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Jaiyde Thomas: Why I write about blind people
Thursday, January 6th, 2022

Hello all! My name is Jaiyde Thomas, and I am an indie author of mm romance. I love books with lots of angst, a character-driven plot, and of course, lots and lots of sex or BDSM scenes. My favorite romance tropes are hurt/comfort and first-time gay, and I’m a sucker for happily-ever-afters. What I wish to see more in fiction, whether it be TV or books, are disabled characters.

I have been blind since birth. I was told that because I was born premature (1lb. 6oz.), I was placed into an incubator to help with my growth and development. Too much oxygen to my brain led to my cause of blindness, retinopathy of prematurity, which is an eye disease that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina in premature babies. I was in the hospital for two months before my mother was allowed to take me home. At some point, I was also diagnosed with glaucoma, which is increased pressure in the eyeball that causes vision loss.

Being blind had its challenges and its advantages. As a young child, I had moments of doubt because of my disability, and I felt I was different when I was around sighted peers or family. I had many passions as a young girl that kept me feeling normal, and one of them was reading. The Library for the Blind would send me stacks of books, and I would sit on the floor and devour all that I could. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even take off my shoes after school, or I’d be late for dinner, my Granny having to call me multiple times before I understood: stop reading and come eat. Then, I was allowed one day to bring a Braillewriter home from school, and that started my writing journey.

I won’t bore you with my entire life story, but I started writing songs and short stories at around age nine. Then, in seventh grade, I decided to write my first story about a teenage pregnancy. When I became bored with that, I wrote a seven-story series based off my own experiences in high school. In one of them, the main character is blind for a few months, but regains her sight soon after. I wanted her to deal with what I was in real life.

In 2020, under my other pen name, Kelanie Black, I created The Red Lair book series. The focus for this was to show that disabled people, such as the blind, could explore BDSM just like sighted people. Each book had one or two blind characters, each dealing with their exploration of the lifestyle and disability in a different way. After the series was completed, I had decided to try my hand at a new genre: mm romance.

A question online made me push forward writing disabled characters. I will address it below:

Why do you always write about blind people?

Firstly, I don’t believe that we as disabled persons get enough recognition. In TV shows and movies, there are some, but they only have a small role where they are seen and forgotten about, or the disabilities are portrayed inaccurately. I haven’t read a book that includes sex and disabled characters, but I’m sure they’re out there.

Secondly, BDSM is stigmatized just like blind people having sex. People think that because we are blind that someone has to help us all the time and watch over us 24/7. That’s far from the truth! I know many blind people who enjoy sex and BDSM and don’t have a sighted person with them to guide them. We are just normal people, we just do things a bit differently, and we may need accommodations to do them, but we still get things done.

Finally, I write about blind people exploring the BDSM lifestyle so that I can educate others. If you aren’t blind, you wouldn’t know what the day-to-day experience of a disabled person is like. I encourage questions, comments, and even feedback regarding blindness, BDSM, accessibility, because how will you learn if you don’t ask?

Thank you so much for having me! I will post my socials below, and please feel free to follow, friend, and PM me with anything of interest that catches your eye from this post or questions.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaiyde_thomas
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaiyde_thomas
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/jaiyde.thomas2142/
Website: www.trustsayyes.blogspot.com

Claim Me, Love Me by Jaiyde Thomas

The Red Lair series by Kelanie Black:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GLM4WWH?binding=kindle_edition&ref=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_pc_tukn

D’Arcy Arden: The Fourth State of Matter
Monday, December 27th, 2021

When I started writing The Fourth State of Matter, I intended for it to be a poly relationship between a human and two alien characters. However, as I was coming up with the characters I ran into a problem. I couldn’t decide how to design the aliens.

My writing process is usually to start by drawing the characters first. If I can draw them that means I can envision them clearly enough to write about them. I went through several different designs for the aliens, and eventually whittled it down to three different ones.

Then, as I was debating which of the three designs to discard, a thought occurred to me. Why do I have to choose at all?

And so, my ménage à trois became a ménage à quatre.

The Fourth State of Matter is a story that explores the intricacies of an atypical relationship. These characters proudly rebel against the norm, but that doesn’t mean they are free from conflict. There is plenty of drama to be found, both internally and externally. From personal conflicts of self-worth to government agents trying to split our main characters apart, this story features a little of everything.

Between these pages you’ll also find a great sci-fi story, steamy foursome sex scenes between a human and his three alien lovers, and a psychological exploration of what it means to be human. If any of this sounds like your cup of tea, then check out The Fourth State of Matter.

The Fourth State of Matter

Earth is dead. Humanity survives by selling the only resource available—themselves. 2689 has signed away his rights as a living being and become décor, living artwork that rich aliens use to decorate their homes. It’s a stable existence but a boring one. Until one day his owner plays host to three unexpected guests. Large, loud, and more potent than anything 2689 has ever experienced, this trio of ship-dwellers from the wrong side of the universe awakens a desire he can’t ignore.

However, blissful days of sex and companionship with Brog, Desmodian, and Xavis come to an end when 2689 discovers a plot that could land the trio in jail…or worse. 2689 will have to make a choice—stay silent and allow three innocent lives to be ruined or give up his stable life to protect the ones he loves.

Check out the trailer!

The Use of Heavy Water

And for further adventures, be on the lookout for the upcoming sequel The Use of Heavy Water. Find out more here:
https://daarden33.wixsite.com/weatheringthestorm/post/the-valence-chronicles-book-2-cover-and-title-reveal

~D’Arcy Arden

Gabbi Grey: What’s with instalove? (Contest)
Friday, December 24th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Adisen!
*~*~*

I have an admission to make—I was never a fan of instalove.  I mean, how do two people meet and just, like, know?  To me, love takes time.  Time to get to know the other person.  Time to figure out if you’re compatible with them.  Time to sort through all the baggage you both are carrying.  (Because you don’t get to my age without some serious baggage…)

Maybe I’m showing my age.

When I sit down and put pen to paper, though, logic and common-sense fly right out the window.  Of course, my couples are going to meet and know.  Of course, everything is going to go right.  Of course, there’s going to be a dark moment of the soul when all looks lost.  Of course, they’re going to wind up together.

Now, in my mind, these progressions happen gradually.  There might be attraction, but the characters have to work through their deep emotional wounds before they can find their happily ever after.  And I do love to make my characters suffer.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  Make that happen.  Think things can’t get worse?  They can.  But I’m always working toward the happily ever after.

Up until this latest release, all my stories were novellas.  Longer than a short story.  Shorter than a novel.  A nice in-between place.  The problem?  Between the emotional wounds and the action of the tale, that’s a lot of story to fit into a tight package.  Readers have assured me I’ve done it well.  Reviewers have decried “instalove”.

Ginger Snapping All the Way was supposed to be different.  It’s my first full-length gay romance.  The plan was for it to be a novella, but the story quickly got away from me, and writing long was my only option.  I don’t regret it.  I love this book.  I believed since the book was longer, I could avoid some of the instalove criticism.  Except, it’s not the length of the story, but the length of the time the characters are together that determines instalove.  Yes, Maddox and Ravi are only together three days before they figure it out.  They know.  And yeah, that makes it instalove.

So, heap on the criticism.  Decry that it’s not realistic.  I’ll stand by my story.  These guys fought hard to be in a place to accept love. Love that is freely given.  Love with no expectations.  A true happily ever after.

And, of course, a cute dog.

I would love to know what you think about instalove.  Drop me a comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon GC.

Ginger Snapping All the Way

Maddox

I’m not a fan of Christmas. I’m happy to stay up in my mountain cabin and let the silly season pass me by.  But when a friend asks for a favor, I can’t say no.  Now I’m stuck in my cabin during a snowstorm, trapped with the most beautiful man I’ve ever met—who can’t wait to get away. He just might break my heart when he goes.

Ravi

I’m racing to get home for the birth of my goddaughter when mechanical troubles force my plane’s emergency landing. There are no beds at the inn due to a horrendous storm, but a friend says she knows a guy who won’t mind putting me up until the bad weather passes.  Now I’m trapped with that man, and I must decide if I stay, hiding from the rest of the world, or go and face my past to earn a shot at my happily ever after.

This is a 72k word, hurt/comfort, lumberjack/nurse, grumpy/sunshine, forced proximity MM romance novel with a moderate amount of angst.

Pre-Christmas Release price: 99 cents!!

eBook Links:
Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09KMC3X5X
Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/Ginger-Snapping-All-Gabbi-Grey-ebook/dp/B09KMC3X5X
KOBO:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ginger-snapping-all-the-way
Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ginger-snapping-all-the-way-gabbi-grey/1140479206
iBooks:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/ginger-snapping-all-the-way/id1593193241
Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/3yaArV

Audio Links:
Audible US:   https://www.audible.com/pd/Ginger-Snapping-All-the-Way-Audiobook/B09KS9C4Q4
Audible UK:  https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Ginger-Snapping-All-the-Way-Audiobook/B09KS845F

Excerpt from Ginger Snapping All the Way…

“Give me ten.”

He grinned. “Take fifteen.” He headed to the bathroom while I detoured to the walk-in closet to snag my terry towel bathrobe, and then I shoved my feet into my faux sheepskin lined leather slippers—a gift from Hillary. I’d be chilly by the time Princess did her job, but Ravi’d warm me up right quick. I opened the door to find my pooch planted at the door, tapping her metaphorical paw.

She’d obviously heard voices and decided she’d been patient long enough.

I ruffled the fur on the top of her heard and she gave me the stink eye. Ah, so all was not forgiven. Hard to say whether the bribery bone was going to get me back into her good books.

She followed me as I headed down the stairs, flipping on lights as I went.

Her nails clacked on the hardwood floor.

Time to trim them again.

One of the few things I didn’t enjoy as her owner. The thought of cutting her to the quick terrified me, but the alternative was going into town to the groomer’s and that was too much peopling for me.

Man, I really had to re-examine my life. If taking care of Sofia meant going into town, I should make the effort. She was probably due for some shots as well. I’d call Dr. Zephyra’s vet clinic and make an appointment for her. I opened the back door and was hit with a blast of frigid air.

Sofia balked.

I nudged her gently with my toe.

She glared.

I pointed.

She shrugged. And finally stepped out.

The nice square I’d cleared yesterday had almost another foot. All while we’d slept. Uh, thank you, universe. This meant I’d get my delicious gorgeous man for another day. Yum. I had plans. So many plans.

My stomach rumbled. I considered. Okay, yeah, dinner’d been about eleven hours ago. But I didn’t want to stop for food. I didn’t want to stop for anything. Princess Sofia finally squatted, and I did an inner cheer. My legs were turning into ice as she deigned to do her business. And with all the snow that’d accumulated against her belly, I now needed to grab a towel. More time. It would take more time to dry her off, and I needed more time with Ravi. Was I allowed to hope the snow never stopped?

Sofia tried to dodge around my legs, but I was quicker. I halted her progress and kept one hand clutching her collar while the other closed and locked the door. I snagged her towel, and she gave me a baleful look. Seriously? If someone offered to rub me down and I was wet, I certainly wouldn’t complain. Especially if that someone had tan skin, deep dark-brown eyes, and a killer smile.

My cock sat up and took notice at that thought. Sighing, I wrapped Sofia in the towel and rubbed vigorously, all the while thinking of other things I’d love to rub. When she was drier, I put her down.

She bolted for her bowl and nosed her very expensive kibble. And gave me that look.

I swear to God, the dog was psychic. Or I’d given in to her demands once too often—I wasn’t sure which. I moved to the cupboard and pulled down the very expensive wet food. And cursed. I hadn’t brushed her teeth the last two nights. After a very expensive dental bill, I’d decided I’d rather brush her teeth every night than lose another thousand bucks. It’d also cost her three teeth. That was really the determining factor.

And she didn’t really fight anymore. She just liked to put on a good show.

Sighing, I dumped the food into a bowl and separated it into Sofia-appropriate sized bites. I barely put the bowl on the floor before she’d scarfed most of it down. No delicacy here—she ate like a starving wolf after a long winter. Or like she hadn’t been fed for a month. Sheesh.

Hot chocolate. And ginger snap cookies.

I pulled the milk from the fridge, then grabbed two mugs. It took entirely too long to prepare two mugs, but in the meantime, I grabbed a sandwich bag and added four cookies. I’d prefer presenting the cookies on a nice plate Hillary had insisted on giving me—because she insisted I would eventually have company—but two mugs and a plate was just too much to carry. I doubted Ravi’d care how I presented the cookies.

I snagged Sofia’s wet-food bowl off the floor and put it into the dishwasher. Then I selected a small frozen soup bone for her.

Her eyes lit with glee—a double treat.

Enjoy it, pooch.

Not going to happen again any time soon.

Unless Ravi stays…

Nope, not going there.

