Blog Tour · Guest · Interview · New Release

Guest: Philip Gambone – As Far As I Can Tell

Happy December!

A very warm welcome to my guest Philip Gambone with his new release, a memoir entitiled As Far As I Can Tell. Many thanks to Philip for kindly answering a question I posed about writing this most personal of stories. 

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BLOG TOUR

As Far As I Can Tell: Finding My Father In World War II

Author: Philip Gambone

Publisher: Rattling Good Yarns Press

Release Date: October 30, 2020

Genre: Memoir

Trope/s: Father/Son Relationships

Themes: Connecting to the past, Understanding our fathers,

Father/Son silence and the inherent lack of communications,

Coming to terms with history

Heat Rating: 2 flames

Length: 155 000 words/474 pages

It is a standalone book.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Publisher

(Note – The Rattling Good Yarns online store only ships within the US)

Amazon US | Amazon UK

2021 Lambda Literary Award Nominated

Blurb

Philip Gambone, a gay man, never told his father the reason why he was rejected from the draft during the Vietnam War. In turn, his father never talked about his participation in World War II. Father and son were enigmas to each other. Gambone, an award-winning novelist and non-fiction writer, spent seven years uncovering who the man his quiet, taciturn father had been, by retracing his father’s journey through WWII. As Far As I Can Tell not only reconstructs what Gambone’s father endured, it also chronicles his own emotional odyssey as he followed his father’s route from Liverpool to the Elbe River. A journey that challenged the author’s thinking about war, about European history, and about “civilization.”

Philip Gambone weaves a moving memoir of his family, a vivid portrayal of his travels through the locales of WWII, and a powerful description of what that war was like to the men who fought it on the ground into a seamless and eloquent narrative.” — Hon. Barney Frank, former Congressman, Massachusetts

“A single question pulses through As Far As I Can Tell: why didn’t my father talk about his time in the war? With meticulous research, Philip Gambone puts sound to silence, offering us a book-length love letter, not just to his father, but to anyone whose life has been hemmed in by obligation, obedience, and the brutality of the system. It’s also a coming to terms with the unknown in others, which is its own hard grace. A vital, dynamic read.” — Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World

“As Far As I Can Tell is a fascinating mix of autobiography, travelogue, and historical research that not only takes us on a great adventure in search of what World War Two was like for those who fought in the European theater but probes that most difficult of all subjects, the relationship between a father and a son — in this case, a gay son. Extensively researched, highly literate and profoundly thoughtful, the story Gambone tells uses not only soldiers’ memoirs but writers as disparate as Samuel Johnson and James Lord to make this a reader’s delight.”— Andrew Holleran, author of Dancer from the Dance

AS FAR AS I CAN TELL

Interview

A special thank you to Philip for taking the time to write this post for us in answer to my question:

 As far as you can tell…which of your discoveries has had the most profound impact on your present self/life? 

I made so many discoveries as I wrote this book.  They fall into three camps: (1) historical discoveries; (2) deeper understanding and appreciation of my father; and (3) discoveries about myself.

I had only a layman’s knowledge of WW2 when I started the book.  So I picked up a lot of information, much of it quite shocking and painful.  The extent of physical devastation, of loss of life, of psychological harm, of the atrocities was often so overwhelming that would burst into tears as I did my reading and writing.

I also learned a lot more about my father.  While we were certainly not estranged, we didn’t communicate much.  He certainly remained silent about the War his entire life.  What I learned is what a brave, resilient, steady, reliable soldier he must have been.  And how modest he was about what he endured and what he contributed to the war effort.  His contribution was one of millions—a small part—but nevertheless one I hope he took pride in.  I certainly am proud of him in ways I never was before I undertook the book.

Finally, I learned a lot about myself.  One of the questions that runs through this book is whether I could have met the challenge of going off to Vietnam as a soldier.  Without giving away too much of what I say in the book, I can say that I never fully answered that question.  No person knows how he or she will behave under the kinds of tests and stresses of war.  But I do know that I came out of the project with greater respect for soldiers.  I still abhor war, I still have little sympathy with jingoistic patriotism, with invoking God in matters of politics, with all that old, paternalistic nonsense; but the many stories I learned about soldiers—their courage, their loyalty to one another, the sheer grunt-like tenacity that they brought to the task—those stories moved me profoundly.

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Excerpt

On February 12, 1942, Dad reported for induction. The chief business was the physical examination, which was conducted assembly-line fashion. The inductees were naked, wearing only a number around their necks. It was the most comprehensive physical most of them had ever had. For some it was intimidating, for others embarrassing.

Most inductees were eager to pass the physical exam, so eager in fact that in many cases, they indulged in “negative malingering,” trying to conceal conditions that might get them disqualified. Once the physical was out of the way, the only screening that remained was a brief interview with an army psychiatrist, who had been instructed to look for “neuropsychosis,” a diagnosis that covered all sort of emotional ills from phobias to excessive sweating and evidence of mental deficiency.

