Saturday, August 31, 2013

Interview with C.J. Baty

This week Rainbow eBooks was lucky enough to get a few questions answered by C.J. Baty author of A New Dream. We are always looking for more authors and titles to promote as our Feel Good Friday Features, please feel free to email us at for more details. Enjoy!

1. What inspired you to write A New Dream?

A New Dream actually came from my love of the mountains. They have always been a great inspiration for me. The peace and quiet refreshes me and renews my strength. It just seemed natural that my very first published work would take place in a mountainous area. The other thing that inspired me was my desire to see a story that I wrote published. It was my dream and so the name just seemed right.

2. It seems like two separate but equally extreme life situations have occurred in these character's lives, what do you feel was the commonality that brought them together?

Wow, what a good question. My answer would have to be pain and loss. Sure, they each had different types of pain and loss, having lived through very different lives but it was still had similarities. Walt was determined to see his dream of Olympic gold come true and when life handed him a complication, he couldn’t see past it for the pain of his injury and loss of his goal. Curt’s pain came from the rejection of his family’s and the loss of the love every child deserves to have.

3. Where do your character's develop from? Do you know them entirely before you write them or do they develop?

One of the best things for me about writing or reading for that matter is watching a character develop…grow into something more than they were when you started the book. Do I know them entirely when I begin? No. Do I have an idea of how I want them to be at the end? Yes. It’s getting them there through the trials and the good times that makes writing personal for me.

4. What is your writing process? How do you get from start to finish on a book?

I read an interview of another author I know and they ask her if she was a plotter or a panster? I had no idea what that meant at the time. Being a writer, I did a little research and guess what, I’m both! I definitely make a list of characters where I briefly describe them and I make a short outline of what I’d like to see happen in the story but that’s about all the plotting I do. Oh, and I always know what the end will be. The rest is more of a process of mixing the main characters with the additional characters. Watching them struggle with their issues and working through the little things life throws at them to get them to that happily ever after.

5. How long does it take you to write a book?

With A New Dream it was a two part process. It started out as a short story that eventually developed into more. The book I just finished Drifting Sands took me a little over four months. I just began the concluding book and I believe it will take about the same. I am a slow writer and I tend to rewrite things if I’m not happy with the way a plot or scene is going. I also hand write everything first (very old fashioned, I know) and then I transfer to the computer and more rewriting takes place.

6. What part of writing do you like the least? What is your favorite aspect of writing?

The part of writing I like the least has always been the end of the story. It’s almost like I don’t want to let it go. It’s become a part of me and saying good bye is so hard. On the other hand, my favorite part of writing is bringing the characters through to the happily ever after I wanted for them from the very first time I thought of them and their story. I know it sounds conflicting but I feel pulled in two directions when it’s time to write The End.

7. What was your favorite character trait of each of these guys?

With Curt, it has to be his self assuredness. He had gone through hell when his parents had deserted him, but he had pulled himself up and made a life for himself. Walt took some time to get to love. He was so focused on the failures in his life; he couldn’t see what a good person he really was. He cared about the people around him. Not just his sister but the people in his community, the workers at the lodge and even the visitors. It just took him awhile to figure it out.

8. Why do you write?

That question makes me smile. I write because it makes me feel so good. It’s a way to express my own sadness or joy. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always kept journals, wrote little stories and made up stories to tell my children. It was my dream to be a published author from the time I was in high school but life happens. You grow up. You get married. You begin a career. You have children. Then one day your grown son says, “Mom what kind of dreams did you have when you were growing up. You’ve helped us follow ours. Why can’t you follow yours?” So A New Dream was my dream too.

9. Who are you when you are not writing? (hobbies, family, pets etc)

Who am I? I’m a wife. I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for almost 38 years. I’m a mother. I have two almost grown children. My youngest is a senior in high school this year and she is making life very busy right now. My son, the one I mentioned before, is becoming the man that I always dreamed he would be. We have a dog named Muffin because she was so tiny and fury when we got her she looked like a bran muffin. We have a cat named Mouse because my daughter has a sense of humor. I’m a country girl who lives in the city and runs away to the mountains every chance she gets. And my absolute favorite thing in the world is reading…period. Since I discovered e books, I haven’t gone a day without having my reader by my side.

