New Release – Seeking Warmth

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“Seeking Warmth” is live everywhere!

Four years ago, I did a holiday blog hop.  The rules were to write a flash fiction with a winter holiday theme and a bad boy character. There was a black and white photo of two young men embracing in what looked like a gift shop.

I wrote about two thousand words and posted it on my blog, but I knew that someday I’d want to expand it. At some point in the past few years, I did start to expand it, so when I got the itch to write a holiday story, I knew I had something solid to start with. In the end, it came in around twenty thousand words, which makes for a perfect short story length.

I really loved telling Benny’s story and I hope you enjoy it too.

Title: Seeking Warmth

Summary:

Benny Fuller is on his way to rock bottom. He’s seventeen, fresh out of juvie, homeless, and desperate to find a job.  His dad’s in jail and his drug-addicted mom is in no shape to take care of his sick sister, Angel. A run-in with his ex-boyfriend, Scott Sullivan, makes Benny feel even worse. He’s a thief with no future. Scott is smart, with plans for college and a great future ahead of him. Benny knows Scott can do so much better than him. Because no matter how hard Benny tries, he can’t seem to find a job or a way to take care of Angel.

The further Benny falls, the more he needs Scott’s help. Benny will have to let go of his pride and trust Scott and the Sullivan family in order to get the Christmas miracle Benny and Angel so desperately need.

Reader Advisory: This is an older (15+) YA story with themes of homelessness, drug use and prostitution (off-page), neglect of minors, and foster care.

Excerpt:

People hurried past Benny Fuller without seeing him. They were bundled up warmly against the snow, clutching their holiday shopping bags and packages. They were too intent on their destination to see the kid they pushed past. Now that the sun was going down, the crowds were beginning to thin. The wind picked up and the fat, fluffy snowflakes grew smaller and sharper. They stung his cheeks and made his hands ache. It had been early spring when he went into juvie. He’d had a hat stuffed in his old, beat up Army-style jacket but no gloves.

When the caseworker picked him up at the juvenile detention center and drove him to a foster home, she frowned at his bare hands. She said something about making sure he had a pair of gloves—and a warmer coat and boots—but she got a phone call a few minutes later and apparently forgot. He hadn’t said anything to the foster care lady about it either. So now the slushy snow soaked into his shoes as he walked and he still had no gloves or winter coat. He’d have to make do. But that was nothing new for him, was it? Benny had been doing that for a while now.

He kicked at a piece of torn, soggy cardboard on the sidewalk as he passed it. It did nothing to relieve the gnawing hunger in his stomach or the cold air that crept down the collar of his jacket and numbed his fingers.

It was satisfying though. Something to do to let out all of the frustration and fear boiling inside of him. His job search had amounted to nothing. Everything amounted to nothing. There were no opportunities for kids like him.

He’d been wandering the city for a week. Ever since he left the foster home they placed him in. It hadn’t seemed bad at first. It was clean and there were only two other kids there, both younger. But one of them was a nightmare. Benny had never seen anything like it. The boy screamed and tried to hit the little girl all the time. The foster mother did nothing to stop it. The little girl had bruises on her arms and legs from the boy and it made Benny sick to watch it happen. Within the first day Benny was there, the boy bit Benny hard enough to draw blood, but Benny was the one who got yelled at by the foster mother for provoking him. Benny hadn’t done anything but sit down next to the kid.

Benny had tried to help out, thinking maybe the woman was just overwhelmed, but she yelled at him for interfering. The day after he got there, the little girl had to go to the doctor for pinkeye. Benny was left home with the boy. It was a nightmare. After the boy screamed and hit him and acted like a little monster all day, Benny couldn’t handle it anymore. As soon as the woman got home with the girl, Benny crawled out the bedroom window and left.

He went straight to his childhood home, even though there was no one there waiting for him. He collected his car and a few belongings, but he knew he couldn’t stay or Child Protective Services would just drag him out of there and back to a foster home.

But once he left his old house, he had nowhere else to go. He had a car though, thankfully. It had sat, unused, while he was in juvie. It was still registered, thankfully, although the insurance on it had lapsed. He’d have to hope he didn’t get pulled over, or he’d be in big trouble.

