Author Interview of Farzana Doctor featuring All Inclusive w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @farzanadoctor

All Inclusive

by Farzana Doctor

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GENRE:   Literary Fiction, LGBT, magical realism, multicultural

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BLURB:

A story about an all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown father, and the tragedies we can’t forget.

What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job? Ameera works at a Mexican all-inclusive resort, where every day is paradise — if “paradise” means endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and entitled tourists. But it’s not all bad: Ameera’s pastime of choice is the swingers scene, and the resort is the perfect place to hook up with like-minded couples without all the hassle of having to see them again.

Despite Ameera’s best efforts to keep her sideline a secret, someone is spreading scandalous rumours about her around the resort, and her job might be at stake. Meanwhile, she’s being plagued by her other secret, the big unknown of her existence: the identity of her father and why he disappeared. Unbeknownst to Ameera, her father, Azeez, is looking for her, and they both must come to terms with the reason why he abandoned her.

A moving new work from award-winning author Farzana Doctor, All Inclusive blurs the lines between the real world and paradise, and life and death, and reminds us that love is neither easily lost nor found.

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Excerpt Three:

Nora’s place was a small room just around the corner from the coffee shop. Like my own, a few blocks away, it had space for a desk, a dresser, and a single bed. She fiddled with her boom box, popped in a Duran Duran cassette, and then flopped onto the bed. She beckoned me over from where I stood awkwardly by the door. I sat gingerly beside her and she took my hand. I wasn’t surprised by the gesture; she’d slipped her arm through mine on the walk over.

She leaned in close and I could tell she wanted me to kiss her. How unshrinking and unafraid Canadian girls were! I pushed my face into hers, and didn’t breathe for a long time. I wrapped her in my arms and she let me hold her tightly.

We talked and kissed for hours. My fingers groped her soft waist, the downy peach-fuzz on her arms. When I gazed into her eyes I sensed a rare and special connection. And then suddenly we were tearing away our clothes.

In my fantasies, it would have happened in cinematic slow motion. Unhurried, we’d have progressed to that point over several romantic dates. And when the disrobing finally happened it would be an alluring striptease. Perhaps in reality things always move more quickly.

I left soon after the sex, lying to her about needing to get work done. I never did tell her that I would be on an airplane the following afternoon, but rather, I’d remained vague about my departure, speaking about the future as though it were more expansive than it was. Perhaps I didn’t want to disappoint her.

I promised to call the next morning. Maybe we’d go for an early lunch. She gave me her number and, foolishly, I forgot to offer mine.

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Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqTStZedIao


Welcome Farzana Doctor. Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.

I write in the mornings and in the afternoon, I am a Registered Social Worker with a part-time private practice. I live in Toronto and have the most lovely dog, Maggie, who has her own Instagram hashtag, #MaggieWithBooks

Is All Inclusive a single title, or part of a series?

It’s a single title. I’ve never written a sequel. I think of my books as exes who I still have a good friendship with, but now that I know everything about them, I don’t want to go back to them.

Please share your setting for All Inclusive. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?

Most of the novel takes place within a fictional all-inclusive resort in Huatulco, Mexico. Yes, I visited a place much like the setting many years ago. Resorts are full of beautiful and ugly things and make wonderful settings.

When did the writing bug first bite?

I used to write plays as a child, and then make my reticent family watch them.

Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?

I try to do a lot of self-care type things—a requirement for all of us, but especially for therapists. So I walk my dog, meditate, listen to self-hypnosis recordings. I also curate a local literary series called the Brockton Writers Series and volunteer with The Writers Union of Canada and the Writers Trust of Canada.

What is the one thing that you would tell an aspiring writer to do?

  1. Read as much as you can. Reading is your professional development.
  2. Develop a writers’ network. These folks can help you with critique and with finding publishers and agents.
  3. Schedule your writing time and set word count goals.

    AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Farzana Doctor is the author of three novels: Stealing Nasreen, Six Metres of Pavement (which was a 2012 Lambda Literary Award and the 2017 One Book One Brampton winner) and the recently released All Inclusive which was a Kobo and National Post Best Book of the Year. Farzana was named one of CBC Books’ “Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now”. She is also a Registered Social Worker with a part-time psychotherapy practice. She curates the Brockton Writers Series.

