Disney Dreamer: Stunt Squirrel and Forever Love

Earlier this month, Dreamspinner Press held an author workshop in Orlando. We worked hard. And when we were done working, some of us got to play at Disney. The other day, Lex Chase posted Disney food reminiscences by Lex, Charlie Cochet, and me. If you haven’t already read them, go do it. Then you can come back here and read about the stunt squirrel and transpecies m/m love. Really.

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Charlie Cochet

Movie rideHello all! Thank you again for joining us as we chat about our Disney adventures. It had been a long time since I’d visited Hollywood Studios. In fact, the last time I was there it was still called MGM Studios. It’s no secret I’m a big movie buff. I love movies. Always have. The Great Movie ride always makes me a little teary at the end during the montage. So many amazing and memorable movie moments. As we made our way around the park, I couldn’t help but think this theme park had Dex written all over it. Movies, the Indiana Jones stunt show, Star Wars, an Aerosmith roller coaster? He’d be right up there with the little kids at the Jedi Training Academy.

TaylorSpikeCaelOne of the shows I remember seeing since I was a kid is the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. This time was no different and I still enjoyed it. By this time, Cael had joined us. Here he is with Taylor and Spike. The show was as fun and entertaining as always, and I still get a little thrill from seeing “Indy” and watching him crack his whip.

Indy 2I have to say that this show was particularly special because of an unexpected guest. I wish I had taken a picture. I felt like Dex, ridiculously excited and laughing like a kid. If you’ve ever seen the show, the end is pretty epic. They capture the big action finale with the plane. There’s chaos all around while Indy fights the baddies. There’s machine gun fire blazing, stunt men falling, tumbling, getting shot down, and then a squirrel appears. I have to admit, at that moment I thought of Amy Lane. LOL. So in the middle of all this epic action, I’m all “Squirrel!!” So squirrel runs into a bundle of old gasoline tanks and props. I think poor squirrel is finding a place to hide away from the crazy humans fake-punching each other.

The stunt show continues. Indy gets in with a right hook. Watch out for the propellers! Up above on the cliff there’s a line of trees. Explosions follow the line, and who emerges from the flames and smoke as bombs go off? Squirrel!! I kid you not. I sort of lost it then. It was amazing. Like something out of Apocalypse Now. This line of explosions against the trees and ‘Merica (because that’s what we named him) the stunt squirrel is bounding and leaping behind the explosions more hardcore than Rambo. He wasn’t fazed by the explosions, he just kept moving. I half expected him to stop and the end and give us a salute.

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So the three of us will forever remember ‘Merica the stunt-squirrel. I think he needs a bigger role in the show. See the little hill in the background with the line of trees? That’s where the explosions were and where he ran. Like I said, hardcore. See you at the movies!

CharlieCar

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Charlie_Cochet_by_madison_parker150Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram |Newsletter | DSP | Amazon |Goodreads

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Lex Chase

Lex Chase and Princess Kitty Taylor… Once Upon a Dream

So, Nerd Confession Time. I totally went to Build-A-Bear and got a pink princess kitty and a Princess Aurora dress and decided the kitty was a boy and his name was Taylor. Because, of course I would.

I had announced to the DSP Group, Taylor was making the trip to Orlando and please don’t look at me weird for being such a dork with a pink kitty plush in an Aurora dress. Thank the lord for Kim Fielding and her beloved Spike action figure. And so, Spike and Taylor met Once Upon A Dream….

Taylor and Spike had a meet-cute in Hollywood Studios via Charlie Cochet breaking the ice.

In their travels, Spike and Taylor had many fascinating conversations. Spike is quite the globetrotter and Taylor was very impressed! He hadn’t been out of the South very much. He hadn’t even been off the Build-A-Bear rack that long!

Lex and Kim further assisted in making the two make their soul connection. Over in France in the World Showcase their slow burn sparked into something else.

In England, love was definitely in the air!

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And then at Hollywood Studios, Cael appeared to hang out with the happy couple during the Indiana Jones: Stunt Spectacular. They all had the best seats in the house!

Cael and Taylor had some alone time while being completely smitten with the Indy stunt double!

 

But all too soon, the clock struck midnight and it was only once upon a dream. Spike was gone, but Taylor will wait for him next year at the EPCOT Geosphere, hopfully to share their travels and encourage bright new things. But Taylor is loyal. He wll never stop waiting.

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Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting too.
Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure and epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.
Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.
Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine now residing in the burbs of Northwest Florida, where it could be 80F and she’d still be a popsicle.

 

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Kim Fielding

If you follow my blog–or follow me on Facebook–you may be aware that I have a constant travel companion: Spike. He’s been to something like 16 countries and about a dozen states. He’s been on planes, in cars, on trains, and in boats ranging from tiny to cruise-ship size. He’s fallen in a lake (and been rescued) and he’s even posed with a celebrity. Spike gets around. Don’t believe me? Oh, I have many pictures. 066 038 teller Here we see just a few examples of Spike’s adventures. From top to bottom, that’s Spike in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina; Spike in Joshua Tree National Park; and yes, Spike with Penn Jillette and my husband.

Spike makes a very good travel companion. He’s quiet, he never asks “Are we there yet?”, and he fits in my purse. He has amused and confused people in many locations.

But poor Spike travels without a love interest. Now, I suppose I could lug along my Xander or Angel dolls too, but that would be weird, right? And we can’t have that. Spike had consigned himself to loneliness. Until he met Taylor, of course. 085 091

At no time were we in danger of being tossed out of the Disney parks, although I think we got more than a few puzzled looks. My only regret was that my 15-year-old daughter wasn’t with us, because I missed so many opportunities to be a thoroughly embarrassing mother.

(PS–I’d like to also mention that yes, Charlie does always look adorable, and yes, between the two of us, Lex and I had most of the rainbow spectrum represented in our hair.)

And now Spike is back in California, perhaps dreaming of a reunion with Taylor. At least at home he has some pals to keep him company.

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Join us on Saturday at Charlie’s blog, where we’ll be talking more about our Disney adventures.

Blast from the Past: Just Life by E.E. Montgomery

 

It’s the little things that happen to people, the ordinary ways they respond to them that make life what it is. It’s the way people blunder along in their lives without seeing the beauty and love surrounding them—or the loss and devastation. Sometimes you look at people and think ‘how can you not have seen that coming’, yet it happens again and again. People are like that.

 

It’s Just Life.

 

There’s a group of friends who work in a major shopping centre who have things happen to them. The dramas and contentments of their lives are lived in full view of any passers-by, yet everyone gets only a glimpse of one small part of their lives. This series began from one such glimpse.

 

#1 Just His Type:

 

just1Daron’s looking for a certain type: he loves tall, slim older men, and he’s sure one of them will be his one true love, even though he doesn’t truly believe he deserves it. His lack of confidence leads him to a series of meaningless encounters with strangers, convinced that eventually he’ll find a relationship to last a lifetime. His best friend and coworker, Rebel, offers Daron the only stable relationship he’s ever known. Rebel is younger than Daron and only slightly taller, so definitely not his type. Daron enjoys the time they spend together, but refuses to allow himself to think it could be anything more than friendship. He’s never bothered to consider what Rebel thinks….  A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

 

Buy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2880

 

#2 Just Like a Date:

just2Jeremy is devastated when Mark breaks up with him, and uses Rebel as a crutch to get over him. Daron enlists Peter’s help to attract Mr Right. With both Daron and Rebel focused on something else, will they miss what’s sitting in front of them again? Or is this the time they find true love?

 

Rebel Nguyen and Daron Boroughs both need to be loved, but when Rebel looks at Daron to fill that role, it mangles their friendship. Rebel tries a clean break and meets Jeremy. They hit it off, but Rebel is preoccupied with might-have-beens.  When Rebel doesn’t contact him for days, Daron feels lost. He decides he’ll never find love unless he can change, but the process of his makeover throws him into the arms of his last trick’s ex-boyfriend. Shockingly, they work together—until Daron inevitably screws it up.  Rebel and Daron both need to learn that they don’t have to change themselves for love—just the way they look for it.

 

Buy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3071

 

#3 Just in Time:

 

just3Mark Mendelson’s life is close to perfect: he has good friends, a successful business, and a solid reputation in the jewelry industry. He fought hard to get what he has after nearly losing it all fifteen years ago, when his then boyfriend, Cole Porter, stole his designs.  When a handsome man enters Mark’s store to request a commitment ring—a design Mark made specifically for Cole—Mark wants nothing to do with him. All he can think about is his rage at Cole’s betrayal, something he thought he’d dealt with long ago. But Mark’s would-be customer, Dr. Liam Watson, returns to the shop, thinking Mark might provide some answers. For years Liam has tried to convince his cousin Jon to leave Cole, who abuses him. As the relationship between Jon and Cole disintegrates, a fragile new one forms between Liam and Mark—but Mark can’t move on until he confronts Cole once and for all.

 

Buy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3556

 

 

It’s been more than a year since the third book in the Just Life series was released, but Liam’s cousin Jonathan wouldn’t let me go. I had to find out his story and give him the happy ending he deserved.

 

#4 Just the Way You Are:

 

just4After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man. He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap.  For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.

 

Just the Way You Are, the fourth book in the series, is now available for preorder from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6274

 

E E Montgomery

E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.

 

Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.

 

You can contact E E Montgomery at eemontgomery11@gmail.com; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her web site: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and blog: http://www.eemontgomery.com/blog.

 

 

Growing Up

Today is my birthday. Yes, first day of spring–a good day to be born, I think. If you’re into astrological signs, you should know I’m an Aries and was born in the Chinese year of the ram, which probably means I’m stubborn. Just a bit.

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Anyway, since I’m another year older–if not wiser–and since my novella Grown-up came out this week too, I’ve asked some people to share their thoughts on growing up. Share yours by commenting here. I’ll randomly choose one commenter on March 28, and that lucky person will win a signed print copy of Brute (which I’ll ship anywhere) plus a $10 Dreamspinner gift certificate.

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For me, I think I finally felt like a ‘true’ grown-up the day the nurse handed me my daughter. I probably should have been more scared than I was, but I just wanted to hold and get to know her. Since that day, I realized what being a parent meant, the responsibilities that go with the fun and joy. That was when I realized, I’d finally made the leap to being a grown-up.

–Andrew Q. Gordon; www.andrewqgordon.com, author of The Last Grand Master

I just hope I’ll never grow up completely. Sometimes one is in need of the inner child sooooo much.

–Kirsten H.

Being a grown-up is not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t be in a hurry to get there because once you do, you will spend the rest of your life trying to recapture the joy and fun of being a child again.
Don’t spend more money than you make. It’s a simple, time-tested piece of advice, and yet something you tend to forget when you’re young. Credit cards are for emergencies, not to live off of. The things you buy because you think you absolutely cannot live without them take on new meaning when it takes years to pay them off.
People (including the furry kind) are more important and valuable than things. Never forget that.
There comes a point in your life when you’ve forgotten what it was like to be daring and take chances. Sometimes, that is the time to forget all the wise, sage advice about living within your means. Take a trip to a foreign country. Experience something outside your comfort zone. Take a risk. Because the truth of the matter is the older you get the faster time flies, and we only get one shot at life. Working to pay bills is not living, not to the fullest. If you’re going to go into debt, make it for experiences, not things.
There you have it: what I wish I could go back and tell my 20 year old self. 🙂
   –Sarah Madison, www.SarahMadisonFiction.com, author of Walk a Mile
I don’t have any children as you know, and I think I am less grown up than friends who have because I haven’t had to set an example/worry for them etc etc. 🙂 As for the best birthday present, without a doubt it was my mare, Mabel, giving me a beautiful filly foal unannounced on my birthday. Florence (registered name Dreamspinner) wasn’t due for another ten days, but when I went to see to Mabel on the morning of my birthday there she was up and having a drink of milk. I doubt I will ever top that for a present.
It’s hard growing up. I’m only a sophomore in high school and already people are making me think about college and after college and life (Mom). I don’t know if I’m going to get into the college of my choice. I don’t know what I’m going to major in. I don’t know what kind of job I want. Plus I’ll probably lose my friends (and possibly my boyfriend) when I go off to college. I don’t know how I’m going to support myself financially when I’m out of college. I don’t like growing up. I want to go back to elementary school, when life was easy and I didn’t constantly worry about my grades or my future.
–My older daughter, currently 15 years old
I remember looking down at my newborn daughter and having this “oh shit!” moment when I realized that I was the one responsible for her. I was the one she would look up to, to keep her safe, and take care of her. I wasn’t a kid anymore. I was the mom who would be taking care of the kid.

That said, I do my best to embrace the kid in me. She’s a geek who loves Japanese anime and manga, loves to wear costumes (Kim can tell you about my mermaid costume for GRL!), and writes stories she wants to read (angsty romances) about mermen, vampires, or just hot men. She’s got Star Trek Barbie and a purring tribble in her office, and collects mermen ornaments (so freaking cool). She’s also got a collection of genga (the artwork used to create computer-generated cells for animated shows) from Japanese anime.
  –Shira Anthony, www.shiraanthony.com, author of Blood and Rain

I think I first felt grown up when on my 18th birthday, I ordered my very first legal alcoholic drink (a Bloody Mary) at a bar and the bartender didn’t even bother to card me! I was very disappointed but I did feel pretty grown up to pass as 18. We could drink at that age back in the dinosaur days, and fortunately I was already 21 when they changed the law.

My very best birthday present was the official confirmation of my pregnancy on my 37th birthday! Emily was born 8 months later.

And my advice to someone is don’t rush to be grown up! Enjoy yourself while you don’t have many responsibilities because it all gets a little harder later. Of course, no one will listen to that if they’re over 12, but hey, gotta try!  🙂

  –Jon Treadway, www.jontreadway.com

I believe you never stop growing up. With some family members in their 90s, the rest of us (even those in their 60s!) are often advised that we still have a lot of living to do. Each and every day, we’re learning and growing, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. It is an intense truth that you’re only as young as you feel. The trick is to never forget the core being of yourself, even as you stretch and grow. And to believe you’re never as old as you fear you are.

–Tray Ellis, http://trayellis.blogspot.com/, author of How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings

 

To Mortgage or Not to Mortgage… That’s When You Know

When did I first feel like a grown up? Oh, I remember the day clearly. It’s kind of hard to forget when you sign your life away, lol. In my middle twenties the hubby and I bought our first house. We’d been saving for a while and been looking even longer. Then he found the “one”. It was outside of the city limits and had a acre with a pond in the backyard. There were neighbors near us, but not so close you could reach out and touch them from your window. It was also in the last stages of being built, so we’d be the first to ever live there. It was a dream come true. The night before we went in to sign the papers we both suddenly looked at one another… and panicked, lol. Mortgage! Responsibility! OMG, when had we grown up, lol? That’s my first memory of being grown. 🙂

–M.A. Church, Decadent Delights, author of Trouble Comes in Threes

These days, I teach physiology and I love watching the annoyed faces when I explain to my students that technically twenty-five years is the mark of adulthood for most bodily systems. Who didn’t think they were already an adult at eighteen? Now many years later, I look on my eighteen year old self and laugh. For me, though, knowing I was an adult wasn’t the moment I realized how much of a foolish youth I’d been, it was the moment in my medical residency when I was told to come up with a limb salvage plan for a patient. It fell to me to decide a plan of action that would allow this person to save their limb and potentially their life and I would be the one leading the surgery. In that moment I knew I was an adult and boy, I didn’t want to be. I wanted someone to hold my hand and carry me through that moment. We both made it through fine, but there are still many days I would want to give up my adulthood if only for  a few hours.

–Jana Denardo, http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com/, author of Kept Tears

I went away to college at the age of eighteen. Eight hours away. Probably one of the best decisions I ever made. Within a few days of arrival, I already had a fledgling group of friends and we decided to go to the movies. I had the only car so I would be driving. When we got ready to leave, it struck me. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going, how long I would be gone, when I would be back, and even better, I didn’t have to ASK anyone. Massive wakeup call. I was a grown up. It was both exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve never looked back since!

–Katherine Halle, https://katherinehalle.wordpress.com/, author of Fixing the Hole

I’m not entirely sure I’ve admitted to myself I’m a grown-up yet. I think I prefer to imagine I’ll keep growing up until the day I die. There’s always going to be a part of me that is all kid. It definitely comes through in my writing in places, where many of my characters are gamers or just like to play. In the end, I think I’ll take Jimmy Buffett’s approach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfV_v3ymO3o

–Grace Duncan, www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog/, author of Healing

I knew I was a grown-up when, some time ago, I met the guy who bullied me mercilessly when I was in high school and I saw that time had not been kind to him, that I was more elegant, more cultivated, smarter, and that had been true forever, only that I couldn’t see it when I was a teenager. I think that as a grown-up we only get more perspective, but what makes us special is always there, and some people just can’t stand it.

–Emanuela Piasentini

Growing up, for me, seems like a great ball of confusion. I can sort out quite a number of memories about tough times, but only a few that shine in my mind as really precious. Like body surfing in the warm Pacific with a full summer moon shining down from a cloudless sky—for once feeling that the group of other teens around me were truly friends. Or walking every day from the family campsite to the stable in town all by myself, and working so I could be with the horses and ride. But the first time I felt the weight of being grown up came out of a bad situation. I’m not going to describe that situation—too much of a bummer—but the result was I had to hitchhike from St. Joseph, Missouri “home” to Long Beach, California, in a tee shirt and jeans, barefoot, with 87 cents to my name. It was crazy, and I learned lots of things about people. For one most of them are good-hearted and will go out of their way to help a girl in need. I’ve never forgotten the kindnesses I received. But neither hitch-hiking solo or learning that people are better than we’re often led to believe gave me that. “yeah, this is what it means to be grown up” feeling. I experienced that the first time I ran into someone not so selfless, and I learned that sometimes a person has to say no—even if it’s scary as hell.

–Lou Sylvre, http://www.sylvre.rainbow-gate.com, author of A Shot of J & B

I’m not the person to ask about this. I am not sure anyone in my family has ever acted like a grown up, so I don’t know what that actually means. If looking outside yourself and doing things for other people is a sign of growing up, they did do that. Some of them. At times. But others didn’t – wouldn’t more than couldn’t – and it was just a mess. My ex-step-father, who is now in his 70’s, is the least grown up person I’ve ever known. And if you haven’t grown up by 70 you’re never going to. He hates responsibility and avoids it at all costs, and somehow this has worked out for him. It helped that his parents died and left him money, otherwise I have no idea how he’d get along. All I can say is try to be kind to other people (which he has never done). It’s the least you can do, and can be considered some sign of maturity.

–Andrea Speed, www.andreaspeed.com, author of Paris

I was one of those kids that seemed to grow up fast because I developed early. Grown men hit on me before I was even a teen. But it was years before I felt like an adult. I grew up a lot when my daughter was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit minutes after she was born; she spent the next two months there and even longer in the pediatric intensive care after that. I grew up more when I saw my mom—my hero—struggle to walk. That was eye opening and inspired many of my recently written words. I’ll be an orphan when she’s gone, which means I need to recue myself from all or learn how to say, “Help me.” And that’s the most recent moment of maturity, when I said, “I can’t handle this anymore.” I ended up quitting my teaching job and changing my life, taking responsibility for all my failures and successes. Isn’t that what growing up is all about?

–Posy Roberts, http://posyroberts.com, author of Tangled Mind

The thing I look forward to when I grow up is having a phone that actually has internet connection and being on electronics when I want for as long as I want. And having a pet. Or several.

–My younger daughter, currently 12 years old

I figured I was finally a grown up when my younger brother got married. Actually, he eloped with his girlfriend and then got secretly married.
He was six years my junior and his girlfriend was about four years younger than him.
And they were both legal.  Made me realise I was old enough to do all those things. It was depressing.
–Sandra Bard, author of Divided Within

Growing up wasn’t a one-time realisation for me. There were a series of milestones that I then looked back on and understood that I had been growing up for some time. Regardless of whether or not I felt it.

I think the first milestone was when my mother left home. I was seven and suddenly thrust into the ‘family machine’, part of the processes that kept everyone fed, clean and clothed. Until then, I hadn’t taken any notice of how things got done or by whom. I’d just done my chores when asked and didn’t think any further about it. Suddenly, being responsible became a real thing. (btw, Mum leaving home was a good thing.)

The second milestone was when I met my first boyfriend. I was fifteen, he was twenty, and I suddenly became capable of making my own life decisions. Of course, most of the time, my decision was to let him decide how I was to live my life, but it was still a decision.

After that the milestones came thick and fast: choosing to pursue an education, just in case I really had to rely only on myself at some stage; having a child, someone who relied on me totally; living through abuse, stalking and depression; being adrift; finding my inner strength, my purpose. There was no time to think about growing up or what it meant during that tense and troubled twenty years.

Then I was through it, out the other side. Independent. Self-sufficient. Balanced. For the first time in my life I’d achieved a state of calm and contentment. That’s when I realised—at forty—that I was a grown-up. It’s not a bad place to be. 🙂

–E. E. Montgomery, www.eemontgomery.com

Grow up? Wait! What? Why???? NOOOO! Never! I hope I won’t grow up. In my head I’m 13 but I tell the boys I’m 16.  I don’t think anyone has to grow up or grow old we create our own realities… we write our own stories. Of course I deal in the grown up world and take care of my responsibilities but for the most part I stay in the role of playful teen. I focus on making everything fun (cleaning the house is a race, running errands is an adventure). I dance through activities like pumping gas if they didn’t want to dance they wouldn’t play music right? I practice random acts of kindness whenever I can even if it’s just to notice and admire something about a person’s appearance or to make them smile. I love the Black Veil Brides, Tokio Hotel and Adam Lambert.

–Z. Allora,, http://zallora.blogspot.com, author of Illusions & Dreams

 

Blast from the Past: Designs of Desire by Tempeste O’Riley

Hi Kim, thanks for having Designs of Desire, bm debut novel, over for a visit.
It’s not only my first, but it’s the one that I’m still the most in love with—both James and Seth, the MCs and with the cover! When I sat down to write this story, I never expected to publish it, much less receive some of the wonderful emails and comments I have on it.
You see, James’s character came from my own frustrations with being a person living with a “disability” that few understand. With dealing with the ignorance and impatience of others. And with the loss of being desired because I was “too broken”. I was really upset one day with some stupid strangers attitude over me not being “old” enough to use the electric cart at the grocery—seriously, at the time I used forearm crutches just as James does. Trying to walk the whole of places like Wal-Mart, shop, and push the cart? Nope. Not realistic, at least not for me. A friend suggested that since I loved to write, I should put all my frustrations and want into a story but give the character like me the happily-ever-after I wished for.
Well, as you can see, I did as suggested! Smile And then the incomparable Reese Dante took my story and gave it the perfect cover! The silver ring splint you see on the hand is real (I’m supposed to have one just like it, btw, lol). Isn’t it gorgeous?! She did a wonderful job of showing the heart of James, the love of Seth, and the disability we both face. (James and I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, by the way. It’s super rare, so even doctors often don’t know what to do with you. :/ But James finds the man that can not only love him as he is, but shelter him even from his own fears.)
I’m thrilled to share James and Seth’s story with you today. I hope you find it to be one of hope and love, and that it’s the heart that matters, not the shell we wear around our souls.
Thank you for having me over and thank you all for taking the time to read a little about my guys.
***

Designs of Desire 400x600Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.

As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.

James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?

Dreamspinner Press Audible All Romance Amazon B & N

 

***

Excerpt:

James gestured to the chair across the conference table and hoped Seth would sit. He hated to be stood over. Seth smiled and settled into the chair indicated. “Now, what can I do for you, sir?”

“We, Carrington Enterprises, are beginning a new venture and hope you can help with designs. Companies I can manage; design and draw, not so much.”

James nodded at Seth’s pause.

“Let me start by explaining the project you will brand. We’re opening a new hotel chain. This will be a little different than your usual hotel, though. Each site will be more like a large bed and breakfast, but they will cater to the GLBT community. It’s often an issue when a couple wants to vacation. They have to consider the area, the hotel, the other patrons even if they want to do something as simple as hold hands. That is, if they don’t want to be met with hate or possible violence.”

James wasn’t sure which impressed him more, the wonderful idea behind the hotel or the deep, commanding voice that instilled confidence in everything he said.

Obviously unaware of James’s internal dialog, Seth continued his spiel. “With our liberal policies and views, we have decided to make a place where judgment doesn’t exist. At least, that’s the theory.”

God, that voice! He shivered.

“Also, each site will have a club, bar, or restaurant attached. So, this will be an ongoing project, not a one-shot deal.” When finished with his little speech, Seth seemed inordinately pleased with the idea.

No wonder Brian gave me the account. He didn’t realize he had spoken aloud until Seth glowered at him.

“Excuse me?” Seth snapped. “I was assured you have no personal issues or biases that might hinder your ability to provide the needed work. Was I incorrectly informed?”

“No. No, sir. I apologize for my comment. It was out of line,” James said in a rush, trying to smooth over the obvious irritation his thoughtless words had caused.

“Are you able to do the branding or should I continue elsewhere?” Seth demanded.

“You misunderstand, Mr. Burns. I had wondered why I was given your account, considering I’m not one of the senior designers and your account would normally be reserved for one of them. Now that I hear what the project is, I understand why I was chosen.” He knew he was babbling but he couldn’t help it. “You see, I’m the only openly gay designer here and my family runs a small bed and breakfast. This project is perfect. In fact, once we have the branding set up, I’m sure I can point you in the right direction for some specialized marketing. Magazines, newspapers, websites, etcetera. We will help you with all of that, as well.” James tried to restrain the extent of his excitement over the project, but was unsure how successful he was. He didn’t want to seem flippant or inexperienced after admitting he was a junior designer with Skye Designs.

Seth raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Excited, are we? Carl said you were the man for the job. I guess he was right if enthusiasm counts. I have a full write-up of what we need and what we do and do not want to incorporate into the brand.” His smile fell and he became all business again. “This is an upscale getaway, not a high-priced bathhouse.”

“Understood, sir. I think the idea will work in areas with a large enough population of GLBT and open-minded people.” His hands itched to begin sketching and planning.

“Good. Once you’ve read over everything and start your designing, I want you to visit the site we chose for the first hotel. It’s here in Milwaukee, so it shouldn’t be too far for you. Would you be ready by Friday?” At James’s accord, Seth opened his briefcase and began pulling out folders and large manila envelopes and setting them in front of James. He paused, peered up at James, and blinked hard. “I should call someone to carry these things for you,” he mumbled, glancing at the items and toward James’s crutches. “You can’t fit all this in your bag.”

James pinched the bridge of his nose while counting to ten in his head. Why do they always see the sticks instead of me? “Mr. Burns.”

“Seth, please,” he interrupted, giving James a soft smile.

“Seth, Chase acts as my assistant when needed. He will tend to anything I can’t transfer up to my office personally. There is no need to be concerned.”

A strange look flashed across Seth’s face, but his expression quickly returned to his previous in-command smile. “Very good then.”

They chatted a bit about ideas and plans before Seth shifted his coat sleeve back to check his watch. With a slight frown, he said, “Well, I need to head back to the office. I will leave this all in your fine hands, James. Please call me here.” He pulled out his business card and wrote something on the back. “I look forward to our next meeting.”

Seth held out his hand. James flexed his fingers and clasped the offering. He knew this was for work, but somehow it felt different this time. Warm and strong, the grip shot tingles up his arm. Seth seemed to hold on a little longer than necessary for business needs. It had been so long since a man touched him, at least without violence or pain. James shook off the thought he might be interested. Beautiful men like Seth didn’t waste their time on guys like him. Besides, he wasn’t certain he wanted to go down such a painful road again.

James stood in the doorway, watching Seth saunter out the main doors, wishing for something, though not really sure what.

 

Different Tracks, part 22: Free round robin read

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[Part 21]

PART 22

Peter was dizzy. All the blood had left his brain for more interesting activity elsewhere in his body. And although he’d come hard enough to hear the angels sing, his blood didn’t seem eager to resume its upward flow anytime soon. Not with Xander grinding against him and thrusting into his mouth like… that. Oh God.

That was… just fine. Cognition was overrated anyway. But feeling—moist mouth, hard fingers, hard body, hard cock—was very, very nice.

Somehow Peter managed to get the front door unlocked and open. Which was a good thing, because while he didn’t have any close neighbors, getting fucked on his front porch was probably not the best idea. Although the blowjob in the truck had turned out way better than he expected.

Still locked together, Peter and Xander practically fell into the house. Xander kicked the door closed and slammed him back against the wall to attack his mouth with renewed vigor. God, Xander wasn’t a big guy but he was strong, and Peter loved the way he could take charge in a situation like this. If only Xander was as confident about the rest of life as he was about sex.

Gasping for breath, Xander pulled away slightly. “If we don’t move things along, I’m gonna come in my pants.”

Peter grinned. “That would be a real waste. C’mon. Let’s see if we can make it to the bedroom.” He took Xander’s warm, calloused hand and tugged him along.

But they were clumsy in their eagerness, and along the way Xander bumped into a small side table and knocked it over. The ceramic vase on top of it shattered loudly.

“Oh, fuck!” Xander cried, coming to a halt. Stricken, he stared down at the mess. “Man, I’m so sorry.”

“No big deal.” Really. Peter had much more important things on his mind at the moment than a stupid vase. He tried to pull Xander forward.

Xander didn’t budge. “That vase was expensive.”

“Um, not really.” That was a small lie. He’d bought it at an art show a couple years earlier and it had set him back a couple hundred bucks. But it wasn’t important. “Forget about it, Xan.”

Xander pulled his hand away from Peter’s grip and backed away slightly, shaking his head. “I… I gotta go.” He continued backing toward the door.

Peter sprinted past him, the broken ceramic crunching under his shoes, and caught Xander’s arm. “What the hell? It’s just a stupid vase. I don’t care if it’s broken.”

“If I stick around, I’ll probably break more shit.”

“Maybe. I break shit too. Last week I spilled coffee on my brand-new hundred dollar keyboard.”

“Yeah, but that’s the thing. You’re this guy who can… who can spend a lot of money on things just ’cause they look nice, and you don’t have to freak out if they get busted. But me, I’m….” He looked as if he was fighting tears.

Dammit. Peter thought they’d worked through this issue already. He didn’t release Xander’s arm. “So what if I am? That’s not who I am as a person, and it’s sure as fuck not who you are as a person. It’s not what matters.”

“It does matter.” Xander sounded more miserable than angry.

Peter had fallen from heaven to purgatory at light speed. He wanted to bash his head against a wall in frustration. But… hey. That gave him an idea. Working quickly, before Xander could put up a fight, he tightened his grip on Xander’s arm and dragged him down the hall and into the dining room.

“Stay here,” Peter said.

“But—”

“I mean it. I need to show you something. I’ll be right back. I swear, if you make a run for it I will hunt you down, Xander.”

As he’d hoped, a tiny grin tugged at the corners of Xander’s mouth. “Fine. You got five minutes.”

“Won’t take that long.”

Peter let go of him and took off at a sprint for the small room adjacent to the kitchen. That room had been put to a variety of uses over the decades, but nowadays he used it mostly to store his tools and other miscellaneous crap. He opened his tool box, yanked out his hammer, and ran back to the dining room. Where he was relieved to find Xander still waiting, arms crossed and eyebrow raised.

“Are you planning to cripple me?” Xander asked. “Are you secretly Annie Wilkes?”

“That was a sledgehammer. Except in the book it was an axe. And I am your number one fan, but the hammer’s not for you.”

“Then what’s it for?”

Peter looked around the room. It was a 1970s-era addition to the old house, and when he was a kid it was still decorated in all the green and gold horrors of that period. But he’d remodeled it a few years ago, enlarging the window, peeling off the wallpaper and painting instead, adding architectural details and light fixtures more appropriate for the house’s original age. It looked really good. He chose one wall, cocked the hammer back, and swung with all his strength—leaving a big, crumbling hole in the sheetrock.

“What the fuck?” Xander yelled.

Peter turned a little to give him a smile, then swung again. As Xander gaped, he used the claw end of the hammer to expose more of the wall studs. Satisfied, he set the hammer on the table.

Xander’s jaw still hung open. “Are you out of your ever-living mind?”

“Nope. I’m making a point. With visual aids this time. What do you see, Xan?”

“A psycho.”

Peter sighed and pointed at the hole. “What do you see?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Xander walked over. He peered into the wall, then shrugged. “I dunno. Studs. Crumbled drywall. Um, some mouse turds and a dead bug.”

“A pretty ordinary wall, right?”

“Uh, sure.”

“Right.” Peter nodded. “And you and I, we could build a wall just like this one.”

“Yeah, I guess so. I mean, we already have, plenty of times.”

Peter moved closer and settled a hand on Xander’s shoulder. He was glad when Xander didn’t flinch away. “And if we built this wall, we could repaint it with this nice cream color I have going here, or we could slap on the original wallpaper. It had daisies. Or we could get someone to put a mural here, or cover it in gilding, or… whatever we wanted. And it wouldn’t matter, ’cause underneath it’d still be the same strong wall. The one we built.”

For a  very long time, Xander stood still, staring at the hole. Peter had to force himself to breathe. He really, really had to make Xander understand. This thing between them had to work.

Then Xander’s eyes widened. Very slowly, he turned his head to face Peter. And a wide and beautiful smile bloomed. “I get it,” Xander said.

***

Read the full story on these blogs, starting with Sophie Bonaste’s:

Sophie Bonaste – http://sophiebonaste.blogspot.com

Charlie Cochet- http://charliecochet.com/blog

Grace Duncan –  http://www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog

Kim Fielding – http://kfieldingwrites.com

Suki Fleet- http://sukifleet.wordpress.com/

Lane Hayes-  http://lanehayes.wordpress.com

Elizabeth Noble –  http://www.elizabeth-noble.com/

Brynn Stein –https://brynnstein2.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Release Day! Grown-up

Usually on Wednesdays I run a regular feature. But I’m interrupting that this week because today Grown-up is available! You can order it from Dreamspinner, Amazon, ARe, or your favorite e-bookseller. It’s currently 25% off at Dreamspinner!

GrownUpFSWhat’s it about? I’m glad you asked!

It’s time for Austin Beier to grow up. His car is falling apart, his roommates are less than ideal, and he’s just been fired for the umpteenth time. His love life hasn’t evolved past bathroom hookups at his favorite clubs. Forced to borrow money from his father yet again, Austin is walloped by an epiphany—he needs someone to mentor him into maturity. And who better to teach him how to be an adult than Ben, his father’s office manager? Cute in a nerdy sort of way and only a few years older than Austin, Ben is a master of organization and responsibility. But as he gets to know Ben better, Austin learns that whether you’re eight or twenty-eight, growing up is never easy.

It’s a light book with heart, and you should click over and buy your copy right now. 🙂

HousekeepingFS1But I’d like to talk about that cover. It was done by the amazing Paul Richmond. He’s made several of my earlier covers, including Motel. Pool., Brute, and Pilgrimage. He also created the American Gothic-inspired cover for Housekeeping.

So when the time came to consider cover art for Grown-up, I thought it might be fun to do a take on another famous painting, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. And Paul, bless him, was willing to play with my silly idea. I love how he got a disco ball in there! Honestly, one of the most fun parts of being an author is getting the lovely cover art.

 

076Paul is also a great guy. And a lot taller than me. You can read here about his You Will Rise project. Or go here to check out his art.

But first read Grown-up. 🙂 And if you do, I’d truly appreciate a review on Goodreads, Amazon, etc.

What’s Kim Reading Now: Prisoner 374214 by Angel Martinez

As many of you are aware, each year the Goodreads m/m romance group does an event in which members post prompts, which authors claim. The authors then write stories for those prompts, and the stories are posted for free. There have been some really terrific ones. Two of my free novellas–Guarded and Treasure–came from this event. I’m currently working on a third.

One of my favorite stories from this event is two years old. It’s Prisoner 374214 by Angel Martinez, and I’ve reread it many times. The writing is terrific. The plot begins bleak but ends hopeful, and in between is a lot of delicious hurt-comfort. You can read it for free here.

Blast from the Past: Serpentine Walls by CJane Elliott

Hi Kim and readers! CJane Elliott here to share about my first novel, Serpentine Walls, which was published by Dreamspinner in October 2013. It’s the first book in the Serpentine Series, contemporary New Adult stories featuring guys who attend the University of Virginia.

 

My main character, Pete, is a typical college guy and at the beginning of the story he comes off as somewhat shallow. Angry over his parents’ divorce, he insists he wants nothing to do with love and relationships. He keeps a nice guy, Jed, in the friends-with-benefits category and meanwhile pines after unavailable Aidan with whom he has a hook-up early in the story. He winds up falling for wonderful Matthew, who has sworn off relationships himself, and they both have to give up their fear to find their happy ending.

 

The second book in the series, Aidan’s Journey, is the story of the glamorous but wounded Aidan Emery. It was published in October 2014, and is a dark, psychological study, very different from Serpentine Walls.

 

I’m currently working on the third book in the series, working title Sex, Love, and Video Games, which is similar in tone to the first book. It’s the story of nice guy Jed, whose heart is a bit broken by Pete in Serpentine Walls.

 

Jed was introduced to Pete by his rugby teammate Bud, who is Pete’s cousin. The excerpt below from Serpentine Walls shows where Pete is at about Jed, and also what Bud’s opinion is. Bud features even more in the third book and the relationship between Pete and Jed is shown from Jed’s perspective. Sex, Love, and Video Games should be out in early fall 2015.

cjane

EXCERPT:

 

Bud and Pete sat at a dead standstill in a huge line of cars on I-66.

“I knew this was going to happen. I told you to be ready earlier.” Pete’s voice sounded whiny even to his own ears. Crap. This is a shit way to start winter break, he thought, wondering why he was even in a hurry. It wasn’t like going home was anything to look forward to.

“Big deal. The way traffic is around here, we would’ve needed to leave at the crack of dawn. Can we change the station?” Bud reached toward the dial.

“No!” Pete snapped.

“God.” Bud slumped down in his seat and pulled his baseball cap over his eyes.

After twenty minutes of silence, in which they inched forward about a mile, Pete decided talking to his cousin was better than fuming over the fucking traffic situation.

“What’re you doing over break?”

“Going skiing this week.”

“Cool.”

Must be nice. Bud had only one sister, Heather, and their family was wealthy. Pete tried not to envy them. It wasn’t like his family was poor or anything, but given how many there were of them, they couldn’t take ski trips at a moment’s notice. And now that his parents had split.… Shut up.

