Published by Loose id LLC
Cover Artist Valerie Tibbs
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is so lucky to have Kate Steele here to talk about her return to writing and her new novel, Amended Soul. Welcome, Kate, we are so happy to see a new story from you again.
Hello Everyone! My name is Kate Steele and I’m going to talk to you about writing. Boring, right? Maybe? Still, when I was offered the opportunity to write a short blog piece for Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words I told myself it would be a good thing to do. Trouble is, I’m sitting here trying to think of something interesting and different to say. It’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but with that in mind, let’s begin with something completely open and honest.
I do my best writing in the bathroom. Seriously. I’ve had more ideas and character conversations come to mind in the bathroom than any other place. And no, smarty-pants, not while I’m sitting on the john. Mostly when I’m in the shower. You have no idea how many times I’ve ended up lost in thought, soap in one hand, washcloth in the other, while entire scenes are playing in my head.
What I need is for someone to invent a waterproof tablet with keyboard or some such that I can stick to the shower wall with some of those plastic suction cups. I might end up radically pruney, but I’d have a darn good story going by the time I got through my shower.
Okay, then. Did that loosen everyone up? I hope so because frankly I would like to talk a bit about my experiences while writing my latest book, Amended Soul. I’m going to be quite honest here and tell you this was one of the most difficult books for me to write and not for reasons you might expect. I started and finished this book in 2011 or thereabouts and it was accepted for publication with the usual condition that whatever changes and edits were deemed necessary would be done. As always, I was totally okay with that until my editor and I knocked heads. By this time I had been writing pretty much everyday nonstop for the past six or seven years. I was close to burnout level and the conflict flipped the switch. I walked away leaving Amended Soul behind me.
Four years later and after many times thinking that I felt like writing again, I finally took the bull by the horns and did it. I unearthed Amended Soul, reread it and did major rewrites keeping in mind some of the suggested changes made by my editor. When it was done I was actually much happier with the new version, though some of those editor-suggested changes still bugged me. With the book once again done, I submitted the new version for publication. It was accepted and I was assigned an editor. A different editor, one who felt those unwanted changes I had made were unnecessary, and who suggested they should be removed.
You’d think I would have been happy, right? Wrong. To be told the changes I had unwillingly made and compromised my vision for, were no longer desired was, to put it mildly, a slap in the face. I had invested hours agonizing over and rewriting large sections of the book. And for what? Nothing. No reason at all. I was so shocked and disheartened that I came very close to scrapping the whole project and retreating once again into non-writing limbo.
Thing is, I really wanted to do this book and maybe those years I was away from writing made me see how precious it was to me, this being able to tell a story, and so I persevered and Amended Soul saw its release in March of 2016. It took five years and basically Amended Soul went through three incarnations. The final result was different than I expected it to be. Better in some ways, but not, in my opinion, others, but that’s okay and I’ll tell you why. I learned a very important lesson.
Do not compromise your vision.
Editing is a wonderful thing and essential for a well turned out story. I have the utmost respect for editors, but in the long run the story you write is yours. If suggestions are made that you feel improve things, be honest and flexible enough to go with it. Your readers and ultimately I believe you, the writer, will be glad you did. But you also have to know when to stand fast and stick to your guns. It’s your story and to retain the joy you had in writing it, you have to be true to yourself.
Now that I’ve learned that lesson I’m ready to go on, and in fact have several new works in progress. Coming back to writing has made me happier than I can say, and I’m now keeping pen and paper in the bathroom to write down those ideas and character conversations that so easily come to mind when I’m soaking wet. However, it’s not easy to write on damp paper so please, if anyone ever hears of a waterproof laptop, contact me immediately!
Jamie Hardin has had his fair share of ups and downs. He’s been widowed once and divorced once with extreme prejudice. Due to the machinations of his ex-wife, Jamie’s son Rio ran away at sixteen. Now, two years later, Jamie has the chance to reconnect with Rio. To do so, he moves himself and his five-year-old adopted son to a new town, in a new state to start over. The welcome he receives from Rio is everything Jamie had wanted, what he wasn’t prepared for was Jed Matranga. From the moment they meet, a simple handshake is all it takes to light a fire Jamie has no idea how to handle.
Jed Matranga, single werewolf, has just met his mate. In addition to being gentle, caring and clever, Jamie’s emotionally wounded. He’s also not gay. For Jed it will be the challenge of a lifetime to prove to Jamie that trusting his own judgment is the right thing to do, and where relationships are concerned, it’s feelings and not gender that matters.
Amended Soul Excerpt, Warning/Contains Explict Content
Crossing an open stretch of grass, Jamie headed toward a large oak tree he’d spotted earlier in the day. Chill settled against his toes, a product of dew-wet leather, though his skin remained dry. All around him was the sounds of crickets, frogs, and the occasional cry of some night bird in the distance. The fields bordering Mick and Rio’s property had been planted with corn, and Jamie was fascinated by the look of it. During the day, it resembled a living, seven-feet-tall green-and-brown fence—stalks of corn marching around the perimeter in precise, evenly spaced order. Now, enshrouded in darkness, those stalks resembled a rough, shadowy wall.
Reaching the tree, Jamie stopped and leaned against its sturdy trunk, drinking in the night’s ambiance. A slight breeze caused some of the drying corn leaves to dance and make suggestive rattles. The sound prompted thoughts of movies he’d seen in which cornfields had hosted everything from demon-worshipping children to aliens. A sudden shiver slid down Jamie’s spine, and apprehension stole the peace he had found.
Straightening his stance, he prepared to head back to the house. Before taking a single step, Jamie heard the sound of something making its way through the corn. “No way,” he whispered and froze.
A large canine shape stepped from between the concealing stalks, and at that moment, a bank of clouds obscured the sky.
Fear gripped Jamie. In the dark, he strained to see. A dog. It was a dog. Wasn’t it? Jangling nerves screamed at Jamie to run. He held his ground. To run was to be chased. Still, instinct tore at him. Run from danger. Run away. Run!
Jamie trembled with effort. Be still, intellect whispered. Silence reigned. Even the crickets had ceased to sing. Jamie’s breaths rang harsh. Enfolded in darkness, he waited, until the clouds unveiled the moon.
The silvery light revealed a wolf, large and wild. Its unwavering gaze rested on Jamie. In spite of his fear, Jamie was struck by a sense of wonder. The wolf was beautiful. In the moonlight, it became magical, unearthly, unreal. When the wolf moved, reality reasserted itself. Jamie drew a harsh breath. This was no vision.
The distance between them closed. Pausing, the wolf stared. Its muzzle lifted, its nose twitching. Forever passed in seconds until a wavering distortion in the space between them broke the spell of stillness. Blinking to clear his vision, Jamie stared into a darkening veil of nothingness. The wolf was engulfed. What emerged was a man. A naked man.
“Jamie? I don’t believe it. What are you doing out here?”
Relief made Jamie light-headed. He sagged back against the welcome support of the oak tree. “Walk,” he said, finding his voice. “Couldn’t sleep. I was taking a walk.”
Jed approached and halted mere inches away. One of his hands landed on the trunk above Jamie’s shoulder, and the other cupped Jamie’s face. Shivers raced over Jamie’s skin as a surge of desire punched him swift and hard. Jed’s eyes glowed, lit from within by something free and untamed. In their gleam, Jamie could see the wolf, its presence mixed with that of the man. Rather than shrink from such an alien sight, he stared, fascinated.
“You all right? I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“I’m fine. My feet wouldn’t move, but my heart tried to make a break for it.”
Jed chuckled. His hand traveled from Jamie’s cheek, over his jaw, and down his throat before coming to rest flat over Jamie’s heart. “It is pounding pretty hard. Jamie, I…”
“Earlier today. I pushed.” Jed withdrew his hand from Jamie’s chest. “Probably a little too much.”
The warmth where he had touched Jamie began to dissipate. Losing it felt wrong, like something Jamie would regret. “No.” Jamie grabbed Jed’s hand, guiding it back, holding it in place.
Staring at Jed, Jamie struggled to sort his jumbled thoughts and emotions. “I feel something for you.” His admission brought the truth powerfully home. This attraction, no matter how strange and confusing he found it to be, was something he didn’t want to deny. “Damn. This is so…difficult. The truth is, I’ve never been drawn to another man. I’m not exactly sure what the hell I’m doing or even if I should be doing it.”
“I see. Then let me ask you a question. Do you think being attracted to me is wrong?”
“Wrong?” Jamie shook his head. “No. Just different.”
“Maybe it just seems difficult because of your uncertainty. Many people feel that way when facing the unfamiliar.”
Jamie said nothing but took a moment to consider. “To be honest, I’d have to agree.”
“I’m not trying to push you into anything.” Jed’s hand twisted in Jamie’s grasp, his fingers twining with Jamie’s. “But it’s been my experience, once I face the unfamiliar thing—whatever it is—the fear or uncertainty I harbored before doing so, was far worse than warranted.”
“So, if you don’t think I’ve been too pushy, where do we go from here?”
Jamie’s gaze dropped to Jed’s lips. The upper one was slim and sharply defined, the bottom one, fuller, tempting. “A kiss?”
“I’d like that.”
Jamie watched the corners of Jed’s lips curve upward in a smile. Jamie closed his eyes. He touched his lips to Jed’s. The kiss, though tentative, incited a swirl of pleasurable sensation in the pit of Jamie’s stomach. Their lips slanted, meshed, parted. Their breaths mingled. Exhilaration heightened Jamie’s arousal. He wanted more. A deeper intimacy. With the second kiss, his tongue sought and found Jed’s. The kiss morphed from hesitant to demanding.
Excitement set Jamie’s heart to racing while heat and pressure built in his groin. His cock firmed. Any doubts he had were muted by desire. One hand still clung to Jed’s. His free hand settled against the skin of Jed’s waist. The naked flesh under his fingertips made Jamie hesitate but want pushed him to continue. He slid his hand behind and down, then clutched the upper curve of Jed’s ass. Pulling him close, Jamie ground himself against Jed. Jamie’s cock was fully erect, his need urgent. When Jed pulled back, Jamie voiced a wordless protest.
“Wait,” Jed said. “Your jeans are rough. Can I…” Jed’s free hand went to waistband of Jamie’s jeans.
Tilting his head down, Jamie fastened his gaze on Jed’s cock. It was engorged, thick and ready. As when he’d first touched Jed’s naked skin, Jamie hesitated, waiting for his own reaction. Instead of being repelled by the sight, he was struck by a pulse of pleasurable sensation rippling through him. His own cock felt every bit as hard as Jed’s appeared to be and gave no indication of flagging. Returning his gaze to Jed, he nodded. Gender be damned. Jamie wanted.
“I need both hands,” Jed said. His voice was husky, his breaths short, audible.
He wants this as much as I do. The thought made Jamie’s heart beat faster.
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About the Author
Kate’s love of books started from the moment she read those fateful words: run, Spot, run! It took her awhile to discover she didn’t just have to read and imagine, but that she could also write stories and so here she is writing romance and loving it. Like chocolate – her ultimate favorite food, with pizza running a close second – writing became addictive. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary or science fiction about werewolves, other worldly creatures or the average Joe, she can’t get enough.
As for the everyday details, Kate lives in a turn of the century house located in the midst of Indiana farm country, and is kept company by family, along with demanding dogs, contrary cats and a pair of occasionally sweet, and definitely noisy, lovebirds. When not writing, she reads, is an enthusiastic grower of iris, and a fanatic fan of Japanese manga and anime.
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Kate Steele is celebrating both her return to writing and the release of Amended Soul by providing us with a Giveaway of a$10 gift certificate from ARe. Enter to win by leaving a comment for Kate here and using the Rafflecopter giveaway. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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