I got tagged by Christopher Koehler in that “Next Big Thing” blog hop, but I’ve had a million crazy things including a sick child, a completely sleepless night, and some other things I won’t go into or else the rest of this blog post will be nothing but four letter words plus a few I just now made up. So this post isn’t gonna be mega-organized, and I apologize, but do go check out Chris’s latest big thing, because his rowing series is fun reading, and Burning It Down promises to be the best one yet. Be sure to hum that Linkin Park song while you download. I know I did.
Technically speaking, I won NaNo. The book is not quite done yet. 50k is a novel by the standards of the RWA, but it’s not a very meaty one. So we’re almost there because I have a few thousand more words to go (and a whole lot of editing) before I’ll feel like my guys are ready to go out into the world. It’s a small town contemporary novel about two guys who work in a strip club and I hope to have it done very soon. My heroes are Greg and Carlos, and this is a prequel to a contemporary novel I wrote earlier in the year that wasn’t ready yet to be finished. I finally decided what I needed was to know the world and the characters better. So I handled that that in the form of writing a prequel instead of a sequel for the supporting cast. I feel like it went rather well, but until I’ve finished it, polished it, given it to my beta readers, polished it some more, and handed it over to my agent (Eric Ruben) for perusal, I don’t really want to say more. Not counting unhatched eggs, and all that jazz. This is darker and angstier than anything I’ve written before, so it’s new territory, and I’ve gone from proceeding with optimistic caution to throwing myself into the void. But fingers crossed, hopefully you get to meet my new guys soon, and in the meantime check out some other great authors and their next big things (snerk). Like Sloan Parker, Amy Lane, Belinda McBride, and Lee Brazil.
Hey everyone! Some of my favorite authors over at MLR Press have been cooking up some yummy goodness for the holidays. Read on for a release schedule of all the stories, and an excerpt from “The Advent Calendar,” by Christopher Koehler.
Missing the Holidays in July (or how did this all come about?)
Back in July, Laura Baumbach (owner of MLR, for those that don’t know) was having a moment of “my babies are growing” when she was talking to her oldest son. With the way things were playing out for him, he’d be moving and taking her only grandchild away (ended up not moving but that’s a different story) – she was looking at a slightly empty house at the holidays and she was feeling sentimental. She posted a message to the author/staff loop about the holidays and traditions – she said something about if someone would like to join me, let’s do a holiday anthology. Within six hours or so, about 15 authors had said “oooh, I’ll write one.” So an innocent email to the MLR author and staff loop snowballed (yeah, couldn’t resist that one) into 42 days of stories (one a day with a few days with an extra story) covering the holidays between November 20th and December 31st…Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Yule, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s.
The stories range from the sweet and sentimental to a hot one or two (or more). Some of the authors are revisiting characters/series: Ethan Day is visiting Boone and Wade from Sno Ho/Life in Fusion; S.J. Frost has Ky and Robbie from Black Heart Down; James Buchanan’s Joe and Kabe go tree hunting. Others are introducing us to new characters. There are a few new to MLR authors with Mia Watts, Brynn Paulin, TA Chase; there are a few brand new authors with K-lee Klein and NJ Nielsen; and lots of MLR favorite authors with ZA Maxfield, Rick R. Reed, William Neale, JP Bowie….I could go on, but you can check out the calendar.
All of us at MLR wish everyone the happiest of seasons! May you keep warm with your someone special and a story or two.
Executive Editor/Formatting Director
ManLoveRomance Press www.mlrpress.com
Toby wants children, Derek doesn’t, and this just might end their ten-year relationship. But will a near-brush with death help them set aside their differences to focus on what matters most?
Toby wanted children more than anything, and it bothered Derek to see the man he’d fallen in love with so down, but it also made him feel defensive, as if he, Derek, were personally responsible for the other man’s unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Whenever the subject came up, Derek felt torn between comforting Toby and rolling his eyes. Lately, it seemed like rolling his eyes won, and didn’t that just make him feel like a prime,
But every time Toby started mooning on about the pitterpatter
of little feet, all he could do was wonder just when it was
Toby had been infected with the baby rabies. Symptoms included
feelings of vague yearning, elevated levels of sentimentality, and
otherwise inexplicable trips to Baby Gap.
The real danger of baby rabies, Derek thought darkly as
he climbed down the ladder, was its communicability to those
closest to the primary victim. The entire subject made him feel
like dirt. He loved Toby more than anything. Was what they had
not enough? Was he not meeting Toby’s needs? The idea hurt to
think about, and made him feel worse than he already did these
Later that night, after perfunctory lovemaking, Derek
lay awake, Toby snoring softly beside him. The rest of their
evening had been pleasant enough, both of them backing away
from the subject, an intricate dance of avoidance and unvoiced
recriminations, neither saying what he really wanted or meant.
They were together, alone.
Tipping the Balance by Christopher Koehler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Nutshell: Out and proud gay guy falls for younger man so deep in the closet he can’t even see the door and they go into business together. Cuz yeah, that’s what you should do when you have an impossible crush on someone.
I loved this story so much I read it twice. Even more than Rocking the Boat, and I rather enjoyed that one as well. Of all the “out for you” / gay for you / late bloomer / whatever you wanna call it plots I’ve read, this was hands down the best written that I’ve come across. And I entered into it cautiously, because I always do, but it was clear that the author took his time with it. With the exception of a minor detail or two it really rang true for me and I thought that was particularly impressive because the author’s own coming out story is on his blog, and he clearly knew that he was gay from a young age so it isn’t as if this late discovery was something he had first-person knowledge of.
The roller-coaster ride of emotion and the sexual tension between the two characters was fantastic. Frustrating, at times, but I think it was supposed to be. And the buildup was so good, that when the hotties finally got down to having sex the connection and heat between them was great. And I really enjoy the way this author writes his sex scenes. They’re sensual and hot, and a little bit inventive, and work really well as an extension of emotion between the two characters. It’s not just two people getting it on because the page count demands that something hot and heavy finally has to happen. And again, working the nervous formerly straight guy around to being ready for sex with a guy was tricky, but done well, and I found it to be very believable. It was a darker story than Rocking the Boat, and it touched on harder more painful issues. There was more inner and outer conflict for both characters. It made for a better, stronger, more well-rounded story all in all. Really delicious. You. Go download now. S’okay, I’ll wait here.
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Rocking the Boat by Christopher Koehler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a refreshingly sweet love story. No BDSM, no vampires, just two guys at a college who had the hots for each other and fall in love despite the fact that maybe, technically, they probably shouldn’t. That said, I didn’t feel like I was reading two hundred pages of skipping though daisies. There was enough tension to keep me reading. The rowing angle was interesting and unique, and Koehler’s love of the sport really shows though. Fun AND educational! Perv that I am, I have to admit that my favorite part was the love scenes. They were wicked hot, and I felt the emotion in them progress from one to the next as Morgan and Nick’s feelings for each-other evolved.
I’ve seen some discussion about Nick and Morgan behaving in an immature fashion as they dance around their attraction to each other. I half suspect that this is intentional, not to mention realistic for the story line. They are college students, for crying out loud. Nick may be a little older, but he’s still in grad school, and his history suggests a lack of any long-term relationship to use as a barometer for wiser behavior. And seriously, don’t we all do some pretty boneheaded things when we’re sprung on somebody? I know I have. And with regard to the issue that Morgan is a student and Nick is technically in a position of power, Koehler paints Morgan as the aggressor,and he is a legally consenting adult. So for me, that part of it wasn’t a problem. The characters were likable and relatable to me and I thought the dialog was witty, especially Nick’s. The only minor thing was that in my opinion was there was a spot or two where the plot felt like it moved a little slowly, but it wasn’t enough for me to lose interest in the story. Oh, and he’s set things up nicely for a sequel at the end, and left just enough of a tickler for you to be curious. I’m looking forward to that.
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