Paul Marshall, who ended up in the same division as Dad, remembered being asked at his physical if he liked girls. “I didn’t quite understand what he meant about it. I told him, ‘Why sure, I like girls.’” Later Marshall figured out what he was really being asked. “The ultimate question mark of manliness,” James Lord, himself a homosexual, recalled. “Do you like girls? Or prefer confinement in a federal penitentiary for the remainder of your unnatural life.” The terror of being considered a sexual leper or worse, “unfit to honor the flag of your forebears,” was real. Lord answered, Yes, he liked girls, and was promptly accepted into the army.

Not every homosexual inductee lied. Some, like Donald Vining, came clean with his interviewer, who turned out to be “marvelously tolerant, taking the whole thing easily and calmly, without shock and without condescension.” The interviewer marked Vining’s papers “sui generis ‘H’ overt,” and he was out.

My father passed his induction physical. Hale, hearty, and decidedly heterosexual, he needed none of the remedial medical work—dental, optometric—that millions of other inductees did. With the physical and the psychological screenings done, Dad signed his induction papers, was fingerprinted, and issued a serial number. The final piece of business was the administration of the oath of allegiance, done, according to army regulations, “with proper ceremony.” Once sworn in, Dad was sent home to put things in order before he went off to Camp Perry to be processed for basic training.

Twenty-eight years after Dad’s, my own induction notice arrived, during my senior year in college. I was instructed to report to my hometown on May 6, where the Army would put me on a bus and drive me to the Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station in South Boston. I remember standing, before dawn, on a curb outside the town offices waiting for the bus. Other fellows from my high school were there, and I nervously tried to make small talk with them. We’d had nothing in common in high school, and the situation hadn’t changed in the intervening years.

My recollection of that day is shrouded in numbness. I remember standing in a line, stripped to my underwear, making my way from one examining station to the next. I kept assuring myself I could not possibly go to Vietnam, that the good fortune I’d enjoyed so far would see me to a different destiny than the one where I would end up dead in a jungle in Southeast Asia.

I was clutching a letter from my dentist attesting to the fact that I needed braces, in those days a cause for rejection. But aside from that, I had not taken any steps to ensure that I wouldn’t be taken. I’d heard stories of guys planning to go to their induction physicals drunk, or stoned, or wearing dresses and makeup. Others said they would flee to Canada or apply for conscientious objector status. I had made no such plans. Throughout senior year, I had been sitting on my damn butt, still banking on magic or luck to get me the hell out.

I passed every exam. I was not overweight. I did not have flat feet or a heart murmur. My blood pressure was excellent. At one station, I handed over the dentist’s letter. The examiner gave it a perfunctory glance and tucked it into my file.

At last, I came to the psychological screening area. All I remember is the examiner asking me if I’d ever had any homosexual experiences. And when I said yes, he followed up with a few more questions. Had I sought counseling? Did I intend to stop? That was it. He thanked me and I moved on. Less than two weeks later, I received a notice from the AFEES: “Found Not Acceptable

for Induction Under Current Standards.” I’d been declared 4-F. In the parlance of the day, I had “fagged out.” My parents thought the dentist’s letter about braces had done the trick.

***

About the Author

Philip Gambone is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. His debut collection of short stories, The Language We Use Up Here, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. His novel, Beijing, was nominated for two awards, including a PEN/Bingham Award for Best First Novel.

Phil has extensive publishing credits in nonfiction as well. He has contributed numerous essays, reviews, features pieces, and scholarly articles to several local and national journals including The New York Times Book Review and The Boston Globe. He is a regular contributor to The Gay & Lesbian Review.

His longer essays have appeared in a number of anthologies, including Hometowns, Sister and Brother, Wrestling with the Angel, Inside Out, Boys Like Us, Wonderlands, and Big Trips.

Phil’s book of interviews, Something Inside: Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers, was named one of the “Best Books of 1999” by Pride magazine. His Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans was nominated for an American Library Association Award.

Phil’s scholarly writing includes biographical entries on Frank Kameny in the Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford) and Gary Glickman in Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. He also wrote three chapters on Chinese history for two high school textbooks published by Cheng and Tsui.

He is a recipient of artist’s fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. He has also been listed in Best American Short Stories.

Phil taught high school English for over forty years. He also taught writing at the University of Massachusetts, Boston College, and in the freshman expository writing program at Harvard. He was twice awarded Distinguished Teaching Citations by Harvard. In 2013, he was honored by the Department of Continuing Education upon completing his twenty-fifth year of teaching for the Harvard Extension School.

Author Links

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Blog Tour · Guest · Interview · New Release

Guest Post & Interview with Eric Huffbind

Hiya,

I’m working on the final edits of My Way and formatting it as a freebie from Prolific Works. Having always used Amazon before, I fancied venturing further afield and wanted to release a perma-free novel in a fussless sort of way.

In the meantime, I’d like to welcome my special guest, Eric Huffbind with his new release Surrounded by Silence. Many thanks to him for agreeing to be interviewed and for sending along a picture of the adorable Linus.🥰

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BLOG TOUR

Surrounded by Silence

Author: Eric Huffbind

Cover Artist: Eric Huffbind

Release Date: October 14, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Male Romance

Trope/s: Billionaires, Hurt/Comfort, Post-Divorce, Middle Age

Themes: Learning what it means to be selfless rather than selfish.

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 71 000 words/259 pages

This is a sequel to The Rescuer, but can be read as a stand-alone.

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

Lonely billionaire, Samuel Barron, has finally met someone he finds himself falling for, but can he handle a romance for a gentleman whose entire world is surrounded by silence?

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Blurb

After public humiliation, Sam Barron has come to the realization his billions can’t buy him love or happiness. Despondent and feeling like his life is in a downward spiral, he comes to realize he needs some professional help. Despite trepidations, Sam turns to Jason Parker, a social worker who at his heart, is a rescuer. Even though Sam had been so hateful towards him in the past, Jason can’t help but think Sam deserves to suffer. Jason tells Sam straight out, “You’re a spoiled brat without a shred of humility!”

Jason has deep concerns about helping Sam, but might be willing, if Sam volunteers at a soup kitchen. Grudgingly, Sam accepts Jason’s condition, and while performing his volunteer work, meets the flirtatious Noah Wagner. Noah is close in age, attractive, and Sam likes the way he feels whenever he’s around him. Noah is the first person Sam has known who is profoundly deaf. So, how is Sam to navigate a romantic interest with a man who can’t hear a word he says?

Surrounded by Silence, a Contemporary Gay Male Romance, is a sequel to Mr. Huffbind’s debut novel, The Rescuer. However, this book can be read as a stand-alone. If you enjoy a story where the villain becomes the hero, you will love Surrounded by Silence.

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Interview with Eric

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Introducing Eric and his writing… 

My home is in West Chester, Ohio. It’s in the southwest corner of the state and  a suburb of Cincinnati. I have been with my husband Paul for 16 years, and legally married since January of 2013.  As much as I wish I could simply write fiction all the time, with the need of income and health insurance, I have been working full time as a travel agent. Unfortunately, due to the current Covid-19 crisis, I was recently placed on furlough and praying I will be able to return to work some time in 2021. I have a 25-year-old autistic son who lives in a nearby group home. Plus, we have an 11-year-old Pomeranian dog who goes by the name Linus. 

ZAKARRIE POST IMG_1470

I write Contemporary Gay Male Romance. This is the book genre I most enjoy reading and, consequently, gives me the best emotional, feel-good high. They always say, write what you love! So, to me, there is no other genre I would ever wish to write in. 

How long have you been an author?

 I have been writing for three years. Not full time, as nice as that would be, I need a more steady, consistent income.

What/who inspired you to start writing? 

Writing a book was just something that had been on my bucket list. As to why I wanted to write a book at all, not sure. It was just something I wanted to accomplish during my time here on earth. Once I fell in love with MM Romance, it simply dawned on me, “I can do this!” If someone had said to me 10 years ago, I would be writing Gay Male Romance novels, I would have thought they were crazy. Once I discovered the world of self-publishing, it somehow felt like a no-brainer. 

Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it? 

At its heart, Surrounded by Silence tells a love story of a billionaire, who historically has been selfish and spoiled, falling in love with a gentleman from the deaf community. Inspiration for my stories has always been from real life. I have distant cousins who are deaf. My mother had a female first cousin, who married a man who was deaf. And from that marriage, there have been a fair number of descendants who are deaf, as the cause for this deafness is genetic. Many of these extended deaf family members have married individuals who were hearing. So, the concept of this story had its roots in real life. Let’s just say, I had a little bit of knowledge about the deaf community, and how some of their attitudes shape what motivates them. My husband and I were out to breakfast with another couple, and our friend Linda said, “Why don’t you write a story that involves a main character from the deaf community?” That was all it took for my inspiration for Surrounded by Silence.

How did you decide on the title? 

It just hit me all at once. Since I was writing a love story between two men, one from the hearing world, and one from the deaf world, the title made perfect sense. For Sam, who cherishes music and the sounds in nature, meets a man with a heart of gold, but lives in a world Surrounded by Silence.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

Without a doubt, the hardest part of writing this book was the ground level research for the development of credible story lines. Yes, I had some knowledge of the deaf community, and even have a friend who is both deaf and gay. Still, my knowledge was not sufficient. I have no skill in the use of sign language. Now, my friend Harold, who belongs to both the deaf and gay communities, lives in California, but is originally from Ohio where I reside. When we are together, it is challenging, since I have no American Sign Language to access, but nevertheless, my husband and I manage. I wanted to have a clear knowledge base of what it’s like for someone in the hearing community to fall in love with someone from the deaf community. How does one cope and deal with initial communication barriers?

Additionally, I desperately needed an understanding of the inner workings of child welfare and protection laws. I had zero knowledge in this area. Thank heavens for the power of Facebook. From a single post, I met my dear friend Amy, who has a wealth of knowledge. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it? 

Most definitely! I learned that is is quite possible for a child born deaf and given the tool of cochlear implants, to grow up with full use of verbal language–individuals raised without any need to learn sign language. 

I learned how critical it is for cochlear implants be placed during early childhood when the language center of your brain is most receptive to learning spoken language. Not that this should be a surprise to anyone if we all think back to learning speak as we grew from infancy, as compared to the struggle of tackling a foreign language during high school. With all that being said, It is this capability that has many in the deaf community worried that American Sign Language will disappear. A language that is so entwined in the fabric of the deaf community. Not sure that that would ever happen. Not all deaf individuals have success hearing with cochlear implants. Unless in the future, technology is enhanced to bring hearing to those individuals as well. 

Why M/M?

 I’m a gay man. I can see numerous films of heterosexual romance, which I totally enjoy, but finding gay romance in films, with positive story lines is extremely difficult to find. Quality MM Romance removes that limitation. As a gay man, there is something special and entertaining in these love stories between two men. I want to read stories that for me, reflect real life.

What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow?

That is easy. My answer has to be Agatha Christie. I love murder mysteries, and she had genius talent. 

Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?

Most definitely! In both my first book, The Rescuer, and this book, Surrounded by Silence, Jason Parker, is based on me. I’m a retired RN, and I have always thought of my self as a rescuer. As Jason discovered in The Rescuer, trying to mix being a rescuer with romance, often ends badly. With the man I fell in love with and married, there was definitely no rescuing required.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I am most definitely a pantser! Lord knows I have tried to become a plotter figuring it would help be to write the book more quickly. I’ve read books on how to convert from being a pantser to a plotter. However, regardless of my efforts trying to plot out the entire novel upfront, those attempts have been met with complete failure. I just don’t feel that my brain functions in that way. 

I start with a character that is flawed in some aspect. When I begin writing, I know where I want that character to start, and I know how I want that character to end up. As to how I will accomplish my character’s goals is something that has to organically unfold in my head. I often have a small basket of scenes in my imagination I would like to see during the course of the novel. And I will pull from the basket as I pants my way along.

Is there a downside to being a pantser? You better believe there is! At times during my writing, I will slam against a brick wall as to what I am going to do with my characters. Perhaps I have written 30,000 words and think, “I need a whole lot more story than this before I can conclude my book.” I have found myself stuck brainstorming 2 – 3 weeks before a good idea comes to me. That would frustrate me to no end, but now, I just relax and wait for an epiphany to hit me.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?  Tell us about your pets. 

Great question! Although, to be honest, I would probably say I am both a cat person and a dog person. In the past, I have had as many as 4 cats at one time. However, I came to realize that is just too many animals for me. It starts becoming a big job caring for that many animals. Between taking each cat to and from the veterinarian for care or keeping the litterbox clean. 

For years, during my twenties and thirties, I dreamed of having a dog, but never felt like my work schedule would allow for it. When I was an RN, I worked 12-hour shifts. That was just too much time away from my home to properly care for a dog. After my husband Paul came into my life, getting a dog felt much more doable, as he worked more sane hours.

So, currently, we have just one dog, a Pomeranian by the name of Linus. I must say, he is crazy cute. Linus will be 12 years old in February 2021. He’s a tri-color, which is a coat pattern not seen as much as a solid color. And It is just one dog, not several. As much as I love dogs, I don’t want the cost and upkeep to care for multiple animals again. My husband and I did have 3 cats at one point in time. After getting Linus, as they passed away, we didn’t replace them.

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INSTAGRAM

Excerpt

Coming through the front door of their apartment, Jason called out, “Honey, I’m home. Where are you?”

Poking his head out, Christopher announced, “I’m in the kitchen making dinner.”

Strolling into the kitchen, Jason gave Christopher a kiss, and asked, “How was work today?”

“Oh, it was okay, same old same old. Not particularly exciting. How about you?”

Jason took a small step backwards and began rubbing his eyebrows. “Well, an old friend of yours came to see me today, without any forewarning, of course!”

“An old friend of mine? I can’t imagine what old friend of mine would come to see you.”

“I’m being facetious,” Jason said. “Calling this man a friend is a bit of a stretch, and he’s someone I wasn’t happy to see.”

Christopher’s eyes narrowed as he squinted. “Please, tell me it wasn’t Sam Barron?”

“I’d be happy to tell you it wasn’t Sam Barron… but I would be lying. Yes, it was Sam. Admittedly, I was floored! And as you can imagine, especially since he showed up unannounced, I was less than ecstatic to see him.”

“Dear God, almighty! What in the hell did he come to see you about?”

“As you might suspect, I was a bit miffed. Not trying to change the subject, but something smells awfully good. What’s for dinner?”

“Just a frozen entrée of lasagna. Don’t get too excited, but it’s your favorite brand. So, go on, why did Sam show up at your office?”

Jason took a seat at the small dinette table. “As hard as you might find this to believe, he came seeking my professional help. As far as I can gather, ever since all the bad press in the media hit the airways, he’s fallen into a deep depression. Perhaps, a deep depression isn’t the best choice of words. Significant emotional distress is more accurate. Complains of loneliness and being guilt-ridden.”

Christopher said sharply, “And why should you care if he’s guilt-ridden? He deserves to feel guilt-ridden!”

“You’re not going to get an argument from me. Still… I felt bad for him. It was as if he was pleading for forgiveness, and begging for my help. He says he wants to become a better person. The guy was crying. Sounded desperate.”

