The Wee Things: Guest author Amy Aislin with The Nature of the Game

Hello and welcome to another round of The Wee Things! This is a new feature where authors spotlight important objects in their books, talk about their origins, and what these objects mean to their characters and themselves.

Today’s guest is Amy Aislin, author of the Stick Side series of m/m hockey romances. She’s here to talk about the latest installment, Book 2, The Nature of the Game, which just came out May 7.

Take it away, Amy!


Thank you for joining me to celebrate the release of my newest m/m romance, The Nature of the Game, and thank you so much to Avery for having me to talk about wee things!

The Nature of the Game, book two in the Stick Side series, is a second chance romance. Six years ago, the main characters—Ash and Dan—were in a relationship that didn’t end well. They haven’t spoken since then and now, all of a sudden, they’re back in each other’s lives.

Today’s wee thing I’m going to talk about? Sun catchers!

In The Nature of the Game, one of the main characters, Dan, works as a financial analyst for a print company. He’s more or less indifferent about his job. What he really loves is working with wood, especially to create whimsical items like sun catchers. The idea for Dan to create sun catchers came while I was writing book one in the series, On the Ice. I had just received this beautiful sun catcher as a gift, and I loved it so much that I had to include it in the book.

The artist behind this beautiful sun catcher is Giolla at Artwood Ireland and I loved his designs so much that most of Dan’s are based off them.

To find out who Dan gifts his sun catchers to, check out The Nature of the Game, available for purchase at:


More about The Nature of the Game

Six years ago, an ultimatum forced Dan Greyson to make a choice that cost him everything he loved most. One of those things? His boyfriend, hockey player Ashton Yager. Now that they’ve crossed paths again, Dan isn’t about to let the opportunity slip away. Ash’s reappearance in his life is just the catalyst Dan needs to escape the rut he’s fallen into…and win back Ash’s trust and love.

Ashton Yager, once burned and now a little bit shy, didn’t mean to publicly come out as bisexual. But now that he has, he’s got to deal with the consequences, including the fact that it might’ve cost him his NHL contract. With his job on the line, he needs to keep his head down, work hard, and play the best hockey of his life. Rekindling things with Dan? That’s not exactly keeping a low profile. It’s also never going to happen, not after Dan walked away once without an explanation.

When a hurricane forces Ash to seek shelter out-of-state, he and Dan find themselves in the same B&B, where old feelings resurface. But with everything Ash has on the line, does he dare play with fire again?

Excerpt:

Running a hand over his face, Dan glanced over to the hallway Ash had disappeared down, and then kept staring, waiting for Ash to reappear again like some smitten teenager who couldn’t control his hormones.

He was so very cool.

Tearing his eyes away, he scanned the restaurant, his gaze snagging on a woman sitting with a group of friends. In her early twenties, she had brown hair to her shoulders and purple glasses were perched on her nose. She sunk into her chair with a grimace when Dan caught her ogling him, her lips twitching up in embarrassment. Dan smiled back at her despite the across-the-room flirting doing nothing for him. All he could think about was Ash. Ash’s arms streaked with dust; Ash’s muscles straining as they moved furniture around; Ash’s laughter when Dan nearly swallowed a dust bunny; Ash’s mad scramble to the other side of the apartment when Dan came down the stepladder with the spider colony; Ash’s expression when he talked about hockey; the emotion in Ash’s eyes when Dan had shown up earlier.

It was Ash. It had always been Ash.

Dan’s smile grew when the man himself reappeared next to him.

“Who are you smiling at?” Ash stood next to the booth, hands on his hips. His scowl would scare small children away.

“Um, you?”

Assuming they were leaving, Dan stood . . . and ran into a wall of muscle when Ash didn’t budge. Ash was warm and big and strong, and Dan forgot all his words. He swallowed hard and told himself the shiver was from the air conditioning.

Ash looked over his shoulder, scowled some more, and growled, “We’re leaving.”

They left. The walk back to Ash’s apartment was silent but for Ash’s stiff shoulders proclaiming his unhappiness with Dan, dinner, or the world at large. Who knew.

“Are you okay?”

“Just…” Ash gestured wildly, arms flying. “I’m trying to sort some stuff out. In my head.”

“O…kay.” Whatever that meant.

Reaching Ash’s apartment, Ash slammed the door behind them and whirled on Dan, hands on his hips. “Do you want to date women?”

“Like, right this second?” I only want to date you. “Not particularly.”

“What about the woman from The Tavern?”

“Who?”

“You know.” Ash gestured. “The one you were smiling at.”

“Why are you being weird?”

“I’m being weird.” Ash huffed and paced away. “You were the one eye-flirting while I took a two-minute bio break.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“No idea what I’m…” He trailed off, jaw ticking, his eyes fire and fury. Pacing back to Dan, he clamped a hand behind Dan’s head, pulled him forward, and kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Dan stood shocked and immobile.

“Gonna kiss me back?” Ash murmured against Dan’s lips, walking him backward until his back hit the wall next to the door. “Or just stand there like a corpse?”

More about Amy Aislin

Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario. 

Visit Amy:

Robert’s challenge

In Play Hard, Liam and Robert reminisce about how they first became best mates, back when they were six years old. I won’t give it away, but it involved this collage:

Text in cutout letters: "When I grow up I want to not make fucking collages."
I made this with my own wee hands, thereby proving I’m as crafty as a 6-year-old boy.

Check out my guest post at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for more about Robert’s first challenge for Liam. Hint: It also involves a collage. And be sure to pick up Play Hard while it’s still at its early price!

Guest post by RJ Scott and VL Locey

I’m thrilled to welcome RJ Scott and V.L. Locey, authors of the Harrisburg Railers M/M hockey romance series, which is now in Kindle Unlimited for the next 90 days! They’re here to discuss why they love men in sports, something I am totally here for. 😎 And there’s a giveaway at the end!

What is it about a guy who plays sports?

RJ: One of the biggest reasons I like reading about guys in sports teams is that feeling of brotherhood. It’s the same as when I read a series set around a SEAL team, or a group of best friends. It’s that whole camaraderie and code of friendship.

VL: Oh gosh, how long do we have? Aside from the skill and grace of an athlete, there’s that camaraderie that one sees in sports. Also, and I’m just being shallow, most athletes are easy on the eyes.

RJ: Skill and grace is one for me too. In hockey there is a particular move when the skater comes to a dead stop and reverses direction. It looks effortless, but to be able to stop and turn on a dime must take years of practice and muscle memory, plus some serious leg strength! Mmmmmmm…. Legs… (joins VL in being shallow) hockey players have really nice legs. And abs (just look up the following in Google “Tyler Seguin Abs” and you’ll see what I mean!

VL: Welcome to the shallow end of the pool! Oh yes, legs. I still have a thing for Marty St. Louis’ legs. *fans self* But yeah, there’s a “thing” about hockey players that just sends me. They’re always so darn humble and I find that quite appealing. The Segs abs are okay too mind you!

RJ: I honestly have no idea who Marty St Louis is (adds to my google list) but if Vicki says he’s fine, then he must be. 🙂 Another thing I love is the team jokes and pranks – Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the classic pranksters and I must admit when we wrote Adler Lockhart we definitely gave him the prankster genes!

VL: GASP! You don’t know Marty? Oh woman I shall have to show you his legs. They’re to die for. Aw, yes, pranks are rife among hockey players. There’s a pretty standard one where they make rookies take a lap around the ice all by themselves. I shudder to think of what goes on in the dressing rooms that we fans don’t know about!

RJ: I’d love to be a fly on the wall of a dressing room – purely for research of course. So there is also the whole team work ethic, they are a dedicated group of guys in our books, always having each other’s backs, always there for each other in a crisis.

VL: Research. Uh-huh. All in all I think that hockey players are just a great combination all the marvelous things we look for in a romance hero. With great legs. 😉

RJ: Agreed…  particularly about the legs LOLs (not at all obsessed).

The Railers Are Rolling Into KU!

Book promo graphic featuring 6 book covers. Text: "Now in KU, for a limited time, Railers Series, Books 1-6; Available for 90 days ONLY, from May 3rd

Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1) – Jared & Tennant: Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?

First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) – Layton & Adler: Layton wants success, Adler wants family, how can love made both these things possible?

Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) – Trend & Dieter: One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts?

Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) – Stan & Erik: One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.

Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) – Max & Ben: A hockey player with a medical secret, meets the owner of a no kill shelter. Two men afraid to feel have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.

Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) – Gatlin & Bryan: Fear and sadness mark Bryan’s life, can Gatlin show him that you have to trust before you can love?


Giveaway!

To enter to win one of two $10.00 Amazon gift cards, simply follow this link:
https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/3e0e9a43581/


Logo for RJ Scott reading "RJ Scott happy ever after"

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below: Email RJ rj@rjscott.co.uk | Facebook | Twitter | BookBub | Instagram | Pinterest

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

The Wee Things kickoff: Robert’s rubber duckies

I’m starting a feature here called “The Wee Things,” where I and other authors will spotlight specific objects in our books, talk about their origins, and what they mean to us and to our characters. Fun stuff!

In Play It Safe, Liam and Fergus are shopping in the Barras market when they come upon a toy merchant selling rubber duckies that light up when you put them in water.

Liam stopped in his tracks in front of a toy seller. “Rabbie used to love these.” He darted over to a small tub filled with floating rubber duckies. Two of them were blinking lights of every color.

Fergus was confused for a moment. Liam had so many younger siblings, it was hard to keep track of their names. “Our Rabbie? As in McKenzie?”

My Rabbie,” Liam said with a growl. “You know he hates anyone else calling him that.”

Play It Safe, Chapter 2

The duckies feature in two scenes in Playing With Fire, including a very touching–literally and figuratively–scene near the end.

They undressed in silence, fingers trembling on buttons, buckles, and zippers. As his last bit of clothes hit the floor, Liam said a silent thank-you that Robert’s flat was well-heated.

He paused for a moment at the foot of the bed, taking in the sight of his naked boyfriend, as the rubber ducks’ lights flashed every color over Robert’s smooth chest and abs.

Playing With Fire, Chapter 30

So to celebrate last week’s release of Play Hard, I filmed my own two disco ducklings dancing to “Play Hard” by David Guetta featuring Ne-Yo and Akon. (Warning: video contains flashing lights)

The music choice is rather fitting, and not just because of the title. Another David Guetta song, “Dangerous,” features prominently in Playing With Fire (I won’t reveal how, because it’s too big of a spoiler).

I still remember buying the rubber duckies in a shop in New Jersey many years ago. My family thought it weird that an adult would want such toys, but I was captivated by the blinking lights. Every once in a while I still activate them (they’ve got nodes on their undersides to make them blink) just for the sheer joy of it.

To find out how Robert’s obsession with rubber duckies began (maybe), check out this interview at Gay Book Reviews. Liam spins quite a yarn about it!

If you love sports romance…

Check out author RJ Scott’s blog for a spotlight feature on this exciting subgenre! Play Hard is featured alongside books by some of my favorite authors, including Amy Jo Cousins, Sarina Bowen, and Jay Northcote.

Plus you can enter to win an ebook of Changing Lines, the first in Scott’s fantastic Harrisburg Railers m/m hockey romance series with V.L. Locey!

Interview with the Lads: Liam & Robert

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for Robert and Liam through Facebook, especially the Glasgow Lads readers group, the Rainbow Regiment. Their interview (and a giveaway) is now up at Gay Book Reviews! I think you’ll especially like the story of how Robert’s obsession with rubber duckies began.

While you’re there, don’t forget enter to win a four-book Glasgow Lads bundle ebook!

Play Hard: A triumph of fun over real-world rubbish

It’s release day for Play Hard! I’m here today to share the story behind the story. But first, the essentials:

One of Play Hard’s taglines is, “The feel-good, staying-in-love story the world needs right now.” But it’s also the feel-good, staying-in-love story I needed when I wrote it.

Book promo graphic. Text: "I'll always want more of you." and "Liam & Robert return! Book cover features two young men snuggling on a tartan duvet, plus title “Play Hard: A Glasgow Lads Novella by Avery Cockburn"
I love this cover. Thanks, Damonza!

Rewind to January of this year, if you can bear it. That month is always dark and gloomy, but January 2019 was extra dreadful. The US government was shut down, with no end to the impasse in sight. The UK government and its Parliament were battling it out over Brexit—again with no end to the impasse in sight.

My refuge from the daily drumbeat of despair was Play Hard: a purely fun, minimum-angst, maximum-sex novella.

Upon returning to the bedroom, Liam found Robert sitting up with his laptop, once again fully dressed—minus the gloves and knit cap. “Are you rating our bonk on Sex Yelp?”
“Aye, five stars,” Robert said without looking up. “Action-packed, a howling good time, literally.”
Liam had long ago stopped protesting he didn’t howl during sex, after witnessing video evidence to the contrary.

Play Hard, Chapter 1

Play Hard is a bit of departure from most Glasgow Lads books, in that it has very little sociopolitical content (apart from the usual LGBTQ awareness), and the characters aren’t dealing with trauma, mental illness, or other major life-quaking challenges. As a bonus: no terrorists! After the three-year odyssey of writing and rewriting Playing in the Dark, I needed a book that was a wee bit easier on the psyche*.

I figured it wouldn’t last. I figured it would go something like this:

  • Me, Week 1: Play Hard is going to be sex and fun and more sex and more fun!
  • Me, Week 2: But also maybe with a family of refugees who need a home for themselves and their three-legged dog, and it turns out that Liam’s long-lost deadbeat father became a mercenary who burned down the refugees’ village; and then Robert, whose heart is touched by their plight, decides to give up making video games and instead develop an app which safely detects land mines from a distance.
  • Me, Week 3: Note to self: Learn Arabic and also British Sign Language because one of the refugee kids is deaf.

But somehow that didn’t happen. Somehow I overcame both the January blues and my natural tendency to complicate things. I wrote the first draft in about a month, which is a record for a novella to pop out of my snail brain. My beta readers and copyeditor had some minor adjustments, which I made promptly and without heartburn.

So I want to thank Liam and Robert for cooperating like no characters have cooperated before and probably never will do again. You made me happy when I needed it most, and I think you’re going to do the same for a lot of readers.

*PS: If you’ve not read Playing in the Dark, don’t let my pain in writing it deter you—it’s the book I’m most proud of and might be the best one yet.

Foodie Friday: Popcakes!

To kick off this regular-ish feature, I had to start with breakfast, the most important meals of the day (yes, meals plural—I’m a solid fan of second breakfast and sometimes even elevensies depending on the timing).

Since I’ve been focusing on Playing With Fire this week (Play Hard comes out Tuesday!), I thought I’d feature the invention that strikes awe into Robert and Liam after their night at the hotel: the Popcake machine! I first saw one at the Glasgow Hilton and immediately thought what later became Robert’s line: “If I owned one of these, I’d never leave the house.”

I mean, you push a button AND A PANCAKE COMES OUT. Halle-freaking-lujah!

Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That’s how I feel about the Popcake.

The porn-tastic music accompanying this video feels so appropriate somehow.

Liam’s Alarming Alarm

I needed a laugh today, so I recorded Liam’s text-to-speech alarm from Playing With Fire, the one he uses on a Thursday when he has to wake at Fuck My Life O’Clock to go running with Fergus.

Contains profanity (beginning around 0:09), so use earphones if you’re at work. And be sure to play all the way to the end!

To make this video, I used an Android app called Gentle Alarm, which features a text-to-speech (TTS) option for both the initial alarm and the dismissal. Then I changed the date and time to match those in the book. Finally I used the AZ Screen Recorder app to capture everything that happened on the screen. The whole process took about half an hour, probably the most productive and happy-making 30 minutes I’ve spent in a long time. 😄

If you can’t listen to the video, the TTS readout–in a robot lady’s voice–says:

“It is Thursday which means it’s time to get the fuck out of bed and go running with Fergus he’s your best gay mate and really fucking important to you and anyway you didn’t work last night so you’ve no reason to be tired.”

Playing With Fire, Chapter 17

Then, after Liam shuts it off, she says:

“Did you not hear me say it’s Thursday don’t let Fergus down, you fanny.”

Playing With Fire, Chapter 17