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That Time I… Survived My Teens by Craig Barker

Craig Barker

LGBTQ Non-fiction/Memoir

Release Date: 10.13.19

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The Saturday prior to starting this memoir, my ex-fiancé and I had two of his work friends over for an old-fashioned games night. And when I say “old-fashioned,” I’m talking about dice, cards, racking up your points on an abacus, etc. You know, the things people entertained themselves with before politicians blamed every violent fart that wafted their way on video games.

Stop doing that.

Anyway, seeing as I didn’t know who these people were and would’ve much rather spent the evening on the sofa with our dog, I was less than optimistic. If anything, the whole ordeal was going to be like sitting through a Christopher Nolan movie. Sure, I’d say I was having a great time to fit in, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t have a clue what was happening and I’d probably need to take a nap midway through.

Hours before they arrived, just as I’d started to have those “what if I accidentally say something so obscenely offensive or mind-numbingly stupid, I’ll be haunted by the memory of it for years to come” thoughts, my ex ran down into the basement in which I dwell, his eyes frantic, and begged—

“Please don’t talk about choking on dicks when they get here.”

Come again?

“Please, Craig. That kind of talk makes them uncomfortable. Don’t do it.”

I felt a flurry of emotions in the picosecond it took for his words to register: amused, bemused, offended. It sounded like a joke, but his face was full of fear—a fear that I would be unequivocally crude to these complete strangers, and that my behavior would burn bridges he obviously wanted to keep erect (more on erections later).

That was when it hit me like a pair of loose-hanging nuts to the taint; a realization that I, Craig Thomas Barker, had a pattern of behavior that stretched across my life since adolescence—

I’m the person you get warned about before meeting. I’m the person that gets warned before going anywhere.

Like Carrie Bradshaw, “I couldn’t help but wonder” why that was. So, in order to understand who I am today, I decided to take a look at the years that shaped me. I spread my life out on the table, lubed it with the flare of artistic exaggeration, and went at it until I found my answer.

This isn’t so much a memoir as it is a gay’s journey to discover himself; don’t expect structure, coherency, or a thoroughly thought out narrative with a climactic closing paragraph that gives any of this dribble closure. I’m no one special, I’m not famous, and I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said before, but I have lived a life, and all twenty-six years of that life has culminated in a single sentence—

“Please don’t talk about choking on dicks when they get here.”

This memoir explains why…

And it was cheaper than therapy.

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I’m a child of the nineties and a teen of the noughties. I grew up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sex and the City, Power Rangers, and Batman: The Animated Series, and I think these four shows perfectly encapsulate everything I am, from my hobbies—comics, video games, writing, wishing I was a Slayer—to the boy beneath the layers of sarcasm, anxiety, and a thirst for men in spandex.

I am what my time made me.

I remember dial-up internet, talking on the landline with the cord wrapped around my finger after school, and the irrational fear of strangers in anonymous chat rooms. I remember opening up my Christmas presents and going crazy for the latest Megazords, and I remember how unhappy my parents were before their divorce…though, maybe that’s only something I can see in hindsight.

My point is, I remember my childhood with as much accuracy as one can when looking through rose-colored glasses of a simpler time. Only it wasn’t simple. In fact, from as young as the age of four or five, I was already struggling internally with something I wouldn’t understand for many years.

Rocky DeSantos is the name of the second Mighty Morphin’ Red Ranger, later to be the Blue Zeo Ranger before getting replaced by that brat Justin in Power Rangers Turbo, (I’m still bitter about it), and he was, without a doubt, my sexual awakening. He was a 90’s dreamboat who looked as if he’d been pried from a boyband, wearing a sleeveless red shirt and a glistening smile, and whenever he was on screen, I was captivated.

Of course, I didn’t know what it was I was feeling. I just knew I was feeling something.


Writing a biography has always baffled me. I mean, I’m writing my own but I’m supposed to do it in third person, right? I’m supposed to tell you I attended some top-notch school, help people cross the street, have a “relatable” passion for something and spend my weekends frolicking in a field of flowers…

I can’t do that.

My name is Craig. I like fried food. I write because I enjoy it. Please don’t make me do this anymore.