“Christopher responded, “It sounds like he needs a psychologist, not a social worker.”

“Exactly! That’s what I told him, but he insisted he wants me.”

“No offense, but why does he want your help?”

“You know Sam,” Jason answered. “He always wants the best. In his mind, I’m the best. In addition, I’m gay, which is especially important to him, and I get that.”

Christopher started shaking his head in utter disbelief. “Wait now! Wait just a minute here! After the way that man treated you! And treated me for that matter! He has the gall to come and ask you for help!”

“He said he was a nervous wreck coming to see me! He knew damn well I wasn’t going to be happy having him show up on my doorstep. The thing is, honey, I felt bad for him, and believe me, I hear myself saying this, and yet, I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.”

Christopher crossed his arms against his chest. “Let me guess! Your inner rescuer kicked in.”

Jason nodded his agreement of his husband’s quick and accurate assessment.

Jason waved his hand in a gesture to encourage Christopher to sit down with him. He pushed the chair away from the table giving Christopher easier access to sit.

“He saw how much I helped you. So, he trusts me. That’s why he wants my help. You’re right, of course, my inner rescuer did kick in. I told him I had to speak with you, and I would only help him if you granted me permission to. I wasn’t going to do it without your consent. The guy looks pitiful. He said I could name my price! He even offered to pay me five hundred dollars an hour. Mind you, not during my regular working hours. He knows this is something that must take place outside the realm of my job. He was willing to come here, or I could go to his home. Tell me, what do you think? How do you feel about it? Would you be okay if I worked with him? Trust me, I have my own reservations, and… I can’t lie, the money does sound appealing. I’m not a licensed therapist, but what I do isn’t such a stretch from what a psychologist would do. So, I’m asking, would you be comfortable with this?”

Christopher asked, “The question you should be asking yourself is, how do you feel about it?” Although, I must admit, I know that man. If he wants you bad enough, he’ll pay you whatever price you want. Ever since you sold your condominium and decided to live in my apartment, you’ve wanted to buy a house for us. Remember the model home we saw? The one built by Kirkland Home Builders. That money could help a lot towards a down payment. It’s just so ironic! This is the same man who sent you into a panic attack, and now he comes crawling to you for help. Although, I know what you’re talking about. There’s a side of Sam Barron he doesn’t let people see. I’ll be okay with it—if you’re okay with it.”

About the Author

Eric Huffbind is a man of many talents. Over the course of his lifetime, he has worked as a Registered Nurse, a Travel Agent, and an Uber driver. He characterizes himself as a hopeless romantic and is the eternal social butterfly. Among his passionate interests are history, genealogy, romance books, and travel.

Although his novels focus on the romantic relationship of two gay men, regardless of your sexual orientation, his stories are meant to rekindle the spirit and euphoria of falling in love.

Eric is a lifelong resident of Southwest Ohio. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he currently resides in West Chester, Ohio with his husband Paul and their Pomeranian, Linus.

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Blog Tour · Guest · Interview

Guest Post: Abstract Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

Hiya,

Today, I’m delighted to welcome my guest, Sara Dobie Bauer with her new novel, Abstract Love. The moment I saw its cover I was hooked. I’m so looking forward to reading Sam & Donovan’s story. 

Special thanks to Sara for being kind enough to be interviewed too. I couldn’t agree with her more about what makes a great story…and very much suspect Abstract Love will prove itself a portrait of exactly that.

 

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Book Title: Abstract Love

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: September 4, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary MM romance

Trope/s: enemies-to-lovers, age gap, co-workers, office romance,

bisexuality, businessmen, artists, bondage, comedy

Themes: sexual awakening

Possible triggers: depression, suicidal ideations, biphobia

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 71 000 words

It is a standalone book.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

I hate Sam Shelby. So why do I want to kiss him?

 

 

Blurb

 

 

Sam never expected to move back to Cleveland.

Donovan never expected to be attracted to a man.

Well, shit happens.

After high school, Sam Shelby moved to New York. Eight years later, he returns to Cleveland and lands a job at the best ad firm in town. It would be the perfect gig, if his boss weren’t such an ass.

After his wife leaves, Donovan Cooper questions everything. The arrival of a young, arrogant, gifted graphic designer at Donovan’s firm is the last straw.

Tempers flare over office gossip, and following a nasty argument and scathing kiss, Donovan flails away from heterosexuality while Sam struggles to keep his “no relationship” rule intact.

Despite ugly socks, fiery fights, and their best intentions to not fall in love, these bullheaded coworkers can’t deny their chemistry. Donovan seeks happiness while Sam seeks success, but is there room for more?  

💙

 

Interview with Sara

 

Do you use images to develop your character’s looks?

Oh, for sure! I ROUGHLY base my characters on actors I love. In Abstract Love, for instance, Donovan is Daniel Craig and Sam is Timothee Chalamet. (Yes, the characters are ROUGHLY based on these men, but Sam’s fashion choices are actual outfits Timothee has worn in real life, for better or worse.) In the past, I’ve used Benedict Cumberbatch, Alexander Skarsgard, Armie Hammer, Tilda Swinton, and more.

Are your characters based on people you know?

Not usually, but in the case of Abstract Love, yes. Monica is very much based on my beautiful friend Keri.They have the same hair, tattoos, glasses, and style. They’re both sassy, smart, confident women. I love women who stand out amongst the masses and embrace their identities without fear. That’s Keri.

Do you use your experiences in your books?

I’d say I use my feelings more than my experiences. As a theater minor in college, I used to channel my emotions into my performance on stage, and I’ve transferred that catharsis into my writing. So, nope, you’re not going to see anything autobiographical here, but the emotions—heartbreak, joy, fear—come from a place that is very, very real.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Nope.

What do you think makes a good story?

Strong, complex, believable characters with chemistry. The plot doesn’t much matter to me if I’m spending time with characters I love. Especially characters with a great sense of humor. I have a weak spot for snarky protagonists. 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Energize. More than anything else in my life. Except maybe sex. (My mom isn’t going to read this, right?)

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

I released Handsome Death in April through Carnation Books. Due to the pandemic, we weren’t sure what kind of sales we might get. The night of the book’s release, my publisher messaged me freaking out. She couldn’t believe the sales numbers. We broke that publishing house’s record that night. I couldn’t sleep. I was so pumped, I stayed up, watched Clue, and drank absinthe. It was such a dark time for me and for the world; Handsome Death’s book birthday was an unexpected bright spot.

What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?

They think it’s awesome … but don’t really understand what it means to be “a writer.” (My hubby is an engineer, so it’s the same when he talks about work. Since his words don’t make sense, I just focus on how hot he is.) My friends and family celebrate new releases and read my books, but my day-to-day existence is a great mystery of the universe to most people. I like it that way.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Bartend and practice yoga to stay healthy and sane. Oh, and I read. So much reading. 

Do you like music or silence when your write?

SILENCE IS GOLDEN.

Thank you.

 

💙

 

ABSTRACT LOVE 2

Excerpt

Donovan sifted through a few hand-drawn logos on the desk and froze when he found a crudely drawn sketch of himself. Sam must have done it during a meeting at some point, capturing Donovan’s faux hawk, wide jaw, and severe expression.

Jesus, was this what other people saw when they looked at him? Did he really look so miserable?

“Make yourself at home?” Donovan dropped the picture and stood straight at the sound of Sam’s voice. He leaned against the doorframe, with one ankle crossed over the other.

“It’s really bullshit when people say that, you know?” Sam said. “Make yourself at home. No one actually wants their friends to take off their pants, drink all their beer, and binge The Great British Bake Off.” He paused. “What are you doing in my office?”

“I didn’t mean to snoop.”

The office door closed as he stepped inside. “Sure you did, or you wouldn’t be in here, so what’s up?”

Sam circled the desk, so Donovan circled the other way, although he noticed it was true what coworkers said: Sam did smell good—like clean laundry and cedar.

“I think we started off on the wrong foot.” Sam snort laughed and flipped through some files on his desk.

“More like wrong continent, man.” When he found what he was looking for, he tapped the file’s corner against his palm. “I can handle guys like you, you know.” Donovan shifted back on his heels.

“Guys like me?”

“Hmm. Corporate assholes. All you see are dollar signs. You take no pleasure in your work. Advertising is money to you, not art, but without the artists, there wouldn’t be advertising, so…”

He sucked his cheeks into his mouth, a momentary fish face.

Donovan wanted to tell him it wasn’t true. Donovan loved art. He used to love art.

Sam continued, “I know I look like a six-foot-two Disney princess, but you’re not gonna rattle me.” To prove his point, Sam got right up in Donovan’s personal space until Donovan took a step back. Again, he was not used to dealing with someone his own height. “And I’m right about the Great Lakes ad campaign. If you’d pull your head out of your ass, maybe you’d notice.” He turned away abruptly.

“Sam.”

“What?”

“I’m sorry.” Ouch, that hurt coming out.

Sam’s rebuttal: “Prove it.”

“Excuse me?” He rested a hand on the desk and cocked his hip out—the very picture of young attitude.

“Listen to me in meetings.”

“I was listening.”

“Nope.” He shook his head and ran a hand through his unkempt, unprofessional hair. “No, you were hearing. I need you to listen. There’s a difference. And I know I’m just some fucking kid to you, but I ruled the New York City advertising scene. I know what I’m doing, Donovan, so let me do it.”

“Fine.” He’d had enough. He’d apologized, okay, so he’d done his Monica-enforced duty. He didn’t owe Sam anything else.

He didn’t run for the door, but he definitely moved with speed.  

 

💙

 

About the Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film.

 

 

Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook | Private Facebook Group

Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter Sign-up | Freebies

 

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Blog Tour · Interview · New Release

Guest Post & Interview with C F White

Hiya…

 

I have a special post today, which includes an interview with my guest, the wonderful C F White, with her new release: Fade To Blank…

 

 

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Fade to Blank (London Lies # 1)

Author: C F White

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Rhys Everly-Lawless

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romantic Suspense

Trope/s: Slow burn, hurt/comfort

Themes: Enemies to lovers, Revenge, Secrets, Mystery

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 78 000 words/ 280 pages

It’s the first book in a new series.

Book 2 is coming later in the year. Book 1 ends on a HFN for the couple.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

A celebrity accused of murder. A writer needing his big break. The lies that tie them together.

 

Blurb

Accused of a murder he didn’t commit, vilified celebrity Jackson Young enlists the help of a rookie journalist to clear his name and write his biography.

Jackson has a secret though. One he must keep from becoming public. But Fletcher’s dreamy green eyes, Irish drawl and effortless charm makes it hard to suppress those long-buried feelings, even if it could compromise his innocence.

Uncovering the murky past behind Jackson’s rise to fame, Fletcher grows closer to a man he’d once declared as talentless, and their intense attraction starts to affect not only his professional integrity but the life he’d made since moving to London.

Falling for the subject of his book could be fatal for Fletcher, and Jackson should know better than to trust a journalist.

Fade to Blank is the first book in the London Lies trilogy set in 1999, and is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort romantic suspense.

 

Excerpt

Fletcher drew troubled eyebrows in. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Okay? Okay?” Jackson breathed out a laugh that was more a release of pent up anguish. He’d always been taught to laugh in the face of adversity. He hadn’t been able to do much of that lately. Any flicker of amusement seeping out when in Flaymore would only have been captured by an inmate wanting a name for himself and used against him in the media. He rubbed his stinging eyes. “My girlfriend is dead. Someone strangled her whilst I was passed out in the other room. The world thinks I did it. I’ve spent six months inside because I wasn’t granted bail. This morning I wasn’t told that I was free because they believed I didn’t do it. They just couldn’t prove that I did. I can’t quite see how I would be okay after all that. Do you?”

Perhaps that was too blunt. Too much, too soon? Perhaps all this seeking the truth was coming across more selfish than he’d anticipated. It was. But the world was pointing at him. So he needed to prove his innocence to force people to look at who might have killed her, instead of allowing them to tie the noose around his neck.

And on that thought, his heart almost stopped. So the desperation kicked in. “I need you. Your help.”

Fletcher softened before him. “Okay,” he said. “Go on. Why would I, the fella you tried to knock out due to one bad review, want to write another article about you?”

“I want more than an article. And you’ll have a ready and waiting readership for this. It’ll rocket you to a fortune you never knew existed.”

“Wind your neck in, lad, that’s a touch arrogant there.”

“Arrogance doesn’t equal guilt.” Jackson leapt up from leaning against his bike, new found energy resumed. “Nor does it equal untalented.”

Fletcher glanced away, flicking his gaze back just as quick. “What are you talking here, then? A featured piece?”

Jackson forced a smile. “A full exposé of Jackson Young and why he isn’t the man he’s been depicted as in the media of late.”

“So this is all about you? Not… Tallulah?”

Jackson sucked in a breath at her name. It still stabbed at his heart, strangled his chest, erupted bile into his throat. He wondered if it would ever stop.

Scrubbing fingers across his perspiring forehead, Jackson had to find the right way to explain what he needed. What he had to do before it was too late and this was all hidden under the carpet as so many of the lies and manipulations already had been. He wasn’t sure how far he should go. How much he should admit he knew. There was the whole story. And there was his story.

“I was arrested for something I didn’t do,” he settled on. “I’ve been painted in the media as a monster. Pretty much all my friends and family have abandoned me because they believe people like you.”

“People like me?”

“People with the ability to write words and print them for the public to read, to believe and to act upon.”

“I never wrote about what happened to her. I’ve avoided talking about you, or her, since.”

“I know. Now I want you to.”

Jackson waited for the faint glimmer of understanding to work its way across Fletcher’s face. He had to know this would be the ultimate scoop for him. A writer, a journalist, a gossip columnist…whatever the man claimed to be, if he took this opportunity he could retire.

“I don’t write news. I write…gossip.” It sounded a lot like he hated to say that word, and his gaze blinked away from Jackson toward the glass frontage of London Lights HQ.

“I don’t want you to write for a paper. I don’t want this to be news, or gossip. This is the truth. My truth.”

“I’m not sure my editor will buy into it.” Fletcher sighed. “And if she did, she’d pass it onto the more seasoned journalists.”

“I don’t want your editor. I don’t want this in your poxy magazine.” Jackson spat the word, nodding toward the office block in contempt. He wanted nothing to do with any of that. Especially not London Lights. “This has got to be independent.”

“I don’t understand. I thought you wanted an exposé?”

Jackson stepped forward, a hair’s breadth from Fletcher, so close he could taste the man’s coffee breath. “Ever want to write something different? Something good. Something that could make a name for yourself away from the trash rags? Don’t you want to see your name on a shelf?”

“What type of shelf?”

“A book shelf. I want you to write my biography. So if you ever wanted your fortune handed on a plate, Fletcher Doherty…” Jackson held out his arms. “It’s here.”

 

 

A warm welcome and big thank you to my guest C F White – who incidentally has the most excellent taste in ice cream – for our interview…

 

 

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.

Hi, I’m C F White and I write contemporary British gay romance. I have to add the British in there as my books all do tend to stay in or around London as that’s where I live. My tag line kinda sums up what you can expect from me and my books: Romance, mainly. Gritty, often. Love, always. It means you can expect a bit of angst, a bit of gritty realism but a HEA always guaranteed – even if it’s a long time getting there! 

Writing goals are to keep on writing! 

 

Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?

My latest book is the first in yet another three-book series. I have a thing about writing in trilogies! Fade to Blank (London Lies #1) is a romantic suspense set in 1999 and centres around Jackson Young, one half of UK TVs presenting dream team, who is serving time for the suspected murder of his socialite girlfriend. But with no evidence to convict, he is released with a fierce determination to clear his name that has been smeared in the mud by the press. He enlists the help of Fletcher Doherty, a writer stuck in the reviews and gossip column of the newest online magazine, who has had enough of chasing gossip and uncovering scandals for a celebrity hungry nation. The potential to elevate his career and reap the royalties that such a book would bring, ultimately make Fletcher accept the job that no one should want.

But there’s a murky story beneath Jackson Young’s rise to fame and the two men find themselves entangled into a web of lies and manipulation that runs deep into the underbelly of British television. There are people determined to silence Fletcher from giving Jackson a mouthpiece. But with every word written and every fact checked, Fletcher peels away the layers that had made up the captivating persona of Jax to reveal the true, vulnerable man underneath. He’s unable to walk away despite the threat to his career, his relationship, and the life he’d made for himself since settling in London.

Fade to Blank starts the series off with a slow burn, enemies to lovers romance fizzling between Jackson and Fletcher and that’s the part I loved writing—creating that unresolved sexual tension and seeing them fight with each other about their true feelings. I couldn’t say that I liked one character over the other and Jax and Fletch kinda come as a package.  

 

Are you a planner or a pantser? How much do you know about your story before you start writing? How often does your plan change? Why does this work best for you?

Complete pantser. I can’t plan. I’ve tried it and I hate it. I feel like the book is already written if I plan. I prefer to be surprised where it goes, much like the reader! I tend to start with a basic idea, I’ll know where I want to go with it, where it needs to end. Then I just write and see what happens. It’s worked out so far, there’s only been a couple of occasions I’ve slipped up and fallen into a plot hole.

 

Do deadlines motivate you or block you? How do you deal with them?

I try ever so hard not to give myself deadlines. But to be honest, they do tend to motivate me otherwise I would tinker forever. 

 

Do you schedule a certain amount of time for writing each day/week, or do you just work it in when you can? Would you like to change this, or does your current method work well for you?

I fit writing in as and when I can. I work full time and have two kids, one with special needs to writing oftentimes takes a back seat to everything else. It’s why I do a lot of drafts online first, it means I can write on the go, directly onto my phone. So, no, I don’t have a schedule. I see and free window, I sit down and write. I’d love to be able to set aside time but for the time being, I have to stick to this method. I’d probably discover if I did schedule time to write then the words wouldn’t come to me. 

 

What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?

Keeping the suspense going. As I knew this was going to be spun over three books, it was hard to keep everything in and not give it all away to start with. I actually started the whole book without knowing what happened, which helped keep up the suspense and mystery for myself. I know now! 

 

What are your favorite genres when it comes to your own pleasure reading? Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?

I tend to go for the romantic suspense or mystery and crime elements within an MM romance. I love a complex plot series over multiple books with that slow burn that has you screaming at the couple to just do it already! Josh Lanyon, Gergory Ashe, Dal MacLean, Cole McCade, A E Ryecart are all authors I admire and read regularly. And I do favour an ebook. I like to collect paperbacks but I won’t read from them anymore. They’re more for display. And signatures! 

 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Social Media. 

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To keep writing. And reading. To trust in my own words and not compare myself to others. My voice is my voice. No one can be a better me than me 😊 

 

What is your favorite underappreciated novel?

Won’t Be Fooled Again (St Cross 2). It’s the least read and bought novel of mine. It’s the second in a series but it’s vastly different from the first. It’s a friends to lovers story that deal with quite a few issues—addiction, abandonment, poverty, disability, interracial relationships. It’s a raw and emotional story but I think as it’s book 2 people think they have to have read book one, but they really don’t. I wish more people did pick it up. 

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

My book usually! I make playlists for my books I’m working on that I’ll play in the car to help me think about scenes. It’s a great motivator. I just need a car that will then write my book for me whilst stuck in traffic. 

 

What was your favorite toy growing up?

A teddy bear I named Chunky. It was a Christmas present from my nan and grandad who died when I was fairly young. I slept with it, took it everywhere and even came to university with me. It was so squashed and ripped from how hard I hugged it when I finally had to give it up to the dustbin in my mid-twenties. 

 

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Haagan Dasz Pralines and Cream. 

 

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Pheobe Waller Bridge from Fleabag. I love her humour and writing! 

 

INSTAGRAM 2

 

About the Author

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly search for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

After her second son was born with a rare disability, C F White’s life changed and brought pen back to paper having written stories as a child but never the confidence to show them to the world. Now, having embarked on this writing journey, she can’t stop. So strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

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