Thursday, December 7, 2017

Blog Tour: If the Fates Allow Anthology (Guest Post + Giveaway)



Gracious Living Magazine Says It Has to Be a Live Tree by Killian B. Brewer: Determined to make his first Christmas with his new boyfriend magazine-perfect, Marcus seeks the advice of lovable busy bodies, the Do-Nothings Club. When he learns that his boyfriend, Hank, may have ordered a ring, Marcus’ attempts to transform his home into a winter wonderland get out of hand.  Featuring the characters from Lunch With the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette.

Killian B. Brewer lives in his life-long home of Georgia with his partner and their dog. He has written poetry and short fiction since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Brewer earned a BA in English and does not use this degree in his job in the banking industry. He has a love of greasy diner food that borders on obsessive. Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette was published in January, 2017. His debut novel, The Rules of Ever After, is available from Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press.

True North by Pene Henson: Shay Allen returns to her hometown in Montana for the holidays with her best friend Devon with the intent to return home to L.A. by New Year’s Eve. Instead, the weather traps them in the small town, but the there’s a bright spot: her old crush Milla is still in town.

Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Her first novel Into the Blue (Interlude Press, 2016) received a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance. Her second novel, Storm Season, was published by Interlude Press in 2017.

Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille by Erin Finnegan: As the one-year anniversary of his lover’s death rolls around on Christmas, Jack Volarde finds himself at their old haunt—a bar called the Casa Blanca, where a new bartender helps him open up about loss, and see brightness in a future that had grown dim.

Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and a winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. Her novel Luchador was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016, and along with her 2014 debut novel, Sotto Voce, received both a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year award and a PW starred review. 

Halfway Home by Lilah Suzanne: Avery Puckett has begun to wonder if her life has become joyless. One night, fate intervenes in the form of a scraggly dog shivering and alone in a parking lot. Avery takes him to a nearby shelter called Halfway Home where she meets bright and beautiful Grace, who is determined to save the world one stray at a time.

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer from North Carolina, she spends most of her time behind a computer screen, but on the rare occasion she ventures outside she enjoys museums, libraries, live concerts, and quiet walks in the woods. Lilah is the author of the Interlude Press books SpicePivot and Slip, and the Amazon bestselling Spotlight series: Broken Records, Burning Tracks and Blended Notes.

Shelved by Lynn Charles: When library clerk Karina Ness meets a new patron, lonely business owner, Wesley Lloyd, she puts her own love life on hold and begins a holiday matchmaking mission to connect Wes with her uncle Tony.

Lynn Charles’ love of writing dates to her childhood, when thoughts, dreams, frustrations, and joys poured onto the pages of journals and diaries. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband and adult children where a blind dog and his guardian cat rule the roost. When she’s not writing, Lynn can be found planning a trip to New York or strolling its streets daydreaming about retirement. Her novel Black Dust (2016) was named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year award. Her other novels include Beneath the Stars (2017) and Chef’s Table (2014).


Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille by Erin Finnegan

Taking a seat at the Casa Blanca was like stepping out of a time capsule in Morocco circa 1941, by way of Hollywood. Located on the ground floor of an aging hotel, it greeted patrons with the sound of big band music on the stereo and framed photos of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman on the walls. Cast on crimson and gold accents, the warm, dim lighting suggested a permanent midnight.
A comfortable oddity compared to its five-star competition up the hill, the Casa Blanca’s style was part homage to the classic film, part tequila bar. The owner insisted on a sense of classic style— no jeans or T-shirts for its bartenders, who wore crisp, white dress shirts and black slacks, though he capitulated on the bow ties when the bartenders rose up against wearing the constrictive neck ware.
Admittedly, the Casa Blanca hadn’t always been Jack’s idea of a great bar. It had been an acquired taste, born of devotion and a willingness to follow. To some, it came across as fashionably ironic: Kasbah décor-meets-Mexican restaurant to a soundtrack from the American songbook. Jack would protest that it was a hipster joint, would try to default to something fashionably modern atop Bunker Hill, an elegant spot with a view, but the Casa Blanca’s quirks and contradictions grew on him over time.
Like a fungus, he would say.
Like love, he would be admonished.
Maybe it became so much a part of his routine because it was where they had spent many of their best moments together, and a few of their worst.
The Casa Blanca was a habit born out of a relationship, a routine that died of unnatural causes one year ago.
Rattan fans swirled overhead, casting erratic shadows across the depths of the near-empty room. Televisions at opposite ends of the bar echoed the play-by-play of ESPN in hushed and reverent tones; the voice of the broadcast team usurped by Peggy Lee.
At the far corner, his back to the entrance, a solitary bartender wiped glasses while glancing at the game.
“You open?” Jack asked.
“So long as you’re thirsty,” he answered without so much as a glance in Jack’s direction, as if anticipating the interruption. “But the kitchen’s closed.”
“That’s all right,” Jack said. He made himself comfortable at a table a few feet from the bar and adjusted his chair to face the television. It might not have been sociable, but he wasn’t here for conversation.
A napkin floated to the table. A bowl of Chex Mix settled in front of his fingertips. “What are you drinking?”
Jack glanced at the bartender’s hands without looking up—the prominent veins hinted at athleticism and the nails were buffed to a soft sheen.
He drank beer at games, but beer was a drink for the sociable, to be consumed among friends. Whiskey had an appropriately solitary feel, but seemed out of place for a warm evening.
 “Tequila,” he said. “Casa Dragones.”
“And here I had you figured for bourbon.”

Killian B. Brewer

Hello and thanks for hosting me on your blog today. I’m Killian Brewer, though most people just call me Brew. I’m a Southern boy, raised in the land of peaches and peanuts. I grew up in a tiny little town in a house where we would entertain each other by telling stories. I went to college and earned my degree in English Literature, mostly because of my love of a good story. Of course, like most English majors, I don’t use that degree at all in my day job, but it does come in handy for my writing.
My story, Gracious Living Magazine Says It Must be a Live Tree, from the Interlude Press holiday anthology, If the Fates Allow, is a return to the town and characters I created in my second novel, Lunch With the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette. I really enjoyed travelling back to this world for a brief check-in with my characters.
When Interlude Press approached me about possibly writing a holiday-themed short story set in the world I created in my last novel, Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette, I quickly accepted because I’m a nut for Christmas.  Also, I thought it would be fun to check back in with Marcus Sumter, his boyfriend, Hank, and of course my favorite busybodies, the Do-Nothings.  I had established in the novel that Marcus had a transient life as a child without the usual things most kids grow up enjoying, so I was intrigued to see how he might handle the holidays in his first real home and with his newfound family. Thinking back on the elaborate decorations and plans of the Southern women I grew up around, I knew I could basically let Marcus be an excited and overwhelmed kid in a Christmas candy store. Out of this idea grew Gracious Living Magazine Says it Must Be a Live Tree. However, as I sat down to start the writing process, I realized I had two issues to deal with.
The first obstacle was getting into the holiday spirit when Christmas was months away. I resolved this by pulling up my iTunes and listening to holiday music on repeat.  Despite the grumblings from my partner that “it’s April for crying out loud,” I was soon humming White Christmas and typing away. It’s really amazing how the sounds of sleigh bells and angel choruses can transport your mind and heart right back to your fondest childhood Christmas memories, even if the rest of the world is busy dying Easter eggs.
The second hurdle, however, was not going to be jumped by queueing up some Nat King Cole. I knew a reader of this short story may not be familiar with the novel from which it is a one-off.  The reader may not know the backgrounds and personalities of my characters. Since I wanted to keep the story to an appropriate word count, I had to be careful to make sure I provided enough background to make the story make sense without weighing it down with too much exposition and explanation.
To achieve this, I sat with each of my characters again and figured out what is an essential part of their personality and background that I needed to convey. I realized that showing each character’s approach to Christmas decorations and traditions could reveal who they are. For example, Inez Coffee is the curmudgeon of the Do-Nothings. By having her express grumpy opinions and distaste for dealing with holiday preparations like hanging lights and making costumes for a children’s pageant, I established who she is. On the other hand, Priscilla Ellington is a former preacher’s wife and very religious woman. This is reflected in the story with her insistence that Marcus have a nativity scene in his home and her delight at the children’s pageant. These short-hand character explanations made it much easier for me to get back into the story quickly and yet felt true to the holiday theme of the story.
I was pleased to discover what a joy it was to return to these characters and the world they live in at the Tammy Dinette.  I hope readers will enjoy the Do-Nothing Club’s Christmas traditions and will fondly remember moments from their own holidays of the past.

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