Posts Tagged ‘Excerpts’

All New and Releasing September 25th!!!

NorthernStar_cvr

 

 

Northern Star

Ethan Day

Available September 25th from

Wilde City Press

Click Here to Purchase

Promotional Blurb: Deacon Miller never had it all—he never really believed he could. Growing up in a broken home with an alcoholic mother and a revolving door of truly pathetic father figures taught him to keep his expectations low. Now at twenty-seven, on the night before Christmas Eve, his life is turned upside down yet again; his boyfriend has dumped him, he just fled the holiday family reunion from hell, and now to top it all off, a blizzard has left him stranded in an airport hotel.

Steve Steele has spent the better part of his forty-four years living a lie, ignoring his attraction to other men in an attempt to fit into the mold of the man he thought he should be, instead of living life as the man he knew himself to be. Recently divorced after coming home from work one day and coming out to his wife, Steve has floundered over the past year, desperately attempting to wade through the guilt and find the courage to start again.

That’s when a chance meeting in a hotel bar brings two lonely men together… and what should’ve been a one night stand turns into something much more than either one ever expected.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

December

 

Staring at the screen on his phone, Deacon Miller periodically tapped it with his thumb each time the back light began the process of going dark in an attempt to save the life of his battery. His email was open and the words were staring back at him in stark black and white, yet he could also hear them playing over and over on a loop inside his head—the voice of his boyfriend for the past year and a half cutting into his chest like a hatchet.

 

I can’t be with you anymore, Deacon, you’re boring. There’s no passion here, the sex has gotten really lame, and if I’m being totally honest, I’m not sure I ever even loved you. Either way, I’m pretty sure I don’t particularly like you, at least not anymore.

 

Hollow—that was how it felt, like he’d been gutted. His insides had been ripped out and tossed aside like waste.

Placing his phone down on the bar, Deacon picked up the rocks glass, sucking down the rest of his Sapphire and tonic before signaling the bartender that he’d be having another. On the emotional scale of totally-horrific-life-lessons-learned, he was currently sitting somewhere between desperation and completely numb. He didn’t intend to stop sucking down booze until he was safely situated completely on the numb side.

Alcohol had never really been his go-to solution for disappointment or disillusionment, having grown up with a raging alcoholic for a mother, but Seth’s email had been particularly harsh. Some train wrecks were simply too horrible to stare down without a filter, and on this night, Deacon had buckled under the pressure and gin had become the filter of choice.

He’d always known deep down what a prick Seth could be—completely conceited and selfish. When they’d first met, his attraction to the man had actually embarrassed him. How could he have ever been into someone who had such a capacity for cruelty? What did that say about him?

Of course, Deacon had never been good when it came to paying attention to warning signs.

Winding Road Ahead? Curves keep life interesting, right?

Road Narrows!?! I’ll go on a diet!

Dead End!!! Too little…too late.

He’d always been a bit of a ‘village idiot’ when it came to men. It didn’t help matters that Seth had a rakish charm, which made the awful things he sometimes said seem like a slightly destructive form of foreplay. Seth had always tested the boundaries to see how far he could push before breaking them, and loving him had felt dangerous as a result.

Living life on the edge.

Glancing back down at his phone, Deacon read the words once again, and another wave of emptiness came over him. “I’d consider us…shattered.”

“On your tab?” The bartender asked, setting down the freshly made cocktail.

“Yup,” Deacon said, smiling slightly when his lips made a faint popping sound, like a cork being violently liberated from a wine bottle.

He did his best to ignore the judgmental expression on the bartender’s face. Glancing down at the name tag, he shook his head, disgusted anyone named Clifford would be casting stones. The pious pity of Cliffy wasn’t what Deacon needed at the moment, and he said as much with the dirty look he offered as a thank you for the drink.

They both turned, hearing a loud group of twenty-something’s come stumbling into the hotel bar. They were all visibly wasted, and from what he could make out from their rather gregarious bitching, they’d each been bumped from their flight as a result of their intoxication.

More rejected casualties, redirected to purgatory via this airport adjacent, cheesy-ass hotel bar that hadn’t been updated since the early nineties.

The burgundy and blue commercial grade fabric was rough to the touch, as if designed to ensure you didn’t make yourself comfortable. That combined with the brass railings that ran along the bar and atop the booths located along the far wall, all the mirrors and glassware dangling from above, the entire room screamed Loser-ville.

“And I am right at home with my fellow loser-residents,” he muttered.

Deacon could practically smell the sweaty desperation of yester-year that hung in the air like the scent of stale smoke, from what had no doubt been the scene of many a one-night hookup over the years. Chewing on a chunk of ice, he took a moment to glance around the room at the rest of the poor schlubs.

Two gray-haired business men types were huddled at the far end of the bar. One was a bit of a chunk but had an abundance of snow on the roof. His business-bud was more fit but had little roof left at all. The lights above the bar reflected off the top of the shiny bald-headed portion of his receding hairline, and it dawned on Deacon that perhaps no man was allowed to have it all.

“Fat man, tall man, big dick, small, ain’t nobody gonna have it all,” he mumbled, snickering to himself.

He was certainly beginning to feel less pain thanks to the alcohol.

Perusing the rest of the room, attendance was pretty sparse. There were only a few other random couples and a handful of singles like himself of various ages and sexes nursing cocktails. All making an attempt to avoid the solitude of a lonely hotel room on the eve of Christmas Eve.

They all looked as tragic as he felt, save the older guy who just walked in. He was kinda hot. Deacon watched the man shake the snow off his coat before hanging it on a peg just inside the entrance. He smiled warmly at Deacon as he made a beeline for the bar, taking a seat on the stool next to him.

“Guess I shoulda asked,” the guy said, waving at the bartender. “Was anyone sitting here?”

“Nope,” Deacon said. “Seat’s all yours, pal.”

Mr. Smiley was hunky, in that hetero, somebody’s-father kinda way. Late thirties, he guessed. Very athletic looking, the drool-worthy type you’d expect to find coaching his son’s little league team.

Deacon imagined all the other mommies spent more time watching the coach than they did their kiddies—probably a few of the daddies too, for that matter.

For some reason, that thought made him chuckle.

His new neighbor was dressed more casually in jeans, a black thin cotton sweater and a pair of well-worn leather snow boots.

Very butch.

The sweater looked new, but the man was slightly weathered in the best sense of the word with a bit of gray speckled throughout his sideburns. His face had the slightest hint of stubble, which suited the masculine jawline and chin dimple.

Salesman, Deacon figured, already turned off by that thought. Of course, if he promised not to speak, Deacon would definitely be willing to work the bod.

Smiley’s light brown hair was well manicured, longer on top and combed back with enough product to keep everything in its place. Deacon had just begun to imagine what he looked like naked when Mr. Smiley gave him a sideways glance and began to grin once more.

Deacon turned away, unsure if he was embarrassed or if he’d had too many cocktails to care. He was aware that he should’ve been, though, staring at a total stranger for that length of time, as if he’d actually been considering the possibility.

The stir of activity between his legs was evidence that he had been.

Why not? Nothing like random sex with a stranger to make a boy feel better about himself. Not like I’m in a relationship anymore.

He cringed through the sharp pain in his chest and sucked down the rest of his drink, once again, signaling the barkeep with the clinking sound of ice against glass as he gently shook it.

Again with Clifford’s judgey sigh?

The rat bastard.

Get a different job if you can’t handle the sight of intoxication in process. He glanced over at Smiley to see the man was staring at the television hanging on the wall behind the bar. A basketball game was on, but the volume was muted so it didn’t interfere with the nauseating vocals-with-jazz being piped in through the sound system.

Like that wouldn’t be enough to require one or two extra cocktails.

The current selection was some bastardized-rapage of a Carpenters’ tune, Top of the World, he thought, which seemed a little insensitive considering his current situation—having been dumped and all.

Probably Clifford’s doing—the little weasel had it out for him.

Deacon sneered, glancing up at the speaker in the ceiling above his head.

The crappy song choice aside, they’d apparently hired the horrifically off-key singers featured on Dancing with the Stars, adding insult to injury. What asshole gave those tone-deaf fuckers a recording contract?

Stupid show.

Seth never missed an episode. Perhaps that was the silver lining to the knowledge Deacon was apparently an un-passionate, cold-dead-fish-fuck in the sack? He’d never have to sit through another episode of DWTS.

In an attempt to be a little stealthier, Deacon took to further examining Mr. Smiley utilizing the mirror behind the bar.

Definitely a hot dad type. A real man, no doubt. Bet he doesn’t watch totally gay reality television. Of course he unfortunately probably fucks like a straight man too—just shoves it on in and starts pounding away. Deacon hated that.

He sure was sexy, though, like the older male models featured in the back of his mother’s JC Penney catalog, which Deacon used to jack off to as a teenager—the ones posing in their Jockeys.

He smiled at the memory while attempting to ignore the wood growing in his trousers.

The guy’s probably married.

Clifford reluctantly placed Deacon’s fourth cocktail onto the bar.

“Tab it,” Deacon said, not giving Clifford the opportunity to recommend any other alternatives. “I’m staying in the hotel, dude. Not driving, so tab it.”

Clifford held up his hands like he was shocked by the insinuation that he gave a good goddamn either way, which made Deacon wonder if he hadn’t been imagining the whole thing. Perhaps he was mildly sensitive at the moment? The knockdown, drag-out with his mother followed by having been ruthlessly dumped by his boyfriend via email had caused a mental breakdown, and as a result, he’d been forced to invent someone who cared about his well-being?

That was a particularly sad and wretched thought. Poor Cliffy’s getting the raw end of that imaginary deal.

Need to try thinking about something else.

Deacon glanced back into the mirror behind the bar, deciding his new neighbor on the stool to his left would do in a pinch.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, should I fuck Smiley in a bathroom stall?

He grinned to himself, deciding one thing was certain. Deacon was seldom wrong when it came to sniffing out the gay, regardless of the married-het vibe the man exuded. That meant Mr. Smiley was either bi or a gay man who’d gotten married back in the day and now trolled bars looking for cock while on business trips.

It was a particular breed of gay that Deacon didn’t like thinking about—the self-loathers. They depressed him. Fortunately, thanks to Seth, he was already depressed, so fuck it if he gave a shit at this point.

Taking in his own reflection in an attempt to ascertain his physical state, he smirked, deciding while he might not be the hottest piece of ass out there, he was indeed attractive in that cloned-gay-way. Deacon wasn’t overtly fem, or at least he didn’t think so, but he had the look—over-primped and manscaped down to the nearest centimeter. Too tan, despite the fact it was the dead of winter and he wasn’t visiting from Florida or southern California.

All he was missing was some glitter.

With well-gelled, dark hair and sharp blue eyes, he was borderline pretty, but Deacon spent enough time in the gym to keep his body tight. He’d been a fat kid and teased to the point he was now overly sensitive about his waistline as a result. It had become an unhealthy obsession.

Deacon utilized the mirror to glance back over at Smiley only to discover he was being watched. He wondered how Seth would feel if he took Mr. Faux-het up to his room and cold-dead-fish fucked him.

That’d learn him.

His attention was diverted back to the loud lot now laughing hysterically at their friend who was so drunk she’d limply slipped out of the booth and onto the floor underneath their table. He couldn’t imagine how they’d managed to find their gate in the first place, but that, no doubt, made not being allowed to board even more upsetting.

Deacon had been bumped from his flight too. Though in his case, it had been self-inflicted. By the time they began announcing his flight was overbooked, he’d been staring at his Dear John email for a good forty minutes in disbelief. When they asked for volunteers to opt for a later flight, Seth’s evil words finally sank in…he no longer had anyone to rush home to. Then his later flight got cancelled due to the blizzard.

This had been his first trip home to Detroit since he’d left six years before.

If you could call it home.

His mother, Patricia, was pretty bad off, facing real jail time after her third DUI in too many years. Patty’s latest piece of shit trailer-trash boyfriend had run off to boot, leaving he and his half-sister, Ashley, to deal with the fallout. It was difficult to feel bad for his mother considering the last time he’d seen her, Patty had told him she’d rather have a dead son than a gay one.

Yeah, a real sweetheart, proof that some people shouldn’t be allowed to breed.

Were it not for Ashley, pleading for him to come home for Christmas in the first place, Deacon wouldn’t have bothered. He’d lasted a day and a half and was now departing two days before Christmas due to the incessant fighting.

Patty drank so much and so often that Deacon was never sure what was the booze and what was truly Patty, and though he decided to blame the booze for her general evilness, he’d made the decision to leave Detroit years before and had never looked back…until now.

So he’d gone from family drama to boyfriend drama and now found himself all alone in the world once again. The fact Seth had sent an email should have been Deacon’s first clue that something was up, the man was addicted to texting. Perhaps Seth decided a breakup message of I hate you was too harsh for a text?

From where Deacon sat, fewer words could’ve been utilized.

The apartment they’d shared back in Chicago was Seth’s, and he’d sweetly mentioned that he’d be on a cruise over the next week and could Deacon please have all his shit moved out by the time he got back.

Nice to know Seth was worried enough about his well-being to give him so much time to find a new place to live. The entire day had pretty much sucked ass, and he’d been in a daze since getting out of bed that morning. He couldn’t even remember walking up to the counter at the gate and throwing himself onto his sword for the rest of the poor schmucks who were attempting to make it home for the holidays to their so-called loved ones.

People were entirely too horrible to one another in general, Deacon wasn’t sure why he kept trying to connect with anyone at all. It inevitably brought him nothing but heartache.

“From boyfriend to bitterness in…” He glanced down at his watch. “Three hours and forty-two minutes. Impressive.”

Deacon sighed, chuckling sarcastically over his disappointment, taking another quick sip. He became aware that someone else was snickering right along with him. There was no one sitting on his right, so that only left one other option, Mr. Smiley.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to eavesdrop on your little rant there,” Smiley said, though the expression on his face said otherwise.

“You look real torn up about it.” Deacon smirked, shaking his head when Smiley began laughing harder.

The bartender had placed a Bud Light long neck on the bar in front of Smiley. Deacon was fairly certain he’d never actually ordered it, which meant his neighbor was somewhat of a regular.

Probably trolls for trade here a lot.

“From boyfriend to bitter, huh? Sounds like trouble. He dump you or the other way around?”

“He eviscerated me, if you must know.” Deacon took a sip from his glass and scooped up his phone with his free hand. He tapped on the screen, bringing it to life once more before reading the same horrible paragraph aloud so Smiley could be brought up to speed.

“Jeez,” Smiley said. “That was…wow.” He held up his beer bottle to toast, clinking it against Deacon’s glass. “I’m impressed you’re in as good a shape as you appear to be. Did you love him?”

“It hurts, so I musta, right?” Deacon shrugged, not waiting for an answer before asking, “Say, what’s your name anyway? Can’t keep calling you Mr. Smiley in my head, it’s distracting.”

“Names Steve, Steven actually, but most people call me Steve.”

“I’m Deacon Miller,” he said, before adding flatly, “nice to meet you, Steven Actually.”

“Funny,” he said.

“Hey just ’cause I’m gay and newly eviscerated doesn’t mean I’m tacky. If we end up doing it later, I wanna know your last name.”

One of Smi—Steve…one of Steve’s eyebrows arched as he took a swig off his beer bottle. “It’s Steele. Steven Steele is my name.”

Before he could manage further comment, Deacon interrupted, “Your name is Steve Steele?”

“Um…yeah?” Steve seemed confused. “Have we met before?”

“What are you, porn star or car salesman?”

Steve laughed, blushed slightly as well. “Car salesman, though I’m surprisingly flattered you thought I could pass for a porn star.”

“I’ll admit that porn seemed less likely in Detroit, but hey, who am I to judge, you know?”

“Um…okay,” Steve grinned.

Deacon cringed. “That made sense in my head. Too much liquor, I guess.”

“Considering the day you’ve had, I’d say you’re entitled.”

“Very kind of you, considering you’re a car salesman.”

“Ouch,” Steve said. “I own the dealership if that helps raise my likability quotient.”

“Might be worse, but I’m not really thinking clearly at this point. Sorry. I’m not usually this rude.”

“It’s okay, I am kind of a dick, too.” Steve grinned as Deacon stared back at him in shock over the admission. “What is it you do? Cure nuns with cancer?”

Deacon laughed over the sarcastic delivery. “I’m a nobody, one of those cashier drones, I work at a Target.”

Steve smiled, turning on his stool to face Deacon. “Bet you look awfully cute in those red shirts and khakis. Though I could offer a few suggestions for where they place that bull’s eye.”

Deacon laughed. “Knew I wasn’t wrong about your proclivities.”

He wiggled his eyebrows and took another swig off his beer. “How’d you manage to get time off working retail this close to Christmas?”

“Had a family emergency kinda-thing.”

“Everything okay, I hope? Aside from the ex dumping you, I mean. You know with your family?”

“Just peachy.” Deacon faced Steve, propping up his elbow on the bar for support. “Say, you can’t be too much of a dick, you at least asked how I’m doing, right?”

“Well, you did mention doing me before. I became infinitely more invested at that point.”

Deacon started laughing.

“We’ll blame your evil ex for your rude behavior.” Steve said. “I take it he neglected to mention what a fucking asshole he was.”

It wasn’t a question, more of an assumption.

“No, I apparently suffer from low self-esteem and have an unfortunate attraction to loose-moraled men with little to no character.”

“Sweet, so my chances of getting lucky just skyrocketed.”

Deacon laughed but could feel the heat rushing to his cheeks. “Oh yeah, nothing short of you turning out to be a cannibalistic serial killer could spoil that, buddy.”

Steve looked at him sideways. “At some point, I’ll be inquiring about the fact your statement leaves the door open for non-cannibalistic serial killers, but at the moment. I’m too distracted by the possibility of sex to offer any further judgments.”

“Makes sense.” Deacon nodded. “Though as you heard before, I’m apparently not very passionate in the sack, so I wouldn’t get overly excited if I were you.”

“I don’t buy that for one minute,” he said.

“I’m not selling it, dude, so we’re all good.”

“Still don’t believe it.” Steve’s voice lowered, getting slightly huskier in the process as he leaned closer and said, “Lips like yours were made for sucking cock, baby.”

Steve’s warm breath brushed across Deacon’s face as he said the words, resulting in a positive reaction between his legs. He took a drink, using it as an excuse to break eye contact.

“That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s said to me all day.”

“I’d be more impressed with myself were I not aware your ex shit all over you earlier today.”

“So there’s nowhere to go but up…up to my room…up to your room if you prefer…either way I can feel myself getting up as we speak so…whenever you’re ready.”

Steve smiled, showing off his pearly whites and the slash-like dimples in his cheeks. “I’m not actually staying here, so it will have to be your room if that’s all right?”

“Christ, why would anyone come to this shit-hole if they weren’t staying in the hotel?”

Clifford coughed, making sure Deacon was aware he’d overheard that. The guy was hacking into a lime with a paring knife, which made him seem slightly more menacing.

“My bad.” Deacon shrugged an apology. “Put down the knife and step away from the fruit, buddy.”

Clifford sighed, shaking his head and further signaling his disapproval.

“Let’s just say that tonight is sort of an anniversary of mine and leave it at that,” Steve said, picking at the label on his beer bottle. “I’m here…not celebrating so much as commiserating?”

Deacon opened his mouth to demand more info but was interrupted by the drunkards in the booth.

“Hey, barkeep! It’s almost Santa-fucking-Claus time already! How ’bout you be playin’ some Christmas music? Let’s cheer it up in here with a little Ho, Ho, Ho-ing!”

All the other idiots in his little group began clapping and cheering him on by heckling right along with him. Clifford rolled his eyes, reluctantly heading to the other end of the bar where he began fiddling with a remote. Magically the sound of sleigh bells filled the bar as Tony Bennett crooned ‘Winter Wonderland’.

“Yeah, man, that’s the stuff!” the guy screamed, before he began singing along…badly. “Come on, Scroogies, time to go caroling!”

Before anyone could manage to stop it, the table of women sitting in the next booth began singing, then it bled over into the next booth, and the next, like a virus that couldn’t be neutralized. By the time Frosty the Snowman came on, the entire bar had joined in, even the sadistically judgey Clifford who kindly brought Steve and Deacon another round of drinks and some sort of Irish-creamy peppermint shots.

Deacon couldn’t carry a tune to save his life, so he mainly mouthed along while trying not to laugh. Steven-Actually-Steele had quite the nice voice, however, deep and soothing in an odd way, which somehow made him seem completely un-dick-like, despite having claimed otherwise. Maybe it was the older guy thing, but he put off a disturbingly comforting protective-Dad-like vibe, and Deacon found himself wholly disarmed by it—though the booze likely helped.

They’d run through five or six songs and were both laughing hysterically when Deacon finally reached over, giving Steve’s leg a squeeze. His laughing slowly subsided when Deacon didn’t remove it.

Steve nodded, swigging the rest of his beer in one long gulp before hopping up off his bar stool, signaling he was ready to go. Deacon did the same, waving down the bartender so he could finally settle that tab. Steve tossed a couple of fifties on the bar and winked at Deacon before making sure Clifford had seen him leave the money.

‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ was being sung/screamed as they walked out. Deacon could hear Steve singing softly from behind him. They paused long enough for Steve to collect his coat, and Deacon realized he was already having trouble catching his breath, knowing what they were about to do. He was drunk enough to not overthink things, and his body was screaming for naked friction, yearning for the comfort that came from the heat of a hard body pressing into his.

Deacon wanted it so much he could feel the heat of his need burning his skin. Nothing else seemed quite as important to him in that moment. He was aware of the questions buzzing around in the back of his mind, most prominently dealing with Steve Steele’s marital status. He pushed all that away. The man wasn’t wearing a ring and as far as he could tell, didn’t appear to have been wearing one recently.

Deacon was determined to let that be enough.

He needed this, if for no other reason than being wanted by someone, hell, anyone at this point. It was paramount to boosting his will to move forward into tomorrow.

There’d be time enough for sadness and heartache later, but tonight he wanted to be the object of someone else’s desire, the object of Steven Steele’s hard, wet affection.

They were staring at one another as the elevator doors closed. The younger couple with the whiney, cranky toddler was likely the only thing that kept them from attacking one another right then. The father was doing his best to soothe the spawn, but somehow, the young mother was aware of the animalistic lusty heat between Steve and himself. Perhaps it was some sort of pheromone thing that only gay men and women were genetically attuned to sniff out, but she was blushing with a slight grin and doing her best to avoid making eye contact.

Deacon, on the other hand, was barely able to tear his gaze away from Steve’s—tension building with each and every ding as the elevator passed another floor. He could practically taste the anticipation—that sensation of the familiarly-unknown that came from a one-night stand with a total stranger.

Christmas was coming early, and Deacon was anxious to unwrap the package standing before him, ready to see what the universe had laid at his feet. He wanted to forget—was ready to have Steve fuck any lingering memories of the past twelve hours away, if only for a little while.

That’s what Deacon needed most in that moment, and Steven-Actually-Steele was willing to help.

Z.A. Maxfield Interviews Ethan Day about At Piper’s Point

blog5485

When I started this series it had been my intent for authors to interview other authors about their books. Between my own writing, being one the organizers of GayRomLit, and the EDJ, it’s been a little more difficult to keep up. I do plan to continue to conduct these 5.4.8×5 interviews – but it will likely be just me interviewing authors when I run across a book I enjoyed reading.

The interview below is one Z.A. Maxfield did with me well over a year ago after I first dreamed up the idea behind these interviews. I’ve been sort of holding onto it all this time, waiting for the release of the paperback edition which recently hit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Book Depository. As it may end up being the final guest interview I post – I wanted to say thank you to Z.A. for taking the time to sit down and read my book – let alone come up with such thoughtful questions.

I hope everyone enjoys the interview!

PipersZA – First let me start off by saying that I LOVE stories where a great, and passionate love gets the timing right after ending earlier, when the timing was wrong…the way they kept ending up in bed together just to SLEEP. They brought each other such love and comfort.

I loved the fact that Sadie is a vital, living character throughout the entire book even though she’s actually an urn filled with ashes. Were you thinking of her as a character, and placing her in scenes so she could interact with the living characters? Because she certainly did interact, which you don’t usually see done, and I might add, done so beautifully. Was that a conscious choice on your part?

ED – Thanks Z! That’s most likely more generous a compliment than I deserve, but I’ll happily accept it anyway. : ) There’s an older movie with Mark Harmon and Jodie Foster from ages ago called Stealing Home. In the movie, Foster’s character has committed suicide leaving the responsibility of her ashes to Harmon. I won’t get into the entire back story of the film – y’all can go find it and watch it if you like – but it’s one of those movies that inevitably gets to me each time I go back and watch it. The urn and Cassidy’s interaction with it at the beginning of the book is an idea that sprang from that film. I think it was a useful tool for me when it came to telling this story. A way for me to showcase Cassidy’s solitude in the beginning – even with his best friends he’s forever holding part of himself back. His time spent with the urn becomes less and less the farther into the book we go. The more we learn about Sadie, the less isolated Cassidy becomes. He’s learning new things about her and letting go of the guilt he’s been stifled by with regard to her final years.

It was very important for Sadie to be remembered as a living breathing entity all her own. Having those memories revealed by individuals other than Cassidy helped her character become more three dimensional for me. That was crucial to making the essence of who she was come alive for me during the writing of it. Sadie’s character had little pieces of my own Gran woven into her DNA – that likely aided me in bringing Sadie to life on the page as well. She certainly became a very real individual to me.

ZA – Love, love, love those settings. The island itself is a character in the book, in the great tradition of all50395_165809416786338_8375205_n location stories. It’s a place of quirky characters and good friends and long memories…LOVE THAT. Is that a real place, somewhere you’ve been, someplace you went on holiday as a kid?

ED – No – I wish! I’d be moving there if it were. I did spend a good amount of time reading about the North Carolina coast and the Outer Banks. Because it was a fictional location and an island unto itself, I knew I didn’t need for Hart’s Island to be identical to the rest of Carolina coastline, but I wanted it to feel as if it could be there – that if there were an island like this off the Carolina coast, it would be just like Hart’s. I tried to present enough history to make the location seem tactile to the reader while not allowing myself to go overboard and become heavy handed. It’s difficult to know when to say when sometimes – and it will never be right for everyone, as individual readers enjoy varying amounts of setting and back story. When it comes to that, I think each writer has to worry about making themselves happy. It’s your name on the cover and you have to be the one out there pimping it. Difficult to do if you’re not happy with the final product. I find that having a fully fleshed out world in which my characters can move around in helps me better visualize the story – but that’s just me.

ZA – Cassidy’s family is awful and he has to make some pretty gutsy choices about them. Even though he’s full of all kinds of anxiety and issues, he’s extremely healthy with regard to what love means. He knows what good relationships are, and cherishes them. Was that tough to balance? Did you have some hard decisions when writing his character and when you did the rewrites did they change? (I’m trying not to give spoilers)

ED - I think for Cassidy, it was Sadie and his summers with her that altered who he became as an adult. The things that drove Lionel away from Sadie and everything she stood for are the same ones that drew Cassidy to her. Without those external influences growing up, Cassidy would have likely become a much more unlikeable character. Unlike his parents or grandparents for that matter, he had the benefit of growing up with a side by side comparison of both worlds. Lionel hated Sadie for keeping him away from his father’s side of the family during his childhood, while Sadie was raised with her father’s prejudices against the exceedingly wealthy Winter’s type of lifestyle. Cassidy was given a unique and unparalleled all access pass that allowed him to better pick out the flaws of each and taught him how to spot genuineness in others. It was intentional on my part to show that Cassidy was smart enough to recognize that money isn’t everything. Life with his parents, which held financial security, was also cold and lonely for him. It also threatened to change him in ways he neither wanted nor appreciated. Life with Sadie filled him with love, warmth, & kindness. It’s what brings him back to his true love. : )

ZA – To me, Cassidy is a saver and a recycler, when he’s finished with boyfriends he recycles them, never quite satisfied until they have their own happy endings. He takes in an injured dog even though its injuries revolt him. What do you think it is (about him) that makes his boyfriends stick around even though they’ve been dumped? (I know what my answer would be; I just want yours.)

ED – Personally, I think there’s simply an inherent goodness to Cassidy. He’s an exceedingly earnest individual. When he screws up he genuinely wants to make it right. And I think he’s always seen himself asED_AtPipersPoint_coverlg a stray of sorts. Sadie was the only person who ever made him feel like he was the most important person to them. And I think Sadie was a forever wounded bird who felt driven to reach out and help others. The way she took in Natalie, the way she always made herself available to the other people on the island, these were part of the beliefs she instilled in Cassidy – not via lip service but through her own actions. It’s easy to tell a child something, but leading by example is much more tangible.

It also ties into his own guilt and feelings of failure over being able to protect Sadie. That level of disappointment in himself altered who he became. I don’t think he’ll ever throw in the towel on anyone without doing everything within his power to salvage the relationship. He was an interesting character for me because he was warm and kind – people were naturally drawn to him. At the same time, he keeps most at arm’s length – even the men he’s dated over the years don’t really know him – at least not while they’re dating him. That’s part of the draw of Nate for Cass – they share a history and Nate knows who he is. Cassidy can’t keep him at a distance because of that history.

ZAAt Pipers Point is hilarious and heartbreaking by turns. If I had gotten it in print format I’d have hugged it to myself at the end. What did you feel when you finished that book? Was there a catharsis? Was it a whew, it’s over, or darn, I can’t live there anymore? Were you as invested emotionally in this book as I believe you must have been to have written it with such exquisite emotional involvement?

ED – This is actually somewhat interesting and it changed throughout the entire process until right before the book was released. It wasn’t an easy book for me to write to begin with, mainly because of my personal history, experiences, and guilt over my relationship with my real life Gran that got wrapped up in Cassidy’s story. It took longer to finish and there were many times throughout the process that I was pleading with the writing gods to let me be done with it already!

It was fun at times, and sad – emotionally draining at others. When it was done, I sent it off to my editor – happy to be rid of it, lol. Not the usual response when finishing a book. I re-read it a few weeks before it was released and I’m so happy I did. My entire perspective changed. It was as if all the turmoil that writing it had put me through just melted away. I was very happy with the end result – I think it’s probably the best book I’ve written – overall. It’s a bit more well rounded in the sense that is has more emotional depth than anything else I’ve written and released, but still has all the laughs. The entire tone of the book ended up being exactly what I’d imagined from conception – Cassidy’s journey was satisfying for me as reader and writer.

ZA – My only problem, my dear E, was how to make all those things I was so enthusiastic about into questions…? You are perfectly awesome, and I LOVED this book.

ED – Thank you again for taking the time to read the book, Z! The interview was just extra icing on that cake. : )

Paperback Now Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & The Book Depository

e-book available Here or at most retailers

At_Pipers_Point_4_7_2012_Final_Front_Cover(1)

 

 

 

At Piper’s Point

Ethan Day

Available in e-book & now in Paperback

from MLR Press

Promotional Blurb:

Ten years and many boyfriends later, Cassidy Winters finally returns to the ancestral home of his grandmother, Sadie Hart, despite the best efforts of his father to prevent it. Cassidy’s plans of a quiet, seaside ceremony to wish a final farewell to Sadie quickly unravel as interruptions run roughshod beginning with Neil who walks out of the ocean and straight into Cassidy’s bed. The dominos topple one by one when the little dog he rescues from the hounds of hell brings him to Ben, the hunky vet who rescues Cassidy right back. News of his arrival spreads faster than Cassidy’s legs, bringing his boyhood friend and first love Nate Sommers to his doorstep – leaving Cassidy spiraling into a multi-layered love snafu. As if the island wasn’t getting crowded enough for Cassidy’s good taste and bad decisions, best friends Ollie and Spencer arrive in time to witness the uninvited return of Cassidy’s most recent ex, Teddy, who’s refusing to stay dumped.

Fists fly and all hell breaks loose amid mojitos and martinis as Cassidy finds himself planning a huge party to celebrate Sadie’s life. Accusations are aimed as arguments and libidos boil over, but even through the chaos Cassidy knows exactly what he wants. While he’s certainly willing, he isn’t sure if he’s ready or able for love and life…At Pipers Point.

An Excerpt can be found at ethan@ethanday.com or Click Here for a direct link.

What people are saying about At Piper’s Point:

5 Stars and a Recommended Read from Dark Diva Reviews
"Wacky, loving characters, snarky humor, and screwball antics perfectly balanced by emotional depth make At Piper’s Point by Ethan Day the best book he has written to date."
Click here to read the full review

5 Stars from Aunt Lynn @ Reviews by Jessewave
"Run, don’t walk, to pick up this latest story by the wonderful Ethan Day. You won’t be sorry."
Click here to read the full review

5 Stars from Michele-n-Jeff Reviews
“Ethan Day’s quick wit and talent for character development makes At Piper’s Point a genuine pleasure to experience.”
Click here to read the full review

 

LOVE IN LA TERRAZA is NOW AVAILABLE!!!

bloghomopromo_thumb3

Love-in-La-Terraza_thumb1

LOVE IN LA TERRAZA

Now Available from

Resplendence Publishing

Click Here to Purchase

Promotional Blurb:

Cain Elliott is a desperate man – on the brink of losing La Terraza, the 1920’s Spanish style courtyard apartment complex his grandmother left him in her will, he’s faced with the option of selling to a real estate developer or losing the building outright, due to the costs of upkeep that have now left him teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. One setback after another has slowly whittled away any hope he’d been harboring to turn the tides. Having time for little else in life, Cain’s guilt over his failure to protect the home of those who reside within the walls of La Terraza has crippled his spirit.

On the partnership fast-track at the flashy architectural firm of Hamilton-Bach, Henry Abrams is new in town, a little lonely and looking for inspiration. Tired of games and longing for something real, Henry discovers the road to happiness could lie in the arms of the sad, uncomplicated Cain Elliott.

Discovering that Hamilton-Bach represents the mysterious entrepreneur attempting to purchase La Terraza, combined with the self-doubt and mistrust over a love that develops too fast, leave both men struggling to decide whether or not they can truly find…Love in La Terraza.

Click Here to Purchase

Excerpt:

Cain took another long gulp from his beer, feeling as if he were slowly sinking into quicksand. He felt panic building in his chest, the utter sense of hopelessness threatening to take him over. He was just about to hop out of his chair and run for the nearest exit when Eddie interrupted his fretting.

“Who’s staring at us?” Eddie’s shoulders and back writhed as if he physically felt someone’s gaze upon his back.

“How does he do that?” Cain asked, flabbergasted by what the blind man could see that the rest of them had been oblivious to.

Everyone except Eddie turned to look about the room. Cain somehow knew there was only one direction in which to concentrate his efforts.

Yep, there he is, still holding up the bar.

Cain started to grin the instant their gazes met. Mr. Preppy did indeed still seem to have his heart set on conquering Cain’s wild unknown. In truth, the guy was a little slice of heaven, perhaps someplace warm and safe where Cain might rest his weary head for the evening…well…after all the spirited fucking and sucking, of course.

“Mrs. Madrigal has a gentleman caller,” Matt said to Eddie out of the corner of his mouth.

Cain took a cue from Nic and smacked Matt in the arm for his trouble. “I hate it when you call me that.”

“What’s he like?” Eddie asked, now grinning as well.

“Damn!” Nic hissed under her breath.

“That good?” Eddie asked,

Cain scowled over the implied insult. “I’m going to try forgetting you sounded that surprised by the fact.”

“I’m hotter than him.” Stu smirked as he nodded his head in confidence.

“Sorry, Cain,” Eddie mumbled. “Didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”

“Since you won’t be fucking me tonight, that’s sort of a moot point, Stu.” Cain shook his head before reaching across the table to give Eddie a reassuring squeeze of forgiveness.

“The wife does frown upon any extracurricular activities.” Stu winked at Cain while nudging Nic in case she may have thought him serious for even a moment.

“Are you all still staring at him?” Eddie asked.

They glanced between one another, quickly turning back to face the table in shame.

“Way to drive him away there, people,” Eddie said.

“Shit, I—” Nic glanced up quickly then looked back down at the tabletop like a child who’d just been scolded. “I think he’s coming over!”

Cain sat up straight, eyes wide, more frightened by the high-pitched squeal of Nic’s voice than surprised over the fact he was about to land himself a hook-up for the evening.

Eddie shook his head as if he were attempting to get his hearing back. “Good god, woman, another octave or two higher and only dogs would’ve been able to hear that.”

“Pardon me for interrupting,” a deep, sexy southern voice came from behind Cain. “I couldn’t help but notice the entire table staring at me.”

Cain turned, looking upward at the man in question and trying his best to not laugh. “Hiya.”

“No pardon needed.” Eddie stood up from the table while yanking on Matt’s arm. “We were just leaving.”

Cain felt the heat flush his cheeks the instant Eddie had said it.

Not at all obvious.

Matt stood, clumsily. “Please take a seat, though. Cain was planning to hang.”

Cain rolled his eyes. “And I’m just dying to keep you company, sir. In exchange for taking me off their hands my daddies can offer you two goats, a head of cattle and a skillet.”

Eddie was already shaking his head in disgust. “Please try and stick around long enough to make it through the first act, Mr…?”

“Abrams. Henry Abrams,” he said, extending his hand before noticing the white folding cane in Eddie’s hand.

Cain thought he was kinda cute, standing there slightly awkward for a moment as he tried to decide what to do with his hand now that it was already out there. He tossed Henry a lifeline by taking it instead, shaking his hand.

“The second act does have a bitchin’ musical number you don’t wanna miss, Mr. Abrams. My name is Cain Elliott.”

“May I sit?” Henry asked as everyone said their goodbyes to Eddie and Matt who scurried off into the crowd, whispering to one another.

“Please,” Nic said, smiling as if she were Cain’s self-appointed social director, having completely missed the cues Eddie had thrown down like gas on an already flaming forest fire.

Cain could tell Stu had not but wasn’t quite able to figure out a subtle way to tell his wife they were now intruding upon and likely impeding the sacred homo mating dance.

“So what is it you do, Henry?” Nic asked.

Cain could tell she was wired up and ready to play Debbie Drill Sergeant, already commencing with the interrogation.

Henry started to answer, but Cain dreamily placed two fingertips over the man’s lips.

He laughed to himself, realizing he’d had just enough alcohol to make him fearless. “Let’s not do the whole, this is me and that is you shakedown, gorgeous. I’m feeling like a little mystery might do me some good. How about you?”

Henry’s forehead crinkled, as if he were thinking real hard about whether or not he liked where this was going. His playful half smile told Cain he was still amused if nothing else.

“We can always have share-time later, you know, after—if the sex is hot, that is.”

Henry blushed, but he started to laugh. Cain could tell the man knew he was at least half joking for the benefit of their audience across the table.

“Well, what if he’s a serial killer or something?” Nic asked, visibly disgusted with Cain.

“He most likely wouldn’t come out and say so just because you asked him, dear.”

Nic started to object then must’ve realized Cain had a point.

“You aren’t a serial killer, right?” Cain muttered out of the corner of his mouth.

“No, sir, I am not.” He smiled at Nic, pouring on the charm. “I hereby solemnly swear to inflict no pain or suffering upon your good friend.”

“Not even if I beg you to?” Cain asked.

Click Here to Purchase

Coming in Less than TWO Weeks!!!

bloghomopromo

SecondTimeLucky_200

 

Second Time Lucky

 

Available June 8th from MLR Press!

Promotional Blurb:

Luke Landon and Owen West already had a once upon a time. They burned hot back in college yet still managed to lose their way. It’s been fifteen years since they drifted apart and while a lot has since changed, they’ve discovered that some things still feel the same. While one calls it fate, the other dumb luck, second chances aren’t easy to come by. Putting the ignorance of youth and life’s baggage aside, they just might find that sometimes the best things really do come back to you.

 

 

Excerpt:

Chapter One

I could only imagine what a pathetic, sad vision I made sitting at the bar, completely surrounded by happy party-goers and drunks, yet so obviously all alone. Funny thing was, I didn’t believe anyone else could be bothered to notice. Another real ripper of a birthday had come and was now mercifully nearing an end. I was birthday cursed, that much I’d discovered a long, longtime ago. This year had proven no different.

Thirty fucking six years old. I might as well be dead. Wait, what am I thinking? I am dead—at least in this town.

It’s the biggest problem gay men of a certain age face having lived all their life in the same damn city. From Cub Scouts to college, and beyond, I’d screwed my way from one end of town and back again so many times over the years that damned if there was anyone left I hadn’t had sex with. I was well on my way to becoming the dirty old man waiting around for the latest batch of college freshmen to move into town—fresh off the fields and farms all pink and eager to learn anything Daddy was willing to teach.