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~Book Blitz~ Bite (Various Authors)


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Vampires old and new, strong and sensual, with desires both predatory and protective. Their attraction is fierce and fascinating, and their love is eternal. We believe they deserve a very special kind of man—and their own happily ever after.

Four best-selling authors bring you their own take on the vampire lover’s story.
In Out of Time by Clare London, the ancient vampire Ambrus tries to protect Edward, a newly-turned young man, hoping to bring him comfort, acceptance of his fate, and eventually love.

In Christmas for a Vampire by Ruby Moone, grief-stricken vampire, Ellis Davenport, faces a miserable, lonely life when it seems the love of his life prefers death to eternity with him.

In A Tale Told in Darkness by Sue Brown, Lee comforts his lover with the tale of Brook, a vampire who falls for his neighbour Michael. When the young man is pursued by someone far more dangerous, only Brook can save him.

In Lamb to the Slaughter by Joanna Chambers, there is very little Lucien St. Villiers enjoys more than hunting for beautiful young men who are eager to learn all that Lucien has to teach them.
Please note: these stories may also be individually available for purchase at various times. This collection is a special event for 2019.

Clare LondonWebsite | TwitterBookbub | Facebook
Ruby MooneWebsite | Twitter | BookBub | Facebook
Sue BrownWebsite | Twitter | BookBub | Facebook
Joanna ChambersWebsite | Twitter | BookBub | Facebook

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Ace’s Wild Series

SE Jakes

M/M Romance

Release Date: 10.01.19

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Jagger’s the son of a bookmaker and fixer. Now, he’s the owner of an exclusive, underground club…and he’s also been put in charge of the family business.

Preston’s the son of a wealthy, powerful, blue-blood Boston family…or he was, until he was disowned for choosing his friendship with Jagger over his family. Ten years later, he’s a Special Forces Operator—and he’s still best friends with Jagger.

But things are about to change, for both men. Because after a long year of no contact, Preston’s coming home to Jagger for the first time since they shared a surprising kiss.

One night, one poker game, and one hand finds Jagger lucky—and skilled enough—to win a chance to fix things with Preston. But what’s at stake is far more than their friendship—it’s everything…and both men are all in to fight for what’s theirs.


For the first 90 days of this title’s publication, all sales and page reads will be donated to The LOFT: LGBT Center (

Ace’s Wild is a multi-author series of books that take place in the same fictional town. Each story can be read in any order. The connecting element in the Ace’s Wild series is an adult store owned by Ace and Wilder. The main characters from each book will make at least one visit to Ace’s Wild, where they’ll buy a toy to use in their story! The only characters who cross over to each book are Ace and Wilder. And with various heat and kink levels, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

Buy Link:

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Finally, Preston crumpled the wrapper from his burger and said, “An FBI agent came to my hotel tonight.”

Jagger’s jaw tightened, but he refused to look at Preston. “That didn’t take long. Sorry.”

“I wasn’t sleeping before that happened anyway.” Preston tried to make light of it. But Jagger’s family business always hung between them, an invisible barrier. A shield. Something Jagger needed to protect Preston from.

“You could’ve used the time to catch up on all the correspondence you missed.”

“I keep up just fine.”

“Not with me.”

“I read and listened to all your messages,” Preston corrected, trying to ignore Jagger’s accusing tone.

“You just didn’t acknowledge or answer them.”

Because I didn’t know how to say what I needed. But instead of telling Jagger that, he shot back, “You said you weren’t coming alone.”

“You told me not to. I didn’t answer. And I see you’re still good at changing the subject.”

“You’re determined to start a fight. I figured I’d choose the topic.”

When Jagger murmured, “Asshole,” Preston finally felt like they were back on even ground.

“You need to know that, no matter what, I’ll do time before I let him—or any of them—touch you or your family,” Preston growled.

“I’d walk into the station and surrender myself before I let that happen. They’ve got nothing.”

“I know it’s all bullshit. I can deal with it.”

“You shouldn’t have to.” Jagger’s hand went to his shoulder. “Did he touch you?”

“No,” Preston said quickly, swore his cheekbone throbbed.

