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Gabbi Grey: From Erotic to Sweet (Excerpt)
Friday, April 23rd, 2021

I’ve had incredible support from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, to write gay romances.  Stories that have called to me.  Stories that I’ve wanted to tell.  Stories that have been important to me.  Interestingly, my first story was within the shared world of the Deerbourne Inn series.  The Inn is located in the fictional town of Willow Springs, Vermont.  By the time my book, My Past, Your Future was published, it fell in as book 18.  The town and its inhabitants were well-known and loved.  Mine was the first gay romance in the series, and I was lucky my diverse story found acceptance.

In that shared world, the character most intriguing to me was the desk clerk at the inn.  Jared appeared in the very first story and just about every subsequent one.  He is, after all, the character who greets all the wayward stragglers who turn up.  He’s seen many romances bloom and has cheerily watched from afar.  He’s gay, and I knew I wanted him to get his happy ending.

Now, pitching to a publisher using an existing character and giving him a happily ever after of his own can be tricky.  All the editors (and other writers) had their view of who he was.  I was proposing expanding him and, gasp, giving him a romantic arc.  I encountered some resistance because my other gay romances have involved pretty explicit sex scenes between two men.  Some editorial staff wondered if I could give Jared the ending he deserved.

Fortunately, my editor was on my side.  She helped me craft a synopsis that demonstrated a clear romantic arc culminating in a true happily ever after.  And I agreed to make this a sweet romance.  I haven’t written one of those in years, but I figured how hard could it be?  I’m a writer.  This is a character I love.  I have a strong hero for him to fall in love with.  Certainly, they can ride off in the sunset together.

I got to work.

And quickly discovered I rely a lot on anatomical descriptions of desire and plenty of expletives.

But I was determined to write the best damn book I could.

I asked writer friends for non-swear swear words.  I sought descriptions more emotionally driven and less about body parts.  In other words, I did what the publisher asked.  And something magical happened.  They liked it.  They really did.  They offered me a contract, and the book is now out in the world.  Another great thing happened – I rediscovered the joy of writing sweet.

My hope with this book is first and foremost to give readers a joyous experience.  I want them to be transported to the wonderful world of Willow Springs and to be immersed in Vermont in springtime.  I’m also hopeful romance readers who haven’t tried a gay romance before will give my book a chance.  There’s a huge subgenre out there with romances of every kind imaginable.  Why not start with something gentle, sweet, and full of love?  And before you think it’s all kittens and roses, both Jared and Xander have some deep emotional wounds they have to work through.  I’m not known for giving my characters a free ride.  And, okay, there might be one kitten.  And a dog.  But I don’t want to give too much away.

Thank you, Delilah, for letting me visit today and wax poetic about my little book.  I hope your readers check it out. 

If Only for Today Synopsis

He came looking for solitude. He might leave after finding love.

Jared Langford is a happy man. The desk clerk at the Deerbourne Inn knows everyone in his cozy town in Vermont. He is accepted and loved by the community, but he’s missing someone special in his life.

Devastating news has brought journalist Xander Fortier to Willow Springs for some much-needed rest. He’s photographed every major conflict in the world for the last ten years, but being stateside has forced him to reassess the solitary life he’s been living.

Something in Xander’s gruff demeanor calls to Jared’s caring nature. Soon the men are spending time together, but Jared’s kisses might not be enough to keep Xander from leaving. Can the men find a happily ever after if they only have today?

Excerpt from If Only for Today

“Kiss me.” This time the plea came from Jared.

Xander was happy to oblige. He hooked his fingers under Jared’s jaw and tugged him closer. Such smooth skin. He must’ve shaved before their date because no man went the entire day without a trace of hair. Angling his head, he lowered his lips and pressed them to Jared’s. So, so smooth.

He hadn’t spent a lot of time kissing. Was he was doing it right? Jared threw his arms around his neck and pulled them closer. The other man opened his mouth, demanding reciprocation. And, okay, this was…intimate.

As Xander swept his tongue into Jared’s mouth and their tongues parried, he closed the distance. Xander reacted to the deliciously close contact. What red-blooded man wouldn’t, when he held the perfect partner in his arms? Jared was everything he’d wanted but never allowed himself to dream he might have.

And that realization had him slowly backing away. He ended their intimate exchange and placed a soft kiss to Jared’s forehead.

“What…?”

Jared’s blue eyes were unfocused, and his lips were plump from their kisses. His cheeks were pink—either from arousal or whisker burn.

Unable to resist the urge, Xander pulled him into a tight embrace. “I really like you, but I need to let you go. I have to get back to my room.”

Jared’s body stiffened and when he pulled back, Xander released him. Reluctantly.

Pressing his fingers to his lips, Jared whispered. “It was just a kiss.”

A kiss that meant everything. Words better left unsaid.

“I’ll walk you home.” The least he could do.

Jared shook his head. “Not necessary. Willow Springs is a safe town, and I can manage on my own. I’m quite capable of taking care of myself. Thank you for the offer.” He pointed down the street. “Two blocks that way, and you’ll be back at the inn. Don’t forget you’ll need your key.” Without another word he pivoted and headed back in the direction from which they’d come.

Buy Links:
Amazon US:  https://amzn.to/3fOsviy
Amazon CA:  https://amzn.to/31LG1LP
KOBO:  https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/if-only-for-today
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/if-only-for-today-gabbi-grey/1138919955
iBooks:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/if-only-for-today/id1556170342
Publisher:  https://www.thewildrosepress.com/book-post/if-only-for-today
Add it to Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57730616-if-only-for-today

About the Author

Gabbi lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black.

Personal links:
Website: https://gabbigrey.com/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/gabbi-grey
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15456297.Gabbi_Grey
Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Gabbi-Grey/e/B07SJVFX1M
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorgabbigrey/
Facebook (page): https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGabbiGrey
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabbiGrey

Genevive Chamblee: How to Find Daily Joy
Friday, January 22nd, 2021

After a year filled with natural disasters, unemployment, political and civil unrest, supply shortages, illness, quarantines, and death, I’d never seen so many people looking forward to a new year than in 2020. However, 2021, so far, has seemed to say, “2020, hold my beer.” Are we in for round two or the next level of Jumanji? Or maybe, it’s as some has speculated, the opening of the Hunger Games.

Whether we are or not, there comes a point where it can all become overwhelming and one needs to take a break. If life and reality is so heavy that all one can think of is despair and feel sadness, it is time to create an avenue of happiness, hope, and light in one’s life. Here are some ways to bring some daily joy into your life.

  1. TikTok. It just isn’t for kids anymore. If you don’t want to create videos, just watch those that do and enjoy the fun they bring to life. Try the dance challenges or play one of the practical jokes on a close friend with a good sense of humor. Enjoy the many artists and musicians that are on the platform. Learn to cook a new meal or about a new culture. Find new books to read or meet your favorite author on a Livestream. Make new friends. There have been some who have even found love there.
  2. Collecting. Begin a new collection. For many, collecting has a connotation of being a boring, dull, or introverted person. And objects collected have been thought of as being limited to art, stamps, rocks, leaves, dolls, and insects. However, anything can be collected. A good friend of mine who loves coffee collects mugs. It is a small way she inserts a bit of happiness into the beginning of her morning by pouring in her first cup of java. I recently met a group of people who collect Mini Brands. Granted, these things are as cute as the dickens. I’d walked past the surprise balls for over a year, never having noticed. Then, I saw a video of someone opening one and became hooked on the cuteness. There’s a whole community that collects and trades these. Some of the Mini Brand collectors have styled mini-kitchens and displays, while others have converted them to refrigerator magnets and jewelry. Another person stated that she collected eye shadow palettes. Some she uses, while others she displays.
  3. Family time. Unfortunately, many people have been furloughed, laid off, or had a reduction in hours. Others, who may still be working from home. Believe it or not, there are positives and negatives in this. A friend who now works from home admitted that although it was complicated at first and took some adjustment, she enjoys not having the mad rush in the mornings to get ready for work or her children off to school. She confessed that she has been able to save money by not eating out for lunch, not spending money on wardrobes and gas, not having to attend conferences or pay for school trips, and not paying for daycare services. Since she commuted to work, she spent over an hour each way driving. Now, she spends that extra time with family. She confessed that she always wanted to be a stay-at-home mother but couldn’t afford it. However, now she is able to have the best of both worlds. Although it isn’t perfect, she is enjoying the time she has while it lasts. She and her family have created new routines. They all participate in making dinner and find creative and fun ways to make cleaning (and other household chores) a game. They have found time to bond and grow closer as a family. Another friend who was furloughed stated that he despised his job but didn’t have the nerve to quit for fear of what he would do to support himself. He was eventually laid off, but he found another job that he is much happier at doing as well as starting a business that he has always dreamed of doing.
  4. New skills. As mentioned previously, many people have found themselves with extra time. Learn something new. A colleague who was planning to get married in 2020 postponed her wedding due to the pandemic and issues with venues and vendors. At first, she was very upset by this and confessed that she cried for weeks. Then, one day as she was watching videos on YouTube, she began getting new wedding design ideas. Later, she saw a DIY project that she wanted to try as centerpieces. Soon, she found herself creating decorations for her wedding that not only is she having fun creating but that also is saving herself money. A coworker reported that she took a page from the movie Julie & Julie. She’s always wanted to learn to cook, and she’s taken this time to do just that.
  5. Increased awareness. This came from my bestie and was a shock to me. I don’t know why since it’s basic. My bestie stated that when shelter-at-home regulations happened, he began to go stir crazy with such a disruption of his life. He’s truly a man on the go. However, once he became limited in where he could go and things he could do, he stated that he became more aware of his surroundings. He began to notice things in his neighborhood and community that he hadn’t previously. One of the most interesting things he said was the following. “When I purchased my home, one of the selling points was the backyard and view. As time passed, it just became a part of my every day, and I overlooked its beauty. I’d never enjoyed it fully. Being home all the time made me feel a bit stir crazy. One day, I took a book outside and read it beneath an oak in my backyard. It was so peaceful, and the weather nice. I wondered why I’d never done that before. I ordered a hammock from Amazon, and now, it’s one of my favorite places to relax, think, read, and meditate.”
  6. Pampering self. Roll the clock back to the fall of 2019 when the world had no clue what was looming around the corner. I had begun making plans for the 2020 football season as well as vacation. In December that year, I planned the items I would need. I decided that each month, I would purchase a few of these items to spread the expense over several months and prevent having to rush at the last minute. In February, when talks of a lockdown began, I didn’t believe it. In March, when it actually happened, I thought it would last only a couple of days. Therefore, I continued planning for my vacations and activities. By the time I realized they weren’t going to happen, I regarded what I had amassed and sulked. I had wasted my money. Or had I? Vacations are about relaxing and escape from the normal world. I wouldn’t call a pandemic being my “normal world;” although, I will admit that it has shaped me a new normal. However, just because my vacation plans had changed didn’t mean that I had to chunk all my ideas. I would just have to find ways to use the items at home and pamper myself. Fortunately, many of the items were skincare and perfumes. Who says one must have an audience in order to be smell nice or have clear skin? I also played with makeup that I had purchased in ways that I wouldn’t normally for work. For example, I had an opportunity to experiment with colorful looks instead of neutrals. Because work has been slower, I’ve found more time to read and watch television series that I’ve missed out on. And instead of feeling I’m missing out on being out with friends, I find soaking in a long bath or giving myself a facial isn’t a bad substitute. We’ve even had a few cyber girls’ nights in which were truly fun, and in all honesty, may have been more fun than actually being out, where parking is a hassle and some people can be real jerks. No matter why it occurred, taking time to do something positive for oneself is never a bad thing.
  7. Neighborhood book libraries. Until recently, I never knew these were a thing. For a couple of years, I’ve bypassed one in the downtown area but mistook it for decoration. It’s shaped like a house. And although it is clearly labeled as a book library exchanged, the words didn’t resonate with me. These are a great way to bring happiness into your and someone else’s life. For one, I hate the thought of throwing a book away. It seems like a waste. The public library system in my immediate area is, in my opinion, under horrible management. In the past, it has been proven that they throw away book donations without considering what they are, are rude to patrons, and act in ways that are most convenient for staff but not borrowers. For example, they keep the restrooms locked because children have not kept the area clean. There are two stalls in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. However, libraries in surrounding areas that have triple the daily traffic, restrooms with a half dozen stalls on each floor, and the same number of staff (percentage-wise), they keep their restrooms both unlocked and clean. But that’s a story for another time. The point is, neighborhood libraries offer communities a place to share books without the complications of library cards, due dates, or the fear donations will go straight to the trash. I will, however, point out that some public libraries feel threatened by the neighborhood libraries and have made partitions to the local government to place restrictions and limitations on neighborhood libraries.
  8. Music. Since the beginning of time, people have found solace in music. It is an easy way to relax, and with so many genres, a person most assuredly can find something he/she enjoys. When I was younger and suffered from migraines frequently, loud thumping music (I know. One would think I would seek silence.) would ease the pain away. Maybe the drumbeats vibrated out the pain. The entertainment industry has long used music to set moods and increase the ambiance. Injecting happy music throughout one’s day can lift the spirits and bring inspiration.
  9. Breaks. Then again, sometimes all that is needed is a break and time away. Media can be toxic, bringing into our homes and living rooms negative energy and bad news on a loop. The week after Christmas, the local media kept harping on severe weather that would occur on New Years Day. During nearly every commercial break it seemed, there was the news commercial to watch for the latest update of the weather at five, six, and ten. And while I’m all for people to be informed, I could have done without the constant reminder of what was to come. And dread was building. At the gas station, people were filling up gas cans for their generators. People planned to hunker down instead of attempting to have at least some type of New Year celebration, even if it was no more than grape juice in a plastic cup in the middle of the kitchen. On New Year’s Eve, there was rain (heavy at times) but no wind, thunder, lightning, or tornadoes. No watches or warnings were issued. And while everyone was relieved, the anxiety had built in so many for days. There is a difference between informing the public and inundating them with fear. And I know there will be those who will think it’s no big deal and that the meteorologist simply missed the mark. And would one hundred percent agree with that if I didn’t live in an area where so many people have PTSD from Hurricane Katrina and tornadoes? But the purpose of this point isn’t to place blame on the media. On the contrary, it is to point out that people need to recognize in themselves those things that are begin trigged and tune them out. Shut off all of social media and chill. There was a news article of a man who had isolated himself in a remote area for over a year. There were no cell phones, cable, or internet. When he left to return home, he had no idea of the pandemic. He’d not panicked, stressed, or been bothered.
  10. Great books. Of course, as an author, I’m going to end by saying a great way to bring happiness to any day is to curl up with not just a good book but, rather, a great one. And why not read something from an author you’ve never tried. During the holidays, I know I stocked my Kindle with new reads. Having a favorite go-to author that will never fail you is wonderful. But when I travel, I know I like to try new things and new adventures. If I’m going to always do the same-o same-o, why not remain at home?

Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Saxx: A Refuge Bay Christmas #1 — Their Daughter’s First Christmas (Contest–2 Winners!)
Thursday, December 24th, 2020

UPDATE: The winners are…Elaine and Laura!
*~*~*

Come to Refuge Bay. Where trouble is brewing in a young girl’s heart this holiday season…

Dear Reader: There’s something special about Christmas.

Yet, it’s also worrisome, and daunting, in a weird way,. There’s so much hype about the happiness, that, especially for a young girl, newly adopted, who’s not quite sure about her place in the world or in her new family, it brings all those emotions to the forefront in a jumbled up, messy way.

Messy Christmases. We all know about those. Right? 🙂

When I wrote A Refuge Bay Christmas #1: Their Daughter’s First Christmas, Trasher’s voice and heart, came to me, loud and clear. (Trasher is the name of the young girl—there’s a whole story there.)  As did the voices of her 2 gay dads, Nathan and Og. They notice something’s definitely off with their new, young daughter, the one who came from a background of abuse, and whom they’re crazily committed to. They all live together in an old century home in Refuge Bay, just off the Chesapeake Bay.

The whole story simply came, and early readers are really enjoying it.

Here’s the blurb!

A Refuge Bay Christmas #1: Their Daughter’s First Christmas

An Orphan. Two Gay Dads. Her First Real Christmas. And It’s scary…

When Nathan and Og fell in love, little did they realize their union would culminate in an adoption: that of the six-year old runaway child they found at Hope House. Now her first Christmas is fast approaching, and everything is hard for the orphan who’s never had a real family. She’s still dealing with ghosts of the past, and she’s trying to do it alone. How can Nathan, Og, and the whole gang at Hope House, show her everything Christmas can be, in a forever family? Most importantly, how can they make sure that the Refuge Bay community’s unparalleled Christmas magic will work its special miracle…on her?

Early reviews:

“A great read. This reads like a warm fuzzy blanket or an awesome Hallmark Christmas movie! – Goodreads Reviewer

“I don’t know what it is about this series, or these people but I am totally hooked!”– Goodreads Reviewer

Please note, this book can be read as a standalone, though readers will enjoy the additional details provided by the main series.

If you’re in the mood for real heart with a dollop of sass, some fun, and two men (as well as a whole community of people) that deeply love a newly rescued, feisty orphan who’s used to solving her own problems, you’re invited to enter their world this Christmas season, as well as that of the century home they live and love in, Hope House.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3aFy80f
Other Retailers: https://books2read.com/u/4EP82z

~Susan Saxx~~

Contest

For you today? An Early Christmas Gift: Here’s a Christmas Giveaway for TWO lucky commenters!
For a chance to win an e-book copy of Nathan Unwrapped, the first book in the series, let me know in the comments below:   What is your favorite Christmas story trope? I literally can’t wait to hear what you have to say, because I’m crazy about the holidays too! :))

***For ANOTHER chance to win, follow the fabulous Silver Daggers blog tour for this book here: https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/a-refuge-bay-christmas-book-tour-and-giveaway.

And…Merry Christmas!

About the Author

Susan Saxx is a top 2 Amazon bestseller with her m/f small town military romance series, Real Men. She has a passion for the small towns of North America, and sets her compelling stories in the north country (Jack’s Bay), mountain country (Terrence Point, Dawson Ridges, Golden) and Chesapeake Bay area (Refuge Bay), replete with quirky yet big-hearted neighbours always willing to lend a hand–and an opinion, whether requested or not. Susan has also started writing m/m romance and has garnered excellent reviews with her first book in the genre, Nathan Unwrapped.

Susan also loves Christmas. Enjoy the many holiday books in her series! Check them all out at Amazon and her site: www.susansaxx.com.

Learn more about Susan, her newsletters and her books at www.susansaxx.com.

Genevive Chamblee: November Silver Linings
Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Bonjour. It’s November, and it’s a month that has so much happening for so many. For YouTubers, it’s Nonstop November, where creators aim to post videos daily. In the sporting world, it’s No Shave November where the men are allowing their beards to grow. And then, I heard of No Sex November. I’m not sure of who’s participating in that—I mean what group of people developed it—but it’s happening. Additionally, for many of my fellow writers, it’s National Novel Writing Month, also, known as NaNoWriMo or NaNo, that has a goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month.  I’m sure there are so many more, but the final one I’m going to mention is the media trend of posting daily what is thankful for, especially here in the United States, where many people are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving—well, that is, the people who didn’t jump from Halloween to Christmas. Granted, my social media presence has been lacking from some platforms, but thus far, I have not been seeing many Thirty Days of Thanks posts. I imagine for many people, that is hitting very differently this year.  It’s hitting me differently, too. That’s why today will be a different kind of post for me, but hopefully one that is found to be uplifting and inspiring.

On January 1, 2020, when people where celebrating the ringing in of the new year and making resolutions to follow their hearts’ desires, I don’t believe anyone knew the swift kick in the teeth the year was bringing with it. I can’t speak for other countries, but I know here in the US where people are used to doing nearly anything (legal) that they want, being told what to do on a large scale by the government was shock. Our go-go nature was dumped in timeout, and people had no idea what they were supposed to do sequestered in their home for weeks. Face it, I live in the south, and we get antsy when we have to spend a day inside because of hurricanes. (We throw parties during that time, BTW). And, oh my gosh, it was not just having to remain sheltered-in-place, it was that what we normally do inside was gone, too. For a culture that binge watches, many of us flew threw Hulu and Netflix in no time. Resources become like a forge. Mask-wearing was viewed as something from a B-film Sci-Fi. People lost their jobs and homes. Education became a nightmare. People got sick and died. And politically… Whew! Now, eleven months in, and it is no surprise to me that some people are struggling to find a happy or thankful place. But there have been some shining spots in 2020, and that’s what I will focus on today.

  1. Woke culture.

I’m one of those people who can walk through life, and if something does not bother or affect me, I will not notice. I think most people are like this, and that’s not a criticism. It’s human nature. Again, I live in the south. I do not on a regular think about how to react in a blizzard. Likely, I define and would behave differently in a snowstorm than persons who live in areas where winter is actually a thing. I mean, if there are snow flurries here, chances are, businesses are going to close. Now, I know that seems laughable to many, but why would southerners spend a lot of time thinking and preparing for icy conditions when it happens once every five years or so? We don’t know how to drive in it because we do not have an opportunity to practice. Most of us do not have the proper clothes for it because our coats are made for fashion and not warmth. Currently, the temperature outside is seventy-three degrees, and for us, that’s getting a bit chilly. I can count on both hands the number of times in my life that there has been one-inch or more snow in my yard and still have fingers left over.  So, I get it when Northerners laugh when Southerners freak out about snow flurries. The perspectives are different.

