Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged coming soon
Teaser: Top Shelf
Top Shelf contemporary gay romance from Allison Temple. Coming May 20 to Kindle Unlimited

Top Shelf is out on May 20, but you can read the beginning of chapter 1 right now!

Chapter 1

The exterior of Martin’s new workplace did not inspire confidence. Dog Ears Book Shop was a two-story brick building on Seacroft’s main street. The sign out front was painted in large black and white spots that were probably meant to look like a Dalmatian, but actually looked more like a cow. The ‘Help Wanted’ sign was still in the window. If that was an indication of his new employer’s faith in his abilities, Martin’s career in bookselling would be short.

He’d been told to be here by eight-thirty, and he was early. There was a diner next door, and he’d popped in to grab a tea to go. That had been ten minutes ago, and now the bookshop’s locked storefront staring back at him made him worry. What if he’d made the job offer up? What if this was just another punch line on the cruel practical joke that was his life lately? Not being able to hold down an obscure academic position was one thing. Not being good enough to work at a lonely used bookstore in a sleepy seaside community was another issue completely. His thesis supervisor had always said life was not a pony farm, but Martin didn’t even want the whole farm anymore. A seat at the trough would do.

A dark sedan pulled up to the curb. Martin hunched into his tea, avoiding eye contact with the driver. They didn’t need to see him like this.

“Thanks, Mom!” A teenage girl with hair like coiled springs got out of the passenger side. She leaned in and spoke to the driver for a minute, before slamming the door and waving as the car pulled away. She smiled when she spotted Martin.

“Are you the new guy?” She hiked her backpack up on her shoulders. Martin nodded, and her smile spread. “Doctor Lindsey, I presume!” She stuck out her hand for him to shake. He juggled his tea and his bike helmet before reaching for her.

“It’s just Martin,” he said.

“I’m Cassidy. Mrs. Green said you’d be starting today. I’m supposed to show you the ropes.” She pulled a ring of keys out of her backpack and stepped around him to the door. She appeared to be younger than any of his former students had been. It said a lot that someone who didn’t even have a high school diploma would be training him.

“Have you worked here long?” he asked as she fumbled with the lock. She jammed her hip against the doorframe, and then rattled the doorknob before twisting the key. The heavy old door swung open on groaning hinges that shattered the quiet Saturday morning. A jogger running by turned as he passed. Martin ducked his head while Cassidy waved.

“Since I was in tenth grade. I started working after school, and then Mrs. Green let me work full time over the summers. Now that I’m back at school, I’ll mostly be here in the afternoons and on Saturdays.” She walked in and flicked a switch by the door. Ancient strings of incandescent lights flared to life. Martin’s next question caught in his throat as the bookstore loomed in front of him.

He’d been in once before, when he dropped off his resume, but he hadn’t bothered to stay. It might have even been Cassidy he’d handed his CV to for all he knew. It had taken him two tries to walk through the front door, and then he’d finally run in, thrust the paper at the person behind the cash, and fled. It had been embarrassing, but getting this far was an improvement from the trajectory his life had taken in recent months. His doctor had said he should be proud.

Oddly enough, despite that frantic and hasty attempt at applying for a job, he still remembered the smell of the store as he walked in. It was something damp and forgotten, and the space held an incredible sense of age and weight.

Heavy dark shelves of every height and width lined the walls from floor to ceiling. Books were stacked up and down, lengthways and sideways. Martin had read a lot in his life, and he had never seen so many books all in one place.

“Welcome!” Cassidy held her arms out, as if she spoke for every title and every writer represented in the giant space. She glanced over her shoulder. “It’s kind of like the TARDIS, isn’t it?”

“Bigger on the inside than the outside?”

Cassidy’s smile grew. “You watch Doctor Who?”

Martin shrugged, ignoring the little thrill in his chest at the normalcy of this conversation.

“I missed the last few seasons,” he said. “It stopped being good after David Tennant left.”

“I guess we’re not going to be friends after all.” Cassidy’s green eyes narrowed, but her smile didn’t fade.

Feeling a little braver, Martin stepped around a low table stacked with picture books and a sign that read ‘For When They Won’t F*ing Sleep.’ Beyond that, a bookshelf was labeled with ‘100 Ways to Cheat on Your Diet.’ Most of the titles below the sign were pastry cookbooks and European travelogues.

“I made that one,” Cassidy said, as Martin examined the sign. It was done in chalk, the lettering alternating orange and green, with what looked like a steaming plate of spaghetti and a glass of wine nestled underneath it.

“It’s very nice.”

“Let me give you the tour. We won’t be open for another half hour.”

The TARDIS reference turned out to be fairly apt. Every time they came to the end of a teetering row of bookshelves, Cassidy would turn and take him in a new direction. Somehow though, they never wound up at the front of the store again. Sometimes the shelves were broken up with ancient and overstuffed armchairs before the books continued. There didn’t seem to be any logic to the way they were organized. Instead of standard headings—fiction, non-fiction, travel, mystery—each section was labeled in the same cheeky blackboards as Martin had seen up front. ‘Pets.They’re Better Than Kids’ and ‘Old Dead Guys Say Famous Things.’

“Wouldn’t it just be easier to organize them by genre?” he asked as they wound their way down another aisle.

“Why? It’s more fun this way.” Cassidy seemed to know exactly where they were, despite the fact that Martin was hopelessly turned around. They passed a shelf labeled ‘Books To Read On Dark Nights.’

“But how do people find what they’re looking for?”

She glanced over her shoulder at him, and for all there had to be over ten years between them, Martin suddenly felt like a kid asking stupid questions of a weary parent.

“Have you ever worked in a bookstore before? Mrs. Green said you had.”

“In college.” It had been humiliating to have to put that little nugget of experience back on his resume.

“When you go to buy a book, if you want a recommendation, do you ask for a contemporary mystery, written in the last two years, by an American writer?”

“Yes?”

Cassidy snorted. “Well, that’s not how most people work. Most people come in here, and they say they want something a little funny, a little sad. Something about families, but not something where someone dies. It’s easier if we organize them this way.”

“But it doesn’t make any sense!”

They passed a shelf called ‘We Didn’t Know Where Else To Put These.’

“It will.” She turned another corner, and suddenly, they were back where they started. A cyclist went by, followed by a woman with a stroller. They didn’t so much as glance through the window. Martin felt like he’d been on a kind of quest that had lasted a thousand years, only to return home and find that no time had passed at all.

“So the first thing to do is tidy up the kid’s section.” She pointed to the picture book table. “The Mommy and Me group will be here at nine-thirty.”

“Mommy and me?”

“Yes, and then the knitting circle will be here at noon.”

“Knitting circle?” Martin checked around again. “Like people? Here? Knitting?”

“Sure! Didn’t Mrs. Green tell you?”

“Tell me about what?” Here it was. He’d expected a quiet day of recommending classics and wheezing on the layer of dust that coated everything. It had all seemed too easy, and now he would find out why.

“Oh. Well. A used bookstore is only so popular. Most people just get their stuff online these days. So Mrs. Green figured out that if we get people to come for other things, they might stick around and buy a book or two. It’s Mommy and Me at nine-thirty, knitting circle at noon, and the feminist poetry circle at three on Saturdays.”

That didn’t sound too bad.

“Do I have to learn to knit?” He was pleased he could find humor over the increasing rattle of his heart.

Cassidy laughed, curly hair bouncing on her shoulders. “It couldn’t hurt.”

No, it was bad.

Cover Reveal and a Giveaway!
Cover image for Top Shelf by Allison Temple. Contemporary gay romance available May 20 on Kindle Unlimited.

It’s here!! I’m so pleased to share the cover for Top Shelf with you. Designed by the amazing Cate Ashwood, I have loved this cover since the first proof landed in my inbox.

Seb and Martin’s small town slow burn romance will be available on May 20, but you can enter to win an advance copy one of two ways.

Meet Seb and Martin
Top Shelf Contemporary MM Romance by Allison Temple

Top Shelf, the first book in my new Seacroft series is coming next month! There’s big stuff planned. Cover reveals. Advance copies for a few lucky readers :) For now, meet Seb and Martin:

Martin is a ghost. Well, not really, but he might as well be. Job gone, home gone, self-respect gone, and no one even seems to notice. The only person who really sees him is Seb, the artist who lives above the used bookstore.

Seb haunts the edges of Seacroft in search of beauty. He knows how to excavate the hidden value in abandoned things—whether it's in the pages of forgotten books or in Martin's stuttering attempts to rebuild his life—and transform them into works of art.

Two lost souls, Seb and Martin discover the strength they need to face eccentric townies and their dysfunctional families together. But as friendship sparks toward something more, neither man wants to risk what they’ve only just found. It takes two to fall in love, but it will take the whole community to bring their beauty to life.

Top Shelf is an 83k slow burn friends-to-lovers MM romance. It features an anxious professor, a drama queen artist, a bookstore that might be haunted, and a full-blown heart-eyes HEA.

To stay up to date on release news, join my newsletter, The A-List. I’ll even throw in two free short stories right now! 

Presenting...

Teaser What a week! We could all use a little happy, don't you think?

I've set up a new Facebook group, Allison's A-List. We're going to have themes. Man Crush Monday...Teaser Tuesday...

Freebie Friday!

I've got a thing. My publication schedule is all blown to hell, so the thing was going to come out in April, but after the week we just had, let's have it today!

A-List members get it first. That's how an A-List works*.

If you read and liked The Pick Up, but had a very specific criticism in your reviews about about gaps in a certain single dad's backstory, you're going to want to join us!

*If Facebook isn't your thing, I get it. We can't all be slaves to Zuckerberg. This surprise thing will be available to the general public on Monday. But wouldn't it be nice to have something short and sweet for your weekend?

On The Eve of Release

calendar-2763496_1280 The Pick Up is out in less than 72 hours (less than 24 if you preordered). Because I'm a typical author with typical insecurities, I've spent most of the last nine months being at least 50% sure that this is all an elaborate practical joke. A long con by people I've never met. I'm told the imposter syndrome makes me a Real Writer.

At this point though, I think I have to accept that this is actually going to happen.

There have been a lot of things that have surprised me about this process. The big one is how fast it happened. I'm one of the lucky ones who sold her first book quickly, with minimum angst and gnashing of teeth. I even got a bonus which is there are two more books coming, and I didn't have to query either! Undoubtedly, there will be some speed bumps and roadblocks ahead, and I will still be mostly languishing in obscurity this time next year, but it's been a fun ride so far!

But there have been a lot of other things, the ones you never picture when you sit down at your keyboard and think to yourself 'I'm going to write a book!' Someday I'm going to write about them, but here's the short list.

First and foremost, I've learned that editors are wizards. My editor Caz has this preternatural ability to see the little things in my manuscript, the hiccups in language and plot that I was never going to find. They have all made my story better. Also, she has this amazing precognition of when is the most inconvenient time to send me revisions. Nobody's perfect, I guess. Caz says she's still waiting for her Hogwarts letter, but I am confident it is only a matter of time.

Also, I've met some pretty amazing people. Online and in person. Writing is lonely, and even though I am a staunch introvert, I've made some amazing connections over the course of the last few years. Shaunta Grimes and the Ninja Writers, Firefly Creative Writing, the Toronto Romance Writers. And there's all of Writer!Twitter; so big and numerous I can't begin to name them all.

And I've done some pretty cool things. Last fall, I found myself wearing a vintage riding skirt, gingham shirt, authentic Australian cowboy hat, and a dollar store moustache. What was I doing? Waiting in line to buy a beer at GRL (I'm a Supporting Author this year, come see me!). They definitely don't tell you about the dollar store moustache when you write your first book.

There are other things. Unpleasant things. Reviews that weren't glowing. Taglines. Don't get me started on taglines. Has anyone ever been truly satisfied with the tagline for their book? Still for every awkward tagline and grumpy review, there's a tweet or a text from someone who liked the book, or at least likes me enough to be kind!

It's been quite the adventure. Monday is going to be fun! And then . . .

I might have an exciting update early next week! Tune in, same bat time, same bat channel!

Thanks for reading,

A

 

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What's Your Book About?

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 12.52.36 PM "It's about a single dad who falls in love with his daughter's teacher."

That's the 13-word descriptor I give most people when they ask me what The Pick Up is about. I perfected it ages ago, back before I'd finished writing it, back when I wasn't sure if this was a hobby or a career or anything. For most people, it works.

"Yes, but what is it about? What happens?"

That was my mom a couple days before Christmas. We were having lunch at my grandmother's (for the record, my Nana is awesome and doesn't give two figs that I write books about guys kissing).

"Well..." I said. "There's this dad, and he moves back to his hometown and..."

Oh god this is awkward. I thought I'd escaped this kind of thing after I finished my query synopsis.

I am not alone in finding this challenging.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 6.20.47 PM

It's a romance. They meet. They kinda don't like each other so much at first, and then slowly realize how much better their life is with each other in it. There's some not quite kissing, then some actual kissing, followed by Kyle saying some awkward things over Chinese food, and then there is more kissing.

Fin.

Oh, and this book also features the world premiere of the revolutionary field of ice cream psychology.

You don't even need to buy the damn thing now, I've given the whole plot away.

I saw this amazing post on Facebook today. It gave book descriptors like "life with Asperger's", "YA Gatsby" and "extreme illegal sports". Short and sweet. I'd read them all.

So what is The Pick Up about? In keeping with these tiny descriptors, here's my best shot.

  • Coming home
  • Escaping your awkward teenage years
  • Diplomacy via eggplant parmesan
  • Astronaut princesses
  • Serial texting
  • The seductive properties of moo-shu pork
  • Why Bluetooth headsets make bad first impressions
  • Uncomfortable conversations with your parents

Is that better? You can layer those over my earlier "they almost kiss" summary and you've pretty well got the whole story nailed down.

The Pick Up comes out two months today. It's about all those things and I'd really love it if you'd read it. You can pre-order here, or sign up for my mailing list and I'll send out links to the major retailers just as soon as I have them.

In the meantime, leave a comment and tell me what your favourite book is about.