Mysteries of the Desert

March 19, 2015

When I was promoting Playing Hard To Forget (looky…it’s on sale, too, for $5.24. Would you look at that), I talked about how the wolf has figured into my family history for a thousand years. On my father’s side, the history was bloody and my family became known as wolf-slayers in Scotland around the turn of the last millennium thanks to an ancestor who saved the King from an attacking wolf in the forest.

 

So when I began having dreams of being in the desert at night with an old man speaking to me in a language I understood at the time but never when awake, hidden among the bush as a wolf stood guard to protect me from the dangers outside the protective circle of the fire and plants, my mother became fascinated by them and was obsessed with finding its meaning. This was well before I learned of my father’s side’s history.

 

Many bottles of sunscreen later, I still don’t know what they meant. All I do know is that the desert was its own character in my dreams. There was danger outside the light of the fire and the desert had sent protection for me. The only thing anyone can agree on is that it was odd that I was dreaming of a wolf, an animal not seen in the desert for many, many years, and not a common coyote.

 

I’ve always held the desert in high regard since then.

I call this one “Agave Agave Everywhere…and not a drop (of Tequila) to drink)

But a few years ago, I saw something that left me, for lack a better term, completely freaked me out. And it was then that the seeds of Something To Die For were planted.

 

I still have trouble processing what I saw into words, which, as a writer, really says something about me that using my words is difficult.

 

What I will say is that writing Something To Die For was a way for me to come to terms with what I saw that night. Giving it some humanity and a happy ending was something I needed to do, whether it got published or not.

 

I needed my desert to be the place it once was–my protection, my safe place. I didn’t want to think of it in the context of that horrid night and turning the story into something I could control from start to finish was a form of therapy for me.

 

In Something To Die For, just like in my dreams, the desert is a secret main character. Josh needs his desert to ground him. It is a part of him and helps him to get to where he needs to be.

 

But beyond all that, it’s a love story. The love story of Josh and Adam. And a love story from me to my desert.

Something To Die For

Josh Tucker lives a blessed life—great job, great family, perfect husband, and two wonderful children—but a mysterious man named Adam who haunts his dreams and soon his waking life threatens everything when he stirs doubt as to whether any of it is real. Adam makes Josh question the world he’s taken for granted—as well as the origins of Adam himself.

Even if Adam’s claims are true, Josh has nothing to live for beyond his fabricated life—except the possibility of a real man out there somewhere who can love him. Josh is left with an impossible choice: stay in his delusion where he’s assured some happiness or take a great leap of faith for a chance to make a life with Adam.

(Cookie update—the dough is chilling in the fridge. I’ve eaten 4 spoonfuls now. Everything seems good from here. I must do further research, though)

The Music of the Desert

March 19, 2015

 

An easy way to get into the mood of Something To Die For is to load up everything Queens of the Stone Age and toad the wet sprocket ever did. If you want to get specific, listen to the entirety of QotSA’s Like Clockwork and toad’s High on A Riverbed (from Pale), Hope (From In Light Syrup) and Reincarnation Song (from Dulcinea) and you pretty much have my obsessive playlist that fueled the writing of this story. Throw in a little Civil Twilight’s Letters From the Sky, some One Eskimo’s Amazing*, and a few other random alternative rock and you’ve got a soundtrack of sorts.

*secret time: this song makes me tear up like WHOA. It was one of those “first songs I heard after a tragedy” type thing and it was a poignant song to hear at that moment and three years later I still have to lie and say there’s something in my eye. Damn it.

 

It’s no secret that I need music to be able to write. Playing Hard To Forget was a crazy combination of folk tales and 80s Dark Wave and Something To Die For was no different in its development.

 

Josh Tucker, named so for the Joshua Tree that only grows in the Mojave Desert, seems like he has the perfect life when we first meet him. He has a gorgeous husband and two amazing children. He has a great job and a nice home and he’s close with his mother and siblings, all of whom have a similarly great life.

 

But when is that ever anything like reality, right?

 

Cracks start to show very early on that things aren’t what they seem. The chaos that Josh descends into is very much the intense cacophony of a Queens of the Stone Age song. The flashes that come through the cracks are loud and confusing and makes him wonder just what is real and what isn’t. Queens’ songs are driving and percussion heavy. They’re fast and come at you from every direction. And in that chaos, in those cracks, there’s truth, and it may be shitty truth, but it’s there and it’s real.

My accomplishment of the YEAR was crawling down there to get this pic while I was wearing TIGHTS and a DRESS and I didn’t get a run.

Adam Davis is a mystery and one that is at the center of all the confusion. Is he telling the truth or is he a product of Josh’s decreasing sanity? That Josh (and by extension, us) doesn’t know if Adam is really there lends him an impish, supernatural quality. He appears and disappears at random and there’s no real way to prove what he’s saying is true. But he’s earnest and seems desperate for Josh to believe what he’s saying and there’s a sincerity in Adam’s tone that makes Josh think twice.

