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.

Blurb:
"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:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1

To browse Beaten Track titles on Smashwords:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/b10track

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
ASIN: B071NYVSCP
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult
URL: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/themakingofus

Blurb:
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
ASIN: B072J2DQMC
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Drama, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction
URL: beatentrackpublishing.com/optionfour

Blurb:
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.



***


Endnotes:
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." https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=578

Saturday, 15 April 2017

New Release: Love of the Game by Phetra H. Novak

Title: Love of the Game
Author: Phetra H. Novak
Language: English
Published: 15th April, 2017
Length:100,000 words (320 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978 1 78645 123 1
eBook: 978 1 78645 124 8
ASIN: B06XB72PVZ
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, BDSM, Adult
URL: beatentrackpublishing.com/loveofthegame

Blurb:
Johannes is starting his new life as a rookie in the best hockey league in the world, the NHL. His new home for the next four years is Montreal, Canada, and he's excited to get to his destination when a storm arrives, stranding him in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.

In the airport lounge, he tries to amuse himself the best he can. He's nursing a lukewarm beer, and about to head back to join his parents at their table, when the most gorgeous man he's ever seen, with piercing green eyes, buys him a drink. He swears he has never been so instantly turned on as he is in that moment. The man flirts openly with him, making no secret of what he wants from Johannes as he invites him to meet in private. Not being out only makes Johannes hesitate for a moment before accepting the beautiful stranger's come-on.

Charlie, a cocky and opinionated, ex-submissive and reporter is leaving Paris after being on vacation when the studly jock just happens to appear out of nowhere - served on a silver platter. Charlie sees no reason to deny himself a last rendezvous before he gets on his plane back to Canada.

What he doesn't expect is this stranger to see the real him. Charlie's normal plan of attack is to take charge. But when it backfires, and the studly stranger not only takes control but makes him want more, Charlie does the only thing he feel comfortable doing. He runs!

Editor's Review:
Love of the Game is a romance with strong D/s elements, although there is little in the way of what I've found in other D/s romances I've read. I haven't read many, I'll be honest, because pain is so not my thing, and whilst D/s relationships do not necessarily involve physical pain, it is almost always a feature of those relationships when portrayed in fiction. So, fair warning: there's a chapter that involves spanking (which I found surprisingly funny/sexy), and there's reference to a previous Master/slave relationship that was abusive (some readers may find this a tough one to deal with), but the romance plot itself is NOT D/s. Rather, it is about establishing trust and mutual respect. And love, of course.

Johannes is a Swedish ice hockey player who's secured a place on a top Canadian team; Charlie is a Canadian journalist with a sensational past. When the two of them hook up in Charles de Gaulle airport, it's passionate and feisty, because Charlie is...well, he's a pain in the ass, at first. This hookup is the opening to the book, and there are a couple of explicit scenes later on, but the book isn't heavy on the sex side. Mostly, this is the story of how Johannes and Charlie negotiate a relationship around Johannes' status as a sports star and Charlie's aggressive rejection of even the possibility of love.

The author is a huge fan of ice hockey and really knows her stuff, although there's only one game that takes place on page, juxtaposed against action elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed the switching between Johannes and Charlie in this part of the story, as it also gives insight into Charlie's relationship with his best friends - Marc and Luc - who are in a long-term D/s relationship and they're open about it. Marc - the Dom - constantly comes across as a caring and compassionate man; Luc, meanwhile, is passionate and dramatic, and his love for Charlie shines through.

My favourite chapter takes place in the locker room, with Johannes and his lineup. There is some sexist banter in this scene, which is authentic to context and should not be read as the author's views. That's not why I like it, I hasten to add. I just love the sense of camaraderie, plus some of the other characters are very colourful and certainly deserving of their own story (this is book one of a series, so...). I particularly love Andrew and Sergei (although they seem unlikely 'couple' material).

This contemporary M/M romance ticks the enemies-to-lovers, hurt/comfort and HEA boxes, but it's distinct in its Swedish cultural heritage, the strength of the secondary characters and thoughtful exploration of an embryonic D/s relationship.

Friday, 14 April 2017

New Release: Last Dance of The Sugar Plum by Claire Davis and Al Stewart



Author: Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 14th April, 2017
Length: 45,000 words (170 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
eBook ISBN: eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 131 6
eBook ASIN: B06Y1TK4ZV
Category: Fiction
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships
URL: http://www. beatentrackpublishing.com/sugarplum

Blurb:
Available on Kindle Unlimited

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Jonathan is a spy.

Anton is Jonathan's 'keeper'.

Jonathan is a spy with a code implanted deep in his subconscious, so deeply he can't remember - anything at all.

Anton is an interrogator intent on retrieving the code, whatever the cost.

But sometimes they dream of dark tunnels and locked-up rooms, and then they both scream.

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Along comes Harry, who seems to have all the answers...but who is he, and which side is he on?

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Bang!

For many months, Jonathan and Anton live apart from the world in a hazy, dreamlike state, only interrupted by interrogations and a healthy fear of HQ. One day, they watch a dance performance, and memories begin to unwind... A ticking clock... Betrayal... Missions... Always the scent of oranges. But with clarity, comes a return of powerful emotions...

Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is an exciting spy thriller with as many twists and turns as a maze.

Editor's Review:
Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is the longest and cleverest (so far) of Claire Davis and Al Stewart's stories. It's about...well. Here's what I've noticed in the advance reviews: no one is quite sure what it's about. Yes, there's a love story element, and if you're a romance reader, you'll find there's enough of a happy ending to satisfy your mushy side. But it's not a romance. Given how love develops in the story, it's not exactly conducive to a light-hearted romp between the sheets. But there's certainly love and a few spicy moments.

There's also intrigue, and this is where the cleverness resides. I'd contend Sugar Plum is literary fiction, because it's underpinned by strong themes and draws on many literary devices. It can also be read and understood on many different levels. For instance, I can see an overarching metaphor related to lack of control/being controlled by outside forces. There's the more obvious stripping of identity that comes from being assigned a number, and so many other potential ways to read this story that I could go on forever, but I don't want to shape other readers' perceptions.

Lastly, there's a good deal of humour - some of it blatant and 'in your face', much of it subtle. It's the kind of dark humour viewers of British alternative comedy will definitely appreciate (think Little Britain or League of Gentlemen).

It's an almost-impossible-to-review story, and all I can suggest is reading it for yourself. You'll see what I mean. Or will you?

Buy 'Last Dance of The Sugar Plum':
Amazon [Kindle edition]

Thursday, 6 April 2017

New Releases: Last Winter's Snow by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Last Winter's Snow
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 6th April, 2017
Length: 69,000 words (232 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 9781786451217
eBook ISBN: 9781786451224
ASIN: B06XMQJMD3
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, History, Romance and Relationships, Political

Blurb:
This is the story of Nilas and how he navigates life, trying to reconcile being gay as well as being Sami. Set over several decades, we follow Nilas and his Swedish husband Casper, as they build a life amid the shallows of bigotry, discrimination, and the onset of the AIDS crisis.

Last Winter's Snow portrays recent LGBT history from a Swedish perspective, from the days when being gay was considered a 'mental disorder' to today's modern anti-discrimination legislation and the move toward equality. It's also the story of one couple and the ups and downs of everyday life in the face of changing rules and attitudes toward them and their relationship.

Last, not least, it's a book that celebrates the rich history and culture of the Sami and their land, Sápmi, as well as their ongoing struggle to achieve recognition and win back the right to self-determination over lands they've lived on for thousands of years.

Last Winter's Snow is Hans M Hirschi's first novel set almost entirely in Sweden, but it is the second time (after Fallen Angels of Karnataka) he takes his readers on a journey into the mountainous regions of Scandinavia in one of his acclaimed novels.

Editor's Review:
Last Winter's Snow is (for me) Hans M Hirschi's best novel to date, not because it is a wonderful love story (which it is), or because the characters are believable (they are), but because it's socially, culturally and politically important.

It's also the one I've enjoyed most, and I've spent quite some time trying to figure out why. I've read a lot of light fantasy as a means of escape, and I still like those kinds of books (and movies), where there is a clear disconnection from reality. It's pure escapism, and it has its place. There's no emotional impact, although that's also true of a lot of contemporary fiction.

Last Winter's Snow is no ordinary contemporary fiction. It's grounded in real cultural history - a history we are in danger of forgetting, and we MUST not forget.

I love the internet. I really do. I love having a camera on my phone, the ability to send letters to people without having to remember to take them to the post box, being able to communicate with my family and friends on a regular (though remote) basis. It's changed our lives for the better in so many ways, but it's not without its limitations and pitfalls. Social network newsfeeds move so fast we lose sight of what happened only moments ago, and we expect everything now-now-now. We choose who to follow, and we choose people like us, skewing our world view. Our photos, once lovingly stuck into hardcover albums and passed on as heirlooms, now exist in virtual folders in 'the cloud'.

Moreover, we lose sight of what happened in the very recent past. In democratic societies, laws are constantly made and remade. The rights we've fought hard to secure are, in fact, never secure. The rapid pace of modern life obscures how hard we fought, and what it was like before - what it could be like again if we don't keep fighting and remain ever vigilant.

This is why books like Last Winter's Snow are so vital. Whilst Nilas and Casper are the product of the author's imagination, their story is a reality that is lived by many. It is a love story - of two men, and of Sápmi - but it is so much more. It is a document of historical significance, a permanent record to survive these transient times.