Leona Windwalker: Sol’s Solstice

Hi! I’d like to thank Sue for having me over. I’m Leona Windwalker and as you can tell from my name, by day I’m a seemingly ordinary British housewife and mother of mixed Native American and white descent (I said ordinary, not garden variety), while by night and in times of great peril during the day, I am a Jedi! Okay, no, that’s really not a light saber, it’s just the paddle to my stand mixer. But a girl can dream, right?

Dreams of what we wish our lives could be like, flights of fancy- we all have them. Some are fantastic, taking us to daydreams of far away places that only exist in imagination. Others are pleasant daydreams of places we could actually go to and heights we could reach if we but made the effort. Sol too dreams, though he is stuck where he cannot reach them without a hand reaching out to help him along. We’ve all seen people like that and some of us have been unfortunate enough to be in that position ourselves.

This may be the paddle to my Kenwood Chef, but I don’t need a light saber to help defeat tyrants. I just need words. Words to speak of their evil deeds. Words to show the darkness that eats away at corners of our reality. Words to shine light and offer hope. Words to hopefully move people and help affect change. Words that speak of love, acceptance, and family. After all, the pen is mightier tan the sword, right? Then surely, my word processor is as powerful against evil as a light saber. My name is Leona Windwalker. I cast tales out onto the winds so that hearts may hear.

Author bio: Leona is a longtime staunch supporter of human rights and environmental causes. Her favourite genre to read is M/M fiction and she particularly enjoys science fiction, fantasy, and action/suspense subgenres—especially if they have a nice seasoning of romance. She has far too many books on her Kindle, has overloaded her phone with even more and, when not reading, writing, being driven to distraction by her children, or being overlorded by her three cats, can be found trying to locate the portal that the sock monster uses to steal socks from her dryer.

Sol’s Solstice

sol's solstice

Amazon buylink

Blurb: Sol is used to flying under his family’s radar, unless focusing unwanted attention away from his more outgoing, older twin. The day comes when he pays a steep price for attempting to shield his brother. Running for his life, he is nearly run down by a car driven by Seth. Can Seth help Sol find his way back from the darkness?

Sol’s Solstice Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SolsSolstice.NewBeginnings

Excerpt:

“Me and Andrea? Mama, I have no idea who Andrea might be dating, if anybody, but it sure as hell ain’t me. We’re roommates at the dorm.”

“They let y’all room with girls? That’s shameful!”

Ben sighed, exasperated. “No, Mama, Andy is a guy. He–”

Mama stiffened. “What kind of people name a boy something like Andrea?”

“He’s Italian. It’s a guy’s name in Italy, Mama. Also, he goes by Andy. Less confusing that way. What does Andy have to do with what’s up with Sol, anyway?”

Mama sniffed. “My poor baby! He was probably kidnapped by that pervert to begin with! Look! He left all his things!”

Mama tugged Ben’s hand to pull him up from the sofa and led him into Sol’s room. Ben was surprised to see it set up with their boyhood things, right down to the bunk bed, though it was minus the top bunk. Their old posters were even on the wall. He spied his old catcher’s mitt on the bookshelf and walked over to pick it up.

“Hey! Cool! Think he’d mind if I took my mitt back with me to the dorm?”

All he heard in reply was the click of the door.

“Mama? I asked…shit, it’s locked. Mama! What’d you lock the door for? Daddy! Let me out! Mama’s done locked the door! I know she’s upset over Sol, but I gotta get back to my classes!”

No answer. He looked over the door carefully. It was made of a heavy wood, and solid. He could see the door had recently been rehung so that the hinges were on the other side. He ran his fingers over the unpainted indentations where the hinges had previously been attached.

What the…?!