It’s weird to say I modelled these characters after bands’ styles, but, yeah, the impish earnest (for lack of a better term) of a toad the wet sprocket song is pretty much Adam (in the way that toad can be singing about the most depressing subject ever but still do it in a way that sounds almost upbeat and hopeful).

 

If you do YouTube any of the songs up there, and you like them, throw the artists some cash and buy their stuff.

Listen to the soundtrack here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAcHqWJyh_nv8wGCd4-hdl4eEpQf-yROb

Something To Die For

Josh Tucker lives a blessed life—great job, great family, perfect husband, and two wonderful children—but a mysterious man named Adam who haunts his dreams and soon his waking life threatens everything when he stirs doubt as to whether any of it is real. Adam makes Josh question the world he’s taken for granted—as well as the origins of Adam himself.

Even if Adam’s claims are true, Josh has nothing to live for beyond his fabricated life—except the possibility of a real man out there somewhere who can love him. Josh is left with an impossible choice: stay in his delusion where he’s assured some happiness or take a great leap of faith for a chance to make a life with Adam.

Two updates:

1) Just got a great review for Something To Die For:

The characters were very likable, the storyline kept me turning the pages till it was over, and it was something new and fresh to read. I really enjoyed it. 

It’s About The Book reviews–4.5 Stars

and 2) I now have my youngest kid doing the cookies because he’s bored and needs something to do. He took a year of culinary last year in 6th grade, so I think he can do them justice?

About Piper Doone: A Primer

March 19, 2015

Piper Doone only does biographies of herself in third person. She works in professional sports during the day and before that she worked for Disney.

She is a treasure trove of recessive genes. She’s red headed, hazel-eyed, left handed, she can’t roll her tongue into that little hot dog bun shape that everyone else can make, her second toe is longer than all her other toes, she has hitchhiker’s thumb (look it up), and when she clasps her hands together, it’s right thumb over left.

She like The Monkees over The Beatles and The Rolling Stones over both of them. She doesn’t think The Clash is any good and doesn’t know why people look at her funny when she says that. She’s way too into Canadian indie music for her own good

She has a  pretentious screenwriting degree but her favorite movies are The Mummy and The Parent Trap (the original, not that remake that doesn’t actually exist, damn it), and she can quote every line from The Fifth Element instead of, like, whatever people with screenwriting degrees are supposed to like (probably foreign? Something French?).

Her preferred gym entertainment is reruns of Law and Order: SVU.  And new episodes of SVU. And, if I may take the opportunity here in public, that new detective, Carisi, is a-ok in my book. And by a-ok, I mean he’s really cute.  I hope this gets indexed by Google. Hey, here’s my blog…stop by. Wink wink. Also, here’s my Twitter. And I’m on Facebook….

She loves Cuban food. Like, a lot. A lot a lot.

She has a costume closet and never goes out in public without being in some kind of character, complete with name and backstory— Serena, the alcoholic trophy wife who had to give up her career as a ballerina when she married a rich investment banker, but never gave up the dream; Mallory, the poor art student who dropped out of school to run away to Coober Pedy to marry an opal mine owner; Mitzy, the Palm Beach wannabe heiress who dresses from head to toe in Lilly Pulitzer because that’s how she thinks all Palm Beachers dress; Christy-Sue, the southern university football coach’s wife who’s as sweet as pie in the streets and trash in the streets…. Because she lives in Miami and Miami, believe it or not, can be so boooorrriinnngg and why not have a little fun, right?

She is an archer and named her bow Janosz Bow-ha, after Peter McNichol’s character from Ghostbusters 2,  Janosz Poha.

She raises and breeds hedgehogs so she can give them stupid names like HedgeHäagen-Dazs, Quilliam Shakespeare, Quilliam Shatner, Peter Quill, Se-Quill (the second quilling),  and Josh Hedge-homme.

She is a photographer and is never without her camera. She uses a Pentax ME Super SLR  and a Pentax k-30 because her mom’s old lenses from the 70s fit both and HAVE YOU PRICED LENSES LATELY OH MY GOD.

Yucca of some sort…I’m a photographer not a gardener

 

She has run out of things to say now….

Something To Die For

Josh Tucker lives a blessed life—great job, great family, perfect husband, and two wonderful children—but a mysterious man named Adam who haunts his dreams and soon his waking life threatens everything when he stirs doubt as to whether any of it is real. Adam makes Josh question the world he’s taken for granted—as well as the origins of Adam himself.

Even if Adam’s claims are true, Josh has nothing to live for beyond his fabricated life—except the possibility of a real man out there somewhere who can love him. Josh is left with an impossible choice: stay in his delusion where he’s assured some happiness or take a great leap of faith for a chance to make a life with Adam.

The Living Desert

March 19, 2015

When I was promoting my last book, Playing Hard To Forget, I talked a bit about my weird experiences in the desert. Something To Die For was born out of some of those experiences.

I, being of red hair and see-through skin, really don’t belong in hot, sunny climates, but I keep finding myself in them. My skin keeps saying, “Move to Seattle. Save on sunscreen. Buy a pine tree farm,” but fate keeps flicking me off and throwing me to the hottest places on the whole of Earth.

It takes a special type of person to survive in extreme climates. My stupid body is stupidly efficient in temperatures above 90 and even more so when there’s the oppressive humidity of a tropical rainforest climate added to it, like where I live now.  I have the horrible feeling that even if I managed to outrun my destiny and move to a place unlike the desert or the tropics, where everything tries to kill you all at once, I would probably be dead of hypothermia within six minutes of any temperature under 50.

So, maybe there’s a reason I keep finding myself living amongst the palm trees, yucca, and agave I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with. I mean, it’s not all bad, I guess. Extreme climates tend to harbour extremely weird subcultures of people and I guess I have to count myself among their numbers. Beach bums, desert rats, island bums, we can’t do things the way the rest of the world does things and that’s okay.

And our stories are amazing.

 

Something To Die For takes place in the Mojave Desert. Things exist there that don’t exist anywhere else, like Joshua Trees and Palm Springs’ obsession with midcentury modern architecture.

But beyond that, the desert is alive. It’s its own character with a personality and motivations. As a child I used to frequently dream about being there at night. The desert protected me. The plants hid me from danger and the coyotes (and, unrealistically for modern times, the gray wolf, which is no longer roaming the deserts and hasn’t since well before I was born) stood guard.

Today I will be talking about some of the experiences and stories that led to Something To Die For, as well as other inspirations from music and pictures and I will be doing a giveaway as well.

 

 

 

I like painting the desert. I also like torturing myself with those 50 cent bottles of acrylic paint from the craft store instead of oils or whatever I’m supposed to use that probably costs a lot more.

I hope you’ll join me for the story behind the story.

 

Something To Die For

(a brief update on the Southern Living Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER recipe experiment mentioned in my first post: it’s 3/4 butter and 1/4 shortening. Is that the secret to making it the best? Stay tuned)

Something To Die For Release Party!

March 19, 2015

Okay, boys and girls! Sit down and strap yourselves in ‘cuz we gon’ have a release party!

The Dreamspinner Press people were so kind to let me, Piper Doone, steal the blog today to talk about Something To Die For, out March 18.

I mean, sure, I had to sneak past three security guards, four locked doors, and barricade the door behind me, but the point is that they haven’t broken that door down yet, so until that happens, this baby is all mine!

 

Stay tuned for behind the scenes insights, music, inspirations, a giveaway, and possibly even an honest review of the new cookie recipe I’m trying out in between posts (I picked up an old Southern Living cookbook that promises they are the best cookies ever. We’ll see).

Something To Die For

Josh Tucker lives a blessed life—great job, great family, perfect husband, and two wonderful children—but a mysterious man named Adam who haunts his dreams and soon his waking life threatens everything when he stirs doubt as to whether any of it is real. Adam makes Josh question the world he’s taken for granted—as well as the origins of Adam himself.

Even if Adam’s claims are true, Josh has nothing to live for beyond his fabricated life—except the possibility of a real man out there somewhere who can love him. Josh is left with an impossible choice: stay in his delusion where he’s assured some happiness or take a great leap of faith for a chance to make a life with Adam.

Thank you!

March 11, 2015

Thank you to everyone for hanging out with me today!

I’ll be back later this evening to catch any comments I haven’t replied to and to pull the contest winners, so don’t forget to get your entries in for the print book contest and for the ebook contest.

And I hope you all enjoy Guarding January!

 

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Sean

smut fixes everything

 

When a short story goes long

March 11, 2015

The way  Guarding January started was that I had a call for a story featuring a bad boy. It was supposed to be about 15000 words. Well, the minute I read the call, Lord January, Vampire King pops into my head and lo, he has a bodyguard in tow who is going to fall hard for him.

I start writing merrily – these boys are good and noisy and I’m zooming along. Ten thousand words in after only a couple of days, I realize two things. 1) This is not going to be a short novella. Not at all. 2) Lord January is a front – Jeff is not a ‘bad boy’, he just plays one on stage.

While this can be somewhat annoying, in that I’m now out a bad boy story for this call, I can’t really complain. Noisy characters are always a good thing, and getting to spend 60000 words with a pair is usually a good time.

So I’m glad that Jeff and Rye turned into the novel they did and I’m glad they stayed noisy until it was finished!

What is your favorite length of book to read?

 

guardingjanuary

Lord January is at the top of the charts, only comes out at night, and is usually covered in blood. Say what you will, but the man knows how to put on a great show. But when the Vampire King is let out of rehab, the last thing he expects is someone forcing him to eat real food, hang out in the sun, and generally be a human being.

Rye Sommers, the best bodyguard in the business, has been hired to babysit a rock star whose biggest threat surprisingly isn’t all the hard drugs, desperate groupies, and crazy fans—it’s Lord January himself. But the closer Rye gets, the more LJ turns into sweet, gentle, caring Jeff Smart. He may still be the super-skinny, pierced and inked genius Lord January, but he is slowly shaking his death wish as he sheds the loneliness and exhaustion his stage persona saddled him with.

But as Rye falls in love with the real Jeff, he finds himself in over his head. He knows he can keep Lord January away from the drugs and the groupies, but saving Jeff might force Jeff to choose between his career as Lord January and his very life.

Available at Dreamspinner!

Sean

smut fixes everything

Contests – Old and New

March 11, 2015

There’s a contest for a print copy of Guarding January from this morning. Comment on this post to enter for a chance there.

Now here’s your chance to win an ebook copy of Guarding January! Just leave a reply to this post, telling me what your favorite genre of music is, and you’ll automatically be entered.

I shall be pulling contest winners for both contests this evening.

 

GuardingJanuary_headerbanner

 

Sean

smut fixes everything

Food Glorious Food

March 11, 2015

In Guarding January, one of the things Rye finds himself doing is feeding LJ, who is too skinny and doesn’t eat nearly enough. He finds out the best way to get calories into LJ is through smoothies, cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup. Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup happen to be comfort foods for me, but only if the cheese in the grilled cheese is the kraft singles and the tomato soup is campbells. Not that I don’t like other cheese grilled cheese sandwiches or homemade and/or organic, gourmet tomato soups — I do, but they aren’t that “comfort food.”

What’s your comfort food? What would be Rye’s best choice for feeding you?

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Find Guarding January at Dreamspinner, Amazon or All Romance Ebooks

Sean

smut fixes everything

Introducing Jeff aka LJ

March 11, 2015

GuardingJanuary_FBbanner_DSP

 

And here’s an introduction to Jeff/LJ/Lord January, from Chapter One of Guarding January:

“Do I have to go?” Jeff stood at the door of the room he’d been living in for eight months. Eight months he’d been safe and happy in there. Eight months he’d been able to be just Jeff, instead of Lord January. “Jim, can’t I just stay?”

“Oh, honey, you know you can’t. You have all the tools to do this. You do.”

His sponsor and the man who had become a friend stared at him, smiled.

“You look like Santa Claus when you do that.”

“Shut up.”

They looked at each other, then they cracked up, leaning together, and if he cried a bit, Jim didn’t say a word.

“Come on. Donna sent a car for you, to take you home.”

“She sent a babysitter.”

He couldn’t even complain; he probably needed one, but couldn’t it be Jim? Couldn’t he stay there where he was safe?

“You have my number, Jeff. Use it if you need it, okay? I mean that.”

He nodded, wrapped his hoodie around him, iPod in the pocket, put his sunglasses on, and hunched inside the fabric.
Jim gave him a short, hard hug, then walked him out the front door. Out into the world.

He winced away from the sunlight, tugging his hood down farther. “My things?”

“Already in the car, Sir.” A mountain of a man threw him into shadow, and a huge paw was held out. “I’m Rye.”

“I don’t shake hands. Sorry.” Jesus, Donna had hired a giant. “I’ll call, Jim, okay? Soon?”

“Anytime, Jeff. I promise.”

The giant waited until he started down the walk, then paced him. “We’re the dark gray SUV to the right of the gate.”

“Okay.” He kept his head down, making sure the light and the long-range lenses couldn’t get to him.

He had to admit, having the Hulk walking next to him gave him some cover to hide behind, making him feel less exposed. Didn’t mean he suddenly wanted the babysitter, mind you.

The walk down the path seemed to take for-fucking-ever, but at last they were at the car, his minder opening the door for him and bundling him in. The door shut with a very final sounding click, and in seconds they were driving away from the one place he knew was safe.

Jeff put his earphones in and turned the music up loud, the noise pounding in his head.

He stayed in his cocoon until the door opened, his new bodyguard’s hand touching his arm. Aside from really tall and really built, the guy had short brown hair, like military cut almost, and a square jaw like you’d expect some tough bodyguard to have. His new bodyguard’s eyes were surprisingly blue, like bright and alive. Jeff slid his gaze from the guy to the house.

Home sweet home. Goodie. He stood, the garage quiet and still. There were two doors down there—one to his rooms, one to the rest of the house where everyone else was. He grabbed his guitar, then headed to the door on the left, heading upstairs without a word.

Sean

smut fixes everything