Nights Like These Pre-Release Party: Wrap Up and Thank You

January 25, 2015

Thank you to everyone who spent part of their Sunday with me to celebrate my first novel. The giveaway will be open until 10pm ET when I’ll be drawing a random winner to win a copy (or something of their choice from my back list).

If you missed out on the giveaway, the discount code Scully0125 is good through January 26, so you can still get a great deal. Or check out any of the stops on my upcoming blog tour for another chance to win a copy of Nights Like These. See www.pride-promotions.com for dates and blog listings.

I’ll leave you with a final excerpt. This is from the first meet scene:

 

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going, dumb—” I managed to sputter before my mouth stopped working entirely and dropped open. The ability to speak, to think, deserted me at the first sight of the hunky stranger standing in front of me, his face contorted with apology as he tried to mop up my sodden jacket with a handful of napkins. He was a few inches taller than I was—closer to six feet—and on the stocky side. His broad shoulders filled out a nicely tailored suit, and he projected an air of confidence that I’d never be able to pull off in a million years. He was clean-shaven too, with a dark buzz cut that made me long to run a hand over his head simply to feel the texture. And gorgeous. Did I happen to mention that?

In short, he was the kind of guy you’d want to be stranded with on a desert island; the kind you could count on to save you. If you were so inclined. Me? I didn’t need saving.

A pair of friendly, light-colored eyes now stared back at me, bemused. Odd that his lips were moving, but no sound was coming out.

“What?” I asked, blinking back to attention. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had literally made me speechless. Me, Miles Koprowski, who never met a silence he didn’t want to fill.

Hell, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d been on the receiving end of a full-body pat-down either. At least not so quickly. His hands were still drifting over my chest, wiping up the last drips of coffee, and the simple touch was doing alarming things to my heart rate.

“Are you okay?” he demanded. “Did you get burned?” Before I could react, he seized my wrist and held my hand up for inspection. Strong, lightly calloused fingers, I added to my mental list. Working hands. Dumbly, I looked down. The skin on the back of my right hand was red and stung like a son of a bitch, but it wasn’t blistering. I did flinch slightly when he skimmed his thumb over the sensitive area, but not from pain, more from the touch itself. My entire body lit up, as though I’d stuck a finger in an electrical socket. “It doesn’t look too bad. I think you’ll live. Put some aloe on it when you get home.”

“Doctor?” I croaked, because really, that would be too perfect.

Nights Like These is available January 26 in ebook or paperback.

Nights Like These – Art 101

January 25, 2015

Chris Scully here with my last planned post of the day. I’ll be hanging around for a bit in case anyone wants to chat or get in on the comments. And I’ll be doing my giveaway draw at 10pm ET and contacting the winner directly. A reminder if you’re not a winner today, the discount code (use Scully0125 at checkout) is still valid all day Monday, January 26 as well.

As mentioned in an earlier posting, the office building in Nights Like These where Miles goes to work as a security guard is closely modeled on a place I spent many years in and know well. Right down to the detail of the corporate art collection. Without revealing any spoilers, art plays a big role in this novel, although I’ve tried to work it in so that it’s not too boring if you’re not really into the subject.

Once upon a time (think Mad Men) it was common for major corporations to build an art collection; not only was it a prestige thing, but many thought of themselves as patrons of the arts and even went so far as to commission original artwork and murals for lobbies and boardrooms. This was the case in the company I used to work for.

With the focus turned to corporate bottom lines, those days are long gone. As Miles learns, maintaining a collection is expensive and the trend toward open-office environments has killed the need to hang art on the walls. Sadly, my former employer, who was one of the last remaining corporations to boast a collection, recently announced they were auctioning off a large part of their collection for charity. But while I worked there, the walls were crammed with contemporary Canadian art—much of it lesser known and of limited value. Still, for an art lover like me, it was literally like being in an art gallery every day.

The Canadian art scene is fairly vibrant—but only within the country. With some exceptions, our artists are not well known on the world market, so I thought some readers might be interested in seeing some of the art and artists mentioned in the novel.

Jackson Beardy print

Jackson Beardy print

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Serge Lemoyne-Bleu, Blanc, Rouge

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Norval Morriseau print

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Tom Thomson oil sketch *This is the painting hanging in Colton’s office

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Jean-Paul Riopelle print

 

Nights Like These – Exclusive Excerpt

January 25, 2015

Chris Scully here again, reminding you that my giveaway will be open until 10pm ET, so comment on any post up until then to be entered in my draw. The winner will be notified by email.

And now for an excerpt you won’t find anywhere else. One of the unexpected bonuses was the way Miles’ and Colton’s easy banter took off as I wrote. In this scene, Miles discovers he has a flat tire and his boss Colton comes to his rescue:

As I was feeling sorry for myself and wondering what to do next, I heard the thudding bass of a car stereo, belatedly recognizing the tune right before a sporty Mazda mini van pulled into the spot opposite me. A bright yellow sticker with the slogan “My kid goes to Malvern Collegiate” was plastered on the rear bumper. Silence fell as the driver cut the engine. When I raised my head and peeked over the hood of my car, I saw Colton Decker swing his long legs out of the vehicle and stand, stretching, before he reached into the backseat and withdrew a laptop bag and sport coat.

Slowly I stood up, grinning. The car beeped twice as he locked it and then swung around. He froze when he noticed me there. “You just lost about a hundred hotness points, my friend,” I said without thinking. What was it about this man that unhinged my tongue so quickly? Even I knew better than to poke fun at the boss.

Colton glanced back at his minivan and then simply shrugged. “What? It’s practical. I’m a hockey dad.”

“Are you carting the whole team around in there?”

“Sometimes. Are you mocking my minivan, Miles?”

“Oh, I’m not mocking your choice of vehicle. I’m mocking your choice of music. One Direction? Really?” I teased, unable to keep a straight face. I couldn’t resist needling.

I could see the dimples in Colton’s cheeks even from ten feet away. “My daughter’s in charge of the stereo.”

“Uh-huh. And I suppose she forces you to sing along too.”

Mr. Perfect’s perfect lips twitched. At least he had a sense of humor. “Saw that, did you?” He walked toward me with a confident swagger that did crazy things to my stomach. He was someone’s dad, and dads just weren’t sexy—I needed to keep reminding myself of that. “So, how many did I have?”

“How many what?”

“Hotness points.” I felt the back of my neck warm. Fortunately I was saved from answering when Colton drew close enough to see my problem. “Looks like you’ve got some trouble of your own.”

“Yeah, I’ve got a flat. Don’t know how that happened. It was fine last night. I must have picked up a nail or a piece of glass somewhere.”

“Are you waiting for roadside assistance?”

“Er….” I glanced down at the pavement. I’d let my membership expire several months ago, but Mr. Perfect didn’t need to know that. “I was going to do it myself.”

He looked me up and down doubtfully. “Have you ever changed a tire before?”

“Yeesh, talk about being stereotyped.” He just stared expectantly, one brow arched. “No, Mr. Macho Hockey Dad,” I conceded finally. “I haven’t.”

“If you have a spare, I can help you.”

I hesitated, glancing over my shoulder. “Maybe that’s not such a good idea.”

“Why not?”

“We shouldn’t be seen together.”

He cracked a smile. “This isn’t exactly Watergate, and you’re not Deep Throat. Ah, I just heard the way that sounded.” I stifled an immature giggle. To my utter amazement, the tips of his ears were turning pink. But with embarrassment or because his thoughts had taken the same turn as mine? I was suddenly dying to know. He coughed. “So, do you want my help?” he asked. “If it makes you feel better, I’d do it for anyone.”

Use the code Scully0125 at checkout to get 15% off this and any other title in my backlist. The coupon can be combined with the existing DSP ebook sale, for a whopping 40% off the ebook price.

Nights Like These Pre-Release Party: Behind the scenes

January 25, 2015

Nights Like These is a work of fiction, but it’s inextricably tied to my own experiences.

At the end of 2013, I lost my job. So did my entire department. It was a shock, but not entirely unexpected. Like Miles, I was in a job I no longer loved, but after fifteen years there, I’d become complacent and used to the perks. Rather than mope, I decided I would use my severance period to write a novel while I job hunted. Nights Like These was born. It became both a way to cope and my way to say goodbye to the place and the people I had spent so many years with. The whole thing affected me in ways I never expected. After a year of unemployment I am working again, but essentially starting from the bottom.

Is the novel gloomy and depressing you might ask? On the contrary—it is humorous, upbeat and irreverent. Given the state of my life, it had to be light: no dark and depressing topics, no angst, no deep emotion–in short, nothing that would make me cry. A mystery seemed like just the thing.

With the exception of the main characters themselves, almost everything you read is based in reality. The Tokui Business Systems Toronto head office where Miles works is a low-rise office building in a suburban business park. It’s seen better days. It’s also modeled on the place where I spent many years of my career. From the too-basic security system, to the gym in the basement and the Tim Hortons down the street, it’s all real.

Ninety Winston Drive was located in a tired business park in what had once been the suburb of Willowdale, back before the greater Toronto area amalgamated in 1998 into one sprawling, dysfunctional megacity. It was a quiet neighborhood off the Don Valley Parkway, or DVP as it was commonly known, and the street was home to a number of low-rise office buildings all dating from the seventies, a period not known for its stellar architecture. Back then, buildings were designed for function, and no one really cared if they were pretty or not. Like its counterparts, number ninety was unapologetic in its postmodern ugliness—four stories tall and constructed of concrete and drab brown brick. Four narrow bands of windows wrapped around the squat, square building, delineating each floor and breaking up the stark expanse of brick. There was no signage to identify it other than the street number over the front entrance, but it was currently the regional head office of a company called Tokui Business Services. They distributed photocopiers. The only reason I knew that was because I looked it up on my first night.

To Miles’ surprise, the walls are lined with original art of all kinds. Again, this is taken from real life, although I have taken liberties with some of the artists (more on the art in an upcoming post). For Miles, who was once an Art History major, this is an unexpected bonus, and it leads him to the heart of the mystery. Even the art storage room is real. I was privileged enough to see it once. And the mystery itself, while never actually happening, would definitely be feasible—I spent many hours watching and investigating and determined how easy it would be pull it off.

For anyone who hasn’t worked in an office environment, some things may seem absurd, but I assure you they’re not. Offices are absurd, almost surreal, places, populated with a host of characters ripe for fiction. Have you ever worked real scenarios into your writing? Had an experience that was stranger than fiction? Or wished someone would fictionalize a certain time or place in your life? What would it be? Remember, anyone commenting today will be entered in a random draw for a giveaway of any of my titles.

 

Nights Like These – Meet Chris Scully

January 25, 2015

Now that we’ve kicked things off, let’s get to know each other better. Who am I? If we’ve never crossed paths before, I’ve been writing for Dreamspinner since 2012 and have several novellas under my belt, but Nights Like These is my first novel.

My approach to this genre may be a little different than some others. I write stories that just happen to feature two men falling in love. Rarely will you see coming out stories from me, or characters struggling with their sexuality. That’s a given for me. If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be “eclectic”. I like to try new things; my writing varies depending on my mood. Sometimes I’m ooey, gooey romantic and emotional; other times I may be more plot based (like Nights Like These).

Regardless of tone, there are common threads in my writing. Several years ago I wrote a mission statement for myself as a writer. So here’s a bit of what you can expect from me.

Style: My writing style is sparse, with minimal exposition and an emphasis on showing character through actions, dialog etc. and not through a lot of back story. I’m big on showing, not telling. Point of view can vary but I tend to favor first-person because it makes for a more intimate story.

Characters: ordinary, everyday “Joes”—no millionaires, models, guys with 6 packs; generally older 30+ because I’m tired of all these young men who have it together and generally act like they’re a decade older than they are (not like any of the twenty-somethings I know). I don’t really write alpha males, even though I occasionally read them. Sarcastic characters feature prominently. My characters are the kind of guys I’d like to be friends with.

Subject matter: No dark and heavy subjects like rape, incest, hate crimes etc. There are plenty of other writers who do angst far better than me so I’ll leave them to it.

Plot: I gravitate more to “slices of life”, character driven stories, but I have also been working on trying to incorporate more plot. I hope to eventually do both. My stories are reality-based with no fantasy elements.

Heat level: Generally sex is not the focus for me as a writer. It’s not because I have a problem writing sex scenes (I did self-publish a very erotic romance); rather it’s because I feel it needs to fit with the tone of the story. Sometimes I feel sex scenes are so overdone. It’s like porn—five minutes in and they’re already f—ing. There’s lots of other hot stuff to do, people! I don’t write BDSM or anything that focuses on power dynamics; my characters are equals in the relationship.

Endings: Always a happily ever after (or a happy for now). I generally leave endings a bit open, which I know can frustrate readers, but it’s always an implied happy ending.

Enough about me? What about you? What do you look for in a writer of m/m romance? What drew you to your favorite author? Are you open to reading new things? Do you have hard limits?

Nights Like These Pre-Release Party

January 25, 2015

Hi there. I’m Chris Scully and I’ll be spending the afternoon with you to kick off the launch of my first novel, Nights Like These (releasing Monday, January 26 in paperback or ebook). Dreamspinner has kindly provided a 15% coupon (use Scully0125 at checkout) for use in the DSP store today and tomorrow. That’s on top of the existing 25% off sale on ebooks. It’s also good for anything on my limited backlist.

Now that we’ve got that taken care of, let’s get this pre-release party started!

Meet Miles Koprowski. Miles is prickly, sarcastic and occasionally a bit of a diva. His entire life has been turned upside down. He’s lost his cushy corporate job, his gold-digging boyfriend has left him with a mountain of debt, and now the only employment he can find in these hard times is security guard in a suburban office building.

NightsLikeThese_sm2Starting over sucks. At forty, Miles Koprowski thought he had life all figured out. He had a nice car, a hot young lover, and a cushy job… and then he didn’t. Call it fate, or karma, or a downturn in the market, but this opinionated cynic is now forced to play rent-a-cop in a dying office building in the burbs just to make ends meet. Throw in an unhinged ex, a coworker who hates him, and a hot new boss, and suddenly everything is uncertain.

Miles doesn’t plan on liking the night shift or becoming embroiled in a mystery that reawakens old passions and puts him in danger. And he certainly doesn’t plan on falling for the overbearing head of security, Colton Decker, former soldier and doting dad. But nights like these can change a man, make him start to believe there’s more to life than a high-paying job and a warm body in his bed. With a thief on the loose and his new job in jeopardy, Miles will have to decide what’s truly important. He might discover things he never knew he wanted… as long as he makes it through the night.

 

Excerpt:
I was a last-minute replacement, called up when the regular guard had an accident and couldn’t work. In fact, I’d had my license for less than a week. If I had known it would be this easy to get hired, I would have lowered my standards a lot sooner rather than waste my time sending out resumes to the big firms.

All kidding aside, I was grateful Bryck Security Services had found me an office job because there was no way anyone was going to find a five-foot-eight, 162-pound—okay, closer to 170 these days if I’m being honest—soft-around-the-middle security guard intimidating. I’m not the least bit butch. I’ve been told I have a very effective glower, but I doubt that would deter the criminal element when sometimes it doesn’t seem to work on my nephews. Even if I were the buff, action-hero type, there is no way in hell you would ever catch me in the back of an armored van, with a gun on my hip, waiting to be somebody’s target practice. These days I’m not looking for excitement. Not even if it did pay more.

 Miles is prepared to hate his job. But then Colton Decker, the gorgeous Head of Security, asks him to do some snooping, and Miles finds himself embroiled in a bit of a mystery. But perhaps the bigger danger is to his heart, because he can’t deny his attraction to dedicated family man, Colton.

This is a light, romantic mystery, so if mysteries aren’t your thing, don’t despair. P.D. James this is not. The emphasis is on the characters and on Miles learning that sometimes starting over may not be such a bad thing. Have you ever had to “start over”? I certainly have (more on that later). What did you learn from the experience? Did it work out for the best? Tell me about it. Anyone commenting today will be entered in a random draw to win an e-copy of Nights Like These or a title of their choice from my backlist.

 

Bye And Have a Great Evening!

January 21, 2015

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Hope all of you have had a wonderful day!  I’ve really enjoyed being here with you today and now have to get back to writing the third book in this series, The Behr Facts.  Watch for the second in the series, Redesigning Max, which centers around Fredi, the interior designer in What’s in a Name?   Out-and-proud Fredi helps outdoorsman Max Greene come out, and Max’s old friends aren’t happy with him or the gay men who’ve recently settled in the foothills community.

What’s in Les Halles?

January 21, 2015

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Hello, again.  Pat Henshaw, author of What’s in a Name?, back again with a restaurant recommendation.  Why restaurants?  Well, the viewpoint character, a barista named Jimmy, is being wined and dined by a bartender whose given name is a secret.  Until Jimmy guesses the bartender’s name, he calls him Guy.

Guy and my husband have a few things in common, the most notable being their love of food.  This time I’m recommending a restaurant where I’ve eaten, but my husband hasn’t.  The next time we’re in New York, however, I’ll introduce him to it.

We love to watch Anthony Bourdain’s wild jaunts around the world tasting strange and exotic dishes.  I read Kitchen Confidential and enjoyed it also.  So once when I was the publicist for an independent publisher and would travel to New York on publicity tours or Book Expo, I decided I had to eat a Bourdain’s stomping ground, Les Halles.

LesHalles

Since I’m originally from Nebraska where a typical dinner for me as a kid was beef, potato, and corn, eating at Les Halles was akin to a flashback to my childhood.  The beef menu at the restaurant is extensive, but what makes it stand out is how they cook the cuts to perfection.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I suggest you try it out.

Now since I’ve shared where Guy would take Jimmy if they lived on the opposite coast, it’s your turn.  Where’s your favorite place to eat in the Big Apple?  Or where would you like to eat when you visit there?

What’s in a Name? at Passionfish

January 21, 2015

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Pat Henshaw back again to talk about my novella, What’s in a Name?  As I mentioned before Guy, the bartender at Stonewall Saloon in the Sierra Nevada foothills, takes the viewpoint character, barista Jimmy Patterson, out on a number of dates during the story.

One of my all-time favorite romantic places to eat is Passionfish in Pacific Grove, California, which is a small community adjacent to Monterey.  They take pride in the fact that they serve “sustainable seafood, slow-cooked meats, and organic greens.”  In other words, you’ll get the best meal of your life there.

What are my favorites?  Well, the crab cake with lime relish is to die for.  If you like Dungeness crab as much as I do, you’ll go for the crab salad with avocado next.  The main course is a toss-up since what’s on their permanent menu is wonderful, but their specials are usually more so.  The duck, the lamb, and the trout are ones we’ve eaten time and again.  The piece de resistance for dessert lovers is their lemon verbena crème brûlée, but you can’t go wrong with their banana bread pudding either.

When Guy and Jimmy travel to the coast, I’m sure they eat at Passionfish every time, just as we do.

Now that I have you thinking about food and your favorite gourmet restaurant, I want to know all about it.  Where is your favorite romantic dining spot?  What do you recommend from the menu?

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What’s in a Name? Travels to a Tavern in Virginia

January 21, 2015

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A lot of eating takes place in my novella, What’s in a Name?  For one thing, the burly bartender whom the viewpoint character, Jimmy, dubs “Guy” takes Jimmy out on seven dates–or at least tries to.  And dates to Guy include meals.

My husband, like Guy, is a man who loves his food.  Consequently, he’s taken me out to romantic restaurants as well as funky-dude diners and chop-houses.  As part of my release day blogging, I’d like to share some of those eating experiences with you since we’ve lived on all three U. S. coasts and in the middle of the country.

The first place I’d like to revisit is Chowning’s Tavern in historic Williamsburg, Virginia.  We spent the day visiting the Governor’s House–no the Gov didn’t invite us to dine with him–and the House of Burgess where our daughter was told by Patrick Henry himself that she couldn’t vote and the other Williamsburg historic stops.

We were tired, and the kids a little grumpy.  But we’d made reservations for Chowning’s, even though we had no idea what to expect.  What we got was a rousing good time of clapping and singing and laughter.   We left with full bellies, happy smiles, and tired feet.

Sure, on the East Coast there are thousands of 5-star dining spots.  But the eating experience I remember best is the one that made me smile the most:  Chowning’s in the heart of historic Williamsburg.  I’m sure Jimmy and Guy would be there having a rousing good time if they ever traveled east.

Because I collect places to eat,  I have to ask: Where have you eaten that’s got an historic past?  Was it fun or stately?  Would you return or was it a “once is more than enough” experience?

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