Review: The Winter Experience by Eli Summers

I’m on a bit of a gay YA kick.

I saw Love, Simon and loved it. Then I read the book (Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalii) and though it was great too — though it’s one of those rare instances where I liked the movie better. (The book takes a slightly different approach, focussing on how gay kids are normal kids, whereas the movie focussed more on the romance plot — so both totally valid and worth exploring, but I liked the movie better.) And I’ve started reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee and I’m enjoying it a lot so far.

It was through a Twitter post made by YA author Eli Summers about Love, Simon and how he stole a some random girl’s boyfriend that I discovered this author and his books. (Read the cute and hilarious Twitter thread here.) I was curious, clicked my way onto Eli’s website and found his book, The Winter Experience, a gay YA novel.

I loved The Winter Experience.

winterexperiencenewcover_8It’s got a bit of a happy-go-lucky feel to it with a rather homonormative cast of characters and supportive characters. (As in LGBT relationships are seen pretty much as equal to MF relationships, so there’s little to none of the awkwardness and homophobia that can often come along with books set among school-age / teenage kids. I tend to write homonormative books too so I’m on board with that.) It was a delight to read along as Mattie moves to a new town and a new school, has an instant crush on Morgan, a slightly older boy, and then finds out that Morgan is also gay and likes him back.

The relationship moves a little fast and gets a little heavy at times, but that’s reflective of young love. When it’s a first relationship, which I think it is for Mattie, it’s easy to fall into it head over heels, it’s easy to get carried away, and it’s easy to very quickly develop those very deep feelings. Part of me was worried that Mattie would have a hard lesson to learn for falling too in love too fast.

Thankfully, Eli Summers doesn’t take the reader on that emotional roller coaster.

However, not all is perfectly wonderful in Mattie’s world.

Each chapter opens with two paragraphs in italics. Mattie is exploring a box of photos of his relationship with Morgan and the framing narrative sets up the story of each chapter. However, about halfway through the book, it clicked in my head that the italicized framing narrative talks of Mattie and Morgan’s relationship is in past tense.

The book became an emotionally tense read from then on. Each chapter sees Mattie and Morgan’s relationship continue to blossom and strengthen. They’re adorable together and as a reader you want them to stay that way forever. Every obstacle that Mattie sees in the way of his relationship with Morgan is quickly dealt with — and it leads the reader into thinking that they can overcome anything.

But with that past tense framing narrative, an astute reader will know that something happens.

What that something is, I won’t tell you. You have to read the book to find out.

Though the book ends with that down note — a very effectively written one, I must add — the very final line gives the reader a glimmer of new hope, which directly leads into the sequel, The Summer Experience.

Those who follow my blog know that I rarely review books anymore. (That’s admittedly partly because I read too many Star Trek books and I don’t want this to turn into a Star Trek blog.) With The Winter Experience by Eli Summers, I felt a review was a must, because I want other people to enjoy this book too.

And — good news! — Eli offers The Winter Experience as a FREE download if you sign up for his newsletter! Click here to sign up and get your free copy! (If you prefer to buy your copy, you can find it on Amazon here.)

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Phat Boi by Aaron Blackwood

Hi book lovers!

Today we’ve got Aaron Blackwood here with his newest novel, Phat Boi! Check it out!


Phat Boi

Cedric is a gay, overweight black man with self-esteem issues, which he hides behind his sense of humor. He has a smart mouth but is vulnerable when it comes to love. At a spiritual retreat, he meets Walter, who is attractive, masculine, intelligent and entirely out of his league. Cedric is immediately infatuated. To his surprise, Walter responds favorably. As their friendship develops, so do Cedric’s feelings for Walter. When unsettling secrets about Walter emerge, Cedric chooses to overlook them. A devastating event takes Cedric by surprise and forces him to confront the truth about Walter—his life will never be the same again.

Buy Your Copy:

Amazon | Draft2Digital | Author Website

phat-boi---final-book-cover-web

Excerpt

I’d met Walter at one of those spiritual retreats meant to rejuvenate your spirit and put you more in touch with yourself. Ant had suggested I go to replace a friend of his,who’d fallen sick; Ant said I needed it more than him. Maybe it would help with my self-esteem. I refused at first, of course. I didn’t need any damn course. I already knew my self-esteem was in the toilet, and didn’t need a therapist or yogi to tell me that. And for me to go by myself, without my sistah—no way. But when Ant showed me the brochure, and I saw it was a wonderful hideaway in the mountains with manicured lawns, a huge pool–which I wouldn’t be caught dead in–with lovely chalets and an all-you-can-eat buffet, I was sold.

Two weeks later, when the Metro-North train finally arrived at a deserted country station called Rhinebeck, I was glad to get off. Stiff and hungry, I was bored of seeing green fields and grazing cows, with not a Checkers or Chick-fil-A in sight. The old, hard-cushioned train seat had made my butt sore. Shoving my way down the narrow corridor of the train, I picked up my two-piece Louis Viton luggage,which I’d bought ‘bootleg’ from an African guy off Canal Street. When I stepped off the train,there was a woman in a blue dress holding up a homemade sign that said, ‘Shady Pines Retreat’. She looked like Mary Ellen from the old TV show The Waltons,but older. That blue dress is not your color, gurl; not with that pale skin. I and other passengers who got off the train approached her. The woman in the blue dress announced herself as Mary Lou, which was no goddamn surprise to me. She looked like a Mary Lou something. There were about ten of us listening to her frenzied gibberish about what a good time we’d have this weekend,and we’d come to the right place and all that. All I kept thinking was,gurl, take me to that buffet; I’m famished.

I looked around at the crew with whom I was to spend the weekend. They were mostly women. I ignored them at first to see if there was any prospective eye candy to hold my interest while doing yoga or something. Unfortunately, the pickings were poor. Two middle-aged men who seemed like uptight business types. A young hippie-looking fella with the darkest tan,long hair,and a guitar on his back. A big boy like myself, who was white, gay, and eyed me with suspicion and contempt. I guessed I’d just be buddies with the women for the weekend. Some certainly looked more fun than the men. Like Candy—named appropriately—who had big breasts, blonde hair, and a big booty, for a white woman. She was checking out our hippie friend, then smiled and winked at me when I caught her.I knew she would be my drinking partner and a good girlfriend for the rest of this trip. We clambered into the two mini-vans there to pick us up. The drivers were as cheery and effervescent as Mary Lou. Lord! I thought, I’m gonna need a drink. You’d think I was in Tennessee or Alabama, not Duchess County, New York.

I sat in the first bus, pressed up against an uptight businessman named Burt. He started to sweat. I eased off him a little, thinking I was the cause of his rapid perspiration. He was stuck next to a big black gay man, and it was probably making him crazy. I planned to do other things to wreck his homophobic nerves on this trip. Mary Lou sat in the front passenger seat next to the driver and continued to gush with pleasure, repeating what a good time we were in for. She laid out our immediate itinerary, which did not include eating. I was dying for a sandwich. Cramped and frustrated, we rode through the entrance gates of the retreat, past a big sign which read, Welcome to Shady Pines.

The van curved around a long driveway lined with tall, majestic pine trees, and stopped at the main building. Shady Pines did look as beautiful as the brochures. I stumbled out and followed my pack of fellow travelers to the banquet hall, where others were already waiting, which surprised me, because I thought the motley crew I’d arrived with was all I had to deal with for the weekend. But no, there was a diverse assortment of people waiting, some younger and more vibrant, around my age—in their early thirties. People were chatting and getting to know each other. Mary Lou told our group to leave our luggage at the back of the hall. We could collect it after the introduction ceremony and then assigned to our rooms. We were given bright yellow name tags with bold black lettering. I noticed the people already there had plastic cups in their hands and little matching plates with sandwiches on them. I looked around and saw the table with treats on the west wall of the hall. Naturally, I went over and loaded up my little plate with six sandwiches, but became conscious of Burt watching me, so I put back two.

We were all told to be seated. On the dais was the director of the program at the podium,various instructors seated behind him. They all looked trim, healthy, tanned, eager, and fucking happy. I was only one of three people of color in the room,including a Hispanic couple.But I didn’t get that uncomfortable vibe you sometimes get from white people,when they  feel you’re someplace you don’t belong—except from Burt, who was both anxious and curious around me. We were introduced to all the instructors. Each one got up to tell their story and talk about their specialty. There was the yoga instructor named Sven from Sweden—of course. He was unusually tall, with all the characteristics of a typical Swede; thin, with tanned skin and blond hair. There was Natasha the Russian masseuse. Another stereotype, she was big and burly. Her arms were larger than mine, and I suspected she was a dyke. Gloria the Reiki Master looked like she’d just had a hit of Ecstasy, and Vincent, the meditation guru, looked like he’d joined her. Frankie the lifeguard was the only normal-looking one. He was just beefy. Then there was Gerald,who would conduct various interactive workshops. I didn’t know what to make of him.

The introductions dragged on a bit too long, to the point of making me sleepy. I wanted a nap. I headed over to the table and got myself a cup of coffee.

“You’re bored already, too, I see.”

After putting my fifth lump of sugar in my coffee, I turned around to see a tall man. I hadn’t noticed him before. How could I have missed him? I’d already scoped out all the men. This delightful creature was about six-foot-two; not athletically built, but thick and solid. His massive hands looked strong, with veins running all over the back of them. His shoe size hinted at confirmation of a certain myth. His powerful cheekbones sat under expressive eyes, like a narrow ledge on a mountain. Generous lips opened to invite a beautiful smile, with almost perfect teeth.Oh! And did I mention that he was black? Nice mocha brown skin that looked like worn suede.

“No, not really,” I lied.

“I saw you yawning.”

“Oh. You caught that, huh?”

Then we both started to laugh. His laughter was high spirited and loud.

“Yes…Cedric.”He squinted to see the name tag I had been given stuck on my shirt.

“And you are Walter. Please to meet you.”

I wasn’t sure if this man was hitting on me, because he appeared straight, but I was loving the attention.

“Have you been to one of these before?” I asked.

“Yes, but not here. Shady Pines is my first time.I come to retreats to regroup and get away from the city and certain people.” I wondered who those certain people were…family, girlfriend, boyfriend…wife?

“This is your first time, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Is it that obvious?”

“Yes,” he responded quickly. “I can always tell the rookies.”

“How?”

“There’s always resistance to this sort of thing in their body language. Why are you here?” The question was bold,and took me by surprise.

“My best friend suggested it,” I blurted out.

“And where is he?”

“Home.”

“So you came alone.”

“Yes.”

“Well, Cedric, we’ll see what we can do to make you more comfortable for the next couple of days.”

At that moment, he was called away to handle sleeping arrangements. Mary Lou was beckoning me to do the same. I walked over to her and listened while she cautioned me on the rules of the sleeping arrangements. I would have a roommate; a wake-up call was given at six for those who wished to jog or do yoga, which would be at six-thirty, until breakfast at eight. As she went on and on, I only half-listened, turning to look for Walter, but he had already gone. Retrieving my luggage, I was pointed to my chalet and headed there with a light swing to my step. I had met a man. I grinned all the way to my chalet.

 

Buy Your Copy:

Amazon | Draft2Digital | Author Website


About the Author

Paris face pix2I am a passionate writer of gay short stories that touch on real social issues and inner conflict that confront gay black man. While sex is an important part of the content, its use to titillate is not abused but based on character choices and the consequences of that.
My aim is to engage the reader; entertain, arouse, move and think. I hope that my stories stimulate and leave an aftertaste for more.

My stories touch on a variety of topics that include: love, dating, sex, health, homophobia, aging, depression, religion, politics and much more.

I live in Atlanta GA and have lived in London, New York and the Caribbean. When I’m not writing or working (still have a day job…yawn), I work out, and haunt coffee shops till they throw me out. I am a night owl and write best at night when it’s quiet and the spirits are out (I’m kidding). I love to laugh and appreciate anything that’s creative.

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Daddy Bear by BJ Smyth

Happy Friday, smutty book lovers! Today I have BJ Smyth here with a sexy new book — I’ve read this one, trust me, it’s HOT!


Daddy Bear

It all starts with attraction.

Carter is Twenty-Two, insecure and desperate for a boyfriend. He also has a secret desire for older bear type guys.

