Guest Post & Excerpt – I’ll Still Be There by Keelan Ellis

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I’d like to talk about two of the minor characters in I’ll Still Be There. The women in a m/m romance can sometimes seem like afterthoughts. In this book, which is about two different pairs of men, it could have been a challenge to write in any substantial female characters. Yet, all of them seemed to suggest themselves very naturally throughout the story. They are minor characters, but not unimportant.

Cassie is the most major woman character. She is the lifelong best friend of Jess and Eli. As children, their friendship started with the boys defending her against bullies. As adults, she takes on the protective role, helping Eli face the truth about his feelings for Jess, and ultimately forgiving Jess for a serious betrayal. She loves them unconditionally.

Then there is Ruth, and older woman who befriends Clay. She is there when he doesn’t have anyone in the world to turn to. She helps him get his business started, and later she runs an illicit gay club out of her bar, at great risk to herself and her business. She takes on the role of mother hen to Clay and Silas and the boys who work for them, but she’s as tough as they come.

These women are instrumental in the lives of the men this story is about, but they also have lives of their own. Ruth had a lifetime of experiences before she ever met Clay, and those experiences informed her outlook on the world. Cassie’s life has been intertwined with those of Jess and Eli, but she is probably the most sensible and responsible of the three of them. She’s the one who I think is most likely to survive on her own, if she has to. Though these women aren’t the focus of the story, it was important to me to make them as solid as possible, and never to use them as props.

About the Book

Title: I’ll Still Be There

Author: Keelan Ellis

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Length: 200 Pages/63,879 words

Release Date: 1st June, 2015

Blurb: The summer after high school, Eli Dunn and Jess Early explore an abandoned brothel in the rural Florida Panhandle. They’ve always kept their mutual attraction unspoken, but in an upstairs room at the end of the hall, everything changes. Suddenly, all the longing Eli and Jess have tried so hard to conceal bursts free, and passion like they’ve never experienced comes to light, along with the ghosts of Clay Bailey and Silas Denton, murdered owners of the brothel. And Clay and Silas have no problem possessing Eli and Jess in order to express their love for each other, without thought for the living.

Deeply disturbed by the experience, Eli and Jess part and try to get on with life as best they can. But after several years, Eli returns to Florida, only to find that Jess has made some questionable choices. These eventually lead him back to the abandoned house and a confrontation with Eli. Old scores are settled and Eli and Jess reunite. But Clay and Silas’s ghosts aren’t finished yet, for they’ve always believed in the power of open and honest love.

Excerpt

CoverArtOne of them, the dark one, looked up at him in alarm. “Elijah,” the man said, but that wasn’t his name, so he shook it off like it bothered him.

“It’s not right, it’s not decent, and you can’t have this.” His body was shaking, but he held the gun steady on the men in the bed. The part of him he couldn’t recognize anymore was clamoring at him, trying to remind him of something, but he couldn’t listen and didn’t want to. He was just too angry.

The other one—Clay, his name was—moved in front of the dark one and pushed him back. “Get the hell out of here, Brown,” he shouted. From behind him, the dark man…. Silas, cursed in surprise and pulled Clay back again, whispered something in his ear.

“It’s not fucking right!” he said again, and then with a pathetic sob, which made him sick, he said, “It’s not fair.”

“No,” Silas told him in a placating tone. “It’s not fair at all, but Clay and Silas didn’t make it like that. They didn’t do that to you.”

He couldn’t understand why he would say it like that, why he was talking about them like they were separate people, like they weren’t both sitting there in front of him, half-naked. “You shouldn’t get to do that!” he cried. “No one should. It’s sick. It’s terrible.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you didn’t have love in your life. Everyone should have that. Clay and Silas, they just got lucky, and you didn’t. That’s—that’s not their fault.” He was sitting very still, his hand resting on Clay’s arm so he wouldn’t push forward again.

He still did not lower his weapon, though he could feel his mind faltering. He was no longer clear on who he wanted to kill, who he was angry with. Then he heard it again. “Elijah.” It was spoken very softly by the dark-haired man. He frowned at the men on the bed, who looked different now. He shook his head again, less sure now.

“Listen to me Elijah. I know you can hear me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for ever bringing you here. It ruined everything, and I know it hurt you. It hurt me too, so much. I should have just told you that I… cared for you—that I wanted you. I know now that it would have been all right. I didn’t know it then. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do.”

Eli felt himself coming back, but the anger wasn’t dissipating. He was still staring at Jess, he could see it was Jess now, but the rage was still there. He did not lower the gun.

“I’m sorry for everything. I never, ever wanted to hurt you. Remember who you are, Elijah. Try to see me like you used to, when we were kids.”

Eli blinked a few times and then looked at his hand, holding the gun. He looked at Jess, and Shawn Kinney, on the tarp covering the filthy bed. His face went blank with horror, and he lowered the gun to his side, all of him shaking, unable to get a grip.

Jess got up and went to him, reaching down to gently pull the gun from his hand. He drew him in close, and Eli went, even though Shawn was right there, and even though things were still fucked up between them. He just needed it, and he knew Jess did too.

Shawn had gotten up and walked over to them. He put his hand on Jess’s arm. “Si?” he said, his face confused. He reached up and put a hand to Jess’s cheek.

Jess took hold of his hand and smiled softly at him. “No. I ain’t him anymore,” he said. “Go on, now.”

Shawn looked disappointed for a second, and then his eyes cleared. All at once he looked mortified, and quickly pulled his hand away from Jess’s face. Jess was still touching Eli on the waist and standing very close, and it occurred to him that they might want to cease any more physical contact until they were out of this room.

“Let’s go. We shouldn’t be here,” Jess said. He moved away from Eli and started pulling on his clothes, then glanced at Shawn, maybe to make sure he was with it enough to do the same. The boy looked nearly catatonic, but he began to mechanically get dressed after Jess handed him his jeans.

Buy Links

DSP Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6448

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ill-Still-There-Keelan-Ellis-ebook/dp/B00Y7I78II

ARe Link: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-i039llstillbethere-1803717-145.html

About the Author

IMG_3609Keelan Ellis is a true crime enthusiast, a political junkie, and a comedy fan. Despite a compulsion to sometimes wallow in the depths of humanity’s corruption and sadness, she considers herself a romantic at heart. The stories she really connects with are about love that’s been twisted into hatred, and she believes that with honesty and forgiveness, love can overcome. Keelan loves good bourbon and classic country music, great television and well-prepared food, especially shared with like-minded people. She’s not a fan of parties and large groups of people, but there’s nothing she loves more than a long conversation with friends. Her favorite part of the writing process is the collaborative stage, hashing out plot and characters with smart and talented friends. It’s where she truly comes to understand the people she’s writing about, and often falls in love with them. With the support and encouragement–as well as some serious editing help–Keelan has found the writing niche she’s always searched for.

Author Links –

Website: http://keelanellis.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keelanellisauthor

Twitter: @KeelanEllisAuth

Tumblr: http://keelan-ellis.tumblr.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/43093604-keelan-ellis

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Tour Schedule

June 1: Queer Sci-Fi || Tempeste O’Riley

June 2: Garrett Leigh || Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

June 3: The Purple Rose Tea House || JP Barnaby

June 4: Drops of Ink || LeAnn’s Book Reviews

June 5: Evelyn Shepherd || Diverse Reader

June 8: Because Two Men Are Better Than One || Cherry Mischievous

June 9: My Fiction Nook || MM Good Book Reviews

June 10: A Celebration of Books || Molly Lolly: Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

June 11: Divine Magazine

June 12: BFD Book Blog || Sid Love Writes

June 15: Cate Ashwood’s Blog

June 16: Hearts on Fire

June 17: Love Bytes Reviews || Bayou Book Junkie

June 18: Emotion in Motion || Bike Book Reviews

June 19: Nessa’s Book Reviews || Multitasking Mommas Book Reviews

Blog Tour, Interview, & Giveaway – Enforcing Emory by Mickie B. Ashling

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Charlie, thank you for the opportunity to appear on your blog for my new novel, Enforcing Emory. Even though I’m not sharing an excerpt today, I do bring many giveaways which your readers can avail of by adding their name to the Rafflecopter. Winners will be chosen at the very end of the blog tour. I’d like to mention that this novel is set in a new-to-me universe (figure skating/hockey) so there’s no need to catch up on any other books as it’s not part of a series. Yet. The characters continue to reside in my head and are talking sequel or spin-off. Right now I’m asking them to be quiet as I have other works in progress.

What was the most challenging part of writing this story?

The hockey. I love the sport and have watched many games, but writing a play-by-play sequence was difficult. I had to enlist the help of a few guys who were players and one who did announcing. They were very helpful. I also recorded parts of some games to listen to the announcer and get a better sense of the common lingo.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in that you would love to write?

I’ve never written a paranormal; in fact, I don’t even read the genre, but you changed that with your Thirds series. I held off for the longest time because I was sure I’d be bored out of my mind, but when I saw it available in audiobook format, I thought I’d give it a try. Boy, was I wrong! I really enjoyed the world building, your great characters, and the entertaining dialog. The premise kept me engaged from start to finish. I just downloaded the second book in the series, which goes to show you how much I enjoyed it. Would I ever write something in this genre? My muse hasn’t nudged me yet, but I’m more open to the idea.

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

I wake up very early to create new material. I can only do it after I’ve had a solid six hours of sleep and my brain is refreshed. Coffee starts automatically brewing at 3:30 and that’s when I sit down and write. I try and do a chapter a day (usually 3-4K words), but it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes it takes me two days to finish a chapter. Then I go on FB and Twitter for about thirty minutes. I try not to stay on there too long or I won’t get anything done. I’ve recently retired from the EDJ, so my schedule might change as far as the waking hours but I honestly doubt it. I’ve always been a morning person. I do all my edits in the afternoon or evening.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Full body massages. I rarely indulge because they’re so expensive, but when I go on a cruise I usually cave. I figure, what the hell. They’re going to take my left kidney by the end of the trip, so I might as well enjoy all the amenities while I’m on board.

Do you have any pets? If not, and you were given the choice to have any pet (fictional or real), what type of pet would you choose and why?

I had a beautiful Dalmatian for 13 years. His name was Charlie, coincidentally, and he loved to cuddle. He’d squeeze in beside me at night while I read or watched TV. His guilty pleasure was popcorn, and we shared a bowl whenever I was in the mood. It’s been almost 4 years since he passed, and I’m starting to think about getting another dog. Thanks to Brandon Witt and his love of Corgis, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of owning one. I’d like a shelter dog though (Charlie was), so I don’t know if I’ll get my wish on the Corgi. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I came to the realization a while back that writing is terrible for one’s health unless you make a concerted effort to get off the damn chair or couch and do some form of exercise. Ugh…what a chore…but necessary or the alternative is genuine pain down the road. I’ve been trying very hard to get on the treadmill at least 4 days a week and then do some free weights for my arms, shoulders, and neck, which take a beating with the constant writing. I get together with my kids as often as possible, but they’re grown and have their own lives. I’m not the kind of mom who just shows up unannounced. Mostly, I write. I always tell my editor I have no life so it works 

What are you working on now?

By the time this interview is posted, I hope to have submitted my current WIP set in Karachi, Pakistan, where I lived for a brief time. I’ve been doing extensive research on the region—its people and the Muslim faith—and hope I don’t end up on someone’s list because of all my Google searches. It’s creepy how big brother always knows what you’re up to while you’re on the internet.