10. What is the most interesting thing about you?

I think the most interesting thing about me is I am a middle aged straight female who writes M/M romance and mystery stories. Most of the people who know me personally were totally shocked when I first revealed what kind of story A New Dream was. That’s one of the best things about being on the other side of middle age, you’ve lived long enough to realize that love is special no matter the age, race or sex of the individuals involved and you better hang on to it with all you have in you, when you find it. The other thing I’ve learned is it’s never, ever too late to follow your dream!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

So Next Week...

As many of you lovely readers know, I make the trek to Atlanta every Labor Day weekend for Dragon*Con. (If you're not familiar with this enormous celebration of all things geeky with a sci-fi edge, check it out here: ) This year will be my... I want to say 13th? Something like that.

I'm driving there from DC, so it's not that bad. Only 11 hours or so. In any case, I'm leaving in just two hours.

NEXT WEEK: I plan to be here to tell you guys about some of the things I did, saw, and (hopefully) didn't get arrested for. I have plenty of bail money, though. Just in case. *hee*

If I can figure out my phone-camera thingy, I may even have some pictures to accompany the post! Woot! :P

So I guess I'll see you guys next week. And if you're in or near Atlanta this weekend, swing by and experience the madness for yourselves! :D

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chocolate Covered Broccoli

or critically panned movies we love… by Amy Lane and Mary Calmes

Mary: So I was sick all Tuesday and flipping channels…flipping…I have NETFLIX now which is damn scary…nothing on…nothing…I needed to get up and get a movie. But what?  The Fugitive? JAWS? But I didn’t want to think, just sit. So in went Sahara and later on I started talking to Amy about nothing and then movies. I said; let’s do a blog post about some of our favorites, and since she is the easiest person on the planet to distract (anything shiny, really), she agreed.

Amy: When Mary and I were talking about which movies to put out in this post, I had a confession to make. It's embarrassing and horrible, and yet true. 
See, here we were, putting together a post of "guilty pleasure" movies, and oh, I jumped right on the bandwagon.  Sahara?  Hell yeah.  The Mummy-- I was so there!  13th Warrior, Twister, The Fifth Element...
Well... uhm... 
Okay.  So here's the thing.
I used to be the movie teacher. 

Yeah, I know, the movie teacher gets the bad rap-- you know, the teacher who showed movies all the time because she didn't know her subject matter? The one who catches hell in the staff rooms for not making the kids learn anything?

Well, no.  That wasn't me. (Except for catching hell in the staff room, but they were a sort of misogynistic bunch anyway.)  But I did show these movies for more than their pulp value.  I mean, for one thing?  Kids don't know how to watch movies anymore.  That whole idea of "If you shut up and listen the inner workings of the movie shall be revealed to you"?  Yeah, no.  They don't have it.  If you don't sit in their laps and then pause the movie every fifteen minutes to refocus them, they won't understand the movie.  It's that simple.  But for another?

Well, it all comes down to the basics of storytelling.  Good storytelling is good storytelling, and movies utilize a variety of media to create a really compelling story.  So three of these movies I used to help the kids analyze storytelling, because we could go on and apply these lessons to the things we've read.  Now someone out there is saying, "But why didn't you just read a story to get that done.  I tried.  We read a Ray Bradbury story.  I spent a week explaining the basics of science fiction and world building to kids and then a week explaining the story and then a week doing the basic assignment.  I could have gotten the same lesson across in one week, flat out, if I'd just shown The Fifth Element, and then a five-thousand word sci-fi short would not have become the bane of my fucking existence. In fact, when we did read that five-thousand word story in the anthology, it would have taken less time, because I would have a universal reference point with my kids, one we'd all experienced, and could point to as a class.

So anyway, each of these stories had a different strength that I drew on to help my classes.  In California, you have to align your curriculum with state standards--the fact is, I couldn't have gotten away with showing these movies if I wasn't able to point to the standard number and say, "LOOK! Look here at this assignment and what I'm using the movie for!" but it's been nearly four years, and if I actually remembered the standard number, I think it would be safe to say I haven't been doing enough in that time to displace the educational bureaucracy accrued in my noggin.  But the basic reasons still remain, so here we go.

Twister:  I used Twister with freshman to either teach the basics of Freytag’s Pyramid or refresh the class if they'd had it before. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Freytag’s pyramid, it's your basic action/fiction arc. You start off with a basic situation, you add a conflict, then complicate the conflict, then resolve part of the conflict and add another complication, and so on and so on and so on until the story comes to a peak of all of the unresolved conflicts, and then falls to a resolution and a denouement.  Freytag’s Pyramid is what I call the "heartbeat of fiction"-- it's the pulse and rhythm of a story that helps us predict what's going to happen, and, when we're writing, helps us know when to add some more action.  A predictive model is pretty important for kids to have when they're reading-- it helps them anticipate something crucial, so they don't think writers just throw shit into the ether and call it a story, and it helps them find meaning in what they're reading.

