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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You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth Facebook Twitter

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

Andrew Grey on Cemeteries for Sale, Inspiration, and his new story Buried Passions (author guest blog)

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Buried Passions by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

For Sale: Cemetary by Andrew Grey

This story came about because of the lead story in the local newspaper here in Carlisle from this summer.  I was visiting my dad in the hospital after he’d become ill, sitting with him waiting for his discharge.  It read that one of the cemeteries in town was for sale.  He and I both got a laugh out of it, especially the for sale by owner signs.  It was true.  A cemetery owned by one of the funeral homes that was started in the 1840’s was for sale.  That got me wondering and my fevered little brain churning.  What of it didn’t sell, then someone would inherit a cemetery.   The result is Buried Passions.  Now in case you think I’m pulling your leg, I’ve got proof.  The pictures are of the local cemetery with the for sale signs.
The place is stunning with huge pillared stones and even a section with civil war dead.  It’s fun to walk though just to look at the various carved pieces that are amazing memorial art.  So anyone in the market?  After all, you could own dead people .  🙂

Blurb/Synopsis:

When Broadway actor Jonah receives word that his uncle has passed away and named him the heir to a property in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jonah’s plan is to settle the estate as quickly as possible and return to his life in New York City. Much to Jonah’s surprise, the inheritance includes the Ashford Cemetery—and its hunky groundskeeper, recent Bosnian immigrant Luka Pavelka.

Jonah soon discovers Luka is more than easy on the eyes. He sees into Jonah’s heart like no man ever before, and his job at the cemetery is all he has. If Jonah sells, Luka is left with nothing. Luka is there for Jonah when Jonah needs someone most, and there’s no denying the chemistry and connection between them. But Jonah has a successful career back in New York. Now he must decide if it’s still the life he wants….

Excerpt 

I found it hard to breathe, like all the oxygen had been pulled out of the air. “You’re telling me that my uncle left me a cemetery? This cemetery?” What the fuck was I supposed to do with a goddamn cemetery?

“Yes. Parts of it date back to when the town was founded, in 1750, and it was apparently increased in the mid-1800s to the twelve or so acres it is today. Back then, this was beyond the edge of town by a good half mile, so it was a perfect place for a cemetery. When your uncle had the mortuary business, he sold plots here. There are still some that can be sold, as well as a trust fund for the care of the cemetery. Perpetual care and all that. But yes, this is part of the estate.”

He sounded so damned reasonable, like I’d just inherited an office building or apartment complex. Not a cemetery.

“Let me get this straight.” I was afraid to take a step in case the damn ground opened up and swallowed me whole. “You’re telling me that this is part of my inheritance…?” I didn’t know what else to say. I was shocked and scared all at once. What the hell would I do with a cemetery? “Oh my God.” I placed my hands on the sides of my head. “I own dead people.”

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

K.A. Mitchell Talks Writing, Influences, and her release Bad Company (Bad in Baltimore #1)

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Bad Company (Bad in Baltimore #1) by K.A. Mitchell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host K.A. Mitchell here today on tour with her release of Bad Company. Welcome!

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with K.A. Mitchell~

 

First of all, thank you so much for having me on your blog and for giving me such interesting questions to answer. It’s always much easier to answer questions than to try to think up something people might want to hear. My characters are always more interesting than I am.

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It’s a weird relationship. I know they all are created in my head, but they seem to take on a life of their own once I pull them out. They’re like my imaginary friends, and like real friends, they don’t always do what I want or what I expect. Some characters and I share some personality bits, and some are completely unlike me. However, that doesn’t necessarily predict how fond I stay of them after the book. Sometimes my favorite characters and I have nothing in common.

  • 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?

My life is pretty boring and routine, so there’s not much in it would be interesting for a book. I do like taking random stories or situations that I come across and finding ways to make them work for my characters, just like I love taking traditional tropes and using them to lay the groundwork for my characters. There’s a lot of What if?ing that goes on.

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

Most of my books, like the Bad in Baltimore series, are contemporary. I can find myself buried under research, like figuring out what real street a character would live on. It’s easier when I make up a fictional town or college setting, like I have for a few of my books. I have heard from readers who live places where I’ve set my books that the settings feel real to them, so that’s a big relief. The number one thing about that kind of research is making sure that it stays in the background so that the reader can be immersed in the story. I don’t want to include so many tiny details that the reader is pulled out of the story wondering if there’s a reason I’m describing exactly what a kind of flower or piece of furniture looks like. I also want those details to work from the characters point of view; I want both the reader and the character to have feelings about the details. Most of us don’t stop and think about the minutiae of the world, only the pieces that we’re interacting with.

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

Ha! One of my earliest memories about an intense interaction with books is having a teacher ask me why my fourth grade book diorama presentation was only about the relationship between the characters I shipped instead of the mystery and action. The characters and relationships always mattered more to me than anything else about a story.

  • 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, I have. Sometimes I know the only way is through it, like with the fourth Baltimore book, Silver’s story. It was a hard book to write, but it was a story I had to tell. When I was writing Take a Chance on It, the third book in my Ready or Knot series with Dreamspinner, made me cry from about the tenth page in. I’m so thrilled with how that story came out, but there was much crying. In fact, I asked my brain for a happy place to visit while I was writing Take a Chance on It. The result was so much fun that I ended up needing another pseudonym for the very kinky erotic story my brain gave me.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I happily consume either and to me, all of my KA characters are HEA. I think an HFN makes a lot of sense when you’re writing younger characters, or those in a first relationship, but I also think that some people meet their forever person early on and never fall out of love. I also really love reading and writing about adults who love each other, but have to work at their relationship, especially after life throws curve balls—or 103-mph fastballs—at their heads.

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

I’ve been reading romance novels since I was 14 (a very long time ago, which may require a geological clock to calculate). Suffice it to say that my first was Shanna, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and the book was new. I read science fiction, horror, and comedy, but always my favorite is romance.

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

This is a challenging question because I feel that by claiming them, I’m suggesting I’m like them, and I still feel that their skills far exceed mine. But as far as voice goes, I feel like I absorbed a lot of Ray Bradbury and his sentence style comes to mind sometimes when I read my favorite bits. As for now, I admire both the craft and professionalism of many writers. One writer who I think is amazing is K.J. Charles. She creates a conflict that is not only about the characters, but is deeply connected to who they are as people, then wounds them with it in such a way that I am always wonderfully convinced there will be no fixing this, and then the fix she crafts is perfectly believable and comes from the groundwork she lays in the story. I wish I could do that as well as she does.

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

I see the three formats, print, digital and audiobooks staying about where they are. Ebooks are so wonderfully convenient that I do almost all my reading on them, but sometimes it’s nice to have a print book. And I still like using print for reference work/research. I love audiobooks, but I only listen to books I’ve already read, which I guess is kind of weird. One thing that does surprise me is that teens/young adults still seem to prefer print over digital. I’d expect that readership to embrace the digital more.

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

Wow. Covers are so important. To me the most important thing about my covers is what they tell a reader who is skimming thumbnails. I want the cover to communicate the genre and theme accurately (not suggest paranormal or action when there is none), to look professionally made so the reader is confident that the content is also of quality, and hopefully have an eye catching font or image. Most of the publishers I’ve worked with allow input during the cover process, and with my self-published books I’ve been able to choose my own. I’m always looking at covers that I feel do a great job and trying to find out why they work for me and who did them. I’ve been very lucky in that Dreamspinner has hired Kanaxa for the Bad in Baltimore rereleases. I think everything she’s done has really captured the feel of the stories. They have energy and a little hard edge.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m finishing up the sixth Baltimore book, Bad Habit. I have ideas (at least the meet cute) for two other books. I also have two more books that I’m dying to work on, plus ideas for my alterego, Cin.

  • 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?

I think that fault line is one that can be dangerous to sit on in any subgenre. You want the reader to love your characters, to fall in love with your characters, but you want them to be complex people. I feel fortunate to be writing two male main characters. I think readers are easier on heroes than we (yes, I include myself) are on heroines. Heroes can get away with stuff we’d never tolerate from a heroine. I’ve also noticed that when a former main character appears in someone else’s book, he can be a lot more snarky. He gets away with more when he’s a sidekick.  contemporary or historical or science fiction.

  •  Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

My only (so far) historical An Improper Holiday is something I started *coughs* almost thirty years ago. I didn’t know anyone besides me wanted to read gay historical romance. When I needed a holiday story for a submission, I took it out again. I think only one or two sentences survived, but the plot was the same.  

  • Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

One of my books that I haven’t re-released yet, Regularly Scheduled Life, sprang from something that happened in real life. In the book, Sean and Kyle are a happy couple until high-school teacher Sean intervenes in a school shooting. He’s wounded and gains lots of publicity as a national hero. It puts a lot of strain on Sean and Kyle’s relationship.

It came about because my wife is a middle school teacher. One day I got a text from her that read, “Guess what I just took away from one of my kids? A gun.” My heart stopped. I couldn’t stop thinking of what might have happened. She is definitely the kind of person who runs toward danger in order to help others.

  •  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.

I love repeating the “Write drunk, edit sober,” mantra, though I’m a super lightweight and don’t drink much. I still think it’s good advice. You need to get the story (sometimes with wrong turns) out in a wild frenzy, and then give it more of a critical eye.

I will say that sometimes I write something I think is awesome and look at it the next day and think it’s terrible. It’s usually somewhere in between and needs work. The best is when I can’t remember having written something that I like. I feel like the shoemaker’s elves must have gotten into my computer and strung together some perfect words for me.

Blurb

Bad Company Bad in Baltimore Book 1


Some things are sweeter than revenge.

“I need a boyfriend.”

Hearing those words from his very straight, very ex-best friend doesn’t put Nate in a helpful mood. Not only did Kellan Brooks’s father destroy Nate’s family in his quest for power, but Kellan broke Nate’s heart back in high school. Nate thought he could trust his best friend with the revelation that he might be gay, only to find out he was horribly wrong and become the laughingstock of the whole school. Kellan must be truly desperate if he’s turning to Nate now.

Kellan’s through letting his father run his life, and he wants to make the man pay for cutting him off. What better way to stick it to the bigot than to come out as gay himself–especially with the son of the very man his father crushed on his quest for money and power. Kellan can’t blame Nate for wanting nothing to do with him, though. Kellan will have to convince him to play along, but it’s even harder to convince himself that the heat between them is only an act…

 

About the Author

K.A. Mitchell discovered the magic of writing at an early age when she learned that a carefully crayoned note of apology sent to the kitchen in a toy truck would earn her a reprieve from banishment to her room. Her career as a spin-control artist was cut short when her family moved to a two-story house and her trucks would not roll safely down the stairs. Around the same time, she decided that Ken and G.I. Joe made a much cuter couple than Ken and Barbie and was perplexed when invitations to play Barbie dropped off. She never stopped making stuff up, though, and was thrilled to find out that people would pay her to do it. Although the men in her stories usually carry more emotional baggage than even LAX can lose in a year, she guarantees they always find their sexy way to a happy ending.

K.A. loves to hear from her readers. You can email her at ka@kamitchell.com. She is often found talking about her imaginary friends on Twitter @ka_mitchell.

Email: ka@kamitchell.com

Twitter: @ka_mitchell

Website: http://www.kamitchell.com

Blog: authorkamitchell.wordpress.com

Tumblr: kamitchellplotbunnyfarm

KC Burn on Writing, Characters, and her new release Banded Together (author interview)

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Banded Together by K.C. Burn
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Banded Together is available at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host K.C. Burn here today on their Banded Together tour. Welcome, K.C.

 

 ~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with K.C. Burns ~

 

Hi all! I’m so excited to be here! I’m KC Burn, talking about writing and my new release, Banded Together.

  •  Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  

No, actually. In fact, the emotional ties often make it more real, at least in my opinion. In this new release, Banded Together, one of the heroes, Dr. Jack is dealing with his dad having dementia. My mother had dementia and it was a difficult few years before she passed. Although I don’t go into a lot of detail in this book, my feelings during that time informed a lot of Jack’s reactions. I think most writers take every experience as potential fodder for stories, whether they be painful or joyful. I don’t think we can help it; I know I can’t.

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

LOL – mostly it’s not my choice! Even for those few books I’ve self published, the cover artists all require similar “art forms” where they ask what the characters look like, if there are significant visual items in the story, if there’s a particular scene that demonstrates the theme. Is it light, dark, paranormal, contemporary. Those attributes all affect how a cover is created, but I’m so not an artist – I can’t articulate how that comes about. Sometimes I’m given a couple of options to choose from, and many times it’s a gut feeling. One of them will just fit the story. One of my books, Tartan Candy, had the cover I went with, which was fun and flirty and a little unconventional. Since the main character was an ex-porn star who loved wearing kilts, it was perfect. The other option looked more like a typical Highlander romance cover, which didn’t match the story at all, although it was still a lovely cover.

  •  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, I do. As much as one would like to relate to the characters we read about, in romance, we’re also reading for escapism. That doesn’t mean a character can’t have faults – maybe some serious ones – but I’ve definitely read books where the characters are flawed to the point the book becomes harsh and almost brutal. But I also know people who love that sort of realism. I just can’t find the escapism in it and so I wouldn’t want to write it. It’s a fine line, though.

  

  •  Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Not exactly. I jot down story ideas and scenes, and it might be years before I get around to writing that book or it might take years before I come up with an idea where I can make one of those scenes work, but with one exception, I’ve never put an entire story away. As for that one exception… it was a short story I’d written for a cyberpunk call. It wasn’t accepted, and although I like reading cyberpunk, I certainly wasn’t planning on really delving into writing it, or expanding the story into a novel. Instead, I cannibalized scenes from that story and wove them into… two or three other books. And there are still a few scenes that I haven’t used yet, but there is the potential they’ll end up in future books.

  

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

Somewhere with no windows. Not only are they a bit distracting, I get a little tense as the light changes. Feels almost like a ticking clock. But if I’m in a room where the lighting stays at a consistent level, it’s easier to focus.

 

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

Mostly I write to stay sane. There is so much going on in my head, writing almost acts like a pressure release valve. But aside from that, it’s escapism. I’ve loved reading for so long, and not only is writing a different sort of escapism for me, I also want to give some of that joy to other people if I can. Share the love, or pay it forward, so to speak.

 

  •  What’s next for you as a writer?

I have a firefighter/dancer story coming out in the new year called Set Ablaze, and I’ve submitted a proposal for a guy wooing his love interest with pastries. We’ll see how that goes – I don’t do a lot of planning ahead of time. I mostly fly by the seat of my pants! Next year I’ll also have another Christmas story for sure, and hopefully the sequel to North on Drummond, my paranormal mystery, will be ready.

Blurb

Punk’s not dead, but it’s time to redefine life.

Devlin Waters thought he’d have music forever. But the tragic death of his best friend ended the twenty-year run of his punk band, Negative Impression. Unable to process the loss, Devlin distances himself from everyone and everything that reminds him of the band. But forty-one is too young to curl up and wait for the end. In a search for a second career, he finds himself at university, with a bunch of kids young enough to be… his kids. His sexy archaeology professor, however, makes Devlin think about life beyond his grief….

Dr. Jack Johnson does not appreciate Devlin’s lack of respect, his inability to be serious, or his chronic lateness. Worse, he hates that he’s attracted to a student. When he realizes Devlin is the rock star he crushed on in his youth, he drops his guard—against his better judgment.

Before they can move forward together, Jack must admit to Devlin that he’s not only an admirer, but he also sings in a cover band. How will Devlin react to his ultimate fanboy when his own music has died?

About the Author

KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds).  After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own — getting published.  After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she’s had in a long time, and she hopes you’ll enjoy them as much as she does. 

Visit KC at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, or find out about new releases by signing up for her newsletter.

 

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Ken Harrison on Writing, Books, and his latest release ‘Linear Park’ (author interview)

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Linear Park (States of Love) by Ken Harrison
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Kobo |  iTunesGoogle Play  

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ken Harrison here today on tour with his latest novel Linear Park.  Welcome, Ken, and thanks for sitting in our author’s Interview chair.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Ken Harrison

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I tend to write about what I know, so a good amount of myself goes into everything. In Linear Park, Sean’s backstory comes from a few people I know and my own experiences living with a person with alcohol issues. A lot of Nick’s personality comes from my husband.

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

What I’m working on now is contemporary and takes place in New York City and Rhode Island. The main character is an artist, and I know a few artists and have a slight understanding of how things work. Still, I needed to do some research to get specific aspects of painting right. I think for any story that takes place in the real world, there’s a certain amount of research that needs to be done. Nobody knows everything.

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

Yes and no. Back when I was writing erotica, what I read sometimes influenced my stories. I wrote a few stories that were inspired by Jim Thompson and two from cyberpunk fiction. I’m new to romance, so we’ll see what happens.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?

Although I’ve never had to put a story aside because I was too close to it, I need to have some type of emotional response to know that what I’m writing is worthy of my time.  If I don’t laugh or cry, then I’m not attached to it enough to continue.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like realistic endings. If an ending isn’t believable then the entire story can be ruined for me. It’s nice to have everything work out, but not all stories can end that way.

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

I’ve always read a wide variety of fiction. When I was a kid it was horror and sci-fi. Throughout my twenties, it was mostly women’s fiction. I love Margaret Atwood, Erica Jong, Alice Walker and a few others. I also read a lot of gay and lesbian fiction. I didn’t seek out romance until I was in my forties.

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

I love language and the use of words. A book needs to have a tone or strong voice to catch my attention. When I read Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, I was in love with her prose and sense of voice. Steven King has a way of using the omniscient voice to pull the reader into the story. Jim Thompson has a grittiness to his prose that works with his edgy fiction. I remember reading Ann Beattie and falling in love with the simplicity of her language. She can tell so much in so little. I believe that the best writing uses an economy words.

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

I’m a tech guy, so I like ebooks. With that said, I also believe in ebook standards and the ePub format. Proprietary formats drive me bonkers, which is why I was pleased when Amazon allowed kindle users to upload ePub files. All ebook readers should use a single file format, IMHO.

What’s holding ebooks back right now is pricing. Small presses, especially romance presses, understand how to price ebooks. Sometimes I look at the price of books coming from the larger publishing houses and cringe. Why would I pay for an ebook that costs as much as a hardcover? An ebook is a file the publisher pays to set up once, then sells worldwide without the cost of printing or shipping; there’s very little overhead. Ebooks are the new mass market paperback and should not be priced the same as trade paper or hardcover.

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

I considered asking to design my own cover for Linear Park, then decided to relax and let somebody else do it. I’m glad I did. It was great to see another person come up with a cover and give input.

What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

I think the most outrageous story I’ve written thus far was the title story for Ten Thick Inches. A man is hired by a mobster to steal a gold replica of his penis. The entire story is a bit out of control.

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

Someplace quiet with natural light and a stereo. I sometimes play music in the background, usually Brian Eno or the Cocteau Twins.

What’s next for you as a writer?

I’m working on another contemporary romance now, but have an idea for something much more fantastical when it’s finished. I would also like to write something glitzy, like a gay Scruples or Valley of the Dolls. I’m a sucker for a good glitz novel. I love both those books so much.

Blurb

Sean and Nick’s life together was a fairy tale: childhood friends who became lovers, high school sweethearts who married after college, both handsome professionals. Sean always enjoyed a few drinks, but after the death of his father, his alcoholism spiraled out of control… and it cost him everything.

When Sean loses his job and becomes too surly and unreasonable to live with, Nick has little choice but to end the relationship. Sean can’t blame Nick for giving up—not after the arguments and the lies—but he longs for the happiness and love they shared before he spoiled everything. He resolves to get sober and win back his husband. But even if he wins his battle with alcoholism, will it be too late to save his marriage?

About the Author

Back in the nineties, Ken Harrison wrote erotic short stories for several gay skin magazines and published three short story collections (Daddy’s Boys; Young, Hung and Ready for Action; and Ten Thick Inches). He stopped writing in 2001 to start a small press, Seventh Window Publications, and worked with several great authors and artists. He closed Seventh Window Publications in December 2015. After a year and a half away, he realized that publishing was a big part of his life and went back to writing.

When he isn’t writing, he enjoys cooking, web design, blowing bubbles in the park, dressing up in costumes, and entertaining. Halloween is his favorite holiday and his house is a popular stop for the neighborhood kids. He believes that the only thing better than telling a good story is watching people enjoy his food.

Ken lives in Rhode Island with his husband, who is an avid reader.

Goodreads Author Page

Andrew Grey on Writing Characters and his latest release ‘Heart Unheard (Hearts Entwined #2)’ (author guest blog)

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Heart Unheard (Hearts Entwined #2) by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Grey here today talking about the challenges of writing a hearing impaired character.  Welcome, Andrew.

 

 ~ Andrew Grey on One of the Challenges of Writing a Hearing Impaired Character ~

There are so many things I want to say about this story.  When I decided to write a deaf characters I expected a number of challenges, but the hardest one wasn’t what I had anticipated.  What I needed to do after Scott’s injury, was develop an entire communication system for him.  He didn’t have a way for people to communicate with him other than through the written word.  I found that stifling and it made me realize just how difficult the hearing impaired have when interacting with the world around them.  I grew up with an aunt who was very hard of hearing.  Most people she barely understood, but the tone of my voice was able to get through to her.  But it took extra effort on my part to make sure she understood what I was saying.  It was that same kind of effort that I had to put into the story to build Scott’s methods of communicating.  The whole process helped me better understand just how hearing loss can cut a person off from the rest of the world and how a little extra effort and care can make all the difference.

Blurb/Synopsis

The attraction between Brent Berkheimer and Scott Spearman peels the wallpaper, but Brent is Scott’s boss, and they’re both too professional to go beyond flirting. Their priorities realign after Scott is badly injured in an accident that costs him his hearing, and Brent realizes what is truly important… he wants Scott.

Scott first pushes Brent away, fearing a new romance will just add to his problems, but perhaps he will find unexpected strength and solace in Brent’s support as he struggles to communicate with the world in a new way.

Just as they decide the chance of a happy future together is worth the risk, Scott and Brent discover darker challenges in their way—including evidence that the “accident” Scott suffered may not have been so accidental.

Excerpt

Scott was in a small room, the bed surrounded by monitors with a number of tubes and cords hooked to him. His usually robust cheeks were sallow, his normally intense eyes closed, his pouty lips pale.

“Please remain quiet.”

“Of course,” Brent said as he pulled forward the small chair and sat next to the bed. He didn’t ask her a bunch of questions about how he was doing because Brent knew she couldn’t really tell him anything without specific written permission.

The nurse checked Scott over and left the room.

“Hey, Scott. It’s Brent. I wanted to stop by and see you.” He blinked as Scott’s chest slowly rose and fell. “I read somewhere that people can sometimes hear things when they’re out like this. So I hope you get better.” He turned to make sure no one was around to hear him, then leaned closer. “I should have told you how I felt.” He sniffed and took one of the tissues from the box on the tray table. He reached for Scott’s hand and slid their fingers together. Brent probably didn’t have a right to do that, but he wanted Scott to know he was there.

To his surprise, Scott’s fingers squeezed his just a little. At first, he wasn’t sure it was real, but Scott did it again. Brent gently rubbed the back of his hand but received no further movement in response.

“Are you Brent?” a man who had to be Scott’s dad asked. He looked so much like him, only an older, more weathered, and very worried version, with touches of gray in his hair.

“Yes,” Brent whispered, setting Scott’s hand back on the blankets, his cheeks heating. “I was just trying to make a connection with him. I think he might have squeezed my hand a little.” He wondered what Scott’s dad—and then his mom as she followed him inside—must be thinking with him holding Scott’s hand.

“He did that last night before we left. It’s the only indication that we’ve had that he’s there and knows we’re here.” Scott’s mother approached, and Brent stood to give her the chair. She sat, gently stroking Scott’s hand. “Is there something between you and my son?” She lifted her gaze, and it was like she was looking deep into his soul. It was immediately evident where Scott got his amazing eyes, even if hers were red and definitely filled with concern. “I heard what you were saying to him before we came in.”

“Don’t mind Carolyn. She has bat-like hearing sometimes.” Reggie stepped to the other side of the bed, looking at Scott. If Brent were to hazard a guess, Reggie was willing his son to wake up. The worry and sheer willpower were written on the lines of his furrowed brow.

“Reggie,” she said gently, then turned to Brent. “Scott talked about you all the time. I think he may have a crush on you.” She looked him over. “I can see why, but aren’t you a little old for him?”

Brent nodded. “That’s why nothing ever happened.” He turned back to Scott, not believing he was having this conversation. “I’m his manager and….” There were so many reasons why he’d never said anything to Scott, though all of them seemed too stupid now. Scott lay on the bed, largely unmoving, and none of Brent’s reasons mattered. All that did matter was that Scott would recover and get better again.

“I see,” she said, as though there were some great meaning behind Brent’s words. “He told me about the time the oil gun sprang a leak and he got sprayed. You got the oil shut off and him out of there and cleaned off so fast, before it could get in his eyes.”

“He told you that?” Brent closed his eyes, stifling a groan, as his cheeks had to be turning beet red. He’d cleaned Scott off and had damn near kissed him just because he was relieved Scott was all right. Just as he’d gotten close, Scott had opened his eyes and their gazes had met, but Brent had backed away. His cowardice had taken over the way it usually did.

Carolyn nodded. “He said you were gentle and made sure he was okay before everything else. Then you apparently took apart the equipment, fixed it, and made sure that didn’t happen again.” She smiled. “Scott tells us stories about work all the time, and many of them featured you.”

What was he supposed to say to that? Brent wanted to hide and lick his wounds somewhere. It seemed that the teasing and flirting Scott had done was more than just playing. Brent had never been sure, but now he knew. Scott had cared and might have been truly interested, but now it might be too late.

“That’s so nice to know.” Brent couldn’t help looking at Scott and wondering what might have been if he had just had the guts.

 

 

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

The Titles Below Are for the Heart Unseen Novels Only

Links go to Amazon

Heart Unseen Book 1

Heart Unheard Book 2

In Our New Release Spotlight: Hurricane (Stormy Weather #3) by B.A. Tortuga (special excerpt)

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Hurricane (Stormy Weather #3) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have B.A. Tortuga back today on her tour for Hurricane, the third Stormy Weather story.  Welcome, B.A.!

✒︎

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy.

Hurricane is the third in the story of Galen and Shane, and I’ve included a novella set quite a few years later called Bartender Rescue. I hope you enjoy this teaser.

Hurricane, Excerpt

***

“I swear to God, y’all. If you don’t watch your pours, I’m going to start ripping faces off. I can’t afford to run specials if you’re pouring triples on every drink.”

Christ on a sparkly crutch, Shane had a headache. He’d spent the last four days studying the books on his latest project, trying to figure out why the busiest club of five bars was the one losing fucking money.

“But boss….”

He shook his head at Greg, his so-called manager. “Don’t. I don’t care. Fix it, y’all. Now. Or you’re all fired.”

“I’d like to see him do it perfect every time,” one of the little barbacks was muttering, and Shane saw red, right about the time Greg winced.

“Give me a bottle of Bacardi,” he snapped, one hand held out. “And four glasses.”

He poured the four shots—boom, boom, boom, boom—without even bothering to look. Each one of them perfect, right on, and he knew it. “Any questions?”

“Yes.” The newest bartender, a shrewd little redhead with bright green eyes, raised a hand. “Do you do it by count or with the bubble or what?”

“I used to count. Now I know it by heart. It’s practice. Y’all have to get, if you’re getting them fucked-up with two drinks, that’s ten bucks to the till, what? Two bucks to you? Three if you’re lucky? With four or five drinks? That’s twenty-five bucks to the till and more than five in the tip jar.”

“Can you show me one more time?” She was taking the initiative, at least. So he bit back his frustration and showed her.

Four pours. Four shots. Four perfect glasses.

Christ, his head hurt. Bad. And he still had to put out fires at Mickey’s, run deposit at the Spotted Kitten, and approve proofs for the new menus at Bell.

The bar business was booming, even if other things were sliding, like the old bait shop. Galen could run that with one hand tied behind his back and still do all the weird financial shit the man was into. Hell, they’d had it for more than ten years.

He wasn’t sure how he’d ended up like this—how he had ended up owning five clubs. He didn’t even drink hardly anymore.

Hell, right now he was tired enough that he didn’t want anything but caffeine and energy drinks by the case.

“Cool, boss. Thanks.” What the heck was her name? Allie? She winked. Winked at him. Lord.

“I’ve got to go. Greg. Work on this, man.”

“I will. I swear.” Greg could do earnest. Shane just hoped there was follow-through.

He grabbed his laptop bag and headed out. Time for the next stop on his rounds….

Someone stood right in front of his new, sparkly blue Jeep. Leaning on the hood in fact.

He stopped, took a second to admire. Damn. Damn, his Len was fine as frog’s hair. Those long legs went on and on, the ripped jeans and tight polo shirt just right. Galen’s shoulders still looked like they might block the light.

***

Much love, y’all.

BA

Blurb

Hurricane

Stormy Weather: Book Three

Galen and Shane are back in the final installment of the Stormy Weather series, and a tempest of epic proportions is brewing. Once they couldn’t get enough of each other, but now Galen’s long hours are driving a wedge between him and Shane. Lonely and starved for his lover’s attention, bartender Shane falls in with a new crowd that doesn’t have his best interests at heart, and Galen struggles with a workload he can’t manage and an unscrupulous partner who wants to eliminate Shane. He can barely keep his head above water, let alone chart a course home to Shane.

While they’re floundering and trying to hold their relationship together, a hurricane heads for the Florida coast—and they’re directly in the path of the storm. It’s a crisis that will either finally break them apart or remind them how much they stand to lose if they don’t hold on to each other.

Also included is the free novella Bartender Rescue.

Second Edition

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

Felicitas Ivey On Plotting Novels and her latest release The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed (author guest post)

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The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed by Felicitas Ivey
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Felicitas Ivey on tour for her novel The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed. Welcome, Felicitas.

🐫

On Plotting Versus Pantzing by Felicitas Ivey

A lot of people, mostly my family and co-workers, ask me how I get my ideas for my novels and short stories. I do refrain from telling them I get a once a month delivery of ideas from super secret source, and just tell them ideas come from everywhere around you. I’ve written a couple of novels just to have my characters run around odd sections of Boston. Most of time I write a novel or a story, it’s because I have one idea I was able to get a short story or a novel from that idea.

I have a novel I’m working on, one plotted and I start working on the next one when an idea strikes me. The novel I’m working on is a gothic romance. The novel I’m plotting out right now is a romantic horror/suspense one.  I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere, but plotting is half the fun of writing. I have a friend and we bounce ideas off of each other all the time, in person or over a chat program if we’re at work. Sometimes I get shower or driving ideas and I try to write them down before I forget them.

I used to be a pantser, and now I’m slowly trying to plot out things, so if I get ‘stuck’ I can go on to something else in the novel. Aside from plotting, I try to work on only one novel at a time. The best advice I ever heard was to ‘Not cheat on your novel with another one’. Or only concentrate on one thing at a time and don’t multitask several stories at once, writing-wise. I have edited novels while writing other things, and it was a little disorienting.

With plotting a novel or a short story, I use two methods so not be a pantser. The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshall has a system of X number of sheets per book, depending on the length of the book, is it a romance, how many viewpoint characters and things like that. I’ve figured out one sheet is about 12-1500 words, depending on what’s happening in the novel or short story then. And the sheets have helpful labels about whose the viewpoint character at the time and how many sheets they get. It’s fairly easy if you follow the plot you’ve laid out. I still wander take a left turn at Albuquerque sometimes and wander away from the plot.

What I don’t like is his character sheets. They’re interesting, but not my cuppa. What I use is Karen Wiesner’s ‘First Draft in 30 Days’ character sheets. They’re in a format I’m more comfortable with, more like writing a draft then filling out the small boxes the Marshall Plan uses. You can write out several paragraphs of back history, likes and dislikes very easily.

My next novel, I’m treating it like a roleplaying game, filling out character sheets for the main characters. It should be an interesting experiment. It’s a romantic horror novel, set in rural New England. New England is a great place to set horror.

I set most of my work in New England, since that’s where I grew up and lived all my life. And you can tell I’m a Boston girl as soon as I open my mouth, since I have the accent wicked bad. I’ve spent a lot of vacations in Northern Vermont also, so I’m familiar with the area and like to set some of my work there.

I’m trying to be more productive writer, but there is only so many hours in the day. Plotting and prep work do make the process faster, so I’m trying to lose my pantsers ways.

Blurb

Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal—to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before…

Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.

When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with.

About the Author

Felicitas is a frazzled help-desk tech at a university in Boston who wishes people wouldn’t argue with her when she’s troubleshooting what’s wrong with their computer. She lives with three cats who wish she would pay more attention to them, and not sit at a computer pounding on the keyboard. They get back at her by hogging most of the bed at night and demanding her attention during the rare times she watches TV or movies. She’s protected by her guardian stuffed Minotaur, Angenor, who was given to her by her husband, Mark. Angenor travels everywhere with her, because Felicitas’s family doesn’t think she should travel by her lonesome. They worry she gets distracted and lost too easily. Felicitas doesn’t think of it a getting lost, more like having an adventure with a frustrated GPS.

Felicitas knits and hoards yarn, firmly believing the one with the most yarn wins. She also is sitting on hordes of books, which still threaten to take over her house, even with e-books. Between writing and knitting, she brews beer, wine, mead, and flavored liqueurs. Felicitas also bakes, making cakes whenever she needs to work out an issue in her novels. Sometimes this leads to a lot of cakes. Her coworkers appreciate them though, with the student workers buzzing about on a sugar high most of the time.

Felicitas writes urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror of a Lovecraftian nature, with monsters beyond space and time that think that humans are the tastiest things in the multiverse. Occasionally there’s a romance or two involved in her writing, with a happily-ever-after.

Website: www.Felicitasivey.com

Facebook: felicitasivey

Twitter: @felicitasivey

Email: felicitas.ivey@gmail.com

M.A. Church on Cat Facts and her latest story At Sixes and Sevens (Fur, Fangs, and Felines #4) by M.A. Church

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At Sixes and Sevens (Fur, Fangs, and Felines #4) by M.A. Church
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art by Paul Richmond

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback |  Amazon 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have M.A. Church here today on her   At Sixes and Sevens tour. Welcome, M.A.

Cat Facts by M.A. Church

It is estimated that there are 200–600 million cats alive on Earth.

There may have been instances of domesticated cats as early as 7,500 BC.

Cats are the most popular pet in the United States: There are 88 million pet cats and 74 million dogs.

A group of cats is called a clowder.

Cats can’t taste sweetness.

Adult cats only meow to communicate with humans.

Cats’ life spans are on the rise. In the early 1980s, cats were only expected to live seven years; now they are expected to live twelve to fifteen.

The oldest known cat was Creme Puff, who lived to be thirty-eight years old.

Domesticated cats use vocalizations like meowing, purring and hissing—but feral cats are practically silent.

Cats can pass their body through any space which they can fit their heads through.

Blurb

Werecats mating with humans was bad enough…. But an Alpha werewolf?

Aidric’s life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Alpha Carter Lovelock of the Dark Lake Pack—who is apparently his mate. Now Aidric must decide whether to accept the mate the goddess chose, or deny her gift because cats and dogs just don’t mix.

Carter is in a pickle. He always assumed his mate would be a female werewolf. How else is Carter supposed to carry on his line and retain Alphaship? When Aidric comes into his life, Carter’s ex, Sabrina, isn’t giving up easily. Her brother, Delaney, is a thorn in Carter’s side, and some of the other werewolves go out of their way to make Aidric feel unwelcome, including one of his deltas, Evan.

Unfortunately, what little headway they make is destroyed during a full moon hunt when enemy werewolves attack Aidric and threaten the pack house where the Dark Lake pups are kept—an ambush that could have devastating consequences on their future.

Werewolves are notoriously insular, and before Carter and Aidric can build the life they want with each other, they’ll face a fight for acceptance.

Excerpt

There was no way a mating between a werewolf and a werecat could work. All I was doing was delaying the inevitable. Obviously Carter felt the same way since he hadn’t bothered to call me in the week since that meeting. He certainly wasn’t pursuing me.

Growling, I stomped to the bedroom. Well, screw him. I needed to be mated to a werewolf like I needed a hole in the head. I snatched up my cell phone and promptly dropped the thing on the bed when it rang. Startled, I hissed at it. Shit. The ringtone continued to blare as I snatched it up. If I’d cracked the stupid screen, I was going to…. I blinked in surprise.

Speak of the devil—or in this case—the werewolf. Running my finger across the screen, I unlocked my cell. My heart pounded. If I answered this, I’d have to stop avoiding the situation. Was I ready? There’d be no going back. Did I really want to take this step? Did I have a choice?

I answered the damn phone. “Hello?”

“Aidric LeClair?”

I closed my eyes for a second, took a deep breath, and then opened them. Why did his voice have to be so low and rumbly? I shivered. “Speaking.”

“This is Carter Lovelock.”

Right away I noticed he omitted his title, but that didn’t surprise me. He had no way of knowing how secure my phone line was.

“Are you there?”

“What?” Jeez, what was I doing? “Yes, I’m here. Sorry about that. I was….” Okay, no, I was not going to tell him I was perving on his voice. “Anyway. What can I do for you?”

There was silence on the line. The temptation to bang my head against the nearest wall was great, but I resisted. Had I actually asked him what could I do for him? Could I possibly sound stuffier?

“I can think of several ways to answer that question, but maybe it would be better not to.”

“I’m sorry?” I cringed. In my mind I saw my cat with his paw over his eyes. Well, guess that answered the question of whether I could sound stuffier. Apparently I could.

“Ah, is this a bad time?”

Is there ever a good time to make an idiot of myself? “No, no, it’s not a bad time.”

“I see. Cat got your tongue, perhaps?”

Whatever nerves were plaguing me suddenly ignited, and with a whoosh, went up in a screaming mass of indignant flames. Abruptly I wanted to use Alpha Lovelock as a scratching post.

“You know, your kind is proof evolution can go in reverse.”

Now I understood exactly what the term “dead air” meant. I couldn’t believe I’d said that, but by damned, he deserved it. Cat got my tongue—seriously?

Finally Carter chuckled. “I guess I did ask for that, didn’t I?”

“I would say so.” I collapsed on the bed, knees weak. Conversing with this werewolf was like pushing a boulder. Uphill. During a monsoon.

“Hey, it got you talking to me, at least—even if it was to insult me,” Carter said. Then his voice turned serious. “You and I need to meet.”

“Yes, I suppose we do.”

“I’ll give you directions to my house and—”

“No.” He couldn’t be serious.

“Excuse me?”

How much arrogance could a person cram into two words? “I’m not coming on your pac… your, ah… your place. No way.”

“You have my word you won’t be harmed.”

Whoop-de-freaking-do. “That’s nice and all, but I’m still not coming there.”

“Well, I can’t come to you without permission from your… from Dolf.”

That was definitely a no too. “I agree. That’s not a good idea either.”

Dolf and the rest of the betas were already too interested in my life. The nosy bunch of felines would probably hide in the surrounding trees if Carter came here. It wouldn’t be curiosity killing the cat; it’d be me.

“Then what do you suggest, because we do need to meet. I’m afraid I really must insist.”

I almost told him he could insist until he turned blue in the face, but I was trying to be civil. “I think somewhere neutral would be better.”

“And private.”

I hesitated. Private meant isolated, and isolated meant… well, isolated. Although I understood why he’d request that—we didn’t have to watch what we said if humans were not about—I didn’t know this Alpha. He was my mate and wasn’t supposed to be able to hurt me, but did I really want to put that to the test?

“I… fine. I will tell Dolf where I’m going to be, though.”

“You should. Temple and Shea will know where I am too.”

I’d forgotten all about his betas. “You’re coming alone, correct?”

“I… no. I can’t. You know that. Would you allow Dolf to go somewhere unescorted?”

Damn. He had a point. Alphas never went anywhere without at least one beta with them. Now what? “So you’re going to have one of them with you?”

“I’m afraid so. That’s nonnegotiable, and you know why.”

This was turning into a massive headache, and we hadn’t even laid eyes on each other yet. I growled softly. “I am not discussing anything of a personal nature with you as long as you have an extra set of ears listening in.”

“Which is why I suggested you come here. It’s easier.”

Of course it was—for them. I didn’t find anything about going there easy. The idea of being the lone cat surrounded by nothing but wolves was intimidating. In shifted form they were bigger and heavier than my cat, which was the size of a large Savannah.

While we could be arrogant, we had nothing on werewolves. Ha! Arrogant. The word described them perfectly, along with sarcastic, bossy, and vain. They acted as if the rest of us shifters should bow down to them.

If Carter came here, one of his betas would be with him. Plus they’d have to spend several nights, considering Carter’s pack land was several hours away. I was uncomfortable offering Carter my guest room, but I might’ve done it. But his beta too? Not happening. That was one werewolf too many.

Having two strange males—who were werewolves—under the same roof with me was more than I could handle. Not to mention I only had the one spare guest room, and I couldn’t see Temple and Carter sharing a bed.

My cat immediately growled his opinion on that. I’d probably fillet that sucker if he tried to get into bed with my mate… oh no. Banging my head against the nearest wall was looking better and better. I was getting possessive of Carter, which was a bad sign. A very, very bad sign.

“Aidric?”

“What?” I snapped.

“I’ve already given you my word nothing bad will happen to you here.”

“That’s supposed to reassure me?”

The growl that came across the phone line lifted the hair on the back of my neck.

“You question my word? My word? That’s an insult in so many ways I don’t know where to begin.”

By the goddess’s right paw, what was I thinking? “Okay. That was uncalled for, and I apologize, but you have to understand how uncomfortable this makes me.”

“Apology accepted. I do understand, and I promise you if any of my wolves lays a hand on you, they will regret it.”

Well, hell. He meant it. I heard the conviction in his voice and pinched the bridge of my nose. A voice in the back of my head whispered this was a disaster waiting to happen, but I couldn’t see a way around it.

It’d be easier for me to go there, even though the thought left me trembling. On the other hand, what better way to see if I could tolerate living among the wolves? Better to find out now before we mated, than later when there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

“Fine. I’ll come there.” I clutched the phone as my stomach dropped to somewhere around my knees. “But understand this—the moment I feel threatened, I’m out of there.”

“Understood. If that happens, I want to know about it immediately, because you won’t feel that way for long, I promise you. Would you consent to staying for a couple of nights?”

Yep, the aforementioned headache just sank its claws into the base of my neck. “Might as well.”

“Thank you. I know this is difficult, but all I ask is that we sit down and discuss this like two rational adults.”

Then we were already screwed, because I’d never known a werewolf to be rational, but why throw that into the conversation? “Agreed. Send me your address so I can program it into the GPS.”

“I will. Is the snow awful down there?”

Oh yay. Small talk and the ever-safe topic of the weather. “No. Not really. The temperature is supposed to rise tomorrow. That’ll get it melting quickly.” Which sucked, but it was better for driving. “I need to talk with Dolf and square this with him so I can have the time off. I’ll probably leave tomorrow after lunch. Since it’ll be Sunday, the traffic shouldn’t be too bad.”

“Excellent. Send me a text so I know when you leave.”

Already with the demands. “How about you ask me to send you a text? I’m not Temple or Shea, even though I hold the same rank. And you’re not my Alp… well. You know. You might want to remember that.”

“But I do hold the same rank as Dolf. You might want to remember that.”

I gritted my teeth. We were already off to a rip-roaring start. “While I am perfectly willing to give you the respect your rank deserves, I kiss nobody’s ass. If you want me to do something, ask instead of demand. I’m your mate, not your beta.” I cursed softly for my slip of the tongue.

“You’re right. I….” Carter sighed. “Will you send me a text before you leave?”

That was better. A firm believer in starting out how I meant to go on, I answered him in the perkiest voice I could muster. “Sure. I can do that.”

“I’ll see you when you get here. Have a good evening. Good night.”

“You too. Good night.” On that cheerful note, I ended the call and slipped my cell back into my jeans pocket.

If we didn’t kill each other within the first hour, it’d be a miracle.

About the Author

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full-time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or watching HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

She is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Contact M.A.: