Guest Post | Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil

Trick or Treat

Today, my longtime author friend, Amy Spector, is here on a visit! Welcome, Amy

Thank you, Ofelia, for inviting me to pop over to your blog today!

Happy October! This is a time for all things spooky, and spooky books are my favorite—I should point out that I typoed that as spooky boys before I corrected it. Both are true!—but it’s been some time since I’ve had an October book release.

This year I have two!

Today is officially release day for Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil and I’m super excited to introduce it to the world!

Stripped to the bare bones, Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil is about a lonely man that inherits Printer’s Devil, a purportedly haunted bookstore—raise your hand if, like me, that too is your dream—and his attempts to get laid on Halloween.

It’s a little humor, a little angst, a little spooky, and just a lot of fun.

Printer’s Devil is actually loosely based on a bookstore not far from my house, in German Village in Columbus, Ohio.

In real life, the Printer’s Devil is called the Book Loft, and it’s a 32-room maze of book madness created from several buildings, some of which date back to before the U.S. Civil War.

At different times throughout the years, the buildings held a saloon, a nickelodeon movie theater, with the upstairs rooms occupied by everything from a church, and a school, to an art studio and flower shop—and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Findley Black #1 Banner

If you’re not too many miles of Columbus or passing through, the Book Loft is definitely worth a stop.

If you’re interested in a little Halloween fun, check out the blurb and excerpt below.

Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil

Starting over at thirty-four is harder than Owen Key expected. Lonelier too. There’s Bella, and the odd assortment of kids he’d inherited when a father he barely knew left him Printer’s Devil. But his bookstore employees and his cat aren’t much good when it comes to getting laid.

Findley Black says a lot of things. At least according to everyone at the store. When Owen runs into him for the first time during one of his ghost tours, with his leather jacket and flirtatious looks, Owen finds himself more than interested in what he has to say.

Owen may have been hoping for a one-night-stand, but when Findley asks to stay the remainder of Halloween night in the Printer’s Devil in hopes of seeing the ghost of a serial killer, he finds it hard to say no.

Halloween is a time for ghost stories and trick or treat. But running out of candy is a bad omen, and it’s hard to get lucky when something otherworldly seems determined to ruin your night.

Excerpt:

And that, my friends,” the guide raised his voice and the noisiness of the group died away. “Was the true story of the murderess Elizabeth Wells and the ghosts of the Printer’s Devil.”

The crowd broke out in applause and Owen stopped in his tracks and turned back.

The shop was supposed to be haunted?

For those of you not quite ready to call it a night, across the street you’ll see Yearling. Founded in 1809, it’s one of the oldest, continually operating taprooms in the city. The woodwork alone makes it well worth a visit. For anyone interested, show your ticket and get one free drink. I’ll be grabbing a pint myself.”

The group applauded, many yelling their thanks, others wishing the guide a happy Halloween. A few more hanged around to ask questions. Once the crowd had finally dispersed—most headed off in search of where they parked, the others crossing the street to the bar—the guide threw a look over his shoulder, almost as if he’d known Owen would still be there and gave him that wicked smile again.

An invitation? Yeah, definitely an invitation.

When the man turned and started his own slow stroll across the four lanes, Owen gripped the strap of his bag and jogged to catch up.

Okay if I join you?” A good, neutral start. Just in case what Owen was hoping for was nothing at all like what the other man had in mind.

Alex was your dad, right?”

No, David Key had been Owen’s dad. Alexander Kemp had just been his father. “Biological. Yeah.”

The guy held out his hand, and Owen shook it. It was rough, with long fingers and Owen tucked that information aside for use later. Again, just in case they weren’t interested in the same thing.

Findley Black.”

So, this was Kayla’s infamous Findley? “Owen Key.”

Alex talked a lot about you. He was—”

Don’t tell me.” Owen had heard the same words about a million times in the last three months. “A good man?”

Findley laughed. It was a sexy laugh. “No. He was an asshole. But an interesting one.”

