Monday, September 19, 2016

Playing with Photoshop Elements Today

I used to create all sorts of art projects with Photoshop before it became impossible for me to understand it. So today I started playing with it again. Here's what I came up with to promote the latest in the Foothills Pride series.

So far I think I'm happy with them and will try them out on Facebook to see how they look.

You can purchase Relative Best at the following retailers and wherever eBooks are sold online:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What's in My Press Kit?

Press kits came up on Facebook today, and I thought I'd throw my two cents into the pile. I was surprised that buy links and basic book info didn't come up on the original short list at the beginning of the article. How could an author forget to add these selling tools?

So I decided to make my press kit for Relative Best available for anyone interested to use as a template for his/her kit. Hey, you can even use it for your blog and help sell my book if you wish! (Yes, I'm kidding. Why would you do that?)

At any rate, here's what the press kit for Relative Best looks like:

Press information
Title: Relative Best
Author: Pat Henshaw
Series: Foothills Pride #5 (can be read as standalone)
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: August 17, 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-63477-571-7
ASIN: B01J79O0L4
Pages: 80
Words: 25,109
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Buy links:

Sometimes love sneaks up when you’re least looking for it….

Zeke Bandy, owner of Bandy’s Finest Hotel in Old Town Stone Acres, California, is too busy for love. Not only does he oversee the operations of the historic hotel and uphold his family’s tradition of offering refuge to strays and runaways, Zeke also sings and plays down-home music two nights a week at the Stonewall Saloon and for occasional celebrations. Then Zeke meets Victor Longbow, the man of his dreams.

Vic isn’t looking for love either. In fact, because of his upbringing in a strict, white foster family, Vic’s not sure he believes in love. He’s in Stone Acres to open a branch office of a national brokerage firm. He’s also hoping to find a vintage photo of what might be his Native American ancestor.

After their paths cross, they become friends, then more. Connected by their experiences as orphans raised by flawed fathers, Zeke and Vic realize that some men must find love, hone it, and create families for themselves.

Author bio:
Now living in Sacramento, California, Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska. She  promptly left the cold and snow after college and has subsequently lived in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California.  Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Pat has spent her life surrounded by words:  Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion.  Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

Author media links:

Excerpt: (1,109 wds.)
“I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. You’ve been a great audience.” The couple at the center table looked up at me with almost identical grins. Despite this being an extra gig in a very busy week, I’d enjoyed playing for their bachelor party—even if it made me feel my loneliness more sharply.

“I’ll leave the happy couple with these words from an old Native American chief who, if he was smart, said them to his other half: ‘I will fight no more forever.’” I raised my glass of water and shouted over the noisy crowd, “To Sammy and Ned—may they have a long, happy, peaceful life together!”

The raucous audience at Stonewall Saloon whooped and hollered through my words and got even louder after my last sentence. Rising from their seats, Sammy and Ned raised their clasped hands like boxers who’d won a particularly hard bout but now were on their way to a great wedding.

As they gushed about how happy they were that everybody could make it to their wedding, I started to pack up my banjo and guitars. Tonight I’d left the fiddle backstage because I was so tired. I’d been burning too many candles from both ends. After locking away the instruments in the storeroom and breaking down the mic and the amps, I caught the end of Sammy’s speech.

“If you enjoyed Zeke Bandy’s guitar and banjo playing, remember he’s here at Stonewall Thursday and Friday nights. We’re honored to have him play at our wedding.”

When the crowd cheered, I stood, turned, and waved to the fifty or sixty bobbing heads on the other side of the stage. Whistles and catcalls joined the shouts and cheers. I had my fans and a lot of regulars in the audience.

“See ya tomorrow, Red! I love you!” some drunk yelled, and the crowd cheered louder.

“Oh, cut it out, guys! You’re making me blush.” And they were, with all their yells and waves and hoots and hollers.

A cry went up about more beer from one side of the room, and the night proceeded like all the others when I played. Attention spans flew out the window as the beer and hard drinks flowed. Completely sober, I put away the rest of the equipment and shut off the power on the platform that bar owner Guy Stone had designated as a stage.

Jimmy Patterson, Stone’s significant other and owner of Penny’s coffee shops here in Stone Acres, California, waved at me as I returned to the barroom from the storage area in the back.

“I got a table!” He was trying to shout over the noise.

As I limped toward him, men slapped me on the back and told me how much they enjoyed my playing. I kept moving, even though guys tried to stop me and give me requests for Thursday night. One guy even grabbed my face and kissed me, which would have been really flattering, even hot, if he hadn’t stopped, stared at me, and said, “You’re not Tom.”

I turned to walk away, only to hear him shout, “Red, you’re cuter than Tom.” I didn’t turn back but heard him yelp like he’d been hit.

I ended up sitting at a big table in the corner of the drinking area with a decent view of the tiny new dance floor. At the table with Jimmy sat four guys—flamboyant designer Fredi Zimmer and his husband, staid, reliable Max Greene, both of whom I knew fairly well, and two guys I didn’t know.

My eyes were drawn to the one who had strong cheekbones, long blue-black hair, and vibrant adobe-colored skin. He could easily have been a poster boy for the California Native American Heritage Commission. If I could pick a guy to kiss me unexpectedly, he’d be my choice. The libido I thought dead from overwork rose from its grave.

While the guys wrangled over who was paying for the next round, I took in the other man to the left of my preferred eye candy. This guy flaunted nearly white-blond hair, startling blue eyes, and a California tan, like the ultimate surfer dude. He did nothing for me, but I appreciated the effect he’d probably have on a lot of other guys here tonight.

I could easily see the humor in the three of us sitting at the same table, though. Considering I’ve got bright red hair, porcelain white skin with a thick spattering of freckles, and cornflower blue eyes, this table covered a large portion of the rainbow.

Jimmy introduced us while he partially stood to get Stone’s attention. “Zeke, these are two of the groomsmen, Vic Longbow and Hayden Weller. Zeke Bandy.”

Both of them nodded, a nod I returned.

“Hey, man. Nice pickin’ up there.” Hayden, the beach god, waved his nearly empty glass of beer at me.

“Thanks.” I never knew what to say when someone complimented me after a performance. While part of me was floating on the post-performance high, the rest of me was critiquing what I’d done and what I’d like to do over.

“Are you recorded?” Vic’s voice was low and soothing, the kind of sound that oddly created a center of calm in the middle of the barroom noise. I gladly stepped into the peace and took a deep breath.

I looked down, fleetingly taking in the scarred tabletop, and balanced momentarily on the pinpoint of serenity Vic had presented me.

“No, no recordings. I haven’t ever had the time or energy.” I shrugged. I owned and ran the historical hotel in downtown Stone Acres. When was there time to record?

“Where do you get the songs? Are they yours?” Vic was focused on me so much that the rest of the table dimmed.

“No. God, no. They’re all old tunes that have been knocking around forever, mostly by bluegrass and folk groups. I take it you don’t listen to this kind of sound?”

He smiled. “You’ve opened up a whole new door for me, and I can’t wait to explore what’s inside this new music room.”

His look caressed me enough that my dick perked, and suddenly I dared to believe my dream of finding a boyfriend and possibly a husband wasn’t as nebulous as I’d always thought. If someone this fine could look at my skinny ginger self and respond even half as much as he was, I was on the right path. I grinned at him and he at me.

Yeah, he was too hot for me with his high cheekbones and exotic hair, but I could practice on him and dream, right?

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Was in a Stagecoach Robbery!

It's true. When we visited Columbia State Park in Columbia, California, we paid to ride on a stagecoach.

As we progressed out of town....well, wait a minute! I tell this story on the Love Bytes blog today. Why retell it here?

I also include a photo of the stagecoach as well as one of the robber so you can identify him quickly too.

The historic town of Columbia is in the same area of the foothills as the Foothills Pride series. And the Columbia City Hotel is somewhat like the Bandy Hotel in Relative Best. You could call City Hotel the seedling of the Bandy.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

And the Reviews Keep on Coming...

Here are the reviews Relative Best snagged today:

Even though each book is billed as a standalone, there are a lot of characters in play and it can be overwhelming if you haven’t started at the beginning. If you’re looking for sweet-insta-love with low heat and easily resolved angst in under 100 pages – Foothills Pride won’t disappointment.