I held out the bone, and she angled her head to grab it with her little teeth.

She made a beeline to her bed in front of the fireplace. She dropped the bone and sniffed it, clearly trying to decide the best way to approach this.

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/
Newsletter sign-up:  https://sendfox.com/gabbigrey
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
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/gabbigreyauthor/

Alexa Piper: The Things We Wish For (Excerpt)
Friday, December 3rd, 2021

December is for wishes, whether it be gifts we desire or things we hope for in the next year. And sometimes, we are given things we newer knew to wish for.

Take Aaron, for example. He seems to have everything a person could want: he’s good-looking, a powerful witch, and his family is rich. He goes to wintry Fairview to look for a missing girl.

Then there’s Ilya. Ilya’s a bartender who likes his job. He’s also a banshee and mildly psychic, but he doesn’t tell people about that, because it makes him a target, desirable for his skill.

These two men run into each other, and while the reason for their meeting isn’t a happy one, they do get something out of it: each other. But not without a fight. Not without a risk.

Meet Aaron and Ilya this holiday season in The Night Bartender.

The Night Bartender (Fairview Chronicles 9)

Ilya stays safe by trusting no one, but Aaron, a wealthy witch, makes Ilya want to trust.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3DjlWNU
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3wLbmwQ
Apple: https://apple.co/3Di9UEK
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3qQMsLh
Changeling Press: https://bit.ly/3HwmLpj

Aaron has come to Fairview to find his ex’s teenage sister, who went missing in the city. As a witch both rich and powerful, Aaron follows a trail that leads him to a bar frequented by supernaturals and to a bartender who attracts Aaron’s attention — and not just because the bartender is keeping something from Aaron. When Aaron runs out of leads, he follows the mysterious and pretty bartender, and the next thing Aaron knows, he’s foiling an attempted abduction.

Ilya has built a quiet life in Fairview mixing drinks and flying under the radar. He is a banshee, and the psychic ability and mild telepathy that comes with that makes Ilya a sought-after commodity. That carefully constructed life Ilya built for himself breaks into a thousand pieces when a handsome witch starts asking questions and becomes Ilya’s rescuer mere hours after they meet.

The witch, Aaron, vows to protect Ilya and to keep his secret. Now Ilya has to decide whether he will give Aaron his trust and risk a lonely but safe life as a night bartender in a wintry city in which people disappear only to then turn up murdered.

Excerpt from The Night Bartender…

Copyright ©2021 Alexa Piper

Aaron buried his hands in his coat pockets and gave the bleak Fairview midday sky a hard look. Not that the sky gave much of a damn. It was late November, just after the Thanksgiving weekend, and for most of the morning, it had sleeted in a way Aaron had never before experienced in his life. It was like a hot shower, except the cold, freezing water got all the way through to your skin and passed the cold to every inch of your body.

“Damn city just might be cursed with bad weather,” Aaron mumbled as he walked along a street in the Old Town, which should lead him to a bar friendly to the not-quite-human clientele if his online research skills hadn’t failed him. A deep black cloud caught his attention. It zapped across the horizon as if blown by a particularly vicious breeze. Aaron frowned before he picked up his pace. The sooner I’m done here, the sooner I can go back to Morrowvale where November doesn’t suck so bad your balls want to freeze off in surrender, he thought.

In all honesty, Fairview wasn’t a bad place. The city itself was nice enough. The parks and trees here littered the streets with the bones of leaves turning to sludge in the puddles left from the earlier sleet showers, and the people, while ignoring both other people and the suck-tastic weather, dressed a little nicer than the average Morrowvaler. Aaron had also never had Japanese food as good as he’d had an hour ago in a small, unassuming place he’d accidentally walked into, at least not outside Japan. That counted for something, at least in Aaron’s book.

Traffic was in what passed for a bit of a midday lull in Fairview. The honking had ebbed to a not-eardrum-shattering noise, and Aaron managed to cross the street without it feeling like he was gambling with his life.

The Ragdoll was a basement bar, and if Aaron hadn’t been looking for it, he probably would have missed the small neon sign that was either broken or just off this early in the day. A wrought-iron fence further hid the sign and the door, which lay at the bottom of a flight of stairs. This could be a private gambling den or the hideout of a bunch of Russian spies, Aaron thought.

He walked down the stairs and pulled the door open just as another sleet shower was getting ready to wash the streets and everyone walking outside with icy wetness. Aaron shivered as he crossed the threshold and blinked into the softly lit bar.

