Thursday, September 3, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: A quirky little HIV Love Story: NEG UB2


Every Thursday, I use this blog to highlight a title from my list of books and stories already out there that you might have missed. This week, I'm throwing back to one of a sequel to one of my very first happily-ever-after M/M love stories, VGL MALE SEEKS SAME. NEG UB2, the continuation of this story, brings in a complication that many real-life m/m couples face: a relationship where one partner is HIV+ and the other is not. For those of you who don't know, the acronym NEG UB2 stands for: negative, you be too; a common (and, I think, kind of cruel) shorthand in personals ads for weeding out the HIV+. Shawn Decker, HIV activist and author of the amazing book, My Pet Virus, had this to say about NEG UB2: 

"There's no protection from Reed's quick wit and ability to craft a winning and thoroughly enthralling love story."

BLURB
Poor Ethan Schwartz. It seems like he will never find that special someone. At age 42, he's still alone, his bed still empty, and his 42-inch HDTV overworked. He's tried the bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find one another, but for Ethan, it never works out. He wonders if it ever will. Should he get a cat? 


But all of that is about to change. At work, Ethan hears about a website that promises to deliver more than just the tawdry hook-ups associated with so many other sites. Ethan wants romance, and although he's always been a little shy about the whole cyber-dating scene, he figures he has nothing to lose. 



Well, maybe he does have something to lose: his self-esteem. After he posts his profile, he gets zero responses. But Ethan realizes one thing about the cyberworld that isn't true in the real one: Online, Ethan can be anyone he wants to be. 



And a new persona is born. The new Ethan is handsome (with someone else's pic) and the sudden recipient of dozens of online come-ons. What Ethan doesn't count on, however, is finding--among the propositions and the flattery--his one true love. Not just a gorgeous man, but one who suits him in almost every way. 



How does Ethan turn his budding cyber love into a real one? And can he hang on to his mystery suitor without turning him off with his deception? 

BUY
Amber Allure (on sale now for 25% off!)

Read VGL MALE SEEKS SAME First
Amber Allure (on sale now for 25% off!)

EXCERPT
...A few words, bald and to the point, could start things. Ethan propelled himself forward, in both senses: he walked so he was standing closer to Brian, and willed himself to say the words gathered on the tip of his tongue.

“I forgot your birthday yesterday because I had bad news.”

Brian’s brow furrowed in concern and he began to reach out for Ethan. “What? What was it?” He was about to wrap his arms around Ethan, but Ethan stepped back just out of his grasp.

Ethan almost relented, seriously considering the prospect of procrastinating, just putting the whole mess off for another day when he saw the hurt expression darkening Brian’s feature as he stepped away from him, obviously not wanting to be touched. It was a first for the couple.

But Ethan knew what he must say next and almost without thinking, let the words trip off his tongue. “I went to the doctor yesterday.”

Brian’s face, if possible, became even more touched by pity and concern. It was breaking Ethan’s heart. “Are you okay?”

Ethan looked over Brian’s shoulder, toward the kitchen, steeling himself for the words that would come next. “It was a follow-up to my last check-up and—” Ethan bit his lower lip. Say it. Just say it. He let out a rush of air, on the tail end of which was the sentence: “And I found out, much to my surprise, I am HIV positive.” He returned his gaze to Brian, who stood stunned, mouth open and staring at him. Now that the words were out, it was a little easier and he continued. “My T-cells are at 380 and my viral load is around 12,000, whatever the hell those numbers mean. I just know they’re not good.”

Brian shook his head. “Babe, I’m so sorry.”

Ethan’s anger and hurt kicked in, suddenly, and with the force of a fire bursting into a conflagration. He had never experienced going from confusion and despair to rage so quickly. It was all he could do not to strike Brian, to punch the silly expression of concern stamping his features right off his face. How could you? How could you?

“Yeah,” Ethan said, a smile born of ire pulling up the corners of his mouth. “Yeah. You should be sorry. Did you just not tell me for a reason? Did you think maybe those few times we dispensed with a condom we’d just be lucky? Did you just get infected too? Maybe while you were with me?” Ethan spat the last words out, glaring at Brian, his breath quickened.

Brian shook his head. “Ethan, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, please. Don’t.”

“Can we just sit down and discuss this? Sweetheart, I’m so sorry you’ve had this news, but it’ll be okay. There are treatments—”

“Oh, don’t patronize me. Don’t try to placate me. And no, I don’t want to sit down. I don’t want to discuss this.” As rapidly as the rage had come, so did the tears. Ethan angrily batted them away, not wanting Brian to see. “I was hoping you’d at least be enough of a human being to tell me the truth. I was hoping you’d at least be a man and own up to the truth.”

