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RELEASE WEEK BLITZ: LAVENDER IN BLOOM BY LILY VELEZ

NEW RELEASE!

LAVENDER IN BLOOM BY LILY VELEZ

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

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It’s the year 1802 in Avignon, France

Noah Capet has spent most of his young life living simple and unvaried days in the hushed countryside of southern France. Quiet, reserved, and diffident, his preference for existing is to do so in solitude, keeping to himself both in town and on his family’s farm—a predilection that’s altogether disrupted when a newcomer to town by the name of Jeremie Perreault begins an unremitting quest to befriend him.

Jeremie is everything Noah is not. Charismatic and gregarious, he leaves a trail of charmed admirers in his wake wherever he goes. Expressive and idealistic, he talks without end about his deep love for old books and his spirited dream to one day travel the world on a literary pilgrimage.

Over the course of a single summer, the two form an unlikely friendship, but just as quickly as it develops, it soon entirely dissolves as they’re forced to face the truth of what has unexpectedly emerged between them.

Lavender in Bloom is a tender and tragic coming-of-age story about first love and self-discovery, and a poignant reminder that time is fleeting and always takes with it the choices we’re too afraid to make.

Publication Date: July 25th, 2016
Genre: Historical, Coming-of-Age Romance

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GUEST POSTThe Lavender in Bloom Playlist:

I absolutely love music and its power to stir the heart and so deeply move us. Creating a playlist for my books is one of my go-to strategies in my writer’s toolbox because listening to that playlist is the easiest way for me to get into the mood of a scene or the headspace of a particular character. Below, check out the tracks that made it onto the playlist for Lavender in Bloom, along with commentary on why each song’s so perfect for the story.

You can listen to the entire playlist for Lavender in Bloom here.

Frail Love by Cloves — This song was an absolute Godsend and I’m so glad I found it, as it ended up becoming the ‘theme song’ for Lavender in Bloom. Every last lyric was just perfect for Noah and Jeremie’s story. Especially these particular lines: I can’t live it like I’m living, I can’t live a lie, I’m giving up more than I should, forgive me for my frail love. 

All I Want by Kodaline — For the longest time, this track was the theme song for Lavender in Bloom. I honestly couldn’t listen to it without getting teary-eyed, as it so perfectly captures the tragedy of Noah and Jeremie’s story. Favorite lines: When you said your last goodbye, I died a little bit inside and If you loved me, then why’d you leave me?

The Beautiful Ones by The Battle of Land and Sea — I love this song because, for one, it’s a break from the sad songs, but also because I feel it sets the mood for Noah’s life in the countryside. It has a very rural feel to it that makes me think of a simple and tranquil living.

Say Something by A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera — Another perfect song for Noah and Jeremie’s story. In fact, there’s a point in Lavender in Bloom where Jeremie outright tells Noah to just say the word, and he’ll be his. There’s also a point where they’re sort of at odds, waiting for the other to make the first move (or speak the first word, as it were), and this song really captures that. Favorite lines: Anywhere I would’ve followed you and I will swallow my pride: you’re the one that I love and I’m saying goodbye.  

The Power of Love by Gabrielle Aplin — I included this song because it really captured the mood for a fable that’s featured in Lavender in Bloom. In fact, it’s a fable that describes how lavender first came into bloom in France. It’s based on an ‘alternate universe’ story featuring Noah and Jeremie, and it would be the perfect song for a montage of their love. Favorite line: The power of love, a force from above, cleaning my soul.

Make it Holy by The Staves — This is such a pretty song, and it’s perfect from Jeremie’s perspective. Favorite lines: I could make you want me, make you need me, make you mine. I could make it holy, make it special, make it right. 

Forgetting by David Gray — Another sad song. From the very first chords, this song just sets the mood for a scene of heartbreak. It kind of has a nostalgic feel to it. Despite the title of the song, it’s the type of song that makes you remember times long past.

Ashes by Madi Diaz — This is another song I see as being from Jeremie’s perspective, especially toward the end of the book, when he asks Noah to make a certain decision. Favorite lines: Don’t you let me down and No, I won’t stand to keep watching you stay. 

I Will Love You by Gin Wigmore — One of the few happy love song on the Lavender in Bloom playlist, and the only one with a more upbeat melody. As such, it’s very much treasured. This is a cute one, too. I love every single lyric, but my favorite lines are: If you die before I do, I know that heartache will kill me, too, so if I ever lived again, it would be to find you. It’s especially perfect because I can definitely see Noah and Jeremie as living many lives and finding each other in each one.

Tell Me How to Feel by Maggie Eckford — This song captures one of the main character’s thoughts in the wake of the book’s concluding actions, in which they just feel so blindsided, lost, and heartbroken.

Benediction by Luke Sital-Singh — This song has a sad vibe from the start, and it’s also one I picked because it instantly makes me think of the lavender fable and Noah and Jeremie’s ‘alternate universe’ story. Favorite lines: There’s a knock in the silence, I see death at the door, But I know we’ll be alright, ‘Cause your hands are still warm and I’m sorry we don’t have forever, but come die with me.

Hengilas by Jonsi — This song’s in another language (Icelandic!), but it has such an atmospheric quality to it that just draws you in. Favorite lines: We look into foreign eyes, yet we have always known each other. Perfect, because Jeremie has a line in Lavender in Bloom about Noah’s eyes feeling like home even from the moment he first looked into them.  

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DSC_6040fourLily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she’s not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at www.lilyvelezbooks.com.

