“With a Twist” is Live!

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Love, Served With a Twist

The first book in The Speakeasy series is now live! K Evan Coles and I are so excited to share With a Twist with you!

As we worked on Wake and Calm we fell in love with many of the supporting characters. In The Speakeasy series you’ll see Will, Jesse, Kyle, and Malcolm, plus Riley and Carter, and a whole new cast of guys to fall in love with.

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Title: With a Twist

Pre-Order: Now

General Release: September 25

Blurb:

Nursing a broken heart when his ex-boyfriend, Riley, leaves him for the love of his life, Carter, Will Martin throws himself into teaching at NYU and writing. An invite from Riley to a speakeasy called Under helps Will begin to heal, and he finds himself enjoying both the drinks and the company.

Soon after, he’s shaken by news of his father’s cancer diagnosis and Will reluctantly returns to Long Island to see the man who disowned him after he was outed.

Sparks fly when Will meets his father’s mentee, Republican Senator David Mori, who is both mixed race and openly gay. Will is looking for a no-strings-attached fling and David is leery of getting involved with his mentor’s son, so they keep their affair a secret.

As his father’s health worsens, Will elects to remain in Garden City and his relationship with David grows beyond casual sex. Now, both men must decide how to bridge the divide between them.

Excerpt:

David did his best not to stare at William Jr. as they shook hands, but he nearly flinched away from the odd tingling sensation he felt where their skins met.

He’d seen photos of William Jr.—no, Will—around the Martin’s home, but they depicted a sweet-faced boy growing from toddlerhood into his late teens. Fully adult Will was, as David’s sister would say, stupidly attractive. He’d inherited both parents’ good looks, including Bill’s athletic physique and Agnes’ regal bone structure.

Tall and rangy, Will appeared lean beneath his gray Henley and dark jeans. He had a square jaw and the artfully styled brown hair his mother had spoken of so fondly. His large blue-grey eyes were almost dazed. He was checking David out—ogling him, really—and to say this surprised David was an almost comic understatement.

Where the hell is this coming from?

Bill and Agnes had talked at length about their children during his last visit, detailing educations and careers, and expressing affection for Olivia’s children and pride in Will’s accomplishments. They hadn’t mentioned their son being gay or bi, though, nor had anyone in the Senator’s social circles.

David dropped Will’s hand. “All right if I come in?” He gestured at the briefcase slung over his shoulder and tried another smile. “I need to unpack the docs and organize them a bit—shouldn’t take me more than a minute,” he added, keeping his tone even in the face of Will’s wide-eyed stare. “I have a card from the Senator’s staff and a few others signed by his colleagues, too.”

The tips of Will’s ears turned pink and he immediately backed away from the door, gesturing for David to follow. “Of course, yes, come in. I expected a delivery man or one of the neighbors and not…well, not someone like you.”

David quirked a brow and stepped into the foyer. “Someone like me?”

“Someone from my father’s office.” Will shrugged and shut the door. His features were pinched when he turned back to David. “I suppose it’s too much to expect him to wait a few days after major surgery before he starts back at it again, but how can he when you people enable him?”

Well, shit. David wanted to escort himself right back out of the door. Of course, Bill’s family would be feeling protective of him right now—he was fortunate to be alive. In the meantime, his son had definitely regained his composure and decided to focus his irritation on David.

“He’s barely been home twenty-four hours—how did you even know he’d come home?”

David didn’t bother correcting Will’s mistaking him for a member of Bill’s staff. “Agnes messaged me yesterday evening,” he replied gently and licked his lips at the surprise streaking across Will’s face. “I asked her to keep me updated on your father’s surgery, and we’ve been swapping messages since your parents drove to Philly.”

“You text message with my mother?”

“Just about Bill,” David assured. “Your parents have no idea I planned to come by today. Bill didn’t ask for these files. I used them and the cards as an excuse to stop by to see how he’s doing in person.” He watched the tension in Will’s face ease. “So, how is he? Doing, I mean.”

“He’s fine.”

Buy Now:

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Google Play

Kobo

Pride Publishing

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Blog Tour:

And be sure to follow the blog tour from September 25-October 8. There will be exclusive excerpts, interviews, blog posts, and a giveaway! You’ll have a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

 

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Available for Pre-Order – “With a Twist”

Love, served with a twist.

 

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K Evan Coles and I are so excited to announce that the first book in our new series is now available for pre-order. With a Twist has been in the works for a while now and we can’t wait to share it with you.

As we worked on Wake and Calm we realized that we had some awfully interesting supporting characters who demanded that their stories be told. Before we’d ever finished Riley and Carter’s stories, The Speakeasy series was born.

Since we’d tortured Will so much in the Tidal series, we thought it was only fair that he found love too. The idea for his story, With a Twist, came together quickly. Since we wanted to touch base with Riley and Carter from time to time, we created a place for all of the characters to hang out and we named it Under. It is a speakeasy owned by Jesse and Kyle, whose stories will also be told in the upcoming books Extra Dirty and Behind the Stick. And not to worry,  we haven’t forgotten Malcolm. He’ll find love too in Straight Up. 

We love all of these characters deeply and are so excited to share them with you.

Title: With a Twist

Pre-Order: Now

General Release: September 25

Blurb:

Nursing a broken heart when his ex-boyfriend, Riley, leaves him for the love of his life, Carter, Will Martin throws himself into teaching at NYU and writing. An invite from Riley to a speakeasy called Under helps Will begin to heal, and he finds himself enjoying both the drinks and the company.

Soon after, he’s shaken by news of his father’s cancer diagnosis and Will reluctantly returns to Long Island to see the man who disowned him after he was outed.

Sparks fly when Will meets his father’s mentee, Republican Senator David Mori, who is both mixed race and openly gay. Will is looking for a no-strings-attached fling and David is leery of getting involved with his mentor’s son, so they keep their affair a secret.

As his father’s health worsens, Will elects to remain in Garden City and his relationship with David grows beyond casual sex. Now, both men must decide how to bridge the divide between them.

Excerpt:

David did his best not to stare at William Jr. as they shook hands, but he nearly flinched away from the odd tingling sensation he felt where their skins met.

He’d seen photos of William Jr.—no, Will—around the Martin’s home, but they depicted a sweet-faced boy growing from toddlerhood into his late teens. Fully adult Will was, as David’s sister would say, stupidly attractive. He’d inherited both parents’ good looks, including Bill’s athletic physique and Agnes’ regal bone structure.

Tall and rangy, Will appeared lean beneath his gray Henley and dark jeans. He had a square jaw and the artfully styled brown hair his mother had spoken of so fondly. His large blue-grey eyes were almost dazed. He was checking David out—ogling him, really—and to say this surprised David was an almost comic understatement.

Where the hell is this coming from?

Bill and Agnes had talked at length about their children during his last visit, detailing educations and careers, and expressing affection for Olivia’s children and pride in Will’s accomplishments. They hadn’t mentioned their son being gay or bi, though, nor had anyone in the Senator’s social circles.

David dropped Will’s hand. “All right if I come in?” He gestured at the briefcase slung over his shoulder and tried another smile. “I need to unpack the docs and organize them a bit—shouldn’t take me more than a minute,” he added, keeping his tone even in the face of Will’s wide-eyed stare. “I have a card from the Senator’s staff and a few others signed by his colleagues, too.”

The tips of Will’s ears turned pink and he immediately backed away from the door, gesturing for David to follow. “Of course, yes, come in. I expected a delivery man or one of the neighbors and not…well, not someone like you.”

David quirked a brow and stepped into the foyer. “Someone like me?”

“Someone from my father’s office.” Will shrugged and shut the door. His features were pinched when he turned back to David. “I suppose it’s too much to expect him to wait a few days after major surgery before he starts back at it again, but how can he when you people enable him?”

Well, shit. David wanted to escort himself right back out of the door. Of course, Bill’s family would be feeling protective of him right now—he was fortunate to be alive. In the meantime, his son had definitely regained his composure and decided to focus his irritation on David.

“He’s barely been home twenty-four hours—how did you even know he’d come home?”

David didn’t bother correcting Will’s mistaking him for a member of Bill’s staff. “Agnes messaged me yesterday evening,” he replied gently and licked his lips at the surprise streaking across Will’s face. “I asked her to keep me updated on your father’s surgery, and we’ve been swapping messages since your parents drove to Philly.”

