Rayna Vause on Writing and her new release Twice Bitten (guest blog and giveaway)


Twice Bitten by Rayna Vause

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: April Martinez

Buy Links:

Universal   |  Dreamspinner Press eBook|   

Dreamspinner Press Paperback: 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Rayna Vause here today talking about writing and her new release Twice Bitten.  Welcome, Rayna.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Rayna Vause

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

Absolutely! I’ve always been a fan of stories with paranormal elements. When I think back I recall reading stories like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, Witches and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl as bedtime stories. My mom and I would take turns reading to each other. It was fun and I’d get so caught up in the fantasy of the stories. For example, I always thought it was so cool that in a Wrinkle in Time Meg’s brother could read her mind at times and I loved the three immortal characters Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. But I also enjoyed the science aspect of it, although I didn’t really realize that until I got older. I mean how cool is it that both of Meg’s parents are scientists. Plus, here’s a kids book that’s exploring the world of quantum physics. How cool is that?! (Yes folks, I’ve been a geek since birth)

Next came Nancy Drew and Christopher Pike’s books, all of which laid the groundwork for my love of mystery/suspense and, of course, romance.  Then as an impressionable high school freshman someone handed me my first true romance novel and my fate was sealed. I don’t think I’ve written a story yet that doesn’t include some combination of all of these elements. Do to get back to the original question, yes my childhood and teenage reading very much shaped my writing.

  •  Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I actually like both. I think there are some stories in which the characters have gone through a lot together and come to a place of happiness, but they still have more work to do on the relationship. Other stories the characters have reached that place where they are truly ready to commit to forever with each other. I find both equally satisfying, but perhaps that’s because in my head all the HFN stories eventually get to their HEA.

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

It’s part marketing, part gut, and part what speaks to you the most. It all starts with an art information sheet which is the most painful thing to complete ever because you have to pick your book apart to really get to the essence of the story so that the graphic artists can then bring it to life visually. When I get mock ups from my publisher there is usually one design that speaks to me more than the others. Then I tweak.


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

I actually have a book on my to be written list that I walked away from for years because I’d written myself into a corner, and didn’t know how to get out. So, I put it down and let it percolate. Then one day I saw this call from a publisher and it sparked an idea. Next thing I know I’ve got a fully plotted book outline ready to roll.

Also, my current release Twice Bitten is another one that I put on the shelf for a while. I wrote the original version ages ago, then I put it away. At first, I just needed a break from the story. It was too short and basically needed to be ripped apart and put back together again. I just couldn’t figure out how to do that. Then I saw a call from a publisher…(I’m noticing a pattern here.)

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

My own private island, possibly on a lounge chair in the shade with cool island breezes blowing and nothing but the sound of the wind and the crashing waves. Of course, knowing me I’d get distracted staring out at the blue water, then fall asleep. Honestly, my ideal place to write is some place where I have drinks, snacks, a comfy seat, and zero distractions. I can be like the dogs in Up. You know…SQUIRREL! So, the fewer things that can draw my focus the better.


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

I write because I’ve got so many crazy ideas flitting through my brain that I feel compelled to put them down on paper.  I write because I enjoy telling stories. I write for the challenge of it. I write because of the sense of accomplishment I feel every time I get to The End no matter how much I agonize getting there. Plus, writing is a way for me to bring the science geek side of my personality together with my creative side. Finally, I continue to write because it’s brought me together with an amazing tribe of people who encourage me to keep cranking out my crazy ideas. 

  •  What’s next for you as a writer?

I’ve got a couple stories ideas that I’m poking at. One is a series featuring heroes with different psychic abilities. Another, story I’m working on features the royalty trope because it’s one of my favorites, on par with the secret baby trope. But, the one I’m going to focus on is a medical romantic suspense.


With a new species of vampire stalking the streets, the stakes are high. But that’s not the only reason hearts are on the line.

Danny Reynolds thought Kieran McCade was the one—true love and hot lust forever—until Danny found out Kier’s bloody secret and ran away screaming. Months later, Danny is facing his own paranormal crisis, and he needs Kieran’s help, but are there enough ways to apologize for breaking a vampire’s heart?

Nothing about Danny’s transformation is normal—not the attack that led to it, and not the symptoms Danny’s plagued with—but being in close proximity to Kieran is even worse than becoming a thing that goes bump in the night. Danny and Kieran aren’t the only things threatening to bump each other off, though. Secret organizations and clashing vigilante agendas want to get their hands on Danny. His only hope is to find a fix for his problem before he’s either captured or his abnormal transition starves him to death.

Danny and Kieran might have a real chance to repair their broken romance… but only if they keep Danny alive!

About the Author

Rayna Vause is a lifetime learner who wants to live on a Disney cruise ship travelling the world and thinks purple should be considered a natural hair color. She’s fascinated by the magic and  mystery in the world; things like psychics, demons, cats (especially cats!) and true love. A proud geek, she injects some of her science and tech-obsessed soul into every story she writes. When not writing she’s pursuing another degree, running a conference, working through her massive TBR pile, losing herself in a video game, and plotting her next novel.  


Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/raynavauseauthor

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/Rayna_Vause

Website – http://www.RaynaVause.com


Contest/Giveaway – http://raynavause.com/contest/

An ebook copy of Demon of Mine.  Leave a comment for Rayna and an email address where you can be reached if chosen. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.


Tia Fielding on Writing, Major Influences, and her new story ‘Like Breathing by Tia Fielding’ (guest blog)


Like Breathing by Tia Fielding 

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Buy links for Dreamspinner Press eBook and  Paperback |    Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tia Fielding here today sharing her thoughts on writing, characters and her latest novel, Like Breathing.  Welcome, Tia.



Hi, I’m Tia Fielding, and I’m here to answer a few interview questions for you guys!

