Amy Lane on Making It Work and Crocus (Bonfires, #2) (author guest blog and tour)

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Crocus (Bonfires, #2)  by  Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Reese Dante

Sales Links:  AmazonDreamspinner Press |  Kobo 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have one of its favorite authors back to talk about one of its highly recommended series and stories Crocus, the second story in the Bonfires series from Amy Lane. Welcome, Amy.

♦︎

Making it Work

By Amy Lane

*Note—If you follow my blog, you know these people—ZoomBoy is my 14 YO son, Squish is my 12 YO daughter, Chicken is my 23 YO daughter and Big T is my 25 YO son. Mate is my long suffering mate.

So, Wednesday night was dance lessons. It’s always dance lessons, since Chicken was in dance and it’s in our blood by now. We’re coming up on recital and the kids missed some time for our trip back east, and they absolutely had to make dance lessons.

Wednesday night was also Open House, which I didn’t find out about until we were leaving for dance lessons, but dammit, recital, and ZoomBoy couldn’t have at least told me that this was why he had a minimum day which I also didn’t know about until I was packing to go to the gym and ZoomBoy texted me and said he needed a ride home which meant I didn’t go to the gym and I didn’t get a shower until one in the afternoon either!

So, dance lessons, and I might have wanted to go to Open House but Mate had a soccer meeting—his second this week, and he’s got practice with Squish Tuesday and Thursday as well. But in a week filled with helping Chicken with her sick cat and driving ZoomBoy to her nanny job so he can help with the little kids so she doesn’t lose her mind, and getting Big T so he can do laundry at our house so he doesn’t go broke, and needing to get the car serviced and my own cat to the vet and a dentist appointment, dance lessons are sort of the cherry on the sundae that is a typical week at our house.

So anyway—Mate calls up while I’m driving the kids and says, “I’ll come sit with you and chat while the kids are dancing.”

And my entire body lights up.

Because he’s been tired—he’s fallen asleep in front of the TV at ten twice this week.  I’ve been busy—I’ve crawled into bed after two a.m. a couple of times, and I’m a joy to be around without sleep as well. So, he’s going to drive across town to sit in a car with me for an hour and share a snack and talk about our week and—maybe—hold my hand and kiss my cheek.

So he can be with me.

And all those thoughts I’ve had about running away to join the circus so I can at least read a book backstage disappear. My Mate is going to be with me. That’s really all I’ve needed all week.

The primary complaint about Bonfires was that it was too “busy”—and I’m gonna tell you, Crocus is busier—but I can’t apologize. I mean, I’m a writer for a living—walking the dogs and going to the gym are the highs of my workweek and having a 4,000 word day just doesn’t have the thrill of having a kid go berserk in your class or tazing a perp as he crosses the street. But my days are full—full—and finding time to be with my Mate, to talk to the person who makes me light up inside and lets me know that I’m not alone on the ferocious hamster wheel of raising kids and having a productive life can be a brutal exercise in time management.

And, like I said, I’m a writer.

Larx and Aaron are a Sheriff’s Deputy and a high school principal, and their lives make mine look like I’m sitting still. (Well, I often am.)  And their kids are busy, even the grown ones, and they’re trying to be good parents and their ferocious hamster wheel is powered by giant feral mutant gerbils on speed.

So I can’t apologize for the busy-ness, or the lack of sleep or the terrible struggle to find an hour, or forty-five minutes, or a heartbeat alone with the love of your life—because that’s what life is at this stage in the game. That’s what a relationship is when your kids and your careers and your digestive track are all at a certain age and you have to put in double-time to take care of each and every one.

Crocus and Bonfires are going to be busy.

But hopefully, there will be moments–hushed moments in a parked car, tender moments in a bed, full-body moments under the sky—when the world falls away, and two people can touch soul deep, and two hearts can draw strength from each other to sustain themselves for the race that tomorrow brings.

Blurb

Bonfires: Book Two

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High school principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sheriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart?

Excerpt

Larx’s phone, sitting on the table next to him, buzzed, and he was damned grateful.

Hello, Principal—are you being a good boy and getting your work done?

Larx groaned. Sort of. Olivia showed up on the doorstep this morning. Oh hell. He didn’t even want to ask Aaron about using his house.

Is she visiting for the weekend?

No.

The phone rang. “Are you kidding me?”

“Sorry, Aaron.” He sighed and sipped his tepid coffee, then took a deep breath. “I don’t know what’s going on. She came in talking a mile a minute, tripped over the dog—”

“Is Dozer okay?”

Larx had to laugh. “Your dog is fine, Aaron.”

“He’s your dog,” Aaron protested weakly. Yes, the puppy had been a gift for Larx when his oldest cat passed away, but Aaron—big, solid, strong—had apparently been waiting for Dozer for most of his life.

Larx wasn’t going to argue that the dog was definitely Aaron’s, but it was true. Dozer—a mixed breed somewhere between a Labrador retriever and a German shepherd—was fine with Larx, answered to him just as well as he did Aaron, appreciated the hell out of the full food bowl, gave plenty of sloppy, happy kisses, and pranced about on spindly legs and feet the size of dinner plates.

But when Aaron came home, Larx watched the dog melt, roll to his back, offer up his tummy in supplication, and beg for pets.

Larx couldn’t object or be jealous—he felt the same way. Except Larx wanted Aaron to pet more than his belly.

“That dog’s your soul mate from another life,” Larx said now, scratching Dozer behind the ears. “Yes, you are. Yes, you are. But you can’t have him. He’s mine.”

“Wow. Just wow.”

Larx chuckled, because the distraction had been welcome, but now… now grown-up things. “She’s asleep on the couch,” he said softly. “Aaron… she’s not sounding….” He took a big breath. His ex-wife had suffered from depression after a miscarriage, and he remembered coming home from work bringing dinner once so she didn’t have to cook or clean up because she’d been so sad. She’d yelled at him—didn’t he think she was capable of cleaning her own kitchen? Then she’d burst into tears for an hour, while Larx had fed the girls and tried to calm her down.

It had been like standing on the deck of a ship in a storm—and Larx had that same feeling now, with his daughter, when his children had always been the source of peace in his heart.

“Pregnancy?” Aaron asked hesitantly. They were so new. Larx hadn’t spoken about Alicia more than a handful of times. Nobody talked about depression or mental illness.

Nobody knew what to say.

“Yeah.” Larx didn’t want to talk about it right now. He just couldn’t.

“Baby….” Aaron’s voice dropped, and considering Larx had gotten him at work, where he had to be all tough and manly and shit, that meant he was worried.

“Later,” Larx said gruffly. “Just not, you know….”

“When the whole world can hear. I get it.” Aaron blew out a breath and then took the subject down a surprising path. “Larx, do you have a student named Candace Furman?”

Larx stared at the paperwork in his hand, shuffling back to where he was right before Olivia had knocked.

“Yeah. Not one of mine, but… huh.” He reached over to his laptop and accessed the school’s portal site. “Hm….”

“That’s informative. Want to tell me what you’re looking at?”

“It’s sort of privileged, Deputy. Want to tell me why you need to know?”

Aaron’s grunt told him he was being annoying, but Larx couldn’t help it. He didn’t want to just divulge information on a kid if it wasn’t necessary. It went against everything he’d ever stood for as a rebellious adolescent.

“I just got…. It was weird. We got a domestic call to her house—her parents answer, and it’s all great. ‘No, Officer, we have no idea why somebody would call in screaming or a fight in the snow.’ We take a look inside, house is okay—but really clean.”

“Like somebody just swept up all the pieces of all the things?” Larx hazarded.

“Yeah. Either that or just… unhealthily antiseptic. And Candace and her sister—”

“Shelley,” Larx supplied since he had the file open on his computer.

“Yeah. Anyway—the girls are fine. ‘Yessir. Nossir. It’s all okay, sir.’ But they’ve both got these… like, girl masks on?”

“Makeup?” Larx said, trying to picture it.

“No… like… face goop. Like… whatwazit? Mrs. Doubtfire stuck her face in the cake ’cause she didn’t have her makeup on?”

It took Larx a minute to process all that. “A facial,” he said, blinking hard because the movie was that old, and the antitrans messaging had been so strong that Larx forgot he too had been part of America who’d laughed their asses off at a man in a dress with flammable boobs.

“Yeah. That. And that shit could be hiding anything, right? Their eyes were red, but then, for all I know the facial goop did that. So I’m not sure if they’re hiding shiners or if their neighbors just got hold of some bad weed—”

“Did you knock on their door?” Larx asked. Between him and Aaron, they really did know most of the town. “Who’s their neighbor?”

“Couple of brothers,” Aaron said thoughtfully. “Just moved at Christmas. Youngest one goes to Colton High—”

“Jaime Benitez,” Larx said promptly. “Junior.” He pressed the right link and there was the master schedule. “He and Candace are in some classes together.”

Aaron grunted. “Well, the older brother had been lighting up pretty hard—but it doesn’t seem like Jaime’s the type to indulge.”

“You didn’t bust them?” Larx asked curiously. He’d done his share of weed in college—but Aaron had been off fighting and bleeding for his country when Larx was in college. This was something they’d never talked about.

“Hell,” Aaron muttered. “Unless they’re growing to distribute, it’s mostly legal. Not for minors, of course, but both boys were functional, polite, and their eyes were clear. Roberto—who’s twenty-one, by the way—actually produced a prescription for anxiety without being asked. I could have made a stink about it, but I couldn’t see the point.”