CONNECT WITH LILY:

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BLOG TOUR: Third Mate (River Wolf Pack #3) by Rebecca James

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Today we’re thrilled to welcome Rebecca James to 3 Chicks to discuss her latest River Wolf Pack  story, Third Mate.  Please join us in making her feel at home! :)

GUEST POST:

Where do we go from here?
Book three leaves our favorites in a rather precarious position, and some readers may wonder if there will be a book four. The answer is yes, probably, although the end of book three can be thought of as a stopping point. My publisher plans to put the first three books in a box set. If you’re one of those people who don’t like to read a series until it’s finished, you can safely read these three books and feel a fair sense of completion with a HFN (happily for now).

Speaking of which, there are many who talk about HFE (happily forever), and I’m of the opinion that that can only be achieved if you follow the MC’s through their entire lives and end with them old and together or dying and together (I actually read a book like this recently). I’m unlikely to write that, although never say never. I do, however, like to write books that end happily for my characters, with the reasonable assumption that they’re staying together forever.

So, what’s planned for book four?
Without really spoiling what happens at the end of book three, I’ll say there will be more of the Turned, more of Foster’s quest for his soul mate, a possible reappearance of a threat, and more sex, lol.

What else have I got going on?
Well, I have more of Nicco and Rider from Partners and Lovers. I’ve got a contemporary story in the works that’s got older/younger MC’s. I have a contemporary vampire story and a paranormal sci-fi. I’ll tell you a little about the contemporary story. It’s about a nineteen-year-old young man named Ethan who lives in the southern United States with his father who is a preacher. Ethan meets Donovan, a doctor from New York City, online and eventually arranges to meet with him. Ethan had initially lied about his age, and he never told Donovan otherwise. When Donovan finds out, he doesn’t want anything to do with Ethan. But Ethan’s had one night of passion, and he won’t be put off that easily.

Here’s a short, unedited snippet: 
Rubbing my arm, I zeroed in on an empty space across the room and made my way to it, looking neither left nor right as I zig-zagged around tables. The couch was black and sort of built into the wall with colorful cushions in each corner. I sat and looked around. There were these long, swirly lamps coming down from the ceiling made with little crystals, sort of like twisted waterfalls. Two fancy chairs were facing the couch. Most of the people in the bar sat on the modern white chairs situated around tables, and even though I wanted to be alone, after a few minutes I felt really conspicuous by myself. I tried not to fidget and to look like I belonged.

“What can I get you, sir?” a young woman dressed in black pants and a plain white button-down shirt asked me. She held a tray under her arm and a pad of paper and pen in her hands.

I fished my wallet out of my pocket. I was only nineteen, but most people said I looked older, and I had a really good fake ID.

“A Tom Collins, please,” I said. That seemed like a good, safe drink. Not too fancy, not too boring. The waitress looked at my ID then at me, nodded, and walked away. I hoped no one noticed my sigh of relief. I’d told Donovan I was twenty-four and had gone to college late, when I was really only just finishing up my freshman year at the local po-dunk community college. I was working on getting in somewhere better, but one thing at a time.

I realized I was frowning and leaned back, putting one arm up over the back fo the couch, trying for casual and comfortable.

“Ethan?”

I jumped in my seat, blood rushing to my cheeks at the sound of that voice. Man, I’d know it anywhere. I turned and got my first in-person look at Donovan O’Reilly. He was even more gorgeous face-to-face, and I wouldn’t have thought that possible.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

After the birth of River and Josiah’s twin girls, pack tensions increase. The presence of rogue wolves, females, and humans have many pack members uncomfortable. In exchange for Leo’s help, Stone offers Leo the position of second alpha should Stone succeed in usurping River. Leo’s conflicted between his desire to rise in the pack, his dislike for Stone, and his increasing feelings for both Sam and Foster.  Sam and Foster are best friends, but as a coyote shifter, Foster yearns for his true mate and doesn’t believe he will find him if he stays with the werewolves. Jax knows he must make a difficult decision before he’s turned out of the compound. When David finds out Brooks is considering mating Stone, he determines to stop it. The Angel Hills pack offer a deal in exchange for omegas for their pack.

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Book Series: River Wolf Pack Series, 3
Publisher:  JMS Books
Release Date:  July 16th
Heat Level: 5
Pairing: Male/Male and Male/Male/Male
Book Length: 176 pages
Genre/Tags: poly, contemporary, paranormal (wolf-shifters), M/M and M/M/M romance, paranormal romance

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EXCERPT:

Stone’s sharp, deep voice cut into Leo’s thoughts, and he turned his attention to the front where the contentious alpha had already begun arguing his points.

“…no place for females. Do they even have any werewolf in them?”

“Of course they do; they’re mine. They are developing as quickly as any werewolf child.” River said more calmly than Leo would have under the scrutiny of so many condemning eyes.

“But have they shifted?” someone asked.

“Not yet. You know as well as I do that they could be a year old before they shift.”

If they shift,” Stone muttered. “And most do by seven months.”

“If they don’t shift,” someone else said, “they aren’t werewolves. They’ll have to leave.”

“They don’t belong here.” Stone stood, feet apart and hands on hips. Justin, Stone’s pregnant omega, cowered in submission at the sound of Stone’s displeased voice. His three beta mates sat with eyes downcast, although Leo saw Canaan glance up more than once. There was something shrewd and calculating about Canaan, and although Leo felt sorry for him after his son was killed, it didn’t make it any easier to like him.

“As my children, they certainly do belong here, as yours do, and the progeny of everyone else present,” River said, tone brooking no argument.

Stone made a frustrated sound and looked around, eyes landing on Griffin, an alpha of Stone’s age.

Griffin stood. “Your own father drove your mate’s father from the pack for having relations with a human female.”

“My father did not drive him out. Derrick was punished—told he couldn’t leave the compound. But he ran away.”

“This is true,” Old Ben called out.

“The fact remains that Thorn did not approve of the boy’s actions,” Griffin argued. “He didn’t invite Derrick to bring his female lover into the pack because females don’t belong with werewolves.”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at,” River said with a sigh. “I am not attempting to bring a female among us. My daughters were born to me, and are therefore a part of this pack.”

Before Griffin could speak again, Stone interrupted. “Which wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t mated with the half-human, which you did without consulting the pack.”

“Josiah is a werewolf,” River said. “And I do not need to consult my pack before mating.”

Half-werewolf,” Stone corrected. “Unlike someone who willingly takes the bite and transforms, your mate will always be part human. Which is why he spawned twin abominations—”

In two steps, River crossed the room and had Stone’s neck between his hands, thumbs cutting off the alpha’s air flow. Leo glanced at the humans. Several flinched, and others looked horrified.

“Don’t you ever,” River breathed heavily into Stone’s purpling face, “ever speak of my mate or children in that manner again. Am I clear?”

Stone’s eyes bulged and his mouth gaped as he tried to dislodge River’s grip. Leo stood, along with the other alphas in the room. As pack alpha, River had the right to kill Stone for such an insult, and Leo found himself almost hoping River would. He got the feeling Stone’s mates felt similarly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca James logoRebecca James has written all her life, mostly to entertain herself and friends. An English major, she currently writes as a second job but would love to do it full-time. Her first book came out in October of 2015. Since then, she’s written both contemporary and paranormal and hopes to put out a sci-fi book soon.

She’s fortunate to have a husband who supports her in her writing career, three wonderful children, and a rat-terrier.

CONNECT WITH REBECCA:

Website Facebook Twitter Tumblr

GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Prize: FIVE winners will be selected to win an eBook copy of their choice of any book in the River Wolf Pack series and ONE lucky person will win all three!

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Blog Tour and Review: A More Perfect Union Anthology by B.G. Thomas, Jamie Fessenden, Michael Murphy, and J. Scott Coatsworth

A Perfect Union

A More Perfect Union including authors B.G. Thomas, J. Scott Coatsworth, Jamie Fessenden, Michael Murphy
Release Date: 6/26/16
Length: 104K / 350 Pages
Format: eBook, Paperback
Price: 6.99, 17.99
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Pairing: MM Romance

We’re thrilled to welcome four stellar authors to our site today. They’re here for their blog tour stop for A More Perfect Union but I believe they’re here to make us shed many happy tears over their touching stories about their perfect union and the day marriage equality became reality for the US. Grab your tissues and continue reading….

Welcome, B.G. Thomas, J. Scott Coatsworth, Jamie Fessenden, Michael Murphy! We’re fortunate to have you here today, for your beautiful, personal stories, and for the wonderful words written in A More Perfect Union.

Thanks for allowing us to stop by the 3 Chicks After Dark blog for our tour for A More Perfect Union, a new anthology of stories about same sex marriage and marriage equality by four gay,married men. Together, we have a combined 21 years of marriage, and 88 years together as couples.

The four of us answered the following question for you:

Where were you when the US Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality on June 26th, 2015? What do you remember about that moment?

B.G. Thomas:

Legally Married 2 Years, 16 Years Together (& 10 Years Married by Heart and Ceremony)

I was at work. I had just happened to turn on my phone and opened Facebook and there it was. I nearly burst into tears. I was overjoyed and so incredibly happy. I jumped on the forklift and zoomed over to area of the building where my husband works and let him know. I was utterly amazing.

I was overjoyed. I had to go the restroom to make sure I wasn’t crying in front of everyone. I was flying high all day. To know what I already knew—that I am not a second class citizen—was incredibly powerful. Civil Unions were not enough. Now not only did I have my own marriage, but I knew everyone else could have one as well. And now two years later, I find I am just as happy! And the feelings are just as powerful. Not a second class citizen! I am legally equal to everyone else in this country.

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Michael Murphy:

Legally Married 6 Years, 33 Years Together

On the day that the cases were argued at the Supreme Court I had gone to the court and stood outside in the huge crowds gathered there, watching history be made. We couldn’t see anything going on inside the court, but I was there.

Since we never know exactly what day opinions on specific cases will be delivered, it is harder to plan to go to the court to hear them rule on a specific case. It’s funny, but the day the decision came down, I had thought about going to the court to see if perhaps that was the day. But I talked myself out of it and went directly to work instead.

But at 10:00 when the Court convened that day, I was tuned in to and a couple of other news sites, waiting, wondering if perhaps that would be the day. I had sort of expected them to hold that decision until near the very end of the term, a couple of days away still at that point.

And then the news came. I downloaded the opinion and quickly forwarded a copy to my boss with the news since my organization had filed an amicus brief with the cases at each and every step along the way, at every level of the fight. As quickly as I could, I skimmed the opinion. And it was real. And it was a great day. Finally, finally, at least for that day, until the opposition found some new way to try to take them away, we were equal.

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Jamie Fessenden:

Legally Married 6 Years, 15 Years Together

I don’t remember much specifically about that day. Keep in mind that Erich and I were already married. We understood how important this was for other same-sex couples in the country, and LGBTQ rights in general, but it didn’t have a direct bearing on us.

We’d been following the arguments in the court case, and growing infuriated by the phenomenal ignorance the opposing side was displaying — and the fact that some of the judges seemed to give credence to idiotic notions. Only Kagan, Sotomayor, and the wonderful Ruth Bader Ginsburg (whom I would President, if I could) seemed to understand that this was about treating people like human beings — not some ridiculous notions about “redefining marriage.”

I honestly wasn’t sure things would go our way — not after the conservative justices made some bizarre comments that seemed frankly rather shortsighted. But I heard about the decision on Facebook, when it was announced. I didn’t trust it, at first, so I did some digging around on new sites. But it was real. I could hardly believe it. I had to call my husband at work to tell him.

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J. Scott Coatsworth:

Legally Married 7 years, 24 Years Together

I was at my desk. I remember it clearly. We had the TV on, and I was on three or four news websites, refreshing them every five seconds.