If I want to use an example, I’ll use one from my July 10th release, Like Breathing, so in case you’re picking it up, you will see what I mean in my answers here.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I guess there will always be some similarities between my characters and I. In Like Breathing, Dev is a gamer like I am. Seth is oblivious to certain things, much like me. He likes his routines, and even though I’m not quite as anal as Seth can be, I’ve my routines too. Leaf… well, Leaf’s love for dogs and his loyalty to the people he loves is something I identify with. Also when I’m writing about Dev and Seth’s anxiety issues, I know that’s something I have too much experience with.

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

I think some things are universal. Some characteristics are common between people from similar life situations and backgrounds. Not every character can be unique, because we all share experiences as people. I will say, however, that I hope my characters come across much more interesting than me as a person!

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

I tend to like things I can research, mostly because I’m Finnish and I’ve lived in Finland my whole life. My stories are mostly set in the States, so the geographical location alone makes me have to research quite a bit, just to make it all sound plausible, if not 100% accurate! I’d love to write something sci-fi one day, or maybe something futuristic in a different way, but it does sound quite daunting for someone with my anxiety issues!

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

No, not really. Well… I did read a lot of contemporary stories then, but my love was fantasy, and I don’t really like to write fantasy at all.

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

I have, if it has become too heavy for me to write at that moment. Or if I feel like I don’t have the right words to use about something heavy. I tend to write angsty stories, but they never get to the point of angst I think they will, mostly because while I love to read angst, I’m afraid of not pulling it off as a writer. Conflicts in my stories, whatever they might be, are always resolved pretty quickly.

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

I read a lot of gay romance, yes. I grew up reading fantasy, but Catherine Cookson was one of my favorites even in my teens, and she wrote (mostly historical) romances. There’s just certain type of escape that comes from reading romance, back then and now, too.

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

I don’t think I’ve taken any direct influence, at least not on purpose, from anyone, but some of my favorite authors I’ve admired for different reasons growing up and now are David and Leigh Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Catherine Cookson, Donna Tartt, Karin Slaughter, Astrid Lindgren, Tove Jansson, and a handful of Finnish authors, just to mention a few!


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

Somewhere calm. I love to write here at home at my own desk, on my big computer screen. I have ADHD, so it’s easy for me to have those “ooh, squirrel!” moments, and I’ve figured out a way that helps me write despite those. What I do, is that I have my manuscript on half my screen, and the other half is for, say a Netflix show. Then, whenever my mind tries to wander off somewhere, I click play on the show and let it run until my concentration gets back to me. Sometimes it’s ten seconds (honestly) and sometimes twenty minutes or something in between, but it works. It literally makes me able to write on the days when my ADHD is trying to kick my brain’s butt!


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

I write because I have to. It’s a part of me. I write to tell stories I want feel like telling at any given time, and I can just hope someone will enjoy them one they’re out there for everyone to read. If my stories give even a temporary escape from the madness that’s going on in the world or someone’s personal life, it’s the greatest gift I can get as a writer.


What’s next for you as a writer?

I’m starting a new series! It’s going to be set in Brighton, England, and well, let’s hope I can get it out of my head and to you guys, eventually!

Thanks so much for having me, and hope you enjoy your summer reading, whatever it might be!


A love as easy as breathing.

Life started out rocky for Devin Rice, but it’s turned out pretty well. He has adoptive parents and a brother who love him, and he works as a coder for his dad’s video game company. Romance is scarce, but a chance encounter leads to more than he ever expected.

While dropping off an assignment for his sick brother, Dev meets his mentor. Art history professor Seth Kent is brilliant and gorgeous, just what Dev has been looking for. Except that he’s in a long-term committed relationship.

Seth’s partner, Leaf, is older and sees the world differently due to his unusual upbringing. To him, the clear attraction between Seth and Dev isn’t a problem, it’s an unexpected gift. After all, Leaf is often on the road, going wherever rescue dogs need rehabilitation.

When Leaf meets Dev, all the missing pieces fall into place, and three men from different worlds and at different points in life fill each other’s empty spaces. For them, building a future together is the most natural thing in the world. But their unconventional love causes waves in their careers and family dynamics, and each man has his own doubts and fears to overcome.

About the Author

Tia Fielding is a thirtysomething Scandinavian who is a lover of witty people, words, cats, sarcasm, autumn, and the tiny beautiful things in life. Tia struggles with stubborn muses and depression, but both are things she has learned to live with. Tia identifies as genderqueer, but isn’t strict about pronouns. Why? Because luckily, in her native language there aren’t gender-specific pronouns. Being a reclusive author living with her fur-babies is another fact of life for Tia, among the need to write that seems to be a part of her psyche by now. In 2013 one of Tia’s novels was recognized by the industry’s Rainbow Awards in the Best LGBT Erotic Romance (Bobby Michaels Award) category.

Social media information:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/authortiafielding

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/tiaf/

Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/tiafielding

Andrew Grey On the Person Behind his Love for Reading, Books, and his new novel Fire and Granite (Carlisle Deputies #2) by  Andrew Grey (guest blog and excerpt)


Fire and Granite (Carlisle Deputies #2) by  Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover art: Kanaxa

Release Date: July 10 2018

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |   Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words thanks  Andrew Grey for taking the time to stop by to talk about Fire and Granite, his latest release.  Thank you, Andrew and we’re sry to hear about the loss of your mother.
There has been a very definite theme to my blog tour posts for this title.  In case you don’t know, I lost my mother a few days ago.  She was the reason I love to read and why I eventually started writing.  The others in my family never read much, but mom was a romance reader and I know I get my love of story and romance from her.  Dad used to make up his own stories when we were kids, so I get my ability to play with characters and situations in my head from him.  I sometimes like to think that it took both of them for me to be the writer I am.  Smile
I know the kind of stories my mom liked and I’m sure Fire and Granite would be one of them.  My mom used to read a lot of my work, skipping the sex parts.  Winking smile  She was very proud of me and that is a constant source of comfort right now.  I don’t want this to be a maudlin post, but a happy one.  My mom was full of love and fun, so that’s how I’m going to remember her.  She also loves stories with children, hot men, romance, passion, energy and vivacity.  I like to think Fire and Granite is one she would love.  For the last six months, my mom hasn’t been able to read and now I like to think she can.  So I hope she adds this one to her TBR pile.


