Blog Tour + Giveaway: But by the Grace of Dog by A.F. Henley

Welcome author A.F. Henley as they visit today with the But by the Grace of Dog blog tour! Henley chats about about writing this book and also sharing about the "A" word. Read more of today's visit to learn more! Plus, the author hosts a DOUBLE giveaway! Comment on today's post for a chance to win one of these adorable keychains, along with a promo pack! And enter in rafflecopter for a $25 JMS Books credit!

Hello, and welcome to the "But by the Grace of Dog" release tour. Thank you so much for joining me! I'm beyond excited for this release for a bunch of different reasons, but two of those reasons stand out as the most important for me. One – I just had way too much fun writing it. I got the opportunity to be puppet-master for a dog being its most silly-awesome self, I got the chance to re-explore the atmosphere of an open-air market, which is one of my most favourite ways of shopping, and I got to first spark and then fan the flames of new love between two deserving characters, and that always makes me all kinds of happy.

The second reason is that throughout the process of writing this novel, I was able to explore an aspect of myself and some close friends of mine that up until now, I'd done my utmost best to either hide or ignore completely – the "A" word.

That's right, anxiety.

As a child, I dealt with a lot more anxiety than I would have ever admitted to anyone. Both my brother and I experienced it frequently. My mom had a lot of her own issues that manifested from anxiety. It was something none of us talked about, however. In my family, it was quite actively enforced that we didn't even acknowledge it, let alone vocalize anything about it. That kind of weakness was not allowed. Ever.

Unfortunately, my own personal struggles with anxiety came to a head about three years ago following some intense and dramatic life changes that I had known were coming for a long time, but that I was still unprepared for. Not that I knew that was the problem... (My friend Kelly will be eyeing me in a not sweet way for that comment. There may have been one or two instances where Kelly gently suggested I might be experiencing anxiety attacks. There may also have been ninety or nine hundred, but who's keeping count?)

So, maybe I did know, but it would have taken an entire an entire herd of wild horses fleeing a forest fire while being chased by marauders with butcher knives to drag the admission out of me. I wasn't having anxiety attacks, you see, I was dying. I wasn't experiencing panic attacks – they were heart attacks. This wasn't something *gasp* mentally *gasp* challenging, it was physical, damn it, so give me a pill or do some kind of surgery, and let me get on with life.

As it turns out, I was not dying. They were not heart attacks. And the only thing "they" could do for me was help me help myself, although in the beginning there were some pills involved. But admitting that self-perceived weakness was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Continuing to admit it hasn't really grown any easier, but it's a work in progress and to be fair, here I am, talking about it and writing characters who are dealing with it.

I do hope you enjoy the story if you decide to read it, and I'd love to know what you think if you do. Anxiety is something we've all been forced to feel bad about, to keep hidden, so we can all keep pretending that we're stoic, untouchable beings made of mental and spiritual steel. I say, forget that. Let's share. Heck, let's share here in the comments below if you feel so inclined.

Please don't forget to keep reading for a short exclusive excerpt and all the details for not just one, but two giveaways to say thank you for your time. All it takes is a comment here for a chance at one of the adorable keychains pictured below and a promo pack. And, if you click through to the Rafflecopter, you'll get yourself a second chance at a freebee, this one for a $25 credit to JMS Books!

I'd also take this final minute to thank Boy Meets Boy Reviews for hosting me today. I couldn't do it without you, so thanks for having me!

Man + Dog + Neighbour = True Love (but does it equal a HEA?)

All my love,

AF Henley <3

But by the Grace of Dog, now available here:


GENRE: Gay Erotic Romance, Canadian English
LENGTH: 49,400 words
RATING: contains some explicit sex scenes
NOTE: contains brief character thoughts about suicide

Thom Baron has been struggling with social anxiety his entire life. He's taken the medications, gone to the therapists, followed the programs, and concluded his best life is a solitary one. When he comes across a dog in obvious need at his local market, it rekindles the desire to have some company around. It may come with a dishevelled coat, a notched ear, and a refusal to respond to anything but its given name "Ugly," but it could still be a friend.

However, Thom's new fur buddy has no such need to keep to itself and immediately befriends the man Thom has secretly coveted since he moved in -- Justin, Thom's gorgeous, bright-eyed neighbour. No matter how Thom tries to evade the man, the dog keeps drawing them back into each other's lives, and it doesn't take Thom long to recognize it's simply pursuing the demands of Thom's own heart. With the dog giving him the courage to try, Thom reaches out to return the love being offered.

Until a stranger shows up insisting the dog is his and demanding its immediate return ... a loss Thom knows will take all of his efforts and newfound confidence with it.

Exclusive Excerpt

At that moment, a crowd—perhaps a family, perhaps a bunch of teenagers, it was impossible to tell with the sunlight blaring behind them—stepped into the building. The only options were to walk through the crowd or turn and go out the other way.

Thom spun on his heel, pulling Dog along. The other entrance was at the opposite end of the lengthy building, but if he hurried and his path stayed clear, they’d be okay. They would. They definitely would. Even though his breath was already hitching and even though his heart was fluttering in anticipation of that damn squeeze, he would be all right if he just made it to the door… One of the two back doors suddenly slammed shut.

The reality of the matter was that a single door shutting would make no difference to Thom’s ability to exit the building. Both entrances had extra-wide, double doors that were big enough for all kinds of equipment and animals to enter and exit. Thom’s heart, chest, and lungs were not rational at the moment, though. He shrieked like a kid in a haunted house. Pain lanced through his chest, his free hand clutched his pectoral, and his vision swam.

Move! Go! Get out! his mind screamed at him. He took a step forward, stumbled, and when he went down on one knee, all hell broke loose.

“Oh, my God, I think he’s having a heart attack!”

“Somebody call nine-one-one!”

“Get him on the ground!”

Hands came from everywhere, trying to push him down or roll him over. Somebody tried to get Dog’s leash out of his fist. Dog whined a low, dangerous sound.

“No,” Thom said, although he was pretty sure he was the only person who heard. “Don’t touch me. Leave me be.”

“I got this!”

A set of hands grabbed his shirt, hard enough to catch skin. With his free hand, Thom grabbed back, gripping one of the fists. He wheezed a plea, looked up, and it was Justin. The look on Justin’s face was enough to spike every emotion he was already feeling to its pinnacle, drowning an amygdala that was already pulsing on high alert with a cocktail of embarrassment, shame, and self-pity.
“No,” Thom whispered. “Leave me alone.”

“Come on, I got you,” Justin whispered. Then, to the crowd, “Let us by. He’ll be okay once he gets outside.” He frowned at someone talking into their phone. “Don’t call anyone. It’s not a heart attack. He doesn’t need medical attention.” He looked back at Thom. “I hope. Tell me if I’m wrong.”

Thom shook his head, gasping.

The “walk” was more of a “drag,” and Justin didn’t stop once they were outside. He continued to urge Thom along, mumbling to Dog and directing them until they rested against the temporary fencing that served as the perimeter for the market.

Then he let go, and when Thom sank to the ground, he did, too.

“Are you okay? What happened?”

Thom didn’t say anything, he just shook his head.

“Was it the people? Did somebody touch you?”

Thom shook his head again.

“The smell? The dark? Did you—”

“I don’t know,” Thom snapped. “Damn it, Justin, I don’t know, okay? If I knew what caused every meltdown, I would just not do it. Like I don’t g o to parties. Like I don’t talk to strangers. Like everything else I avoid in my life in an effort to stop this kind of thing from happening!” He tucked up his legs, then rested his head on his knees and breathed until his heart stopped pounding. “Leave me alone.”

“It’s okay. You’re fine. Just keep—”

“I’m not fine and it’s not okay!” Thom pushed away, fumbling to make sure he still had Dog’s leash. “I’m never okay! Don’t you get it? This is always the way it is, and this is not fine.”


Enjoy the blurb? Your copy is only a click away:


First, leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of these adorable keychains, along with a promo pack. One winner per blog post. Second, check out the Rafflecopter link for a chance to win a $25 credit to JMS Books. One winner throughout the tour. All contests close December 9th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. I empathize completely. Being a big fan of your work, I hope that this doesn't impact on your writing. If I could, I'd give you a big hug and help in any way I could. Know that I wish you nothing but peace, joy, and happiness. Happy holidays!

    1. Thank you so much, Pat! You made my day. :D *hugs* Happy holidays right back to you! <3

  2. Congratulations Pat, you are the winner of the site giveaway for the promo pack and keychain! Best of luck to everyone on the tour-wide giveaway! <3

    1. Thank you! Please don't stop writing and giving your fans something new and fresh to read. You're a true Canadian treasure.