Ben began to panic. He raced over to the window, checking behind the blinds. It was covered in what appeared to be heavy plywood from the outside. No way out that way then either. Fear began to cramp in his gut as he surveyed the room closer. The books on the shelf weren’t right. Instead of the childhood classics that should have been there, there were religious works. In the place of Kidnapped! Treasure Island, The Neverending Story, Peter Pan, and the rest that would have otherwise occupied the shelf, he saw “The 365 Day Bible”, “Coming Out Straight”, “One Man, One Woman”, “The Hiding Place”, “Tramp for God”,  and “Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Recognizing and Cleansing the World of Demons”. That last one stopped him cold despite the author having the incongruous last name of Winchester, sending a frisson of pure dread through him. Sol hadn’t been kidding nor repeating something that Seth guy had brainwashed him into saying about having gotten into a situation with their parents. Situation? This was more than just a situation. This was seriously jacked up. He now wished that he’d pushed Sol for more information instead of  just eyeballing him and that Seth dude. Sol’d obviously been a prisoner in their parents’ home, and now, for whatever reason, Ben was stuck here too.

“Oh God,” he sobbed. “What did they do to Sol? What’re they gonna do to me?”

 

Lisa Worrall: Follow my Lead

Sue asked me what inspired me to write a dance fic. There really is only one answer… well, two… Strictly Come Dancing and the US version, Dancing with the Stars! She said I could wax lyrical and I’m going to! As a kid I remember watching Come Dancing with my mum. The beautiful poofie dresses, the handsome men and gorgeous ladies all gliding elegantly over the floor. Le sigh, the memories. Then there was a big gap when ballroom dancing wasn’t shown anymore and I have to admit, I did miss it. Then came Strictly and it became fashionable again. Whether it was the fact that you were watching your favourite celebrities dancing with a professional partner, or whether you just loved to watch the dance itself, the nation became hooked—and so did I!

Then the US picked up on the idea and made a Strictly of their own called Dancing with the Stars. I don’t mind telling you that I did tune in to watch the dancing, because I didn’t know half of the celebrities, and once I caught sight of the magnificence of the professional dancers, I didn’t really care who the celebrities were. While I love our own James Corden and Brendan Cole, although if you ask me, Anton DuBeque is bloody fabulous and it makes me furious that they give him the comic relief as a partner each season… anyway, I digress. While I love our boys, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas are choreographical (did I just make that up?) geniuses. Not forgetting Val and Max the Chermkovsky brothers.

I’ve often watched it and thought, I’m going to write a story one day and as it got closer to Christmas, I knew what I wanted to do. So I created my own show… Dancing with Stars in Your Eyes… and decided to throw a gay couple into the mix. Obviously, there would be a little angst, a lot of tension and a Christmas tree, but the story would centre on the two men and their issues. And if it gave me a chance to daydream about Derek and his mates… so be it!

But amongst all those bulging biceps and taught abs, for me, the enjoyment is watching the stars go through their personal journey and improve week after week (with the exception of poor Judy Murray and Ann Widecombe). I just love it and it takes me back to those days when I was curled up on the sofa next to my mum with a mug of hot chocolate and Angela Rippon as the couples twirled around the floor. Sheer bliss.

Lisa

 

Buy Links:

Available from Amazon.com here
Available from All Romance eBooks here

Blurb:

Hell hath no fury like a boyfriend scorned as sitcom star and comedian, CJ Edwards, finds out when his ex releases a sex tape he hadn’t even known was being filmed. Not to mention the headlines on every newstand accusing CJ of being an abusive alcoholic. His career in tatters, CJ’s agent manages to get CJ a spot on the Christmas special of Dancing with Stars in Your Eyes. Seeing it as a chance to possibly redeem himself, CJ accepts.

Lucien Moreau has been a dance professional on Dancing with Stars in Your Eyes for three years, and he loves it. Until the powers that be decide, in view of new marriage equality laws, the show’s Christmas special will include a gay couple. Finding out he is being partnered with CJ Edwards hits him like a fist to the gut. Six months ago his brother and sister-in-law were killed in an accident when their car was hit by a drunk driver. How the hell is he supposed to teach a man, not unlike the one who destroyed his family, to dance?

Excerpt:

“What is wrong with you? No, no way. I’m not doing it. Nuh-uh, niet, nein, non, and not in a million fucking years!”

“So that’s a no then?”

“Funny is not your strong point, Matthew. Leave it to the professionals.”

“Well, when I find one, I’ll be sure to do just that.”

CJ Edwards stopped pacing in front of the fireplace in his living room and glared at his agent, Matt Davis, who lounged against the plump cushions of CJ’s red leather couch. Although Matt had been his friend as well as his agent for almost eight years, CJ had to resist the urge to slap his face and that smug fucking look on it, right off his head. The bastard thinks I’m gonna cave! Well, he can fucking whistle. I ain’t doing it!

“Stow the hairy eyeball, Edwards,” Matt drawled. “We both know that stopped working on me a long time ago.”

“Fuck off,” CJ bit back childishly.

“I’d love to, but you keep paying me,” Matt replied. “Look, dude, I love you, you know that, but this is all we’ve got. No comedy store appearances, no club openings, no sitcom renewal.” He tapped his points off on his fingers and CJ winced with each one. “That sex tape cost us big and no one wants to touch us. This is the only thing that’s crossed my desk for almost a year. The fee is enough for you not to have to sell the beach house, and it’ll give you the opportunity to redeem yourself. Let the public see the real you.”

“I think they’ve seen enough of the real me.”

“You’re being an ass, CJ. You need this.” Matt ran his hand through his dark hair. “It’s five weeks out of your life. Four weeks initial training, then three nights on the show. It’s a one off special, not a full season. It’ll be over before you know it.” CJ glared at him. “Look, I’d tell you to swallow your pride, but after the number Mario did on you, there ain’t a helluva lot left. For God’s sake, man. If you ever want the chance to salvage even the slightest bit of a career, this is it!”

“The token homo in Dancing with Stars in Our Eyes is going to save my career?” CJ yelled at Matt in frustration. “You can’t seriously believe that!”

“I believe it’s better than sitting on your ass all day complaining about how unfair life is!”

“Matt.” CJ’s shoulders slumped, the fight leaving him. “Please don’t make me do this.” He didn’t miss the twitch of Matt’s lips. Bastard!

“I can’t make you do anything.”

“Liar.” CJ sighed heavily and all but threw himself down on the other couch opposite Matt. “Alright, alright,” he huffed. “I’ll do it. But if I end up coming off even worse, I will kill you.”

“Goes without saying.” Matt grinned widely and pulled his cell out of his pocket, already tapping out numbers. “You won’t regret this, buddy. Hey, Linda? It’s Matt Davis. Yes, CJ will be very happy to join the cast of Dancing with Christmas Stars in Our Eyes. Yes…”

Dancing with Christmas Stars in Our Eyes? Seriously? CJ picked up a cushion and covered his face with it. What the fuck am I doing?

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Julie Bozza

The 1000 Smiles - 400px

Why opals…?

The motif for The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (the third novel of the Butterfly Hunter series) is an opal. I chose this for a number of interrelated reasons, one of which is very literal: A trip to the opal fossicking fields at Yowah in Queensland is at the emotional heart of the book. Dave and Nicholas have a wonderful time there – and the more I researched it, the more I wanted to visit, too!

Another reason is that opals are a very Australian phenomenon. Wikipedia tells us that opals are also found in places such as Ethiopia, Brazil and Mexico. However, the vast majority of opals are found in Australia (especially South Australia), and opal is the Australia’s national gemstone.

Precious opals can contain almost every colour of the rainbow, though some colours (such as red and black) are rarer than others (white and green). Personally, I love the blues best. With opals being so colourful, of course, I definitely pick up a ‘gay pride’ vibe.

Opals are a hydrated form of silica, with a water content of (usually) between 6% and 10%. So there’s a connection with the novel’s waterhole, which itself is described as having a vivid, jewel-like colour.

The Dreaming stories about how opals were created differ throughout the country, but often involve water (which relates to their content) and fire (which relates to their appearance). Water links to the waterhole, and fire links to Dave and Nicholas’s shared campfires.