The heat is growing from the inside, but danger is building on the outside.

Judge Andrew Phillips runs a tight ship in his courtroom. He’s tough, and when he hands down a sentence, he expects to be obeyed. So when a fugitive named Harper escapes and threatens his life, Andrew isn’t keen on 24-7 protection… especially not from Deputy Clay Brown. They have a past, one that could cause problems in their careers.

But with Clay assigned to Andrew and the two of them together every minute, there’s nowhere to hide from their attraction—or from the fact that there’s much more than chemistry blooming between them. As the threat intensifies, Clay knows he’ll do anything it takes to protect the people who are taking their places in his heart: Andrew and his young niece and nephew.

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance/Law EnforcementEdition/
Formats Available In: eBook & Print


Thank God the day was over. Andrew had managed to keep things moving and had gotten through his entire agenda. He took off his robe and hung it up, then sat at his desk to get some work accomplished and prepare for the following morning. What he needed was a few hours alone, but he was more likely to get just a few minutes. Still, he used them to his full advantage.

“Judge Phillips,” Clay said after Andrew had gotten in a half hour of uninterrupted work. “When do you intend to leave for the day?”

Andrew checked the clock and figured now was as good a time as any. He stood and began packing his bag for the evening. “Give me ten minutes.”

“Then I’ll bring the car around so I can take you home.” Clay picked up the suitcase that Andrew had placed by the door that morning and left the office.

Andrew finished up, and by the time he was ready, Clay had returned. They went down the back stairs and out through the front door. A sheriff’s vehicle was parked just off to the side. Clay watched all around as he escorted Andrew to the car and got him inside before hurrying to the driver’s side. They took off and turned onto Hanover Street.

“Where are we going?” It definitely wasn’t his home.

“I need to stop at my house to check on Petey. He’s been cooped up inside all day, and I need to let him out and feed him. It won’t take long.”

“Do we really have to do this?” Andrew grumped as Clay turned onto Chapel and pulled into his garage.

“Yes… we do. Please stay here,” Clay directed. He got out, closed the overhead garage door, and locked it before checking the yard. Then he motioned for Andrew to join him, and they walked up to the house. Clay opened the back door, and a short blond dog raced by, hurrying to the nearest tree to do his business. “That’s Petey.”

The dog ambled back, and Clay knelt down to pet him and receive doggie kisses. Petey accepted the attention and then hurried over to Andrew, looking upward with huge brown eyes, his tail wagging constantly.

Andrew knelt and petted the dog slowly. “He’s really adorable.”

“Petey is special.” Clay went inside, and Andrew followed. Petey raced to his empty bowl, and Clay fed him and changed his water. “He spends a lot of the day here alone. I try to come home at lunch to let him out, but I didn’t get a chance today. Corgis are pack animals, and I think he suffers when he’s alone so much.” He set the bowl down, and Petey crunched his food.

“But he’s alone all day,” Andrew said, kneeling down when Petey finished, holding out his hand. Petey came right over for more scratches. “You’re a pretty boy, aren’t you?” He scratched between Petey’s ears, and the dog sat down, soaking in the attention. “Why don’t you bring him to the house? It’s a shame to leave him here all alone so much of the time.”

Clay seemed taken aback. “Are you serious?” It was clear Clay really cared for his dog.

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 Group All the Way with Andrew Grey


Twitter @andrewgreybooks


For Other Works by Andrew Grey

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

EJ Russell on her new release Mystic Man (a States of Love novella) (guest blog and giveaway)


Mystic Man by

E.J. Russell
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links:

Universal Buy Link |  Dreamspinner Press 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have E.J. Russell here today talking about her latest novella and with a special excerpt for all to read.  Welcome, E.J.


Many thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for inviting me to stop by today as part of the Mystic Man blog tour! Mystic Man is a contemporary novella set in Connecticut, part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love collection. To celebrate the release, at the end of the tour I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Clickbait (another of my contemporary romantic comedies) to one lucky commenter.

(In this excerpt, Aaron meets Cody’s niece, Kaya, who’s having a very bad day.)

Cody led the way through the hallway into a room with french doors that opened onto a deep lawn. The mellow oak floor and the deep orange walls, warmed further by the sunlight spilling in through a pair of bay windows, reminded Aaron strongly of pumpkin pie. He sniffed experimentally, expecting scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, but instead, the aromas were much stronger. Maybe… curry?

A man and a little girl were sitting on a brown corduroy sofa in front of a fieldstone fireplace, the girl’s feet barely clearing the deep cushions. She had the same brown skin, black hair, and liquid dark eyes as the man next to her, so Aaron made the leap that this must be Cody’s niece and brother-in-law. The man looked rather harried, and the little girl… drooped. She held a booklet, covered in green construction paper and bound with brass brads.

“Hey, Hiran. Kaya. This is Aaron Templeton, the guy I was telling you about. Aaron, my brother-in-law, Hiran Chaudhri, and my niece, Kaya Chaudhri-Brown.”

Hiran stood up and shook Aaron’s offered hand. “Pleased to meet you.”

“My pleasure entirely.”

“Aaron’s a historian.”

Kaya looked up from under her bangs. “I hate history.”

“Kaya!” Hiran’s tone was admonitory but tempered with an obvious kindness.

“It’s okay.” Aaron smiled down at the girl, who was wearing a Dinosaur State Park T-shirt that matched her pink high-tops. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”

Cody dropped down on the sofa next to Kaya. “But you were so excited about it. I seem to remember reading about three hundred and seven internet pages about Amelia Earhart with you last week.”

“That was before,” Kaya said darkly.

Hiran’s pocket beeped, and he pulled out his cell phone. He winced at the screen, then glanced at his daughter, obviously torn between the message and the distressed little girl, who was glaring at her feet, kicking her high-tops together.

