Christmas

Room at the Inn and Of Printers & Presents

It’s Boxing Day here in NZ, and I am not yet ready for Christmas to be over. So, I’ve been prolonging the festivities by mainlining seasonal fiction, courtesy of NineStar Press’s 2017 Seasonal Collection (the same collection The Charity Shop Rejects appears in). I’ve already talked about Handmade Holidays. Today, I’m reviewing Room at the Inn and Of Printers and Presents.

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Room at the Inn by Drew Marvin Frayne is a contemporary story set in the hotel where Jason, the main character, works. The premise will resonate with anyone who has had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day–the author does a really good job of capturing the mixed feelings of working that particular holiday evokes. Jason’s looking forward to a dull evening, and is reflecting on his dissatisfaction with where he is in life, when a striking guest checks in, sharing the news that there is a bus of disgruntled travellers on their way, and Jason must pull out all the stops to save Christmas.

There’s no conflict, but I don’t think there needs to be–the circumstances act as one, and enough happens that the happy ending feels earned. I was thinking that this is almost like a Cinderella story, which might be why it is so satisfying. Stylistically, the writing reminded me a lot of Holiday Hotel Hookup by Jeff Adams which I read last year.

Room at the Inn at Ninestar | Amazon | Smashwords

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Of Printers and Presents by Asta Idonea is a sweet, uncomplicated office romance. Any other time of the year, I might complain that the story lacked conflict, or that there was too much explaining, but this story was so exactly what I needed to read today, that I just enjoyed it. Sometimes you just need an uncomplicated romance! Especially at Christmas, when things have a knack of becoming exponentially more complicated than they need to be.

Vaughan is shy and crushing on Ford. Ford has anxiety issues, and doesn’t want to compromise his work position by acting on his crush on Vaughan. They’ve been dancing around each other for two years. Can an office secret Santa be the force that finally brings their feelings out in the open?

Of Printers and Presents at Ninestar | Amazon | Smashwords

 

New Release: The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert is, well, live!

I’m really excited to be bringing you the third instalment of the For the Love of Christmas! series: The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert! I hope you enjoy revisiting Jake and Dan, and I can’t wait to see what you think of Mikaal, Declan and Hiro.

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To celebrate the launch, I’ve got an excerpt for you. Guitarist Declan has strict rules about not mixing music and relationships. Front man Mikaal knows this—but the knowledge does nothing to stop his growing attraction to Declan. When an unexpected concert booking brings Mikaal’s chronic stage fright to the fore, his resolve is tested.


The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert (For the Love of Christmas! #3)

Mikaal Sarhadi has been in trouble since the moment he met guitarist Declan Hyde. Declan treats music like religion, setting high standards for himself and his bandmates. Mikaal struggles to even step on stage. He will do anything to justify Declan’s belief in him—even if that means ignoring the powerful attraction between them.

After a chance meeting with Brandon, Declan’s estranged brother, reveals just how much Declan will sacrifice for his music, Mikaal wonders if he can even call himself a musician. Worse, drummer Hiro’s visa application has been denied. With time running out for The Charity Shop Rejects, Mikaal must conquer his stage fright or lose music—and Declan—entirely.

Ninestar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo | Goodreads

(more…)

Countdown: 2 days to go!

Three books, three days… I’m sure it comes as no surprise that day two of my countdown is all about Ibiza on Ice, book two of the For the Love of Christmas! series—now only 0.99 US!

Confession time: I have a really big soft spot for Ibiza on Ice. Sure Aston, the main character, isn’t exactly going to win person of the year in any competition—he’s not even going to make the nomination list. He broke up with his boyfriend, Dan over Dan’s hideous Christmas sweater, and for most of Ibiza on Ice,  is trying desperately to prove to Dan and the world that he made the right decision.

So, yeah. Aston, not a great guy.

But there’s always two sides to every story. As a kid whose parents went through a bitter divorce, I learned this really quickly. Even today, with several decades of happiness with new partners between them and the divorce, they both have two very different versions of events. And while they both believe they’re telling the truth, their truths are incompatible with each others. And I don’t think that means one of them is lying, or that their memories are faulty. I think there is more than one truth.

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Take Aston and Dan.

Dan wore the sweater knowing Aston’s reaction would be bad. He had an inkling it would be relationship ending bad—but he went ahead with it, giving Aston the ultimatum, ‘it’s me and the sweater—or not at all.’ Aston responded the way most people do when given an ultimatum. He stuck in his heels—one of Aston’s better traits is his tenacity. He didn’t expect Dan to be serious about his sweater, because Aston could never have feelings that strong for a tacky jumper. So when Dan not only left, but found a new boyfriend, Aston was left scrambling. That’s not a nice place to be, so if Aston lashed out, can you really blame him? Break-ups suck, no matter which side of them you’re on.

The second thing is that if Dan and Aston were meant to be, no amount of ugly sweaters could have prevented them from living happily ever after. That the sweater was enough to precipitate a break up says a lot about their relationship. Aston appreciated Dan’s good looks and healthy lifestyle, Dan respected Aston’s dedication to his fitness regime. They had a mutual interest in health and working out, but is that enough to base a relationship on?

As it turns out, no. And not only are they both better off out of the relationship, but they’re got the potential for happiness that they could never find together—and I think that’s a good thing. Not all relationships work out. Recognising that something isn’t working and moving on is a lot healthier than trying to make a round peg fit in a square hole.

The final clue that the break up was a good thing is the effect Laaksonen has on Aston. From the moment they meet, he’s challenging Aston’s assumptions about what he wants and what he believes. Being around Laaksonen pushes Aston, forcing him to question, and finally grow and change—and I will be the first to admit that Aston has a hell of a lot of growing to do.

But he’s like one of my naughty kids when I taught English in Japan. No matter how disruptive they were in class, or what fresh hi-jinks they’d come up with during the school breaks, you couldn’t help but love them. Aston’s my naughty kid.


Ibiza on Ice.

Tired of being ridiculed as the man dumped in favour of an ugly Christmas sweater, Aston is determined to get revenge–by having his dream vacation at Ibiza’s hottest clubs! He’s even planned a social media campaign to make sure his ex, Dan, knows exactly what he’s missing.

When a snowstorm strikes, and Aston’s media campaign takes off before he does, he finds himself propositioned by his unwelcome roommate Mike: trade vacations, or Mike will out Aston as a fake. Desperate to save his reputation, Aston finds himself in Finland–and falling hard for a man with a sweater almost as terrible as Dan’s. Worse, Laaksonen cares as little about impressing people as Aston cares about being nice. Aston knows he has too much self-respect to fall for a man so hazardous to his reputation. But the long Polar Night poses the ultimate test to his Ibiza club dreams…

Purchase:

Ninestar | Amazon  | Smashwords | Kobo

more than I should

Countdown! 3 Days until the Charity Shop Rejects are Live!

First off, if anyone saw ‘3 days’ and had a moment of panic thinking it was December 22nd, I am really sorry. That is exactly the sort of thing I would do, and I hope that your heart isn’t racing too badly.

Instead, it is three days until my 2017 seasonal story, The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert is released! It’s available for pre-order on Amazon or the NineStar Press website. You can even add it on Goodreads.

With three days left until the Charity Shop Rejects release, and three books in the For the Love of Christmas! series, I thought I would kick off the countdown by featuring The Ugliest Sweater, the first book in the series. At roughly 15,000 words it is the shortest story I’ve ever published, and is cute without being saccharine. In the words of one Goodreads reviewer, The Ugliest Sweater is ‘sweet, cute and a little nuts… just like I like ’em.’ Best of all, it is only 0.99 USD, meaning that it’s a great reward for getting caught up on your gift shopping, finally remembering to drop past the post office with your cards, or if you’re me, finally mowing the lawn.

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It’s also National Ugly Christmas Sweater day (according to Queer Romance Ink anyway), so really, you kind of have to buy it. And then wear it while wearing your own ugly sweater, creating ugly seasonal clothing quorum and—okay, I’ll stop.

The Ugliest Sweater is the story of Dan, an otherwise down-to-earth fitness instructor who has a deep affinity with a Christmas sweater so hideous he’s been dumped three times for wearing it. Jake is a radio DJ with a reputation for cool and a guilty Christmas secret that could destroy his career. I’m still not sure whether this is a story of opposites attract or ugly sweaters attract, but it is a quick, fun read with some laughs, some sex, and a lot of Christmas tack.

One of the biggest complaints about the Ugliest Sweater is that it was too short, and we didn’t get enough time with Jake and Dan. I think the length is right for the story it is, but one of my favourite things about The Charity Shop Rejects, was the chance to revisit Jake and Dan. We get to see how their relationship is progressing a year down the track, which was a lot of fun for me the writer, and I hope fans of Ugliest will enjoy it, too.