I think woke culture, which some people criticize for being too thinned-skinned, is nothing more than the intention of viewing a situation or event from a different perspective or point of view. It is a call to be objective and instead of subjective. It’s going beyond our small box of a world and showing empathy and compassion to others around us. How many times during an argument in relationships does one partner want the other partner to agree with him/her? The disagreement has sparked because of two varying points of view most times. Stepping back and considering from a different angle does not mean that one will agree, change positions, or diminish his/her morality. All it does is allow a person to stand a moment in another person’s shoes to understand that their feelings are valid to them. They are entitled and have a right to how they feel. And their feelings are independent to your feelings and have nothing to do with you. How does a wife feel when she attempts to communicate with her husband that she does not feel appreciated by him and he brushes her off with a “you’re being silly” or “get over it”? He might even shove in her face something that he has done for her in the past and insist that she be appreciative that he did it for her and attempt to make her feel guilty or belittled for asking for more? That’s the same in woke culture. It’s not asking a person to change. It’s asking for awareness, acknowledgement, and respect.

I think 2020 has been a year of wokeness for many. I for one had my eyes opened about a lot. Two of the biggest areas that I’ve come to learn about has been the struggle of Indigenous people and the treatment of the transsexual community. These were things that I had never heard discussed and was not aware that existed. I’m not around people who were affected by these issues. But once I heard them mentioned, I stopped to listen and learn. I’d assumed things that weren’t factual. And instead of arguing to hold steadfast the beliefs I’ve been taught, I grew quiet and opened myself to take in new information. Am I an expert now? No. Do I understand everything? No. Do I still have much to learn? Yes. Am I willing to learn those things? Yes.

When I write, I write with love. I write with the belief that true love exists. I write with the hope of bringing smiles and happiness to readers. To be able to do that, I need to understand people and multiple points of views. For me, twenty-twenty has been humbling. I have experienced human growth in ways I could not have imagined. And I don’t believe I’m alone in this. I have watched some of my closest friends grow as well.  Hopefully, this growth will be seen in my writing and in my acts as a person. I always strive to better my craft. But on a personal level, I strive to be a better person—a better friend, daughter, sibling, parent, and neighbor.

  1. Productivity

I’ve watched dozens of videos of people completing home improvement projects or taking on life goals. People who lost their jobs spent their time doing the things that they have been postponing indefinitely. They now had time to clean out the garage or convert the basement into a media area. They had timing to put together a shelving unite or finally organize and catalog the items in their collections. Some had time to research their family history or write the novel they’ve been wanting to write their entire lives. Others reconnected with their families. A friend confessed to me that he had re-fallen in love with his wife during the pandemic. “I knew I loved her, but I think over the last ten years, I had forgotten why. Being at home with her and our children every day around the clock for three months reminded me not only why I fell in love with her but deepened my love and appreciation.” I beefed up my writing game. Another friend, who lives across the street from his parents, stated that he and his father finished restoring a car his father had purchased more than twenty years ago. “It sat in the garage as his ‘project’ and has always been a source of conflict between him and mother. Especially when they would argue, he would lock himself in the garage for hours and tinker with it. Us kids were never allowed to touch it. He’s owned it for as long as I could remember. I had to have been a toddler when he bought it. I’m now 42, and he and I completed it a couple of weeks ago. It allowed me to get to know my father on a completely different level, and we got a cool car out of it.”

  1. Creativity

I believe many people may have overlooked the role creativity has played during this pandemic. People have had to develop and devise ways to handle problems that they have never had before. Persons who lost their jobs have found other means of income. Some have allowed their artistic sides to bloom. Reflecting back to March when the news media was advising everyone not to wear masks because they would worsen the situation. Now, there is much debate about who put that information out there and why, but that’s not to point here. The point I am attempting to make is that by the time the public had been instructed mask-wearing would help slow (not prevent) the spread and suppress the curve of cases, there were no masks available for purchase. So many people with sewing skills took to making masks. Some made businesses out of it or vastly grew their small business. No one has released the numbers, but it is evident that mask-masking is a lucrative business, as mask-wearers want to express their personality in this 2020 accessory. I suppose some people enjoy wearing masks regardless of the reason why. For a great many others, though, I believe that since they have found themselves in this situation, they have simply found a way to make it a little more tolerable.

  1. Progression

A coworker who is near seventy years old used a computer for the first time two months ago. She had avoided it, and the company had never pressured her to conform. She continues to do everything by hand. Any document that is electronic, someone must print it for her. Vehemently, she rejected change, and her stubbornness slowed the progress of her coworkers at times. However, a conference changed things. She needed to renew her professional license, and since all in-person conferences had been suspended, she was forced to do cyber attendance like the rest of us. What she found is that she didn’t like it, but it wasn’t as terrible as she’d expected. While it’s done little to convince her to change her ways or venture into the millennium, it has allowed her to see how her nonconformity makes it difficult for her other coworkers—not that she cares. However, she now remains silent when someone complains about her because she realizes her coworkers’ complaints are valid and have merit. Plus, she also recognizes that she now must tread lightly. Since she’s had some computer training, if she continues to upset coworkers, their complaints may be loud enough for administration to order that she comply with the same procedures as everyone else. She can no longer use the excuse that she does not know how. She knows very little about the computer, but she has demonstrated her ability to learn.

Another coworker stated that she was hoping to travel one day. Currently, she does not have the finances, and she contends that she may never earn enough to travel out of the country. In fact, she does not believe this will ever be possible for her. However, it is a dream, and as a dream she decided to work towards it in small ways that she can afford. One way is by learning a foreign language. She has downloaded apps that teach you to speak another language and listens to them in her spare time or while she is commuting to and from work. She admits that her progress has been slow but that she definitely knows more than when she began. Sometimes, achieving small goals can be as satisfying as reaching larger ones.

  1. Experimentation

This one I found to be so much fun. People let their guards down and began attempting things they’d never done before. Take a look at TikTok and how many people joined during the pandemic. People who would barely pose for family photos were encouraged and branched out to do dancing challenges. People laughed at themselves and opened up to just have fun. Some looked at the pandemic as the pre-apocalypse and decided to begin checking off items on their bucket lists. People adopted the attitude, if this is the end, why wait any longer? Therefore, they began experimenting and trying new things.

  1. Maintaining

While much of the focus has been on losses and gains, some people are very thankful for maintaining what they have. Although they haven’t had it easy, so many people are grateful that they have not been as effected by 2020 as others have been. Essential employees may have had to pull longer hours for the same pay and risk exposure to the virus more than others, but many are thankful to have been able to maintain their homes and livelihoods. They’ve taken everything in stride by taking recommended CDC precautions to keep themselves safe.

A YouTube content creator stated that her life has been minimally affected by the pandemic because she’s an introvert, used to living alone and working from home. Before shelter-in-place was an ordnance implemented by her city, she was already having most of her meals delivered and remaining in her home.

These are just a few of the ways that the year 2020 has not been a complete bomb and failure of a year. While there is a tendency to see all the things that have been troubling or traumatic this year, there have been some promising things to happen as well.

What good have you found in 2020? What are you thankful for this year? What are you doing this November? Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving?

Ice Gladiators

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors or BookBub.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

Gabbi Grey: Why gay romance? (Contest)
Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Barbara Bettis!
*~*~*

My journey to writing gay romances was full of twists, turns, and switchbacks.  I wrote my first book in 2012, the same year I bought my first e-reader.  I had no notion of books beyond those being traditionally published and the indie world opened my eyes to the possibility of writing for more than just a major publisher.  The collision encouraged me to open myself up to what else was out there.

I read my first gay romance in 2013.  It was an Ava March story, Pleasures of Somerville Park.  It was revelatory, but not earth-moving.  I had gay friends.  I’d seen Tony Kushner’s Angels in America plays in Toronto.  I’d enjoyed the movies Peter’s Friends and Philadelphia.  I thought I was enlightened.  What I had yet to discover is there was a whole subgenre of romance called gay romance that was about to really break out.  And it did so mostly by word of mouth.

A good friend insisted I try books by Tara Lain, Marie Sexton, and Kaje Harper.  I was just moving into audiobooks so I tried Kaje’s Into Deep Water.  My mind was blown.  Here were two gay men in the navy during the Second World War in the Pacific Theater.  I had no notion.  And not only did their new love survive the war, they went on to live together and love together well into their eighties.  I was moved, realizing for the first time just how difficult things had been for gay men and lesbians back then.  I supported marriage equality, of course, and was pleased that Canada was one of the first countries to adopt the legislation, but I still was naïve.

From there I moved on to Tara Lain’s Knight of Ocean Avenue from her Love in Laguna series, and I was hooked.  I’ve never looked back.  My first dip into writing gay romance was when I saw a call from a publisher.  There were certain criteria and I hit all of them, quite pleased with myself.  Then I asked a Beta Reader – a gay man – and he had plenty of feedback, including that the story was incomplete.  He was right and eventually I did tackle the edits for that book.  The call from the publisher had long closed but I had something I really loved.  That being said, the book is way too long and still in need of work.  I will publish it one day, I promise.

Another call from a different publisher caught my attention.  This was a general call and there was no specific mention of gay romance, yet I knew I wanted to be part of this.  The series is set in a small fictional Vermont town with an inn at the center.  Every book had to have a visitor from the inn meeting someone in town.  I went way out of my wheelhouse and chose a black Civil War soldier’s ghost who haunts the local cemetery and a history professor from Scotland who is in America to research untold stories of the dead.  I had my story, I had my conflict (because one of them is dead, how are you supposed to get a happy ending?), and I was off to write a story I believed in.  My first paranormal as well, but that was secondary to the love story between the two men.  The book, My Past, Your Future, was my first book published and I earned some great reviews.

The next call from the publisher was for beach-read books.  The only criteria was there had to be ice cream and a beach.  I ruminated over that for months before one day knowing the story I had to tell.  I wanted the book set in my city, Vancouver, Canada, and I knew I wanted something to do with the film industry.  A story coalesced and the next thing I knew, I had a book.  The edits moved swiftly as the publisher wanted to get the book out in time for summer.  Catch a Tiger by the Tail was released last month and I have to say I’m happy with the project.  And if you’ve never heard of tiger tail ice cream (orange cream with ribbons of black licorice), here’s your chance.  I call this book my fake-boyfriend age-gap gay rom-com.

