Sweet Fire Release Party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 6

January 3, 2015

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riverfront park

 

Sarah here, ONE MORE TIME!

Check out Riverfront Park in the daylight.  Nice, huh?  This is where Aaron and Ramón like to go running. Hot, sweaty, beautiful men, pretty flowers. Perfect.

OK, that was totally random, though I really love that run-through-the-park scene.

If you’ve enjoyed your jaunt through Spokane with the boys and would like to see more, feel free to check out the other stops on our blog tour. Here they are:

January 2 (I know, that was yesterday but you can still check it out.) Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth at www.queerscifi.com

January 4 Visit with Tracy St. John, Queen of Kalqorians at Wicked Words, www.tracystjohn.blogspot.com (Sexiest aliens ever! I own every book.)

January 5 Guest blog with Tara Lain, creator of the Harker Pack series, among other amazing books http://taralain.com.

January 6 Guest blog with Dreamspinner author Anne Barwell at Drops of Ink http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com.

January 7 Guest spot with Tempeste O’Riley, (wait a minute while I go all fangirl over her Designs of Desire series. Sweet and kinky-hot at the same time. Awesome. OK, we can go on now.) http://tempesteoriley.com/blog/

January 12 Guest spot with Elizabeth Noble on Emotion in Motion http://www.elizabeth-noble.com

If you want to know more about our weird and wonderful publishing journey or our books, both out and in progress, feel free to check out our own web site www.sbradybooks.com, like us on Facebook at SBradyBooks or follow us on Twitter @sbradybooks.

It’s been a long day of Book Release Excitement but it’s time to wrap it up. The prize winner will be contacted tomorrow. Thanks so much to Dreamspinner Press for letting us have the blog today. Thanks to Tricia, our senior editor, and all the other editors who helped knock Sweet Fire into shape to publish, and to Paul and Haley and Rose and Naomi and all the rest of the Dreamspinner team. We couldn’t have done this without your help. Andrew Grey, because we love your books, we forgive you for making off with our original title. If we had to lose it, it’s an honor to lose it to you. (The working title of this book was Fire and Water and now we know why DSP made us change it.)

I hope everyone enjoyed this peek into Sweet Fire. We’ll leave you with my favorite scene out of everything I’ve ever written, where Ramón takes Aaron to his favorite bear bar and we find out Ramón’s not so uptight after all.  Good night everybody and thanks for stopping by.

 

Excerpt:

Ramón set a pair of tall green glasses on the table and slid onto the stool at right angles to his own chair, facing the dance floor.

“So you come here now and then, do you?”

Ramón’s cheek twitched. “Maybe a little more often than that.” He scanned the room and nodded at yet another person waving at him. “Most of the gay contingent of the county’s cops, firefighters, and EMTs come here. The band has a regular gig here too. They’re pretty good.”

“I bet they are, but the next time you say you’ve been somewhere a few times, I’ll have to assume you’re full of shit.”

Ramón grinned at him and raised his glass in a toast just as the sound system roared to life. The bass player plucked out an opening riff that had Ramón jerking his head around to stare at him, then dropping his face into his hand. Concerned, Aaron put a hand to his shoulder. What the hell? He didn’t understand what was going on until the bass player stopped and the lead singer stepped up to the mike.

“Looks like we have some old friends in the crowd tonight!” The man’s voice was deep and smoke-raspy, and he was looking right at their table. Ramón looked up and shook his head, clearly telling the man no way.

Del Rio!” The massive drummer had a massive voice, and the chant was quickly picked up, first by the band and Ramón’s loud friends at the bar, then by the rest of the patrons.

Rio! Rio! Rio!” Ramón pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes for a minute while Aaron stared incredulously. It was obvious as soon as they walked in that Ramón was well known here, but he certainly never expected anything like this.

It quickly became clear that the noise wasn’t going to stop until the man did whatever the hell it was they wanted. Ramón slid off his chair and touched Aaron’s cheek with an apologetic smile, then turned and walked quickly to the stage, while the chant turned into a roar of whistles and cheers. Merciful gods! Aaron watched in stunned amazement as Ramón, solid, serious Ramón set one hand on the edge of the stage and vaulted onto it. He stood with his back to the room for a long moment, plucking in what Aaron assumed was a nervous tic at the buttons at the cuffs and the front of his shirt.

Shocked as he was to see his quiet lover leap onto the stage, he was still unprepared for what came next. The oldies bass riff came again, and Ramón turned quickly around, ripping off his shirt at the same time. The dark cotton shirt drifted to the stage floor, leaving Ramón in a thin wifebeater tank that gleamed whitely against his beautiful copper-brown skin. Aaron tried to swallow with his suddenly dry throat and gulped at his sticky drink.

Somehow the smooth baritone voice was the least shocking part of this whole incredible experience. As a soulful rendition of “Stand By Me” rolled over him, Ramón held his eyes, and the rest of the room faded completely away.

The first verse and the chorus came to him from the stage, and then, miraculously, unbelievably, it got even better. On the second verse, as the rest of the band started a smooth vocal backup, Ramón took the small headset that the lead handed him and started down the stage stairs. His eyes never left Aaron’s as he prowled down the steps and skirted the dance floor toward their small table.

The second chorus came, intense and soulful, and Ramón’s hand slid down Aaron’s throat and chest, taking all the air out of his lungs in the process. He struggled to breathe as the instrumental break gave Ramón an opportunity to lean in and run his mouth butterfly light along Aaron’s jaw and over the sensitive spot under his ear. The tiny headset mike his lover wore picked up a faint echo of two pounding heartbeats that blended seamlessly with the heavy bass line. By the time he pulled away, it was all Aaron could do to let him go, watching with his heart in his throat, tears in his eyes, and all the blood in his body in his jeans. The final chorus brought Ramón back up to the stage, moving back up the stairs with that panther-like grace that kept the eye of every man in the room riveted to his magnificent body.

The song ended, and the crowd went wild. Aaron hardly heard any of it as he sat frozen in his chair, gripping his hideous green glass with one hand and pressing the other to his chest, trying to get his rioting pulse under control. An erratic flame danced wildly in the glass candleholder. Suddenly Ramón was there, sweeping him out of his seat and into his arms to a fresh surge of whistles and cheers from the crowd. The band started a new song, without Ramón this time, and the two of them moved effortlessly together on the dance floor. As the space filled up with grinding, gyrating men, Ramón’s mouth came down over his, and Aaron knew, without a doubt, that the happily-ever-after he’d been waiting for all his life was right here in his arms.

 

Sweet Fire Release Party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 5

January 3, 2015

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Hello again! Shannen here. I wanted to talk about the number one thing I get asked about at conferences, meetings, and speaking engagements: writing romance with my mother.

When I go to author events, the question is inevitable. “You write WHAT? With your MOM?” It’s usually accompanied by a face that looks something like this:

eek face

 

Yup. I write romance with my mom, and I understand why so many people think it’s odd. Most people don’t want to think of their mom and sex in the same sentence, let alone collaborate on steamy stories.

I think what sets us apart is a few things. One, my utter lack of filter. You know that shut-up filter you have in the front of your brain that keeps you from saying awkward, personal or embarrassing things? Yeah, I don’t really have one of those. At least, not with my mom. For as long as I can remember, we’ve talked about everything without much awkwardness. Two, I think the fact that I exist is proof that my mother isn’t exactly a stranger to sexy-time. My mom isn’t easily rattled. Not much embarrasses her, so I’d have to come up with something pretty kinky in order to give her pause.

The biggest thing is just that we write what we like to read. And we both like to read romances. Did the first few sex scenes have us tying ourselves in knots? Yes. Do I still sometimes feel the need to say “ew” in her presence? I’m working on it. Neither of us are willing to give up writing cool books in order to save ourselves from a little discomfort – and that discomfort has dissipated pretty quickly.

P.S. Most people like sex. And that’s a good thing.

 

So…does anyone else have a mom who wouldn’t wash your mouth out with soap if you wrote a hot romance novel for her to edit?  Anyone have adult offspring who wouldn’t run away screaming?  We can’t be the only weird family out there. OK, maybe we are. (Opportunity to win a prize here.)

 

Here’s another peek into our story.  Ramón has a nightmare, re-living his run-in with Homeland Security….

“Mr. Del Rio, you don’t seem to understand the position you’re in. You have no power here. Since you haven’t been arrested, there are no records of you being taken into custody. You’re nothing, and as far as the US government is concerned, you were never here.”

Ramón’s blood surged with anger and fear.

“You bastard! You have no right to hold me without charge. I’m an American citizen, and I know my rights. I don’t have to say jack shit to you, and I want a lawyer, right the fuck now!”

The agent reached into his jacket, and fabric tore as he yanked out a leather billfold. He slapped it hard onto the table between them. Ramón recoiled as spit flew from the man’s mouth.

“This gives me the right, asshole! In case you’re too stupid to read it, it says Homeland Security. This says I can do any damn thing I want to you, and no lawyer will ever know you exist. Terrorists, both foreign and domestic, have taken away your precious rights.”

Ramón’s bowels turned to ice, and he stared in horror at the gleaming gold badge and laminated card. Sweet Jesus Christ, Alex. What have you gotten me into?

The man straightened, returning his ID to his pocket and combing his fingers through oily black hair. The other agent didn’t move. His interrogator moved silently around behind Ramón’s back. Chained to the table as he was, he couldn’t turn and keep an eye his tormenter. His scalp prickled at the feeling of the man leaning in close to whisper in his ear.

“Where is she, Del? Can I call you Del? That’s what your friends at the hospital call you, right? That’s what your partner calls you? Del? Just tell us where Alexandra is, and you’ll walk on out of here right now. Tell us about the cop at the hospital.” The man ran a soft hand down the back of Ramón’s neck, and he couldn’t suppress the shiver of revulsion that rolled through him. The voice continued in that reasonable tone.

“By now your family must be wondering where you are. We wouldn’t want your sister to worry, now would we?”

Fuck, fuck, fuck! Ramón twisted in the chair, trying to get out from under that petting hand. “You leave my sister out of this, you son of a bitch. She doesn’t know anything. She’s never even met Alex.”

“Well, I hope that’s true, Del. In that case, she has nothing to worry about. Except, of course, about whatever happened to her little brother. It’d be too bad if she never knew, don’t you think, Agent Smith?”

The blond behemoth stirred for the first time in hours. He pushed himself off the wall with a grunt and crossed the room to stand behind Ramón. Shit. Ramón tensed his muscles and kept his eyes glued to the scratched steel tabletop. There was no way in hell he would betray Alex to these freaks. In three years of working together, her Healing Gift had saved countless lives. She was a good person, no matter what these bastards said, and she was a good friend. And Tyler Kincaid was a good cop. Ramón tried to push his memory of the two of them out of his mind. He’d tell these sons of bitches nothing. Sooner or later they’d get tired of asking and figure out that he didn’t know where she was anyway. He’d never talk.

Eventually they did get tired of asking. He never did talk. But he did scream.

