Wonder Boi Writes

I interview Bev Prescott

Hey all, my friend and colleague Bev Prescott has stopped by today to chat about her new release, , which I really loved.  I got a chance to read an early draft of the rip-roaring, action-adventure romance about a year ago when Bev first submitted it to Bywater for publication, and I’ve been kind of obsessed with the story ever since. It’s got a kick-ass heroine, a super villain, an undying love, and too many cool gadgets, tools, and toys to even count. Needless to say, I’m thrilled I finally got to ask Bev a few questions, and I can’t wait to share her answers below, but first I have to do my due diligence and let you all know that if you want to be entered for a chance to win your own copy 2°, just comment below and we’ll pick a winner next week.  And if you want learn more about 2°, you can get the full story on the Bywater Books website.

Tell me about the story behind your latest book, 2°. Where did it come from?

I’m drawn as an author and reader to books about current events that impact all of us, 2º_Cover-600x913regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. From there, I create lesbian characters who get to be the heroines in the story. I’d been thinking for a long time about writing about the world impacted by climate change.  I think the warming of the planet is the single greatest threat to the survival of life on Earth.  The spark that got the fire started for my journey to write 2 Degrees was on a trip to Antarctica. I could not have imagined just how incredibly beautiful and humbling it would be to visit the Great White Continent. It was painful to think of such a lovely place melting away. From there, writing 2 Degrees was all I could think about.  I wanted to create a story in which Earth was a main character. As the story developed, I realized it was also about people, and how we survive difficult times.

Bywater has tagged this books, “Bev Prescott like you’ve never read her before.”  What’s different about this book?

I’m not entirely sure why Bywater says that, because I didn’t ask.  But, if I had to guess, it’s a couple of things. First, I worked with Elizabeth Sims as my writing coach.  I learned a tremendous amount from her about things from sentence structure to character development. I think the quality of my writing dramatically improved from previous books. Second, I let my main characters show their gritty imperfect sides. Let’s face it, if we’re reduced to having to survive each day by clawing and scratching our way to getting food and water, we’re not always going to show our better angels. I let my characters be real. And being real means not being perfect.

This book was a long time coming, I assume part of that came from the research you had to do.  How did you tackle all this?

I did loads of research for this book.  The good news is that I’m really interested in the subjects of climate and its impact on ecosystems.  Reading scientific articles and books never felt like work. But it did keep me up at night because it was interesting and scary.  Not only did I read books about the science of climate change, but also books about the impacts on our political systems. For example, “This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs the Climate” by Naomi Klein was excellent. What I learned is that there are some good assumptions we can make about what will happen if the planet warms greater than 2 Degrees, and lots we don’t know.  I did the bulk of the research for 2 Degrees before I started to write the story.  Once I had a good handle on, generally, what the predictions are for North America, I wrote the outline. From there, I did research as necessary to fill in the blanks.

Bev-Photo-WebYou’re dealing with some heavy stuff in , but this story is ultimately about the power of love and the human spirit to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  How do you manage to thread that throughout without giving in to the chaos?

Great question. The answer is in letting the characters be real. Even in the worst of times, humans are funny, kind and ironic. Little moments of levity within difficult times, or noticing something beautiful in a scary place helped take the edge of the grittier parts of the story. For example, the scene when Sharon notices the flower in the desert, or when her cockroach bot gets some unwanted advances from a real cockroach are those little moments.

There’s a ton of super-cool scientific gadgets and vehicles in this book with an almost bond-esque quality to some of them.  How did you come up with all of those, and which one would you most like to own?

 Phew! This was the most fun part of the book to write. The thing about us humans is that we are always thinking up cool stuff.  The world could be coming apart at the seams, but we still make progress.  I think looking at the history of human invention is like looking at the history of the stock market.  Even when particular moments look awful, in the grand scheme of things, we are always making progress.  So, even in the face of grand disaster like climate change, I imagine that there will be humans who keep creating things in order to survive.  I saw a great TED talk about looking for answers to our greatest problems by looking at nature. The TED Talks has a subset of talks called Technology Designed by Nature. Here’s the link. https://www.ted.com/playlists/403/technology_designed_by_nature

I absolutely believe that if humans want to know how to do anything, all we have to do is look to nature.  If we want to know how to design a plane that flies in crazy wind, look at the albatross. If you want a vessel that can walk on water, look at the water-bug.  That’s what I did when thinking about creating the cool ships and flying devices in 2 Degrees. It was a blast.  I’d definitely want an Icarus Vest!

What’s on tap for you? Are you writing? What about events on the horizon? 

Yes, I am writing.  But, I’m still in the research and outlining phase.  My next story will tackle the subject of fresh water, and the coming lack thereof with climate change.  Yes, my next book will still be within the eco-fiction and climate fiction realms.  It’s where my head and heart exist at the moment.  But like you, love and friendship will always be the underpinnings of any story I write.  Love, in particular, will save us from ourselves.  As for appearances, I’m excited to be joining you and the other Bywater Books authors during Women’s Week in P-Town next week. Here’s the list of events.

 

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October 4, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Love All – Excerpt

Hi Friends,

I won’t make you wait around. I know what you’re all waiting for, so without further ado, the winner of last weeks’ drawing for a free autographed copy of Love All, is Stacy!

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But fear not, I am so excited about the release of my thirteenth romance novel, and I wanted to give all of you a little something, so I’m going to share with you an excerpt of the entire first scene from Love All.

Prologue

“Sadie, you can’t do this all by yourself.” Tad echoed the refrain of her parents, her brother, and every one of their friends. The only difference was, he held a golden ring between his trembling fingers. “I enlisted. I’m going to have insurance and housing and a steady paycheck. I’ll be able to take care of you both.”

Both.

She glanced down, surveying the face so small it was nearly lost in the sea of pink swaddling blankets and the oversized hospital gown obscuring her own features. The two of them were a unit, a package deal, tethered together now every bit as much as they’d been when connected by a cord. She didn’t need him to tell her. She felt the tie tugging at her core the same way she’d felt every kick, every shift, every hiccup.

“A baby needs a dad.” He pressed, the anguish making his voice raw.

“She’s got a dad.” She cupped one hand gently around his cheek, marveling at the contrast of her dark skin stark against the paleness of his.

Black and white. That’s how he saw the world. Right and wrong. So clear-cut. He would make a good soldier. His righteousness would give him strength, but so would hers. She held the sleeping baby closer in the crook of her arm, noticing for the first time that her eyes were the same shape as his. Would they hold her color? Retain the proud bridge of her nose? The little dimple of her chin mirrored his, but the shape of her tiny mouth clearly came from Sadie. She inspected the strangely familiar face, then looked back up at his, unable to tell which of them seemed more vulnerable in that moment. “I’m glad you’re her father, but I don’t want a husband.”

A little muscle in his jaw twitched under her fingers. “You don’t want a husband, or you don’t want me for a husband?”

She sighed softly. That was the question on which all their futures hung. She could add it to the long list of ones she couldn’t answer. “Tad, I don’t know how to explain, much less make anyone understand, but I have to do this on my own.”

“You’re sixteen.” Emotion cracked in his voice.

“I’m almost seventeen.”

“You haven’t finished high school.”

“I will.” “You don’t have a job.”

“I’ll find one,” she said matter-of-factly, partly because this wasn’t the first time she’d had this conversation, and partly because each time she said the words, her certainty grew.

“And who’s going to take care of her?” He nodded toward the sleeping infant, his smooth face contorted with a worry so discordant with her youthful features. “You can’t be everything she needs.”

She let her hand fall from his cheek as the final break between them was cemented. “I will be.”

He rose, tears shimmering over the cobalt eyes she’d been so drawn to so many months ago. She’d never seen eyes like his, not on anyone who’d ever looked at her the way he had.

“I’m trying to do the right thing, Sadie.”

“So am I,” she said resolutely.

He stared down at them for a long, heavy moment before bending to place the lightest of kisses across the baby’s smooth brow, but he made no attempt to repeat the gesture with her. She could feel the grief radiate off of him in waves with each exhale, but she managed to feel only relief as he straightened.

“I left my enlistment details with your mom. I’ll send my address as soon as I get to basic training in case you change your mind.” He sighed. “Or maybe if you want to send me pictures at least.”

She nodded. “Be safe.”

A strangled sound escaped his throat. “You too.”

She didn’t want him to go, but she didn’t want him to stay either. She didn’t feel anything at all from his absence, except maybe a hint of finality. Perhaps she should’ve felt scared, but she couldn’t summon any fear. Did that make her unrealistic? With all the doctors and nurses and social workers gone, had he been the only sensible one left in the room? When it came to her prospects as an unwed teenage mother, everyone she knew agreed with his assessment of her fitness.

Everyone but her.

She lifted her sleeping daughter to her chest, gently easing back the blanket to drop a kiss atop the wispy black curls. The scent of baby shampoo and fresh powder overtook the antiseptic tinge of the hospital air, and peace settled through her aching body. She didn’t know why she couldn’t share everyone else’s concern. She didn’t have answers to all their questions, but she knew with the same certainty she had had since the moment she’d first felt life growing inside her that she would find a way. This was her life, her child, her destiny.

“Destiny,” she whispered, and the baby’s eyes fluttered open, so big and round and beautifully full of awe. A smile built in Sadie’s chest and spread slowly until it stretched her cheeks.

“Do you like that?” she cooed softly.

The little girl blinked up at her, then furrowed her brow as if trying to focus on something complex.

“I think you do,” Sadie continued. “I think it’s going to stick.”

Sadie cradled the baby’s head in the palm of her hand and stared into the wonderment reflected there. “Everything’s going to work out. I don’t know how yet, but I know it will. You’re just going to have to trust me on that, because I’m your mama, and you are my Destiny.”

The baby blinked, and Sadie grinned. “Just me and you, kid. From here on out, everything I do, it’s going to be for you.”

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And there you have it!  The prologue to Love All.  If you want to see how we get from there to the wide world of professional tennis, you’ll have to go to http://www.bywater.com and get your own copy of Love All in print or eBook.

 

 

 

 

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September 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Love All – Exclusive Early Release!

Hey All,

I am super excited to announce that while the official wide release for Love All is still three weeks away, you can get the book in print or in ebook right now, exclusively at www.bywaterbooks.com!

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How awesome is that? 3 weeks early!

What’s more is I received my author copies in the mail late last week, and let me tell you, they are so pretty.  There’s nothing like holding your new baby, all wrapped up in an Ann McMan cover. It never gets old!

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And our good friend, Will Banks (aka Big Papi), who happens to be the person who inspired my son’s jump into the world of tennis, just happened to be visiting when the books arrived.  It seemed fitting that he get the first autographed copy.

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But now who wants the second autographed copy? ‘Cause I feel like I need to give one of these babies away!  How about anyone who comments on this blog, either here or on my social media pages, will be automatically entered to win a copy of Love All?  And if you want to enter but just can’t wait to go ahead and start the book now, go ahead and buy your copy today, then if I draw your name, you can pick one of my other books to have signed and sent to you!

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Go ahead, go get one, and get to reading!

 

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September 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Love All – A Tennis Romance

Have I mentioned I have a new book coming out at Women’s Week this year? Have I mentioned that Love All will be available exclusively from Bywater Books even before then?

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Of course I haven’t, at least not lately.  Between back-to-school time for my wife and son, and being on a deadline for both writing and edits, and being in total denial that summer had ended, it sort of slipped my mind.

That is to say it slipped my mind until this past weekend, because holy crap did you see the US Open?  That women’s final is something we will be talking about for years!

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I won’t rehash all the details. If you want my take on the ins and outs of the explosion inside Arthur Ashe Stadium this article from Sally Jenkins and the Washington Post is actual pretty close to how I feel.

The reason all that reminded me that I have a book set for wide release in less than a month is that book, Love All, actually ends at the US Open!  Yeah, way to whiff on the cross marketing there, Rach.

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If I were better at keep up with these things, I would have made that connection here much sooner.  I should have been running all sorts of ads all through the tournament.  Now it looks like I’m scrambling to catch up, which, in fact, I am.  Though not just because everyone is talking about tennis right now, and my book happens to be about tennis.  The connections go much deeper, and I hope you’ll indulge me in listing a few of them.

  1. My main character, Jay, is veteran tennis star in the midst of a tumultuous come-back. Despite being cool and controlled off the court, she has a bit of a temper when losing.  There are multiple rackets broken and fines levied throughout the book. It even happens in the first chapter.
  2. There is a history of player-, media-, and fan-abuse of said player, some of which was brought on by her own temperament, but the vast majority of which was heaped on her by others (sorry, you have to read the book to find out more!).
  3. There is an younger, biracial, upstart player in the picture.  She is not the love interest, mind you, but she’s a major side character who pushes our main character on and off the court.  Their relationship is at times contentious and at times caring, but always complex.
  4. There is a super-hot, and all around wonderful tennis mom.  Okay, this doesn’t actually relate to Saturday’s match (Or, I mean, maybe it does. I don’t really know either players’ moms). Still, Sadie is a woman trying to raise a well-rounded daughter in a competitive world that would much rather eat them both alive. She is fierce and determined. She has faced every stereotype imaginable with her head held high, and she refuses to let anyone short-change her or her daughter. Okay, actually that last part absolutely relates to the US Open match.
  5. Love All showcases an epic match at a major tournament (Wimbledon), and while it doesn’t involve any sexist chair umpires, it does have a massive misunderstanding, a bloodthirsty crowd of spectators, and a media maelstrom.  Seriously, you could have taken my players out of that scene and dropped them in Arthur Ashe stadium Sunday, and they wouldn’t have batted an eye at anything other than the court surface.
  6. There’s some hot sex.  Okay okay, maybe this isn’t an exact parallel to the match we all saw, but it’s worth mentioning when promoting a romance, right?

So there you have it.  A ripped-(sort of) from-the-headlines tennis romance featuring action, competition, and two wonderful women trying to find to find love in a cut-throat world we’ve all read so much about lately.  What do you say? Want to give it a shot?

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If so, you can pre-order your copy Love All today from www.Bywaterbooks.com

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Development Wide Release!

Hello Friends,

I come bearing good news: In Development is now available in print and ebook form all over the world!  Again, I am sorry for Amazon’s delay in getting those ebooks out to my friends in other countries.  As those of you who follow this blog know, I am an avid traveler, and the idea of being stuck in once place makes me crazy.  The thought of my work being shared only with Americans stressed me out to no end.  Thank you to everyone who emailed from far away to tell me you were eagerly awaiting your chance to read In Development, and I glad you don’t have to wait any longer!

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I also want to thank everyone who has already read and reviewed In Development, either on Amazon, Goodreads or a dedicated review site.  I mentioned in my last blog how much the reviews mean to the sales and marketing metrics, and some of you responded by adding your own voices to the chorus of people who had already shared their thoughts.  It’s never easy as an author to acknowledge the importance of reviews without actually interfering in the review process, but even if we don’t feel comfortable replying directly, I hope you all know how much we authors appreciate the effort.

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And in that vein, In Development had gotten some reviews from some major reviewers in the world of LGBT fiction, and I’m going to share a few of those below, just in case anyone reading this blog is still undecided on whether or not they want to read In Development.

“Extremely well written, this is Spangler’s best yet. I rarely want to re-read a romance, but I literally fell for these two and this is definitely on the pile to revisit.” ~ The Lesbian Reading Room http://www.lesbianreadingroom.com/in-development-rachel-spangler/

“While writing about the author’s craft in character development, I must add that her prose is lyrical as it holds everything together. Little by little, the two women share of themselves with the reader but just enough to keep us guessing. They share amazing chemistry yet both are able to say and do how they feel.” ~ Amos Lassen http://reviewsbyamoslassen.com/?p=64683

“Their chemistry is perfectly crafted: sizzling, undeniableable and irresistible.” ~ LezReviewBooks https://lezreviewbooks.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/review-of-in-development-by-rachel-spangler/

So there you have it. In Development is available the world over in print and ebook, and some awesome folks seem to like it.  I hope you will, too!

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June 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Paperback Release Day! (And Notes)

Hi Friends,

First and foremost, it’s paperback release day for In DevelopmentIf you are one of those people who just loves the weight of a book in your hands, or the smell of freshly cut paper, or the way a page feels between your fingers, this day is for you!

You can get your paperback copy of In Development now!  No need to read the rest of the blog, go ahead and go!

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However, for those of you who have been waiting so patiently for the international eBook, I am so sorry it’s taken this long.  Brisk, the publisher, submitted ebooks for all our domestic and international channels on the same day.  Generally that means they all get published on the same day.  However, Amazon is having some sort of glitch in their system (or so they say), which is preventing some American publishers from uploading to international outlets. The awesome folks as Brisk have been in constant contact with Amazon, and they assure us they’re working on it as fast as they can, but I really hate that so many of my friends living in other countries are having to wait. So, I just wanted to point out that you can buy the ebooks in both ePub and mobi (Kindle-friendly) formats directly from the publisher, Brisk Press, as well as from my distributer, Bella Books.  Again, I’m sorry Amazon is having this problem, but if you really want to read In Development right away (I love you), there are at least a couple of options on the table.

Finally,  to everyone who has already bought their copy of In Development, I want to say a sincere thank you. You all keep me going, emotionally and financially.  I get to keep doing what I love to do because of you. And to those of you who have already read and reviewed In Development on Amazon or Goodreads, I want to give you a big virtual hug.

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I won’t go into what those reviews mean to authors in this blog, but suffice it to say, it’s a lot.  Those reviews affect every part of our business metrics right now.  Even taking the time to write a simple statement along the lines of “I liked this book, and I bet you will, too,” goes miles on the road for helping bolster both a book and the author. So, for everyone who took the time and effort to do so over the last week, I appreciate it more than you probably realize.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Development eBook Release!

Great news!  Shout it from the roof tops (or various social media platforms) that In Development is now available as an eBook!

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For those of you saying, “wait, I thought it didn’t come out until next week,” well surprise! Amazon has its way of doing things, and I rarely understand the finer points, but the wonderful folks at Brisk Press (Thanks Carolyn and Susan!) got things all sorted out ahead of schedule, which means In Development is now available as an eBook!

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This is the moment we’ve all been preparing for! You’ve seen the hawt Ann McMan cover and wondered whose sexy legs those were by the piano. You’ve heard about the awesome women who helped inspire my characters’ looks. You’ve read an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. And you’ve read the first review telling you this book is well worth your time and $9.99.  You are ready!  You know what to do now!  So what are you waiting for?  Go get your copy of In Development today!

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From a young age, Cobie Galloway made a career of playing the girl-next-door on the silver screen. Only, she’s not a teenager anymore. Ready to challenge herself artistically and earn the part she’s always dreamed of, she’s forced to face the realization that in order to win the roles afforded to edgier actresses, she might first have to audition by playing someone edgier in her day-to-day life.

Pop star Lila Wilder built a multimedia empire by always having her finger on the pulse of what’s hot. However, as she struggles to produce her next smash hit record, she’s finding it hard to keep her name in the public eye, and a string of tumultuous relationships with Hollywood boy-toys no longer captivates anyone’s attention.

Both women tentatively agree to a headline-grabbing fauxmance, with two simple rules: Always stick to the script, and never forget that on the stage of public perception, nothing is real. Can two women find love in a world of carefully crafted illusions, or will a successful charade mean the potential for something more gets left on the cutting-room floor?

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Development: First Review

Hey Friends,

I am super busy right now.  I just finished writing a book, and I need to start my self-edits this week.  I have also been doing my last round of substantive edits on Love All, which will be released this fall, and best of all, we’ve been working on getting the ebooks of In Development into the Amazon distribution system!

That’s right, even as I type this, my new baby is making its way out into the world. So for those of you who want print books, you can pre-order them right now. And for those of you who want ebooks, hang in there. They are on their way.

For those of you who aren’t sure if you want to order In Development right now, let me offer you the book’s very first review to try to tip the scales in my favor.

This one comes from LezReviewBooks, and if you aren’t familiar with the site, you really should check it out.  You can see the review of In Development here, but spoiler alert: They like it! They said nice things like, “Their chemistry is perfectly crafted: sizzling, undeniableable and irresistible. ” They also gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

In fact, they liked it so much they made In Development their recommended book of the month!   Yay for being the book of the month before it’s even officially released.  I hope that means some of you will make it your book of the month (or at least one of them) as soon as it comes out.

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May 17, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

It’s Excerpt Time

It’s May! May is a happy month. My wife wraps up her school year in May. My son’s little league season starts in May. And In Development comes out in May! Yay for May!

To celebrate, I am sharing the first excerpt from the book. What follows is the opening scene, so there’s no set up needed. Read, and hopefully enjoy, my gift you to.  Then scoot on over and pre-order your copy today!

In Development – Chapter 1

The office of Levy and Levy was a whir of human energy vibrating off glass and steel. Everywhere phones rang or buzzed, and there wasn’t a surface that didn’t glisten or gleam. All the bustle and brightness made Cobie Galloway feel even more out of place than she had outside in Times Square. The lights there were brighter and the noises louder, but at least she’d blended into the crowd. As soon as the elevator doors had opened on the forty-second floor, every eye trained on her. Well, maybe not her so much as her clothes or her hair or perhaps the way she slouched and shuffled up to the desk.

Then again, maybe her demeanor made her stand out more than her low-slung jeans and plain cream waffle-weave shirt. She didn’t act like she owned the place, unlike every other sleek, suit-clad person bustling back and forth, talking on a myriad of devices: phones, tablets, Bluetooth earpieces. One guy even seemed to be chatting with his watch. She glanced down at the thick script in her hands and considered trying to have a conversation with it. Instead, she chose the old-fashioned approach and smiled at the receptionist with a severe up-do.

“Hi.”

“Yes?” the woman asked, drumming her jet-black fingernails on her frosted glass desk.

“I’m Stan’s eleven-thirty appointment.”

The receptionist pursed her lips in a way that suggested she highly doubted the truth of the statement but clicked open a document on her iPad. “Mr. Levy has an eleven-thirty appointment with . . .” Her voice trailed off, and she regarded Cobie with a little more interest. Gray eyes flicked over her attire and settled on her face, clearly searching for something to tip the scales of recognition. Cobie decided to make it easier on them both, so she shook her shoulder-length brunette hair from her face, then fluttered her eyelashes a little.

The receptionist’s entire demeanor changed. She leaned forward in her chair, showing a startling amount of cleavage, her cheeks flushing pink and her lips curving upward. “Oh, honey, you’re much taller than you look in all the movies.”

“It’s the angles they shoot from,” she said frankly. “Jeremy doesn’t like anyone to know how short he is.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “How short is he?”

Cobie smiled. “Five-seven on a good day. When I’m barefoot, I look him in the eye.”

“And is everything else about him . . .” She glanced around like she knew she shouldn’t ask but couldn’t pass up the chance. “Proportional?”

Cobie shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. He uses a body double for love scenes.”

The secretary’s mouth dropped, and Cobie felt the tiniest bit of guilt. She didn’t care a wit about protecting Jeremy’s fragile ego, but she didn’t want to do anything that might serve as tabloid fodder. She worked hard to protect her own life. She wouldn’t want to carelessly subject someone else to that kind of scrutiny, whether she particularly enjoyed their company or not. “That’s just between us though, okay?”

The woman pantomimed zipping her lips, locking them, and then depositing the imaginary key in a wastebasket under her translucent desk. The little display made Cobie realize the young woman likely had acting aspirations, which reminded her why she’d stopped by in the first place. “Is Stan in?”

“Oh, yes, of course.” The woman rose. “Right this way.”

Cobie followed her through a series of hallways reminiscent of a shiny anthill. She wondered if she should leave breadcrumbs to find her way back, but she was sure one of the starving actresses or musicians waiting in the wings would eat them before her meeting finished.

Finally, the last hallway dead-ended into a massive set of frosted glass doors accented in polished chrome. The receptionist pressed a button Cobie couldn’t see and whispered, “Cobie Galloway to see you.”

The doors swung open seemingly of their own volition, and the receptionist motioned for her to go inside, even though she didn’t cross the threshold herself.

“Thanks,” Cobie said, hesitating slightly, as though she’d been summoned by the great and powerful Oz. Then she remembered she’d called this meeting with her manager, who worked for her. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her chin and stepped purposefully inside.

“Hey, Stan.”

He smiled at her, holding up one finger and motioning to a cell phone against his ear, and turned to stare out the large windows. “I don’t care how much money he thinks the project is going to make. That’s a problem for the producers. I only care what my client makes, and if there’s not another zero on the next contract I get from you, we’ll go shopping.”

She should probably be glad he said things like that. Hell, maybe he’d said it for her benefit. He’d likely said it on her behalf several times in the last ten years, and judging from the view of Times Square from his office, he got the answer he wanted more often than not. That’s why she stayed with him, she reminded herself. He knew how to get what he wanted, which was what she wanted.

She took a seat in what she assumed was a chair, even though it was made entirely of chrome and angled in a way that kept her feet from touching the ground. Staring down at the script in her lap, she flipped it open and ran her fingers over the title.

Vigilant.

The word stood in bold print. When she closed her eyes, she could still see it. She’d dreamt about it last night. This was the project she’d waited a decade to be a part of, a project that could make, or rather remake, her career into something she could be proud of.

“Cobie.” Stan’s voice boomed from across the room as he tossed his phone onto the desk. “What a treat to see you in person. What brings you to the city?”

“I heard my manager works here.”

“He does. He works very hard here, makes the big deals too, but enough about me.” He flashed her a smile, showing teeth too bright not to have been enhanced somehow. “Tell me about you. Surely you didn’t fly in just to meet with me. You got a hot date?”

She shook her head. “No, I really wanted to talk to you about my next project.”

“Oh, yes. Let me see.” He tapped his temple, drawing attention to the fact that his dark, wavy hair had grayed considerably at the sides. “You just wrapped the last Nick Sparks adaptation, right? Hey, how’s Jeremy?”

“He’s Jeremy,” she said with a sigh. “So very . . . Jeremy.”

“Ah, I remember you two canoodling outside my office when you were just kids.”

She wanted to say she’d never canoodled. Not with Jeremy or anyone else, especially in his office. But she needed to stay focused.

“The time sure does fly, and now you’re practically all grown up, both of you.”

“Actually, that’s what I’m here to talk about,” Cobie cut in. “I have grown up, and I’m ready for the roles I take on to reflect my maturity.”

He stopped abruptly on his stroll down memory lane to look at her seriously for the first time.

“I was looking over the script for Vigilant last night.”

His eyes went wide, signaling she had his full attention now. “Vigilant is a New York Times bestseller. Where did you get the script?”

She shook her head, not wanting to go there. She couldn’t let the conversation become about her contacts versus his. “That doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it’s drafted and in my hands to negotiate with.”

“Negotiate?” He eyed the document like the Pope might look at a crucifix.

“A full treatment, script, screen writer, and female lead,” Cobie said in her most businesslike voice. “It’s a package deal. All or nothing.”

“Nothing is all or nothing,” he mumbled and began to pace. “I heard the author wasn’t willing to negotiate, or I’d have beaten down her door myself.”

“Yes. But would you have pitched me for the lead?”

“Uh, well.” He smoothed his thumb over his eyebrows. “The thing is this will be a very sought-after role.”

“So no, then?”

“It’s not that I don’t think you could handle the acting.” He started patronizing, and she gritted her teeth to stay calm long enough to see if he could turn it around. “But since so many people have read the book, they’re going to have an image in their heads for the character of Vale.”

“And I don’t fit the image?”

“No. But do you know who I spoke to last night?”

“Not a clue.”

“Christopher Columbus, the director, not the explorer.” He chuckled at his own joke.

She rolled her eyes. “I’m sure he’s never heard that one before.”

“He’s doing Night at the Museum Four, and there’s going to be a love interest for the son this time.”

“The son that went to college in the last movie?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“So I’d play a college student?”

“Exactly, but there’ll be a few fun action scenes.”

She sighed and wiggled her way out of the awkward art chair. “I’m twenty-six years old, and I’ve never played a character over the age of nineteen.”

“Okay, well, Jeremy is in talks for one where he plays a city kid who gets offered a job on a dude ranch for the summer.”

“Target audience?” she asked drolly, already knowing the answer.

“Girls, twelve to eighteen.”

“I’m too old for teen movies,” she said flatly.

“Oh, honey, don’t talk about yourself that way. You could easily pass for a high school student. Did you know Olivia Newton-John was twenty-nine when she played the role of Sandy in Grease?”

“You’ve mentioned it before, but the thing is, I don’t want to pass for younger than I am.”

He opened his mouth but didn’t seem to know how to respond to the comment. “Say again?”

“I don’t want to be Olivia Newton-John. Don’t get me wrong. She killed that role, but I don’t want to be America’s sweetheart anymore. I don’t want to do teen flicks or musicals either for that matter.”

“But really you do sing, right?”

“Stan,” she said forcefully, “I want to do Vigilant.”

He shook his head slowly.

“I’ve got the skills. I’ve got the build. I’m in great shape.”

“All true, but you don’t have the image. The character is dark, morally ambiguous, a drinker, a fighter, a lesbian shit-kicker.”

“I’m a lesbian shit-kicker.”

“Are you?” he asked, his voice a little higher, like someone talking to a puppy or a child.

“Yes,” she said emphatically.

“Look.” He cut the patronizing tone. “I’m glad you want to branch out, but no one is going to buy you as a lesbian.”

“But I am a lesbian!”

“Oh, I know. I wrote that press release, but this character is actually going to sleep with women, plural, on screen, and you’re just not that kind of lesbian.”

“The kind of lesbian who actually sleeps with a lot of women?”

“Exactly,” he said, almost triumphantly.

“Excuse me?” she spluttered. “I have slept with women. I mean not in the last few months, but it has happened.”

“Good for you. I have a lesbian niece, and I am a sponsor of the big parade in the Village, but—  and I mean no offense—  to the rest of the world you’re still sixteen. And they love that about you. You’re a safety gay.”

“A safety gay?”

“Like Ellen Degeneres or Ellen Page. Really, it’s a shame you’re not named Ellen. Hey, that reminds me, how do you feel about a sitcom? We need someone to read for the role of Jane Fonda’s granddaughter on that Netflix thing. She’s a lesbian, right?”

“No. Lily Tomlin is.”

“Really? Since when? Never mind, she’s funny! You could be funnier, you know.

“Thanks. And I don’t want to play Jane Fonda’s granddaughter. Is there an audition for the role of her lover?”

Stanley about choked. “Was that a joke? If so, it was a funny one. If not, then it wasn’t funny.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be funny.” She practically exploded. “I want to be challenged. I want a grown-up career. I want a manager who wants to make me happy.”

“How about a manager who makes you boatloads of money? Then you can buy whatever makes you happy.”

He didn’t get it. At least not the way she wanted him to. She would have really liked for him to jump on board with her. His enthusiastic support would have been a boon to her confidence, but ultimately, she didn’t need him to share her vision of herself. She did, however, need him to go to bat for her, so she twisted a silver, three-string ring on her right ring finger and played the biggest card left in her hand. “Is your wife in the office today?”

Stanley practically jumped out of his Italian loafers at the comment. “What?”

“Mimi. Is she working today? I haven’t seen her in a long time, and I was wondering what she’s up to.”

“She’s very busy. Big meeting on the music side today.”

“Do you think she’d make time for me?”

A muscle in his jaw twitched, suggesting he knew she would. They might love each other dearly, but they also loved the job. They were as competitive with each other as they were with outside agents, maybe more so. She’d long wondered how that kind of competition could work in a marriage, but she understood that’s what made them work as business partners. If it also made Stanley work a little harder for her, great. If not, Mimi certainly would.

“Can I see that script for a second?” Stan came around the front of his desk. “I promise I’ll give it back.”

The change in his tone, from polite to purposeful, told her everything she needed in order to hand the document over.

He scanned the first page, the line of his eyes indicating he’d stopped on the short background sketch of the lead character.

“Dark, tall, brooding, magnetic, sexual, powerful, edgy.” He read the adjectives aloud. Then he looked up to study her. “Your hair’s too long.”

“I can cut it. Dye it, too, if need be.”

“Your eyes could be right, especially if you wore some eyeliner.”

“Okay.”

“You’ve been working with a trainer?”

“Weights and cardio.”

“Double your routine,” he said flatly, “like yesterday.”

She nodded. She’d gladly push harder for a shot at the role.

He handed her the script and walked around the desk, falling into his chair and leaning back so far he stared at the ceiling. “How bad do you want this, Cobie?”

“I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“Even something you can’t undo?”

She paused, wanting to clarify a little bit, but worried he’d see it as a sign of weakness if she did. “Yes.”

“There will be no more teen movies, no more sappy cowgirls or cheerleader roles.”

“Good.”

“You’ll need a complete image overhaul. Six months minimum of your working the press and photo shoots and being seen playing with the big kids.”

Her stomach turned. “I can’t just go up for the part?”

He frowned. “I can’t pitch this with you as you are. Not if you want a major studio and the budget needed to do this right.”

“I do. I want everything about this project done to perfection.”

“Then you need to make a long-term investment.”

She nodded. She wanted long-term. She needed it. “Tell me what to do.”

He pushed his palm down his forehead as if trying to smooth out the wrinkles forming there. “Give me twenty-four hours to see what I can come up with. Show up tomorrow, same time, same place, ready to take big steps.”

“I will, Stan. I promise I won’t let you down.”

His smile was faint, showing none of his shark teeth now. “I’ll see you then.”

Sensing the need to get out while she was ahead, she backed toward the door.

“Tomorrow, eleven-thirty,” she repeated, but he’d already picked up the phone. She kept backing away down the hall as she heard him telling someone to clear his schedule. She couldn’t believe this was happening, even though the details of what this was were kind of shady, very shady actually. Still, it felt big, and she didn’t want to do anything to mess up.

She took another step backward and stepped on something hard.

“Ouch,” someone said, causing her to jump and bump into a wall, then trip and stumble again.

She might have flailed all the way to the floor if not for two strong hands catching her roughly under her arm and hauling her up.

“What’s the matter with you?” a different voice snapped.

She teetered a bit, trying simultaneously to right herself and see the people around her. As she planted her feet firmly back on the ground, she realized she was staring at a massive chest topped off with big shoulders and a sequoia-sized neck. Only when she tilted back farther did she see a strong jaw and deep-set, dark eyes. The African American man was good-looking enough to be an action star, but the set of his features and his crossed arms and his bulging biceps screamed bodyguard.

“Sorry,” Cobie said, flustered. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“Do you know who you just walked into?” someone behind her asked.

She turned to see a much smaller Latino man in maroon skinny jeans and a paisley shirt purse his lips at her.

“You?”

He started to roll his eyes, then stopped abruptly and narrowed them. “Hey, are you the girl from that one movie, with the guy, the one who’s got those pecs?”

“Yeah.” Cobie didn’t need any more description. She was always that girl in that movie.

“Ooh, girl, you look better with the make-up on,” he said dramatically.

“Thanks,” she muttered and tried to edge past him, but the bodyguard shot out his arm.

“It’s fine, Malik,” a female voice said from behind him. “I don’t think she’s a threat to anyone.”

He didn’t argue, either out of actual agreement or knowing better than to disagree. He simply lowered his arm and stepped to the side.

Cobie’s breath caught at the sight of the woman he’d shielded. Honey blonde hair fell to slender shoulders, framing a pale face. Startling blue eyes flashed amusement from under thick lashes, and painted red lips sparked a heated contrast to the otherwise pastel pallet. Cobie actually took a step back at the sight of her. Not that she hadn’t seen the face a million times, including the billboard towering several stories high just outside, but she’d never stopped to really notice the perfection of its symmetry and precision. It was almost too flawless to be real, and only after too many seconds of being stupefied did she manage to look away.

Not that lowering her eyes actually did anything to improve her brain function, because that only left her staring at a low-cut, white blouse and a long, flowing black skirt with a slit so far up the side even a gentle breeze would reveal anything underneath. It wasn’t a wholly unpleasant prospect. Finally, though, when her eyes reached floor level, she noticed a glaring scuff where the heel of her Doc Martens had clearly tread across the toe of patent leather Manolos.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, snapping her head up, “about your toes.”

The woman’s smile was slow. “They’re fine.”

“Well, your shoes are scuffed. And probably expensive, so if, um, you want to bill me, you can send an invoice to Stan’s office. They can get it to me.”

“You’re going to buy me new shoes?” she asked, clearly amused by the offer.

“I would,” Cobie said earnestly.

“That’s adorable,” the woman said with the faintest hint of a Southern drawl. Then with a minimal wave of her hand, she turned and walked away.

Cobie stood, bewildered, watching her go, skirt blowing in the breeze she created, entourage trailing dutifully in her wake. She may have even craned her neck a bit as they turned a corner, but when finally left alone in the hallway, all she could manage to think was, “So, that’s Lila Wilder.”

In Development_2

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May 2, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Look What I Got!

So this is just going to be a short, happy blog with two main points.

1) I am going to Toronto tomorrow!  I freaking love Canada.  And on this trip I have the honor of reading with several other Lambda Literary Award finalists at Glad Day Bookshop (the worlds oldest LGBTQ bookstore!). If you are in the area, I sure hope you will join us at 7:30.

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2) I got a box in the mail yesterday, and I didn’t know what it was because I didn’t think I’d ordered anything, until I saw the return label.  Not going to lie, first I tried to rip it open, then I tried to use my keys, which didn’t work because I drive a Prius.  Finally I found some scissors.

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Thankfully, I got it open without cutting myself, and yup, it’s my books! <new release squee> Check out that sexy cover, and look away from the fact that I look like a big goober with that cheesy smile.

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Really though, that’s book number 12 in my hands, and I know I’ve said this before, but I’m happy to report it still hasn’t gotten old yet.  This is always the moment it feels real,  like up until this point I have just been hanging out with my imaginary friends. It’s not until I hold it in my hands that I really feel like I’ve written a book.

So maybe, if you want to hold one of these babies in your hands, you can pre-order your copy of In Development right now!

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April 26, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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