Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, and Giveaway – Yesterday by Mickie B. Ashling

Tour Banner Yesterday

I’d like to thank fellow author Charlie Cochet for giving me the opportunity to appear on her blog once again to share an exclusive excerpt of my latest release, Yesterday. This novel is a standalone, a period piece set during the final days of the Pahlavi dynasty. The time and place aren’t conducive to romance, especially between two men, but love and logic aren’t always compatible as Kamran and Grady soon find out. Can a chance meeting alter one’s destiny? The answers are revealed within the pages of Yesterday.

The striking cover was designed by multitalented author and cover artist Catt Ford. Aside from the giveaways, which are listed on the Rafflecopter widget, I bring an exclusive excerpt. I hope you enjoy the sneak peek.

YesterdayLG

2015NewAbout the Book

In June of 1978 Grady Ormond, eighteen-year-old son of diplomat Peter Ormond, accompanies his father to his new posting as US Ambassador to Pakistan. Neighboring Iran is on the brink of a civil war, with the monarchy in danger of being overthrown.

Grady will be leaving for New York City in late August to study cinematography and has been warned to keep his homosexual orientation tightly under wraps while on vacation. Repercussions in the predominantly Islamic region could be severe.

On their first night in Karachi, his father hosts a cocktail party to meet the local dignitaries. Grady is introduced to His Highness Prince Kamran Izadi, nephew of the Shah of Iran. Twenty-three-year-old Kamran has recently returned from the UK, where he spent eleven years, first as a student, and then as a financial analyst.

The attraction is immediate—unforeseen and dangerously powerful—but neither one dares to make a move. Odds are so stacked against them it’s futile to even entertain a friendship, but they do, and their world tilts precariously.

With his country in turmoil and Grady about to leave for college, Kamran makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

2015NewExcerpt

The cool air blowing out of the air-conditioning vents in the Land Rover was such a wonderful contrast to the squelching heat we’d just escaped. I could have happily stayed in the car for the rest of the day. All too soon, we were bumping up a long dirt driveway toward a white stone edifice sitting on a rise. I was no farmer, but I recognized oranges and lemons and, in addition, several much larger trees with thick limbs weighed down by fat golden mangoes. There were also palm, banana, and other large varieties of vegetation I didn’t recognize bordering the edifice and acting like a natural canopy against the harsh sun.

A pair of sleek black-and-white dogs ran up to the car the minute it rolled to a stop. They looked like greyhounds—deep chested and long legged—but covered with feathery fur on their ears and curved tails. When Kamran stepped out of the vehicle, they ran up to him, tails wagging happily. He got down on his haunches and rubbed each one behind the ears, speaking to them softly in his language. He stood and gestured for me to come close.

“Put out your hand so they can smell you,” he said. “They’re normally docile but have been known to snap at strangers.”

I did as I was told and watched in wary silence as the animals slowly approached. “What are their names?”

“Zena and Sher.”

Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was Sonny and Cher, who were all the rage a few years back. The animals’ large eyes, long, narrow heads, and silky hair hanging down their droopy ears, framing their faces, reminded me a lot of the iconic diva, a favorite among so many of my friends. In the weeks to come, I’d refer to Zena as Sonny because it flowed so much better with Sher. After a while, Kamran stopped correcting me.

As soon as we walked into the house, I was enchanted. The difference between the nondescript exterior and jewellike interior was unexpected. Colorful mosaic tiles were painstakingly laid out on walls and ceilings, and the floors were covered with large tiles that looked, to my untrained eye, like creamy marble. I supposed that given the opulence of the rest of the place, it wasn’t too farfetched. The house was built around a courtyard with open arches on one side of the walkway and closed rooms on the other. The materials were most likely chosen to withstand the rain that supposedly fell in pummeling sheets once monsoon season started. A small fountain in the center of the courtyard provided the soothing sounds of running water as it cycled through a pair of dolphins that appeared to be leaping out of its depths.

There were several iron birdcages strategically placed along the walls of the room with different varieties of exotic birds. One cage in particular caught my attention. A pair of birds in varying shades of green with deep garnet markings on their sides watched us as we approached.

“Are they parrots?” I asked curiously. They looked like them only smaller. As soon as they heard me talk, they began to screech loudly, swaying back and forth, long claws tightly gripping the wooded perches. They had large reddish-orange beaks that would probably do some serious damage to a finger if provoked.

“They’re Alexandrine parakeets,” Kamran informed me. “Named after Alexander the Great, who’s credited with bringing them to this region.”

“Do they bite?”

“Absolutely,” he said. “Don’t try petting them, or you’ll regret it.” Despite the warning, he opened the cage, stuck his hand inside, and one of the birds hopped right onto his outstretched forefinger. Slowly, he took him out, all the while crooning to the creature in Farsi.

“He’s obviously trainable,” I commented, watching in fascination as Kamran and the bird communicated mysteriously. “Does he have a name?”

“Xandar,” he said with a quirk to his lip. “And the female is named Rhoxana.”

“Naturally,” I said. “I should have guessed.”

Purchase Links

Dreamspinner Press eBook | Dreamspinner Press Paperback | All Romance eBooks | Amazon

2015NewAbout the author

Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.

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 currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

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

2015NewGiveaway

Three winners will win an ebook copy of Yesterday, a signed print copy of Yesterday, or a Dreamspinner gift certificate. Contest open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.

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2015NewTour Info

Jan. 20 – Hearts On Fire

Jan. 21 – The Novel Approach

Jan. 22 – Diverse Reader

Jan. 22 – Multitaskingmommas

Jan. 25 – Charlie Cochet

Jan. 26 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews

Jan. 27 – Love Bytes

Jan. 28 – Prism Book Alliance

Jan. 29 – MM Good Book Reviews

Feb. 1 – Rainbow Gold Reviews

Feb. 2 – Sinfully

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Blog Tour, Guest Post, and Giveaway – The Boys of Summer by Sarah Madison

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AboutTheBook

BoysofSummer[The]LGTITLE: The Boys of Summer

AUTHOR: Sarah Madison

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante

LENGTH: 200 Pages

RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2015

BLURB: 2nd Edition

David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film-company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches… and Rick Sutton, the hot, ex-Air Force pilot who is flying him around.

Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries and a lack of food and water mean David has to step up to the plate and play hero. While his days are spent fighting for survival, and his nights are filled with worrying about Rick, the two men grow closer. David’s research for his next movie becomes intertwined with his worst fears, and events on the island result in a vivid dream about the Battle of Britain. On waking, David realizes Rick is more than just a pilot to him. The obstacles that prevented a happy ending in 1940 aren’t present today, and David vows that if they survive this stranding, he will tell Rick how he feels.

GuestPost

Most people who follow me on Facebook or on my website know I’m a huge Frozen fan. I’ve written several blog posts on the subject, most particularly why a Disney movie could speak so strongly to a middle-aged woman. I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that many of us live lives like Elsa, hiding our inner powers because we’ve been taught to conform, to fit it, to ‘be the good girl you always have to be.’ That we followed the rules, worked hard, did what we were told, and frequently got bupkis for our efforts. In that post, I listed a number of things I needed to let go of in order to stop binding myself to the same narrative in my life.

But I forgot one important thing.

I forgot to let go of the notion of perfection.

I think perfectionism goes hand in hand with the mindset I’ve described above, of always trying to be the Good Girl, the Perfect Girl, the one our parents urged us to be. I could make this blog post all about the pros and cons of trying to instill certain traits in our children, but that’s not what this is about. No, what I’m talking about now is how perfectionism is the deadly enemy of creativity.

In any other era, I’d probably still be an unpublished author, but the digital age has been kind to me. I’d been writing fanfiction for years when a friend encouraged me to write and submit original fiction for publication. To my surprise, my stories were accepted! I dashed off three or four more stories that were all accepted as well before it suddenly hit me. Oh crap. I was a published author. Did I even know what I was doing?

A lot of well-meaning friends gifted me with books on writing, and I adore them for encouraging me in my dream, but the more I read, the more I discovered I was doing it all wrong. Mortified, I took online courses, read more books, and found a great critique group. I continued to write, but I was no longer pumping out a novella a month. I began to doubt my ability, and I cringed when I re-read older works. Worse, I developed a Critical Voice in my head that made it nearly impossible to read anything without automatically correcting it, even beloved stories I’d re-read time and time again.

I wanted each story to be better than the last, which is a laudable goal, but it can stymie you when you are trying to write a scene for the first time. I thought I was producing better stories, only to have them shredded by editors who found fault with things I’d accepted as appropriate styles my entire life. For the last eight months, I’ve been re-writing the same five chapters in a new-for-me genre because it is so very important to me to get the main character right. And yet all I’m doing is smudging the paper with my erasures and re-writing of words until I have nothing but a grubby, pedantic mess on my hands. I need to either finish it or kill it. Either way, I need to move on.

The main problem is I forgot some of the basic tenants of writing.

  1. Let it Go Part 1: Write for yourself first. Write the story you want to tell. Write the story you’d want to read. Have fun with it. Stop expecting each new story to be THE story, the breakout novel that will rocket you to the bestseller list and solve your financial woes. If you’re not having fun with the story, no one else will either. This is not to say writing isn’t hard work; just that the end product should be something you enjoy.
  2. Let it Go Part 2: You want to throw every ridiculous trope into the story? Rainbow-colored Ninja Kittens with hearts of gold shooting fireballs with their eyes as they save the day? Go for it. Chances are, you won’t keep that first incarnation, but it might just morph into a less-impossible character that everyone will love. Most of my stories begin as hopelessly Harlequinesque sappy stories that I gradually mold into something less improbable. Why? Because we love tropes for a reason. Don’t be afraid to put the things you love into a story. Chances are, someone else will love it too.
  3. Let it Go Part 3: Ignore the Critical Voice that tells you this sentence isn’t perfect and tries to hold you in place before letting you move on. Words are like Doritos—you can make more! You aren’t limited to a set number and you’re allowed to cut, paste, delete, alter, and add on in the next draft. First drafts ARE rubbish. No one expects them to be otherwise. If you think typing The End on a first draft means you can breathe a sigh of relief and mark your job as done, you are wrong. You’ve just reached a stopping point where you can camp for a while and catch your breath.
  4. Let it Go Part 4: After you’ve sent your draft to beta readers, after you’ve cleaned it up to the best of your ability, stop polishing that gem and send it off to your editor. I don’t care if you’re self-published or not, you need a good editor. I personally do not think anyone should edit their own work. I don’t think you can be objective enough. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as an author was thinking that my best story was good enough as it stood. It wasn’t. You need someone who is going to make you ruthlessly trim and prune until your story is the best it can possibly be. The hard truth is that’s NOT you, or your BBF’s, or your beta readers. Let the editor do his or her job. Don’t try to anticipate the editing process while you’re writing the story. That’s not the time to do it. The truth is, the more you do this, the better you’ll get. But it’s a little like the Force. You have to let it flow through you.
  5. Let it Go Part 5: Stop comparing yourself to others. On any given day, someone among my Facebook acquaintances appears to be receiving outstanding recognition for their efforts. They’re winning awards, or topping the charts, or they’ve been mentioned in glowing terms by some prestigious reviewer. It makes you feel small, doesn’t it? Like nothing you do matters. The truth of the matter is that whether you know it or not, someone is looking at YOUR achievements and wishing they had your luck, your talent, your ability. Be happy for the successes of others and remember it doesn’t affect your odds of the same. Self-doubt and self-sabotage are our biggest enemies. And perfectionism masks itself as something to strive for while in reality, it kills your story from within.

Give yourself permission not to be perfect. You’ll be astonished at how freeing this can be, not just in your writing, but in life as well.

Excerpt

“I don’t think we’ve got much choice.” Sutton’s voice was grim. “We’re lucky to have that much. Hold on, these trees are coming up faster than I’d like.”

Still fighting to keep the nose of the plane up, Sutton guided the recalcitrant aircraft toward the so-called clearing, the ground rising up to meet them far faster than was comfortable. David found himself leaning back in his seat, bracing his hands on the console as the tops of trees scraped the underside of the plane. Branches swiped at the windshield, and David had the sudden impression of being in a car wash scene as written by Stephen King.

“Duck your head!” Sutton barked. “Wrap your arms around your legs!”

“And kiss my ass goodbye?” David shouted, raising his voice over the increasing noise as he obeyed Sutton’s orders.

Incredibly, Sutton laughed. It was an oddly comforting sound. Like everything was somehow going to be all right because Sutton was at the controls.

The moment of humor was gone in a flash. The plane screamed with the sound of tearing metal and the sharp, explosive crack of tree limbs and breaking glass. David kept his head down and his eyes closed, praying to a God he was pretty sure had more important things to do than to keep up with the well-being of one David McIntyre. Despite being strapped in his seat, his head and shoulder thumped painfully against the passenger side door as the plane thrashed wildly. There was a moment of eerie, blessed silence, and for an instant, the assault on the plane seemed as though it had lifted. Eye of the storm, David thought, just before the plane hit the ground.

Someone had left the window open and it was raining on him. How incredibly annoying. He shifted, intent on reaching for the offending window, when a jolt of pain ran through his shoulder and he gasped. When he opened his eyes, nothing made any sense at first. Then he remembered the crash, and realized that his side of the plane was pointing up at the sky. The rain was coming down in a steady stream through the broken windshield. The sound of the rain on the metal hull of the plane was nearly deafening.

He winced at the pain in his neck when he turned to look over at the pilot’s seat. Sutton was slumped to one side in his chair, unmoving. His sunglasses were hanging off one ear.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” David murmured, hastily undoing his seatbelt so he could reach across to Sutton. His skin was cold and damp where David touched it, and adrenaline pounded through David’s veins as though he could jumpstart Sutton’s heart by sending his own pulse beating through his fingertips. “Sutton! Rick!”

David fought to free himself of his seat, twisting for greater access to the other side of the cockpit. When the seatbelt came open, he fell half across Sutton. Sprawled practically in his lap, David could now see the nasty cut on the left side of Sutton’s temple. The pilot’s side of the plane had taken a lot of damage, and David yelped as he encountered a sliver of glass. Bits of the windshield and console were scattered like confetti over Sutton’s jacket. “Sutton!” The lack of response was unnerving. He tossed aside the sunglasses and worked a hand down into Sutton’s collar, feeling frantically for a pulse.

He could have kissed the man when Sutton suddenly groaned.

BuyLinks

Dreamspinner Press (eBook)

Dreamspinner Press (Paperback)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All Romance eBooks

Barnes & Noble

AuthorBio

Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a large dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. An amateur photographer and a former competitor in the horse sport known as eventing, when she’s not out hiking with the dog or down at the stables, she’s at the laptop working on her next story. When she’s in the middle of a chapter, she relies on the smoke detector to tell her dinner is ready. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.

Sarah Madison was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards and is the winner of Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards.

If you want to make her day, e-mail her and tell you how much you like her stories.

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Winner’s Prize: E-copy of The Boys of Summer

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TourSchedule

January 4: The Novel Approach :: Gay Media Reviews

January 5: Elisa – My reviews and Ramblings

January 6: Louise Lyons

January 7: Diverse Reader

January 8: Prism Book Alliance :: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

January 9: Susan Mac Nicol

January 10: Loving Without Limits

January 11: Kathy Mac Reviews :: Love Bytes Reviews

January 12: Divine Magazine

January 13: BFD Book Blog

January 14: The Purple Rose Tea House :: Man2ManTastic

January 15: Molly Lolly: Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

January 16: TTC Books and More :: Sue Brown

January 17: Bayou Book Junkie

January 18: Drops of Ink

 

Cover reveal & Excerpt – Broken Prince, Mismatched Eyes by Layla Dorine

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Broken Prince, Mismatched Facebook Cover Art

2015NewAbout the Book

All of his life, Caden DeMott’s mismatched eyes have made him the target of superstition and scorn. Though he is the son of a nobleman, he’s been allowed to run free over the hills and moors, mostly ignored by his family. No one ever thought to inform him that he had been betrothed since infancy, until the day his fiancé, Prince Rhys Gwyther arrived to marry him.

Rhys is the prince of the small island country of Mauritania, a land rich in gems, rose oil, and pearls, but poor in skilled artisans and seeds to grow crops. In order to further cement the trade route to the mainland, he’s been sent to marry a man he’s never met, and bring him back to Mauritania. Unfortunately, an accident years before has left Rhys with a lot of emotional baggage and very little trust in strangers.

BrokenPrinceMismatchedEyes_600x957

But trust is exactly what Caden and Rhys are going to need if they are to make a life together, and help unravel the mystery of who’s been smuggling valuable gems and pearls off the island. Add in the realization that Caden’s stepmother, Mildred and her island representative, Maxwell, have been importing inferior goods for years, forcing Mauritania to become more dependent on them, and trust becomes even more difficult.

Caden possesses the knowledge to finally allow Rhys’ father to unravel the plot to ruin Mauritania, but only if the king and his son are willing to put their faith in Caden’s loyalty to his new home. Something that is difficult to do after Caden is accused of cheating on his marriage vows to Rhys with his guard, Luc. Will Rhys believe him innocent? Or will their marriage be over before it truly has a chance to begin?

Pre-order Now

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/broken-prince-mismatched-eyes-by-layla-dorine/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017WXGBM8/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017WXGBM8/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B017WXGBM8/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B017WXGBM8/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-brokenprincemismatchedeyes-1929493-143.html
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/broken-prince-mismatched-eyes-layla-dorine/1122960557?ean=9781925222685

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2015NewExcerpt

Jackson growled with hatred in his eyes as he pushed past his wife. His steps were heavy with anger as he ascended the stairs to the second floor, fists clenched so tightly that half crescent indents were forming on his palms. Outside his eldest son’s chamber, he paused and took several deep breaths, desperately seeking some small measure of calm before delivering the life-altering news. If only there were a way to be certain Rhys would be kind and understanding of Caden’s odd, distracting behaviors, but sadly, few had ever truly given the young man a fair chance. If he could, Jackson would have spared his son the kind of bitter, miserable marriage he himself endured, but he held little hope that Rhys would be any different from those who had ridiculed Caden in the past.

Knocking on the door, Jackson mentally prepared his speech while waiting for Caden to answer. When he did not, Jackson pushed open the door and let his eyes drift around the dimly lit chamber until they came to rest on the figure curled upon the bearskin rug by the hearth, two large hounds on either side of him. Jackson couldn’t help but smile at the sight of the trio before a sudden thought abruptly wiped the smile from his face.

Would Rhys allow Caden to keep the animals, or would his son be forced to leave his two closest companions behind? Jackson crossed the chamber quietly, stopping near the hearth. When one of the hounds growled low and raised his head, the white splotch of fur around his left eye identified him as Titus. When Titus saw that it was Jackson he laid his head back on his paws and closed his eyes again while the other hound, Brutes, snored on.

With a sigh, Jackson knelt and placed a hand on his son’s shoulder, gently shaking him awake. Caden blinked sleepy, mismatched eyes up at his father, and as his son sat up, Jackson wondered what Rhys’ reaction to seeing Caden’s eyes would be and whether the prince was yet another superstitious fool who believed Caden’s one green eye and one white were a sign that he was devil-touched.

Fools, Jackson through to himself as Caden reached out and placed his hand on Brutes’ head, rubbing the dog’s ears. Caden’s head was cocked to one side, and he made a soft, clicking sound with his tongue that let Jackson know he was listening. While his son could speak, Caden used words sparingly and only after careful thought. It was one of the many things that made the boy so endearing in his father’s eyes. In another’s eyes, however, Jackson knew it was just another sign that Caden was different from others his age.

“I’m sorry I had to wake you. Were you up late wandering the moors again?”

Caden grinned and nodded, mismatched eyes lighting up and darting to the heavy curtains that were blocking out much of the sun and the moors that lay just beyond the window.

2015NewAbout the author

LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.

Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

Layla Dorine can be found at:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005197938547&fref=ts
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Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/layladorine/