As if reading his mind, Jagger ran a fingertip along the barely there—and forever reminder of their bond—scar. “That’s the day I knew.”

“Knew what?”

“That we were ride or die.”

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SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

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Consorts of the Red King

Eden Winters

Gay Romance/Sci-fi/Menage

Release Date: 10.26.19


Cover artist: Perie Wolford


In deepest space the ruthless Federation lays waste to one rebel colony after another, leaving comrades-in-arms Van Orskey and Tayn Kassik without family, without a home, and without hope.

With nothing left but each other, they run contraband and smuggle fugitives from the safety of their ship, the Cormorant—with the occasional clandestine mission for the rival Coalition thrown in. Their heists have not gone unnoticed, though even the bounty on their heads doesn’t prevent them from being a thorn in the enemy’s side at every opportunity.

Pissing them off? Big mistake.

From the day of his birth Prince Jorvik of Akiak learned duty, wisdom, and honor from his father, leaving him ill-equipped to withstand betrayal by his Federation-puppet uncle. He has no love for the greedy off-worlders who plunder his world’s natural resources and enslave his people. To defeat his foe, he needs the cunning, fearlessness, and touch of treachery only outlaws can offer.

Two off-world mercenaries make unlikely partners in Jorvik’s quest for vengeance, but the more he learns of them, the more common ground he discovers. In each other’s arms they find passion, heat, and maybe, a reason for living—until their common enemy threatens to tar them apart.

To survive, they must take on the corrupt Federation.

And win.



Vrrrp! Vrrrp! Vrrrp!

Alarms shrieked throughout the Cormorant. Van Orskey flitted deep in the confines of the explorer-class cybership, in the control room he’d built with his mind. Nothing but white walls at the moment, instruments, and viewscreens. “Why the hell can’t we get to our bodies?”

Tayn focused on the ship growing larger by the second in their main viewer. “No numbers. They’re not responding to our hail. Definitely a Federation ship though.” His voice remained deceptively calm, but in cyberspace who could tell reactions without giveaways such as a pounding heart and a sweaty forehead?

Federation ship. Holy hell! Why couldn’t it be a curious transport vessel? No, white hull, blue lettering—the motherfucking Federation.

They’d make one hell of a lot of credits for hauling in the Cormorant and her crew.

Van and Tayn’s physical bodies lay side by side in stasis pods, tubes and wires protruding from their skin. Not of any help at all.

Van chanted, “C’mon, c’mon!’ Somewhere his pulse spiked. Gods-forsaken ship needed to pump the necessary drugs through his physical veins faster and release him from the ship’s innards to return to his flesh.

“They’ve locked onto us.” This time anger raised Tayn’s normally soft voice.

“Give them a warning shot. Not too close, but close enough for them to know we mean business.”

Determination creasing his brow, Tayn hunkered down over the console. “Motherfucking, fuck, fuck, fuck!”

Van turned from his own observation of the approaching ship. “What?”

“No response from tactical. Our shields aren’t responding either.”

“Why the fuck not?” Van and Tayn’s consciousnesses ran this ship, every system, every sensor. Why wasn’t the Cormorant responding? They were the Cormorant!

“Diagnostics are showing jack shit,” Tayn barked, calmness wavering.

Not good. Not good at all.

The vacant look in his bright blue eyes spoke of Tayn’s concentration as he wended his way through sensors, searching for the problem.

“Can you override?” Van tried to keep his desperation to a minimum, but they were well and truly screwed.

“Working on it.” Tayn gave a triumphant, “Whoot! Got it!”

Not a moment too soon. “How much more time until reconnection?” Outside his confines, ship functions came online: physical life support, climate control, air and atmosphere. Gravity. Everything they’d need to make the switch from incorporeal brainwaves to sentient Terrans.

“Five minutes, twenty seconds.”

Five minutes, twenty seconds too fucking long. Van pushed his consciousness, testing his bounds.

Tayn swatted his shoulder. “Stop! You know if you move too fast you could damage your mind. Besides, what if you get there and the ship isn’t ready to support life? You’d still be stuck in the pod.”

Yes, but if he didn’t move fast, no telling what might happen.

Vulnerability. Damned vulnerability. Van’s greatest fear.

The ship shuddered.

Words weren’t needed. They were being boarded.

Van spared a portion of his thoughts for the counter, ticking off precious time far too slowly. Every few seconds he tried again, willing himself out of the circuitry and back into his slowly reviving form.

“Our luck just ran out, Tayn.” Van gusted out a breath he didn’t actually need in this form. In a distant connection air whooshed out of his lungs.

Hey! He felt. “It’s time!” Focusing all his attention on fingers, toes, and other body parts he hadn’t needed in twenty-eight days, he pushed with all his might. “C’mon!” he shouted at Tayn.

Tayn’s eyes went wide. “I… I can’t. Something’s wrong.”


Tayn’s face faded from view.

“…t?” The claxons jabbed like lasers into Van’s newly awakened eardrums. Every nerve ending blazed fire. Van jerked, opening his eyes and aiming a shaky hand at the panel in front of him. Wires and tubes retreated, pulling free of his veins and nerves, leaving the sting of needle pricks in his extremities.

Some already hung loose, entry points in his flesh ripped and bleeding as though he’d tried to break loose prematurely.

Faster, damn it, faster! Pins and needles raced up his arms and legs, circulation returning to normal.

“Tayn!’ He whipped his head around. The other seat sat empty. What the hell? Tayn always woke before him. “Tayn?”

“Still here,” came a voice through the ship’s speakers, in a voice synthesized to sound like Tayn’s.

If Tayn remained in the system, then…

Razors slashed at Van’s insides, and not merely the agonizing chill of chemicals now roaring through him, putting all systems back online. Tubes hung from the empty chair to the floor, leaking precious fluids—the fluids used to keep his and Tayn’s bodies alive and requiring minimal resources while their minds guided the craft.

“Tayn!” The sensors showed barely livable climate and oxygen in the now-waking ship. A quick slap opened the pod door and Van sucked in stale air. Trails of blood-tinged fluid led down the hall. Hell, no. “Tayn!”

Cold metal floors beneath his bare feet, Van stumbled naked down the corridor. “Tayn!” he screeched again. “Stop them! They’ve got your body.” Fuck, fuck, fuck.

The ship came alive, Tayn screaming “Motherfuck!” He opened and closed doors, giving Van the best route to intercept the thieves. The panels slid back too slowly. “I don’t know how, but they’re fighting me for access!”

Van charged ahead. What the fucking hell did they want with his partner’s body? Plenty of cargo filled the ship’s hold. He stopped by his room long enough to grab a blaster, then hauled ass to the cargo bay, the most likely point of entry. His heart hammered in his chest.

Viewscreens showed suited figures, humanoid in shape, but faces hidden by their helmets.

This couldn’t be happening. All the early warnings, the security. Someone slipped past their defenses? Impossible!

The wires and tubes kept his muscles from atrophying, but he’d not recover full strength for another few days. He stumbled, grasping a doorway to keep himself upright. He should be in recovery right now, not pushing his muscles past the breaking point.

Grabbing the ladder railing, he positioned himself over the hole in the floor, slung his weapon over one shoulder, and dropped to the deck below. “Seal the cargo bay doors,” he yelled to his partner. He charged down the too-narrow passageway, feet slapping against the deck plating.

“Can’t. They’ve got some kind of override.”

Fuck. No use being stealthy. Van needed speed.

And for the gods-forsaken claxon to stop.

As if on cue the ship fell silent, except for the normal pinging he wouldn’t stop to identify, and noises made by the three figures who’d boarded the ship.

“Who are they?” he shouted.

“Two humanoids and a Neelonian.”

Neelonians. Bah! An entire race of mercenaries, for sale to the highest bidder. Much like half the people he knew.

Outside the hull the engine hum grew louder, the Federation raiders preparing to leave. They’d breached the ship’s defenses without pinging the sensors. How? Every inch of the Cormorant cost a fortune, nothing but the finest.

Including security.

He slammed his hand against the cargo bay door. One second too long, two seconds too long…

The door swished open. Van aimed his blaster, swung around.


