Last call for free story at QueeRomance Ink!

It’s the final week of the QueeRomance Ink November Giveaway Pack which includes my under 5k story A Roll of the Dice, where Joshua and Frank are drawn to each other across the social divide at an 18th-century London gaming hell.

All you need to do to access the four free books is to sign up for the QRI email list. If you’re already a member, simply request your free books!

The Long Game, Frank, and Joshua’s follow-up story is now on pre-release and together with all my titles is included in the JMS Books Cyber Monday 40% off ebooks sale, ending today. If you miss your chance, never fear, as this title will also be a free download on Wednesday, December 16th at JMS Books as part of their 2022 Advent Calendar event.

Here’s the blurb for A Roll of the Dice and the start of Joshua and Frank’s romance.

Joshua Jones is in London to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. As a young black man from a modest background, he works hard to pay for his painting classes, both as a fencing master’s assistant, then as a waiter in an exclusive gaming club, that his uncle manages.

During the London Season when the club is at its busiest, the last thing Joshua expects is to find romance. But when mesmerising older man Frank Bartlett is determined to seduce him, how can he resist?

Rainbow Snippets: Coming of Age

This week for Rainbow Snippets, I’m sharing a few more lines from my new release Coming of Age, the third in my Twelve Letters Regency romp series.

Coming of Age, plus the first two books in this series, Twelve Letters and Queer Relations together with all my titles are in JMS Books Cyber Monday 40% off ebook sale today and Monday.

Authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets each weekend are encouraged to post a few lines from one of their stories on their blog and then link back to the group post on Facebook. I always enjoy joining in with Rainbow Snippets, especially to read and comment on everyone else’s choice of snippet.

This snippet is taken from the middle of my story and includes Ben, another member of my ensemble cast. Best friends from childhood, Captain Ben Harding and Jo Everett work together on a charity that Ben has founded to help injured ex-servicemen.

When on duty at the charity’s office one day, a soldier leaves his two young motherless children in Jo’s bemused care. At a loss, Jo temporarily leaves them with his friend Percy in Mayfair before conferring with Ben. The discussion takes place in Ben’s Piccadilly rooms, ruled by his eminently capable manservant Cribbins, where Ben is somewhat surprised at Jo’s decision to involve Percy. 

Ben was incredulous. “What? Percy allowing two brats to clutter up that gorgeous drawing room without complaining that they clash with his color scheme? And heavens forfend if they leave any dirty finger marks on his wallpaper or venture within ten feet of his precious possessions.”

Jo shrugged nonchalantly, “They seemed to be adjusting quite happily when I left. They were engaged in rearranging Percy’s dressing room as their bedroom which they found quite exciting.”

“I don’t expect such harmony to last,” Ben joked. “Ah well, if Percy has a conniption and shows them the door, we can always rely on Cribbins to find a dark cupboard to stash them for a couple of days.”

Black Friday Sale – 60% off ebooks at JMS Books!

It’s the final day of this fantastic 60% reduction on ebooks, plus paperbacks at $8 on the JMS Books website. But the bargains don’t stop there! The sale will continue with a 40% ebook reduction over Sunday and Monday, November 27th and 28th. I’ve already filled my basket with fantastic stories for other JMS Books authors, and it’s good to know I can sneak back for any must-reads I’ve forgotten over the next few days!

All my titles are included in this sale, together with Coming of Age, the third story in my Regency romp series, plus the first two stories, Twelve Letters and Queer Relations. Also the pre-release of my new 18th-century romance The Long Game is at a sale price with its 5k word prequel A Roll of the Dice now at 40c! If you’re in the Christmas mood, my upcoming seasonal story, A Christmas Engagement is reduced in the sale as well. Loads of bargains!

Read Around the Rainbow: Writing Advice I Take With a Grain of Salt

This will be a fun topic for this month’s Read Around the Rainbow, suggested by the lovely Addison Albright! Before I start on what advice I have learned to politely ignore, on balance, I have to say that I’ve been given loads of wonderful writing advice that I happily take on board. I am especially thinking of poor long-suffering Ofelia Grand, my go-to when I inevitably get stuck in technological writing hell!

