JS Harker on Romance, Writing, and her new release Soul Bond (author guest blog)

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Soul Bond by J.S. Harker
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon  | Barnes and Noble  | 

Kobo  | iBooks   |   Google Play 

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have JS Harker here today talking about their new release Soul Bond, from Dreamspun Beyond series at Dreamspinner Press.  Welcome, JS.

♦︎

Hey there, I’m JS Harker. I’m on my first blog tour ever for my book Soul Bond and I’m thrilled it’s release day! Getting published has been a dream for a long time and I’m in a bit of shock I finally get to say those magic words. I thought I’d answer a few interview questions so you could get to know a little bit more about me.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I started reading romances a few years ago. I will totally own up to being one of those people who didn’t see the awesomeness of the genre for a long time. I have a degree in English which only focused on Literature, and my college friends were snobs about what was “art” and therefore worthy of time and discussion. Romance wasn’t really encouraged. I came to the genre through fanfic after college. A majority of fanfic seems like it should be considered a Romance subgenre, and I realized I liked reading and writing about people falling in love. The last few years, I’ve needed a place where I can reliably find hope. Romances are great at that.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Both! Both are good. I like reading a series, which usually means the ending is more of a HFN. If it’s a long, standalone novel, then I need it to have an HEA if it’s a romance. Stories should have satisfactory endings and for romance that means happy relationships.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Media as a whole definitely plays a part in my writing. My projects tend to start as a reaction. I’ll see a trope overused or a plot device that agitates me and I just have to toy with it. With Soul Bond, part of the inspiration was the love at first sight trope combined with the fated mate trope. Choice doesn’t always get to be as big of a factor as it should be in those stories, so for this world there’s actually a range of magical compatibility. I wanted to see something different, and thus got inspired.

As for my style, I have to admit Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer played a major influence on how I learned to tell a story. There are some major flaws in his storytelling, especially concerning the treatment of women, but with BtVS and Angel the monsters were monsters and the heroes were heroes. A few characters were in more of a gray area (Spike and Faith come to mind). It was one of the first shows I truly loved and remember having feelings for. As an adult, I can look at it and see what I liked, but see what I wish was done better too.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

Hidden intelligence. The way someone smiles and lights up when they get excited. The ability to empathize and listen, to understand. These main traits tend to get split between the protagonists of my stories. My plots tend to shy away from the miscommunication trope for that reason. In Soul Bond, Ben has most of these traits. But then I adore Noah because he lies to everyone in sight (and to himself). Mostly, people are most interesting when they’re being human and have a willingness to grow.

What’s next?

I have a few WIPs. I tend to bounce around until a character grabs me by the hand and leads me into their world. (Okay, in Noah’s case, he kept coming into my mind and crashing into a chair and going, “So let me tell you about my absolutely SHIT day.” He was pushy and demanding and I loved him for it. And as I’m finishing up this blog piece, another character is knocking at the door loudly.)

I am working with Dreamspinner on a holiday paranormal novel. A young man working holiday retail falls for one of the guys playing an elf at Santa’s workshop—who turns out to be an actual winter fey. It’s charming and sweet and if you’d asked me a few years ago, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write it. I’m happy I challenged myself. The more I write and share my work, the more I see where I can grow and the more stories I want to try. Hopefully you’ll enjoy what I have to share!

Blurb:

Stealing his heart.

As a thief and a warlock, Noah survives by using his wit and charm to prey on the privileged. His dangerous criminal boss wants an enchanted dagger belonging to a family of wealthy mages, including their pampered—but handsome—son, Ben. Failing to complete the job will be hazardous to Noah’s survival.

Noah bumps into Ben at a lavish party, and as soon as they meet, the connection’s undeniable, and it goes much further than ordinary attraction. Their bond reaches into their souls, entwining and changing their magic.

Which Noah thinks he can use to get to the dagger. After all, he isn’t sure this soul bond Ben seems so obsessed with is even real.

He also doesn’t count on being caught red-handed…. Or falling in love.

About the Author

JS Harker loves stories. She was one of those kids who always had a book in her hands and spent many hours adventuring with her siblings. These days she wanders into her imaginary worlds and conjures up tales of magic, passion, and happily-ever-afters. She currently lives in the part of the Midwest that makes Tatooine look interesting by comparison (not that she’s ever obsessively thought about becoming a Jedi or anything).

Find me on social media:

www.jsharker.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/j_s_harker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/js.harker.169

Z. Allora on Writing, Painting, and new release The Temple of Heaven (Made in China #2) (guest post and giveaway)

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The Temple of Heaven (Made in China #2) by Z. Allora
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: PL Nunn

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press ebook and paperback

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Z. Allora here today talking about painting, writing, and the lastest release in the Made in China series, The Temple of Heaven.  Welcome, Z.

♦︎

 

Greetings! Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and your fabulous readship for the opportunity to share a little bit about me, Chinese painting, and my new release The Temple of Heaven. To celebrate I’ll be doing a giveaway: 3 e-books of The Great Wall, 5 e-books of Finally Fallen and a $20 gift card to Dreamspinner. (Details about the giveaway are below.)

Most folks know I love art. When I lived in China I was lucky enough to take classes with art professor. She spoke as much English as I spoke Chinese meaning NOT MUCH.


My teacher and I met at an art auction.

I converted her work but the price quickly went well beyond my budget. I was horrified that the man who won didn’t seem to appreciate her or her incredible talent. He just wanted the status of donating that much to charity.

In my broken Chinese I told her how much I loved her work.

She gave me her number and address.

My friend called for me and scheduled a time for us to meet. I thought I was going to her gallery but she had invited me to her home.

I found out that she was a retired art professor at one of Suzhou’s colleges. I had nothing to lose so I asked if I could persuade her to take me on as a student.

My friend translated.

The artist ran out of the room.

Had I insulted her?

Within 30 seconds she returned with a chopstick in hand and held it out to me.

HOLY FUK! This was my karate kid moment. I could feel it deep in my bones. The pressure built. I didn’t want to screw this up.

I took a deep breath and grasped the chopstick between my fingers and thumb.

She snatched my hand and studied my finger placement.

I started to sweat. Did I do it right?

She looked me in the eye and said, “I teach you.”

I wanted to dance around the room but I settled for shaking her hand and calling her teacher… or mouse because the words sound almost the same.

Over the next six years while I lived in China, I created seven pieces. Chinese Brush Stroke (or water color) is time consuming… especially if you don’t know the language and have little talent for painting. She taught me through demonstration and at times with hand over hand.

I included a few of my pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun Facts:

*Many of the shades of green are made from Indigo Blue and no yellow needed to be added.

*Chinese Water color is done with mostly water.

*You’re supposed to hold your water and your ink brush in one hand (though if you’ve just had carpal tunnel surgery like me that’s not possible).

*Students are not allowed to create original pieces. You learn by reproducing what the Masters before you have made.

*My paintings were made by her tracing other artists designs and then I was to paint them after practicing exactly what to do off page.

*My chop (signature stamp) was too “mannish” for my teacher’s liking.

*After every class she made me eat watermelon > I don’t like fruit. I ate it weekly for six years.

In The Temple of Heaven, Jordon Davis takes art class from my teacher. While once I got past the idea of copying someone else’s work, he does not. We see him struggle with her demands that he adhere to the rules. In the end he negotiates and addresses his issues with drawing his own boundaries.

The Temple of Heaven’s Blurb

Music is Tian Di’s life and his love, and he’s made plenty of sacrifices. His career is finally taking off with his band, Made in China, and he’ll continue to put music first… until he meets Jordon. Then insta- lust becomes insta-love and a commitment to the future—no matter how difficult it might be.

Jordon lives in a bubble constructed by his overprotective older brothers, who are so controlling that they’ve kept him from dating. A talented artist, Jordon managed to keep his success with a Japanese manga publisher a secret from his family, but now he fears discovery. It’s easier to let his brothers handle everything, but Jordon has reached his limit. He’s ready to draw some boundaries so he can be his own man and face all the challenges that come with that.

Their families and careers aren’t the only obstacles. Jordon must accept his identity as a gay man who doesn’t top or bottom. Fortunately, Tian Di—and his special talents—help Jordon open up to his sexuality in an erotic adventure that spans Japan and China, and with love, luck, hard work, and open minds, will end in a happily ever after.

 

To Enter the Giveaway: Leave a comment telling us what you would paint if you could. Winners will be picked July 20th. (Leaving your email helps but isn’t necessary)

Many hugs, Z. 

To contact Z. Allora: 

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com

FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora

Website: www.zallorabooks.com 

Twitter: @ZAllora

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/z-allora-637

Nic Starr on Writing, Characters and her new release LIes and Deception (character and author interview)

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Lies & Deception by Nic Starr

Dreamspinner Press

Release Date 26th June 2018

Cover Artist Anna Sikorska

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Nic Starr here today talking about Lie and Deception, her latest novel. Welcome, Nic.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Nic Starr

Hi. Thanks for inviting me to your blog to answer some questions. It’s always fun to see what people are interested in knowing about my writing. It’s Friday morning here in Australia, and I’m enjoying a cup of coffee while typing my answers. Here’s my view – a misty wintery morning in the countryside.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Everything I know is based on my education and life experience. I have opinions, and a strong set of personal values. It would be impossible for this not to make an appearance in my characters. I see some of me in my characters emotions, how they react to certain situations, and their likes and dislikes.  I think that’s why so many of my characters like to cook, enjoy a drink and don’t often have a gym membership. LOL.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Up until now I’ve written contemporary romance. It’s a genre I feel comfortable with and can write without too much research. I don’t think I’d enjoy the level of research required to write in a genre such as historical for example. For me, research comes down to things like fact finding on places and cultures (such as when I write stories set in the US), or researching occupations (such as undercover police work in my latest release). I’ve also researched interesting topics such as laws targetting outlaw bikie gangs and how to kill someone with an insulin overdose. I hope no one is tracking my google history!

I’m only now getting into world building. I’ve started a paranormal series featuring shifters. So far it’s been interesting to create the world my characters exist in, to define the pack structure and culture. My series is about a certain affliction that impacts the shifter world, so it’s been fun to consider all aspects of how this affliction would present itself and be dealt with in my world.

One area of research I do enjoy is finding out more about the craft of writing. I read books, take courses and listen to podcasts. We never stop learning.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Did I ever! The first romances I remember reading were the Mills & Boon paperbacks my Nana had stuffed in boxes at her house. I’d stay with her every school holiday and spend countless hours reading. My mum worried I’d get bored going to the country but that was never the case. I’m not even sure why Nana had all those books because she wasn’t a reader at all. I think she bought them home from the hospital auxillary, probably because I was coming to stay.

My Mum was and is a huge reader, so I think I developed my love of books from her. I used to read everything she read and from a very early age. I think I was eleven when I read Flowers in the Attic (my young self totally drawn in to the world of Virginia Andrews). Some of the early books I remember reading were the books of Catherine Gaskin, Mary Stewart, Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper, and the list goes on…

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I choose my covers based on the overall design and how it makes me feel. Does it capture the mood of the story? Are the cover models representative of my characters? Does it appeal to me at an emotional level? Will it look good in paperback? Will it stand out as a thumbnail?

Some of my covers have been premades that I’ve seen and fallen in love with. For example, I saw the cover of Rustic Melody and knew I had to have it – there was something about the guy on the front and the colours that just called to me. So the cover came before I even had an idea for the story. I’ve got a folder on my desktop with another half-dozen covers waiting their turn. LOL

Other covers are designed by cover artists based on my specifications. I provide information on the tone of the story, the characters and key elements of the plot. From there a cover artist usually supplies a number of sample covers for me to choose from. Once I’ve narrowed down the general look and feel, other modifications are made such as colour tones, positioning of the elements on the cover, and tweaking the font for the title and author name.

In the case of my most recent cover for Lies & Deception, the super talented cover designer Anna Sikorska, used the inspiration pics I’d been working with for my main characters, Mitch and Finn, so I couldn’t be happier. She performed her magic to adjust the tattoos on both men and I had my perfect cover men. I also loved the colour palette.

  

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

My house in the country makes the perfect writing retreat. It’s peaceful and will less interruptions than I get at home in Sydney where I have two teenage girls coming and going. The photo I shared above show just how quiet it is around here. Bliss.

Thanks for the questions. I hope you enjoy Mitch and Finn’s story.

Happy reading,

Nic

Lies & Deception

By

Nic Starr

Blurb

Detective Mitch O’Neill is the ideal man to infiltrate the Soldiers of Fury Motorcycle Club. His ex-boyfriend, Peter, is pledged with the club, which provides Mitch with the perfect cover. Despite the relationship ending badly, he’s come to terms with Peter’s drug addiction and his inability to help. All Mitch wants now is to bring down the Soldiers and the club president, Rocky Cummings, once and for all.

Finn Cummings hates everything the motorcycle club stands for, but he’s unable to escape his brother’s clutches. When Mitch is assigned as Finn’s driver, they spend countless hours together, and the saying proves true—opposites do attract. Finn agonizes over his feelings for Mitch—the last thing he wants is to involve himself further with criminals, not when he wants to leave that world. Mitch tries to come to terms with falling for a member of the outlaw club he’s determined to destroy.

If they can survive the fallout from Rocky’s violence and the investigation, they might discover it’s not a case of opposites attract after all.

Length ~67,000 words

Genre Contemporary m/m romance

Mystery/thriller

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press  |Universal Link   Amazon US |Amazon UK:   | Amazon CAAmazon AU: |Amazon DE: |Apple Books: |

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/lies-deception

Barnes & Noble: | Google Books

Paperback

Dreamspinner Press: 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40230754-lies-deception

About the Author

Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told.

Nic loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a cherished Cairn terrier. Nic is a foodie and wine lover who lives in the city but is a country girl at heart. When not writing or reading, she is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.

Author Social Media Links

Website & Blog: http://www.nicstarr.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nic-Starr/e/B00MAWRRQG/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicki.nicstar

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NicStarrAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicstarr_author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nic_starr_author/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nicstarr_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8139967.Nic_Starr

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nic-starr

T. Neilson on Favorite Stories, Research and Sweet Nothings (Amuse Bouche #1) (author guest post)

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Sweet Nothings (Amuse Bouche #1) by T. Neilson
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Desires
Cover art:  Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner

Amazon

Kobo

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have T. Neilson here today answering a few questions and talking about Sweet Nothings, the first in a new series.  Welcome!

♦︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with T. Neilson

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

You could say I did some research for these books! I spent over twenty years in the food industry. I started out as a waitress — that was my first job, at age 14. When I finally left the food industry, I was 28. By then I was a professional coffee taster (AKA a cupper, which is a thing you have to be careful about calling yourself when you also write romance) and I was sick of the industry.

I kind of grew up in cafes and kitchens, and a huge part of my social life and social circle was food-world-adjacent, too. All my friends were in coffee, or beer, or kitchens. I was sick to death of the work and ready for a change, so I ventured out to become a full-time writer. And slowly, bit by bit, I started to miss the food scene. I guess it was sort of like kicking the dust of your hometown off your feet, and then starting to feel homesick.

These days, I get my food industry fix by work emergency cover shifts as at a friend’s cafe. I love having the chance to jump back into the food scene, but it’s incredibly physical work, and I don’t think I could make it full time in a kitchen any more. I still love the food industry. It is a different world, really unique, and the camaraderie is incredible.

When I set out to write the Amuse Bouche books (of which Sweet Nothings is the first), I wanted to recreate that world for myself, and for readers too. And it’s not by accident that Sweet Nothings takes place in a teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and parts of it are an awful lot like the town I grew up in. There are a lot of parallels between the food industry and small town living.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult? Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I loved reading fantasy and science fiction as a kid, with a little mystery on the side sometimes. Ursula le Guin, Tolkien, and Melanie Rawn were my favourites for SSF, and Ian Rankin, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L Sayers for mystery. I grew up in a small town with a family that was coming apart at the seams, and I loved the way people went away and had adventures, created all-new families, and solved mysteries. I only really started reading romance as an adult, after I had done a little travelling, and moved to the big city, and settled with my partner, and had some adventures of my own. Then I think romance filled a different need for me, a sense of home being a feeling rather than necessarily a place.

When I found romance, holy cats I fell right into the genre. I have a TBR list that is embarrassingly huge, but I love to read (especially audiobooks) and to discover new authors. My current desert-island romance authors are Victoria Dahl, Damon Suede, and BA Tortuga, but there are so many great authors out there who I haven’t had the opportunity to read yet. Part of why I read audiobooks is because I can read while I’m cooking or in the car. I really wish you could order reading time from a store.

About Sweet Nothings:

Will a bitter bite from the past spoil a sweet romance?

Tristan Love, the youngest of seven brothers, is back in his hometown. He’s left the New York food scene and an abusive relationship behind him, but he holds his love of French pastries close to his heart and is determined to put his skills to use in a bakery of his own.

Returning to his childhood home means his meddlesome brother Simon will butt into his business, but before the bakery even opens its doors, Tristan’s delectable creations have the town’s mouths watering, and Jake, a cute mechanic, asks Tristan out. It all seems worthwhile….

That is, until the bakery burns down, Jake’s criminal past comes to light, and Tristan’s nasty ex rears his head where he is decidedly not wanted.

About the Author:

T Neilson writes flirty, silly, contemporary m/m romance featuring recovering addicts, mental health problems, and abuse survivors. Honestly, honestly, the books are silly. I swear.

SJD Peterson on Self-Sufficiency and her new release Going Off Grid (author guest blog)

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Going Off Grid (States of Love) by S.J.D. Peterson

Dreamspinner Press
C0ver Art:  Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

 

Going Off Grid

According to several news articles, smartphones are rendering teenagers lonely and distressed. As a parent, I find myself questioning if I had done the right thing giving my kids cell phones in their early teens.

When I was young, the worst thing that could happen would be getting grounded to the house. We played outside until the street lights came on, used our imaginations, played kickball, tag, built forts and rarely did we sit in front of a TV. Now, admittedly we only had about six channels and the laptop hadn’t yet been available but still….

I can also easily admit that the cell phone has given our children access to a whole new big world we didn’t have available, but that too comes with a price. I’m curious how you would do if your cell phone was taken away. For those of you who are parents, how would your children react to be taken off line?

In my upcoming novel Elliott and Clay turn their backs on technology and move off grid. They are willing to give up many of lives convinces for what they deem is most important—time with each other. 

Could you do it? Could your kids?

Imagine, taking a vacation from technology. Where would you go? The mountains? The beach? Without cable and the internet what would you do to occupy your time? How long could you do it? A week? A month? Forever?

Inquiring minds want to know

~Hugs~

Jo

Clay and Elliott are working toward a dream—working sixty-hour weeks for one of the oil companies that recently sprung up in North Dakota. The pay is good, but is it a fair trade for never seeing each other? The point becomes moot when the company folds, like so many others, and the couple is left with a difficult choice.

 

Should they find comparable work somewhere else, or is it time to throw caution to the wind and go after their goal—years earlier than they intended?

 

What they’ve always wanted is to be together and have time to enjoy it, so they follow their hearts. They’re going off the grid and fixing up an old cabin so they can be self-sufficient. But when they go from all the conveniences of the modern world to outhouses, solar power, a shoestring budget, and more mosquitos than they ever thought possible, will they find there’s such a thing as too much time together?

SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

Visit Jo on

Twitter: @SJDPeterson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJD.Peterson

Blog: www.sjdpeterson.com

Email: sjdpeterson@gmail.com

S.E. Harmon on Writing, Characters, and her latest novel “The Blueprint” (author interview)

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The Blueprint (The Game #1) by S.E. Harmon
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy Links

Dreamspinner PressAmazon   |   Kobo  | B&N

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have SE Harmon here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest novel, The Blueprint.  Welcome, SE!

♦︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with SE Harmon ~

 

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I was banned from reading romances as a kid…my mother called them “love books” and told me I was too young to read such things. That only led to me coming up with more and more creative ways to sneak and read them. At one point, I was actually reading in the shower (with my back turned to the spray). I think this career choice was pretty much inevitable.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I was a hold-out on ebooks. I love a good paperback book in my hands–the look of them, the feel of them, even smell them…sublime. One of my favorite days of the publishing process is when my author copies arrive in the mail and I can hold the book in my hands. Rub it on my face a little. Dance with…okay, nevermind, this is getting a little weird.

At one point, I ran out of space for my paperbacks and actually rented a storage unit for them. An actual storage unit. I defended myself to friends and family and claimed it was for other things, but we all knew the truth. I lost the majority of my book collection when spiders took over my storage unit…but that’s another story, one that involves me running away from the unit with bug spray—a can of Raid that might as well have been air freshener for all the good it did.

Now that I’ve thoroughly established my long-standing love affair with books, I must admit I truly appreciate the convenience of ebooks. My ereader is with me at all times and ebooks are definitely here to stay.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Little bits here and there, but mainly a sense of humor–I wouldn’t be able to relate to the character otherwise. I don’t know how to relate to pod people who can answer questions without a nice, piping hot side of sarcasm.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA, always. Real life is full of HFNs. I want the fairy tale in my fiction. If you’ve read The Blueprint, you may notice that it is a bit of a HFN, but don’t fear. Kelly and Blue get their HEA in the sequel, Darker Blue.

Blurb

Kelly Cannon is generally satisfied with his life—he has a great job that he loves, friends, and a wonderful family. But his love life has reached a new level of pitiful. Why? Well, his heart decided to break all the rules. Don’t fall in love with a straight guy. And definitely don’t fall in love with your best friend.

NFL standout Britton “Blue” Montgomery has pressure coming at him from all sides. From his father, who’s only interested in Blue’s football career. From his coaches, who just want him to play without getting injured again. The fans. His agent. His mother, who popped back up on the radar after leaving his family years ago. Now his relationship with Kelly is on shaky ground, and that frightens Blue more than anything.

When Kelly admits he’s in love with Blue, bonds are tested, and Blue has to decide what’s really important. He doesn’t want to lose the number one person in his life, but the cost to keep Kelly close might be more than he’s willing to pay.

It’s a good thing his nickname is the Blueprint—it’s time to draft a new set of plans.

Release Date: March 13 2018

Edition/Formats Available: ebook & Print

Excerpt

My phone rang for the third time, and I swore and dug in my pocket. “Yeah?”

“Wow.” Blue’s deep voice sounded vaguely impressed. “You only made me call three times.”

“I figured answering was the polite thing to do.”

“And since when do you do the polite thing?” His chuckle was warm and soft. “I figured I’d call and congratulate you. It didn’t seem like the type of thing to leave on voicemail.”

Congratulate me. It bothered me that he wasn’t bothered that I was possibly getting engaged to someone else. I felt a little… deflated.

I cleared my throat. It was hard to hear him clearly over the din in the background—a hip-hop beat, loud voices, and the occasional raucous laughter. “Where are you, anyway? I thought you had a game.”

“I did. One of the players wanted to show off his new boat, and it turned into a thing. I thought I’d swing by after—”

“There is no after. We’re pretty much wrapping things up over here.” The fact that his party sounded a thousand times more fun than mine didn’t improve my mood. “Sounds like you guys are having a good time. You must’ve won.”

“Of course. I can’t think of a better way to kick off a season than winning our last preseason game.” At my lack of response, he went on. “So where’s Robert?”

Probably at a witch doctor’s house asking him to construct a skinny, black-haired, gray-eyed voodoo doll named Kelly.

“Gone,” I said shortly. “I told him no. Well, to be perfectly accurate, I said yes, and then I said no.”

“Fuck, Kel.” Even over the noise in the background, I could hear the exasperation. “I thought you liked Robert.”

“I did. Just not enough to marry him.”

“Wow.” He seemed nonplussed for a moment. “I don’t know what to say to that.”

“It is what it is.”

Somewhere in the background, a feminine voice murmured something. She sounded close. Like almost in his ear. Something… flirty? Blue murmured something back, and then she giggled. Giggled. I tightened my hand on the phone. I couldn’t lie—I wanted to hurt him right then, even though I had absolutely no right to be angry, no right to expect his exclusive attention.

This.

This was why I’d been pulling away from Blue. Because he had no idea how hard it was to be just friends. But the more I pulled away, the harder Blue pushed for things to remain just the way they were.

“I have to go,” I said shortly.

“Maybe I could drop by sometime this week. I know things have been kind of crazy lately, but we could hang out. Catch a movie? I know I could stand to watch something other than game film.” The smile in his voice invited me to laugh along, but I wasn’t in the mood.

“I’m going to be pretty busy this week.”

I heard the question in his voice. “The entire week?”

“Yes. I have a job, you know.” Defensiveness made my voice sharp, and I couldn’t seem to stop myself. “I can’t just drop everything every time you decide to stop by.”

“I’m not asking you to. If you’re busy, you’re busy.” He paused. “Are you sure you’re okay? You sound weird.”

“I’m fine. Call me later, okay?”

“Sure. As long as you’re really all right.”

Why wouldn’t I be? Did I sound pissed? Annoyed? Irritated that I couldn’t have his undivided attention for two minutes? I was feeling pretty raw. Alone. Jealous that he was somewhere with some woman having a perfectly good time. I was ready to curse out whoever said love should be multiplied, not divided. I wanted Blue’s love all to myself, and that was… well, ridiculous. I had to hang up before I said some shit I probably shouldn’t say.

“Of course I’ll help you with that,” I said loudly, pretending to talk to someone else. “Blue, I’ve got to go.” I jabbed the end button and sent the phone to sleep. He called right back, and I put the ringer on silent.

I honestly didn’t know what else there was to say.

 

About the Author

S.E. Harmon has had a lifelong love affair with writing. It’s been both wonderful and rocky (they’ve divorced several times), but they always manage to come back together. She’s a native Floridian with a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Fine Arts, and now splits her days between voraciously reading romance novels and squirreling away someplace to write them. Her current beta reader is a nosy American Eskimo who begrudgingly accepts payment in the form of dog biscuits.

Website: http://seharmon.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seharmonbooks/

Sarah Black on Screwing Up, Moving On and her new release ‘American Road Trip’ (guest blog)

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American Road Trip by Sarah Black
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sarah Black talking about her latest release, which we highly recommend, American Road Trip.  Welcome, Sarah.

♦︎

After You Fall on Your Face

Sarah Black

When you fall on your face, drive off a cliff, stand clueless holding a bomb while it ticks down, like Wile E Coyote while Roadrunner speeds safely away- how do you recover from the massive and irretrievable disasters that strike your life?

Hey, this part is easy. We stagger back to our bloody hands and knees and start down the road to recovery, step by brutally painful step. You know what the worst part of the whole deal is? Deciding it was all your fault. And being right. Because when the screw-up is your fault, there is no place to put your pissed-off except squarely between your own two eyes. 

It’s so much easier, isn’t it, when someone else screws up? Then we can sit on top of our high horses and explain to them exactly where they went wrong, and what they should have done. But when we are the culprits in our own lives, all we can do is slink off in shame, muttering, ‘what the fuck is wrong with you?’ over and over again. Not really helpful, but it is a classic.

Some people, and I have to include myself in this group, have become experts in studying personal screw-ups. I remember when I was a kid, thinking that adulthood was when people knew what to do in most situations and stopped messing up all the time. Apparently for some of us, adulthood never comes!

But that isn’t really the point. We know we screw up. Everyone does. The real question for me is how do we deal with it, how do we move on, how do we learn to forgive ourselves? That’s what I was interested in, and why I wanted to write this story. I don’t know if other writers have this experience, but I don’t always know or understand how my characters are going to react. If I ignore things like what the market says, or what the genre says I need, then characters start doing things that I only half-understand, but that strike me as genuine and real. Maybe later it will come to me that this motivation or that issue was behind a character’s actions.

My point of view character, James Lee Hooker, started growing his hair long after the Army, and he used his grandmother’s hairbrush and braided his hair over his shoulder, like she had done. It was a small gesture, but it was something he would do—to feel closer to her, like an unconscious memorial. He did all sorts of small things like this when I was getting to know him. But the bigger issue for me and for him, as a character, was how he was going to punish himself for screwing up. Because he did screw up, a number of times.

I kept trying to make him more heroic, stronger. I didn’t want him to appear in a bad light. I was trying to save him from the consequences of his screw-up. He just sat and stared at me, wouldn’t open his mouth. Wouldn’t move. I finally gave it up and gave him his head. When I decided I wasn’t going to try and write him as a good guy, a hero, strong and brave, then he suddenly became more real to me, and more interesting. And his actions became believable.

I think mostly when we screw up, we try to punish ourselves. And we can usually devise tortures that are particularly brutal and painful, because they are so on-target. We embrace our self-punishments, because we deserve them and they define us. The really tough thing, I’m starting to think, is learning when to say that it’s time to move on. That we’ve punished ourselves enough, and it’s time to move on and enter the world again. Go out into the world again, where our next screw up is waiting. Or maybe not! 

Here’s a scene from American Road Trip:

“I’m sorry I didn’t come and find you. Austin too. I’d done something I couldn’t take back. Just that one moment, you know? I couldn’t live it over again. And once it was done, it was done. And I could never fix it. He was hurt. The damage was done. I felt like I had to atone. Put myself in limbo or something.”

Easy stared over at me. “Limbo? Is that some Catholic thing? What the hell does that even mean? James Lee, you didn’t lay the IED in the road. You didn’t tell your spotter to get out of the vehicle, start jumping up and down on the spot where he’d seen a wire buried.”

“That’s what got him hurt. Once you’ve got an injury to the brain, it’s probably for a lifetime. That’s what TBI is, right?”

“Yeah, he’s got a TBI, but that wasn’t what got him hurt. What got him hurt was he had feelings for you, had a big thumping heart of an adolescent crush on you. And you knew it and didn’t do anything to stop it. He was acting like an idiot to impress you. That’s what got him hurt.”

I stared out the window again.

“You did the wrong thing with me, pushing me away. I was a man, and we were lovers. We were in love. We could have made it work, and fuck the Army. It was real. Austin was just a kid. He depended on you, looked up to you. You were his captain, and you got a kick out of all those young boys crushing on you. Big black eyes, ripped muscles, silky black hair. You looked like some vid star, and they would have followed you into hell. Not because you were their leader. Because you were you.”

