Unfortunate Son: Cover Art

January 12, 2015

Okay, I know what you really want to talk about—that cover art!

UnfortunateSon_small

We had the photo shoot for the Unfortunate Son cover two and a half years ago (!!), and the only reason it had to stay under wraps for so long was because I was so slow in writing the book. Travis was amazing, as was the photographer (who has asked to remain anonymous but for his website, www.feedyoureyes.net).

And I am so, so happy with Paul Richmond’s work on this design. It’s simple but powerful, highlights the gorgeous image, and evokes exactly the mood and style I was hoping for. The basic design will also carry through the other books in the series beautifully.

I’ve always been very happy with my cover art from Dreamspinner. I’ve got a background in graphic arts myself, and that makes me pretty picky about all things design related. Dreamspinner is a winner every time. I especially like the ones that are different. I understand that readers have certain expectations, especially when it comes to romance books, but I prefer something that stands out from the crowd. One of my favorite covers is Visible Friend by K.Z. Snow, which was designed by Anne Cain (and won the Rainbow Award for Best Overall Cover in 2011).

What are your favorite Dreamspinner book covers? What do you like about them?

Unfortunate Son: Parents in Gay Romance

January 12, 2015

So as I said up front, Unfortunate Son is the first book in the Sons series. At this point, that will be three books total. Book two, Wayward Son, is about to head into editorial production and will be out in May/June. I’m writing book three, Nobody’s Son, and will have it submitted by the end of March (come hell or high water).

Each book in the series ties into the previous one, though I’ve worked to make them stand alone. Wayward Son will focus on Mikey, Riley’s friend who moves to Atlanta during the events in Unfortunate Son, and will be a ménage featuring Evan’s friends Cory and Jimmy, who are an established couple. Nobody’s Son focuses on Shaun, who works for Jimmy at his resort, and Jimmy’s old porn buddy Con.

As you can tell by the series title, the books each focus in part on a son and his relationship with his parents. Things turn out differently in each story, but in Evan’s case, his parents have already lost a son—Evan’s brother Charlie died while Evan was a teenager—and that helps drive their efforts to reconcile with Evan. A lot of books in the genre have dealt with relationships between sons and their parents, in most cases because parents can’t come to terms with their son’s sexuality.

But some stories have had wonderful parents in them. I mentioned Strawberries for Dessert in another post, and Jonathan’s father is a great example. He doesn’t necessarily understand his son’s sexuality, and it takes him a while to warm up to Cole, but he loves his son unreservedly. What are some of your favorite relationships between main characters and their parents in gay romance?

Unfortunate Son: Excerpt

January 12, 2015

I think it’s time for an excerpt from Unfortunate Son. In this snippet, Evan and his parents have had a confrontation over them hiding things from him, and his mother was injured in the process. They’re in the emergency room, and Evan is overwhelmed by everything that’s been happening over the previous couple of weeks.

Evan stood just outside the curtain that hid his mother’s emergency room bed. The doctor had arrived a few minutes earlier, and the tiny space hadn’t allowed for Evan to stay during the examination. To his relief, his mother had roused briefly when the paramedics arrived at the house, and though they’d still taken every precaution, strapping her to a backboard before moving her to the stretcher, she’d been able to answer a few questions as they took her to the ambulance.

There had never been a question of who would ride to the hospital with her. Evan had given his father one hard look, and Charles Day had backed away toward his own car.

Evan didn’t know where his father ended up after that. He tried to tell himself he didn’t care, but he looked around anyway. A few dozen feet down the hall, he could see the edge of the waiting room, mostly deserted at midafternoon. His father sat in the first row of seats, looking like a washrag that had been wrung out and tossed, crumpled, into a corner.

Despite everything, Evan felt a stab of empathy. He knew his mother’s fall had been an accident, a stupid accident, but the image of his father’s hand striking his mother would not leave his mind. He couldn’t forgive and forget, not yet. Maybe not ever.

“Mr. Day?”

Evan focused on the young woman who stood holding the curtain open. He didn’t know if she was a doctor, a nurse, or some random person off the street, and at that moment, he couldn’t care less. “Is she okay?” he asked, taking a step closer. He felt someone else step up next to him, probably his father, but he didn’t shift his focus.

“The bleeding stopped, but she’s in and out of consciousness. We’re having a portable X-ray brought over, but you can see her for a minute if you want.”

His father took a step forward, and Evan almost reached out to stop him on pure instinct, but he managed to hold back. Yes, he was still pissed as hell, but the fact was that this was his wife in the hospital, and Evan couldn’t actually stop him from seeing her.

Instead, he followed behind. The young woman, apparently a nurse, warned them not to touch her or jostle the bed, since they were still concerned about a possible neck injury.

His mother looked tiny in the bed, her skin pale even against the stark white sheets. A stabilizer had been wrapped around her neck, an IV inserted into her arm, and a clip-on monitor attached to her finger. Machines beeped, and the noises of the ER drifted in, but the sounds faded as Evan watch his father bend close, careful not to touch, even as Evan could see him straining to hold himself back.

More of his anger drained away. He still didn’t know why they’d hidden the money from him, and he couldn’t think about forgiveness for that until he knew why, dammit. But he knew his parents loved each other, even if he wasn’t so sure how they felt about him. He couldn’t hold that against them, could he?

I sure as hell can, he thought.

Something bubbled up inside him, a well of emotion so tangled and dark he couldn’t sort it out. Anger, resentment, and frustration swirled together into a blackness he couldn’t fight. Didn’t know if he wanted to fight.

His skin crawled, and he had to get out of there right that second or the top of his head was going to blow right off his body.

He spun on his heel and fled.

Unfortunate Son: Favorite Characters

January 12, 2015

Evan’s love interest in Unfortunate Son, Riley Yeats, is the black sheep of a high-profile, old-money Atlanta family. With his slight form, blond curls, and youthful looks, he’s the epitome of the gay male type known as “twink.” Riley is totally not Evan’s type—he likes Latino men, a trait that came from the inspiration, Travis—but Evan can’t help but be drawn in.

Unlike Evan, Riley isn’t based on anyone in particular. He has some aspects that were drawn from people I’ve met, or characters I’ve read in other books, but he developed mostly on his own as I was writing. In some ways, he ended up reminding me of Cole Fenton from Marie Sexton’s Coda series. As Marie knows from all the times I’ve said so, Cole and Jonathan’s story, Strawberries for Dessert, is one of my all-time favorite books, and Cole one of my favorite characters. So it’s not surprising that a glimmer of him would eventually end up in one of my books.

In fact, let’s talk about that a little. What are some of your favorite characters from gay romance books? Sam, Mitch, and especially Randy from Heidi Cullinan’s Special Delivery come to mind immediately for me (I’ll talk more about them when it’s time for Wayward Son, the second book in the series.) Aaron and Spencer from J.P. Barnaby’s Survivors series hold a special place in a lot of hearts. Who are tops on your list?

Unfortunate Son: Finding Inspiration

January 12, 2015

Unfortunate Son tells the story of Evan Day, aka Trevor Hardball, who was kicked out of the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and then shunned by his parents, both for being gay and for his discharge. His friends Cory and Jimmy helped get him back on his feet and get him started in gay porn, but after five years, Evan’s a little disillusioned and looking to change things.

The character of Evan is based (loosely) on the cover model, Travis Irons. At the time I conceived the book, nearly three years ago now, Travis had been a gay porn model for about five years, and like Evan, he was looking toward what came next. We met through mutual friends, and after a couple of conversations, I knew there was a story to be told there.

As an author, you never know where a story idea is going to come from. Sand & Water was based on the Beth Nielsen Chapman song—a single parent raising a child alone after the other parent’s death. My novella En Fuego was sparked (pardon the pun) by an image of a firefighter rescuing a kitten after a fire.

Have you heard interesting stories for where your favorite authors have gotten inspiration? Have you ever inspired anyone to write a story?

Unfortunate Son Release Party

January 12, 2015

UnfortunateSon_small

Hi all! Shae Connor here to celebrate the release of my novel Unfortunate Son (Sons Book 1). This is only my second novel, and I’m super excited to finally have another one out. My first novel, Sand & Water, came out way back in August 2011, so it’s been a while!

I’ll be posting throughout the day today, and I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of Unfortunate Son (available through your Dreamspinner bookshelf). Just comment with an answer to my question from any of my posts here today, and I’ll use a random generator to choose a winner. Feel free to comment as much as you like, but just one comment per post will count as an entry. Comments must be in by 5 p.m. Eastern US time, because that’s when I’ll choose a winner. :)

(I’ll also be taking over Dreamspinner’s Twitter account from 6:30 to 7:30 tonight, so be sure to check in there, too!)

To start things off, let’s talk about 2015. I cannot believe it’s here already. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Did you keep any resolutions in 2014? Have you gotten used to writing 2015 for the date yet?

Release party for Steps to Heaven

January 11, 2015

I got the idea for this book when I saw a scene in a movie where two cops were dragged into a photo shooting. It had such an impact on me that I decided to build a story around this scene. Bob and Steve are very close to my heart and I hope you will feel the same, staying by their side through a dangerous investigation.

 

 

Read an excerpt:

 

Chapter one

 

Steve Randall, a detective in the Culver City Police Department, leaned back in the passenger seat and let out a contented sigh. “We did a good job, didn’t we?” he said as he punched Bob Curry playfully in the side.

 

“Hey, I’m driving here!” Bob, his best friend and partner, complained with a smile. “I admit, you were great lunging out of that closet and overpowering Linda’s stalker.” Bob said. He cast his friend a proud glance.

 

“Yeah, we finally caught the lunatic before he could seriously injure Linda. Your former classmate is a gorgeous woman.” Steve looked at Bob expectantly. Was Bob in love with her? Steve had noticed Bob holding Linda protectively when she had cried in his arms, fearing that the stalker would hurt her.

 

“In college, everybody wanted to be Linda Thornton’s friend.” Bob looked at him, his blue eyes sparkling. “She’s still lovable, and I’m glad she’s safe now.” He turned into a side street and slowed down looking left and right.

 

“What are you looking for?” Steve asked, confused. “I thought we were going to my home to relax and celebrate a closed case? I have beer and…”

 

“I’m looking for a photo studio, ‘Fashion Photos’, where promising careers start.” Bob checked both sides of the street. Warehouses and closed shops lined the street.

 

“Hey, I’m a great model,” Steve joked, waggling his butt and moving his arms like a dancer.

 

“Dummy,” Bob scolded. “Linda asked me to see her at a photo shoot she’s doing tonight, before she returns to Philadelphia. She’s become a well known model.” Bob stopped the car.

 

“Okay, I understand.” Steve got serious. “And how do I get home? Take a taxi?”

 

“What’re you talking about? You’re coming with me, of course! Linda wants to thank you for your courageous intervention in catching the stalker.” Bob got out of his car, a comfortable old Mercedes.

 

Steve followed, happy that he could be with his friend. When had he gotten so dependent on his friend? They worked as a team now for five years and the shared experiences had brought them closer together.

 

“It must be over there.” Bob crossed the street and walked toward an entrance. ‘Fashion Photos’ it said on a silver sign next to the door.

 

They stepped into the photo studio and heard laughter and voices coming from a room. Bob opened the door and peered into the room.

 

A man in tight black pants and a white silk shirt danced around a female model. It was Linda Thornton. The man held a camera, trying to find the right angle. A jazzy beat was filling the room. The photographer swayed to the music with a smile, the bright arc lamps reflecting off his bald head.

 

Bob and Steve entered the room hesitantly, waving at Linda.

 

She waved back. “Guys, you can wait over there at my dressing table. This is Randolph Foreman, the best photographer in the world!”

 

Randolph focussed on his model. Linda was wearing a thin blouse and a wide skirt. A wind machine was blowing the fabric up, revealing her long legs.

 

He took photo after photo. “Good. Now we need some polarity, something for you to work against.” Randolph looked around, noticing the two visitors for the first time.

 

Bob and Steve watched the photo shoot leaning against Linda’s dressing table.

 

“We need you!” Randolph exclaimed.

 

“You what?” Bob asked, puzzled.

 

Steve sat open mouthed, not understanding what Randolph wanted from them.

 

“Go, stand by her. Don’t be shy. You can do it.” Randolph ran over and pulled the resisting Bob away from the dressing table.

 

“Trust me. Trust me.” Randolph also grabbed Steve’s arm and dragged him toward the stage where Linda stood smiling.

 

“Stand by the beauty. Yes, yes,” Randolph said, obviously fascinated by his idea.

 

“I can’t. I’m shy,” Bob objected when the photographer placed him next to Linda.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I know you are shy,” stated Randolph, not at all impressed. He stood back to envision the shot for a moment.

 

“And you over there.” He motioned Steve to the other side. Linda slung her arm around Steve’s shoulder, the fan at their feet blowing her blond hair back. She smiled, looking relaxed and happy.

 

“And you do angry. Angry.” Randolph stepped back and brought his camera in position.

 

Deciding to make the best of it, Steve put a grim expression on his face. He met his partner’s eyes, and after a moment of hesitation, Bob matched Steve’s look. Steve nodded, content. They were just doing fine with Linda snuggling in close to them.

 

“You’re a vision of delight, honey,” Randolph crooned at Linda. Slouched behind the camera, he took a series of shots with a smile. “You did quite good, guys. Cut, over!” Randolph straightened, regarding the group with benevolence.

 

“Finally!” Bob breathed a sigh of relief and fled from the stage. Catching his foot on a cable, he stumbled and went down with a thud.

 

“Bob, watch your step!” Linda said, startled.

 

“Boy, you can’t get away fast enough, can you?” Steve asked with concern when he bent down to help his partner up. “You’re so clumsy, buddy,” he whispered in Bob’s ear.

 

“Too cute!” Randolph said from behind. He looked at the two men with admiration.

 

Bob blushed and hissed, “Let’s get out of here!” He dragged Steve with him.

 

“Why the hurry, boys?” Linda asked. She turned to Randolph Foreman. “Thanks for the shoot. You’re the best.” She dropped a kiss on Randolph’s cheek.

 

“Love you, honey,” he crooned, but his eyes were on the parting detectives. They were almost at the door when Randolph caught up.

 

“Don’t leave, please,” he begged. “Don’t know your name, but I’ve just found my latest model.” He beamed at Steve, examining him from head to toe.

 

Now it was Steve’s turn to blush. “We’re cops, not models.” He pulled Bob out of the room, but Randolph didn’t give up that easily.

 

“Guys, have mercy. Enrico, the star of my latest photo series, left me without any reason. I’m heartbroken and in need of a substitute. You.” He looked at Steve with sparkling eyes. “You have the perfect body for the next swimsuit summer collection…”

 

“No way, Mr. …?” Steve was out of the door. Linda went after him.

 

“Listen, Steve. Randolph Foreman is an old friend of mine,” Linda said, standing in front of him so he couldn’t get by. “You’ve been so kind to help me. Now, would you do this guy a favor? I’m sure he will pay you really well.” She looked at her former classmate Bob, searching for backup.

 

Bob shrugged his shoulders, looking more relaxed, now that the attention was off him.

 

Three pairs of eyes watched Steve Randall.

 

Randolph said, “Please, do me that favor. Um, what’s your name – Steve? Be my model for this photo shoot. It won’t last long. It’s for the next collection of the company I work for. If I don’t get a model right now, my ass is on the line.” Randolph looked down, sighing deeply. He was a pitiful sight.

 

“Hey, my friend, it can’t be too hard,” Bob addressed Steve. “Linda and I are going to have a drink and we’ll pick you up afterward.” He smiled at Linda, and both of them looked expectantly at Steve.

 

“You think I’m that easy? That I’d make a fool of myself posing half-naked? Forget it.” Steve scowled.

 

Linda put her hand on his shoulder. “Steve, I can easily picture you in a swimsuit. You’re slender, with muscles in all the right places…” She glanced down at his body, undressing him with her eyes.

 

“Linda’s right. You have the perfect body for the next swimsuit collection, Steve,” Bob said with an encouraging smile.

 

 

***********************************************************************

 

And here’s a little quiz:

 

Find the right answer and you can win an ebook of Steps to Heaven.

 

Here’s the question: What kind of car does Bob Curry drive?

 

I’ll draw the winner next week.

 

Thank you for stopping by. It was a joy to chat with you. Let’s keep in touch.

 

Star Noble

 

Release party for Steps to Heaven

January 11, 2015

 

Getting to know Star Noble…

 

Here’s my short bio:

I live in the middle of Europe. I started writing short stories as a teenager and haven’t stopped since. When I found the Internet and the world of gay romance, I was hooked.

I participated in an online writing community and now look forward to having my work published.

I work as a teacher, and in addition to writing, I love reading, singing, travelling, drawing, and dancing.

Find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/star.noble.792 or add me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Moonlight17Star.

You can contact me at moonlight17@t-online.de.

***

And where are you from? I’d love getting to know you.:-)

 

“To Be Human” Release Party – So What’s Next?

January 10, 2015

As I mentioned, sci-fi has always be a favorite genre of mine. My love began at the tender age of 8 with these two.

R2D2-and-C3PO-Star-Wars

Talk about your eternal OTPs. Amiright? :D  

Although “To Be Human” deals with the science of genetics — or at least how it should exist in my mind — I don’t plan to stop there. I intend to write a story set in space at some point in the hopefully not too distant future. What can I say? Spaceships and hyperdrives make me happy.

What about you? What is your favorite genre of sci-fi? Space? Robots? Freaky killer AIs? I wanna know!

Hal 9000 and TIE

Back to the book. Last time I talked about Tim. So what about David? Well, he was easy. I just thought of what my ideal guy would be like. Naturally I came  up with

SJPA_Captain_America_8

 

I’m so predictable. Heh. But since I obviously couldn’t have Cap in this story, I tried to write a sweet, polite, and understatedly hot blond. David is a Oklahoma boy who used to play college football. He hasn’t kept his player’s physique, but he’s definitely no slouch. He’s just huggable. :)

I wanted to make David as ordinary as possible as a contrast to Tim, so I made him a big box store owner. Basically, Walmart but, you know, not. David is overwhelmed by Tim’s genetically tailored perfection, and I do my best to portray his helpless fascination with the unexpected addition to his otherwise boring life.  I hope you’ll fall as much in love with him as I did while writing him.

To finish things up, here’s another excerpt of the character I enjoyed writing the most: David’s mom, Suzanna. When she learns her son is living with an uninvited house guest, she’s none too thrilled. Outraged mom to the rescue! I often find myself  writing strong female characters, and “To Be Human” is no exception. I’d love to meet someone like Suzanna in real life. Feel free to give her a virtual hug!

David and his mother chatted aimlessly while waiting for their food. She got him caught up on the family gossip, mostly about her younger sister, who was recently divorced and on the hunt for her third husband.

“I swear, that girl will never settle down.”

David smirked. “I wouldn’t say settling down is her problem.”

“Hmm, maybe you’re right. And speaking of settling down, have you been seeing anyone lately?”

“Wow, that was smooth.” David shook his head and took refuge in his sweet tea. How was he supposed to respond? Gee, Ma, I’m hot for this barely legal hitchhiker I picked up on the highway. Does that count? He was attempting to come up with an acceptable reply when their waitress brought out their dinner.

“Here ya go. Do y’all need anything else?”

“No,” Suzanna answered with a smile. “We’re fine for now. Thank you.”

David mentally kicked himself for not being able to think of anything that would postpone this conversation. Fortunately, his mother was thoroughly diverted by her perfectly cooked fish. He felt ashamed of himself. Saved by tilapia? That was just sad. And while he didn’t want her probing into his love life, or more accurately, his lack thereof, he did have some very important information he needed to share. He’d kicked this particular can down the road far enough. David picked at his lasagna for a moment longer, silencing the last of his jitters before he took a deep breath and made the plunge.

“I should probably tell you something before we get back to the house.”

Enjoying her penne, Suzanna didn’t look up as she speared another piece with her fork. “What is it?” she asked absently.

“I’ve got a, uh, a houseguest.”

That got her attention. She looked at him questioningly. “A houseguest?”

He swallowed to cure the sudden dryness in his throat. “Well, more like a housemate.”

“A guy?”

“Yeah.” He feared where she was going with the question.

“So, you mean like a boyfriend?” The disappointment on her face was palpable, confusing him. She’d never had a problem with his preference for guys before, so why did she seem troubled by it now? Not that there was anything for her to actually be upset about. “Why am I only now hearing about him?”

David groaned when he realized she was simply afraid she’d missed out on some momentous development in his life. “No! That’s not it,” he said, anxious to disabuse her of her misunderstanding. He’d spoken more loudly than he’d intended, and his cheeks reddened as some people at neighboring tables glanced over at him with varying levels of annoyance.

“Then who is he, if he isn’t your boyfriend?” Her gaze widened as something disturbing obviously occurred to her. “Oh, Davy, are you having trouble with money? I thought the store was doing well.”

“No, no,” he interjected quickly, seeking to reassure her while he tried to figure out how this discussion had gone so far off the rails. “He’s just some guy I picked up on the way back from New Mexico.” He winced at his thoughtless choice of words. Well, that was less than ideal, he thought as Susanna stared at him in shock.

“Just some guy? Good Lord, David.” She sighed and shook her head. “It’s like I’ve always told you. You’re a sweet boy, but—”

“Yeah, I know. I need to learn how to say no to people.”

“I mean, honestly, where did you meet this person? You didn’t really pick him up off the side of the road, did you?”

David took temporary refuge in his pasta, though it tasted like sawdust in his overly dry mouth. He nodded, adding a meek, “I did.”

“David!” Her unoriginality didn’t make her rebuke sting any less.

“Look, what’s done is done. And honestly, it hasn’t worked out too badly. His name is Tim Paul.”

Susanna raised an eyebrow. “That’s an odd name.”

David shrugged. “Yeah, well, it turns out he was having trouble with his old man, so he left home without any place to go. I got him a job at the BBW, and he’s been a good employee.” He flashed her the toothy grin he’d been using since he was little to get out of trouble. “So, you see? There’s nothing to worry about.”

His mother raised an eyebrow and glanced to the side, a sure indication she had picked up on something troublesome in his explanation. “Having trouble with his father, you said? Why would he have to leave home because of that? I mean, how old is he?”

Crap. Of course she had noted that little detail. “…teen,” he mumbled.
“David, you know I hate it when you do that.” Her tone held an edge of maternal scolding that never failed to make him feel like he was five years old. “Try that again.”

“He’s nineteen.”

She stared at him silently for a moment. “Where is he now? At the store?”

David glanced at his watch. “No, he should have already gone home.”

Suzanna sputtered. “You mean you let him stay in your house by himself? He could have robbed you blind by now!”

“Ma!” David sat back in his chair and pinned her with a glare. “He’s been living with me for well over a month. I think if he’d been planning on doing something, he’d have done it already.” Her pinched expression conveyed her displeasure at his tone. He looked away, unable to maintain his defiance in the face of her disapproval. “He’s a good kid,” he continued in a calmer voice. “I think you’ll like him.”

“Hmm. We’ll see.” Suzanna attacked her pasta with her fork like it had personally offended her. “But if he’s up to something, I’m not leaving Lubbock until he’s out of your hair.”
Dinner continued mostly in silence, with only mundane exchanges about how she wanted to spend her time while he was at work to break the quiet. Soon enough he had paid the check and had nothing left to do but let the two most important people in his life meet. David figured Tim would take the introduction as calmly as he did most everything, but he sincerely hoped his mother didn’t come off too strong. He knew she was simply being protective of her only child, but he had long suspected Tim had a secret fragility hidden beneath his imperturbable demeanor. Not to mention, he likely wouldn’t react well to harsh words from someone’s mother.

They didn’t speak much on the drive to David’s town house. Suzanna was clearly mulling over the mess she thought he’d gotten himself into, while he didn’t want to rehash their conversation from dinner. Traffic had all but disappeared, and he was pulling into his parking spot less than fifteen minutes after leaving the restaurant. His mother got out of the car and waited until he’d retrieved her suitcase from the trunk before marching purposefully up to his front door. She tapped her foot impatiently, with her arms crossed over her chest, as she waited for him to lug her bag up the stairs.

“Please, calm down,” he begged.

“Open the door, David.”

“Where is he?” Suzanna asked, taking in her surroundings as if trying to see if she noticed anything missing.

“Tim?” David called out. He heard a sound from the kitchen. “In there,” he said, gesturing toward the room with his chin. Shaking his head, he left her suitcase by the door and trailed behind her as she stomped toward the kitchen with righteous purpose.

When David made it to the kitchen, Tim was looking wide-eyed at Suzanna, holding a fork speared through a hardboiled egg up to his mouth, as though he’d been interrupted right before he could take a bite. He had pushed back his seat from the table at the sound of their entry, the leg of his chair scraping across the tiled floor the source of the noise David heard.