I also thought an opal would make an interesting image for the book cover, as some opals look like a bird’s-eye view of landscape – which is the very perspective of most Australian Indigenous paintings. Actually, it now occurs to me that the three Butterfly Hunter covers feature an animal (a butterfly), a vegetable (eucalyptus flowers) and a mineral (an opal) – all of them Australian – which is almost unbearably neat.

I daren’t even hope that you find as much beauty in my novel as you would in a precious opal, but I trust you will see that Dave and Nicholas find all that beauty and more in each other and in their relationship. Thank you so much for being a part of their journey! They have certainly appreciated the companionship.

Blurb for The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring:

Dave and Nicholas, married for seven years now, are happily settled together – but as an Australian prime minister once observed, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” An unexpected threat to their beloved waterhole forces Dave to try asserting unofficial custodianship of the Dreamtime site, and a visit from Nicholas’s nephew Robin doesn’t help as he brings his own surprises. And there’s always the question of Nicholas’s health hanging over their heads…

Buy links:

Author’s bio:

Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, unreasonably excited by photography, and madly in love with Colin Morgan and John Keats.

Author’s links:

Excerpt:

The next morning saw Dave and Nicholas at the airport early to collect Robin. They joined the line-up leaning on the waist-high barriers, greeted with nods and friendly monosyllables from the drivers and tour operators and such, some of whom had known Dave since he was a kid. “Brought the missus with you, then?” one of them commented to Dave.

Nicholas snorted with quiet humour, but Dave answered seriously enough. “Yeah, his nephew’s coming to visit for his summer holidays. Well, you know … it’s winter here, summer up there.”

“Got everything arse-about, them Poms.”

“You just wait,” Nicholas muttered darkly. “The magnetic poles will reverse, and then where will you be?”

“Still in God’s own country, mate!”

“So you will,” Nicholas happily responded. “And so will I!”

There was a general round of laughter, and then everyone fell back to their earlier silence or desultory talk. Nicholas nudged Dave with an elbow, and indicated the cold hard floor on the other side of the barriers. “That’s where I was when I saw you for the very first time.”

The guy on the other side of Dave asked, “Love at first sight, was it?”

“I get a lot of that,” Dave remarked.

“What can you do?” was the sympathetic response.

“I fancied him so badly!” Nicholas declared. “It wasn’t love, I don’t suppose – not back then. But that’s where it began. That’s where our story began.”

A resounding silence greeted this. Far too much information to be sharing with Aussie blokes of either gender. Dave was blushing, a little, but he couldn’t deny that he was pleased. No doubt his own smile was as fond as one of Nicholas’s, despite him trying to repress it. He hardly knew where to look.

But finally someone snorted, and someone else spluttered into laughter, and the embarrassment was lost in the general hubbub, or maybe just transformed into something else, something better. “Someone’s overdone it with the coffee this morning,” was one comment. – “That’s why I never bring my missus along,” another observed. – “Jeez, there’s a decent hour and a private place for that kind of thing …”

Dave and Nicholas leant there on the barrier together, pressed shoulder to shoulder, letting the jibes wash over them. And eventually Dave dared to glance at his husband, and he saw Nicholas’s lips curling in infinite amusement … and Dave could hardly even begin to measure his own happiness. He hadn’t seen the edges of it for years.

DON’T Forget the  Rafflecopter giveaway

Charlie Cochrane Day: What we do if…?

Just this week, we watched “Saving Mr. Banks”. Very interesting film. Mr. Cochrane, being a devoted father of three girls, was moved to tears by the family flashbacks, but it’s the scenes with P L Travers at the Disney studios which I can’t get out of my mind.  What would I have done in her position, being asked to give permission for changes to be made with her story which she simply didn’t want to be made?

Now, I’m a pragmatic soul. “What cover do you want, Charlie?” “One that sells, please.” Yet sometimes pragmatism had to give way to integrity. What if somebody came along and wanted to turn the Cambridge Fellows books into a film or TV series? “Great,” I’d say. “Bring it on.” But what if they wanted to make unacceptable changes? For example, to set it in a Cambridge as false as the London of the Mary Poppins film? (No, Mr. Disney, that was not a British robin feathering its nest.) What if they’d wanted to change the tone of the stories? To introduce some heterosexual love stories? To have – and this is worst of all – somebody play Jonty or Orlando who had the equivalent of Dick Van Dyke’s desperate cockney accent.

See? It’s an author’s nightmare. I guess we’ve all played the “casting” game, thinking about who we’d have playing our favourite characters in a TV adaptation: maybe we’ve used the images of those people when we’ve been filling in our cover art requests. But if this really did happen, we’d probably have very little say in much of the production stuff. Ultimately, the only sanction we’d have is not to sell the performance rights (I hope you’ve checked your contracts to ensure you haven’t signed them away), although if we were put under the sort of pressure that the Disney corporation seem to have exerted on P L Travers, we’d have to be damn strong to resist.

Author bio:

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice–like managing a rugby team–she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries, but she’s making an increasing number of forays into the modern day. She’s even been known to write about gay werewolves–albeit highly respectable ones.

She was named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name but her family still regard her writing with a fond indulgence, just as she prefers.

Happily married, with a house full of daughters, Charlie tries to juggle writing with the rest of a busy life. She loves reading, theatre, good food and watching sport. Her ideal day would be a morning walking along a beach, an afternoon spent watching rugby and a church service in the evening.

S.A. Meade Day: Blogs of Interest – Autism: It’s No One’s Fault

Autism Fact: Autism is not caused by a person’s upbringing and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.

S.A. Meade has written a blog for RJ Scott’s Autism Blog Hop

When you have a baby, no one presents with you with an instruction manual. Once you leave the maternity ward, you’re on your own. You are faced with the frightening responsibility of caring for a helpless infant. You soon learn that babies become slippery little buggers when you put them in a bath, that little boys will do a pretty decent impression of the Trevi Fountain when you take their nappies (diapers) off , that they often prefer home-made baby food to the goo that comes in jars.

 

The rest of the blog can be found here.

The First Date Offensive by A. Lusch

Turn First Dating into a Pleasurable Experience.

First Date. Those two little, innocent words can strike fear into even the bravest of people. There’s something incredibly scary about meeting a potential spouse for the first time. It can reduce grown men to quivering wrecks, mute the most talkative of souls, and splinter brain and mouth so that the most awkward and embarrassing things are said. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it myself – A LOT.

A few years ago, with the desire to finally end my singledom and find a husband, I set out on a task. To go on 52 First Dates; one every week, for any entire year. It sounded easy enough. Of course, I hoped that I wouldn’t actually need to complete the year; surely I’d find Mr Right long before the 12 months was up?

But dating, especially going on a first date, can be extremely daunting. It’s a scary process; you’re putting yourself out there and saying ‘Yes, this is me. This is who you’d spend the rest of your life with’. Luckily, I quickly discovered a few ways to make first dates less daunting, and actually began to enjoy the process.

Firstly, be under no illusions – you will not like all your dates and, more importantly, they may not like you. The thing is – it really doesn’t matter if they don’t like you. You’ve lost nothing more than a couple of hours of your time. You’ve checked another guy off your list. That’s one less fish in the sea to worry about.

Secondly, throw out the social etiquette saying that a first date has to be dinner, flowers, and romance. Talk about a way to pile the pressure on. Save dinner dates for the second or third time you meet someone. A first date is a time when you need to be relaxed, confident, and at ease with yourself so you can work out whether you really click with this guy. There’s nothing to say you can’t meet for just a coffee, take the dog (if you have one) for a walk, explore a museum together. It’s a damn bit cheaper too. If you’re really going on the offensive to find someone special, going on first dinner dates every week will quickly start to cause bankruptcy!

Thirdly, RELAX. If you’ve taken the first and second points into consideration, hopefully you’re not falling in love before you’ve even met, and you’re enjoying a more comfortable and natural setting. Both of these factors should help you calm down a bit and appreciate that you’re simply meeting someone new. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter. If there are butterflies and fireworks, then great; roll on date 2!

I totally understand that it may take a few dates to get this process right. It certainly took that long for me. Then, finally, something clicked in my brain and the pressure fell away. You can turn first dating into a pleasurable experience, and by being calm, you’re far more likely to find someone to spend the rest of your life with.

The Man PLAN

Portrait of handsome man lying naked on bed.

Amazon USAmazon UK

Now that David’s heading towards his mid-30s, he’s finally realised that it’s time to find a husband. But with so many men and so little time, he realises he’s going to have to be strategic if he’s ever to find his soulmate.

Thus, 52 First Dates is formed; a challenge, a scheme, to go on a date with a new man, every week, for a year. If it pays off, he’ll be in marital bliss. If it doesn’t, he’ll know that he’s fated with being the eternal bachelor. With everything to live for, David plunges into the world of dating in search of the perfect man.

The Man Plan is a 12,000K SHORT STORY, or about 37 pages in length.

M/M Steam-level: HOT!!

Book 1: The Man PLAN

Book 2: Friends And FRENCHMEN

Book 3: Seeing DOUBLE

Portrait of handsome man lying naked on bed.

The Boxed Set

Amazon USAmazon UK: 

52 First Dates – Boxed Set – Episodes 1 – 3.

This set includes the first three stories in the 52 First Dates story; The Man PLAN, Friends and Frenchmen, and Seeing DOUBLE. Each story is about 13,000 words (about 37 pages) in length. The boxed set includes the three stories with individual covers.

The Man PLAN 

Now that David’s heading towards his mid-30s, he’s finally realised that it’s time to find a husband. But with so many men and so little time, he realises he’s going to have to be strategic if he’s ever to find his soulmate.

Thus, 52 First Dates is formed; a challenge, a scheme, to go on a date with a new man, every week, for a year. If it pays off, he’ll be in marital bliss. If it doesn’t, he’ll know that he’s fated with being the eternal bachelor. With everything to live for, David plunges into the world of dating in search of the perfect man.

M/M Steam-level: HOT!!

***
Friends and FRENCHMEN 

With David in his mid-30’s, it’s time to get serious about finding a husband. Too many men and not enough time, mean he’s embarked on the challenge of a lifetime; to date a new man every week for a year until he finds THE ONE.

With one date out the way, and many more to come, David’s realising there’s a reason it’s so hard to find a soulmate. And, with friends, lovers and lust getting in the way, finding a husband might be harder than he thought.

M/M Steam-Level: SIZZLING

***
Seeing DOUBLE 

The man-hunt is under way, and David’s keen to a snag a husband without having to complete every date of his 52 First Dates challenge. With several successful meets behind him, there’s a growing feeling of confidence that his search could actually work. But now that the novelty’s worn off, finding the motivation to keep going is about to become harder.

David finds himself trying to juggle meeting new men and providing a shoulder to cry on his to battered and pregnant friends. And, with a plethora of hotties vying for his attention, things are about to get more complicated.

M/M Steam-Level: HOT!

Author Bio:

A. Lusch lives in London and has been though much of the same path as David – in fact – this series is based around true events.

Of course, there is MUCH more to come in the tale, but, don’t worry, now the scene is set, there’ll be many more dates per book. Is there a happy ending in sight? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

A. Lusch fully believes in never settling, always striving for the perfect match, and never giving up on your man once you’ve found him – oh, and eating A LOT of donuts!

Twitter: AlgenonLusch

 

 

RJ Scott Day: Blogs of Interest -Editing your manuscript is vital… here’s why… and a thank you …

Behind every author there is an editor… and RJ Scott writes a limerick about hers.

I have this editor called Erika

Who lives in the North of America
She’s deleting all my Brit
She stops me looking shit 

And I wish I could find another word that rhymes with Erika.

The rest of the post is here.