My stomach churned at that horrendous thought, so I quickly took another swig off my long neck attempting to drown it at inception as opposed to allowing it to take root and blossom. My lip curled seeing Craig pass by with the latest model of gay hanging on his arm.

My most recent ex-boyfriend. What a dirt bag. I should be celebrating the fact that we were over, yet somehow him being here on this night of all nights, and with a new boyfriend, made me less than jolly. I surveyed the room once more, shaking my head. It was like a who’s who of the men Luke Landon had dated and dumped. This was the third bar I’d been to and each one of them held a different selection of my exes.

This kind of thing didn’t happen often. It was quite rare—and most unpleasant. It was as if the mystical gay energy that normally held the constructs of our flaming world together had come apart at the seams. Time itself had been bent and twisted into this hideously ugly Ebenezer Scrooge-like reality upon which all of my past exploits were now being paraded in front of my face as if to remind me what a ho-bag loser I was.

Usually, gay men stayed on the same cycle—similar to the menstrual variety in that we did our best to avoid the achy cramps that came with running into our past failures. We instinctively knew what nights and times to avoid certain bars. It was something we normally didn’t have to work at. The same way the moon orbits the earth which in turn does the same with regard to the sun, we managed to avoid one another without needing to consciously think.

For a city that held over a half a million people and a plethora of gay bars, Middleton usually provided ample room for the homosexual animals to roam freely within their desired packs, without fear of awkward confrontations or sideways glances. Tonight however, was like a full eclipse or Haley’s Comet—that once in a blue moon alignment of events that created the hell in which I now resided.

I signaled the bartender that I was ready for another beer and shot, wondering where the hell all the astrological references in my brain were coming from. I groaned, pouting in my pity party for one, recognizing the latest Kylie Minogue song which began pumping over the club’s sound system.

I could feel my bottom lip pooching out. I love this song, damn it!

I gazed longingly at the dance floor wishing I could go Cha Cha my blues away. I sighed, knowing it was safest for everyone if I kept my seat. The bone-breaking birthday bash of 2008 had taught me that. A broken ankle for me, a broken wrist for the boy I was dancing with, and three others, who suffered minor scrapes and bruises, all taken down by the power of the curse.

Like I’m supposed to know the metal railing around the dance floor wasn’t meant to be straddled and ridden like a bucking bronco?

No one was sued or anything, but I did ruin any chances at a future with my dancing partner. Don’t expect a happily-ever-after when you accidently break a man’s masturbation hand—life lesson learned.

Peter sat my drinks down in front of me, smiling in that sexy way they all do when they’re working you for a tip. I tossed him a ten and a five spot.

A gay bartender named Peter. I shook my head wondering if his parents appreciated the foreshadowing. “Keep the change.”

“Thanks!” he yelled over the loud music adding the obligatory “stud” onto the end. It felt less than genuine considering the sexy glimmer in Peter’s eye had already moved on to the patron sitting next to me.

“T and T with two limes,” the guy said. “And salt the rim,” both he and the bartender said simultaneously—the bartender mocking my new neighbor while nodding that he knew the drill all too well.

I managed a smile when the guy reached across the bar, smacking Peter in the arm.

“Hey Luke, what up?”

I glanced over at Rick, whose last name I could never seem to remember. “Nothing, aside from my bar tab.”

Rick grinned, rubbing his hands together as he slowly looked around the room, sizing up the meat in the market. He was obviously having a much better night than I was with my ghosts of boyfriends past…on parade.

Rick was what I referred to as a bar-buddy. We only managed a social life with one another while out clubbing. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision so much as some sort of instinctual vibe we each put off. I’d long believed we gays were able to sense favorable pheromones in one another, similar to the way dogs sniff each other’s asses to ascertain whether or not they might play well together. Unlike our canine compadres, however, we manage to confine our ass sniffing to private quarters…most of the time.

Rick and I merely recognized we wouldn’t have anything in common outside the confines of these walls. We didn’t swap numbers or follow each other on Twitter or Facebook. He wasn’t the kind of friend that would even know today was my birthday.

Peter slapped a cocktail napkin down onto the highly polished wooden bar before setting down the rocks glass, which was already sweating as beads of condensation ran down the side.

Rick tossed him his credit card. “Start me a tab?”

“Sure thing, stud,” Peter said before moving on to other pastures, still green with the almighty dollar.

Seriously? Are we all one? How many actual studs could one bar handle?

“Oh, Happy Birthday, by the way!” Rick exclaimed, as if having read my thoughts from mere moments ago, deciding to make a liar out of me.

“How the hell did you know it was my birthday?” I asked.

“I saw it on Facebook earlier today.” He said it nonchalantly.

I rolled my eyes before downing my shot of tequila. Apparently I had too many face-friends, considering I could no longer recall who was or wasn’t among them.

“Geez dude,” Rick mumbled. “It’s like an ex-BF convention rolled into town.”

“You too?” I asked, picking up my beer while trying to remember who he’d been with in the past.

“No way, not me!” Rick shivered the thought and took a sip from his glass, licking the salt off the rim with the tip of his tongue. “You!”

Tell me something I don’t know, asshole.

I huffed slightly, wondering how the hell he knew me so well.

“Oh man, there’s Marty, I haven’t seen him around in a long time.”

I sighed watching my fifth-ex-removed stroll languidly through the center of the bar looking all fresh and fine.

Rick took another drink while eye-fucking Marty within an inch of his life. “I always had a thing for him, you know?”

I should’ve known better than to ask on a night like this. I most certainly did not know that. Another gift I’ll not be able to return. Whoever said information was power was a total liar.

I took a good long drink from my very cold beer.

Rick placed his hand on my shoulder. “It’s nice to see that Chance guy out and about, huh?”

I glanced over to where Chance Crawford was sitting, surrounded by men that had never paid him any mind before his lover, who’d been an anchorman for one of the local affiliates was killed, hit by a car last year.

I couldn’t help but think he looked as miserable as I felt, which in turn made me realize what a heel I was being. There was a guy who had a legitimate reason to be down in the dumps. A few exes…well okay a few dozen, but still. No one I cared for was dead.

“Say, would it be weird if I were to ask Marty out?” Rick asked, not even bothering to look me in the face as he was too busy staring at the ex in question.

Okay, my statement would still be true, even if I were to strangle Rick. No one I cared for would be dead.

I sighed, near drunk and newly determined to finish my beer and go the hell home. “Knock yourself out.”

I smiled, hoping that birthday wish would come true.

“Thanks man!” Rick said, picking up his drink before teasing me by tripping over the leg of his barstool and stumbling face forward.

He managed to not fall on his head though. Still…not exactly a Rico Suave sorta move. I took a teensy bit of pleasure from the fact people were now laughing at his clumsiness.

Alone once more, I chastised myself for having tempted fate by going out on my birthday to begin with. My so-called loser friends and co-workers were supposed to have met me for dinner earlier in the evening at La Mancha’s. One by one they each called, having to cancel at the last minute, leaving me alone at the large ass table wearing a huge sombrero while drowning my sorrows in a pitcher of mango margaritas.

“Happy Birthday to me,” I mumbled, as the strangest sensation shot through my chest for like the first time ever.

Me, Luke Landon, one year older and newly decrepit…now that I was practically forty…a one-time party boy and player…heart breaker extraordinaire was actually experiencing a new emotion.

I was lonely?

It seemed unfathomable as I took another swig from my bottle while contemplating the horror of it. I shrugged, downing the last bit of beer.

Perhaps I’m just drunk?

I started to laugh, pushing the beer bottle away before reaching for my phone to call a cab.

I cocked my head to the side hearing this static-like sound coming from behind me, followed by the words, “Put your clothes back on and get back into your vehicle. The park has now closed.”

The smile spreading across my face was immediate and uncontrollable as I’d only heard those words one time before, and only two other people would’ve been able to repeat them to me. The park ranger who’d quietly driven his Jeep Wrangler down to the lake, surprising us with the floodlights he’d turned on—illuminating our nakedness as we frolicked in one another’s arms on the beach or Owen West my co-frolickee…frolicker-er?

Wait, is that even a word?

My Interview with Sloan Parker about Breathe

Today I’m posting an interview with the lovely and talented Sloan Parker, author of More, Take Me Home, and the subject of today’s interview, Breathe – 1st place winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards in the Contemporary Romance category among several others. Along with the above mentioned, Sloan is also a fantastic friend – I know as she spent an entire Saturday evening chatting with me back in the summer of 2010 in which we did everything but braid one another’s hair. That likely only went by the wayside because it was an instant message chat due to the fact we were each in separate parts of the country at the time. Apparently, I’m cheap and easy – able to be had and held for a lifetime of friendship after only one marathon heart to heart. : )

SPPROMO-block420SP: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with cheap and easy. Although, it’s definitely more along the lines of you being a fabulous guy that makes you such a good friend. That chat was more fun than anything else that can be had on a Saturday evening. Well, almost anything. ;)

Thanks for the wonderful introduction and for letting me ramble on your blog today, Ethan!

ED: Let me begin by saying congratulations again for your win in Elisa Rolle’s 2011 Rainbow Awards. I think it well deserved as I thoroughly enjoyed Breathe. One of the things I found most interesting with this book was your use of hate as an underlying theme throughout. It comes in more than one form, but what struck me as unusual was that the gay aspect wasn’t front and center. We often see the use of anti-gay bigotry as a plot device in gay romance. It’s all too familiar obstacle to that happily-ever-after. In Breathe, however – the hatred came more from the sense of familial loss over the life not lived due to the death of one character that resulted from the actions of another. The gay aspect was almost secondary – just another log on an already ignited fire burning out of control. Was hate something you purposely chose as an underlying obstacle but determined to use in a different way?

SP: First, I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you enjoyed Breathe. Thank you for checking it out and for the congrats on the Rainbow awards. Hearing about the wins for Breathe was quite a surreal moment for me. So many people cautioned me about writing that story. It feels good to know people have been moved by Jay and Lincoln’s story.

Definitely, hate was a big part of what I wanted to explore in Breathe. The idea that holding on to anger and grief and blame can ultimately do more damage to the wronged parties than the original loss they suffered through. It was part of the book’s plan from day one. That level of hate was inspired from real-life moments that I witnessed after an accidental death of someone in my hometown. The people I watched throw out insults with malicious vehemence didn’t even know the man responsible for the accident, and I was very disturbed be the entire situation. I guess I felt compelled to channel the hate I’d witnessed into a love story.

ED: I found your use of setting to be purposeful outside of the obvious world building aspect of writing. Everything surrounding these characters remained rather stark throughout: the houses or rooms in which they resided, the bar they went to for drinks, the anti-gay oppression which can still be quite prevalent in small town USA, even the gloomy winter weather that seemed to never end. It was as if Lincoln and Jay were trapped in a world of grey. I think it provided an almost pin-point focus on the two men and their growing relationship – as if they were the only thing in their world highlighted in color. Was this something that came to you organically throughout the writing process or was it part of the plotting from the very beginning?

SP: I’m so glad you mentioned the setting and weather, and I loved the way you described it. That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I wanted the bleak surroundings and the onslaught of the winter weather to help illustrate where each man was emotionally, that is until the final moments when Jay is at the cemetery alone and then later when he goes to see Lincoln. Only then was the spring weather starting to break through, and only then were the two of them really able to think about moving on and accepting the hope of a different future.

I outline every story and make several passes through it while revising and editing. The use of the settings and the winter weather to help set the mood was definitely something I planned out, though not every detail came to me until several passes through revising. I tend to have an overall idea of what I want to accomplish with those kinds of things, but it takes me several times through the story to layer it in with the plot and character interactions. Otherwise it feels forced to me, and ultimately probably would to the readers as well.

ED: Lincoln in particular, despite having been released from prison when the story begins, appears to still be very much in a prison of his own making. The guy never really lets up on himself, and even as the book came to a close, I’m not sure I ever felt he totally let it all go. Was this something you intended from the onset, and do you believe he ever completed his journey from self loathing to forgiveness?

SP: I just want to give you a giant hug. A prison of his own making is a great description. That’s exactly where Lincoln was at the opening of this book. He was the first character I envisioned for this story and wasSloanParker2 the one I wanted to help heal before I even dreamed up who Jay would be. From the very start, I wanted to make Linc a likeable guy who was such a good person that he couldn’t forgive himself, couldn’t let himself out of those prison walls he’d built up around him.

I think at the close of the story, he has a real shot at moving on. I don’t think that would’ve been possible without Jay’s forgiveness and love. Lincoln will never be the same man he was before the accident, and I don’t think he’ll ever completely let go of the guilt, but I believe that through building a life with Jay and working to be a part of what makes Jay happy, Lincoln will find a purpose in his life (along with caring for his sis and her kids). That purpose will allow him to live a more peaceful existence than where he started at the beginning of Breathe.

I’ve written a draft of an epilogue that I almost included in the book. Ultimately, I decided the ending was stronger without it and didn’t even finish polishing it. Someday soon I hope to get that revised and posted on my website so readers can see a bit of the future for Linc and Jay together.

ED: As someone who’s never been a fan of the gay-for-you storyline, which after hearing bits and pieces of the storyline from other people was what I assumed I’d be getting into with this book, I was pleasantly surprised and found it a refreshing change for Jay’s character to be a true bi-sexual. He’s attracted to both men and women yet manages to maintain a monogamous relationship with whomever he finds himself with at the time. It was something he never hid from his wife, though he did conceal that part of himself from his parents and in-laws. But I somehow got the feeling that had he met and fell in love with a man as opposed to a woman first that wouldn’t have been the case – that the only reason he actually hid that part of himself was because he’d never had a reason to do otherwise. That complete honesty within Jay’s marital relationship is an aspect of his personality that I’ve found accurate with regard to the few real-life bi-sexual men I’ve met over the years. Was this something that was important for you to show when creating this character or did it present itself to you organically as a result of the needs of the story you wanted to tell?

SP: Jay’s bisexuality was a very important part of the story for me (and another intentional element. Apparently I didn’t write much of this one organically. LOL). I purposely didn’t want it to be something he hid from his wife. I think people too often assume when someone realizes he or she is bisexual, they are automatically going to leave the person they are with and run out to explore that part of themselves. That’s just not always the case. As for many-real life bisexuals, they share that insight with their partner and discuss it openly. In Breathe, I didn’t want Jay’s own acceptance of who he was to be an important internal conflict for him. He’d already accepted that as a part of himself. Now, with Lincoln, he was able to explore that physically as well. I’ve heard from readers who were surprised there wasn’t more made of his “coming out.” But as you said, if Jay had fallen in love with a man first instead of his wife, he would’ve brought that person home to meet his family and all would have been revealed about his bisexuality earlier in his life. His internal conflict had much more to do with a perceived betrayal of his wife because of who Lincoln was, not because Lincoln was a man.

ED: Lastly is one of the things that impressed me most about this story, the overall concept of one man falling in love with another man who happens to be responsible for the death of his spouse. It vaguely reminded me of a film I love called, Return to Me – where a man unknowingly falls in love with the woman who received the heart of his first wife (killed by a drunk driver) as an organ transplant. Was there an intent behind it – some particular theme you wanted to play into or simply a really cool idea that happily came to you.

SP: Love that film! You know, I’ve never thought of it in relation to Breathe before.

The original idea for Breathe came about several years ago when there was a tragic car accident a few miles from where I live. A young woman was killed in the crash as well as her unborn child. Her young son and husband, who were also in the car, were both injured but survived. It was such a sad story. My heart broke for that family. Sometime later, I saw footage on the local news of the man who had accidentally caused the crash. He was in the courtroom for his hearing and was talking to the woman’s family. I didn’t really hear what he was saying (I had the TV muted), but the look of misery and despair on his face was genuine and something I’ll never forget.

Naturally I felt horrible for the family that had lost this woman, but I also couldn’t get the other man out of my mind. Would he ever be happy again? Ever smile? Laugh? Love? Ever be able to forgive himself?

Not long after that night, I had several pages of notes about Lincoln and Jay. I wanted to create two characters who were decent, caring guys stuck in an impossible situation. I wanted them to learn to accept that forgiveness and love could make a difference in their lives. I wanted them to learn to love again. The more I wrote about Jay and Lincoln, the more I had to follow them to their happy ending.

ED: Thank you once again for taking the time to answer all my annoyingly nosy questions Sloan! Congratulations once more on the well deserved success of the book. : )

SP: Thank you so much, Ethan. These questions were far from annoying. They were some of the best ones I’ve been asked about this book. I absolutely loved the way you described the story elements. Thanks again!!

Click Here To Purchase

Promotional Blurb:

Lincoln McCaw lost everything—his home, his job, his partner—after he caused a fatal accident. A year later, he’s drowning the guilt and despair in whiskey, but he needs to move on. His sister and her kids are counting on him. Then he meets a man who ignites a passion Lincoln thought he’d never find. Too bad one night is all they can have together. Now he needs to figure out how to turn away from the only person who makes him feel alive…before whoever is sending him threats decides Lincoln needs to suffer more than he already has.

Jay Miller is surrounded by grief and misery until he finally gives in to all those years of sexual fantasies about being with another guy. Realizing he’s ended up in the arms of the man who caused his wife’s accident, he tries to pull away. But how can he give up a friendship he needs more than anything—a friendship and a love that could save him? He may not have time to make the choice before someone else destroys it all.

Excerpt of Breathe by Sloan Parker

“God, you sure are a cute one.”

Jay cracked a smile as the woman at the far end of the bar flirted with the dark-haired man wearing a leather jacket. She had no clue she’d already lost the game. Not only was Dark Eyes gay, he also looked as lost as he had when Jay first saw him. No one stood a chance with someone who obviously wanted to be left alone the way he did.

She kept at it, though. “Come on. Buy me a drink.” She ran her long, pink fingernails through the hair above his ear. Dark Eyes swatted her hand away and returned his attention to the glass that held something stronger than beer, gripping it with both hands.

SP_Breathe_coverlgJay couldn’t blame her for trying. Dark Eyes looked good in the black leather and faded jeans, his dark hair and skin a temptation for the fingers. Jay clutched his beer and took a swallow before setting it on the table he’d grabbed ten minutes earlier.

Sonny’s Tavern was crowded, the eligible singles mixing with the heavy drinkers. Most–like the woman hitting on Dark Eyes–not knowing how to tell the difference between the two. The Friday night crowd was more animated than the last night Jay had been in. A group of couples danced near the back wall, creating a makeshift dance floor. There was a different bartender on duty, the television and music overhead were louder, but the same old man sat sipping whiskey near the restrooms.

Jay drank more of his beer and waited. It wouldn’t take long.

By the time he finished the beer, the bar stool next to Dark Eyes was empty, the chatty blonde desperate for a free drink–and possibly more–had moved on. Jay waved for another beer, dropped onto the stool, and said, “Hey.”

Dark Eyes ignored him and stood.

Apparently Jay sucked at the flirting thing. Which made sense. He hadn’t dated many girls. The only one other than Katie had been a fellow classmate he’d agreed to go to the homecoming dance with his junior year during the five weeks he and Katie had their one breakup.

Dark Eyes removed his jacket, laid the leather over the bar, and sat again. The muscles of his arm flexed as he lifted the glass for a drink. The hint of a tattoo peeked out from under the T-shirt’s sleeve. An outline of an eagle feather.

“Do I know you?” Dark Eyes asked.

He’d forgotten.

And here Jay was picturing what it would be like to blow the guy. He’d always wanted to know. Always imagined he’d like sucking cock and couldn’t stop dreaming of doing it to Dark Eyes since the man had walked out of the bar the other night. Was it because Jay knew Dark Eyes was gay?

No. This guy was a total turn-on for him. He’d only been sitting next to the man long enough for one smoke, and already all Jay’s fantasies were roaring to life.

“I uh…I was in here the other night.”

“I remember,” Dark Eyes said. “Saw you outside the night before that too. Thought maybe I’d seen you somewhere else, though.” He slid the bowl of peanuts toward Jay.

Jay stilled the spinning bowl. “Don’t think so. I’d remember meeting you.” Heat rose in his cheeks. Shut up! But did he want to? He nodded to the TV. “You watching the game?”

“Nah. I gave up last half.”

“Guess I didn’t miss much excitement, then. I had to work late.”

Dark Eyes removed one hand from his glass. He made like he was going to take a drink. “Where do you work?” The question came out in a rush before the glass hit his lips.

“Stacking loads at McNeil’s Lumber Yard.” Jay made eye contact with the man. Neither looked away. A nervous jolt shot from his gut to his groin. “It’s a shit job, but I’m lucky to have it. I was going to college but, I…uh, I had to quit. And since they won’t let you teach high school history without a college degree, or a teacher’s license for that matter, I’m stuck with whatever pays the bills.”

Dark Eyes let go of his drink and turned on the stool a fraction of an inch in Jay’s direction. The slight curve of his lips wasn’t as unnerving as the intense stare.

Jay kept talking. “History’s always been my thing. Since I was a kid. Everyone thinks I’m crazy for wanting to teach high schoolers, but there’s a lot we can learn from history.” And why was he sharing any of this?

The grin on the other man’s face grew. “You always talk this much?”

Jay shrugged and sipped the beer he’d forgotten he had. “I don’t know.” He laughed. That statement was worth a laugh–the first real one in over a year–considering Todd’s recent comments about how he hadn’t been talking much anymore.

“What’s funny?” Dark Eyes asked.

“Nothing. What do you do?”

“Just started over at the steel plant. Used to drive loads for them years back.” Dark Eyes gripped his glass again, clutching it in one hand. The other joined the first until he held on to it with both hands. What would those hands feel like when they touched Jay’s body? His ass? His dick? What would those arms feel like wrapped around him? How would the skin of that neck taste? What would that dark hair feel like when he grasped the man’s head in his hands while Dark Eyes blew him?

Jay breathed deep. Fantasies…just a fantasy. He wasn’t ready for anything physical with anyone. Was he?

Before that week, he hadn’t been ready for so much as a one-night stand. When he let himself get close to someone, all his thoughts would turn to Katie and every sexual moment they’d spent together. He hadn’t wanted to go there, especially not for a quick fuck to please his cock.

Had that changed?

His body was ready, but was he?

Maybe someday…a roll in the hay with a woman. Maybe even with a guy. Might be nice to know if all those fantasies had been leading him on about what he wanted–or whom he wanted it with. But not yet. Not after only a year.

Then why had he sat next to the guy in the first place? Why had he looked for the man?

Dark Eyes leaned his upper body in close, almost touching Jay’s arm. That rattled him out of his trance. Damn, he’d been staring at the man for too long. The husky whisper as Dark Eyes spoke did nothing to aid Jay in regaining his concentration.

“Quit looking at me like that, kid. Unless you’re willing to back it up.”

Oh God. Maybe the flirting had gone better than Jay thought.

The only sexual experience he had other than Katie was the ten-minute fuck in the back of Christy Harper’s car on homecoming night. He’d gotten off, but it hadn’t been anything special. He’d put every last minute of it out of his mind as soon as he and Katie had made up.

The weeks they’d spent apart were the worst weeks of his life until a year ago.

No. The worst part was telling Katie about what he’d done with Christy. Katie had gone on her own date, and Jay hated hearing about the kissing and groping she’d done. He could only imagine how much it hurt Katie to listen to his confession about his backseat “date.” He made a promise to himself as he drove her home that night, both of them sitting in the front seat of the Jeep in silence. He’d never hurt her again. Never cheat again. Even though she said he hadn’t technically cheated and she understood how it had happened, it sure had felt as though he’d been unfaithful. He never wanted to feel that way again. Never wanted any other person pleasuring him. Only her.

And now here he was hoping another guy was interested in him.

How had he given this guy the right signals? Or the wrong ones? And how was he supposed to respond?

Jay licked his dry lips and forced his attention on the TV above the bar. Commercials. Something with beer and babes in bikinis. How apropos.

“Kid.” That one word in the low, deep voice had him facing Dark Eyes again. Jay barely heard the whispered command over the sound of the country music. “Give it a few minutes, then meet me out back.” Dark Eyes stood, threw some wadded cash onto the bar, grabbed his coat, and exited out the back entrance that led to the rear parking lot. The music and crowd in Sonny’s muffled the bang of the door closing behind Dark Eyes.

Jay turned to the bar. He needed to leave. Out the front entrance. Now.

Why wouldn’t his legs help him out? He guzzled his beer in four tries, dropped the bottle onto the bar, and stood. What the hell?

He walked toward the back door at a quick clip, hoping no one knew where he was going.

Or why.

Copyright 2010. Sloan Parker. All Rights Reserved.

Click Here To Purchase