BLOG TOUR – GUEST POST – Dog Tagged by James Brock – #Excerpt #Giveaway #GuestPost

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🌟 Please join me in welcoming author James Brock to Stories That Make You Smile. James is here today celebrating the recent release of his fabulous military novella, Dog Tagged. James has kindly brought along an excerpt, a lovely and informative guest post, and a generous giveaway. Pull up a chair and read on to learn about James’ personal experiences that contributed to making this story feel so real. 🌟

Dog Tagged by James Brock

Soldiers fight for the same freedom for everyone, including the right to love who you choose.

Publisher: LaVation Publishing
Cover Artist: Joleen Naylor
Release Date: July 31, 2019
Length: Novella / 33k words / 143 pages
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): M/M Gay Romance, Military Romance, Soldier meets soldier, soldier loses soldier, soldier fights like hell to get soldier back, insta-love, don’t ask don’t tell

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Blurb

Drill Sergeant Clay Norris has his military life running right on schedule.  Career focused he appreciates that he joined up when his sexuality is at least acknowledged under Don’t Ask, Don’t tell, even if he doesn’t get to act on his urges as much as he likes.

In formation with his new trainee group he locks eyes with Chevrolet Banks and his life, their lives, are changed forever. Dog Tagged is an insta love military romance based on real life incidents.

Excerpt

What also became clear to me in my short time with the fun, cute guy was that I had fallen so hard for Private Chevy Banks that I couldn’t get him out of my head even standing next to this walking hard-on.

I did let the hot salesman give me a quick kiss on the cheek in the changing room and tried to forget the warmth of his lips as I headed out to the clubs and got some dance and further drink on, always bearing in mind that I was an officer now and had some decorum to maintain.

Okay, all that means is that I got pretty wasted.

And that I danced with all comers. I was quickly stripped out of that cute little shirt salesman Evan had put me in, my training ripped body giving me pick of the litter. Not last call litter, not still breathing and leftover litter. Porn star guys (REAL porn star guys) were fighting over me, actual pushing and shoving, it was quite the scene, the knot of men who had surrounded this former Drill Instructor.

At some point I looked up to see the smiling face of Evan the clerk from the clothing store next to me, an arm thrown protectively thrown around my shoulder. His sweet smile was the brightest of the lot, I latched onto him like an octopus gripping a clam.

I have no idea how long the revelry went on or how I got back to the hotel.

Let alone what might have happened there.

The next morning I woke not feeling well at all. Slick with sweat, sick to my stomach I rolled my head on the pillow slowly, not knowing what kind of guy I was going to find next to me. Thankfully the pillow was empty, as was the bed, although the blankets were mussed enough to let me know someone had recently nested there. Carefully lifting myself I checked the floor and was relieved to see no other bodies in the room.

But at that moment the bathroom door opened and a figure came out.

Evan, blond and sunny, cute as the night before in tattered jean and a faded green t shirt with a cracked and worn logo on it stepped into the darkened room.

“Hey buster, didn’t think you’d be up for a while,” he said with a giggle in his voice.

Flopping down onto the chair across the room he slipped his feet into athletic shoes and laced them. “Or should I be calling you Lieutenant Buster?” he added with a nod toward my dress uniform hanging neatly in the closet.

“Just call me a time machine man, I wanna go back about twelve hours and start over again.” I sighed from the bed. “What the fuck happened….”

“What didn’t happen is the better question,” Even said evenly. “you were wined and dined, if you count the bag of Dorito’s you were given to strap on like a feed bag dining, given drinks and very nearly given drugs and taken to other clubs and there was talk of taking you to that skeezy bath house connected to the dance club, but you wouldn’t go anywhere without me once I had been spotted. You seemed to be quite taken with modest little moi and since I refused to go to that bathhouse everyone was trying to get you to go to I finally got you back here where there were more drinks and salty snacks then there was some crying….” he trailed off. “I’ve ordered room service for you; hope you don’t mind.”

“Wait. Wait, wait.” I said using a nearly Drill Sergeant size voice as the handsome young man stood, “I need the whole story.”

About that time there was a knock at the door; Evan let room service in, signing the check. “You are a good tipper, just so you know,” he grinned while pushing the tray of food over toward me on the bed then pouring coffee. He motioned for me to eat then sat back down. “I was going out anyway so when I closed up I came over to the club and there you were, gaily lit as a Christmas tree and surrounded by faeries more headstrong and stubborn than Tinkerbell all out to get a piece of the hottest man in the city. Not the bar, the city. And I’m not just saying that because I am the one who ended up sleeping with you.”

I guess I looked up at him like a deer in head lights.

“Stop, don’t flatter me. I’ve got it going on but I’m not ripped like you. Word was out that there was a military hottie on the hoof in the club and every muscle queen and gym bunny in town showed up to audition as your hook-up for the night. I think guys were flying in from LA and San Francisco trying to get to you,” the blond smiled.

“So you brought me back here and we….” I said, mouth full of egg. The food was going down smoother than I expected it would.

“I didn’t get in the way of your fun too much, I just kept an eye on you. Until they started to undress you and began offering you pills, powders and potions.”

I felt myself shudder and freeze.

“Don’t worry. I didn’t let them. I just brought you back here, where you insisted on another drink or ten. Then you got weepy and I held you and let you talk about a car until you fell asleep. I dunno, everyone has a kink or two, but I’ve never heard anyone rhapsodize about a vehicle the way you went on and on about your Chevy last night.”

I was really embarrassed then.

I let a silence settle between us before taking a sip of scalding hot coffee and replying.

“Not a car, a guy,” I whispered.

“I fell off a turnip truck but that was a long time ago,” he smirked while reaching over and snagging a crisp piece of bacon off my plate and began chewing on it, “I figured as much.” Evan said with true kindness in his voice. “I had a brother in the Army and knew you were just blowing off some steam. Those wolves would have eaten you and I like to think someone would have looked after my brother the same way. Nothing happened between us.”

“That would have been the best part of the night it sounds like,” I managed, no longer interested in the food.

“You were a hot mess, but I am very glad you are alright. Now I’ve gotta go to work. If you are in town for a while here is my card.” With that Evan produced a business card with his name, number and e mail on it. “Use it at will.” he slipped the card on the breakfast tray then slid his arms around my body, giving me a very nice hug.

“Leaving tomorrow, but some other time without question.”

Stopping at the closet on his way out he reached in and touched the sleeve of my dress uniform.

“Are you going over?”

“Soon.”

There was a slight pause before he broke his eyes form the uniform.

“Be safe. E mail and let me know how you are. Promise?”

“Promise, and thanks. Is your brother back?” there was a pause before Evan answered Yes in such a quiet way that I knew the way his brother had come home.  “I’m sorry,” was all I had time to say before the cute blond turned and gave me a wan smile and slipped out of the room.

☆ Guest Post ☆

August 1976 I was living in one of the most remote, rural parts of America.  The tiny high school I graduated from the year before (33 in my graduating class) offered no encouragement for college or even trade opportunities.  The few and far between jobs were low paying and dead end.

The military had been family tradition going back to the Civil war, so I followed the footsteps of my father (Army), beloved step-father (Marine), brothers (Air Force, Navy, Navy), and war hero Uncle, WWII Army POW in Germany, and joined the Army for a three-year commitment. 

Be all that you can be! was the slogan played on commercials for the Army, touting not just the catchy jingle but encouraging that a stint in the military would give you training and benefits.  Unless you happened to love who you were naturally wired to love…. 

There has never been a moment in my life I have not been aware that my sexual attraction is to other guys, despite that I perjured myself on the application for military service by checking the NO box to the question Are you a homosexual. 

I was eighteen and we were only seven years from the Stonewall riots.  Coming out in rural America was not common or accepted.  

A car ride, flight, and long train ride got me to Fort Dix, New Jersey the Thursday evening before Labor Day.  It was rainy, noisy and confusing as we were herded off the bus picking us up at the depot and into a reception station.

Silence was demanded and given, forms were filled out, bunks assigned, hair buzzed off and uniforms issued.

An orgy of the cadre could have broken out in front of us and would have been ignored.  We quickly learned to keep our mouths shut and eyes forward. 

We were broken into Company groups (about fifty per) and assigned Drill Instructors.  Muscular men wearing broad, flat rim Smokey the Bear style hats who became our mother, father, priest, best friend and worst nightmare.

Dog Tagged is based in part on those experiences.

After basic training I went on to advanced training in supply, then on to my permanent duty station.  My term of service ended in 1979, by then I had nearly come out to everyone in my command.  I was a good soldier, got rank promotions on a regular basis and my sexuality was never questioned.  I had a boyfriend and regularly hung out with other gay GI’s and Airmen at one of the two gay bars in town near the base.

Years later I had the opportunity to speak with groundbreaking service member Col. Greta Cammemyer about my time in service.  She assured me of something I had always suspected, although I was coming and going to the bars in my free time a file was kept on all service members suspected of being gay. 

It was felt we were more susceptible to blackmail, espionage and revolution.

Homosexuals were not going to be permitted the same chances to further themselves just because of their sexual orientation.

A lot to put on young people who joined whether they were in rural America like me or in an inner city or just in a financial situation which held them back-we were all just looking for a way out, and hopefully up.

In slow, steady steps, with soldiers like Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, Col. Greta Cammemyer and hundreds of thousands of others quietly and honorably serving the country alongside our straight brothers and sisters, the military shifted.  First to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, then on to, finally and thankfully, the integration of gay and lesbian service members being allowed to openly serve.

Dog Tagged is set in that misty, grey time when the acceptance of an LGBTQ presence in the military was just beginning under the ruling of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-meaning you could be gay but not admit your sexuality. 

Drill Sergeant Clay Norris has never questioned his sexual orientation and happily (and easily!) finds his physical needs met.  Usually off post but has the occasional dalliance with a fellow service member. 

In his second round of training troops as a Drill Instructor Clay suddenly locks eyes with a newly enlisted troop who takes his heart.

This insta love story follows the trials and tribulations of two soldiers yearning for each other, sharing a bond before tragedy rips them apart.  Not asking or telling is for them the easiest part of their journey as they finally know and admit their attraction to each other.

Many of the Drill Instructors on Fort Dix back in 1976 were not long out of the jungles of Vietnam, and frankly some of them should not have still been in the service after the horrors of war.  As in Dog Tagged I had a Senior Drill Instructor on his last round of training (who was unlike the Sr. Drill in the story, thankfully) who truly cared about getting the best out of his troops, and a young first time Drill Instructor we all liked and respected.   

Some incidents in Dog Tagged are based on actual events, which include a trainee who was called on to go knock on the steam covered window of the drill instructor’s private vehicle on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The smell rolling out of the closed car and disarrayed clothing the hot young soldier managed to scramble into as he staggered angrily from the vehicle were enough to let me know that he and whomever he was in there with were not playing bridge. Dog Tagged is a story of love while in the military, and the loneliness and heartbreak of serving while loving someone you are not supposed to.

Meet the Author

James Brock is an Amazon number one best selling author, with fifteen M/M romance novels published and two family autobiographies.

Once upon a time he sold comedy to Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, was published in every gay men’s magazine on the market (when there was a market, those dinosaurs were killed off by DVD, which were in turn eaten by streaming and on demand…), the Seattle Gay News and Seattle Standard and essays with the late great Alyson Publications.

James lives in Seattle.

Website | Facebook Page | Twitter (@jamesbrockbooks) | Amazon

Also by James Brock

Giveaway

James is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this cover reveal – enter via Rafflecopter:

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