Frank is Forty-Five, just out of a relationship. He has recently moved to the area escaping his old life and looking for a new start.

After a brief encounter at the local swimming pool, Carter can’t get Frank’s hot body out of his head. Can he make his Daddy Bear dreams reality?

But is Carter really what Frank needs in his life?

Buy your copy on Amazon or read it in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Amazon IN

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Excerpt

I hear him drop his bag onto the bench as I resist the temptation to turn and face him. My body tingles with excitement knowing he is in the room with me and is about to get undressed. I can feel my cock stiffening as I imagine what he looks like naked. Trying to distract myself, I take my things out of the locker and place them on the bench.

Picking up my towel I sit down on the bench so I’m facing him and pretend to dry my feet, keeping my stiffening cock covered by the towel. He has his back to me as he removes his shirt. I take a deep breath as I watch him, his skin has a slight tan and his back is smooth, the muscles in his shoulders and arms look hard and tight. He has a large, black tribal tattoo running down the right side of his body. I take another sharp breath as he drops his trousers, bending over to remove them from his feet, he is wearing tight, white briefs, stretching across his arse, snugging his balls tight to his body. My cock stiffens more and I can feel pre-cum leaking from the tip as he stands and folds his trousers to place them in the locker. His legs have dark hair over defined muscles and I can now see a small patch of hair in the centre of his lower back just above the waistband of his briefs.

I’m staring in awe of his fucking hot body, built like a fit rugby player. He suddenly turns and sits down on the bench to remove his socks. We are now facing each other and I continue to pretend that I’m drying my feet, feeling my face flush at the thought he may have caught me staring at him.

“It’s quiet here in the morning,” he says, his deep, gruff voice sending shivers down my spine.

“Yeah, I’m usually the only guy around and there’s two women here regularly,” I reply, trying to keep the excitement showing in my voice.

As he stands, he slides his briefs off, balancing on one foot to remove them. My eyes scan his body, his pecs toned, covered in thick, dark hair, which runs down the centre of his chest, over his taut abs, meeting a thick patch of pubic hair nestled around his seven-inch uncut cock. His large, hairy balls hang between his thighs. I know I’m staring at his sexy hot body, but I can’t seem to look away.

Buy your copy on Amazon or read it in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Amazon IN


About the Author

alogoB.J. enjoys writing MM Erotic Fantasy to tease and entertain his readers. Having experienced many of the situations in real life he brings these into his books. Preferring to have mature characters in the stories, escaping the cliché of college boy romance.

I Hope you read and enjoy my MM Erotic books as much as I enjoy writing them.

If you already enjoy MM books or are just curious about MM love. Why not have a browse of the books, you may surprise yourself.

Follow the rainbow to your dreams.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BJSmythAuthor

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

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Finding Yourself at the Movies: The Power of Story

For those that have followed my blog closely, you may know that I participate on the group blog Oh Get a Grip. I recommend you check it out to see what I and my fellow erotic writers talk about.

Today, I posted a rather lengthy essay/post about diversity in movies and other media — and how this is and will be reflected in my writing. It was a big post, and rather personal, so I thought I should cross-post it here and share it with you.


I don’t watch a lot of movies. I find them boring.

It’s basically Heterosexual White Guy confronts an enemy that wants to destroy the world (or the world as Heterosexual White Guy knows it, which can mean his career, his marriage, his city, etc.) and only Heterosexual White Guy can save the day. It’s gotten real boring, cliche, and repetitive.

Other than Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t watch superhero movies. They’re all the same. Good Heterosexual White Guy must save the world from Evil Heterosexual White Guy. They have a big battle. Buildings are destroyed. But just when it seems Good Heterosexual White Guy is about to lose and all hope is lost, he finds the strength within him to overcome. Yawn.

The trailer for Infinity War, the culmination of the last several years of Marvel movies, is a snooze fest. I struggle to pay attention to the whole thing.

Then there’s Black Panther. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s one Marvel movie that I will make a point of seeing. Everything I’ve seen and heard about the movie tells me that it’s one I have to see — I dare not miss it.

What’s drawing me to the movie? It’s not about Heterosexual White Guy. Even more, it’s not even set in Heterosexual White Guy’s world. It features a nearly all black cast in the fictional African country of Wakanda and it thrives on the energy and vitality of the Afrofuturistic world it portrays.

Black Panther has so captivated audiences worldwide that it’s smashing box office records. There are news stories of inner city kids of colour in Canada and USA filling theatres, seeing themselves in the heroes on the screen (for the very first time), and being filled with inspiration and hope.

Last year, Wonder Woman did the same thing for young women that Black Panther did for kids of colour. Theatres were packed for Wonder Woman, smashing all expectations, because audiences were craving a strong female superhero.

Last night, I saw the movie Love, Simon. This movie is about a closeted high school boy who finds the strength to come out and find love. Love, Simon is so powerful, so heartwarming, so honest, and so true that it’s inspiring young people around the world to scrounge up the courage to come out. Social media is filled with stories of people who came out after watching the movie, then feeling so free and loved after doing so. (Honestly, I cried through two-thirds of the movie and I’m really not a crier. My sister calls me an emotionless robot — so this is a testament to how powerful this movie is.)

And it certainly didn’t escape my attention that **spoiler** Simon’s love interest is a black Jewish boy.

A while back, I watched Call Me By Your Name — a story of gay love in the 80s. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time. It is so beautifully done.

Diversity is on the rise in Hollywood. It’s good for business — all of the movies above have been critical or box office successes, or in most cases, both. All of them have drawn in audiences who may not share identities with the main characters, but they still find points of connection. When I saw Love, Simon yesterday, I highly doubt that the room was filled with LGBT audiences. My mom (who is straight) saw Call Me By Your Name and raves about it, and she’s going to see Love, Simon very soon.

During the Oscars, they televised a pre-recorded segment about diversity in movies. Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani had this to say:

“Some of my favorite movies are by straight white dudes about straight white dudes,” he said. “Now, straight white dudes can watch movies starring me and you relate to that. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it my whole life.” (source)

Audiences are finding themselves in these movies. And these movies are far stronger for it.

I hope this trend continues. I’ve mentioned many times before that I’m a die-hard Star Trek fan. I love how diverse the cast of the new Star Trek: Discovery is. In the past, Star Trek has been celebrated for it’s diversity, but it seemed diversity meant heterosexual white people and heterosexual black people. Until Discovery, I could probably name and count non-white and non-black characters on one hand.

With Discovery, among the main cast and secondary cast (which includes regularly-seen-though-not-always-named bridge characters), we have white, black, Latino, Malaysian, and Pakistani actors. (Shazad Latif is actually British, but his Pakistani heritage is a refreshing splash of diversity.) We also had Star Trek’s first official gay couple.

There is strength in storytelling reflecting real life. It makes it more honest, more true, more relatable.

A while back, there was outrage on Twitter (haha, when is there not outrage on Twitter?) over a writer who said that she is writing an all-white all-heterosexual cast of characters because that’s life as she knows it. The response from the internet at large was that if that’s life as she knows it, she’s likely ignoring the world around her. Almost no one lives in an all-white all-heterosexual community.

But reflecting diversity of characters is only half of it. The other half is diversity is emotional honesty.

In Love, Simon, Nick Robinson (who plays Simon) does a phenomenal job of exhibiting the awkwardness, discomfort, and ongoing nervousness of coming out. I saw a lot of myself in him and his portrayal of Simon. I’m sure many people did.

In Call Me By Your Name, Elio (brilliantly portrayed by Timothée Chalamet) has a very different journey than Simon — he struggles with the same issues, but doesn’t really have a coming out aspect to his journey. It’s reflective of the journey that many people have with their sexuality. No two people have the same journey.

Watching these very diverse movies and these movies that pack an emotional gut punch has me thinking about my own writing and what’s lacking — and what I want to achieve. I’m working on a very long novel right now, New York Heat, which is a sequel to two series I’ve already published. Since it’s a sequel, I’m mostly working with pre-existing characters … who are all white. Thus, with the two new characters I added to this book, I made one of them an immigrant from Ghana. It’s a small piece of diversity, but just the start of what I plan to do with my writing. I also made two men bi rather than gay, because I’m increasingly recognizing the threat of bi-erasure in erotic literature (and society in general, for that matter).

The sequel to New York Heat will be a book called New York Ice. Presently, I know of two new characters I’ll be introducing — one will be a trans man and the other will be a Thai gay man. The books are set in New York City, after all. I remember back when Friends was on TV, there were occasional articles in the media about how white the show is given where it’s located. I don’t want my books to suffer the same criticism. Really, though, it goes much further than wanting to avoid criticism. They say “write what you know” — so, what do I know? My close friends and family are white, Filipino, Malaysian, Pakistani, gay, straight, lesbian, trans, and more.

By writing diversity, I’m writing what I know. I’m writing a reflection of the world I live in, the world as it is.

Then there’s the emotional gut punch. One could very easily argue that erotica and erotic romance is no place for emotions other than lust and love.

I disagree.

Emotions and emotional storylines of all types add diversity to story.

The ending of Orphan’s Triumph by Robert Buettner (book five of the five-book sci-fi Jason Wander series) turned my world upside down for weeks. I still get chills thinking about how Buettner created such an emotional gut punch that was so unexpected — especially for the genre of military sci-fi — but was so perfect. After spending five books fighting an implacable enemy, one who has utterly destroyed everything and everyone Jason Wander cares about, **spoiler** the book ends with a final confrontation between Jason and the enemy (a planet-sized hive-mind being). I saw this coming half-way through the series. Then Buettner turned it all upside down by having Jason talk to the enemy, understand the enemy, have the enemy understand him, and then forgive the enemy and letting it go. Regularly in life, we are challenged to forgive our enemies and to show compassion to those who have harmed us. This book shows us how powerful that moment can be.

This four-panel comic strip from the often-hilarious and often-sombre Pearls Before Swine packs an incredible emotional gut punch in only a few words. This is a pain that almost anyone can relate to, whether or not they’ve experienced a school shooting.

Seasons three and four of Futurama, an often-goofy animated sci-fi show by the the guy that made The Simpsons, often has me in tears because of the unexpected but oh-so-perfect emotional gut punches. Peppered among the goofy episodes are emotional stories about love, family, loss, and more. The Jurassic Bark episode often has me tearing up just by thinking about it — a thousand years in the future, Fry discovers the petrified remains of his dog, Seymour, from before he travelled to the future. **Spoiler** As he’s about to clone his dog from the DNA they’ve found in the petrified remains, he discovers that Seymour lived a long life after Fry left and travelled to the future. In the closing scene, we discover that Seymour spent the rest of his life waiting at the spot where he met Fry, hoping that his master would return to him. The very closing second is Seymour passing away.

So is there room for this kind of emotional gut punch in erotica and romance?

Fuck yes.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a few pen names — under my other pen names, I basically write wank stories. They’re short and they’re meant to get the reader off. There is a place for those in the market and I’ll continue to write them.

But for this name, for Cameron D. James, I’m seeing a shift in where my writing is going. I will still market my stuff as MM erotic romance and/or gay erotica — but it will be so much more than that. New York Heat and New York Ice are both going to pack an emotional gut punch that is extremely atypical for the genres. But it’s the story I want to tell.

The best stories are often the ones that the writer is most invested in. Under this pen name, I write the stories I’m most invested in. I throw my whole heart, mind, and soul into these books. I try to reflect diversity (and I’m striving to do better at it) and I try to reflect emotional honesty — and to do that, I have to create stories that are deep and rich, which means I can no longer just do surface-level love stories. I can’t be afraid of taking a risk and going for something sad or painful.

Will I lose some readers? Undoubtedly.

Will I gain some readers? Undoubtedly.

But who am I writing for? The reader or myself? I’m writing for myself. But that doesn’t mean the reader won’t get something out of it. With novels of emotional depth and honesty, featuring characters that are diverse and true to life, who face the same struggles and trauma that real people face … there will be people who read my books and say, “Finally, a book that I identify with.”

I’ve always struggled with the vociferous argument that condoms must be used in MM erotic romance. The key argument is typically that featuring condom use or over-long explanations on how getting tested is a normal thing that loving couples do is written into the book for the young gay man who might be reading the story — maybe he’ll internalize that message and have a healthy approach to his sex life. The problem with that, though, is the key readership of MM erotic romance is women, not gay men. The message is nice, yeah, but it’s directed at the wrong people. (And, honestly, I think it reinforces the idea in non-gay-men’s-minds that gay men are diseased and must use condoms to stay alive — but that’s an argument for another day.) By including this in the books, these writers are trying to reflect a rather narrow exeperience that is not shared by their largest readership.

But by writing a diverse cast and plots that feature that emotional gut punch — and stories that reflect life itself — I can write something that almost anyone can identify with. That Pearls Before Swine comic I linked to above has a message that anyone can identify with, whether or not they’ve been personally affected by a school shooting. The ending of that book, Orphan’s Triumph, is about forgiveness in the most extreme of situations. Jurassic Bark, that episode of Futurama, is about loving your dog. These are relatable to anyone who consumes these media. And all of these media are richer and stronger for it.

I’m finding my way in my writing.

I was lost for quite a bit. I wrote some wank stories and thought that was the extent of it. I was going to write some stuff in other genres (in fact I have a sci-fi novel on my hard drive and plans for a trilogy, as well as plans for a line of thrillers that my writing group says is strong enough to land a traditional deal) — but I’ve put all of those projects aside and have no plans to pick them up again.

Why? Because they’re just plot. The don’t have the diverse characters (though I could certainly put that in) or the emotional gut punch that I now realize is what I love most about books and movies. To rewrite those books to include those things would make them very different beasts. I may return to them at some point, but I’m not ready for it yet.

I write stories of transformation, growth, pain, trauma, healing, hope, love, loss, and family. I write stories about life. Yeah, there’s a lot of sex along the way. Sex is part of life. There are probably people who read my books for just the sex. But there are also probably people who would read my books even if there wasn’t sex in it. I’ll write what I want to write and my audience will find me.

Just like audiences are now finding themselves in the movies, I’m hoping readers find themselves in my books.

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New Podcast!

I’ve got a brand new podcast!

Sex For Money is about the business of writing, publishing, and selling erotic and romantic fiction — and two episodes are up already!

sex-for-money-podcast-logo

Look for Sex For Money on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, or at indieerotica.com/podcast/!

Episode One: Facebook Changes — I tackle the changes Facebook recently made to how pages do and don’t appear in a user’s newsfeed, and what this might mean for the future of marketing on Facebook.

Episode Two: Goodreads for Authors — I explore Goodreads and discuss when, where, and how to market on Goodreads.

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Damaged Goods by H.D. Nels

Greetings book lovers! Today we’re taking a peek at Damaged Goods by H.D. Nels! Read on for the blurb, cover, excerpt, and more!


Blurb:

Harold Dugan’s boyfriend flipped him off and told him to keep out of his life. His wife said it was the final straw and filed for divorce.

His life is a total mess.

An abusive past keeps him from making the right decisions. He turns to alcohol and cheap tricks in the local gay bar. Then Ryan Winfield sweeps into his life and he is totally unprepared for this man who has different ideas of how a relationship should be. Ryan is not a one night stand. Not a cheap trick. All he wants is to show Harold how love can transcend a horrible past. True love. Will Harold allow Ryan into his life? Can Harold love anyone other than himself?

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Excerpt:

On Thursday night, and after he’d quit his job a few days earlier, Harold wondered about Chaps. Stupid name for a gay bar actually, but hey, Harold was a stupid name for a kid. Fair was fair. He didn’t mean to be an idiot the other night. They laughed at him, and his problem was that he didn’t know whether they figured he was funny, or just a fool. He had a hard time reading people for anything but sex. As he thought about it, he realized that Ryan was good looking—downright handsome. He didn’t recognize him from the bar, so likely he was passing through and would never see him again. He spent a long time deciding what to wear, but finally, he chose a pair of jeans and black tee shirt. When he checked in the mirror, he saw plain old Harold staring back at him. He took the train instead of driving. That way, he would have an excuse to leave if things became uncomfortable. He got hit on a lot at the bar.