That made Owen smile. It was refreshing to meet someone with nearly as low an opinion of the man who had sired Owen as he had himself. “Refreshing to hear.”

Doesn’t mean I didn’t like the guy.”

When they pushed inside, Yearling was as impressive as Findley Black had promised the group. The entire place gleamed, the low light playing off the well-polished cherry wood that covered the floors and walls, the tall-backed booths, and the long bar that ran the length of the wall at the far end of the room. It smelled of wax and alcohol, and of cigar smoke, even though it probably hadn’t been smoked in for close to two decades.

They worked their way through the crowd to the bar and Owen ordered one of the on-tap specials. Findley ordered the same.

At nearly midnight, the place was pretty well full with the weekend crowd and a large group of college students in a celebratory mood, but Findley pointed to an empty, two-top booth pressed up against the front window with a view of the street outside and a sign that read RESERVED. “I have my own spot.”

Convenient.” Owen wondered if Findley picked someone up after every tour. “No doubt it comes in handy.”

A perk for sending business their way.”

At the booth, Findley pushed the sign aside before he slipped in and Owen slid in across from him.

I have a question.” Technically Owen had two questions, but felt are you gay would be best left until later. “How’d you know who I was? It couldn’t have been my looks.”

No.” Findley laughed again. “Definitely not your looks.”

Alexander Kemp had been a big man, tall, with wide shoulders, square features, and a jet-black mop. Except for his height, Owen took almost exclusively after his mother. From his warm complexion and chestnut-colored hair to his taste in music and gold-brown eyes. And his nose. Owen could not have been more thankful that he’d inherited his mother’s nose.”

Then how?”

Micah told me you were closing for him tonight.”

Of course.” Owen laughed at himself before taking a sip of his beer. He was not much of a beer drinker but this one wasn’t too bad—smokey, with only a hint of sweet.

Bet I can guess why you decided to join me.” Findley smiled and Owen stilled, mid-sip, an image of fumbling with Findley in a bathroom stall flashing through his mind.

Why?”

Elizabeth Wells and the ghosts.”

Ah, that. Owen had nearly forgotten.

You can pick up Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil from you preferred online retailer by clicking the link below:

books2read.com/findleyblack

You can also pick up the book directly from the publisher, and save 20% now through November 2nd.

https://www.jms-books.com/amy-spector-c-224_504/findley-black-and-the-ghosts-of-printers-devil-p-3989.html

Want to read another excerpt? Check out my website below:

http://www.amyspectorauthor.com/standalone/#FindleyBlack

COMING OCTOBER 31st

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About Amy Spector

Ruby Shoes

Amy grew up in the United States surviving on a steady diet of old horror movies, television reruns and mystery novels.

After years of blogging about comic books, vintage Gothic romance book cover illustrations, and a shameful amount about herself, she decided to try her hand at writing stories. She found it more than a little like talking about herself in third person, and that suited her just fine.

She blames Universal for her love of horror, Edward Gorey for her love of British drama and writing for awakening the romantic that was probably there all along.

Amy lives in the Midwest with her husband and children, and her cats Poe, Goji and Nekō. 

Media Links

Website – http://www.amyspectorauthor.com/

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Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amy-spector

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Fridays at Ofelia’s | A Tricky Situation by Ellie Thomas

Trick or Treat

Thank you so much again, Ofelia, for having me as your guest today! I’m Ellie Thomas, and I write Historical Gay Romance. In this blog, I’ll be chatting about A Tricky Situation, my contribution to JMS Books’ Trick or Treat Halloween stories.

It was a real treat (if you’ll excuse the pun) to join in with all the other JMS authors who took part in this. However, given I write historical stories, a Halloween idea had to be handled slightly differently. Since my story is set in late 18th century Bristol, there were no pumpkins for my characters to carve or Halloween parties to attend wearing witch or skeleton costumes! So the Trick or Treat theme had to suit the context.

As Bristol was historically known as the “City of Churches”, it seemed a fitting background to set a story in the week leading up to All-Hallows Eve, where my main character Kit suffers a crisis of the soul.

Outwardly, Kit’s life is more than comfortable. He is a privileged young white man, son of a wealthy merchant and living in a comfortable outer suburb. A chance encounter with Edmund, a working-class blacksmith and man of colour, who rescues him from a gang of thieves, upends Kit’s existence with their instant mutual attraction.

Following this chance meeting, Kit faces facts about his life direction and sexuality as Halloween approaches. He realises that in blithely following the easy path, obeying his ambitious father, befriending upper-class louts and tolerating their bad behaviour, he is betraying his true nature and embarking on the road to a personal hell.

In researching this story, as Kit’s family home is in the beautiful 18th-century area of Kingsdown, it was lovely to revisit the website for The Kingsdown Conservation Society, a residents’ group that, in its first incarnation in the early 1970s, saved much of the area from the wrecking ball of developers. The photos and information were informative and enjoyable and helped so much with the local geography.

However, as usual, I had a look through my bookshelves to see if I had any relevant reference books and came across a hidden gem. The Bristol Landscape is a book commissioned by the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to acknowledge the early 19th century watercolours of Samuel Jackson, known as “the father of the school” of Bristol artists of the period.

The reproductions of Jackson’s work are from the 1820s, some forty years after my story. However, they have a timeless atmosphere of the pre-Victorian city before the building of the railways and subsequent rapid urban expansion.

Leafing through this beautiful book, I could visualise Kit’s home in one of the few grand houses newly built in rural Kingsdown, depicted in the charming painting of nearby Mother Pugsley’s Well before it was built over and became Somerset Street. Then there were the paintings of the busy port area and the vistas over the city centre churches, where Kit prays desperately for inner courage on Halloween night.

One of my favourite watercolours in this collection is the view down St. Michael’s Hill, slightly outside the old city with its fine houses that were old even then! As this is the route my couple take when Edmund walks Kit home to Kingsdown at night, I could imagine them turning off the hill to climb peaceful Horfield Road, holding hands in the darkness.

Samuel Jackson’s paintings inspired my visual impression of Bristol for this story. So, it seemed only fitting to pay tribute by placing the fictional blacksmith’s shop owned by Edmund’s father in city-centre Wine Street next to the dry-salters in which Jackson’s father was a partner.

These delightful paintings are not only a pleasure to look at but were the perfect background for my characters and their growing romance. As I enjoyed each illustration, I could picture Kit’s apparent life of ease while inwardly grappling with a life-changing decision between shallow aspiration or meaningful love and loyalty.

Blurb:

a tricky situation

Christopher Holloway lives a comfortable existence in 18th-century Bristol as the son of a wealthy merchant. Until, when on a night out with some aristocratic companions, he is set upon by thieves.

His grand friends don’t come to his rescue, but he is led to safety by a stranger, a working-class man of colour, Edmund Lowe. Although now physically safe, Kit’s sense of danger lingers due to his growing feelings for Edmund. Their mutual attraction forces Kit to question his previous values, causing an inner crisis as Halloween draws near.

Will Kit submit to the demands of family ties and social advancement? Or can he find the courage to follow his true path and choose Edmund?

Exctract:

Crowding around a table near the door, his companions banged on the table, yelling for service. The loudest of them was a scion of the aristocratic Jeffery’s family, full of importance. However, Kit thought, although he brayed blusteringly for his beer, there was no real harm in him. It was his closest companion, Matthew Villiers, who had a spiteful streak.

While the server stoically brought them their drinks, to more general verbal abuse, Kit scanned the uneven corners of the room for Edmund, but to no avail. When Kit had almost abandoned hope, and his noisy cohorts were calling for yet more drink, Edmund entered the tavern with two friends.

As the waiter had disappeared into the kitchen, Kit rose from his chair and offered to find the landlord, raising a rousing cheer. Edmund turned at the commotion and caught Kit’s eye. His smile of recognition encouraged Kit’s approach.

May I stand you a drink to thank you for your assistance the other night?” Kit asked diffidently.

Edmund grinned as there was another roar from the table. “I think your friends are more in need,” he said. “And I’d better join mine,” he added, nodding his head towards a recess.

Before Kit could walk away, his hopes blighted by such a brief encounter, Edmund asked diffidently, “Perhaps I could walk you home again later? Just to make sure you keep out of trouble.”

I’d like that,” Kit replied, trying not to sound too eager.

Edmund smiled and went to join his fellows while Kit managed to catch the attention of the landlord to order more jugs of strong ale.

After a while, since the tavern was quiet and orderly, his easily bored companions started to talk of other diversions. One boasted of an assignation with an opera dancer from the nearby theatre, others mentioned a cockfight in a low establishment a few streets away. Having no interest in either activity, Kit thought this might be good timing to make his exit.

As the others left the tavern with a shower of coin and so much carousing that no one could miss their departure, Kit lagged behind, pausing inside the tavern door. Despite it being a quiet night, he did not want to risk loitering in the street for another encounter with the rogues who had singled him out.

His breathing was shallow, but not from fear. Tonight, he was anxious for very different reasons.

Edmund did not keep him waiting long. He greeted Kit with that warm smile and they left the inn, traversing Back Street towards the Exchange.

Kit was tongue-tied. Any attempt at polite conversation was stifled by his nerves. In the end, it was Edmund who broke the silence.

Looks like your grand gentlemen didn’t notice your absence again?” He said with a smile.

Kit laughed nervously. “They were too busy thinking of their own entertainment, smitten by the lure of a cockfight or the charms of the opera dancers at the Royal Theatre. Neither of those is to my taste,” he added lamely, thinking, you fool, you sound such a stuffy prude.

Edmund merely smiled as if in agreement. A few paces along, it was Kit’s turn to try to converse. “Your friends will not miss you?” He asked.

Not at all,” Edmund reassured him. “They’ll finish their tankards and head home. Us working men have early starts,” he said with a grin that took the sting out of his words.

I’ll be employed soon,” Kit protested, urged to distance himself from the vacuous existence of his erstwhile companions. 

Edmund said easily, “All the more reason to enjoy your leisure while you can.”

Crossing Baldwin Street, they turned into a shortcut towards St. Nicholas’s Street. “What do you do for enjoyment?” Kit asked.

I have a jar with my mates when we have a few pennies,” Edmund replied and then he stopped, and turned to look at Kit, who was achingly aware they were alone in the deserted lane. “And I also like to do this,” he smiled faintly, then he bent his head down to Kit’s who moaned at the touch of his lips.

Universal Book Link:

https://books2read.com/u/bWGxE1

Bio:

Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.
Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/

Guest Post | October by Candlelight by K.L. Noone

Trick or Treat

Today, K.L. Noone is here to share a little about her Trick or Treat story, October by Candlelight, which is released today. Welcome!


Happy October—and thanks to Ofelia for letting me stop by to share an autumn-themed new release!

“October by Candlelight” is roughly 12,000 words of soft cozy (but a little spicy!) m/m romance—all about moving in together, and about autumn candles and decorations, and about learning to listen. Plus some pumpkin cinnamon rolls!

Autumn is my favorite season—full of pumpkin-orange and rustling branches and nutmeg-hued leaves and skies like twilight velvet—so when JMS Books put out a Trick or Treat themed call for stories, I knew I had to write something! And I knew it would be about love: love of the season, love of a partner, love of making a home, together.

In “October by Candlelight,” autumn is also Finn’s favorite season—and there’s a reason for that, one that’s personal. It’s a story his boyfriend Wes doesn’t know yet—but he will, once he learns how to ask. And once he figures out what Finn’s been trying to say, with the candles and the pumpkins and the leaf-garlands and all the decorations that’re making a celebration out of their home…

Also, there’s at least one truly terrible pun. Because Finn has that sense of humor. (So do I, I’m afraid. You’ll just have to…humor us. As it were.)

There’s more to come with Wes and Finn, I suspect—perhaps a Christmas story, to continue the holiday theme? We’ll have to see. Wes might have a certain question in mind, eventually…but for now, I hope you enjoy meeting them—and all the autumn scents and glowing lights—in “October by Candlelight”!

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Barnes & Noble

Bio:

K.L. Noone teaches college students about superheroes and Shakespeare by day, and writes romance – frequently paranormal or with fantasy elements, usually LGBTQ, and always with happy endings – when not grading papers or researching medieval outlaw life. She is currently the servant of a large black cat named Merlyn, who demands treats on a regular basis. 

Excerpt:

Two days later, on Saturday, a delivery arrived: three pumpkin-spice candles, a paperback copy of The History of Silver Age Superheroes, a zucchini, and a loaf of raspberry wheat bread. None of these had been on the shopping list tacked to the fridge, except Finn’s zucchini, which had a muffin-related destiny.

Wes, who’d answered the door and opened the package, considered this fact. “I’m not sure you’re allowed to buy things without me.”

Finn gave him a sorrowful-kitten look. Wes knew that look. He gave in to that look just about every time.

“Is this what living with you is like? It is, isn’t it? Not,” he added hastily, “that I mind.”

He didn’t. Not at all. This house had room for their combined eclectic library; Wes’s organized desk and an old guitar from his wayward college rock band days lived alongside Finn’s hobby-of-the-month origami and card-trick magic practice and ocean-themed coloring books, finding three-month-old harmony. The pool out back was good for Finn’s physical therapy and also just for floating around in, and they did a lot of that. These days Wes’s world was wondrous.

He lifted up a bright orange shape, turned it around. “More candles?”
“They were on sale,” Finn protested. He’d gotten up, and Wes nearly argued, but it seemed to be a good day; that wasn’t even much of a limp. “They smell like pumpkins. And autumn grass. And bonfire smoke. Here, I can help—”

“Yes, thank you,” Wes said, now juggling three candles and bread and zucchini and a book, trailing Finn into the kitchen. “You want pumpkins and bonfires in our house.”

“I’ll make cinnamon rolls with pumpkin cream cheese.” Finn was only half paying attention, entranced by autumnal temptation and finding gleaming silver to put candles inside. “Anyway you like pumpkin spice.”

“I’m not sure I want to, you know, breathe and eat pumpkin…” He did love Finn, though. And he loved the sparkle in those huge eyes, diving into the world with full-on enthusiasm. “I can build a fire if you want. In our fireplace. For you.”

Finn set down the third candle. Smiled. “Come on, baby, light my fire.”

“Terrible classic rock puns,” Wes informed him, “mean absolutely guaranteed seduction,” and took a step forward, everything else shoved onto a countertop, hands finding and cupping Finn’s face, thumb skimming over a dimple because it was there and he could.

Finn looked at him, smiling, waiting; pure anticipation danced in every line of him, every lifted eyebrow. Wes kissed him for it.

Blurb:

october by candlelightLiving with former teen idol Finn Ransom isn’t like a movie. But it’s worth it.

Wes loves his boyfriend, and he knows all the stories about Finn’s celebrity past and old accidents and rebuilt career — or he thinks he does. But Wes also loves his organized historian’s life, neat and tidy and efficient — and moving in with Finn is the opposite.

Finn’s messy, colorful, exuberant … and in love with autumn. Pumpkins. Black cats. Fall leaves. Rain. Wes wants to be patient, but one more cinnamon candle might be one too many.

But maybe Wes doesn’t know everything about Finn’s past. And autumn candlelight is good for sharing stories … and opening up hearts.