Glitter and be gay

Glitter and be gay! This is the title for one of the September book giveaway groups I’m in. How can you argue with that? I can’t and don’t want to. The Glitter and Be Gay Giveaway lasts the whole month and features free books with LGBTQIA+ characters. Check it out!

Here’s a few of the novels that caught my attention.

He’s alive again. He doesn’t know why or even who he is. But a mysterious arcane organization has plans for him.
A witchy legacy seeks to prove herself at a new school.
Death is queer and his magic is evolving.

A-O-K

Do you need some positivity in your life today? There’s a song for that! This is A-O-K by Tai Verdes. I love this song, and I probably would have written ‘a-okay’ but that’s not the official name, so I went with how it’s listed and it doesn’t bother me at all… okay, maybe it bothers me a little, but I respect the title!

Review: Realigned by Becca Seymour

While the title of this blog is Hella Gay YA, I’ve never been good at staying on topic. And as an author of gay romances, I figure the important part is ‘gay’ anyway. So I’m going to share my thoughts on the novella Realigned by Becca Seymour.

The cover needs a special shout-out. GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS COVER. Yes, I needed to say it three times because it can’t be said enough. BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS COVER. Especially in the gay romance genre, this is one of my favorite covers ever.

Quick Summary: When Shaun returns home to the Australian outback, he must decide what to do when his vacation ends, either go back to his life in the United States or stay and start a relationship with police officer Mitch.

Tropes and Book Details: best friends, friends to lovers, small town romance, second chance, short story, contemporary, sweet, steamy

My thoughts: Realigned is fun, fast novella if you want a cute read with a little steam. This is one of the books I picked up in a giveaway and I’m glad I got the opportunity as I hadn’t ready any Becca Seymour before, but it won’t be the last book I read from her.

Plot: Some old author guy once said ‘you can’t go home again,’ but eight years is a pretty long time to stay away. So Shaun returns to the small-town he left behind, his loving family, and the best friend he’s always wanted more from. And if their relationship evolves, can he be convinced to turn his vacation into a permanent change of address?

This is the question the plot revolves around, but it’s more there in the background while the focus is on the relationship between the guys. And their relationship is the best part, so this works out just fine. There is some drama about how Shaun left and revelations from the past, but most of the angst is in the past.

Characters: When people say it’s not rocket science, they aren’t talking to Shaun because he is a rocket scientist. Yet it’s the heart he has trouble with. Isn’t that the way it goes? And also, I am not a rocket scientist, so I’m not totally sure about his job. He works for NASA and does something with the earth, but I’m rounding to ‘rocket scientist’ anyway.

Shaun’s childhood best friend Mitch is a sexy sweetheart who put Shaun’s own happiness first in the past, but now thinks they can be happy together. What else could you want from a fictional boyfriend?

Quote about Mitch

Both grew up in a small Australian community that feels authentic to me and will to you too, unless you are actually from a small Australian community, and then I can’t say whether the experience will ring true for you, but it’s probably close enough for a short story.

Final thoughts: For me, this story is super interesting, very cute, and even a bit steamy. It’s an entertaining read from start to finish. If you enjoy reading standalone novellas about sexy dudes with Australian accents, best friends becoming more, or gay romance in general, you’re good to go and will love every second.

I’m the person who finds something good and wants more of it, so I wish the book was longer, but I also think that’s the mark of a quality story when you’re left wanting more. And as someone who takes forever to read, I do see the value of shorter fiction, though this one felt more like a snippet than totally complete to me. So the perfect time to read this is when you’re in the mood for a quick, feel-good read.

Quote from the book

High School Geography

In Instalove, a love spell is only the beginning of Avery Ward’s problems when strange things start happening at his school and he can’t get the guy he isn’t dating out of his head… or his heart.

This is a quote from the novel where Avery looks at a pretty boy, Chris Reyes, and thinks about their respective places in the world of high school.

If this square-shaped room had its edges sanded away and became a world onto itself, which it pretty much was even without more circular dimensions, then the table Chris sat at was probably North America. Flashy, the biggest and best, and pretty great all things considered. Just not exactly as great as many of the inhabitants believed. All the popular, attractive athletes sat there.

If this school were a world, my table would be, I don’t know, somewhere in Europe probably, but not the whole continent. Or if it were a continent, probably Australia. It seemed like a neat enough place, maybe even somewhere to visit, but not the center of attention.

