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The Envelope, Please

Alright, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for (well, at least I’ve been waiting for): time to announce the winner of the Finally Home blog tour giveaway! One lucky winner will received an autographed paperback copy of Finally Home and Two Tickets to Paradise.

And the winner is:

TRIX

I want to thank everyone who helped me promote my book on this tour: Dreamspinner Press (especially Social Media Assistant Hayley Petersen), Pixie at MM Good Book Reviews, Allison Cassatta, Lisa Horan at the Novel Approach, Charlie Cochet, the folks at Cup O’ Porn, Prism Book Alliance, Guys Like Romance, Too!, and Vicktor Alexander.

Also, a very special thank you goes out to all the readers who followed me on this crazy ride, those who came to the chats and asked questions and who commented on the blog posts. I went from having ten Facebook friends I knew only by name and ended with over 100, many of who I’d actually gotten to know during the course of the tour. Thank you guys for welcoming me to the community.

To show my thanks, I’d like to offer a bit of a consolation prize to those who didn’t win the giveaway: a gorgeous Finally Home bookmark featuring the art of Paul Richmond. Simply email me your address at zeekensington @ gmail .com and I’ll drop one in the mail for you.

bookmarks

Well, now I’m off to YaoiCon, to hang out at the Dreamspinner Press table. I’ve never been to this convention, so I’m excited to attend. If you see me, come up and say hello! I have some goodies to share (three guesses what they are…)

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Man, what a week!

FinallyHome_FBbanner_DSP_blog_tourIt’s been one heck of a week promoting Finally Home, folks! A veritable whirlwind of blog stops, chats, and meeting lots of new friends. Welcome to those you here for the first time!

This past week I talked with Allison Cassatta about writing, was interviewed on the Novel Approach, had tea with Charlie Cochet at the Purple Rose Tea House,  shared my Thursday Thoughts at Coffee and Porn in the Morning, and chatted with a slew of lovely readers on Dreamspinner’s Facebook page. Whew!

There’s no rest for the wicked, though. Tomorrow I’ll be stopping by Prism Book Alliance to talk about my process writing my first book. On Wednesday, Sept. 10 I’ll be at Guys Like Romance, Too! with my most challenging post: how I incorporated the real-world events of the Occupy Wall Street protests into the story of Finally Home. Then, on my last stop on Thursday, Sept. 11, I’ll be ruminating on the sweetness of summer romance at Vicktor Alexander’s Purple Fantasy Den.

Friday, Sept. 12, I’ll be bringing it back here to announce the winner of my rafflecopter giveaway. There’s still plenty of time to enter!

Enter Here via Rafflecopter!

Thanks again to everyone who’s made this blog tour so special. This has been my first time promoting a novel, and it’s been such a learning experience. A fun one, to be sure, but definitely busy. See you on the road!

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Finally Home Release Day!

It’s here! It’s finally here! The day I’ve been waiting for…

Finally Home Cover

Finally Home is available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press!

Seriously, I feel like a kid on Halloween. Or a geek at Comic Con. Or…you get the idea, I’m pretty dang excited!

Today also marks the start of my blog tour, which is off to a great start. I’m having a release party over at the Dreamspinner Press blog, where we’re swapping travel and food stories. Come join us! I’ve also posted a giveaway for an eBook copy of Finally Home and Two Tickets to Paradise, so you can win if you enter before 7 pm PST.

Adding to today’s Blog Tour excitement–I just got my first review from MM Good Book Reviews, where Pixie gave Finally Home 4 hearts! Go check it out!

FinallyHome_FBbanner_DSP_blog_tour

I hope you’ll join me on my blog tour, which is happening August 29-September 12. Every time you comment on a blog post, Friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or Tweet about the Giveaway, you can enter for a chance to win an autographed eBook bundle of Finally Home and Two Tickets to Paradise. I’ll announce the winner here on Friday, September 12.

Enter Here via Rafflecopter!

Thank you to everyone who has helped make this blog tour possible, and to all the new people I’m meeting today. It makes it all the more special to know my first book is introducing me to new folks. Looking forward to seeing you down the road!

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Finally Home Blog Tour Dates

I can’t believe Finally Home hits shelves in less than two weeks! This morning I sat down to sign the vellum sheets that will appear in the first ten paperback copies of the book, and I felt like a “real author” TM.

I’m happy to announce I have the dates, locations, and topics set for the Finally Home blog tour, which will be from August 29-September 12. Over the course of two weeks, I’ll share photos of the locations that inspired the stories, and talk about writing a first novel, nummy street food, the thrill of summer romance, and more. I’ll also be giving away some prizes via Rafflecopter, so be sure to follow along at all the stops!

I’ll also be visiting some other awesome blogs after the tour, and making my first convention appearance at YaoiCon in Burlingame, CA. A very, very busy month ahead, indeed!
FinallyHome_FBbanner_DSP_blog_tour

Finally Home Blog Tour

August 29: Dreamspinner Press Blog Party—Photo Tour of Finally Home locations; special giveaway

August 29: MM Good Book Reviews—Summer Romance: We’ll Always Have Bangkok

September 1: Allison Cassatta—Author Spotlight

September 2: The Novel Approach—Interview

September 3: Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House—Location, Location, Location

September 4: Cup o’ Porn—Things we Love Thursday: Food, Glorious Food

September 7: LIVE Facebook Chat with Dreamspinner Press

September 8: Prism Book Alliance—Taking the Plunge: Writing the First Novel

September 10: Guys Like Romance, Too—Living through History

September 11: Vicktor Alexander’s Purple Fantasy Den—Dirty Words: My Life Writing Erotica

September 12: Zee Kensington (home blog)–Giveaway winner reveal

Additional Appearances

September 12-14: In person at YaoiCon, Burlingame, CA

September 17: JP Barnaby

September 22: Brynn Stein

October 8: Grace R. Duncan

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Finally Home hits shelves August 29!

Finally Home Cover

I’ve been sitting on this amazingly gorgeous book cover by Paul Richmond for far too long now. I’m over the moon. He’s perfectly brought my boys to life, from Marco’s shy smile to the texture of Chris’s white shirt. I could not have dreamed of a better book cover for my first novel. 

Finally Home will be released by Dreamspinner Press on August 29. It’s already available for pre-order on eBook and in paperback.

I’ll be doing a bit of a blog tour starting on August 29 to celebrate the release, and I’ll have more details the closer we get to the big day. I hope you’ll join me!

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You never forget your first Pride

Trike with gay pride flag.

This weekend is LGBT Pride Weekend in my hometown of San Diego, California. Even though I haven’t gone in years, I think about it every time it rolls around. San Diego Pride was my first—and only—LGBT Pride festival. It helped define who I am today, and why I will always stand up and fight for LGBT rights.

Let’s step into the Tardis, and dial in the year 1999. I was visiting home for the summer after my sophomore year of college. I had left my boyfriend up in Northern California, and was back with my loving tribe of misfit friends. At the time, I was was struggling with my identity as a young bisexual woman, and I was longing for a sense of community. So, when my good friend, Bert, invited me to join him and a couple other of my friends at San Diego Pride, I eagerly accepted.

The festival was located in San Diego’s primarily gay neighborhood, Hillcrest. I loved Hillcrest when I was in high school, the heart of which was a few square blocks of indie music and book stores, art house movie theaters, brightly-lit sex shops, and trendy cafes and restaurants. It was an urban mecca for an eccentric suburban teen aching for the big city.

For Pride, the hip little ‘hood had morphed into party central. I’d never seen so many people there, lining the sidewalks. Not just shirtless young men, either. There were people of all ages, races, sizes, and genders. There were even families there. This wasn’t just a hook-up scene–this was for everyone.

“Everyone” also included a small cluster of protestors, unfortunately. We saw them on the way in, sour-faced and waving signs with the usual anti-gay slogans. We didn’t pay them much mind. What harm could a couple dozen haters do, when there were so many of us here?

We were about to find out.

We found a place to stand and watch the Pride Parade on University Avenue, right in front of our favorite coffee house. I’ll admit, I’m not a parade person, but I could appreciate our position close to the grandstand, where we could hear the drag queen MC as she announced the floats and contingents loud and clear. I settled in for a long watch, enjoying rainbow-festooned cars, gyrating men on floats, and—my favorite—the Dykes on Bikes.

San Diego Pride 1999 float

The Family Matters group appeared shortly after the start of the parade. I was moved to see so many LGBT families walking openly and proudly. Remember, this is 1999, before the fight for Marriage Equality really gained traction, before Modern Family and other mainstream portrayals of gay families. It was revolutionary. There were pregnant mothers, fathers with strollers, grandparents pulling wagons bearing kids with hand-drawn signs saying, “I love my 2 dads.” It was so sweet and fun, and we enjoyed waving back at the kids from the sidelines.

Then the world turned upside down.

It began with a wisp of smoke that quickly turned into a billow. As it reached the families in the street, shouts rose up. The adults grabbed their children, frantically running away from the spreading gray cloud. My confusion grew as a light ocean breeze blew the smoke toward my section of spectators—and a sharp, chemical burn raced up my nostrils.

“Tear gas!” The MC shouted from the stand, her tall, black wig bobbing madly as she waved. “It’s tear gas! Everyone stay calm! Everyone get inside!”

I don’t remember what else she said. I was too focused on the acid scorching my tender sinuses, the fire in my lungs, the burning in my watering eyes. The crowd around me had churned into a frenzy, like a beehive struck by a stone. It was chaos.

Bert’s hand latched onto my wrist like a vice. I grabbed my friend’s, who grabbed her friend’s. A human chain of four links, Bert dragged us through the crowd and into the café behind us. It was only about eight feet, but through the teargas, it might as well have been eight miles.

Inside the café, we could breathe again. My vision began to clear as we sucked in clean lungfuls of air, though I still felt like there were fire ants crawling around inside my head. The four of us hadn’t been hit badly, thanks to Bert’s quick action. Other people weren’t so lucky.

My favorite spot for drinking coffee had become the triage unit of a war movie. Baristas threw bottles of water over the counter to frantic hands, not bothering with the register. Patrons poured the water over the teary, red faces of parade-goers gone prone on the floor, debilitated by the gas. I could only imagine what the families with children were going through.

Finally, when the madness subsided, we filtered back onto the street. Faces that had been joyous only minutes before were twisted in pain, confusion, anger, and fear. People milled about, uncertain whether to pack it up or stick it out. It seemed that the parade was ruined.

I don’t remember when the MC started speaking again, but I remember hearing her voice rise over the murmur of the crowd.

“…and we’re going to keep having this parade! Because we’re not going to let their hate shut us down!”

MC at San Diego Pride 1999

A cry rose from the crowd. It was different, though, then the cheers that had greeted her words before. This wasn’t the merriment of festival-goers—this was the roar of fighters. This was the shout of those who would not be silenced, who would not slink away in defeat.

You hurt us, you hurt our families, and yet we still stand here.

I have never been more proud in my life to be part of something. In that moment, it didn’t matter who I was sleeping with or what my number on the Kinsey scale was. What mattered was I was there, standing tall, shoulder-to-shoulder with other survivors of hate. For the first time ever, I truly understood what Pride meant. I was a part of something bigger than myself–a movement, a history.

So, Happy Pride, San Diego. May it be a safe and joyous celebration this year.

If you’re interested in seeing better pictures than these old scans, and reading an AP article about the tear gas, you can here.

 

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Preorder “Chasing Sunrise,” and help stop domestic violence

Chasing Sunrise CoverMany authors try to change the world with their stories, but Lex Chase is taking it one step further. Every single penny of the presale royalties for her new m/m paranomal fantasy, Chasing Sunrise, will be donated to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Domestic Violence Service

You can preorder Chasing Sunrise either in eBook or print, but be sure to do so by July 25 if you want your money to go towards helping survivors of domestic abuse.

Synopsis (from Dreamspinner Press): On the Coastal Bend of Texas, a hidden kingdom called Darkmore lies in ruins, and King Sevon Maraté is trapped. Using Sevon as a mouthpiece and a scapegoat, Lord Dominic rules from the shadows. Born of royal verkolai blood and as beautiful as he is lethal, Sevon possesses the ability to part the Veil separating his world from hundreds of others. His gift is his chance to escape, but Dominic refuses to relinquish his tool for power. Dominic forges an ambitious plan to invade the prosperous land of Priagust. Only a select few know the mythic kingdom of shifters exists. Sevon is out of options for his people’s survival, and cooperating with Dominic is his only chance.

On their foray into Priagust, Dominic’s men kidnap and interrogate a shifter named Jack. Even under torture, Jack’s loyalty to his kind never wavers. But as Jack’s knowledge about Darkmore’s king and its history unsettles Sevon, a curious bond begins to form. Despite Sevon’s mistrust, Jack is determined to tame Sevon’s wild heart and perhaps earn his freedom. As invasion looms, Sevon wonders if trusting Jack will lead him into another trap or if he should forget about chasing the sunrise and remain Dominic’s compliant prisoner.