Catch a Tiger by the Tail

Thomas Walsh knows the number one rule in the film industry. Don’t get involved with the talent. But resisting the urge to take the big screen to the bedroom can be hell when the lead actor on the set looks good enough to eat…one slow lick at a time.

Peter Erickson’s latest role as a gay man hits a little too close to home. He’s still in the closet and secretly grieving the death of his lover. Then an enchanting production assistant catches his eye, and he’s surprised by the instant attraction that stirs more than his wounded soul.

When the two men are caught on camera in a very intimate pose, both Thomas and Peter are afraid they’ve caught a tiger by the tail.

Excerpt from Catch a Tiger by the Tail

“The frown is back, Peter.”

Damn. “Just concentrating on the ice cream.”

“If you say so.”

I turned to him and stuck out my tongue.

His mouth gaped open. “Did you just stick your tongue out at me?”

Leaning over, I took another swipe at his ice cream. Little remained, only cone. Much the same as mine.

“You know, that licorice is growing on me.” The orange cream was becoming a favorite. “What’s it called?”

“Tiger tail.” The omnipresent grin was back. “Created by a woman named Morgan Carr back in the 1950s, it is very popular in Canada, Southern Ontario in particular. It is almost impossible to find in the United States.”

He said the words with faux officiousness, and I burst out laughing. “I find the flavor oddly compelling.”

“Ah, but here’s the real test—would you pick it all on your own if you had the choice?”

“Over the other hundred flavors?” Good question. “I’m not sure. I love cookies and cream, adore chocolate chunk, and have even enjoyed spumoni.”

Thomas gagged. “That’s disgusting. You obviously have no taste.”

“Says the man who believes black licorice belongs in ice cream.”

“You enjoyed it.”

“Probably more than I should have.” There, the honest truth. I had enjoyed it. I enjoyed the company even more.

Book Links:
Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/Catch-Tiger-Tail-One-Scoop-ebook/dp/B088QS34BX
KOBO:  https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/catch-a-tiger-by-the-tail-6
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/catch-a-tiger-by-the-tail-gabbi-grey/1137046121
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/catch-a-tiger-by-the-tail/id1517323369

About the Author

Gabbi lives surrounded by trees, raccoons, deer, and other woodland creatures, on a mountain in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin poo keeps her safe from nasty bears.

Working for the government by day, she spends her nights writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances…and while she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love.

Personal Links: 
Website: https://gabbigrey.com/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/gabbi-grey
Facebook (page): https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGabbiGrey
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorgabbigrey/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/gabbigreyauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabbiGrey
Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Gabbi-Grey/e/B07SJVFX1M

Contest

Gabbi is happy to give away a $5 Amazon gift card. 
Just let her know what your favorite flavor of ice cream is (hers is pretty obvious…)!

 

Susan Saxx: Nathan Unwrapped (Contest)
Monday, July 27th, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
*~*~*

BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY starts TODAY!
If you want to be part of the tour for new release
NATHAN UNWRAPPED – by Susan Saxx,
please go here, to SILVER DAGGER TOURS!
July 25th to August 25th. Tons of chances to win!

 

I’m pretty excited. I’ve started writing in a new genre! And I’ve fallen in love with it!

Why did I choose to start a new genre, while still writing M/F, especially in the Real Men series?

I found I loved exploring the different power dynamics between 2 men. There’s something about the push and pull between two warriors, two characters with similar power bases figuring out how to come together.

And the intense vulnerability when they finally do…

It’s got me captivated.

What did some of my lovely advance readers, die-hard M/F fans say, of their first foray into M/M romance? 

“This is not usually a genre I read but I am so glad I made an exception this time. Even if M/M is not your thing I urge you to read this book. It is first and foremost an exceptionally beautiful book about love in all its magical and diverse forms.”

“Yep. Welcome to my first ever review for a M/M romance. No one is more shocked than I am since I land squarely in the box for liking hetero romances. This doesn’t mean I’m a hater, it’s just not my jam.

…But most of all, I was overwhelmed with the love that bound this house full of people that life had kicked to the curb. Not only did they have an outrageous, over-the-top love for each other, but they even had love for those on the outside who chose not to show love to them. Beautiful story. Fabulous depth. Pure joy.”

We all have our favorites, and that’s GOOD. However, if you love m/m, or just love love, and want to try something new (but not really…it’s still love…), here’s the series blurb.

THE MEN OF HOPE HOUSE

Refuge Bay spills into glorious Chesapeake Bay. It’s here Nathan Gentael has found his hope again, his mission…in the ancient century home that’s been in his family for generations.

To gather together gay men who have been shredded by life, to give them a chance. A second shot at life…

The men who come will not have it easy. Romance will be the last thing on their minds.

But love will find them…

 

A sensitive artist, frozen in time, but with a new mission…
An ex-military bulldozer of a man who doesn’t brook any opposition and has his own agenda…
And a derelict manse, in stunning, out of the way Refuge Bay,
that must be rebuilt…

Add to Goodreads
Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * BoroughsPublishingGroup * Website ​* Smashwords

The FIRST MEETING

The cataclysmic drop in Nathan’s gut was all too familiar. If the pushy investor came in now and saw the disorder, everything would be lost.

His mission. The only thing he knew that could make his existence even remotely redeemable. It would all be gone. Again. And he didn’t know that he could recover from that kind of loss.

This was his last reboot. Absolutely the last.

And if that was gone…

Nathan ran to the back door, slammed it shut, turned the lock. Jumped to the kitchen window, hurriedly yanked the curtain closed.

“Dude. What are you doing?”

“Hiding.”

Zach shook his head. “Buddy. He had to have seen the curtains open.”

“Pfft. Guys don’t look at curtains.”

“But the noise… the commotion in here…”

“That souped-up rod he’s driving would have drowned out the waves on a Nor’easter.” Nathan catapulted to the basement entrance, yanked out the extension cord connected to the fans downstairs, and tossed it down the wooden stairs. Then he hurriedly flipped the light in the corner off. “We’ll be super quiet. Wait him out. He won’t know any different.”

He slid down against the wall, tucked himself into the corner, looped his arm around Molly, who’d finally trotted back to his side, grinning her slobbery grin, and held her close. He motioned to Zach to join him.

None of this made sense. But hell. He was acting on instinct. “When he’s gone, we’ll contact the agent. Reschedule. Clean up. Then…”

Zach looked wild. “Nate, he’s not stupid. Even if he’s an investor with way more money than those great big balls he’s supposed to have, he’ll know. You can’t just…”

And then, as if to be the proverbial cherry on the top — in tandem with the fact that there were cherries everywhere — a loud voice filled the air, coming from the far end of the kitchen, by the hallway.

There, wrapped in a distressed brown leather jacket and knife-edged khaki pants, stood a man. Shoulders spanning, well, way more than they would on an everyday mortal. Dark hair, curling around the nape of his neck. An open-throated shirt, brown leather boots. Staring at the two of them and definitely not amused.

Contest

For a chance to win a copy of Nathan Unwrapped, please let me know in the comments:
Are you reading more, in these times of Covid-19? And/or…what new genre are you hankering to try out?

About Susan

Amazon Bestselling Author Susan Saxx has a passion for the small towns of North America. She sets her compelling stories in the north country (Jack’s Bay), mountain country (Terrence Point, Dawson Ridges, Golden) and Chesapeake Bay area (Refuge Bay), replete with quirky yet big-hearted neighbours always willing to lend a hand—and an opinion, whether requested or not.

Susan also deeply loves Christmas, with numerous Christmas stories in her series, and adds more holiday books (including Valentine’s and Halloween), annually.

As she continues to write the beloved Real Men series, she is applying her passion for love without boundaries to the m/m genre.

Thom Collins: The Anthem Box Set (Contest—3 Winners!)
Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

UPDATE: The winners are…ALL 5 commenters!
*~*~*

Thanks for having here today to talk about the box set reissue of The Anthem Trilogy from Pride Publishing. This is a real pleasure for me, as the Anthem books are very close to my heart. I spent the best part of three years working on the trilogy, and the characters became part of the family for that time.

My original plan was to write one big novel, but I realized very quickly that would be commercially impossible. No romance publisher would take a 600-page book at that time, and instead, I set about telling Daniel and Elijah’s love story across three books. I always plan my books in advance, working out all the character and plot details, and that was even more important when telling such a big story. The three novels are thrillers as much as romances, and I had to make sure that all the elements fit in place before I began.

But at the heart of everything is Daniel and Elijah. I love these guys. They meet in the first book while working on a luxury cruise ship. Daniel is a singer, Elijah a comedian, and they hit it off right away, but it’s far from smooth sailing for this pair. Across the three years in which the story takes place, I put them through hell. The guys get caught up in a horrific storm at sea, murder, betrayal, and revenge.

The timing of this reissue is kind of fitting, too. I should have been on a cruise right now, but like everyone else, those plans are on hold indefinitely. So why not join Daniel and Elijah onboard the Atlantic Anthem and take a trip to sea with them? It will be a bumpy voyage, but definitely worth the risk.

THE ANTHEM TRILOGY

  1. Anthem of the Sea
  2. Anthem of the Dark
  3. Anthem of Survival

When Daniel Blake meets Elijah Mann the attraction is instant. Handsome and talented, they are immediately drawn together. The perfect men for each other. Daniel has never been in love before. Most of his adult length has been focused on his career, first in a failed boy band, before cutting his teeth on the cabaret circuit and finally finding success on a TV talent show. At twenty-nine, he’s achieved more than most. The time is right to focus on his personal life. Tall, dark, sexy and funny, Elijah has it all and Daniel can’t resist him.

But a figure from Daniel’s past comes back into his life just as he meets Elijah. Jealous, bitter and twisted, Oliver Gill has never forgiven Daniel for his success. A success that was rightfully his. Fueled by hatred, Oliver’s actions set in motion a catastrophic chain of events that have far retching consequences for Daniel and Elijah, a threat not just to their happiness, but to their lives.

GET IT NOW:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Pride Publishing
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Contest

Comment for a chance to win one of THREE copies of the ANTHEM TRILOGY!

About Thom Collins

Thom Collins is the author of Closer by Morning, Gods of Vengeance, Silent Voices and the Anthem Trilogy. His love of page-turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels. He is currently working on a new series.

Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonk-busters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age, but in 2013 he realized cruising is the best way to see the world.

Check out his website for news updates and a free ebook The Night!

Links:
Website: www. thomcollins.co.uk
Twitter: @thomwolf
Instagram: ThomCollinsAuthor
Email: thomcollinsauthor@aol.com



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