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Contest winners and a free short story!

Loka Legends short stories coverA huge “thank you!” to everyone who participated in the book giveaway in the previous blog post. Andreas and I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Choosing a winner was too hard, so we decided to select randomly. The winners are Paul and Jordy, but I also have something nifty to give away to everyone. Today I’m releasing a set of short stories and some cool artwork by Andreas, and it’s yours for free. One of the stories might be familiar to you. Flesh and Blood had been released previously, but I took it off the market, since I felt it was an odd introduction to the Loka Legends series. Still, I like the idea of giving readers a chance to experience that world without having to commit to a full length novel. Fantasy isn’t for everyone, but luckily I don’t write fantasy like most authors do. There’s still plenty of gay romance, even if the backdrop is a world of magic.

Now you can see for yourself. The new story Finding Fire takes place before The Cat in the Cradle, acting as a wee little prequel to the main series. Not only that, but Andreas has put together a selection of concept sketches and art that never made the final books for you to peruse in The Loka Legends Sketchbook. All three of these titles are bundled together and available free from Smashwords, where you can download the book in any format you could want. It’s also free on iTunes, and I’m hoping to get Amazon and Barnes & Noble to make it free too, but for now, Smashwords has the right formats for your Kindle and Nook. For those of you that already follow the Loka Legends series, the newest book From Darkness to Darkness will be released on September 1st! Be sure to come back here for details, or even better, sign up for my newsletter on the left-hand side there. Much love to you all!

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What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me

Published on August 23, 2012 by in Books, Gay

Hot Guys KissingAndreas and I are planning a long trip to Paris for later this year. We want to get away for a lengthy amount of time, and decided to rent a holiday apartment so we can bring the cats with us. While making the reservation, this is one of the first questions we ask. “Do you allow cats?” The next burning question is often, “Are you okay with gay people staying there?” This may seem an odd thing to ask, but when travelling long distances to stay in someone’s private property, the last thing we want is to be turned away or deal with small-minded comments. So far Andreas and I haven’t had a problem, but I suspect we aren’t the only ones to share this worry. All those gay resorts, bed and breakfasts, cruises and clubs exist for a reason. For some they are an opportunity to meet other gay people, but for others, the appeal is in the comfort of knowing you’ll be accepted and welcome.

I don’t think most straight people realize how many situations like these there are. Everyone knows that coming out is the biggest hurdle, but there are so many more obstacles to be faced. When you’re gay, something as simple as booking a hotel can cause pause, or the desire to hold another’s hand in public. There must be an exhilarating freedom that comes with being in the majority, although I suspect most take it for granted. I don’t blame them. I wish I never had to casually check our surroundings every time I kiss Andreas in public. I don’t do this because I worry someone will see. I only check to make sure no one is going to start trouble after the fact.

When I was younger and had first come out, I couldn’t understand why there were gay magazines, gay stores, gay bars, etc. I figured we’re just like anyone else, and felt we didn’t need such specialty services. But as I got older, I realized that I wanted to see two guys falling in love on the big screen. I wanted to experience stories through characters I could closely relate to—not every time, because that would be boring, but occasionally. Like those gay resorts, there’s comfort in reading a story where I know I’ll be accepted, where love, sex and relationships look just like they do in my daily life. Before The Cat in the Cradle, I wrote a similar book, a fantasy novel that stayed away from issues of sexuality. I even started on a sequel, in which was one scene where the two main characters (both male) touched. As far as I remember, the touch was innocent enough, but to me it felt like being struck by lightning. That need to see people like me in fiction, to read a story where being gay wasn’t the plot, but certainly had an effect on the story—that’s what I wanted to write. I discarded everything I’d written up to that point and started over from scratch. That’s how The Cat in the Cradle came into being, and was the beginning of everything that has followed it.

Follow the Rainbow Blog HopJust for the record, everyone is welcome to the worlds I create. Gay, straight, bi, curious, trans, even the haters and the loveless. No hotel, home, or story should be closed to any type of person. The more the merrier! Speaking of big happy families, this post is part of the Follow the Rainbow Blog Hop, to celebrate the opening of Rainbow Book Reviews. Stop by and check them out. Before you do, leave a comment below telling me why you read gay fiction, and you could win a copy of my first book, The Cat in the Cradle, or my latest, Kamikaze Boys. Two winners will be chosen on Monday by Andreas, and will have their choice of format (eBook or paperback) and which title they want.

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Glorious new cover art and a ninty-nine cent sale!

There are few things I enjoy more (sex) than revealing new cover art. Andreas always blasts his amazing talent into my book covers, and this time he’s created my all-time favorite. The cover art for From Darkness to Darkness, the sequel to The Cat in the Cradle, has actually been finished since late last year. I’ve had many opportunities to consider this image, and I fall deeper in love with it every time. So without further ado:

From Darkness to Darkness by Jay Bell

To the right we have Cole, a new character, holding aloft the magical black loka. But what is he contemplating and what does he intend to do with it? You’ll have to wait a little longer to find out. Frankly, whenever this art is around, I have a hard time to do anything but stare and drool. Not in a pervy way exactly. I’m just a sucker for nighttime scenes, a swirl of stars, and—okay, I confess—a cute guy.

I’m hoping this cover will seduce a few of you into trying the first book in the Loka Legends series. The Cat in the Cradle features twenty-five illustrations by Andreas, plus a rocking purple cover and a map of The Five Lands. Best of all, for the next week, the eBook price will be a paltry 99 cents. What could be better (sex) than a book for a buck that’s stuffed full of art, wondrous adventures, and a little gay romance? You’ll never have a better opportunity to find out! You can pick your poison on the left-hand side of this page or learn more here. Enjoy!

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Visit New York with me!

Jay Bell loves Andreas BellIn three different ways no less! The Big Apple is one inspiring city, and to prove it, you have three mediums in which to relive our recent trip to New York. The first, good ol’ fashioned prose, covers what went down at the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards. I wrote a guest post over at Reviews by JesseWave that covers all the details. Did Something Like Summer win? Did I get kicked out for eating too many h’orderves? You’ll have to read to find out.

Andreas has put together a swanky PDF presentation, featuring photos from the trip. As a special bonus, you can see some of the sketches he made while there. These were all done on the scene, often over breakfast when I’m still too grumpy to socialize. View the PDF in full-screen mode and page through with the right arrow key to see it how the hunky artist intended.

Finally, you can check out the video below for a fast paced montage of photos, accompanied by none other than the Pet Shop Boys. How stereotypical of me! I’ve always been more an Erasure fan, really. Seems like you have to like one or the other to be a bona fide gay from the eighties. Have fun!

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Something Like Winter and Summer in New York

New York is about to get gayer!You know what I’m tired of saying? “The companion novel to Something Like Summer.” Or even worse: “The book from Tim’s perspective that sheds new light on the story while revealing what he gets up to when away from Ben.” *Whew!* I think it’s high time we finally have a title for this sucker, don’t you? From now on, all we need is five simple syllables. Something Like Winter.

Continuing the seasonal theme seems obvious, which might be why I fought against it for so long. I had a million working titles for Something Like Winter, but none of them were quite right. Having read through the new book, the winter theme is very appropriate. If summer in the first novel refers to an eternal feeling of love, what in the world could winter symbolize? I hope you’ll discover that on your own once you read the book. Easy now! Put those credit cards down, because Something Like Winter won’t be out until… well, winter.

In other news, I’ve packed my bags and am heading to New York this weekend to represent Something Like Summer in the Lambda Literary Awards. Writing is such a solitary job that the idea of suddenly being around tons of other authors, publishers, book lovers, editors, press agents, and hopefully a very generous bartender, is a little intimidating. If you hear a report of some guy breaking down in the middle of the Lambdas screaming “DON’T LOOK AT ME! WHAT IS EVERYONE STARING AT? AAAAAAH!” That’ll be me. I’ve lived as a happy hermit for far too long. Andreas will be with me though, and he makes everything okay. I’ll probably ride around on his shoulders all night—nice and high where I’ll be safe.

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Join my street team and get free stuff!

Lego mailman delivering postcards. ...  Kawaaaaiiii!I’m participating in the Hop Against Homophobia in honor of the international day against homophobia. You can see my post over at Reviews by JesseWave. Once you’ve checked that out, head on back here and watch the informative video below. You’ll learn how to get some free swag while helping me become more famous than J.K. Rowling and Stephen King’s love child.

For those that are hearing impaired or don’t want to watch the video, I’m giving away cool post card stickers. (Update! We are now out of postcards. Sorry!) I’ll send a pair to anyone that wants them. If you happen to know of a good place to leave a stack of these postcards (gay book stores and reading groups, gay bars, gay all-you-can-eat buffets) and you want to help me out, I can send you extra. Please only request a stack if you’re truly motivated to distribute them. If you’re not, I’m still totally happy to send you a couple postcards for you to keep. If you want them autographed, be sure to let me know. All requests should be sent to me via the email address over there on the left (and down a bit). Supplies are limited, so please don’t grab your Jay Bell voodoo doll if I run out!

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