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

 

Guest Post, Exclusive Excerpt, & Giveaway – Fearful Symmetry by Francis Gideon

 

Hi everyone! I’m Francis Gideon and today I want to talk about my book Fearful Symmetry–but also about movies. Specifically, Guillermo Del Toro’s work.

Most of you probably know his films in some capacity since he’s quite eclectic. But if you haven’t seen anything he’s done, I highly suggest starting with either Hellboy or Pan’s Labyrinth.

Pan’s Labyrinth was a huge influence when I created the world where Dryden (the main protagonist of Fearful Symmetry) lives. I tried to maintain a very “once upon a time” feel to the landscape, but I also knew that I didn’t want to set this in medieval fantasy-esque settings. My editor pinpointed the time period to around the beginning of industrialization in a small village. So there aren’t a lot of amenities, but some people have readily available books and access to a busy marketplace to buy imported goods, as well as local crops.

Before my editor picked up on this, I don’t know if I could have consciously articulated what time period the story took place in. Like always, I get lost in the visuals and the aesthetics of the world I’m trying to create. In many ways, this world is built on what I saw and wished to emulate in Pan’s Labyrinth. The dark enchanted forest, a fawn creature, and a series of bargains/trades. One scene involving the Pale Man has him sitting at a large table filled with food. I always found this image striking, mostly because it distills the main theme of most fairy tales: abundance, but with a cost.

imagefromDougJonesExperience

Image Credit: dougjonesexperience.com

Not only is Del Toro’s work visually stunning, but he genuinely enjoys the genres he’s working in. When talking about the importance of fairy tales, Del Toro states, “[fairy tales] tell the truth, not organized politics, religion or economics. Those things destroy the soul. That is the idea from Pan’s Labyrinth and it surfaces in Hellboy and, to some degree, in all my films.”

I like this honesty about Del Toro’s work. Fairy tales don’t shy away from showing the darkness of a world filled with monsters–mostly because children already know these monsters exist. What fairly tales do is tell the kids that they can win. Isn’t that the kind of happy ending we strive for? It’s the kind of ending I wanted to give Dryden, and his eventual partner, Emmons at the end of Fearful Symmetry, and one that I hope the audience will enjoy as well.  

2015NewExcerpt

“I still don’t know if you’re lying,” Dryden said.

“That is true. You’d have to trust me. But I can tell you this: I like you more than the others. You’re smarter than them.”

Grains of sand fell away. Half an hour left. He’s just trying to trick you. Trying to bide time. Don’t fall for it.

“You know how many people have gotten this far?” Otto asked. “Not many.”

“But some have—and yet, they’re not here. So why should I believe you?”

“I understand how difficult this is for you. You have absolutely no logical reason to believe me. I’m not a puzzle like the kind I give you. But the heart is a tricky organ, isn’t it? It will lead you down all sorts of pathways you don’t understand. If you stay with me, Dryden, you will use your heart. If you escape, you’ve used your head.”

“So?”

“One is always stronger than the other. One will always win. So you have to pick what beast inside you decide to feed.”

Dryden felt his chest restrict. There were too many options. Head or heart? Freedom or death? Was Otto a monster or misunderstood?

“How will I know what one you use?” Dryden asked. “Your head or your heart?”

Otto smiled. “See? Even right there. No one has ever asked me that before.”

Dryden broke their stare. He knew each one of these sentimental moments were manufactured. He and Otto were always going to be giving lines to one another, performing a play. None of it was ever real.  If only this were math, Dryden thought, then I’d know the right answer and I could be free.

Fearful Symmetry by Francis Gideon

2015NewAbout the Book

When something is perfect, it sets itself up to be destroyed, and for everything gained, something is lost.

 Since Dryden was young, his mother taught him about balance. While she weaves jewelry to sell at the marketplace, Dryden learns how every unspoiled gem begs to be damaged, just like the universe corrects every misfortune. 

But with age and experience, Dryden begins to see the cracks in his mother’s innocent view of life. If she is wrong about balance, she might be wrong about the supposed beast in the woods. Dryden ventures into the forbidden, where a handsome hunter named Otto saves him from a deranged fox and seduces him. But like so much else, Otto has an unseen side, and if Dryden wants to regain his freedom and break Otto’s spell, he’ll have to answer three riddles in three days. 

With the help of his mother’s stories and the fox who once threatened him, Dryden must beat the monster and restore balance to his world. But it will come at a cost.


Purchase Links
Dreamspinner Press

2015NewAbout the authorFrancis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante.  He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal. Find him at francisgideon.wordpress.com.

2015NewGiveaway

I’ll giveaway two (2) e-book copies (any format) to those who comment with their email addresses. I’ll use a random number generator and contact the winners via email.

 

Video Excerpt – Spell Bound by Jacob Z. Flores

Hi, everyone! I’m thrilled to be here with the always-fabulous Charlie Cochet. I’m such a fan of her THIRDS series that I may fan girl for a bit when this is over, so if you hear a high-pitched squeal that would be me.

Before I lose my cool (not that I ever had it before), I want to thank Charlie for letting me invade her lovely tearoom. It’s quite posh, and I do enjoy a good spot of tea. And cucumber sandwiches? YUM!

I’ll be sharing a short 2-3 minute video reading from my upcoming release Spell Bound.

I hope you enjoy this small glimpse into this world of magic and men I have created.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MmNwZGAk4o

SpellBoundFS

2015NewAbout the Book

Mason Blackmoor just can’t compete with his brothers, much less his father. They represent the epitome of black magic, strong, dark, and wicked, and though Mason tries to live up to his respected lineage, most of the spells he casts go awry. To make matters worse, his active power has yet to kick in. While his brothers wield lightning and harness the cold, Mason sits on the sidelines, waiting for the moment when he can finally enter the magical game.

When a dead body is discovered on the football field of his high school, Mason meets Drake Carpenter, the new kid in town. Drake’s confident demeanor and quick wit rub Mason the wrong way. Drake is far too self-assured for someone without an ounce of magical blood in his body, and Mason aims to teach him a lesson—like turn him into a roach. And if he’s lucky, maybe this time Mason won’t be the one turned into an insect.

Not surprisingly, the dislike is mutual and Drake does nothing to dispel Mason’s suspicion that the sexy boy with a southern drawl is somehow connected to the murder.

If only Mason didn’t find himself inexplicably spellbound whenever they are together, they might actually find out what danger hides in the shadows.

Purchase LinksDreamspinner Press

Tharp-Flores--200Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.

Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse.

When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his daughter. They both represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.

You can follow Jacob’s musings on his blog at http://jacobzflores.com or become a part of his social media network by visiting http://www.facebook.com/jacob.flores2 or http://twitter.com/#!/JacobZFlores.

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