Andrew Grey on His Wonderful Book Covers and new release Heart Unbroken (Hearts Entwined #4) ~ author guest blog and excerpt

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Dreamspinner Press
Published August 6th 2019
Cover Art: L.C.Chase
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Grey back again to talk about the next novel in his Hearts Entwined series, Heart Unbroken. Welcome, Andrew.
❤️
I get asked a lot of questions, but one of the most is about my covers.  Dreamspinner has an amazing Art Department and I work with the cover artists to develop a cover for each story.  Sometimes it takes some back and forth in order to come up with the cover for a story and other times it happens so very quickly.  The cover for Heart Unbroken came about relatively quickly.
Since it was the fourth in the series and because of the auto restoration in the story, the elements I wanted on the cover were pretty easy to figure.  However, it was the two guys that took a little doing.  I really wanted to men together because touch and closeness mean so much in this story with Lee’s blindness and L C Chase came though in a huge way.

Blurb/Synopsis:

Car restorer Dean Milford knows how to make damaged things beautiful again. Only, after a bad breakup, he loses sight of who he is, playing the field and distracting himself with any man he comes across. But now there’s only one guy who really matters to him. And maybe with his latest restoration job—a vintage Cobra—he’ll get the chance to let him know.

Losing his sight wasn’t the worst thing to happen to Lee Studer—losing his independence was. It’s taken a while, but he’s finally found his place in the world—in a garage. Funny enough, his acute hearing allows him to pinpoint engine problems just by listening. And even better, he’s going to have a chance to help his long-time crush, Dean, rebuild his fantasy car.

As the restoration comes together, so do Lee and Dean, building a friendship that quickly turns into so much more. But before they can think about a future together, they have to deal with the past. Only that turns out to be more dangerous than either one ever dreamed….

Excerpt 

“What the fuck?” Scott swore next to him. “Everything is messed up.” He pulled back his hand, and Lee listened as each drawer in the chest was opened and closed. “They all are. Shit, I’m going to kill whoever did this.” Scott turned and shouted for Brent to come over.

“What’s going on?’ Brent asked in his deep but kind of soothing voice. He must have been signing as he spoke, because Scott answered right away.

“Everything in Lee’s drawer is messed up. He needs his tools in the right place so he can find them easily.”

Lee stood to the side, his arms around his own chest. It seemed stupid, but the thought that someone had been in his things and messed everything up on purpose just about killed him. He’d probably have felt better if they’d just stolen them. That was impersonal. But messing everything up—that was close, intimate. They knew exactly what would upset him most.

Before losing his sight five years earlier, Lee had been a real slob. His mom had been forever asking him to clean his room. But once he couldn’t see, he’d learned from James that he needed to be organized and precise if he was going to be able to navigate his blindness in a sighted world.

Scott moved to stand right next to him, then hugged him tightly. “Scott, can you and Lee spend some time fixing his tools? I’m going to get the car for you and drive it into the bay. We’ll try to figure out who did this. Was the box locked?”

“Yes. I saw Lee unlock it. Someone just tipped the entire box on its side to mess it up.” He was angry and as pissed off as Lee was. “The bastards.”

“I’ll get to the bottom of it, but I don’t understand,” Brent said.

Lee didn’t either. As far as he knew, he was friends with everyone at work. All of the other guys had always been nice to him. They even helped him and offered to guide him if Scott wasn’t there. He trusted all of them. That’s what really hurt.

“Okay,” Scott said, then started opening the drawers. He set to work, the tools banging against the metal dividers as Scott set them back in place.

Lee stood out of the way and let Scott help him. He could identify his tools by their feel, but he needed them in their own places if he was going to find them easily.

.

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)

Michael Vance Gurley On Writing YA and his new Release Absolute Heart (Infernal Instruments of the Dragon #1) + Giveaway

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Absolute Heart (Infernal Instruments of the Dragon #1) by Michael Vance Gurley

Dreamspinner Press
Publication: July 23rd 2019
Steampunk / Teen Fiction

Buy link  at Dreamspinner Press  (paperback) Kindle link to come

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Michael Vance Gurley here today talking about the new YA Steampunk release Absolute Heart (Infernal Instruments of the Dragon #1). Welcome, Michael.

✒︎

 

 

I have a dark and dirty secret I am going to confess to your faithful readers: I love the young adult genre and I’m not afraid to admit it. I remember when we had to hide the YA books, and deny reading them. Now it is pretty widely accepted and they are being turned into movies. There’s an easy buy in to the struggles of young people and the instant underdog vibe of these stories. There are so many high risk situations explored in YA but the feel is fresher and less saturated with blood and murder overall compared to adult books. Although YA is changing, it is still so focused on relationships as much as the plot, and I find it refreshing. I am a devout reader. At any time I can be appropriately accused of reading a novel, listening to an audiobook, reading a graphic novel, and sitting next to a stack of comics I’m tearing through, like four seasons in one day. I get asked how I can do it without mixing them all up and then I remind folks of how many TV shows they are into weekly. Then they nod and seem to get it. I like opening people up to the idea you can read a bunch of stories at the same time. I’m not quite Elvis and his TV sets yet though.

I think my writing is influenced by what I read in some metaphysical way, as much as how the people I meet or the places I’ve been inform characters and the arenas I invent. I love Scott Westerfeld and Cassandra Clare’s Steampunk worlds, and the adventure style of a Holly Black faerie book. I think the challenge is in creating your own clockwork alternate history or your own faerie culture that is true to the genre but isn’t a clone of some great author. The creative process has no limits in YA unless we as authors, or as readers, start giving in to the idea that tropes have to be filled or our book won’t be accepted or we won’t enjoy the read.

A big roadblock to writing younger used to be having to end happily ever after. This is changing so much. Harry Potter had to win at the close of each book, but there was such a breakthrough there of a massive experience that spanned books. Ending on a high note where everyone but Chewbacca gets a medal isn’t totally necessary anymore. Hunger Games taught us this too. Now the human living in faerie doesn’t have to win in book one, and in fact can leave us worried for their sanity and safety. Steampunk is a growing sub genre and like fantasy, often lends itself to multi book epics. It is also growing more common in YA to dangle some threads at the end, mix it up, maybe not have the good guys win too fast. You don’t have to leave teens or the largely adult reader hanging, but I enjoy finding a way to mess up the status quo so even though we are almost happy for now, we might also hate that the book ended in that rough spot.

However, after my first  over, The Long Season, left the reader in charge of making some conclusions, I challenged myself to hand out a few figurative medals at the end of this one. I wanted people to be somewhat satisfied but also to say, “No way, that can’t be it.”

I hope people enjoy exploring the Steampunk world, the airships and warlocks, artificers and pilots of this late 1880’s England set adventure. Gavin is prepped, his goggles firmly on, gloves gripping the wheel to guide the reader into the high stakes of coming out and coming of age during war. He openly shares his best friend, the ever impressive tinkerer Landa, and the handsome Irishman who brings danger everywhere he goes. These friends have important things to do if they are going to give the reader a happily ever after, and it all starts here.

You can read the first chapter on the purchase link at the Dreamspinner and Harmony Ink sites, but here’s an excerpt which showcases the meet cute I hope brings a smile to your face amidst all the war and risk the boys are facing.

Excerpt.

Orion slipped away from the hut and headed around several tents and lean-tos until he found himself at the side of Victoria’s tent. A simple distraction spell caused the people who walked by to look away as he dashed through the flap and gently dropped it closed behind him.

Orion stopped and gaped at what he found inside. In front of a tub stood a slim boy about his own age. He was poised to lower himself into the steaming water. The lanterns in the room danced across his thick brown hair and illuminated the bruises on his thin sides and back. Something stirred deep inside as Orion glimpsed the muscles in the boy’s legs and backside contract and release as he lowered himself into the water, hiding what he thought to be an attractive arse.

“Ahhh.” The lad let out a long sigh of relief as his body melted into the hot bath water. He leaned his head against the wooden back, his eyes closed. He looked like someone trying to forget a hard day. He took another deep breath and let it out slowly. Another and his shoulders drooped farther into the tub.

Orion suddenly felt guilty, secretly standing in the room with this bather. The lad massaged his own neck with one hand. Orion had to adjust himself when he couldn’t control the excitement he felt. He knew he needed to discover a way to the Dragon Stone, which the handsome British lad could lead him to. Or at least he could, according to the visions.

“Hope I’m not interrupting,” Orion stated with more than a little humor in his voice.

The boy bolted upright to his feet and turned to defend himself, splashing water over the sides onto his clothes and everywhere. “What the hell?” he said. Before he could cover himself, Orion took him in.

“Well, at least I know the water isn’t cold,” Orion complimented, trying again to fake an English accent. After the incident with Victoria, he worried his British impression would not work but needed to try to blend in. He knew he shouldn’t but couldn’t help from looking as the water dripped down the small but muscled chest to his….

“Huh?” the lad answered, staring at Orion’s face, his mouth agape. Orion noticed how this young man’s lips curved in a Cupid’s bow. Orion was the one fully clothed but suddenly felt self-conscious and nervously tucked his hair back into his green hooded cloak. The other lad’s cheeks looked flushed but he felt hot.

“Uh-hmm, it’s rude to point,” Orion said, his gaze traveling the lad’s length until he glanced at the boy’s crotch. The young man peeked down quickly to notice his penis had indeed begun to betray him. He snatched a towel from the side table and haphazardly wrapped it around his dripping torso.

“Who… who are you?” he managed to eke out.

Orion stepped forward and thrust out his hand to shake, which resulted in awkward towel readjustment so the boy could return with a free hand.

“I am called… Zachariah,” Orion lied. He held the hand firmly but gently for a long time, studying his face. “Yours?”

“Gavin Ha—Gavin. Why are you in here?”

“I’m sorry, is this your tent?”

“Well, no, but I’m….”

“I am only joking. I heard there were other new people here and thought I’d get to know them. You.”

“Do you mind?” Gavin asked as he motioned to his clothing on the floor by Orion’s feet. Orion bent down and retrieved the pants and the undergarment still in place inside them and handed them to Gavin.

Gavin blushed.

“So you’re the one who arrived yesterday? How did they capture you?”

“I wasn’t captured,” Orion said, a little laugh escaping his lips. He batted his eyelashes at Gavin. “I came here of my own free will. And as far as I can tell, you could leave when you wish as well.”

“That’s what Victoria said,” Gavin replied. He moved behind a changing screen to put his pants back on. “Why did you come?”

Orion grinned, but it was wasted since Gavin hid behind a screen. “So you and your friends came in one of those infernal clanking machines?” Orion chided himself for the slip immediately because British people didn’t express hatred of machines.

“What’s that?”

“Did you come from London?” Orion quickly added to cover his slip up. His accent and native colloquialisms came out the faster he talked.

“Do you not know what’s been happening?”

“Tell me, please. Recently my head’s been way up in the clouds, it seems.” Orion couldn’t help himself. His wit had gotten him into trouble more times than he could recall, but it was also the only way he could expel the restless energy he had felt from the moment he stepped into the tent. When Gavin came out from behind the changing screen in a crisp shirt tucked neatly into tight pants and a sharp vest pulling it all together, Orion felt himself being drawn to him.

“Faeries attacked London, maybe beyond,” Gavin said. This shocked Orion out of the haze caused by infatuation.

“Faeries? It couldn’t be. There hasn’t been an attack in—”

“Well, there has been now,” Gavin finished. “We were barely able—”

“Oh Gavin—” a tall, lanky boy entered and startled them. The boy took one look at Gavin and his wet hair, then Orion, and stopped.

“Lucas, this is…,” Gavin began, before seeing how Lucas looked on Orion with anger. Lucas composed himself quickly and turned away from Orion.

“Miss Hanover has assigned us sleeping quarters for the day since we didn’t really get much rest.” He paused dramatically, then continued, “She put Landa in her own room, Wish in one with a family, and we are sharing a room in the pub.”

“There’s a pub?” Gavin asked.

“The others have already gone to bed. Let’s go. I’m zonked.” Lucas was acting possessive in front of Orion, and Gavin’s frown spoke volumes. They weren’t together. Not really. Orion could tell that much. Gavin breathed too fast, his body tense with growing anger until he closed his eyes to calm down.

“I will let you rest, then, but tonight over dinner, I want to hear all about your daring escape from London,” Orion prompted.

“That would be fine, Zachariah,” Gavin said.

“I’m Lucas, by the way. We will see you at dinner.” Gavin shot Lucas a frown, and Lucas returned the look.

They walked away, Gavin sneaking a peek over his shoulder on the way out.

 

Blurb

As clockwork-powered England and magic-driven Ireland war against each other, two boys will rise to their destinies.

The son of a powerful British councilman, Gavin Haveland is more interested in airships than politics. He’s also hiding not one, but two secrets—and either one could cost his life.

Orion of Oberon is the nephew of the Irish queen, tasked with crossing the sea and finding the Dragon Stones that will restore her flagging power. Along the way he hopes to defeat the unscrupulous Brotherhood of the Mage and regain his family’s honor.

Fate throws them together, but they’ll have to follow their hearts and trust each other to prevent war from breaking out on a global scale and evade the agents their governments send to sabotage them.

About the Author

Michael Vance Gurley writes fiction with unconventional settings. Whether he is writing about hockey players in the Roaring Twenties or magicians in Victorian England, he promises something different. His first novel, The Long Season, discovered the secret world of professional athletes from the Jazz Age who fall in love with one another. Traveling around the world with a passion for history brought about a kiss of the Blarney Stone, which sparked the steampunk/magic blended Absolute Heart.

Michael won a “Pitchapalooza” literary event and garnered high praise for his books from readers and authors such as Jeff Adams, Brent Hartinger, and Jay Bell. His work with children in schools and LGBT outreach allows him to tap into the YA genre with authenticity and the respect of others. Michael has written short stories, comic books, and poetry since he was a little kid, eventually owning his own comic book publishing company. Not so secretly, he wants to be Green Lantern.

When not writing or working, Michael wanders from Chicago and the best pizza in the world to see Broadway plays, Alaskan glaciers, penguins in Antarctica with his husband, and once sang in a band in Italy. He reads constantly, takes photos with stars, and plays with his dog, Finnegan.

Giveaway

The author has graciously brought an ebook copy of Absolute Heart to giveaway to one of our readers.  Just leave a comment here with your email address and one winner will be chosen and  notified.Must be 18 years of age or older.

Check Out the New Release Tour with Exclusive Excerpt for On Wings of Passion (On Wings Saga Book 0.5) by M.D. Grimm

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On Wings of Passion (On Wings Saga Book 0.5) by M.D. Grimm

Dreamspinner Press
Published July 12th 2019

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

BUY LINKS: Dreamspinner Press 

 

 

Good day! M.D. Grimm here with an exclusive excerpt for my newest release “On Wings of Passion.” I want to give a big thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today.

“On Wings of Passion” is the prequel to my surprisingly popular story “On Wings of Thunder.” The great dragon Asagoroth is different in this story then when we met him in “On Wings of Thunder.” He is young, ambitious, and without the wrath of imprisonment and the poison of grief to drive his goals.

There are other dragons alive in this period of time and they battle each other for dominance. While Asagoroth participates in the battles he has a bigger plan—to conquer all the realms. He doesn’t do so with malicious intent, it is simply how dragons function. They are born fighting and spend their entire life doing more of the same just to survive. However, his plans are shaken when he meets Roland, an angelic artist of some note.

Roland is thrown for a loop when he meets Asagoroth, and his fascination with the dragon continues to grow until he finds the courage to ask questions. To talk to him. Roland has no idea that he’s caught the dragon’s eye, and Asagoroth has no idea that he could be worthy of an angel’s attention.

Enjoy!

Exclusive Excerpt

**

Still moving carefully, Roland grabbed a blank piece of parchment and some charcoal, then began to sketch. The compulsion wasn’t something he could deny or ignore. Besides, what was the harm? Asagoroth’s calm breathing was almost hypnotic, and it lulled Roland into a steady rhythm, weirdly comforting. It wasn’t long before he realized his own breaths had changed to match. Smiling slightly, Roland did the best he could to draw an accurate representation of Asagoroth. Yet it just wasn’t enough. As he grew more frustrated, he realized he would never be able to do the majesty of the dragon justice. It was disappointing to acknowledge that.

“What do you draw?”

Roland jumped, and the charcoal fell from his stained fingers. His heart skipped a beat as he looked up to find Asagoroth focused on him with unnerving intensity.

“Um. I—nothing. Nothing. Just….”

Asagoroth watched him, waiting.

With a shaky sigh, Roland stood on unsteady legs and took hesitant steps forward. Holding his breath, he turned the parchment around and lifted it above his head. Asagoroth flickered his gaze over it.

“That is me.”

It wasn’t a question. He knew it was him. Well, thank the Light he didn’t sound offended, merely surprised.

“Yes. But I can’t capture you right. I don’t know why I even attempted it. You’re just too, well, massive for me to accurately represent you.”

Asagoroth grunted. “You are saying I am too fat to fit on your parchment?”

Roland’s eyes bugged out of his head as he lowered the sketch. “What? No! No, not at all. That’s not what I—”

A light rumble trembled out of Asagoroth’s chest, and Roland exhaled in relief.

Laughter. He was teasing again.

Roland smiled. “What I mean is your energy, your being, is just too massive to convey with any medium.” He felt himself blushing. “You’re majestic, and I can’t capture you with my meager talents.”

Asagoroth lowered his head until his eyes were level with Roland’s. Roland hoped his gulp wasn’t audible.

“Your talents are not meager. I like that you want to draw me. I enjoy you looking at me.”

Uh. What?

Roland blinked, speechless.

Asagoroth settled his body on the ground, resting his stomach against the stone. He set his chin on the tops of his forearms and sighed in apparent relief. He snaked his tail all the way around his body. Roland didn’t think it would be a horrible fate to gaze into those startling eyes forever.

The slit pupils dilated slightly, and he was reflected in the black. He looked rather haggard, and his hair was tangled and stringy. His robes were also clingy, and he doubted he smelled the best. He barely stopped himself from cringing. It was rather humiliating to be so dingy when compared to the being in front of him.

“You are an artist, then?”

Roland snapped his attention away from his vain thoughts. He nodded. “Yes, that is what the seer chose for me.”

“Your fates are chosen from birth.”

“Yes. The seer looks upon us and knows what we are destined to be.”

“Strange,” he said absently. Then, quietly, “Perhaps it is the seers I should have taken.”

Roland frowned. “Pardon?”

“Without your seers, the angels would not know what they are supposed to be or do. Better chaos. Faster capitulation.”

Roland clenched his fists, which had him crinkling the parchment in his hand. Asagoroth stared at him, head somewhat slanted, eyes gleaming with interest. Perhaps amusement. He was amused by Roland’s anger. Arrogant ass.

“Why are you doing this?” Roland asked, forcing himself to relax and keep his voice calm. “To rule all the realms? Then what? What will you do once you conquer everything?”

Asagoroth stared at him. Roland could read nothing in his gaze.

“Will owning everything make you happy?”

“Happy?” Asagoroth said, contemplating the word. “What is ‘happy’?”

Roland gaped. “You… you don’t know….” He took a deep breath. “It’s not easy to describe. Is this what you really want to do?”

“It is not about want,” he said softly.

Roland frowned and tilted his head, considering the great beast in front of him. For an intelligent being, he seemed confused by simple things. Or perhaps such concepts were more complex than Roland thought.

“Who are you?” Roland asked quietly.

Asagoroth focused on him again. “I am dragon.”

“That’s what you are. I asked who you are.”

He narrowed his eyes, but not in anger. “I don’t understand.”

Roland highly doubted he uttered such words regularly. “What you are is a dragon. What I am is an angel. But who is Asagoroth the dragon? I was born an artist, and that’s who I am to my people. Sometimes I wonder if I could be someone else, would I want to? Do you ever want to be someone or something else?”

Asagoroth huffed, and warm air fluttered over Roland. He staggered back a step at the force.

“I am dragon.”

“Humor me.”

Asagoroth stretched out his neck, and his snout almost touched Roland’s stomach. “Why are you asking these things?”

Roland swallowed hard. “I want to understand you. To be perfectly honest, I find you fascinating. And I have to wonder if there’s more to you than a conqueror, than a lord of demons.” Feeling abruptly vulnerable and unable to hold Asagoroth’s gaze any longer, he bowed his head. “I apologize if I have offended you.”

Asagoroth lifted his snout and, with astonishing gentleness, touched it to Roland’s chin, forcing him to raise his head. His eyes were burning with an even brighter light, which made Roland squint.

“I am not offended.” He stood, hunching to avoid the stalactites. “I enjoy your intelligence. And your voice.”

Realizing he was gaping again, Roland snapped his mouth shut, his blush heating his face. “I—thanks? I—I enjoy talking with you as well.”

Asagoroth bobbed his head before he tapped seven demons with the tip of his tail, waking them.

“Come.” Then he was gone, striding away, the demons close behind. Though, strangely, he didn’t head out of the cave but turned in the other direction, moving deeper underground.

**

I hope to eventually write two sequels after “On Wings of Thunder” to continue Asagoroth and Trystan’s story. Perhaps in a year or two.

Right now I am working on three series concurrently plus a fantasy trilogy I hope to submit next year. I have way too many stories buzzing around in my brain.

Thank you for joining me and I hope you’ll check out my story!

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

BLURB:

Every story has a beginning….

Dragons. Angels fear them and demons follow them. Formidable beasts of incredible power, they fight each other to the death for dominance. But dwindling dragon numbers cause alarm among the angelic ranks. Surely when the dragons have finished killing each other, the victors will search elsewhere for conquest… maybe even the Upper Realm.

Roland, an angelic artist of significant talent, doesn’t know what to believe. Part of him longs to see a dragon in person, and his peaceful life of contentment is wearing thin. He wants passion, desire, adventure, and love. He gets more than he bargained for when he and his sister are ambushed and captured by demons, and they bring him to a creature who surpasses Roland’s wildest imaginings.

But the mighty dragon Asagoroth is not all that he seems. Something sparks between him and Roland. Something neither anticipated. Something that will shake the cosmos to its core.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things, actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!). After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English (let’s be honest: useless degree what else was she going to do it with it?), she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier. Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain (or else what’s the point?), finding their soul mate in the process.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Andrew Grey on his First Gay Romances and his new release Survive and Conquer (guest blog)

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Survive and Conquer by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner Press
Publication: July 9th 2019

Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Sales Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey here today talking about his first gay romances and his new release Survive and Conquer.  Welcome back, Andrew.

✒︎✒︎

I didn’t discover the wonderfulness that is the romance until I was well into my forties. It was some of the early gay romances that inspired me to write and they helped give me the career that I love beyond measure and introduced me to all you amazing readers. I can’t imagine how my life would be without telling my stories or all of you to read them. Frankly you blow me away!!! For this post, I thought I would list a few of those early books which touched my heart well over a decade ago. Some of them are still around and have stood the test of time. If I don;t list the author its because I can;t remember the name, but I remember the story.
A Summer Place – Ariel Tachna
The Tin Star – J L Langley
Spare Parts – Scott and Scott
Adagio – Chris Owen
Caught Running – Urban and Roux
Hunk House
 
There were others, but these are the ones I could remember from the mists of time. I want to wish you a happy journey wherever your reading takes you.

Blurb/Synopsis:

Newton DeSantis was on the ground when the towers collapsed on 9/11. Though he still carries the scars on his body and his heart, he’s determined to ease some of the world’s suffering. Now a social worker and father to two children with special needs, he’s doing his best. But when his son’s health takes a drastic turn, Newton knows he can’t do it alone.

Family law attorney Chase Matthews is a rising star, and he’s in high demand. Still, Newton is very persuasive, and Chase takes his case pro bono. Everything about the other man appeals to Chase, but he’s determined to keep the relationship professional—even though, after meeting Newton’s kids, he wants to be a part of their lives.

Chase’s job doesn’t always allow him to pick his clients, though, and a case that could make him partner will put him on the opposite side of the courtroom from Newton—along with everything he believes in and the future they could build together.

Excerpt

The door to the courtroom opened, and Chase Matthews strode out, looking amazing in a suit that probably cost as much as Newton made in a month. The man had style and knew how to dress, which made him look damn fine, that was for sure.

Newton scrambled off the bench and hobble-ran up to him. “Mr. Matthews.”

Chase stopped, turning around, his electric gaze falling onto Newton, sending a thrill running up his spine. “Can I help you?” he asked in a voice that could melt butter.

“Not me, but one of my clients,” Newton said as he used the cane for balance. “She needs a lawyer, and….”

Chase shook his head. “Oh no. I’ve done my pro bono work for the year, and I have real clients that I need to get to work on.” The eyes that Newton had thought so intense and expressive grew cold, and he suppressed a shiver. “I only took this case because I was required to by Judge Harker.” He turned to walk away, but Newton was pissed off enough that he grabbed his arm. “Now see here—”

“Look. I have a mother with two kids who need help, desperately. She’s trying to keep her children. Her husband, soon to be ex, is in prison for abusing those adorable girls, and now she’s got to fight his parents because they feel their son’s rights aren’t being represented.” Newton didn’t let go, and he did his best to ignore the woodsy cologne that wafted around him.

“I’ve done my part. I have a practice that I need to return to and clients who are paying me to represent them. I can’t just take on another case like that right now. I’m sorry, but I’ve done what I can.” Chase shrugged off Newton’s hand, strode toward the elevator, and pressed the call button. Newton got his bag and made his way over to join Chase as he waited. “God, this is slow.”

“Yes, I know. That gives me plenty of time to try to convince you to change your mind.” Newton flashed a little smile.

“You don’t take no for an answer, do you?” Chase asked, turning back to watch the doors, probably willing them to slide open so he could get away.

“If I did, I wouldn’t be able to help my clients. And these people need help. Angela’s in-laws have money, and they are willing to use it to get their way and do what isn’t in the interest of these girls. They were five and seven when their father abused them.” Newton was laying it on thick, but in his job, often all he had was the human angle, and he was very good at tugging at people’s heartstrings.

The elevator doors slid open, and they stepped inside. Chase pushed the button to go down, and the doors slid closed. Newton knew he had just a few seconds to make his case before Chase made his escape. “You know justice isn’t fair, as much as we hope it can be….”

“Life isn’t fair,” Chase said, then sighed. “I can’t take on any more work right now. My caseload is full and I’m working twelve-hour days as it is.” He shifted his weight.

“And you’re not the only one.” Newton looked down at his old suit and partially rumpled shirt because he hadn’t had enough time to iron it that morning, with breakfast to make, getting the kids off to school… everything.

“I’m sorry.” Chase stepped off the elevator and was about to walk away.

Newton was desperate. “When was the last time you had a home-cooked meal?” It was a Hail Mary shot, but he had to go for it. Guys like Chase ate out or at their desk, and the food they consumed could be pretty crappy. Newton would know, because he did the same thing when he was at work.

Chase stopped and turned around.

“Come over to the house, meet Angela, and then you can decide. I’ll even cook.”

Chase rubbed his temple, and Newton could tell he was trying to make a choice. “I….”

“What have you got to lose, except your taste buds?”

Chase smiled, and Newton knew he had him. He reached into his bag, got a card, and handed it to Chase, who got a card from his pocket and handed it over after writing a number on the back as well.

“I know I’m probably going to regret this,” he said with a half smile.

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)

Ashlyn Kane on the soundtrack for her new release Fake Dating the Prince (author guest blog)

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Fake Dating the Prince by Ashlyn Kane

Dreamspinner Press
Publication: June 18th 2019
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Sales Links: Amazon, Dreamspinner, Barnes & Noble, Indigo Books, Target

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ashlyn Kane here today on tour for her new novel, Fake Dating the Prince. Welcome, Ashlyn!

 

Hi! I’m Ashlyn Kane and you’re here with me on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts, Stella and Melanie!

Considering that I’m a romance writer, I sort of couldn’t believe I’d never really written something where someone really got swept off their feet—you know, in the silver screen way (apologies to Drew from His Leading Man). Mutual adoration and pining, sure. But the kind of contemporary story where an everyday character is introduced to a whole new world by a billionaire or a rock star or, oh, a prince—I hadn’t done that before.

Why haven’t I done that before?

Anyway, never mind, I’ve done it now. I present Fake Dating the Prince:

When fast-living flight attendant Brayden Wood agrees to accompany a first-class passenger to a swanky charity ball, he discovers his date—“Call me Flip”—is actually His Royal Highness Prince Antoine-Philipe. And he wants Brayden to pretend to be his boyfriend.

Being Europe’s only prince of Indian descent—and its only openly gay one—has led Flip to select “appropriate” men first and worry about attraction later. Still, flirty, irreverent Brayden captivates him right away, and Flip needs a date to survive the ball without being match-made.

Before Flip can pursue Brayden in earnest, the paparazzi forces his hand, and the charade is extended for the remainder of Brayden’s vacation.

Posh, gorgeous, thoughtful Prince Flip is way out of Brayden’s league. If Brayden survives three weeks of platonically sharing a bed with him during the romantic holiday season, going home afterward might break his heart….

If you like tropes like fake dating, “platonic” bed sharing, and royal scandals, this is the book for you.

And a grand, dare I say cinematic romance like this deserves to be scored like one, but unfortunately my composing abilities extend about as far as cheesy country songs. So without further ado, I present the unofficial Fake Dating the Prince soundtrack, with annotations.

  1. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe.”
    Because “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but do you want to go to an extremely posh event hosted by the crown prince, who is me” is absolutely the vibe of this story. Even if it doesn’t quite scan.
  2. From Disney’s Snow White – “Someday My Prince Will Come.”
    When Brayden’s sister finds out he’s dating Flip—she doesn’t know that it’s all a ruse that got out of hand—she 100 percent rickrolls him, except the link is to this video on YouTube.
  3. Sunidhi Chauhan – “Aaja Nachle”
    I watched a lot of bhangra dance competitions on YouTube while I was writing. There’s only one actual scene where they dance it, but it’s so fun to watch that I ended up going down the YouTube rabbit hole a bunch of times. I’m a lousy dancer even by basic white girl standards—it runs in the family—which is maybe why, to me, dancing can be such an impossibly romantic activity. “Aaja Nachle” isn’t necessarily a romantic song to dance to—as I understand it, it’s a call to start dancing. In the story, dancing is the turning point where things are no longer black and white. Is this relationship still fake? Does either of them want it to be?
  4. Whitney Houston – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
    Flip has his work cut out for him softening Brayden up enough to fall in love. Brayden’s been single by choice since he was sixteen—he’s punishing himself for something and never lets himself get close to anyone for longer than a one-night stand. But does he want to dance with somebody who loves him? Of course. And Flip is just the prince charming for the job.
  5. Billy Joel – “The Longest Time.”
    I know, I know. I wasn’t actually even born yet when this song came out. But a) it’s catchy and b) it’s thematically appropriate—a song about a man who’s decided to take that chance and damn the consequences, it’s already worth it. That’s a romantic sentiment I (and Brayden) can get behind.
  6. Queen – “A Winter’s Tale.”
    It may be June now, but in the book it’s the dead of winter, and this song is perfectly atmospheric for a romantic surprise winter getaway—the sort you’d get taken on if a handsome prince wanted to sweep you off your feet, for example. (Hint: he does.)
  7. From Frozen: The Musical – “Hygge.”
    When I set out to write a book set in northern Europe in early winter, I knew that coziness was the name of the game. I have some experience with this firsthand—I lived in Dresden, Germany, for three years—so I had that to draw on for ways to make a dark, chilly place come across as warm and inviting. There are markets and festivals pretty frequently throughout the winter months, and mulled wine out with friends and slippers at home are key to feeling warm when it’s gray out. “Hygge” is sort of a silly song about things that do (and don’t) help a person stay cheerful in the winter months. (The song is itself quite hygge, IMO, but it can be an earworm. Probably not as bad as “Let it Go,” though.)
  8. Golden Earring – “Radar Love.”
    Because why shouldn’t Brayden’s love for his prince be the equivalent of the Bat Signal? And… well, spoilers.
  9. Bonus track: Bruno Mars – “Marry You.”
    Look, the classics are classic for a reason. And this one includes references to dancing and tequila, both of which are present in the book. Besides, every romance novel needs a happy ending!

Fake Dating the Prince releases June 18. It is available at Amazon, Dreamspinner, Barnes & Noble, Indigo Books, Target, and (this just tickles me, so I have to mention it) at the Dayton Public Library—so you’ll want to check your local library too!

ASHLYN KANE is a Canadian former expat and current hockey fan. She is a writer, editor, handyperson, dog mom, and friend—sometimes all at once.

On any given day she can usually be found walking her ninety-pound baby chocolate lapdog, Indy, or holed up in her office avoiding housework. She has a deep and abiding love of romance novel tropes, a habit of dropping too many f-bombs, and—fortunately—a very forgiving family.

Twitter: @ashlynkane

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ashlyn.kane.94

Website: www.ashlynkane.ca

Z.A. Maxfield on Writing, Childhood Dreams and the new release Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) by Z.A. Maxfield

Dreamspinner Press
Published June 4th 2019
Cover Art; L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Z.A. Maxfield here today to talk about the new novel Three Vlog Night! Welcome, ZAM!

✒︎

Hello, and thanks so much for allowing me to be here with you at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. It’s a privilege to share my new book, Three Vlog Night with your readers. I’m really proud of this one.  I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So… Here we are again. I think this is something like the thirty-seventh novel I’ve written! I can’t believe it! When I was a kid, if you’d told me I’d get to do this, I think I would have been even more impatient to grow up than I was. I’ve got my dream job, an awesome family, and a truly blessed life… I feel like I should pinch myself!

Since you were kind enough to provide me with some interview questions, I thought I’d pick the ones I don’t remember answering before. I love the chance to talk about the work, my past, and my process!

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

Oh, absolutely. I was in about the seventh grade when I discovered a little thing called “Romance.” My mother was a mystery reader, and my older sister was into Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And there I was, looking longingly at all the books which, in those days, often featured a half-naked woman running away from the ruins of a castle. The first two books I remember checking out over and over, were The Pink Dress, by Anne Alexander, and The Innocent Wayfaring, by Marchette Chute. The Pink Dress was a contemporary, and The Innocent Wayfaring was a medieval historical, I think. I read the covers off those books! They really set me on a course as far as my reading preferences, forever.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Of course! Without an HFN or HEA, no book can be called a “romance”. Every writer in romance has made an unconscious pact with the reader: I’ll take you on an awful journey where you’ll, and cry, and kiss your hard-earned bucks goodbye, but don’t despair! Everything will come out right in the end. Romance writers who think they can let the reader down at the end of a book, beware the coming apocalypse. Or just label it literature, because the romance genre reader believes in you, and once you betray their trust, you will never earn it back. 

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

Oddly enough, I think my major influences were not genre fiction writers, but playwrights and screen writers. It was the poignant moments in plays like Harvey and The Children’s Hour, and films like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally that generated those highly charged emotional moments which made me want to write. Script writers taught me how to leverage conflict, create strong internal and external character arcs, and use the “less is more” concept that makes tight writing work. 

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

I love ebooks. The fact that I can carry a couple hundred of my favorite novels in one slim tablet to read on a plane is amazing to me. Also, as I get older, that being able to change the size of the type has value. My arms are definitely not long enough for me to read trade paperbacks without reading glasses, which I always seem to misplace or forget! Ebooks, for all their flaws, like piracy, easily plagiarizable formats, and sheer ease of dreck production, are spilled wine–no one can put them back into the bottle.

What’s next for you as an author?

After a couple of tough years, I now have the opportunity to set a brand new course for myself. I’ll be finishing up The Brothers Grime Series, and starting a series of cozy mystery novellas. I see myself straddling the line between mystery and romance, and writing more of the quirky characters, highly emotional, and sweet stories I’m known for. I see myself slowing down, and finding my stride, without outside influences. Stay tuned! You have no idea what I’ve got in store for you!

 

As for Three Vlog Night, here’s a blurb:

Ajax Fairchild’s online alter ego has caused him trouble before, but never like this. After multiple death threats, his loaded parents decide he needs an enforced digital vacation and the best bodyguard money can buy.

That would be Dmytro Kolisnychenko, former soldier, former hired muscle for the Ukrainian mob—until he lost his happy home life to an enemy with a homemade bomb. Now he wants only two things: to spend every precious second he can with his daughters, and to provide for them by protecting people who can’t protect themselves—even entitled little asshats like Ajax Fairchild.

But Ajax doesn’t fit into the spoiled little rich kid box as neatly as Dmytro would like. Dmytro doesn’t have time for a romantic dalliance, and Ajax is a client, albeit one with unexpected depths. With one coincidence after another driving them to the sleepy seaside town of St. Nacho’s and away from their planned safe house, they grow to trust each other and find that love follows trust. Now they must learn where the threat to Ajax is coming from and neutralize it… before it’s too late for their happily ever after.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Ajax Freedom. Your time on this earth is at an end. Prepare to meet the God you denigrate. Prepare to pay for your sins. Prepare for the coming bloodbath.

Death threats came hourly to Ajax Freedom via his website, but you wouldn’t know it from the slow, deliberate way he dressed. Like a stripper in reverse, he smirked at Dmytro, daring him to react to the bulge in the boxer briefs he wore beneath loose, soft jeans that hung open while he pulled a Henley on over his pale, well-muscled body. While he donned and zipped up a hooded sweatshirt.

Dmytro frowned into his phone. This was 2018. Did Ajax expect him to blush with maidenly modesty? Or offer some threat because despite the Ajax Freedom persona, the man behind the cavalierly bourgeois playboy was gay? The client was apparently dim.

That didn’t stop the shockwave of intense physical attraction Dmytro experienced when he first saw him. Dmytro hid his grimace and said, “It’s 7:57 p.m. Be ready to leave in three minutes.”

“All right.”

“All right,” Dmytro echoed uselessly. If Ajax was waiting for a single sign of disapproval or homophobia or whatever—nope. Ajax had been walking around in a state of undress since they’d finally lured him out of his room, and if Dmytro were going to react, he’d have done it by now. He had years of practice hiding his emotions from the most dangerous men in the world. This pampered boy-man should be no problem. Probably.

The two people Dmytro cared about most texted him bright messages of love and wonder and wished him safe travels, and if he messed up on the job, those two people didn’t eat.

Dmytro had to keep Ajax Freedom alive, so that made Ajax number three on his list of people to care about, if only until the job ended. Freedom could stay naked and swing from the chandeliers, flaunt himself in front of the men who protected him, or make crank calls to the White House for all Dmytro cared, so long as Dmytro got back to his girls intact.

He hid his smirk behind an impassive face to show that the display of pale, freckled skin wasn’t getting Ajax anywhere, even though it was extremely creamy and looked velvety soft. Plus… freckles. A particular kink, but nothing he couldn’t handle.

Ajax fussed noisily in the closet for a few seconds before turning to say, “Well? Are we going?”

Dmytro briefly lifted his gaze. “Has three minutes passed?”

With a huff, Ajax fussed in the closet some more. He muttered, “Suitcase, suitcase, sports bag, garment bag, messenger bag, backpack, laptop bag.”

“Nuh-uh,” Dmytro reminded him. “Laptop stays here.”

Ajax appeared aghast. “I thought you were just saying that to jerk me around.”

“When I jerk you around, it will be unmistakable. Leave the laptop.” Dmytro had cloned Ajax’s phone and pulled the batteries from it, disabled his desktop, and confiscated batteries for his laptop, his fitness tracker—anything that could be traced. They allowed the boy to keep his fancy dive watch but disabled its GPS. The rest of his many devices had been secured or would be stored. They’d checked his bags. “You’re on an enforced digital time-out. Think of it as chance to go old-school and read a physical book.”

Ajax frowned. “When was the last time you read a physical book?”

“None of your beeswax.”

“Fine.” Ajax handed over the bag.

“Please double-check you have everything.” Dmytro scrolled through the drawing his daughter Sasha sent of Mrs. Whatsit. It was wonderful, although he could hardly stand to look at it. She’d made Whatsit’s eyes glisten, and they seemed to follow him, no matter how he held his phone. He didn’t know about art. Something about shading and negative space? She was going to be a real artist someday, sophisticated and subtle.

With a sigh, Dmytro texted that yes, he’d watch A Wrinkle in Time with Sasha and Pen again when he returned, although children’s movies were going to destroy humanity. So much music and magic and mystery. You are more than you believe. Everyone hoped that was true, but no one actually was.

He eyed his client.

There was something intrinsically wrong with a job that took him away from his children to protect someone else’s. He was good at what he did, but his method never deviated. Get in, protect the client long enough to keep him alive while Iphicles neutralized any threats, and get home.

Pen’s drawing showed her love of geometric shapes and primary colors. There was nothing nuanced about Pen. He liked her drawings as much as her sister’s. They both showed promise, to him. With that his after supper three-minute check-in came to a close.

He immersed himself fully in the job when he put his phone away and checked the peephole. Peter stood by the elevators, keeping watch on the hall.

“Time to go.” When Dmytro moved, he moved quickly. He could spring from a twenty-minute power nap into a melee with no ramp-up time at all.

But now Ajax hesitated.

How Dmytro wished people wouldn’t dither. He picked up Ajax’s duffel and looped the shoulder straps over his neck. Next came the messenger bag, and finally the backpack and one of the suitcases. There was no point in arguing about the amount of luggage a client had. One simply found a way to carry it. Sometimes, if one had to, one carried the client as well.

“You take the wheeled Pullman. I’ve got the rest.”

Ajax dropped a hand on the handle as if he didn’t know how to work it. This man—this rather young man—seemed to be incapable of following basic commands.

He’d texted with his sister-in-law earlier. It’s a shame for his parents. There is nothing to do here but squat in the safe house and keep him from doing something stupid until Peter tracks down each of the threats. He has a bag of toys, I think.

Peter? she’d asked, but he was sure she meant it as a joke.

The boy.

Mitya. She could lecture him about anything. You must treat even a stupid client with respect and kindness.

Of course, he’d replied with some asperity. When have you known me to be unkind?

“I’ll take the Pullman too.” Dmytro took its handle. “When we leave the room, stay behind me.”

“Won’t it be easier if they just kill me now so you won’t bore me to death?”

“Don’t say that.” Dmytro concealed his irritation. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Freedom didn’t look reassured. “Who’ll keep you safe?”

“I keep myself safe.” He pocketed his phone and glanced both ways before turning to Ajax. “We’re going to pretend we’re mice. Be quiet as you can.”

“Okay.” Ajax held up a “wait” finger. “Just a sec.”

With a deep sigh, Dmytro closed and locked the door again. “This might be what I meant by do you have everything?”

“I have everything. I just need these too.” At the coat closet, Ajax wrapped a soft-looking scarf around his neck, tugged a slouchy beanie over his hair, and slid on a pair of sunglasses. With his trademark dark curly hair hidden and his face obscured, he didn’t look like the internet It Kid anymore. In spite of himself, Dmytro nodded his satisfaction.

“Better.” He checked his weapon, returned it to his holster, and gripped the door handle. Once he wrenched it open, he checked the hallway again. All clear. He moved with Ajax toward the elevators and Peter. The three got in together.

When the doors closed, he and Peter stepped in front of Ajax, keeping their bodies between him and the lobby. When they opened again, a reassuring nothing happened. Dmytro and Peter swept their client out the revolving door and to the curb, where Bartlomiej waited with the town car.

After suffering a head injury and seizure a few months before, Dmytro bitterly resented being unable to drive. He left the luggage for Peter and settled Ajax into the back seat. Then he got into the front on the passenger side with a huff.

“All right?” Dmytro greeted his colleague.

“All set.” Bartlomiej, whom everyone called Bartosz, sat behind the wheel with the engine running. “Don’t pout. You’ll be driving soon enough. In the meantime, you’ve got me. Enjoy.”

A few more months without a seizure and he could regain privileges. Until then, he did what he was told.

He rolled the window down and called to Peter. “Be well, brother.”

Peter waved before melting into the night.

“He left?” Ajax asked. “Why’d he leave? Where’d he go?”

Dmytro closed his window. “We’re a team. We split up when we need to. Peter’s going to neutralize your admirers, and I will go to the safe house with you.”

“Lucky me.” He didn’t sound like he felt lucky.

“Drive, Bartosz.”

“Bartosz,” Ajax addressed him. “Any chance we could hit a drive-through? I need something to drink. Which, I’ve gotta warn you now, will probably come right back up, because I get really carsick.”

“Perfect.” Could their day get worse? “Do you need to sit up front?”

“It won’t matter, unfortunately.”

“All right.” Bartosz nodded and said in Ukrainian, “He’s like you, my very special snowflake. Did you bring a patch?”

“Not this time.” When Bartosz started to snicker, Dmytro gave him a warning grunt. To Ajax he said, “Your lucky day. I have Meclizine. One tablet and you should be fine.” He handed a blister pack over the console, along with a bottled water. “Make sure to drink all of it. The medication will give you dry mouth.”

Dmytro popped a pill and cracked open a second water. Bartosz’s voice took on a teasing quality. “You’ll both be sound asleep before we get on the highway.”

“You have the directions?”

Bartosz gave him an eye roll. “Don’t worry.”

Dmytro glanced around at Ajax. Bundled up like that, he looked barely older than six-year-old Sasha. About as defenseless too. In his own language, he asked Bartosz, “What do you suppose makes someone want attention so badly they’ll do any repulsive thing to get it?”

Bartholomew shrugged. “He’s a good-looking boy. I could find a use for him.”

Dmytro tensed. “Don’t be that guy.”

“I’m teasing.”

Dmytro hoped so. Bartosz was a professional, after all.

Ajax hissed, “Speak English. You’re being so rude.”

“I told him I’d like a corn dog.” Bartosz glanced in the rearview. “Do you still want a drink?”

Ajax’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll get you a corn dog.” Dmytro cuffed Bartosz for that. “For myself too. Jalapeño cheese peppers and a strawberry lemonade slush. And you’ll pay for all of us, Bartosz.”

“That’s ‘poppers,’” Ajax corrected.

“What is?”

“Jalapeño poppers,” he continued in his didactic tone, “are jalapeños stuffed with either cream cheese or cheddar, dipped in batter, and fried. They’re called ‘poppers.’”

“Thank you for educating me.” Dmytro had never been that certain about anything in his life. At twenty-two, he’d been a homeless thug with two lucky gifts: a mild form of genius with foreign languages and the ability to read very fast. He’d found himself a crime boss with a need for a translator with muscle and a passion for classic literature. The rest was history.

What did Ajax Freedom know about anything? He met Bartosz’s pleased glance before retrieving his phone from his pocket.

Good news, the client is probably not stupid, he texted Liv. He’s just a mudak. An asshole. Liv would understand.

Z.A. Maxfield is getting her kicks writing on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga these days. She lives with her husband, three of her grown children, and dog of indeterminable variety named Dr. Watson. Despite the world we live in, she still believes in first love, second chances, and kissing in the rain.

Join ZAM’s group, ZAM-Nation HERE, or visit her website, like her page on Facebook, or contact her through Twitter.

Giveaway.

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B.A. Tortuga on Her Playlist for ner new release Ammo and Enchiladas (Border Crossing #2)

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Ammo and Enchiladas (Border Crossing #2) by B.A. Tortuga

Dreamspinner Press
Publication: June 11th 2019

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

 

Ammo and Enchiladas Playlist

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and playlist junkie.

My boys do love a good playlist.

Writing Lex and Brant was fabulous – Lex loves everything from old school rock to Tejano while Brant loves him some old school country. Together they made a lot of music. 😉

Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old by Garth Brooks

Low by Flo Rida

Find Out Who Your Friends Are by Tracy Lawrence

Hotel California by The Eagles

The Truth by Trent Willmon

Si Te Vas by Marc Anthony

La Tortura by Shakira and Alejandro Sanz

Dame Lo Que Quiero by RKM & Ken-Y

La Pistola y el Corzon by Los Lobos

Modern Love by David Bowie

Faith by George Michael

Life in the Fast Lane by The Eagles

Amarillo by Morning by George Strait

The Sad Café by The Eagles

Lord, I Hope This Day is Good by Don Williams

Monday Morning Church by Alan Jackson

The Good Die Young by Tracy Lawrence

Much love, y’all.

BA

Ammo and Enchiladas  blurb:

After a night at the movies in Albuquerque, NM, Brantley’s best friend, Matt, is shot right in front him during a robbery. Stunned and devastated, Brant tries to help Matt’s husband, Travis, deal with the funeral details even as he struggles with his own grief and Travis’s blame. When Travis’s best friend arrives, Brant is both annoyed and grateful, because he is so darn tired and can use the help.

Lex Espana is ashamed to admit he hasn’t seen his childhood best friend since Travis’s wedding. He’s even more amazed that he barely remembers Brant from that wedding, because he’s sure interested now. While it’s weird to fall for someone at a funeral, his feelings for Brant are real and make him long for a life he didn’t realize he was missing.

Neither Lex nor Brant knows how to be part of an us, though, and they both have a lot to work through before they can settle in. To become a real couple, Brant and Lex will have to dig deep to get past the roadblocks in their relationship.

Available June 11: 

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, knitting, 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 friends, 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

 

 

Border Crossing Series

Bombs and Guacamole

Ammo and Enchiladas

Z.A. Maxfield on Writing, Childhood Dreams and the new release Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) by Z.A. Maxfield

Dreamspinner Press
Published June 4th 2019
Cover Art; L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Z.A. Maxfield here today to talk about the new novel Three Vlog Night! Welcome, ZAM!

✒︎

Hello, and thanks so much for allowing me to be here with you at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. It’s a privilege to share my new book, Three Vlog Night with your readers. I’m really proud of this one.  I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So… Here we are again. I think this is something like the thirty-seventh novel I’ve written! I can’t believe it! When I was a kid, if you’d told me I’d get to do this, I think I would have been even more impatient to grow up than I was. I’ve got my dream job, an awesome family, and a truly blessed life… I feel like I should pinch myself!

Since you were kind enough to provide me with some interview questions, I thought I’d pick the ones I don’t remember answering before. I love the chance to talk about the work, my past, and my process!

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

Oh, absolutely. I was in about the seventh grade when I discovered a little thing called “Romance.” My mother was a mystery reader, and my older sister was into Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And there I was, looking longingly at all the books which, in those days, often featured a half-naked woman running away from the ruins of a castle. The first two books I remember checking out over and over, were The Pink Dress, by Anne Alexander, and The Innocent Wayfaring, by Marchette Chute. The Pink Dress was a contemporary, and The Innocent Wayfaring was a medieval historical, I think. I read the covers off those books! They really set me on a course as far as my reading preferences, forever.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Of course! Without an HFN or HEA, no book can be called a “romance”. Every writer in romance has made an unconscious pact with the reader: I’ll take you on an awful journey where you’ll, and cry, and kiss your hard-earned bucks goodbye, but don’t despair! Everything will come out right in the end. Romance writers who think they can let the reader down at the end of a book, beware the coming apocalypse. Or just label it literature, because the romance genre reader believes in you, and once you betray their trust, you will never earn it back. 

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

Oddly enough, I think my major influences were not genre fiction writers, but playwrights and screen writers. It was the poignant moments in plays like Harvey and The Children’s Hour, and films like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally that generated those highly charged emotional moments which made me want to write. Script writers taught me how to leverage conflict, create strong internal and external character arcs, and use the “less is more” concept that makes tight writing work. 

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

I love ebooks. The fact that I can carry a couple hundred of my favorite novels in one slim tablet to read on a plane is amazing to me. Also, as I get older, that being able to change the size of the type has value. My arms are definitely not long enough for me to read trade paperbacks without reading glasses, which I always seem to misplace or forget! Ebooks, for all their flaws, like piracy, easily plagiarizable formats, and sheer ease of dreck production, are spilled wine–no one can put them back into the bottle.

What’s next for you as an author?

After a couple of tough years, I now have the opportunity to set a brand new course for myself. I’ll be finishing up The Brothers Grime Series, and starting a series of cozy mystery novellas. I see myself straddling the line between mystery and romance, and writing more of the quirky characters, highly emotional, and sweet stories I’m known for. I see myself slowing down, and finding my stride, without outside influences. Stay tuned! You have no idea what I’ve got in store for you!

 

As for Three Vlog Night, here’s a blurb:

Ajax Fairchild’s online alter ego has caused him trouble before, but never like this. After multiple death threats, his loaded parents decide he needs an enforced digital vacation and the best bodyguard money can buy.

That would be Dmytro Kolisnychenko, former soldier, former hired muscle for the Ukrainian mob—until he lost his happy home life to an enemy with a homemade bomb. Now he wants only two things: to spend every precious second he can with his daughters, and to provide for them by protecting people who can’t protect themselves—even entitled little asshats like Ajax Fairchild.

But Ajax doesn’t fit into the spoiled little rich kid box as neatly as Dmytro would like. Dmytro doesn’t have time for a romantic dalliance, and Ajax is a client, albeit one with unexpected depths. With one coincidence after another driving them to the sleepy seaside town of St. Nacho’s and away from their planned safe house, they grow to trust each other and find that love follows trust. Now they must learn where the threat to Ajax is coming from and neutralize it… before it’s too late for their happily ever after.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Ajax Freedom. Your time on this earth is at an end. Prepare to meet the God you denigrate. Prepare to pay for your sins. Prepare for the coming bloodbath.

Death threats came hourly to Ajax Freedom via his website, but you wouldn’t know it from the slow, deliberate way he dressed. Like a stripper in reverse, he smirked at Dmytro, daring him to react to the bulge in the boxer briefs he wore beneath loose, soft jeans that hung open while he pulled a Henley on over his pale, well-muscled body. While he donned and zipped up a hooded sweatshirt.

Dmytro frowned into his phone. This was 2018. Did Ajax expect him to blush with maidenly modesty? Or offer some threat because despite the Ajax Freedom persona, the man behind the cavalierly bourgeois playboy was gay? The client was apparently dim.

That didn’t stop the shockwave of intense physical attraction Dmytro experienced when he first saw him. Dmytro hid his grimace and said, “It’s 7:57 p.m. Be ready to leave in three minutes.”

“All right.”

“All right,” Dmytro echoed uselessly. If Ajax was waiting for a single sign of disapproval or homophobia or whatever—nope. Ajax had been walking around in a state of undress since they’d finally lured him out of his room, and if Dmytro were going to react, he’d have done it by now. He had years of practice hiding his emotions from the most dangerous men in the world. This pampered boy-man should be no problem. Probably.

The two people Dmytro cared about most texted him bright messages of love and wonder and wished him safe travels, and if he messed up on the job, those two people didn’t eat.

Dmytro had to keep Ajax Freedom alive, so that made Ajax number three on his list of people to care about, if only until the job ended. Freedom could stay naked and swing from the chandeliers, flaunt himself in front of the men who protected him, or make crank calls to the White House for all Dmytro cared, so long as Dmytro got back to his girls intact.

He hid his smirk behind an impassive face to show that the display of pale, freckled skin wasn’t getting Ajax anywhere, even though it was extremely creamy and looked velvety soft. Plus… freckles. A particular kink, but nothing he couldn’t handle.

Ajax fussed noisily in the closet for a few seconds before turning to say, “Well? Are we going?”

Dmytro briefly lifted his gaze. “Has three minutes passed?”

With a huff, Ajax fussed in the closet some more. He muttered, “Suitcase, suitcase, sports bag, garment bag, messenger bag, backpack, laptop bag.”

“Nuh-uh,” Dmytro reminded him. “Laptop stays here.”

Ajax appeared aghast. “I thought you were just saying that to jerk me around.”

“When I jerk you around, it will be unmistakable. Leave the laptop.” Dmytro had cloned Ajax’s phone and pulled the batteries from it, disabled his desktop, and confiscated batteries for his laptop, his fitness tracker—anything that could be traced. They allowed the boy to keep his fancy dive watch but disabled its GPS. The rest of his many devices had been secured or would be stored. They’d checked his bags. “You’re on an enforced digital time-out. Think of it as chance to go old-school and read a physical book.”

Ajax frowned. “When was the last time you read a physical book?”

“None of your beeswax.”

“Fine.” Ajax handed over the bag.

“Please double-check you have everything.” Dmytro scrolled through the drawing his daughter Sasha sent of Mrs. Whatsit. It was wonderful, although he could hardly stand to look at it. She’d made Whatsit’s eyes glisten, and they seemed to follow him, no matter how he held his phone. He didn’t know about art. Something about shading and negative space? She was going to be a real artist someday, sophisticated and subtle.

With a sigh, Dmytro texted that yes, he’d watch A Wrinkle in Time with Sasha and Pen again when he returned, although children’s movies were going to destroy humanity. So much music and magic and mystery. You are more than you believe. Everyone hoped that was true, but no one actually was.

He eyed his client.

There was something intrinsically wrong with a job that took him away from his children to protect someone else’s. He was good at what he did, but his method never deviated. Get in, protect the client long enough to keep him alive while Iphicles neutralized any threats, and get home.

Pen’s drawing showed her love of geometric shapes and primary colors. There was nothing nuanced about Pen. He liked her drawings as much as her sister’s. They both showed promise, to him. With that his after supper three-minute check-in came to a close.

He immersed himself fully in the job when he put his phone away and checked the peephole. Peter stood by the elevators, keeping watch on the hall.

“Time to go.” When Dmytro moved, he moved quickly. He could spring from a twenty-minute power nap into a melee with no ramp-up time at all.

But now Ajax hesitated.

How Dmytro wished people wouldn’t dither. He picked up Ajax’s duffel and looped the shoulder straps over his neck. Next came the messenger bag, and finally the backpack and one of the suitcases. There was no point in arguing about the amount of luggage a client had. One simply found a way to carry it. Sometimes, if one had to, one carried the client as well.

“You take the wheeled Pullman. I’ve got the rest.”

Ajax dropped a hand on the handle as if he didn’t know how to work it. This man—this rather young man—seemed to be incapable of following basic commands.

He’d texted with his sister-in-law earlier. It’s a shame for his parents. There is nothing to do here but squat in the safe house and keep him from doing something stupid until Peter tracks down each of the threats. He has a bag of toys, I think.

Peter? she’d asked, but he was sure she meant it as a joke.

The boy.

Mitya. She could lecture him about anything. You must treat even a stupid client with respect and kindness.

Of course, he’d replied with some asperity. When have you known me to be unkind?

“I’ll take the Pullman too.” Dmytro took its handle. “When we leave the room, stay behind me.”

“Won’t it be easier if they just kill me now so you won’t bore me to death?”

“Don’t say that.” Dmytro concealed his irritation. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Freedom didn’t look reassured. “Who’ll keep you safe?”

“I keep myself safe.” He pocketed his phone and glanced both ways before turning to Ajax. “We’re going to pretend we’re mice. Be quiet as you can.”

“Okay.” Ajax held up a “wait” finger. “Just a sec.”

With a deep sigh, Dmytro closed and locked the door again. “This might be what I meant by do you have everything?”

“I have everything. I just need these too.” At the coat closet, Ajax wrapped a soft-looking scarf around his neck, tugged a slouchy beanie over his hair, and slid on a pair of sunglasses. With his trademark dark curly hair hidden and his face obscured, he didn’t look like the internet It Kid anymore. In spite of himself, Dmytro nodded his satisfaction.

“Better.” He checked his weapon, returned it to his holster, and gripped the door handle. Once he wrenched it open, he checked the hallway again. All clear. He moved with Ajax toward the elevators and Peter. The three got in together.

When the doors closed, he and Peter stepped in front of Ajax, keeping their bodies between him and the lobby. When they opened again, a reassuring nothing happened. Dmytro and Peter swept their client out the revolving door and to the curb, where Bartlomiej waited with the town car.

After suffering a head injury and seizure a few months before, Dmytro bitterly resented being unable to drive. He left the luggage for Peter and settled Ajax into the back seat. Then he got into the front on the passenger side with a huff.

“All right?” Dmytro greeted his colleague.

“All set.” Bartlomiej, whom everyone called Bartosz, sat behind the wheel with the engine running. “Don’t pout. You’ll be driving soon enough. In the meantime, you’ve got me. Enjoy.”

A few more months without a seizure and he could regain privileges. Until then, he did what he was told.

He rolled the window down and called to Peter. “Be well, brother.”

Peter waved before melting into the night.

“He left?” Ajax asked. “Why’d he leave? Where’d he go?”

Dmytro closed his window. “We’re a team. We split up when we need to. Peter’s going to neutralize your admirers, and I will go to the safe house with you.”

“Lucky me.” He didn’t sound like he felt lucky.

“Drive, Bartosz.”

“Bartosz,” Ajax addressed him. “Any chance we could hit a drive-through? I need something to drink. Which, I’ve gotta warn you now, will probably come right back up, because I get really carsick.”

“Perfect.” Could their day get worse? “Do you need to sit up front?”

“It won’t matter, unfortunately.”

“All right.” Bartosz nodded and said in Ukrainian, “He’s like you, my very special snowflake. Did you bring a patch?”

“Not this time.” When Bartosz started to snicker, Dmytro gave him a warning grunt. To Ajax he said, “Your lucky day. I have Meclizine. One tablet and you should be fine.” He handed a blister pack over the console, along with a bottled water. “Make sure to drink all of it. The medication will give you dry mouth.”

Dmytro popped a pill and cracked open a second water. Bartosz’s voice took on a teasing quality. “You’ll both be sound asleep before we get on the highway.”

“You have the directions?”

Bartosz gave him an eye roll. “Don’t worry.”

Dmytro glanced around at Ajax. Bundled up like that, he looked barely older than six-year-old Sasha. About as defenseless too. In his own language, he asked Bartosz, “What do you suppose makes someone want attention so badly they’ll do any repulsive thing to get it?”

Bartholomew shrugged. “He’s a good-looking boy. I could find a use for him.”

Dmytro tensed. “Don’t be that guy.”

“I’m teasing.”

Dmytro hoped so. Bartosz was a professional, after all.

Ajax hissed, “Speak English. You’re being so rude.”

“I told him I’d like a corn dog.” Bartosz glanced in the rearview. “Do you still want a drink?”

Ajax’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll get you a corn dog.” Dmytro cuffed Bartosz for that. “For myself too. Jalapeño cheese peppers and a strawberry lemonade slush. And you’ll pay for all of us, Bartosz.”

“That’s ‘poppers,’” Ajax corrected.

“What is?”

“Jalapeño poppers,” he continued in his didactic tone, “are jalapeños stuffed with either cream cheese or cheddar, dipped in batter, and fried. They’re called ‘poppers.’”

“Thank you for educating me.” Dmytro had never been that certain about anything in his life. At twenty-two, he’d been a homeless thug with two lucky gifts: a mild form of genius with foreign languages and the ability to read very fast. He’d found himself a crime boss with a need for a translator with muscle and a passion for classic literature. The rest was history.

What did Ajax Freedom know about anything? He met Bartosz’s pleased glance before retrieving his phone from his pocket.

Good news, the client is probably not stupid, he texted Liv. He’s just a mudak. An asshole. Liv would understand.

Z.A. Maxfield is getting her kicks writing on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga these days. She lives with her husband, three of her grown children, and dog of indeterminable variety named Dr. Watson. Despite the world we live in, she still believes in first love, second chances, and kissing in the rain.

Join ZAM’s group, ZAM-Nation HERE, or visit her website, like her page on Facebook, or contact her through Twitter.

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Michael Gouda on Writing Mysteries and his new release To the Ends of the Earth (author guest post)

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To the Ends of the Earth by Michael Gouda

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Publication: May 31st 2019
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Michael Gouda here today to talk about his new story, To the Ends of the Earth. Welcome, Michael.

 

✒︎

Hi, I’m Michael Gouda and I was born in London, England at the start of WW2.

In my mid thirties after a disgracefully enjoyable time in the gay pubs and clubs of London I decided to take life more seriously, went to University, obtained a respectable degree and took up teaching in the Worcestershire town of Evesham.

I took early retirement to a limestone cottage in the Cotswold hills where I lived with a series of neurotic collie dogs, a domineering cat and a determination to write. Since then I have written over one hundred and fifty short stories and published longer works with Dreamspinner Press and M.L.R. Press.

I like to introduce incidents from my own deplorable past into my stories of crime and misadventure. Being a romantic at heart though I never allow a tragic ending, however downbeat may be the indications in between.

In ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ I wanted to write a story about quite a few emotions, betrayal was actually the one that as it were rose to the surface, though of course it isn’t the real one.

I intended to write a mystery. Someone is out to kill the narrator. Of course the narrator himself is a bit of a mystery for in fact we never know his real name. Not that that hasn’t been done before, notably in Daphne du Maurier’s, ‘Rebecca’.

Having decided on that I wanted to spin a web of characters, any one of which could prove to be the ‘villain’, some more obvious than others.

There was of course Lex Warrington, the handsome, super-attractive lover who himself is a mystery being forbidden by law (the Official Secrets Act 1989) to divulge his position/job whatever. It is interesting to know (to me at least) that the (mainly women) code breakers at Bletchley Park during WW2 were similarly bound, and some even went to their graves at advanced ages without telling anything. Others though did.

The second most important character in ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ is Jacob Levin, Johnny’s life-long friend with whom he shared so many ‘adventures’ in early life up to the time they were parted by the iniquitous 11+ exam which in England decided the fate and future of so many children, long before their potential could be realized.

Other suspects, in fact red herrings, were the terrorist whom Johnny photographs and could have identified him as his name was included in the byline of the newspapers and of course on the Internet.

I also hinted at the possibility that it might be Christian, Johnny’s sexual partner at University, aggravated by rejection, or even someone in the Police Force itself, though the motivation for this was unlikely.

Excerpt: The fire at the flat.

I stared at the ceiling, the light from outside percolated through the window and sniffed – and smelled a strange smell. Imagining it. I blew my nose and tried again. Yes there was a smell pervading. Smoke! And what was that other smell, almost hidden by the smoke? Petrol? Could it be? But that was daft. We had no open fires in this ultra modern house, unless there’d been some fault in an electrical appliance which had caused some minor conflagration. Switch on the light, go downstairs. Douse it with a wet towel. No, that was stupid, electricity and dampness don’t mix, or rather they mix too well.

Then I saw it, creeping under the bedroom door like an insinuating probe, a curl of smoke. Naked I rushed to the door and threw it open. A spurt of flame followed it, singeing my chest and face. I slammed the door shut but before I had done so I could see the whole staircase was alight, crackling with flames delighted to find so much flammable material. There was no escape there.

I ran to the window, already the smoke was filling the room, billowing round the ceiling as my movements created their own vortices. Keep as near to the floor as possible, smoke rises. The window. The window. Double glazed of course but surely openable. No, the only air intake was through a grid at the top which could be opened or shut as required.

I banged with my fists knowing that would be useless, tried with my elbow but only nearly broke my funny bone. Funny, I thought, inconsequentially. Find something heavy to bash it with. But what’s in a bedroom apart from a bed, chest of drawers, wardrobe. Couldn’t use those, couldn’t actually lift them.

Then I thought of the bedside lockers. Crawled my way back to the bed. I could scarcely see even with the light on, and then that flickered and died. Felt for a locker, Lex’s side, grabbed hold of it and crawled back to that barely discernible rectangle of light. Holding my breath I stood up, raised the locker above my head and brought it down with all the force I could muster on the inner window. It cracked but didn’t splinter. Damned toughened glass. Once more. More cracks but no hole. Third time lucky, I told myself and gave it all I’d got. Glass shattered all around me. I could feel several cuts but ignored them. The outside window was ordinary glass it shattered at the first blow and I gasped as fresh air filled my lungs. Bits of jagged glass stuck out from the frame as I tried to grip it. The smoke in the room was marginally clearer so I went to the bed, grabbed the duvet and used it to cover the glass. I was on the first floor which meant, if I could hang from the frame problem no more than a six foot drop on to … what was under the window? Concrete? No a narrow patch of garden with bedding plants. Well it wouldn’t do them much good but I’d probably be alright. I was halfway across the sill when the door suddenly crashed open and immediately the room was full of flames, licking over my left side. With a cry I flung myself out and I think knocked myself out on a stone or something for all went black and I knew no more.

Blurb

What do you do when when your lover is out to kill you?

After university, Johnny dated a mysterious and influential man who never disclosed his profession. Now, following a quarrel, Johnny suffers a series of attacks—attempts on his life that his lover has the power and influence to perpetrate.

With nowhere else to turn, he must rely on his childhood best friend. But can Johnny trust him? With time running out and the world against him, Johnny must solve the mystery himself if he wants to survive.

Dem Had on Writing, Influences and new release ‘Barricades’ (author interview and giveaway)

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Barricades by Dem Had

Dreamspinner Press
Published May 24th 2019

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.

BUY LINKS

Dreamspinner Press: https://bit.ly/2JLGGFj
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2UMTWfq

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Wb9o5e
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2CHZQaX

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Dem Had here today on tour for the new World of Love release from Dreamspinner Press, Barricades. Welcome, Dem!

 

✒︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Dem Had

Q: How much of yourself goes into a character?

A: Everything and nothing. The honest answer is that I don’t know. Creating a character makes me their god, and like every god, I’m the archetype of my creation. As to what I mean when I say “god”, let me clarify that I don’t mean it in any religious or narcissistic way. I mean that I create them, I give them traits and put them wherever I want, but in the end, they are the ones who make choices. Sometimes, that’s as frustrating as it sounds.

Getting to know my characters is never boring but is not always fun. I’m learning more about myself in the process and this sometimes leads to identity crisis and endless philosophical conversations with myself. I like experimenting, like giving the character one trait or one experience of mine but change the circumstances. Sometimes I watch as my character makes a different choice from mine (not necessarily the right one) and see the outcome.

Q: 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?

A: I don’t think there’s any line between the two. On the contrary, I feel like an author wouldn’t have the urge to go through a bad experience again by writing it down, if not to “make it right”. Maybe, making the character a “Mary Sue” is what it’s needed to change that experience. I believe in balanced characters, with flaws and strengths to their cores; big flaw comes with a big strength and vice versa.

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

A: My research is usually based on what I’ve already chosen to write, not the other way around. Also, I’m not the one choosing the genre; I choose the story and the story chooses its genre.

I enjoy the research of existing cultures but I flirt with the idea of creating my own world.

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

A: No! I have a confession to make: Even though I loved reading books since I learnt how to read, I’d found genre fiction boring and pointless. I couldn’t bring myself to read a chapter without finding a million reasons to stop. On the other hand, I loved reading about religions, psychology and paranormal. I remember myself as a kid, sneaking into my sister’s bedroom and reading from the encyclopedia. I would spend hours every day at the library during my university years. My love for novels bloomed at twenty-two, when I became a stay at home mother. I was so angry at myself for being so late. (lol)

Q: 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?

A: Yes! Most of the times, writing about emotionally painful memories can be therapeutic and liberating, but there was a time when I spent three days writing and rewriting a specific scene. I became so obsessed with it and the memories of it from real life made me cry at night. In the end, the scene was nothing like I wanted it and it took me several days to recover.

Q: Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

A: HEA accompanied with a sense of a loss or HFN, because they can be satisfying and still leave uncertainty in the reader’s mind, making the story more memorable.

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

A: As an adult, yes.

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

A: Music. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a song is worth a thousand pictures.

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

A: I have mixed feelings about ebooks. On one hand I love the sense of holding a physical book and the aesthetic of getting into a library, but on the other hand ebooks are more affordable and practical. I also read faster on my smartphone instead of a physical book – I’m not sure why.

We are the first generation to have ebooks at our disposal. They are being around for twenty years, widely known for the last decade and some people already have big collections of ebooks. I give it fifty more years for physical books to become collectibles, equivalent to Vinyl records.

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

A: Barricades is my first book to be published, so a designer was assigned by the publisher for my cover. I’d like to design my own cover next time – not because there are not excellent designers out there, but because I can. You see, I’ve studied architecture and worked as a designer in the past, which puts cover design in my skills

Q: 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?

A: As a matter of fact, I was warned that I might have done that (haha). It depends on the reader, really. Personally, I was raised to be real and never change to please others; same goes for my characters. If they are not likeable, then it is what it is. I believe in balance; I believe we all have the same amount of positive and negative traits. For some, a character’s negative traits make them “too flawed to become a love interest” but to me, it’s a challenge to get to know them more and discover with which positive trait that flaw balances with.

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

A: Stoicism is my favorite, especially when it’s accompanied with deep empathy. I like a sneak peak in such a character’s mind as they crush inside and show nothing to others while being fully functional. I think that deep inside, this is a trait I wish I had but was never able to adopt.

High intelligence with arrogance make an amazing couple of traits in a character but I can’t really stand this kind of people for long IRL.

 Q: 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?

A: It happened unintentionally. I was already too deep into Barricades when I realized that I was projecting on my character’s emotions for his mother. As the character matured and dealt with it, I did too. By the end of the last round of edits, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

 Q: 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.

A: I’m not a drinker, not really, but part of being over thirty is that sometimes you don’t “want” a drink, you “need” a drink. That’s why I always have wine at home (lol). The truth is I almost never drink more than a couple of glasses. The only one time I drunk written, I was trying to beat a writer’s block. It worked, in a way; I had written an amazing synopsis but never evolved into anything else. Alcohol intoxication might give me some weird ideas, but never gets my creativity juices flowing.

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

A: Let me paint it for you: A secluded, tiny cabin in the woods, next to a lake where the temperature never exceeds 22°C. What can I say? Clichés are clichés for a reason.

Q: 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?

A: I write to tell a story. Of course I get away and that’s the reason I love writing so much. Sometimes the story is explanatory, others has a hidden meaning but I don’t use the story to carry out a message or to make a point.

 Q: What’s next for you as a writer?

A: The story I’m currently writing is different from the contemporary romance I’d been writing until recently. I’m exploring magical realism with this one.

BLURB

Born to be enemies. Raised to hate each other.

When introverted Orestis escapes his homophobic parents and abusive home for a night out with friends, he meets artist Emir.  The passion between them is instant and explosive but neither society nor their families will accept their love. If they want a romance that lasts beyond one fiery, forbidden night, they’ll have to face the backlash.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

About the Author

Dem has never been diagnosed with ADD, but it’s common to start talking about cats and end up mentioning the stars while using metaphors about food, just after she’s told you about a childhood memory.

As a cynical romantic and a lover of dark romance, she loves pushing her characters to their limits and refuses to give them their happy ending if they don’t work hard to earn it.

She has a soft spot for manga, anime and anything regarding the Japanese culture. She loves spending time with her son, playing music with her husband and posting on social media about writing and her life as a cat-mother. You can also find her in the roads of Limassol driving and singing with the windows wide open.

Dem’s writing journey has just begun.

https://www.demhad.com

SOCIAL MEDIA

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The author would like to giveaway one eBook copy of Barricades to a reader.  Please leave a comment for the author below along with your email address where you can be reached if chosen.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.