“I love you so hard,” Larx breathed. “Seriously. I can’t think of a sexual favor good enough for you. I’ll have to make something up.”

“I’m sorry?”

Larx couldn’t articulate it. It wasn’t that he’d smoke it now unless it was prescribed, and he didn’t want his kids—or his students—indulging without cause. But something about knowing Aaron, for all his law-and-order propensities, didn’t push rules just for the sake of there being rules made Larx even prouder of him.

“Just you’re a good guy. Jaime Benitez is getting good grades. He’s part of the local service clubs, including one where he tutors eighth graders in trouble. Nice boy.”

“In your class?” Aaron wanted to know.

“Senior year, like Kirby. Christiana is sort of—”

“Special,” Aaron said fondly. “Yeah. I know.”

Well, Larx’s youngest was the girl with the flower—her brightness and sparkle was coupled with a quiet good sense. Irresistible. She was also razor-sharp, which was why she was taking Larx’s class in her junior year.

“So what about Candace?” Aaron prompted.

Larx sighed. “She’s… well, she was a straight-A student, but no involvement in anything.”

“Nothing?”

Aaron might well be surprised. It was a small school in a small town. Activity involvement wasn’t mandatory, but if a kid wanted any sort of social life, being part of a club or a sport was pretty much the only thing going on after school.

“No—that’s odd. And that’s probably why I can’t place her. Her sister’s in grade school, so I wouldn’t know her. But Candace is just… not involved.”

“Was,” Aaron prompted, and Larx rested his chin on his fist and looked woefully at his paperwork. Ye gods, the pile wasn’t getting any smaller.

“Yeah. Was getting straight As. Is no longer. Is veering off into C and D territory. And I have in front of me, waiting for a signature, her very first referral for behavior.”

He stared at it, wondering how the pieces fit.

“What’d she do?” Aaron asked patiently.

“Well, it says she got to class late and then ran out a few minutes after the bell rang. It was her first-period class, and when she came back—looking pale—the teacher asked if she was okay. Apparently she laughed hysterically and told the teacher to fuck off.”

“Uh….”

Larx sighed. “Yeah. That’s why I’m up to my eyeballs in paperwork, Aaron—so I can look for kids like this and ask them what happened. I’m on it.”

“That’s my boy,” Aaron praised softly. “Good. Keep me in the loop, okay? I don’t know if the girls were being abused, and frankly I didn’t have enough evidence to so much as make them wash their faces. I don’t know the story behind the boys living together without parents, and I don’t know why one of them would be anxious enough to get a prescription for a ton of weed. These are things I would like to know before I go venturing in there with CPS and the DEA to make sure everything is kosher, you understand?”

“Got it, Deputy.” Larx looked at both kids’ files again and wondered at the puzzle. “Aaron, I’m serious. You’re a good man. These kids—there’s pieces missing here. Yanking them away from their homes, dragging them into the fray—I’m not sure if that’s the best thing here.”

Larx was starting to know Aaron’s grunts—this one was the respectful disagreement grunt. “Some stuff needs to see light, Mr. Larkin,” he chided gently. “If something’s festering in that girl’s life, it’s our job to make sure she’s okay.”

Of course.

“Roger that.” Larx tilted his head back and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Have you eaten?” Aaron asked.

“Uh….” He’d gotten a sandwich for Olivia, but he’d put off getting his own.

“Eat, Principal. Work on your paperwork. And maybe take a nap on the couch before I get there. Save up your strength.” He gave a chuckle that was absolutely filthy. “You’re going to need it.”

Larx whined. “But… but Olivia—”

“If hearing us have sex gives her reason to move out, more’s the better,” Aaron intoned darkly.

Oh shit. “She… uh… she sort of hinted… never mind.”

“My house. Yes. We’ll move her tomorrow.”

Larx groaned and rested his forehead on the paperwork on the table. “God. You’re the perfect man. Where’s the rub? Where’s the flaw? There’s got to be something here that makes me want to smack you—where is it?”

“Mmm….”

Oh yeah. That conversation they weren’t having because of all the conversations they were.

“Understood.” Larx sighed. “I’ll see you when you get home.”

“Eat, dammit.”

Larx smiled, reassured. “Sure. Take care of what’s mine.”

“Always do.”

“Love you.”

“Thanks for the info.”

Aaron signed off, and Larx’s text pinged thirty seconds later.

Love you too.

Yup. Too good to be true.

Larx’s worry about his daughter—and about Aaron’s input into the situation—doubled down in his chest.

Please, Olivia—please. Don’t make me choose between you two. Please.

About the Author

 

Amy Lane has two grown kids out of college, two half-grown kids in high school and middle school, three cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with some of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

Kim Fielding on Writing, Influences, and her new release A Full Plate (author interview and guest blog)

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A Full Plate by Kim Fielding
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Bree Archer
A Dreamspun Desire Novel

Sales Links

Dreamspinner PressAmazon 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kim Fielding here today talking about writing, characters and her latest release in the Dreamspun Desires line from Dreamspinner Press, A Full Plate.  Welcome, Kim.

✒︎

 

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Kim Fielding ~

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

I love doing research. Partly because I’m a great big nerd, partly because it’s an occupational hazard of my day job (university professor). Also, it really annoys me when the smallest details aren’t right.

Even when I make up an entire world, I do research to back it up. Imaginary universes feel a lot more real when they bear similarities to ours. That doesn’t mean I can’t embroider on reality—that’s the creative part—but the foundation is often based on what’s really out there. For example, the city of Tellomer exists only in my novel Brute, but to build it, I did a lot of research on medieval cities and castles. The town of Rattlesnake is fictional too, but it’s based on some real places in California gold rush country, and it has such substance in my head that I once honestly forgot Mae’s Café isn’t real (and was disappointed with the realization).

Even a contemporary novel set in a real place requires research. For A Full Plate I looked up a lot of stuff about cooking, private jets, and the logistics of creating flying cars, among other things. I even went on a tour of the Tesla car factory!

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?

Not exactly, although I have occasionally found it difficult to progress with my writing. The hardest book I’ve ever written is one I’m ultimately very proud of: The Tin Box. I had a hard time with that one in the beginning because the protagonist, William, isn’t very likable at that point. I knew why he wasn’t likable, and I understood it. I also knew that eventually he’d blossom and we’d learn what a good man he truly is. But there at the beginning? I kind of wanted to throttle him.

But a later part of that book was even worse. Not to be too spoilerish, but I had to do something terrible to a secondary character. That thing had to happen; no way around it. But man, I dreaded that part, and every word was like ripping out a piece of my heart. Sob. I think the results are worth the pain, but my characters feel very real to me, and I honestly suffered. It didn’t help to know that what happened to my fictional person actually happened to thousands of very real human beings.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like both. Now, to be honest, my guys often go through a good bit of suffering during the story. Even in A Full Plate, which is relatively light on angst, Tully and Sage have serious struggles in their life. In the end, though, I want happiness. I mean, who doesn’t? And doesn’t that give us hope? I think that’s a good part of what draws readers to romance in the first place.

I don’t think I have a preference between HFN and HEA. Certainly an HEA is joyful and brings that warm feeling of completeness. But I also enjoy the bit of ambiguity inherent to an HFN, that sense that the story will continue, maybe with more potential conflict. That’s real life.

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

As a young kid, I read a lot of classic science fiction. I veered more into other aspects of spec fic when I got older: horror, fantasy, magical realism. I found traditional romances somewhat limiting and didn’t really get into the genre until later, when I discovered m/m.

Although I read in many genres, the authors who’ve influenced me the most are the ones who are excellent writers. These folks have such a way with words that they can draw good storytelling out of even the simplest plots. Some of my very favorites include Isabel Allende, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles deLint, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. When I read these authors, I get a little envious of their skills, yet that envy inspires me to improve my own writing.

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

I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I love the instant gratification of ebooks and the ability to obtain them in unlikely places. I’ve downloaded them on ships, on a train in Spain (yes, it was on a plain), and in hotels and apartments in many places in North America and Europe. Once I was sitting next to a woman on an airplane, and when she discovered mid-flight that I’m an author, she bought one of my books and began reading it right then and there on her Kindle! Of course, ebooks are also wonderful for reducing clutter, and I find them invaluable for travel. I also like how I can read a single book on multiple devices, depending on which one is handiest.

On the other hand, I love print books. I like to browse them and enjoy their full-sized covers in all their colorful glory. I like the feel of them and even the smell of them. I like giving them away and buying used ones. All the ebook catalogs in the world will never satisfy me like a brick-and-mortar bookstore does. Or a public library. (A shout-out to Little Free Libraries too.) And print books never run out of batteries.

I think we’ll see ebooks increase their dominance. They’re just so easy for consumers, and they reduce production and distribution costs so much for publishers. I am troubled by some aspects of the market, however, including Amazon’s near monopoly (I have a love-hate relationship with the Zon), the poor quality of many ebooks, and reduced profits for authors and publishers. I hope we see improvements in those areas.

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

I love flawed characters, and I believe that no matter how imperfect we are, every one of us deserves love. In fact, I think that’s a central theme to most of my stories.

One thing that kept me from enjoying traditional romances, back in the day, was that I found the characters too perfect. They were all beautiful and brilliant (well, except some of the women, frankly, who I found depressingly dim-witted) and rich. I had a hard time relating. So when I began writing, I made a deliberate choice to make my people more human. Even when they’re wealthy and handsome, like Tully in A Full Plate, they have real problems. In Tully’s case, that includes a past with unsupportive family and a present in which he struggles to make emotional connections.

Unless a character is cartoonishly awful, I think love is always a real possibility. I even love villains. And redemption makes for a wonderful character arc.

   

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

I don’t drink often, and I very rarely get drunk, mostly because I’m too big of a control freak to enjoy it. However, I do frequently do my writing very late at night, after a long day, when my eyes are bleary and my brain is desperately wanting to go offline. I think the resulting writing is a little bit as if I were drunk. The grammar and spelling tend to suffer—sometimes neither spellcheck nor I have any idea what I was trying to say—but I do find myself making some creative leaps. And I usually keep those.

 

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

A really nice hotel someplace very interesting, where I can look up from my writing and enjoy a sweeping view. When I need a writing break, I can take a few steps outside my room to find myself on a secluded tropical beach or in the midst of a fascinating city—where I can walk for a while to refresh my body and brain. I can choose to eat at delicious restaurants or order room service. I can sleep in and stay up late—that’s when I’m most creative—and there are few interruptions and little noise.

Ahhh.

 

 

What’s next for you as a writer?

This is a really busy year for me. I have two more releases from Dreamspinner this year. Blyd and Pearce will come out this summer; it’s a noir private-eye gay romance in a medieval fantasy setting. Then The Spy’s Love Song releases in October. That’s another Dreamspun Desires title, this time about a jaded rock star and the spy he falls for. In May, I’ll have the third novella in The Bureau series, Creature. And Joel Leslie will be recording an audiobook version of all three novellas, which I’m really excited about. I’m also planning a light Christmas fantasy set in the 1880s. And I’m working now on the third book in the Love Can’t series.

***

A Full Plate by Kim Fielding

Opposites come together for a spicy surprise.

Bradford “Tully” Tolliver has everything—money, a great car, a beautiful condo, and a promising career as one of Portland’s hottest young lawyers. Sure, he puts in long hours and has no social life to speak of, but who needs romance when corporations pay top dollar for his expertise? He hesitates when a colleague asks if her cousin can live with him, but the arrangement will last less than a year, and then the cousin—Sage Filling—will return to his tiny hometown.

But Sage is handsome and intriguing, and his cooking makes Tully swoon. Sage has obligations back home, though, and Tully has offers he might not refuse from a persistent—and very wealthy—ex. Since Tully and Sage each have a full plate, can they make room for a side of love?

***

About the Author

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Follow Kim:

Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/KFieldingWrites

Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

Email: Kim@KFieldingWrites.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bau3S9

A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/

Andrew Grey on Writing, Romance and his latest release Redeeming the Stepbrother (Tales from St. Giles #2)  (author guest blog)

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Redeeming the Stepbrother (Tales from St. Giles #2) 

by Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Release Date: April 10 2018

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Grey here today talking about reading, romance, and his new release Redeeming the Stepbrother (Tales from St. Giles #2) .   Welcome, Andrew!

♦︎

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?  It’s funny, but in some ways.  As a teenager I didn’t read romance.  It wasn’t something that was necessarily open to boys and times were quite different then.  However I remember reading stories and getting caught up in the romance portion of them.  There was the action and suspense, but what turned the pages for me was to find out what happened to the main characters and if they finally worked things out between them.  So I guess I was always a romantic at heart, I just didn’t realize it until later.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?  Yes, that has happened.  There have been times when I was feeling what my characters were to the point hat I actually had to walk away from the story for a period of time.  I remember the beginning of Fire and Hail, after I wrote the first chapter I was shaking to the point that I had to set the whole story aside and allow myself to calm down before I could continue. 

 

Blurb/Synopsis:

Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.

As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.

When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.

But he isn’t the only one with a secret.

At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.

Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance

Excerpt 

I crouched in the reeds, finding a dry spot and using the tall grasses as cover to watch, listening and filling my camera with images. There was almost too much activity to take in all at once.

An engine sound grew near, and I turned but didn’t see the car. I didn’t want to scare any of the birds away, so I stayed where I was until slurpy footsteps came closer.

“Florian,” Dieter said with his deep voice and German accent.

“Right here. Stay low and move slowly. There is a lot of activity today.” I waited until Dieter got nearer and moved over to share my firm, dry patch of ground. I pointed. “Look over there. The baby egrets are learning from their mother to hunt for food.” Dieter leaned in the direction I had pointed, and I inhaled his sweet, slightly musky scent. Dang, he smelled good. I inched a little closer, just so I could get another whiff of him. Too bad I’d never learned how to add scent to a painting—other than the smell of paint, that is.

“Look over there.” Dieter pointed to a sandpiper as it scampered over the sand, poking its long beak down every now and then.

A motor sounded in the distance and grew louder and louder. It was one of those large cabin cruisers going full speed, motors rumbling throatily as it approached. The birds scampered for cover or took to the air, flying off for safety.

“I hate that. They’re supposed to slow down in this section of the Bay, but they don’t always do it. Danged tourists.” This was a known birding area and most locals left it alone or stayed clear when they were on the water.

There was no use sitting here any longer. The birds were gone, and while they’d return eventually, they were scattered now. Besides, it was getting late.

I stood, stretching my back and legs. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s not your fault.” Dieter was wearing the same sort of clothes as he had the last time I saw him. Definitely something out of another era. His gaze traveled downward as I smiled. “My clothes?”

I nodded. “Where did you get them? At an antique store?”

Dieter shrugged. “They were my father’s. He used to take me bird-watching in Bavaria when I was a little boy. It was one of the few things he and I did together.” He slowly and carefully made his way back toward the cars, and I followed him, enjoying the view. “My father was a difficult man.” Dieter opened the trunk, took off his binoculars, and set them inside their case. “He didn’t seem to have a lot of time for me, but we used to go hiking in the Alps and to lakes, where we watched birds. My father used to take me hunting, but I was miserable at it.”

I shivered. “I hate hunting. I could never get the hang of shooting.” I opened the trunk to my car and starting taking off my gear, getting out my sneakers. “My stepfather took me once and I nearly shot my foot off and then dropped the gun. It almost disappeared into the mud. After that, I decided that watching birds was a lot more interesting than trying to shoot them. I can buy chicken in the store when I want poultry.” I smiled, and Dieter grinned in return.

“I can shoot very well. I just don’t think hunting is very sporting. Not when my father’s version was standing in a field while the gamekeepers released captured birds and he shot them as they tried to get away.” Dieter looked downward once again. “But these were what he wore when we went bird-watching, and I kept them after he passed away.” He changed his shoes, and I did the same.

I wasn’t sure what to do or talk about now that we were done watching the birds. I needed to get some dinner and was about to ask if Dieter wanted to join me, but his phone rang before I could.

Dieter answered it and spoke softly in German before ending the call. “I must go. It was very nice bird-watching with you.” He nodded once, sort of a small bow. I didn’t understand what it meant, but I did the same in return. “I hope to see you again.” Dieter got into his car and hurried away. I watched him go and for a second wondered if I suddenly smelled bad.

With nothing more I could do, I packed up my things and headed to town. I wasn’t particularly interested in going home, so I figured I’d get something to eat and read for a while. I had my Kindle in my bag, and some quiet time away from family chaos was probably a good thing.

As I passed through town, I noticed the dark Mercedes parked outside the café. I thought it was Dieter’s and debated eating there. It was my favorite place in town, and Betty, the owner and hostess, usually gave me a table by the window so I could watch people and relax. I didn’t want Dieter to think I was following him, though, and nearly drove past before deciding to park and go anyway.

“Hi, honey,” Betty said as I stepped inside. “Your usual table?”

I nodded. “Thanks.” I sat down, and she brought me a cup of tea and took my order for a chicken salad sandwich. One of these days I really needed to work on becoming less predictable. Even I thought my life was a bit boring and a little redundant.

“How are things going at the studio?” Betty asked after she put in the order.

“Good,” I answered, glancing over at the tables on the other side of the café. Dieter sat with Dante, talking quietly. I didn’t want to appear to be eavesdropping on my boss, but I had to confess that I barely saw Dante, my gaze only for Dieter. Dieter leaned over the table, his hair falling slightly forward, framing his profile, and I might have sighed slightly.

“I see,” Betty said, and I looked up at her. “You know Mr. Dante is taken.”

I must have looked askance at her because she nodded.

“Honey, the other man is a business associate of Dante’s. He’s dreamy, if you ask me, but I don’t know how long he’s going to be staying, so don’t get your heart set on that one.” Betty and husband had run the diner for three decades or so, and due to diner gossip, had a pretty good idea of everything that went on in town. “There haven’t been any rumors as to why he’s here, but there have been various ladies who’d like to take him for a spin.”

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)

Parker Foye on Research , Procrastination, and the new release Mage of Inconvenience (author guest blog)

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Mage of Inconvenience by Parker Foye
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Beyond

Cover art: Aaron Anderson

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Parker Foye here today talking about writing, research and Mage of Inconvenience.  Welcome, Parker.

