Strong Signal: Giveaway and Q&A with Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

We,  at Oh My Shelves would like to give a warm Valentine’s Day welcome to authors Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, who have co-written a fun, romantic and smoking hot story about finding love online and moving it into the realness of daily life.

They have gratuitously answered a few of our questions and are offering a wonderful prize for a giveaway. 

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OMS: How did the two of you “meet” and how did the idea of the book come about?

Megan: I’m not sure exactly how we met. I think we started creeping into each other social circles. He’d read my books, then I read his, and I think we were fans of each other’s work first, which is a great foundation to have if you plan to co-write.

Santino: Wow, I actually don’t remember either. I know for sure it was after last year’s RT Convention, though. The idea for the book came about after Megan mentioned Twitch to me, which she’d been discussing with her husband. It went from her writing a book about female gamers who use Twitch, to me saying “well if you don’t, I will!” to us going “let’s do write it together!”

OMS:  Did you each write a character??? We think we may know who wrote whom but…

Megan: I mostly wrote Kai, and Santino mostly wrote Garrett, but we hopped into each character a lot. And the characterizations were definitely a collaboration.

Santino: Yeah, basically if there is a scene in Garrett POV I was writing both Kai and Garrett (and side characters), and she’d write Garrett if the scene was in Kai POV. It worked out really well, honestly.

OMS: The chat conversations felt so real between Garrett and Kai, they read as if we were online with a friend for the first time getting to know one another. Were those actual chats between the two of you doing a sort of role play as the characters?

Megan: Actually no, we didn’t converse back and forth writing those. I wrote some conversations and Santino wrote others. We’d often go in later and tweak word usage or reaction to fit the characters a bit better.

Santino: Role playing that is my worst nightmare. LOL. But, I think just the fact that we’re people who converse primarily via chat and who have made friends online really allowed for a sort of ease in demonstrating how people can connect.

Strong Signal teaser

OMS: With both MC’s being a level of introvert, the characters read as if you both got it, and not just from a research aspect so we’re curious, which of the characters do you identify with? Kai or Garrett?

Megan: I’m not an introvert. I think I’m more of an ambivert? I get really energized around people, and I enjoy being social, but then I need to hermit up for days afterward. I related to Kai in the sense that he could control his life online more than he could in the “real world.” He could shut off the computer when things got to be too much. His retreat skills are excellent.

Santino: I relate to Garrett in the sense that most people piss me off. They don’t make me uncomfortable, and I don’t have social anxiety, but I’m super grumpy and like my alone time. In other ways, I related to Kai in the way people sometimes latch onto me online or say inappropriate things without necessarily thinking of how Santino the Human Being may think or feel about it because they’re used to Santino the Author who CAN’T always react to certain things because my social media presence is part of my job.

OMS: The insecurity about meeting someone “live” after having a long, intimate online relationship was again, spot on. We’d like to think we wouldn’t react the way Kai did with the first physical meeting, but, you know? ☺ Has that happened to either of you and if so, what resulted when finally meeting face to face?

Megan: Well I first met my husband online. We talked for several months, and we became very close friends. When I finally met him in person, he would barely say three words to me. He was shy, and it’s kind of a head trip to now speak in person when you’ve spoken through a computer for so long. We used to message each other rather than meet in person until gradually we both thawed a little.

Santino: Well, most of my online meetings have stemmed from online dating sites or hookup apps. Yeah, I’m that guy. For the most part, those meetings are pretty straight forward if you catch my drift, although there have been occasions where I wound up befriending a person who was initially just supposed to be a hookup. The guy I’m hanging out with now is one of those people.

OMS:  Megan, how does the experience of co-writing compare to that of going at it solo now that you have done both?

Megan:Well I’m trying to write a book now by myself and I’m having a tough time, haha. I got so used to brainstorming with Santino, I’m so sad I have to do everything on my own again!

OMS: Santino, as you have co-written before with Ais, and the ICoS series, which do you prefer or how does having a co-author benefit or hinder your writing?

Santino: They’re both good experiences, but I think it’s a lot swifter to share characters like Megan and I did instead of writing in shifts/having to be in a Google Doc at the same time like I did with Ais. Whenever me and Ais work on ICoS again, I may suggest we try this out. And honestly, having a co-writer is GREAT. I get so much more work done.

OMS: The blurb for the next book in the Cyberlove series has us ridiculously excited and we can’t wait for that boy to fall head over heels for a guy! Is there a set number of books in the series or will it just continue if y’all have more ideas/stories?

Megan: There isn’t a set number at this time. We have maybe.. one or two more ideas? All around the idea of finding love online. If the ideas keep coming, who knows!

Santino: What she said. 🙂 There’s plenty of room for more and if people are interested, and make that known, we will definitely see what happens in the future.

 

We’d like to thank you both, so much for your time and for giving us a wonderful story. 

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The authors are generously hosting a giveaway for a Kindle Fire.

Enter below.

 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Strong Signal CoverStrong Signal  by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove
Release Date: February 15, 2016
Pages: 212 • Format: eARC
Published By: Megtino Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UK • KoboB&N iBooks


 

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson is a former journalist who switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She likes to pretend she has control now, but usually her characters are the ones who hold the reins. Her romance novels have a touch of humor, a dash of nerdy, and always a happily ever after.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats named after John Hughes characters. She’s still waiting for the party she was promised when she grew to five feet… maybe because she never got there.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Strong Signal (Cyberlove #1) by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Strong Signal Cover

Strong Signal  by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove
Release Date: February 15, 2016
Pages: 212 • Format: eARC
Published By: Megtino Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UK • KoboB&N iBooks

I was counting down the months until the end of my deployment. My days were spent working on military vehicles, and I spent my nights playing video games that would distract me until I could leave Staff Sergeant Garrett Reid behind.
 
That was when I met him: Kai Bannon, a fellow gamer with a famous stream channel.
 
I never expected to become fixated on someone who’d initially been a rival. And I’d never expected someone who oozed charm to notice me—a guy known for his brutal honesty and scowl. I hadn’t planned for our online friendship to turn into something that kept me up at night—hours of chatting evolving into filthy webcam sessions.
 
But it did. And now I can’t stop thinking about him. In my mind, our real life meeting is perfect. We kiss, we fall into bed, and it’s love at first sight.
 
Except, like most things in my life, it doesn’t go as planned.
 
*Strong Signal is a standalone, full-length novel with no cliffhanger*

five-stars

Wow. This book kinda kicked my ginger butt. In a good way of course but I should have known that with this author pairing, I would get the fun but I would also get kicked in the nards of feels and boy did I ever.

Let me start by saying, this review will be emotional. So shocking coming from me, eh? But really, my emotions are on overdrive and this book hit really close to home for me in a few ways, some I’ll share but… yeah, you don’t need that much information from the over word usage reviewer. Amirite?

The saying about the tree? If a tree fell, and no one heard it, would it make a sound? I wondered that about myself sometimes, many times over the years. If I was gone, and I wasn’t missed, would I have lived? 

There is so much in this book that sums up a lot about me as an introvert while it accurately highlights the awesomeness of introverts as well as the isolation. Garret and Kai are both introverts, to their own degree and it was a pure pleasure to be among to characters that were so like myself.

How the boys meet was total perfection. Online relationships are my jam. They are the way I can communicate to others who are like me, who get me and who accept me for the oddball that I am. That Kai and Garrett met the way they did, that they formed an instant connection and fell hard for one another is not something of a fairy tale. That for me is real life.

What this book really gets is the relationships that can be formed online and not just romantic ones. While reading the early exchanges between Garrett and Kai it brought me back to the people I have met online and become close friends with. It made me smile thinking of our first emails where we bonded so quickly without walls, borders and the false pretense that can happen meeting face to face. Now, years later the online exchanges are such a comfort to read and have reatined that raw vulnerability that you get from being able to control your side of the situation. It also made me sad thinking of the online relationships I thought were special and sacred but turned out to be lies. It goes both ways with online interactions but this book, the authors obviously get the unique experience of meeting someone online and fostering the special relationship that forms.

But online, I can control my space. I can determine who comes in my space, and if it all becomes too much, I press the power button.

Kai… oh boy I got Kai on a deep level. I don’t think it’s quite understood that you can be introverted online tough you can have a side that seems outgoing, extroverted and secure to the masses, but inside… inside the person is so very different and while I haven’t reached the status Kai has with his degree of social anxiety I really got that being in control of your space is what’s important. Ugh. I mean, when I get time off from work, I forget to go outside of my house for days and it is fine with me. If I wasn’t married with sons, dogs and a job, I’d be so much like Kai and never leave my controlled comfort space. Kai’s anxiety over meeting Garrett… *whistles*, I felt that deep in my soul. You see, I’m good when I can control the situation online, like Kai is but meeting someone outside of that controlled setting where I can’t edit the hell out of myself… someone needs to get me a fan and paper bag so I can breathe… because doing that, even as a friend and feeling that vulnerable… it’s hard. Just really hard. So yeah, I get that.

Garrett, my dear grumbly, scruffy military man with a soft spot for smart assed gamers, how much do I love you? I got you too, dude with the way you grew up and how you had to take care of yourself at such a young age. I got it all down to your favorite “home cooked” meal that is pure crap but for me, though I don’t eat it anymore, would be Minute Rice and canned Cheddar Cheese soup. That right there is pure comfort food. When you grow up poor you find comfort in things you cling to of a happy time or times so yup, I got it.

The gaming was so much fun to read. I am not a full gamer myself but I have friends and my sons who are and this created a fun dialogue with my middle son about Twitch streams and online games. Thank goodness it was all ironed out over vegan smoothies with him and he showed me some of his favorite gamers on Twitch and the games he played. So um, well done authors for providing more chat time with my son.

ANYWAY.

You wanna know how I read this? I read this at work on my computer sitting at my desk surrounded by college students preparing for the spring semester. I read this with such focus and intent that I passed my lunch hour and forgot to eat and when I finally heated up said lunch, I barely touched it because I was so into the damn book. Seriously. This sucked me in and turned me out so fast and hard, I forgot to eat.

Now, I need to take a moment to gush about the cover? Lets’ just stare at it for a moment and think of that being a tangible man in our lives. Now that we’ve done that, *fans self* I love that the cover nailed the blend of the authors and nailed it hard. Natasha Snow combined the raw, gritty sexiness of Hassells work with the conventional marketability Erickson brings with her emotional sensuality. The cover IS the book and the cover, for me IS the authors and the cover IS hawt…AF! You know?

This was such an amazing book. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I considered the possibility of dry humping stationary objects around my desk… kidding. Or not? The pairing of Erickson and Hassell was flawless. The writing flows effortlessly from the alternating POV’s and there simply is no way you cannot fall in love with Garrett and Kai. The gchats, skype, dogs/honey badgers, care packages, conversations from a hallway, alpha protectiveness and the lengths you go to for the person/people you love, yeah this book was so damn good.

But you know what is even better? The end and the small blurb for the next book. Good lord. I love it when authors can take a surface douche bag of a character and have me jonseing for their story. ACK! I need that boy to fall hard and fast and yeah. All that.

Okay, I am done. Rambling ginger out.

Just go read the book, mmm kay?

Thanks.

 

About Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson is a former journalist who switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She likes to pretend she has control now, but usually her characters are the ones who hold the reins. Her romance novels have a touch of humor, a dash of nerdy, and always a happily ever after.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats named after John Hughes characters. She’s still waiting for the party she was promised when she grew to five feet… maybe because she never got there.

About Santino Hassell

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.