Also, I do have considerable experience in being on the receiving end when helpful pointers are rejected. During my years as a teacher and as an online story moderator, I’m always taken aback when people are deeply affronted about reminders to put stories into paragraphs. Or capitalising the first letter at the start of the sentence and then adding a full stop (or period) to end it, because apparently, that hampers their self-expression. Takes all sorts!

In terms of controversy, I will not dare to approach the Oxford comma (as that’s always baffled me), and I still don’t understand why popping the odd sentence in the passive voice is meant to be the source of all evil! As writers, we are bombarded with a bewildering array of hints and tips, not only in terms of grammar and style, but the whole gamut of marketing do’s and don’ts, some of which seem completely contradictory.

And the advice doesn’t stop there! The way we plan out our stories is a source of debate, with plotters and pantsers at the extreme ends of the argument. I have to say that I always assumed I’d be a dedicated plotter, as in ordinary life, I would be lost without steadily ticking off items on my daily to-do list.

So, with relish, I started outlining my plans in detail, making careful notes and organising my story to within an inch of its life. And what happened? Zip, nada, nothing. I soon realised that when it came to the actual writing, my mind went as blank as the page. And my muse went off in a huff and deserted me completely!

It was all a bit bewildering having to approach writing from the opposite direction than I expected (and that’s probably good for me!) I have learned not to panic when I don’t quite know where I’m going in a story (let alone have the plot and characters in a colour-coded planning document). Before going near my laptop, I allow the story to gradually percolate in my head and just keep a notebook handy to jot down the odd bit of dialogue or a random scene that I would forget otherwise.

I might get the odd twinge of panic at this alarming lack of method, but I’ve accepted, to my surprise, that I’m definitely on the panster end of the structure scale – whether I like it or not!

My post will be linked on the last Friday of every month with posts from fellow blog ring members. There are seven other writers blogging in the Read Around the Rainbow Webring this month… find their posts about the writing advice they’ve avoided!

A .L. Lester : Nell Iris : Ofelia Grand : Holly Day : Addison Albright : K.L. Noone : Amy Spector :

Recent Reads: Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil and Offbeat Crimes

So this week on Recent Reads, we venture into the realm of paranormal romance. It might be a few weeks beyond Halloween but it’s never too late for a cracking Halloween story, especially one from Amy Spector who excels at her own distinctive brand of Gothic noir. In Findley Black and the Ghosts of Printer’s Devil, there’s not only an old and supposedly haunted house that holds many secrets, but also a great cast of characters.

Owen Key, starting again at 34, has returned to the Printer’s Devil, a rambling bookshop he inherited from his estranged father, together with some quirky employees with a tendency for practical jokes which comprises his social life. When Findley Black, who runs a local ghost tour, approaches him hoping to get permission to spend the night ghost hunting at the store, Owen has hopes of a quick fling.

I relished the blend of romance, ghost story and sense of community in this wonderful story. Although very much a Halloween story, I really enjoyed that the focus was on relationships, be they estranged family, over-chatty employees, or a promising romantic connection. And the Printer’s Devil provided plenty of atmospheric spookiness! This story, along with all of Amy’s titles is in the JMS Books 60% off ebook Black Friday sale.

Angel Martinez has been on my to-read list for longer than I would like to admit, and now I’ve found her marvellous 6-book series, Offbeat Crimes, she will be on my must-read list! These paranormal detective stories take place in an alternative version of contemporary America, where paranormal beings are regularly incorporated into the police service. However, there are always those misfits whose ‘gifts’ don’t quite fit or are so specific to appear practically useless, and that is where Philadelphia’s 77th Precinct comes in handy for defective vampires, a lizard and wolfman, or those with an affinity for fruit or waterfowl, and those are the most straightforward ones!

Without giving away any spoilers for this treat of a series, these stories are charming, quirky, imaginative and downright funny. I love seamless the world-building and the mix of contemporary city life with added monsters, mayhem and paranormal goings-on. The plots are as inventive as the story titles (I mean, who could resist Feral Dust Bunnies), fast-paced and occasionally genuinely scary, especially as we become attached to members of our crew who are in peril.

