That used to be their private joke.  Once it made him laugh, now he only cried harder.  “I heard when you called to me, asking for justice, and I felt you when you finally felt at peace.  Pretty screwed up, isn’t it?”

There was more, a lot more, but it wasn’t why he came today.  Digging into his coat pocket, he pulled out the gold ring.  He turned it over examining it from all angles.  It was his last link to David, but keeping it was worse.

“There’s so much I want to say, things I wanted us to do together that we can’t.  I hate, David, hate like I never did before.   I hate that you’re gone, hate those who did this to you, hate this fucking ring, and hate myself for buying it for you.”

Giving David the ring for Christmas was supposed to be a sign they’d be together forever.  Not a wedding band, gays would never be allowed to marry, but it was something Will knew David would like; and he did.

“Seeing your face light up when you saw this, how could I know it would hurt us both so much?”  Suppressing the urge to throw the ring as far as he could, he put it on the head stone, staring at it for a time. 

The small boxwood near his knee reminded him what he came to do.  Pressing his fingers into the moist earth, he slowly pulled the dirt away, mounding it on either side.  Satisfied it was deep enough, he retrieved the ring.

Even in his dirt-covered hands, it sparkled.  So like David.  Reading the inscription, ‘Always’ he shook his head.  He meant it to mean they’d always be together, not they’d always be apart.  As much as he hated it, now that it was time to leave the ring, he wondered if he should. 

“David, I know you’d want me to have this, but I’m not the Will you fell in love with anymore.  There’s this thing in me that makes me find people’s killers and I do it.  I can’t help it.  It’s how I found your killers.”

Even now It called to him, demanding he do what it wanted.  Soon he’d go, but nothing would make him miss today.  Finding a clean part of the back of his hand, he wiped away the tears.  His head jerked slightly, and he found it hard to swallow.  Keep going.  Tell him.

“Anyway, I can’t keep this anymore.  It feels wrong, because I know you’d never approve of what I’ve become.”

Breathing became difficult between the sobs.  He killed David and ruined his own life in the process.  Twice he tried to stop crying, but each time he saw David’s name engraved on the headstone, he broke down again.  Ignoring the dirt, he tried to clear his eyes.

“I just want you back.”  His words came out a scream, disturbing the crowd of after-church visitors.  Like everything else, today he didn’t care. 

Numb, he turned his hand over and released the ring.  It rolled to the bottom of the hole, and seemed to wink at him as a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds.  The next instant the light was gone.  He waited, staring at the ring, hoping David might speak through it again, but knew it wouldn’t happen. That glittering moment had been David saying, hello and goodbye; his final goodbye. 

It took several deep breaths to steady him.  He ran his hand along the root ball, helping the roots break free.  David always talked about having a house with a boxwood garden.  Now he’d have one watching over him.

Tamping the dirt firm around the plant, he sat back staring at the small boxwood and the marker.  Maybe one of them would find peace now. 

The pull to act tugged like an insistent child.  Clenching his teeth and grinding them, he growled, “Not yet!” 

People stared.  Couldn’t they leave him alone?  Maybe grieve for their own lost loved ones? 

Running his hand over the smooth white marble, he flicked at the dirt he’d smudged over it.  Why bother?  No one came to see it but him.  David’s family wouldn’t even buy a headstone to mark where their only son rested. 

“I didn’t leave them out, David.  They didn’t deserve it, but I listed them.”

The stone was so cold, but he traced every line over and over.  When he felt the first drop of rain, he dropped his hand to his side.  A wave of umbrellas preceded the exodus of ‘mourners’ until only he was left.  A daft fool, sitting in the rain beside the boy who wasn’t coming back.

The rain hardened when he stood up.  His tears mixed with the drops, leaving rivulets running down his face.  Bending slowly, he kissed the top of the stone.  “I love you, David.”

The pull intensified, and he checked his watch.  Over a day since he first felt it.  Too bad.  David wouldn’t have understood if he missed today.

Soaked, he adjusted the shirt plastered to his body and pushed his hair back.  Time to go.  Maybe this time he’d die.  The plot next to David was bought and ready for his use.  Soon.  He couldn’t take much more of this.

Will turned for a last look. 

David Anthony Bruno

April 7, 1945 – September 12, 1970

Son, Brother, Best Friend

We’ll miss you forever.

“Goodbye.”

***

Contest: 

For a chance to win a $15.00 Dreamspinner Press Gift Credit leave a comment on whether the “prequel” helped pique your interest in the book.

Please include your email address so we can notify you if you win. A winner will be chosen from the valid entries on made by September 12, 2013 at 8:00 Washington DC time.  The winner will be announced on Friday September 13, 2013 on the Blog of Sid Love.

Purpose: By Andrew Q.Gordon

About the Author:

Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of eighteen years, their young daughter and dog.  In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day and not get the shakes.

You can find Andrew Q. Gordon on:

Website: www.andrewqgordon.com

Twitter: @andrewqgordon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon

Email: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

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20 Questions with Edmond Manning author of “King Mai”

kingmaiBlurb:
Adopted from Thailand and never one to fit in with the local bubbas, life has been rough around the edges for Mai Kearns, even before he came out of the closet. Now, almost ten years past the torture of high school, Mai still can’t catch a break: he and his parents stand to lose their beloved farm.

How will a “King Weekend” help change Mai’s fate? What has narrator Vin Vanbly been up to for the four weeks he’s been sneaking around Mai’s hometown? At the urging of a ransom note from ‘The Lost Kings,’ Mai embarks on an impossible treasure hunt chasing mystic poetry, Fibonacci Hopscotch, ancient prophecy, the letter ‘x,’ and a confounding, penguin-marching army.

The stakes are high: if Mai fails, the Lost Kings will permanently claim him as their own. Finding the treasure may unlock the secret to saving his family farm. But can this angry farmer risk opening his broken heart before the weekend is over? Mai Kearns has 40 hours to get very, very curious in this second installment of The Lost and Founds.

. ≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.

20 Questions with Edmond Manning author of “King Mai”

  1. Coffee or Tea? Diet Pepsi
  2. Coke or Pepsi? Caffeine free Diet Coke
  3. Plain or Peanut M&Ms? Yes, please
  4. Beer or wine? Red wine
  5. Muffins or Cupcakes? Cupcakes – always go with frosting
  6. Computer or Television? Computer
  7. Would you travel the world or travel space? Stay home
  8. My favorite pizza isItalian sausage, heavy garlic
  9. My favorite book genre isscience fiction
  10. My superpower of choice would beteleportation. Hmmm. Maybe I would travel the world if I could teleport.
  11. On a rainy day, you’ll find meenjoying a long walk
  12. When I get free time, I’llorganize my hundreds of Firefox bookmarks.
  13. If you had a million dollarsPay someone to organize my Firefox bookmarks.
  14. My dream vacation would beTwo months luxruiating in an northern Italian villa with a sweet local couple who cooked every meal and liked calling me “Bobo.” In this fantasy, a local unemployed mechanic named Ricardo gives me massages every other day.
  15. If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?  John Harmon, Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. While many Dickens characters suffer tremendously for their happy endings, he gets hilarious step parents, a happy marriage, fun in-laws, and serious wealth and all he has to do is go undercover for a little while. In Dickens’ world, that’s getting off easy.
  16. How many books do you read each year? I’m embarrassed to admit this, but since I started getting published, the number dropped significantly. Used to be about 35 per year. These days: 5.
  17. If you could pick a book to turn into a movie, which one would it be? Can I say mine? No? Okay. Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny or Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
  18. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Sienna, Italy or a remote forest cabin along the northern Oregon coast. My neighbor would be an local, unemployed mechanic named Ricardo who gave me massages every other day.
  19. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? An upscale grocery store. I love buying food. I mean, it’s like a weird fetish. Yay! Out of milk – I need to go to the store!
  20. What are you reading right now? Saga (comic by Brian Vaughn) and Everything Matters by Ron Currie Jr.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Edmond Manning has been writing for many, many years.

After graduating from Northern Illinois University (NIU) with an English Education degree (graduated Valedictorian from the University Honors Program), Manning pursued and completed a Masters of Science within the field of Instructional Technology. These two curious backgrounds allowed for practicing a unique blend of creative and technical writing, skills that were enhanced over a 22+ year as an e-learning consultant.

During those consulting years, Manning feverishly wrote fiction, completed three novels, and yet never pursued publication because the writing simply didn’t meet his high standards. Something was missing: a spark. Looking back, Manning prefers to believe that he was living out Malcolm Gladwell’s maxim: you’ve got to ply your craft for 10,000 hours before you get good. Yes, that would be the preferred belief.

In 2008, Manning experimented with writing a new type of fiction, and ended up with his first “kinging” novel, published in serial format on a free website. (The original novel has been removed from that site.) The intense reaction from hundreds of readers around the globe suggested to Manning that something had indeed changed, so he decided to create a new novel based off these wild, frothy characters.

GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment to enter to win a free copy of “King Mai” by Edmond Manning.

Today we have with us a well-known author whose books have managed to win a million hearts. With lively characters and some romantic sizzlers in each of this author’s novels, the author has gained an immense popularity among M/M readers.

I take this opportunity to welcome the award winning author – Cardeno C. to The Blog of Sid Love! CC is here talking about and promoting his newly released novel – Strong Enough – which is the second installment in CC’s “Family” series.

SL: An author never ceases to challenge himself. With your upcoming book, what challenges did you set for yourself during its creation and do you think you have achieved them?

CC: Some challenges are constants in my writing. I always set out to write books that make people feel good and warm and uplifted. I set out to write books with positive portrayals of relationships. And I set out to write characters readers can relate to, characters readers will feel they know. All of those things were true for this book.

One goal that was unique to this book was my desire to portray different needs in these characters than those in the first book of the Family series (Something in the Way He Needs) and to show those need being met. We’re all different people and we need different things to fulfill ourselves. Finding a person who loves us for who we are, flaws and all, is wonderful. The characters in the Family books are not the perfect men for everyone. But, I hope, they’re the right men for each other.

SL: The main characters in the story seem different from each other. Was it difficult to come up with their identities and their overall background?

CC: I was lucky with this book. The characters and their story came easily. Yes, they’re different men. Different backgrounds. Different families. Different appearances. Different ages. Different education levels. Different job types. I could go on, but I’m boring myself here. Spencer and Emilio are different. But these aren’t men looking for a carbon copy of themselves to stand at their side. They admire in each other the qualities that they themselves don’t possess.

SL: Which of the two main characters deeply spoke to you – the one that maybe made an empathetic link with you?

CC: I can’t write about people unless I can get into their heads. That’s a critical part of my writing process. So to write Spencer and Emilio, I needed to empathize with both of them. The same is true for all my characters. To write a book, I need to get into those characters’ head space. Sometimes that easier than others and this was one of those times.

SL: To what extent did you research for this novel?

CC: This is contemporary, character-driven novel, so it didn’t require a lot in the way of research. The internet is my friend and I used it, but most of the book came from within.

SL: Is perfection in your writing important to you? What do you do to achieve the kind of perfection that is needed?

CC: I don’t think I know what perfection in writing would look like. I want to write books that are clean, well-edited, easy to read and understand, and meet my writing goals (which I listed in response to the first question). If I can do that, I’m happy. If I can’t, then I need to keep working on the book until I get there.

SL: Do you think Strong Enough will help you grab another of those shiny lot of awards you have deservingly won for your past works?

CC: I hope readers who have been loyal and supportive to me book after book enjoy this one. I think of them when I’m writing and hearing that I’ve made them smile and feel good makes me feel like I won the award for goal-accomplished.

SL: What’s next, after Strong Enough, then?

CC: My next book is More Than Everything, scheduled for release in mid-November. It’s also in the Family series. One of the characters was introduced in Something in the Way He Needs. The other two characters were introduced in Strong Enough. Yup. That math adds up to three. We already talked about stretching wings, right?

After that, I have a short holiday novella being released December 1st. It’s called Miracle and it’s a different kind of story for me, told in a different kind of way. Fingers crossed that different is good.

And then, though it pains me to say this, I’ll have the last book in the Home series being released in mid-February. It’s called Walk with Me and it’s about Seth and Eli, characters who have made appearances in some other Home books. Right now, I’m struggling with my goodbye to the series that led me on my writing journey.

SL: What kind of books do you like to read?

CC: I love to read the same types of books I love to write – happy, uplifting romances.

SL: And what are you currently reading?

CC: I’m not reading anything new right now. Do you have any suggestions?

SL: Oh I have many on this blog!

What would you say to all your fans out there?

CC: Thank you. Two simple words, but I mean them wholeheartedly. Thank you.

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STRONG ENOUGH

Strong EnoughBLURB: When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.

Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.

THE BLOG OF SID LOVE rates it: four-stars_0

[…]“Strong Enough” made me feel like I was on a fluffy cloud…and I’m still smiling…

Read Susan Lee’s full review: STRONG ENOUGH

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset. Cardeno feels that characters write their own stories and just hopes to find enough time to get those stories on the page.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

Website: cardenoc.com
Facebook: Cardeno C. Author
Facebook Author Page: Cardeno C.
Twitter: @cardenoc

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GIVEAWAY

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Follow the given format to enter yourself into the contest:

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Susan interviews Alexis Hall with Darian & Ash of “Glitterland”

glitterlandBlurb:
The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

. ≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.:.≈.

Welcome to the Blog of Sid Love, Alexis Hall, author of the newly released, critically acclaimed “Glitterland”!  And while we wait on Darian and Ash to get here, let’s pick the author’s brain to get some insight and insider information on the book and the quirky and beloved MC’s.

Alexis, welcome! How does it feel to have your first book released and your first blog tour underway? 

AJH: Slightly weird, to be honest. The whole experience of having a book that I wrote that is a book, like a book, a real book that people are reading, is just blowing my tiny mind right now. I know in the grand scheme of things it means absolutely nothing, the world will keep spinning, and the tide will come in, but I still can’t believe it. This is my first blog tour to match my first novel, and I’m very excited to be here.

We at Sid Love’s adored this book!  It was funny and sad, beautiful and ugly, charming and hurtful, lonely and loving all at the same time!  Can you tell us about how the idea came about and how the process of writing this book all the way to its release played out?

AJH: Wow, that’s quite a big question. The book was sort of vaguely inspired by a UK X Factor contestant called Rylan Clark. You can see his performances on Youtube, and I heartily recommend you do. Dancing fashionista pandas. Enough said, right? Anyway, when he was on the show there was quite a lot of backlash against him, both of the homophobic variety and the, in some ways more problematic, wrong sort of gay variety. So although I wasn’t trying to write about Rylan Clark, I wanted to write a book about someone who had the same sort of qualities that I felt Rylan Clark was being condemned for displaying.  But I also wanted to have the character taken seriously, not just played for laughs, which is what led me to pair him with an overly educated, bipolar depressive crime writer.

In terms of writing the thing, it went relatively smoothly, if that doesn’t sound like boasting. But I had a very clear idea of who Darian was and, actually, writing Ash’s voice came very naturally to me. I bunged it off slightly speculatively to Riptide, fully expecting them to say “no way in hell, what is this nonsense about a bimbo and an arsehole” but I guess they saw something in it.

The journey from writing to release was pretty fascinating to me. It involved a lot of things I’d never really thought about like dialogue tags, writing blurbs and having an author bio. I’m actually apparently a bit unusual because I enjoy being edited. I think that might be largely because I have really good relationship with my editor, Sarah Frantz, and I think she’s the bees knees, but there’s something kind of miraculous and humbling about a really clever, insightful person working with you to make your stuff better. The main GLITTERLAND edit was actually the end, but that’s another story and I think I’ve probably already given you far more random information than you could ever need or want.

And for those of us NOT from the UK, what does the significance or even the ‘inside joke’, if you will, of being from Essex mean?

AJH: Oh gosh.  So, Essex is a part of the UK, the population of which is stereotypically seen to be shallow, vulgar, ill-educated and materialistic.  Essex boys are supposed to be loud and drive fast cars. And Essex girls are supposed to be vapid and sexually promiscuous.  I hope I didn’t reinforce those stereotypes too much in GLITTERLAND.

Darian and Ash are so different, aren’t they?  Which do you most relate to / identify with?

AJH: Unfortunately, it’s probably Ash. I worry that I’m basically kind of an over-educated tosser like he is, and I think I share a lot of his flaws and fears. I’m quite invested, perhaps too invested, in having control over my life, and I think this can make me quite difficult to be with sometimes.  The truth is, I’d love to be more like Darian but I’m far too self-conscious.

