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Happy Release Day to Me!

The Gryphon King’s Consort is now available everywhere! You can pick it up in ebook or paperback at your favourite retailers. Here are some convenient links…

The blog tour for the release continues, too! You can check out the stops on this post. I’ve got TWO $25 credits for the Dreamspinner Press store up for grabs, so don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

AND, if you want an extra chance to win some extra goodness, sign up for my newsletter! I’ll be selecting one random subscriber on Dec. 22 to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Happy reading, all!

 

The Gryphon King’s Consort Blog Tour Begins!

GryphonKingsConsort[The]_FBbanner_DSP

Hey all! If you were watching my social media yesterday, you know that my blog tour for The Gryphon King’s Consort kicked off with a post over at MM Good Book Reviews. Be sure to head on over there to get my favourite recipe of all time (my mom’s Christmas Perogies) and enter my giveaway!

Other stops on the tour:

December 13Dreamspinner Press Blog
December 14Boy Meets Boy
December 15Long and Short Reviews
December 19Love Bytes
December 20Open Skye Book Reviews
You’ll have a chance to enter the giveaway at each stop. I hope you do!
In other news, The Gryphon King’s Consort is now available for preorder pretty much everywhere. You can grab a copy from your favourite store. Less than one week to go until it’s live!

Look what’s up for preorder!

The Gryphon King’s Consort—my first solo book since 2015—is now available for preorder!

I’m so excited for The Gryphon King’s Consort, guys. I love the arranged marriage trope because it’s such a fun dynamic to write. Taking two strangers and working out their differences so they reach a point where they truly do love each other is just so, so satisfying.

Check out the blurb…

The Gryphon King’s Consort

perf4.250x7.000.inddLove takes flight.

The sudden death of the Gryphon King throws the kingdom of Mythos into uncertainty, and Crown Prince Luca rushes both his coronation and an arranged marriage to a man he’s never met. Eirian is young and idealistic, and while they both want what’s best for their people, their philosophies couldn’t be more different. While Luca believes in honoring tradition, Eirian is determined to infuse modern values into their kingdom of magical creatures. When given the choice between loyalty to his husband and his own crusade, Eirian makes a decision that might doom their marriage.

Still, Luca is committed to making their union work, and that means forgiving his brash consort. But when Eirian becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, Luca must act fast—or forever lose the chance to explore their burgeoning love.

Amazon and other retail links coming soon! But you can preorder now on the Dreamspinner Press site.

Some questions answered…

Is this a historical? 

No, this story is set in an alternative modern-day universe where races of mythological creatures—mythos—have their own kingdom sort of overlapping human territory.

Where is the story set?

The majority of this book takes place in the Montreal, Quebec area, specifically in Senneville.

What’s a gryphon?

griffin-1299148_1280There are various spellings of the word (e.g., griffin, griffon), but they all refer to the same creature. In mythology, it has the head, talons and wings of an eagle, and the hindquarters of a lion. In my world, gryphons are shifters, and they were a lot of fun to write!

Want to know more about The Gryphon King’s Consort and other upcoming releases?

Sign up for my newsletter! I’ll be sending the next edition out in a couple of weeks, with more preorder links (hopefully) and a contest.

#TBT Book Reviews: The Dark Space series by Lisa Henry

It’s Throwback Thursday again! This week, I’m looking back at the Dark Space series by Lisa Henry. Such a great m/m sci-fi! I can’t wait for the next book.


16174363Dark Space (Dark Space #1)

I was not expecting to have my emotions tugged quite so strongly by this book, but man. Wow. There was so much about it I loved. I loved how the aliens were alien and unknowable. I loved Cam and his nobility. But mostly, I loved Brady and his “fuck ’em all” attitude, and how he develops, but not in big sweeping strokes. He felt real, like a real 19-year-old from the wrong side of the tracks (or the district, as the case may be) who’s trying to fit in a really big universe when all he wants is to go home. My chest and gut are all twisted up by the last quarter, but yeah, I loved it.

It’s going on my “re-read” shelf and I’ll be checking out Ms. Henry’s other books.

You can buy Dark Space here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Darker Space (Dark Space #2)20700258

Excellent follow-up to Dark Space. Although Brady develops pretty significantly in this book, he is still the angry, pissed-off-at-the-world young man I loved in book 1. I can’t wait to see where the author goes with this story. I’m hoping that ending means a third book is on the way!

You can buy Darker Space here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

 

#TBT Book Reviews: Learning Curve by Kaje Harper

It’s another instalment of my Throwback Thursday book reviews! Today I’m going to share a short and sweet review I did for the last book of one of my favourite m/m series of all time…and then I’m going to add a little more from another blog post on my favourite cops in m/m.


18335673This series just blew me away. I’m definitely having a moment of mourning that it’s over.

The thing I loved most about the books was that Mac and Tony are just regular guys. Tony’s not an amateur detective, just a great high school teacher, and Mac, while an excellent cop, is not supercop. Their challenges and struggles felt very real, very visceral at times. More than once I found myself laughing, or crying, or with my heart in my throat. This book, in particular, is heart-wrenching and amazing, all at the same time, as Mac struggles to come back from the events of the third book.

I will be rereading this series at some point, because this journey is so good, I can’t just experience it once.

 


From my Top Ten M/M Cop Characters post over on Scorching Book Reviews:

1. Detective Jared “Mac” MacLean from Kaje Harper’s Life Lessons series

Oh, Mac. What an amazing character. When we first meet him, he is utterly smitten with the witness in his latest murder case, Tony Hart, an openly gay high school teacher. Problem is, Mac has always been in the closet and has no plans to come out—the potential to upset his life as a single dad dependent on conservative relatives for childcare is too great. Mac’s character arc over the course of the series is phenomenal and organic, and his relationship with Tony is one of the strongest, most satisfying I’ve read in any romance. No matter what life throws at them, they face it together.

Favourite quote:

Perry’s expression sharpened at Mac’s verbal hesitations and flat tone. “What the fuck kind of accent is that? You a foreigner as well as a fag?”

“That is my coming back from almost fucking dead accent,” Mac said as coldly as he could.

– Learning Curve, Kaje Harper

You can buy Learning Curve here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

#TBT Book Reviews: Will & Patrick Wake Up Married by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

Welcome to my Throwback Thursday series of book reviews. I thought I’d share some love for books that aren’t new releases. These reviews have all been previously shared on Goodreads. My bestie Kelly Jensen discovered this series this week, and it reminded me just how much I LOVED Will & Patrick. This review is for the entire serial, which you should totally pick up. Like right now.


One morning in Vegas, two strangers wake up in bed together. Neither Will nor Patrick really remembers the night before (at first, anyway), but their bodies illustrate that there was some serious loving happening. All night. And to top it off, they’re sporting matching wedding rings. Oops.

For almost anyone else in that situation, it would be a simple thing to get a divorce—but not for Will. He’s the son of a mobster, he’s inherited a massive trust fund from his grandfather, and one of the stipulations of the inheritance is that should he ever marry, it needed to be for love, and divorcing will ensure his inheritance returns to his mobster relatives. He can’t let that happen, because he’s got a humanitarian non-profit depending on those funds. Double oops.

This series of novellas was such a fun romp. The family drama was dramatic—as you expect a mob family to be—but the characters of Will and Patrick raised the story to a whole new level. Will is diabetic and an alcoholic, which I thought was worked into the story quite well and not used for melodramatics. Patrick is a neurosurgeon, with all of the ego that goes along with that. He also has Asperger’s, which shines through in his dealings with everyone in Will’s wacky hometown.

Because this is a serial, with quite a significant overall word count, Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths have plenty of time to explore Will and Patrick’s personalities and the secondary characters as well. There are plenty of ups and downs for the two of them, from difficulties at Patrick’s new job to Will’s still-lingering feelings for his ex. This was the best kind of contemporary romance, with more than a little wish fulfillment, a ton of sexual tension, and scads of emotions, both high and low.

The first episode is currently free on Amazon and elsewhere if you want to give it a try. You can also buy all of the books in one package for a decent discount, which is what I did after whipping through the first book.

#TBT Book Reviews: How to Walk Like a Man by Eli Easton

Welcome to my Throwback Thursday series of book reviews. I thought I’d share some love for books that aren’t new releases. These reviews have all been previously shared on Goodreads.


26165684This book is trademark Eli Easton, with lots of humour and a romance that leaves you sighing with satisfaction. Roman is newly quickened — he started out life as a dog, but after growing close to his Army handler and watching him die in Afghanistan, he gets the spark that allows him to shift into human form. It’s only been two years since he’s been able to shift, and there are a lot of things that are still so new to him. But one of the best things about this book is how much joy Roman has in being human. It’s really sort of uplifting to read.

Then there’s the pure “wtf” aspect of the humour on Matt’s end. Matt is human, in the DEA, and assigned to the weird little town of Mad Creek to be on the lookout for drug operations. This, understandably, freaks out the sheriff of Mad Creek (Lance, one of the heroes from the previous book), seeing as the entire town is made up of quickened — some of them pretty doglike. Roman, a deputy, is assigned to keep Matt busy out of town, but it’s not enough to keep Matt from wondering wtf is going on.

Although this book is the second in the series, you could definitely read it as a standalone — though then you’d be missing out on Lance’s story, and that one is just as cute and funny. I highly recommend both!

You can pick up How to Walk Like a Man at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

#TBT Book Reviews: Breakaway by Avon Gale

Welcome to my Throwback Thursday series of book reviews. I thought I’d share some love for books that aren’t new releases. These reviews have all been previously shared on Goodreads.

First up is Breakaway by Avon Gale, in honour of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Technically, Avon doesn’t like me right now because my Ottawa Senators knocked her Boston Bruins out of the playoffs in Round One. (Kidding, kidding. I think.) Anyway, I absolutely adore Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series, and here’s what I thought of Breakaway!


breakawayDo you like hockey with your m/m? If you haven’t read this series by Avon Gale yet, you need to! I absolutely fell in love with the characters in the first book, particularly Lane, and I ended up devouring the rest of the series over the next few days.

In Breakaway, Lane Courtnall is a rookie on the ECHL’s Jacksonville Sea Storm. He’s 20, gay, from Chatham, Ontario, and does not communicate well—he’s a shade too blunt and really doesn’t grasp the point of a brain-mouth filter. His teammates don’t like him very much because of said lack of brain-mouth filter, so he decides to throw his gloves down during a game against Jacksonville’s rivals, against their bruiser, Jared Shore. As it turns out, Jared’s bisexual, and that fight leads to Lane and Jared connecting off the ice in a much more pleasant manner. But Jared’s at the end of his career (he’s in his early 30s) while Lane is at the start of his very promising one, so can they figure out how to work out a future together?

The best thing about Avon’s Scoring Chances series is how strongly the love of hockey shines through the narration and the characters. There’s not a lot of angst in these books (the third is about the angstiest to date, but I think the upcoming number four might top it). Most of the players have no problem accepting their bisexual and gay teammates, which is refreshing. These books are about the love of the game first and foremost, which makes them a joy to read.

Even if you’re not a hockey fan, I think you’d still like these books. They make hockey very accessible—the games and practices are big parts of the story, but the books don’t linger on the play-by-play on the ice. I seriously loved them.

You can pick up Breakaway at:

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Recent Kindle Unlimited Awesomeness

If you’ve gone exploring Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited offerings, you already know there’s a ton of stuff available. Personally, I’ve found it kind of hit and miss, but I’ve come across some winners lately and I want to share! These books are all available on KU in Canada…I hope that means they’re also available on KU in the States and elsewhere.

In the Wreckage by Hailey Turner

34346535This is Hailey Turner’s debut and WOW. Just wow. It’s a wonderfully sexy and fun m/m set a few hundred years in the future on an Earth where climate change and chemical warfare have changed not only our planet but ourselves. Metahumans are basically reluctant superheroes whose DNA has been fundamentally changed by a chemical weapon, and the book focuses on one particular team of the Metahuman Defense Force.

The setting, the world, the characters and the story are all fantastic. You can read more details over on my Goodreads review.

TL;DR: Fantastic book. Hot, sexy, fun futuristic military adventure. Highly recommended.

The Beautiful Monsters series by Jex Lane

Ever read a book way past your bedtime, but then decide, like the responsible adult you are, that you’re not going to stay up all night, so you put the book down at a quasi-reasonable time to get some sleep—only to discover you can’t sleep because your brain is still living in that book? Yeah. That was me last night with the third book, Broken, of Jex Lane’s amazing Beautiful Monsters series.

This series is not romance. It’s dark urban fantasy. Violent, epic, and super-freaking-sexy. It’s seriously one of the most compelling series I’ve read in a long, long time. The main character, Matthew, goes through so much—he’s a pawn between two warring factions when all he wants is a place to belong. Your heart will ache for him. Mine did. Repeatedly.

Fair warning, though: these books are DARK. Lots of bad stuff happens to Matthew. Really bad. The series title does not lie—the paranormal creatures in this book might be beautiful but they truly are monsters.

(Oh, also: The first book, Captive, is 99¢ on Amazon.ca, and probably the same on US Amazon, so even if you don’t have a KU membership, it’s a steal.)

Re-releases from M.L. Rhodes

M.L. Rhodes has started re-releasing her books via self-publishing and KU. I haven’t read her extensive backlist before, so this was a great chance for me to explore her work.

I started with Familiar, and it was just wonderful. I loved Emrys’s voice and the worldbuilding. It’s a nice, light paranormal, with enough emotion to be a really satisfying read.

Next I read True of Heart, the first book in her Draegan Lords series…which seems to not be on KU anymore. Bummer. BUT for $3, it’s a no-brainer to grab it. It was a wonderful fantasy m/m with high stakes and a true mate trope (which is catnip for me). I’m eagerly awaiting the second book’s re-release!

Happy reading!

On degrees and writing and the evils of Twitter

A couple of nights ago, this tweet got retweeted into my stream:

dg-engmajor

Yeah. Yeahhhhh.

So I wanted to talk about a couple of things that this tweet brought to mind. The first is what sort of degree a prospective writer should pursue (if any) and the second is using Twitter as a communications media, and things you need to consider.

By degrees

One of the reasons this tweet made me see red is that I have a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Ottawa. The generalization Ms. Gabaldon makes is stereotypical and just…honestly, just rude. It implies that an English degree is useless, and that’s not the case.

What did I learn from my degree?

  • How to think and read critically.
  • How to look for meaning in works of literature beyond the words on the page.
  • The understanding that even if we do mean only the words we’ve written on the page, there are a multitude of layers that a reader can bring to a reading of any work that we can never anticipate.
  • How to structure and support arguments.

So, a little background. I always wanted to be an author, but coming out of high school I knew success in that field was about as likely as someone getting drafted by the NHL, or a singer making a big name for herself as a rock star. Possible, but probably not going to happen to the average person. I decided that instead of pursuing writing fiction, I would be an editor. While I was still in school, I sought out a freelance contract for proofreading and got a part-time job as a technical editor for a local tech firm. I had a goal and I took steps to get experience to bolster my education.

Honestly, that’s the key.

Most degrees, in and of themselves, are neither useless nor a sure means of securing The Best Job Ever™. There are very, very few jobs out there that you’ll be 100% prepared for with a university degree. This tweet thread pretty much sums up why. You need to work to get the job you want; then you need to figure out what you need to do to succeed at that job. None of that stuff is just going to open up magically once you have a degree in your hand.

My career ended up taking an interesting path. I started out proofreading for a local tech company in their marketing department, and ended up getting into web communications. I’ve worked in that field since 2000, specializing in web writing, usability, and analysis of web usage.

So, in my experience, my degree was not useless. I might not have ended up doing exactly what I planned, but I’ve enjoyed an 18-year career that grew out of both my interests (editing) and opportunities I hadn’t previously considered.

Money over passion is shitty advice

But let’s get back to the second half of what Ms. Gabaldon said: “Pick something to give you enough money to write what you want.”

I don’t care who you are, this is shitty advice.

Let’s break it down a little.

Is it difficult to make a living as an author?

Yes. That’s not in question. I have 6 books to my credit, and I made less than $3000 last year from royalties.

Is it impossible?

No. Hell no. Especially in today’s environment, with self-publishing a possibility. You might not get rich, but you could make a decent living, if you’re willing to put the effort into it. I have a day job and I’m not a self-publisher; I’m also not putting out 5 books a year, or writing in a very lucrative genre.

So should you work in a different field while you try to make it as a writer?

A lot of writers do, myself included. For me, having my sole income as freelance or contract work or royalties doesn’t appeal; I like having a regular paycheque, benefits, etc. BUT…and this is a HUGE but: I didn’t choose my degree with the idea that I would only do that until I could make it as a writer.

If you really want to write—and I mean, really, really want to write, because it is a shitload of work and requires an enormous amount of effort, dedication and commitment—then DO THAT. Don’t study something solely to get a job in a field where you can make a ton of money and then at some point in your life, try out this writing thing. Maybe. You might never get there.

I’m not saying not to be practical—we all need to consider how we’re going to make a living with enough money to feed and shelter ourselves. But you need to take a long, hard, objective look at what you want and what you’re willing to do, and not just rule out a particular degree because it won’t get you money in and of itself.

But do you really need a degree?

To be a writer? No.

My degree didn’t teach me how to structure a novel or create believable characters or ensure the pacing of my book kept readers engaged. This is all stuff I learned from writing, and reading, and reading books on how to write (speaking of, if you’re writing romance, I HIGHLY recommend Gwen Hayes’ Romancing the Beat).

My degree did teach me how to think critically and analytically, which are a couple of skills I’ve learned to treasure.

My point, though, is that if you want to write, don’t think you can’t just because you don’t have a BA in English Lit, or a Masters in creative writing, or any university degree. There’s no true requirement to being a writer, and don’t let anyone tell you there is. They’re wrong.

So, about Twitter

About a day after Ms. Gabaldon posted the tweet above, she tweeted a follow-up (using a service that allows for longer tweets) to explain that she didn’t actually mean that an English major was useless, and that Twitter itself was to blame because saying anything in 140 characters is too hard and she was in a rush because she was traveling and answering on a break at a rest stop and everyone in her life has degrees, some of them are English degrees, and….

Sigh.

Okay, look. Twitter is a medium that can be a challenge to master. You are limited in the length of your message, so you need to analyze what you’re saying and select your words carefully. But that’s no excuse to sacrifice empathy or accuracy for the sake of fitting your words into the character limit, particularly when a follower has reached out to you for advice.

I’m not a big fish on Twitter. I don’t have the little blue check beside my name because no one knows who I am. But I can tell you that the whole point of social media is to be SOCIAL. To interact with people. To be a person and not just a collection of binary ones and zeroes, and to embrace other avatars and names as people and not just a collection of binary ones and zeroes.

To be fair, Ms. Gabaldon did explain in her follow-up tweet that she meant that an English degree was not necessary in order to be a writer. As I detailed above, I agree with that. However, a rushed, ill-considered tweet obscured that message—and that’s a lesson for all of us.

To sum up

Being a writer isn’t about education, but passion and experience. Study what you want—or study nothing at all and teach yourself how to write. There’s no wrong way to go about it.

And when it comes to Twitter—in the immortal words of Wil Wheaton, don’t be a dick.