♦︎

 

Research …and Procrastination by Parker Foye

Hello, and thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting the final stop on my blog tour! It’s been a lot of fun celebrating the release of Mage of Inconvenience, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.

Today I’m answering questions about research: Does research play a role in choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I’ve posted a bit on Twitter recently about how difficult it is to find methods of magic World of Warcraft hasn’t named already, so research has been on my mind lately. Honestly, it usually is; I primarily write speculative fiction, but set in the world we know. This tends to involve two threads of research/development: real world locations, and whatever I’m using as a magical system.

Though I’ve set spec fiction stories in historical periods before, Mage of Inconvenience takes place in a contemporary setting. When I started writing this story, I lived in a small town in Ontario, and this is where I located West’s home. Julian, meanwhile, has an office in Toronto, and a cottage elsewhere in the province. These locations were places I knew, or could easily research with added local insight, and I thought I was being quite clever to choose these settings. But then I moved over 4,000km across the country.

Thank you, internet.

The internet is less helpful when it comes to making up magical systems, aside from checking someone hasn’t done it first (see the comment about WoW above). But this is actually something I really enjoy doing, and one of the reasons I write in this genre. Making the impossible possible but flavouring it with things we can relate to—for example, with the magic in Mage of Inconvenience, I imagined something like a magical DVLA (DMV, for those of you across the pond!), with all the connotations that invokes.

Creating magical systems is one of the (many) areas where beta readers and editors are invaluable. Their insightful questions really helped draw out and solidify how magic and its corresponding bureaucracy worked in this story, cementing the foundation for how the marriage of convenience comes to be in the first place.

But, absorbing as it can be, the problem with research is knowing when to stop! I’m a chronic procrastinator and can trick myself into researching all day long, but at some point it’s time to close the browser and start cranking out words.

Or write a blog post or two.

What about you guys? Any favourite methods of procrastination? Asking for a friend…

Mage of Inconvenience

Can they find the magic in a practical union?

West is on the run from his werewolf pack, but if he cannot renew his magical defenses, he won’t get far. What he needs is a mage….

Julian is part of a wealthy and ancient family, and one day, his legacy will include his mother’s vast library of spell books—and the knowledge he needs to correct his past mistakes. But his inheritance comes with a stipulation: he has to be married before he can collect. What he needs is a husband….

West and Julian can help each other, and at first they don’t want anything further. But as they dodge meddling cousins, jealous rivals, and an insidious drug, it becomes clear that their lives are entwined in ways they never imagined—and they’re in greater danger than they thought possible.

Buy the book at Dreamspinner | Amazon CA/COM/UK | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Parker Foye writes speculative-flavored romance under the QUILTBAG umbrella and believes in happily ever after, although sometimes their characters make achieving this difficult.

An education in Classics nurtured a love of heroes, swords, monsters, and beautiful people doing stupid things while wearing only scraps of leather. You’ll find those things in various guises in Parker’s stories, along with kissing (very important) and explosions (very messy). And more shifters than you can shake a stick at.

Used to living out of a suitcase, Parker is currently of fixed abode in the UK but still travels regularly via planes, trains, and an ever-growing library.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Julia Talbot on her new release The Wolf’s Man Friday (Nose to Tail Inc. #2) (guest blog)

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The Wolf’s Man Friday (Nose to Tail Inc. #2) by Julia Talbot
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Christine Griffin

Sales LInks:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Julia Talbot here today to talk about her latest release,The Wolf’s Man Friday (Nose to Tail Inc. #2).  Welcome, Julia.

♦︎

 

Hey y’all!

My name is Julia Talbot, and I’m here to chat about my upcoming release,  Well, actually I’m here to talk about a super cool question the blog sent me to answer, because I can always talk about process!

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

OMG y’all. So many answers to this.

I mean really. When I turned thirty, I went to London for the first time. I really thought I wanted to rent a garret there and write for days on end. In fact, I went home and wrote an erotica piece about a man who could only sleep on the Tube… It was published, but that was so long ago I can’t recall where. Maybe travelrotica? At any rate, that was what I wanted. When I was 35, I had been to Venice, and I wanted to rent an apartment in the Castello and go to the market every day for food and write my heart out.

I’ve been to NOLA and thought, we should have a writer’s retreat here! I want to go to Estes Park and sit I the lobby of the very haunted Stanley hotel and write ghost stories.

The thing is, I would love to write in all of these places, but these days it’s hard to travel. The wife is not well, and long air trips are right out.

I’ve realized as I’ve hit forty something, that what I really need as an ideal place to write is pretty simple.

I need the wife, my two basset hounds, a decent computer, and a good internet connection. I write a lot in Google Docs because it’s easier to access than Dropbox often times, and I can switch computers with reckless abandon.

Sadly, internet is kind crap and our house due to no cable, just DSL, and I’m struggling with a poopy Dell laptop I just bought so I can’t get rid of it.

Still, those are first world problems. The thing is, inspiration can strike anywhere, but home is where the heart is, and where the word count really flows…

XXOO

Julia Talbot

Blurb:

The last thing Sebastian Zeller wants is to be pack Alpha. But when the pack leader, his uncle Ron, is attacked, he has no cho ice but to leave his beloved Colorado mountains and fulfill his duty as Ron’s heir—at least until his uncle recovers. In the meantime, he intends to lure the attacker out… and make them pay.

When Ron gets wind of Sebastian’s plan to catch the attacker, he doesn’t like the idea of risking his heir. That’s where Jaxon Reedis comes in—he’ll balance protecting the dark and sexy werewolf with pretending to be his personal assistant. He’s walking a fine line that requires all his foxy wit and craftiness… and that’s on top of the inescapable feeling that he and Sebastian are meant for each other. When the attacker returns, will they be able to maintain their deepening bond when danger threatens to tear down everything they’re building?

About the Author

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner, All Romance Ebooks, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at http://www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”

Julia Talbot: http://www.juliatalbot.com

Minerva Howe: http://www.minervahowe.com

Julia’s Blog: http://juliatalbot.blogspot.com/

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

Andrew Grey on Favorite Stories, Covers and his new release Running To You (author guest blog and excerpt)

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Running to You by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Release Date: Mar 13 2018

Buy Links:Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Grey here today talking about favorite stories, and what’s ahead for him as an  author.  Welcome, Andrew.

♦︎

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)  Yes.  With Dreamspinner, we work with the cover artist to develop a cover that fits the story and one that we like.  DSP has always worked that way and it’s a process I really like.  There have been times when they have gone above and beyond to make me happy.  For the cover of Love Comes Silently we ended up going back and forth twenty times.  (Mostly to get the right pink hat.)

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?  That is a really hard question.  I think I have to say Love Means… No Shame.  That story really worked its way deep into my heart.  I also put a lot of myself and my own experiences into the story, so it got very personal quickly. 

What’s next for you as an author?  I just finished a story called Borrowed Heart where the main character Robin, had a heart transplant six years before and after being hurt badly by his ex-boyfriend, he needs to figure out how he’s going to move forward with the time that has been given to him.

Blurb/Synopsis:

Home, love, and possibilities he never imagined are waiting for Billy Joe to claim them. But first he needs to escape the horrors of his past.

A twisted act of cruelty and prejudice drives Billy Joe from his Mississippi home, and he makes it as far as Pennsylvania—where his car breaks down just as the year’s first snowstorm blows in. Fortunately, Carlos is there to lend a hand.

Carlos is no stranger to hardship. His family rejected him for being gay, but with determination, he put himself through school and became a librarian. Carlos sees the same willpower in Billy, and he wants to help Billy and his son succeed in a new life that is very different from the one they left behind. With his support, they start to adjust, and before long, both men want more than encouragement from each other. They want the chance for a future together, but their families have other ideas… and Billy’s will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Series: Standalone (Currently)
Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print

Excerpt 

Carlos Miras pulled to a stop behind the black Escape by the side of the highway. His father would probably tell him he was a fool, and his mother would probably say he had a good heart—too good a heart. But neither of their opinions mattered anymore. He was no longer part of their family. Carlos looked out his front window, wipers swishing back and forth to ward off the snow. He saw hints of light coming from inside the car, most likely from a cell phone.

He got out, pulling his coat closed around him. Hazard lights blinked red against the snow. Carlos tapped on the window of the back door because he thought he saw movement. “Are you all right?” he shouted.

The back door opened to a man leaning over the back seat to a small child still in his car seat, covered in a blanket. “The car died, and I was trying to get him warm.” The man turned and pulled back, eyes widening. Carlos had trouble placing the expression. “We’ll be fine as soon as I call for help.”

“Pop the hood. Let me take a look at it.” Carlos had spent numerous hours working on cars with his father and brothers. Not that he’d been particularly into cars at the time, but he picked things up by osmosis. He went around to the front, and when the hood popped, he pushed it open and used his phone to illuminate the engine.

“It just went dark all of a sudden and everything stopped working,” the man said, pulling himself into the coat after closing the car door.

Carlos bent over the engine and quickly found the problem. “It’s the electrical system.” He reconnected the main circuit to the alternator and stood back up. The hood light came on as though he’d flipped a switch, and Carlos closed the hood. “That ought to do it. I suggest you take it in to have it looked at, but you were pretty lucky.”

The man turned the key and the engine came to life. “Thanks,” he said softly. “I was trying to make Harrisburg to get a hotel and….”

Carlos shook his head. “I don’t think so. The snow isn’t going to stop, and the roads are only going to get worse. I’d say to get a hotel, but with this weather, they have been reporting that almost everything is full.” He sighed. “Let me make a call.” He pulled out his phone and called his landlady, Mrs. Carmichael, and explained the situation. “I know it’s unusual, but he has a little boy with him, and in this weather….”

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)

**** Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book from RBTL Book Promotions and the Author/Publisher with the hope that I will leave my Unbiased Opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. *****

Ari of Ari McKay with Teaser and a giveaway on their new release ‘Heart of Glass (Lawyers in Love #3)’ by Ari McKay

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Heart of Glass (Lawyers in Love #3) by Ari McKay
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art by Bree Archer

ORDER LINKS:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ari of Ari McKay here today to talk about their latest story Heart of Glass. Welcome, Ari!
♦︎

Hello, everyone! I’m the Ari half of Ari McKay, and I am honored to be joining the lovely people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words today to let you know a little bit about our recent release, Heart of Glass from Dreamspinner Press!

Heart of Glass is book three of our novella series Lawyers in Love. The first story, Santa’s Naughty Helper, was a Christmas tale, while Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows was set around Valentine’s Day. Our latest story returns to the Christmas Season, encompassing both the excitement of a New York “big city” holiday, and the delights of a more homespun celebration in the New Jersey suburbs. But while Christmas is the season for the story, the beginning features a misunderstanding that no one is likely to share around a holiday fire!

Asher Caldwell doesn’t do hearth and home, family or commitment. It’s a result of his upbringing by a father who just can’t seem to understand the word “faithful”. Asher is afraid of being like is father, so his love life consists of nothing more than one night stands with paid escorts. It might seem a bit ironic that a lawyer would result to an activity which is against the law, but Asher views it as serving his purpose. He gets the physical release he needs, the escorts receive compensation, and no one gets hurt.

No one knows about Asher’s practical arrangement, especially not Zach Richardson. Like Asher, Zach is the product of his upbringing. He comes from a large, warm family, and what he wants most is to find someone to love in the way his parents love one another. Unfortunately, Zach isn’t a very outgoing person, and between working for the District Attorney and his own innate reserve, Zach doesn’t meet many men. But when he works on the prosecution of a high profile case, he sees Asher Caldwell in action, and he’s completely blown away. Fascinated with both Asher and Asher’s ability to defend a seemingly indefensible case, Zach applies to Asher’s firm. Unfortunately, working in the same office doesn’t win him Asher’s notice, and Zach finally takes his friends’ advice to get out and try to find someone.

His best friends give him a makeover, and even Zach is stunned at the difference it makes in his appearance. For the first time in his life, he actually feels desirable. When his clubbing date with his pals is interrupted by an urgent assignment delivering paperwork to Asher’s apartment, Zach is a little curious if Asher will notice the difference.

Asher seems to notice – and to approve wholeheartedly, since he proceeds to seduce Zach. Unable to resist, Zach gives in, wondering if this could be the start of the kind of relationship with Asher he’d been hoping for. Their chemistry is off the charts, and Zach is beyond ecstatic, until the truth of the situation is finally revealed. Asher was expecting an escort, and he thought Zach was nothing more than his paid companion for the evening. To say Zach is devastated is quite an understatement.

When Asher learns the truth, he’s horrified that he’s gone to bed with one of his employees — and yet his encounter with Zach left him, for the first time, hungry for more. Now Asher faces the greatest challenge of his life – to convince Zach to take a chance on him, and prove to them both that he can be faithful to one man for the rest of his life.

I’m not going to give anything else away, but I hope I’ve whetted your appetite the way Zach did Asher’s, and that you’ll give Heart of Glass a chance to make you fall in love with our boys the way we did. And even if it isn’t Christmas, maybe a little of the magic can still rub off with the gift of a happily ever after!

Love always! Ari and McKay

BLURB:

 

Fear of being like his unfaithful father has put high walls around senior litigator Asher Caldwell’s heart. Can former district attorney Zach Richardson knock them down to reveal the passionate man beneath the commitment-phobic workaholic, or will Zach’s own jealousy destroy what they’re trying to build?

 

A new life and a new love—that’s what Zach’s hoping for when he leaves the DA’s office and lets his friends give him a makeover. But the jury’s still out on whether the experiment was a success. His new look gets the attention of his boss and secret crush, Asher Caldwell, and leads to a seduction. Unfortunately, to Zach’s horror he learns that Asher assumed he was a paid escort. Asher is equally mortified to discover he had sex with an employee. Even so, the encounter meant a lot to both men, and they want to give dating a shot. Their romance born out of mistaken identity might work if Zack can trust Asher to be satisfied with the love of only one man… and if Asher can trust himself.

About the Authors

 

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

 

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

 

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

AUTHOR CONTACTS:

 

Website: http://arimckay.wordpress.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ari-Mckay/266185570179748

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ari.mckay.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AriMcKay1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6153630.Ari_McKay

Giveaway

The authors are giving away with our post of the first two Lawyers in Love stories, Santa’s Naughty Helper and Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows.   Leave a comment, maybe about the series or even a suggestion for a new holiday for them along with your email address where you can be reached.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Laura Lascarso on Writing, Pain, and her latest novel When Everything Is Blue (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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When Everything Is Blue by Laura Lascarso
Dreamspinner Press

Cover art designer: AngstyG, www.AngstyG.comhttps://www.facebook.com/Angstyg

Buy LInks:  Dreamspinner Press eBook:  and Paperback

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Laura Lascarso here today talking about writing, tragedy, and her latest novel When Everything is Blue.  Welcome, Laura.

♦︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Laura Lascarso

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

In a word, therapy, but here is the long answer…

I was fortunate to connect with Dreamspinner Press on my first M/M novella Andre In Flight. The responses from both the DSP team and readers gave me a real sense of purpose. I was considering what my next project would be when the Pulse shooting in Orlando happened.

Some of the feelings of rage and impotence I was feeling after that tragedy, I channelled into The Bravest Thing. My family was also dealing with the loss of my husband’s little brother to a drug overdose after battling addiction for many years, so some of my sadness over that personal tragedy also played a role in that story. All in all, it was pretty heavy.

After completing work on The Bravest Thing, I was pretty emotionally drained and needed a project that was a little more uplifting. Because I came from the young adult fiction world and not that of romance or fan fiction, I had a lot of catching up to do in terms of the genre and what readers want. (I only recently discovered the difference between an HEA and HFN!) By reading reviews of my stories and others, and reading several wonderful M/M romance novels by my contemporaries, I began to understand what romance readers like and dislike. I also learned there were all kinds of romance tropes to draw from, including one of my favorites, best-friends-to-lovers.

I’m also a regular lurker on Reddit where there are countless stories of young men falling for their straight best friends. All of them are so touching and sweet, and their sense of yearning is so palpable. Who hasn’t fallen in love with a friend only to find out their love is unreturned or in the best possible case, requited?

So, with that in mind I wrote When Everything Is Blue to be a kind of Oddessy of self-discovery with a host of colorful characters to act as Theo’s guides along the way. It was a real pleasure for me to write the relationship between Theo and his best friend Chris. If The Bravest Thing was an ice pick to the heart, I hope When Everything Is Blue will feel like a warm embrace with a bit of wish-fulfillment thrown in.

To answer this question of why I write fiction, my goal is to encourage empathy and understanding among my fellow human beings, as I believe stories have the power to heal and transform a society. I also like to provide a safe place for readers to hunker down and escape from the world, which can be unbearable at times. I think for myself, I use writing as a way to process the world and make sense of my own emotions through my characters. Despite my sometimes sad stories, writing is a real joy for me.

I’m including the first chapter of When Everything Is Blue to give you a feel for the story. If you like it, I encourage you to read more!

Blurb

Sometimes the people we need most aren’t bonded by blood but by something deeper.

When they were kids, golden boy Chris Mitcham rescued dweeby Theo Wooten from the neighborhood bullies and taught him how to “be cool.” Now, years later, Theo’s developed feelings for his best friend that “arise” at the most inopportune times. Theo hates lying to Chris, but in coming out, he might lose the one person who understands him best, a risk he’s not willing to take.

When a relationship with another young man goes south, Theo is forced to confront his own sexuality along with his growing attraction to Chris and the stunted, tenuous relationship Theo has with his father. Will Chris abandon Theo when he learns the truth, or will he stand by him in this tumultuous season of self-discovery? In this quirky coming-of-age romance, Theo’s path to manhood is fraught with several awkward firsts, a few haters, but also the tender comfort of an unexpected lover.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

Be Cool

Being horny and almost sixteen is the absolute worst.

Take it from me, Theodore Wooten III, resident expert in the spontaneous boner. The cause of my lovesickness: Christian Mitcham. The cure: hell if I know.

With his sun-bleached hair, warm brown eyes, and devil-may-care attitude, people gravitate to Chris like sugar ants on a soda can, me included. He’s been my best friend since sixth grade when some neighborhood punks held me down on the sidewalk and tried to spit in my eyes. Chris called them off and threatened to beat their asses even though he was outnumbered and outgunned. I guess they believed in his conviction. I know I did.

“Chris is back.”

My twin sister, Tabitha, rushes into my room, even though the door was mostly closed. When we moved into this apartment, the owner paid a contractor to split the master bedroom into two bedrooms, so that we could each have our own room. Tabs got the en suite bathroom, and I got the window. Considering the view overlooks Chris’s property, where he can often be found strutting around shirtless in the wild, it now seems like a fair trade.

“You’re supposed to knock,” I grumble. My gut is a brew of excitement and nerves at the knowledge that Chris is back. My feelings toward my best friend have become more complicated over the past year or so. I’d hoped a summer apart would simplify things.

“I did knock, Theo. You just didn’t hear me,” says Tabs, she of the last word.

I was watching some skate videos online with my cans on. The music was loud, but not that loud. I toss my tablet on the bed, stand, and stretch, delaying the inevitable.

“Oooh, he looks good,” Tabs says as she opens my window, piquing my interest even more. “Buff and tan. He’s been working out.”

“Probably just surfing.” A cloud of swampy Florida air envelops me as I steal a glance over her shoulder. She’s right. He’s even more godly than two months ago. Lucky bastard doesn’t even need to try. Ever since Chris turned thirteen, his muscles have been bursting out like microwave popcorn. He lifts a burger to his mouth and sprouts biceps, sits up in bed and boom, there are his abs. Meanwhile, I grow taller and lankier and have to deal with my mom telling me to stand up straight or I’m going to get scoliosis, which I’m pretty sure isn’t how that disease works, but it’s hard to argue with my mom when she thinks she’s right.

My sister calls down to Chris. He’s carrying a new surfboard—midnight blue, probably a gift from his dad. He glances up and lifts his free hand in a friendly wave.

My gut twists in a nausea-inducing way. The feelings are still there, the sharp knife of longing that slices down my sternum and scrambles my guts. I lift one hand in greeting and hope I’m far enough away so he can’t see anything unusual on my face.

“Come down,” Chris calls. “Bring your suits.”

I’m already wearing my board shorts and a T-shirt. Standard summer attire. We live close enough to the beach that I can bike or skate there, even though my mom hates me going through all the traffic. Sometimes I just go to skate along the sea wall and smell the ocean. It reminds me of Chris.

The twist in my stomach coils into a hard knot of anxiety at the thought of our reunion, but it’ll be weird if my sister goes and I don’t. Plus, I’ve missed him like crazy. I got so bored this summer, I was finally able to nail a nightmare flip on my skateboard. Something to add to my college applications.

“Be right down,” Tabs calls to Chris, then bounces out of my room like a happy Pikachu. My sister’s always been the cheerful, outgoing one. I’m slightly sour.

I glance back out the window to find Chris still looking up at me. Of course I’ll be down. As if there was ever a question. I always do what Chris tells me. And until recently, I’ve been happy to do it. I trust him to know what to do in just about any situation.

Me, not so much.

I trail behind Tabs across our driveways and through the gate into his backyard. He’s laid out on a lawn chair, shirtless of course. His hair’s gotten longer. He likes it that way, so he can tuck it behind his ears. He’s got a deep summer tan, and his abs are even more ripped than when he left for summer a couple of months ago. His sunglasses are reflective so I can’t see his eyes. I worry he can tell I’m checking him out, so I stare at the shrubbery instead.

“What is this, a race?” Chris rises from the lawn chair to give me our usual bro-hug. He means my height. I must have grown two inches over summer, but I didn’t realize the difference until I have to lean down a little to embrace him. I catch a whiff of his hair—a mixture of sunshine, salt spray, and coconut shampoo. His skin is warm and feels good in my palms—dangerously good.

Chris hugs my sister too and asks her if she highlighted her hair. She did. He tells her he likes it, and my sister’s smile cracks wide open. We have good teeth, my sister and I, bright white and straight thanks to orthodontia. Our dad’s a dentist and our mom’s a dental hygienist. Our smiles are the one trait people say we have in common, though they probably see a lot more of Tabs’s teeth than my own.

“I wish my hair was your color naturally.” Tabs tugs at Chris’s golden locks playfully, which draws another deep chuckle from him. I study the flecks of quartz in the concrete and try to ignore the fact that my sister is flirting with my best friend. And she’s doing a really good job of it.

“How have the waves been?” Chris asks, drawing me back into the conversation. He never lets me stray too far.

“A couple tropical depressions came through and kicked up the surf. We got a few good days down at the pier. Probably nothing like an average swell in Cali, though.”

Chris shrugs. “It was all right. Nothing too special. I kind of missed it here.”

He looks at me then with his mile-long gaze, and I wonder if he’s saying that he missed me or if it’s just my lovesick imagination trying to bridge the gap between friendship and something else.

“It was pretty boring.” I glance out at the chemically blue water. The summer has been drab and gray without Chris. Feels like the sun is just now breaking through.

“Learn any new tricks?” he asks, meaning skateboarding. I don’t usually surf too much without him.

“Yeah, a nightmare flip.”

“No way.”

“Yeah, landed primo a few times and almost sliced my balls in half.” I stop at the mention of my balls, feeling my whole face flame up, which is stupid because we’ve probably talked about our balls a million times before, so why is it so weird now?

“Ew, Theo, gross. No one wants to hear about your junk,” my sister says, saving me.

Chris chuckles. “Can’t wait to see it. The flip, that is.”

I feel intensely hot under the heft of his stare, like my body might spontaneously combust. Instead of saying something else weird, I drop my towel on a chair and take off my shirt, then dive into the water and start doing laps. I spent a lot of time swimming laps in Chris’s pool over the summer. I like being submerged.

When Chris and I met, he was in seventh grade and I was in sixth. At the time my mom, my sister, and I had just moved into the gardener’s cottage next door because my parents had recently separated. I told Chris they were getting back together—I was so sure of it. But I’ve realized since then we were only my dad’s starter family.

Chris told me about his own parents’ divorce and then, when it happened to me later that year, he was there to talk me through it. I’ve never met another person I connected with like that. It felt special from the beginning.

Kismet.

And then last year, I started noticing things more—Chris’s muscles for one, the texture of his skin—warm and golden like honey—the pucker of his lips when he’s thinking, his hands. His smell. I started imagining what it might be like to kiss him, and when we’d happen to touch, it made my body go completely bonkers. It got to the point where I couldn’t be in the same room with him without getting a hard-on. Then he left for California for the summer, and I hoped the feelings would pass.

But they haven’t, and I’m scared they won’t.

After about twenty laps, I climb out of the pool feeling a little more relaxed. There are snacks on one of the tables, probably brought out by Paloma, their housekeeper. I towel myself off and check out the spread. Chris lowers his sunglasses and looks me up and down, not even trying to hide it. I don’t know if it’s out of competition or appreciation.

“Been working out?” he asks in that bro-code way.

I flex my barely there biceps as a joke, but they’re not as puny as I remember. “Just swimming and mowing lawns. Got a jobby job.” I grab a grilled cheese sandwich off a plate. Paloma must have made it special for me, knowing they’re my favorite. There’s also cut celery and carrots for Tabs, who it seems is always on a diet, and chicken wings for Chris. He loves bar food—the greasier the better. He should weigh five hundred pounds, but he’s doesn’t. He’s perfect. Le sigh.

“Who you working for?” Chris asks. Beads of sweat have collected on his bare chest, drawing my eyes to the growing patch of rangy brown hair between his chiseled pecs. And, yeah, there it goes again. There must be some kind of pill I could take—the anti-Viagra—for when you want your dick to be cool.

“Theo?”

“A patient at my mom’s office,” I answer, glancing anywhere but at him. “Jack Lawson. Owns Lawson’s Lawns. He needed someone who can speak Spanish to the crew.”

My mom’s Puerto Rican, and she and I mostly spoke Spanish in the house while Tabs and I were growing up. Tabs understands it, but she hardly ever speaks it. She’s always trying to fit in, telling us to “act normal,” whatever that means. Half the people in South Florida speak Spanish, so it’s not even that uncommon.

“Saving up for college?” Chris asks.

I grin at that. Chris is always telling me not to worry about college, that I’ll get a scholarship with my grades and his parents will probably have to pay extra to get a university to take him. He’s always trying to even things out between us so that money isn’t an issue—him having it and me not. Even though my dad’s a dentist and comes from money, he’s working on his fifth kid with his third wife, which means the child support well is drying up fast.

“I’m trying to buy a car,” I remind him.

“What do you need a car for?” His sandy eyebrows draw together, giving him a stern appearance. He looks put out by it. He’s been giving me rides since he got his license last year. Sometimes I feel like I’m taking advantage of his generosity, and I don’t like it.

“You know, to get around. I’m getting my license soon.”

“I thought I was your ride.”

A bit of melted cheese gets stuck in my throat and I have a little coughing fit. Chris jumps up and slaps my back, though I’m not sure it helps. I recover pretty quickly but not before noticing the hesitation of his hand, his warm palm against my cold skin and a slight, reassuring rub that sends the exact wrong message to my dick.

“You going to let me drive your car, Theo?” Tabs calls, hitting me like an anvil to the head.

“Not without a license.” My sister has shown no interest in learning to drive. She only got her learner’s permit because my mom made her, and she hardly ever practices. I don’t understand how she can be so reliant on others. I hate asking people for things.

“You’re still going to ride with me to school, though, right?” Chris says, moistening his lips with his tongue, drawing my attention to the pink that stands out against his tanned skin. His jaw is smooth. No more soft, downy hair. He must have started shaving this summer. Makes me think I should too.

I shrug. “Or, you could ride with me.”

He looks pleased with the suggestion. “Hopefully you’ve gotten better at driving this summer.”

“Like you’re the expert, Curby.”

He throws his shirt at me and I throw it back, but not before catching a whiff of it. Ack. Sensory overload. I claim the lawn chair on the other side of my sister. Physical distance helps. I close my eyes and try to envision the perfect wave instead of imagining what Chris looks like naked. Unfortunately it morphs into what Chris would look like surfing the perfect wave while naked, so then I imagine my fingernails being pulled from their nail beds because only thoughts of physical torture seem to work in these situations.

Tabs sits up, hands the sunscreen to Chris, and asks him to do her back. Without waiting for a reply, she angles toward him and sweeps up her ponytail. Like it’s nothing.

I tell them I have to use the bathroom so I won’t have to watch the rub-a-thon. Inside, I say hello to Paloma and ask about her mother, who’s still recovering from a recent illness. They’re from the Dominican Republic, and I think she likes speaking Spanish to me. We catch up for a bit. Then I hang out for a while in the bathroom, wash my hands meticulously, and count to a hundred until I’m sure the sunscreening is over.

When I come back, they’ve traded places and Tabs is doing Chris’s shoulders. I can tell she’s enjoying it. Really working it in there with the palm of her hand and taking her time. Who wouldn’t? All that warm, teasing skin…. I don’t want to watch, but I can’t seem to look away, so I stand there trapped with a crampy feeling in my balls.

“You need sunscreen?” Chris asks.

I turn fifty shades of red and stammer, “No, I’m good.” The last thing I want is to sprout a hard-on while Chris rubs my back. Jesus, I hope this is just some weird hormonal thing. I’d take acne and voice cracks over impromptu erections any day.

“Brown people burn too,” Tabs says, our mother’s constant reminder.

“I’ll be all right,” I say tightly.

The three of us lounge around in the shallow end, soaking up the sun and our last few days of freedom before school starts. My sister gossips about what went on while Chris was away visiting his dad in California, which couples from school have broken up and who’s gotten back together, who’s cheated or been cheated on. Who’s pregnant or on drugs or in rehab. I tune her out and quietly float on a raft until I hear her start talking about our birthday.

“Guess who’s turning sixteen soon?” she says to Chris.

“Ummm, Theo?” he says with a smile on his face.

She punches his arm playfully. “And me.”

“Really, I thought you were at least seventeen by now.”

She shakes her head and laughs. It echoes across the water, and my twin-sense tells me she’s working up to something. My ears perk up.

“So, I was thinking…,” she says in that nasally voice she gets with my dad whenever she wants something.

“What were you thinking?” Chris asks, playing along.

“I was thinking maybe I could have my birthday party here.” She motions with her manicured hands at the pool and surrounding veranda.

“No,” I call from my inflatable island in the deep end. I hate it when she asks our dad for things. Asking Chris is, like, a million times worse.

Chris ignores me and says, “Will there be a lot of hot chicks here?”

I roll my eyes and groan at his predictability.

“A ton,” she says with this huge smile on her face, and I already know he’s going to give in to her. Everyone does. My sister’s a master at getting her way.

“Will you plan it without any help from me?” he asks.

“Of course I will.” She claps her hands together.

“Will you help clean up?”

“A thousand times yes!”

“One last question.” He glances over at me. “Will I be invited to this party?”

She laughs and strategically places one hand on his bare shoulder. Seeing her touch him like that gets me all moody and pissed. I hate feeling that way toward Chris. And my sister too. I wish I could stop it, or even better, rewind my biology back to when I didn’t have these feelings at all.

“You’ll be my guest of honor, Christian Mitcham,” she says dramatically.

Chris waggles his eyebrows at me. “And what about birthday boy over there, is he invited?”

Tabs turns and lowers her sunglasses, stares at me like I’m the mutant tail she just can’t seem to shake. “I guess so. It’s his birthday too.”

“I’m not going,” I announce. I hate birthday parties, especially joint ones with Tabs. I’m always on edge because she’s so uptight about me not making her look bad.

“You have to go, Theo,” Chris whines in a high-pitched voice and splashes me. “It’s your sweet sixteen.”

A car horn interrupts my everlasting groan.

“Oh, that’s Lizbeth,” my sister says, climbing up the stairs and quickly toweling off. She dons a slinky sundress over her bikini and grabs her bag. “Going shopping at the Gardens. Want to come with?” She directs the question at Chris, not me. My sister rarely asks me to do things with her and her friends. I’m too weird, she says. I don’t talk enough and when I do, I say strange things.

“I’ll stay here and catch up with Theo.” Chris smiles warmly at her. He has this amazing quality of making you feel special just with a smile.

“See ya, Tabs,” I call.

“Yeah,” she responds and saunters off with this swishy walk she does when she thinks somebody might be watching. She has a nice little body, and she knows it. Her sandals go clack-clack-clack on the concrete, and then she’s gone.

“Same old Tabs,” Chris says with a chuckle.

“Yep,” I agree, though I don’t find it at all amusing. She could have at least asked me about her birthday plans before springing it on Chris. I’d have said no—hell, no—which is probably why she didn’t. Maybe too I feel a little possessive over Chris. She has a ton of friends already. Does she have to add Chris to her collection?

“A party could be fun,” he says, trying to warm me up to it.

“I’ll be up there.” I point to my bedroom window.

“Like hell you will. If I have to put up with Tabs’s friends, you do too.”

I groan again even though I think Chris and Tabitha have both become immune to my resistance. The only thing I want to do on my birthday is go down to the DMV and get my license, then drive down A1A in my mom’s car with the windows down, unless I have my own car by then. I’ve got a few thousand saved up from a lifetime of being cheap, along with my pay from summer work. A car means freedom, independence, and not having to rely on Chris or my mom to cart my ass around town all the time.

Chris turns on me then with a mischievous grin, crosses the pool in two strides, and upsets my float, dumping me into the cold water. It’s a bit of a shock to the system. Even more so when he wraps one muscular arm around my neck and dunks me under just to show me he still can.

I come up with a full-body shiver and shake the water from my hair. “Had to get that out, huh?” I ask, hardly even annoyed.

“Got to make sure you still know who’s boss.” He punches my shoulder lightly.

Boss is my nickname for him, whenever he’s being pushy or trying hard to get his way, which is most of the time.

“So, what have you been up to?” Chris asks. “You hardly texted me at all this summer.”

He’s right about that. Mainly because it just made me miss him more. I did send him a few pictures, mostly of the beach and the waves, since that’s always been his favorite view.

“Nothing too exciting happened while you were gone. Didn’t seem like much worth mentioning.”

He scowls like he doesn’t believe me, though he should know nothing fun ever happens when he’s not around.

“I got a new board. Want to see it?” Chris has a lot of toys, but he gets super excited about his boards.

“I’m surprised you held out this long.”

“I figured Tabs wouldn’t be into it. Not the way you would.”

“Yeah, sure.”

We climb out of the pool and towel off. I follow Chris over to one of their outdoor sheds where he keeps his half-dozen surfboards, all quality-made, on wooden racks. If the boards don’t stand up to the test, Chris trades or sells them, which means his collection is always evolving to suit his style of surfing.

The floor is a concrete slab and the couple of dusty windows light the shed in a buttery yellow haze. I can’t see the color and design as well as if we were outside, so I run my hand along the edge of the board where it straddles two sawhorses. It’s a short board with a slightly upturned nose. The epoxy resin is smooth as glass, not a drop of wax on it. It’s probably never even been floated before.

“You haven’t used it yet,” I remark. Usually Chris takes them out his first day, or he arranges to test drive them before buying.

“This weekend. Taking a trip to Sebastian before school starts. You coming?”

I have nothing planned other than working with my lawn crew, which I can probably get covered for the weekend, but it’s hard enough keeping my junk in check when we’re alone. I don’t want the pressure of being around his ultrahetero friends or watching him make out with his squad of surfer girls.

“I don’t know, Boss. School starts on Monday.”

“Whaaat?” he whines and I shrug like What can I do about it? “Come on, T. I really want you to come with me. We haven’t hung out all summer.”

“I know, but….” I drift off, not knowing how to finish that thought without telling him the real reason—it’s too damn hard to be constantly tempted with something you can’t have.

“I’ll give you Lady Macbeth.” Chris grins slyly, sweetening the pot. Lady Macbeth is my favorite of his collection, a long board made by a local guy named Casper. We named her that because we’re convinced she’s suicidal. On good days that board can sail. On bad ones she drops me on my ass. I can relate to her temperament.

“I always get Lady Macbeth.”

“To have.” He crosses his arms over his broad chest, accentuating the swell of his biceps and the meat of his pecs.

Chris is always giving me stuff. Before I got too tall, he used to give me his old clothes. My bike used to be his, too, and a couple of my skateboards. He’s too generous, especially to me.

“That board’s worth, like, $500. Not including sentimental value.”

“It’s practically yours anyway. I never ride it.”

“So you’re telling me you want me to store it in my garage,” I say to mess with him. I don’t want him to think I’m using him for his stuff, part of why I started working this summer. To give back.

“No,” he says, getting a little flustered. It doesn’t happen often, but I do enjoy seeing Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected squirm. “You can still store it here. You probably should. Don’t want to make the others jealous.”

“Ha,” I say as my eyes land on the ridgeline of his collarbone and the gold chain that rests there with a shark’s tooth attached. I found it way back when on the beach and gave it to him—biggest tooth we’d ever seen. Chris had it made into a necklace. The tooth belongs to a great white, he always tells people when they ask, the same shark that chomps on surfers up and down the coast. Not us, though. By wearing its tooth, it shows the sharks we’re one of them. Like most surfers, Chris is a bit superstitious.

I turn away so he won’t see my face and pretend to inspect Lady Macbeth. “She’s pretty dinged up, though.”

“You little shit.” He shoves me lightly. “You’re the one who dinged her.”

I smile. He’s so protective of his boards. “If I take her off your hands, she might not answer to you anymore.”

“She never did. I’d have sold her if it weren’t for you.” He lays his hand on the board’s edge and gives her an affectionate little squeeze. His ruddy golden hand with his sun-bleached nails, next to mine, so close they’re practically touching. Chris is always just an inch too far away.

“So, you’ll come to Sebastian with me?”

Is it my imagination, or is there some unspoken plea in his voice? I don’t know how I’m going to survive the weekend with him, much less my entire sophomore year. Lots of cold showers. But like most things with Chris, I don’t have the willpower to say no.

“Yeah, I’ll come. But I get shotgun.” I always get shotgun unless there’s a girl in the car, Hopefully he’s not bringing a girl with us.

“Damn, Theo, I go away for a summer and you’ve turned into a shark.”

I shake my head and nudge him lightly with my shoulder, my bare skin brushing against his. I glance over, and even though I can’t see them in this light, I know that’s where he collects his freckles, on the tops of his shoulders. I’ve spent way too much time memorizing them, but it’s partly his fault for never wearing a damn shirt.

“You know you always get what you want in the end,” I tell him. As if there was ever a question.

He smiles with an arrogance that only adds to his appeal. “Don’t make me work too hard.”

That deep, gravelly voice gets me every time. Feels like my heart is being rubbed over a cheese grater. I remind myself to breathe, then make up an excuse about something I need to do at home and walk back out of the shed with his fumes still in my nostrils and his voice humming in my head.

Our summer apart hasn’t changed a thing. If anything, it’s only gotten worse. I’m still hopelessly infatuated with my best friend.

My straight best friend.

 

About the Author

Laura Lascarso wants you to stay up way past your bedtime reading her stories. She aims to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of storytelling to heal and transform a society. When not writing, Laura can be found screaming “finish” on the soccer fields, rewatching Veronica Mars, and trying to convince politicians that climate change is real. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband and two kids. She loves hearing from readers, and she’d be delighted to hear from you.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lascarso

Twitter: @lauralascarso 

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Sean Michael on his Love of Words, Word Games and his latest release Daddy, Daddy, and Me (guest post)

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Daddy, Daddy, and Me by Sean Michael
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Buy links: Dreamspinner Press |  AmazonBarnes & Noble  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Sean Michael on tour for his book Daddy, Daddy, and Me. Welcome back, Sean.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words have kindly hosted me a number of times with my new releases – thank you very much! And every time I see the name it makes me smile. I like the idea of rogue words. I love words, period, but rogue ones, now those must be some great words.

So I have a few time wasters that are related to words and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Words With Friends. Basically it’s Scrabble without stepping on anyone’s copyright. I play a number of people who I know, but I also play with random players the game selects for me. It’s pretty good at matching players with like abilities so you aren’t always trouncing or getting trounced. The only thing I don’t like about it is that when I go several weeks without playing because I am super busy, it drops all my games.

4 pics 1 word. I think I joined this one late in the game as I know it was big quite a while ago. I do love trying to figure out what the words are based on the pictures. There’s almost always one that seems out of left field compared with the others. When I’m really stuck, I try to pretend I never saw the one that doesn’t belong and concentrate on the other three. It’s always amusing to me when the one that I thought was so different from the others was not the one I thought it was!

And brand new to me and currently my favorite is Wordscapes. This one gives you a little crossword puzzle kind of layout and a group of six letters at the bottom. You need to make words out of the six letters to fill the crossword. You get points for making words that don’t go on the board but that are real words. The hardest word is almost always the ‘bonus’ word, which doesn’t connect to the rest of the grid. It’s much easier to figure out that last word when you know where at least one of the letters go! When I get stuck on this one, I’ll put it down and usually coming back to it fresh a while later helps me ‘see’ that last word I was looking for.

If you see me frowning at my phone – I’m probably playing one of those three games.

Sean Michael

smut fixes everything

Blurb:

When Jeff agreed to be the sperm donor to his best friend Beth, he never expected a tragedy to leave his newborn and three-year-old motherless. Beth’s loss has totally thrown his life into chaos: his lover has left him, his house isn’t anywhere near childproof, and his boss feels the restaurant has been patient enough with Jeff’s time off.

Donny has always known he wanted to work with kids, and he just finished his degree in early childhood education. He didn’t count on the prejudice he’d face as not only a male nanny, but a gay one at that. Job-hunting has been frustrating to say the least, so when he knocks on Jeff’s door and is greeted by the sounds of things breaking and a pair of screaming children, he thinks maybe he can begin this particular interview with a trial by fire.

Becoming the nanny to Jeff’s children might be a dream come true for Danny and exactly what Jeff needs, but are either of them ready to really be a family?

About the Author

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/

TWITTER: seanmichael09

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/seanmichaelpics/

KA Mitchell on Characters, Writing and her story Bad Boyfriend (Bad in Baltimore #2) (author guest post)

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Bad Boyfriend (Bad in Baltimore #2) by K.A. Mitchell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:Kanaxa

Buy Links: Google Books | Dreamspinner Press | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have KA Mitchell here today talking about Bad Boyfriends.  Welcome, KA!

✒︎

Hi again!

Thank you so much for having me back to talk about writing. I love answering interview questions (the only thing that’s more fun is when someone interviews my characters!).

I know I answered a ton of them last time, so I’m just going to answer a few here.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I don’t have a favorite, honest. There are always books and characters who are easier to revisit, but I believe firmly in loving the one you’re with. My favorite is almost always the book I’m working on now with the next one I plan to work on a close second. It’s kind of like having a wife and a mistress. You love the story you committed to, but sometimes you’ve been together so long you start looking at something sexy on the horizon. But I always go back to my commitment. Until after edits do us part.

My readers, on the other hand, often email or talk to me about favorites (Thank you, readers!) and Bad Boyfriend is definitely a favorite of readers. Readers like to tell me that Peter is irredeemable scum and that they love Eli and Quinn. I’m thrilled that their story has stayed with readers for the past few years, and I’m excited to share them with new readers.

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

I announced my career intention as authoress at the ripe old age of six. (I was very into gendered suffixes at the time.) I didn’t really know what they did except made books. As I got older, the career never lost appeal. I always envisioned myself typing away in some cozy mountain cabin with a view of the lake. (I don’t know what lake, but it’s really picturesque.) In reality though, I love writing everywhere. I love when the words come so fast and good I have to write them down: at the beach, in line at Walt Disney World, in a meeting, at four a.m., and even in cardiac ICU (my dad was in surgery but the characters were talking). The best possible place to write may be that cabin (I don’t know, I’m still waiting to get there), but right now it’s wherever the words are flowing.

 

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

I write to be read. By me and hopefully by readers. I write stories I want to read. I’ve always made up stories. I can’t imagine life without them. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have imaginary friends and some alternate reality going on in my head. (If that makes me a little—or a lot—crazy, I’m fine with that.) I need to have a bedtime story to tell myself, it’s usually a scene I’m working on, or I can’t fall asleep. Why I write is because I love it. But sometimes, there’s a character who absolutely grabs me and will not stop until I tell his story. That can be an exciting ride and lead to sleepless nights, even without a looming deadline. I find myself jerking awake in bed and when I grab pen and paper in the middle of the night my wife says, “Tell the boys to be quiet. It’s bedtime.”

Tl;dr. I write because being in a story is the best thing ever. 

Bad Boyfriend

A Bad in Baltimore Story

Bad in Baltimore: Book Two

Causing trouble has never been more fun.

Eli Wright doesn’t follow anyone’s rules. When he was seventeen, his parents threw him out of the house for being gay. He’s been making his own way for the past five years and he’s not about to change himself for anyone’s expectations. For now, romance can wait. There are plenty of hot guys to keep him entertained until he finds someone special.

Quinn Maloney kept the peace and his closeted boyfriend’s secrets for ten years. One morning he got a hell of a wake-up along with his coffee. Not only did the boyfriend cheat on him, but he’s marrying the girl he knocked up. Inviting Quinn to the baby’s baptism is the last straw. Quinn’s had enough of gritting his teeth to play nice. His former boyfriend is in for a rude awakening, because Quinn’s not going to sit quietly on the sidelines. In fact, he has the perfect scheme, and he just needs to convince the much younger, eyeliner-wearing guy who winks at him in a bar to help him out.

Eli’s deception is a little too good, and soon he has everyone believing they’re madly in love. In fact, he’s almost got Quinn believing it himself….

K.A. Mitchell

About the Author

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

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

Email: ka@kamitchell.com

Twitter: @ka_mitchell

Website: http://www.kamitchell.com

Blog: authorkamitchell.wordpress.com

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