And speaking of, here they come!  We’re very excited to have DARIAN and ASH, the MC’s from “Glitterland” join us!  Alexis, would you mind if we focused our attention on the lovebirds at hand?

AJH: Be my guest, but if you persist in calling them lovebirds, I fear Ash will leave.

*big smile*…Ok, so I am VERY excited to meet you both!!!! I’m such a fan! WELCOME! 

Darian:  Ahwight Suz. It’s well special to be ’ere.
Ash:  Hello.

Since we’re all so curious about the two of you and your relationship, let’s do a rapid-fire Q&A session, shall we?  Ok, here goes:

What is your favorite thing about your partner?

Darian:  Aw, he’s like proper classy. I nevva fought someone like him would go for someone like me.
Ash:  Well, I am mentally ill.
Darian:  You’re so funny, babes. So, yeah, he’s well funny too, and he went to like a proper university and he’s dead clever, and he’s like read like everyfing. And he keeps pretending he’s a right bell end, but he’s not.
Ash:  …
Darian:  Your turn, babes.
Ash:  This whole exercise makes me very uncomfortable.
Darian:  Oh go on.
Ash: He makes me happy. Can we move on, please?

Awwww….*smiles*. Ok, what is your biggest pet peeve about him?

Darian:  He’s a right monster in the morning. You just can’t talk to him til he’s ’ad his tea.
Ash:  He persists in dragging me along to events like these.

(I think you secretly are enjoying yourself! 🙂 )  If your flat was on fire and you could only grab one thing to take with you, what would it be?

Darian:  I’d take Ash, obvs.
Ash:  I think I am capable of leaving a burning building on my own initiative.
Darian:  Oh great, then I’d take my hair gel cos like if the firemen showed up and my hair looked a state I’d be well put out.
Ash:  There’s a photograph of which I’m rather fond. I suppose I’d take that.
Darian:  Aw, you’re so sweet, babes.
Ash:  I didn’t say it was the one of you.
Darian:  But it is though, right?
Ash:  Next question please.

(*snicker*)  If you could go shopping and purchase an outfit of your choice for your partner, what would you buy?

Darian:  Oh, he totes needs to get a onesie.
Ash:  A onesie is not an outfit. It’s a travesty.
Darian:  But they’re well cosy. Like wearing a hug.
Ash:  If there’s one thing Darian does not need, it’s more clothes.

(pssst…I love Darian’s clothes!!! Sparkly!)   Ok, now, what does the perfect date night between the two of you entail?

Darian:  We like to stay in. I know that sahnds a bit like … rubbish.
Ash:  Oh the exciting life we lead.
Darian:  We make our own excitement, babes.
Ash:  I suppose we do.

If you had to describe your partner in ONE WORD, what would it be?

Darian:  Amazin
Ash:  Orange.
Darian: Oi, that’s bang aht of order.
Ash:  Glittering.

Ha! Well, it’s clear you two are very smitten with each other and make each other happy!  It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you both…and you too, Alexis!  Which reminds me, Alexis, will we see/read any more about Darian and Ash in the future?

AJH:  I hadn’t planned on it. I think the story stands as it is. I enjoyed writing Ash and Darian, and I enjoy thinking about them, but I don’t think there’s anything more to say. There’s a 5000 word short which I’ll be releasing free on the website at some point in the future, probably around the time of Riptide’s anniversary. To be honest, it’s just a piece of fluff and it doesn’t stand alone or contribute all that much to GLITTERLAND itself, but I sort of missed the characters and I felt like indulging myself. It also kind of addresses a couple of things that didn’t end up in the published book, like why Ash dresses like he does, and how Darian feels about the tattoo.

Very cool!  Well, for the story of Darian and Ash’s relationship, written by the talented Alexis Hall, make sure to buy and read “Glitterland” (links below)!  It’s one of my favorite books of the year and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

*hugs all around*

Darian:  Aww Suz.
Ash:  Please don’t do that.
AJH:  *hugs*

hatAbout AJH

Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

You can also find him all over the internet, on his website, twitter, and goodreads.

You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy my book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.