The phone rang, and Hiran clutched his hair. “I’m sorry. The entire team is about to melt down. I must—”

Cody shooed him toward the door. “No worries, BIL. We’ve got this.” He gestured to the sofa on the other side of his niece, and Aaron sat down gingerly as Hiran strode out of the room. “What changed your mind, munchkin?”

“I’m not a munchkin, Uncle Cody. They wear stupid shoes.” She punctuated her words with a double kick of the pink high-tops.

“Sorry, munchkin.”

“Uncle Cody!”

Aaron wondered what Cody was up to until he noticed that Kaya’s sadness had morphed into indignation. Ah. Redirection. Apparently Cody wasn’t afraid to take one for the team.

Cody leaned into the cushions and dropped an arm across the sofa back, behind Kaya. His fingers brushed Aaron’s shoulder, prompting an involuntary shiver.

He tapped the little booklet in Kaya’s lap. “Why don’t you tell us what the problem is? You wouldn’t let me see the final project at dinner the other night.”

“That’s because it wasn’t done.”

“Well, it’s done now. Can we see it?”

She clutched the booklet to her chest. “No. Ms. Jenkins said it was wrong.”

Aaron didn’t miss the flash of anger in Cody’s eyes—and he didn’t blame him. For a child Kaya’s age, just starting her long academic slog, discouragement from a teacher could be crushing. The same thing had happened to Aaron when he was in first grade. Those kinds of scars stayed with you. Although he had to admit that Kaya seemed like a kid who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Aaron cleared his throat. “Kaya, Cody told you that I’m a historian, but I’m a librarian too. I love all kinds of books. Won’t you show me yours?”

She tilted her head and gazed up at him, her huge brown eyes narrowed with suspicion. “A liberrian? Really?”


“Well. Okay, then.” She took a deep breath, her narrow shoulders rising and falling, then opened the report almost reverently. Aaron felt a spike of his own anger. Clearly she’d been proud of this. It mattered to her, but her teacher had shot her down.

The first page had “Amelia Earhart” written in the shaky block letters of someone still practicing penmanship. The second page had a crayon rendering of a figure in a 1930s flight helmet. Although it was representational as only children’s art could be, it was still recognizable as a female pilot.

“Amelia Earhart was born in Kansas. She liked basketball and cars. But her favorite thing was airplanes.” Kaya turned the page to another picture of Earhart standing next to a bright yellow plane. “She called her very first plane the Canary because it was yellow like a canary.”

“Really?” Aaron asked. “I didn’t know that.”

“Uh-huh.” She turned the next page, which featured a plane dangerously close to very choppy bright blue water. “She did lots of things first. She was the first girl to fly across the Atlantic Ocean by herself.” On the next page, the plane was aloft over a cornfield. “The first girl to fly across America by herself without stopping.” Another page, this time with Earhart standing next to a woman in a grass skirt. “The first person, boy or girl, to fly from Hawaii to the rest of America. Then she decided she would fly around the world.”

Aaron braced himself for what was coming next—the disappearance of Earhart and her copilot in the middle of the Pacific. But when she turned the page, the picture was of Earhart with a… kangaroo?

“And then she visited Australia.”


Cody caught Aaron’s gaze and shook his head. “What next?”

Kaya turned the page, revealing an obvious parade between tall buildings. “And when she got to New York, they gave her a parade.” But Kaya wasn’t done—there were still more pages to go. The next one showed Earhart—still in her flight helmet—next to a tree with exuberant green leaves and dozens of red dots. “Then she went to Bishop’s and picked apples with her family.”

The next page showed Earhart in a rocking chair surrounded by a crowd of smaller figures with skin tones ranging from Earhart’s peach to a brown slightly darker than Kaya’s, all wearing pink high-tops and their own flight helmets. “And she had seven daughters and seven times seven granddaughters, and they all flew planes too. The end.”

Cody tugged gently on the heavy braid that lay on Kaya’s shoulder. “That’s kind of a big family, don’t you think?”

“No.” Kaya closed the report and hugged it to her chest again. “History doesn’t have enough girls in it. It should have more.”

Aaron met Cody’s gaze over Kaya’s head and quirked an eyebrow. “You know, she’s got a point.”


Mystic Man

A States of Love Novella

When a series of personal crises prompt risk-averse research librarian Aaron Templeton to apply for a job on the other side of the country, nobody is more surprised than he is. He nearly runs home before the final interview except for one little problem: he has no home anymore. He put his condo on the market before he left California and it’s already sold. Only an encounter with free-spirited Connecticut native Cody Brown at the Mystic Seaport Museum staves off Aaron’s incipient panic attack.

Cody loves nothing better than introducing newcomers to the great features of his beloved home state, and when the newbie in question is a rumpled professorial type with the saddest blue eyes on the planet? Score! The attraction between the two men deepens as they explore Cody’s favorite spots, but when difficulties arise and Aaron’s insecurities threaten to overwhelm him, will Cody’s love be enough to keep him in Mystic?

Buy links:


Universal: http://books2read.com/mystic-man?affiliate=off

Dreamspinner: http://bit.ly/mystic-man

About the Author

E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings. 

Reality? Eh, not so much.

She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).

E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Website: http://ejrussell.com

Newsletter: http://ejrussell.com/newsletter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ej_russell

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

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/ej_russell

Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/e-j-russell

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ej_russell

Andrew Grey on the Inspiration behind The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever (guest blog)


The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Bree Archer

Sales Links:


Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey on tour for his new release, The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever.  Welcome, Andrew.

Dominic and I love to travel.  We both really do.  We take a winter vacation and try to take a summer one as well.  For the winter one, we usually go on a cruise and its one of those vacations that inspired Best Worst Honeymoon.  The snorkeling and fun on the water were all things Dominic and I did the last time we visited Bonaire.   And as I write this post I am sitting in a hotel room in Rome.  Dominic and I spent the day seeing some of the sites including the coliseum and ancient ruins.  At dinner tonight I was just telling Dominic that I have an idea for a new story, set here in Rome!  Dang I need to go on vacation more so I can get even more ideas.


