Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged m/m romance
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!

All of the Above?
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anthony-tran-378336-unsplash

What genre do you like to read and write?

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

I'm not fussy...there is very little in romance that is a hard no for me. I'm not a huge BDSM fan, and I don't really get MPREG, but if someone pressed their favourite BDSM MPREG into my hands and told me my life would be incomplete until I'd read it, I'd probably try it.

I find contemporary romance easiest to write. It gives me familiar settings and really lets me dig into the characters to find out what makes them tick. I'd love to write romantic suspense, but I'd need to do a ton of work on plotting big external plots and also on law enforcement...spies...terrorists...you get the idea.

My TBR pile is giant and varied though. Books I've read most recently include:

So yeah. It's all pretty gay. But otherwise, there's pretty well the whole shebang in there. Better find a couple historical romances to balance it all out.

What do you love to read or write?

The Wake Up is Live!
Wake Up Cover baker

Wake Up Cover baker

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

If you're reading this, then The Wake Up is out and about and ready for your reading pleasure!

There's is only one man Jackson would get out of bed for . . . or invite to his bed, if he got that lucky. Unfortunately, Matt Kingston only has eyes for Jackson's buns, which would be great . . . if Jackson weren't a baker. A year of pining and wooing with sprouted wheat has been fruitless, and Jackson is ready to give up, but it turns out Matt has a secret of his own. If only he were better at rising to the occasion.

The Wake Up is a free short story set in Red Creek and I can't wait for you to read it. So clickity click over to Instafreebie to get your copy now!

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

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)!

A Blonde Moment

True story, I don't look like anyone else in my family. We all have blue eyes, but where my button nose and rosebud mouth* came from is a mystery.

Also a mystery is why my hair never went truly brown. My family is littered with childhood blondes who eventually went brunette. My hair is darker than it was, but I cling to the fact that it still falls under the blonde heading.

All this to say, I should absolutely be excused for completely blanking on the mystery box that arrived today. Even though Riptide emailed me two weeks ago and asked how many copies of The Pick Up I wanted. Even though we have less than seven weeks until release day. Even so, I opened that box with all the innocent enthusiasm of a four-year-old on Christmas morning.

A blonde four-year-old at that.

And then...

I cried a bit. I texted everyone I thought might be close to their phone. I spammed social media.

I wrote a book. It's a real book now. In just under two months, you can read it too! I hope you will!

The Pick Up is available for preorder from Riptide Publishing.

*those are my grandmother's words, not mine. I didn't look like her either.

Don't Freak Out

screams-of-joy-2481573_1920 I already freaked out for you, so don't bother.

But The Pick Up is available for pre-order on the Riptide Website. Would do you me a favour and go check it out?

Kyle’s life is going backwards. He wanted to build a bigger life for himself than Red Creek could give him, but a family crisis has forced him to return to his hometown with his six-year-old daughter. Now he’s standing in the rain at his old elementary school, and his daughter’s teacher, Mr. Hathaway, is lecturing him about punctuality. 

Adam Hathaway is not looking for love. He’s learned the hard way to keep his personal and professional life separate. But Kyle is struggling and needs a friend, and Adam wants to be that friend. He just needs to ignore his growing attraction to Kyle’s goofy charm, because acting on it would mean breaking all the rules that protect his heart.

Putting down roots in this town again is not Kyle’s plan. As soon as he can, he’s taking his daughter and her princess costumes and moving on. The more time he spends with Adam, though, the more he thinks the quiet teacher might give him a reason to stay. Now he just has to convince Adam to take a chance on a bigger future than either of them could have planned.

The cover is coming soon (and it is ADORABLE), but you really want to read this book, right? Coming March 5!!

Vacation Reading List

maldives-1877897_1280 Mr. Temple and I are leaving on a cruise on Friday. We've known each other for 11 years, and we have never taken a vacation like this. We're much more of the 'go somewhere and do stuff' type of traveler. Lounging by the pool will be new for us. Given all that free time, I thought I should stock up on my reading. Thank goodness for ebooks, because my suitcase would definitely be over the weight limit if I had to bring all these in paper. Here are some of the titles I'm bringing.

Single Malt, Layla Reyne

I'm coming to the end of Ty and Zane and the withdrawal is going to be epic. Will Agents Irish and Whiskey be my new go-to crime fighting duo?

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Fast Connection, Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

I've been meaning to read this series for a while, and now Fast Connection just got nominated for a RITA (that's like the Oscars Romancelandia), how bad can it be?

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All I Am, Nicole Helm

It's a Harlequin Super Romance, which makes me think of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mysteries, my pre-teen vacation reading staple. Plus, the hero is a damaged war hero who also happens to be a virgin? I'm in.

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All In Fear, Various

I won this on a Twitter giveaway. It's got some of my favourite queer romance authors. They're horror shorts. Sounds like great poolside reading.

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The Room Mate, Kendall Ryan

I mean, the cover does it for me all on its own. I may not be cover model-ready in my bathing suit, but that doesn't mean I can't bring this guy to the pool with me too.

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A Tale of Three Queer Romances

wpi3sdursek-dmitry-ratushny.jpg I had Christmas lunch today with co-workers, including a new team member. After a glass (or two) of pinot gris, my straight middle aged boss says "Tell the new guy what you do in your free time!" I look at the new guy, he looks at me. I know he's trying to guess what I'm going to say, but there's no way he can. He's thinking I foster cats or arrange flowers. Maybe paint abstract watercolours. The words are still tricky to get off my tongue, but I say "I wrote a gay romance novel." I can see the new guy was not expecting that. The people around me laugh hysterically. I assume they're laughing at his expression and not my literary aspirations. New guy looks baffled.

I'm a straight female 30-something marketing manager in urban Canada. None of that precludes me from being able to appreciate queer romance novels, but apparently it's a weird fit for my co-workers. That probably says more about them then it does about me. Maybe you're in the same boat. So I thought I'd put together a rundown of why men in love is my jam.

What drives my appreciation of any romance is the story. I like familiar stories told in different ways. There will always be a part of me that wants a safe fuzzy romance where the biggest question is how many times the main characters almost kiss before I start to scream at them. But the ones that keep me coming back are the ones that make me work for it. If I can't see the twists coming six chapters out, or if I can see the work the writer puts in to making real, honest characters, then everything else is kind of secondary for me. Romance with two male protagonists makes familiar things new before a word is written, because it turns traditional romance gender roles on their heads from the get go.

I've got three different queer romances on my reading/watching pile right now. I'm actually enjoying all them, which is rare for me. So let's look at why they work.

1. Breakaway, by Avon Gale

27384973Full disclosure, I am a Canadian who does not watch hockey. It's only a matter of time before the Mounties come and revoke my citizenship. I'm trying to work on my cover story by brushing up on my hockey through Avon Gale's Scoring Chances Series, but we'll see if they believe me.

Breakaway is definitely on the light end of m/m romance. There isn't a ton of conflict. No homophobic coach screaming from the sidelines. No locker room hazing. It's partially a coming out story. Partially a sports story. Can we call it a May to December romance if the main characters are 20 and 32?

Why I love this book: First off, the main character, Lane, is from Chatham, Ontario, which is like three hours from my living room, so I kind of have to root for him. And it's just a bonus is the book is super sweet. I can't say that it's authentically Canada. We don't all babble hopelessly like Lane does, but it fits him so well. Run on sentences are like catnip to me, but it's all in the execution, and Ms. Gale does it well. The story, along with it's sweet central romance, also has an interesting subplot about bisexuality, and what that looks like for people in same-sex relationships, and also for people in heterosexual relationships. It's thought provoking in a book that's otherwise light as air.

Also, the sex is hot, but never loses the goofy feel of the rest of the novel, which is awesome to see. If these two rough and tumble hockey players were suddenly entwined in a purple love scene, I'd be less pleased, but everything about this is cute and honest. Second full disclosure, I haven't actually finished reading it yet, but I assume the final twist is going to be as delightful as the rest of it.

2. Cut and Run, by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

5199022Ty and Zane are kind of the granddaddies of my queer romance reading life. This book was published in 2008, and while I probably didn't read it until 2011 or so, it was definitely one of the early ones.