At Chaps, he went directly to the bathroom. When he returned, Ryan stood at the bar with a beer in one hand, and a club soda in the other. Yep, Ryan was actually better than good looking. With his dark brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and full lips that invited someone to kiss them, he was gorgeous. He was maybe a hair shorter than Harold, but had the build of a Greek god.

“Let’s see if I can do this properly this time, shall we? Hi. I’m Ryan Winfield. I have a club soda here with your name on it.”

Harold smiled. “Harold Dugan. Thank you for the soda. It’s my favourite actually. Clear, sparkling water, that tastes like absolute heaven when served with a twist of lime.” He was running on at the mouth and blushed. “It’s equally good without lime.”

“How about joining me at a table? I didn’t do well by you when we met, and I’d like to get to know you.” Ryan paused, noticed the wary look on Harold’s face and quickly added, “I’m not trying to get into your pants. I do like you.”

Harold blushed. “Not much to like, but thanks. Um, would you like to go get a bite to eat after these drinks? I didn’t have dinner, and I got my severance money today, so I’ll buy.”

“Sure, I can do with nourishment. Severance huh, were you laid off or something?”

“I quit. They wanted to make a big deal of things I did that made the company profitable. I don’t like being in the spotlight.”

“If I promise I have no devious motive, would you be willing to get takeout and eat at my place? I don’t live too far from the next train station east of here.”

Harold glanced at him. The guy wasn’t looking for sex. “Sure, if you want. There’s a great Fish and Chip place nearby, or Mexican if you prefer spicy. I’m more of a bland eater.”

“Tell you what, since I’m going to be the host, why don’t you buy a pack beer from off sales, and I’ll order a pizza when we get to mine. Any brand is fine by me.”

Harold frowned. “I can afford to feed us. I’ll get the food as well. I’d like your company, but I’m not looking for charity.”

Ryan was surprised as all that tumbled out of Harold. “I never thought of you as a charity case. I was thinking we could split the effort. That way no one feels like he owes the other. Besides, the beer will likely cost more than the pizza anyway. Are we good? Ryan wondered what made this handsome man tick. He can’t say “no” to people, seemed to have a low opinion of himself, and he hated recognition for good things he accomplished. He made a mental note to talk to a psychologist friend of his.

“Maybe I should head home. No need to go through all this trouble anyway.” He drained his club soda and stood up to leave.

“Harold, it isn’t any trouble. We can grab a bite at either of the places you mentioned earlier. Seafood is fine for me as you aren’t a fan of spicy. I’d just like to hang with you. Nothing else, I promise.”

Harold sighed in defeat. “I’ll get the beer, you get pizza. We can grab a taxi to your place if you prefer.”

Ryan didn’t prefer, but he wouldn’t cause poor Harold more anxiety than he was already dripping. “I’ll ask the bartender to call a cab, and order the pizza on the way. Anything you don’t like? Or better still, what’s your favorite?”

Harold grinned. Ryan thought that smile was seldom used, but gorgeous. “Hawaiian with feta cheese on thin crust is awesome.”


About the Author:

HD NelsH.D Nels was born and raised by the Atlantic on the east coast, and has lived a few decades out west near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Each trip, be it back to visit family or to wander the mountain parks, is always a new adventure. His life has been an adventure, propelled at times by excessive caffeine. He’s met many interesting people from around the world, some of whom stimulated his imagination.

Some of that stimulation spilled out in a desire to write.

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Rent by Luke Jameson

Happy Friday, book lovers!

Today, I’m thrilled to share this hot new release for you from my Twitter-buddy, Luke Jameson!

Read on for the cover and blurb — and then click on a buy link to get your copy!


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Rent’s due, and Joe’s bank balance hovers perilously close to zero.

Desperate for cash, Joe hustles until he finds not just one man to satisfy, but a room full of hungry, powerful men in our nation’s capital. These men make laws that govern us all, and hide their true desires from everyone – except Joe.

Determined to extract every dollar he can from the corrupt elite, he dances his way into their fantasies, putting on a show that leaves them begging for release.

Joe and a fellow dancer put on a sizzling performance no one in the voyeuristic audience will ever forget. One night on stage doing what we all do in private guarantees he’ll never have problems making rent again.

Buy your copy:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

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