Last week’s Thanksgiving paper turkeys and fall-colored garlands were still up, though a busboy collected the decorations into a cardboard box labeled “Turkey Day” in black sharpie. There were no Russian spies and no gambling going on here.

Surprisingly, there were several patrons in the bar this early in the day. Aaron spotted a handful starting their day’s drinking early, but most nursed mugs of coffee or were digging into sandwiches which, admittedly, looked better than was right in a basement bar. Judging by their business suits, those were just office workers who knew where the good sandwiches were at. The music was pop, playing just loud enough to offer background noise without becoming obnoxious. This place, despite the outward appearance, looked hip, trendy even. Fucking Fairview. This city is as confusing as a clown at a dinner party, Aaron thought.

Aaron’s fingers closed around the talisman in his pocket. With his touch and the smallest pinch of magic, he felt the worked metal coin activate and the spellbound to it sizzle to life. Three people, including the strawberry-blonde girl behind the bar, whipped their heads around to look at him. So, this place really is supernatural friendly, Aaron thought. The talisman heated rapidly in his pocket. And Dora definitely was here before she disappeared.

That confirmed, he let go of the talisman and walked straight to the bartender. The other two patrons who’d noticed his magic had gone back to ignoring him like the good Fairviewers they were.

“Hi,” Aaron said, giving the strawberry blonde his best winning smile. “What’s good here?”

She shrugged. “Depends on whether it’s drink-o’clock in your world or not. If not, the pumpkin spice latte kills. If yes, you look like a Macallan kind of guy.”

Aaron grinned at her. “You’d be right about the whiskey, but I think I’ll go with the latte,” he told her.

He was doing his best with the charming vibes, which usually worked even if he turned it on women, but the bartender just nodded and went about preparing his coffee. Aaron watched her, more interested in the fact that she was making coffee at a bar decked out with an impressive assortment of liquor than anything else. The coffee machine was one of those intimidating ones that took up some primo counter real estate, and from the looks of it, it saw some use.

When she was done, she brought the latte over to him and puffed a dash of cinnamon over the foamy top right in front of him. The warm scent of the spice immediately made Aaron feel just a little more optimistic about everything. The mug was the cutesy kind with a grinning, red-nosed reindeer on the side.

“There you go,” she said with little enthusiasm, though not exactly unfriendly.

“Thanks, miss,” Aaron said. Before she could walk away again, he focused on her instead of the latte. “Could I ask you something?”

“I’m guessing I’m not your type, so go right ahead,” she said.

Aaron’s eyes widened, and it was the girl’s turn to chuckle. “Half-succubus,” she said in a whisper. “The gay-dar is practically built-in.”

He nodded, fighting the color rising to his cheeks. “Right. Makes sense.” Aaron cleared his throat. “I was wondering if you’ve seen this girl,” he said and pulled the photo Patrick had given him from his pocket. It showed Dora smiling, her blond hair shimmering in the sun.

The half-succubus took a look, then shook her head. “No, sorry. Friend of yours?”

“My ex’s sister, believe it or not,” Aaron said. “She went missing, and I tracked her first to Fairview, and now here.” Aaron had the cellphone gods to thank for that. It made using his magic almost unnecessary, although Aaron still liked to confirm the actual person had been to a place, not just their phone, hence his talisman.

About Alexa Piper

Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them.

Connect with Alexa: https://linktr.ee/AlexaPiper

Genevive Chamblee: 10 Ways to Survive the Holidays
Friday, November 26th, 2021

I suppose now it is safe to say that we have officially entered the holiday season. In the U.S., there’s always been a little contention over when the holidays begin, as some skip from Halloween straight to Christmas and ignore Thanksgiving, while others do not concede that the holidays begin until the week of turkey day. And last year the holidays for most people didn’t feel like the holidays at all; although, the same could be said about this year. Usually, on Facebook and YouTube, there are tons of videos with Halloween decorations and creepy makeup looks as well as daily postings of gratitude. That really hasn’t happened this year, and if it did, it was on a much lower scale. Perhaps those are another thing that have been absorbed by the “new normal.” However, what hasn’t changed unfortunately is the sadness and despondency that the holidays can bring for some.

Holiday (and seasonal depression) is real. For some, it is due to the lack of sunlight when the clocks were rolled back an hour and the days are shorter. For others, it is the isolation and not being with (or having) friends and/or family. Still for others, it is the feeling of inadequacies due to lack of funds and feeling as if he/she cannot provide for their family and loved ones during this time of year. So, here are some tips to get through the holidays.

  1. Mental health should be everyone’s top priority. Take time to take care of yourself. Each day, do one thing no matter how small for yourself. This could be a walk in the park, a long bubble bath, giving yourself a facial, drawing, indulging in a movie, working in a garden, read a good book, or whatever. The activity of choice does not matter as long as it places a smile on your face.
  2. Do not dwell on events that bring you down. Missing loved ones that has left this life never truly goes away. It becomes something that we can live with an accept. However, this becomes a real challenge during the holidays, and it’s easy to become bogged down in the feelings of loss. Instead, engage in something that would have brought that person joy as a dedication to them. For example, if the person loved roses, place roses on their resting place. If that’s not possible, place them in your home or work office to remember the good times with them each time you look at them. One friend went skydiving during the holidays as she said it was something her father had always wanted to do. Since he was not able to fulfill that dream, she did it for him.
  3. For loved ones who haven’t passed away but for one reason or another cannot be present, bump up your contact with them in other ways. Facetime them more frequently. Go old school and send them a snail mail card with photos. Write more posts on their social media account. One friend did twenty-five days of vlogging (inspired by advent calendar boxes) and uploaded to his social media account so that his family would feel that they were a part of his daily life. In return, some of his family members did the same for him. It’s not the same as being in person, but it’s better than doing nothing and being lonely.
  4. Uplift others. One way to always improve your mood is to help to improve someone else’s there are plenty of ways to do this. It could be volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. It could be adopting an angle from the Angel Christmas Tree or purchasing a toy for Toys for Tots. Or it could be engaging in a random act of kindness. And smiling never hurts. There’s a local mom’s-n-pop’s breakfast bar where the workers are always chipper. It’s easy to see from their interactions with each other and customers that it isn’t an act and that the employees truly enjoy working there. They always brighten my day when I stopped by. Then, one day at lunch I stopped at a popular fast-food restaurant that the workers aren’t exactly known for their friendliness. I honestly can’t tell you why I was smiling when I got to the window as the person who took my order was sounding a bit perturbed. However, when I handed her my card with a cheery smile, I saw her disposition transform. I don’t know what was going on with her that day, but I hope that I brought a little more joy into it as the workers at the breakfast bar do for me.
  5. Get over the financials. Not everything is about money. There does not need to be tons (or any) presents beneath a tree have an excellent holiday. One tradition we have is watching a collection of holiday movies. While we will watch any, there are a couple that are on our “Must Watch” list every year, so much so that we purchased them on DVD in case we can’t find them on cable or satellite. We pop up some popcorn, curl under blankets, and sip hot chocolate as we watch. For us, this is better than any gift.
  6. Now, I know what some people may be thinking at this point—that all of that sounds good, but little children do not understand and will be disappointed. Okay, so this is where teaching moments about materialism come into play and help shaping values. Additionally, there are other ways to combat this. My child has a summer birthday, which meant most of her friends were away on summer vacation and wasn’t around for her birthday. Plus, family lived in a different town, which could make travel an issue at times. Since birthday parties were difficult to arrange due to these factors, the tradition was developed to spend the day doing fun activities. Over the years, we attended plays, visited museums and planetariums, had picnics, went on boat rides, etc. Many of the activities we engaged in were either free or had minimum costs. The same could be done for the holidays—driving around town and viewing decorations, going caroling, baking holiday cookies, playing in the snow (if you have snow), making crafts, refurbishing old toys to make them better, etc. Children may play with toys or wear clothes for a season, but they will always cherish fond memories.
  7. Now, this isn’t for everyone as I know plenty of people who are opposed to decorating or believe that decorating is only for children. In fact, a coworker proclaimed that since her children were grown that she was “past decorating.” I don’t know where the idea came from that decorating was only for children. If that were the case, the billion-dollar holiday decorations retail industry has it all wrong and has been making their money on a fluke. Literally, every time I hear this, my mind automatically pictures Charles Dicken’s Scrooge character. (Btw, that is one of the movies on our “Must Watch” list.) Decorating and making a home or a workplace festive can bring a great deal of joy.
  8. This may sound a bit odd, but invest in a sunlamp. If it is the darkness that has your mood sinking this time of year, some experts suggest using at-home portable sunlamps as an option for combating seasonal depression.
  9. Ditch dieting but adapt a good diet. Everyone knows dieting during the holidays is nearly always a bust. So, forget about it. Eat in moderation, but if you fall off the wagon with the strawberry cheesecake or haystacks, save the guilt and dieting for New Years. That being said, do try to maintain a healthy diet during the holidays. It’s so very easy to snack instead of consuming a “real meal.” A balance diet helps keep one’s energy up and avoid sugar-crashes, stomach aches, and nightmares or insomnia.
  10. Remember to exercise. I know that’s a dirty word for some people, but exercising has been proven to increase endorphins which can improve mood (and memory). The positive aspect about exercising is that it can be done in a variety of ways from running to swimming to dancing to weightlifting to aerobics to yoga to sports. There literally are endless ways to work exercising into one schedule and most of these are free. (Don’t we all just love free?”)

