Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged books
The Best (and Others) of 2018
So Long 2018.jpg

So Long 2018.jpg

So first off, this is being posted in error, because there is NO WAY IN HELL that 2018 is almost over. This has without a doubt been one of the most action packed years of my life...which is funny, because I spent an awful lot of it working from my couch.

I wanted to write about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2018, but since we also all want to leave here in a good mood, I'm going to do it backwards. This is going to be like one of those food blog posts where I ramble and you keep scanning for the recipe. Bear with me. There are some good bits in here.

The Ugly

I had a publishing deal....and then I didn't. You can read a bit about it here, but let's just say I have to tell myself it was the right decision, even when everything else is uncertain.

The Bad

My grandmother passed away in October. It was quick without being sudden. We are all sad, but I can't say we were surprised.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 6.03.31 PM

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 6.03.31 PM

Her passing overlapped with the GRL Retreat. I was on the highway somewhere in Pennsylvania when she left us. My family and I had talked a lot whether or not I should go to Virginia at all, and in the end decided I should.

It's surreal to be all by yourself in a place you don't know when one of the pillars of your childhood leaves this world, but I drove 3000 km that week (see Figure 1) and had lots of time to grieve, remember, and distract myself with hours of Sam of Wilds' audiobooks shenanigans (more on that below).

Okay that that's done, let's get to the stuff you actually click the link for.

The Good

So much good. Good reads. Good friends. In no particular order these are:

I published a book!!

Untitled design-9

Untitled design-9

Four books, actually. 2018 was the year I became an honest to god published romance author. It has been awesome and exhausting and sometimes heartbreaking, but I would do it all over again.

Three of these stories are short and can be found here for free. Going Down is brand spanking new and features the sexiest truth or dare game ever played in an elevator. It will also be moving to Amazon in the new year, so you should pick up your free copy now.

Speaking of pick ups, The Pick Up you have to pay for, but it's averaging 4.4 stars on Amazon, so I promise this small town single dad romance is worth your time. Also, it's on sale until January 5 if you use the code SALE18 when purchasing from the publisher's website. If you need more convincing, you can read about it here.

I discovered Verania.

I'm a slow reader. Super slow. A book a month is about my speed.

Last year, I was at GRL in Denver and Brandon Witt was speaking in a panel and said something like "And then I read The Lightning-Struck Heart and it had Gary the Hornless Gay Unicorn," and I had never heard of the book, but there was a ripple of . . . something in the room.

I didn't think about the book again until this past winter when Wish Upon the Stars came out and so there was a sale on The Lightning-Struck Heart and so I bought it and then whispersynced that puppy to get the audiobook and . . . is it hubris if I say my life changed?

Sam appreciates hubris. Let's go with it.

TJ Klune does not need my shout out. His fans are legion. And most of you are rolling your eyes going "Come on Allison, I knew about Verania ages ago!" But for me, as a long-time audiobook afficianado, this series is one of the best produced I've ever listened to. If you haven't done so already, give yourself the Gift Of Verania this holiday season (I capitalized it, so you know it's true).

I met some awesome people and read their awesome books.

I hesitate to write this, because just like we hope-click 'best of' lists even though we know our books won't be on them, someone is going to look at my recommendations and be disappointed that I didn't include their story.

Know that, if we are writerly friends, I appreciate every conversation we've had this year. A lot of writing is navel gazing and pep talks and it's awesome that the community is supportive enough that these can happen any time of the day.

Untitled design-3

Untitled design-3

Craft Brew is book 2 in the Trouble Brewing series, which means you should probably read book 1. . . and that means you should probably read the Agents Irish and Whisky series to get the full impact. But if you're not down for that kind of commitment, just start with Imperial Stout and get ready for Nic's silver-fox-in-a-suit-hiding-so-many-yummy-tattoos and Cam's balls-out-Boston-but-Cam's-not-out-and-I-have-so-many-feelings-about-this. Seriously. The books are fast paced, the eye candy (even if it's in my head) is delightful, and there's still one more book in the series to go in 2019!

Life of Bliss is also a book 2 and I've been going back and forth about whether I like or its predecessor, Life on Pause, more. In the end, I picked Life of Bliss because I didn't know wake-up-married was a trope I'd be down for, but Vic and Todd are so frigging cute, the pining is so sweet and earnest, and Erin McLellan is my favourite sex toy queen, and this story is tamer than some of her others, but still doesn't disappoint.

Where Death Meets the Devil was quite possibly the best book I read in 2018 and LJ Hayward has subsequently put out a Coda, three novellas, and an excellent second novel in the Death and the Devil series, so while I still like the opening gambit (I'm just in awe of the dual timelines) the best, there are lots more words to help get you through your book hangover.

At some point, I'm going to write a 'what's up for 2019?' post. The short answer is SO MUCH! Thanks for being part of my debut year misadventures. Let's continue the journey next year!

Nana Through the Looking Glass
IMG_1219.JPG

IMG_1219.JPG

"Whether I knew it then or not, I've been a writer since the second grade, when I wrote a short story about a girl and her horse. My grandmother typed it out for me and said she’d never seen so many quotation marks from a seven-year-old before."

You'll recognize this if you've read my bio (on this blog, in my books, or elsewhere). I guess you could say my Nana was my first editor.

A year ago, nearly 30 years after that first horsey short story, I wrote a novel about an artist who lived above a used bookstore. Seb makes a living taking the books people don't want anymore and turning them into something new. One afternoon, Martin (the bookstore's newest employee and Seb's love interest) finds an illustrated copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in the store and gives it to Seb who, in turn, makes it into something special—a birthday gift for his grandmother.

Two weeks ago, my Nana couldn't get out of bed. She's 86 and still living on her own. They called the ambulance, took her to the hospital, ran tests.

A week ago, I passed a used bookstore. It wasn't in my neighbourhood. I'd never been inside it. But there, in the window, was an illustrated copy of Alice's Adventure in Wonderland. I was on my way to an appointment, and by the time I walked back the other way, the store was closed. But I knew I needed that book. For Seb. For his Nana. For mine too, because she loved to read and loved the old stories best. I went back and bought it yesterday.

Today, we said goodbye to my Nana.

Her favourite books were Seven Years in Tibet and the complete collection of Churchill's Letters to Roosevelt. She raised five daughters, had eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She made the best pea soup in the world and she gave even better hugs. She never finished high school, but left her home on Vancouver Island to move with my grandfather to Montreal in 1953. She lived in Morocco and the Cameroons. In 1988, she helped me publish my first book*

Seb's story is unpublished, but it's going to be, someday. When it is, there will be two words in the dedication.

For Nana.

Miss you bunches already.

*the first story had what you might call a limited distribution deal. It might still be available to be borrowed from my elementary school library though.

The Secret Life of Books

jan-mellstrom-242087

What I learned while researching my book

(this post is based on the Marketing for Romance Writers 52 Week Challenge)

As of this writing, Top Shelf does not have a home, but let me introduce you to Seb. He is an artist who has made his name in reclaimed books. He started with found poetry (spoiler: all of Shakespeare is a dick joke if you look hard enough), but now carves beautiful sculptures and pictorial narratives out of the old books he finds in the used bookstore downstairs from his apartment.

I am not an artist. Out of all the artistic mediums, visual art is my weakest. So building an art for Seb took some effort. I listened to podcasts, I did so much googling. And then I found carved books. And they were glorious. And they evoke such a complicated question about our relationships with books, and what it means to preserve the words in them.

Seb's love interest, Martin, is a professor who has spent his career researching a poet whose works were destroyed and nearly lost. And then Martin meets Seb, whose entire career is based on repurposing so many of those precious words into something new and beautiful, but also different than the author's original intention.

I really hope you get to read their love story soon.

In the meantime, can I offer you this beautiful TED Talk video about carved books?

I was an introvert before it was cool

johannes-plenio-262531-unsplash

A book that influenced my life

(this post is based on the Marketing for Romance Writers 52 Week Challenge)

Have you read Susan Cain's Quiet?

You haven't?

Stop reading this and go read it right now.

Go on. I'll wait.

Not an introvert? But you probably know some, right? You should still read it.

Okay, if you're still here and you haven't read it, here's my spiel.

Quiet is powerful. It's deeply researched. It's sympathetic without promoting introverts or extroverts as better than the other. It untangles introversion from so many other things like shyness, sensitivity and social anxiety.

I am an introvert. People who know me professionally never believe me when I tell them that. My husband likes to call me a ninjavert. I can be sociable and engaging in the right context, but give me a quiet house and a comfy couch and I will Make Things Happen.

Quiet is amazing in that it breaks down how introvert brains work, and why social situations don't feel the same to us as they do to extroverts.

In third grade, my teacher called a conference with my mother and told her she was worried I was too serious. My mom came home and said "Mrs. Walker says you don't smile enough." I thought that was the weirdest thing I'd ever heard.

Guess whose third grade teacher was an extrovert, back when there wasn't a word for that?

Guess which book has all kinds of examples of teachers, parents, and heart care providers trying to diagnose kids when all they were is introverted?

Guess who cried when the book was over because for the first time she didn't feel like her preference for staying in, and her habit of lying on the couch for hours after a big presentation were weird?

Yeah, that last one was me.

Quiet was published in 2013, and in the ensuing 5 years, introversion has become a buzzword, and our introverted brethren are celebrated for their preference for staying home on a Friday night and their proclivity for regretting plans made weeks ago. So maybe you think you know everything you need to know about introverts.

Quiet is still worth a read.

If you don't believe me, check out Susan's TED Talk. It is one of the most popular talks on the site.

 

Dinner with Friends

person-2248567_1920

Five authors (alive or dead) I'd like to meet.

(this post is based on the Marketing for Romance Writers 52 Week Challenge)

(a note from this author: I'm treating this question as if I'm going to have dinner with these people and not just gushing all over them like the fangirl I am at a book signing...because I may have already done that)

1. Annabeth Albert

Annabeth is one of my favourite MM authors. She writes nerdy characters, tough military characters, rugged beardy characters. Her books are so easy to read. The characters always feel fresh. If you're new to MM romance, start with Annabeth.

2. Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie writes the way I can only dream about. I did get a chance to fangirl all over her (briefly) at a signing last fall, and it was magical, but also a reality check, because it turns out that I will never write like Maggie, because my brain does not work like Maggie's. The upside is that she will never write like me for the same reasons, and that's moderately comforting.

3. Bill Bryson

I have never been a big fan of non-fiction. Bill is an exception. He has a way of weaving dates and facts with narration that suddenly makes the story of the people who tried to fly across the Atlantic before Charles Lindbergh succeeded (spoiler: before Lindbergh, the results were almost always crash landing in a field moments after take off or (worse) crash landing in the ocean and never being heard from again) really compelling. Also, you'll never look at the way staircases are designed (spoiler 2: it's always poorly).

4. Erin McLellan & LJ Hayward

I'm putting these two lovely people on the same line because they're recent Riptide debuts along with yours truly and it has been awesome to get to know them this spring, and awesomer to read their amazing stories. Tragically, they both live very far away, so I'm going to have to work for it.

5. Robin McKinley

Writer of kick ass heroines, my favourite Robin Hood retelling, and so much more. She tried to break into the urban fantasy vampire market a moment too soon, and so all we have is Sunshine when there should have had a whole series of Sunshine and Constantine. I would fangirl so hard before we settled down to our dinner and writerly conversations.

That was harder than I thought. What do you think. Who are your five?

If You Liked The Pick Up...

Presenting Where's Waldo...Kyle Edition! img_0026

depositphotos_165233138_original.jpg

Today is The Pick Up's one month anniversary! Hearing from those of you who read and loved Kyle and Adam's story was one of the best feelings ever! And then you asked when there would be more stories and...well...it's complicated. The Hook Up (a prequel short about how Kyle met Olivia) is out now, and I've got another short planned a few months from now. But, for reasons, the date of the next novel is TBD.

In the meantime, I'd like to make some recommendations. We started talking in my Facebook group this week about covers and stock photos. I like to think that The Pick Up's cover is distinctly cute but the fact remains that that smiley dude is a stock photo model and you can find him having all kinds of adventures over on DepositPhoto. My particular favourites are the ones where he can't figure out laundry, and where he makes an especially dorky face in the mirror, because spinach in your teeth is never cool.

Depositphotos_165232966_l-2015

But even weirder than seeing Kyle in the controlled realm of stock photos is seeing him on other people's covers. He's everywhere! Literally everywhere. The Pick Up is one of seven covers I've found in the last six months with Mr. Smiley on the cover. And that's just in m/m romance! God only knows what he's up to in the heterosexual world!

So while you're waiting for my further novel-length adventures, here are six novels that feature the same guy on the cover. If you liked The Pick Up, maybe you'll like the continued antics of Smiley Stock Photo Guy! He is perpetually adorable, although I have to admit the maternal writer in me wants to tell him to put on a shirt sometimes.

Kyle Covers

Buy links are here:

The Glasshouse (Lavender Shores, book 6) by Rosalind Abel Something New (Something About Him, book 1) by Sean Ashcroft Champagne Kiss (Rose Falls, book 3) by Raleigh Ruebins Heart of Glass (Lawyers in Love, book 3) by Ari McKay Rock a Bye (Cray's Quarry, book 1) by Rachel Kane Blaze (A Masterson Novel, book 1) by Avery Ford

If you find SSPG anywhere else, maybe leave a comment so we can continue to expand our libraries? Good book recs are always appreciated.

Happy reading!

The Hook Up

UPDATED, JULY 2018: The Hook Up has moved. You can get it for free by signing up for my newsletter.

 

Okay folks, Mondays are hard, so how about a freebie?

The most common thing I saw in reviews for The Pick Up was that people wanted to know more about Kyle's history with Olivia.

Fortunately, I wrote a short story about that very thing! Here's the night that Kyle met Olivia.

Remember the fights? The lost phone? It's all there. But also, there's karaoke! Ice sculptures! Revenge via veggie fries!

Don't worry though, if you haven't read The Pick Up (although you totally should anyway), The Hook Up stands on its own.

And did I mention it's free?

And available right now?

All you have to do is clicky click on the link and grab a copy!

Happy reading!

PS, I've got more Red Creek shorts planned for later this year. Members of my Facebook group always get them first. Join us if that's a thing that sounds like fun!

Keeping it Real on Release Day

My book: out today!

My car: won't start :(

Funny story, one of my favourite places to write is in the customer lounge at the car dealership. It's so peaceful. There's good wi-fi, bad TV, and no one to disturb you unless you count the guy who is trying to upsell you on a cabin air filter, and that's usually pretty brief. My favourite thing to do is to write the sexy bits while I wait for an oil change. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's as close to exhibitionism as I'm comfortable getting. I wrote Kyle and Adam's first kiss at the dealership. Their first love scene too.

Today though. I did not plan to do any writing at the dealership. Or to do any writing at all. I planned to lurk on social media for all the release day feels. Then I was going to have lunch with a friend. Do a little work this afternoon. Then dinner with Mr. Temple. Huzzah! A special day.

You know what curbs many of those plans?

Having your car towed when it won't get its act together on a Monday morning.

It's not even that cold out today!

Anyway. If you've read The Pick Up, you know Kyle's van is a beast with unpredictable functionality. Maybe I'm just going for the truly authentic release day experience.

If you haven't read The Pick Up, you can get it from Riptide, or click here for the other retailers. I hope you like it.

I'll just be here, keeping it real!

The Pick Up

Another excerpt from my trip to the bank.

"How long have you been a writer?"

"Well, I mean, I think people who are writers, it's always something they've done. You know? There's always a history. Bad poetry, terrible short stories and-"

"No. It's for the computer. I have to put a start date for your job."

Oh.

What do I tell him? Is it the day I started writing The Pick Up? The day I finished it and decided it was something I might try to publish?

In the end, I gave him the date last July when I signed my contract with Riptide. I was a writer long before there was a document with terms and conditions on it that said other people thought I was a writer too.

Today though. Today will always be special. Today is the day The Pick Up is released into the world, so today is the day you all find out I'm a writer too.