The engine noises revved. No! Without his body, Tayn would be stuck in the ship’s circuitry, unable to leave.

Why? If the raiders wanted the closely guarded technology of keeping a body alive and in stasis while the person’s intelligence ran the ship, minimizing the need for life support on deep space missions, they should have taken the whole pod.

Why not simply take the ship, since they’d somehow managed to render the Cormorant powerless?

They’d gone through a lot of trouble for a humanoid body. Judging by the state of the pod connections, they’d tried for Van’s too.

Younger and smaller, Tayn’s body would likely fetch a better price if they intended to sell on the black market—if it survived being ripped out of stasis. They’d only want a physique like Van’s for use as a soldier. At thirty, Van passed prime age for a recruit a few years back. Tayn’s could be used in a futile attempt to give some rich asshole a shot at a longer life, or whatever the fuck experimentation the Federation conducted these days. Still, unless they possessed one hell of a lot of tech on the raider ship, Tayn’s heart wouldn’t last long.

Each passing moment reduced his chances.

Van charged toward the control room, plunked down in the physical captain’s chair, and flipped one button after another. The viewscreen illuminated on a wall. Good. At least Tayn managed to regain control of some of their systems.

The marauders powered for hyperjump. Once they made the jump, Tayn’s body would be gone forever.

“Tayn, we gotta go after them. We can’t let them get away.” Van strapped in while the Cormorant’s engines roared. Only two of them, but a faster, smaller ship. They might catch the raiders, but no telling where they’d end up. Federation space meant a death sentence for two Coalition smugglers if the marauders put out an alert.

“We’ll never catch them,” said a disembodied voice throughout the ship.

Yes, they would. Or die trying. “We can’t afford not to.” Nor would Van consider the possibility. Until the Federation shot them out of space, he’d keep trying.

The ship in the viewscreen wavered. Hyperjump in five, four, three…

The forward gun moaned to life.

Oh, shit. Van’s blood froze in his veins, colder than what waited on the other side of the airlock. “Tayn, what are you doing?”

A pause, and then, “What I have to.”

Deep in the Cormorant’s belly a shudder grew.

A flash hurdled toward the marauder’s ship.

No, no, no, no, no! Van balled his hands into helpless fists. “Tayn! What the hell are you doing?”

His horror grew as the missile locked on target.

The contraband warhead they weren’t supposed to have slammed into the raider vessel.

White light filled the screen.

The raiders’ ship blew apart.


You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit. She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written twenty gay romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist. Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and the backs of motorcycles.



Twitter: edenwinters1





Length: 30,000 words approx.
Zero Rising Series
Book #1 – The Power Of Zero – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

A mistake. A drastic fix. And the person most hurt by Jack’s choice turns out to be… Jack.

Five years after joining the army, Jack is back on civvy street and struggling to find his feet.

He knows he’s made the wrong choice. He knows he needs to move on. But how can he choose a new direction when he feels so lost?

Jack asks advice from friends and strangers, but to find his lifeline he must remember who he is, what he stands for, and what first Rio and then Gareth have taught him.

Can Jack find his way again? Buy Two Divided by Zero and find out!

This is the second book of the Zero Rising series. A part of this story was published in the Kickass Anthology in 2014, helping to raise funds for author Eric Arvin and his family. It has since been significantly modified and extended.

Author Bio

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks, and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, and a laptop.

Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who write their own rules. She writes across genres, blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops, or recipes for traditional English food, join her in Jackie’s Kitchen on Facebook or find her in all the usual places:




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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Designs

Heat Of Love Series

Book #1 – Slow Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book #2 – Alpha Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book #3 – Bitter Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link



Jason and Vale are back in this side story set in the Heat of Love universe!

A romantic getaway turns dramatic when an unexpected heat descends on Vale, leaving Jason with no choice but to act. The resulting pregnancy is dangerous for Vale and terrifying for Jason, but with the help of friends and family, they choose to embrace their uncertain future. Together they find all the love, joy, and heat they need to guide them through!

While this story follows the characters from Slow Heat, it will be most enjoyable if read directly after Alpha Heat, as it takes place contemporaneously with that book.

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

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