With no home and no job, what else could he do now but wander? Sit in his car and feel sorry for himself? Even if he wanted to, he didn’t have any money for gas so he couldn’t do it for long. He tried to run the engine as little as possible. Just enough to keep himself from freezing to death. At least when he was up and walking, his blood was flowing.

He wasn’t warm, but at least he wasn’t dead. That was something, right?

Up ahead, a brightly-lit storefront spilled yellow light onto the snowy sidewalk. Its warmth beckoned Benny to come closer, but as he approached, he recognized the building and scowled. Sullivan’s Fine Gifts, the sign on the window read. Damn it. His wandering had taken him to the last place he should be.

Stupid. Why did I come here? He wondered. It wasn’t like he could go in and see Scott Sullivan. God, he wanted to though. Scott was the only person Benny had ever trusted. The only one who really knew him. Scott was the best thing that had ever happened to Benny. Too bad Benny was the worst thing that had ever happened to Scott.

Benny stood in front of the gift shop long enough for the snowflakes to settle on his too-thin jacket. His breath fogged the window and cold and hunger faded away as he stared into the store owned by his ex-boyfriend’s parents, mesmerized by the cheerful lights and decorations. It advertised home and family.

Warmth. Security. Love.

All the things Benny didn’t have.

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Brigham’s Recommendations – Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North

Summary:

Love is coming into season.

Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.

Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.

Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other.

Review:

Before I say anything else, let me say how much I love the cover of this book. Maybe because it brings back memories of picking blueberries with my family when I was a kid, but something about it evokes a warm, sweet feeling in me.

It fits with the story so well because overall it’s a gentle story. That’s not to say there wasn’t conflict in the story. Far from it. There’s conflict between Jed and Connor as they try  to figure out what will happen with the farm and how to make a relationship work when they live such drastically different lives. There’s conflict between the men and the town. There’s conflict between Jed and his family and his coming out. Conflict between Connor and his brother Scott. The conflict kept me turning the pages and wondering how on earth they would ever resolve it. But there’s a certain sweetness to Connor and Jed’s relationship that permeates the story.

There’s also steamy chemistry and some incredibly hot scenes between them. Connor is a photographer, and let me tell you, there is a phenomenally hot scene involving a camera that shouldn’t be missed. But throughout every steamy scene is a certain amount of tenderness and sweetness that I absolutely loved.

I think the author did an excellent job resolving all of the conflict in the story in a realistic way. Not everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow, but there was a hopeful feel that in time, relationships with family will be mended. And Connor and Jed carved out a perfect life that they can enjoy together.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

 

Trust Release – Love is Not a Cure-All

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I am so excited to share “Trust” with you. I adore Evan and Jeremy and telling their story was wonderfully challenging for me as a writer. “Connection” and “Trust” both required a lot of research to get the details right. In addition, taking two bruised and battered men and bringing them to a point where they were healed enough to have a realistic and healthy HEA was an interesting struggle.

Love is amazing. It’s one of the best things out there as far as I’m concerned. But it doesn’t conquer all. It doesn’t fix gaping wounds.  In some cases, it can bandage them enough to allow time and proper treatment to heal them. It can inspire a person to work harder, be better, fix their own problems. But on it’s own it is not enough.

You’ll probably never read a book of mine where love is the cure-all. The idea that humans must heal themselves is too deeply rooted in my beliefs. Sure, I’ll write characters who make decisions I’ll never make. I will write awful, abusive characters like Evan’s father Jimmie. I’ll write horrible, neglectful characters like Jeremy’s parents, Kevin and Barbara.

But I won’t write main characters whose lives are magically fixed by love. That’s too easy and too unrealistic; it’s not what romance is about to me. To, me the beauty of a story lies in the struggle. Characters learning and growing and changing is what fascinates me.

It took me nearly 145,000 words and the better part of a year (in the story) to get Evan and Jeremy to a point where their HEA felt believable to me. Evan seeing past Jeremy’s scars didn’t cure Jeremy’s discomfort with them. However, it allowed Jeremy to work with his therapist to come to terms with them. Would Jeremy have done it without Evan’s love? Probably not.

Would Evan have been strong enough to tell his mother how he deserved to be treated if not for Jeremy’s love? I doubt it. But Jeremy’s love didn’t cause that, it merely created a safe place for Evan to flourish and grow.

