Shiny Things – a Thanksgiving Read

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays I watch in movies and think ‘well, that looks nice’ and then I move on with my life without sparing it much more thought. This year, I thought I’d read a story for Thanksgiving – we do it for Halloween and Christmas so why not Thanksgiving? Well, maybe because people are too busy eating turkey or for the fact that Thanksgiving stories are pretty hard to come by. I spent quite some time looking for a Thanksgiving book I wanted to read and I’m sad to say nothing really caught my interest, but then I remembered Shiny Things by Amy Spector.

If you think Amy Spector is all horror and blood and gore you’re wrong. Shiny Things is a gentle new adult romance.  I loved it when I read it in 2014. Back then I didn’t know Amy Spector and everything with writing was new and shiny and rather scary. The story made me cry then and I thought maybe it wouldn’t now, but I got quite emotional while reading it this morning.

Shiny Things is about Nathaniel who’s father kicked him out when he found out he was gay and Vincent, the boy who got him kicked out. It’s Thanksgiving ten years later and these boys, now young men, meet again. Vincent is the owner of a gallery and Nathaniel is there to renovate said gallery.

There is one scene when Nathaniel is watching the paintings in the gallery and sits down to talk to the artist that had me sobbing – both in 2014 and now – it’s just a few lines but it’s enough to stir my emotions.

If you haven’t read it, you should! Shiny Things is part of the Boughs of Evergreen anthology and the proceed from that anthology goes to the Trevor Project.


Book Cover Shiny Things by Amy SpectorA story from Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology

At sixteen, Nathaniel Avery was shipped off to live with an aunt in hopes of quelling a budding relationship between him and another boy. Ten years later, a frantic call from his younger brother and his father’s failing health, brings him back home.

Just weeks before Thanksgiving and the most important day in Vincent Cooke’s career, he nearly collides with the grown version of the boy he never really forgot.

Will a gallery renovation, the holiday season and the art of a mad genius help them to rebuild a friendship and rekindle a romance?

What sharp teeth you have!

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It’s October—the month of monsters! Do you have a favourite monster? I do. About ten years ago I read every vampire story (mostly PNR) I could get my hands on. This went on for a while so, in the end, I grew a little tired of tall, dark and deadly and started mixing it up a little. But as the nights grow darker I find myself wanting back to the time when I curled up on the sofa and read a novel a day, most often one including sharp fangs tearing through delicate skin.

But where are the gay vampires?

I know there are tonnes of M/M vampire stories out there, and maybe I haven’t read the right ones. Maybe I grew a little tired of these evil hotties even before I started reading M/M. Maybe, just maybe, the gay vampires are too busy having sex to actually take part in a rememberable plot.

I don’t mean to criticise, not really, but when I think of vamps, the books popping up in my mind aren’t M/M. I’m thinking of Black Dagger Brotherhood (yeah, I know one book in there is an M/M but it’s the weakest in the series in my opinion), Anita Blake, Nighthuntress, Sookie Stackhouse, Chicagoland Vampires, Guildhunter, I even think of Twilight before I think of an M/M story—though that’s probably more because of well-done marketing than a rememberable plot.

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So where are the gay vampires? I scrolled through my read list to see which books I’d forgotten because some pale hunk must have swept me off my feet these last years. There must have been someone, right? Nah, not really.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Jordan Castillo Price‘s Channeling Morpheus series but, as much as Wild Bill drags me in, the stories have little to offer outside the bedroom activities. I really liked Winter Winds by Missouri Dalton about Cillian the deaf vampire. And let’s not forget Harvey Feng in the Sanguine series by Harper Lou. You have to love a cross-dressing, vegetarian vampire. Among the favourites, I also have to mention Jordan L. Hawk’s Hunter of Demons. I’ve only read the first in the SPECTR series but I so loved Gray.

I’m still missing a gay vampire snagging and managing to keep my attention, though. I miss desperately searching for the next book in a series. I miss not being able to put the book down until the dreaded ‘The End’ stares back at me.

Which vampire books should I read?

 

Chain of Secrets | Debbie McGowan

Book COver Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowanLast but far from least in the Love Unlocked anthology we have Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan. This sweet, gentle read made me aware of there being something out there called love hearts sweets—we do not have them here in Sweden, or I have at least never seen them. There’s this cute little game Josh and George play in the story with love hearts that made me smile.

Cover Design by Debbie McGowan


Blurb:

Josh and George have always shared the special bond of friendship. From days in primary school, to holidays spent riding their bikes along the canal, theirs is a promise to remain best friends forever.

But can that promise withstand the trials of adolescence, and the changes in their feelings towards each other?

NOTE: this is a fully stand-alone story, but it contains significant spoilers for anyone reading the Hiding Behind The Couch series, and should be read after The Harder They Fall (season three).

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Excerpt:

They stopped, chained their bikes together and collected their sweets and drinks before they clambered up the concrete slope. They often had a rest under this viaduct. Not that he’d told Josh, but George liked to think it was their secret place that no-one else ever came to. It wasn’t special, just a road over the canal. But it got them out of the sun, and it was a good place to rest up before they rode the last mile home.

For a few minutes, they lay on their backs, catching their breath and cooling down. Josh reached into the bag of sweets, pulled out two lollipops, and held one out to George. Sitting up straighter, George took the lollipop, and Josh settled back, with his hands behind his head and his knees up, using the traction of his shoes to stop himself from sliding down the slope. He rolled the lollipop around, and the stick slid from one side of his mouth to the other.

George was transfixed. The stick switched sides again. A car rumbled overhead. The sugar left a glossy coating on Josh’s lips, and George wondered what they would taste like, how it would feel to press his lips to Josh’s and…kiss him. George’s heart was hammering in his chest at the thought. He wanted to kiss Josh, more than anything else. He wanted to taste the lollipop on his lips, lick the stickiness away. He wanted it so much he couldn’t stop watching the stick bobbing. He could just reach over and snatch that stick, pluck the sweet from Josh’s mouth, and kiss him.

Josh looked at him in puzzlement. Had he said something?

“Huh?” George asked. His cheeks were burning. The moment had passed, and for now the desperate urge to kiss Josh was lost.

George replayed that moment all the way home, and for days, weeks, months afterwards. He couldn’t seem to get the thought out of his head. He had wanted to kiss Josh. He still wanted to kiss him. Did he know? Could he tell what George was thinking?

***

At Ellie’s house, Josh got out of the limousine and gasped at the sight of his friend in her beautiful, long blue dress. She smiled and blinked back tears. Three years of fighting bulimia, and counting. Josh could see the pain, hidden behind her flawless make-up and slight yet shapely figure. Another item to add to the list of things that must not be allowed to ruin what might be their last night out together, forever.

Josh waited for Ellie to settle into her seat and sat next to her. He could feel George watching him. The finality of the occasion threatened to overwhelm him, and he waited until George’s attention had shifted before glancing his way.

George. His best friend. The boy with the bubble of blonde hair, the little ruffian with the rusty bike.

George. The tall, handsome eighteen-year-old, star footballer with his own horse.

George.

Lifting the champagne flute to his lips, George tilted his head back to take some of the fizzy golden liquid into his mouth. He met Josh’s gaze, swallowed and smiled. A concerned smile. Josh smiled back. Suddenly, the enormous car was too small, the cooled air was too warm, George was too close, too…beautiful. How had he never noticed before?

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You’ll find TChain of Secrets here:

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Cover Love UnlockedLove Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas – unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.

THE STORIES:
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
The Weekend by J P Walker
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd
Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan

You’ll find Love Unlocked here:

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A Morning Snore

Man with a bookI woke to the sound of rustling paper. With a soft murmur, I turned, hoping he would think I was still asleep. The sun caressed his bare skin, enhancing the slopes and valleys. I could watch him read forever if he’d only let me. A day in bed, what more could a guy wish for? He would never allow it, though. With a frown, he turned another page. I quickly closed my eyes, if he saw me he would insist on us getting up.

“I know you’re looking at me.”

My fake snore wasn’t as believable as I had hoped.


 

photo credit: chamber of secrets via photopin (license)

Og the dog

Og the dog
Ove the German Shorthaired Pointer

Do you see the handsome fellow in the picture? It’s my dog Ove. He is a nine-month-old German Shorthaired Pointer. We got him earlier this year and as always when you get a new pet the biggest problem is what to name the little creature. In our case it was fairly easy. In Swedish ‘vovve’ is ‘dog’, or rather ‘vovve’ is ‘doggie’ and my two-year-old said “ove”—she still does whenever she sees a dog. Ove is a male name in Sweden, though not a very common one, but it seemed fitting for the dog. So Ove it was and Ove this is.

When I was emailing with my friend, Jonathan Penn, he asked what the dog was called. I told him what I wrote above. So it would be as if I named a dog Og, he asked. And it would.

When I came to write Once in a Snowstorm I figured our lonely lumberjack needed a dog to keep him company in his secluded cabin, and remembering what Jonathan had written back in the summer I named him Og. In the first draft, I did say that Og was a German Shorthaired Pointer, but I think that paragraph got deleted sometime during the process because when I went back to check now I couldn’t find it. In my head Og still is a German Shorthaired Pointer, but I guess you can make him whatever breed you see fit.


Og’s first appearance in Once in a Snowstorm:

Book Cover Once in a Snowstorm
Book Cover Once in a Snowstorm

Soft approaching footfalls interrupted his slumber, or were they footfalls, or…? They were closing in rapidly, and they didn’t sound…human. Aiden didn’t have the energy to open his eyes and look. It was probably all in his imagination anyway.

But he couldn’t ignore when something wet and cold touched his face.

Aiden grunted and turned away, squinting in exhaustion at his would-be attacker. Through the blur of icy lashes, he saw a brown face and honey-coloured eyes watching him with interest. The light-brown snout came towards him again, but Aiden managed to put up an arm before the wet whiskers made contact with his skin. What is a dog doing in the middle of the forest?

The bark startled him.

“Og! Get back here!” That’s a human voice. Aiden tried to speak, but not a sound passed his lips. The last of his energy seeped out in the snow. He reached up and grabbed a hold of the dog’s collar, not wanting it to leave him. Then he closed his eyes.

What makes you roll your eyes?

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If you read a lot of M/M Romance I bet there are things you come across more often than you’d want to in your books. Things that will make you sigh, or roll your eyes, or maybe you put away the book for good. Or are you one of those who read all the tropes and clichés with a smile on your lips?

A little while ago I came across a thread in the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads where readers, and writers for that matter, listed tropes recurring in the romance books we read. I had a laugh reading it and went to search for more—yes, I researched tropes and clichés in M/M Romance. I found one thread in The Backlot Gay Forum, also on Goodreads, and I found a blog post written by Harry K. Malone about names on the main characters he never again wanted to see in M/M Romance.

So what I did was to put together a list over the things I found and then I wrote a story including as many of them as I could possibly piece together. Yesterday Once in a Snowstorm was published! Not nearly all tropes I could find are included but if you read it I promise you you’ll find quite a few. Not all are included in the list below either, but this is the list I had lying next to my laptop while writing:

Tropes and clichés in M/M Romance

The main characters:

•    Occupation: Gay comes with the uniform—Cop, Fireman, Paramedic, Doctor, Soldier. But let’s not forget the Bartenders, Bookstore owners, Lawyers, Actors, and Cowboys. (And the bottom can be a nurse if he wants to.)
•    Eyes: There is either one character with green eyes or one with specks of gold in his. There will also be ridiculously long lashes (that any girl would kill for.)
•    Smell: He smells of cinnamon, or he smells of musk, man, and sometimes he even smells of himself.

Bottom:

•    He doesn’t have much body hair, if any.
•    He listens to pop music (often ABBA).
•    He has a bubble butt and slender hips.
•    He’s short and quite often a nerd.
•    He has a long, slender, pink dick.
•    He has soft curly hair.
•    He will die without coffee in the morning.

Top:

•    He has a lot of body hair.
•    He listens to classic rock.
•    He’s tall, at a minimum 6 feet, but often 6’3.
•    He’s a real man so he drinks beer.
•    He has broad shoulders, tiny waist, and long legs.
•    He has a thick, veiny cock

Secondary characters:

•    A red-haired female BFF, either wispy thin or curvy.
•    A female friend or relative who will explain to the MC that he’s in love (Men are apparently too stupid to know for themselves.)

What they do:

•    Watch Die Hard.
•    On a first date, at least, one of the MCs dress in khaki trousers and a button down shirt.
•    They eat Chinese take-out.
•    In a D/s relationship, the Dom tells the sub “not to swear.”

Sex scenes:

•    Suddenly magically skilled in bed: The virgin performs every sex act he tries perfectly.
•    The life-altering prostate stimulation: the MC somewhat reluctantly is the “receiver” and gets his prostate stimulated. Then he never ever want to have any other kind of sex ever again.
•    First time bottoming: “Oh, it hurts, I think I’m gonna die” and then there’s one brush over the prostate, pain turns into pleasure, and all he wants is more, more, more!

Blowjob:

•    “Creamed my pants ‘cause you’re so hot.” When the giver comes from giving head, only.

Penetration scene:

•    Scrambling for lube and condom in the bedside table drawer or under the mattress.
•    Applies lube, and presses through the “ring of muscles” or “pucker.”
•    Dick “hard as a diamond”, “hard enough to pound nails”, or maybe it can “cut glass”.
•    The one, two, three fingers, followed by cock.
•    “You’re so tight” or if you’d rather “So hot, so tight.”
•    He thrust one, two, three more times…
•    Then comes “the ropes of cum” or the “hot cum” (that you’ll feel the hotness of through the condom).

Expression:

•    Molten lava: “Anger burning like molten lava.” “Heated gaze like molten lava.”
•    “Oh so responsive” (about the bottom)
•    Being a “Boy Scout” when lube and condom are readily produced.

Themes:

•    Gay for You
•    Insta-Dad needs boyfriend: When a guy becomes orphaned and has to take care of younger siblings, or when a man becomes a widower (often merged with GFY).
•    Fuck buddies become boyfriends.
•    BDSM cures All: OCD, ADD, and extreme shyness can be cured by finding a Dom who tells you how to act.
•    The Healing Power of Sperm: Characters is broken/devastated (often raped), but as soon as he comes into contact with the love interest’s sperm all his fears and problems are cured.
•    Smartass twinks and dumb tops who finds them funny.
•    The alpha male who sweeps us off our feet (and rescues the bottom.)
•    Story takes place on a deserted island, or somewhere where the characters are snowbound or trapped in an isolated place.

Is there anything you think I need to add to the list?


Book Cover Once in a SnowstormDaring a snowstorm might not be the smartest thing Aiden has ever done, but he can’t stand being in his flat a moment longer. With only three days to Christmas, he doesn’t want to be alone. He wants a place to belong, wants people around him who won’t look down on him. He might not find all that at his mother’s place, but at least it’s better than being alone in the city. If he can make it there, that is.

Tristan is looking forward to a quiet night in front of the TV, but instead, he has to save an idiot in designer clothes from freezing to death in his forest. Tristan tries not to notice the man’s good looks, just like he has tried not to notice any man’s good looks for the last seven years. He knows where relationships go and is far better off living alone, with his dog, in his cabin.

Aiden is driving Tristan mad with his bratty comments and irresponsible ways, and Aiden is going crazy from Tristan’s judgmental attitude. Luckily, in a few days, the weather will clear up, and the two men won’t have to be together any longer. But will a few steamy nights with the grumpy lumberjack change Aiden’s mind about wanting to leave? And will Tristan still want to go back to his peaceful, predictable life without fear of getting his heart broken?

You’ll find Once in a Snowstorm here:

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Once in a Snowstorm

photo credit: smoking leather via photopin (license)

Book Cover Once in a Snowstorm by Ofelia Gränd

Christmas Flash Fiction

A year ago today I posted a Christmas Flash Fiction as a part of a Flash Fiction Holiday Blog Hop. We were 40 authors participating and I thought I’d recycle my post. Unfortunately, the links in the blue frog only take you to the other authors’ websites, but if you’re willing to do some digging around I’m sure you’ll find their flashes/short stories for free there to get you in a wintery holiday mood.

If you don’t want to read my story directly on the blog you can download the Porcelain Santa here.

Below follows the original post.


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The Flash Fiction Holiday Blog Hop is here! The stories should all fit under the GLBTQ umbrella, and they should include three things:

A winter holiday theme

A “bad boy” character

A gift of some kind

To read the other authors’ stories, click on the blue frog above and you’ll be taken to their links.

 

The Porcelain Santa

Sprawled on the window seat, I watched the snow falling outside. I love this time of year, love the preparations, the anticipation, and the serenity that comes with Christmas. The cup in my hand warmed my skin, and my flat smelled of candles and holiday biscuits. Even the normally depressing courtyard outside my window could’ve starred as a motif on a Christmas card with the glistening snow that clung to every surface. I closed my eyes with a content sigh…and heard the all too familiar noise of a snowmobile. Flying up into a sitting position, I made the tea in my cup spill over the rim and onto my fingers. The snowmobile was skidding over the yard—messing up the untouched snow. That fucking idiot! Why did he always have to destroy everything?

I glared at Zach through the window, he knew I was there, of course, and he turned to give me a cheeky smile before heading for the front door. Bastard! I blew out the candles and stomped out to the kitchen where I poured the remaining tea down the sink. Since the day he’d moved in he’d ruined things for me. Always loud, always there, always so fucking handsome. I wanted to strangle him.

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snowman
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I might have stayed a little longer than usual in bed the following morning, and I might have taken a little longer to eat my breakfast, but no matter how much I delayed it, I had to go to work—my last workday before the holiday.

Zach always went before I did, about eight minutes before. But today he was late. I sighed, making the glass in the peephole fog. Finally, I saw his door open on the other side of the hallway. I closed my eyes and counted to a hundred before I opened my door, sauntered down the eight steps, and went outside with a quick look around. Zach was nowhere to be seen, I could’ve sagged in relief.

“Hey, Benji! Wait up!” Where the hell had he been hiding? I gave him an icy stare. His confident grin made me want to smack him. Or kiss him. Either or. Those warm dark eyes glowed, and I just loved the way his black hair became a curly mess when it got a little too long. The knitted cap he wore today hid most of his curls, and it infuriated me that I felt disappointed for being unable to see them.

“You shouldn’t be walking in this weather. Come on let me drive you to work.”

“I’m not getting on that snowmobile,” I exclaimed appalled.

His lips twitched as he fought a laugh. “I do have a car, you know.”

I hadn’t known that, he was on that damned Ski-Doo all the time. “Then why do you ride that thing?”

“Because you’re pretty when you’re angry.” I gaped at him. The nerve! I was not pretty, and I did not get angry. I was hardly ever angry! “See, like that,” he said, and I swear his eyes twinkled. “Come on, I drive past your work anyway.”

“How would you know where I work?”

Zach raised a brow. “You work at Simon’s, everyone knows that.”

Everyone did not know that, hardly anyone knew that. Of course people knew that I worked there, it’s a café and people aren’t blind, but…

We reached the garage, and it turned out Zach did have a car. “Here, let me take your bag.” He took it and held the passenger door open. I squinted at him before climbing in. He took an awfully long time walking around the car, and once he started driving he was looking more at me than on the traffic. “So, Benji, where will you be spending Christmas?”

“At home,” I grumbled.

“Not going anywhere?”

“No.”

“Not having anyone over?”

“No.” I didn’t look at him. Since he kept looking at me, I felt the need to keep my eyes on the road.

“Why don’t you talk to me?

“Have nothing to say.”

Zach nodded. “We’ll change that.”

I snorted, relieved that we’d reached Simon’s. Jumping out of the car I noticed Zach doing the same. I frowned as he handed me my backpack. I can’t believe I forgot it.

“See you later,” Zach said with a kind of smile I hadn’t seen before. What was he up to? His eyes were soft, but that grin made me cautious. I nodded and went to work.

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The smile that had played on my lips the entire way home from work died when I unlocked the front door. My hand-painted porcelain Santa Claus was crushed, there were tiny pieces all over the hallway floor.

Someone had been in my flat! My stomach clenched as I peered into the living room. No one there.

That’s when I noticed a box of chocolate on the hall table where the Santa had been. A note was sticking out of it. I took it and read, “I have a gift for you. Love Zach.”

I stared at it, stared at the broken Santa, and swung around. That fucking bastard! I stomped over to his flat and banged on the door. He opened it, a look of uncertainty flitted across his face before his usual confident grin took over.

“What the fuck did you do?”

“I…er…I was gonna leave you a box of chocolate.”

“So you picked my lock?”

“Well, yeah. You really should get a tumbler lock.”

“What the fuck, Zach!”

“Yeah…but, I wanted to give you something tonight, so when I had the chance by the car this morning, I slipped your calendar out of your bag—only to make sure you’d be free. I picked your lock to leave the note, I never meant to break the china thing!”

“Why would you do such a thing?” My jaw ached from how hard I was grinding my teeth.

“To make you come over here,” he answered as if obvious.

“Why would I come over here?”

“To have dinner with me.” He stepped aside to show a beautifully set table with candles and white lilies. “But now I realize that we need to go down to the novelty shop to get you a new porcelain thing.”

“Was my calendar the gift you were referring to in the note,” I groused, annoyed with myself for not being angrier with him.

His nose crinkled. “Of course not! That was just to check if you were free.”

“So…dinner is the gift?”

“Yeah…well, I was thinking…kinda like…er…I’m the gift.”

I felt my eyes go wide. “You’re the gift?”

“Yeah, look I have a ribbon and everything.” He started to unbutton his jeans.

“Zach!” He looked up and winked. “That’s so fucking lame,” I breathed and felt my face warm.

He smiled and shrugged. “Yeah, but I’m serious. I’m yours if you’ll have me.”

“What the hell are you playing at?”

“Oh, come on, baby. You’re not that blind, are you? I like you. I want you.”

“But, you’re always making me angry.”

“Noo, I always make you notice me.” He leaned in, his breath ghosted over my skin. He lingered there, his lips almost touching mine. I heard myself whimper. He kissed me then, holding me close while exploring my mouth. I moaned, and his lips stretched into a smile. “Come on, let’s go buy you a new figurine.”

I nodded, a little dazed. He blew out the candles, grabbed his jacket, put his hand down the front of his jeans, and pulled out a red ribbon that he tossed into his flat before closing the door behind us.

 

The End