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Tough Guy
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It’s time to talk about Tough Guy!

This book was so hard to write. It was great in my head, but it was a battle to type each and every sentence. It was the first book I wrote that I knew would be published and that people would read it, which felt very different. I was also writing against a deadline for the first time, which is STRESSFUL and I think I want to avoid doing that again if possible. Despite all of this, I am very happy with out Tough Guy turned out.

Tough Guy grew out of a YA novel idea I’ve had for years about a junior hockey player developing a crush on the son of the family that billets him. (Quick explanation of Canadian junior hockey: players often live for free with families who volunteer their homes. These billet families offer the players, who are between 15-21 years old, a family away from home while they are playing elite hockey).

I decided I didn’t actually want to write a YA novel, and thus we have the love story of Ryan Price and Fabian Salah.

Ryan lived with the Salah family in Halifax for one hockey season when he was seventeen. Their son, Fabian, was the only member of the family who wasn’t hockey obsessed. In fact, he hated hockey, and resented having to live with the players his parents billeted each season. Fabian was also seventeen when Ryan lived with the Salahs, and Ryan quickly found himself to be quite taken by the unapologetically queer, stunningly beautiful young man. Not that he’d ever tell him.

Over thirteen years later, Ryan and Fabian reunite in a drug store in Toronto’s LGBTQ Village. Ryan has been playing in the NHL for nearly a decade and has established himself as one of the most formidable enforcers in the league. Fabian is a rising star in the Canadian indie music scene, and working part time in the cosmetics department of the drug store.

Some notes on this book:

  • This is pretty different from both Game Changer and Heated Rivalry. I was planning on going a lot darker with it, but decided not to because I don’t want any books in this series to be too angsty. Ryan is dealing with a lot: he suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, is afraid of flying, is socially awkward, and he has lost his passion for hockey. His body is also feeling the toll of the many years of playing and fighting, and he’s tired of relocating after being traded several times during his NHL career.

  • It’s not a coming out story, or a secret relationship story. The first two books dealt with that enough. I wanted Ryan’s story to be different. This is an opposites attract story for sure, because Ryan is a shy, awkward 6’7”, 260 lb hockey player with long, bushy red hair, and an unruly beard. Fabian is a 5’7”, very slim, femme, Lebanese-Canadian, confident, social butterfly. They seem like a very unlikely couple.

  • Ilya plays a minor but important role in this book. And there are events that will set up the Heated Rivalry sequel (that’s what the plan is anyway).

  • This book was more personal for me than the other two. Both of the MCs are Nova Scotian (though both are living in Toronto). Also, many of Ryan’s mental health issues and struggles are based on and informed by the same ones people in my own family are dealing with.

I hope you love Ryan and Fabian! I know January 13th is a long way off, but in the meantime you can listen to the Spotify playlist I made (and listened to a LOT while writing this book). You can try to piece together the story from that (hint: the playlists I make are always roughly chronological).

A Very Late Post About Heated Rivalry
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I have clearly done a very bad job keeping this blog up-to-date. I haven’t posted anything since December?! A whole other book has come out since then! Come on, Rachel.

First, I just want to say that I have been completely blown away and giddy over the love and support Heated Rivalry has received since its release in March. I can’t even tell you how much fun that book was to write. I love Scott and Kip, don’t get me wrong, but Ilya and Shane are such a delight to write. When I was writing their story, I really wasn’t sure if any publisher would go for it because it’s kind of a weird book. It’s not quite enemies-to-lovers, it’s not a traditional slow burn, it spans almost a decade, and it doesn’t have a definitive happy ending. It’s a complete mess, really.

But oh my god the love I’ve seen for this book has made me so happy!

A few notes about the book. Firstly, because I don’t say this enough, I owe so much to my fantastic editor, Mackenzie Walton. She pushed me to make each sex scene more romantic, and each emotional moment sweeter and more impactful. Without her expert feedback the book wouldn’t include what are now some of my favourite scenes. In fact, the ENTIRE ‘Part Two’ section wouldn’t exist, nor would the epilogue. Those were both added after the first manuscript I submitted. The book is, I think, so much stronger with those added chapters.

(Also added late was Ilya’s little sex game when Shane was on the phone with Hayden, but that was just for me).

I do have a couple of deleted scenes that I could post on this blog if anyone is interested. I wrote a few different epilogues and there were also some scenes from earlier in the book that didn’t make it into any version of a finished manuscript. I had planned to write some free short stories with Shane and Ilya this summer, but instead I am focusing on writing more novels. I am not a fast writer, I’m afraid, and my dream is to have this series wrapped up by the end of next year.

Secretly, I always hoped I would get a chance to write a sequel to Heated Rivalry, but I didn’t want to be presumptuous. There’s a reason why I left the ending where it was. It was like wrapping up a season of a television show that you aren’t sure will be renewed—I tried to leave Shand and Ilya in a good place in case I never got the chance to finish their story.

