We stayed on the boat from A Christmas Harbor!

Last weekend my husband and I spent the weekend in Annapolis (the Maritime Republic of Eastport, specifically), living aboard the boat I used as a model for David’s vessel, the Many Waters.

I wasn’t able to travel to Annapolis last year while writing A Christmas Harbor, which meant I had to settle for Google Street View. So I was incredibly eager to see the living places that felt so familiar to me from pictures, and super excited to share this behind-the-scenes look with you all.

Note: This post includes teeny tiny spoilers (e.g., “This is where they first kissed”) for my standalone M/M Romance novella, A Christmas Harbor, which is on sale this month for just $2.99!

Click on each photo to see a bigger version.

Starting at the beginning of the story with Paul walking through Annapolis at night:

I can’t show you the sad piano bar, because I made it up. Later, on their way to David’s boat, they pass through this same part of town. If you were facing the Christmas tree in the photo above, behind you would be Annapolis harbor, specifically “Ego Alley,” which according to David is named for “obvious yacht-related reasons.”

Boat in harbor decked out in lights and a lit-up snowman

In one corner of the harbor, Paul and David come across the Alex Haley/Kunta Kinte memorial (in the book this happens at night):

Speaking of civil rights struggles, they then discuss David’s military service under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. This seems like a good place to share the photos I took on the US Naval Academy walking tour (highly recommended).

Then Paul and David arrive at the Spa Creek drawbridge, where they have their first kiss. This would have been their view if it were about 7 hours earlier and not sleeting:

The Maritime Republic of Eastport, David’s fiercely independent neighborhood
The drawbridge as seen from David’s boat.

David shows Paul his boat’s light display from the Eastport Lights Parade, which we were able to watch live from the deck of the “Many Waters.”

Then the most AWFUL thing happened to us in real life: one of the boats in the parade, one we LOVED the first time it came around, ended the night by playing Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” thus causing thousands of people in the crowd to lose Wham-ageddon all at once! I was furious at this reckless deployment of WMD (Wham! of Mass Destruction).

Where was I? Oh, David’s boat. Here’s a nighttime view taken from the prow. You can see part of the marina in the background, as well as the line of people gathered on the road to the drawbridge to watch the parade.

Let’s go inside!

Interior photo of small boat saloon (living room). Two blue settees flank the space with a table between them. The decor is a warm wooden finish surface. Two skylights let in sunshine
Saloon (living room). In the background is the forward berth, what Paul called the “triangle bed.”

The next morning they awake to a marina covered in snow, which I was not able to arrange. It’s still beautiful, though, no?

Marina as seen from the Eastport end of the drawbridge
Annapolis as seen from the deck of the “Many Waters.” In the center appears the dome of the US Naval Academy cathedral.
Sunny daytime photo of marina dock. a wooden building is painted turquoise
Docks! Also taken from boat deck. Really not a bad view to wake up to.
Truth.

Rainbow Advent Calendar story!

Green Grows the Holly: a Glasgow Lads Holiday Short

“We’ll always be the luckiest lads in Glasgow.”

Hello and Happy Holidays! I’m so thrilled to be part of the Rainbow Advent Calendar again, run by the incredible author Alex Jane. This year, I’m bringing you a fun wee holiday short featuring the couple from the first Glasgow Lads novel, Playing For Keeps, and the followup short story Play It Safe: Fergus and John! It also features cameos from several other beloved characters from the series, including Liam, Robert, Ben, and the inimitable Lord Andrew.

After Fergus and John’s wedding plans face a last-minute upheaval, can they salvage the situation (with the help of a few friends) and savor their first Christmas together?

Download Green Grows the Holly in your choice of format at Bookfunnel (including PDF to read in your browser if that’s more your thing). And don’t forget to visit the Rainbow Advent Calendar Facebook group to read new stories every day between now and Christmas! (Now that my writing is finished for the month, I’ll be curling up with all the ones I’ve missed thus far.) Check out the Master List for all stories.

Text: "Green Grows the Holly A Glasgow Lads Holiday Short Avery Cockburn" Image: holly branch with green leaves and bright red berries. Background: white linen cloth with subtle pattern

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: