Today I am so pleased to welcome A.F. Henley to Joyfully Jay. A.F. has come to talk to us about their latest release, But by the Grace of Dog. They have also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving A.F. a big welcome!
Hello everyone and thank you for joining me today! As I sit here typing this, Southern Ontario is experiencing its coldest, snowiest mid-November on record. Three days ago, the Niagara region ended up with 20-25 cm of snow (beating the previous record of 8.6), with more following two days after that. Temperatures dropped to -14C the day after, which flew past the previous record of -7C, and is well above the normal average of 6C. I’m trying to tell myself that maybe this is a sign we’ll have an early spring, after all, an early start could mean an early finish, but I’m mostly psyching myself up to accept that we’re about to have six months of winter. It’s times like these when the sunny south sure looks nice…
That thought tends to be fleeting, though. Well, in all honesty, I have a tendency to say it/think it/feel it quite frequently until May or so, so “fleeting” might not be the best choice of words. However, in my heart of hearts, I will always be Canadian, and I don’t ever want to leave. I would, however, love it if the snow would take a huge step backwards, but I’m not willing to fight Mom Nature over that.
(I do have a point, and it’s not the weather, I promise.)
That point is, when I sat down to write But by the Grace of Dog, I knew it was a Canadian novel. I’d been to the places I saw these men go to, walked through the markets and the strip mall, and year-over-year I’ve experienced every one of the four very distinct seasons that they do, from the hot and humid 40C summer sun to the way light snow crawls like fog over the roads in winter. So, while I could have placed them in Generic Town, Anywhere U.S.A. as I’ve done many times before, I realised that in doing so, I would miss the opportunity to tell the story the way it showed up in my head – complete with all the extra u’s, the double l’s and the double s’s, and our flagrant distaste for the letter z. The more I wrote, the more “right” it felt.
When my former publisher decided to close their doors, I had a moment of panic. While they had always been more than happy to let my Canadian light shine, it wasn’t a standard industry practise. I could have rewritten it, and I would have—there was even an editing issue along the way that might have made life easier if I’d given in and done just that—but it got more and more important to me to stay true not only to the story, but to myself. I am, as the saying goes, Canadian.
But, Henley, you may say, I looked some stuff up online and they tell me that Canadians pretty much use American spelling these days… To which I can only say, please don’t trust Grammarly in these matters. Yes, they will tell you that Canada prefers American spelling and American formatting for many things, but I assure you, that is not true. And any business that does conform, is automatically perceived as bowing into pressure. That’s not viewed as a favourable thing. A lot of folks up here are just as proud of who we are as… well, as anyone else would be. (Sample advertisement from a Canadian construction company: We drive kms, not miles; We deliver to your postal code, not a zip; We build highways, not freeways.)
So, to anyone interested in seeing what’s between the covers of But by the Grace of Dog, I say: Welcome to Canada! Don’t forget your toque, grab a beer or a Timmy’s, and let’s get down to what this is all aboot, eh? … Man + Dog + Neighbour = True Love (but does it equal a HEA?)
Thank you to Joyfully Jay for hosting me today and thank YOU again for joining me. Please be sure to keep scrolling for a short exclusive excerpt and all the details of the giveaway. A quick comment here will offer you a chance at one of these adorable keychains and promo pack. And if you click through to the Rafflecopter, you just might walk away with a $25 credit to JMS Books that you can use however you choose to.
All my love!
AF Henley <3
Dog huffed his traditional non-bark that sounded to Thom very much like, “Friend!” and pounced in Justin’s direction. It was as if Thom had never even taken the time to wind the tie-out stake into the ground. It ripped up like it had been sitting in a bucket of pudding, spewing up a shower of dirt, and Dog was off and running.
Thom had time to think, thank God for fences, before realizing that wouldn’t stop Dog in the least. He shouted, “Dog, no!” at the same time Dog leapt up and over the fence, using his back paws to scrabble against the slats, giving himself the last few inches he needed to clear it. He landed with a flump and a waggling of tongue directly in Justin’s arms.
“God, damn it!” Thom hissed. He dropped the hose, fists clenching, and stepped towards the fence. The hose should have simply fallen. Instead, it reacted like a snake that didn’t approve of cussing. The hose arced mid-fall, writhed and twisted, until it blasted Thom’s dirty, cursing mouth—and the entire rest of his face, chest, belly, and crotch—with cold water.
The only sound he could make was a strangled cry. He flailed at the hose, eyes streaming, and his right foot landed on a slick, soapy patch of lawn. While he did catch the hose, he didn’t get a chance to catch himself. He came to a stop a full fifteen feet from where he’d been standing, sputtering water and soap, clutching the streaming hose and ready to strangle the first four-legged creature he saw. He might have, too, if that four-legged creature hadn’t been happily resting in the arms of his most attractive neighbour, tasting every inch of that neighbour’s face.
Justin’s grin was almost too cute for Thom to feel humiliated. Almost. “Well, at least it was you that fell this time,” Justin said. “I don’t think my back could take two days in a row.”
That would have been an ideal time to apologize for abandoning Justin the day before while the poor man had been wounded. By his disobedient brat of a dog, even. Unfortunately, the best Thom could come up with was, “Oof.”
Justin shifted the wiggling Dog until he could set Dog down on his own four paws. Instantly, Dog took to running, lapping Justin’s backyard while coughing sounds of either victory or joy. “Heck of a soundtrack to dance to—err, dive across the backyard to—am I right?” Justin thumbed his phone into silence. “You okay?”
Thom Baron has been struggling with social anxiety his entire life. He’s taken the medications, gone to the therapists, followed the programs, and concluded his best life is a solitary one. When he comes across a dog in obvious need at his local market, it rekindles the desire to have some company around. It may come with a dishevelled coat, a notched ear, and a refusal to respond to anything but its given name “Ugly,” but it could still be a friend.
However, Thom’s new fur buddy has no such need to keep to itself and immediately befriends the man Thom has secretly coveted since he moved in — Justin, Thom’s gorgeous, bright-eyed neighbour. No matter how Thom tries to evade the man, the dog keeps drawing them back into each other’s lives, and it doesn’t take Thom long to recognize it’s simply pursuing the demands of Thom’s own heart. With the dog giving him the courage to try, Thom reaches out to return the love being offered.
Until a stranger shows up insisting the dog is his and demanding its immediate return … a loss Thom knows will take all of his efforts and newfound confidence with it.
Pick up your copy here: https://www.jms-books.
- GENRE: Gay Erotic Romance, Canadian English
- LENGTH: 49,400 words
- RATING: contains some explicit sex scenes
- NOTE: contains brief character thought about suicide
A.F. Henley is a Canadian author specializing in romance, universal intervention, and spiritual connection, who gets most of their ideas while jumping from site to site on the Internet. Comments, kudos, and special requests are all happily received at their website.
For more information, please visit afhenley.com.
A.F. has brought along two great giveaways. Leave a comment for a chance to win an adorable puppy keychain and promo pack. The contest ends on December 9th at 11:59 pm ET.
Second, check out the Rafflecopter link for a chance to win a $25 credit to JMS Books – one winner throughout the tour.
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