Autism Awareness Month: Blog Hop, Childhood Toys, and a Giveaway

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Autism fact: Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often. 

I’m new to RJ Scott’s autism blog hop and honored to participate. I paused over the theme of childhood toys, though, because in my family, toys were very much a community affair.

I grew up the oldest of four siblings–two sisters and two brothers–and virtually everything given to one kid became part-owned by the other three. We had a healthy mix of dolls and trucks and building sets, and everything was played with and argued over equally, regardless of gender stereotypes.

My parents worked at giving us each “our own” presents on birthdays and holidays, but we kids knew the score. I might be the one to unwrap a set of matching silver six-shooters, but they weren’t really mine— they were everybody’s. The exception to this unwritten rule were the children’s books my grandmother bought.

In an effort to give me something (almost) of my own, my grandmother bought children’s books through a mail order service. The books arrived monthly, starting when I was seven or eight, and I’ll never forget how exciting it felt to be handed a broad, flat package and tear it open to find out what kind of book I’d be reading next.

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My sister and I shared the books, and they were kept at my grandmother’s house, “safe” from our younger brothers. (The boys were deeply uninterested in books at the time anyway, so no one’s feelings were hurt.)

I probably spent hundreds of hours with those books growing up, sometimes in my sister’s company and sometimes not. I came to regard reading as a special time just for me and have discovered that my own son treats reading time with similar reverence.

As an only child, B. Coles has had more toys than any one kid needs. He’s eleven years old now, and non-electronic toys have lost a lot of their appeal. B.’s love of books and reading hasn’t wavered, however, and he takes great pleasure in receiving books. The photo above is of his current collection (and, he’s reminding me, his Pokémon cards in the yellow tubs on the bottom shelf).

For my giveaway, I’d like to gift someone a $5 Amazon gift card. Just comment below and tell me what your favorite toy or plaything was as a child and whether you had to share it. I’ll choose a name next Thursday.


Charity

I’m supporting The Asperger/Autism Network (AANE), an organization local to me that works with individuals, families, and professionals to help people with Asperger Syndrome and similar autism spectrum profiles build meaningful, connected lives. To donate and learn more, check out https://www.aane.org/.


Extra Dirty, The Speakeasy Book #2

If you haven’t checked out my latest release, it’s Extra Dirty, Book #2 in The Speakeasy series, which I co-write with Brigham Vaughn. It’s a lot of fun, if I do say so myself. 🙂

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Blurb:

Love, served extra dirty.

Jesse Murtagh loves his life as a wealthy bisexual businessman dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. With a circle of friends he trusts implicitly, he enjoys a successful career in his family’s business and as co-owner of Under, an uptown speakeasy, with his friend with benefits, Kyle McKee.

Music teacher and part-time DJ Cameron Lewis lives modestly in a DUMBO loft and isn’t interested in serious relationships. However, he’s always up for some casual fun.

Doing a favor for his friend Carter Hamilton, Jesse meets Cam and is immediately charmed. When Jesse discovers Cam’s other life as a DJ, he is further intrigued. Viewing Cam as a challenge, Jesse pulls out all the stops, but his usual methods to avoid serious relationships fail. Though Cam has no intention of becoming attached, he begins to fall for Jesse, unaware that Jesse’s feelings are changing.

Afraid of heartbreak, Cam pulls away, leaving Jesse bewildered and hurt. They remain friends until a series of misunderstandings widens the rift to breaking point. When Cam steps in to help Jesse through a family crisis, they realize they care for each other more than they’ve been willing to admit. Jesse and Cam don’t want a traditional relationship, but can they build a future that makes them both happy?

Available now from your favorite retailer:

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Or from Pride Publishing:

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2018 Releases

Finding time to craft words can be a challenge for anyone, and I’m happy to have put out stories I loved writing, including the start of a new collaborative series, The Speakeasy, with Brigham Vaughn. I learned a lot about myself and my craft this year and finally tried independent publishing, an adventure I enjoyed very much.

Thank you to everyone who made 2018 so productive and full—beta readers, editors, publishers, and reviewers alike. Even when feedback bruises my feelings, I know it makes me a better writer and I mean it when I say couldn’t have done it without you.

I look forward to an equally fruitful 2019 and hope you join me.

A Hometown Holiday