Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday Feature: CHANGING THE RULES ready for PRE-ORDER!

Changing the Rules
Book 3 in the Cape Cod Dating Rules series
Release Date: July 1
Available for Pre-Order Now!

After losing her job, Caroline Meyers stands at a crossroads. She loves Cape Cod and the friends she’s made, but none of them know the truth. Is it time to move on before her past catches up?

Brian MacDonald got through high school and college on football talent and his sexy smile. He dreams of running his own bar but needs a partner to manage the numbers. His friend Caroline needs a job. Seems like a no-brainer. His specialty.

Except… the more time they spend together, the more complicated their relationship gets. Can the pair figure out a way to successfully mix business and pleasure – and stay alive when her family comes to find her?


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Writing Wednesday: Celebrating Pride Month with Books

As you might know, I write both young adult and contemporary romance of the M/F variety. One of my first manuscripts had a subplot where two of the characters needed to get married for healthcare reasons, but they were lesbians so they had to come to Massachusetts to get married (since we were the first state to legalize gay marriage.) The editor told me they wanted the book, but only if I changed the F/F subplot to M/F. I wanted a contract. I changed the characters.

Oh how times have changed.

LGTBQ fiction is a hot and growing market. I don't write or generally read this genre, but my son does and has opened my eyes to several wonderful books that happen to fall into this category. So to celebrate Pride month, I planned to read and review a bunch of what he considers the "better ones" - and by better, he means the books that have actual plots and 3-dimensional characters, where the conflict is about more than "omigod I'm gay."

Apparently that's a thing in this genre. Like, a negative thing, obviously.

And when he says "3-dimensional" in reference to characters on a page, he means that they have other interesting characteristics and foibles IN ADDITION TO being gay. Or thinking they might be gay.

Conflict. Plot. Characters.

You know, just like any other good book.

I've also heard that most LGBTQ books are written by straight, white women who heard there was a need for more stories in this genre and saw an opportunity to get published because the editors and publishers were desperate to fill the perceived void. And yes, my son has purchased a fair amount of these "filler" books too - some he's read all the way through and then viciously dissected in conversation (not on Amazon, he's not a troll) and some he's loved and stuck on my TBR pile.

Here's a rundown of the favorites.

I recently read and reviewed the newly released RED, WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston, and honestly couldn't put it down. Fast paced, fresh, and irreverently funny - if you want to dip your toe in the genre, try it out. It's contemporary romance/New Adult/chic lit type writing that breaks a bunch of rules and totally works anyway. (color me jealous!)

However, there are examples of LGBTQ characters within other genres - books that weren't published to exploit a certain segment of the reading public, but rather probably got published DESPITE having gay, lesbian or bisexual characters as main characters.

If you like more historical fiction, and/or mythology, SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller is so well written it made me cry. An achingly beautiful retelling of the love story between Achilles and Patroclus which I read and reviewed last year (read my review HERE)

If you're more into steampunk / fantasy, I also read and loved (but haven't reviewed yet, shame on me) TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim. It tells a fantastical steampunk tale of an alternate Victorian world where time is run by clock towers, and there are keepers to the clocks to keep them running - if the clock stops running, time in the surrounding villages stop as well, everyone frozen in time and unable to escape. There are characters who are the "spirits" of the clocks, and the title character, the time keeper for one of the villages, falls in love with the spirit of his clock  - okay, it sounds strange and fantastical and it is, but it's also lyrical and wonderful, a great escape and another book I just couldn't put down.

For Young Adult/Coming of Age stories, my son highly recommends ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, by Benjamin Alire Saenz, and it's at the top of my TBR pile right now. Published in 2012, it won a bunch of awards including the Pen/Faulker award. It's a coming of age story, with two Mexican-American boys as the main characters - which my son says is significant because most literature in the genre have white characters or at most an interracial couple. It's got more than 800 reviews and a 4.6 rating on Amazon, so my son isn't the only one finding it a well-written, worthy book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

If you prefer paranormal fiction, particularly shifters, my son recommends TJ Klune's WOLFSONG, which is the first book of a series (and book 3 comes out in September.) This book is significant in that the author himself is gay (and not a straight white female) Another coming of age tale told in first person, where the main character grows and changes over time, and his voice changes with him. I haven't read it yet but it's on the pile.

So tell me. What are you doing to celebrate Pride month? Have you read any of these books? If you're an author, have you ever written a gay or lesbian character into your storyline? Do you write LGBTQ fiction? Share your thoughts and get this conversation started...

And totally try one of the above books. I think I listed something there for everyone, so dip a toe into the genre with some early summer reading. Links are provided to Amazon for each of them...

Happy Writing - and Reading - to All!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Monday Book Review: Red White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston

Red White & Royal Blue, by Casy McQuiston
Published May 2019 by St. Martin's Griffin

About the Book:
What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.
My Take:

This surprising, irreverent New Adult novel (or upper YA in a big stretch) is a great read, and while I usually stick with M/F romances I found myself really liking all of the characters and rooting for the satisfying happily ever after for the M/M leads, however unlikely it seemed it was going to be with every twist of the plot.

The novel also illustrates how much more difficult it can be to navigate both young love and prejudice at the same time. Prejudice of gender, sexual orientation, and also Alex's Mexican-American heritage. And it's also a coming-of-age novel in that Alex doesn't realize his bisexuality until we're well into the story and controversy.

The author says in her afterward that she was devastated by the hate and bigotry on display during the 2016 election cycle and wrote this book as a re-imagining of what our current world might look like in an alternate universe. One where love triumphs over hate, both during the 2016 election cycle and after. No, it's not all rainbows and roses for our star-crossed love birds, but messy and complicated, just like real life.

The author breaks rules and conventions, for example, writing a lot in the present tense despite not being in first person. But it works. It's snarky and irreverent and current and fast-paced and a truly un-pu-down-able read. I'd totally recommend this for your beach bag, but only if you intend to get to the beach at dawn and stay put in your reading chair until well into the night - I couldn't put it down.

5 stars and high fives and really great job to the author. I'll be looking for other works from them soon!

Find Buy Grab your copy on AMAZON - and while you're at it, buy one for a friend!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Feature: Excerpt from MYSTIC MAPLES by Tena Stetler

About the Book:

Earth/Fire witch Mercy Rose's insatiable curiosity always gets her in trouble. After a break-in at her Colorado flower shop, and a court battle that comes to a screeching halt in her favor, she arrives at Deerbourne Inn for a much-needed getaway. Looking for peace and quiet, she finds just the opposite in a startling handsome but mysterious man and his dog.
Silvanus Forrest's gypsy/fae heritage is a double-edged sword. The land he inherited from his parents is rumored to be enchanted. But when Mercy discovers the truth, his well-ordered life unravels, and they're catapulted into the past to right a wrong. Along the way their lives intertwine, and they discover the true meaning of family and love. Will they change the past in time to save their future?


It was a beautiful summer evening lit by a full moon. What harm could come from simply popping over to Mystic Maples, digging my toes into the earth and see if there is any truth to the rumors? She shrugged. Sis wouldn't have told me about it, if she hadn't thought it worth investigating. Right?

She toed off her shoes, pulled off her socks and straightened. With a snap of her fingers she left the room without a sound and landed smack dab at the edge of the maple trees. Glancing around, she could see the house in the distance and the outline of the sign. "Good, I'm in the right place."  She wandered farther in among the trees, the dirt beneath her feet was cool. Wiggling her toes deeper into the earth, she felt the warmth of the day and something else—a connection.

Several trees had a slight glow to them, then it was gone. Am I imagining…She raised her arms out from her sides and turned her face to the starlit sky letting the magic surge through her.  It had been almost a year since magic of any kind called to her. It felt so good, she was lost in the moment.

Suddenly a male voice broke through her revelry. "What are you doing here?"
Her heart thundered in her chest. She hadn't heard a sound. Yet, there he was standing not three feet from her, hands on hips, and glaring at her.

Grab a copy on AMAZON