Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged grl
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!!

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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.

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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!

Coming Down from GRL

22712956_10155367716367659_1604930348_o Holy smokes am I tired! Years ago, JK Hogan, after her first GRL, told me that if I ever went, I had to remember to take an extra day off when I got back. As I was falling asleep last night, I had the thought that I could probably go to work today and function reasonably well.

Then I slept until 10:30 this morning and nearly burned a grilled cheese at lunch so...

Thanks, Kristen, for your excellent advice!

Before we parted ways for the weekend, I told Jay (aka Mr. Temple) that if I came home from GRL and announced I was going to quit my job to write full-time, he had to talk me down. He nodded knowingly. We're married for a reason.

I'm pleased to say that 72 hours later, while I'm a little starstruck about who and what I just saw, I am not so far gone as to think the solution to life's problems is to abandon my job to be a full-time writer.

Dude, being a writer is hard work. I firmly believe it's also a metric shit tonne of fun, but there are so may things that will never occur to you (and barely occurred to me) when you set out to write and publish a book. I found myself standing in line for a beer, dressed in a custom made vintage riding split skirt, my very favourite cowboy hat, and a dollar store moustache and thought "I didn't know this was going to be part of the job." Obviously, the moustache is optional (as are the skirt, hat, and the conference in general really). You could just write books and stay home, but GRL is a hell of a lot of fun, and great way to participate in the community I'm writing for.

The writers I met this weekend are (hopefully) winning the battle for shelf space, book reviews, and career longevity on their own terms, and I have nothing but admiration for that. I hope to be them someday, and that day is closer than it was a year ago, but this weekend also solidified for me that I am very much a baby author with a lot of work ahead of me.

I gotta say though, GRL leaves me pretty warm and fuzzy about what that's going to be like. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. Everyone, readers and writers, was approachable and willing to talk. The m/m romance community they've built is as lovely as it is diverse. Seriously. I know there's a long way to go in terms of character and writer diversity, but there really is something for everyone out there. My jam in m/m romance is cute, fluffy, and pretty vanilla. But I saw everything this weekend from that to detectives, to deep sci-fi and high fantasy, to dystopian werewolf kink. It was all there!

As I'm coming down off the GRL high (super high in this case. The air in Denver was thin), I'm pretty excited about what's ahead of me. The Pick Up has a release date! March 2018. Circle your calendars, I'll provide more details soon. The Hang Up is getting lots of fuzzy feedback from beta readers. And a weekend with the GRL crew inspired me to write just a teeny little bit of The Set Up while I sat in airport lounges yesterday. Red Creek is alive and well and it's coming your way! This time next year, there will be two instalments in the world, and I will be ready to celebrate in Virginia at GRL 2018!

... To the Sublime

Funny story: Jay (Mr. Temple says I can call him Jay) is a city boy, born and bred. I am a small town girl in my heart, despite over a decade in the city. And yet, when it comes to camping, Jay is down for it and I am...

I am a princess, okay? Camping is cold and damp. It involves eating two-day old cold cuts being kept marginally cool in an increasingly soggy cooler. It's lying awake at night, wondering if the noise outside your tent is a raccoon, a moose, or a bear with a taste for the flesh of nervous romance writers.

Jay is a miracle worker at finding fun stuff to do. I don't know how he does it. It shouldn't have been surprising when I got the text message in June that said "let's go glamping in Zion National Park!", but I was at work and it caught me off guard.

Glamping? In Zion? Sure enough, there's a place that gives you a big tent with running water, a king size bed with lots of blankets, and a wood fired stove for when the October nights get chilly.

The views are free.

img_1862 The sunsets are magic.

img_1863-1 The contrast from our days in Vegas was stark.

img_1867 Dudes. I may never stay in a hotel again.

Except for the one I'm currently in. And the GRL hotel where I'll be arriving tomorrow! But. Like. They're never going to have views like the views I had.

Also, Jay is super skilled at long haul road trips. So we covered all 670 miles from Zion to Denver in one go. The drive is epic. Anyone who ever attempted to go from northeast Colorado to southwest Utah in a covered wagon deserves a medal.

Tomorrow, I find my people. If you're reading this and attending GRL, find me and say hi!

 

No Thing Sunday, Vegas Style 

img_1793 Mr. Temple and I do something called No-Thing Sundays at home, wherein in we attempt to do as few things as possible. It sounds more intentional than Nothing Sundays, which to me sounds like you just kind of let the day slip by.

The Vegas version of a No-Thing Sunday involves rolling out of bed a the shiny our of 7:30, because jetlag's a bitch. Fortunately, coffee fixes all grievances and a chocolate croissant is just the little bow on top.

At least the view from our room was pretty.

img_1789 If Virginia is for lovers, then Vegas is for walkers. I know it's easy to imagine the gamblers, slumped over their dwindling stack of chips, or endlessly pulling the slot machine handle in an ergonomically shaped lounger like the ones they had in Wall-E, the picture of sedentary zombification. But if you want to go anywhere on the Strip, most of the masses walk, and that shit is far, even if the sidewalks are equipped with escalators and breezeways to keep you moving. The walk from our palatial home at the Palazzo to dinner at the Cosmopolitan is a half hour, whether we liked it or not. So our Vegas No-Thing Sunday involved something our home No-Thing Sundays rarely do: physical exercise. Don't tell my mom.

At least the food was good. Seriously, as someone who doesn't gamble, I feel like my time in Vegas is mostly spent waiting for the next gourmet meal. Not that that's a bad thing. Because between lunch's onion rings and dinner's...well...everything--I mean, look at this. It's a tiny cone stuffed with eggplant, anchovies and red peppers. Delicious and adorable!--you're going to eat. The last component of our No-Thing Sunday (I know it sounds like a lot, but I promise there were also several hours of Storage Wars and lounging by the pool) was a late showing of Absinthe, in the red & white Spiegl-Tent at Caesar's Palace. Mr. Temple and I saw a Spiegl show in Toronto about a million years ago and it was a hilarious mix of tits and old-timey burlesque variety acts. There even was a clown who read from the phone book and that shit was funny as hell.

The Absinthe version has been a bit Vegas-fied which oddly means there are fewer strip teases than I expected. Namely, there was one. And aside from that, the only other female acts were Wanda, the assistant MC, whose function seemed to be to find out how many graphic penis jokes she could squeeze into a 60-second bit, and Gertie, whose bondage gear and giant latex balloon act is both the stuff of nightmares and fantasies. After that, it was a spectacle of male athletic prowess. If you like your entertainment feature guys with eight-packs doing feats of strength (I count the jugglers and tap dancers in that group because, dude, they were working it), then this is the show for you! Honestly, there are so many plot bunnies in my head this morning! So much eye candy!

The humor is crude, they seem to be operating under the assumption that if they offend everyone equally (in addition to the penis shtick there were jokes about Muslims, Asians, lesbians, and Republicans), we'll all leave laughing. But what Absinthe has going for it is that it's actually very un-Vegas. The tent seats maybe 500 people. The special effects are non-existent. Stage hands scramble about picking up discarded clothing and assembling and disassembling the stage as needed. The 'splash zone' involves handing plastic sheeting to the folks in the first two rows and letting them fend for themselves as the extreme jugglers toss water bottles and the bathtub acrobat (the focal point of this morning's plot bunnies) spins and spurts water like the world's sexiest fountain...or possibly an erotic lawn sprinkler. In short, 9/10 would recommend to anyone who is feeling the overwhelm of 20-foot tall LED Britney Spears staring down at you every time you go for a walk. Absinthe is still old-timey fun, just with fewer pasties than you'd expect from this locale.

Our No-Thing Sunday ended very early on Monday morning.

Today we're off to Utah, and the very un-Vegas splendors of Zion National Park. I expect it to be picturesque and with limited Wi-Fi, so the next time I see you could very well be in Denver!

Until then,

A

From the Ridiculous...

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The Road To GRL - Part 1

Six years ago, Mr. Temple and I came to Las Vegas to see good friends get married. We flew in on a Friday night, taking the last non-stop flight from Toronto. We were supposed to land around 10 pm, but a sick passenger and several delays later, we checked into our hotel at midnight. We were tired, but felt like we should celebrate, so we went to the lobby bar and had a cocktail. As we settled into bed sometime around 1 am (that would be 4 am Toronto time) I whispered to Mr. Temple "if jet lag wakes you up in four hours, don't wake me up."

The next thing I heard was a whispered voice.

"Are you awake?"

"What time is it?"

"Five-thirty."

We weren't married at the time, but the way I felt in that moment, it's a miracle we got down the aisle at all.

Several hours later, we took a stroll of the strip. It was surreal. It was still early, but already the mid-August sun was trying to bake us into the pavement. I suddenly had a deeper appreciation for old Clint Eastwood movies, where the hero gets knocked off his horse and nearly gets incinerated by the relentless desert sun before he is found by a kind-hearted nun with a water canteen.

Also, at some point, we found ourselves following a man dressed in slippers and a satin leopard print robe through Caesars Palace. It was not a costume.

Needless to say, Las Vegas is a bubble. The setting is so picturesque, the flat desert plain surrounded by mountains. But under the dome is this endless playground for adults. If you've never been here, you can still conjure up the sparkling lights, the twinkling joy of the Bellagio fountains (thank you, Oceans Eleven). But until you've been here, you can't understand the frantic cacophony of the casinos, under the manufactured elegance of cherubic frescoes. The celebrity chef restaurants, where the couple in their best evening wear sits at the table next to the twenty-something dude-bros who can't be bothered to take off their ball caps as they dine on roasted bone marrow and line-caught cod flown in just this morning from Alaska.

I mention all of this because we're back again, six years later. We'll be road tripping over the next week as I make my way to the GRL Retreat in Denver. We'll spend the first few days in Vegas, drowning ourselves in food and sex (mostly food, but we do have tickets for a burlesque show tomorrow which I'm very much looking forward to). Then we're going to slow things down with...well, I'll explain when we get there.

So far, we have doused ourselves in bourbon and southern comfort food. We are staying in a hotel room bigger than my first apartment (and also, unlike my first apartment, one assumes, with functioning electrical outlets in the bathroom....don't ask), and are staring down at the four pools this casino resort boasts which might welcome us tomorrow. I have a short story to edit, and why not do it poolside with a beverage?

We are also here two weeks after America's latest mass shooting. I have to admit that while we put on brave faces when people asked us if we were worried (the safest time to fly is right after a plane crash, right?), I did feel a small twinge of panic as I looked out at the Mandalay Bay from our airplane this afternoon. I don't understand or support American gun culture, but that doesn't mean there isn't a gun toting terrorist in the next room over. I thought about not getting off the plane, but that's not really an option is it? So I pulled up my big girl pants and got off the plane. We can't live in fear, but I admit I was happy to see the security guards at the entrance to the hotel, checking every car that pulled onto the property. I'll sleep better tonight know they're there. But that might also be the bourbon...

Until tomorrow then, where we will undoubtedly find something even more surreal than a man in a leopard print bathrobe to occupy ourselves.

From the desert,

A.

#tbt review: Wolfsong by TJ Klune

#tbt reviews is a periodic feature in which I gush about a book I finally got off my TBR pile. I don't read fast enough to review new releases. This is what you get. 29233804

I often don't realize how much enjoyment I get from a book is determined by random circumstance.

TJ Klune is new to me. I've been suffering from were- and shifter fatigue for a long (LONG) time. In many circumstances, I wouldn't have picked up Wolfsong, much less devoured it in two days. But sometimes things come together in the perfect circumstantial storm.

Circumstance 1: It was on sale on Amazon.

Circumstance 2: I couldn't sleep.

I read the first third of Wolfsong at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I couldn't sleep after a freak storm tore up three trees in my parents' yard and made noises like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park while it tried to blow rain and wind through the seals on our door.

Turns out that shit's scary.

Wolfsong is happy and sad, lyrical and tragic, and also occasionally scary. It's a great 2 a.m. read.

What's it about?

Ox is just Ox. He's just a guy. Not very smart, not great at words or friends or (really) self-esteem.

Joe is a werewolf. Maybe that's a spoiler, but you can probably guess from the cover and the blurb. Joe loves Ox, Ox loves Joe, but it takes a long time and a lot of angst for them to get there.

Angsting gay werewolves at 2 a.m. is my jam, just so you know. Actually, it was more like 5 a.m. by the time I got to the really good angsty bits, but still...my jam. When Joe finally professed his love, I cried. Hard. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.

There's pack. There's love. There's violence and blood and heartache. It's all told from Ox's simple, honest point of view. I'm not usually one for first person narration. I usually like both my romantic leads to have a chance to tell their story too. The narrator's voice has to be really clear and grounded for a single first person POV to work, but when it works it sings.

Wolfsong sings.

If you ask Joe, Ox smells like candy canes and pine cones, and like epic and awesome. It sounds silly, but it's so right in the rhythm of the narrative that I'd get it printed on a t-shirt and wear it just to see who notices and comes to gush with me.

In the meantime, I bought the audiobook, just to double down on the experience. Kirt Graves' narration is also epic and awesome. Tragically, it has no discernible scent.

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Sunday Run Down

216247_10151632534930520_1496248641_n As I'm sure you can imagine, it's been busy around here lately. True story, I got my first publishing offer on March 31, which was immediately followed by a flurry of agents, more publishers, emails written with shaking hands and, if we're being honest, a certain amount of hurry up and wait.

I wrote a more concise post about how it all went down on Medium, and it was picked up by the good folks at Art + Marketing. If you're a Medium user, I'd love it if you read it and leave me a little green heart.

Next steps? Well, we're in uncharted territory now. I need to have a polished MS for The Pick Up to Riptide in two weeks. Then I have to have book 2 done by the end of the year! I picked that deadline myself. Brave or stupid, as my husband would say. There's a lot of writing in my future.

I'll be in Denver in October for the GRL Retreat. If you're a m/m romance fan and planning on going, I'd love to see you! I'm going as a reader, not an author, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends :)