Moon and Stars – Second Excerpt

September 26, 2013

It’s no surprise that, given their history, Kelly and Cooper have unresolved issues between them. So when Kelly needs Cooper’s help (if anyone has read Floods and Drought, you know what he needs him for!), Cooper isn’t too eager…

KELLY found his way to the woodshed by walking toward the bright yellow light shining from its open door. When he walked in, Cooper was sweeping the last of the woodchips from the back of the tractor trailer. Despite the quickly cooling autumn air, he looked sweaty and hot.

“What are you doing here?” Cooper asked gruffly after letting Kelly wait for several long seconds.

“Looking for you. Can we talk somewhere? Privately.”

“What is this about?”

Kelly couldn’t help hearing the unspoken dismissal. Cooper clearly had no desire to talk to him. He decided to cut to the chase. “It’s Rory McCown. He broke his parole this afternoon, and he needs your help.”

“That’s what public defenders are for,” Cooper replied as he continued to sweep the floor.

“And his public defender is Sean Goddard,” Kelly said without further explanation.

“Norm’s son? Is he even out of diapers yet?”

Kelly chuckled, more out of nervousness than because he found what Cooper had said funny. “Just passed the bar. You know his dad, right?”

Cooper nodded. “Sure I do. He was my biggest competition when I first came to town. Big shark of a small-town lawyer, but he was gracious enough to not fight me over my piece of the pie.”

“Well, Sean’s a little out of his depth against Emmett Love.”

“Jeezus,” Cooper replied. “Emmett Love? Carries the name, but doesn’t know what it means. He used to hold the record for the most parolees returned to prison. Don’t suspect he got any more lenient in his old age?”

“Nope,” Kelly replied. “And he’s got it in for Rory’s hide.”

“Figures.”

“Rory needs your help, Coop.”

“Can’t do it. I’m not a lawyer anymore.”

“You’ll always be a lawyer, Coop. You were the most amazing legal mind I’ve ever met.”

Cooper looked at Kelly from under his hat. “The emphasis on ‘were.’ They disbarred me, Kelly. Stripped me of my rights. I couldn’t represent Rory if I wanted to. And I don’t want to.”

“You don’t need to represent him. He just needs some advice. And to know someone is on his side.”

“We’re all on his side,” Cooper was quick to reply, standing tall, his broom by his side. “He’s Tim’s man. He used to work here. I like him. But I don’t see what I can do for him.”

Kelly smiled. If his memory didn’t betray him, the sparkle he saw appearing in Cooper’s eye was the first sign of Cooper becoming excited about something, although the rest of his body still dismissed him. “He needs someone to show him he’s worth fighting for. And he needs someone to talk Emmett Love under the table. According to your reputation, you’re the only guy in this town who can do that.”

“Naah,” Cooper said, putting his broom aside. “I was never interested in him enough to talk him under a table.” Cooper wiggled his eyebrows, and Kelly was transported back to the law library, their study group, and their favorite place for sex. On top of or under the long tables.

Damn, Cooper!

“Pretend,” Kelly ordered. “Just this one time and just for Rory’s sake. Love is hell-bent on sending him back to state prison for a year. I’ll settle for him serving the remainder of his parole, not his prison sentence, in county jail.”

“But it’s not your call, is it?”

“No, that’s something the county prosecutor has to decide, but he’ll listen to Love. If Love recommends the shortest possible sentence, he’ll follow, and then all Sean Goddard needs to do is agree with it. The judge will follow the prosecutor. You know that.”

“I suppose it’s worth a shot.”

Kelly had the overwhelming urge to wrap Cooper in his arms and kiss him senseless. He thought he could smell Cooper’s sweaty, manly scent from where he was standing, but considering the overwhelming woodsy aroma emanating from everything else in the shed, he figured it was just his imagination. When he took one step toward Cooper, the man tensed up, though, so he decided a butch punch to the arm would be enough. “I knew I could convince you.”

Cooper shrugged. “Emmett Love probably won’t even let me in.”

“Don’t know if you don’t try. And if he doesn’t, at least Rory will know you support him.”

“Fair enough,” Cooper said. “What time do you want me there?”

If you’ve read Floods and Drought, you know how this ends!

Moon and Stars – First giveaway

September 26, 2013

For a chance to win either:

Clouds and Rain, Earth and Sky or Floods and Drought

answer me this:

What do you like about cowboy stories? Is it the rugged men? The horses? The outdoors? The fact you know what they’ve been doing behind closed doors and they still manage to get on a horse afterward? (which reminds me someone needs to write a gay romance set in the Tour de France!)
I want to know!

Moon and Stars – Writing a series

September 26, 2013

You might be surprised to find out I never set out to write this as a series.

Clouds and Rain was inspired by a dream I had after seeing a particularly sad looking picture of one of my favorite actors. He was wearing a hat in the picture and looked pretty much like my “Gable” on the cover of the book.
Zahra Owens - Clouds and Rain
In that dream I figured out he looked so sad because he’d injured his foot and couldn’t look after his horses anymore (as far as I know, this actor doesn’t own a ranch). The rest, of course, became Clouds and Rain.

When that story was finished, I realized I’d written a very one-dimensional bad guy in the form of Gable’s ex Grant and set myself the challenge to have that character redeem himself. Could I turn a character every reader loved to hate into the main character of a romance? This story became Earth and Sky.
Zahra Owens - Earth and Sky

Earth and Sky had three secondary character that intrigued me. In that story Grant and Hunter caught two horse thieves: one was a psycho and probably beyond redemption, but his sidekick was more interesting to me. Rory seemed like the type of guy who always got into trouble and couldn’t get a break. Mix him with do-gooder Tim, wrangler at the Blue River and youngest brother of foreman Hugh and a romance was born. This became Floods and Drought.
Zahra Owens - Floods and Drought

In Floods and Drought, Rory is rescued from flood water by Deputy Sheriff Kelly Freed and taken to the hospital in his helicopter. One of the men going in search of Rory is ranch hand and former lawyer Cooper Nelson. My muse told me these two weren’t strangers and had met in a “former life” and this is how Moon and Stars came to be!

Stay tuned to this channel for a chance to win one of the first three Clouds and Rain novels! (next post coming up!)

My question for this post is to those who’ve read the stories already. Which is your favorite?

Moon and Stars: Blurb and First Excerpt

September 26, 2013

Ready for the blurb and a first excerpt?
Here goes…
Zahra Owens - Moon and Stars
After an affair with a married DA led to scandal and disbarment, Cooper Nelson left his legal career in shambles, and found solace working as a hand at the Blue River Ranch. Eight years later, during a rare visit into town, Cooper bumps into Kelly Freed, a man he left behind fifteen years earlier when he started out as an attorney. Unfortunately, Kelly is running for sheriff and his wife is terminally ill, so Kelly can’t even consider rekindling their relationship. Cooper knows from sad experience that hiding the truth leads to lives being ruined, so for his part, he refuses to be anybody’s dirty secret.

In the meantime circumstances at neighboring Blackwater Ranch have taken a desperate turn. Gable’s friend Calley has breast cancer, and when Gable and Flynn take in Calley’s kids, they need help from their friends. Cooper and Kelly’s combined talents are put to work to ensure Gable can make a bid to become the legal father of his children, and that Calley’s affairs are in order if worse comes to worst. For Cooper, staying away from Kelly was never easy, and now with a common cause, Cooper finds he can’t stop himself from seeking the man out.

Excerpt 1
You can read the first chapter here, but here is a powerful memory of how Cooper and Kelly first met….

LATER that night, all alone in bed, Kelly couldn’t stop thinking about Cooper Nelson. When he moved to St. Anthony, he knew he was bound to bump into him sooner or later, but he’d been surprised it had taken him almost a year. Maybe the stories of Coop keeping to himself and practically living as a recluse were true. It was strange seeing Cooper again after fifteen years and realizing time hadn’t been kind to the man. The Cooper Nelson Kelly remembered was quite different from the one he’d bumped into that afternoon. Both the younger Cooper and the more mature one were hard to resist, though, so it was easy to let his mind stray to the first time he laid eyes on Cooper, back in law school.  

Even before reaching the study hall, Kelly could hear a boisterous voice rising above the others. “Yeah, but then you’d walk into the hallway, and there would be Tanker Overhead. I swear Overhead was her real last name, and she looked like a tanker, so the nickname stuck. She’d prowl the hallways and corner you at the lockers, so there was no way you could be late, or she’d report you. I swear….”

The door to the study hall squeaked when Kelly pushed it open, and all conversation stilled at the same time seven pairs of eyes looked his way. The silence was killing him. “Is this the study group for Professor Finkelstein’s class?”

“And you are?” a guy sitting on top of a long mahogany table asked.

“Kelly Freed.”

“Are you sure you’re old enough to be in law school? College is on the other side of town.”

“I’m twenty-two.”

The guy stretched out his legs and jumped down from the table. With an insanely wide, bright white smile across over his face, he walked over to Kelly and held out his hand. “Cooper Nelson, and I’m a few years older than you. Welcome to the only way to succeed in Fink’s class.”

“Yeah, Coop, you should know. This is the fourth time you’re taking it,” one of the other guys said.

Cooper turned around. “That’s why you need me here. I know all the loopholes by now. And it’s not like I haven’t passed his class before. I’m just doing it again to get a better average. Thanks to me, all of you will only need to take this class once.”

“That’s what you said last time, Coop,” one of the girls said. She got up and walked over to Kelly. “Don’t listen to him. He’s got a high opinion of himself and absolutely no reason for it. He wants to do corporate law, because that’s where the money is, but I told him he should become an ambulance chaser instead, because the way he lies without batting an eyelash―”

“I just sugarcoat the truth, darling,” Cooper intervened, wrapping his impossibly long arm around her tiny shoulders. “The world would be a prettier place if more people did that.”

“Hi, I’m Nina,” the pretty dark-haired girl said as she shook Kelly’s hand. “Don’t mind Cooper. He means well but forgets how he comes across sometimes.”

“So what are you going to be when you grow up?” Cooper asked, looking at his study hall group when a few of them laughed at his statement. Kelly didn’t like being the butt of anyone’s jokes, but he’d been told this group was his best chance at beating the notoriously impossible Professor Finkelstein at his own game, so he knew he had to grin and bear it. “Law enforcement,” he replied, trying to sound casual.

“Well, sheriff, sit down, listen, and learn.”

Moon and Stars – The Covers

September 26, 2013

Let’s start by showing off the amazing cover Anne Cain made for me. She did a great job making all four covers look like they are from the same series, so thank you Anne!

Zahra Owens - Moon and Stars

These are the other covers:
Zahra Owens - Clouds and RainZahra Owens - Earth and SkyZahra Owens - Floods and Drought

So tell me: do you buy books because you like the cover? Do you forgo buying a book because you DON’T like the cover? Or is the cover simply a way to get you to pick up the book so you can read the blurb?

Introduction: Hi I’m Zahra Owens

September 26, 2013

Hello all you lovely folks.

My name is Zahra Owens and I’ll be taking over the Dreamspinner Blog for the next four hours (until about 6PM EST, which is midnight where I’m at).

I’m here to talk about my latest release, Moon and Stars, which came out on Monday.

It’s the fourth book in the Clouds and Rain saga and it can be read separately, but I’ve been told by a reliable source (fans who spontaneously email me or send me lovely messages on Facebook are considered reliable sources by me!) that you’ll end up with far less questions if you read them in order. He read the books in reverse order and couldn’t stop reading (because of all the questions he had), so to me, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

During the course of this afternoon (or any other time of day depending on where in the world you are) I’ll be giving away the eBook of Moon and Stars, the eBook of one of the three other Clouds and Rain books in case you missed one, and a swag pack, which I’ll send to you from Atlanta when I’m there for GayRomLit the week of Oct 14th (if you live in the US) or right away from my home (when you live outside the US).

I’ll also be sharing an excerpt or two to whet your appetite!

Plus: starting right now: the code ZahraBlog gives you 25% off any Western on the Dreamspinner Website and of course this includes the entire Clouds and Rain series, but also some pretty amazing books by other authors. (make my day and break the bank, will you?).This code is valid until midnight Friday EST.

So how are you all doing today?

Home Team: Full time

September 25, 2013

That’s it from me. Thanks for hanging out, and I hope you enjoy the book. I had a great time hanging out with you. Remember to use the coupon code, JamesonBlog, to get 25% off ALL contemporaries you buy at the Dreamspinner store today, not just mine. :) The two contests (here and here) will run 24 hours each, so I’ll contact the winners tomorrow. Thank you to everyone for taking part.

You can follow me at my blog and on Twitter, @jamesondash. All my books are on Goodreads, and you can sign up for my newsletter to be the first to hear book announcements and get tiny stories right in your inbox. (They won’t all be about hockey, I promise.)

Good answer!

That was fun. Let’s do it again some time.

HOME TEAM 2: Electric Boogaloo

September 25, 2013

Sid and the Cup

The game isn’t over until someone lifts the Cup. Happily, Home Team doesn’t have to be over either. It’s not the best sign in the world, but every early reader came back to me and said, “But, but, but. More!” (I’m a slow writer and a compact writer. This is why you get novellas from me, but I’m working my way up to a novel!)

So, a sequel. I fell in love with Aaron and Zach while I was writing them, and Teddy cracks me up, and I want to know what happens next just like I hope you do. It’s still a work-in-progress, but I want to share a little bit of it with you. Thanks for reading.

Continue reading “HOME TEAM 2: Electric Boogaloo” »

HOME TEAM: Working title

September 25, 2013

I like having a title when I’m writing. It’s a tool for me, something to write in big letters at the top of a piece of paper when I’m organising ideas. I use it like the light at the end of a long tunnel: that’s what I’m aiming for.

I hated Home Team when I came up with it, but I didn’t have anything else, and it stuck, it grew on me, and now I can see what I was going for.

I’ve been reading some of the other hockey romances out there. (Dreamspinner recently released Hat Trick by Chelle Dugan; check it out!) We’re all reading from the same playbook. Actually, it’s the NHL Rulebook. I sat down and skimmed it for the best phrases which could also be romance titles. There are a lot!

A fun exercise: go to amazon.com and search “Power Play” in the book section. How many different authors do you see?

Here are a few of the titles I came up with while I was writing: Offside, Goalie Interference, Five Minutes for Roughing, Sin Bin, Drop the Gloves, Five Hole, Breakaway. Can you guys come up with more? I have another copy of Home Team for my favourite.

HOME TEAM: Extra! Extra!

September 25, 2013

I had to write a little something extra for release day. That’s part of the fun of sharing a new stories. This is my thank you for giving me a little bit of your attention. Thank you.

But I couldn’t decide what part of the unwritten story I wanted to tell. Home Team is a short novella, spanning a few short weeks in Aaron Buckley’s life. I could tell you about after, but I didn’t quite want to spoil everything. I could tell you about Aaron’s sister, Rosie, or his friend, Emile, or the kid, Teddy, who won’t leave him alone.

But I decided to tell you about before. Before is so important to Aaron and Zach’s story because the past is hanging over them now. It was good, then it was bad. Aaron hopes it can be good again.

(Don’t forget about the contest!)

Continue reading “HOME TEAM: Extra! Extra!” »