The Ugliest Sweater

Dan’s favourite festive sweater is so ugly, it’s cost him not one but three boyfriends and sent him back to his parents’ place for the third Christmas in a row. About to give up hope of ever having a Christmas date, Dan meets Jake, a hot guy with a rock and roll edge. Jake is infatuated with Dan’s sweater but vanishes before Dan can decide if Jake is for real or really in need of an eye-check. After all, no one has ever liked the sweater.

Dan’s sweater is rocketed to national attention, when Jake’s radio colleagues launch a hunt for the mystery man in the hideous jumper. Dan jumps at the chance to meet Jake again, and they hit it off in a big way, to the accompaniment of intimate gigs, exclusive clubs, and the paparazzi. Dan falls hard, but despite obvious mutual attraction, Jake refuses to take him back to his apartment. Is the relationship real – or a ratings stunt? After all, Jake has a reputation for cool that Dan, a lowly gym instructor, could never approach. Is a fondness for tacky Christmas clothing the only thing they have in common? Or does uber-cool Jake hide a Christmas secret of his own?

Purchase links:

Ninestar  |Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo

Talking Ugly Sweaters with Sera Trevor!

In case the fact I’ve written a three-book series about Christmas sweaters didn’t clue you in, I have important opinions about seasonal clothing choices. Asking me about them is Sera Trevor, who interviewed me about the For the Love of Christmas! series on her blog.

Check out the interview here.

In Sera’s words, ‘I’m very pleased to have Gillian on my blog to answer a few questions about ugly clothes, the perils of the holiday season, and how to deal with self-doubt.’ Spoiler alert: It involves David Hasselhorf.

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Ibiza on Ice-Cover Reveal!

Readers of the NineStar Narrative will already know this (and if you’re not subscribed, you should be! The weekly NineStar Press newsletter not only includes upcoming releases, but offers information about sales, special discounts for subscribers and starting November 20th, a special birthday giveaway–http://ninestarpress.com), but my Christmas story not only has a title but also a cover. Say hello to Ibiza on Ice. 

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Isn’t it great? Cover Artist Natasha Snow has done an amazing job of matching the vibe of my last year’s Christmas Offering The Ugliest Sweater–which is awesome, because Ibiza on Ice is a sideways sequel to The Ugliest Sweater.

Not only that, but I think this might be the start of a series of inter-related standalone Christmas stories. A contradiction I know, but you’ll understand when you read it. We’re calling this contradiction For the Love of Christmas. I’m already loosely plotting next year’s addition… though I really should be paying more attention to my sadly neglected NaNoWriMo. Whoops!

theugliestsweaternspIbiza on Ice

Tired of being ridiculed as the man dumped in favour of an ugly Christmas sweater, Aston is determined to get revenge–by having his dream vacation at Ibiza’s hottest clubs! He’s even planned a social media campaign to make sure his ex, Dan, knows exactly what he’s missing.

When a snowstorm strikes, and Aston’s media campaign takes off before he does, he finds himself propositioned by his unwelcome roommate Mike: trade vacations, or Mike will out Aston as a fake. Desperate to save his reputation, Aston finds himself in Finland–and falling hard for a man with a sweater almost as terrible as Dan’s. Worse, Laaksonen cares as little about impressing people as Aston cares about being nice. Aston knows he has too much self-respect to fall for a man so hazardous to his reputation. But the long Polar Night poses the ultimate test to his Ibiza club dreams…

The Ugliest Sweater is out!

For people who unironically love their awful holiday jumpers and the people who put up with them: The Ugliest Sweater.

Available now at NineStar Press and also at Amazon! Coming soon to other retailers.

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I drafted a really chill, collected post for this moment, but I cannot lie– I am ridiculously excited right now. When I refreshed the NineStar Press homepage and saw that The Ugliest Sweater had moved from ‘Coming Soon’ to ‘Recent Releases’ I had to bite my lip to keep myself from screaming.

Anyway, if you pre-ordered The Ugliest Sweater, enjoy! Please let me know what you think of it, via a comment, e-mail or a review on Goodreads! If you haven’t preordered it, you can buy it now from NineStar Press.

Amazon fans, I know it takes a couple of hours for Amazon to process and upload new ebooks, so I will be back with the Amazon link (and other retailers) as they become available.  It is now available at Amazon! Thank you for all your patience and support!