 

 

Sweet Fire Release Party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 3

January 3, 2015

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Welcome back to Sarah and Shannen Brady’s blog party for the release of Sweet Fire! Shannen here, and for the past few years, I’ve been a college student slash romance writer. This is a situation I’ve been in since 2011, and has finally come to an end – I graduated from college, started my first real grown-up job and released Sweet Fire within weeks of each other. It’s been a hectic month, but one for the record books.

As a reader, I always assumed that authors’ characters were completely unrelated to their regular lives. I didn’t think their families, goals, passions and pet peeves pertained to the characters they created. It wasn’t until I started writing fiction that I realized how wrong I was.

I suppose some writers infuse little inspiration from their own lives into their books, but I’ve found that our art imitates life. In Sweet Fire, I noticed that in the scenes Mom wrote, Ramon took on a few characteristics of my father, to whom she’s been married for almost 30 years. (I promise writing with Mommy Dearest is only weird sometimes. More on that later.) We incorporate stories of my and my brother’s childhood escapades and jokes our family tells around the dinner table. Hell, the idea for our (unfinished, unpublished) first book was conceived in an excruciatingly boring lecture class my freshman year of college.

In Aaron and Ramon’s story, one of the things that came through from our real life was the desire to show non-het relationships in a wonderful, touching, successful light. Too often, gay characters in the het novels we were reading, if there were any at all, were relegated to comic relief or faced tragic endings, and that wasn’t acceptable to us. I’m bisexual, and my experiences with that definitely influenced what I wanted to give our characters. I’m fortunate to be working with a mother who is incredibly open-minded, accepting and generally awesome; she was as gung-ho about foraying into m/m as I was, if not more so!

Ultimately, I think that kind of honesty makes the best stories. Romance stories can still be tales of rich lives – sometimes rosy ones, in which the heroine’s hair always looks good, the guy always gets the girl (or the other guy,) and the hero can get it up 5 times a day. And that’s the beauty of it: a Happily-Ever-After is universal! (And so is kissing the frogs. Lots and lots of frogs.)

Speaking of real life, bonus cute pics! Everybody loves puppies. If you don’t, I don’t entirely trust you. And because everyone loves puppies, I’m going to show you pictures of mine. This is Chubbers, or Lil’ Bub. (We only call him Dammit on special occasions.) He’s 1 ½ year old corgi that loves his toy elephant only slightly less than he loves cheese.

chubbers

 

Hey, Sarah here butting in:  My “grandchild” pictures at this point consist of hairy little guys with short legs and big ears and I’ve gotten kind of attached to them.  Anyone else have a super cute picture of your four-legged “child” you’d like to share?  We’d love to see them. (And Shannen, I thought his name was Don’tEatThat.)

Speaking of eating, even though there are no pets in the book, a pet picture or funny pet story will get you an entry in the drawing for the goodies. Don’t miss it.

 

Sweet Fire release party – Sarah and Shannen Brady Part 1

January 3, 2015

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             shannen and sarah

 Good Morning. It’s finally here!!! (pause while I do a really silly happy dance…….. OK, I’m back. Sorry.)  We’re so stoked about the release of Sweet Fire.  That’s partly because it’s our first Dreamspinner book and partly because we both just love these characters so much.  I’m thrilled to finally get to share them.

Don’t get confused if you hear me say “I” or “We” interchangeably.  We are a mother/daughter team and we write paranormal romance, both m/m and m/f, together.  I’m Sarah, the mom part of the team.  Shannen will be chiming in off and on throughout the day and we’ll try to make it clear who’s talking. There will be lots of opportunities later today to fill you in on the details of how and why a family would do something so weird as to write steamy romance together but I want to get to the really good stuff first.  Let’s have a look at the book.

SweetFire Cover

Love this beautiful Christy Caughie cover, yeah? That night scene is Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington.

Between Homeland Security’s Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace, having paranormal Gifts is a dangerous thing. Pyrokinetic Aaron Flores knows firsthand how difficult it can be to control his power. Still, he runs his bakery and never gives up on finding his Happily Ever After. When Aaron’s cousin asks him to check on her former EMT partner, Aaron’s chance has finally arrived. He’s determined not to let anything stop him from catching (and keeping) his man.

Ramón Del Rio spent three days at the tender mercies of HOMSEC agents when his former partner was taken. He wants nothing to do with a Gifted guy, but Aaron is nothing if not persistent. He’s a pastry chef after all, and the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach. The physical passion they share is the icing on the cake. Just when Ramón decides that having Gifts might not be a deal breaker, someone close to Aaron decides his fire needs to be put out—permanently. Ramón will have to face his fears to save them both.

Click here to check it out on the Dreamspinner site.

Die-hard Kindlers can get it on Amazon here.

 

Excerpt:

“I hear we had company this afternoon.”

Sophia’s voice was amused, and Victoria hid her face behind her napkin with a giggle as Ramón glared at her. He was going to have to tread carefully here. There was no way he was going to discuss Alex’s escape from Homeland Security in front of the girls. He held his sister’s eyes for a long moment. Her sculpted eyebrows rose, but she nodded. He’d still have to fill her in, but it would wait until the girls weren’t around. Too bad Victoria didn’t share her mother’s discretion.

“He was super cute, mama, with fancy hair, and he had sparkles on the pockets of his jeans, just like mine.”

Sophia’s eyebrows rose again. “Really? A cute gay guy comes to visit you, and you didn’t even invite him in? That’s not very good manners at all, brother.”

Both girls laughed hysterically to hear Uncle Ramón getting “told” by Mama, and six-year-old Adelina’s singing was gleeful.

“Un-cle’s in trou-ble.”

“That’s enough of that, Adel. Eat your dinner.” Ramón kept his voice calm. She was being rude, and singing at the table was against Sophia’s rules, but it wasn’t that much of an offense. Most of his aggravation was with himself and the flush of heat that ran through his body at the thought of this afternoon’s visitor.

“We just had to talk about a few things, that’s all. I don’t imagine he’ll be back.” Too bad, though. It’s a damn shame an ass that fine should turn out to be on a Gifted guy. Ramón turned his attention back to his food, but the girls weren’t finished with him yet.

I think he should come back and you should go out with him. You need a boyfriend.”

Jesus, Victoria. Ramón choked and tried not to spray iced tea across the kitchen table while Sophia cracked up. He never made any secret of the fact that he was gay, but he didn’t rub anyone’s nose in it either. He certainly never brought men around the girls. Victoria eyed him smugly across the table, but Adelina only looked confused.

“Why would you need a boyfriend, Uncle Ramón, instead of a girlfriend?”

Oh, jeez. Here we go. Adel was so cute sitting there with her thick black curls, her mouth covered in enchilada sauce and her perfect eyebrows wrinkled in confusion. Ramón sucked in a breath, stalling for time while his mind raced in circles, trying to figure out just how much to say. Thank heaven, Sophia rescued him.

“Adelina, Uncle Ramón doesn’t like women in that way. He’d rather have a boyfriend.”

Now Victoria choked and snorted milk out of her nose. For a minute he was able to occupy himself mopping up and patting her on the back, but eventually he had to look at Adelina. Sophia’s littlest sat there with her messy little mouth pursed thoughtfully for a long moment. Then her expression cleared.

“I don’t blame you, Uncle Ramón. I’d rather have a boyfriend too. Tommy Adkins says he wants to be my boyfriend, and he gave me one of his cookies at snack time yesterday. Can I watch my princess movie now?”

That’s it? That’s all there is to it? Ramón shared an incredulous smile with his sister. Still grinning, Sophia shrugged and got up to start the movie. I guess that’s all there is when you’re six.

Too bad things got more complicated once you grew up. Ramón got up and started cleaning the table, and he couldn’t help but think how long it had been since he’d had a boyfriend. Since his run-in with HOMSEC, he hadn’t even been to his usual club for dancing or a quick hookup. The image of his hot visitor popped into his head in spite of his best efforts to keep it out. The guy smells like sugar and works in a bakery. I bet he’d give a good “cookie.”

 

 

 

We’ll be giving away some yummy goodies today.  Come back and see us a little later for a chance to win and to get the recipe for Sweet Nothings’ Sweet Shoppe’s signature chocolate cream puffs (or How to Win Your Man – Lesson 1.)  Yum!

 

Inspirational Quote About Music…Plus An Excerpt And Giveaway!

December 26, 2014

It all started with Peter Murphy.

Now, wait a hot second, Piper. You said it started with Doctor Who.

Just go with it.

Playing Hard To Forget all started with Peter Murphy.

I adore 80s music. I really do. But, like most people my age, my knowledge of 80s music came from two places: vague memories from early childhood and VH1’s I Love the 80s. There were large gaps in my education of 80s New Wave. A few years ago I was driving around when an awesome sounding song came on my satellite radio. Indigo Eyes. I’d never heard it before but it immediately struck a chord with me (get it? Chord? Music? Ok moving on). I’d been struggling with the characterization of my two mains in Playing Hard To Forget. They weren’t as easy to create as the characters around them. They needed a depth I hadn’t found yet, but as soon as I heard Indigo Eyes, my Ethan had a new layer almost immediately. I ran home and downloaded the song and played it over and over as I story boarded Ethan’s journey.

And about the same time I had my “Don’t Forget Me” revelation, I was dragged by a dear friend into that terrible, awful 5th circle of hell conveniently located in every suburban mall in America: Hot Topic. It was there I heard the voice of the goddess Siouxsie Sioux singing a cover of Bob Dylan’s This Wheel’s On Fire. And suddenly everything became so clear. “If your memory serves you well.” It was life-changing. Why the fates decided to pause the System of a Down long enough to play some good music that day, I’ll never know.

The third song with a large hand in the plot comes to us from Canada (Now, if you know me well, you know Canada is important in our family. I birthed two French-Canadian children, made with my French-Canadian husband whose Canadian roots go back over 400 years. Our last name is Canadian, forged in the fires of a Tim Horton’s hot oil fryer. He is part Scottish, but, for the most part, I’ve broken the Scottish bloodline. Go me). It’s by an indie band called Folly and the Hunter–Moth in the Porchlight.  The song is incredible. And it’s Ethan and Liam…and Fiona, Ethan’s sister. Hearing it for the first time was, like, boom, cancel my meetings for the rest of the day. I have to go home and write.

Other songs had a hand in the creation of Playing Hard To Forget. I’m posting the list here and a link to a YouTube playlist. If any song here appeals to you, I heartily encourage you to check out the band and support them by buying tons of their music.

Indigo Eyes–Peter Murphy

Wolves–Big Wreck

Dangerous–Big Data

No One Knows–Queens of the Stone Age

Club Foot–Kasabian

Rather Be–The Verve

The Passenger–Siouxsie and the Banshees

Never Let Me Down Again–Depeche Mode

High on a Riverbed–Toad the Wet Sprocket

The Sweetest Drop–Peter Murphy

Never Tear Us Apart–INXS

Born To Ruin–The Wildlife

Space and Time–The Verve

Sick, Sick, Sick–Queens of the Stone Age

Under the Milky Way–The Church

Skin on Skin–Queens of the Stone Age

Burn the Witch–Queens of the Stone Age

Hope–Toad the Wet Sprocket

This Wheel’s on Fire–Siouxsie and the Banshees

Moth in the Porchlight–Folly and the Hunter

Here’s the whole unofficial soundtrack in a YouTube playlist

 

And now it’s time for an excerpt!

 

The distant snap of a twig from about ten yards back confirmed his suspicions, but he stayed on his own target and squeezed off the last shot of the round and it effectively left him unarmed. He stood and turned toward the sound, but the dense pine and oak did not afford him the best view. He bent back down to lock the safety and left the edge of the clearing to venture deeper into the forest.

He did not have to walk far before he heard it—the smooth, snarky tone and now familiar voice-over of his new and very explicit fantasies. “Looking for me?”

Ethan whipped around to find Liam leaning against a tree as if he owned the goddamned forest. He put on his best nonchalant face, which of course was going to fool absolutely no one.

“I thought it might be a bear.” Immediate and total regret washed over him. Stupid answers were beneath him. He was twenty years old, damn it.

Liam moved like a cheetah, and he was inches away from Ethan in the span of a breath. “Now, now. Ethan. Ignoring the fact that I can hear your heart and smell your hormones, why would you go after a bear unarmed?”

“I—I wasn’t looking for you, I….” Stammering was also beneath him. How could he let this guy—this wolf—do this to him?

Liam looked amused. “Come on, Ethan. You think I haven’t seen you all week? Walking twice a day through the field where we met? Taking wild detours through the forests? You’ve been looking for me all week. And here I am. And you left your weapon behind. I’m flattered, Ethan, really.”

“You’ve been following me?” His chest was tight, but it was not from embarrassment as much as it was anticipation.

“Yes.” No lies. No stammering around the truth. Liam was unapologetic.

“All this week? Everywhere?” Ethan blushed at the thought of what Liam might have seen in that week.

Liam snorted. “Now, Ethan. I do have a life.” He leaned in close to Ethan’s ear, and Ethan silently blamed the heat coming off Liam reacting with his cold sweat for the long shiver.

“But I’ve followed you enough. Tell me, are you thinking of me when you’re alone in your bedroom? God, I hope so, because that face you make when you come, I’d really like to see that face when you’re under me. I’d like to make you come myself instead of watching you think of me from a distance.” He backed up and blinked slowly, and watched Ethan for a reaction.

Ethan tried to shake the fog of confusion and arousal and opened his mouth to speak, but not before he heard Fiona in the distance yelling for him.

Shit.

Liam rolled his eyes and sighed. “I guess that’s my cue, isn’t it, Ethan? Can’t have daddy and little sister knowing about our little secret, can we?”

He turned to leave, but stopped short. “Still, it isn’t fair leaving you this way.” Liam smirked and raised an eyebrow as he surveyed Ethan. “No, you need something new to think about tonight.”

And before Ethan knew what was happening, Liam’s lips were on his. It was hot—literally and figuratively—and Liam’s lips were soft and tasted of the same earthy tang Liam smelled of on the day they’d met. Ethan relaxed into it faster than he liked and he let Liam’s tongue explore his own. He didn’t need Liam to tell him his heart was racing. He could feel it kick against his rib cage, and it served to spur Liam on.

Liam’s hands wrapped around the back of Ethan’s neck and he lifted his jaw slightly so Liam could kiss his way down to a spot Ethan’s shirt barely hid. Liam didn’t bite hard enough to break the skin, but there was certainly going to be a mark, more so because Ethan jerked up into it and he did not even care about how weak it made him seem or the noise that escaped when he felt sharp teeth.

Liam came away smiling and admired his masterpiece: red and purple and, in a few minutes from then, in dire need of a quick explanation from Ethan if he couldn’t find a way to cover it up. While Ethan adjusted his shirt as best he could, Liam disappeared beyond the tree line.

I know, right? I’m simply dying to find out what happens next!

Playing Hard To Forget–in Paperback or ebook on Dreamspinner or in ebook at Amazon.

You can find me on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Music is such a gigantic part of my life. My next story with Dreamspinner, due out in March 2015, also has a soundtrack with similar revelatory moments behind each song. I was struggling with a plotline for a potential number three the other day when I heard Le Pyromane by Karkwa and my brain went crazy with ideas.

My favorite song ever–my favorite song always–is Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. I cannot imagine a more perfect song existing. What is your all-time, hands-down favorite song of all time? My favorite wins a paperback edition of Playing Hard To Forget!

THE SENSUALIST & THE UNTOUCHED Release Party #2: Themes

December 19, 2014

Hi again! I’m Susan Laine. I’m hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched.

I have a couple of themes that take center stage in this book.

The first is sexual inexperience and how detrimental the effect of that can be on a person’s self-esteem, especially if you are an adult. The emotions connected to that state of being are the same for both men and women: Poor self-esteem, shame, embarrassment, and feelings of inadequacy. Last but not least, there is loneliness, which is another central theme.

The physical aspect in a relationship may not be key but it is important. As social beings, we all have an instinctive need to connect with people, to see and to be seen by others. Our modern society is over-sexualized. Sex sells, as the saying goes. You can see it everywhere, not just on the pages of a porn magazine, but in huge billboards around big cities. Women with big boobs and butts, men with thick muscles and ripped abs. The imagery radiates sex.

It seems as though everyone is having sex everywhere, all the time, with anyone and everyone.

But… what if you’re not? What if you’ve never felt the touch of another, never been kissed, never been seen as desirable, never even been brushed against by someone who isn’t part of your immediate family?

That is where Corey comes from. No sex. No touch. No intimacy. No sensuality. Nothing.

He is fundamentally alone and lonely, and he’s tired of it. He’s an adult, in his thirties, and he has no practical knowledge of what it takes to be intimate with another human being. Loneliness is his best—and worst—friend.

Here’s a tiny excerpt to show how loneliness effects Corey:

Corey had never realized, not with the total awareness of this moment, how much he ached to be touched. His raw, palpable loneliness permeated his whole body, from skin to soul. Perhaps the constant solitude had fried his brain, making him mad, delusional, and wanting impossible things. But in his heart, he had more than an inkling it was this isolation that left him hollow and hurting, touch deprived and in desperate need for contact.

“Fuck. I’m sorry.” Corey was glad his face was hidden by the cushion, but he wasn’t stupid enough to believe or hope that Lucian hadn’t noticed.

Loneliness

How about a realization that others seem so capable of love—while Corey is not?:

Love….

Funny how Corey could recognize it, though he had never felt it or sensed it aimed at him. Perhaps it was instinctual and universal and undeniable.

If so, why couldn’t he reciprocate? Why could he not… feel… those better emotions, the ones that didn’t make him feel like a loser, despondent and bereft of hope? Had it been nothing more than… gasp… a fluke?

As I’m sure you can imagine, this is an emotional ride. Corey has a lot to deal with throughout the story, and because of him, so does Lucian.

Lonely Heart

And now, a question for you all: Do you find it easy or hard to talk about loneliness?

If you feel the topic is too intimate and private, there is absolutely no obligation to answer.

As I wrote, at times I almost choked on the heaviness and hollowing feeling as I experienced it through Corey. Many find it hard to admit they ever feel lonely, even in company, while others find comfort and safety in solitude. Our society labels poorly those who have the courage to admit their loneliness, as though they were abnormal or freakish somehow. That is the place where Corey’s loneliness stems from, the unwillingness to vocalize it, burying it under the condition of frigidity.

My books can be found through my website.

#4: JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: Ripped From the Headlines

December 7, 2014

missing

I’m an avid reader of newspaper and magazine articles. Both of my novels, When One Door Opens, and Finding Matt, were originally conceived after reading newspaper articles.

When One Door Opens focuses on Caleb Klass, a housebound agoraphobic. I read an article about a woman who died in a fire in Chicago because she refused to leave the building. The woman was agoraphobic. I remember being so shocked and saddened by this article. Imagine a fear so great that it can override your instinct for self-preservation. I’d never considered agoraphobia could be life threatening. The article also made me think about my own experiences with panic attacks. I’ve been fortunate enough to have only two in my life, but they left a strong impression. There is actually a reference to the original article hidden in the novel.

The inspiration for Finding Matt is based on a real life kidnapping case that happened in my small town. The details for the case are completely different, but reading the articles helped me to understand how a small town handles these types of cases. Unfortunately, the case that compelled Paulo to leave the ISP is actually based on a real case. Reality can sometimes be far more horrifying than fiction.

On a happier note, Jaron’s Newfoundland dog, Bear, is based on a very sweet Newfie that meet.

Bear

 

In this excerpt from chapter 4, Paulo takes Jaron to the site of the kidnapping, a small park.

_____________

[Jaron] walked in a slanted line toward the road that separated the park from the hospital parking lot. After a couple of minutes, he stopped. Paulo didn’t need to look around to know they were at the edge of the hospital parking lot’s surveillance video. The very spot Matt disappeared. How the hell had Jaron found the location? His department hadn’t sent the video to the media, opting to send screenshots of Matt exiting the hospital instead since his visibility was better. Jaron must have connections in the hospital. Could someone in security have talked to him? It was doubtful Jaron had seen the footage. Officers had arrived at the hospital thirty minutes after Matt left his father’s side, and secured the footage immediately.

Paulo’s line of thinking derailed when Jaron stumbled. Arms flailing, Jaron would have fallen if Paulo hadn’t grabbed him.

“Are you all right?”

Jaron didn’t answer right away. His eyes were focused on something in the distance. Up close, Paulo could see a ring of gold around Jaron’s irises. The morning sun made his long, thick lashes look like white feathers.

Jaron blinked rapidly. “I’m okay… thanks.”

Paulo unhooked his arms from around Jaron’s waist and took a step back.

Jaron stepped on the road, causing Paulo to grab him again and yank him backward. A station wagon came within inches of clipping Jaron. “Jesus, watch where you’re going!”

Jaron looked chagrined. “Sorry, I don’t normally do this without Bear.”

Paulo stared at him. “The dog is in charge of making sure you don’t end up roadkill?”

Jaron patted him on the arm. “I’m sure you’ll do just as good a job.”

Paulo wasn’t sure whether to be offended by the comparison or not. Since Jaron seemed to take better care of his dog than himself, Paulo settled on feeling flattered that Jaron was trusting him.

_____________

 Finding Matt

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense

Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

 

*****E-BOOK CONTEST*****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to e-mail me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #4 Question: What inspires you? 

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

#3: JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: Somewhere, Illinois

December 7, 2014

My debut novel, When One Door Opens, takes place in Chicago, Illinois. I’ve lived within a couple of hours of Chicago nearly my whole life. But I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the city. More like an enthusiastic suburbanite. My recent trip to Chicago was the inspiration for a Free Christmas short story with Caleb and Logan. The story will be posted on my website next weekend as a thank you to all the readers who took a chance on a newbie author. *coughs* It is definitely NWS.

WhenOneDoorOpens

Blurb: Logan Sellers’s parole officer has issued three commandments: stay sober, stay employed, and stay out of trouble. At first Logan thought those three simple rules would be easy to follow. But that was before he accepted a side job assisting his boss’s housebound agoraphobic nephew, Caleb.

Caleb is deceptively normal for a guy who hasn’t left his apartment in three years, and his friendly, caring personality tugs on heartstrings Logan didn’t know he had. But hitting on his boss’s nephew is asking to be unemployed. Logan has enough problems with booze on every corner and a supervisor trying to jump into his bed. He doesn’t need to work out how to free Caleb from the anxiety that keeps him in his apartment; he needs to keep his nose clean, attend his AA meetings, and make a fresh start—alone.

If only his heart would get with the program.

Length: Novel (210.) | Genre: Contemporary, 2014 EPIC’s eBook Awards, Award-Winning Books

Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Audiobook | Amazon |All Romance E-books

 

paulo2

My new paranormal romance release Finding Matt also takes place in Illinois in the fiction town of Stanton. I’ve lived in small towns like Stanton since I graduated college, so I’m very familiar with small town life. Detective Paulo Silva has only recently moved to Stanton. He used to work with the Illinois State Police (ISP) in Springfield, IL. After a devastating case, he left ISP and came to The Stanton Police Department (SPD). Paulo also left behind his former friend/lover, Sergeant Devin Morris. Adjusting to the change hasn’t been easy for Paulo.

_____________

Devin had mocked [Paulo] for picking a town with less than thirteen thousand residents, where he’d be the token minority in the police department. Even knowing the demographics, Paulo hadn’t been prepared for an all-white police station. He’d tried to explain that he was Brazilian, not Hispanic, to the few baffled people who asked him. They’d seemed equally baffled by the fact that he spoke Portuguese, not Spanish.

Paulo shook his head. He didn’t have time to ponder the disturbing lack of diversity and cultural awareness in Stanton. He rose and walked over to the printer station. After picking up the report, he headed for the chief’s office.

_____________

The Matt Wilson missing child case requires that the SPD request help from Illinois State Police, bring Devin back into Paulo’s life. When Paulo learns that he’s been assigned the job of babysitting the psychic, he phones Devin.

_____________

Paulo had his phone out of his pocket before he exited the chief’s office. Pulling up Devin’s number, he hit the Send button. Devin picked up after only one ring, like he’d been expecting the call.

In lieu of a greeting, Paulo asked, “What is your problema, babaca?”

“Oh, he must be pissed if the Portuguese is slipping out.”

Paulo could tell by his voice that Devin was smirking.

“I have ten active cases, Devin. I don’t have time to babysit a psychic. Get one of your troopers to hold his hand.”

“Get over yourself, Silva. Keeping the parents happy is important, especially in a case with this much media attention. Someone needs to be on babysitting duty and you’re the low man on the totem pole at the SPD. You chose to hide in the land of pig shit and windmills. Now deal with it.”

Paulo gritted his teeth. “I’m not hiding.”

“The hell you’re not. I’m one floor away, but you decided to bitch at me on the phone instead of in person.” Devin sighed and his voice softened. “Eventually, everybody gets a case that gets to them, baby. But you work through it instead of running away from the job and the people who care about you.”

“Maybe it was a mistake to transfer here, but staying in Springfield wasn’t an option.”

“You’re wasted in this town and you know it. You should be thanking me for taking you away from investigating cow tippings and bootleg liquor.” Devin snorted. “And from what I hear, you’re the perfect man for this job.”

“What are you talking about?”

“People in this town love to talk about their resident psychic. Especially since he’s shacked up with Stephen Miller, the gay son of the former mayor.” Devin could perform a soft interrogation better than anyone Paulo had ever seen. He used his bleached-blond hair, pretty-boy face, and toothpaste commercial smile to his full advantage, and people willingly spilled their guts. “Are you thinking Greenberg’s involved? Because the chief is his alibi.”

“Just because he didn’t do the snatch, doesn’t mean he isn’t involved. Hell, this could be some publicity stunt.”

Paulo wished that was the case, but his gut told him otherwise. “What’s your read on the parents? Would they be involved in something like that?”

“Mr. Wilson is trying hard to stay positive, but he’s tearing himself apart with guilt. If it’s a stunt, no way does he know about it. Mrs. Wilson might be a possibility. She’s a real cold fish, that one.” Devin sighed. “Odds are Greenberg’s either a con artist or a wackjob.”

“I still don’t understand what you want me to do. Do you want me to investigate Greenberg?”

“I need you to put on those ass-hugging jeans I know you’ve got stashed in your apartment, and take the guy around town to let him soak up his supposed psychic vibes. If people see Greenberg walking around with a uniform, word will spread quickly. If tongues are wagging about their newest detective hanging out with a gay man, then they won’t be wondering if the police have resorted to hiring a psychic to save Matt Wilson.”

“Are you seriously fucking asking me to pretend I’m on a date with this guy?”

“Who said anything about a date?” Devin said, feigning innocence. “Though I hear there’s a great Chinese place on Main Street.”

“Keep it up, babaca, and you will get your face-to-face meeting with me when I smash your teeth in.”

Devin snickered. “I love you too, Silva,” he said, before ending the call.

Sighing, Paulo pressed the End button on the phone.

_____________

paulo1

FINDING MATT by JD Ruskin
Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

 

*****E-BOOK CONTEST*****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to e-mail me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #3 Question: Have you read When One Door Opens? Are you interested in a follow up free short story?

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

#2: JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: Do You Believe In Psychics?

December 7, 2014

fish

Finding Matt features a pet psychic named Jaron Greenberg. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of horoscopes and psychics. When I looked at the sign characteristics for my sign, Pisces, I realized that I had all of the weaknesses and very few of the strengths. The Pisces is also known as having more an intuitive and psychic ability than any other sign. I haven’t bought a lotto ticket yet, but I expect to win when I get around to doing it. Eventually. Did I mention Pisces can be really lazy?

I went to see a psychic once when I was in college for a tarot card reading. The part I remember most about the reading was when she asked about what I was studying to be for my day job. After I told her, she was silent for over a minute, staring at the cards and avoiding all eye contact. Then she said, “Um…that…might be…okay for you.” Weakness attempt at reassurance ever. I did, in fact, go on to graduate and get a job. I sometimes wonder what she would’ve said if I told her I planned to write gay romance novels. What would the cards have told her?

Jaron Greenberg

My pet psychic, Jaron Greenburg, operates his business out of a walk in closet of his best friend’s pet salon. He charges barely over minimum wage, because he’d rather be seen as a freak than a fraud. He’s had this ability since childhood, but the Matt Wilson missing child case will force him to push his abilities beyond what he thinks he’s capable. Jaron desperately wants to find Matt, but first he needs to convince skeptical Detective Paulo Silva that he can help.

In this scene from chapter 2, Paulo Silva learns about Jaron’s history from Chief Tucker, who believes in Jaron’s abilities.

“I’ve known Jaron his whole life. He was the first major case I caught as a detective. When he was four years old, his parents took him out to the forest preserve to experience the fall colors.” Chief Tucker put finger quotes around the words “fall colors.” With a shake of his head, he continued, “Jaron had been missing for two hours before they sobered up enough to contact the police.”

Paulo had tracked down a group of liquored up teens in those woods his first week on the job. Miles of choking trees, sharp brambles, and snake holes. It was hard for an adult to navigate the twisting paths of thick foliage and tree roots, let alone a young child.

“We didn’t have a K9 unit back then, so I called Nathan Jefferson and asked if we could use his hunting dogs. He tells me they’ve run off and his son is out looking for them. I head out to the parking lot where volunteers are being mobilized, and I see two hounds that look like Nate’s dogs, a poodle, and a chocolate lab running by. I wondered about it, but with only an hour of daylight left and weather expected to drop into the 20s, I needed to get moving and find that boy before he froze to death.

“I drove the five miles to the forest preserve quick as I could. The chief started handing out search assignments. Then I see those dogs again, standing together and looking anxious. The lab stepped forward and started barking, going quiet as I approached it. I swear to God that dog stared at me like he was Lassie and I was the dumb shit who hadn’t figured out Timmy was in the well. So I trotted after the dogs, and just about the time I’d decided I’d lost my mind, the dogs raced ahead, barking their heads off. I caught up to them and found them circled around this white-haired child covered in dirt and scratches. He put his little hand on the lab’s head and said, ‘Thanks for coming.’”

Paulo felt a chill race down his spine.

“I found that boy three miles away in the opposite direction of where his parents said they had last seen him. We would’ve never found Jaron in time without those dogs. I think God gave that boy a gift, probably as compensation for his good-for-nothing parents.” The chief shrugged. “There are plenty of other stories.” He pulled out his wallet, slid out a business card, and handed it to Paulo. “If there is even a chance Jaron can help, it would be wrong not to act on it.”

The business card featured a close up picture of a man in his midtwenties and an enormous dog that looked like an all-black Saint Bernard. Jaron Greenberg had a mop of white blond hair that many boys have, but few retain as they age. Greenberg must have Photoshop skills, because no one had eyes that blue. Looking at the man’s face, Paulo could understand the impulse to believe in him. The thought of someone so beautiful swindling people out of their hard-earned money was unthinkable. But bad guys came in all shapes and sizes, and from the sound of things, Greenberg’s parents were likely excellent teachers.

Finding Matt

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense

Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

****E-BOOK CONTEST****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to tell me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #2 Question: Do you read your horoscope? If so, how well do you match your sign characteristics? 

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

#1: Welcome to JD Ruskin’s Blog Party for Finding Matt

December 7, 2014

party

Hello! I’m JD Ruskin. Today is the release party for my new paranormal romance Finding Matt, which was released 12/5/14. I will be posting five blogs throughout the day, giving away prizes, talking about the making of the book, and sharing excerpts.

Finding Matt

 

Blurb: When six-year-old Matt Wilson and his Shih Tzu, Pixie, step out of the Stanton Community Hospital and disappear, his desperate parents convince Jaron Greenberg, a local pet psychic, to aid the police in the search. Jaron specializes in finding lost kitties and fixing problem pooches. He isn’t prepared for a case with so much at stake. And as soon as he starts, the abilities he’s had since childhood begin changing and growing in unexpected ways.

Paulo Silva is a veteran detective new to the small town of Stanton. As the low man on the totem pole at Stanton PD, he isn’t happy when the chief assigns him to babysit the pet psychic instead of actively working the missing child case. As Jaron uncovers clues, Paulo starts to wonder if he might be the real thing. Or maybe it’s just his testosterone reacting to what he’s sure is mutual attraction.

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

 

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the book trailer I made on YouTube.

Book Trailer for Finding Matt by JD Ruskin

 

****E-BOOK CONTEST****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to tell me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #1 Question: Do you have a pet? If so, tell me about your furry friend.  

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads