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

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Get a chance to win a gift basket containing –

  1. A PAPERBACK copy of I’ll Still Be There.
  2. The I’ll Still Be There Coffee MUG.
  3. The I’ll Still Be There BOOKMARK.
  4. A gourmet CHOCOLATE bar.
  5. Some TEA.

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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

Guest Post & Giveaway: Penny Hudson – Winter’s Risk

Thank you for having me over in your lovely Tea Room! Personally, I drink tea by the gallon so this place appeals to me on a spiritual level. 😀

Spring has definitely sprung. Look at all those flowers! Fall is my favorite time of year to go hiking, but springtime runs a close second. For a short while in the spring before the annual drought sets in, everything is green and overgrown. The trail could go anywhere, and every year I see things I’ve never seen before, like this weird little shrub.

I have no idea what these are, but the bees love them.

Lizards do not care about random people and cameras… until they lean down for a close-up. Then they vanish! Magical disappearing abilities? They haz it.

I think it’s centipede season, we saw nine million of them, which makes approximately 857 trillion little crawly legs!

I like to practice my airbending via bouldering. The constant thrill of will-I-make-it-or-will-I-die gets my adrenaline flowing like nothing else. My friend decided to climb down and go the easier route. Me? I’m boulder-hopping my way across. Why? Because why not? (She thinks I’m banana-pants btw)

You’ll never know exactly what will happen when you go out into the wilderness. I never go out alone in case today is the day I fall and have to be airlifted out- like Martin in my book. When I set out to write Winter’s Risk, I wanted to tell a story about a beautiful wilderness area. People visit for a day of hiking or maybe a weekend of camping, but the animals live there full time. The casual interaction between a careless person doing something idiotic to create a good photo–for example, feeding bears–can have fatal consequences for future visitors.

Not to mention it won’t do the bear any good in the long run either. The book I wrote is different from the happy, fluffy-bunny story I meant to write (although it does have a happy ending) because nature isn’t a fluffy-bunny. The circle of life isn’t just a joke, it’s a way of life for animals. So I wrote about the tragic state of affairs when a bear associates people with food, and a park ranger discovers the environmentalist he loathes more than anything is the bear’s next victim.

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Veteran park ranger Alexander Doyle is tracking a nuisance bear when he runs across obnoxious environmentalist Martin Ramirez. He and Martin have clashed before, when Martin and the protesters under his leadership ended a plan to expand the network of paved trails and improve accessibility. Given a choice, Alex would rather face the bear.

When the dangerous grizzly attacks them and Martin is gravely wounded, his only chance of survival is Alex’s determination to keep him alive through the night. But they’re stranded miles from any hope of rescue with the year’s first snowstorm coming in fast.

 


Excerpt: The excerpt is the moment when Alex is distracted from the bear’s trail by a hiker, Martin Ramirez, who just happens to be at least three spaces on his top ten list of people he could happily do without.


Alex’s lip lifted in a sneer. Fancy finding him all the way out here. For a moment he forgot he was trailing a bear that had already killed two people. He called out to the other man.

“It’s a little out of the way for a protest, don’t you think?”

He was gratified to see Martin jolt and drop his expensive camera. Pity he had a strap around his neck, and it didn’t plunge all the way to the bottom.

“What the hell?” Martin spun around and snapped right back, recognizing him immediately. “Doyle, it’s a free country. I can hike and take pictures if I want to.” He sounded rather petulant for a man pushing fifty, but he still acted like it was the 60s. Go flower power and all that crap.

Alex rubbed his shoulders against the tree, idly scratching his back. “I’m not after you, you big twat. Have you seen a grizzly? Two yellow tags?” He didn’t expect Martin to do something as civilized as help him, and he wasn’t disappointed.

Martin paused, considered his answer, and then jutted his chin out and glared. Alex had two decades of experience dealing with tourists, summertime volunteers, cheating boyfriends, and random idiots. Like the idiot standing in front of him. He knew he was about to hear a lie even before Martin answered like sugar wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

“No sir, Mr. Ranger, sir,” he said sweetly. “I haven’t seen anything bigger than a bird all day. Can I assist you further, Mr. Ranger, sir?”

“Don’t fuck with me,” Alex snarled, and walked to meet him on the edge. He could still see the girl’s mangled body if he closed his eyes. He jabbed a finger toward Martin’s chest, disgusted that he had ever bothered to ogle him from the treeline. It just wasn’t fair that someone so useless could have such a nice ass. Martin looked down at his finger and raised one perfect eyebrow.

“What?”

“I don’t have time for your bleeding heart—”

The sharp crack of a stick breaking in the forest interrupted him.

“Shut up,” Alex growled, even though Martin wasn’t talking at that moment. He wheeled around to face the woods, rifle ready.

“Just shut up. It’s here.”

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Winter’s Risk is available from
Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.

Giveaway: To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of Winter’s Risk to a randomly selected commenter once the tour ends. To enter, just comment on this post. The giveaway is open until July 21st.

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A complete listing of blogs on the tour is available at my blog.