It starts out like a buddy cop comedy. Roguish slightly unhinged bad-ass. By-the-book tight-ass. They're gonna find common ground and bang, aren't they?

Well yes, but not in the way you might think.

Fair warning, the book is not without its problems, and a lot of them are mechanical things that turn readers off. Ty licks his lips so many times he better own stocks in Burt's Bees. The writers are both overly fond of superfluous dialogue adverbs (characters often growl angrily or shout loudly). But if you can stick those quirks out, there's a really interesting story buried underneath.

Why I love this book: It bucks some trends and tropes, and I love seeing how the writers work around those. It has two bisexual protagonists, which is fairly rare in the genre. It's not even really a romance per se. There's sex, there's bonding, but no one's riding off into the sunset at the end of this. Ty and Zane are one of my top 10 slow burn pairings, in that it takes them a good long time (I'm talking full novels of time, not just chapters) to finally come to a (somewhat?) loving relationship. It's ambitious to play the long game like that, and this series probably benefits from a publication date before the advent of instant gratification via Kindle Unlimited.

3. Yuri On Ice

Deep breaths, Allison. No one wants to see you working yourself into a lather over this show.

But seriously. This show.

This show!!!

I found Yuri On Ice through Heidi Cullinan (one of my other gateway drugs into queer romance, along with Ty and Zane). Heidi started gushing pretty fervently about it right after the election. It took me a few more weeks to come around to it. I have no frame of reference for anime. Before Yuri, if you said anime, I thought you were talking about Sailor Moon, or maybe Pokemon. But then I read this Medium article and saw that gif. giphy.gif Is it possible for cartoon people to smoulder? Because Yuri does it with flair!

Why do I love this show? It would be a shorter list if I told you why not. Because the answer to what I love is everything. The art (the opening sequence is breathtaking), the music (the soundtrack is my go-to playlist at work), the storytelling...well...

The storytelling!!!

In a lot of ways, this is a story about anxiety and depression. It's kind of amazing that neither of these have anything to do with the identity central romantic relationship. It's not a coming out story, even though it's never clear who's out and who's not. It's this beautiful little utopia where a same-sex romantic relationship happens without being the central conflict at any point. It's not even clear when the relationship turns romantic, but you'll find you don't even mind the lack of definition.

Heidi explains the beauty that is the ambiguity of this story much better than I ever could (warning, her article contains spoilers, click at your own risk). Suffice it to say, I've watched (repeatedly) the 10 episodes that have aired so far. There are two more to go. I have no idea what's going to happen, but just about all of the possible iterations are fine with me, because the story has been told so lovingly that I know I'm going to be a weeping mess when it's over. From Yuri and Victor's slow burn, to the shocking reveal in episode 10, no show has left me screaming "wait. what?" at the screen more. The hangover after it's over will be extreme. If you latch onto this show and are having trouble coping, let me know. We'll start a support group.

Did this post clear things up for you? Basically, if there's good storytelling, what's not to like?

Got a favourite romance, queer or otherwise? Leave a comment, tell me why it works for you.

 

Catholic Girls and Ballroom Dancing

My French Canadian mom always said you could tell when there were Catholic girls in the room, because they would dance with each other when there were no boys to dance with. It's a saying from a  bygone era, but then, maybe dancing with an opposite gendered partner is too.

The TED talk below made its rounds on my FB feed this week. The timing is fortuitous, because I just started reading Heidi Cullinan's Dance with Me, which also features a same sex dancing couple. In my head, they don't quite look like the two fellows in this video, but they are, as Trevor and Jeff say, learning the fine art of taking care of each other.

I think this is the thing that attracted me to M/M romance, back when I discovered it about five years ago. Heidi's books were one of the first I read. I'll post a review of this one when I finish reading it, but my thoughts in gay romance have remained the same. Books where we get to watch two men love and take care of each other are (pardon the pun) novel. Reading them, and writing them, is intoxicating sometimes, a glimpse into a secret world that I don't see in mainstream media.

I'll talk more about this a lot, I expect, as I continue to tweak and query The Pick Up, and move on to other stories, but what this video has to say about seeing what's not there is so important.

Happy weekend and happy reading everyone!!

 

[ted id=2602]