It was 7 in the morning here in California. Mark was up too, and we were both on pins and needles. This is what we had been working toward since 2008, when Prop 8 here in California had taken away the right to marry just three days after Mark and I had tied the knot.

And now here we were. A ruling against us would set back the movement at least a decade.

And suddenly it was Yes!

I jumped up and grabbed Mark and hugged him tight, bursting into tears. “They said yes!” And there was this weird feeling of… not exactly loss… of ending. Of a historic moment, and a struggle to which we’d given almost everything, coming to a final, decisive end.

Two days later, on a sunny Sunday in San Francisco, we marched with the Marriage Equality USA contingent down Market Street, and a million people cheered for Mark and I, for the other married couples walking with us, and for the new world that had been ushered into being by five Justices in black robes a continent away.

It was an amazing time.

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Blurbs

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made a monumental decision, and at long last, marriage equality became the law of the land. That ruling made history, and now gay and lesbian Americans will grow up in a country where they will never be denied the right to marry the person they love.

But what about the gay men who waited and wondered all of their lives if the day would ever come when they could stand beside the person they love and say, “I do?”

Here, four accomplished authors—married gay men—offer their take on that question as they explore same-sex relationships, love, and matrimony. Men who thought legal marriage was a right they would never have. Men who, unbelievably, now stand legally joined with the men they love. With this book, they share the magic and excitement of dreams that came true—in tales of fantasy and romance with a dose of their personal experiences in the mix.

To commemorate the anniversary of full marriage equality in the US, this anthology celebrates the idea of marriage itself, and the universal truth of it that applies to us all, gay or straight.

Someday, by B.G. Thomas

Lucas Arrowood is walking to school on his first day of kindergarten when he meets Dalton Churchill—a boy who stops and helps him tie his shoe. He knows from that moment he is going to marry that boy one day.  “Boys can’t marry other boys,” his mother explains, but that doesn’t stop Lucas. He knows what he wants.

He and Dalton become best friends—and then, no matter how much he resists, Dalton falls in love with Lucas. Dalton’s very conservative family can’t accept that their boy loves another boy, but finally Dalton stands up for love and for Lucas. Still, he declares he won’t marry Lucas until it is legal everywhere. He hates the “Commitment Ceremonies” gay men have. They aren’t the real thing. Why bother?

So Lucas waits for his day. The day same-sex marriage finally becomes legal and he can be joined forever with the love of his life.

Flames, by J. Scott Coatsworth

Alex and Gio had a big fight, and Alex ran away. Then a fire at home destroyed the life they had built together, and threatened to take Gio away from him.

Alex had always thought love was enough to keep them together. Why did they need wedding rings or legal certificates? But now, with Gio lost in a coma, his mother has banished Alex from his side.

What if Alex’s voice is the only thing that can bring Gio back from the brink? Their memories are all Gio has left, and the urge to just let go is getting stronger.

Still, nothing can keep Alex from Gio’s side. If it’s against the rules, he’ll break them. In stolen moments alone together, Alex fights to bring him back, one memory at a time.

Destined, by Jamie Fessenden

When Jay and Wallace first meet at an LGBTQ group, they have no idea they’ll be dating six years later. In fact, they quickly forget each other’s names. But although fate continues to throw them together, the timing is never quite right. Finally they’re both single and realize they want to be together… but now they can’t find each other! With determination and the help of mutual friends, Jay and Wallace can finally pursue the relationship they’ve both wanted for so long.

It’s only the beginning of the battles they’ll face to build a life together.

From disapproving family members all the way to the state legislature, Jay and Wallace’s road to happily ever after is littered with obstacles. But they’ve come too far to give up the fight.

Jeordi and Tom, by Michael Murphy

Living as an open, loving gay couple in the rural South isn’t easy—even today.

When Jeordi and Tom move in together and come out to their families, Jeordi’s family does not take the news especially well. When yelling doesn’t work, they send in one sibling after another to try to separate the couple. When that fails, they call out their pastor to help Jeordi see the error of his ways. But Jeordi’s love for Tom is greater than anything they throw at them.

When an accident sends Jeordi to the hospital, his family goes too far when they try to keep Tom from visiting his partner. Jeordi and Tom are determined to do everything in their power to gain legal protection so this can never happen again. But when a bigoted county clerk refuses to issue them a marriage license, Jeordi decides a big, bold effort is called for, which is precisely what he sets in motion so no one can ever separate him from Tom again.

A More Perfect Union

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Excerpts

Someday, by B.G. Thomas

“The first time Lucas Arrowood saw Dalton was on his way to his first day of kindergarten. His mother was walking him to school, he was very excited, and his right shoelace was flopping, untied.

“Baby,” said his mom. “Let’s sit down and try to tie your shoe.”

He looked up at her, excitement temporarily quashed. He couldn’t do it. Couldn’t tie his shoe. And he was supposed to be able to. His mother had tried to show him how—over and over again—but he couldn’t get the laces to go where they were supposed to go, and it just fell apart. He couldn’t do it. If his teacher found out, would they make him go home? Would he have to wait until next year? That would be horrible!

“Hey, you can do it. It’s easy!”

Lucas gave a little jump, turned around, and sighed as he looked into the narrow dark eyes of the most beautiful human being he had ever seen.

“Want me to help?” the boy asked, flipping his mop of dark brown hair out of his eyes with a toss of his head. “I taught a bunch of kids last year when I was in kindergarten.”

A bunch of kids hadn’t known how to tie their shoes? That perked up his ears. Lucas looked up at his mother.

She smiled. “Do you want him to help?”

Then he realized something. He did want the boy to help him. He thought he would do
anything the boy wanted him to do, even ask his mom to take the training wheels off his bike (which was a big scary because he was afraid of falling and getting hurt!).

“Sit down,” said the boy, pointing to the landscaping wall along the sidewalk.” Lucas sat.

“What’s your name?” asked Lucas’s mother.

“Dalton Churchill. Like Winston Churchill. Only it’s Dalton.”

He smiled, and Lucas knew Dalton was the most beautiful boy on the planet.

“Who’s Winston Churchill?” Lucas asked.

Dalton shrugged and got down on one knee before Lucas. “I don’t know. I think he’s a minister. Okay, now, first you pull your laces up and then cross them over, like this.” Dalton demonstrated.

“I can tie a knot,” Lucas said, wanting very much not to look like a complete dope in front of Dalton. Then he frowned. “It’s the other part I get mixed up on.”

“That’s cool,” Dalton said, tying the knot. “Okay…. So here’s the tricky part. First you make a loop and stick it up so it looks like a tree—see?”

Lucas nodded. He wasn’t sure the upward turned loop looked much like a tree, but he wasn’t going to tell Dalton that.

“Then you take the other lace and wrap it around the bottom like this—like a dog running around the tree.”

Lucas smiled. “My neighbor has a dog. His name is Super Mario.”

“That’s a great name,” Dalton said, laughing.

Then he finished showing Lucas how to tie his shoe.

“Wow,” Lucas said.

But then Dalton untied the shoe.

“Hey!” cried Lucas.

“Now you do it,” Dalton said. He nodded. “You can. I know you can. Easy.”

Lucas wanted to yell, “No, I can’t!” but he quite suddenly knew he could not disappoint the pretty boy with the beautiful eyes. He sighed. What had Dalton said about a tree? He made a loop with one of the laces.

“Just like that, but the other one. Unless you’re a southpaw.”

Lucas looked up through his own dark bangs. “Huh?”

“Southpaw means left-handed.”

“Oh!” Lucas giggled. “I’m not.”

“Tree!” Dalton ordered, brows knitted together.

So Lucas made a loop with his shoelace.

“Yes!” Dalton said with such enthusiasm Lucas would have thought he’d ridden down to the corner and back on his bike without training wheels. He laughed and then thought about dogs running around the base of trees. A moment later, Lucas had tied his shoe. His mother clapped.

“Yes,” shouted Dalton. “I knew you could do it, Lucas.”

Dalton walked the rest of the way to school with them. But even better, he also promised to walk Lucas to school the next day.

Flames, by J. Scott Coatsworth

Monday, September 27

There was only this moment. This place. Alex holding Gio’s hand, gently because of the burns on the back of Gio’s arm and hand. The sounds of the breathing machine came in regular soft sighs.

The little green box held in Alex’s other hand– and all it symbolized between them.

All their life together had shrunk down to this moment, this place, this plea. “Please wake up, Gio. Amore mio, svegliati.”

Sunday, September 12. Two weeks earlier

Alex was late getting home, and he was in a foul mood from the long, difficult day at work. One of the properties he’d made a bid on had fallen through, and another client had all but called him a bald-faced liar.

He was looking forward to getting home, taking a long hot shower, then crawling into bed.

Alex was startled to find a whole meal, complete with wine and candles, laid out on their dining room table. Gio must have spent the whole day cooking.

Alex was late. He’d been delayed with his angry client, and to make matters worse, his phone had up and died halfway through the afternoon and he’d been without his car charger.

He was already annoyed when he walked in the door.

“Welcome home, amore,” Gio called from the kitchen.

“I had a hell of a day….” He caught a whiff of whatever Gio was cooking.

“Come sit down. I’ve got everything ready.”

The dining room looked like a Martha Stewart production of a telenovella Thanksgiving.

“I’m sorry. I’m not really hungry. Things were the shits at work today.”

“Sorry to hear that. Have a seat.” Gio grabbed his elbow and urged him toward his chair.

“Food makes everything better.”

Alex was starting to get annoyed. “Look, I’m sorry, but I’m not hungry. I just want to wash up– ”

“That’s just the job talking.” Gio took his arm again.

“Knock it off! I’m not in the mood tonight.”

Gio looked hurt, but Alex plowed on, too incensed to stop.

“This isn’t some kind of June and Ward Cleaver relationship.”

“I just– ”

“You have to let go of your stupid, unrealistic expectations of me and this relationship.”

Gio frowned. “That’s bullshit, and you know it. Just because you had a bad day at work, there’s no reason to take it out on me.”

He was right. But Alex couldn’t admit it. “Just leave me the fuck alone,” he said, grabbing his phone charger and storming out. He’d find somewhere else to sleep tonight.”

Destined, by Jamie Fessenden

1999

Doug had seemed terrific when Jay first met him. He was funny, attentive, good in bed, and Jay’s family thought he was great. At family gatherings, that is—not in bed. They were living together in short order.

But after two years, things weren’t going so well. They’d moved to Dover, which
allowed Jay to get back in touch with some of his college friends, but their relationship seemed to grow rockier by the day. They fought constantly, though Jay was never really sure what they were fighting about. They just didn’t… fit anymore.

But still he tried. Jay was nothing if not stubborn.

His ties to the pagan/Wiccan world had long ago faded away, since Doug thought that stuff was weird and creepy. In fact, his ties to anything outside the tech industry had pretty much withered to nothing. He worked long hours, during which he thought about nothing but computers and switches and routers. It paid well, and raises were frequent, so he was caught up in the game his coworkers played—pushing for promotions or transfers every six months to a year in order to get salary increases. Like his coworkers, he had an E*TRADE account and spent time between support calls attempting to build a stock portfolio. He had the sense not to gamble the small amount of savings he had, but it was a fun game to play.

But he was unsatisfied. He couldn’t quite put a finger on why until one Saturday, when he was sitting at Café on the Corner and his friend, Steve, happened by. Steve had been part of the medieval reenactment group Jay hung out with in college, and apparently he was still involved with them.

“Michaelmas is coming up,” Steve pointed out, referring to one of the large feasts the group “put on every year. “It’s going to be at the Unitarian Church. You should come.”

Jay couldn’t see that happening. He no longer had any of his medieval “garb,” and Doug was likely to turn his nose up at the idea of hanging out with a bunch of reenactors all day.

Jay said diplomatically, “I’ll think about it.”

“Well, at least stop by the monthly Wiccan group. Julie’s usually there, and Mark. A whole bunch of the old crowd. That’s tomorrow. Same place.”

It would be nice to see some of them. And Doug was working on Sunday. “That might be fun.”

“Are you still writing?”

He wasn’t. Jay had written a lot of science fiction stories in college, and he’d talked about getting published one day. But that, like everything else he’d enjoyed in those days, seemed like nothing more than a dream he’d once had, barely remembered.

This conversation was getting depressing.

“So,” he asked, trying to change the subject, “do you still sing?”

Steve grinned with excitement. “Yeah, man! My band is putting together our second CD. It’s gonna be awesome!”

The more he talked about his life, the more it became clear Steve was barely scraping by financially. But he was doing what he loved, and he seemed just as happy with his life as he’d been in college. Jay, on the other hand, had plenty of money. He had a career now, a boyfriend, a new car, and a nice apartment. He’d thought he was doing okay, but now he realized exactly why he’d been feeling so uneasy. His life had veered off course. In just five years, he’d lost touch with everything that had been fun and creative in himself. He was no longer Jay.

And he missed himself.

Jeordi and Tom, by Michael Murphy

“When the front door of the trailer slammed shut with a loud bang, followed immediately by an animalistic howl of rage and frustration, Tom knew Jeordi was home. He snickered and shook his head.

“Hey, babe,” Tom called out. “I forgot this was the day you were going to visit your parents. It went that well, huh?”

One glance at his boyfriend told Tom all he needed to know. Despite the scowl and look of anger and frustration on Jeordi’s face, it only took one glance at the man to ignite the most sensitive parts of his nervous system (and everything connected to it).

He couldn’t help but smile at the sight of Jeordi. He wasn’t handsome in the New York runway model sense, but was handsome in the real man sense. Jeordi turned heads every time he walked down the street, although he consistently missed the many glances people cast his way.

All Jeordi saw when he looked at himself was that he wasn’t tall, and he felt his ears were too big. Tom daily told Jeordi that he was the most studly man he’d ever known—and he quietly gave thanks that the man was all his.

Tom felt two strong hands wrap around his waist as he stood at the sink in their kitchen.

Carefully setting down the dish he’d been washing, he leaned his head back against his boyfriend’s solid shoulder, brushing his smooth cheek against Jeordi’s fuzzy cheek—fuzzy not from a beard but from a strong five o’clock shadow the man dependably had every day by late afternoon. Jeordi hated it, but Tom loved it and loved rubbing one part or another of his body over the stubble.

“Love you, babe,” Tom whispered. “I’m glad you’re home.”

“Why?” Jeordi whispered into Tom’s ear.”

“Why? Why? Why do I keep subjecting myself to the same crap?”

“So, they didn’t throw their arms open and tell you they’ve joined PFLAG and ask for your advice on what to wear in the next Pride Day parade?”

Jeordi snorted. “Um, that would be a great big no.”

“What did they do this time?” Tom asked.

“Prayed—and then some. They tried to have some kind of healing service to rid me of the evil that had ‘grabbed hold’ of me, to quote my mother. They said they needed to cast the devil out of my body.”

“Oh, isn’t that special,” Tom joked.

“Not so much,” Jeordi disagreed.

“Was it just your parents?”

“Oh, no. That’s what made this one more frustrating. They had their minister there. He brought a backup minister—poor kid looked freaked out just being in the same room with a known homosexual. Don’t know what he thought was going to happen.”

“They upped the ante, I see,” Tom said.

“Oh, there’s more,” Jeordi said.

“More?”

“Hell, yes. They had some of my more uptight brothers there with them this time.”

“They succeeded in getting any of your brothers to be in the same room at the same time? How the hell did they swing that one?”

“Don’t know. Must have been one hell of a bribe. They, of course, brought their wives, I guess to show me how a good strong Christian heterosexual marriage works. They pissed me off so much I slipped and asked Beau how he could take part in something like that when he’d been off screwing half the women in the county. He didn’t appreciate it. I guess his wife didn’t know he was a hound dog she needed to keep on a tighter leash.”

Tom stopped what he was doing and dropped his head back, deep in thought. “Hmm, your brother Beau would look damned good in a collar—and naked,” he said. “Now, if you maybe added a blindfold, put him on his knees with his hands cuffed behind his back—now that’s just freaking hot. Maybe I should call his wife and give her a few suggestions. How do you think she’d take that? I’d be doing it strictly to help her out since I doubt she’d ever come up with an idea like that on her own. And of course I’d need to be there to help her, you know, to consult.”

“Don’t go there,” Jeordi warned with a chuckle. Beau was beautiful, but unfortunately he knew it and wasn’t at all opposed to spreading his beauty around to any and all women who’d have him. “At least that got the two of them out of the whole ritualistic crap my mother had planned for the weekly visit.”

“Two down, ten to go,” Tom said.

Tom turned around and wrapped his arms around Jeordi, kissing his neck. “I love you, babe,” he whispered into Jeordi’s ear as he held tightly to his man.

“I’m so glad you do. My family certainly doesn’t.”

“Oh, they love you. They just don’t understand it because the playing field has changed since you came out,” Tom said.

banner A More Perfect Union

Meet the authors:

B.G. Thomas

B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous little dog. He is lucky enough to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. Gay men are what he knows best, after all—since he grew out of being a “practicing” homosexual long ago. He submitted a story and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the stories have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of stories!”

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message to all. “It is never too late,” he states. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bgthomaswriter

Website: https://bthomaswriter.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4053647.B_G_Thomas

 

J. Scott Coatsworth:

Scott has been writing since elementary school. After leaving writing for twenty years, Mark, his husband, told him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Mark and Scott have been together for twenty four years. They met at the Pacific Center, an LGBT center in Berkeley, California, in 1992. They dated for two weeks, and then Scott moved in with Mark, and the rest is history. They run their own business together, study Italian, and are almost never found apart.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor

Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

 

Jamie Fessenden

Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple of short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie published his first novella in 2010, and has since published over twenty other novels and novellas.

After legally marrying in 2010, buying a house together, and getting a dog, Jamie and Erich have settled down to life in the country, surrounded by wild turkeys, deer, and the occasional coyote. A few years ago, Jamie was able to quit the tech support job that gave him insanely high blood pressure. He now writes full-time… and feels much better.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamie.fessenden.7

Website: https://jamiefessenden.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4476044.Jamie_Fessenden

 

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy met his husband Dan thirty-four years ago during a Sunday service at MCC in Washington, DC when a hot, smart man sat down beside him. Due to a shortage of hymnals they had to share.  The touch of one hand on the other in that moment was electric. Sparks flew that day. Though neither had planned it, they spent the day together followed by the night.  From that day, for more than three decades they’ve rarely been separated, each finding in the other their soul mate.

In the District of Columbia, where they lived, marriage became possible in early March 2010.  The minute it happened they were in line to get a marriage license, only to be stumped because the license required the name of the person who was going to marry them. There was such a sudden rush of same sex couples wanting to get married that the office already had a two-month backlog before an appointment could be secured.  Since they weren’t at all convinced that the Congress wasn’t going to step in and do something stupid to take away this right, they started calling everywhere to find someone who would marry them. It might be legal, but finding someone to marry them was proving to be a challenge.

When an article appeared in the newspaper telling of a small, local United Methodist Church that had decided to go against general church policy because marriage equality mattered deeply to them, a conversation started.  After a series of emails and phone calls, suddenly they were seated with two retired UMC ministers who were willing to risk it all to do the right thing.  A few days later, license in hand, surrounded by a handful of friends and their best dog, Shadow, they were finally legally married.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.murphy.9250

Website: http://gayromancewriter.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450548.Michael_Murphy

square A More Perfect Union

Our Thoughts:

 

Flames by J. Scott Coatsworth

This story had potential to break my heart, but the happy ending and self discovery made all the difference.

Alex comes home from a rough day at work and totally loses it with his boyfriend of many years, Gio. Alex could feel the imminent pressure, blows his top and leaves to cool his heels with a bottle of whiskey in a hotel room.

Gio had planned a beautiful dinner and a special surprise for Alex but after Alex’s rant, he’s left alone, reeling from the turn of events.

Fast forward to the next morning, Alex discovers many missed calls and texts on his phone, which he’d shut off the night before. Gio is in the hospital. It’s Alex’s worst nightmare come true. To make matters worse, Gio’s mother is coming from Italy and she’s not Alex’s biggest fan. From that point, I knew this was going to be a bit infuriating and frustrating. Knowing that Alex and Gio love each other and had built a life together meant nothing because they weren’t married. Gio’s mother would have all the power. Most families would include but since Gio’s mother wasn’t happy about Gio sexual orientation, she’s all too happy to push Alex out and forbid him access to Gio.

My favorite scenes in this story are those of Gio. He’s in a coma and his state of presence is a bit strange. It seems things are light and less scary for him when Alex is touching him or in the room. When Alex leaves the darkness creeps in and strange sounds and shadows press upon Gio. The coolest is when Alex starts talking to Gio about special items they possessed and the memories that accompanied the items. This alternate state Gio is in was a dynamic addition. I loved how it all pulls together.

In the end, things work out for these two. Tragedy made Alex wake up and take stock of what was most important to him. It started rocky but end tenderly.

 

Jeordi and Tom by Michael Murphy

Jeordi and Tom live in a smaller town in Kentucky. A place not necessarily open to differences or change. A place where impressions, appearances, and God dictate the way of life. Stuck in the middle of that, Tom and Jeordi are just trying to live and love. Jeordi’s under pressure from his family, especially his mother, to renounce his homosexual lifestyle. Of course, Jeordi is have nothing of it and he’s exhausted from having to endure the numerous interventions and attacks.

Tom and Jeordi seem to have a strong foundation. They live together, work hard for what little they have, and love fully. They have a fun and witty banter between themselves and that’s how they get through the repeated attacks on their lifestyle.

When Jeordi is injured in a hit and run accident, it sets Jeordi into motion. While he’s hurt and pleading for Tom, his family is pushing Tom out and trying to ban him from the hospital. Jeordi literally gets off the table he’s being treated on to set everyone right.

This short was very much a romantic, everything works out perfectly, love story. These are always feel good reads so I personally enjoy the type. I like what happened to Tom and Jeordi after the accident. They find a few stumbling blocks, but overall they achieve their main goal and their love is forever sanctified and no one would ever question the  authenticity of the marriage.

In a short story, we get quite the punch and gamut of obstacles and means to overcome. Mark this one in the sweet column as well.

 

Destined by Jamie Fessenden

Destined follows Wallace and Jay from their first encounter all the way through marriage and a few years after. When the two first met, there was a spark, but Jay was in a relationship and there was nothing that could be done. The relationship eventually fizzled and Jay was drifting. He kept thinking back to the cute guy with the coffee urn and bottle- thick glasses he met at a Wiccan gathering.

Jay always hoped he’d see Wallace again but it wasn’t meant to be. Life happened. He eventually moved, bought a house with a few friends, and drifted through his days. It’s after another coffee gathering that he runs into Jay several years later. Even though it had been awhile, the two men pick right up and engage. They even set up to meet again.

From that moment on, Jay and Wallace are inseparable. They eventually decide to buy a house and move in together. A simple thing that shouldn’t cause too much grief does just that when bigoted sellers keep rejecting their fair offer. It’s just one of many instances where Jay and Wallace have to endure prejudice in their lifetime and relationship. Wallace even endures the heartbreak of his own father deciding to not attend their wedding on ‘principle.’

I enjoyed the upbeat nature of Destined. From Jay tracking down Wallace to finding the perfect pet, Jay and Wallace were fun, guys with a normal, healthy outlook on life. Overall life was good to them. Not always just, they fought hard for equality, but happy none the less.

In Destined, Fessenden delivers a relatable telling of a lovely beginning for Jay and Wallace. Their past is rich but their future is brighter than gold.

 

Someday by B.G. Thomas

It all starts when one darling  little boy has help learning to tie his shoe on the way to his first day of school. That sweet boy, Lucas, declares that he will one day marry Dalton Churchill. That declaration continues as Lucas grows. All through the years, Lucas is smitten with Dalton. They are close friends, and eventually Dalton deems them best friends.

Dalton keeps Lucas close, but he never gives into the feelings that Lucas shows for him. Lucas repeatedly states they’ll one day be married but Dalton will have nothing of it.

As they grow into teenagers and the complex years of teenage hormones, everything gets distorted for Lucas and Dalton. Dalton begins dating a girl and Lucas is crushed. It’s either join in or be lonely forever, so Lucas gets a boyfriend too. The breaking point comes on prom night. That’s when Dalton finally realizes what he has, needs and wants and it’s all with Dalton.

From there we are whisked through some fantastically blissful days with Lucas and Dalton. They are young, but they’re smart and their love it true. With love anything is possible and for them it is true. They can get through tough family times, cancer scares, and judicial decisions that affect their relationship. Through it all they remain loyal and steadfast in their love for each other. Their story literally had me near tears with an aching heart. They were so loving and the way their story unfolds was absolute  perfection. I truly enjoyed Someday. From Lucas’ naive youthful optimism, to Dalton’s strength standing tall and firm against his adversary, to their beautiful wedding day–total happiness.

Overall, this anthology was one of the best I’ve ever read. Talented authors with sharp, romantic, and entertaining stories that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!!

COVER REVEAL: Resistance by Lillian Francis

Are you ready? We’re glad you’re here to help us unveil the cover of Lillian Francis’ upcoming book, Resistance. Take a look at this gorgeous artwork -

Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design
ABOUT THE BOOK:

How long can you wait on a promise? 

After his first night with Mal, Rick broke the habit of a lifetime and invited the sexy radiographer to spend the weekend in the sleepy English village he called home. Rick isn’t in denial but he’s afraid to reveal his sexuality in the close-knit community that has known him since he was a babe in arms.

The sex is amazing but equally Mal loves lazy days spent in the garden at Slopy Bottom, and every precious moment he spends with Rick. For Mal the village quickly becomes an oasis of peace, far from the noise and grime of life in London, a slice of tranquillity with Rick at the heart. But Mal has defied his family and his religion to be true to himself, and there is no way can he join Rick in his self-built closet, no matter how comfortable it is…

Rick is afraid revealing the true nature of his relationship with Mal will change the way his neighbours see him. He adores these people, this village, and he can’t face the thought of losing everything over who he chooses to sleep with. When the alternative is giving up a man who has slotted perfectly into his life—a man who he might just love—it’s no choice at all. But, knowing what has to be done isn’t always as easy as putting it into practice.

Goodreads Badge

Series: Village Love, Book 1
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Book Length: 53,600 words

PRE-ORDER A COPY: myBook.to/Resistance_LF
GUEST POST: ABOUT THE SERIES:

Resistance is book 1 in my new series, Village Love. Village Love is set in the fictional Sussex village of Slopy Bottom. I’ll let Rick tell you how Slopy Bottom got its name

“It’s one p, Slopy Bottom. The village has been there centuries. Local historians think it started life as Slope Bottom since the oldest houses are on the low slope at the bottom of a hill. The rest of the village spread out into the valley as the years went by but the name stuck. At one point the village was all but owned by a French lord, which could account for the mispronunciation, and it appears to have been Slopy Bottom ever since.”

Rick and Mal? Haven’t you written about those characters before?

The simple answer is yes. Rick and Mal appeared in a one-off short story, Resonance. Resonance spawned this story which in turn spawned a whole host of storylines. As Resonance doesn’t take place in the village it has been assigned as Village Love 0.5.

Do I need to read Resonance to read Resistance?

No. Several of my beta readers didn’t read Resonance before working on Resistance and found it had no impact. However, Resonance is the story of how Rick and Mal meet and will obviously shed further light on their relationship.

Where can I buy Resonance?

Resonance is currently available at ARe and Amazon.At Are it has been free on a semi regular basis since release. It is currently free until 31st July. At Amazon it is 99p or the equivalent. Here’s a universal link to take you to your local Amazon store. myBook.to/ResonanceL_F

Will there be more books in the series?

Definitely. I’m already working on Book 2, and Book 3 has been urging me to write it’s opening scene in the last couple of days (I resisted, but I did make some scrappy notes). I have very brief story lines, if they work out, for at least a Book 4, and maybe a Book 5. If you read a particular character that you like drop me a line and let me know, I’ve undoubtedly got a plan to pair him with someone!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.

CONNECT WITH LILLIAN:
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