September 23, 2013
It’s that time! The Spoiler portion of the posts!
—You may want to skip this one if you haven’t read Submerging Inferno, but you don’t have to. There are two aspects of the end of book one that will be spoiled by learning about Rising Frenzy. However, I think, if you’re okay with knowing some of how Submerging ends, you will still enjoy this installment of the blog.—
Rising Frenzy is where I finally allow myself to give into my obsession. The one I built up to in Submerging Inferno. Have you seen the episode of My Strange Obsession with the man who is obsessed with mermaids to the point that he actually has a mermaid tail that he wears (and looks pretty hot in, btw—I’ll throw in a picture)? Well, let’s just say, that I’m totally and completely jealous of that guy. I want a mermaid tail! Damn it!
In Submerging, Brett Wright doesn’t know that he’s anything other than a human. By the end, with the help of his new love interest, Finn de Morisco (who happens to be a warlock), Brett discovers that he is part demon and part merman. Every time I write it out like that, man, does it sound strange! It works in the books, though, trust me. So, here are spoilers from Submerging that you’ll need to know in order understand Rising Frenzy. Last chance, close your eyes…
1. Brett’s part merman. Yeah, I know I just told you that.
2. Brett and Finn’s romance comes to a crashing halt.
(Get ready for some awesome mer shots. It may take me a bit to finish this blog, due to the extended amount of time I’ll spend staring them!)
Submerging Inferno ends with Brett going off into the ocean, following a merman, and with Finn, the warlock, absolutely devastated. Readers that hate when a story doesn’t have a happy ending at the finish of the book or that ends with a cliff hanger, feel free to hate all over Submerging. Remember, I warned you that I’m blunt. Some might say rude, but let’s call it honest, shall we?
Rising Frenzy splits into two worlds. One follows Finn as he battles to manage his heartbreak. In so doing, he delves deeper into the magical world than he ever has before and discovers a dark, dangerous, and sensual side that he’d been sheltered from his whole life. Through this book, Finn heals from the relationship with Brett, but is caught up in a maelstrom of events that affect he and his family that never would have happened if he hadn’t fallen in love with Brett to begin with.
The other half of this novel takes place under the surface of the ocean. And, boy, do my mermaid fantasies come to life. I’ve dreamed about writing about mermaids for nearly two decades. At long last!!!! It was scary, to be honest, writing about something that you love so much. And, no, I can’t fully explain why I love mermaids like I do, I simply don’t remember a time not being captivated by them. In Rising, Brett discovers the other side of his family, the mers. While the mer society doesn’t readily accept him because of his demon heritage and that fact that he’s a big old gay, he plays an integral part in their path to salvation. You see, the mers are a vanishing species. (At least I haven’t seen any mermaids running around, have you?) While struggling to find his place in the tribe, Brett becomes the mers chance at survival.
This painting is by Arantzazu Martinez. Link:
Okay, I always feel a little strange summing up books in such a manner, as I want everything to unfold in its time, but at least that gives you a glimpse. I also know that I probably am supposed to give you an excerpt from the novel. However, I hate it when I’m reading something and they have an excerpt. I’ve never read one that made me want to read the book. I always feel that it spoils something somehow. HOWEVER—if you are one of those that love them, and it’s okay if are, please say so, and I’ll post and excerpt in the comments section. You can chose from a pretty scene from a fairy party or a really hot, over-the-top sex scene.
The merman is done by Moroka. The link is:
Fun fact about Rising?
When I was about halfway through writing Submerging Inferno, my boyfriend at the time, who I fully believed I was going to marry, left me. Without realizing what I was doing until the book ended, one of the main characters died and Brett’s grief over that character mirrored what I was going through after the break up. (After five years in therapy, you would have thought I’d have been a little more insightful and realized what my fingers were doing as they typed. But, I didn’t, and now some of my life is on display in Brett’s grief over his friend.) The other thing that happened, and this one was intentional, is that Brett and Finn broke up. That wasn’t the original plan. But, I was too heartbroken to fathom writing some sweeping romance. Turns out, just like life, it worked the way it was supposed to. After they broke up, through the heartache, aspects of the series that I’d been struggling to understand for years, fell into place. Funny how life understands things when we don’t.
