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

riopelle

Jean-Paul Riopelle print

 

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.

 

The past becomes the present

January 16, 2015

Hello, I’m Elizabeth Noble and my time on this blog, discussing A Barlow Lens, my latest release is about up. Dreamspinner Press is offering a 25%off coupon code good from now until Monday. The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive). Everyone commenting is eligible to win a free eBook copy of A Barlow Lens. I’ll announce the winner Sunday evening.

In the present day part of the book Val and Wyatt use a number of sources to look back into the past and solve a decades old mystery. I had to really think about how someone now would investigate a murder that took place about 90 years prior. Val and Wyatt had to get pretty crafty when digging up their facts. They used a few resources, old photographs, a museum and drawings from a school girl from the time.

Just like an astronomer uses a telescope and special lens as tools to exploring the night sky, Val and Wyatt used a number tools as well. What they discovered was how the lives of a street cop, a teacher and a gangster collided in 1927. The lives of Tom and Philip intertwined with Val and Wyatt’s years after their deaths.

Every life is a circle.

 

Excerpt:

After coffee and breakfast, Val looked much better and Wyatt definitely felt much better.

“Kevin destroyed all our evidence. How are we going to find out what happened?” Val asked. They sat at the table, and he was finishing a second cup of coffee. “From what we learned so far, I’m having a hard time believing it was Tom who started that fire. I want the end of the story.”

“I agree. That article you read, the one written by one of the surviving students, you said she disputed Tom being at fault,” Wyatt said.

“Yeah.” Val put his coffee cup down with a soft clunk. “Think she’s still alive?”

“I suppose it’s possible. If not, maybe we can track down a relative who might be able to shed some light on things.” He stood up, taking his phone. “I have to call Lily. We were supposed to meet her yesterday, and I want to make sure she’s all right and let her know we’re okay.”

It took them some serious searching, putting both training and skills to good use. Wyatt had years of experience researching and ferreting out useful bits of data from the most mundane sources. He was constantly impressed and surprised by Val’s ingenuity and downright creativity when it came to hunting facts and people on the internet. Val found sites and resources Wyatt would never have thought existed, let alone gone to while trying to locate someone.

They ended up spending a day at the police museum and city hall searching records, even enlisting Lily’s aide. She was able to aim them at documents kept at the museum and a local university containing a great deal about the woman who’d written the article as well as other pieces that had appeared in newspapers over the years. The woman had mounted a campaign to bring the story of what really happened to light, but it never seemed to happen.

It took considerable effort on all their parts, but finally there was a solid trail to be followed. While it didn’t lead to the little girl who grew into the woman who’d written the article, they did have a clear picture of who she was.

“Molly and her brother Dennis, who was three years older, survived the school fire,” Val said, reading Wyatt the notes and timeline they’d put together. “Molly was really an amazing woman. She grew up and married a Tony Petite a few years before we got into World War Two. He was in the Navy and stationed in Hawaii. They not only lived through Pearl Harbor, but she also survived the 1946 tsunami. He wasn’t in Hawaii at that time.”

“That is one lucky woman. She lives through a fire that killed more than survived, the bombing of a naval base, and a tsunami.” Wyatt settled in a chair. He’d bought some large pads of paper with adhesive strips on the back and watched as Val stuck them to the wall, making lists and drawing arrows from one thing to the next.

 

I have a number of old photos sitting in several boxes. Some of them are more than a century old and I love looking at them. Each one tells a story. Do you have any photographs or documents that give you clues into the lives of people living in the past?

1927 and Now

January 16, 2015

I’m Elizabeth Noble and I’ve confiscated the Dreamspinner Blog to talk about my latest release A Barlow Lens.

The story this book tells takes place in two separate, but interconnected timelines. The story begins in the present with Val and Wyatt, two men preparing for their wedding. When Wyatt is asked to consult on a cold-case murder, he and Val get a look back at what life was like for another gay couple Tom and Philip. The majority of the story takes place in Cleveland, Ohio which looked a lot like this in 1927.

 

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This is part of the neighborhood Tom and Philip lived in. This business and building no longer exist today. The neighborhood I’ve used while telling the story is the same one I live in now. It was also the neighborhood where my grandparents spent much of their youth. While A Barlow Lens isn’t a historical novel, I have tried to make the sections written in that time line as accurate as possible. One of the characters in the book, a small time gangster named Archie is loosely based on stories my grandfather told me about one of his older brothers.