I hope you read Kyle and Adam's story. I really hope you like it. I'd love to hear from you. More importantly, I hope others hear from you. This industry is so dependent on word of mouth. So if you read it (even if you don't love my guys as much as I do), leave a review. On Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, or just with your book club. There's more Red Creek coming. You want people to join in the fun, don't you?

If you don't have a copy of The Pick Up yet, you can get all ebook formats and hard copies direct from Riptide, or from you favourite online retailer.

Thanks for reading!

A

Conversations with the Reading Public

giphy Things I get asked a lot:

"But why are they gay?"

Why wouldn't they be?

"Do you think they'll make it into a movie?"

Think? Not in a million years. Hope? Maybe in a million years.

"Is it like The Notebook?"

That was a new one for me. It's been fourteen (14!!!!!) years since Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams made Canadians proud and melted our hearts. In the ensuing decade and a half, its place in those same organs has faded, to the point where I had to think about that question for a minute.

Here's what happened. I've even written it out in handy scripted format so that when Hollywood comes to make my biopic, it's all set!

Setting: Allison, a romance writer on the eve of her first book's publication, goes to the bank. A young man in a suit is working the customer service desk.

Young man: Can I help you?

Allison: Yes. I need to talk to someone about some changes my accounts.

Young man: One moment. I'll find someone to help you.

Allison has a seat in a generic leather chair. Pause. A moment later, a nearly identical (but not the same) young man appears from one of the offices. He is young, probably 23, and wears the Canadian banker's Friday uniform: khakis, shirt and tie, wooly sweater.

Young man #2: Can I help you?

Allison: Yes, I need to make some changes to my accounts.

The young man #2 and Allison go to his office. She describes what he wants. He opens his computer and clicks through a number of screens.

Young man #2: What's your occupation?

Allison: I write romance novels.

Young man #2: (pause) Like 50 Shades of Grey?

Allison: Not like 50 Shades of Grey

More clicking on the keyboard.

Young man #2: Like The Notebook?

Allison: (pause) A bit like The Notebook.

Young man #2: What's your book about?

Allison: It's about people falling in love in a small town.

Young man #2: The Notebook is in a small town! In North Carolina! Have you read The Notebook? I've read all of Nicholas Spark's books!

(end scene)

Never, in my entire life, did I expect this young man wax enthusiastic over Nicholas Sparks and his oeuvre (true story: I'm a sucker for all those movies. A Walk to Remember is my catnip in every way). He'd even gotten his girlfriend to read a few! The obvious moral of this story is never judge a reader by his wooly sweater.

Also, the bonus content to this scene is almost as adorable as the original exchange.

Young man #2: (pushing a pad of post-it notes towards Allison) Can you write down the name of your book for me? I'll look it up online when I get home!

Allison: (writing down the information) That's really nice of you. I should mention that my characters are gay; I know that's not what everyone wants to read about.

Young man #2: That's amazing! My sister is gay! I'll buy her a copy!

(fin)

You guys. I might have found my dream banker.

Parth, if you're reading this, you made my morning.

If you, like my new banker, have not ordered your copy of The Pick Up, you can do that here.

Game Day!

printing-3025962_1920 The Pick Up is out in less than a month. I keep alternating between excited dancing and blind panic. I'm told this is normal.

Meanwhile, my mom, who has never read a romance novel in her life, is working her way through her advance copy (moms get perks) and periodically asking herself why her little girl is writing romance stories about two men. She's cool with it, she just wants to understand why.

I'm still not sure I have a succinct answer for her.

But! If you, like her, are new to the genre, I have a fun new game to play. You can try it with The Pick Up, or any other m/m title that tickles your fancy!

Presenting...m/m romance bingo, courtesy of the awesome and hilarious Tanya Chris!

mmbingo

Note: Mercifully, not all m/m romances contain all these tropes, so your mileage may vary. There are no shifters and no one gets pregnant in The Pick Up, so your chances for a full-card bingo are nil.

While you wait for Kyle and Adam to hit the shelves, you can always try the bingo card out on Tanya's shifter story, Omega Reclaimed. It's free right now at Amazon (until Friday)!