A lovely note from Susan Mac Nicol to those who have hosted her during the Worth Keeping Blog Tour
I want to talk about book bloggers in this guest post. Yes, the people without whom authors wouldn’t get as much exposure as we do. The people who tirelessly soldier on, reading and reviewing books for the most part so that authors get their dues.
I find them one of the most valuable and treasured resources I have. I’m going to try not mention anyone by name in here, as I don’t want to offend anyone I may leave out. But there are some really special ones out there who mean a lot to me for their unswerving support and constant nurturing and they’ll know who they are.
Bloggers are an essential part of the author toolbox. Whether they are a book blogger, a gay dating site blogger, a sexual abuse blogger, (as this theme runs through a couple of my works), or simply a blogger with eclectic tastes, they all have their part to play in the mire that is social networking and getting your name out.
All writers know the importance of these things:
1. Building your author platform.
2. Building your reading community.
3. Building your online presence and your ‘reach.’
Words that strike fear into some old school authors I know who believe word of mouth and the fact that ‘someone will find my books’ is all they need. I say good for them and I wish them every success. But in today’s ever growing digital world, the market opportunities are vast and permeate every nook and cranny of this incredibly rich and versatile market we have.
Of course it matters in terms of reach whether a blogger is big, small, ginormous, of Universe proportions or simply a small player in a very big pond. But every single one of them have a part to play.
Today’s small home grown blogger may expand into the next huge success story and you will be part of it if you stay with them, encourage them and allow them to grow their market share with you. Your name or book title in just one person’s blog, regardless of size (and I don’t often say that I can assure you, as there are other areas where I think size matters despite what your man tells you :)) is getting you out there.
Bloggers take time to prepare their posts, include pictures, go to the trouble of building beautiful collages with your book pictures, creating things that are not only special for them but for you and for this we need to give them a huge THANKS and tell them we truly appreciate their efforts. It can be back breaking, tiring work, taking them into late hours and chewing up their family time but still they do it. For us.
If you’re serious about getting your work out there as an author, you have to build these relationships. You have to get to know them not just as someone on the other side of the world, but as someone a little more personal. You have to do your bit as well – send them quality posts if they ask for one, answer their interview questions as best you can so that entertain people, provide pictures and material on time for their deadlines so they aren’t running around at midnight with red eyes trying to fix something that ultimately is benefitting you.
It’s a lot of hard bloody work on both sides believe me, as I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum as an author and blogger myself, hosting book tours and showcasing people. But with that little bit of effort, some humour and understanding and a clear view of what you both need to do, it can only be a great success.
– Susan Mac Nicol
Worth Keeping, by Susan Mac Nicol
Genre: Contemporary, Abuse, Healing, MM Romance,
Abused horrifically as a boy, Nick Mathers has come to terms with his existence as a man. Mostly. Other days life seems a little much. Especially when Nick knows he’ll always be alone.
On those days his thoughts turn black. He walks the Norfolk coast and considers the frigid embrace of the waves. And then, one stormy night, he finds someone who’s tasted just that. The beautiful stranger on the beach is near death, and Nick rushes him home to slowly nurse back to health. As he does, he finds a love unlike any other. Owen Butler’s body is as warm as the sea was cold, his heart as big as an ocean. And Owen is a man who swears to repay the favor. Nick can yet be saved from himself, and he will see that he is indeed a man…worth keeping.
We are contributors to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children- http://www.nspcc.org.uk – and we encourage you to donate, too.
Though this book is about two men with tragedies in their pasts, and the heartbreak and terrible circumstances are mentioned frequently, as events trigger memories, the focus is on how Nick and Owen learn to love and live with both themselves and each other.
Nick is the adult product of an all-around abusive and neglectful childhood. He is unprotected as a child, leading to horrific incidents of cruelty and exploitation that last well into his teens. Then he finds himself in another abusive relationship as an adult. Though his adoptive father manages to help him out of both situations, these years leave him with physical and emotional scars. Nick often finds himself giving in to the darkness that seems to surround his very being, and struggles with suicidal urges.
Owen has lived a charmed life in comparison. He has a supportive family, a good job, and knew love. But two years before his world collides with Nick’s, he experiences a loss that leaves him reeling and unable to cope.
One night, succumbing to despair, he throws himself from his boat. Instead of drowning, he washes ashore on Pebble Cove. Nick, who is walking the cliffs and lost in his own suicidal thoughts, sees a body on his coast and carries him inside. Owen demands to be left to die, but despite understanding the desire and feeling kinship, Nick refuses. He doesn’t deny Owen because he values life; he just doesn’t want to deal with the inevitable questions that would follow the discovery of a dead body.
Beginning this first night, Nick and Owen settle into what quickly becomes routine: One says or does something that makes the other feel defensive. Feeling cornered, the second man says something cruel, and the first man storms off. These reactionary responses, and how they’re handled, are critical elements in their relationship.
Nick and Owen also quickly acknowledge their mutual attraction, and that first morning together sees them getting each other off, and Nick feeling intimacy like he never has before. This leaves him feeling emotionally exposed, so he lashes out and calls a halt to their sexual relationship.
Nick and Owen both soon find themselves opening up about what has driven them to their current states. Despite how, in their rather volatile relationship, they often use these experiences against one another to create distance, the men seem to genuinely care about each other. They eventually admit to the deepening mutual appreciation, which ushers in a return of the sexual aspect of their relationship, as well as the main point of the book: Nick and Owen learning how to respect themselves and each other.
The men are not without their faults. Nick very often pushes Owen away, fearing the vulnerability of opening himself to being hurt again, or worse, finding the person he cares about doesn’t value him. Owen often cajoles Nick into agreeing to things he’s not totally comfortable doing. They both exhibit a selfishness and need to be in control that has them clashing as their relationship deepens. Nick is often shown as moody, quick-tempered, but displays one particular characteristics of an abuse victim: desperation to please. Owen, on the other hand, is often portrayed as careless, sex-obsessed, and intentionally oblivious to Nick’s discomfort. Neither man is the ideal partner, but it’s perhaps easier to feel sympathy for Nick due to his past trauma, and the belief that his behavior is therefore more excusable.
There are side plots and peripheral characters, of course. Somebody from Nick’s past pops up with the sole intent of causing harm. There’s a small mystery in their village. Nick has a scene-stealing monkey, Socks. There’s a potential budding romance for Don and a definitely blooming love interest for Daniel. A breaking news story is a catalyst for Nick’s shattering psyche, and there are hints it could somehow circle around.
But these side plots have a similar feel to those things that are mentioned with no follow up: merely inserted for dramatic effect. For instance, Owen’s apparent alcohol and occasional drug abuse is briefly mentioned, but never really addressed. Owen’s loss is glossed over, but because the book centers more on Nick, this is somewhat understandable. It still seems as if his past, while apparently traumatic enough to him to have him attempt suicide, is quickly forgotten by everybody, Owen included. Owen’s family is apparently very supportive of him, yet he easily leaves them behind and speaks to them maybe twice in the entire book, which spans nearly a year by my estimation. One man is mentioned with dire warnings but for no apparent reason other than to create a dramatic encounter between Nick and Owen.
One thing that I found off-putting is the time spent focusing on sex, especially given Nick’s past. Nick and Owen are not sexually involved with each other for a short time after their initial quick roll in the beginning; I believe it is a week, yet both get off with other men in that time. Despite this, Owen’s thoughts are still almost entirely centered on sex, and Nick in a sexual way. Granted, at this point he doesn’t know precisely what happened to Nick, but he has an inkling. Still, he pushes, and after they rekindle things, he continues to push harder at Nick’s boundaries, even after Nick explains his past. There are points where he comes across as taking advantage of an already fragile person.
The writing itself is great; the words flow and there is a well-balanced use of adjectives to describe without seeming excessively overdone. I thought the plot could have been tidied a bit, maybe by removing some of the drama and increasing the follow-through on what remains, but that’s a personal choice. The editing was pretty clean, though there were a few places where I questioned the word choice, and I noticed an accidental “than” instead of “that”. Aside from those minor issues and my own preferences, I was very impressed with Ms Mac Nicol’s style. Despite not loving the number of sub-themes and the occasional scene seemingly added for affect, I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style and look forward to her future books.
Nitpicking aside, at it’s heart, Worth Keeping is essentially about how Nick and Owen learn to understand their respective flaws, how they ultimately learn to work through these imperfections, and come accept each other as equally important partners.
Please note: There are a few brief, but graphic depictions, of abusive behavior, including physical and sexual abuse of a minor. These are written as flashbacks, and I do not believe there is any intent to titillate. There are also scenes in which this abuse is discussed for healing purposes. Please take care if this subject is likely to cause a strong reaction.
Publisher and Original Publication Date: Boroughs Publishing Group, December 23, 2013
Formats Available: epub, mobi, pdf
Length: 93,000 words
Reviewed by: Adrienne
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