Tom and Philip read the Cleveland Press newspaper and back then it looked a lot like this.

firrst

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you like novels that give you a little bit of history but aren’t necessarily historical novels or are you a purist?

Don’t forget Dreamspinner is offering a 25% off coupon code for all my books now through Monday. The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive).

Here is an excerpt from the 1927 portion of the story:

 

TOM MANNING stopped just inside the heavy, wooden door and stomped the snow from his boots. He shrugged out of his overcoat and waited for his eyes to adjust to the lower lighting. A shiver worked its way down his spine. There was a fire, the room was warm, but it still took his body a few minutes to acclimate to the temperature without his coat. He turned to the right where one of the large coatracks stood next to the door and added his coat to the ones already there. Taking his hat off, he shook snow from the fabric and wiped one hand over his hair. He gave his head a little shake to clear off any excess snowflakes.

 

A radio in one corner provided music. Despite its scratchy reception, there were a few couples swaying on the dance floor. Tom had become a regular in this particular juice joint, even though it was far enough from his small apartment in the West Park section of Cleveland that it took planning and a little time to get there. That was just fine by Tom. It made the Canary, this joint’s name, safer. Most cops wouldn’t bother coming this far north and west, and if they did, there’d be plenty of warning. At least Tom hoped so.

 

The first few times he’d come there, he had worried about who might see him. Then he realized that if someone saw him, they’d come to the Canary for the same reason. This particular speakeasy catered to a select and secretive group of men and women.

 

Tom slid onto a stool and smiled when the bartender sashayed over with a plate of sandwiches thick with meat and cheese on freshly baked bread.

 

“We got a new shipment in this week. Care to give it a try, honey?” The bartender, Billy, flipped a towel over his shoulder and put his hand over Tom’s for an instant. He tipped his head at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s been asking after you. I’ll get you two of what he’s having.”

 

“Appreciate it,” Tom said. He twisted on the stool to get a better look at the man at the table. The man had dark hair and was built like a bull. His big hands cradled the glass of bootleg, and that sent a spark coursing right through Tom to his balls. Beefy hands that handled a glass gently. What would they do to Tom’s flesh?

 

Thanks to Billy and his need to be in everyone’s business, Tom might just find out.

Every life is a circle

January 16, 2015

Hi there. I’m Elizabeth Noble and I’m here today to celebrate my latest release: A Barlow Lens

Dreamspinner Press is offering a coupon code beginning today and good until Monday for 25% off all my books! The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive).

logo

 

 

A Barlow Lens is the second book in the Circles series. Run for the Roses kicked the series off. When I wrote Run for the Roses I intended it to be a standalone story. It sort of ended on a tiny cliff hanger, but the story itself was wrapped up. Then somewhere along the way between submitting and release I had an idea for a series. So, Circles was born. The series tagline is ‘every life is a circle’ and that is also an underlying theme of the series. Each book introduces one or two of the main characters featured in the next book in the series. All the stories in Circles are a mystery. Sometimes there is murder, sometimes not, but one of the MCs is involved in law enforcement. Will the books eventually circle back to earlier characters? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually happens.

A Barlow Lens takes its title from a piece of equipment used in an astronomical telescope, the Barlow lens. When one takes a peek into a telescope and views the stars you are actually looking back in time. Starlight travels vast distances over many, many years. The light we see in the sky tonight may have started its journey hundreds or thousands of years ago. We are seeing something that happened long ago.

_hps_2xb1_2

There is no way that is not the most coolest thing ever!

What does this little bit of metal and glass have to do with a murder mystery? Good question.

The plot of A Barlow Lens takes place in two separate timelines. The modern day characters, Wyatt and Val, find themselves involved in solving a cold-case murder that happened eighty years prior. They look back at the lives of another gay couple, Tom and Philip, living in a completely different social atmosphere in order to solve the mystery. During the investigation the story of two lovers from the past comes to light. That story, like starlight, traveled a long way through time before being seen and told.

In keeping with the theme of the series during the investigation Wyatt’s past comes back in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. A Barlow Lens is a look back that sheds light on the present for Wyatt and Val, proving every life is a circle.

Anyone answering any of the questions in any of my posts today will be entered into a contest to win a free eBook copy of A Barlow Lens, simply make sure I have your email. I will leave this contest open until Sunday evening.

What branch of law enforcement  should I write about in the future?

Welcome to A Barlow Lens release party!

January 16, 2015

1813614  Hello. I’m Elizabeth Noble and welcome to the virtual release party of my latest novel, A Barlow Lens. Please visit the Circles website to stay up to date on the entire series.

Before I forget, because I always forget, Dreamspinner Press has offered a coupon code: Noble0116 (case sensitive).  It’s good for 25% off all my books beginning today, Friday, and expires on Monday.

To start the festivities here is the blurb and a bit of an excerpt from the book.

 

Blurb:

While planning a future with his partner, Val, Wyatt’s past refuses to be forgotten. Wyatt’s old friend asks him to look into the mysterious death of her uncle in a fire back in 1927, when men were silent, tough, and did not love other men—except when they did. Working with Val, Wyatt digs up clues uncovering the truth behind the tragic school fire and the one responsible. The story of Tom and Philip slowly reveals itself, and Wyatt and Val realize nothing is as simple as they originally believed. As their trail heats up, an old enemy of Wyatt’s decides he’s waited long enough for revenge. If Wyatt can’t tie everything together, history might repeat itself.

 

 

Excerpt:

Once they were back at their hotel, Wyatt ushered Val into their room, not bothering with the light. They were high enough up there was no need to close the drapes, and light from the city cast a soft glow over them.

As Val unbuttoned his suit jacket, Wyatt stepped up behind him, placing his palms on Val’s shoulders, then rubbing lightly up and down his arms a few times. “Let me give you a hand.” Wyatt eased the jacket off and kissed the side of Val’s neck, nudging his head to the side as he did so. A low moan rumbled out of Val’s chest. Wyatt dropped the jacket on a chair and slipped his hands under Val’s shirt, caressing Val’s skin with his fingertips.

When he reached Val’s tightening nipples, he rubbed small circles until Val’s hips jerked. Val shuddered and pulled in a quick, shaky breath, making Wyatt smile. Val’s tie and shirt joined his jacket. Wyatt ran his hands over Val’s torso before returning them to Val’s shoulders. He lightly traced the scars on Val’s shoulder with first his finger, then his tongue.

Val’s surgery to repair the damage done in the course of stopping some seriously dangerous people who had been trying to force jockeys to throw races, had left several scars. They weren’t red, raised, and angry anymore. Val never complained about them hurting, but the marks were still puckered and darker than the surrounding skin.

“You know,” Val whispered between dragging in a breath and panting it out again. “That first time we went out to dinner, I was so worried you’d think I was some uncouth, country hick because I don’t know about wine and art. And that I was too young to bother with.”

“Hmm, do you know what I worried about when I was thirty?” Wyatt scraped his teeth across Val’s shoulder blades.

“N-no. What?”

“Getting a sweet piece of hot ass,” Wyatt said in a low voice.

Val laughed. “Well, you’re sort of slow. Took you long enough. Worth the wait?”

“Oh, hell, yes.” Wyatt maneuvered Val to the bed.

There is an age difference between Val and Wyatt. What’s your preference, couples that are closer or farther apart in age? Any personal experiences to share?

 

 

Unfortunate Son: The Winner!

January 12, 2015

And now the big reveal… the ebook of Unfortunate Son goes to Missy1980! Please send me an email at shaeconnorwrites@gmail.com and let me know what email address your Dreamspinner account is under, and I’ll get the information over to them to add it to your bookshelf. Congratulations!

Happy reading, all! :)

Unfortunate Son: Thanks and Shout-Outs

January 12, 2015

One last post to wrap things up before I give away the ebook of Unfortunate Son and then head over to Twitter for more fun and games! I want to give a few big shout-outs.

First, I owe huge thanks to Travis Irons, for being a fabulous cover model and super excited about the book project. I get to see him this weekend for the book release party, and I’m super excited about that!

Second, thanks to Burkhart’s Pub here in Atlanta, which will be hosting the release party, and which served as the basis for the bar in Unfortunate Son that hosts the drag show during which Evan’s friend Cory performs as Coco Lamé. Thanks also to the Armorettes, the Infamous Camp Drag Queens of the South, who inspired the Stilettos, the troupe with which Coco performs.

And last but never least, thanks to my editing team, D. M. Grace, Tia Fielding, CJane Elliott, Charley Descoteaux, and J. P. Barnaby, and to my Senior Editor, Jane, and all the other editors, proofreaders, designers, and production staff at Dreamspinner. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of folks to work with.

One final question: What one thing about the information you’ve seen for Unfortunate Son makes you want to read it more than anything else?

Check back in after 5PM for the contest winner reveal! :)

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?