Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged seacroft
Teaser: Hot Potato
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Hot Potato is here in just over two weeks! This is the last (for now) Seacroft book and I can’t wait to share Avery and Linc’s sweet and awkward friends-to-lovers story.

You can pre-order Hot Potato on Amazon now, or catch up on Top Shelf and Cold Pressed (but don’t feel like you have to. Hot Potato will definitely read on its own) before Hot Potato’s release day on September 16.

And if you need a little long weekend reading right now, check out the opening scene of Hot Potato below!


Avery had always been good at numbers. Good at understanding how they fit together. In his life, he had several important numbers:

27—the decimals of pi he memorized in eighth grade to impress girls.

14—the age he realized he was way more interested in impressing boys.

9—(although it seemed longer) the seconds of silence between the time he said, “I’m gay,” to his parents and when his dad said, “Get out.”

3—the nights he slept at a shelter for homeless LGBT teens before his aunt and uncle found him and brought him to live at their house.

And now, two more numbers to add to the list with a certain immediate urgency.

5—how many minutes the internet said it would take to microwave a sweet potato all the way through.

4—(give or take a few seconds) the minutes it took Avery to fall so deeply asleep on his couch that he didn’t notice the sweet potato catching fire and filling his kitchen and his open-concept living room/dining room with smoke.

Fortunately, the alarm he’d had installed the week before moving in did its job and went off, screaming like an air-raid siren.

Avery was upright and scrambling for the alarm panel before he was even fully awake. His pulse thundered, and his brain was goopy sludge as he stared at the keypad and tried desperately to remember the temporary code the technician had punched in.

Of all the numbers to forget.

“You’ll want to change this to something you can remember easily, but that no one can guess.”

Yeah, thanks for that. Avery had meant to. Too many numbers to pick from, though. So he’d procrastinated and figured he’d get around to it eventually. Except now the alarm whooped and made his head hurt as he futilely stabbed at keys and tried to think what combination the technician might have used. Nothing was working.

0000?

1234?

Was it even a four-digit code?

His pocket vibrated, and he fumbled for his phone. The screen showed the name of the alarm company.

“Hello? Hello?”

“Yes, hello sir, we’re receiving an alarm signal from your property,” the voice on the phone said formally.

“Yes. Yes,” Avery gasped. “It’s fine. Just a false alarm.” He’d find a towel to wave under the smoke detector, open some windows—did his windows even open?—and it would be fine.

“False alarm?” The operator sounded uncertain, but what did he know? To him, Avery couldn’t possibly be more than a flashing dot on a computer monitor.

“It’s fine. Just my dinner. Nothing to worry about.”

“So you don’t require the fire department?”

Oh God, that would be the worst. Avery did not need the spectacle of first responders in front of his building.

On cue, flashing lights filled the small space at the top of the stairs to his basement apartment. Avery bounded up to the door and stared in horror at the big red truck parked at the curb.

“I’ll call you back,” he said into the phone.

“Sir? Sir?”

But Avery was already pulling open the door and running out over the lawn.

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! 

Succeeding(ish) at the Publishing Game

pug-1210025_1920 Almost two months ago, I wrote to my agent. It was a short email that said something like "Let's talk about what's next. And let's do it soon, because The Pick Up is going to be out next week and I just finished the draft for Cold Pressed, and I'm expecting the emotional hangover to be EPIC."

Boy, did I not even know.

The Pick Up is almost two months old now. In the ensuing 60ish days, I've watched publishing dreams (mine and others) stumble and collapse under the weight of racism, harassment, and the giant angry echo chamber that is the internet.

There were tears (mine and others).

There were promises to do better (mine and others).

There were admissions that it's hard to find momentum after so much uncertainty (fortunately, not mine...except for Good Friday when I nearly deleted the complete Cold Pressed draft in a fit of inadequacy).

So here's what I've learned in the last two months, as voiced by so many other people in the same boat.

A nightmare you say? Tell me more.

Even celebrities (except possibly Sean Penn and Morrissey) are not immune from the crushing weight of authorly uncertainty.

Yup. Publishing will rip your heart out. It will tell you that your hours, days, weeks, months, years of hard work don't matter, because what publishing really wants is another white duke, or a lonely gay superhero (but not your lonely gay superhero*).  And yeah, I'm talking about traditional publishing, and yes, I know self-publishing will let me write my dukes, superheroes, or neurotic professors and put them out into the world without the grind and the waiting game of trad publishing. I'm pretty sure it will just rip your heart out in other ways instead. Like when Amazon suddenly decides your story is too gay and too sexy to inflict on decent people and stops promoting your titles. Or when the limitations of stock photography mean your cover model appears on seven covers in three months.

I was on Facebook this week (spoiler, don't go on Facebook), and someone asked what the lesson is, if you put in all this time, and effort, ink, sweat and tears, and no on reads it? What if the book happens, but the reading doesn't? If you don't succeed, what was the lesson?

Writing is my joy. That's the lesson. Bree said it above, but it's true for me too. I say it all the time. I am happier writing than doing just about anything else. If you're writing novels for any other reason, I'm not sure how you'll succeed, because the rest of it has the very real potential to be a nightmare.

In the last 60ish days, there have been hurdles and hiccups the likes of which my poor debut author brain could not have fathomed. I lost sleep. There were so many tears. And then you know what I did? I kept writing. Because publishing is going to rip my heart out, but writing is going to put it back together again. And every time I write something new, or edit something new, I create another opportunity to succeed at my joy (before the heart ripping starts again).

Someone on Twitter asked last week what piece of advice you'd give to your younger self. And despite everything, this is what I said.

I'm succeeding on my own terms. Come at me. I'm ready.


*I don't currently have a lonely gay superhero...but now I'm thinking about it.