“What truth?”

“Oh, come on, Brian. There’s no one else who could have infected me. As the song goes: it had to be you.” Ethan almost laughed as he imagined doing his best Harry Connick, Jr. impersonation and singing a few lines from the old standard. But he was afraid if he started laughing, it would turn giddy and breathless, hysterical, and would never end.

Brian shook his head and Ethan noticed his ruddy complexion had faded to ash. “I don’t think I am.”

“What? What don’t you think you are?”

“Positive. If I didn’t believe that, I never would have made love to you without protection.”

Ethan didn’t know what to say. A new, and even more sickening possibility dawned on him: maybe Brian was telling the truth. Maybe he was just as newly infected as Ethan…and that would mean there was someone else. That the fidelity he had counted on and prized was nothing more than a sham, another self-deluding lie he had told himself in his pathetic quest for connection...

BUY
Amber Allure (on sale now for 50% off through September 8)

Read VGL MALE SEEKS SAME First
Amber Allure (on sale now for 50% off through September 8)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Good Karma, Good Books: When One Door Opens by JD Ruskin

Every Wednesday, I put on my pimp clothes (I favor feathered hats and zebra prints with a little crushed velvet) and help promote the new or old work of some of my favorite fellow authors. Be sure to stop by every week and see what’s new. 

This week, I’m recommending you try When One Door Opens, by the amazingly talented JD Ruskin.

Here’s what JD says about When One Door Opens:

"My central characters have very different backgrounds and very different life struggles. I liked the idea of them realizing they have more in common than they thought. My particular style of writing is an odd combination of humor, romance, and angst. I need all three to make me happy. Caleb and Logan have serious problems, but that doesn't mean there aren't moments for love and laughter.

"I have a personal connection to the character of Caleb, because I've experienced social anxiety and panic attacks, though not as severely as Caleb. It was really important to me to portray agoraphobia as accurately as I could. Love can't cure agoraphobia or alcoholism, but love can be the support people need to reach recovery. When I was researching agoraphobia, I read an article about a woman who died in a fire in Chicago because she refused to leave the building. The woman was agoraphobic. I remember being so shocked and saddened by this article. Imagine a fear so great that it can override your instinct for self-preservation. I'd never considered agoraphobia could be life threatening. Or how it can control people’s lives.

"I don't drink alcohol, which might seem strange considering Logan is an alcoholic. I made the decision not to drink when I was a teenager, because alcohol abuse runs in my family. I have no moral objection to adults imbibing, but you'd likely be shocked by the number of people who try to convince me to drink alcohol to this day. Many of them actually get offended when I turn them down. Logan has to resist the urge to drink while being surrounded by temptation. Ultimately, I believe we get our greatest strengths from those we love. Our will to fight for the life we deserve.

BLURB
Logan Sellers's parole officer has issued three commandments: stay sober, stay employed, and stay out of trouble. At first Logan thought those three simple rules would be easy to follow. But that was before he accepted a side job assisting his boss’s housebound agoraphobic nephew, Caleb. 
 
Caleb is deceptively normal for a guy who hasn't left his apartment in three years, and his friendly, caring personality tugs on heartstrings Logan didn’t know he had. But hitting on his boss’s nephew is asking to be unemployed. Logan has enough problems with booze on every corner and a supervisor trying to jump into his bed. He doesn’t need to work out how to free Caleb from the anxiety that keeps him in his apartment; he needs to keep his nose clean, attend his AA meetings, and make a fresh start--alone. 
 
If only his heart would get with the program.

BUY

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Holding a Book in Your Hands: A DEMON INSIDE

The paperbacks of A DEMON INSIDE have arrived! This moment never gets old. And isn't Aaron Anderson's cover art gorgeous? 

Just a reminder: if you buy the paperback from DSP Publications, you get the ebook for free. 

BLURB
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House. 

 But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter's terror. 

BUY OPTIONS
Order the ebook from DSP Publications
Order the paperback from Dreamspinner Press (Deal: When you buy the paperback from the publisher, you get the ebook for free!)
Order the Kindle version from Amazon

Order the paperback from Amazon

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

GOOD KARMA, GOOD BOOKS: Conflicted by Louise Lyons

Every Wednesday, I put on my pimp clothes (I favor feathered hats and zebra prints with a little crushed velvet) and help promote the new or old work of some of my favorite fellow authors. Be sure to stop by every week and see what’s new. 

This week, I’m not conflicted at all about recommending Louise Lyon's Conflicted

Here’s what Louise has to say about Conflicted.:
"The title came to me more or less at the start of writing the story. Both characters, Paul and Greg, have a lot of conflict in their lives, from their initial fights with each other as they start out disliking one another, to their fears about whether to come out to friends and family. Paul's head is a mess due to the loss of family members, treatment by his father when he was younger, and anxiety about giving his heart to anyone so he himself is conflicted.

It's an expression that could also be applied to a period of my life during which I wrote this, when I had decisions to make on which direction to take in both professional and personal aspects of my life." 

BLURB
Two competing gangs of car and drag racing enthusiasts with a shared history of pain and rivalry leading to outright hatred. Two men from opposite sides of the tracks, yet with more in common than they’d like to admit. 

Paul Appleton is a troubled man who has never been in a relationship, having lost everyone he cared for in his life. His mother died when he was very young and subsequently, he lost his brother and his best friend. Now Paul is convinced love will always end in tears. 

Greg was living on the streets after his parents died and was stabbed by a junkie, ending up in hospital. The Buchanans took Greg under their wing while doing charity work, and Greg joined their loving family when he was adopted. He and his siblings are also car enthusiasts with much more money and therefore better cars than Paul Appleton’s gang. 

When they eventually find a connection, Paul fights his feelings and tries to convince himself his lover is only a temporary bit of fun, but Greg has other ideas.

BUY


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RELEASING TODAY: A Demon Inside


Today's the day! My unique blend of horror and m/m romance, A Demon Inside, is now out. 

Leave a comment in the space below (with a way of contacting you should you win) and I will drop your name in the giveaway box to win a FREE, SIGNED copy! Please note, contest is open only to US residents (international winners will get a free ebook copy).

What's A Demon Inside about?
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House. 

 But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter's terror.

How do I get a copy?
Order the ebook from DSP Publications
Order the paperback from Dreamspinner Press (Deal: When you buy the paperback from the publisher, you get the ebook for free!)
Order the Kindle version from Amazon

Cover art by Aaron Anderson. First edition published by MLR Press. This new version has been completely re-edited and redesigned and is worthy of the branding, "new and improved!"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: My First Happily-Ever-After Romance, VGL MALE SEEKS SAME

Every Thursday, I use this blog to highlight a title from my list of books and stories already out there that you might have missed. This week, I'm throwing back to one of my very first HEA M/M love stories, VGL MALE SEEKS SAME. For those of you who don't know, the acronyyms stand for: happily-ever-after, male/male, and very good looking (a common abbreviation in gay personals ads). Rainbow Reviews had this to say about VGL MALE SEEKS SAME: 

"5 Stars!...A phenomenal story about the search for love and the one person we can connect with in every way..."--Rainbow Reviews

BLURB
Poor Ethan Schwartz. It seems like he will never find that special someone. At age 42, he's still alone, his bed still empty, and his 42-inch HDTV overworked. He's tried the bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find one another, but for Ethan, it never works out. He wonders if it ever will. Should he get a cat? 


But all of that is about to change. At work, Ethan hears about a website that promises to deliver more than just the tawdry hook-ups associated with so many other sites. Ethan wants romance, and although he's always been a little shy about the whole cyber-dating scene, he figures he has nothing to lose. 



Well, maybe he does have something to lose: his self-esteem. After he posts his profile, he gets zero responses. But Ethan realizes one thing about the cyberworld that isn't true in the real one: Online, Ethan can be anyone he wants to be. 



And a new persona is born. The new Ethan is handsome (with someone else's pic) and the sudden recipient of dozens of online come-ons. What Ethan doesn't count on, however, is finding--among the propositions and the flattery--his one true love. Not just a gorgeous man, but one who suits him in almost every way. 



How does Ethan turn his budding cyber love into a real one? And can he hang on to his mystery suitor without turning him off with his deception?

BUY
Amber Allure (on sale now for 25% off!)

EXCERPT
...For years, Ethan had observed the hoopla surrounding the Internet and its supposed ease of getting people together for sex, romance, half price books, and even cut-rate psychotherapy, but never thought he would traverse its well-traveled highways to meet a man. Somehow, it all seemed too cheap and easy, almost tawdry. Ethan wanted to meet a man through a mutual friend, at a dinner party perhaps, where the assembled group (all attractive upwardly mobile professionals and artists) were enjoying paella and whimsical cocktails like sidecars or Tom Collins. Their eyes would meet over the olive tapenade and they would exchange phone numbers while waiting for the host to bring them their coats. Or, even better, they would meet in a bookstore (no, not that kind!) where they would both be reaching for a copy of the latest David Sedaris at the exact same moment and then would laugh and insist that the other take the shelf copy first. Or maybe he would discover his intended as he rode alone on Lake Michigan’s bike trail and his future beloved would help him when he got a flat tire. It was a story they would tell their grandchildren.

“Yeah, right.” Ethan blew out a big sigh and hit the TAB key to take him to the first box needing to be filled in. “That’s not the way it happens these days. These days, guys meet online. Period. Jane Austen would be appalled.”

Filling out the application to be a member of wingpeople.com was not all that different than filling out a job application. Ethan shook his head. That wasn’t true at all! Filling out a job application was much easier. At least a job application didn’t ask you about your most intimate physical dimensions, or if you considered yourself a top or a bottom, or “versatile.” A job application would never ask if you considered yourself to have a swimmer’s build, or if there was “more of you to love.” A job application would never ask if you “partied,” although they might test to see if you did, if they became serious about hiring you. Filling out paperwork for a job would never require you to tell, in great detail, what you were looking for in a potential mate.

But Ethan supposed all this information, all this nosy prying, was for a good purpose, which was to match you up with other like-minded souls. And Ethan actually adored the idea of that. He was not one of these middle-aged men he saw wandering around Halsted Street dressed in head-to-toe Abercrombie and Fitch, hoping to find a “boy” of no more than thirty years or so.

Ethan wanted a companion, someone he could relate to, someone with a bit of a shared history. He wondered if this route could ever deliver such a bird.

He wondered if such a bird even existed, or if it had gone the way of the dodo.

Finally, Ethan got through the laborious screens of questions and was ready to hit “submit.” He was even pleased with the photo of himself he had decided on using, dredged up from some of his event publicity files from his work folder. In the photo, taken just a few months ago, he was shown smiling with the director of the latest offering at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. He had simply cropped out the grinning, bespectled director and voila, he had himself a halfway-decent headshot. At least the picture was honest and, in its way, flattering. He hoped at least one or two men out there in cyberland would be inclined to agree.

He hit “submit,” wondering as he did if the obvious sexual connotations of the word had occurred to anyone else.

As soon as a “thank you” message popped up, telling Ethan his message was in the queue awaiting approval (which would take eight to twelve hours), sweat began to pop up on his brow. “Good Lord,” he wondered aloud, “what did I just do?”

He thought of the poor folks whose forays into dating sites and social networks like MySpace or Friendster ended up on Dr. Phil, or worse, Judge Judy, and the woe those people experienced when they exposed their more intimate sides to the world. They were idiots, as Judy and Phil would say, with no more sense than God gave a grasshopper. His little adventure could end up coming back to haunt him. What, for example, would Bubbles have to say about his profile once it was approved and active? Would he snicker behind manicured nails and call over the entire office to gape and guffaw at his photo and his predilection for forties noir classics? And that kind of information was the least of his worries—he had divulged to the entire world his sexual likes and dislikes, for cryin’ out loud.

He got up and got a Coke Zero and tried to reassure himself by saying that he was just flattering himself. Everyone was online these days and the truth was no one would really even care about him or his little profile. All he needed to really worry about was that some imagined man out there, reasonably good looking, well-read, and with a quirky sense of humor, would pause long enough at his profile to send him a message...

BUY
Amber Allure (on sale now for 25% off!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Good Karma, Good Books: MEET CUTE by C.C. Dado

Every Wednesday, I put on my pimp clothes (I favor feathered hats and zebra prints with a little crushed velvet) and help promote the new or old work of some of my favorite fellow authors. Be sure to stop by every week and see what’s new. This week, I’m all about C.C. Dado's adorably titled, MEET CUTE

Here’s what C.C. has to say about MEET CUTE:
"This title was very important in the story because I redefined what a meet-cute is. Cute little glances across a crowded room followed by some quirky intro to some hot dirty dancing never happens to me, it's more like tripping and smacking my face in front of the guy I've been eyeing all night. That's my meet-cute." 

BLURB

Elliot Beck may not have been blessed with mad art skills, a crooner's voice, or a godlike physique, but he makes up for it with an abundance of quick-witted sarcasm, massive insecurities, and a love of bad boys.

After his best friend Trevor finds him naked and tied to his bed—abandoned by his latest troublemaker—Trevor convinces him to take a chance on a nice guy. When he has an awkward encounter in the men's restroom with a fitness instructor named Chase, he never suspects the Adonis might be his perfect bad boy.

BUY