Sunday, 25 August 2013

August Update

A few years ago, I used to hear people say they just didn't have time for this or that. "I just can't seem to find the time to go to the gym" or "Who has the time to cook at home?" and I wondered what they had going on in their lives that made them so busy.

Now I know.

I feel like I've barely had a moment to catch my breath, let alone get anything productive done. I'm constantly playing catch-up, but at least most of the things I'm catching up on in my life are pretty amazing at the moment.

Here's a recap:

I am home! I have taken a job (somewhat) locally. It's about an hour away, but at least there are no ferries and the place I work is right downtown Vancouver, right on the corner of Burrard and Davie Street. For those of you who aren't local, Davie Street is right up my alley. With its pink bus stops, rainbow cross walks and LGBT bookstores, it's known as Vancouver's Gay Neighbourhood. I am really looking forward to my lunch breaks.
I'm also really enjoying my new job so far, although I miss working at the hospital.

In writing news, a lot has happened!
I have finished the first round of edits for the first Hope Cove book: Brokenhearted. The second book has also entered the editing queue and I should have those in my eager little hands in the next couple of weeks. It's going to be a very busy few months of editing, as I will likely be working on all three books at once, but I am so looking forward to it.
The blurb questionnaires and cover spec sheets have all been sent back too, so those should be coming up in the next little while too. I really can't wait to see the covers for these. I am beyond excited.

Skylar and I received a contract for Five Ways a Boy Can Break Your Heart. This has been such an amazing experience, writing with Skylar. We worked really well together, and after a minor hiccup or two, we put together a really great story. I love our boys and am so happy that DSP does too. I can't wait to unleash Liam and Trey on the world, but it will have to wait until the spring.

The coming two months are going to be busier than the last, but a lot more playing than working this time around. Next week is my first wedding anniversary. I am having a difficult time believing it's been a year already. In my head it only happened a handful of months ago, but the year flew by and September 1st we will be celebrating. A few days after that (four to be exact), we are going back to the Oregon Coast. We're gone for ten days.

Our first two days are going to be spent in Bend, Oregon, partaking in the Ale Trail. It's going to be a sloppy weekend, I can tell already. After that, we drive to Lincoln City where we will be stationed as we drive up and down the coast, exploring. One of my favourite places on Earth, it never gets old no matter how many times we've been there.
(If that shot looks familiar, it's because a similar one served as the backdrop to the cover for Keeping Sweets. There was a reason that book was set on the coast of Oregon)

The last two days of our trip will be spent in Seattle where I am going to be at the GRNW conference. It's the first book conference I've ever been to, as an author or a reader, and I am so excited. I have no idea what to expect, but I know it's going to be a good time. Tons of people will be there, and I know I'm going to be a little starstruck, and a lot shy, but I'm going to do my best to venture out of my shell a little to meet people.

Almost a month to the day later, we will be packing up and taking off for GRL. I've been working on swag and outfits for the past couple of weeks, and the nerves and excitement that have been somewhat present the whole time are ramping up already. Less than two months now and I'll be in Atlanta, meeting even more authors. I really can't wait.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Pitch Tour: An Interview with Will Parkinson

I am so very excited that Will Parkinson, author of Pitch is here with me for an interview today. When I found out that he was doing a blog tour for his new book, I jumped at the chance to host, because not only is Will one of my favourite authors ever, he's also one of my favourite people. So an opportunity to pick his brain a little bit? Yes please. I got to ask him about his writing, and then things got a little more personal.

But before we get into that, let me tell you a little bit about his book. here's the official blurb:

The day Jackson Kern walks into Taylor Andrews’s classroom is a momentous day in Taylor's life. He's had crushes before, sure, but as time goes on, this is starting to look a whole lot more serious. Still, Jackson doesn’t return Taylor’s feelings.

Taylor has his own admirers, though. Kevin Richards is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants right now is Taylor, so when Taylor rejects him, Kevin retaliates. At first Taylor’s entourage rallies around him, but then Kevin takes his deception one step further and Taylor sees his support dwindle, teaching him the valuable lesson about who he can truly consider a friend.

Pitch is an amazing story that really does have it all. I really can't say enough good things about it. The story is one that will have you reaching for the tissues. It is crafted in such a way that you can't help but find yourself completely immersed, like you're right back there in high school (as painful as that may be sometimes). But the best part of this book, is the characters. They are dynamic, and complex, and well-rounded, but more than that is how real they are. They could be your best friends from childhood. The author has a knack for creating wonderfully flawed characters and Pitch is no different. The boys aren't perfect. Far from it, and that's what makes them so relateable.

This was one of the best young adult novels I've read, and touches on issues that are so important. Love, and friendship, and acceptance; doing the right thing and being true to yourself. Read it. You won't be disappointed.

A word of warning though (other than to bring the Kleenex), make sure when you sit down to read it, you have enough time to finish it. You're not going to want to put it down.

To celebrate the release of his novel Will is doing a giveaway. The Grand Prize is a signed copy of Pitch and a $25 gift card to the winner's choice of online book reseller, so make sure you leave a comment and enter below!

An Interview with Will Parkinson

Writer questions:
1. How old were you when you wrote your first story, and what was it about? 

When I was fourteen, I wrote “Free at Last”. It’s the story of Grant and Rusty, two young men in high school who find themselves embroiled in life and death. They were members of the wrestling team, and Rusty was forced out of the closet. Grant had to decide which side of the fence he stood on.

2. If you could say anything to the people who doubted you, what would it be? 

I hope you’re happy. You doubting me turned into me doubting myself for many years. You should have been there, giving me encouragement, setting a bar for me, pushing me to chase my dream instead of telling me that what I was doing wouldn’t amount to anything.

3. What have you found the most enjoyable part of writing Pitch? What was the most difficult? 

The most enjoyable part was getting my thoughts down on ‘paper’. It meant so much to finally know that I *could* do it, and that some people actually enjoyed what I was writing. The most difficult part for me was learning to slow my pace, to show more than tell, and to fill in visuals for someone who was reading the story. Working with a few authors, SJD Peterson, Eden Winters, and Kc Wells chief among them, I learned so very much about how to do that (even though I still have a long way to go).

4. Where do you write and what is your method? 

I usually write at my desktop computer. Occasionally I'll take the laptop to work when I know it'll be slow and do some there, too.

5. What advice do you have for new or aspiring authors? 

No matter what, don't give up. Not ever. If someone doesn't like what you're doing and can't give you some type of constructive advice, find someone else. You'll only end up disappointing yourself.

6. When can we expect the sequel to Pitch? 

:mumbles incoherently: I hope that’s soon enough!

Personal questions:

1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

This is going to sound dorky, but when I was a kid, I really did want to write. I had story ideas in my head and letting them out on paper soothed me and made me feel less alone in my life. My characters became friends and family, and I let out things that were bothering me on the page.

2. How many times have you been in love? 

I've been in lust many times, but love? Only a couple. Sometimes it's hard to know the difference.

3. What was the best day of your life so far? 

My best day was when someone sent an e-mail and told me how much something I wrote meant to them. It was awe inspiring to know that I touched someone.

4. Who was your first kiss and how did it happen? 

His name was John. He was a doctor and used to hang out at a bar I went to. He invited me to dinner one day at his house. I'd been smooched before, but he held me in his arms and gave me my first 'real' kiss.

5. Who is on your elevator list? 

Sorry, I don't fantasize and tell.

Excerpt from Pitch

TAYLOR ANDREWS glanced toward the door and noticed a young man, shoulders hunched, waiting outside the classroom. As he continued to stare, the newcomer took a deep breath, threw back his shoulders, and lifted his head before he stepped into Mrs. Wagner’s homeroom. He walked with purpose toward the front of the classroom and handed the teacher a sheet of paper without saying a word.

After a brief moment of studying the paper, Mrs. Wagner smiled at the young man before turning to the students filling the desks of her classroom. “Class, this is Jackson Kern. It’s his first day here, and I need a volunteer to help him get acclimated.”

Taylor looked at the new guy and felt his face heat. He grabbed his ever-present sketchpad from his backpack, his desire to capture this stranger’s likeness overwhelming. The guy was… well, gorgeous. Taylor’s hands flew over the paper as he took in Jackson Kern’s beautiful well-sculpted face, rich chocolate-brown eyes, and dark, thick hair. He had a toned body, maybe a swimmer? God, what he wouldn’t give to….

“I’ll show him around, Mrs. Wagner,” Becca Monroe offered brightly, interrupting Taylor’s wayward thoughts.

“Thank you, Becca,” Mrs. Wagner said with a smile before turning to the newest addition to the class. “Jackson, please take a seat. Becca will walk with you and show you the building and where your classes will be. If you have any questions, just ask her.”

“Yes, ma’am, thank you,” the new kid replied. Taylor noted how polite Jackson was, unlike most of the guys in his tenth-grade class.

Jackson parked his tall, lanky body in the seat next to Becca and started talking. Taylor watched as Becca’s eyes roamed over Jackson’s frame, and she licked her lips. He could tell she was already on the prowl. She was a pretty enough girl, if you liked them. Long reddish-brown hair, big green eyes, and a big… ego.

She was hot and she knew it. She was also the kind of girl who was only out for one thing. Herself. She was junior varsity head cheerleader, something his best friend, Benny Peters, always had a lot of fun commenting on. She’d dated the captains of most of the sports teams, always switching to a new guy at the beginning of the season.

“Damn lucky girl,” Taylor muttered. If he hadn’t been enjoying the sight of the new boy, he’d have volunteered for guide duty. Oh, the things he wanted to show him… not that he had any experience; he’d never even kissed another boy. He worked hard at trying not to look at other guys. The thought of being outed in high school scared him, so much so that he’d sometimes have panic attacks when he thought about it—clammy skin, problems breathing, feeling faint. He hated those, really hated not being in control. It always made him feel weak and needy.

The bell rang, startling Taylor out of his reverie, and the students moved like cattle, heading off to their next class. Taylor scowled when he saw Becca take the new guy by the arm and lead him from the classroom. As they passed he heard Jackson ask, “Do you know who I talk to about the baseball team?”

“What position do you play, Jackson?” Becca asked excitedly, ignoring Jackson’s question.

“I’m a pitcher.”

Taylor could hear the excitement in Becca’s voice, and he knew the reason. Baseball tryouts would be in the next week or two, and she needed a new ball-playing boyfriend since her ex, Cody Daniels, graduated. It was as if she’d won the freaking lottery.

Jackson was hot and he played sports. For Becca that was definitely the best of both worlds.

Taylor chuckled. Oh, how he’d love to be that boy’s catcher.

But damn, Becca was probably going to be all over that anyway.

Not that he’d ever have a shot with someone like Jackson.

According to Benny, he wasn’t bad-looking. Benny often said he was jealous of Taylor’s curly blond hair, which he himself despised.

Besides, Taylor thought, Benny’s straight. What does he know?

Jackson was probably three inches taller than Taylor’s five foot eight, but it wasn’t his height that bothered him as much as the extra weight. He was no one special, and someone like Jackson Kern would never give him the time of day. That’s just how things went.

Over the next week, Taylor would see Jackson throughout the school. Other than homeroom they didn’t have any classes together, but he noticed him in the hallway or heading to the gym. Taylor’s heart fluttered every time he caught a glimpse of Jackson. He loved the way his lip curled when he was amused or the way he arched an eyebrow when he seemed to be curious about something. The thing that struck him most, though, was the fact that Jackson was so poised and confident when he was with a group. People hung on his every word. It almost seemed like he was holding court. People just tended to gravitate to Jackson. His rich baritone voice had a soothing, hypnotic effect on Taylor from a distance. He couldn’t help but wonder what it did to the people Jackson was actually talking with. He watched Jackson in the school’s weight room one afternoon and stood transfixed as the muscles in Jackson’s chest and arms strained with every repetition. Taylor began to sweat and unconsciously licked his lips as he watched Jackson working his leg muscles. His pulse raced when Jackson pulled off his shirt, the dusting of dark hair across the expanse of his chest matted from sweat. Taylor swore he could smell Jackson’s scent, musky but sweet. He wanted to get closer but knew it would seem weird, so he reluctantly tore himself away and went back to class.

Taylor was envious of Jackson’s build. He studied his own body in the mirror and sighed. He was plump. That was the only way to describe it. There was no muscle definition. He tried to maintain his weight but couldn’t resist pizza. He’d tried to work out with Benny, who seemed obsessed with his body, but it just wasn’t for him. Taylor sighed heavily. He was so far out of Jackson Kern’s league, he’d never have a shot with someone like him, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy the view.

TAYLOR glanced over at Benny, comfortably stretched out on the sofa, thumbing through Taylor’s latest sketches. At six foot one and weighing in at nearly 215 pounds, Benny had always been one of Taylor’s favorite sketch subjects. His eyes were the coolest brown color with small flecks of gold in them. His sandy hair was always cut short, but not like a buzz cut, which Taylor had to admit was his favorite kind of haircut.

Benny had always stood up for Taylor and it was that fact which made Benny the only one Taylor had come out to. No matter what else happened between the two, Taylor was sure Benny would always be there for him.

“Benny, what would you say if I told you I was crushing?”

Taylor asked, sitting up on his bed and tossing a rolled-up pair of socks into the laundry basket.

Benny met Taylor’s eyes as he laid the sketches across his chest. “I’d say who this time? Already over… what was his name?

Mason? Dixon? Something southern.”

“His name was Caleb,” Taylor groaned, rolling his eyes. “And he was a jerk. Remember how he humiliated and made Toby cry when he came into the locker room and found Caleb throwing his clothes into the shower?”

“Yeah, I remember. I was the one who got him something to wear for the rest of the day. I can’t stand bullies,” Benny snarled.

“So who has your undies in a bunch this time?

“I’m talking about the new guy, Jackson Kern. There’s just something about him. He’s… I dunno, different. He’s not loud or annoying. He seems really laid-back. And he’s totally hot. He just seems… perfect.” Taylor sighed wistfully. “I can’t imagine him ever doing a mean thing to anyone.”

Benny tried to suppress a snort. “And how long is this one going to last? A month? Two tops. You go through crushes faster than I go through underwear.”

“When you change them twice a year that’s not too difficult,”

Taylor snickered.

Taylor was surprised when Benny hit him with a pillow, and the fight was on. He grabbed the other pillow and swung at Benny, who dodged and laughed. For such a big guy, Benny was surprisingly agile. They smacked each other around, laughing all the while, until Taylor cried uncle.

After they were exhausted, Benny turned to him and said with a sympathetic smile, “Taylor, talk to the guy. Pretty much the worst that could happen is he’s not interested.”

Taylor stared glumly up at the ceiling, his thoughts turning once more to Jackson. “No, the worst that could happen is he’s a homophobic asshat who wants to kick the crap out of me.”

“Yeah,” Benny observed thoughtfully, “but at least he’d touch you. That’s more than you’ve ever gotten before.” He gave Taylor a gleeful grin, as if waiting for the comment to sink in fully.

And as soon as it did, Taylor lunged at Benny, and the fight was back on. Once Benny succeeded in pinning Taylor, his expression turned serious as he said, “Look, just be cool. Don’t obsess. If you want to impress him, show him the pictures you drew of him. You’re really good at doing these.”

Taylor’s cheeks heated. He could never show his work to Jackson. He didn’t think they were good enough to share with anyone other than Benny. He’d been puttering around with drawing for years. He had several sketchpads full of various things that caught his eye. He loved to do drawings of nature scenes, people, and animals. He’d done several of Trip, his Siberian husky, before the poor dog died that still brought tears when Taylor looked at them. It was just a hobby, though. His father always told him he needed a real career and constantly reminded him that art wouldn’t amount to anything in the real world. He shook his head sadly. No, there was no way Jackson would ever see his work.

STANDING by the bleachers near the dugout, Taylor couldn’t help but wonder why he was there. Baseball tryouts held no interest for him. In fact, he’d always found the game kind of stupid, yet here he was. His gaze landed on Jackson Kern. Yeah, that was something he really wanted, to see Jackson play the game.

Jackson took the center thingy… the mound or whatever it’s called. Taylor had spent a good deal of time reading about baseball.

He figured he should know something about it, just in case Jackson ever spoke to him. Still, he was having a hard time wrapping his head around all the rules and terms. Didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try, though. He pulled out his sketchbook and did a few rough outlines, wanting to fill them out later. Jackson threw a few pitches to the catcher, loosening up. Mitch Daniels, Cody’s younger brother, stepped up and tapped his bat on the ground. Jackson brought his arms up near his chest, struck a pose, and shook his head slightly.

After a moment he leaned back and threw the ball. It went straight across the plate at blinding speed. Mitch swung at it and missed completely. When Jackson finished the inning, allowing no hits, he marched back to the dugout; the coach’s jaw fell open as he rushed out to meet Jackson.

“Kid, what’s your name?”

“Jackson, sir. My friends call me Jax.”

“Well, Jax, if you can throw like that with consistency, you’re gonna be our ace. I can tell,” the coach said, practically drooling over the young prospect.

Taylor thought he saw Jackson… Jax blush. By the end of the tryouts, not one person had hit anything Jackson threw. When the coach told him he had a spot, Jackson smiled so big and wide, Taylor was sure his heart would stop. Then Becca came running over and threw her arms around the team’s new pitcher. Taylor turned in disgust and started shuffling away, pausing to take a last look at Jackson. He was all hot and sweaty, and it looked really, really good on him. Taylor knew that’s what he was going to be thinking about when he went to bed.

TAYLOR found himself drawn to watch the practices. He kept trying to tell himself it was stupid, and he knew it was, but he really enjoyed watching Jackson. He’d been going to watch practice every day for two weeks when he saw Jackson turn in his direction. For just a second he thought, more like hoped, that Jackson was looking at him. His eyes locked on Jackson, and his mouth went dry, wishing that he’d come over to him, put his arms around him, whisper in his ear… but then the guy turned and walked over to the rest of the team, clearing the field for the next inning. Taylor’s heart sank, realizing it was all wishful thinking on his part.

“COME on, Taylor, crack a book. I came over to study, not to watch you stare at the ceiling,” Benny huffed, pushing a pile of laundry off the chair and parking himself at the desk. “And would it kill you to clean up a little bit? This place is a sty, man.”

Taylor never even registered the reproach in Benny’s voice.

All he could think about was Jackson.

“Benny, I’m going nuts. I know it’s never gonna go anywhere, but I can’t stop going to see him,” Taylor groaned.

Benny stared at him, eyes wide. “Wow, never saw you this bad before. You’d always crush for a few weeks and then see some new hottie that made you forget the old one. Maybe you really do have it bad for this guy,” Benny muttered.

Swinging his legs over, Taylor sat on the edge of the bed, grinning with excitement. “You’ve got no idea. Yesterday morning I saw him with a smear of toothpaste in the corner of his mouth. I swear it was one of the hottest things I’d ever seen, and I just wanted to lick it off.”

Benny’s lips tightened into a grimace. “Toothpaste is hot?

God, you’re so weird, Taylor. I hope you won’t be upset if I don’t admit to knowing you when we’re in public.”

Taylor smirked, remembering everything with vivid detail. “It was hot! If it wasn’t for the fact that Becca rubbed it off for him, which really pissed me off, by the way, I’d have stared at it all day.”

“So he and Becca are together?” Benny asked, putting the book down and finally turning to face Taylor.

“Yeah, I guess. She’s always hanging on him and hugging him. It’s totally disgusting,” Taylor sneered.

“Because it’s what you want to be doing?” Benny wondered aloud, keeping his voice low.

“Maybe.” Taylor sighed. “Either way, this just reinforces my dislike of public displays of affection.”

“So when are you gonna finally talk to him? How hard can it really be?” Benny asked patiently.

Taylor could see the look of pity on his friend’s face, but he snapped, “Well, you get a girl to notice you and then come back and give me some pointers, okay?”

Taylor knew it wasn’t fair. Benny was all about his schoolwork. His parents were always so strict about everything, and the schoolwork had to come first.

Benny quirked an eyebrow

and stared at Taylor

condescendingly. “I don’t need a girl to notice me, Tay. I’m not the one who needs validation. Maybe you should just join the monks.

I’m sure then you’ll get plenty of hot action,” Benny chuckled as he opened his math book. There was going to be a stupid quiz tomorrow, which, naturally, Benny was going to ace. He always aced them. Benny’s grades were important to him. As it stood Benny had a near-perfect GPA and would likely be valedictorian as a senior.

He and Benny had been the best of friends since kindergarten.

Taylor knew Benny would do almost anything for him, even if it included telling him things about himself he really didn’t want to hear, especially when it was the truth. Taylor knew he was a chicken, but he also knew unrequited love would be better than being humiliated in front of or by Jackson.

Where To Buy:

About the Author

WILL PARKINSON believes that no matter what obstacles are thrown in the path of young love, it will always find a way to win in the end. He wants his characters to have their happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to come easily.
None of this would have happened if he had followed the advice he was given many years ago. “What are you wasting your time on that for? It’s never going to amount to anything.” He believed it for the longest time, abandoning characters he’d created in his childhood.
He picked up his very first m/m story by a writer named Eden Winters, who was an absolute joy when they corresponded. She asked him if he wrote and he told her the story. Eden explained to Will that the voices in his head would never go away and how he needed to let them out. With that thought in mind, Will put e-pen to e-paper once more. It was truly a liberating experience and one he has no intention of giving up again.













Sunday, 4 August 2013

Pawn Takes Rook Blog Tour: Cashing the Reality Check - Sounds of Axis City

One of my good friends, Lex Chase has a new book release coming up in a few days. How many days? THREE. In three days, you can read the second installment of Pawn Takes Rook, and believe me, you'll want to. 

Lex is here today to talk about her book and the music she feels goes best with her new story. 

Spinning on its Axis: The Sounds of Axis City

 Hello everyone! I’m Lex Chase and Cate as let me take control of her blog today. She’s a very trusting soul. I’m here celebrating the pre-release of Pawn Takes Rook: Cashing the Reality Check, the second book in the Checkmate Series from Dreamspinner Press. It’s a pretty silly series, and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster that follows disgraced superhero Memphis Rook and his rise to redemption alongside his sidekick/boyfriend Hogarth Dawson. If you haven’t given the Checkmate series a try yet, it’s not too late to catch up! With the release of Cashing the Reality Check on August 7th, Dreamspinner is having a sale on Checkmate #1, Pawn Takes Rook from the 6th to the 12th!

I’m sharing something very special with you guys today, a score to the Checkmate series to maximize your reading pleasure! Spinning on its Axis: The Sounds of Axis City is a completely instrumental mix that reflects the overall feel of the wondrous megacity that Rook and Garth call home. I chose sounds that will make you stomp your feet and make you want to take on the world! As a suggestion, you should listen with earbuds and FEEL DAT BASS!

Track Listing:

1)      Pacific Rim – Ramin Djawadi – The Beating Heart of Axis City
2)      Pro Victoria – VnV Nation – The Power Alliance Tower
3)      Suffer – VnV Nation – The Fallen (Rook’s Theme)
4)      Fly Up In The Air – Yoko Kanno – Chivalry Soars
5)      Red Carpet Extend-o-Matic – Kyle Gabler – It’s Dirty but Beautiful
6)      Ball – Craig Armstrong – Taking Care of Business
7)      Synchrotone – Hans Zimmer – Rook’s Relentless
8)      Nara – ES Postumus – Fretful Dreams, Perpetual Stasis, Unforgiving Regeneration
9)      Introduce A Little Anarchy – Hans Zimmer – Damage, Damage, Damage!
10)   Hall of Mirrors – Klaus Badelt – Being A Technopath Has It’s Perks (Hogarth’s Theme)
11)  And Then I Kissed Him – Hans Zimmer – A Love That Shouldn’t Be (Rook and Hogarth’s Theme)
12)  The Shatterdome – Ramin Djawadi – Checkmate Rises
13)  Smoke N’ Oakum – Christopher Gordon – Gloriously Deadly
14)  What Shall We Die For – Hans Zimmer – Die On Your Feet, Or On Your Knees?
15)  Together We Will Live Forever – Clint Mansell – Rook Can’t Let Go
16)  Like A Dog Chasing Cars – Hans Zimmer – The Axis City Howls
17)   Myung Theme (Cello Version) – They’re Up There, We’re Down Here
18)  Are You Coming Home, Love MOM – Kyle Gabler – Conrad Dawson’s Legacy
19)  A Watchful Guardian – Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard – A Red Rook and a Black Pawn
20)  BONUS TRACK - Bullets – Archive – Axis City Devours Its Children

Did you give a listen and enjoy? Let me know in the comments below! I’m also having a giveaway of some awesome swag on every stop! One lucky winner will receive a set of Series 1 and Series 2 Checkmate buttons, a Lex pen, and both Checkmate covers! August winners to be announced August 31st!

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Pawn Takes Rook: Cashing the Reality Check Blurb

Even after eleven months of keeping the mean streets of Axis City safe, superduo Checkmate—Hogarth Dawson—and his boyfriend, Memphis Rook, still receive the cold shoulder from the Power Alliance. Undeterred, Hogarth brings his intense focus to bear on Rook, and after Hogarth makes an accidental marriage proposal, it becomes all too clear Rook isn’t quite at the same place. But before life gets awkward, duty calls.
Booted-off female contestants of the romantic reality show Single and Super are being found in comas, and Checkmate needs to get to the bottom of it. As part of Rook’s plan, he cleans up his bad boy image and goes undercover as a bachelor looking for love among twenty-five frenzied women. Against Rook’s wishes, Hogarth sneaks onto the set as a cameraman to investigate the case on his own. With questions unanswered between them, emotions run high, distracting them and feeding a trap of their own making.

Where To Buy:
Catch up on Checkmate #1, Pawn Takes Rook:

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Pawn Takes Rook: Cashing the Reality Check Excerpt

Rook’s lips parted to speak, then shut, then parted again, then finally shut. He rumbled a thunderous laugh. “You dirty minx.” He closed the distance between us in less time it took to blink. The padded palms of his fingerless gloves cupped my rear, and he scooped me up before dropping me hastily on the desktop.
The loud thump of the desk smacking the wall made me curl my fingers into his coat lapels. “Shhh!” I warned him. “Do you wanna get caught?”
He leaned in and nipped my ear, his tongue exploring my lobe. I might have squealed very inappropriately. Might have.
“Don’t you wanna get caught?” he growled, planting searing kisses on my neck. His hands roved my cold body and the soft pads of his gloves coupled with his hot fingers sent sparks up my spine. I parted my legs wider, ready to accommodate whatever he was going to throw my way. He pulled his teeth away from my neck in a long scrape, and he slanted his mouth over mine. I gasped into him, and our tongues met in a starved need to taste one another. With a deft flick of the wrist, Rook stroked me easily between two broad fingers. My stomach tightened with the intimate contact, and I buried my fingers in his hair. He chuckled against my mouth and captured my bottom lip with one of his pronounced canines. Rook pulled away for the slightest of seconds to watch my reaction as he teased at my entrance with his fingers, trying to relax me enough into relenting for him.
“Do it,” I said, and it came out like a begging whimper. “It’ll only hurt for a second,” I lied out my—wait. This metaphor is really inappropriate for this moment. I just lied, okay. The laws of physics when it comes to me and Rook getting busy boggle the mind. I always get the feeling somewhere he’s concerned about hurting me, but I can’t seem to make him understand it’s that pain of him just being him that sets me off into the stratosphere. “It’s okay,” I whispered. “It’s—” I started to say but broke into a high pitched crack when he entered me with two fingers.
I turned up my chin to kiss him again as he tenderly worked me over. All the troubles of the world seemed to melt away when we were like this. No ruined apartments to worry about how to fix. No case to fret over. Nothing. We were just two guys, stupidly crazy about each other, and on a mission to get each other naked as often as possible.
Here’s the kicker though—you might want to sit down for this part.
Ever get that moment where everything is just so incredibly perfect that out of your mouth comes the stupidest thing ever? Well, yeah. Stupid comment in three… two… one….
“Marry me…,” I groaned. I needed him and needed him now in every possible way. My body ached for him.
Rook, on the other hand, froze faster than Han Solo taking a dip in carbonite. “Hogarth,” he said flatly. His hands rested on the desk next to my thighs.
I searched his face, hunting for what I could have possibly said and turned the mood to a steaming pile of shit. “Why not?” I asked. “I love you, you love me, Axis City legislation made it legal, we want to be together forever, and—”
Hogarth,” he spat, then turned away. He ran a hand through his long blond hair and tugged at his roots.
I knew that completely at-a-loss gesture all too well. And I became far too aware that I was naked. Like way naked. Like that dream of being in high school in your underwear. My lip quivered. It could only mean one thing, one horrible thing, and I was going to be the overdramatic boyfriend.
“You don’t… love me?” I said, and my voice cracked as all my insecurities flopped out like a beached beluga. And there I earned my dubious place in Encyclopedia Dramatica.
Rook spun to face me, waving his hands quickly in a halting gesture, “Jesus, no! It’s not like that, okay?”
Somehow this didn’t exactly inspire confidence; shocking, am I right?
He brushed a long streamer of blond from his eyes and palmed his face. “Do you even have any idea how intense you are?”
You know… if the world could suddenly open up and swallow me whole, that would be just ducky. I wanted to tell him: “Here, Rook, here’s my heart. Just for you. Shattered like glass into a million tiny shards. I hope you fucking choke to death when you eat it.

***                  ***                  ***

Lex Chase is a journalist by day and a writer by night. Either way you slice it, she makes things up for a living. Her style of storytelling is action, adventure, and a dollop of steamy romance. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes it’s never a party until something explodes in a magnificent fashion, be it a rolling fireball of a car or two guys screaming out their love for one another in the freezing rain.

Lex is a pop culture diva, an urbanite trapped in a country bumpkin’s body, and wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse. She has learned that when all else fails, hug the cat.

She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine residing in the ‘burbs of Northwest Florida where it could be 80F and she’d have a sweatshirt on because she’s freezing.

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