What did you enjoy most about writing this story?

My characters. Emory is probably the most flamboyant gay man I’ve ever written. Conversely, he’s also the most courageous, and I loved telling his story. His father, Tom, is a secondary character who practically steals the show. My beta readers and editors mentioned how much they enjoyed his presence in the story. Nik’s role is fairly typical—the beleaguered athlete who’s conflicted about his orientation and terrified to come out—but I hope that I was able to throw in a few twists to make his story unique.

How did it feel to sign that first contract?

It was my ticket to freedom. My 29-year marriage was crumbling, and I was waffling on my decision to stay and be miserable or walk away and hope for the best. I’d submitted Horizons (my first novel) to another publisher, and it had been rejected, so I was pretty despondent. After reworking it, I sent it to Dreamspinner Press for consideration. A few weeks later, I was driving home from work and really wishing I was going somewhere else. I said a prayer to my mother (who’d died years before) and asked her for a sign on what I should do about my marriage. When I got home and opened my email, I saw the acceptance letter from Elizabeth North and I started bawling. It was the push I needed to pull up my big girl pants and move on. I’ve never told this story to anyone in the public forum but it’s the honest truth. I don’t think I’d be sitting here answering questions as a published author if not for Elizabeth and her faith in me and my talent.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author looking to get published?

Write every day, read as much as you can in the genre you’re drawn to, and never, ever give up. It’s the age-old story of the tortoise and hare. The one who sticks to it, no matter how long it takes, will get the prize in the end. Keep on dreaming and do your homework to make each and every dream come true. Talking about your ideas will get you nowhere. You need to write them down!

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2015NewAbout the Book

Olympic figure skater Emory Lowe falls in lust the moment he lays eyes on his new neighbor, hockey player Nikolai (Nik) Vetrov. On the surface, Nik is a typical badass enforcer, intimidating and dangerous, on and off the ice. The only son of Ukrainian immigrants, Nik has been groomed from childhood to fulfill his father’s dreams of seeing him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Igor guides his son toward that goal with a controlling—and abusive—hand, steering him clear of anyone who might ruin his chances.

Although Emory is the US National Figure Skating champion, he’s in-your-face gay, and his audacious persona rubs Nik and his family the wrong way. Raised by supportive and loving parents, Emory is Nik’s polar opposite in every way but one—his desire to succeed. Underneath the fluff and glitter beats the heart of a fierce competitor, and this side of Emory’s personality begins to close the distance between the two athletes.

While the attraction was one-sided in the beginning, Nik finds himself responding to Emory’s flirting. Before the incongruous pair have a chance at any sort of relationship, they must survive the pressures of career, separation, and most importantly, Igor’s ruthless homophobia.

Purchase Links

Dreamspinner Press | All Romance eBooks | Amazon

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2015NewAbout the author

Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

connectwiththeauthor

Email | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog | Goodreads & Ask the Author

2015NewGiveaway

Using Rafflecopter below, enter to win one of these prizes (contest open internationally): a $20 Dreamspinner gift certificate, one of five ecopies of Enforcing Emory, or an audio copy of Fire Horse. Must be 18 or older to enter.

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2015NewTour Info

May 25 – The Novel Approach

May 25 – Garrett Leigh

May 26 – Charlie Cochet

May 27 – Emotion in Motion

May 28 – BA Tortuga

May 29 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews

May 31 – Diverse Reader

June 1 – Prism Book Alliance

June 2 – Book Reviews & More by Kathy

June 2 – Cup o’ Porn

June 3 – WoW…from The Scarf Princess

June 4 – Love Bytes

June 5 – Divine Magazine

June 8 – MM Good Book Reviews

June 9 – Sinfully…Addicted to All Male Romance

June 10 – Hearts On Fire

Tour and materials organized by PAS Promotions
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Guest Post & Giveaway – Lonely Shore by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen

Aliens!

When Jenn and I sat down to write the CHAOS STATION series, we knew we wanted to tell a love story. But we also wanted to tell the story of a possible future, one where humanity has explored beyond our solar system, colonized planets and has met the neighbors. We didn’t imagine the neighbors would always be friendly.

We have four types of aliens in the series. Three are introduced in the first book, Chaos Station, and we have another waiting in the wings. Chaos Station opens shortly after the end of an eight year war with the alien stin. The stin are fierce warriors. They thrive on conflict. Basically, they’re giant, humanoid cockroaches with green, segmented torsos, claws, and a belligerent attitude. As if that’s not scary enough, we added metaphysical abilities. Zoning and phase shifting are two active states that allow the stin to move incredibly fast, and through obstacles. We also created the ritual whereby adult stin initiate their young warriors. For more on that, you’ll need to read Chaos Station. 😉

The peace between the stin and humanity was brokered by the Guardians. The Guardians are the peacekeepers of the galaxy and they get a capital G because no one really knows who or what they are. No one has ever seen them. They communicate via synthesized voices and never leave their vessels. For all we know, they might be bodiless, or some sort of AI. What we do know is that they created the system of gates that allow access to Tau Centauri, otherwise known as The Hub, and that while they’ll intervene in a conflict that threatens the viability of a species, they value free will above all else.

In the second book in the series, Lonely Shore, we visit the ashushk homeworld, a planet with a long, unpronounceable name that had us giggling through several drafts until we decided to simply refer to it in human terms: Ashushk Prime.

The ashushk are humanity’s allies. They look like little green men—only blue and genderless. The ashushk are scientists and expert navigators. Their curiosity conquered the puzzle of faster than light travel and their ships are capable of traversing what we call jump space, which is… well, it’s a fold between normal space that allows our crew to jump from one end of the galaxy to the other in a matter of days rather than millennia. The Chaos is fortunate to have an ashushk star drive and an ashushk pilot—Qekelough (pronounced kek-eh-low)—to make sure they don’t try to fold their way through a sun, or a black hole, or something.

Qek is a joy to write. What makes her so entertaining is how she relates to the otherwise human crew of the Chaos, and this is the really fun part about writing aliens. You need to make them different, but they also need to be relatable. Qek chose a female pronoun because she liked the idea of being female. Because ashushk don’t usually get to choose, this is an important facet of her personality.

2015NewGiveaway

Lonely Shore releases today! To celebrate, we’re giving away a copy of the first book in the series, Chaos Station. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below answering the following question:

Who sets an ambush for the crew in Lonely Shore? (hint: the answer’s in the cover copy below!)

Small print: One entry per person, please. The giveaway is open to international readers, and the prize will be an ebook copy of Chaos Station, format of your choice, delivered to your email inbox. Entries close midnight (EST), Friday, May 29th, and the winner will be announced on Monday, June 1st. Good luck! 

2015NewAbout the Book

LSCover250LONELY SHORE by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

Book two of Chaos Station

All they can do is live day to day…

Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos‘s engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there’s nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander’s veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander’s experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.

When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos‘s crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he’s not in control of himself is Zander’s worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.

As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover’s keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can’t ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.

Don’t miss the start of the series—Chaos Station is available now!

Purchase Links

Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Carina Press

2015NewAbout the author

Jenn and Kelly met in 2009 through a mutual infatuation with a man who wasn’t real. After all but crashing the video game’s forums with daily dissection of their obsession, they started writing together, discovered they really liked writing together and began plotting stories in worlds of their own creation.

The CHAOS STATION series aren’t the first books they’ve written together, and they’re pretty sure they won’t be the last. As long as their so-called smartphones keep making autocorrects that trigger brainstorming sessions, they’ll have enough character ideas and plots to keep them writing for years to come.

connectwiththeauthor

www.chaosstation.com

Connect with Jenn: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website