In the first story, Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters, the officers of the 77th Precinct are a disparate bunch, but as the narrative continues (with a changing narrator for each story) and individuals find love and understanding, morale is boosted and our ‘useless’ oddballs become an effective team. It’s that wonderful mix of weirdness and warmth with truly likeable characters that makes Offbeat Crimes such an inventive delight.

Rainbow Snippets: Coming of Age

It’s release day for my new story, Coming of Age and so the perfect excuse to choose a Rainbow Snippet from this story! This is the third in my Regency romp series, Twelve Letters, following the lives and loves of a group of men in Regency London. Coming of Age is currently in the 20% off pre-release/new release sale at JMS Books until November 26th.

Authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets each weekend are encouraged to post a few lines from one of their stories on their blog and then link back to the group post on Facebook. I always enjoy joining in with Rainbow Snippets, especially to read and comment on everyone else’s choice of snippet.

This snippet is from near the start of Coming of Age. By this stage in the series, we have three established couples who have got together in the first two stories, gentleman Jo Everett and Bond Street tailor, Daniel Walters, Captain Ben Harding and Doctor Edward Stephens, and finally bratty pink of the ton Percy Havilland and his infinitely patient older lover Nathan Brooks.

In this snippet, while Jo is calling on Percy at his Mayfair home he encounters an infuriated Nathan on his way out. Once in Percy’s presence, Jo perceives that his friend is uncharacteristically questioning his own worth and his relationship with Nathan.

Jo chose his words carefully.

“It’s plain to all of us that know you both well that he genuinely cares for you. Nathan’s not the changeable sort once he’s made up his mind. I could never imagine him dismissing you on a whim.”

Rather than batting back that assertion with a knowing flutter of his eyelashes, Percy said quietly, “I realise that. It’s not Nathan who I doubt.”

Jo was at a loss for a reply. After many years of ton training, he was breezily au fait with the intricacies of drawing room protocol, but correctly addressing the insecurities of a former lover regarding his current beau was outside his general experience. No etiquette book he had encountered sought to cover that topic.

Author spotlight: Second Wind by A. L. Lester

I’m so looking forward to this new release from Ally Lester, which sounds simply wonderful!

Second Wind is out now!

Are you looking for a low angst gay romance with a trans MC set in a little Welsh town? With a truly terrible community orchestra? A. L. Lester has got you covered.

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Second Wind

What do a shy French-horn-playing accountant and a single-dad trans trumpet player have in common other than both being members of the community orchestra at Theatr Fach in the little town of Llanbaruc?

Gethin’s been more or less hiding from life since his marriage broke up a couple of years ago. He’s joined the orchestra because his sister told him he needed a hobby rather than sitting at home brooding about his divorce.

Martin is careful who he dates because of his gender and his teenage daughter. He came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager for the Theatr Fach twelve years ago. He’s got a good set of friends here. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.

Martin and Gethin hit it off. Will their mutual baggage prove too much to sustain a relationship?

A gentle m/transm romance in the Theatr Fach universe.

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

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Excerpt

“Martin!” Julie, the lead violin, waved him over. “This is Gethin,” she said, her hand on the arm of a tall, thin man nervously clutching a French horn and peering out from behind a thick pair of glasses. He resembled a nervous heron. “He’s new,” she added unnecessarily. “Can you take him under your wing a bit?”

Martin shot her a look. She was a very competent, friendly woman with no tact at all.

“Of course,” he said. “Pleased to meet you, Gethin,” he held out a hand and Gethin took it. “I’m Martin. Trumpet.”

“Gethin Jones,” the thin man said, shaking his hand a little too hard. His palm was warm and firm and he was clearly apprehensive. “Erm. French horn.” He waved his instrument vaguely at Martin. “As you can see.”

Martin smiled. “Come on,” he said. “Brass is over here. Let me introduce you around.” They started picking their way through the chairs. The brass section was made up of Martin and Alan on trumpet, Tim and Lucy on trombone, and Portia, a ten year old who played a tuba almost as large as she was. They were setting up music and gossiping about their week when Martin and Gethin reached them.