Website: www.farzanadoctor.com  

Twitter: @farzanadoctor

Instagram: @farzanadoctor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/farzanadoctor

 

Buy links:

Indie bookstore: http://www.charisbooksandmore.com/book/9781459731813

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/All-Inclusive-Farzana-Doctor/dp/1459731816/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1503271113&sr=8-6&keywords=all+inclusive

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqTStZedIao

Book club guide: https://www.dundurn.com/sites/default/files/supplementary/AllInclusive-BookClubResource.pdf

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:

Farzana Doctor will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner and a print copy of the book to 10 randomly drawn winners (US Only) via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Book Spotlight featuring Never Give You Up by Megan Slayer w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @MeganSlayer

Never Give You Up

by Megan Slayer

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GENRE:  GLBT, Paranormal, Contemporary

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BLURB:

Through time, distance and confusion, we will always find each other.

Galen Collins knows who he loves, but the vampire of his dreams, Anders Von, isn’t interested. What’s a vampire to do when he’s been rejected? Go to the clubs for sex. He’ll get Anders out of his mind one way or another. But there’s something wicked on the horizon in the form of a virus meant to wipe out supernatural beings. Forces who hardly know Galen are out to keep him and Anders apart. Will he allow the demons to win, or will he chase Anders to the ends of the earth?

Anders has always had a crush on Galen, but things never worked out right time-wise. Galen is the one vampire to make his emotional heart race. He wants to strip Galen to his core and explore every inch of him. Will Anders take the chance to be with Galen and discover how well they fit together or will the virus take Galen before Anders makes his move?

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Excerpt Two:

Copyright © Megan Slayer, 2017 All Rights Reserved

Anders floored the car and raced to Kynan’s mansion. He followed the directions and couldn’t believe how easily he found the place. At the end of the street named Millionaire’s Row, he located the main gate. He still couldn’t get over how fancy the houses were on the street. He’d never seen such luxury in his entire life.

Once he reached the gate, the doors opened. He hoped the doors weren’t automatic and that someone operated them, but little shocked him now. He drove up the winding paved drive to the house. He gasped when the home came into view.

“Three floors,” he muttered. “Goddess…how many wings? This place is nuts.” He stopped near the front door. “I hope this works.”

A wolf stepped up to the car.

Anders hesitated before opening the door. If Vita trusted them, then he had to move on faith. But he didn’t know the wolf. A vampire joined the wolf, and both stared at him.

The wolf shifted into the form of a man. A very naked man. Anders averted his gaze, although it took everything within him not to stare at the shifter’s dick.

“Hi.” The vampire opened the car door. “You must be Anders.”

“Is this the Laing mansion?” He gripped the handle and didn’t exit the car.

“It is. I’m Padraig. Kynan sent me out here to help you. My partner, Joachim, came along for protection, but he forgot to bring clothes.” Padraig rolled his eyes. “I don’t mind, though. I’d rather him be here in case you pull bullshit.”

“Trust me. I’m not.” He left the vehicle and raced around the back. He opened the passenger door. “Carry Vita. I’ll take Galen. We gotta get them inside.”

“Of course.” Padraig nodded. “We bite, but we won’t bite you.”

Anders glanced over at Joachim. “Thanks?”

Another person stepped onto the porch.

Padraig scooped Vita into his arms. “That’s Kynan. He’s the most powerful of all of us. If anyone can help, it’s him.”

Kynan folded his arms but said nothing.

Anders bit back a groan. He gathered Galen into his arms and hurried after Padraig into the house. He held Galen tighter and winced. The vampire should’ve been heavier in his grasp. His heart bled for Galen. He should’ve been the one with Galen today. He should’ve ignored his better judgement and sucked Galen off at the club. If he’d have done all of that and told Galen he loved him like a friend and maybe more…Galen wouldn’t be sick.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. Find out more about Megan and Wendi at: http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm

Website, http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm

Blog, https://wendizwaduk.wordpress.com/

Fan Page, https://www.facebook.com/wendizwaduk.meganslayer/

Amazon Author Page, http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Slayer/e/B008BJCFSC

Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5330530.Megan_Slayer

Twitter, https://twitter.com/#!/MeganSlayer

Buy Link:

BN:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/never-give-you-up-megan-slayer/1125726411

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Never-Give-Battle-Scarred-Book-ebook/dp/B01MUYYNSZ/ref=sr_1_2

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Megan will be awarding a prize pack featuring a vampire charm bracelet and autographed swag to a randomly drawn winner  via rafflecopter during the tour.
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Series Spotlight featuring Triple Play by Sloan Johnson w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @indiesagepromo

TriplePlayBlitz

Triple Play
by Sloan Johnson
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Sports

Triple Play

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Drew Jackson seemed to have it all. He has a family who loves and supports him, a tight circle of friends, and is a rising star with the Milwaukee Mavericks. Then, it all begins to unravel. Cam, the only man he’s ever loved, falls head over heels for Drew’s teammate. He makes a critical mistake in the playoffs that he’s not sure he’ll be able to recover from. And then, his world really crashes around him…

Eric Sapp may no longer play for the Mavericks, but he’s still one of the guys. No one could have imagined how much his life would change when he agreed to help his former teammates mourn the end of their run for the pennant. After stopping a brutal attack, Eric is forced to face the feelings that’ve been growing for his roommate, Drew. That’d be much easier if Drew wasn’t hell-bent on pushing everyone away as he recovers.

Neither of them were counting on Bryce Shaw. He and Drew enjoyed the one night they spent together, but knew it was unlikely they’d be anything more since they lived in different parts of the country. After Bryce is relocated to help a failing LGBT homeless outreach, he wants to explore something more with the Mavericks’ short stop.

As much as Eric wishes he could be the one to help his friend, he knows Bryce holds the key to Drew’s recovery. Will pushing the two back together be the biggest mistake of his life or will they all learn there is strength in numbers?

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Also in the Series

Wild Pitch Curve Ball

About Sloan Johnson

Sloan Johnson

Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

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Guest Post featuring Dagger (the D.U.S.T. Ops: Mission #1) by Steven Dos Santos w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

Dagger-evernightpublishing-jayAheer2015-3DrenderDAGGER

The D.U.S.T. Ops:  Mission 1

Steven Dos Santos

 

Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Gay, Romance, Sci-Fi

Released Sept. 10th –  Editor’s Pick

62k words

 

When Ultimate Evil engulfs the entire world, only Dagger can pierce the Darkness—even if the Apocalypse falls on a school night!

Dagger Beaumont is a High School senior who’s been recruited by D.U.S.T.—a covert governmental organization dedicated to battling supernatural terrorism all over the globe.

However, Dagger’s unresolved conflict over his missing brother could be his undoing, as he races around the world battling the Dark Reich, a diabolical organization on a quest to possess an ancient artifact and unleash a mystical plague to enslave humanity. If that weren’t treacherousenough, Dagger must juggle his life as a secret agent with his social life, where he faces romantic rivalry for the guy of his dreams, a mysterious and handsome new student at his haunted boarding school.

But in a high-stakes world where nothing is as it seems, and death lurks in every shadow, love rides shotgun with survival!

Buy Links:    Evernight Teen     Amazon

 

Excerpt:

I pulled the sheet down Reinaldo’s naked right hip, trying hard not to peek at what lay beyond. Why did he have to be so damn hot? Hey, I was a typical seventeen year-old guy, raging hormones and all that jazz. With one big difference.

I had orders to terminate.

Reinaldo lay sprawled beside me on the king-sized bed in our Parisian hotel suite, looking like the statue of David in a centerfold spread: jet-black curly hair, Roman nose, angular jaw, the chiseled body of a college gymnast. His biceps bulged, as did his pecs, which were lightly coated with hair that tapered into a trail leading down ridges of sculpted abs, past his pelvis, before disappearing into the tent under the sheets. As far as what was hidden, let’s just say all that rigorous exercise hadn’t stunted his growth.

He was the first guy to tell me he loved me. And now he’d be the first guy I had to kill. The quintessential love-hate relationship. If there’s one thing I’d learned ever since my brother Phillipe’s supernatural disappearance, it was that love had no business in the world of occult espionage.

Opening your heart was akin to opening your wrists.

I shifted closer, my face inches from his pelvis. Moving in, I smelled the freshly laundered linen, mixed with Reinaldo’s own musky athletic scent. I blinked my eyes three times, activating the infrared contact lenses I’d slipped on earlier, while Reinaldo’d slipped out of his clothes, after drinking the potion I’d slipped in his wine. Talk about a slippery slope.

He didn’t look quite as sexy bathed in a green glow, more like Michelangelo’s boy with a serious case of gangrene. But the only part of Reinaldo’s body that truly mattered was the part no longer hidden by the sheet. The part that throbbed underneath the gaze of my infrared lenses.

It was there, on his inner right thigh. The birthmark. My intel had been correct.

It was so tiny I might not have ever seen it, even if we’d done the deed.

What was it? Right?—no, left to zoom in. I blinked my left eye a few times enlarging the image. It was a symbol. A dragon inside a pyramid, its base parallel to another pyramid base facing the opposite direction and encasing some type of demon. Both of these were housed within a larger triangle.

I squinted, flexing my brows. Snap! Snap! Snap! The photographic evidence of the mark uploaded via the lenses’ transmitter. These shades rocked. I’d have to give props to Felanie—if I made it out of this.

I glanced back up at Reinaldo’s face. He looked so peaceful lying there, completely unaware he’d been duped. For a split second I almost felt sorry for him. Keywords split and almost. He’d more than duped me by pretending to be my boyfriend, until I’d found out he was a member of a sorcerist cell. Even so, the concept of terminating him sounded clinical and abstract when discussed in a cold, sterile briefing room, especially when I’d prepared months in advance, both physically and mentally, convincing myself it was for the greater good. With the target warm and curled up against me like a helpless pup, termination seemed more like murder. Orders be damned. Better to drug him and see if I could find it first before going down that road.

I maneuvered my body across his sleeping form. When our skin touched, I broke out into goose flesh.

Reinaldo stirred slightly.

I held my breath, tensing every muscle.

Then he stretched a sculpted bicep over his head, not a care in the world.

My heart down-shifted.

I reached over the side of the bed, past the ornately carved nightstand, and carefully rummaged through the pile of clothes Prince Charming had deposited on the lush, wine-colored rug. One black V-neck T-shirt with no pockets, the better to show off his massive chest. Skin-tight jeans that hugged his thick thighs and narrow waist contained nothing but empty pockets. A pair of size twelve flip-flops. Not much else.

I’d already performed a sweep of the room. He had to have it on him.

Wait a minute. The big silver belt buckle. Trendy. A good place for hiding a top-secret micro-chip embedded with an encryption key … stylish. I snatched it up, the metal feeling cold, even in my icy hands.

I examined the buckle, a very butch affair, complete with some type of horned steer. At first I’d thought Reinaldo’d been going for a metrosexual country western look. But the horns reminded me of the ones on that birthmark nestled against his loins.

My fingers explored the buckle’s surface, my thumbs pressing against every ridge. Nada. I’d have to improvise. Following my instincts, I pricked my thumb on the prong. A small trickle of blood bubbled forth. Kind of unconventional for espionage, I know, but it’s not like I worked for the CIA. As a matter of fact, I doubted even the CIA knew about us, that’s how high we were on the secret ladder. The Department of Unexplained Supernatural Terrorism. DUST. Saving the unsuspecting world from the criminal forces of the supernatural and the occult, one phenomenon at a time.

I smeared the blood on the buckle’s surface, hoping the “offering” would activate the trigger point. Voila! The surface snapped open, revealing the microchip lying in the buckle’s womb. It amazed me the clout virgin blood carried in the occult world. Yes, technically, I was still a virgin, though hardly the poster boy for innocence at the moment.

I sat up, carefully removed the dime sized-chip, and slipped it into the hidden slot in the waistband of my tighty-whities. Then I replaced the buckle’s face and dropped the pants back into the pile, just as the light came on. Two powerful arms encircled me from behind.

guestpost

Hello Everyone!

My name is Steven dos Santos and I’ve been known to write Young Adult books. I’m thrilled that my new YA Paranormal Espionage Adventure, DAGGER, has finally been released, thanks to the great folks at Evernight Teen.

But how did it all come to pass? Ever since I was a child, I had a passionate love of story in all its forms. It was the heroic and handsome Princes, however, that always captivated most of my attention, though at the time, I wasn’t quite sure why. Part of me wanted to be like them, for sure, charging in on my white horse and saving the day from darkest peril.  But another part of me, which I never spoke of, wondered what it would be like to be the object of their quest, the one awoken from a long enchanted sleep by true love’s first kiss, like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, or whose foot fit the glass slipper like Cinderella’s.

Looking back on it now, I can see the absurdity of the homophobic rhetoric, that pontificates that somehow children will be “turned gay” if they are exposed to same-sex couples. If growing up with heterosexual parents and being bombarded with tale after tale of opposite-sex love in storybooks and animated movies wasn’t enough to turn a gay kid like me and millions of others heterosexual, then  there obviously isn’t enough magic for the converse to be true.

As I got older, I became painfully aware of the glaring absence of people like me in stories.  People like me weren’t worthy enough to be heroes in books, so it seemed. Years later, Young Adult novels with gay protagonists slowly began to emerge. These books dealt with important issues for gay youth, including coming out and self-acceptance.

As inspiring as this new wave of stories was, however, I wanted to move beyond the “problem” aspect of being gay. In 2007, I decided to take a shot at just that kind of Young Adult novel, and wrote a paranormal, espionage adventure tale entitled DAGGER. The manuscript featured a gay main character, who goes to High School during the day, and belongs to a secret, supernatural spy group that takes him all over the globe at night to combat the forces of evil. That same year, the late Perry Moore published his novel, HERO, featuring a gay superhero. Things were changing. The time for gay characters in teen literature had arrived.

However, one agent’s response to my query proved to be a rude awakening which really shattered me.

She started out by telling me I really had “a talent for writing YA with a paranormal/fantasy bent.”  The first paragraph continued to praise my work and even recognized the “definite series potential.” She went on to say how much DAGGER stood out from the crowded market and what an accomplishment that was.

Then things took a turn for the worst. She basically told me that despite what a good book it was and how much she loved it, she would have to decline to represent me because “readers in the YA market are primarily female,” and since I not only had a male protagonist but a gay one, too, it would reduce the demographic “to a mere trickle of readers.” She concluded that “the general market trend for YA audiences is straight and female,” and wished me luck in my writing career.

Needless to say I was crushed. Devastated.  My first question after reading this letter was, “How the hell is this supposed to not discourage me, or anyone else who writes books with gay main characters?” Would they have dared send this letter to someone substituting race or religion for gay? Imagine what it must feel like to get a letter like this, especially if you are a part of that minority being referenced.

Now I’m not saying that all agents or editors share this view, or that this was the only issue that someone might have had with my manuscript. However, that being said, the fact that an agent could send a rejection letter like this and not even grasp the magnitude of the underlying implications is truly sad and eye-opening.

I’d come to a crossroads. I could either wallow in my self-pity and blame the industry for my inability to get a book with a heroic gay protagonist published, or I could keep on trying.

I chose the latter, and after years of perseverance, DAGGER has come out of the shadows at last! I hope you all enjoy the book! Thanks for listening!

 

About the Author:dagger Author pic

Steven dos Santos is the author of THE TORCH KEEPER novels, THE CULLING & THE SOWING, a Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic series. The first book was named an American Library Association 2014 Rainbow List Top Ten Selection. His new novel, DAGGER, The D.U.S.T. Ops Mission 1, a Young Adult Paranormal Espionage Adventure, has just been released by Evernight Teen on September 10th, 2015! Steven is a Team Member of We Need Diverse Books and is represented by literary agent, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Steven studied Motion Picture production at University of Miami and graduated from Florida International University with a B.S. Degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Television Broadcasting program. He is a passionate advocate of LGBT rights.

 

Twitter: @StevendosSantos

FB Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/stevendossantosauthor

Website: http://www.stevendossantos.net

Blog: http://stevendossantos.livejournal.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5204084.Steven_dos_Santos

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Steven-dos-Santos/e/B008GOOSSC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1442176173&sr=8-1

 

Make sure you join his Goodreads giveaway as well !!!

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/146729-dagger

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Giveaway:  $10 Evernight Teen GC and 1 Print copy of Dagger

 
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Book Blast featuring Lucky Seven by E. L. Esch





Genre: M/M Romance

Dante Mathers, college student, fifth year, has a track record for being dishonest with himself, and is about to undergo the biggest, scariest change of his life.

Dante’s forced himself to go out with girls in the past and he does it again when he’s approached by the beautiful Serena one day on campus, desperate to prove to himself that he’s “normal.” But when he loses a drinking contest and is dared to go to the next campus GLBT meeting by his best friend, he’s not sure how to handle it. Sure he could blow it off and say he went, but something nagging at the back of his mind compels him to go anyway. After all, he’s had problems with intimacy in the past and his first crush was a boy in high school. But is he really forcing himself to go, or is he finally starting to be honest with himself? No need to over think this, Dante tells himself. It’ll be get in, get out. No need to talk to anyone. Easy, right?