Looking further out, I could argue that Russ and Stephen’s love for Evan and Jeremy was equally crucial for their growth. Because romantic love is only a part of what these men were looking for. All four of them were searching for love and connection. For family and trust and equality. And, in the end, I think that’s what all human beings are searching for.

We want to surround ourselves with people who love and support us. Who create the kind of environment where we can become the best possible versions of ourselves. Who love us, but know that we are the ones who need to do the real work. Who give us that opportunity and are proud of us when we achieve it.

Who love us and let us grow.

Summary:

Evan Harris thinks his relationship with Jeremy Lewis is going well.  But when Jeremy bolts, Evan is left nursing a broken heart. Jeremy loves Evan, but his inability to trust holds him back from facing his past head on and building the future he desperately wants. Evan’s patience is at the breaking point, and he struggles to decide if Jeremy deserves another chance.

Evan Harris thinks his relationship with Jeremy Lewis is going well.  But when Jeremy bolts, Evan is left nursing a broken heart. Jeremy loves Evan, but his inability to trust holds him back from facing his past head on and building the future he desperately wants. Evan’s patience is at the breaking point, and he struggles to decide if Jeremy deserves another chance.

Scarred by his own parents’ treatment of him, Jeremy doesn’t trust Evan’s mother’s motives when she reappears in Evan’s life after his father lands in jail. The ensuing disagreement about his concerns puts further pressure on their developing relationship.

Unless Jeremy can learn to trust and Evan can let go of past hurts, they’ll miss out on the relationship they’ve both been searching for.

Excerpt:

Jeremy wrestled his shoe on and stood. He swayed on his feet for a second as his skin went chalky again. Evan reached for him, but Jeremy shook him off. His anger seemed to dissipate as his shoulders dropped and his voice softened slightly. “Look, it’s time you find out what the rest of the world is like. Go meet guys, go be young and stupid.” He ran his thumb across Evan’s cheek, his smile sad and wistful. “Just not too stupid.”

Evan stared at him. “And what will you being doing?”

Jeremy’s voice came out gruff. “Feeling lucky I was your first for a few things.”

“Don’t do this, Jeremy.” Evan hated the way he sounded, like he was pleading with him. He wanted to drop to his knees and beg Jeremy to stay, but he was afraid that would only make things work. That it would make Evan seem weak in Jeremy’s eyes. “Please.”

“I can’t be the guy you’re looking for,” Jeremy murmured. “You have no idea how much I wish I could, but it’s not possible.”

“Why?” He winced, hating the way his voice cracked. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m too … damaged and I have too much of my own shit to deal with. I can barely manage to give you a handjob much less anything else. I’m not able to be what you need. I’d be a shitty boyfriend.”

Evan straightened and brushed away the tears. “What if—if you didn’t have to commit to me and we … we slept together. It wouldn’t have to mean anything. Give me rules about where I can touch you. You can keep your pants on. I don’t care.” Right then, he wanted anything, whatever Jeremy would give him.

Anything but losing him.

“I’m in no shape for sex and you deserve a hell of lot more than a cripple for a lover.” Jeremy’s voice was surprisingly gentle. “And let’s be honest, it’s more than sex, isn’t it? You want the rest too. Wouldn’t it hurt you to wonder why you weren’t good enough for me to commit to?”

Evan flinched. “I wouldn’t,” he protested, but he knew he was lying.

“You would. And I know I’m hurting you now, but it’ll hurt a lot less than some half-assed non-relationship.” Jeremy brushed Evan’s hair off his forehead. “I care about you, Evan, way more than I should. What happened last night was a mistake and we can’t repeat it.”

“Wasn’t it good?”

“It was perfect.” Jeremy sighed, the corner of his mouth twisting up in a sad smile. “But that makes it worse, right? I can’t give you what you need and it’s going to end badly if we continue. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, Evan.”

“You already have,” Evan whispered.

“Oh, kid.” Jeremy wrapped his arms around Evan and he collapsed gratefully, his cheek against Jeremy’s shoulder. “I know. And I’m sorry.”

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Brigham’s Recommendations – “Borrowing Trouble” by Kade Boehme and Author Interview

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Author Interview:

What is your favorite M/M romance book?

Wow. What a hard question to answer. Hm. I could tell fave authors: Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon, Sue Brown, JL Langley. 

      Where did the inspiration for “Borrowing Trouble” come from?

I wanted to write a book about guys I KNEW, guys I grew up with. I wanted steady, southern guys. I hope I did them justice.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Totally a plotter. I only pants the “meat” of the story. I gotta have points A, B, and C before I can even start a book. 

Is there a story you’ve been dying to write, but don’t feel quite brave enough to tackle?

I am DYING to write a historical. But it’s scary because there’s so much research and stepping outside of your own narrative. It’s a lot of work. But I’d love to try.

Out of all of your books, who is your favorite character? Why?

Gavin. I feel like he was the one character that was the most like a younger me.

What was the most difficult part about writing Landon and Jay’s characters?

First, not getting carried away with their angst. I tend to enjoy the angst when I write haha. But really, it was hardest to write these guys in this place I knew they’d never be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT out and open and free, in the end. I tend to like bows neatly tied at the end of my stories. But, to make it super neat while being realistic they’d have had to have moved to some larger area and they didn’t want to lose their roots. So, I had to sacrifice some “romanticism”.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I am, sadly, a total diva when I write. I MUST have had two cups of coffee, must have music on, and must have my social media stuff out of the way. If any of that isn’t done, I get distracted and can’t do a thing.

What type of research did you do for “Borrowing Trouble”?

I had to call old friends, mostly. I had to ask questions about saw mill work and carpentry, because I didn’t remember much from growing up w my dad.

How would you spend a perfect Saturday?

Writing like two thousand words, drinking coffee, then going out and having fireball, and ending the night with cheese cake. I’m simple. Haha.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next writing project?

Easy enough to say, I’m shipping two of my favorite guys and my usual bar. I’m looking forward to it because it’ll be my first serial.

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Summary:

After an amicable divorce, Jay Hill decided to move back to his rural hometown with his teenage kids. Being on good terms with his ex-wife and in laws has made the transition into single life pretty smooth. Things were good and uncomplicated. Then Landon Petty walked into his life. Landon didn’t expect to still be stuck in his hometown working at his dad’s sawmill at this point in his life. Being an openly gay truck driver was as awkward in practice as in description. When Jay came to take over managerial duties at his dad’s business, Landon was surprised to find a friend. When Jay turns out not to be as straight as he thought, things get complicated. When feelings for Landon shine a light on how much Jay’s life has been actually half lived, he’s forced to decide if he’ll jump in with both feet or if he’ll let Landon slip through his fingers.

Review:

I always enjoy Kade Boehme books, and “Borrowing Trouble” was no exception.  He consistently writes stories that suck you in and make you connect with the characters from the beginning. Jay and Landon were engaging characters with real depth and it was interesting following their journey, particularly Jay’s, as he begins to explore his sexuality. This trope can be so badly done, but Kade handled it with a deft touch that made this book truly enjoyable to read.

In particular, I enjoyed the end of the book and the realism of their happily-ever-after.  Although there was no doubt that these men would have a wonderful life together, it didn’t gloss over the issues they’d be likely to face in the future and contained just the right about of realism.  Beautifully done!

Buy Link:

Amazon

Contact Info:

Blog – http://kaderade.blogspot.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kade.adam?fref=ts

Twitter – @kaderadenurface

Connection Release

Connection Final Final Cover

“Connection” was a long time coming.  Since the moment I created Evan’s character in “Partners” I knew I was going to have to tell his story as well.  If nothing else, my betas would have come after me with pointy things until I did!

It was during a conversation with Allison that it occurred to me that Jeremy was the perfect partner for Evan. I actually gasped when I thought of the pairing, because it was so unexpected, but perfect.  I hadn’t planned on another May/December romance, but Jeremy’s a stubborn one, and despite the fact that he and Evan seemed all wrong for each other on paper, I knew they’d be just what the other needed.  Evan needs someone who can recognize his loneliness and pull him out of his shell a little.  And Jeremy needs someone like Evan who simply doesn’t see Jeremy’s scars as a problem.

Meredith King made me a beautiful trailer for the story and I am so in love with the way it compliments the story.

Summary:

After a lifetime of being told he’s worthless, shy, sheltered Evan Harris is forced out of the closet and kicked out of his home.  Friends in Atlanta give him a place to stay while he gets on his feet, but despite his eagerness to explore the city, it isn’t exactly what he expected.

Physically and emotionally scarred from a devastating car accident, Jeremy Lewis struggles to reconcile the brash, outgoing man he used to be with the social recluse he’s become.

Loneliness draws them to each other, but a strong mutual attraction isn’t enough to overcome their pasts.  In order to be together, Evan must discover his own worth and Jeremy must trust someone to see past his scars.

Excerpt:

“So how do you know the grooms?” The man he was pretty sure he recognized from the sporting goods store dropped onto the stool to his left, and Evan jerked, spilling some of his drink on the bar.

“Oh, um, I met Russ and Stephen last fall when they were in Stephen’s hometown. I worked at the funeral home there when they buried his father.”

The guy frowned. “So you’re just visiting Atlanta then?”

Evan shook his head. “No. I moved to Atlanta in February. When we met last fall, Russ was nice enough to kind of”—he struggled to find the right words as he mopped up the spill—“take me under his wing, I guess. Once I moved here, Russ and Stephen helped me get settled and find the guts to go off on my own.”

He chuckled and nudged Evan’s elbow with his. “I dunno, seems like you must have had some guts in the first place.”

“Maybe.” Evan blushed. “I’d like to think so.”

“How do you like Atlanta?”

“It’s lonely,” Evan said, surprising himself with his candor. The drink he was working on must’ve loosened his tongue. “I mean, it’s fine, I guess. I just haven’t met anyone yet.” In his head, Atlanta had been a gay man’s paradise where there would be available guys everywhere he looked, but it hadn’t worked out that way. At least, not for him.

“Amen, kid.” The guy raised his glass and clinked it against Evan’s. “What’s your name, anyway?”

“Evan Harris.” He glanced at the guy out of the corner of his eye.

“Nice to meet you. Jeremy Lewis.” He narrowed his eyes at Evan. “Wait a minute, you came into Johnson’s sporting goods a while ago, didn’t you? You needed running shoes, I think.”

“I … yeah,” Evan replied, shocked but flattered that the guy—Jeremy—had remembered him. “I did. Russ suggested I go there, actually. Um, thanks for your help, by the way. The new shoes are much better. The fit specialist did a great job.”

Jeremy grinned. “Glad to hear my employees know what they’re doing.”

Evan wasn’t sure what else to say about running shoes that wouldn’t make him sound like an idiot, but he didn’t want Jeremy to stop talking to him, so he changed the subject. “How do you know them?”

“Stephen and Russ? I just met Russ a few months ago, but Stephen’s my ex.”

“Really?” Evan gaped at him for a moment before all the pieces fell into place. Stephen had mentioned his ex’s car accident. That explained the limp and the scar. “Oh.”

“Mmmhmm. Stephen’s always had a thing for younger guys. We met when I was twenty, and he was … oh, must have been about thirty-two, thirty-three, maybe? Hell if I can remember. It’s been fifteen years.”

Which meant Jeremy was in his mid-thirties now. Up close, Evan could see the lines around his eyes when he smiled. Evan liked them.

“You’re not jealous of Russ?” he blurted out, then bit his lip, hoping Jeremy wasn’t offended.

“It’s complicated,” Jeremy said with a sigh as his lips twisted in a bitter smile. “I know Russ is a hell of a lot better for Stephen than I ever was, and I’m glad they’re happy together. It’s … it’s not that I want to be with Stephen, and, hell, I’m not a relationship kinda guy, but something about seeing them together makes me envious, you know?”

“Yeah, I know.” Evan sighed.

Jeremy nudged him with his elbow again. “Come on, kid, I’m sure you can’t have any trouble picking up guys.”

Evan sputtered, nearly choking on his drink and wondering how the guy knew he was gay. Am I obvious? he wondered. “Umm, I haven’t exactly ever done it before …” he muttered into his glass, embarrassed to confess his lack of dating experience but unable to hold his tongue.

“Don’t tell me you’re a virgin?” Jeremy’s gaze was disbelieving, and the tips of Evan’s ears went red-hot.

“Okay, I won’t then.” Evan tilted his drink back and shook an ice cube into his mouth, crunching down on it. He refused to look at the guy next to him for fear he’d turn tomato red.

Jeremy whistled quietly. “Kid, if you go into a gay club it’ll be like waving a steak at starving tigers. They’ll be all over you.”

“I think you’ve had too much to drink,” Evan protested. “I’m nothing special.”

“Oh, Jesus, you have to be kidding me.” Jeremy stood with a groan. “Okay, unless you’ve got somewhere you need to be, I want you to come have a seat with me at a booth over there. My leg is fucking killing me, and we need to have a long talk about why you don’t realize you’re the kind of pretty little twink who makes gay men cream their jockstraps.”

Evan blushed, but he followed Jeremy toward the cozy booths anyway, embarrassed, terrified, and completely intrigued by the gorgeous guy who had called him pretty.

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Bully & Exit Release

Bully & Exit has been two years in the making and is the first full-length novel I’ve released. I am so, so excited to share it with you. I hope you love Nathan and Caleb as much as I do. ❤

Join me on Prism Book Alliance today as I discuss the plan for the series and a chance to win copies of Bully & Exit.

11304399_1595907117324216_1509607792_nSummary:

Theater student Caleb Stockwell is ready to leave college behind. Too bad his past isn’t ready to let him go.

With less than a month to go until graduation, Caleb runs into Nathan Rhodes at a house party.  Nathan is a star hockey player for Western Michigan University and finally ready to step out of the closet.  He’s also the guy who broke Caleb’s heart in high school.

Nathan’s determined to make amends for what he did four years ago, but Caleb isn’t willing to risk getting his heart stomped on again.  With only a few weeks left before they go their separate ways, it’ll take all of Nathan’s creativity and help from some interfering friends to convince Caleb to give him a second chance.

Excerpt:

Nathan’s voice was soft when he spoke, gentle as it’d always been. “Caleb Stockwell. I’ve been looking for you.”

Caleb cleared his throat and ignored him, tipping the bottle up for another long drink. He licked the spiciness from his lips as he debated making another run for it. There was a shrub blocking his way in one direction and a hockey player in the other. Even if he hadn’t been drinking, the odds weren’t in his favor. “Nathan Rhodes,” he managed.

“Damn, I can’t believe it’s you!” Nathan leaned in, and Caleb pulled back, uncomfortable with him being so close.

Caleb laughed bitterly. “It’s me. Now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can run along.” He motioned with his hand, encouraging Nathan to leave.

“It’s really good to see you,” Nathan said, ignoring him. He took a seat on the pile of discarded construction materials, his knees brushing Caleb’s as he lowered himself down. Caleb pulled away as if scorched.

“Yeah? Too bad I can’t say the same,” he muttered, his head swimming as the alcohol began to hit him. He eyed Nathan’s long, long legs and the way he was pinned in by them, remembering the way they’d felt tangled with his as they came, panting shallowly against each other’s skin. It brought it all back: the scent of Nathan’s cologne, the taste of his skin, the way Caleb’s heart raced in his chest when Nathan held him close. It brought back the memories, the ones he’d worked so hard to run from. The good and the bad. The sharp, intense happiness of falling for Nathan. The aching, crushing hurt that paralyzed Caleb for months after Nathan was no longer in his life. Everything he’d buried four years ago and vowed never to touch again.

He caught the first glimpse of doubt on Nathan’s face. “Are you okay, Caleb?”

“Oh, I’m motherfucking peachy,” he snarked and took another long drink. “I’ve made it through four fucking years trying to ignore the fact we’re on the same campus, and with barely a month left in my senior year, I thought maybe I’d managed to pull it off. But, no, Lowell had to drag me to this goddamn party, and, of course, you showed up too. Just my luck.”

He raised the bottle again, but Nathan wrapped a hand around the neck and tugged. He was stronger than Caleb, so Caleb let go, afraid he’d end up getting pulled onto Nathan’s lap if he didn’t. Nathan took a drink and passed the bottle back, licking the taste of rum off his lips before he spoke. “You’re so angry at me.”

“Ya think?” Caleb snarled. “Didn’t it ever occur to you I would be? What the hell makes you think you can waltz in here and pretend like all the shit that went down between us didn’t happen?” He tried to stand, but Nathan’s dark denim-clad knees were on either side of his, pinning him in place. The bottle was pried from his suddenly limp fingers and set aside.

“I don’t think that,” Nathan protested. “I was just glad to see you, and I… I wanted a chance to apologize. I didn’t … I wanted …”

Caleb’s lips parted in surprise as cool fingers framed his face, and for the first time in four long years, Nathan’s lips were pressed to his again. Involuntarily, Caleb’s eyes closed, feeling a rush of heat wash over him, taking him right back to the first time. Before Nathan broke his heart.

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Paperbacks Are Available!!!

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I can honestly say formatting and building a paperback was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I understand why authors go through publishers and pay formatters oodles of money to do the work for them. It is some of the most fiddly, exasperating work I’ve ever done.  And yet, I’m really glad I did it.

I learned an enormous amount, I accomplished something I thought was out of my reach, I pushed through the moments when I wanted to tear out my hair and scream, and I have some beautiful work to show for it.  I even figured out my business name and put together a logo.

Two Peninsulas Press Logo

I did a ridiculous (if completely necessary) amount of research before I began creating the paperbacks.  Even then, I found myself flying by the seat of my pants with some of it.  Wait, where do I put the section break? How do I unlink from the previous section? I couldn’t have done it without Mr. Vaughn (who put in at least $1,000 worth of work per book, if he billed me what his office bills his clients at his tech geek job).  He’s a whiz with headers, footers, and table of contents pages.  Plus, he took my original cover images and text and combined them into two beautiful covers.

EqualsVolume2-final_Take2

I went through a number of possible versions before I decided to combine the four novellas into two volumes.  It seemed like it would give you guys the best value for your money.  Volume One (Equals and Partners) is 272 pages (about 90,000 words), while Volume Two (Family and Husbands) are 230 (just under 70,000 words). I perused Amazon and compared my work to other m/m authors with books of similar length and arrived at $13.99 and $12.99 for the paperbacks.

They are available on Amazon and CreateSpace.  Did you know that authors get a larger royalty when the books are purchased directly through CreateSpace? I certainly didn’t. Amazon is certainly easier to purchase through, so you won’t get any complaints from me if you buy the books there, but if you have a few extra minutes and want to buy through CreateSpace it would be greatly appreciated.

Amazon                                                                                Amazon

CreateSpace                                                                          CreateSpace

Oh, and if you want signed copies? Give me a week or so and I’ll have some available.  I’m still working on that part.

How To Support An Author

Let me be very blunt; I’m going to talk about sales and money.  Some authors do, some don’t.

May was my best month so far.  I sold 223 copies of my short stories, as of this morning.  I have the rest of the day today and tomorrow still, but it probably won’t be more than another 10-15 sales.  Depending on which site the sales are from, I make anywhere from about $2.21 on Smashwords to $1.50 per book on iTunes for a short story listed at $2.99.  Averaging it out between the sites, it’s roughly $2/sale.   $446 a month.  And that doesn’t include what I have to withhold for taxes or pay for stock photos to make cover art.  I make my own book covers and  I’m lucky enough to have incredible betas and a stellar editor who work for free.  Or for a copy of the story/my eternal gratitude.

So, when I say that every sale counts, I mean that.  Every sale matters to an author.  Every review, every tweet, share, like, and recommendation.  And every one of those things has a cumulative effect.  Take a look at May.

Chart

Whenever I release a new short story there’s a spike in sales.  For example, I sold 34 copies of my stories on May 19, after “Sunburns and Sunsets” was released.  The chart above is my sales from Amazon and doesn’t include the other sites.   Sales tapered off slowly over the next few weeks while I continued to pin inspiration pics, blog about it, Tweet, post on Facebook, etc.  And then it settled down to maybe 2-3/day.  For May, I’ll probably average just over 7 sales/day.  That’s nearly double what I sold in April, but equal to what I sold in March.  According to other authors I spoke to, April tends to be a slow month.

I’ve been tracking sales since February, trying to put together the pieces of what makes the biggest difference in sales.  This is what I’ve found applies to me.  It may not be the same for other authors, but I guarantee, it won’t hurt.

So what can you do to help your favorite authors?

Review

Hands down, reviews make some of the biggest differences in sales.  Review on the site where you bought the story, review on Goodreads.  Review on both if you can.  Review on your blog or your FB page or in FB groups.  Every single review counts.

Even if you feel like you’re saying the exact thing someone else did, that’s fine.  It doesn’t matter if it’s two lines or twenty, it helps.  It doesn’t matter if it’s stilted and awkward sounding or clumsy.  It’s another person chiming in to say how they felt about it.