 

“Hey, but I’ll see you on Christmas Eve, bro.” Bud’s parents had hosted a huge party for family and friends every Christmas Eve for as long as Pete could remember. “You and Jed.”

 

“Jed?”

 

Bud stared at him like he was dense. “Jed—your boyfriend? He’s gotta meet the family sometime.”

“Jed isn’t my boyfriend. Wait—you didn’t invite him…?”

“’Course I did!” Bud said, indignant. “I don’t care what you call him; you guys have been hooking up for months, right?”

“That doesn’t make him my boyfriend! Crap. Why’d you have to invite him to the family Christmas party?”

“Well, what is he then? What—you too good for Jed? You can’t bring him around? You’re such a snob, Pete.”

“Shut up.”

“No, I’m serious, man. You finally get someone who likes you—a normal guy, not one of those—”

“Bud, shut the fuck up. If you say one more thing, I’m gonna smash your face in.” Pete said this knowing that threats never stopped Bud, and, true to form, he barreled ahead, crossing his arms over his chest with a belligerent scowl.

“All I’m sayin’ is you finally get a guy who’s into you and you blow him off. For what? That Aidan guy? Gimme a break.”

Pete gripped the steering wheel, wanting to pull over and punch Bud out, although he’d never actually do that. He couldn’t pull over anyway. They were trapped on I-66, surrounded by wall-to-wall automobiles, and there was no escaping Bud’s continuing diatribe.

“I don’t even know what you see in that asshole. He fucks everyone in sight. You’re better than him, bro, even if you’re a dumbass at times.”

“Can we stop talking about this?” Pete said through gritted teeth.

“Yeah, fine. But I got one more thing to say. If you don’t think you’re boyfriends with Jed, you should tell him, ’cause he thinks you are. And I ain’t disinviting him from the Christmas party. That’s just rude.”

Stony silence. Pete didn’t stop Bud this time when he leaned over and changed the radio to the country station. He was suddenly in the mood for “Achy Breaky Heart” and all that other lachrymose shit. Yeah, and maybe he was a snob, because he didn’t think either Bud or Jed even knew what “lachrymose” meant, but fuck it. I am who I am.

 Not the main point, Morgan. Okay, the main point was Jed. He liked him—Jed played a mean video game and was fun to hang out with. And, yes, they’d been having sex—not exactly regularly, but off and on since September. Someone like Angie could misconstrue that, but Jed was a guy. A gay guy! “Friends with benefits,” right?

So what? argued an opposing voice, as a vision of Jed’s double bed and shy smile arose in his mind. What makes gay guys exempt from wanting a relationship? He was not going to dwell on his next memory: Aidan, naked on top of the coverlet, telling him, You want someone to love. Aidan had that all wrong. (But he’s not as big of an asshole as you think, Bud.)

Back to Jed, Pete knew there had been signs of Jed getting attached to him since the beginning. But tell him they weren’t boyfriends? Pete could just imagine that conversation:

Uh, Jed, it’s come to my attention that you think we’re boyfriends, and I just wanna let you know that we’re not. ’Kay?

Oh. Sure, Pete. Thanks for letting me know. Wanna play Mortal Kombat?

And what if he brought it up, and Jed looked at him like he was nuts because Bud had gotten it all wrong? As his cousin who’d been stuck with him all their lives, Pete was aware that the likelihood of Bud getting shit wrong, especially when it came to people and relationships, was high.

So, what’s the plan? Ignore it and hope it goes away? That sounded good to Pete. Jed hadn’t brought it up, so he sure as hell wasn’t going to. He had a week before the Christmas party; he’d think about it later. That resolved, Pete cut off Blake Shelton and turned the music back to his R&B station.

Buy link:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4281

CJane Elliott’s books: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/cjane-elliott

Author Bio:

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of gay equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

You can contact CJane at cjaneelliott@gmail.com. Her website is http://www.cjaneelliott.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott

 

Ooh! That’s Interesting! Author perks

There are some huge upsides to being an author. Sometimes people send me fan mail or write nice reviews telling me they enjoyed my stories–or were moved by them. And I’ll tell you, nothing improves a crappy day like reading those emails or reviews! Plus I get amazing cover art. And another perk is getting to hang out with–and fangirl over–other authors.

Last weekend, Dreamspinner Press had its annual author workshop. Look at some of the wonderful people I got to talk to!

066 You can read the nametags on this one.

067 Yes, I may be holding a pomegranate martini. And yes, I’m shorter than everyone.

069 Grace Duncan and Melanie Hansen.

070 B. Snow and Skylar Cates.

071 K.C. Burn, Tara Lain, and Eli Easton. Sorry for the lighting. The room was very orange.

080 Amy Lane and I wore the same scarf in different colors.

081 Dinner in a fake castle! With Lex Chase, Bru Baker, Michael Rupured, Charlie Cochet, and P.D. Singer.

093 And there was Disneyworld after, of course.

What’s Kim Reading Now: How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton

Okay, full disclosure–Eli Easton is a friend. In fact, we were roomies at a recent workshop and she’s sitting in the room with me this very minute. But I’m also a huge fan of her work and I wouldn’t rec it if I didn’t love it.

How to Howl at the Moon is a shifter book in which one MC shifts into a border collie. The other MC is oblivious to this important fact.

I read about half of this book while squished on a transcontinental flight and the other half sitting poolside, cool drink at hand. It fit the bill perfectly for both settings: it was engaging, fun, and sweet. I loved the characters and the plot was just right–just the right amount of tension. The take on shifters is fresh. And Eli Easton wrote it, which means it’s well-written too. And funny! I’ll be looking forward to more in the series.