Now, flash forward a couple of years, and you will find me in a relationship again. Something I’d sworn off. It was going to be a solitary life with just me and the puppies. Finn, though he is a Hispanic baker, and I am a so-white-I-glow teacher, is kinda me. At least his personality and such is very similar to mine. By the time I started writing Rising Frenzy, Stephen had come into my life. I’d found love again, so I only though it fair that Finn should as well. Enter Schwint. You’ll love, LOVE, Schwint, even if you’re sad Finn and Brett don’t get back together. Schwint is based on Stephen. To the point that I asked Stephen what kind of mythical creature would he like to be. I have tons of species mapped out in my writers’ notebook, so it was a safe question. Stephen chose to be a fairy. Thus, Schwint the Fairy, was born. And, let me tell you, he is a fucking handful! (Nothing like putting your own life on the page.) I’m including a picture of Stephen in this blog. While not exactly how I describe Schwint in the book, some of his physical characteristics are similar to Stephen. One of which is, in certain light, Stephen’s brown eyes look almost yellow. Schwint the Fairy has yellow eyes.
And now, our giveaway questions. I will randomly select one of you (and by random, I of course mean, the person whose answer resonates the most with me, or makes me laugh, or gasp, or some other bodily or physical reaction—that type of random) to receive a copy of Rising Frenzy.
1. What obsession do you have? Do you share it with others? Do you know why you’re obsessed?
2. How do you feel about the romantic leads in a novel breaking up? About cliffhangers?
3. If you hate both of the things in question two, how I can convince you to give Men of Myth a try? (Did I really just ask that question out loud? Nope Dunkyn is still asleep beside me, and if he didn’t hear it, doesn’t count!)
This is a painting I did several years ago. Are you overwhelmed with mermaids, yet?
September 23, 2013
Welcome back! I’m a teacher of my word, so this section is the all about me, Brandon Witt, portion of our day together. We both know that you’ve been waiting with baited breath at your screen to learn who I am, what makes me tick, and just how many years of therapy a person has to go through to end up like this! It’s okay, you can breathe now. (See what my students have to deal with? Talk about needing therapy! Poor kids!)
I am a thirty-five year old red headed man who lives in Denver. (The older I’ve gotten, the hair has tamed itself to a light auburn, but I’m holding onto the claim of red hair, damn it. At least until I can figure out how to get a tan.) Currently, and for the past seven years, I have taught Special Education at an elementary school. I work with students with significant emotional disabilities—lots of anger, tears, violence, restraints, drama. And that’s just me before my coffee on Monday mornings. Before that, I worked for six years with the same type of kids, but in a residential treatment facility for high school age children—think Juvenile hall where kids live, with therapy and teachers. At that point, I was a counselor.
I am a daddy two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan. I may be one of those helicopter moms where my dogs are concerned. I am son (duh), brother, uncle (to a four year old boy who the universe rotates around—at least mine), and a boyfriend (you’ll learn more about Stephen in blog three).
For the first eighteen years of my life I grew up in El Dorado Springs, Missouri. A town of three thousand in the Ozarks. My family was a very conservative Christian family. Think—no drinking, dancing, jewelry, movie theaters, etc, etc, etc. Shockingly, that also meant no gayness. Surprising, right? Later, I would go on to get my bachelor degree to be a youth pastor in a church. A week after graduation, upon two church job offers, I came out, and left that profession so that I wouldn’t be living a lie. Promptly, I jumped into ‘learn to be straight’ therapy (1-3 times a week for five years—boy, what I could do with that money now). Thankfully, that didn’t work, as I’m probably the gayest man I’ve ever met. Yep, you’re chatting with a gold-star gay, baby. Despite all of the drama you can imagine in this scenario (and the issues, good Lord, don’t forget the issues), I am very close to my family. We are together AT LEAST once a week. Being the good gay I am, I talk to my mom every single day. I say this because my first published novel, The Shattered Door, takes place in my hometown, and has many autobiographical features in it. The main character’s mother is a horribly broken woman. People often ask if my real mother was her basis of inspiration. Definitely not. I have a wonderful mother, who, like most mothers I’ve met, is the real strength, power, and love of our family. This is a photo of my mother and I at a Centennial Celebration in our home town.
These aspects—my work with hurting children, and my own struggles growing up—greatly affect my writing, obviously. Most of what I write has a dark tinge. Some of it is much more than tinged. Both in my contemporary and fantasy writing, I have characters that face things that we all face in life. I know that for some readers, it can be too much. However, I have seen the darkness destroy some people and make others amazing. Children who have overcome sexual and physical abuse, neglect, learned to function with disabilities, on, and on, and on. The questions of God, brokenness, Hell, salvation. . . life. . . tend to make their way onto every page. I tend to not sugar coat much. Just as in life, some characters allow themselves to be broken, others learn to fly.
Writing, to me, is as vital as breathing. Through stories that I wrote in high school, to books upon books of journaling, and now novels that tell the lives of others, I’ve learned to live. Ms. Hungerford, my Lit teacher in my sophomore year of high school first breathed the gift of writing words into my life. She told me I was good, that she liked reading what I wrote. Looking at those stories now, I often think that she had to be lying—no one would want to read those. However, she started it. She wouldn’t approve of the things I write, but I think she would be honored by the strength and honesty that she has inspired.
So, me. All about me. I guess it comes down to this. I love living. I love how life, darkness, and love itself affects people so differently and causes such vast array of reactions. I have written for years, fought to see my books in print for years (and years and years). Now, here we are. By Christmas, four novels will be out. It’s a testament to hard to work, an audacious belief that a person can do anything if they sacrifice, and though romance may not be the pinnacle of the words I write, Love is. No bit of my life or my writing would be here without love. Love of family—especially my mother. Love of a teacher who told me I was good at something. Love of myself enough to believe that God doesn’t see me as the abomination I was told. Love of a publisher, Elizabeth of Dreamspinner named her company well. Love of stories, believing they matter, entertain, tell a truth, and change lives.
In books (and movies and music, as well), I don’t like being preached at, nor do I enjoy or want a ‘lesson’ or moral shoved down my throat. I want to entertained, enveloped into another’s life or a different world. I love it when it’s beautiful, but it’s okay when it’s hard or dark. What has to be there for me to love a book is passion. An overused word, perhaps, but true nonetheless. We should live passionately, in everything. Life is too wonderful, fleeting, and fragile to do anything else, and I expect that in books. And while everyone has a different view of that, of what passion should look it, I can promise that every word I’ve written (both in the contemporary novel, The Shattered Door, and the Men of Myth series) comes from that outlook. I love my characters. They have surprised me so many times, caused me to laugh and cry. My hope is that people learn to love them like I do, and that they make the reader’s life a little more full in some way. It is a scary thing sending your children out into world.
Question and Giveaway time:
1. What drives you? What is your passion? Where do you find your love of life? How do you find your wings in the times you’ve not been able to feel that love?
2. For the giveaway of Rising Frenzy–What are your thoughts of darkness in novels, in ugly realities of life being written on a page? It’s okay—you can be honest. You don’t have to agree with me. I work with kids, remember? Kids are brutally blunt. Makes life fun!
September 23, 2013
Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for spending some time with me today. My name is Brandon Witt, and my new novel, Rising Frenzy, is being released today, September 23! It seems rather perfect that I’m here on the Dreamspinner site to celebrate with you, people who enjoy embarking on a new quest, adventure, or romance every time you turn a page. I took a moment to do a welcome video, just for fun. (If I did it right–I’ve never done that before!)
The first thing you need to know is that I’m a teacher, so if you ever feel like I’m treating you like a kid, just rest assured that pretty much everyone else I talk to feels the same way. And, while I may be around kids all day, my books are for you, definitely not for children. In addition, I love to spread random punctuation at every opportunity. Thank God for Desi, my editor, who keeps this obsession at bay in the novels. Luckily, he’s not here to save you from it today! See, already giving disclaimers.
Much like I let my students know what my plans are for the day, I’ll extend you the same courtesy. I always like to know what’s going on and what to expect, and I think everyone else does too, even if they claim they don’t. I may drive my boyfriend just a tad bit crazy with this oh-so-fun-disability to need to have every second planned out.
And the breakdown of blogs are:
- This one—Hello and Men of Myth
- All about me—Can we say self-absorbed?
- Rising Frenzy—This is the one with a ton of series spoilers
- Women in Gay Fiction—A brave topic a man should know better than write about
- Tearfully saying goodbye—For now, it’s just for now
Good lord, and that was just the into! Let’s dive in.
Rising Frenzy is the second installment in the Men of Myth series. Book one, Submerging Inferno, came out one month ago. It’s hard to talk about book two without giving away important aspects of book one, which is why I’m saving the spoilers for the third blog entry. For now, let’s talk about the series.
Have any of you read novels by Kelley Armstrong? Specifically her Women of the Otherworld series? If not, check them out—they’re a blast. She was the base point and inspiration for Men of Myth, although, I think if she read my novels, she probably wouldn’t really understand how they connect, as they are very different. Here is the aspect I loved about Armstrong’s books, what I ‘stole,’ if you will: In Men of Myth you will met men of all different supernatural blood types (such as, demons, fairies, warlocks, mermen, werewolves, vampires, you get the idea). In this first story arch, which covers three novels, you will get to know two of these men very, very well—their stories, the in’s and out’s of their heritages, and cultures. After these three books, side characters that you’ve come to love rise up to take their turn in the spotlight, all the while, still keeping tabs on past heroes. As in the Armstrong novels, you end up being part of this huge ‘family’ who feel as real to you as people in your everyday life, and you miss them when they’re not there. Either you understand that sensation or you’re thinking that I’m a bit crazy. I would argue that two are not mutually exclusive.
