Link-Up

Link-Up

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
New York 1911. Filmed by cameramen with Svenska Biografteatern. Restored by the MoMA.

LISTEN
The Last Podcast on the Left. Dig into those archives. By Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks.

LAUGH
Champions of Migard! TableTop with Wil Wheaton (but really, watch them all).

CREATE
Change. Liberation Library: donate books for incarcerated children via their wishlist.

READ
The Scalp From Sand Creek: Does returning artefacts help to heal the scars of conquest. By Chip Colwell for AEON Magazine.

RESTORE
First gay couple featured on Dodger Stadium’s Kiss Cam.

CRAVE
Dawn Chorus app created by Carnegie Museum of Natural History & The Studio. Wake to gentle bird songs. Nice.


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

My Books

Everything About: Two For Trust

My latest book is out! Purchase Two For Trust at all the usual book-getting places.

Find out more!

  • My SuperRomance Origin Story. The inspiration for Two For Trust: why I wrote a very sweet, very tropey, very old-school Harlequin category. With delight and glee, and for my romance hero Betty Neels.
  • Cover reveal and some book deets.

Fun extras!

My Books

My SuperRomance Origin Story

When I learned Dreamspinner Press was launching a category line, I launched. Zinged giddily at the idea–ohmygosh old-school tropey gay romances? yes please!–and at the chance to write my own old-school tropey gay romance.

Way back in mumblemumble, I fell into reading romance thanks to literally tripping over it. More precisely, two old grocery boxes full of vintage Harlequins. The books were pristine, packed two layers deep, the boxes left on the ground next to a construction dumpster I was diving in for scrap material (small college theater programs–poor but making it work!). We managed a good haul for the production: plywood, lengths of 2×4, metal flashing, and a container of weird’n’creepy baby doll parts. I nabbed the books. Part not able to stand the thought of leaving them there, part burning curiosity.

I didn’t grow up as or into a romance reader. There were none in my house, not quite verboten, but never mentioned or encouraged. I also didn’t have a grandma with walls of bookshelves or a friend’s basement stuffed full of old romances to inhale when no one was looking. But I always had the idea I wanted to read romance–I wanted to know about them even if I wasn’t destined to become a fan–but never had the immediate chance. Finding those two boxes were my romance gateway; a treasure trove, a cherished secret I could savor, an array of brightly colored tempting sweets like a heart-shaped Valentine.

Jane Arbor. Margaret Way. Rebecca Stratton. Margaret Malcolm. Jane Donnelly. Katrina Britt. Charlotte Lamb. Elizabeth Ashton. Claudia Jameson. Margaret Rome. Betty Neels.

Are these Titans of Harlequin ringing a bell with anyone else?

I can easily picture their oil painted and color block covers. Can easily recall the emotions the final ten-some pages delivered as climax, resolution, and HEA came in quick succession. I picked up on the formula and pattern of the books pretty quickly, but didn’t mind. The books were “sweet,” a term I didn’t know yet, but the lack of heat didn’t bother me either. Even the throwback (regressive) Guiding Hand or Domineering Male gender dynamic didn’t get under my modern skin. I never felt manipulated by their neat and tidy package, because under the shiny newness and my less than discriminating appetite for more, they worked. On a elemental level, they worked. Romantic, happily ever after, oh hooray. I devoured them, reading one or two in a sitting between classes and homework sessions.

I still have those Harlequins. On occasion I pluck one or two out and read those key, final ten-some pages, where everything happens. They live, sorted by author, year, color, in two much nicer boxes tucked away in my closet. Those authors and their books ushered me into the world of romance–with enthusiastic thanks from a huge fan–and I never looked back. But I also moved forward, and after blazing through them, sought more complex stories and characters arcs (and nothing more from those authors’ catalogues).

Except for Betty.

Something about Betty was special. Resonated in me. Hit my just-right place. Compelled me to find all her other books after savoring the few from the treasure trove. Her books felt familiar and comforting, but with all the right heartclench and swoopy feelings in all the right places, and always left me replete. The Promise of Happiness was the first Betty I read–the second I selected from the boxes–and remains my very favorite. Of hers, of those gateway Harlequins, of romance.

As a reader, Betty is my go-to comfort read. As an author, she’s my writing hero.

After retiring from nursing at 60, Betty agreed with an overheard complaint that there just weren’t enough good romances to read, and set out to write her own. 30 years and 134 books later, she certainly had.

That alone is inspiring. I mean, wow. But add in how her books make me feel, how many readers’ hearts her books have touched, and it’s beyond wow. It’s awesome and glorious and every writer’s dream.

Betty only really wrote iterations of two stalwart plot types, but she made them hers and made them work. She created the necessity for two more boxes in my closet, only all Bettys, sorted to my own system–Greater Betty, Lesser Betty–because even non-faves still hit that sweet spot. They’re still A Betty Book.

And Betty Books are a thing unto themselves. Wonderful, old-fashioned even for the time they were published, an acquired taste. They’re somewhat ridiculous, and wholly a delight. Dogs and cats and faithful family retainers abound, as do RDDs (Rich Dutch Doctor heroes). The heroine often traipses around on a travelogue or hop-scotches from thankless task to thankless task, while the vastly proportioned RDD plays close to the vest, bides his time, and guilds them to a quiet, and quietly earned, HEA. Not everyone clicks with Betty–that’s just how books+readers go–but if you do, oh you do, and welcome to the land of TGB (The Great Betty) and being a Betty Devotee.

I have friends across the globe thanks to Betty. As a reader, I have a sure place of escapism that provides long, aching or satisfied sighs, and dreamy interludes. As an author, I have the spark of all she achieved in my mind, and heart.

Two For Trust is my ode, my homage, my love letter to Betty. It’s not quite a missing title from her canon, but I wrote it to fit cozily on the bookshelf alongside hers. I owe her that much, and am elated to have the opportunity. If, like me, you love the old, tropey, vintage Harlequins–see the names above, Betty especially–Two For Trust is my love letter to you, too.

Enjoy. <3

Two For Trust is a sweet, Bettyesque, contemporary category. Available May 15 from Dreamspinner Press @ all the usual book-buying outlets.

My Books

One Month Left

Only one month before my latest book is out! I’m so pleased to share the perfect & amazing cover that artist Bree Archer created for me:

A fairy-tale vacation—if he can get the ending right.

American nurse Finch Mason steps beyond the comfort of his orderly life and takes a dream trip to England, complete with a National Trust Pass so he can visit numerous historical sites. At the first one on his list, he’s warmly welcomed—and told he bought a pass good for two.

Finch doesn’t hesitate to offer the pass to Benedict, a handsome Brit also there on an outing. They spend a magical week touring the countryside, and while it’s too soon to get attached, Finch wishes their time together would never end.

Then Finch finds himself stuck abroad with no money, and he has no one to turn to but Benedict. Benedict is happy to help, but he also owes Finch some answers—such as who he really is and why he was at the estate where they first met.


Two For Trust is a contemporary, sweet category romance for Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Desires line. Snap it up May 15.

friday fun five

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! Today’s guest is Debra from Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews. Thanks, Debra!

To know more about Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews, check out their blog or see what they are up to on Twitter (@Sinfully_MMBlog). Their ongoing triumph is running Sinfully Gay Romance, a review site dedicated to bringing you the best in reviews, news, new releases & more in all things LGBTQ Romance. Sinfully Gay Romance can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

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1) If you could safely have any animal as a pet what critter companion would you choose?

I’m a cat person so if I could I would have a big cat like a tiger or maybe a jaguar.

2) Rocking dance club or cozy little pub?

I love to dance and have done my share of clubbing, but these days it’s definitely a cozy pub, preferably with some live music and a good beer selection.

3) Sunrises: Get up early or stay up late to see them?

Before I was a mom it would probably have been stay up late, but with my daughter’s school schedule it’s get up early whether I want to or not!  If I had a choice though most days I’d be sleeping through it.

4) What is your favorite word?

What does it say about me that my favorite word is a curse word?  Since this is a classy blog and I’m a classy lady I’ll default to enigma.

5) This is a Leap Year–how will you commemorate/celebrate Leap Day?

Leap Day will probably be spent trying to catch up on all the things I didn’t do the day before!  Maybe I’ll get to sneak in another book – do you have any recommendations? 🙂


Debra started reading gay romance in 2012 and hasn’t stopped since!  tardisShe has a TBR that can’t possibly be conquered in her lifetime, but that doesn’t stop her from adding new books daily.  She couldn’t be happier to be sharing her love of the genre as a member of the Sinfully blog team along with Monique, Mark and Macky.

friday fun five

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Mark of Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews. Thanks, Mark.

To know more about Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews, check out their blog or see what they are up to on Twitter (@Sinfully_MMBlog). Their ongoing triumph is running Sinfully Gay Romance, a review site dedicated to bringing you the best in news, reviews, releases, giveaways, cover reveals & more in all things LGBTQ Romance. Sinfully Gay Romance can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

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1) Are there any holiday treats you look forward to every year but never eat any other time?

Oh for sure, for me being in Germany it has to be Lebkuchen, a very traditional cookie made with all the traditional Christmas spices of cinnamon, almonds, ginger, etc. Goes great with a cup of tea. Also very British, but I love a bit of Yule Log.

2) Snowy days: Go outside for playtime or stay inside where it’s warm?

Both actually, I love playing and going for walks in the snow but then coming back into a warm home with a cup of tea and Lebkuchen makes the treat even more special.

3) Bake and eat gingersnaps or bake and make a gingerbread house?

To be honest I don’t do either, sorry. For me it would be ginger schnapps rather than snaps though – lol! Can we talk about that instead?

4) What is your favorite word?

Now this is a difficult one but seeing it’s Christmas then for me it has to be “Yuletide.” I just love the sound of it and its history or etymology with its roots in the ancient Germanic, it’s fascinating.

5) Is there a candid photo of you from the holidays you just love for whatever reason?

Ahem, of course but thankfully I have successfully managed to keep them off the internet until now, phew! But yes, I have some rather embarrassing ones at the work’s Christmas Party, I think everyone has, and of course the one with the traditional fugly Christmas sweater. I think the one I love the most though is one of my father, brother and myself with our fugly Christmas sweaters on and Santa hats. This photo makes me smile as you can certainly see the love of a family and the resemblance my brother and I have to our father. Of course mum was the one behind the camera 🙂 Always good for a snap shot mum was – lol!


Sinfully Gay Romance loves books! Hot ones, happy ones, Merry Christmas2funny ones, fuzzy ones, erotic ones, old ones, dark ones, soppy ones, tear-jerking ones, heart-warming ones, but most of all, the need to be ALL MALE ROMANCE ones! The blog began in September 2012 when Becs and Monique kicked things off. Since then it has grown from strength to strength, complemented by Mark joining the blog team in June 2013 and further enhanced by the arrival of Macky. Since the departure of Becs in November of last year, the site has been re-named and we are now a fully functioning All Male Romance review blog.When we have decided to read and review a book–which is sometimes like choosing from a box of chocolates–we go to work. Well, it isn’t really work when you’re doing something that you really enjoy!

friday fun five

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Eli Easton. Thanks, Eli.

To know more about Eli Easton, check out her website, elieaston.com, or find her on Twitter  (@EliEaston). Her latest literary triumphs are How To Walk Like A Man and Midwinter Night’s Dream.

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1) Do you have any cherished holiday traditions from growing up you continue with your family today?

Having lots of family around, cooking a big Christmas meal, and hopefully taking a walk in the snow.

2) Cookies: bake up a storm or hoping to get them as gifts from others?

I would normally get them from others, but I’m on a new vegan diet this year so I’ll have to make my own recipe!

3) Are you dreaming of a White Christmas or tropical getaways?

White Christmas, definitely.

4) What is your favorite word?

Hmmm. Infinite?

5) Dream gift from any store, at any price: what one item would you get for your household?

God, I don’t know. Maybe a really hip small RV to take camping.


 

Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s EliEaston_Road_bw.jpgdaughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author. As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story.  She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time.  She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens.  All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing. You can email her at eli@elieaston.com.

 

friday fun five

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Shae Connor. Thanks, Shae.

To know more about Shae Connor, check out her website, shaeconnorwrites.com, or see what she’s up to on Twitter (@shaeconnor). Her latest literary triumph, Nobody’s Son is available here.

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 1) Are you good with needles (knitting, cross-stitch, embroidery that is).

My first thought was hypodermic needles, and the answer there would be a big no, LOL! I used to do a lot of cross-stitch, but I haven’t picked up a needle in years. I sewed some when I was younger, too, but I’ve never picked up a knitting needle.

2) Christmas Music: before Thanksgiving, only after Thanksgiving, or never at all?

My family has a tradition of listening to Christmas music on November 1, so we can hear it at home before we hear it in stores. Other than that, though, I don’t start listening to it on purpose until after Santa appears at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That’s my “official” start of the holiday season!

3) Eggnog or mulled wine?

Eggnog, especially in a latte and/or spiked with Buttershots.

4) What is your favorite word?

Recalcitrant. I just love the way it rolls off the tongue. Eclectic is another favorite. 🙂

5) With a limitless budget to spend the winter holidays in any other country, where will you go and what will you do?

Ireland. I’ve always wanted to go, and being there during the holidays would be extra special. I’d hit the usual tourist spots: Dublin, Waterford, Galway, the Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle—as many as I can fit in. My family traces back to the southwestern part of the country, so I’d want to spend as much time there as possible.


Shae Connor lives in Atlanta, where she’s a lackadaisicalShaeConnor_Pic2 government worker for a living and writes sweet-hot romance under the cover of night. She’s been making things up for as long as she can remember, but it took her a long time to figure out that maybe she should try writing them down. Shae is part Jersey, part Irish, and all Southern, which explains why she never shuts up. When she’s not chained to her laptop, she enjoys cooking, traveling, watching baseball, and reading voraciously, and she’s an annual volunteer for the Dragon Con on-site publication, the Daily Dragon. You can email her at shaeconnorwrites@gmail.com.

friday fun five

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Andrew Grey. Thanks, Andrew — and happy birthday!

To know more about Andrew, check andrewgreybooks.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter. His latest literary triumph is Eyes Only For Me, available here.

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1) If you could have any five guests (historical, famous, etc) at your Thanksgiving table who would it be?

Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, Michael Faraday, Thomas Edison.

2) Cranberry: Relish or jellied?

Definitely relish.

3) A nice brisk walk or a nice long nap to follow a big meal?  Actually both.

I’d go for a walk and then take a nap.

4) What is your favorite word?

Butthead. The one time my mother was speechless was when she was getting on my last nerve and I told her she was being a butthead.

5) What do you hope to be thankful for in 2016?

The continued health of myself and my family.


Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Andrew GreySince then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

 

friday fun five

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Skylar M Cates. Thanks, Skylar.

To know more about Skylar M Cates, find her on Facebook and Twitter. Her latest literary triumph is A Guy’s Thanksgiving, available here.

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1) Do you make sure to follow any superstitious practices about anything–just in case?

Just telling my family I love them before we part for the day.

2) Hot mulled cider or cold hard cider?

Hot mulled cider (even though I live in Florida, drinking the hot stuff lets me imagine some cold weather).

3) Tons of fluffy pillows or one flat pillow only?

Fluffy (although my dog might steal them!).

4) What is your favorite word?

This one is too hard for me to select. I used to like decadent and loquacious for their sound. For meaning? Love!

5) If you could live for one day as a famous person from the past, who would you be?

Walt Whitman


Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. skylarSkylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.