How can heartbreak turn into happily ever after?

Tommy Gordon is all set for happily ever after—until heartbreak strikes when his husband-to-be leaves him at the altar. In a bid for distraction, his best friend, Grayson Phillips, suggests he takes advantage of the luxury honeymoon anyway! But the last thing Tommy wants is to go alone, so he invites Grayson and his son, Petey, along.

Beautiful Bonaire lends itself to romance, and along with close quarters, relaxing on the water, and a matchmaking kid, Tommy and Grayson soon find themselves closer than ever… and considering more, much to Grayson’s delight. But before they can plan the best best honeymoon ever, dark clouds descend in the form of Tommy’s ex and a sting from paradise that could ruin everything.


Tommy took a deep breath and went to the door. Grayson stopped him and pointed to one of the chairs. Tommy sat down, trying not to hyperventilate.

“Xavier, what are you doing?”

“I need to talk to Tommy,” Xavier said, sounding like shit.

Grayson turned to him, and Tommy lifted his gaze, nodding. Clearly there was something wrong and he needed to deal with it. Whatever plans he’d made were most likely out the window anyway. He certainly hadn’t envisioned a drunk, hung-over groom.

Grayson stepped back, pulling open the door, and Xavier half stumbled in, looking worse than Tommy could ever have imagined.

“What the heck happened?” He hurried over, but Xavier stopped him by putting up his hand. “Are you sick?”

“I’m fine,” Xavier managed to say, slowly sitting himself down. “Gary and I went out as sort of a last hurrah, and we overdid it.” He raised his face, and Tommy got a good look at his glassy eyes.

“Okay. We still have time. Grayson and I can help you get ready,” Tommy said gently.

Xavier shook his head of thick black hair, and then his deep brown eyes cleared of some of their rumminess. “I can’t do this. The wedding and everything that you’ve got planned. It’s too much.” Xavier sat back as all the oxygen seemed to leave the room. Tommy’s head grew light, and fuck it all, he was going to faint, but Grayson was there, holding his arm. “You want more than I think I can give.”

“You waited to tell him now, twenty minutes before the wedding?” Grayson yelled. “You bastard!”

“I’ve spent the last few days trying to think about what I was going to do.” Xavier hiccupped, and his alcohol breath was enough to knock over an elephant. “I thought if I drank and told myself that I loved you and that I really wanted to do this, everything would be all right. But it isn’t true, and I can’t go through with this.” Xavier got to his feet, half stumbled toward the door, and pulled it open. “I’ll see you around.” He left and closed the door with a click after him.

Tommy watched, openmouthed, too stunned to move. The room had turned bone chillingly cold. “What did he just tell me? That he didn’t love me?” He couldn’t feel his fingers, and then his hands and feet went numb. He tried to think of what he was going to do, but nothing at all came to mind.

“Uncle Tommy,” Petey called as he raced into the room, practically barreling into him. “I saw Uncle Xavier and he looked sick. What’s wrong?” Petey looked at him and then turned to Grayson.

“Uncle Tommy isn’t going to get married. Xavier chickened out and wasn’t man enough to tell Uncle Tommy until right now.” The anger in Grayson’s voice simmered just below the surface. “What he really needs is a hug.”

Petey climbed up on the chair, stood up, and hugged Tommy, and Tommy closed his eyes, willing the rest of the world to go away.

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 Group All the Way with Andrew Grey


Twitter @andrewgreybooks


For Other Works by Andrew Grey

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

Sandine Tomas On Writing, Characters and The Music of Love (guest blog and giveaway)


The Music of Love by Sandine Tomas

Dreamspinner Press

Cover art: Bree Archer

The Music of Love Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon:

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Sandine Tomas here today.  Welcome, Sandine and thank you for answering several of our author questions.



Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Sandine Tomas 

My name is Sandine Tomas and I want to say thanks for the opportunity to share a little about myself and my debut novel, The Music of Love. Stay till the end for information about how to win a free e-book!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I’ve wondered this about authors I’ve loved—how much of themselves have they put on the page. It reminds me of a line from the Anna Nalick song, “Breathe”: “And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd./ ‘Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud.”

The truth is that there is a lot of myself in Julian, the lead character in The Music of Love. He’s a loveable neurotic who second guesses himself. A lot. I might do that from time to time. Except when I don’t.

Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

In creating Julian I did worry about this. He knows he can be annoying. And that’s not just his insecurities – he really can be that way. The thing is, his heart is in the right place. In fact, that’s what attracted me to Julian – his ability to love. He’s the opposite of the repressed, brooding hero. Julian knows he’s emotional and is aware that he falls in love fast and hard. But he’s been burned before and that makes him want to hold back this time. If he can.

Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I love research! I was one of those geeks in college that didn’t mind the research papers. For The Music of Love I researched Washington, DC and Texas. I also researched law cases and based my made-up cases on amalgamations of existing ones. The section of the book where Julian tours with his band includes some real-life stories that have been shared with me. Let’s just say that roach – happened!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I am firmly a Happily Ever After (HEA) gal. But what I really appreciate is when a story gets to  Happily for Now (HFN) and then continues to challenge the protagonists. My novel gets to the HFN fairly early and then I make the characters really earn their HEA. I need ‘earned’ endings–if obstacles aren’t overcome realistically, it leaves me unsatisfied as a reader no matter how happy the ending. I put Julian and Zachary through some trials. But I was also careful not just to throw random problems at them–I structured the novel to set up Julian’s struggle between his bread-and-butter job and his creative life right at the start. By the time it explodes I think the reader had felt it coming, and the solution required real character growth.

Have you ever had an issue in real life and worked it through by writing it out in a story?

The split between having a creative life and a day job has been very real for me. I felt Julian’s soul tearing as if it were my own. I do hope that, along with the romance (which I hope my readers love,) the theme comes through about how all-too-often we prioritize everyday life over what our soul needs, and the harm done by that. I feel very fortunate with the publishing of my first novel that I have been able to realize a dream.


I hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Music of Love

Zachary held his gaze like he had a thousand times before. A stare that never quit. He came closer and collapsed next to Julian on the sofa, air leaving him in a whoosh. “Oh, thank God, you’re looking at me like I’m me again. Now, please talk to me. What is going on?”

A warm hand tilted his chin back up, eyes glowing grassy-sunshine. Not angry any longer but definitely wary and watching intently.

“I got too comfortable with the job,” Julian said. “The money was nice. And I like all the people. Then. You were there. I loved being with you, getting to see you, hear your laugh over the cube walls. So I can’t pinpoint when it slipped, when the tilt happened, but I’ve been drowning. Only slowly. Like sliding into quicksand. It was getting darker and blander. Zach, it was fading.”

“Your music.” Not a question. And Julian cursed himself for doubting, for not understanding that of course Zachary would say he’d support Julian in anything he wanted to try. That saying he’d support Julian going to law school didn’t mean he wanted that for Julian.

Zachary nodded and exhaled, cheeks still pale and edgy. “Where did the law school business come from? I know it’s not your idea.”

“Timothy came back to the office yesterday when everyone was gone. I’d been locked up in the file room, and he surprised me. He stood there a few moments watching me with the files all over the floor, and I guess it just took me outside of myself. I saw what I imagined he saw: an overpaid file clerk. And as he stood there all I heard was silence.”

Zachary’s eyes flickered molten gold under the side table lamp’s incandescent glow. “Why didn’t you tell me you were so unhappy?” He pushed his hair back with a frustrated swipe. “How come I didn’t know?”

That last was said with self-anger, and Julian couldn’t have Zachary blaming himself.

“I keep a lot inside. Sometimes even I don’t realize it until it kinda boils over.”

“What raised the temperature?” Zachary asked, continuing the metaphor.

“Timothy. He didn’t mean to make me tailspin. He was being nice, complimentary even. Said I’d make a great lawyer, suggested law school, said it was the next step and that—that you’d approve.”

Reacting like a dog with a stepped-on tail, Zachary scoffed, “Talk about your ‘gotcha’ questions.” He narrowed his gaze. “If you’d explained any of this, I would never have said what I did about—”

“I know,” Julian said. “I’m an idiot. I’m sorry.”


The Music of Love Blurb

Sometimes the music of love skips a beat….

Paralegal by day, musician by night, Julian has an expiration date stamped on his forehead when it comes to love. No relationship has made it past a year, so Julian avoids romance like the plague and concentrates on his music instead.

Which works fine until gorgeous, smart, and funny Zachary joins Julian’s firm. One look at the man and Julian knows he’s dangerous. No matter what, he can’t fall for Zachary. He has to spare Zachary the pain of dumping Julian at the one-year mark. His brilliant plan? Ask a straight friend to pose as his significant other to keep Zachary away. Not surprisingly, his scheme does little to dampen the attraction—on either side.

When Zachary gives Julian a second chance despite his deception, Julian thinks his curse might be broken. But then he’s faced with the impossible choice between a life with Zachary and living his dream of touring with the band….

About the Author

Sandine Tomas grew up an unapologetic bookworm, making friends with characters from the ancient past to the farthest reaches of the universe. Her career as a marketing writer has given her insight into the divergence between what a person thinks they want and what they truly need. Relationships are at the heart of her writing, and she enjoys creating characters who become so real that their stories beg to be told. Writing allows her to explore people and ideas from all sides, spinning a notion around like a gem until its facets glisten.

Twisting the old adage about writing what you know into writing what you feel, Sandine doesn’t shy away from raw emotions, turbulent circumstances, and above all, deep passions, fueled by humor, honesty, and trust. She enjoys instilling her characters with the flaws, courage, and idiosyncrasies that brings them to life.

Sandine lives in New York with her husband, two daughters and a Golden Retriever named Noodle. An unabashed TV and film enthusiast, she happily binge watches her favorites until her eyes glaze over. Her other guilty pleasures include attending fandom conventions, sleeping in on weekends, and recharging solo by holing up with a caramel macchiato and an amazing book.

Contact Info

Website: sandinetomas.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SandineTomas

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sandine.tomas

Email: sandinetomas@gmail.com

Giveaway Offer

What dream have you had to table (for now!) to keep the lights on? Tell me in the comments and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a free e-book copy of The Music of Love! Please provide contact information

Ashlyn Kane on Characterization, Gary Stu, and her new release His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane (author guest blog)


His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Bree Archer

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ashlyn Kane here today talking about her latest contemporary romance, His Leading Man.  Welcome, Ashlyn.


Hi all! I’m Ashlyn Kane, and I’m here as stop one on the His Leading Man blog tour. Thanks so much to Stella and Melanie for hosting me! If you haven’t heard about the book, here’s the blurb:

He wrote a comedy. Fate directed a romance. 

Drew Beaumont is bored of the same old roles: action hero, supervillain, romantic lead. He’s not going to let a fresh gay buddy comedy languish just because they can’t find him the right costar. No, Drew bats his eyelashes and convinces everyone that the movie’s writer should play Drew’s not-so-straight man.

Aspiring writer Steve Sopol has never had a screenplay optioned. Now one of Hollywood’s hottest properties wants to be in a movie Steve hasn’t finished writing—and he wants Steve as his costar. Turns out the chemistry between them is undeniable—on and offscreen.

Drew swore off dating in the biz, but Steve is the whole package: sharp, funny, humble, and cute. For Steve, though, giving in to the movie magic means the end of the privacy he cherishes. Will the credits roll before their ride into the sunset? 

If that strikes your fancy, you can buy it on the Dreamspinner website or on Amazon.com.

And now for more about me!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

If I’m doing my job right, just enough to get me into their mindset for writing, and not so much that they all start to sound alike. That was a bit tricky in my newest book because it features Steve, who’s a somewhat private writer, so of course we’ve got that in common: the desire to tell stories, particularly unique ones. But Steve’s leading man (or vice versa depending who you ask) is Drew, who’s a flashy movie star—very different on the surface, until you realize that is just another way to tell stories.

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

I grew up in fandom mumble-mumble years ago, which gives me a knee-jerk reaction to those names. To me Mary Sue or Gary Stu doesn’t mean just a self-insert but a character who’s “too perfect,” and when people use the term that way I want to go off on a tangent about how male power fantasies are allowed (Bruce Wayne, anyone?) but female ones get called out as two-dimensional. But to answer the question I think you mean: this isn’t something I personally struggle with. I’m a deeply boring person. No one would read a book about me, and I wouldn’t want to write it!

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

Hmm, I think only in that I’ve always been eclectic. As a kid I read everything I could get my paws on, from the Bunnicula series and Nancy Drew to Harry Potter to The Green Mile. The first romance novel I ever read was about a woman with superpowers. I write a little bit of everything too (except historical, which is too much research!), the flashy Hollywood romance sort of books but also the quieter, almost pedestrian ones, and even paranormal. My next book after this is magical realism, which is a fun universe to write in and I’m debating revisiting it. The only thing I haven’t really done yet is sci-fi, which I read a ton of growing up but I think I’m too—lazy? intimidated? uninspired? all of the above?—to try writing. I mostly write for fun, so I prefer not to have to think too hard. Thinking is for editing!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA all the way. This is why sequels make me nervous! What if you take the happy ending away from them??? No, thank you!


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

A sense of humor is so important. Life can be brutal and tragic and lonely and hard. I think that it’s important to share it with someone who can cheer you up. That could come in the form of kindness too, rather than humor, but it’s usually the humor people notice first. Kindness is quieter, but also important. I think, in this genre, a lot of what people are looking for boils down to levity and kindness, so I try to make sure each book has a good portion of each, however that works out character-wise.


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.

Oh sure, only every time I’ve ever gotten stuck on a sex scene!


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

Because I need to tell stories. I’ve been writing since I was six years old. My parents used to read me bedtime stories; once they turned off the lights and closed the door, I’d lie awake and make up more stories to tell myself. It’s a part of me that’s always been there—some kind of self-soothing behavior, maybe. It’s like watching TV, except backwards.


What’s next for you as a writer?

Well, I’ve got another book coming with Dreamspinner late this summer, and then we’ll see! I have a few ideas floating around, but none of them has taken quite firm enough root yet. Ask me again in two months—maybe I’ll have a better answer!

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

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

Twitter: @ashlynkane

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

Website: Ashlynkane.ca

In Our New Release Spotlight: Night of the Living Manny by Julia Talbot (guest post and exclusive excerpt)


Night of the Living Manny by Julia Talbot 
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Julia Talbot here today talkaing about her latest release, Night of the Livng Manny from the Dreamspun Beyond line at Dreamspinner Press. Welcome, Julia.




Hey y’all!

I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m here to blather at you today about Night of the Living Manny, my new paranormal category romance from Dreamspinner Press!

Manny is a mix of the many (or male nanny) trope and an homage to the zombie movie, especially Shaun of the Dead.

Here’s an exclusive excerpt, just for Scattered Thoughts!:

“Yeah. She had ovarian cancer. It went fast. Six weeks from start to finish.” Liam sighed and rubbed his forehead. “It was insane.”

“Oh God.” He reached out but stopped short of touching. “That’s awful. Do you need some Tylenol?”

“No. No, I’m okay, just a little tension.”

“Oh. Well, at the risk of sounding supercheesy, I have massage therapist certification.” Oh God, did he just offer? Way to get fired.

“Yeah? That’s not too weird, because…. It’s probably weird, huh?”

“Maybe, yeah.” He laughed roughly. “Seriously, though, your neck would be easy to unknot.”

“I promise not to come on to you,” Liam said drily.

“Oh. Okay. I mean, sure.” Damn, damn, damn.

“I told them at the service that I was out as bi. Is it a problem?”

“You did? They didn’t tell me.” Brenden shook his head. “That makes it way easier for me, actually. You won’t be worried because I’m gay.”

“Oh. No. No, I won’t be worried. Are people normally?” Liam was frowning again, but Brenden thought it was on his behalf this time.

“Some are.” He’d had one family the service just hadn’t matched well. It had ended badly, with lots of accusations no one could back up and a bonus and apology from the agency.

“I’m sorry. That sucks. I understand. I had a thing with a guy at work. It was bad.”

“Yeah.” Okay, that was…. Wow. Bi. Holy moly, a man should never have that kind of surge of hope. This was a client. There was no way he should be making eyes at the man. “How long were you married?” Did she know you were into men too?

“We got married right out of high school. She was pregnant with Susanna.”

“High school sweethearts.” He smiled, the romantic in him touched.

“Yes. We were together all through high school. She was amazing, fierce. A little wild.”

“Susanna looks just like her.”

“She does. At first it was hard to look at her, but now it makes me smile.” Oh, that was the sweetest grin.

“I’m glad.” This time he did touch Liam’s hand. “Did you get enough snack?”

“I did. You want another beer?”

“I think I’ll switch to Coke, but they’re in the fridge if you’re willing.” He needed to be able to wake up and help the kids if they needed him.

“I’ll grab it. I’m going to have one more, I think.” Liam stood up, and Brenden let himself admire the tiny, tight little ass as Liam was on the way out.


Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you’ll try Night of the Living Manny!



Night of the Living Manny
Julia Talbot

Something besides love is growing…

Manny Brenden Torrance is good at his job. He’s dealt with all sorts of children and parents, but he’s never met anyone as intriguing as Liam Whitehouse. Liam is a scientist with three kids, whose job is keeping him away from home more and more. That’s where Brenden steps in to help.

Liam has secrets, though. He’s working on a project for a pharmaceutical lab that could change disease management. Or destroy it. While he and Brenden start a romance they both want to continue, things at Liam’s job come to a head, and suddenly the whole family of Dad, manny, three kids, and a big drooly dog is on the run from the one thing that might keep Brenden and Liam apart. And infect the world.




Julia Talbot on her new release ‘Tomb of the God King by Julia Talbot (author guest post)


Tomb of the God King by Julia Talbot

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art:  Catt Ford

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Julia Talbot here today talking about her latest story, Tomb of the God King. Welcome, Julia.




Hey y’all!

I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m here to talk about Egyptology and Tomb of the God King, which is a book I wrote a while back and that Dreamspinner has been kind enough to re-release for me. It’s out now, and I think I might be a little late with this post, but Scattered Thoughts is AWESOME and are letting me babble.

So I wrote Tomb (mumble) years ago, and it’s one of those books all my longtime readers remember fondly. I wrote it in a paroxysm of Mummy movie love and a spate of penny dreadful books from the Victorian era to the 1930s, from H. Rider Haggard to Lovecraft and beyond. Mummies? Curses? Elder gods? You bet.

When the publisher Tomb was out with melted down, Dreamspinner Press asked me to rework it. Could I make it longer? Maybe make it a series.

Y’all, when I went in, after agreeing to do it, I cried. I raged. I scoured it for new places to add words. What I found was, while far from perfect, there was a reason my readers loved it, and why I did. So we agreed to a new edit, and that was that. I just couldn’t try to make it anything but what it was. A pulp novel, in first person no less, which is odd for me. Sometimes you just look at your older works and think, It was me, as I was, at the time.

So, another amusing (to me at least) thing is, since Tomb was re-releasing during Romantic Times, I bought this awesome brooch to wear to the book signing to promote it.


Pretty, right? I forgot to wear it.

Maybe I’ll go live on Facebook to read a few paragraphs and wear it…


This is an author’s life, y’all.

Thanks for letting me ramble, and I hope you’ll check out Tomb of the God King.


Julia Talbot


Englishman Christian Hewler travels to 1920s Egypt as the man Friday to an eccentric American millionaire, hoping to make history and establish his name in archaeology. What he doesn’t count on is meeting brash hired gun Eric Lawless, an American cowboy working for a rival team, or the paranormal mystery that draws them in and has them facing down crazy archaeologists, dark entities, and even ancient gods.

From dark tombs to the burning-hot desert of the Egyptian landscape, Christian has to prove his mettle. During this dangerous game of cat and mouse, the reluctant partnership between Christian and Eric blossoms into more—maybe even a love that can last beyond the deception and terror hidden deep in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings.




Sarah Black on Adaptive Reuse and her new release ‘War Paint’ (author guest post)


War Paint (States of Love) by Sarah Black 

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sarah Black here again talking about her latest story, War Paint. Welcome, Sarah.


Adaptive Reuse for Young Guys and Old Buildings

Thanks for letting me visit! When I was writing War Paint, I was thinking about what happens when a door slams shut behind you. You don’t get to transition gradually, get used to the change and settle in to the new place or new role. Sometimes life just kicks us in the butt and slams the door. Retirement, divorce, an accident or injury. For soldiers and other military people, a combat injury not only changes everything today, but may change the future forever. No kids, no career, no ability to support oneself—that’s not easy to swallow at 24.

At the same time I was working on this story, about a young guy who sustains a combat injury and is trying to find a way forward, I was looking at adaptive reuse buildings. I started writing some information articles for an architectural firm to use on their blog, and the more I looked into adaptive reuse, the more I liked it. The idea of saving the old buildings, making them useful and beautiful again, appealed to me deeply. Much of the adaptive reuse is being done in cities, and as the old warehouses and factories are being turned into lofts and small creative businesses, more than just buildings are being rejuvenated and made new again.

This adaptive reuse is more expensive and difficult that simply tearing down the old buildings and putting up new. They have to be changed to support new access and new systems, while keeping their structural integrity and the design elements that people associate with the old. The care and attention, intentionally seeking out a difficult way to work, was very appealing.

But why? It didn’t make sense. Lead paint! Asbestos! Why couldn’t we just sweep those old mistakes under the rug and put up the new and shiny and efficient, with functioning air conditioning? There is just something about the slow, the old, the challenging, choosing to keep the antique and not so efficient—because it is part of our history, it reminds us where we came from, it has—forgive me—the weight of years of stories in the floorboards, the walls. We are more than our potential. We are also where we came from. For me, keeping the old buildings, making them useful again, seems like we are keeping the soul of the old places. And taking responsibility for caring for it.

Somehow my thinking about these characters, one just injured and one injured in the past, melded with the other writing I was doing about adaptive reuse. I wanted to fix everyone, the old buildings, the characters. So then I did something totally off the wall- I put myself into the story. I’m the model for the slightly flaky, totally inappropriate therapist the guys call The Manatee.

The building in the story, the Riviera, is actually an adaptive reuse Buick showroom in Roanoke, Va. It has been made into lofts and artist studios, and is called The Electra after one of the original Buick models. The work done on the old building is beautiful, and it is lovely, a grand old lady- but without a mural! However, the wall of big industrial windows on the side of the building make the artists who work there very happy. I live right up the street, in another adaptive reuse building, in a neighborhood of warehouse conversions and old buildings made new again.

Thanks for reading my story! I hope you like War Paint.

About War Paint

There’s an art to love.

Mural artist Ben has come from Tel Aviv to Atlanta to work on a commission. A successful artist, he’s still lonely and isolated after his family’s rejection. Ben is charmed and surprised when local soldier Eli mistakes him for homeless, and brings him a cup of coffee and a biscuit. This gesture opens the door. Eli is lost, trying to make sense of a future without the Army after a combat injury ends his career.

Art gives them a new language and a path forward. But lost men can reach out, desperate to hang on to anyone close. Is what they find together real, and the kind of love that will last?