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I’m very excited to be able to welcome today Lloyd Meeker, one of the most versatile authors in the catalogue.

Lloyd credits Walter de la Mare’s “The Listeners” as the first poem to steal both his heart and his imagination. That was in seventh grade, and he’s never been the same since. At university he devoured LOTR in a single weekend. Then came Lord Dunsany’s The Charwoman’s Shadow, Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea.

He’s happily entangled in a life-long love affair with metaphor and the potent mystery of the Hero’s Journey, especially in its metaphysical and psychological aspects. He lives in southern Florida with his husband, reading, writing, practicing subtle energy healing, wallowing in classical music and celebrating a very active life among orchids, hibiscus and palm trees.

Welcome, Lloyd and thank you for answering my questions so gallantly.

 

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Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

I retired in 2011, and it took me a couple of years to get used to the change. From minister to software developer, with a bunch of odd stops in between, I’ve held a variety of jobs. Now I write stories, and it’s the best job in the world for me, even when I hate it. I’d starve if I had to live on my royalties, but no, no day job in the usual sense. I do work two days a week at a local historical site, which helps me support my writing habit.

I live with my husband Bob in Wilton Manors, FL, which is a pocket municipality in the Fort Lauderdale area. It’s Provincetown South, basically, as about three-quarters of our population is LGBTQ. I think there’s one straight person elected to the City Commission, but he’s not the mayor—we do try to be inclusive. <laughing>

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I’m taking Spanish lessons, and hope one day to get back to playing my octave mandolin. We have a large circle of friends and have a healthy social life. We’re also pretty active in our local leather community—others may disagree, but I consider that a creative activity. Certainly an adventure. I also practice a form of subtle energy healing similar to Reiki. I’ve done that since I was a boy.

I haven’t written about any of those activities as a story subject, per se, but power/energy and music often show up in my work. I’ve thought about writing a BDSM story, but at this point I haven’t come across one that was mine to write.

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I just finished Lightning Rod, Broken Mirrors Book 2 by Vaughn R. Demont. I like his work a lot. It’s smart and exciting, his imagination is gripping and his craft is at a fine level. House of Stone and his Broken Mirrors series is a must read for lovers of spec fic.

Something I wish I’d written myself? Jackdaw, by KJ Charles is the most recent. It’s brilliant. Taking the heroes from the Magpie Lord series, which is wonderful in its own right, and casting them as the unlikable antagonists (not the same as villains!) in Jackdaw without altering or diminishing their character is the work of a master. I wish I could do that. Maybe one day I’ll be able to pull that off.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

In a series like my Russ Morgan mysteries, the main character is already set, so the story idea comes already featuring that character. He’ll grow, but it will be his story.

In other projects, though, character and situation arrive together: “What if a person like this encounters a problem like that?” The plot/situation is of no interest to me unless I care about the character in the middle of it, and just having an interesting character means nothing until he has a story platform to stand and act on.

I should disclose that the traditional distinction between plot-driven and character-driven is an artificial duality to me. A good story requires both characters and plot. I want my story to be story-driven.

Do your characters arrive fully-fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

They always develop beyond my first feeling/thought, never like Athena springing from Zeus’ head, already fully grown and wearing armor. Frankly, it takes some time for me to know a protagonist. That’s why I usually think about a protagonist and his challenges for months before I write a word. I love learning about the character as he or she grows in the story. That’s an adventure I get to share!

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? 

I have sketches for a work of magical realism, and I’m really excited about it. It’s the kind of writing I’m reaching for as I mature as a novelist. I flatter myself thinking the intellectual and emotional challenges will one day be within my reach to handle well.

A genre I doubt I’ll ever tackle (never say never, right?) is YA/NA. I haven’t the mindset. By definition the protagonist has to be immature, and as entertaining as the story might be I get too impatient with the characters’ mandatory immaturity. The whole point of those stories, it seems to me, is that the characters are still too young to get over themselves without unnecessary drama.

Sometimes as I read a YA/NA story I think, “Yes, and it will be much more interesting to meet you when you’ve actually grown up.” Especially male characters. The male brain doesn’t finish maturing biologically until 25 or so. Until then, as wonderful as a young man might be, he’s just not playing with a full deck, emotionally or mentally. I’m sure I’ve offended a big chunk of your subscribers by saying that, but I figure you—and they—deserve my honesty.

While I’m on my rant, I’ll add that one of my biggest peeves in romantic gay fiction is how protagonists supposedly in their 30s and 40s still act as if they’re in their early 20’s. It’s infuriating to me and I think insulting to gay men.

While that chronic immaturity allows an author to employ shallow tantrums, buying into cheap misunderstandings without actually taking time to find out the truth like an adult would, or trading on emotional fragility and never-ending angst as plot devices, is, as I say insulting to gay men in general.

Just as most straight guys worth knowing aren’t shallow, posturing buffoons like their depictions in American TV commercials, most gay men worth knowing aren’t emotionally damaged children in need of rescue or redemption. I’d love to see more stories about emotionally mature gay men.

Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?

Yes. Again I’m probably jumping into chummed water, but here goes.

It’s certainly not inevitable, but a romance or relationship-driven story is much more likely to fall victim to a familiar (and seductively convenient) set of devices used to drive the story forward. Here are a few overused (imho) ones:

  • The Big Misunderstanding/Betrayal That Tears the Lovers Apart
  • The Thing/Love We Can’t Talk About Because if We Did the Story Would be Over
  • The Awful (but please, not TOO terribly Awful!) Secrets from the Past
  • The Crippling Unworthiness Wound
  • The Catastrophic/Chronic Inability to Trust

Sometimes these are so obviously engineered to provide plot that I shake my head as I read. A relationship-driven story doesn’t have to be device-driven. I believe there’s a big difference in quality of story when it’s not.

When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye colour, car type, name of ex-spouse’s dog – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about?

I use Scrivener. It’s got built-in functionality that allows me to keep track of characters, their backstory, attributes, locations they’ve lived and when, the works – anything I need. If the ex-spouse’s dog is important to the story, its name will be on the character sheet and I can refer to it any time.

I’m no farther than number two in a series, so I haven’t run into the more serious continuity problems. I may eventually need to print up those pages into a binder, organized by book or by character. That would take no more than half an hour. Scrivener is an incredible application.

Put together your ideal team of men/women drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional: who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

What an interesting array of threats! Let me draw from characters I’ve written.

Muggers, I’d take Marco, the LAPD detective from The Companion, or Deputy Sheriff Heath Baker from Blood and Dirt. The muggers should start running right now.

For alligators, I think I’d call on Delen (rhymes with Helen), the nature witch from my current WIP. She could talk the alligators down, no problem.

For fundamentalists, I honestly don’t know. They’re the toughest of the lot. To be an extreme fundamentalist requires a certain level of intellectual dishonesty, so there’s no basis for logical engagement. Unexamined belief (religious or otherwise) is prejudice, and probably the most dangerous force in the world. I guess I’d call in every magician I’ve ever written – Talak and Yurud from Blood Royal, Arden and Toral from my first book, The Darkness of Castle Tiralur. (Mercifully Tiralur is out of print, but the characters are still good friends of mine.) I might need all of them to take on fundamentalists!

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

I hope I never write what I would call a villain, as all I can think of is Snidely Whiplash tying some fair damsel to the railroad tracks. His morality is one-dimensional. Antagonists can be deadly, but in my mind should be more complex when it comes to the morality of their actions. In general, I’m most interested in the antagonist who is convinced he is doing good even as he commits evil—like burning someone at the stake, convinced it’s the only way to save their soul. That’s very compelling to me.

I haven’t written a serial killer, and probably never will. They don’t interest me. I could write an impartial antagonist such as the ocean, but Nature can never be truly evil, even if climate change destroys the entire human race. Gaia always bats last!

Societal pressures can be evil, for sure. Inspired by the terrifying militarization of police forces in the US, I’ve thought about writing a police state novel, but nothing concrete has come to me yet. In that case the antagonist would believe deeply in an “us vs. them” paradigm, certain that extreme force was required to maintain essential order and decency. He would have to believe that “the public” was somehow inherently wrong, misled, bad, or just dangerous, and therefore every citizen posed a potential threat to everything he stands for.

The hero’s inner demons? Yeah, they’re always in the mix. Regardless of what challenge he may attempt externally, those internal demons are what his character growth is about.

 

What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished?

I can say something without giving too much away. I’m currently working on the sequel to my m/f romance Blood Royal, which is being released by Wild Rose Press soon. It picks up even before the epilogue of BR occurs, and builds toward the lineage that will one day rule the House of Albessind. The story is about love, political intrigue, love, murder, love, individual power, love, magic exercised by will/spells vs. magic that springs from nature, and of course love.

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Yes, certainly! Here’s an excerpt from Blood and Dirt, my second Russ Morgan mystery, just released by Wilde City Press. This is the third excerpt so, if you would like to read them in order, you can find the first here with Clare London and the second here with Jon Michaelsen.

