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.
Starting 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.
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.
January 21, 2015
In my novella, What’s in a Name?, the viewpoint character, barista Jimmy Patterson, has noticed that the burly, bearish bartender of Stonewall Saloon wears a different nametag every time Jimmy and his boyfriend come in. This unleashes curiosity in Jimmy. What’s the bartender’s name?
Jimmy understand being given a embarrassing name at birth. After all, his mother named him for the Bible by her hospital bedside: King James. Fortunately, there was the “James” in there which he immediately turned into “Jimmy.” And he always had the backup of his initials, K. J.
But Jimmy wonders what it would be like to have no useable parts to a given name. What if both of the bartender’s names were horrible–especially for someone over six feet tall and burly–and even his initials can’t be used?
In writing the novella, I had to come up with at least seven plausible given names that would be embarrassing for a big, gruff man, names that couldn’t be abbreviated to be acceptable for a bartender.
What are your guesses as to the names I came up with? What names would you never, ever want as your first name?
January 16, 2015
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.
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.
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.
January 16, 2015
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).
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.
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?
January 16, 2015
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.
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.
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.
“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?
January 12, 2015
And now the big reveal… the ebook of Unfortunate Son goes to Missy1980! Please send me an email at email@example.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!
January 12, 2015
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!
January 12, 2015
Okay, I know what you really want to talk about—that cover art!
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?
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?
January 12, 2015
I think it’s time for an excerpt from Unfortunate Son. In this snippet, Evan and his parents have had a confrontation over them hiding things from him, and his mother was injured in the process. They’re in the emergency room, and Evan is overwhelmed by everything that’s been happening over the previous couple of weeks.
Evan stood just outside the curtain that hid his mother’s emergency room bed. The doctor had arrived a few minutes earlier, and the tiny space hadn’t allowed for Evan to stay during the examination. To his relief, his mother had roused briefly when the paramedics arrived at the house, and though they’d still taken every precaution, strapping her to a backboard before moving her to the stretcher, she’d been able to answer a few questions as they took her to the ambulance.
There had never been a question of who would ride to the hospital with her. Evan had given his father one hard look, and Charles Day had backed away toward his own car.
Evan didn’t know where his father ended up after that. He tried to tell himself he didn’t care, but he looked around anyway. A few dozen feet down the hall, he could see the edge of the waiting room, mostly deserted at midafternoon. His father sat in the first row of seats, looking like a washrag that had been wrung out and tossed, crumpled, into a corner.
Despite everything, Evan felt a stab of empathy. He knew his mother’s fall had been an accident, a stupid accident, but the image of his father’s hand striking his mother would not leave his mind. He couldn’t forgive and forget, not yet. Maybe not ever.
Evan focused on the young woman who stood holding the curtain open. He didn’t know if she was a doctor, a nurse, or some random person off the street, and at that moment, he couldn’t care less. “Is she okay?” he asked, taking a step closer. He felt someone else step up next to him, probably his father, but he didn’t shift his focus.
“The bleeding stopped, but she’s in and out of consciousness. We’re having a portable X-ray brought over, but you can see her for a minute if you want.”
His father took a step forward, and Evan almost reached out to stop him on pure instinct, but he managed to hold back. Yes, he was still pissed as hell, but the fact was that this was his wife in the hospital, and Evan couldn’t actually stop him from seeing her.
Instead, he followed behind. The young woman, apparently a nurse, warned them not to touch her or jostle the bed, since they were still concerned about a possible neck injury.
His mother looked tiny in the bed, her skin pale even against the stark white sheets. A stabilizer had been wrapped around her neck, an IV inserted into her arm, and a clip-on monitor attached to her finger. Machines beeped, and the noises of the ER drifted in, but the sounds faded as Evan watch his father bend close, careful not to touch, even as Evan could see him straining to hold himself back.
More of his anger drained away. He still didn’t know why they’d hidden the money from him, and he couldn’t think about forgiveness for that until he knew why, dammit. But he knew his parents loved each other, even if he wasn’t so sure how they felt about him. He couldn’t hold that against them, could he?
I sure as hell can, he thought.
Something bubbled up inside him, a well of emotion so tangled and dark he couldn’t sort it out. Anger, resentment, and frustration swirled together into a blackness he couldn’t fight. Didn’t know if he wanted to fight.
His skin crawled, and he had to get out of there right that second or the top of his head was going to blow right off his body.
He spun on his heel and fled.