Love Bytes: 4 of 5 hearts
I liked the story, and I’m definitely recommending it. I’d recommend reading the other four installments as well. They could easily be read as standalones since the characters flow over, but the storylines don’t. It is an enjoyable short, fast read.

Three Books Over the Rainbow: 4 ½ of 5 hearts
Relative Best was like fresh air for me. This story is a real gem with a unique writing style and two intriguing, lovable MCs.

The story is perfectly built, with flawless writing, great timing and lots of feeling. I enjoyed every page of it. Highly recommended!

Are all the reviews this wonderful? No, not really, as you can see from these two:

Open Skye Reviews: 2 of 5 stars
I definitely didn’t feel a good connection between Zeke and Vic, and I thought the other “side stories” detracted from their main story and the overall feeling the story left was fairly muddy. I can’t recommend this – sadly – but I do recommend the rest of the series and encourage readers to look at those stories instead.

Overall, however, I just can't really enjoy this story. It's got all the elements that have frustrated me in all previous four books as well as some new ones. The characters are also much more loosely connected to the previous characters, so that I don't even get to see the likes of Jimmy or Fredi that much, to make up for it. For me, this one fell short on too many things, not least of which were uninspiring main characters and an underwhelming plot arc.

If any of this has helped you make up your mind to read the book,  you can purchase it at the following retailers and wherever eBooks are sold online:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Four Wonderful Release Day Reviews

Relative Best released today, and three terrific blogsites gave it good reviews! Let's concentrate on those today, shall we? You can read the full reviews by clicking on the names of the blogs.

MM Good Book Reviews gave the book 5 stars and said these very nice words about it:

"This is an enjoyable story and a great addition to the series. I found this to be full of emotion and fully relatable."

"When Vic finds the picture he was looking for and has a pretty bittersweet moment about it, Zeke gets to come to the rescue with his words and it was a lovely, lovely speech. 'To two puzzle pieces completing the world’s smallest puzzle.' I loved that.
"This is a sweet, pretty angst free story, easy to read and quick."

MM Book Escape: 4 stars

"I enjoyed the story, however, I think I would have liked it better had the author given more page time to Vic and Zeke and maybe less history of the hotel."

"Overall, I enjoyed reading Relative Best; it’s a heart-warming story in a rustic contemporary setting that feels authentic and is well-suited to the storyline. The characters are relatable, the villains are believable, and the supporting cast has a delightful quirkiness to it. The story is not sexually explicit, so for first-time M/M readers, it makes for a great introduction to the genre."

Thank you for the wonderful release day reviews!

For those who want to buy a copy to read Relative Best for themselves, you can purchase it at the following retailers and wherever eBooks are sold online:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

That New-Book Smell

My #1 Fan reads my new book
Today my copies of Foothills Pride Stories, Vol. 1 appeared on my doorstep. Talk about exciting!

Some writers have compared this to receiving a Christmas present, but it's better than that. For one thing, it's physical proof of hard work and perseverance. It's like the first clipping from a newspaper with a byline.

Even though I know there are libraries full of obsolete and unread books and that mine may be joining their ranks probably before this year is over, I've at least accomplished a goal I've had since I was a child, creating books from stray sheets of paper and crayons.

What does a box of books feel like and smell like? The paperbacks are weighty as if they contain important stories, even if they are romances.

And the smell? Ah, the smell is the writer's version of the new car smell. Wonderful.

Not that I'm excited or anything.... LOL

If you'd like your own copy of this marvelous book, you can get one from these online stores or bookstores everywhere.

Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Barnes & Noble

Where Do Some of My Ideas Come From?

Today I talk about the not very secret places where I found inspiration for the latest Foothills Pride release, Relative Best, at two blog sites:

At Alpha Book Club, I talk about searching for the perfect bar songs for narrator Zeke Bandy to sing at the Stonewall Saloon. For this I did a bunch of Internet searches and finally came up with a list that looked somewhat promising. Is your favorite bar sing-along piece one of those listed?

Then over at My Fiction Nook, I spill the beans about where I came up with the historic Bandy Hotel that's central to Relative Best.

To buy a copy of the 5th book in the Foothills Pride series, Relative Best, go to one of these sites or wherever eBooks are sold:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble