Autism Awareness Blog Hop – Learning to Play Again

Banner: Autism Awareness Blog-Hop Event. "Childhood Toys"
Graphic of cardboard box with toys like teddy bear, hobby horse, etc

Autism Fact of the Day:

Seventy per cent of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. Seventy per cent of autistic adults also told us that with more support they would feel less isolated.

A Childhood Toy

Quote graphic reading, "It's easy to lose our natural sense of wonder and enjoyment. But just like awareness, they are here nonetheless, waiting to be rediscovered.
Words of wisdom from my Headspace meditation app

I’m thrilled to be taking part in RJ Scott’s annual Autism Awareness Blog Hop event. Check out the full list of posts and join the hop!

Once I realized this post would be going up on April 24, one day after the release of Play Hard, starring a video-game developer, I knew I had to talk about video games, a childhood love I’ve only recently welcomed back into my life.

Our first console was the Coleco Telstar and its classic “Pong” games–including handball, which, glory of glories, could be played alone (an important feature for a kid whose brother and sister were 8 and 10 years older and therefore actually had homework).

Black and white Telstar video game console on wooden table.
Credit: Keith Pomakis. Used without alteration under CC License 2.5.

(Yes, I am totally dating myself by discussing these things. If I wanted to hide how old I was, I’d claim I played with nothing but crayons and paper (they still make paper, right?).)

Then, of course, came the Atari 2600:

Atari 2600 video-game console with joystick
Credit: Public Domain

And finally the Nintendo Entertainment System:

Nintendo Entertainment System console with controller
Credit: Public Domain

Honestly, I don’t know why my parents kept buying more video games, because the games clearly interfered with my ability to hear their voices. Maybe it was because they liked them too! In fact, when I was a teenager, playing video games with my dad was the only time we stopped arguing. 😀

But then…I went to university and put away childish things. For several years a darkness fell upon the earth, when video games seemed a fad of the past. Now we had the internet–why play silly games when you could participate in usenet chats and ooooooh…visit all the new web pages?

Then in 2015 I wrote Playing With Fire and decided to make one of the main characters a video-game designer. This required learning about the latest developments in the industry and watching play-throughs on YouTube. (I spent 8 hours watching a dude play Dragon Age: Inquisition just so I could write a single scene, but that scene was SOLID.)

Now video games have sucked me back in. I’m fascinated. All the limitations that frustrated me about classic games (“Why can’t I drive OFF the road? I want to see what’s over there!”) have vanished, and video-game creation is as much a creative endeavor as films, paintings, or novels.


To win your choice of ebook from my backlist, leave a comment about your favorite video game, past or present. OR, if you’re not into video games, tell me one toy or game you’ve rediscovered as an adult, something that brings you the sort of joy you thought was left behind in childhood.

Entries are open until 11:59pm Tuesday, April 30. Please leave a way to contact you (email, social media link, etc) in your comment.

And be sure to check out my new release, Play Hard! It’s the feel-good, staying-in-love story the world needs right now. See yesterday’s release post for more details, including an excerpt and links to more giveaways!

Book promo graphic. Text: "I'll always want more of you."
-Best Friends
-Bisexual MC
-Toys ’n’ games
New release!
Book cover features two young men snuggling on a tartan duvet, plus title “Play Hard: A Glasgow Lads Novella by Avery Cockburn"

Play Hard release date!

I’m thrilled to kick off this blog by announcing the release date for Play Hard, Liam and Robert’s “happier-ever-after” followup novella: Tuesday, April 23!

I had LOADS of fun writing it, and I think you’ll enjoy reading it as well. I think it’s the sort of feel-good book we all need during these crazy, confusing times.

Play Hard (Glasgow Lads, #4.5)

Here’s the description:

“I’ll always want more of you.”

Robert McKenzie lives to work. He’s fresh out of university as a video-game entrepreneur, and his new app could actually save lives. But burning the candle at both ends means missing out on the best parts of his own life—including his boyfriend, Liam.

Liam Carroll works to live. His job as a bartender pays the rent—if not always the heating bill—and that’s plenty for now. But Robert’s workaholism reminds Liam his own life is going nowhere, and his own dreams are scaring the pants off him.

To jolt them out of their ruts, Robert invents a new game: He and Liam are to take turns offering each other sexy new challenges with irresistible rewards.

Of course, Robert gets more than he bargained for, as Liam takes their game in one surprising direction after another. Whether it’s in the bedroom, on the football pitch, or at the pub (or even the supermarket?), the things they learn about each other—and themselves—could change their lives forever.

And here is a fake cover I made in January for an Instagram challenge. The real cover will be revealed next week, but this one also captures the spirit of Play Hard.

Extremely silly photo featuring two tabby kittens leaping into the air, one catching a pink feather toy. Words: Play Hard: A Glasgow Lads Novella, Avery Cockburn, #lovelgbtromance Day 10: Cover Work-in-Progress

Here are a few notes, but feel free to ask questions in the comments or contact me some other way:

  • Play Hard features the main characters from Playing With Fire (Liam and Robert) and takes place about a year after that novel ends. You don’t strictly have to have read PWF to enjoy PH, but it helps.
  • There will be a first-come-first-served ARC giveaway. I will simultaneously alert my newsletter and Facebook group, so join one or both of those to have a chance at an ARC for this book or the next.
  • Like the rest of the Glasgow Lads series*, Play Hard will be available to borrow on Kindle Unlimited, which means it will be exclusively released on Amazon.
  • I will put Play Hard up for preorder on Amazon a few days in advance to make sure it drops on the proper date.

*The only book not in Kindle Unlimited is the prequel novella, Play On, which you can get for free by subscribing to my quarterly-ish newsletter. Subscribers also get an annotated version of Play On, with loads of behind-the-scenes insights such as pics of settings, characters, and props, as well as a few snarky asides.