The thing I love most about this concept, both from other series I’ve read and in writing Men of Myth, is the epic level a reader gets to know these characters. Much like a real relationship, book one starts off with tiptoeing into this universe that’s hidden in the world around us. Well, they tiptoe for a bit and then take a head dive into the deep end. In Rising Frenzy, book two, you get the chance to re-enter this world, and now that you’re familiar, the layers and idiosyncrasies begin to blossom and pull you in until you’re too deep to get back out. By Clashing Tempest, in book three? Good luck. You can’t escape, even if you tried. The opportunity for character development, and the deepening of relationships (both with the characters and with the reader), is unparalleled in building novels of a series.
Both of the first two books, Submerging Inferno and Rising Frenzy are set in San Diego, one of my favorite places in the world. If you haven’t had the homemade tortillas in Old Town, open a new browser window, and book a plane ticket. So good!
While there is romance, and heartbreak, and romance again in the series, I would classify the books more urban paranormal fantasy than as pure romance. To me, that’s a good thing, as it’s what I love. To some, it’s disclaimer, if they want the romance to be the main event. I look at these novels like I see life. (Although my life doesn’t have vampires, fairies, or mermen. Yet.) A relationship doesn’t define a person or make up their entire world, at least most healthy ones. A romance enhances a person’s life, makes it better. . . makes the person better. It’s the same in a story. In the case of Brett Wright and Finn de Morisco, our two men in the first three novels of Men of Myth, their adventure, danger, and ultimate story, wouldn’t have even happened if their romance hadn’t bloomed.
Here are the covers of the first three Men of Myth novels. Anne Cain, the artist, is a goddess. Truly.
I think by now, you probably realize why I write novels instead of short stories. For an introvert who can turn into a wallflower at parties, there are a lot of words. My fingers on the keyboard apparently don’t have the same verbal anxiety that my mouth has acquired.
There will be two giveaways in the upcoming blogs, get ready! I’ll post the winners tomorrow!
1. Have you ever had a ‘relationship’ with a series of books, or even a television series, that truly made you feel like the characters were a part of your life, and you genuinely love them? What series was that for you, and what about it created such an impact?
2. What is your initial, gut reaction when you see books from a new author? Do you wait for reviews of the book, pick it up because of the cover, walk me through your process a little bit, please…
September 22, 2013
It was a pleasure chatting with all of you, and thank you for stopping by! The winner of a book of choice is Katherine! Congratulations, Katherine, I’ll shoot you an email. Good night to kind lurkers, too! The 25% discount code “PavelleBlog” is good until Monday at midnight for all my titles and mystery/suspense titles at Dreamspinner Press, so have fun browsing. Don’t forget to check out the free reads under the “genre” button on the left navigation bar – there are some good books in there!
And now I’ll bid you all good night, and go turn into a pumpkin.
September 22, 2013
The party is winding to a close, folks. I am so glad you could stop by. This is the next to last post. We still have an autographed book to give away, so if you want your name in the pot, post a reply either here on www.dreamspinnerpress.com/blog, or on Facebook. Don’t forget, the 25% off code is good on my titles and Dreamspinner Press mystery/suspense titles through Monday!
And now about the dead body. The blurb reveals that Jack’s sister, Celia, died under suspicious circumstances. You all know that Wyatt is a climber – that’s one way to break into other people’s space. It turns out that Celia was a climber, too. A very good climber, in fact. Isn’t it ironic that I fell in love with a female character in a m/m novel, and all I have of her is a memory? She never appears – her death took place several months prior to the plot. Yet, she was so much fun! Strong, determined, adventurous. If she was anything like her brother, she was a good-looking, athletic woman. She also wasn’t stupid, being an accountant and a writer, and she had honor and courage and integrity. We need more characters like that – and not only the gorgeous guys we love to read about, the men who fall in love with one another and, despite their flaws, experience true love and devotion and the security of knowing that they have found their place in the world.
I want female characters as good as the guys! I want to love them, and cheer for them, and admire them. What a shame that I had to kill her. Isn’t it just so ironic? Yet, I admit that writing a strong female lead is hard work. There are all kinds of tropes out there, and it’s too easy to fall into a stereotype regardless of genre. Authors end up messing up perfectly awesome female leads in both romance and thrillers. It’s too easy to slip into that well-worn and accepted mold of what we believe a woman should be, or is capable of being. And that, my friends, is exactly why I love writing male couples. When it comes to two guys, they start with the same set of social expectations, even regardless of class. There is no mother who awaits grandchildren. Nobody tells a guy, “You really shouldn’t pursue a PhD in geology, because you have a baby and how will you be flying to Hawaii to take lava samples all the time?” (That’s what happened to me, although it might have been for the better.) Men don’t get pregnant, so there is a whole new freedom associated with casual sex. Even though I acknowledge that men have their own pressures and have to live up to a different set of expectations, this child-related gender stress is the same for both of them. It is this equality of expectations that makes a same-sex, male couple a blank canvas for many a story of love, romance and high adventure. I try not to make my guys stereotypes, either, but I freely admit that when I write, despite all the research I do, I sit alone in a room and make things up. It’s a fantasy. Perhaps I live vicariously through Kai in Wild Horsed, because he is a natural rider with a cat-like balance who attracts equine attention with his soft, perceptive manner. I will never be like Kai. Why, only today I fed my finger to a horse, let him step on my foot, and the SOB almost unseated me when he refused an obstacle. Kai is my equestrian fantasy. If he were a girl, it would get a lot more complicated once the issue of birth control came about.
Wyatt climbs rocks like a lizard. He is fearless – in fact, he lives in a perpetual search of a good adrenaline high. I am scared of heights and the best I can hope for is a good wall with secure equipment. In addition, he’s as kinky as a tangled fishing line. I, a risk-averse and unathletic plodder, live through Wyatt’s grace and carefree comfort no matter how high off the ground he might be. He lets me fantasize about the edges of my own comfort zone.
Sometime soon, my own comfort zone will extend to tackling the pervasive gender issues that all women deal with as they navigate career realities and lifestyle choices. I will find Kai’s balance and Wyatt’s courage, and create a female character that is both credible and kick-ass. She will be a CIA agent, but she will live off her smarts and cunning, not through any special-forces skills. She will be like us, knowing that her clock will soon start ticking.
Until then, I’ll hang out with my pretty boys, and I hope you will, too. Let me know what you find alluring about m/m fiction that ‘s missing from a decent read with a female protagonist! Please drop me a line on that. I will log on again at 11pm EST, put your names in a hat, and one of you will get an autographed copy of Zipper Fall (or Wild Horses, your choice). I will give this book away to honor Celia, the cool, tough broad I have created who died before her time.
September 22, 2013
Aaaaand – drum roll, please – Trix is the winner of either Wild Horses or Zipper Fall e-book! Trix, please PM me and let me know what you’d like, and how you’d like it! Congratulations!
And now, a bit about book research. Let me list a few things I’ve done either by coincidence or in order to “learn a world” and write about it – and then I’d like you to share the most outlandish thing you would consider doing, or have done, in name of book research. So, here goes:
- climbed rock walls (very…ehm… EXCITING.)
- learned to ride a horse (and today, got stepped on, scraped against the wall, and have accidentally fed him a finger along with a carrot. That foot will bruise, for sure.)
- learned to hunt deer
- various martial arts, including weapons moderns and ancient
- worked in a flower shop (it’s not just arranging flowers – it’s also washing buckets and dealing with the generous public)
- started a business / killed a business / grew a business
- traveled (I rout my business travel through new places in name of reserach, whenever possible)
- trained for a triathlon (and completed two – highly recommended, it doesn’t include heights and you can break when biking downhill…)
- “volunteered” in a restaurant kitchen (free labor in exchange for learning new things)
- ate wild mushrooms (and foraged for them, learned to ID them, and discussed possible lethal methods with an interested toxicologist)
- contacted professors at universities to find out stuff (and they were, usually, happy to oblige!)
- had coffee with a retired CIA employee, who was very helpful in making my CIA operative credible and legal
- fought in medieval armor, AND slept in it (to see if it’s possible…)
- started fire with a bow drill, attempted to brain-tan deerhide (don’t try this at home, its very smelly!)
- shot a machine gun/rode in a tank / held gas mask drills (that’s in elementary school during the Cold War, in Europe, where we took civil defense seriously).
So, spill it. If you write, what was the wildest thing you ever actually did that made its way into your book? If you don’t write, what would you consider doing? I’ll go cook dinner, and before I sign off for the night, I’ll do a random drawing for a winner of a signed trade paperback copy of either Zipper Fall or Wild Horses for one of you who responded!
