Release Day! It’s an odd, odd day in my world. As previously noted in my blogging history, excitement equals panic in my odd, odd head. So while I may be bouncing, bubbling and fist-pumping the air in “Hell yeah! You did it!” fervor, my mind is busy calculating my demise.
For example (and don’t you just love my examples?)… the obsessive tendencies I have to beat back with a stick every normal day, steal my stick and beat me soundly in the head with it. It would be laughable if it wasn’t quite so degrading.
I check my publisher’s website. I check the AREbooks website. I check Amazon, GoodReads, my website, my blogs, the sales of my other novels. I google myself. Then I google my book. Then I google all variations of my book’s title with my name. And then I bing it… Ten minutes later (I’ve got furiously fast fingers when my OCD takes over), I start it all again… and again… and again.
Odd, wouldn’t you say?
I’m going to try to be better today. I’m scheduling times that I will force myself to write on my next novel, times to work on my outlines for upcoming projects, times to rework old stuff into possibly publishable new stuff, times to work on the next installment of the Hellesgate series, times to…
See a problem?
Yeah, I’ve now OCD’d my writing way out of control.
Damn. My mind is tricky.
Well, while I battle with my gray matter, I offer to you an excerpt of Stripped Asset in hopes it will nudge you just enough to add Heath and Lachlan to your libraries. I think it’s a nice introduction to the characters. Enjoy!…
Chapter One: In the Orchestra’s Absence
Barefoot and still warm from his shower, Lachlan Hayes stepped out onto his deck and smiled. He would never get used to this spectacular view.
The Pacific Ocean stretched out before his beachside house like a skein of dark blue silk undulating with wave and wind. It was a million dollar view, one the screenwriter had paid $5.2 million for last Tuesday. Chill blades rolled across his bare skin at just the thought of spending that amount of money. He had come a long, long way.
Thirty two year old Lachlan Hayes had always played the role of the loner. He had been born to it, actually. Being an only child of a couple infatuated solely with each other, Lachlan’s formative years had held a certain free-form quality to them, a childhood that was great for the imagination but lousy for the foundation of friendships.
Despite this Lachlan flourished. He excelled at all his private schools. His summer tutors lauded his dedication to the literary arts and could do nothing but applaud the enthralling, complex plays ten year old Lachlan would write for his toy soldiers and teddy bears. It was at these tutors’ behest that the boy’s parents had sent their child to a prestigious arts academy in New York City. It was a move that would do nothing but say good things about such self-sacrificing parents.
Lachlan lived with a housekeeper in his own studio apartment from the age of twelve to eighteen.
At eighteen years and one day, Lachlan bolted to Berkeley. And while he had his friends and drinking buddies during his college years, he found himself spending his summers and holiday breaks relishing his time alone. He was comfortable within his own skin, a fact that peeved his girlfriends and bothered the shit out of his one boyfriend.
Sex was great. Lachlan loved sex. He could happily do it all day and all night for six days out of seven, but that seventh day he needed some time alone. At times, he craved the solitude, thriving in those hours with only pen and paper by his side.
It came as no surprise that he had as of yet to have a serious relationship.
The lack of that significant other in his life, however, wasn’t even a speck of disappointment in his existence this fleeting afternoon. The southern California sun soon rid him of the $5.2 million goose bumps. Her hands were warm and guileless across his chest and arms, cocooning him swiftly in the security of her heat.
The lawn chair of teak and dark blue cotton called to his still half asleep brain, promising a long late afternoon nap under the clear June skies.
In nothing but pajama bottoms, Lachlan rubbed his short thick mop of blond hair and shuffled across the patio, surrendering to the chaise’s siren call.
As his light blue eyes began to flutter closed, he thought to himself what an absurdly perfect day it had been.
After an all-nighter of tweaking an already sold script, Lachlan had collapsed across the white down comforter of his king-sized bed just as dawn trickled through his windows. Until four o’clock, even the tiny, annoying twinges of hunger hadn’t awakened him from his deep and dreamless sleep.
A power bar, a glass of milk and a forty-five minute shower then followed.
Now, he was going to let Lady Sun do the job of drying his body and hair for him.
Life was indeed perfect.
Life stunk for Heath Isles at the moment. As the twenty-seven year old landscape architect slammed his truck into park on the pristine, hill-clinging residential street, he wadded up his latest speeding ticket and tossed it into the back of his cab.
Grabbing a sketchpad, a notebook of already copious notes, and his camera, Heath climbed out of his truck and immediately cursed the time.
“Where the fuck did those two hours go?”
It was a rhetorical question of course. Even the rose bushes along the side of his new client’s house knew the answer. Traffic was hell in California. With the day that he was having, Heath wouldn’t have been surprised if he tripped over one of Dante’s rings about now.
Determined not to add a broken knee to the day’s cache of goodies, the man slowed his pace as he picked his way through the overgrown path that led to the house’s private beach.
He had never met Lachlan Hayes himself, since the writer’s manager had handled all the details and the initial introduction to the much neglected grounds through a couple dozen 8x10’s, Heath just hoped that Mr. Hayes understood screwed up work hours.
Heath Isles could not afford to lose this job.
Ducking under a broken limb of a pinion pine, Heath came to a full stop as the beach finally came into view.
The property was stunning. It had all the bones any landscape architect liked to work with and just enough of the overgrown, neglected quality to it to give the architect’s creative juices a healthy jolt of “I’m broken. Fix me.”
Heath had always loved the fixer-uppers the best. While he had had his share of new construction commissions, the properties of faded glory or untapped potential were his favorite types to dive into. He would then devote all his skills to the project until the land’s God-given beauty was revealed.
Heath smirked at the thought. His job was hardly as haughty or important as all that sounded. Just because he had the degrees to back up his ideas, he knew he wasn’t any different than most gardeners who just wanted their places to look good. It was exactly this ability to see his work through the eyes of both the “common man” and the “aristocracy” that had made his career so successful. Heath Isles appealed to everyone.
Heath outright laughed at that. The California court system sure as hell didn’t find him appealing and his father’s ex-wives out and out hated “every single one of his measly, greedy guts.” Ex-wife number one had a knack for color in her hatred. While ex-wife number two had perfected the uppity sneer to the point that words to the lower half of society had been deemed utterly useless and wasteful for years. She merely pointed at someone that disturbed her upper crust sensibilities and let her kennel of lawyers loose on their sorry asses.
If it wasn’t for his little brother, Heath would have gladly ignored his ex step-moms’ existences altogether. As it was, however, Heath now found himself in a heated custody battle for the eleven year old Clay Kilduff. A brother Heath didn’t even know existed six months ago.
One year ago, the father Heath never knew, either growing up or at any time in his adult life died, leaving Clay behind as his sole heir. Clay’s mother had died when he was just a baby. The boy had grown up in a string of boarding schools with only holiday visits from his father. It wasn’t until six months after learning the news about his father that Heath accidentally learned about Clay. The boy stood to gain a huge inheritance. It was the reason why he was being fought over like hot property by the two very greedy but very rich ex-wives.
Clay couldn’t be allowed to grow up in either woman’s house hold. They both viewed the eleven year old as nothing more than a financial asset, one that some garden boy/thief was trying to strip out of each of their bank accounts. Love and affection were nothing but messy means to the end as far as the ex-wives were concerned. They only brought out these foul emotions when in front of the judge or other influential members of the court. Of course, if the press happened to stop by, they would roll out a particularly stunning version of motherhood for the cameras to capture. They were just that kind of ladies.
Heath’s declarations of affection and concern about his young brother’s well-being were turned around by the ex-wives to appear as nothing more than the machinations of a gold-digger who was seeing his only opportunity to reach the higher echelons of the financial world slip through his grubby fingers.
The “dirty, money-hungry bastard” theme had become an early favorite in the child custody hearing. Less than a week into the court proceedings they were already becoming slimy. Heath didn’t want to drag this disaster out so he played what he thought would be the ace up his sleeve. Heath signed a legal document stating that he would never touch a dime of his brother’s money. He would provide for Clay by his own financial means. Clay’s inheritance would stay completely untouched until, as their father’s will provided until Clay turned twenty-five. The brothers’ lives wouldn’t be rich, but they would be good, and Clay would always, always know that he was loved every day of his life.
Unfortunately, Heath’s ace made little impression on the ex-wives or their attorneys. They simply argued that Heath would just be biding his time, earning Clay’s loyalty until the boy reached his financial maturity. Then, the women held, Heath would strike, and Clay would be helpless to turn down the brother who had raised him.
Heath had been struck fairly speechless at that response and had decided that any other grand gestures he’d leave in his back pocket until the bitches weren’t looking. Running off to Mexico with Clay was one of those gestures. It was a very, very last resort and had only entered his head as a crumb of a half-baked, crazy idea. It was there, however. The possibility was there and growing more and more likely after every bad day in court.
There were a lot of days in court to be bad, too.
Last Monday, the hearing had entered its fifth week. Every motion that could be filed was filed in triplicate by the ladies’ squadron of lawyers. Delays were asked for and received with such regularity that Heath was beginning to suspect that the judge had a weekly lunch date set up with each of the attorneys, except Heath’s own, of course.
“They’re gutting you, son. Trying to bleed you dry.” Heath’s lawyer had colorfully confirmed his own suspicions. “Those women know you’ve got a damned limited budget. They’re just going to wait you out until your money well runs dry.” Unfortunately, Heath’s lawyer was more adept at turning all things legal into cowboy-ese than actually winning a case, but he was all Heath could afford.
The ladies’ “gutting” technique was sadly running right on their malevolent schedule. Heath had to work a stupid amount of hours at some really stupid jobs. While he had to be careful to take jobs that would not hurt his professional reputation as a certified landscape architect, he was not beneath vicious amounts of manual labor. He quickly found that by doing most of the “grunt work” of his commissions himself, he was able to save a healthy chunk of the fees. Admittedly, he was pushing his body and his amazing stamina to its outer limits, but he was pulling enough cash in to keep his lawyer happy in cowboy boots and trail mix.
It was worth it.
Clay was worth it.
With that determination alone, Heath Isles made his way down to the shore.
I hope you enjoyed it and that it tickled all of those good buttons inside of you.
Thank you again for reading and taking time to share a little bit of my world. I will now hand the stick over to my OCD and see what craziness this release day will wrought.
Until next time…
Releases Thursday, Feb. 16th!
Ahh, Wednesday. “Hump” day has a whole different meaning for us romantic smut aficionados, doesn’t it? Eye-humping, leg-humping, dry-humping - just the “hump” alone puts a little more spring to our midweek getty-up… Or at least it could if we chose to look at it that way.
Optimism. The silver lining to all life’s maelstroms. It’s always there, or so they tell me, but sometimes it’s just damned hard to find.
Today is about making that pro-active choice to search out that silver. Consider me a blood-hound with an insatiable craving for silver. Nose to the ground, I will sniff it out.
I’m good at this. Just watch.
Due to my mental illness, I can’t work, not a normal 9 to 5 job at least. Heck, I can’t even manage a 10 hour a week job without completely losing it and being swallowed whole by panic. For someone who has been an over-achiever, the poster child for a hard worker, the girl with the big, big dreams, this particular life wrinkle is darn to take.
The chance for financial independence is literally shot to the outskirts of hell.
It’s oftentimes degrading, always demoralizing, and for a woman who has a wild, soul-defining streak of independence running inside of her it is aggravating, embarrassing and sucks rocks, big time.
So where is the silver?
The silver is right here. The newest vein of it is entitled Stripped Asset.
Without my mental illness, without the stubborn, never say die streak of independence that even now flows through me, there would be no Chloe Stowe. Sure, that might not be such a great loss to the world. Honestly, smut writers? There’s a million of them… but without Chloe Stowe, there would only be 999,999 of them. I’m one-one millionth of an industry that allows people to lose themselves in romance and passion for a few hours at a sitting. Not too bad a place to be, really.
So my novels are my silver linings. The silver in them might be small, miniscule even, but the worth is there.
And who knows? Tiny silver veins might one day, perhaps, lead to the grand-daddy of all silver strikes… I can only hope and keep my bloodhound nose to the ground.
See? I told you I was pretty good at this.
For your patience in reading that, I now proudly give you the chapter titles to my 10th novel Stripped Asset, releasing tomorrow…
Chapter One: In the Orchestra’s Absence
Chapter Two: Watershed Moments
Chapter Three: Of Sweet Oblivion
Chapter Four: Hellhounds on the Ocean’s Shore
Chapter Five: The Mysterious Case of Cinderella
Chapter Six: Voices in the Hall
Chapter Seven: Savory Morsels of Ecstasy
Chapter Eight: John Wayne
Chapter Nine: Maestro, If You Please
This one is a joy, folks. Dangerously hot and endearingly sweet. I hope you will enjoy this tenth silver streak of mine. Know that every word you read puts a little more shine to that elusive lining.
Until tomorrow (Release Day!)…
Day One has been thrust upon us with nary a warning, like a blizzard that jumps out from behind the innocent looking mountains yelling “Surprise!” in Icelandic tongues. Well, grab your parkas and your mittens, folks. This is going to be one heck of a super slalom-esque previewing ride!
Here we go!
Stripped Asset is my 10th published novel, and honestly it is one of my very favorites. The characters of Heath and Lachlan just wrote themselves, weaving a simple romantic tale into a dynamic, hopefully unforgettable read. Here’s why (in lovely synopsis/sell copy form)…
Love is rarely played more beautifully than to the heartfelt strings of sacrifice…
Thirty-two year old Lachlan Hayes is a successful Hollywood screenwriter who’s just bought a beautiful but neglected house on the sea. Words are his life; imagination his playground. But he’s never known love as more than a meeting of hungry bodies in the night.
Heath Isles is a twenty-seven year old landscape architect whose every moment is spent fighting for custody of his little brother. The work that pays for this legal battle is Heath’s life, giving his brother the future he deserves is his calling. But Heath’s never known true love as more than a common prelude to a common divorce.
When Lachlan hires Heath to renovate his beachfront property, a passion fierce and playful is alighted and a romance true and embattled is born.
Theirs is a story of irony, a story of when surrendering to the odds is love’s only hope of survival.
Theirs is a tale of a sacrifice made and kept.
Theirs is a song of hope and happy endings.
Excuse me while I bounce around in utter excitement. Please feel free to join in. The more bouncers the merrier, I always say. *grins*
Tomorrow, I will give you all the chapter titles and their excerpts in one grand rush of previewing goodiness. (I, too, am having to hurriedly throw on the gloves and big furry boots. The blizzard is unexpectedly barreling down on me as well… Ahh, the publishing world!)
As for all my faithful blog readers who have been following the escapades of my teetering mental health, an update awaits you tomorrow as well. I’d add more today but a good portion of my working brain matter leaked out of my head this morning as Tuesdays and I rarely get along. Don’t ask. I don’t have a heck of a clue as to why. You know, somebody could write a darn fine doctorate thesis on the mysterious mis-workings of my mind. Anything for science after all, right?
Well, I will leave you here for today. I hope everyone is well kitted out in their winter wear as the eye of the previewing blizzard hits tomorrow!
Chloe Stowe and her enigmatic brain
Available February 9, 2012!
Chloe Stowe has a Valentine’s Day novella!
Shirtless, sculpted and oiled male medics are on standby at each exit for any of your respiratory concerns.
“Hard Candy, Soft Cream” will be released tomorrow at Ravenous Romance just in time to get all your juices simmering and steaming for the big day next week. So, today, my friends, you get a loaded, double decker of a preview for my first ever Valentine’s story.
*excuse me while I put on my sideshow barker hat…*
You will get today not only a titillating, tantalizing synopsis of 20K words of pure romantic bliss, you will also receive 5, yes, count them ladies and gents, 5 chapter titles!
And, don’t catch your breath just yet folks, you are also going to get an extended excerpt and… *cue the guy with the drums*… a cover!
Whoa. I think I’ll be needing one of those virile medics myself.
So, without further adieu, let’s get this party started!
First up, the synopsis…
Join Mercer and Saul from the novel Hard Wood, Soft Heart in a standalone Valentine’s Day novella that will bring heat, tears and laughter to your cold winter days.
Mercer Braun is a former baseball player whose career was stolen from him by a chronic heart condition.
Saul Tidewater is a heart surgeon who moved to Las Vegas to escape a bitter divorce and the tragedy at the break-up’s core.
They’ve only known each other for nine months, but their love pulses strong and their passion burns magnificently.
But when a secret is kept on Valentine’s Day not only is the strength of their relationship put to the test, but their very lives are put at risk.
This is a story of how timeless love can rise up out of the ashes of tragedy.
This is the story of how eternal love is born and kept.
And, no, you will not have to run back and read your copy of Hard Wood, Soft Heart. This is truly a standalone story with just a couple of my favorite guys coming along for the ride.
Let me warn you though: this story is a genuine, no nonsense heart tugger. It’s going to pull some strings that may not have been strung in years.
Ok, up next are the 5 chapter titles! You’re giggling with excitement, aren’t you? I know I’m giggling but I think mine’s basically on my psych meds kicking in.
Chapter One: Under Neptune’s Gaze
Chapter Two: Pennies in the Fountain
Chapter Three: Two Boys in the Sandbox
Chapter Four: Flowers at Your Feet
Chapter Five: Playing in the Twilight
I love to tease and entice with my chapter titles. Hopefully these five have done just that.
And if that isn’t enough to tickle your Valentine’s fancy, here is a nice, long excerpt from Chapter One to stroke you in all the best ways…
Do you ever get a bad feeling about a day?” Saul Tidewater turned his head on his pillow and asked his lover seriously.
Both men lay naked under the covers of Saul’s bed, their legs intertwined, their hands softly roaming each other’s body. They had made love softly, easing each other’s orgasms out, coaxing the come from their cocks with long wet kisses and carnal nothings whispered into the skin. They had come only moments apart, their bodies more in sync with one another than either man dared to acknowledge.
Now, as the clock in the living room struck midnight, they were both drifting in the warm haze of afterglow. Sleep lingered in the corners of their consciousness, waiting patiently for the talk to run down and for the men to surrender to the sandman’s touch.
Thirty-two year old Mercer Braun yawned into Saul’s shoulder, his head nestled deeply on the doctor’s arm. With his short, sun-kissed blond hair ruffled and askew, Mercer lay curled up on his side, the length of his 6’2” frame plastered possessively to his lover. The stubble on his chin made delicious scratch-scritch noises against Saul’s skin as Mercer nuzzled himself deeper into his arms.
The men had only known each other for nine months; the last six they had known each other exclusively. Mercer having never been in a serious relationship for such a length of time, and still fought pinching himself every morning in which he woke up to the all-encompassing love that was Dr. Saul Tidewater.
It had been less than three years since Mercer, a major league first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, had learned that he had a chronic heart condition called an aortic valve stenosis. While surgery was able to repair his heart, the ailment had stripped him of his career. Fortunately, he had always handled his money wisely. When retirement was forced upon the twenty-nine year old, he had by that time established a substantial nest egg for himself, one that would require him to work only part of the year.
Moving to Las Vegas to take advantage of the weather and the city’s proximity to the spring training leagues in Arizona, Mercer had opened a hitting clinic for professional baseball players which he ran out of his house in the winter months of baseball’s off season. The venture had been a roaring success. The rest of the year he volunteered with kids, coaching their little league teams and mentoring them both on and off the field.
Mercer Braun’s life was still good, but it was different. The heart condition had to be monitored regularly. While he had received a replacement valve, it was scientific fact that the valve would eventually wear out. Of course, another valve would then be inserted, but each surgery, each replacement got riskier as its odd for success got smaller. Mercer had learned to live with the realities of his future. His lover, a cardio thoracic surgeon, however, had not.
Saul Tidewater always remembered Mercer’s limitations. He always made sure that Mercer didn’t push himself physically too far, made sure that the former ballplayer was never far beyond a doctor’s reach. Honestly, it was sometimes annoying as hell, and Saul’s well-meaning but firm limitations he’d set had forced Mercer to give up some of the activities in life he had cherished the most. The almost daily dawn to dusk hikes in the desert that had filled Mercer’s empty summer hours were now a thing of the past. Sometimes, Mercer missed those days terribly.
He, however, bent to Saul’s wishes out of an ever growing love and inextinguishable passion for the heart surgeon. Mercer’s condition scared Saul and rightfully so. While Mercer lived his life from day to day, soaking in as much life as God allowed him, Saul often lived for the future. Their future. It was a difficult balancing act both men had to play in their relationship. It was fragile and both feared it could so easily be broken.
“No,” Mercer answered Saul’s question with a sleep-beckoning sigh. Every day was a blessing in Mercer’s book, so no day could possibly be tagged as bad. He knew he wouldn’t win that argument though, so he shelved that discussion in hopes of a sex-drowsed nap. “Why? Do you?” he asked as he nuzzled his nose into Saul’s shoulder.
“Yeah,” Saul replied half distracted by something Mercer was too tired to name.
“Bad feeling about today?” Mercer raised his head up off of his shoulder just enough to meet Saul’s gaze with his own. Saul had the most spectacular deep hazel eyes, with his rich black hair they sparkled devilishly in his face. Mercer could literally stare at Saul all day and never tire of a detail. Unfortunately, sleep was a necessity no man could completely ignore. Another yawn caught Mercer off guard then, but he refused to relinquish the connection until an answer to his question was given.
Saul shrugged his free shoulder and forced a small smile that was no doubt for Mercer’s benefit alone. “I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m just tired.”
“You sure?” Mercer asked, planning to go back to this subject once his brain was more awake than asleep.
“Yeah.” Saul craned his neck down to give his lover a kiss on the crown of his head. “Go to sleep.”
Mercer needed more than a nice peck on the noggin though, so he took it. Maneuvering himself farther up Saul’s long, lean body, Mercer sloppily devoured the doctor’s lips with his own.
A sleepy-eyed Saul gave as good as he got.
The kisses were messy and loud and lacked all grace, but they were still perfect.
Mercer sighed as he finally let Saul’s mouth free. “That’s better.”
Saul smiled as he combed his fingers lovingly through Mercer’s hair. “You’re right. It is.”
Heavily, Mercer dropped his chin to the doctor’s chest. He looked blearily up at his lover and asked rather dopily, “Can I go to sleep now?”
Running a hand reverently down the side of Mercer’s face, Saul said softly, “Dream away.”
Mercer grinned, turned his head to the side and down just a bit so that the sound of Saul’s heartbeat was all he could hear, and mumbled in one last final breath of awareness, “Love you.”
“Love you too.”
Ok, I think I’ve just sprained my self-promotion muscle… Oh, Mr. Medic!
Seriously though, thank you all for taking the time to stop by again. It’s been a while and I’ve missed you probably more than I should. I’ll be back in the next week or so with my usual strung-out foreplay to promote my next novel Stripped Asset. It’s at the publisher’s right now so it won’t be long until you hear from me and my madness again.
I hoped you enjoyed and I hope you will consider adding “Hard Candy, Soft Cream” to your library tomorrow.
Spread the word everyone… I’m hoarse and I need a drink. *grins*
Until next time…