But then he meets Sven. Sexy, toned, wearing a leather jacket with spiked up bleach-blond hair, Sven’s bad-boy flare sticks out on campus and catches Dante’s eye. But there’s more to Sven than his punkish looks, and Dante’s about to find out all the sultry little details.

 ~Excerpt~

“I’m Mandy, and I’m bi.”

“My name’s Cole, and I identify as gay.”

“Terry, and if you can’t tell I’m gay, you need your brain checked, okay?”

The room chuckled, and then everybody’s gaze fell on me. “Uh…” I coughed. My throat felt like it was filled with sand, and I practically had to spit out my next words, “I’m Dante.” That’s it, just Dante. Now move along…

Fortunately when he realized I wasn’t going to say any more, the man next to me piped up with his introduction.I whistled asigh of relief. When I got out of this frigging trust circle, I was going towring Greg’s scrawny neck!I felt like a huge asshole sitting in this circle of ten people in a secluded underground room of the student union. They were here because they wanted to share with other people like them, to hang out and not be judged. Well, I wasn’t judging by any means, but the only reason I’d found my way to this LGBTQ meeting was because I’d lost a bet and my friend was still immature enough to find this kind of thing amusing.

The guy next to me nudged me in the shoulder, and I nearly flew ten feet out of my chair. I looked around the room. Introductions seemed to be over, and now everyone was just talking.

“You’re a fourth year, right?” he asked. His voice was smooth and rich. It reminded me of syrup, or tree sap.

“Fifth.” I swallowed. “I’m only finishing up electives this semester. I already have a job in my field.”

“Ah, must be nice.” He threw back his head over the edge of his chair and sighed. “In this little town it’s hard to find an internship close to home. I’ve been going through hell trying.” He grinned. “What’d you study?”

“Physical therapy.”

“Ah, that explains it. There are so many old folks and people who work with their backs around here. You’ll be in business for a long while yet. Or did you have plans to leave town?”Part of me wondered if this was the kind of small talk I’d thought about making with that girl before. This guy was a hell of a lot better at it than I would’ve been. But whatever his motives, I didn’t mind. Greg was the only close friend I had on campus, and he hated talking about school life and work. The change of topic from girls and clubbing was refreshing.“Nah, not leaving.” I shook my head. “Born and raised here in the country and no plan on leaving. I stick to my roots.”

He nodded. “I feel the same.” He held out his hand to me. “James.”

“Dante.” I took his hand warmly.

“So…” James leaned back in his chair and gestured at the whole of the room. “I haven’t seen you at one of these before.”

“Um…”

“Hey, it’s cool if you don’t wanna talk about it. Just making an observation. This place is so no pressure.”

It certainly didn’t feel like no pressure to me, but maybe it was the overwhelming guilt that made my stomach feel like it was tangled in knots. I wasn’t going to lie—I’d been curious in the past, but nothing ever came of it. Then again I’d never had a girlfriend either, which was why Greg had thought this would be so hilarious. I found men and women attractive in their own way, but that hardly made me gay or bisexual. Damn, if Greg knew how much stress this was really causing me inside, he’d probably look at me like I’d grown another head.

“Terry over there…” James set a hand on my shoulder and pointed to the guy who’d introduced himself earlier. “Biggest flamer in the whole damn school, and proud of it. You’ll see him at every drag show, and he’ll probably win. Sets the rest of the competition on edge, I tell ya.” He chuckled and pointed to another guy sitting three seats to my left. “The guy with the lumberjack beard is Carl. He’s quiet, not too wild. You two would probably get along.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

James laughed. “Because you’re new, and I can tell you’re the shy type. Just put yourself out there. Nobody here bites…” He winked. “Often. Ah, I just noticed Seven is missing. Bummer. Not surprised, though. He’s a shy guy too. He’d be the perfect one for you to talk to. Better than me.”

“Seven?” What kind of a name was that?

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~About the Author~

I can mostly be found staring into the screen of my PC or laptop into all hours of the night, hyped on caffeinated soda and likely procrastinating something important by losing at Internet Checkers or browsing the web (The day I win a game of Internet Checkers is the day I can write more than a few pages at once without procrastinating). When I’m not doing that, I’m either out being my nerdy self or, of course, writing. I’ve been writing since the fourth grade, and have no plans to stop. To me, one of the greatest pleasures in life is being able to create worlds and characters whose lives I can share with others.

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