Friday, 1 September 2017

New Release: Dirty Mind by Roe Horvat

Title: Dirty Mind
Author: Roe Horvat
Language: English
Published: 1st September, 2017
Length: 47,990 words (164 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-163-7
eBook: 978-1-78645-164-4
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Adult, Pure Romance - M/M, Pure Romance - Contemporary

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Alexander Popescu is a university lecturer in a quiet German town. He's a respectable man in his thirties who stays fit, has a decent career and travels alone - his only vice is an occasional greasy meal. And beer. And violent computer games. Nobody has to know about the other Alex - the acclaimed porn writer. His ingenious erotic fantasies earn him good money and keep his capricious mind harmlessly entertained.

When his young friend and protégé Christian transfers to Freiburg for medical school, Alex is overjoyed...and terrified that Christian will find out about Alex's indecent alter ego. The time they spend together, as lovely as it is, could overturn Alex's carefully balanced life. Suddenly, the writing is not good enough, his hair seems to be thinning, his careful hookups leave him unfulfilled, and his dreams are haunted by the innocent young man he's vowed to protect.

However, Christian is not a boy any more. He's a grown man of twenty-one, clever and deadly attractive. And he's hiding some secrets of his own.


Editor's Review:
This review is going to be more of the 'I have the best job in the world' because the thing about being an editor/publisher is that I get to read so many stories that are utterly brilliant in their own unique way.

Dirty Mind is M/M Romance - great M/M romance, with age-gap, friends to lovers, some angst, some sexy time and a happy ending. It's got all the stuff that M/M romance readers appreciate (think 'pink bubble gum for the eyes').


Dirty Mind also has so many layers - themes that are almost literary, grim humour, existentialism, and a critique of the very thing it is.

I feel how Alex feels. Often - not just about writing erotic scenes. About all of my writing. About growing older, the powerlessness of trying to help friends deal with complex health challenges. Alex is real, and complicated, and he struggles with anxiety. This can be frustrating to read and easy to dismiss as 'oh god, more melodrama' but in everyday life, this is how anxiety operates. If you don't know that, you should count yourself very lucky indeed.

Christian is...well, the grown-up. Too grown up for his own good, really. Thank all that is Dieter for being the not-so-straightman heterosexual friend to our Christian. The pair of them are like some kind of just-post-pubescent student bots who eventually break their programming and develop sentience. I love that Roe Horvat showed us this - they weren't fully fledged adults when they arrived at university, because students aren't, and we see them mature, learn to fit into their skin. It's a great contrast to Alex and his somewhat fuddy-duddy set ways.

I absolutely love Dieter. So much.

And the worms! OMG, I cried with laughter whilst trying to deal with the excess saliva, because...been there, done that.

So, this is a scrappy review, isn't it? As I said at the start, I have the best job in the world, and my editing awaits! But I had to pop over and tell you all about Dirty Mind by Roe Horvat, which you can still buy for 99c today (release day - September 1st), $4.99 thereafter.



About the Author: Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. They love Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.


Friday, 18 August 2017

New Release: Hunting a Predator by J.E. Locke

Title: Hunting a Predator
Author: J.E. Locke
Language: English
Published: 18th August, 2017
Length: 60,000 words (240 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-910635-83-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-910635-84-1
ASIN: B074PWFHJDCategory: Fiction
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, Contemporary Fiction

A police procedural inspired by CSI.

Meet Superintendent Brian Tyson, based at Scotland Yard. Aided by a group of forensic experts and the police of three different counties, he is charged with catching a serial rapist.

Having already attacked once in South London, the target is travelling north, and Brian is in hot pursuit. With a second attack in the Midlands - this time on a young Afro-Caribbean teenager - the hunt intensifies, with Brian getting ever closer to his prey.

Can he catch the rapist before he strikes again?


Editor's Review:
Whilst 'police procedural' is not my literary genre of choice, I'm quite partial to TV series about crack teams of profilers and highfaluting police officers embarking on caffeine-fuelled hunts for dangerous criminals.

Hunting a Predator has some definite hints of shows such as CSI, Criminal Minds and Cracker, but it is distinct in several ways. It's similar in the way it's told - through a series of scenes at distinct times and locations, linear progression of the case and the procedure itself - and, of course, there's the investigative team, led by Superintendent Brian Tyson - a former officer in the Special Services.

Other personnel include Anthony Terrence and Will Fordham - forensic psychologists who play together quite nicely, considering their profession and that they're based at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford respectively. Then there's Tom Donald - a senior forensic scientist - workaholic with a heart of gold and my favourite member of the team. Brian's personal assistant Olivia needs a shout-out, too, because it's clear Brian wouldn't be anywhere near as efficient without her at his side.

As the investigation escalates, the team draws in a few others, the most prominent of those being fifteen-year-old Alonso Davis - Ace to his friends. I won't say more about what he does, but he steals the show, and in some respects, this story is as much about Ace's growth as it is about solving the crime(s). He proves himself to be a great ally - the kind of young man who could rightfully wear the badge of 'feminist'.

Aside from the refreshing mix of ethnicity, age and gender among the main characters (the bias is still white males in their 30s-40s and realistic in context), a major strength of Hunting a Predator is that whilst the focus is on the investigation, it also explores the impact of the crimes on the victims, families, communities and those involved in caring for the victims / tracking down the rapist.

This, to me, is what makes this story distinct. I stopped watching CSI and Criminal Minds because once you've seen/read one criminal investigation you've pretty much seen/read them all. The crimes change, the victims have different names, but the procedure is the same old same old. Hunting a Predator digs deeper and without falling foul of romantic sub-plots, marriages sacrificed to the job, drug/alcohol/gambling addictions, and so on.

Content warning: includes reference to the nature of the attacks (rape, constraint, mutilation) on both animals and young women. In both cases, the details are scant and not graphically or gratuitously depicted, but may cause distress to some readers.

Buy 'Hunting a Predator':

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

New Release: In His Eyes by Larry Benjamin

Title: In His Eyes
Author: Larry Benjamin
Language: English
Published: 1st August, 2017
Length: 61,500 words (266 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978 1 78645 138 5
eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 139 2
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Literary, New Adult, Adult

"When you boys fall in love, fall in love with his smile - because his smile will never age or change - and his eyes because in his eyes, you will always see the truth." That advice launches two young men on the journey to adulthood.

Told in 139 "vignettes," each dedicated to a single event, this is the story of four young men who meet in college, and follows them for more than two decades as they navigate the landscape of modern gay life.

Often playful and imaginative, but firmly grounded in the reality of gay men living in a perplexing, often hostile world, In His Eyes takes us on a journey with these men as they mature and fall in love, and struggle to maintain relationships among petty disappointments and broken dreams, while navigating the rough terrain of acceptance both internal and external.

As they break apart and come together, wound and heal, we are left to ask ourselves: does love ever really die, or is it just reborn in another time and place?


Editor's Review:
What can I tell you about the new novel from Larry Benjamin? When I think of how readily I can waffle up a storm in any other circumstances, it's hard to believe I can't find words to do justice to In His Eyes (or, indeed, any of Larry's previous works). I could repeat the blurb, but that's pointless...

Larry will tell you that In His Eyes is very different from his previous novels, and I agree with him up to a point. Whilst he possesses a unique literary voice that shapes all of his stories, this one is told through vignettes and from four different points of view, where What Binds Us and Unbroken are both written in continuous prose and from one point of view only.

It also looks nothing like I expected it to when Larry first told me about it. I envisaged there would be a certain amount of separation between the four narrative strands, with the spotlight falling on one character and leaving the others in the downstage darkness until that character had taken their turn.

What we get instead is a braiding together, and in the same way as each strand of a braid at some point rises to the surface, briefly elevated by the other strands, it remains an inseparable part of the whole, lifting the other strands to the fore when it is their turn. I'm a bit in awe, to be honest, because when I reached the end, it dawned on me that I had travelled decades with these guys, yet not once did I feel there were times unaccounted for.

I realise this review doesn't at all capture the emotional journey of these characters, the ups and downs, the relationships they encounter, or the deep friendship that holds them together. I'm not even going to attempt to do that. You need to read In His Eyes and see for yourself.

Buy 'In His Eyes':

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Larry Benjamin - In His Eyes - cover reveal, preorder links, excerpt #LGBTQIA

* Available for Preorder *

I'm excited to announce that preordering is live for In His Eyes
– Larry Benjamin's 'first novel-length work since 2013 Lammy finalist Unbroken'.
(I'm quoting him. OK, paraphrasing a little.)

* * * * *

Preorder In His Eyes:

* * * * *

Expected: 1st August, 2017
Length: 61,500 words (266 pages) approx.

"When you boys fall in love, fall in love with his smile - because his smile will never age or change - and his eyes because in his eyes, you will always see the truth." That advice launches two young men on the journey to adulthood.

Told in 139 "vignettes," each dedicated to a single event, this is the story of four young men who meet in college, and follows them for more than two decades as they navigate the landscape of modern gay life.

Often playful and imaginative, but firmly grounded in the reality of gay men living in a perplexing, often hostile world, In His Eyes takes us on a journey with these men as they mature and fall in love, and struggle to maintain relationships among petty disappointments and broken dreams, while navigating the rough terrain of acceptance both internal and external.

As they break apart and come together, wound and heal, we are left to ask ourselves: does love ever really die, or is it just reborn in another time and place?

* * * * *

Many thanks to the wonderful Bec at Bike Book Reviews for hosting a cover reveal today. 💖  Head on over to read an exclusive excerpt.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale - up to 50% off Beaten Track Titles

In July, you can get up to 50% off Beaten Track Titles in the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale:

  • 25% off 2017 titles
  • 50% off all other titles
  • (does not include titles normally priced at 99c)

Here are the discount codes (they will also show up on each listing page):

  • SW100 Free
  • SSW75 75% off
  • SSW50 50% off
  • SSW27 25% off

To browse the Smaswords Sale:

To browse Beaten Track titles on Smashwords:

New Release: The Making Of Us by Debbie McGowan

Title: The Making Of Us
Author: Debbie McGowan
Language: English
Published: 20th June, 2017
Length: 97,000 words (366 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78645-042-5
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78645-043-2
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult

When English Lit. student Jesse Thomas meets Leigh Hunter, he has to reconsider a few assumptions he's made about himself.

Two years ago, Jesse joined Pride - the uni's LGBT+ society - to support best friend Noah, and Noah's boyfriend, Matty. As a straight, cismale ally, Jesse keeps a low profile - not difficult for someone as shy and body-conscious as he is.

Leigh Hunter is Noah and Matty's new housemate. Born with a life-threatening congenital condition, Leigh is intersex and identifies as queer - none of which alters Jesse's conviction that they are the most beautiful person in the world.

While Jesse and Leigh get to know each other, a new academic year begins in earnest, bringing with it the usual challenge of balancing work and play. Add in a week's holiday in Cornwall that Jesse and Leigh half-wish they hadn't agreed to, Jesse's unplanned involvement in the election of Pride's new officers, and some big decisions for Noah and Matty, it's going to be an interesting semester all round.

NOTE: this is a stand-alone novel, but you might wish to read the Checking Him Out series in order.


Editor's Review:
I count myself devastatingly lucky that I get to sneak-peek these books before most people, and this is simply amazing.

It features battles that all of us fight at some point in our lives, whether we're young slips of things like Jesse and Leigh, the main characters, or whether we're much older than that and still dealing with the fallout. There are struggles with weight, for acceptance, with self-image, and ultimately learning not only to stand up for others, but for ourselves too. This book hits home hard, but it also leaves you with a smile on your face and a warm fuzzy feeling in your belly.

Because this is proper friendship, romance and love at its best.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

New Release: Option Four by Jon Eliot Keane

Title: Option Four
Author: Jon Eliot Keane
Language: English
Published: 25th May, 2017
Length: 57,500 words (198 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978 1 78645 126 2
eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 127 9
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Drama, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction

It's 1997, and seventeen-year-old Donn Carhart wants to come out. There are four ways it could go: reject, tolerate, accept, or they'll say 'me too!'

But his parents don't like gay people, and he doesn't know any other gay kids.

After meeting Alex, an openly gay transfer student, and learning a little bit about gay history in the United States, Donn starts the Acceptance Project club at school. The club is about addressing discrimination, and it draws a lot of student members, including Thad - the most popular guy in his class, who just so happens to be Donn's crush.

After Donn comes out, a group of parents try to shut it down as a 'gay club' - a danger to their children and the community. With his family, community, and classmates pushing back on his decisions, will Donn push forward or will he opt out?


Editor's Review:
As a preamble, I'm going to explain the difficulty of getting a book like Option Four to the right audience.

1. It's contemporary fiction.
Except it's not quite contemporary, because it's set in 1997. Now, whilst that's not so long ago, in the fight for LGBT+ rights and equality, an awful lot has happened during the past twenty years, which is why stories like Option Four1. are so important. However, the BIC book categories2. currently list 'modern and contemporary fiction' as 'post-1945', so contemporary fiction it is.

2. It's LGBT+.
BIC has NO LGBT categories at all. It does, however, have a 'qualifier': 'of specific Gay and Lesbian interest'.
BISAC3. does have several LGBT categories (fiction/romance - general/gay/lesbian; young adult fiction/romance).
Amazon4. has the categories: fiction - gay or lesbian; romance - gay or lesbian; juvenile fiction - LGBT.
Smashwords5. has the categories: young adult or ten - gay & lesbian; gay & lesbian fiction - gay/lesbian.

On this occasion, the main character does identify as gay, but these categories are next to useless when it comes to listing LGBTQIA books that are NOT gay or lesbian (i.e. bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc.)

3. It's young adult (YA).
As the points above indicate, there is variation in how YA LGBT+ fiction is listed. Does Amazon's 'juvenile fiction' extend to 'young adult'?

3. It's fiction with romance.
This is the trickiest issue of all, because, on the one hand, there are those readers/authors who see 'romance' in the narrow sense defined by the RWA6., and they're disappointed when they buy a book categorised as romance only to find it's not what they were expecting. On the other, Option Four does have a significant romance story arc, but it's not the central story arc. Thus, fans of romance will likely enjoy the novel immensely, but it isn't categorised as a romance.


So, to my review.

What readers might notice first is how incredibly well crafted this novel is. Indeed, several of those who read Option Four during the publishing process asked the same question:

Is this really Jon Eliot Keane's first novel?

This isn't necessarily to assume that all first novels are bad, or even not that great, but they often have a rawness, a feeling of newness, and a slight sense of uncertainty that wears off as the author's confidence grows.

Jon Eliot Keane writes with confidence, giving the feel of a seasoned author with a few previous works under his belt, perhaps, in part, because he did what all authors should do: sought feedback from other authors and let the story mature a little before casting it out into the publishing pond.

That confidence transfers to us readers and confers trust in the author to guide us through the story, which is crucial to a story like Option Four.

Told from a first-person perspective, the story is written in continuous prose (i.e. it's written like a novel, in titled chapters) but it takes the form of the journal entries of the main character:
My name is Donner Charles Carhart.
Sometimes, in my more cynical moments, I wonder what possessed my parents to name me that. I mean, Donner's a great name, sure - for a reindeer.
These 'asides' provide sometimes humorous, always poignant insights into the events that unfold in the story, which centres on Donn's 'coming out / coming of age':

Ready for a shock?
Brace yourself. Okay. I'm going to write it down now. First time in my life I'll have ever written this down.
Writing it down makes it real.
That may be why I haven't written it down yet. I've been sitting here with the pen hovering over the paper for five minutes, gearing up for it.
Okay. Here goes.
I think I'm gay.
Well, actually, I'm pretty sure I'm gay.
There's some margin for maybe in there. I had a girlfriend once, but she came out as a lesbian about three months after we broke up, so I'm not sure that that counts. I mean, if she was a lesbian when we were dating, then were we really dating?
I suppose it doesn't matter.
Through his journal entries, Donn shares with us readers his thoughts and feelings about significant moments, his crush, his boyfriend, his friends, his parents, school tests, and so on. But what drives this story is Donn's search for acceptance - from his peers, his parents, the school and the community as a whole. He's pragmatic and confident; he sees a problem and comes up with a solution.

Donn's decision to set up 'The Acceptance Project' - an in-school club for tackling all forms of discrimination - is driven by this pragmatism, which is awesome, but it's also at the heart of many of the interpersonal challenges he faces. He's a flawed narrator, a young guy just starting to deal with the 'big stuff' of life and not always getting it right.

Option Four is a young-adult novel, written with young-adult readers as the intended audience, but it's a novel that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, LGBT+ or otherwise. Adolescence is an experience we all share, and there are many moments in this story that will strike a familiar chord for most of us, but there are also the unique insights into what it was like to be seventeen and gay in 1997.


1. Beaten Track has a number of current and upcoming titles that are 'contemporary/historical', all crucial to ensuring that the struggle towards LGBT+ equality - how far we've come - isn't forgotten:
2. As a UK-based publisher, the BIC system is used to categorise Beaten Track's printed books.
3. BISAC is used by GooglePlay.
4. Amazon categories are used for Kindle ebooks. However, once the books are listed on the various Amazon websites, they also take into account the BISAC and BIC categories (depending on location).
5. Smashwords categories are used for our wider ebook distribution to iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, Scribd etc.
6. According to the Romance Writers of America (RWA), "Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."