I don’t have any solid news on that front, but I can say that I am planning a sequel now. There are three more books planned in this series. The first of the three, Tough Guy, is finished and will be published by Carina Press. The release date, cover, and blurb should all be revealed very soon. Tough Guy is Ryan Price’s book, it’s set in Toronto, and Ilya and Shane will both appear in it. I’ll write another post about that book when there’s more to share. I love the cover and the blurb, and I can’t wait for them to be revealed!

The fourth and fifth books in the series will be Ilya and Shane’s second book, and Kyle’s book (you remember Kyle the bartender from Game Changer? That guy). Kyle’s book will be set in New York and will revisit characters from Game Changer. And that’s all I can tell you about those books for now, except the end of Tough Guy will set up the second Ilya and Shane book.

As you may have heard, Game Changer, Heated Rivalry AND Tough Guy will all be available as audiobooks! The first two will be released in October. All three are being produced by Tantor Media and the first two at least will be read by Tor Thom. I can’t wait to hear them! I am completely removed from the audiobook production process, so the final product will be a total surprise to me. I am a huge audiobook fan, though, so this is a dream come true.

No plans for print copies of any of the books right now but I do have a few promotional copies that I give away sometimes, usually on Instagram. That’s the best place to get up-to-date info from me, by the way. I’ve taken a big step back from Twitter but I am pretty active on Instagram @rachelreidwrites

Also, it doesn’t hurt to let Carina know what you would like to see print copies of the books.

Thank you again to everyone who has taken the time to read my books (I know there are endless amazing m/m romance novels to choose from out there; I’m working on a mountain of a TBR list myself), and especially to those who have left reviews and reached out to me to let me know they enjoyed my writing. It really means a lot to me. I don’t think there’s a better feeling than having someone tell you they love a character you created.

I will try to update this more frequently. Definitely I will post about Tough Guy soon, and about the audiobooks when there is more info to share.

Merry Christmas, Scott & Kip!
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I have written a little festive epilogue to Game Changer! And guess what? It’s free! It’s my holiday gift to you! Join Scott and Kip as they spend their first Christmas together at Kip’s parents’ house in Brooklyn.

You can download the ePub file right here, right now! Huge thanks to my wonderful husband, Matt, for his book designing skills. This was a super rush job and I appreciate it!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FROM SMASHWORDS

The Game Changers series will continue in March with book two: Heated Rivalry. This will be Ilya Rozanov’s story, and there will be cameo appearances by Scott and Carter Vaughan. I plan on taking the series back to New York for the fourth book in the series, so there will be more of Scott and Kip and the gang from Game Changer in that one.

Thank you to everyone who read Game Changer ! It was so exciting to see my first book get published this year and I am really touched by all the kind words people shared about it. They are all very much appreciated. I can’t wait for Heated Rivalry to be released, and I hope you love Ilya and Shane as much as I do!

BTW - if you are looking for a designer for your book—interior, cover, or both—Matt has been a book designer for ten years and does amazing work (you should see what he does when he’s actually given more than a few hours to throw something together!). He needs to update his website (cough cough) but you can find his contact info and some (OLD) examples of his work at mattreidcreative.ca

One Week Until Game Changer!
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Game Changer is out one week from today!

In some ways, it feels like this book has been out for months. At the same time, I can’t believe the release date is finally almost here!

It has been a long road to get to October 22. I wrote Game Changer in secret for over a year. Actually, I wrote the first few chapters, walked away from it for a year, almost deleted it, THEN wrote the rest of it in secret for over a year.

Most of it was written in the dark on my iPad, when I was able to steal a few minutes while waiting for my sons to fall asleep. Because I had zero confidence about my writing abilities, I decided to write a fan fiction version and posted it one chapter at a time on ao3. I was blown away by the support the story got there. Although I wouldn’t do it again for various reasons, I don’t regret sharing Game Changer as fan fiction first because it gave me the confidence I needed to show it to publishers. Also, I was able to get lots of helpful feedback from hundreds of readers! I am very appreciative to everyone who read and commented on ao3.

The final version of Game Changer is very different from what was posted on ao3. It’s very different from the first manuscript I sent to publishers. It’s very different from the second manuscript I sent to publishers. It has been through so many changes and it wouldn’t be even close to the book it is without the fantastic editing by both Caz Galloway at Riptide, and later MacKenzie Walton at Carina Press. I learned a lot during this entire process, and I think I am a stronger writer now thanks to both of them.

With Game Changer, I wanted to write a cute, funny romance with lots of heat, but also explore the very real problem of homophobia in hockey culture. The Game Changers series will continue that, by checking in on players throughout the league in the aftermath of this first book.

Because I am a new author, I will let you know what you can always expect from me:

  • humour;

  • lots of dialogue;

  • low angst;

  • high heat;

  • a Spotify playlist.

And, of course, very happy endings.

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I am going to be having a local (Halifax) book launch party for Game Changer on November 8. I will post details about that soon. Because Game Changer is mostly an ebook (I will have a limited number of print copies), it’s going to be sort of a weird book launch, but I think it will be fun!

Game Changer is out Monday, October 22 from Carina Press, and you can buy it wherever you prefer to buy ebooks. I hope you all love Scott and Kip! I am excited for you to meet them!