In the beginning

You know the beginning of a novel when the protagonist is doing great? Everything is pretty close to perfect before an unexpected event happens and then it all starts going wrong. Well, in this scene from the LGBTQ young adult novel Instalove, Avery is doing great. He’s thinking back to the time he met his boyfriend, and everything totally isn’t going to go wrong. (Yes, it is.)

P.S. this is a modern fantasy novel with magic and spellcasting, but there’s no magic in this scene. Or is there? Hmmm…

The football players practiced on the field while groups from the track team ran laps on the track around them. We tended to run in groups even though this exercise was such a solitary endeavor. It made no sense, but I didn’t care enough to be the only one running by myself.

There was a sudden jolt from the force of a hit, but I was fine, so I picked up the ball and tossed it a short distance to the athlete heading towards me with a sheepish expression.

It took me a moment to think of his name: Chris Reyes. A light sheen of sweat dusted his arms, visible in his cut-off tee, making his bronze skin glow faintly.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I think I’ll live.”

“Danny the QB thought my job looked easy,” explained the affable, good looking athlete. He twirled the ball around casually in the air while he talked. “I bet him 20 bucks he couldn’t kick a field goal.” He smiled. “I won 20 bucks.”

“Do I get a cut of the profit?” I asked.

“I don’t know about that,” he said, grin turning less charming and more teasing.

“I was just out here minding my own business,” I explained innocently. “When I was attacked with a football.”

“Hmmm.” He fought a grin. “Sounds terrible.”

I regarded him seriously. “There may be permanent damage.”

“That bad, huh?” Chris played along. “How can I make it up to you?”

I made a show of thinking about it while a voice in the back of my head helpfully pointed out that he came out last year and was openly gay.

“My injuries are pretty grim, but I suppose they’re nothing 10 bucks can’t fix.”

“Oh, you want half my winnings? Is that fair?” He considered me, tilting his head and trying to place me. Wow, the full force of his attention? It’s worth being hit by a football.

“Unfair would be leaving me out here alone, injured, and poor.” I used my drama skills to don a pitiful expression.

“Okay, okay.” He held his hands up in surrender, sending me a grin that made my stomach do somersaults. “I’ll make sure you’re properly compensated.”

We were having fun, joking around, but that sounded downright suggestive.

“Are you flirting with me?” I asked.

He smiled slowly, taking in that I was someone who was alright with another guy flirting with him. “I wasn’t necessarily.” His eyes trailed up and down my body quickly. His smile widened. “But I am now.”

I suddenly found myself very okay with that.

A romcom might call this a meet cute. My father called it ordinary magic. I called it a Tuesday afternoon. There was nothing special about it yet, even if our actions closely resembled flirting.

He didn’t give me any of his winnings, but he did pay for dinner.

That was how it started.

Instalove is a coming of age novel where Avery Ward thinks the magic his family has doesn’t involve him. Until a spell calls everything in his life into question, even the desires of his heart. Grab your copy of the novel here!

Flowers and love spells

They say time heals all wounds. Do not ask me who ‘they’ are, but this is probably true. The trouble, however, is what happens when the wound is fresh. Waiting for the cut to heal isn’t easy. Especially if the injury is a broken heart and you’re a 17-year-old and these feelings are new, wonderful, and terrible.

We’ve all been there, right? To add insult to injury, the memories from the love spell haven’t faded yet. Okay, maybe that’s the part where things get less normal.

But this is what happens in my latest paranormal romance Instalove.

In Avery Ward’s case, he’s a regular guy who happens to come from a long line of witches and warlocks who bring real magic into the world. He’s just learned magic might be the reason he’s totally crazy about soccer player and smartie Chris Reyes.

But knowing a spell is happening and being free from its effects are two different things. And he hasn’t really begun the healing process yet. This scene is Avery sitting in his family garden, trying to process the new revelations in his life while his mother checks on him.

~

Mom found me outside and sat with me on the bench next to the aster.

“The gardenias are coming in nicely,” she noted.

As a licensed therapist, she’s usually all about healthy communication and sharing feelings. I had zero desire to share, so I watched her for the trick but found none.

“Really, that’s all?” I asked.

“You don’t want to talk. You don’t want me to talk at you.” She shrugged. “What else is there to say?”

Huh. I relaxed as we enjoyed the relative quiet together.

This was my happy place. Okay, time to feel happy. Anytime now. Go. I looked around. The garden was a lovely place, but it depended on one’s current prerogative.

The nearby larkspur meant lightness, yet it also meant fickleness or haughtiness. And talk about fickle, there were carnations in the next row over, and they had about 93 meanings attached to them depending on the color.

The daffodils over Mom’s shoulder needed company. Several meant happiness and joy while a solitary flower meant misfortune. That was probably a metaphor.

“Sure you don’t want to talk?” she asked quietly.

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

As she rose to leave, Mom placed a hand on my shoulder. “The spell will be undone, and you’ll laugh about this someday.”

“But not today.” There was a fountain just to the right of center in the garden. When we were quiet, I thought I could hear it.

“Not today,” she agreed quietly.

The iris grew next to me on my right. I was afraid to look at it. Irises symbolize hope.

— the rest is available here.

New Cover for One Little Lie

For self-published authors like me, hiring a cover designer is crucial. Unless I want to make everything myself with my questionable design skills. I do not want this in the slightest, but I’ve paid various prices for results of varying quality and sometimes it’s very hit and miss.

So some of my covers are unfortunately made by me. But I’ve found a designer I like and am slowly updating my catalogue. This is the new cover for One Little Lie, and there’s also an excerpt from the book that is probably more appealing than my brief discussion of cover woes.

And here’s a small hint that you may want to buy this book now. You may want to buy this book now. Hint, hint. Because with this spiffy cover and an upcoming box set, I’ll eventually change the price back to $2.99. Once the box set for the first four books in this series is out, this one is going back to regular price. Though I guess you could also wait and get the boxset. Because then you get more books for less. You have options, I guess that’s the point.

Here’s the new cover:

In this scene, boyfriends Ryan and Luke are getting ready for a double date.

Ryan

Luke acted like a contestant in a beauty pageant, obsessing over his outfit.

He faced away from me but glared through the mirror in front of him. “Ryan, stop laughing and tell me which one of these shirts makes my eyes pop!”

I giggled helplessly while Luke directed his gaze to the two shirts in question. He held them up to his chest one at a time while deciding.

“Baby, you look good in anything.” Sure, my tone still sounded at least 20% sarcastic but that was my baseline.

He scoffed, unimpressed with my answer. “Stop being a weirdo.”

“I’m a weirdo for you,” I cooed. Teasing was the only option to avoid combusting into a puddle of hormones and fondness.

“You do realize this might be the only time I ask you for fashion advice?”

Well played. “Wear the red one.”

Luke frowned. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, moron, I’m sure.”

Hey, could moron be Luke’s pet name?

He held the chosen shirt up in front of the mirror and nodded decisively. “Thank you.” A serious look crossed his face and he turned to me. “Your pet name for me is not going to be moron.” He turned towards the mirror again to fuss with his hair.

Wow, had we become so in sync we thought alike? Maybe we developed a psychic connection. Probably the first one. Just to be sure, I should double check.

I concentrated on thoughts of Luke’s ass. “What am I thinking about?”

“My ass,” he answered without hesitation.

“You are psychic,” I marveled.

“I can feel and see you staring at my ass.” He met my eyes in the mirror with a laugh.

Another failed love story?

Luke has some important choices to make when it comes to the fate of his relationship in One Big Decision. This is the hilarious and heartwarming final novel in the One More Thing series which follows a small-town couple as they navigate fake relationships, first loves, high school, and making everything more difficult than it needs to be.

If you aren’t aware, Luke is a high school senior who is dating a loudmouth he loves, but they aren’t sure where their relationship is heading. Especially when… well, this is a romance novel, so there’s conflict and secrets. In this part, he’s trying to decide whether to walk away or not.

What’s Luke going to decide? I can’t tell you that, obviously, but here’s what he’s thinking about.

Luke

Ryan could become a footnote, a point of reference, the first guy I ever dated or was even attracted to. I might not even remember what went wrong, only that we went our separate ways for college. Our saga would end at the point where all failed loved stories did, the part where we loved each other and it wasn’t enough.

Maybe the question wasn’t what should I do, what would be best for both of us, or should we give this another chance. Did I want it to end here? That’s the question. Did I want him to become my past?