If I had to choose between all of the places a reader could leave feedback, I’d probably pick Amazon.   More than half my sales come from there and while they aren’t the highest royalty (about $2.09) they are number two and every review translates into more sales.  The more sales, the higher the story is ranked, the more exposure it gets, and the more people are likely to buy it.

If you can do more than one site, you’re a rock star and I’ll probably love you forever.

Word of Mouth

Spread the word!  Every new release from me is posted on FB, tweeted about, blogged about, etc.   Share those.  Whether it’s a re-tweet or a share on FB, it counts.  It’s one more chance for someone to see the story and think, “Hmm, that sounds interesting, I should buy it!”  If you love a story, tell people about it.  If you’re excited about it, they will be too.

Comment on the author’s blog, share their posts, engage with the author.  Sometimes it feels like we’re writing in a vacuum and a quick message from someone can make a huge difference.  Knowing readers are out there and enjoying what I do is an incredible boost and makes the words flow faster.

Understand Royalties

I’ll be honest, I had no idea whatsoever that there was such a huge difference in what an author is paid depending on where you buy your books.  If they’re going through a publishing company, they’ll earn more if you buy directly through the site than on Amazon (although, there’s a flip side and the more sales on Amazon, the better the exposure and the more books are sold).  It’s complicated.

For self-published authors, there’s a huge range in royalty rates.  For my $2.99 short stories, this is how it breaks down.

Smashwords – $2.21

Amazon – $2.09

Kobo – $2.09

Barnes & Noble – $1.94

All Romance – $1.79

iTunes – $1.50

Obviously, I’m just thrilled if you buy one of my books, wherever you buy from.  I appreciate the support and interest in my work.  I would imagine most authors feel the same way.  That being said, I know a lot of people had no idea that there was such a huge difference.  If you’re so inclined, buy from places like the publisher’s site and Smashwords.  But if it’s easier to One-Click on Amazon and it means you’ll buy more, by all means, go there.  Just keep buying books!

Pay for What You Read

This may seem silly, but pay for the books you read.  I just recently discovered that my books are available on a pirating site.  If I found out about one, that probably means they’re on a dozen more.  I have to wonder how many sales I’ve lost because of this.

Loan judiciously.  I’m not against the idea of you loaning a book of mine to a friend.  Occasionally.  I can only speak for myself– many authors feel differently–loaning a copy of an eBook to a friend every now and again is no different than loaning a hard copy.  I’ll be honest, I’ve loaned eBooks before and had them loaned to me.  But often, after reading that story I’ve  gone on to buy every single other book in that author’s catalog.  Plus the one that was originally loaned.   A single, judicious loan led to many, many sales.  It can be done fairly.  But it can also get out of control, so be mindful.  Realize that it directly impacts an author’s life.

Don’t return books on Amazon.  I know many authors who are livid about Amazon’s return policy.  I’m learning to suck it up and deal with it, but it rankles.  On average, I lose 10% of my sales from people returning books.  I suspect most of them don’t have cats who accidentally One-Click on my book or anything else of the sort.   Probably, the vast majority are people who read the book and then “return” it because they don’t want to pay.  For an author like me, that can add up to hundreds of dollars a year in lost sales.  For bigger authors, even more, although most I’ve talked to say it hovers in the 10% range for them as well.

Don’t Feel Guilty

If you’re as busy as I am (or busier) doing all of these things can be time-consuming.  Believe me, I understand.  Compared to the number of books I read, I am only able to review a limited number.  I share the ones that excite me.  We all have busy lives and just finding time to read those books is a challenge.  So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t write an in-depth eloquent review for every story you read.  I am a writer and I feel like I write the lamest reviews ever.  So, do what you can.  If you have the time to review, do it, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t.  Like and tweet and reblog when you’re able and know that every single thing you do is appreciated.

Like

This is the easiest one of all.  Go to my Amazon Author Page and click the Like button (on the upper right side of the page).  It will only take a few moments and will help boost my author ranking.  Can’t hurt, right?

Oh, and on that same page you can sign up for an email alert notifying you when an author has a new book available.  How handy is that?

 

Finally, please, please know how much I deeply appreciate those of you who have gone out of your way to do all of these things.  There is no way I’d be able to do this without you.  ❤