I hang out on twitter @AnyPennyH and chatter about beer and movies as often as books and hiking. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Skylar M. Cates – Interview & Giveaway!

Hello all! Today we have the lovely Skylar M. Cates dropping by to answer some fun questions, plus there’s a fantastic giveaway which you’ll find the details to at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

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What was the most challenging part of writing The Only Guy?

First of all, thanks so much for hosting me today!

I love Aaron and wanted to give him his own story, but I never realized how much of his backstory would have to be carried over into The Only Guy. Originally, I thought I’d write a story of unrequited first love, where both guys had been in love right from the start and separated due to a misunderstanding. But at this time, I wrote a novella with the lovely Cate Ashwood called Five Ways A Boy Can Break Your Heart. It was about unrequited first love, lol. I told Cate I couldn’t write such a similar book for Aaron, but I was now tied into his backstory too. What should I do? Then it occurred to me: What if the guy you think you love as a teen is not the one? What if you missed the right one all along? He was right in front of you, but you didn’t see him?  That happens so many times in real life. At that moment, Jesse was born and the story really shaped itself.

If you were stranded on a desert island (food and water provided), what three things would you take with you?

My family (husband, kids, dog)

My computer (with magical, never-ending battery power)

Sunscreen

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

I’d like to write a family saga. It would be a multigenerational type of tale.

 Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a bit of both?

Both, maybe? I have a general sense of where I want my book to go, and I’ll research key elements (like being a Night Stalker, for example. Or having a heart condition), but I won’t outline every detail. I’ll let the story take me into unexpected places. I’ll listen to the characters.

However, I am a very conscientious about revision. I will write and rewrite obsessively. I don’t shy away from hard work. I want to produce the best possible product, and I’m known to revise right through my galley.  I’m pretty easygoing with most things in life, but I’m toughest on myself and my work.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

You know…At first I was going to say chocolate or alcohol, but I don’t have much guilt over those things. LOL!

I realized my guilt is that I often need/want to be left alone. I enjoy my own time. That’s a parent’s guilty spot, right? Or it is for me.

 Do you have a designated writing area at home? What’s it like?

Yes, a very messy study that my husband calls my “zone.” It’s littered with papers and pens, half sipped coffee in giant mugs, and piled high, well-loved books.

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

I don’t have one. I’m not a type “A” personality by any means, so I don’t set word count goals or anything on a given day. Basically, I grab any time that I have, plant myself in my chair, and write until I’m exhausted. Some days, I am too busy with the kids to write, and other days I have time to write for a while. Either way, I try and forgive myself for any lost hours, do the best I can, and move forward as much as possible.

What inspired you to write the Guys Series?

Writing a series was a dream of mine. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see the second book being released! I tend to enjoy spin-offs with secondary characters too. Specifically, I wanted to write a story with a loving family (The Guy from Glamour), and I considered continuing Dean and Anthony’s story as book two, but soon enough Aaron and others demanded their own story as well.  One of the best things is that I still had space to revisit Anthony and Dean in The Only Guy, and allow the readers to see their story progressing alongside Aaron and Jesse’s.

Aaron and Jesse have an Ugly Duckling type of story (and one thing I wanted was for him to fall in love with the duckling before he ever becomes the swan)

Coffee or tea?

Oh, God, coffee! I’m hopeless without it. I like it strong and almost black.

I do enjoy tea, but it is not a necessity.

What are you working on now?

I’m debating that very thing!

Cate Ashwood and I have started a new novel together (but her beautiful baby’s arrival might interfere with that, lol).

The Guy series has a third book in submission—Henry’s story, and I’m contemplating a forth. It would be Mac’s story. The readers meet him in The Only Guy.

I have a werewolf story that is done, but needs a sequel. I also have a holiday story half-done, a story of long distance swimmer half done, and that family saga on my mind. I had a plot bunny for a YA about a boy whose parent is gay (I don’t think we have enough of those stories available). Finally, readers often ask me about a sequel to Exposed….Gosh, I’m not sure what to do first. I‘d love to hear what folks find most appealing from this list! I’m quite divided on it.

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Buy links: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5002

Blurb: Aaron Weiss knows how to escape. Years ago, he ran from a romantic disappointment and impulsively joined the Army. Now, he’s forced to take a medical discharge and readjusting to life at home proves a challenge.

Jesse Ross knows how to hide. He realizes he’s an oddball, and that he’s an outsider within his own family. He also knows his secret love since childhood, Aaron, only wants his good-looking, favored older brother. Yet Jesse could never completely abandon his intense feelings for Aaron. Over the years, Jesse was a faithful pen pal to him. Still, he’s shocked to his core to find Aaron on his doorstep.

As long-buried secrets and past hurts take center stage, the two are overwhelmingly drawn to each other. But it’s their future that may force them to risk everything.

BIO: Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.

LINKS: Skylar can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or her website: http://skylarmcates.wordpress.com.

Giveaway: To celebrate the release of The Only Guy, Skylar will be giving away winner’s choice of either Exposed, The Guy From Glamour or The Only Guy in eBook format. Just leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. Contest ends May 27th at 9 a.m. (Est)