“You text message with my mother?”

“Just about Bill,” David assured. “Your parents have no idea I planned to come by today. Bill didn’t ask for these files. I used them and the cards as an excuse to stop by to see how he’s doing in person.” He watched the tension in Will’s face ease. “So, how is he? Doing, I mean.”

“He’s fine.”

Pre-Order:

Click below to pre-order and you’ll get With a Twist the moment it goes live on September 25!

Pridelogo

 

 

 

Halloween is Coming!

I know it’s only the beginning of August, but K. Evan Coles and I have been planning a super special Halloween event for months.

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All you need to do to take part is create something LGBTQ+ and Halloween-themed. It can be poetry, fiction, art, podcasts, or whatever else you love to create.

Entries can run from sweet and romantic to dark and scary, just make sure it has a Halloween theme!

We are so excited to share this with you. Stop by Diverse Reader for more information and how to sign up. Hope you’ll join us!

Paperbacks are Available!

*throws confetti*

I dragged my heels on getting the paperback out for “Between the Studs” *hangs head* but I got it done along with “Corked” so they are both available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Just in time for Pride events!

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Amazon

Barnes & Noble

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Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Anyone interested in signed copies, please contact me directly at brighamvaughn@gmail.com or send me a PM on Facebook or Twitter.

I would be delighted to sign a copy (of any of my books) and send it your way!

 

 

 

 

Brigham’s Recommendations – “Double Dutch Courage” by Helena Stone

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Sudden changes require great bravery. Can both men find the courage to be true to themselves and each other?

Blurb

Ronan Collins has spent most of his life in Dublin hiding who he really is. Coming out would hurt his mother, and Ronan isn’t going to be the second gay man to do that. When he receives news the father he has never known has died, leaving him both a house and a business in Amsterdam, he jumps on the opportunity to get to know the man who fathered him and to discover what he’s been denying himself for years.

Lucas Brandt thought he had it all when Paul Kelly offered him a job and rooms to live in. With Paul deceased he fears he may be about to lose both. He didn’t even know Paul had a son, and now this stranger is on his way from Dublin to pull the rug out from under Lucas’s feet.

The two men don’t expect to like each other, never mind feel attraction. With numerous reasons why hooking up would be a bad idea, why does giving in feel so much better? And is Ronan’s back story really as he’s always imagined it to be?

Excerpt:

Ronan seemed to search Lucas’s face for something, then lowered his gaze until Lucas was convinced he was staring at his lips. He mused that the sunshine had to be getting to him as the afternoon took on a dreamlike quality. Ronan licked his lips, the tip of his tongue tempting Lucas, teasing him. When Ronan leant forward Lucas wondered what was happening, whether he was imagining things. Surely Ronan wasn’t about to —

The soft press of Ronan’s lips against his elicited a sigh from Lucas. He would have been embarrassed about his reaction if he hadn’t been lost in the moment. It was the second time Ronan had taken him by surprise in this manner, except on this occasion he didn’t appear to have any intention of pulling back.

With so many reasons why this was the worst idea ever, it didn’t make any sense that the overriding thought running through his mind was more.

He cupped Ronan’s neck, keeping the pressure light, barely there. Ronan reacted as if Lucas had used force and pressed his lips firmer against his, parting them in the process.

Lucas was helpless against the onslaught. It had taken him days to stop obsessing about Ronan’s mouth after that quick, shy kiss a week earlier. There would be no coming back from this. He had no doubt he would end up hurt. Even as he had the thought, Lucas parted his own lips, slipped his tongue through the gap and tentatively caressed Ronan’s mouth.

“Oh.” Ronan’s soft exclamation meant his lips parted farther and Lucas took advantage. Fuck being sensible. Fuck worrying about tomorrow, or next week, or six months from today. He was here, now, and the tongue hesitantly exploring his was nothing like what he’d expected and everything he wanted it to be.

The kiss transported him back to his teenage years, to the first boy he’d ever kissed. Clumsy and with clashing teeth, it had been as awkward as it had been exciting. Pretty much as it was now, except this time it didn’t make sense.

He pulled back until the tips of their noses were the only parts of them still touching. Ronan’s lashes fluttered before he opened his eyes. They widened and he lowered his gaze.

“That bad, eh?” Ronan directed his words at the grass beneath their knees.

“Not bad.” Lucas tried to figure out what to say. Not sure what he was reacting to, he didn’t know which words to use either, so the truth would have to do. “It just brought back a memory of something I hadn’t thought about in ages.”

“Oh?”

Ronan still wouldn’t look at him and Lucas didn’t like it. He lifted Ronan’s chin with his index finger. “It reminded me of when I was fourteen and me and Hans, my best friend back then, decided to find out what the big deal about kissing was.”

“It was like your first kiss?” Ronan still tried to avoid meeting Lucas’s gaze.

“Yes.” Lucas smiled. He couldn’t believe Hans had slipped his mind. They’d done a lot of exploring together before Hans decided he was interested in girls after all. He got so lost in his reminiscence he almost missed the words Ronan muttered.

“Makes sense.”

It hit Lucas like a ton of bricks. Here was yet another reason why getting involved with Ronan was the worst idea ever. If he was right, he would be Ronan’s first in everything. The thought that Ronan’s inexperience might include kissing hadn’t crossed his mind until this moment. He wasn’t sure he could make that journey with Ronan without getting emotionally involved. He had to know for sure.

“I’m your first?”

The combination of shame and defeat Lucas read in Ronan’s expression tore at him. He didn’t need an answer. He also didn’t need to think about what to do next. Yes, he would end up getting hurt, but he’d deal with it. It wouldn’t be the first time or, in all likelihood, the last. He could be Ronan’s first and make it a good, a memorable, experience.

“I want to be your second, too.” He didn’t wait and pressed his lips back against Ronan’s before he could respond.

 

 

Kopstootje Meme

 

Review: 

I’ll be the first to admit, I am totally biased when it comes to Helena Stone’s books. We’re friends. I was staying at her home in Ireland when I beta read “Double Dutch Courage”. But biased or not, it’s a wonderful story.

“Double Dutch Courage” follows Ronan Collins from Dublin to Amsterdam as he learns about an inheritance left to him by his absent father, Paul, and begins to take the first steps toward being open about his attraction to men. Lucas Brant, Paul’s business partner and flatmate, helps guide Ronan along that path.

The author deftly weaves in Ronan’s discovery of Amsterdam through the story and it plays such a large role in the book, it needed to be mentioned. It’s wonderful and vivid and makes me want to travel there (more than I already did)!

This is a quiet story. Ronan’s journey doesn’t have huge, wildly dramatic twists and turns, but the gently unfolding self-discovery is no less compelling. The attraction between them and the building relationship is skillfully done and you’re rooting for them as Ronan overcomes those final obstacles and moves forward into the kind of future he’s always dreamed of.

“Double Dutch Courage” has wonderful characters, a fantastic setting, and a sweet romance. What more could any reader want?

Buy Links:

Amazon

Corked is Live (Almost Everywhere)!

Corked Cover

Unfortunately, I had a few hiccups with my book release yesterday. WordPress didn’t seem to want to let me create a new blog post (grr). The books didn’t go live in time on Barnes & Noble and Kobo (still waiting on Kobo). But I’m still very excited to announce that “Corked” is available for sale!

Available Now

In my previous post, I talked a bit about how the three books in “The Wine Tasting Series” became “Corked” but I should also talk about how the “Corked” cover came to be. I live in Michigan and I’ve made several trips to the Traverse City area for wine tastings with friends, so this is an area (and subject!) near and dear to my heart.

As I usually do, I took oodles of photos when I was there. I unearthed those photos when I planned the cover of “Corked” and was delighted to find the perfect image for it. Can’t you just picture Sean and Lucas strolling through the vines and admiring the view?

Corked Vineyard

Summary:

Sean Powell is having a terrible day. When he walks into Bistro Argent, ready to unwind over a glass of wine with the sommelier, he’s stunned to discover his friend has been replaced by a hot young guy with big ideas. Lucas Spencer is determined to liven up the staid and stodgy wine list, but his brash approach alienates the wine distributor during their first meeting.

There’s no avoiding each other though and the more they butt heads, the hotter the tension between them gets. As they work together and their relationship progresses, they have to figure out how to blend their professional frustration and personal attraction without risking their careers.

Lucas is eleven years younger than Sean, and despite their sizzling chemistry and compatibility, Sean can’t quite believe the feelings are mutual. A wine tasting trip to Traverse City, Michigan threatens their fledgling relationship. Sean’s insecurities rise to the surface as Lucas’s fears of losing Sean lead to jealousy.

Does the relationship have legs or will they find out it’s corked?

Excerpt:

“I want to talk to Richard about setting up some classes at the restaurant, maybe on Sundays after brunch, kind of an ‘intro to wine’ type of thing explaining the different types of wine and how to properly taste them.”

“Sounds great,” Sean said and then added, “Hey, I meant to ask, did Richard respond to your earlier text?”

“Oh, I’m not sure,” Lucas replied, handing Sean the box containing the half case of wine they’d purchased. He fished in his pocket for the phone. He pulled it out, smiling at the photo of Sean in the vintage truck he’d set as his background before he noticed the text notification. “Looks like he did.”

“Oh, yeah? What did he say?” Sean asked.

Lucas nearly tripped getting on the trolley as he read Richard’s response.

What is wrong with you two? You think about fucking at work and work during your vacation instead of fucking. Stop thinking about my goddamn restaurant and go screw.

He was still laughing as they took their seats, and Sean had to wrestle the phone away from him to see the message. “Richard!” he exclaimed, his hand going to his forehead to rub at his temples. “Jesus, that man is incorrigible.”

“He’s your friend,” Lucas pointed out, still laughing as he took his phone back and replied to Richard.

“I don’t claim him!” Sean protested. “Besides, he’s your friend now, too.”

“Damn it,” Lucas muttered jokingly. “That’s what I get for dating you. Couldn’t you have brought something better to the relationship than Richard Brayden?”

Buy Links:

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Kobo: PENDING

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Coming Soon – Corked (Wine Tasting Series Re-Release)

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Four years ago, very early on in my publishing journey, I wrote Spit or Swallow. It was a funny and hot little short story about a wine distributor and a sommelier butting heads over wine.

I hadn’t originally planned to write Aftertaste, but readers clamored for more of Sean and Lucas’s story, and I eventually wrapped up their happily-ever-after with Finish. 

Because they were short stories, I didn’t get an overwhelming amount of sales. I thought bundling them into a single file as The Wine Tasting Series might help, but the sales were even lower for that. Some of it, I think, was a lackluster cover and lack of promotion. I had other projects to work on though that needed to take priority, so I let it languish in my backlist.

A few months ago, I pulled it out and dusted it off and realized that while the plot itself was solid, my writing had drastically improved over the years. I began to ponder the idea of a re-release. Three short stories together came in at about 34,000 words, which was novella length. Could I fix it up so that I could bring new readers in?

As I polished the writing and tweaked the pacing so it flowed as a novella, I began to realize there were scenes that I could expand by showing, not telling. (My middle school English teacher would be so proud!)

And as the story came together, I realized it needed a new title. It didn’t take long before Corked popped into my head.  Once I had the title, a cover came together. And as I began the final editing process, I realized an epilogue would really add to the story. There was definitely more of Lucas and Sean’s story to tell. When it was all done, it came together with a grand total of 42,000 words. New readers will get to discover the story for the first time as a long novella and previous readers will enjoy almost 8,000 words of additional content!

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Title: Corked

Release Date: April 28, 2018

Length: 42,031 words (Novella)

Blurb:

Sean Powell is having a terrible day. When he walks into Bistro Argent, ready to unwind over a glass of wine with the sommelier, he’s stunned to discover his friend has been replaced by a hot young guy with big ideas. Lucas Spencer is determined to liven up the staid and stodgy wine list, but his brash approach alienates the wine distributor during their first meeting.

There’s no avoiding each other though and the more they butt heads, the hotter the tension between them gets. As they work together and their relationship progresses, they have to figure out how to blend their professional frustration and personal attraction without risking their careers.

Lucas is eleven years younger than Sean, and despite their sizzling chemistry and compatibility, Sean can’t quite believe the feelings are mutual. A wine tasting trip to Traverse City, Michigan threatens their fledgling relationship. Sean’s insecurities rise to the surface as Lucas’s fears of losing Sean lead to jealousy.

Does the relationship have legs or will they find out it’s corked?


There’s no pre-order for this book, but if you want to get your hands on Corked as soon as it’s available there are two options!

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New Release – “Between the Studs”

Between the Studs Banner VD

I didn’t plan to write a Valentine’s Day story this year. But I was relaxing in the bath on January 22, browsing Pinterest on my phone (because I like to live dangerously). There was some pin about installing shelves “between the studs”. The phrase immediately leaped out at me as a great book title, especially for an MMF poly story.

Before I knew what was happening, a plot bunny was chomping away at me and I had to get out of the bath to write it down. I wrote over 1,500 words that first night, then added another 3,500. It was going to be absolutely perfect for Valentine’s Day, so I talked to my co-writer and warned her I might be a bit slow getting the chapters for our story back to her while I focused on getting this story ready for a Valentine’s Day release.

What I thought was originally going to be a 10-15k short story quickly morphed into a monster 33k word novella.

Blurb:

After a busy and successful year at her bakery, divorcée Aimee Lucas decides to splurge on a bathroom renovation. The owner of Lucas’s Fine Cakes and Pastries is tired of lackluster Valentine’s Days, so she’s looking forward to a solo celebration this year. Why bother with a mediocre date when she can relax in a tub with a glass of wine?

Joshua Ward and Matt Mitchell co-own a construction company, but there’s a bit more to their partnership than they let on. Although both men have caught the eye of many a homeowner, they never mix business with pleasure.

When Aimee hires J&M Construction to remodel her bathroom, she never expects to find a date. Much less two.

As the project continues, Aimee, Matt, and Josh find themselves drawn to one another. Matt and Josh are happy together, but they’re looking for a woman to be their third, and it quickly becomes clear Aimee might just be whom they’ve been searching for.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, they all have decisions to make. Can Matt and Josh broach the subject without losing their customer? And will Aimee decide she just wants a fling with the hunky contractors, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith on something more?

Excerpt:

Paula nodded knowingly when Aimee finished. “They’re totally into you! I definitely didn’t get any cozy chats with them over coffee or flirtatious banter.”

“Yeah, but both of them? I mean, are they just hedging their bets? Figuring I’ll choose one or the other?”

“Maybe. Maybe not though. They could just be into that.”

“Into what?” Aimee’s eyes got big as she realized what Paula meant. “Oh. You mean …?”

“Mmhmm. Maybe they like gettin’ it on together with a gorgeous woman.”

Threesomes. Well that wasn’t something Aimee had ever considered. Well, there had been the one time in college where she’d sort of ended up in bed with a couple, but she hadn’t been into the girl enough to go down on her and it had involved a lot of drunken fumbling. It had been sort of hot though, she mused.

But two guys? That was something altogether different. And this was no college experimentation. She was a grown adult for goodness sake. She owned a house and a business. She couldn’t really be thinking about it. Could she?

“You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?” Paula teased.

“No!” Aimee protested. But Paula’s arched eyebrow and the disbelief etched on her face prompted her to clarify. “I mean, yes, I’m thinking about what you suggested but not because I’m considering doing it.”

“Why not?”

Aimee sputtered. “Because that’s crazy! And so not me.”

“When was the last time you got laid?”

“Way too long ago,” Aimee admitted. “But come on, I can’t just answer the door tomorrow in lingerie and fuck me heels and say ‘hey boys, wanna fuck me?”

Purchase:

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Barnes & Noble – Pending

iTunes

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Too Many Choices

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I’ve been working on the novel “In Mourning” for several years now. It’s finally coming together (I’m over 82k and it will likely end up between 100-110k when it’s complete).

One thing I’m still struggling with is the point of view and tense and I could really use your help deciding which to go with! I’ve taken the first 556 words of the story and created four different versions. Each is labeled with the PoV and the tense. Just comment below or go to my Facebook fan group to let me know which you like best!

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1st Person Present Tense

The wind whips his hair across his face, and he lifts a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snakes under the scarf I wear, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of my shirt and my hairline. I shudder and huddle into my scarf, jamming my hands into the pockets of my overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it isn’t doing a damn thing to keep me warm. The man I’ve been watching doesn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from my mother makes me glance away from him. My father’s arm tightens around her shoulder and she leans in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in my chest widens into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of us.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice drones on as tears clog my throat. Why, Cal? I wonder. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

 Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, I look out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery is perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal has to be buried anywhere, at least it’s a beautiful place. I choke on the thought, unable to comprehend that it’s my baby brother we’re burying.

My gaze sweeps across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from me. There is no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stands between two women who could have been supermodels. It’s so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them is clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’ve braved the cold January drizzle and look devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends are easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends were grieving hard. But one man stood out and I find my gaze repeatedly returning to him. He’s tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He’s young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stands out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it isn’t so much his dress as his expression that strikes me. He looks gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stares at the casket.

He looks the way I feel.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

1st Person Past Tense

The wind whipped his hair across his face, and he lifted a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snaked under the scarf I wore, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of my shirt and my hairline. I shuddered and huddled into my scarf, jamming my hands into the pockets of my overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it wasn’t doing a damn thing to keep me warm. The man I’d been watching didn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from my mother made me glance away from him. My father’s arm tightened around her shoulder and she leaned in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in my chest widened into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of us.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return. 

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice droned on as tears clogged in my throat. Why, Cal? I wondered. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

 Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, I looked out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery was perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal had to be buried anywhere, at least it was a beautiful place. I choked on the thought, unable to comprehend that it was my baby brother we were burying.

My gaze swept across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from me. There was no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stood between two women who could have been supermodels. It was so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them was clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’d braved the cold January drizzle and looked devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends were easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends were grieving hard. But one man stood out and I found my gaze repeatedly returning to him. He was tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He was young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stood out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it wasn’t so much his dress as his expression that struck me. He looked gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stared at the casket.

He looked the way I felt.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

3rd Person Present Tense

The wind whips his hair across his face, and he lifts a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snakes under the scarf Chris wore, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of his shirt and his hairline. He shudders and huddles into his scarf, jamming his hands into the pockets of his overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it isn’t doing a damn thing to keep him warm. The man he’s been watching doesn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from his mother makes Chris glance away from him. HIs father’s arm tightens around her shoulder and she leans in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in Chris’s chest widens into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of them.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice drones on as tears clog Chris’s throat. Why, Cal? he wonders. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

 Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, Chris looks out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery is perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal has to be buried anywhere, at least it’s a beautiful place. He chokes on the thought, unable to comprehend that it’s his baby brother they’re burying.

Chris’s gaze sweeps across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from him. There’s no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stands between two women who could have been supermodels. It’s so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them is clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’ve braved the cold January drizzle and look devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends are easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends are grieving hard. But one man stands out and Chris finds his gaze repeatedly returning to him. He’s tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He’s young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stands out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it isn’t so much his dress as his expression that strikes Chris. He looks gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stares at the casket.

He looks the way Chris feels.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

3rd Person, Past Tense

The wind whipped his hair across his face, and he lifted a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snaked under the scarf Chris wore, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of his shirt and his hairline. He shuddered and huddled into his scarf, jamming his hands into the pockets of his overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it wasn’t doing a damn thing to keep him warm. The man he’d been watching didn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from his mother made Chris glance away from him. HIs father’s arm tightened around her shoulder and she leaned in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in Chris’s chest widened into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of them.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice droned on as tears clogged in Chris’s throat. Why, Cal? he wondered. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, Chris looked out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery was perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal had to be buried anywhere, at least it was a beautiful place. He choked on the thought, unable to comprehend that it was his baby brother they were burying.

Chris’s gaze swept across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from him. There was no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stood between two women who could have been supermodels. It was so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them was clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’d braved the cold January drizzle and looked devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends were easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends were grieving hard. But one man stood out and Chris found his gaze repeatedly returning to him. He was tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He was young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stood out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it wasn’t so much his dress as his expression that struck Chris. He looked gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stared at the casket.

He looked the way Chris felt.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

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