December 26, 2014
Whoa, would you just look at the time! My time taking over the Dreamspinner Blog is nearly up!
I’d like to thank you all for stopping by today and helping me celebrate the release of Playing Hard To Forget! It’s been a real pleasure from start to finish getting this book out to the world. Dreamspinner has been amazing and they are a Florida based company, so it was great getting to work with a local company to help to support our economy!
And I’ll be making more rounds in March, when my second Dreamspinner story, tentatively titled “Something To Die For,” comes out!
Be sure to check out Playing Hard To Forget, my debut novel with Dreamspinner Press, out TODAY, December 26, 2014. I hope I’ve given everyone some insight into the story and some interesting tidbits on how it came to be.
I’m going to open up this posts for any questions you may have about me or my book or what I’m working on next or even random questions like “where should I eat on my trip to Orlando next February?”
Don’t forget to comment on the music post for your chance to win a copy of Playing Hard To Forget!
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
No One Knows–Queens of the Stone Age
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
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.
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!
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!
December 26, 2014
Playing Hard To Forget all started with Doctor Who.
It actually started with Scotland. A thousand years ago. Brave, handsome Struan Robertson slayed a wolf that threatened the king and was rewarded with money, land, titles, women, fame, and, eventually, a thousand years later, a beautiful red headed descendant, fair of skin and big of ego, who would use his story as the backbone for her debut novel.
But before she decided to tell his story and turn it into a love story for the ages, there was an episode of Doctor Who.
It was a tenth doctor episode called Tooth and Claw and it took place in Scotland. Royalty. Wolves. Saving royalty from wolves. Where have we heard this story before? But there was, as there always is, a twist: Werewolves. Okay, like, alien werewolves, but it’s Doctor Who and we give it a pass.
Our intrepid and clever author watched with glorious side eye as an idea formed in her head. An idea born out of a territorial and possessive drive.
This was not their story to tell.
You can’t just take a family’s story and make up stuff about it.
That, I said, is my right.
The idea simmered and festered for awhile. It was lacking…something. I wanted it to be more than just the old “star crossed lovers” torn apart by family and a millennium-long war ignited when Struan Robertson killed not a wolf, but a werewolf. Then it hit me. Every person has two sides of their history: their mother and their father’s stories. I used my father’s side’s story, but what about my mother’s?
Ne m’oubliez. Latin for “Don’t Forget Me.” The motto of my equally Scottish mother’s family. Ne m’oubliez. What if there was an even bigger force tearing Ethan and Liam apart? What if something happened to make them forget about each other? Don’t Forget Me. How many nightmares have I had where I’ve forgotten my husband? Where he’s just on the edge of my memory but I can’t seem to remember how to find him or that we’re together? It’s a recurring theme in my nightmares and they always terrify me. What if there were someone you know was important to you but you can’t quite make out how? Going to the phone to call but you can’t remember the number? Imagine the frustration of not being able to remember. Ne m’oubliez. It was perfect. My book was born.
Let’s talk. Do you have any great folk tales from your family history? Do you believe them? My family crest tells the tale with wolves heads on pikes and there is some evidence that it happened thanks to name changes and land names. I want to believe that Struan Robertson slayed a wolf and saved the king because how awesome is that?
December 26, 2014
Hello and welcome to Florida.
If you’ve never been to Florida, let me start our tour by assuring you that, yes, everything you have ever heard about it is true. Whatever you’ve heard is true. Snakes, gators, crocodiles, Publix, zombies, sharks, Disney, whatever. It’s true. I just watched a spider the size of my head devour a small bird right outside my window. We’ve got wild lizards 6 feet long, crazy people, and rides. It’s safe to say that Florida is really just Jurassic Park minus Jeff Goldblum.
We’re starting our tour in the dead center of the state. Now, the closer to Disney, the closer to insanity, but if you go beyond the safety of the theme parks, you can actually find some amazing culture hiding out in the small towns of central Florida.
Playing Hard to Forget is set in one of these small towns: Lakeland. Nestled in the heart of a very conservative county smack dab in the middle of the state, it’s home to (obviously) a zillion lakes, twice as many orange groves, and, more to the point of this story, our two main characters, Ethan Robertson and Liam Kinnaird.
Why such a heartland kind of place? Because I went to a very progressive and diverse high school there in the late nineties and it was a place where everyone was not only accepted for who they were, but celebrated for it. I’ve gone back at least once a year since then to visit friends and family and I’ve watched that attitude spread throughout the city and I’m proud to have once called Lakeland home.
Beyond that. it’s a perfect Florida city. Geographically, it’s a crossroads that reflects the north, south, east, and west cultures that make up the state. When we start our story, Ethan lives in the southern part of the city. A little more affluent and modern, but a lot of old money. Liam lives to the north. It’s a bit more rural out there. Lots of farms and fields that eventually give way to forests and the Green Swamp. A perfect place for a family of shifters to live without drawing too much attention to themselves.
Later in the book, there are a few mentions of a place called Bone Valley, which is one of the coolest places in the area. It sits south of the city and is heavily mined for phosphate, but is also one of the best places to find megalodon and rhino teeth fossils (although they have restricted access to the area these days). It’s a fascinating place because it doesn’t even look like Florida.
Even the outfitters Charles owns is based on a real place in the area (probably can’t mention it by name, but if you know Polk County, you know the place), as well as the restaurant Ethan has a funny encounter at (It was called Vito’s and the vintage neon sign above it said “Vito’s–Air Conditioned” so that’s what we all called it before it closed).
We eventually see our characters in cities to the east like Cocoa Beach and to the north, up in the panhandle area, but, to my boys, Lakeland is their home.
Everyone in Playing Hard To Forget is based on a real person in my life. From my insanely abusive father, who made it into the book as Charles Robertson to my high school best friend, who, along with my 11th grade Honors English teacher, influenced my favorite ever side character, Penelope. It was very important to me to put as many real people from my life into this book because, even if they are evil, terrible people, they often have motivations and character traits that are real.
It’s much easier and more satisfying to draw on that one friend you know who would risk his own well-being to help out a friend or your father who believed that he was doing the right thing by trying to beat and berate his children into becoming his perfect idea of a family than to try to create them from scratch and spend time figuring out their back stories. Real people are just so neat. Crazy Floridians even more so.
And let’s not forget that the entire setup for the story is based on a family folk tale (Which I’ll go into in the next post). I drew on a thousand years of people in my life for this one!
So, to anyone who knows me personally, if you think you recognize yourself in a character, you’re welcome. Unless you recognize yourself in Penelope. Then I apologize. But, and you know who you are, that was totally you back in the day, girl. If you’re my father and you’re reading this? I apologize for nothing. This was better than years of therapy.
Let’s talk. Would you be flattered or mortified if you recognized yourself in a book? Do you prefer the authenticity of drawing from real people and their motivations for the things they do? One of my biggest problems with tv these days is that sometimes characters’ motivations don’t line up with how they act and react to things. It’s like showrunners don’t know any real people at all. I’d also love to see your examples of characters who have great reactions relative to their back stories.
December 26, 2014
Okay, my beauties. My name is Piper Doone. Put down the last of the eggnog, because we’re about to have a release party.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here today to hopefully join you and my book, Playing Hard To Forget released December 26, 2014!
Today I’m going to be talking about the crazy story of how this novel came to be. I’ll be posting the soundtrack listing and how the music really drove the story. I’ll talk a little about the setting and the history of the story. And I’ll also post an excerpt and do a giveaway!
Playing Hard To Forget is my debut novel from Dreamspinner Press. Left to my own devices, I’d probably just tell you it was about hot Scottish boys in love despite every force in the world trying to keep them apart, but Dreamspinner does a much better job summing it up than I do:
Ethan Robertson never asked to be the latest in a long line of werewolf hunters, but the war between his family and the werewolf Kinnairds has raged on for a millennium, and he is expected to fight like all the Robertsons before him. But then he meets Liam Kinnaird, a gorgeous, mysterious werewolf Ethan falls hard for. Despite the danger, they carry on a torrid affair until a terrible explosion destroys everything, including Liam and Ethan’s memories of their time together.
Twenty years later, Ethan is embroiled in battle once again and catches a glimpse of Liam. It triggers intense, erotic dreams that Ethan thinks might not be dreams at all. But he’s never been anything but enemies with Kinnairds. He’s certainly never been in love with one. Or has he?
Like, whoa, pretty cool, right? Stay tuned for an in depth look at the story behind the story!
Let’s get the conversation rolling. It’s the day after Christmas and Hanukkah recently ended. Before we get into the book, how were your holidays? Family is a big theme in Playing Hard To Forget. Mostly, though, it’s about how families can, well, kind of suck. If you were stuck with yours (or your partner’s), did everything go smoothly or did the cops have to come out (again) to settle things?
I’ll also open up the comments to any general questions about me, my writing, my whereabouts on the night of the 10th, what’s my name, who’s my daddy, and is he rich like you?
December 2, 2014
How did you come up with the title for The Guy series?
That’s a funny story. I had a title for the series all planned out. Book one was to be titled Better than Candy, and the series titled the “Better Than” series. Well, right after I submitted book one, my fellow DSP author Lane Hayes came out with a book called Better Than Good. Yikes! I had to find something else and fast. Since book one was set in the fictitious town of Glamour, I decided to call it The Guy from Glamour. The Guy series was born from that decision. I think it all worked out for the best!
Do you have a favorite couple that you’ve written?
No, but I do get obsessed with whatever couple I’m focused on most recently. My new series, for example, has the first book releasing in February, and I fell hard for this couple. I never intended to write Cole and Ian’s story at all. It came rushing out like a locomotive. Their story involves sudden tragedy. It gave me all kinds of strong feels to write, and I hope readers will embrace it. It’s called Here for You and will be out in February. What I love about the story is that it’s also a story of friendship. It revolves around five roommates in South Florida and the strong bond they all have for each other. Today it is my favorite, but tomorrow I’ll have a totally different answer.
The truth is I fall in love with different aspects of each MC.
My two December releases have four guys to love. Evan, from The Holiday Hoax, is self-deprecating and sweet— a combination I love—while JD is lonely and shy. Henry from The Last Guy Breathing has gone through the awful dating scene and needs some love. Locke is flawed yet deeply protective, which is another combination I fall for in a character.
What are some of your favorite books, music and movies?
My kids are watching School of Rock this week, and I adore this movie. I love many of Robin Williams’s films, especially The World According to Garp. And let’s see… Since it is the holiday season, I would pick A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life as two favorite holiday flicks.
As for music, I like classic and current rock. Some of my favorites would be The Killers, Aerosmith, and Train. I enjoy putting on a fun dance band too like the B52s or The Black Eyed Peas. I love dancing, but I do most of my dancing in my living room these days.
Books would be impossible to name only a few favorites. Sorry! I seriously fall in love with a new book every other month.
Can you briefly share what your writing process is?
Get butt into chair and write, lol. I write as much as possible, but I don’t write daily. My kids, my messy house, and my other responsibilities often steal the time away. I’d love to be one of those Type A writers who charts their progress and counts their daily words, but it never seems to happen for me. As long as I see the novel developing, though, I’m satisfied to follow my own haphazard process. Once the first draft is complete, I’ll go through several more versions with tough self-edits and beta readers before submitting it. I’m tough on myself and it is hard to let the WIP go.
Cake or pie? Coffee or tea? Chocolate or peanut butter?
Pie ( I love all kinds)
Coffee (I can never drink enough)
Both (Why pick between chocolate and peanut butter? Reese’s is fine with me)
Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe. Visit Skylar on her website.
December 31, 2012
During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap! by Wade Kelly, available from Dreamspinner Press.
It’s easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.
Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he’s gay. As he sees it, he’s bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?
By the time Cole enters college, he’s become an anal-retentive loner—but it’s not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a jock!
During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole’s reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.
December 31, 2012
John and Kurt must risk their hearts to find happiness. Unfortunately, memories and enduring fears can paralyze even the strongest man. Hidden Away by J.W. Kilhey, available from Dreamspinner Press.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “No man and no force can abolish memory.” John Oakes and Kurt Fournier are living proof of the truth behind those words. Since the horrors of the Second World War, John and Kurt have been trudging through existence, bleeding from wounds that have never healed. Now they’re at the crossroads of the 1950s: the war may be over, but the battle to find lasting peace has just begun.
John, a PhD student at UC Berkeley and a battle-hardened veteran, floats through his postwar life until he catches the mysterious Kurt secretly playing a university piano. John thinks he may find comfort in Kurt’s company but doesn’t know how to connect with a man who lives a life of such careful solitude. Guilt and regret threaten to cripple their hopes for a normal life. No man is an island, so John and Kurt must risk their hearts to find happiness. Unfortunately, memories and enduring fears can paralyze even the strongest man.
December 28, 2012
Kit Porter and his friends, Alec Weston and Robert Warren, must flee or risk capture—or worse. The Measure of a Man by Maggie Lee, available from Dreamspinner Press.
Sequel to The Mark of a Man
After narrowly escaping the sinister plotting of Anthony Arlen’s City Guard and the wrath of the outlawed Sun League, Kit Porter and his friends, Alec Weston and Robert Warren, must flee or risk capture—or worse. With enemies dogging their every move, the friends risk a brief, heartbreaking meeting with Kit’s mother before pushing on to the town of Ludlow. There, they enlist the aid of Jamie McEwen, a rich merchant and old friend of Alec’s, who offers them a way out. But in order to make good their escape, they must first reach Boston, a port city on the other side of the country.
The tense journey across England tests Alec and Kit’s growing feelings for each other, while forcing Robert to confront unresolved guilt over past loyalties and actions. Just when escape seems within reach, the Sun League closes in, and the three friends face a desperate battle to evade the awful fate in store for them.
December 28, 2012
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. When One Door Opens by JD Ruskin, available from Dreamspinner Press.
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.