I closed my eyes. I wanted to be anywhere but inside this truck, with this man shoving his angry truth in my face. Did I really do that? Did I take advantage of those kids, play them when I should have been thinking how to keep them safe?

“I loved you then, Jamie, and I still do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see you. I see who you are. And if you even think about trying to walk away again in the fucking middle of this, I’m going to break you into pieces. I won’t let you do it to me again.”

That’s exactly what I was thinking, about walking away. I was picturing walking down this road, my thumb out, anonymous, no history, drifting across America with the truckers, listening to them talk, and meditating. Not doing anyone any good and not doing anyone any harm. Was that the balance I was looking for, between harm and good? Was it a worthy goal for a life, to try to stop hurting other people? Or did I have a tendency to leave when things got too hard and too real?

“I have about said all I’m going to say on this. Oh, one more thing. We had peanut butter and jelly for supper and donuts for breakfast. I’m hungry. I’m stopping at the first diner I see that has burgers on the grill. And you can stop crying anytime.”

“I’m not crying,” I said, wiping my eyes with the heel of my hand. “I’m allergic to the dog.”

 

American Road Trip, by Sarah Black, out March 16 from Dreamspinner Press

A single moment—or a single mistake—can change everything.

When Captain James Lee Hooker and his lover, Sergeant Easy Jacobs, were in the Army, they made a mistake that got a young soldier hurt. Three years later, they’re civilians again, living far apart, haunted by what they lost. Now that young soldier needs their help.

With his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua riding shotgun, James Lee climbs into Easy’s pickup for a trip across the American Southwest. They set out to rescue a friend, but their journey transforms them with the power of forgiveness.

Author Bio: Sarah Black is a writer, artist, veteran, and mother. She is a Lambda finalist.

American Road Trip has an epilogue! “Tino Takes the Cake” is offered free on Dreamspinner’s blog on March 16, and tells the story of the main characters’wedding! 

You can find it here:

BA Tortuga on Favorite Childhood Books and her new release Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico #1) (guest blog)

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Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico #1) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Desires

Cover art: Bree Archer

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have BA Tortuga  here again talking about reading, and her latest release and new series, Cowboy in the Crosshairs.

♦︎

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and happy reader.

*grins*

I was (am) a voracious reader and I would go through phases: everything the library had about ‘x’.

All the Nancy Drew books.

All the books on ceramic dolls.

All the books on World War II.

All the horror novels. All the romance novels.

Right now I’m obsessed with fairy tales and patterns in literary theory. Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow.

When I think about about my favorites as a little girl, they were What Katy Did and Little Women, The Five Little Peppers and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (which is out in audiobook, OMG). Strong women fixing their own problems and living their own lives.

My teenaged years were all about horror novels. ALL. I can rhapsodize about IT and The Dark Half and Beloved and Swan Song. Uhn. I still read horror like it’s going out of style, but the 70-80s were the best, huh? MAGIC.

I think the storytelling parts of all these books, along with main characters with backbones of steel are totally obvious in my writing now.

(And if you want to be scared? I wrote Unearthed. I welcome you to read it.)

Much love, y’all.

BA

***

Cowboy in the Crosshairs Blurb

A Turquoise, New Mexico Story

Once upon a time, a prince lived in a magical kingdom called Turquoise, New Mexico.

Well, really, TJ is a small-town police chief. Every Friday he holds court in the diner with the local holy roller, the art colonists, and the horsey people. But the Benes, who own the rodeo company, keep to themselves. TJ knows, because he was once hot and heavy with the oldest Bene son.

When Wacey Bene gets trampled by a remuda and comes home to heal, he’s none too happy to run into TJ, or his two little boys and their momma. The story might end there—if it wasn’t for some pesky bastard trying to kill Wacey.

The law steps in, and the townsfolk are cross about somebody messing with one of their own.

But once the bad guy is put away, can TJ and Wacey make their place in this wild and eccentric town a permanent one?

Available from Dreamspinner Press on March 6: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cowboy-in-the-crosshairs-by-ba-tortuga-9336-b

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

H. M. Shepherd On Writing, Romance, and her new release Just for Nice (guest interview/tour)

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Just for Nice (States of Love) by H.M. Shepherd
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host H.M. Shepherd here today on tour with her new book. Just for Nice.  Welcome!

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with H.M. Shepherd ~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Too much, probably, and since Just For Nice was particularly personal I probably poured more of myself into the characters than I typically would. I’m a longtime Pennsylvania resident and my background contains Italian and Pennsylvania Dutch, so I drew on that quite a bit. I think Nick took on more than Sam; thinking on it now, I gave him names from my family tree, made his grandmother from the same town as my great-grandfather, and gave him a job in my field. But while he and I share similarities, he is certainly not a carbon-copy of me.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I don’t think so. I remember when I was reading (and writing, to my eternal embarrassment) fanfiction I became a little irritated when commenters started blurring the line between a Mary Sue fic and a self-insert fic because they aren’t necessarily the same thing. I say this because I think giving characters elements of your own personality or your own experience is a great way to for an author connect them with their settings on an emotional level without beating your readers about the head with it.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I always end up doing at least a little bit of research even if I’m writing about a topic I know inside and out. There is always, always more to know, and even if it never makes it into the story I think it helps ground things better if the author can be authoritative about their subject. This includes fantasy settings–I’m currently working on a story that spun out of control from a retelling of the fairy tale Godfather Death. It’s set firmly in another world, and I’m still researching nomadic steppe cultures and how the government of the Holy Roman Empire was structured.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Oh absolutely, and I think anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. I write the stories that I would like to read, and what I like to read hasn’t changed way too much from when I was younger. It’s just gotten more mature.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I have several works in progress that have been sitting around for wildly varying amounts of time because I just don’t have the means to finish them. It may be because of writer’s block, or a lack of time, or because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. And while I hate to admit it, sometimes it’s just because of boredom. I’m a very lazy writer.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

There’s a chapter in one of the earlier issues of Sandman where the narrator talks about a diner waitress and her writing. I don’t remember her being a particularly nice character, but I remember one line from her that still resonates with me: You have to know where to end a story, otherwise everything ends with death. I don’t believe in HEA; things get inevitably difficult, and tragic, and messy. Both main characters in Just For Nice have flaws that could put serious strain on a relationship and take away the HEA … but where I’ve ended things, they are definitely happy for now and have the potential to remain so if they continue to work for it. I think I prefer those endings.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Funny enough, I rarely read romance, at least not those that are published by mainstream companies. I don’t find that there’s a ton of variety to them, and it’s boring to read the same story over and over and over. Now works by smaller publishers, or even work just posted online? I have and still do read it voraciously.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I hate to answer this, because I don’t want to claim that I’m anywhere near the caliber of writer that these people are. But there are definitely a few authors that I look up to. Growing up (and who am I kidding, to this day) those writers were J.K. Rowling and Garth Nix. Right now it’s probably George R. R. Martin. I’m still amazed that someone can write a series with dragons and warlocks and still make feel it so realistic.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I moved about a year ago and had to pack up my pretty substantial personal library and I have to tell you, while I still love actual books I absolutely despise moving them. I have so many books on my Kindle and on Google Play, not to mention everything I downloaded off of Gutenberg and just thinking of having to physically box up and move all of it makes my back ache.

As for where ebooks are going, I actually did a part of my undergrad thesis on this. I wrote a lot about how it would making reading a social activity and connect us on a broader scale. Mind you, this was back when I was young and too stupidly optimistic to see where social media was taking us. I still think that the ability to connect is a good thing, but I’m a little more cautious about what that could lead to. I mean, sure it’s great when you can click a link right from the book to its Goodreads page to see what other people are saying about it and recommended similar works, but what if that book was The Turner Diaries?

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

Yes, it’s possible. It’s possible in reality, too. There are some people who for reasons that may or may not be in their own control are not able to function as one half of a couple. I think it’s terrible when people romanticize the idea of one person acting as his or her significant other’s sole means of emotional/financial/psychological/social support and compensate for all of their shortcomings, while receiving none of that support in return. A relationship should be a partnership and I don’t care how unromantic and boring that sounds.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Write drunk, edit sober, right? I’ve never actually written drunk, but there is a possibility that I may have hypothetically outlined a story under the influence of a substance that is not strictly legal but may be in your state (or country; looking at you, Canada). And–still hypothetically speaking, of course–I may have found that it kept my own worst critic silent for a little bit, and made my mind wander in directions it may not have if I still had those pesky boundaries and inhibitions.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I actually wrote most of Just For Nice in a diner. Once a week it was my job to pick up my sister after she was done her shift as hostess, so I’d go early so I could get dinner. It was perfect. Nice and quiet, with minimal distractions and the knowledge that sooner or later someone would be by with my coffee and eggs Benedict. She’s no longer working there, though, so I’ll have to find somewhere new.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write because I daydream a lot, and sometimes it does get depressing to keep dreaming about myself and the way things could turn out for me. I write because it’s nice to invent people and their stories and have a modicum of control over the way those stories turn out. I write because I read, and sometimes I think that while the choices the author made are all right, I would have preferred to see things turn a certain way and wanted to see how that would play out. I write because there are no stories that explore the worlds I want to know, or the worlds that I do know and want to share. I write because I like to play with words and see what I can make them do. I write because I can, and because sometimes I have to before I explode.

Blurb

Nick Caratelli flees the city in an attempt to escape a broken relationship and a career he never wanted. He plans to set up a bed-and-breakfast in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country—despite the fact he has no experience in renovating the old building. Luckily his handsome neighbor Sam approaches him with a curious proposal: he’ll help with the restoration in exchange for Nick babysitting his niece.

As they work to have the bed-and-breakfast open for business by summer’s end, their lives become interwoven without them even trying. Before he knows it, Nick is recovering from his loss and taking his place in the unconventional family that seems determined to form. But for Nick and Sam to be together in all the ways they desire, they’ll have to realize all the arguments against romance exist only in their heads….

About the Author

H. M. Shepherd is a twentysomething paralegal living in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with both parents, two dogs, a baby sister who should stop growing up, and a brother who similarly failed to launch. Contrary to the Millennial stereotype, however, she does not live in the basement—a blessing considering the size of the spiders down there. She crochets as a hobby, cooks when she can, and reads as though it were her vocation. She is also an amateur genealogist and spends entirely too much time squinting at old census records and church documents. A little spacey, she once managed to forget that her car needed an oil change until it stopped running, and regularly has milk-in-the-cupboard-cereal-in-the-fridge moments. While she is an avid writer, Just for Nice is her first and so far only professional publication.

Social Media Links:

Tumblr: http://hmshepherd-blog.tumblr.com

Deanna Wadsworth on Characters, Research, and her new story ‘La Famiglia (A Men of Gilead Novel)’ (author interview)

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La Famiglia (Men of Gilead #2) by Deanna Wadsworth
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art: Anne Cain

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Kobo Google Play  

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Deanna Wadsworth 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A whole lot, for sure LOL. There is a bit of me in every hero I write as well as the side characters. But many are just conjured characters I base off my well rounded knowledge of people. Being a nail technician/hairdresser, my day job is a lot like being a therapist some days. I’ve had over 23 years of intimate glimpses into the personal lives of soooo many different types of people. Clients tell me their problems, wildest stories, things they’ve never told anyone! Sprinkling in my own personal experiences and a healthy dose of imagination, I can create unique yet very believable characters, faults and all.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Everyone and everything in my life is fair game, as far as I see it. Have I ever used a real person 100% in a book? Sure, at the start of a book maybe, or a character is based off someone I know. But my characters end up taking on a life of their own. Only once did I write a revenge character LOL—a real jerk I know—inspiring me to make the quote “Don’t piss me off or I’ll put you in a book and make everyone hate you like Voldemort, LOL.”

In La Famiglia, I used the personal experiences of a dear friend who was born deaf and has a CI (cochlear implant). Some of Kyle’s story and experiences I borrowed from her, but it was also a lot of research. Knowing her made it easier for me to make Kyle feel real.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Oh yes, always. I enjoy all genres and have books in every one but sci-fi (for now lol) and writing even a contemporary in the fictional town of Gilead—which is based on my hometown—I still need to do research. I haven’t dabbled in historical much lately because I don’t have the time for all the research on the eras I want to write in.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

For Sure! I read historical romance, horror, westerns, and fantasy and sci fi. When I started to write, I began with a high fantasy concept, but kept making it romantic so I thought I would never be published. Then a friend introduced me to paranormal romance and it was like a whole new world of possibilities had opened for me. I discovered that romance had so many sub genres and I knew it was what I wanted to write.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes, which is why the third book in my Grim Life series I write for Harmony Ink Press as under the penname KD Worth still isn’t finished. It’s a story of grim reapers working for God. There is such a heavy death and after life theme it can depress me a bit when I have to tackle certain scenes

 

Blurb

Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.

Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.

Excerpt

“So, Forrester.” Kyle said his name in a way that never ceased to send shockwaves down his back and straight to his cock. “How does one go about trading in books around here?”

Forrester pressed his groin closer to the back of the checkout counter, not wanting his thin khakis to reveal what Kyle’s voice did to him. He knew it wasn’t an accent anymore, but the soft way Kyle spoke lured him in like a siren’s song.

Since no one else waited to check out, Forrester took a moment to soak in those gorgeous hazel eyes, then smiled impishly. “First you have to bring them in.”

“That would be helpful.” Kyle’s generous mouth cracked a grin.

He tried his damnedest not to picture those downright kissable lips wrapped around his cock while he ran his fingers through Kyle’s sun-streaked hair.

He’d always had a thing for blonds.

He plucked up one of the flyers from the counter. Somehow he managed to sound professional, educated even, when he handed it over. “Our policy is we only take gently used books.”

“Mine are in great shape.”

“I bet they are,” Forrester drawled.

“They’re like new,” he insisted. “No folded corners, never dropped one in a tub either.”

“Good to hear. I hate it when people ruin a good book.” Dammit, now I’m picturing Kyle in a bathtub!

“Me too.” Kyle folded the flyer and tucked it into his pocket.

“For every book you trade in, we give 15 percent off the purchase of a new book or 25 percent off a used one. And for every three books, you get a free used book or half off a new one.”

Kyle flashed those pearly whites, making his eyes crinkle and his dimples deepen so much Forrester longed to flick his tongue inside them. “Guess I got some free books coming.”

“I guess you do,” he quipped. “Do you want to buy these today or wait till you do the trade?”

Kyle withdrew his card. “Nah, I’ll buy them now. I’ve been dying to see what happens since you got me hooked on this series. And Scott already signed this one.”

Forrester offered him a sideways smile. “I’ll just give you 15 percent off on good faith.”

“Gosh, you don’t have to do that.”

Good Lord, the guy said gosh. Could he be more adorable?

When Forrester noticed Holly watching them, he resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at her. Instead, he shrugged off Kyle’s modesty and entered the discount into his computer. “No problem. Just make sure you bring me some good stuff, capisci?”

“Will do. Thanks a lot.”

Forrester swiped his card, then offered Kyle another inviting smile. The one Ma called his suck-up smile. “Can I get you anything else? Answer any more of your questions?”

Kyle kept smiling. “No. You’ve been pretty thorough, as usual.”

“You sure?” he prompted, unable to stop flirting so shamelessly. “You don’t need to know anything else? What’s on the bestseller list? Today’s weather? The meaning of life?”

“Forty-two.”

Official report: Forrester was in love with Kyle Benson.

Or at least in serious lust.

His grin widened so big he swore his face might crack. “A Hitchhiker fan. I should’ve known.” He tore off the receipt and slid it forward for Kyle to sign.

“Hells yeah.” Kyle laughed.

Forrester bagged the books. “Receipt with you or in the bag?”

“Bag’s fine.” He accepted his purchases, then cleared his throat and fiddled with the bag. “All right, um, thank you, Forrester. Always a pleasure.” He extended a hand and Forrester took it, electric jolts running through his blood at the feel of those lightly calloused fingers.

“No problem,” he managed, not letting go.

Kyle kept his gaze locked on Forrester, blinking and glancing from his eyes to his mouth. Warming, Forrester ran his thumb across the back of his hand. He couldn’t believe his forwardness, but Kyle had some kind of tractor beam sucking him in. Powerless against its pull, he stroked the soft skin once more with a nervous, light touch, pulses of heat and desire stirring inside him.

Forrester let go and cleared his throat. “Um, Kyle?”

“Yeah?”

The phone rang, shattering the moment.

Sighing, he snagged it on the third ring. “Thank you for calling A Novel Idea. This is Forrester, how may I help you?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

Only real friends or family could answer a phone with an “it’s me.” Lucas Beale was the former. Though totally weird, and he hated sports of all kinds, Lucas was Forrester’s “boy best friend”—Holly having the honor of being his “girl best friend.” He didn’t know what he would do without either of them.

“Hey, Lucas, what’s up?” He tried not to sound annoyed at the telephone cockblock.

Kyle waved goodbye. “I guess I’ll see ya later, Forrester.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Can’t wait for what?” Lucas asked in confusion.

He covered the receiver, hoping he didn’t sound lame to Kyle. “I mean… uh, I can’t wait to read that book together?” His entire body froze in one breath of anticipation.

Kyle cocked his head to the side, then smiled. “Absolutely.”

Still grinning, Kyle turned and walked away.

Ignoring Lucas as he started talking again, Forrester watched Kyle’s spectacular ass as he headed to the door. A woman was coming in and, like a perfect gentleman, Kyle held the door for her. Outside, Kyle slid on and strapped his helmet. Then he threw his leg over and straddled the chrome-and-black Sportster parked out front.

I got something he can straddle and ride…. Forrester’s skin flushed all the way to his toes. Was Kyle a top or a bottom? Being versatile, he really didn’t care. As long as there was manly skin touching his, lots of kissing, and he got to come, Forrester was a happy camper. But the prospect of finding out what Kyle liked made his entire body warm.

He watched Kyle put his bike into gear and walk it back out of the space. As it did every time Kyle left, a deep ache settled in his stomach.

God, I just need to marry him.

About the Author

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions for different RWA chapters, including President of the Rainbow Romance Writers in 2017. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. An avid reader, she also loves gardening, cooking, music, and dancing. Often she can be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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Buy Deanna’s books at Dreamspinner Press, Decadent Publishing or at any reputable eBook seller like Amazon