Click here to hear an excerpt of Toccata Obbligato by Jennifer Theriot.
Click here to hear an excerpt of Toccata Obbligato by Jennifer Theriot.
Moon over the Bay
Nathan Wolfe is gorgeous, and your typical surfer guy with blond hair, blue eyes, and tanned muscle. Looks like that should help him chase his dream of becoming an actor, but he’s had nothing but failed auditions for months. After confiding in his best friend that he’s been feeling a little lost, Kyle invites him to San Francisco where he’s been spending time with his girlfriend, Sadie. Nathan jumps at the chance in the hope that a change in scenery will lift his mood.
Jess Dempsey comes from a rich and influential family, and does have a liking for the finer things in life . . . like designer shoes and handbags. But she’s not your typical heiress to a fortune—she prefers to put her art history degree to work. Much to her parents’ dismay, Jess runs a successful business as an art agent, instead of taking her place in the family business. When her best friend, and most successful client, Sadie, asks a favor, Jess finds herself face to face with Nathan, and it’s lust at first sight.
But Nathan won’t be anyone’s playboy, he’s been there done that, and Jess has learned her lesson the hard way when it comes to pretty faces and their love of her wallet.
Nathan Wolfe dropped into the seat of his Mustang, throwing his messenger bag next to him. Another casting call, another waste of time. He was so sick of hearing the same things: you’re too tall, you’re too blond, you’re too all-American, you’re not dark enough, you’re not manly enough. He snorted. He could show those annoying casting agents a thing or two about manly. Didn’t matter anyway, Nathan would never see those people again. He was over this whole cattle-call audition process. He was starting to think he was over the whole acting thing.
He gassed it as he backed out of the parking space at the production offices in Burbank and roared toward home. Located on a mountain overlooking the San Fernando Valley, just north of L.A., it was Nathan’s favorite place. He shared the house with his best friend from college. Lately, though, it felt like he lived alone. Kyle spent all his time in San Francisco these days to be with the love of his life.
After pulling into the driveway, he was surprised to see Kyle’s Audi in the garage. Nathan smiled. Maybe a few beers with his friend would make the day better.
He climbed out of the car and walked in the side door. Kyle was sitting at the kitchen island using his phone. He was wearing a goofy grin, which of course meant he must be texting with his girlfriend.
“Hey, man, nice to see you home for a change,” Nathan teased as he sat his bag down.
“Hey, bro, how’s it going? Audition today?” Kyle asked, standing to give Nathan a welcoming hug. Something Nathan would never ever admit he needed.
“Yeah, it was crap though. Same shit as always. I’m too ‘whatever’ for the role. Today I was too ‘surfer.’ I’m kind of over it.” Nathan rolled his eyes before heading to the fridge.
“Ah man, that sucks. I’m sorry,” Kyle said absentmindedly as he went to sort through the mail.
“Eh, I’ll survive. Besides I’m almost too busy for auditions anyway. I’ve been buried with graphic-design work for a huge company website and some other marketing stuff that I almost forgot to do today.” Nathan twisted the cap off his beer and took a drink. “To be honest, I think I’m going to take a break from acting.” Nathan sighed. Kyle looked up from the mail and stared in shock.
“What? Why? I mean I know it’s been a while since you’ve had a job, but I know you’re going to land something awesome soon,” Kyle offered.
Nathan was always touched at the unwavering support Kyle gave him. They’d moved to Los Angeles after college because Nathan wanted to be an actor, and Kyle thought he could do it. Now years later, Nathan had nothing really to show for the few gigs he’d landed except his Mustang he bought with his first big check.
“Thanks man, I appreciate it. It’s been a rough couple of weeks and with you not here . . .” Nathan trailed off, shrugging. He really hated to sound needy, but Kyle and his dad were all the family Nathan had. Sure they texted all the time, but it wasn’t the same as when he and Kyle sat in the backyard and watched the sun go down. His auditions were getting to him lately; he’d even quit the dumb valet job he’d been suffering through, because hoping to get noticed by a casting agent wasn’t panning out anyway. He’d been spending more time on his graphic design business while he re-evaluated his life.
“I know . . . and I’m sorry for not being around, and now I’m packing up to head back up there tomorrow. I only came back to go into the office for some face to face meetings today,” Kyle said. Nathan fought the disappointment that flooded him. Another weekend in the house, alone.
“Hey, why don’t you come with me this weekend? I’ve got to come back for a big client meeting on Monday, so I’m not going to stay long. I even have somewhere you can stay,” Kyle said with hope in his features.
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Short stories that grow . . . and grow
Ever read a book and wish you could read more? Okay, dumb question. Ever read a book and wish it were a series?
I’m a huge, huge fan of book series. I can never get enough of whatever I am reading. But for me, it never fails that one of the best personalities I become attached to in a book is a secondary character in a stand-alone book.
When I started out writing my first book, Talk to the Moon, it was as a short story intended for an anthology. The publisher came back and said, extend this and send it back. So I did. I wrote and wrote and ended up creating a couple of really fun secondary characters. Once Talk to the Moon was done, I couldn’t get Nathan, the best friend of the main protagonist, out of my head. I’m not sure what it was about Nathan, but I felt he needed a story. I thought his laid back personality would be fun to play off someone sassy. That’s how Jess from Talk to the Moon came in. Their chemistry was fun to watch play out, along with their other issues, in the second book in the series, Moon over the Bay.
The same with the other characters in Talk to the Moon, Katherine and Miles. I really loved how their story just clicked and flowed out of me in Sunrise. Their attraction basically wrote itself. Sunrise is the prequel to the series, but I actually wrote Sunrise after writing the first two books in the series.
As writers we have these people living in our head, which is very weird to admit, and some of these people just make themselves known loud and clear. The best part is I get to make a series the way I would want to read it. We meet new people in each book and get a look at how things are going for the previous characters. I personally think that’s super cool.
Do you guys prefer stand-alone books or series?
About the Author
Morgan Emerson’s a zoo keeper, a maid and a chauffeur on top of being a reader, writer and a daydreamer.
Morgan lives in the desert, on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona where she and her husband try to wrangle their three small children. Her passion for reading started as a teenager, leading her to write poetry and short stories as an adult.
She was inspired by another stay-at-home mom turned author to start writing herself, and her favourite characters are Alpha males and sassy women.
A little about Bottom Drawer Publications
Read whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want.
Welcome to Bottom Drawer Publications. Our motto above says it all. Publishing both e-books plus print-on-demand for our novel-length books means that if you feel like something to read at any time of the day or night, you can download a reasonably-priced, quality book within minutes from your choice of booksellers, including our own digital shop. If you prefer to hold a paperback in your hands, our print-on-demand printer has presses in the US, UK, Europe and Australia, meaning shorter delivery times and lower postage costs to you.
We are an inclusive publisher, believing love is love, which is why you won’t see a separate LGBT genre—we publish hetero and gay fiction in all of our romance sub-genres:
Contemporary – Historical – Literary Drama – New Adult – Alternative Lifestyle
Paranormal – Sci-fi – Fantasy – Mystery -Thriller – Steampunk
At the turn of the century, the Victorian upper classes live in a vibrant but strictly-ordered world that encourages gentle, intellectual pursuits. Theirs is a life of ease and elegance, but it can be snatched away from them in an instant if the rules of polite society are not followed. Gothic novelist Geoffrey Hawes has never been willing to let such restrictions hold him back, and he refuses to honor conventions for which there is no discernible value. When he spends a social season in a community created to celebrate the Arts, music, and philosophy, he is unexpectedly befriended by the daughter of the Governor, Miranda Claridge.
Bitter and disenchanted with the privileged and wealthy, Geoffrey finds his beliefs repeatedly challenged by the intelligent and vivacious Miranda. In the midst of their heated debates on the mores of the upper class, this unlikely friendship blossoms into a passionate love. He encourages her to pursue her interest in painting and gives her a new understanding of what relationships between men and women should be. Meanwhile, Miranda begins to open his eyes to all that is wonderful and beautiful and good in the world.
Geoffrey at last accepts that he has fallen in love with Miranda, but misunderstandings and lies come between them. Knowing that Miranda believes it is her duty to marry, he prepares himself to hear news of her wedding. Geoffrey attempts to escape the pain of her perceived rejection by traveling and throwing himself into his work. However, he cannot run forever. One day, he encounters Miranda again and soon discovers that she is not the same woman he left behind. Can the couple realize that they each must relinquish some of their prejudices and preconceived notions before it is too late? Can love really conquer all?
To celebrate the release of Elizabeth M. Lawrence’s debut novel, I decided to get her to talk us through the setting and characterisation of The Truth Seekers. Here’s what she had to say…
You’ve set The Truth Seekers in Victorian times. What was it about the era that you felt suited the story better than setting it in today’s society and did this thinking impact on creating a male main character rather than a female one?
In order to address this properly, I have to go back to the very beginnings of The Truth Seekers.
The manuscript originally started out as letters that the two main characters were writing to each other. The first “voice” I heard was the female main character, followed by a response from the male. The words just popped into my head one evening, so I wrote them down. I was left to figure out what had led these people into the conflict and how it would be resolved. This forced me to construct a story around that conflict. As my ideas developed, it soon became clear that this was really the man’s story. Miranda’s point of view was simpler, more accessible, and it didn’t need the kind of insight that the reader could get from showing events through her eyes. It had to be Geoffrey, then, who guided us through this world. His motivations and principles and feelings were not straight-forward; therefore, the reader needs to see what lies behind his words and actions. Without understanding Geoffrey’s thought processes, it is much more difficult to see him as a sympathetic or romantic character.
The era in which the story is set also contributes to this a great deal. Miranda’s world is very restricted, and there are limits to what she can get away with while staying true to her character. Geoffrey, as a man, is given far more freedom to behave badly and make all sorts of trouble. Because of Miranda’s personality, she is not going to rock the Victorian boat, no matter how many boat-rocking ideas may occur to her. Geoffrey is able to be the catalyst in their exchanges, and so focusing on him gives the story more depth and variety.
As to why the Victorian era, that is much easier to explain. The setting for the first half of this story is based upon a real location, Chautauqua Institution in New York State. This community was created during the Victorian period as a haven for the study of religion, philosophy, art, music, dance, literature, theater, and learning. It still exists today and is one of my favorite places to write. The grounds have been preserved in their Victorian glory as much as was possible, and so you can walk along the same streets, sleep under the same roofs, and experience the arts in the same buildings that were used over one hundred years ago.
When I wrote the initial exchange between Miranda and Geoffrey, the formality and structure of the language made it necessary to set it in the past. After that, choosing to set the story in a Victorian utopia for creativity and thought was not a great leap, although I took a great deal of creative license when approaching some of the details. However, Geoffrey’s small apartment really exists, as do the hotel, the grand mansion, the lakeside gardens, and the lecture hall that appear in the novel.
Although I enjoyed writing about a period and a location that fascinate me, I would not consider myself an historical novelist. Despite the considerable research I did while working on this book, The Truth Seekers is meant primarily to be a story of two people falling in love, and not a recounting of Victorian society. There are novelists out there who excel at historical fiction; I do not pretend to be one of them. My muse simply seems to enjoy excruciatingly precise syntax and the idea that two people can fall in love and help each other find something greater, despite the limitations of their era.
Elizabeth Lawrence is the author of both contemporary and period romances. Each book incorporates its own unique blend of humor and reverence, the peculiar and the mundane. In addition to her novels, Elizabeth serves as a freelance editor. A lifelong writer and former paralegal, Elizabeth divides her free time between her husband and two sons, her three cats, her collection of cozy murder mysteries, and her mildly severe caffeine addiction. A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Elizabeth now works from her home in Cleveland, Ohio.
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Each Friday night, a mysterious man enters Blackjack’s Bar, orders the same drink, and sits in the same seat in the furthest corner. His presence is a welcome sight for Isaac Anderson, a regular bartender at Blackjack’s. There’s just something mysterious and intriguing about Caleb Miller that Isaac can’t ignore. Perhaps it’s his pale and sickly appearance, or the smart way in which he dresses. Isaac just can’t put his finger on what makes this man so different. Another thing he can’t do is stop staring at this fascinating, special person. Encouraged to take a gamble and to get to know this quiet stranger, Isaac invites Caleb to watch a rock band with him. All seems to be well, until Caleb suddenly makes a mad dash for the door.
Caleb doesn’t know what to think when Isaac Anderson pursues him that night. A lifetime of rejection has taught him to expect the worst, but the attractive and warm bartender’s response to him confuses him. Isaac sees him at his worst, and Caleb is prepared to protect himself from judgment and heartache. He is shocked when he is instead given kindness and compassion. As Isaac continues to reach out to him, Caleb struggles with the choice to trust the new man in his life. Even if Isaac wants to build a relationship with Caleb, there are other people in their lives who would be happier if they stayed apart. And even if he follows Isaac into his heart, it still may not be enough for Caleb to learn to accept himself.
Anger, judgment, distrust, and violence all threaten Isaac and Caleb’s newfound love. Their relationship faces too many challenges for either man to overcome on his own. Will taking a gamble pay off, or do they both stand to lose everything?
As part of the Take a Gamble blog tour, I have asked N. Wood to take part in a guest post. Here’s what she had to say:
How much research do you put into the subject matter of your books, or do you follow the ‘write what you know’ rule?
I tend to do a bit of both. I like to set my stories in places that I know because that makes it much easier for me to picture them in my mind while I write and to help me to describe them more clearly so that the reader can see the locations too.
My stories are mostly set in Cornwall, UK. I moved here in 2005, and it’s a truly wonderful place to live. You can drive from one coast of Cornwall to the other in 40 minutes, and there are so many beautiful beaches to explore.
(There was a gorgeous picture of a beach sunset taken by the author here, but no matter what I do, I can’t get it to post Apologies to N. Wood)
When it comes to the contents of my books, it’s always a mix and match of both what I know and what needs to be researched. With Take A Gamble for example: Isaac is a bartender in a pub in Truro. When I moved to Cornwall, the first job I got was working the bar at a rugby club, so I know how to pull pints and how to clean behind a bar. That made Isaac and his profession fairly easy to write. Whereas with Caleb, he is a music teacher at a college. I can’t play an instrument to save my life, so his career took a little research to get it right.
(SPOILER) There’s a chapter in Take A Gamble where Isaac takes Caleb to the aquarium in Newquay for a date. That chapter is based on my birthday when my boyfriend took me there for the first time. My birthday is in January, so the aquarium was rather quiet, almost like a ghost town. Like Caleb and Isaac, we just wandered from tank to tank to see what was inside. While we were in the main shark tunnel, a staff member came out of his way to find us to say that he was about to feed one of the exhibits if we’d like to go with him to watch. The exhibit was the mantis shrimp which I described in the chapter, and we witnessed its feeding habits just as the characters did in my book.