Don’t forget, buy any of my titles or any mystery/suspense from Dreamspinner Press at 25% off, using the code “PavelleBlog” !
September 22, 2013
You might think Wyatt is the wild one and Jack is the voice of reason. Jack merely impersonates a rational adult, though. Now I know that picking locks in real life is a lot harder than in fiction, but I couldn’t resist! Watch Wyatt be a bad influence in this excerpt:
SATURDAY afternoon had come and gone, rolling into evening, and I still hadn’t heard from that infuriating, obstinate man. I didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to watch a movie or hang out online; I wanted Jack, and nothing else would do.
“Hey, Wyatt.” Reyna called me later that night. “I got the most unusual phone call.”
“Yeah?” I was parading around my small apartment in a pair of black silk shorts and a ratty, light-blue T-shirt at least a size too large. With the phone stuck to my ear, I continued straightening up those odds-and-ends that tend to accumulate over a period of several days.
“Yeah. Azurri called. He wanted to ask some personal questions about you.”
“Oh yeah?” I perked up immediately. “Like what?”
“I can’t tell you that.” She giggled. “Oh, nothing harmful, don’t worry too much. It’s just, if I told him about you, he’d tell me about Auguste. They went to school together.”
My heart sank. “Reyna! Did you sell me out?”
“No, you pathetic goofball, I’m giving you a heads-up. Why’d he ask about you if he lost interest, right?”
We talked some more, me trying to pull critical information out of Reyna, her working hard not to let anything slip. She succeeded; I failed.
Resigned to my fate of earning my living through honest work, I poured myself a tall glass of beer, and once its head settled, I navigated it over to the coffee table, where I left my laptop. I settled on the sofa and got to work. The Novack proposal was beginning to look good. He wanted to target novelty seekers and the lunch crowd. For his crepes, he’d do best to advertise with the Francophiles in the area. Over the next two hours I compiled an exhaustive list of French teachers, as well as local schools and translation agencies, and I was about to get started
102 KATE PAVELLE on travel agencies when my ears picked up suspicious noises from my
Somebody was trying to pick my lock. That bastard.
Karma was out to get me in this life instead of the next. Payback was imminent. I tiptoed to the door, grabbed my old baseball bat off the coat rack, and listened to the burglar’s effort from the other side. I snickered—what a bumbler. Really, my locks were pretty average. I saw no need to draw attention to myself by indulging in high-tech security. A peek out my peephole didn’t show anything, since whoever was trying to burgle me was either bent over or kneeling on the floor. I was just about to call them on their incompetence and laugh in their face when I heard the tumblers align and fall in place, and the door swung open.
I jumped back, the baseball bat at the ready on my shoulder. I crouched behind the opened door, waiting to see who it was so I could whack them a good one for their trouble.
Tall, brown hair…. “Jack?” My voice rose, and he turned, startled.
His eyes widened at the sight of the weapon. Then I saw him relax and push the bat down with his long arm. “Hey, Gaudens. Should I also greet you with a baseball bat?”
I cleared my throat. “As I recall, you greeted me with a gun and tied me to a chair.”
“I guess turn-about is fair play.” He shrugged, sauntered over to the dining nook right off the kitchen, and set a brown paper bag on the table.
I shut the door behind him, turned the lock, and hung the baseball bat back in its place on the coat rack. “Why… why didn’t you call first?” Being fair-minded, I didn’t ask him why he didn’t knock.
“Why should I call?” he asked. “You never do.”
“Actually I always call before I break in, to make sure nobody’s there. Then I knock for good measure. That one time you were asleep. Your phone must have been turned off.”
September 22, 2013
Trix and Katherine pinged back with writing tips, which is awesome, and I may try the headphones, especially when I am working on the treadmill desk, which is not nearly as quiet as when I bought it.
I’d like to introduce Jack Azzuri. He has his own tidy parcel of baggage to work through. The most apparent characteristic, aside from a body that must have been sculpted by the ancient Greeks (love handles and all), is his legendary, explosive temper. Wyatt never expected to meet him when he broke into his apartment. All this is laid out front-and-center in the first chapter, which you can read in the sample of DSP’s website. Here is a little detail of Wyatt’s first up-close encounter with the man who would haunt his thoughts forevermore:
ELEVEN o’clock could never come soon enough as the far-away wall safe kept crooning its siren song. I barely resisted biting my nails. My microwave clock showed I still had ten minutes to go before departure when, impatient, I pulled on my lightweight, dark green jacket and a baseball cap, hoisted my black backpack, and headed out the door. I walked, using the next twenty minutes to calm down and control my adrenaline levels. I still could back out. I didn’t have to go through with it. The idea died young: it was like paying the entry fee to a public swimming pool and then talking myself out of getting into the water. There was no way I wasn’t getting inside that apartment tonight.
Two blocks away from Azurri’s apartment, I ducked inside an entryway and stuffed my jacket and baseball cap inside the bag. I caught my hair up in my black skullcap, hiding every single strand by feel alone. The black hood of my sweatshirt covered my head as I continued to my target area.
The windows in the corner of the third floor were dark. I dialed the number on my cell phone anyway, but nobody picked up. I sucked in a deep breath.
Shit. I was really going in. I did my phone-check routine, making sure it was on vibrate and the camera flash was off. I also set it on redial, just in case someone was home and I had to distract them—even though that never happened. As a last step, I covered the phone’s screen with three strips of electrical tape. That way, if I had to use it in the dark, I wouldn’t make a target out of myself.
The service entrance in the alley wasn’t equipped with an alarm, and the lock wasn’t hard. Somebody must have miscalculated, thinking there was no point protecting a self-closing door next to a Dumpster. I slipped in like a shadow and took the service elevator all the way up. There was a narrow staircase from the fifth floor to the roof. I took it to an unlocked door. It creaked only a little as I pushed it open, but even that little sound almost made my heart stop. I scanned the flat, asphalt roof and the vents and chimneys to my left. The edge of the roof was to my right. Working fast, I reached inside my backpack and slipped a climbing harness over my black cargo fatigues. I slid my silenced phone into a secure side pocket. The other pocket held my flashlight. I pulled a coil of climbing rope out of the backpack and fastened it to a sturdy chimney. Before I knew it, my feet were anchored on the rim of the ledge and, with the rope wound behind my butt and through my self-belay device, I leaned back over the abyss.
I grinned as the thrill of being suspended over a street threatened to overcome my senses— alone in the dark, unseen. Slowly, I slipped my soft black shoes down the side of the building in careful steps as I fed extra rope through my harness. The soles of my feet felt every contour of the vines and flowers carved into the acid-rain roughened stone, giving me extra purchase. I descended past the glowing fifth- floor window and the dark fourth-floor window, and I had just started to breathe a bit harder when, finally, the third-floor window appeared. I stood on the generous parapet and unclipped myself and let the rope hang by my side. Slowly, I pushed in the glass panes.
Lights from the streets illuminated the Spartan bedroom interior as I slipped in, landing in a crouch. The white carpet gleamed pale amber, reflecting the sodium lamps outside. I look around and froze.
The bed was occupied.
At this point, I should have climbed out the window and back up the building and gotten out of there. Yet I stood here, conflicted between running away and getting a little closer. The bed’s owner was sprawled naked on his back, his head and shoulders shrouded by the shadows. The stark city glow, barely impeded by sheer curtains, accentuated the shady contours of his trim abdomen and his well- muscled legs. I stopped in my tracks, feeling as though a Grecian marble statue from a nearby museum had been placed on this stranger’s bed, displayed for my eyes to feast upon. He was incredible, beautiful in the unearthly glow, and I felt like a lost man, captivated by the sight of his physical beauty. Even if I weren’t into guys, I think I would have gotten hard.
He stirred. I broke from my stunned reverie and looked around fast. The dark corner of the room to my left was my only hope, and then I realized a closet was there, with its door cracked open. I ducked into the shadows, moving fast. I blessed my luck and slipped inside, not making a sound. My breathing came in short, shallow breaths, and my heartbeat felt like a drum against the wall of my chest. I fought to maintain absolute silence. I heard Jack Azurri stir. His bed creaked. Then there was the soft patter of his feet, almost muffled by his lush carpet.
I hope he won’t kill me on sight.
::I swear I’ll never do this again.::
I heard him piss in the bathroom next to me, and I breathed a deep, silent sigh of relief. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t have to voice any rash oaths just yet.
He flushed and washed his hands.
More footsteps, this time in my direction. Once again I began to negotiate with the powers that be.
“Fuck, it’s hot.” The low, sexy growl shot an arrow of heat down my spine.
I heard him draw the curtains aside and open the window even wider. The heavy evening air stirred, and even more light poured in from the street.
My heart sang in relief.
The mattress creaked as he got back in bed. So far so good. I’d have to wait until he was asleep before I could make my exit out the window, which he, being such a considerate gentleman, had opened even wider for my convenience. I didn’t dare attempt cracking the safe with him there. In fact, I barely dared to breathe. I waited, wondering why the hell he wasn’t on a vacation like he should have been.
Light snoring reached my ears, and I pushed the closet door to the side a little more, just enough to get out comfortably. With painful slowness I peeked around the wooden panel.
There he was, now fully lit by the dramatic glow from outside, legs spread apart, sporting a significant boner. You would think I would be no stranger to that part of male anatomy, but being single, it had been a while since I had seen a full-grown specimen. Also, I had never seen one from someone’s closet while hiding in there, trying to avoid detection. This situation had all levels of awkward written all over it, and as my mouth went dry, I felt a hot blush rise up to my cheeks. All the same, I wasn’t quite willing to look away.
Oh Wyatt… you have no couth! I do have couth, though. I even have a discount coupon. Use the “PavelleBlog” discount code to receive 25% off any of my titles, as well as any mystery-suspense titles from Dreamspinner Press. This coupon is good for the next 2 days!
Drop me a line and visit so I can enter your name in a free e-book drawing (Zipper Fall or Wild horses, your choice!)
September 22, 2013
I get asked about how I write. People who ask me about writing don’t realize that writing is, mostly, about not procrastinating. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, WordPress, Tumblr, plus any excuse for online research, can send me off course and into the time-sink of browsing to “see who is there.” On a typical day, I wake up at 5:45, respond to email, clear the dishwasher while the coffee is brewing, fix lunches, and put up a load of laundry. Once I walk my daughter to the bus stop and take the dog around the neighborhood, I am ready to write. In order to do that, I push the power button on our WiFi antenna. Yes, I really do. It keeps my word count up and my needless visits to “see who is there” down to zero.
I am an Organic Writer, which means that creating an outline is a sure way to lose interest in the story. After all, I already know what happened, right? So, why bother writing it out? Sometimes, when I am plagued by distracting and unrelated story lines that pop into my mind, I outline them. It’s the surest way to banish them forever. I have the WiFi turned off for 4 hours in the morning, which usually results in 3-5 thousand words. I take a break every 45 minutes to an hour (switch the laundry, water the plants, feed the koi) to move my body around. After lunch, my writing time will be over for the day, and I’ll need to apply myself to business activities that keep the lights on and the WiFi service turned on. In general, I feel very blessed to be able to do this.
And now, I have a question for you. If you do write, what is your favorite trick to keep distractions to a minimum? Respond, and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a free copy of Wild Horses or Zipper Fall (Your choice!)
September 22, 2013
I am online and blogging about Zipper Fall, the 2nd book of the Steel City Series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but if you read the no. 1 book of the series, Wild Horses, you will recognize several characters and landmarks.
I’ve been asked if I climb. Wyatt Gaudens, my POV character, is a climber who misuses his skills for burglary. I do climb a bit, and I was inspired to try it to get over my fear of heights (my wild, adventuring characters do all kinds of things I’d love to be able to do – I live through them vicariously!). I can climb up a wall and rapell down, and I love to boulder when outside. Wyatt is a natural where I am a struggling coward. So now some of you will ask, wait, do you also pick locks?
I tried, using lock picks I bought online. It’s hard, but doable. I watched people pick locks and crack safes, and both activities require patience, a steady hand, and a special touch that seems to come to some people naturally. I’ve never picked a lock that didn’t belong to me, although I’d lie if I claimed that no locks were harmed in the making of this book
To get more familiar with Wyatt’s mindset, I am going to share a brief excerpt. Our poor, flawed, adrenaline-addicted hero just needs a better source of excitement in his life:
Life can be incredibly boring at times, and in order to make it worth living, I need a bit of zing to spice up my dull routine. I’ve always been like that, and besides, I have always been able to talk my way out of anything. My mother used to say I’d make her go prematurely gray with my wild skateboarding antics. After a while, skateboarding wasn’t enough, and I started rock climbing. Small risks turned to bigger risks, except I didn’t want to endanger my climbing buddies by doing something really crazy on the rock face. Instead, I discovered the thrill of occasional and strictly recreational break-ins. Two years ago, I took my first souvenir. I knew it would be missed, which made the experience even more thrilling. Heightening the risk heightened the excitement. Last year, I wore a distinctive ring for a few days. I got away with it, which was almost disappointing, because it was a Superbowl ring. I ended up wiping my prints off and sending it to the local TV station, and its return made the news because anything having to do with the Steelers makes the news. I rode that high for almost a whole month.
I have a question for you: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in search of YOUR adrenaline high? Log in to www.dreamspinner.com/blog so I can see your answer!