Anyway, so, Twister.  Has a perfectly shaped plot for Freytag’s pyramid.  Think about it! 
Basic situation: Man needs divorce papers signed.
Complication: Soon to be ex-wife is chasing tornadoes.
Complication:  Chasing tornadoes is fun
Complication:  New fiancĂ© is totally jealous of old ex-wife.  Wants to prove she's up to the challenge.
Complication:  OMG-- he's having more fun chasing the flying cows with ex-wife than he would be making sweet lurve to the woman with the vocation that is ONLY funny when caught in a tornado while chasing flying fucking cows.
Complication:  The ex-wife has a saintly aunt who can cook cows, flying, fucking, or otherwise. 
And SEE?  That shit only gets better! 
Seriously-- the plot builds perfectly, almost from tornado to tornado, until the finale, where they meet the tornado eye to eye!!  And save Aunt Meg and get rid of annoying fiancĂ©e and don't get clobbered by the flying fucking cows. If you were to graph that plot (as I had my kids do, minimum of five complications and five mini movie orgasms) it's symmetrically beautiful, and a stunning example of the storytelling formula that we literally feel vibrating in our bones whenever we read a story, go to a movie, watch a play, or turn on our television.  Instant predictive model, and a lesson the kids wouldn't forget.

Ah-ha! You say-- Okay.  I can see how Twister would work for that.  But so would Fifth Element.  Why don't you just use that?

Well, because The Fifth Element has alternative universe qualities that really make a better teaching model when kids start getting AU stories in their sophomore year. (At least in California, that's when some of their best anthology stories are science fiction or fantasy.)

And as writers and readers, we take that very much for granted.  Alternative universe?  Piece of cake.  The writer establishes with either direct narration or character behavior a set of rules and regulations that form the boundaries of the narrative frame that create the story. 

Yeah.  Tenth graders.  Not so much with the understanding.  If they haven't been exposed to it from the cradle, (*cough*  Mine and Mary's children.  *cough*) then they don't understand that there are rules to the madness.  See, otherwise kids assume that AU stuff is just people "making shit up" and that it's "easy"-- they don't understand that an author can be teaching a lesson or making a huge statement about what the world is really like if they don't understand where the rules come from about what the world could be like.  So, spending that week showing The Fifth Element and having the kids make a list of rules for the future world and explaining where those rules come from and the nature of using science fiction for satire is worth the movie time, because when they get to twelfth grade and Brave New World and 1984, all it takes is fifteen minutes talking about The Fifth Element and we can start talking about how politicians are fucking up the world. 

And speaking of twelfth grade...

Okay-- as an M/M writer, I can be frank.  I really get off on watching little tiny, dark and lovely Antonio Banderas standing next to all of those Nordic gods in The 13th Warrior, but the things I use this movie for...
Gods.  I need a bullet point chart or an hour of lecture or a chance to rant in a rubber room to cover it all.
Let's go with the bullet point chart. 

*  The story itself is Michael Crichton's attempt to integrate historical fiction and the story of Beowulf.  So kids who might have difficulty envisioning Beowulf can suddenly see a comparable time period and culture, and they've got a place to start from. 

*  Even though the events are only vaguely similar to those in Beowulf, the themes of emerging culture are the same.  Examples include:
--Evolving language and its importance to civilization
--The differences between a man and a monster are explored in very basic terms that, once again, involve language.
--A basic honor code is explored, that, once again, is dependent upon language and communication
--The very first heroic archetype-- the epic hero-- which is the basis for all of the other heroic archetypes to follow-- is established.  There are rules for the epic hero, and Beowulf (or Bylvi in the movie) fulfills every requirement. Comparing these qualities makes for some decent essays. (So, for that matter, does the original incarnation of Superman, but that is another story.) 
--The importance of the building is established as part of civilization.  For those of you saying, "Oh, hey, this is a no-brainer!" I'll leave you with this story.

Traditionally, we teach Beowulf in the early fall.  Which means that almost twelve years ago, I was a little late to work, and I led a very pale, anxious bunch of students into my classroom as we tried to take stock of what was going on three-thousand miles away.  Why the twin towers?  Why destroy them?  What was the point? 

"These are our mead halls, children.  When Beowulf was first written, that vaulted ceiling is all you have between yourself and the big black, between order and chaos, between being warm and safe and being a speck of matter, free-floating in the universe.  When we aim and strike at each other's civilizations, we do not strike at the peasantry-- we strike at the mead halls, to remind the peasantry that their job is to live in fear.  If we don't want to be peasants, we defend and rebuild our mead halls, and we refuse to live in fear." 

And thus Beowulf, and thus The 13th Warrior. 
(I just got a Tweet from a former student who thanked me for that moment.  I'm proud that it gave her some peace that day-- there was precious little to be had.)

So, well, shit. I think I just ruined everybody's guilty pleasures for everyone, didn't I?  I mean, it's like finding out that chocolate restores kidney function and helps you lose weight-- why did I eat that?  I wanted to do something crappy for myself!  Well, too bad.  Turns out that even the guiltiest movie pleasure has some nutritional value. 

Mary: Back to me and I can say that the “nutritional value” of movies for me, good or bad, great or small, has always been about what it gives me creatively. Even the worst movies, ever, have pieces in them that can inspire or teach or make you think of a plot point. You watch your favorite and are reminded of a feeling you wanted to express, or see the loose ends, or admire the writing.

I have my go-to movies when I need to veg (My Cousin Vinny, Bull Durham), I have movies that I watch when I want to cry (Steel Magnolias, Pride & Prejudice), and I have movies that can be on in the background when I’m doing stuff because I’ve seen them so many times. Two of them that fall into this category that I have also learned things from are The Mummy and Sahara.

The Mummy, the one with Brendan Frazier and Rachel Weisz, (not the Boris Karloff classic), is the ultimate guilty pleasure. I always watch it and smile even though it’s just ridiculous. But the thing is you forgive it because it’s so fun and it’s like an old Hollywood movie and you sit there and you’re transported away on an adventure. And the slow build of Rick’s feelings for Evy are pure romance. The looks, the changes in their voices when they speak to each other, how gentle he is when he touches her, and how she reaches for him without thought, I’m a sucker for that and I like to include those things in my own writing. The things one character misses at first and then suddenly sees.

Sahara is a whole other story. It’s a buddy movie at its heart and yes, Dirk gets the gorgeous lady doctor at the end, (and how pretty of a couple did Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz make?), but who he really keeps––who is most important––is his best buddy Al. At one point Al says, I’ll get the bomb, you get the girl, and Dirk just smiles and agrees. Two enormous tasks, both fraught with danger, but neither one doubt the other. The two of them have a funny, bantering, but utterly dependent relationship. Dirk can’t be himself, larger than life, saving the world, if Al isn’t there to hold up his end, to be his back-up. Those are my favorite kinds of stories, the buddies, together, that can either stay that way or move from friends to lovers. The potential for either is there. That’s what makes a good story for me.

So there you have it, all the reasons for why these movies. What are the movies you all enjoy? We would love to hear.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy Endings for Chipped and Cracked People

Amy Lane is a busy mother that occasionally has to write with a Chiwhowhat in her shirt. Her chiwawa likes to snuggle under her top while she clicks away on her latest masterpiece. Amy feels as if she is always writing, but, when she isn't writing she: knits, hugs her kids, watches television with her husband, walks her dog, goes to aqua aerobics.

Amy says the Keeping Promise Rock series all started "when I took my daughter to dance lessons in a nearby suburb a lot like Rio Linda on the same day I watched a video in which a soldier went to war and never came back. Of course, there is a whole lot more of me than that in the books, but that one day, right after my first short stories had been accepted by Dreamspinner-- it was sort of a perfect storm of inspiration."

In Forever Promised, Crick has been home from Iraq for five years, Jeff and Collin are finally married, and Shane and Mikhail are quietly making lives better for the dispossessed teenagers who come their way. Everything is right in Deacon's world, but nothing ever stays the same.

When Deacon's best friends, Jon and Amy, answer the call of an opportunity in Washington, DC, Deacon figures that’s life. You love people, and they leave you, and you survive. Even Benny, Crick’s little sister, is close to grown and ready to start her own future. But Benny loves Deacon, and she owes him—she may move beyond The Pulpit and Levee Oaks one day, but not without leaving something of herself behind. And so she offers Deacon and Crick an amazing gift… and a terrifying decision.

Benny’s offer forces Deacon and Crick to dredge up every past mistake and offer of redemption. And not just the two of them—everybody is forced to examine the chances they've been given and the promises they've made. In a real family, a child is a promise, and to the men and women of Promise Rock, keeping that promise will change their lives forever.

Amy reflects that: "After teaching high school for so long--and watching so many promising young lives take a left turn--I really wanted to see a better life for these people after all of the self-delusion of high school had passed. When I started writing, redemption, growth, a life beyond the great mistake--this seemed to be a huge part of being hopeful for the human condition. So for the Promise Rock characters, so much of the story is about being a flawed human being and overcoming that. I think for everybody that's the case. I want to see happy endings for chipped and cracked people. Deacon and Crick aren't whole at the beginning-- but they are at the end."

Rainbow eBooks wants you to Enjoy a Special Discount! Click Here! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Apologies and Pet Peeves :)

Okay, it's no secret that I've been completely MIA for the last however long. I'd love to offer a whole bunch of reasons, but let's face it -- the why doesn't matter. Regardless of my family and personal issues, I should have been here more often and for not being so, I do apologize.

I suck and I'll try to do better. At posting, not sucking, although... *ponders* Well. Let me NOT get all TMI with you today. *grins*

Much as I'm sure many of you find my presumably slackadaisical habits annoying, I'm going to take this opportunity to mention a fairly new pet peeve -- or three -- of mine. (Nice segue, right? Right? Yes!)

So, a little backstory, because it wouldn't be one of my posts without it. Heh-heh.

I don't watch much television. I generally don't have that kind of time and the few shows that generally appeal to me tend to wind up canceled within the first season. (That's actually pet peeve number one, and isn't a new thing.) I also think most "reality" TV is crap and am disgusted that they keep churning out new show after new show, most of which last for years. (Number two, there. In more ways than one. *snerk*)

That said, there are a few things that I try to watch regularly. Some of the USA Network shows are fairly entertaining. I love White Collar, for instance, and find Suits to be a good way to spend 42 minutes once a week. That said, I hate the split-seasons USA started using. Hate them with a fiery passion. (Number three.)

Worse, however, is what SciFi (I categorically refuse to use the SyFy spelling ever again. It's stupid.) is doing with the new season of Face/Off. Don't get me wrong, the show is fascinating, but they've pitted new competitors against people who've already been on the show. This strikes me as a bitch move, so that's pet peeve number four. (I'm hoping things will even out as the season goes on but I somehow doubt they will.)

My BIGGEST pet peeve, though, is something I've seen occasionally on shows in the past, but just this week I saw it TWICE, once each on two different shows, one of which was "the Glades" and the other of which was "Perception." Now, these are two of the better-written shows on TV right now, in my opinion, and this really irks me. It's also perhaps a bit silly, but so is TV in general, so...

Please, please, PLEASE, television writers... STOP WRITING DIALOGUE IN WHICH A CHARACTER WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER (in this case a medical examiner and an FBI agent, respectively) SAY: "Time of death was eleven p.m. at night," or "We need to find out what he was doing at three a.m. in the morning."

In case you missed it, P.M. MEANS AT NIGHT (as far as common usage goes), and A.M. MEANS IN THE MORNING!!! So basically, you've just had your character say "Time of death is eleven at night at night," and "We need to find out where he was at three in the morning in the morning."

Yes, I really am this obsessive, but it's mostly because that sort of thing jars me and shakes me out of the story. Maybe it's just me.

How about it, guys? Do any of these things bother you? If not, then what does? Inquiring minds want to know! *grins*

Saturday, August 17, 2013

As Ridiculous as Two Men Chasing Butterflies

Julie Bozza has been writing for 30 years! Her Dad was an artist and she always admired his talent, but lacked the skills to pick up a brush herself. She "paints" with words to tell her stories. She tries to write a little every day even if it is only a sentence. Bozza reflects, "Like most of us, I’m juggling far too many balls, including (in my case) a husband, a home, a busy job, and other interests. The writing often happens late at night when all the other demands have finally quieted, even if it’s only during the last ten minutes before I fall into bed. Occasionally I gift myself with a few hours set aside during a weekend, in which I make writing the priority it really should be." 

Julie Bozza wrote this title after a reader on Goodreads kindly commented that she’d read anything she wrote, even a story about two men chasing butterflies. Bozza reflects, "She meant it as a particularly farfetched and unlikely notion, and she was right about that – but what she didn’t realise is that I never grew out of my teenage propensity to take on a challenge. After an initial chuckle, I began musing over how I might do that if I did, and wouldn’t Australia be a good setting for it, and so on. I immediately knew the story would have to be a quest." 

The story began to unfold. Butterfly Hunter is the tale of Aussie bush guide Dave Taylor who is charged with the simple assignment of guiding a lone Englishman in the quest of finding unknown species of butterflies. However Nicholas Goring is no ordinary tourist, his search is far from straightforward, and it’s starting to look as if the butterflies don’t want to be found. As Dave teaches Nicholas everything he needs to survive in the Outback he discovers that he too has quite a bit to learn – and that very often the best way to locate something really important is just not to want to find it.

Bozza says if readers could walk away with any one sentiment after reading this story " I suppose the obvious thing is Nicholas’s determination to seize the day and live his life to the fullest extent that he can. Life is indeed too short not to chase our dreams, whether in the form of blue butterflies or a hunky Aussie tour guide."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rush graphic

I'm SO psyched to announce my friend Nyrae Dawn's upcoming New Adult novel, Rush, is available for pre-order from Grand Central's Forever Yours Line! I had the immense pleasure of grabbing a sneak peek at this baby, and it's gonna be gooood. Angsty college athletes in love. You're gonna wanna read this, trust me. The Amazon pre-order link is here.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone. :)
Love, Ellis

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ex- Librarian Seeks Full Time Writing Gig

Harris is a compulsive tweaker, " I'm extremely anal about getting across my story exactly the way I want, so after the words initially flow out, I tend to go back and change things repeatedly. At times I can feel so bogged down that I go a little nuts. I don't know if I'll ever be able to break that particular habit, but I'm working on it." She has been working on a full length novel for three years and has several male on male romance novels outlined for future projects.

She has always enjoyed reading, was even employed at a library for a brief period of time. She only picked up writing four years ago. Harris laughs, " Even after four years, it still continues to surprise me! My one wish is to make writing my full time gig." Harris is the mother of two teenage twin boys, lives in Canberra, Australia and has an unhealthy addiction to coffee, Facebook, and very bad reality TV.

While Harris was sitting in traffic one day she noticed a man washing windshields for a few dollars. She then also noticed a homeless man who said hi to her every day in the foyer of her office complex. From these real life characters the cast of Heart of Glass sprung to life. Harris reflected, "I wanted to write characters who had endured pain and loss...characters that felt the need to risk everything in order to find true happiness."

This story is the tale of second chances for Heath Connors and Zack Doherty. Connors had a life that from the outside seemed perfect, but one he himself felt suffocated by. This married man with a good job was living a lie. After deciding to walk away from everything he'd known, he hit rock bottom. Destitute, his life is turned around after an elderly woman decides to take him in. It's only then that Heath begins to discover who he really is.

After his lover cheats on him, Doherty decides to leave his life in the US behind and head for Australia to start again. Doherty is blindsided by the connection he instantly feels to Heath Connors, but circumstances don’t work in their favour. Zack is uncharacteristically forward in pushing Heath to accept a date when fate gives him a second opportunity.

Harris hopes she captured "a love interest that not only connected with Heath on a physical level, but on an emotional and intellectual level as well."

Monday, August 5, 2013


Happy Monday! Today I'm going to share the blurb and an excerpt from my upcoming release, Strong Enough. You can preorder the ebook here and the paperback here (first 20 are autographed). I hope you enjoy it!

Strong Enough by Cardeno C - Blurb:

When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge. 

Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.


“Hey, hold up!”
Spencer heard the voice behind him and was torn between following the demand or running the remaining few steps to his Accord . Ignoring the person calling out to him would be socially awkward. Not that he was a top authority on social graces, but he was pretty sure running away would be considered rude. So Spencer stopped, took a deep breath, and slowly turned around, keeping his briefcase against his chest.
Of course, he had no idea what kind of protection some leather and paper could offer, or even why he needed protection. Other than the first day he’d seen the handsome man, he hadn’t been caught staring. Plus, they were in a public parking lot, in broad daylight. He was safe.
“Hey, uh, hi!” the guy shouted as he jogged over. “I’m Emilio Sanchez.”
Now that he was face-to-face with the big man, or actually face to neck, Spencer realized he had been wrong in thinking Emilio was as attractive in person as he had been through the window. No, as it turned out, up close and personal the man was even more stunning. The first time he had walked by the construction site and locked eyes with the stranger, Spencer had turned away within seconds. But this time, the broad chest was right in front of him, the sweat-damp T-shirt stretched over muscles Spencer wanted desperately to touch, and as close as they were standing to each other, the scent of sawdust and musk born of hard work permeated his nose. And that quickly, Spencer felt his cock filling.
Not since he’d been a teenager had he experienced spontaneous erections. And in recent years, he had often found them hard to achieve or maintain even when he was naked in bed with a man. Orgasms, whether alone or with someone, were so infrequent that Spencer couldn’t remember the last time he’d had one. He had chalked it up to age, to stress at work, to some bad relationships in his past, to the fact that he hadn’t ever had a particularly high sex drive. But none of those factors were stopping him now.
Just a few seconds next to this man and Spencer was already achingly hard. Then he gulped and looked up into chocolate-brown eyes and shuddered as his balls drew up and his dick pushed against his zipper. It was as close to cumming as he’d been since an unusually active night with his ex over a year prior. Spencer would have been terrified—should have been terrified—that the man in front of him would notice his erection, but it felt so good to want again, to experience that pull in his groin, he couldn’t bring himself to feel anything but relief as he lowered his arm so his briefcase covered his bulge.
“We’ve been doing work close to your office, so I’ve seen you around,” Emilio said, making Spencer realize he had been staring, but not talking. Then the stranger held his hand out and added, “I’ve wanted to meet you.”
“Oh!” Spencer looked down at the offered palm and then back up at the handsome face. He switched his case from his right hand to his left, making sure to keep it in place, shielding his groin. Then he took the man’s hand and shook it. “I’m Spencer,” he said, proud that his voice shook only a tad. “Spencer Derdinger.”
“I was right,” Emilio said, sounding quieter, huskier. Spencer waited for clarification about that statement, but it didn’t come. Instead Emilio held his gaze and his hand.
“Right about what?” Spencer finally asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“That you sound as great as you look.”
Not knowing what to say or how to respond, Spencer started blinking rapidly and stammering. “I don’t… I… what?”
“What are you doing for dinner tonight?” Emilio asked before Spencer had finished processing the earlier comment.
Feeling completely flummoxed, he didn’t know what to say. He looked at his wristwatch instinctively, then back at the man standing in front of him and said, “It’s only three thirty.”
The contrast between Emilio’s shiny white teeth and his deep tan skin and five o’clock shadow made his smile all the more powerful.
“Good point. We shouldn’t wait for dinner. Let’s start the weekend now.”
“Start the weekend…. Wait, what are we talking about?” Spencer asked.
“Well, right now we’re talking about hanging out for a little while and then getting dinner together.” Emilio hadn’t moved his gaze from Spencer’s face for even a second. He didn’t remember ever having someone look at him so intently. It made his legs quake. “But I’m hoping I’ll be able to talk you into stretching things out longer. At least until after breakfast.”
“Breakfast?” Spencer repeated, hating that he couldn’t seem to put together a sentence. He was a numbers guy. Words weren’t his specialty and neither were people, so he didn’t expect to be charming or a brilliant orator, but a complete sentence would have been nice. Of course, before his mouth could work, his brain would need to catch up to the situation at hand.
“Yes.” Emilio raised his free hand and covered the back of Spencer’s with it, making him realize they were still holding on from that handshake. “I make a mean omelet,” he said as he moved his fingers over Spencer’s skin with barely there touches. “Do you have jalapenos?”
“No.” Spencer shook his head and then wondered why he had answered the question. The entire conversation made no sense. “But—”
“That’s okay. We can always pick some up later. I’ll come by now and check your fridge to see what else we’ll need.”
Truly, the entire conversation was confusing to the point where Spencer wondered if he was dreaming. He half expected a frog to ride by on a flying bicycle at any moment. He could think of only one possible explanation that would lend some logic to the situation, but it seemed very unlikely. No way was this man looking to hook up with him.
At the risk of getting punched, or worse, Spencer steeled his courage and said, “Uh, Emilio.” He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. “Are you, uh, coming on to me?”
As soon as he said the words, he realized how ridiculous they sounded. Emilio was all cut muscles, chiseled features, and perfect hair. Someone who looked like that wouldn’t have given Spencer a second glance ten years ago, when they would have been closer to the same age. To think it was happening now, when he was softer, grayer, and more lined, was positively preposterous.
But then, contrary to any expectation Spencer had for the response to his question or, for that matter, the entire conversation, Emilio lifted their joined hands to his mouth and gently kissed Spencer’s palm. Spencer was pretty sure nobody had done that to him, ever, and it made his heart flutter.
“Yeah, I am,” Emilio said. “But if you have to ask, I must not be doing a very good job of it.” Emilio grinned as he spoke and his eyes sparkled. “I’ll see what I can do to be more clear once we get to your place.”
The corners of Spencer’s lips tilted up in response. How could he not smile with this man looking at him like that?
“Oh, holy shit!” Emilio gasped as he let go of Spencer and pressed his own hand against his chest. “You have dimples.” He sighed loudly. “I think I’m in love.”
Spencer’s jaw dropped and all the color drained from his face. “What?”
Without bothering to answer his question, Emilio pointed at Spencer’s Honda and asked, “Is this your car?” Spencer nodded. “I’ll follow you to your place, okay?” Emilio didn’t wait for an answer, just dipped his face down, planted a kiss on Spencer’s cheek, and jogged back to his truck.
It was the single most perplexing exchange of Spencer’s life. He wasn’t sure what had just happened, what he was supposed to do now, or what was going to happen. With his entire body trembling, he decided to perform simple, familiar tasks: walk, open his car door, put the key in the ignition, and pull out of the parking lot.
He drove home on autopilot, his brain still in that parking lot processing his interaction with the handsome younger man who had looked at him in a completely unfamiliar way. Then he glanced at his rearview mirror and saw the big white truck following him. It was terrifying, like having a freight train barreling straight at him.
No, that was a bad analogy. With a freight train he’d know what to do—jump out of the way as fast and as far as possible. But this was a gorgeous man with an unexpectedly gentle touch. So, contrary to any logic he should have been smart enough to have or self-preservation instincts he was old enough to have developed, Spencer didn’t drive to the nearest police station or a friend’s house or a public place. Instead, with his heart slamming against his ribcage, his breath coming out at an unusually fast clip, and his dick still hard as steel, he continued to drive straight home.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gun Shy by Lori L. Lake

Lori Lake likes to start her Sunday's off lying in bed with her sweetheart, snuggling, reading, having breakfast in bed. She loves to read, play guitar, shoot hoops and watch movies. She mostly loves to write. Lake isn't picky when it comes to genres, "I have written romances, short stories, a historical fiction novel, action/adventure/thrillers, mysteries, and some unpublished speculative fiction. I like to write mysteries and action thrillers a lot. But I love to write about characters’ relationships as well, so there is often a romantic subplot. I’ve been working on a post-apocalyptic book for a few years which contains elements of mystery, action, thriller, and romance. Maybe my favorite genre to write, then, ends up being a mish-mash of more than one!"

Lake wrote The Gun Series thinking of Xena and Gabrielle from XENA: Warrior Princess. She asked Herself, “If Xena and Gab were alive in the 20th Century, who and what would they be? And the answer was Cops. They’d be very good, very committed police officers. Now we’re in the 21st Century, and I’m working on the fifth book in the series!"

Gun Shy is the tale of a Minnesota police officer (Dez Reilly) who saves two women from a brutal attack. One of them, Jaylynn Savage, is immediately attracted to the taciturn cop - so much so that she joins the St. Paul Police Academy. As fate would have it, Dez is eventually assigned as Jaylynn's Field Training Officer.
Having been burned in the past by getting romantically involved with another cop, Dez has a steadfast rule she has abided by for nine years: Cops are off limits. But as Jaylynn and Dez get to know one another, a strong friendship forms. Will Dez break her cardinal rule and take a chance on love with Jaylynn, or will she remain forever gun shy?

Lake's favorite aspect of Gun Shy is the way Dez unfolds and grows throughout the novel. At the beginning of Gun Shy, Dez Reilly is in a world of hurt. She feels isolated and bereft after her work partner is killed in the line of duty. She feels responsible, and she hasn’t been able to sort out all the complex emotions she feels. It’s not until Jaylynn Savage comes into her life that she begins to reconnect with people, to find community, and to start the process of feeling “alive” again. 
Lake Reflects that each of the Gun books has been fun to write; "The latest, Jump the Gun, had the most difficult journey to publication. It’s taken me since 2006 to get it done. That’s a long time, and I appreciate that fans of The Gun Series have been patient about how slow I’ve been to get the next one out there. I’m pretty sure Gun #5 will be out much quicker!"

This writer does have a little writer's block when it comes to naming her fifth Gun series book! Lake would like a few good. Write her at Lori (at) LoriLLake (dot) com or through her website at Don’t forget that extra L in the middle – if you do, your email will go to a realtor in Georgia instead of the author extraordinaire!