Russ has been gently but relentlessly pursued by Colin Stewart, a young paralegal he met in the first mystery, Enigma. Russ is attracted, but has resisted getting involved because he’s afraid. In this scene they’ve gone on a hike in the Flatirons, near Boulder, Colorado.

CHAPTER TWO

Sunday

I worked hard to keep my breath rhythmic and steady, if only so I wouldn’t embarrass myself with ragged gasping. Men at different ages had different things to prove, I mused, focusing on my diaphragm to push used-up air out of my lungs.

At twenty, few men needed to prove they could get an erection; at seventy, it might be different, setting aside magic pills. On the other hand, at twenty it was hard to prove excellence in your chosen field, if you even had a chosen field at that age. At seventy, you’d probably have made peace—or at least a truce—with your career. From my vantage point at fifty-three, I seemed obliged to prove most everything. I was about to draw some deep conclusion to my train of thought, but some scree gave way under my boot and derailed it. I nearly fell on my face.

Here on a steep Flatirons trail outside Boulder, Colin Stewart didn’t need to prove he was equal to the climb, whereas I felt obliged to keep up with him even though he was half my age. Pride can be a bigger bully than a drill sergeant.

Colin’s sturdy calves bunched and released as he clambered up the escarpment ahead of me, his hiking boots bouncing from one toehold to another. The trail wasn’t heart-stoppingly difficult, even for me, and following his firm shorts-clad backside at close range certainly made the tougher parts of the trail more rewarding. The Sunday morning sun, still fairly low behind us warmed our backs and turned the fine hair on his tanned legs to spun gold. Lust for spun gold was another powerful inspiration to keep up.

As I pulled myself up around a boulder already May-morning warm, I admitted that hiking with a young man who, for some unfathomable reason, found me desirable was the standard stuff of midlife fantasies. Most gay men my age would be trembling with excitement, asked out on a date with an adorable young thing who made no secret he wanted more than just a date. But adorable and young as Colin was, he definitely wasn’t just a thing. He deserved much more than I could give him.

The trail’s incline eased, and I filled with more gratitude than I should have felt.

The way I saw it, the reality of a fifty-something-year-old man being pursued by someone as young, intelligent, and sweet as Colin Stewart posed a much more complex problem than any midlife fantasy. I had serious reservations. When I thought about a relationship with him, I immediately felt responsible for his happiness, and my sobriety had no room for such bald codependence. Worse, I was fighting a losing battle to suppress an old shame I didn’t want to face.

Sweat tickled down my spine in a steady little stream. With a mixture of relief and arousal, I stared at a moisture- darkened V forming on the back of Colin’s khaki shorts, starting just below his belt. Never mind he was carrying our lunch and all the water in his daypack. At least he was sweating, too. It seemed only fair.

He twisted to look down at me, his face damp, radiantly happy under the wide brim of his hat. “Let’s stop for water,” he said. “Even on a trail like this, it’s important to stay hydrated.”

“What do you mean, even on a trail like this?” I panted, trying not to feel embarrassed.

Colin laughed, pulling a big blue bandana from his hip pocket and tilting his hat back to wipe his forehead. “I didn’t mean it that way. Really. This is work for me, too.” He hitched his pack into place. “I meant a short outing. We’ll be back in Denver in a few hours.”

“Still plenty of time to see the rest of my life flash before my eyes, I guess.”

“You’re doing great,” he said, holding out his hand to me. I took it, and he pulled me up next to him. Close. He cocked a thumb at his backpack and turned away from me. “Dig us out some water.”

As I pulled out a bottle, I admitted he was right. I was in much better than average shape for my age. But I wasn’t twenty-five like Colin, and he certainly wasn’t fifty-something. And therein lay the root problem for us, as I saw it.

Us. I handed Colin the water and watched him tilt his head back to drink, watched his throat move as he swallowed. I wanted to feel that motion under my tongue. There couldn’t be any “us,” not in the long run.

He must have felt me staring, because he gave me a knowing smile and slowly licked his lips. “Like what you see, Russ?”

“You know I do.”

“Well, I like what I see, too.” He handed me the water bottle, staring me in the eye. “A lot.”

I couldn’t bring myself to accept what he said was true, but I knew he wasn’t lying. His aura showed no guile when he said it, not a flicker. I got vertigo when he talked like that. I took a long pull of water, not wanting to think about what the lust in my own aura might look like in that moment.

“Time for us to get back on the trail, don’t you think?” It was lame of me to change the subject like that, but I wasn’t feeling brave. Colin gazed at me for a moment, eyes cool, and shrugged.

Ashamed of my cowardice, I stuffed the water back in his pack and off we went again.

****

“I love the climb, but I love the view from the top even more.” Colin made a slow three-sixty, turning first to the mountains and foothills to the north, then the flatland stretching out to the east under its Front Range brown cloud, and finally, endless mountains to the south and west.

“It’s magnificent,” I agreed, pulling in lungfuls of air so fresh the ozone stung my nostrils.

“That’s what I wanted to do to you, too,” he said, not breaking his gaze from the higher hills behind us. “First time I saw you, I wanted to climb you so bad.”

“Climb the mountain just because it was there?”

“Not at all,” he said, turning to scowl at me. “And it’s not just physical. When you told me about how you read auras and what it felt like, that was it. I wanted to move in with you right then.” He laughed. “And climb your mountain.” He gave me his evil grin, the one that scared the crap out of me because it cut straight through my rational defenses to fire me up. “I’ll bet the view from your peak is fabulous. Bet I’d see shooting stars from it.”

I laughed in spite of myself but kept staring at the snow-covered peaks to the west. I could feel Colin’s eyes on me as he waited for me to say something. I filled my lungs with air and let it out slowly, grateful I was no longer panting. He deserved my honesty, if nothing else, even if I wasn’t proud of what I had to say.

I turned to face him. “We should talk.”

 

~

Blood and Dirt: a Russ Morgan mystery

by Lloyd A Meeker

Blurb:

Family squabbles can be murder. Psychic PI Russ Morgan investigates a vandalized marijuana grow in Mesa County Colorado, landing in the middle of a ferocious family feud that’s escalating in a hurry. Five siblings fight over the family ranch as it staggers on the brink of bankruptcy, marijuana its only salvation. Not everyone agrees, but only one of them is willing to kill to make a point. Russ also has a personal puzzle to solve as he questions his deepening relationship with Colin Stewart, a man half his age. His rational mind says being with Colin is the fast track to heartbreak, but it feels grounding, sane, and good. Now, that’s really dangerous…

Blood and Dirt is currently available from Wilde City Press:

http://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-romance/blood-and-dirt/#.VdZ8J3jvdLo

~

You can get more news of Lloyd’s upcoming projects at the following web locations:

Website: http://www.lloydmeeker.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LloydAMeeker

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/MBe1gp

 

 

 

Writing the controversial

Okay, maybe “controversial” is overegging the pudding in this case, but when authors touch on subjects like politics or disability or religion in their books, they can find themselves losing readers who may not agree with the views they – or their characters – espouse. In the case of my latest novella, I’m being contentious by having a gay priest who (gasp!) has sex and enjoys it.

Now, I guess that the readership for books self selects, so people who are fervent in their belief that a man of the cloth (or any other Christian for that matter) can’t possibly be gay aren’t likely to read the book except to knock it, but that’s their look out. I’m happy to stand up and trade them blow for blow on theological points. And on real life examples such as Harry Williams, who was one of the priests at Prince Charles’s wedding and a well respected authority on faith.

While Dan, the vicar in the story, doesn’t move in quite such elite circles he faces the same sort of dilemmas, and I confess that I put many of my own views on faith and what it means to be Christian into his mouth (and mind) and into those of some other characters. I also confess to having put some of the views I don’t approve of into the mouths of the less sympathetic people in the story.

It’s a delicate balance. Sometimes an author has to put words into the mouths of their characters which they find offensive, or give their characters views the author would find untenable. Yet that has to be done, because these viewpoints exist and plenty of people sound them off regularly. However, an author has to avoid being preachy when they attack these opinions via what their protagonists say and do. I can think of few easier ways of putting a reader off than delivering a sermon to them!

Title: Don’t Kiss the Vicar (m/m contemporary romance, PG excerpt)

Link: Bold Strokes Books

Blurb:

Vicar Dan Miller is firmly in the closet in his new parish. Could the inhabitants of a sedate Hampshire village ever accept a gay priest? Trickier than that, how can he hide his attraction for one of his flock, Steve Dexter?

Encouraged by his ex-partner to seize the day, Dan determines to tell Steve how he feels, only to discover that Steve’s been getting poison pen letters and suspicion falls on his fellow parishioners. When compassion leads to passion, they have to conceal their budding relationship, but the arrival of more letters sends Dan scuttling back into the closet.

Can they run the letter writer to ground? More importantly, can they patch up their romance and will Steve ever get to kiss the vicar again?

Excerpt:

“Vicar!” The shout, the almost friendly wave meant the decision to veer off was taken too late.
“Steve!” A cordial wave back as the distance between them narrowed. “Didn’t think you frequented this place.”
“Is that why you come here, then? To get away from the parishioners you like least?”
Dan tried to find an answer, but somehow the connection between his brain and mouth had become severed. Helpless, he could feel the flush rushing up his neck, and could see—without looking at the bloke—that Steve was less than amused. What the hell else was he going to think other than that he’d hit the nail on the head, and Dan was too dumb to cover the fact up?
“Rex!” A high pitched, agitated female voice broke the awkward moment, as did a huge Great Dane, about the size of a rhinoceros, which came haring out of the woods, onto the path and straight into Steve’s leg.
“Shit!” Steve staggered, arms flailing in a futile effort to keep himself upright. Dan’s attempt to reach out and catch him before he hit the stony path was equally ineffective, but at least he could keep the nasty, snarling brute at bay with the aid of the stick he habitually took when he walked. Jimmy had said it gave him gravitas, now it provided the ideal weapon.
“You should keep that thing under control,” he said, as the woman came up and made a lunge for the Great Dane. “What if it had gone for a child?”
“He’s just nervous,” she said, flustered. “Here, Rex. Here boy.” The dog stood off. “He’s a rescue dog. Doesn’t like men.”
“Then take him somewhere he won’t have to see them. Are you all right?” Dan tried to focus his anger into something useful, rummaging in his pocket for a clean hankie. “You need something on that hand.”
“I’m fine,” Steve said, trying to hide the bleeding while keeping a nervous eye on the dog. “Can somebody not take that bloody thing away?”
“There’s no need for that sort of language,” the woman said, at last managing to get a lead onto the dog’s collar.
“I think there’s every need for it. And worse,” Dan said. “You’d better take him off if you don’t want the air turning blue.”
“Well, really! Come on boy.” She hauled the dog away at last.
“Right. Show me that hand.”
“I’m fine.” Steve got to his feet, brushing the dirt off his trousers and managing to get blood on them.
“That hand’s a mess.” Dan grabbed it, none too gently, which made Steve wince, but it served him right for faffing. “This cut’s full of crap. You need to have it cleaned out and a steri-strip put on. Might even need a stitch or two.”
“I’ve had worse,” Steve said, trying to free his paw.
Yes, you have. There’s that intriguing scar on the back of your hand and the one above your left eyebrow. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Don’t think I don’t imagine tasting them.
Dan became aware of the strange look he was getting and ploughed on. “So have I. Come on, the vicarage is closer than your house. We can dress this there.”
“Oh, for fu…goodness sake. I can sort it out myself. I’m not a child.” Steve tugged his hand away, clearly avoiding Dan’s gaze.
“Will you not let somebody help you? Must you always be so bloody stubborn?”

Bio and links:

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.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

To sign up for her newsletter, email her at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com, or catch her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18
Twitter: http://twitter.com/charliecochrane
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane
Blog: http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com
Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

The Google Doodle today was labelled Mundaneum and I couldn’t quite remember what it was. That’s been happening a lot lately. I guess I need more RAM? Anyhow I clicked on it and there it was on Wikipedia, in all its glory.

The Mundaneum – a paper version of the world wide web made in 1910 by two Belgian lawyers researching documentation science.

Everything was cross referenced against everything else according to a numerical system called the Universal Decimal Classification so it should be possible to follow routes of research by going from one numerical reference to another. There’s a museum in Wallonia where one can view what remains of the Mundaneum – parts were lost during WW2 and other parts have been damaged by neglect.

Reading about it, I remembered why I recognised it. In 1982, when I first started working for the museum, a modern version was being launched called the SHIC classification system that had been designed especially for museum archivists. SHIC = Social History and Industrial Classification. Every social history item could be logged with a series of numbers. Say one had a photo of some Morris dancers. That counts as part of Community Life – 1 – subdivided to Cultural Traditions – 1.1 – but if the dance was part of a Mummer’s Play only performed at a solstice then it would fall under Custom and Belief and Calendar Customs which would give it a code of 1.116 AND/OR as Community Entertainment – 1.66 – and if the photo was part of a newsclipping then it would also fall under dessemination of information which would take it into a whole new category. For example, smelling salts should normally be classified to 2.7, but smelling salts in a small bottle obviously carried around by one particular individual should be classified to 3.72. A scrapbook about a coal mining disaster would be classified to 4.2121.81, but a scrapbook recording the life of one particular individual would be classified to 3.12. A pipe rack would be classified to 2.68, but a pipe would normally be classified to 3.63.

Not confusing at all! Obviously.

Then the personal computer revolution kicked off with searchable databases and the SHIC system fell into disuse. I rather regret that somewhere in my head there’s a whole bunch of bits and bytes where bunches of info from the system is stored, hard to get at but still present. Local topography – 1.92 – crop spraying – 4.13. I wonder why I can remember those when I often can’t remember a doctor’s appointment or to pick up a prescription.

More RAM.

Author Name: Charley Descoteaux

Book Name: Buchanan House

Release Date: August 19, 2015

Pages or Words: 45,000 words

Categories: Romance, Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: LC Chase

Blurb:

Eric Allen, thirty-three-year-old line cook, moved in with his grandmother, Jewell, after a disastrous coming-out when he was in middle school. She raised him, and he cared for her when she fell ill. When Jewell died she left everything to Eric—angering his parents and older brother. The inheritance isn’t much, but Eric and his bestie Nathan pool their money and buy an abandoned hotel on an isolated stretch of the Central Oregon Coast. The hotel isn’t far from Lincoln City—a town with its own Pride Festival and named for a president—so they christen it Buchanan House after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” president with the close male friend.

Eric and Nathan need a handyman to help them turn Buchanan House into the gay resort of their dreams. Eric finds Tim Tate in the local listings and over the months leading to opening weekend Tim reveals himself as a skilled carpenter with many hidden talents. Eric falls hard for Tim, but before he can see a future with the gorgeous handyman he has to get over twenty years of being bullied and shamed by his birth family. It would be much easier if Eric’s brother Zach weren’t trying to grab part of the inheritance or ruin opening weekend.

Excerpt:
Timothy Tate knocked on the front doors at eight o’clock sharp. Eric had barely been up long enough to start coffee, and Nathan had yet to emerge. They’d slept in one of the rooms on the first floor. The official reason was to avoid having to clean two rooms, but the unofficial reason was to talk into the night like they had back in middle school. Slumber parties for thirtysomethings. Somehow that didn’t make Eric feel any better about meeting this Tim person.

But opening the door sure did.

Tim Tate was as tall as Nathan, so six one, and he had curly black hair and eyes so dark you could get lost in them.

“Morning.” He wasn’t much for smiling, though.

“Good morning. Please come in. I’m Eric.”

Tim nodded and seemed to be looking at something behind Eric’s right shoulder. As soon as Eric remembered to step aside, Tim came in. “You bought this place?”

“Yes. Isn’t it lovely? The inspector said the bones are solid, and someone did amazing work on the rooms. Right now, we need help with the kitchen and some reno on the public areas.”

“Should tear it down and start fresh.”

“I beg your pardon. That’s a horrible thing to say. You don’t discard something just because it’s not perfect. With a little love—maybe this isn’t going to work out.”

Tim shrugged and looked around the room. His face seemed to soften into… nostalgia? It held a wistful quality, of that much Eric was certain.

“Have you been in this room before?”

Tim had turned away a little, so the left side of his face pointed toward Eric.

Is that his best side?

He didn’t answer, so Eric repeated the question, a little louder.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. When I was a kid. Sometimes the local clubs would use it for summer camps. It’s been empty for over ten years.”

“Why? I mean, did something happen here?”

“No. The owners died, and their kids didn’t want to live out here. Can’t blame ’em. Entertainment isn’t easy to come by.”

Nathan chose that moment to enter, in his pink robe with the ostrich-feather trim. He spoke quickly, almost dancing through the room and toward the aroma of coffee. “Good morning. You don’t mind I borrowed your robe? And this must be Tim. Lovely to meet you, sweetheart. Coffee, then business.” He flounced into the kitchen.

Eric and Tim watched him go. The silence in his wake stretched out a little too long for Eric, mortified by the thought Tim might believe the robe belonged to him.

Sales Links: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6718

About the author:

Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charley.descoteaux.3

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/CharleyDescoteauxAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharleyDescote

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/charleydescote/

Blog:  http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/blog/

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25929108-buchanan-house

Buchanan House


Tour Dates & Stops: August 19, 2015

Parker Williams, Havan Fellows, Bayou Book Junkie, Bike Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Inked Rainbow Reads, BFD Book Blog, Elin Gregory, Christy Loves 2 Read, Prism Book Alliance, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Molly Lolly, Amanda C. Stone, Dawn’s Reading Nook, MM Good Book Reviews, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Velvet Panic, Tara Lain, Full Moon Dreaming, The Blogger Girls, Michael Mandrake, It’s Raining Men

 

Rafflecopter Prize: Backlist book of choice from Charley.

Oh BOY have I got something fabulous today!!

I’m not the only person blown away by the amazing art work Fiona Fu achieved for the cover of Dominus, the first book in J P Kenwood’s amazing Roman set historical series, and I’ve been almost as eager to see the cover of the sequel as I am to read the book itself. Just as a reminder, here’s the cover of Dominus:

So much amazing detail. Please click to continue.

Continue Reading »

Since it’s my turn to host Liam today, we thought we’d try something a little different. So here is an interview with James, one of the people from Liam Livings’ latest release, Heat Wave Astoria. James, are you comfortable here? Would you like anything to drink? Tea, coffee, gin?

James: tea would be lovely. Do you know how to make it properly?

Elin: I do, thank you very much -shakes head slowly, hands over perfectly brewed cup of tea- I must say, that’s a lovely jacket you’re wearing, where did you get it from?

James: I made it myself.

Elin: you quilted your own jacket?

James: -blushing- I did. -takes sip of tea, looks away-

Elin: -looks at notes- Can you tell me what took you to America in the first place?

James: I was on this project called Snowflake. It’s an operating system for computers. It’s all to do with the internet of things, and mobile technology and ensuring usability for devices is transferrable across a number of platforms.

Elin: -blinks, peers over glasses, checks questions- Right. To what extent is that linked to your interest in quilting? It’s not every day you meet a man who can carry off such a dashing jacket, who’s also made it himself.

James: -adjusts jacket, picks bit of fluff off shoulder, takes sip of tea- it’s my thing I suppose.

Elin: could you tell us a bit more about how it’s your thing please?

James: I spend all day up to my neck in computer code, in user testability studies, in working out how to de-bug programmes and when I get home in the evening I wanted something completely different to do.

Elin: yes, and how did you come across quilting?

James: one weekend when I realised I’d not left my place for almost 24hours I went to a nearby village, where they had a craft fair. Normally I hate that sort of thing. -shakes head-

Elin: -peers over glasses- and why is that?

James: people. People everywhere. Talking. Asking questions, wanting to talk. -shudders-

Elin: – joins in the shudder – but this time, it was different, right? This time you knew you’d found your people and your calling and you struck up a conversation with someone about quilting? Am I right?

James: not really, I’m afraid. I’d plotted the best route to take to cover all the stands at the craft fair, while interacting with as few people as possible. I’ve got an app on my phone that calculates the best route. And as I was just about to walk back to my car, pleased with myself for not talking to a single person the whole time I was at the fair, I bumped into someone. Not sure why I bumped into someone actually. I’d worked out the optimum route to get back to the car avoiding people. And even so, there was someone in my way.

Elin: were you staring at your phone by any chance?

James: yes I was! How did you know?

Elin: -shuffles papers- women’s intuition.

James: yes, someone once tried to persuade me that really existed. I said there was no research that pointed to that conclusion, but she wasn’t too happy to hear that. When I told my brother, he said I shouldn’t have told her that. But I don’t know why.

Elin: -leaning forward, motioning for him to continue- you bumped into someone, and what happened, who was this person?

James: a woman, probably same age as you, maybe younger, carrying a wicker basket of materials and cottons and needles. She was taking some of the quilting materials back to her house. Of course I apologised for bumping into her. Although technically it was her fault, I am a gentleman.

Elin: -smiling-

James: she wanted to talk to me. I don’t know why, she didn’t know me, and I tried to walk away, but she continued talking to me and telling me all about the quilting, the boxes, the materials. Somehow, I don’t know how, I was returning to her stall where she showed me more about how it all worked. The patterns, they were what really got me interested. It shows you exactly where to sew, which bits, and how it’ll look when it’s finished. It’s very systematic. -snaps fingers- women’s intuition, I’m sure that’s what she’d say persuaded me to follow her back to her stand.

Elin: or something similar. And then what happened?

James: this woman, I forget her name. I don’t need to remember it because I have her number in my phone and I know her number, so that reminds me to check my phone for her name before I meet her. People like it if you remember their name don’t they?

Elin: yes, they do.

James: -showing his mobile phone- her number is zero seven, nine…

Elin: -putting hand on his arm- thanks, but no need, James dear.

James: before I knew it, I was going to her monthly meetings in a primary school on Saturdays. We sit there in the classroom, there are no children, because it’s the weekend, and we sew, knit and quilt and talk. I don’t talk too much. They tend to talk around me and I concentrate on my pattern, and asking any questions I have about the quilting. Once I finished the first quilt I tried another one, and another one, and before long I was asking her, this woman. Now, what is her name…Anyway, asking her if I could make a jacket out of quilting, would that, technically, be possible.

Elin: and you’re wearing it now.

James: I love it. Turns out not everyone felt the same, but I’d better not say more because, spoilers…I’ve been warned about those by Liam Livings. He was very clear on that point.

Elin: what have you learned since living in America?

James: most Americans do not know how to make a decent cup of tea. Not one clue. There was a whole incident with luke warm water and creamer in a hotel in Astoria, but I’d better not go into that or spoilers…

Elin: I’m sure you can tell us about that without spoiling the whole story about you and Brad. -smiling-

James: I asked the hotel for something to boil water. A tea kettle they call it apparently. And once I had that I asked for some milk to put in my tea. The hotel receptionist told me to use creamer. Creamer in tea. I almost walked out. I didn’t know what to say to her. She repeated down the phone there was creamer and told me to have a nice day. Have a nice day? With creamer in my tea? How on earth did she expect me to do that?

Elin: impossible! what else have you learned since living in America?

James: so much about people. About the kindness of people. About how sometimes when you have a list of things you must do, sometimes they end up not being important. And how sometimes what you thought was important can turn out not to be important at all. That things are less important than people. That complicated and messy isn’t always a bad thing. And to be grateful when you find the right sort of person. I mean people. You know what I mean. I hope I’ve not…spoilers.

Elin: I don’t think you have, James. It’s been lovely to meet you, James. Do you think you’d make me a jacket like yours if I paid you for time and materials? I used to quilt, but don’t seem to have the time now.

James: no. I don’t take commissions.

Elin: and on that note, I think we’ll close the interview.

 

If anyone would like a chance of winning an ebook copy of one of Liam Livings’ books, please respond in the comments to this question: What things have you learned from travelling?

 

Heat Wave Astoria by Liam Livings

Brad’s shop is known as the most popular tourist attraction for certain men in his home town, Astoria. Brad doesn’t do relationships – why would he? Brad is an unashamed slut, and he loves it.

British IT programmer, James is much happier working with software and computers than people. He finds escape in his encyclopaedic knowledge of childhood films like The Goonies & Short Circuit.

When James walks into a quilting shop in Astoria, he decides he’ll take his brother’s advice and talk to the stranger. That stranger is Brad, melting slowly behind the counter during the longest heat wave America’s had in years.

Can a man who thinks in binary code and always plans things to the finest degree, cope with the twists and turns of emotions? Can someone who never thinks before he leaps allow himself to leap into the biggest unknown, a relationship? And how will they cope with James’ impending return to England?

Can two men who never to meet learn to embrace the whole messy relationship that love brings into their lives?

Buy links:     JMS Books                Amazon.com             Amazon.co.uk

About Liam Livings

Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.

 

You can connect with Liam

Twitter @LiamLivings

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/liam.livings

Blog http://www.liamlivings.com/blog

 

Website www.liamlivings.com

 

 

Congratulations, Lillian, on your latest release.

Title: Lovers Entwined
Author: Lillian Francis
Publisher: Finally Love Press
Cover Artist: Meredith Russell
Length: 98,950 words
Release Date: August 3, 2015

Blurb:
Ewan Matthews is one of Boston’s leading genealogy experts. When a would-be bridegroom comes looking for confirmation that there are no skeletons in his ancestral closet, Ewan considers turning the job down. Trey Capell is a jerk of the highest order and yet Ewan experiences an infuriating attraction that’s easy to justify. Trey’s exactly his type—a carbon copy of the man Ewan’s been looking for his entire life.

Harder to explain is the sense of recognition that leaves Ewan speechless the moment Trey steps into his office. Or the stomach-churning sensation at the thought of casting the job aside. Trey gets more appealing by the day, leaving Ewan struggling with forbidden desire for his client. Desire not helped by strange voyeuristic dreams that have started to haunt his sleep. Dreams that appear to be an echo of the past.

Author Bio:
An avid reader, Lillian Francis was always determined she wanted to write, but a ‘proper’ job and raising a family distracted her for over a decade. Over the years and thanks to the charms of the Internet, Lillian realized she’d been writing at least one of her characters in the wrong gender. Ever since, she’s been happily letting her ‘boys’ run her writing life.

Lillian now divides her time between family, a job and the numerous men in her head all clamouring for ‘their’ story to be told.

Lillian lives in an imposing castle on a wind-swept desolate moor or in an elaborate ‘shack’ on the edge of a beach somewhere depending on her mood, with the heroes of her stories either chained up in the dungeon or wandering the shack serving drinks in nothing but skimpy barista aprons.

In reality, she would love to own a camper van and to live by the sea.

You can follow Lillian’s blog here.

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