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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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

 

Guest Author Sarah Madison – A Pen By Any Other Name Would Still Sell

A Pen By Any Other Name Would Still Sell?

Yes, I’m trying to be clever here, playing off the Shakespeare quotation. Taking on another pen name is something that I’ve been contemplating for a while now. In fact, this blog post was originally going to be about sex in M/M stories, only it seems that topic has mushroomed in the hive mind of writers lately and everyone is blogging about it! I don’t know as I have anything interesting or new to say along those lines. The general consensus seems to be that you should include as much sex as your characters and the story itself demands, and that you shouldn’t concern yourself overly much with reader expectations as you can’t please everyone.

Sounds like good advice.

But the upshot of reading all these blog posts got me thinking about the kinds of stories I write. Let’s face it, M/M romance, while becoming decidedly more popular, is still a niche genre.  And I find myself wondering if I will still have stories I want to tell along these lines ten or fifteen years from now.

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I’ve been contemplating branching out into other genres for some time now. I’ve even gone so far as to select a pen name, create social platforms—heck, I’ve even had some head shots done! Part of the reason I’m dragging my feet about writing a M/F romance is because, well, frankly, I love M/M romance. I love reading it. I love writing it. I love the dynamics between two strong leads that is unapologetic and does not feel the need to explain itself.  I love the built-in conflict that often keeps the leads apart without stretching the point of believability.

I love men.

I like writing from a male viewpoint. I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of girl; in fact, one of the complaints I’ve received in the past is that I didn’t have my characters declare undying love for each other at any point in a story.  Well, I’m more of a ‘show me’ than ‘tell me’ person in real life, too. I love the fact that when I write male characters I get to explore certain aspects of my own personality without straying too far into self-insertion into the story. Most of my stories start as self-insert ideas—I think that’s true of any writer. The key to making your characters real is to take that one step further and make them individuals as distinct from yourself—and yet carrying a piece of you in them.

When I announced to the boyfriend that I was seriously considering writing a heterosexual romance, his response was, “But however will you write from a woman’s point of view?”

I punched him on the shoulder. Lightly.

The point is, I don’t just have male-male romance stories within me waiting to get out. Part of me would really like to write a heroine that I don’t want to slap silly twenty pages into the story for being such an idiot. I’d like to write a heroine that I can admire, one that I’d enjoy having lunch with.  But part of the reason I haven’t done this so far is that I fear I will cave into writing what I know: that is, I will unconsciously depict my heroine with all the tropes and conventions that most of us grew up reading our entire lives.

You know what I mean. She’ll be feisty, smart, independent, and impossibly beautiful. Her hair will either be the color of sand or jet black. Her eyes will be either pale violet or sapphire blue. She will never need to watch her weight or pay attention to what she eats. She is unaware of how gorgeous she is and she never needs makeup. She will always have no less than two men interested in her at any time. And all her brains and independence will go out the window as soon as she falls in love.

See why I read M/M romances? I just can’t deal with that sort of heroine. I know there are others out there believe me, but most of them aren’t in romances, and romances are what I write. I also know you recognized this pinnacle of perfection when I described her, didn’t you? Admit it.

The other reason I haven’t pursued this venture yet is because I’ve been working very hard making a name for myself as Sarah Madison, author of M/M romances. Hot Men in Hot Water. To change gears now is to lose momentum. To have to start all over, building a new platform, making a new name for myself. In theory, it should be easier the next go round, as I should know the ropes, right? But the truth is, it feels like I would be subdividing my time and making my identity even smaller, and lessening the chances of either pen name being the success I would like it to be.

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I feel it’s necessary though. I’m not trying to hide one style of writing from another audience by choosing different pen names. Sarah Madison is not ashamed to know Madison Dean, and vice versa. It’s just I think I need to make it easier for the reader who wants to pretend that the other genre doesn’t exist—and for someone to know that when they pick up a title with one author’s name on the cover, what they are going to get.

I love the novels by Elizabeth Peters. If you haven’t read Crocodile on the Sandbank, run out and get it. It is a delight to read and you will love Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson (and quickly devour the rest of the series).  I don’t really care for Barbara Michaels as an author. But they are the same person.  EP writes very different stories from BM, however. I know when I pick up a book by Elizabeth Peters what I’m going to get. And I’m cool with that.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to write as Sarah Madison because that’s where my heart is at the moment. But Madison Dean is taking shape, for that time in the future when she’s ready to launch her debut.

You can find Sarah Madison (and all her links) on her website at http://www.sarahmadisonfiction.com

Her latest release is The Boys of Summer , now available on Amazon.

The Boys of Summer200x300Blurb: Working for a California-based film production company, David McIntyre is the go-to man for matching the right location to the right project for the right price. On an extended trip to Hawaii, he hires Sutton’s Air Service to cart him all around to some of the most exotic locations in the South Pacific. During one of those trips, a freak tropical storm forces them to make a crash landing, leaving both men stranded without a radio and with very little in the way of food and water. Rick Sutton’s injuries make it imperative that they be rescued soon, and David finds himself calling on all his professional skills to keep both of them alive.

It takes a vivid dream about WW2 however, to make David realize that he has real feelings for Rick—more than just his natural concern that both of them get out of this mess alive. But putting his heart on the line might be the greatest risk David has ever taken—does he have the courage to make it before time runs out on both of them?

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Just leave a comment and contact email address for a chance to win a free eBook copy of The Boys of Summer. Contest ends June 25th and winner will be notified via email.

*** This contest is now closed. ***