I want to end on another less mentioned group are the people who become so invested in the holidays that they forget to enjoy them. They are super busy getting things organized or agonizing over having things perfect that they miss all the fun. The holidays become a source of stress and work.

One of the secretaries at work becomes bitter each year with decorating the office. She says it’s “unnecessary.” Mind you, she does not have to pay for any of the decorations; there aren’t many; and they are stored in clearly marked boxes with easy access. Because her desk is located in the lobby, she feels the entire lobby is her area and that employees and/or clients have no say (or interest) in what occurs there. She views anything holiday-related, whether it be to hang a wreath on the door, fill candy dishes with peppermints, or display received holiday cards, as work. When she’s asked to address and send holiday cards to other departments, she complains that it is a waste of paper.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another employee always would take it upon herself to oversee the staff Christmas party. She would schedule the date and time and rally for other employees’ participation. However, she often went overboard to the point that she drove her coworkers to the brink of insanity with her persistence that they give her answers so that she could micromanage every part of the party. Before long, she could suck the fun out of anything, and ultimately, she didn’t enjoy any of it herself.

I’m convinced that between these two examples, there is a middle ground where holiday peace and harmony exist. Not everything has to be perfect. In fact, perfection can sometimes be found in imperfection. The most horrible, misshapen dessert may be the one that tastes the best.

So, that’s all that I have. Are you a fan of sports romance? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these points? Did you find any of this information helpful? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. If you’re not following me on Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.

Penalty Kill, book #4 in the Locker Room Love sports romance series is now available for purchase. Grab your copy at Amazon or at https://books2read.com/penaltykill for more options. Continue reading for the blurb and more information.

When the scandal of a double homicide threatens to destroy his career, this billionaire hockey player hires an ambitious sports agent to improve his public image. It’s time to let the puckery begin.

Timothée Croneau is that jock—the bad boy superstar with the naughty reputation. He’s handsome, arrogant, and a billionaire. He’s also the number one person of interest in a double homicide and recently traded to a losing team who is showing him no love. And wouldn’t it be just his luck that his career splashed in the toilet six months after his long-time agent kicked the bucket? Now, he’s stuck with Ryker Kitsch. An agent is supposed to fix his life, though, not break his heart.

Speaking of breaks, ex-athlete Ryker Kitsch wants his in the sports agency realm. He sees his chance to make a name for himself by helping rebrand his agency’s newly acquired hockey star, Timothée Croneau. The guy needs every lick of positive PR he can get. So, why is the devilishly gorgeous forward fighting him at every step and leaving Ryker to wonder if he’s been hired for a babysitting gig?

The mess Timothée is stirring was never in any contract Ryker was hired to handle. One thing’s for sure. Whether it’s a forecheck or backcheck, collision is inevitable.

Order your copy at:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ex0N9p
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/ B08YMYZF2S
Other book sellers: https://books2read.com/penaltykill
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3ex0N9p
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/30zhdWC
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3vjFmP6
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3cjyFnE
iTunes: http://apple.co/30xulf0
Nook: http://bit.ly/3bEi0w4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/30CNe00

Missed the three in my hockey romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box (book #1), where it is 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. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.

Defending the Net (book #2) can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Ice Gladiators (book #3) is the third book in my Locker Room Love series. When the gloves come off, the games begin. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

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, 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.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click https://genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com/newsletter/ and signup today.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Laissez le bon temps rouler.

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?

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