“Hullo hullo,” Martin said. This is Gethin Jones.” He waved vaguely at Gethin beside him. “Gethin, this is Tim, Lucy, Alan and Portia.” Everyone made noises of greeting. The room was beginning to echo with the sound of instruments being tuned and scales being played. It was a familiar cacophony.

“Are you Marion’s Gethin?” Lucy asked suddenly, leaning toward them to be heard over the cat-like screech of a young violinist and a burp from Portia’s tuba.

Beside him, Gethin tensed. “Not any more,” Gethin said brusquely, nodding. “But yes. I used to be.”

Lucy nodded, blushing. “Sorry,” she said. “My sister is Penny Wright. They went to school together. Penny told me what happened.”

Gethin nodded again. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, again. He didn’t add anything else. He seemed almost paralytically shy. But then, Martin would be reticent if he knew everyone was talking about his private business.

“I’ll go and get you some music,” Martin said, forestalling any more awkwardness. “Here, stick your horn down on the seat and grab yourself a music stand from the stack in there”. He gestured at the open door of the cupboard behind them.

The spare sheet music was on the table at the front. He made his way across the room, wending around chairs and people offering greetings until he could pick up a sheaf.

Julie met him there. “Is he all right?” she hissed at Martin, glancing past him over his shoulder at Gethin, an anxious expression on her face.

“Yes? Why shouldn’t he be?” Martin asked, frowning at her, puzzled.

“He’s Posey Morgan’s brother,” Julie hissed some more. “You know. Posey the health visitor?”

Martin shook his head. “Not my area,” he said apologetically. “Never met her.” He couldn’t remember who Shannon’s health visitor had been. An older woman though, no-one who could have been the sister of someone Gethin’s age.

Julie scowled at him, apparently blaming him for his lack of knowledge. “Well, she said he needed to get out of the house,” she continued, still hissing. “His wife left him two years ago and he’s become a recluse, she told me. I suggested he come along here to help take him out of himself.”

Martin bit his lip. As a gentle first step back in to a social life, he had his doubts about the suitability of the orchestra. One of it’s other activities was going to the pub after practice on a Friday and drinking steadily ‘til closing time. And there was a country-dancing-for-exercise sub-set of members he tried to avoid … they’d invited him along to one of the sessions and he’d been crippled for days afterwards.

“So?” he said. “He seems perfectly normal.”

“The wife took off with his best friend,” Julie told him, shooting another guilty look over his shoulder at the brass section, who were settling the newcomer in their midst like a chicken in a nest of ferrets. Martin stopped himself turning properly to look at them, watching out of the corner of his vision.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Martin promised. “Does he actually play?”

“He brought it in to the shop to have it serviced,” she said. “He seemed to know what he was doing. And Posey said he played at school. But I don’t think he’s done much of anything for a while.” She pulled a face. “He’s an accountant.”

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

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Description automatically generatedAbout A. L. Lester

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some poultry. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group : Mastodon : Newsletter (free story) : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else

Release Day! Coming of Age

And Coming of Age, the third story in my Regency romp Twelve Letters series is now on release!

I so enjoy writing about my motley ensemble cast of men about town as they find and try to hold onto lasting love. My established couples of Jo and Daniel, Ben and Edward and Regency himbo Percy and his Nathan are back and facing new joys and challenges.

Coming of Age is currently on a 20% off pre-release/new release sale until November 25th at JMS Books.

After the London Season of 1815, having guided his younger sister Eustacia through her come out despite the social impact of a disastrous family scandal, Percy Havilland is at a loose end. Accustomed to being spoiled and generally admired, although still wealthy, he is shunned by most of the ton. Also, he discovers that he misses looking after his sister now she’s returned to the family estate in Sussex. Taking his frustrations out on Nathaniel Brooks, his long-suffering lover, only makes Percy more uncertain about his future.

Also, Percy’s good friend Jo Everett is having his own problems, thwarted in his dearest wish to share a home with the love of his life, Daniel Walters, a hardworking Bond Street tailor. And the final couple in the ensemble, Captain Ben Harding and Dr Edward Stephens realises the course of true love doesn’t always run smoothly.

Can this society of gentlemen solve their romantic dilemmas to their satisfaction? And might Percy, with a birthday looming, surprise himself by opening up to love?

Universal Book Link.

Author spotlight: The Setup by Ofelia Grand

I’m delighted to turn the floor over to Ofelia Grand who also has a new release out today! Congratulations, Ofelia! I was lucky enough to be an ARC reader for The Setup and it’s an absolute delight.

The Setup by Ofelia Gränd

Blurb :

Three years ago, Dax Howard got out of a bad relationship and swore never to date again. He loves his picturesque cabin outside Nortown and is looking forward to three weeks of quiet over the holidays. He hadn’t foreseen a stranger turning in on his driveway in the middle of a snowstorm, claiming he’s there for a date.

Ellis Rush has risked his neck driving in a snowstorm to meet his friend Daniel and his boyfriend Dom for a double date he agreed to go on as a favor. Reaching the destination, he can’t see Daniel’s car anywhere, and when the mountain of a man opening the door says he’s never agreed to go on a double date, Ellis realizes he’s been played.

The more Ellis explains the situation, the more annoyed Dax gets. Dom is one of his closest friends, and he does not appreciate the setup, no matter how intrigued he is by Ellis. Since the roads are undrivable, Dax invites Ellis to stay, and together they plot their revenge. Cooking for Ellis, kissing Ellis, and sleeping next to Ellis isn’t the same thing as dating, is it?

Contemporary Gay Romance: 14,382 words

Links:

20% Off at JMS-Books: https://www.jms-books.com/ofelia-gr%C3%A4nd-c-224_377/the-setup-p-4528.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BM39P5R1/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

Universal Buy: https://books2read.com/the-setup-ofelia-grand

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63140613-the-setup

Add to Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-setup-by-ofelia-grand

Excerpt:

“This is Daniel.”

Judging by the background noise, Daniel sat close to a TV. Anger sparked in Ellis’s mind, and he turned to look at Dax, who was watching him. He pointed at the phone and then drew his finger over his throat, telling Dax he was gonna kill Daniel. Since Dax was a mind-reading alien, he understood perfectly and nodded. Or Ellis hoped he understood.

“I’m calling from Mountain Valley Hospital. Is this Daniel Fletcher?”

Daniel was quiet for a few seconds, and Ellis almost felt bad.

“Yes, this is Daniel Fletcher.”

“Ellis Rush has been admitted, and you’re his emergency contact. He’s in surgery at the moment, but we’re doing everything we can to save him.”

Silence again.

“What … what happened?” Daniel’s voice shook, and Ellis winced. Dax nodded at him, though.

“Car accident. It took some time before anyone could get to him in this weather –”

“Oh my God! Will he be okay? How bad is it?”

“Bad enough for him to unfriend you, fucker! How could you send me out into the woods in this weather? I could have died.” Ellis should feel bad for scaring Daniel, but he didn’t. He was angry now. Daniel was watching TV while he was risking his life in a freaking snowstorm.

“Fuck, you scared me, Ellis.”

“I scared me! I could’ve died.”

Daniel sighed. “I know, I know, but did you make it there?”

Did he make it there? It should be obvious to Daniel he wasn’t there. He gestured at the phone and rolled his eyes at Dax. “I’m stranded, Daniel. The snow is too deep to drive in.”

“Yes, but did you make it to the address I gave you? Is it his phone you’re calling from?”

The fucker. This was a setup. He gave Dax a narrowed-eyed look. He didn’t think Dax was in on it if it was a setup. “No, I didn’t make it to the address you gave me.”

Dax raised his eyebrows in question, and Ellis waved at him to be quiet. He wasn’t showing any signs of wanting to speak, but better make it clear words weren’t welcome right now.

“I’m at this old ogre’s place, and I swear he has children in the basement. He has that look, you know? As if he keeps a harem of little girls locked up somewhere.”

“What?”

“Sociopath eyes, but at least he allowed me to borrow his phone. I think his wife is dead. She’s sitting in an armchair in front of the TV, but she looks stuffed. No movements, I don’t think she’s breathing.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “There are a lot of creepy animals mounted on the walls. I think he’s into taxidermy, and maybe … I think he’s done his wife.”

There was a rustle on the other end, and he could picture Daniel pinch the bridge of his nose. He often did when things didn’t play out the way he’d planned.

“Are you being pissy?”

“No! I’m scared. You know how I babble when I’m scared.”

Daniel sighed. “You always babble.”

“Yes, but what if he kills me before the tow truck can get here?” Ellis leaned against the counter and watched Dax as he put a plate, a glass, and cutlery on the table. For someone as big as he was, he sure could move soundlessly. He was older than Ellis, but he might have misjudged his age a little. Now, when he was relaxed, he looked younger. He’d guess past forty, but early forties instead of late, as he’d assumed when they’d been outside.

He was one fine specimen — broad shoulders, large hands, and when he smiled, Ellis’s gut tightened.

“Ellis!”

“Huh? Sorry, I wasn’t listening.” Because he’d been watching Dax, was still watching Dax, and the little twitch at the corner of his mouth made Ellis want to lick it. It would be weird to lick the corner of someone’s mouth simply because they almost smiled, but Ellis wanted a taste.

“Ellis!”

“What?” This time Dax smiled for real, and Ellis’s blood rushed through his veins, making heat pool both here and there.

“Have you called a tow truck?”

“Of course, I have! How do you suggest I get home otherwise?”

Daniel groaned. “This was not how it was supposed to go.”

“No! I never should have left home. I told you I never should have left, but you talked me into it.”

“I’m sorry! Demond said it had to be now when the weather was bad or Dax never would’ve let you over the threshold.”

Ellis froze. He was in the right place? But Daniel wasn’t here.

Coming Soon: Coming of Age

As Coming of Age, my third story in my Twelve Letters series is on release tomorrow, I thought I’d write a quick post about the background to these Regency romp novellas.

First of all, this almost wasn’t a series. In fact, it was a fluke that the first book was written at all! When the announcement came in the spring for a submission call to celebrate JMS Books’ twelfth anniversary, although I was intrigued at writing a story around the number 12, I sensibly decided I had a busy enough writing schedule already.

Inevitably, the very next morning I woke up with a fully-fledged story idea in my head! I could clearly imagine Jo poised on the steps of his lodgings ready to dash to Piccadilly and persuade his best friend Ben Harding from fighting a disastrous duel. Twelve Letters simply flowed from my imagination onto the page (I wish every other story was that easy!) but as much as I enjoyed writing about my ensemble cast and their humorous misadventures in letter writing, I presumed that was the end of their story.

When I was in the middle of writing One Summer Night for JMS Books’ August Night or Day submission call, Percy Havilland, the ultimate Regency himbo from Twelve Letters, sashayed into my head and demanded his own story. What was even more irritating was that I kept getting drip-fed the odd scene or chunks of dialogue that I had to write down before I forgot them! I temporarily banished a bitterly complaining Percy to concentrate on better-behaved MCs, before turning my attention to Queer Relations, the story of Percy’s (partial) rehabilitation from brattiness and his relationship with steady, longsuffering older lover Nathan Brooks.

It was inevitable after two stories that my ensemble group kept recapturing my imagination, and the result was Coming of Age, again focusing on Percy and his maturing into a half-decent person but also keeping us up to speed with the joys and difficulties between our other two couples, Jo and Daniel and Ben and Edward. As all these issues weren’t quite ready to be resolved yet, book 4, Gentlemen’s Agreement had to be written (and will be out in January) and as I’m not prepared to abandon my lovely Regency boys, I’m already planning The Misfit, a spin-off story, where they will appear as supporting characters.

So Coming of Age has a pivotal story arc, mainly about Percy coming to terms with his new, better self but with plenty of support and contributions from the other couples and storylines that will reach fruition in book 4. I’m very aware of the romantic convention of focussing on one couple at a time in consecutive stories and thoroughly enjoy reading those. But somehow, my ensemble cast seems to work best as a team weaving their way into complementing each other’s stories.

Coming of Age is currently in the 20% off pre-release/new release sale at JMS Books.