The kid was still seated, although his feet were planted to brace him for standing, and he looked uncertain whether or not he should rise to meet the strange woman who was staring daggers at him.

“Ma, this is Tim Paul. Tim, this is my mother, Suzanna Con—”

David stumbled over his tongue as he watched a miracle unfold before his eyes. Tim was staring at his mother like a lost puppy rather than the nearly full-grown man he was. His pink lips were parted like he’d been about to speak but had lost his voice or simply his nerve. His usual impassiveness was nowhere to be seen. Instead, his big brown eyes seemed like they were pleading for something. Reassurance? Approval? David couldn’t be sure, but he looked on in astonishment as all of the bluster left his mother in a rush, only to be replaced by an emotion he had only ever seen directed at himself.

“Tim, did you say?” She swept forward and grabbed hold of Tim’s hand, pulling him to his feet. “You just call me Suzanna, you hear?”

Tim blinked silently as he was pulled into a hug, his arms hanging uselessly at his sides like he didn’t know what to do with them. He looked beseechingly toward David for help or, at the very least, advice on how to respond to the unexpected invasion of his physical and emotional space. Not for the first time, David wondered how often anyone had shown the kid any physical affection. He quickly discarded the intruding memory of them entwined on his couch. That didn’t count. But did Tim even remember what it was like to feel a mother’s touch? A moment later, he found himself smiling as Tim wrapped his arms tentatively around Suzanna’s back and returned her embrace.

Ah, nothing like a mother’s love to set things to rights. 

And now for the good news, Tim and David’s story doesn’t end here. Their tale continues in my upcoming release “To Be Loved” due out shortly from Dreamspinner! I’d tell you what it’s about, but 

River Song spoilers

I hope to see you again.  Hugs & Kisses!

kissing-smiley

“To Be Human” is now available from all the usual suspects:

Dreamspinner

Amazon

All Romance eBooks

Don’t forget to drop a comment for your chance to win a free copy of “To Be Human” in the format of your choice! I will draw the winner randomly and will contact them via email. So please leave your address!  I’ll leave the contest open until 5pm Monday, January 12 in case anyone who missed the party still wants a chance to win.

“To Be Human” Release Party – Where The Heck Did This Come From?

January 10, 2015

Pearl Love here! So, how did I come up with the idea for a love story featuring a genetically modified super soldier? Well, I could say that it was my enduring love for Captain America.

SJPA_Captain_America_8

But it wasn’t. At least not when I first conceived this story…oh, probably ten years ago. Yeah, this one was marinating for a while. To be completely honest, it’s all this guy’s fault.

Heero

That’s right! Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing! I used to be a ridiculous 1×2 fan (still am more or less), and I came up with the idea for my “perfect soldier” due to my love for Mr. Maladjusted himself.  However, unlike many of my stories, I always intended “To Be Human” to be an original work and not a Gundam Wing fanfic.  

At first, Tim was going to be an android.  I wrote the entire outline with that in mind, and was going to end with this huge action sequence where Tim has to infiltrate a nuclear power plant in order to steal the energy he needed to keep his systems functioning. The draft of that story still exists on my hard drive. Seriously. Don’t worry, it’ll never see the light of day. *hides*

However, as I though about it, I realized I didn’t want to write a story about a $30 million sex robot, if you know what I mean. Enter the solution to all my problems – genetic engineering!

So, that’s the story of Tim. What fandom inspires you, whether it be as a reader or a writer? Drop me a comment for a chance to win a free copy of “To Be Human” in the format of your choice! I will draw the winner randomly and will contact them via email. So please leave your address!

And because you’ve been so kind to stick with me, here’s another expert from “To Be Human.” Wondering how David and Tim meet? Well here you go!

David bopped his head as he hummed along with the song playing on the radio. He’d found the only noncountry station that existed on this stretch of highway and programmed it on two of his preset stations in case he accidentally deleted it from one of them. One hand was stuck out the window to enjoy the pushback of air at seventy miles per hour while he tapped the beat on his steering wheel with the fingers of the other. As he drove east on US-84, the small town of Clovis, New Mexico rapidly became a speck in his rearview mirror. The day was surprisingly pleasant for early June in the Southwest, the temperature comfortably on the tolerable side of hot. The wind felt wonderful on his scalp as it riffled through his hair, occasionally whipping it across his face and reminding him he needed a haircut. Fluffy clouds floated along in the clear sky, forcing David to squint his eyes against the rays of sunlight that randomly broke through. A brief spate of spring rain had coaxed the local flora out of hibernation, and desert flowers of all varieties provided dots of color on the harsh landscape.

The highway traffic was nonexistent. A quick glance at the radio clock showed he was making good time. David made the drive back and forth to Albuquerque every six months in order to attend a meeting of franchise owners for the general retail store he ran in Lubbock, Texas. It was a five-and-a-half-hour trip one way, but he didn’t mind the drive. Plus, he was watching his pennies. The success of his store meant he pulled in a decent salary, but he didn’t like to splurge on needless luxuries. The biannual conference had gone well, and he’d made some good contacts with manufacturers and suppliers who were looking to expand their product lines into the growing market of West Texas. But he wasn’t much for small talk, and the endless rounds of after-hours socializing had taken their toll on his energy level. He was more than ready to go home and get back to his daily routine.

“David, you’re so booooring,” an old boyfriend had told him. He couldn’t deny the claim, but boring or not, he was content with his drama-free life. He’d left Oklahoma to avoid his father’s not-so-silent condemnation once he’d finally confessed to liking boys more than girls. He hadn’t been sure about staying in Texas after finishing college, but when he was offered the chance to buy into the franchise, he’d jumped on it. David liked the simple, productive life he’d made for himself, and it didn’t particularly bother him that he’d ended up spending much of it alone. The last thing he wanted was anything to disrupt the oasis of calm he’d so painstakingly cultivated around himself.

Keeping a habitual eye out for state troopers as he sped toward the state line, David glanced over at the fries remaining in the greasy bag lying on the passenger’s seat. He reached out to snag a few and almost missed the lonely figure standing on the side of the road, arm extended and thumb raised.

“What the hell?”

He told himself not to stop. That would be really stupid. Who in the hell picked up hitchhikers in this day and age? Though he knew it was a bad idea, he slammed on the brakes, his brand-new pads proving up to the task of slowing him to a stop in less than fifty yards. He shook his head, disgusted with himself, as he pulled over onto the shoulder.

You’re a sweet boy, David, but it’s going to get you into trouble someday.

“Yeah, yeah,” he mumbled, annoyed as his mother’s oft-repeated words of caution intruded into his thoughts. He looked into his rearview mirror and watched the figure jog toward his car. A guy, his brain identified. A kid, it clarified a moment later. David turned away from the reflection and groaned.

“Shit.”

A perky nose thrust through the passenger’s side window, and a pair of big brown eyes blinked adorably at him. Adorably?

“Hi,” the kid said. His voice was throaty and uncertain, caught on the cusp between lingering youth and full manhood.

“Hey,” David responded. “You need a lift?” Stupid question. He would have been embarrassed, but he forgave himself for the brain glitch as he studied the gorgeous young man standing beside his car.

The kid looked to be about eighteen, no more than nineteen, though the way he was nervously clutching the strap of his small backpack tempted David to revise down his estimate. The kid had neatly trimmed, wavy black hair and was on the short side of tall, his slim, athletic build all too easy to see with the way he was dressed. Cutoff denim shorts rode high on his thighs, and a tight, sleeveless tank top didn’t quite meet the waistband of his shorts, revealing a strip of olive-toned skin. He looked Hispanic. Or maybe he was Apache or Navajo, though they didn’t usually live this far east.

David wondered if the young man was aware of the provocative image he presented, or if, perhaps, that was the point. Shit. Is the kid a hooker? Reassessing his previous opinion from bad idea to fucking bad idea, David realized he was staring at the gap between the kid’s shirt and shorts, hoping to catch another glimpse of that bare midriff. Dragging his gaze upward toward the hopeful face, David tried to distract himself by once again guessing where the kid might hail from. Asian? Mediterranean? None of the kid’s features definitively suggested his ancestry. The only thing David was certain of was his initial appraisal. Adorable.

Well? What do you think?

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“To Be Human” is now available from all the usual suspects:

Dreamspinner

Amazon

All Romance eBooks

Next up, I’ll chat about the other half of the couple and give a preview of what’s next for Tim and David.