It’s here! The release of Peak and Thrust today means the official end to… *one more time folks, with feeling*… the “Peak and Thrust 12 Day Sneak Peek Event!” It’s been a long haul and I, for one, am glad to be rolling this 18 wheeler into Point: Destination… Ok, I apologize. Apparently my sub-conscience has been enjoying a “Smokey and the Bandit” marathon without inviting my conscience to join in. Well, I hope there was lots of buttered popcorn involved and everybody brought protection.
Now, aren’t you going to miss my quirky sense of humor? Good thing you can find a ton of it in Peak and Thrust… that’s it, folks, final plug. I’m all plugged out but please let my publisher know that I plugged well and with heart. *winks*
As my blog readership has soared this week, I wanted to end this on a particularly memorable note. But how?
I decided to give you a memory. Raw, uncut and something I’d rather forget but know I never will.
During the worst of my times at Auburn University, I skipped classes. A lot of classes. As in almost all. I’m the kid who was never in detention in school, never got a failing grade on a report card, got nothing but gold stars from my teachers. Yeah, I was that annoying kid. However annoying it was though, it was me. It was as much a part of who I was as anything else. I never, ever wanted to fail people. Seeing disappointment in a person’s face was paramount to a punch in the gut for me… Yeah, I guess you could say I was messed up even then but didn’t know it.
Anyhow, I was skipping classes. One of the worst days of that whole experience was also one of my gutsiest I must say. See if you agree…
I had signed up for an Accounting class in my sophomore year. I was pre-engineering but needed the class to meet some requirement or other. In January, I went to the first day of class. We had assigned seating. I was assigned the very first seat on the very first row. I couldn’t have been more noticeable.
The next time I stepped into that class was three months later, on the day of the final. I walked in there and sat my screwed up ass down in my front row seat and took that test the disgusted and rather galled professor handed me. There were whispers. Why the hell wouldn’t there be whispers?
For two and half hours I sat in that class and tried my hardest to pass that final. Never mind the fact that I had missed all the tests, all the assignments, everything of the class. I was determined to pass that last test.
I didn’t. Even after weeks of reading cover to cover that Accounting text book, putting terms to memory, doing every exercise that book gave me, I didn’t pass.
Come on, I didn’t deserve to. I know that.
But I tried. Even though my mind and my co-conspirator of a body wouldn’t let me sit through a single class any more, even though I was drowning in denial, embarrassment and self-hatred, I walked into that classroom on that last day and took that damned test.
What does that say about me? It certainly speaks as to how messed up I was at the time. It absolutely proves that I can be an arrogant bitch on occasion. But I’d like to think that it also shows how I never, ever let go of hope. I dragged that dried up kernel of hope in with me that final day and plopped it up on that desk in front of me.
Gall or guts? It’s your call. To me, it’s simply one of the worst days and best days of my life. Talk about ironic, huh?
Ready for your “final” sneak peek?
Chapter Eleven: Of Trellises and Beady-Eyed Rats and Endings “Her neck crooked to the side as she looked up at Laird like a dog facing off against a yodeler. “You don’t look like one of them,” Philana accused slowly.” (page 160)
Hmm… a bit of a mystery I’ve left you with, huh? I hope it’s just enough of a tickler to welcome Peak and Thrust into your library as you have so graciously welcomed me and my craziness into your lives these past twelve days.
Until next time…
Peak and Thrust available today at Amazon, AllRomance Ebooks and through my publisher:
Good morning and welcome to the penultimate blog for the “Peak and Thrust 12 Day Sneak Peek Event!” Only one more day until you won’t have to hear those words again (I admit they’re a mouthful and my fingers are starting to groan every time I start typing them… bet you didn’t know fingers could groan, huh? Well, hop on my medication train and you’ll learn all sorts of cool things.)
I’ve got to say that the response to yesterday’s “For that 18 year old girl” blog was tremendous! It tied with my Thanksgiving Day “Panic Attack – blog interrupted” high.
As you all seem to warm up to my confessional pieces, I’ll continue in that light until you beg me to stop. I will be turning in novel #9 (Shafts of Torchlight) Saturday, December 3 so you should get another Chloe Stowe blog spree just in time for Christmas. Yes, I am the gift that keeps on giving.
So, on to today’s peek inside my mind…
The joy of anticipation… it is one thing that my mental illness has stolen from me that I would dearly love to have back.
I’m talking about that “kid on Christmas Eve” feeling, that “crossing days off the calendar as your vacation beckons” thrill. Hey, I’m even talking about the mundane “There’s a great movie on tonight; it’ll be great to watch it” warmth that sees us all through a long week… I don’t get to have that anymore.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not so mellowed out on my meds that I don’t get giddy, that I don’t bounce on the balls of my feet like a three year old when my team wins or I get some incredible publishing news. I’m one of the more excitable people you’re likely to ever meet… there lies the sick irony.
Anticipation, the joy of knowing something really good is about to happen, filters through my brain as panic. Talk about crap.
All the same buttons are pushed in my head whether I’m clinging to a cart at Target trying not to pass out (see Thanksgiving Day blog) or am waiting for Santa to come rolling down that chimney.
Book a trip to Paris and what do I get? A bone deep dread, an immediate counting down of the hours that I have left before I have to go. We’re not talking butterflies, here. We’re talking monsters rabid and hungry in your belly and in your head… and it doesn’t go away. It stays with me until whatever it is that I was supposed to be so excited about passes in a haze of exhaustion and a general sense of “Thank God that’s over.”
It’s sad, really.
I miss sitting in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve. I miss waiting on the “Santa’s” of life. But do you know what’s really messed up?... I still do it. I still wait by the fireplace on December 24th.
So if you’re looking for me on Christmas Eve, you’ll know where to find me. Sick, trembling, panicking, but still waiting on Santa.
Now for your sneak peek of this rainy Sunday morning…
Chapter Ten: Once Upon a Sweltering Detroit Night
“Joey kept staring out at the Alaskan night like maybe if he looked long and hard enough an answer would come riding in on the tail of a Northern Light. He shook his head and pulled his gaze away. Man, he was fucking losing it.” (page 144)
Until tomorrow (Release Day!)…
Chloe Stowe, the woman by the fireside
Good morning and welcome to Iron Bowl Saturday here at the “Peak and Thrust 12 Day Sneak Peek Event!” Yes, college football is the name of the game here in the southeast today. Alabama versus Auburn. “Roll Tide!” vs. “War Eagle!” I’ve grown up with this football rivalry being the basis of all things “sport” in Alabama. Even now as I’ve lived in Florida for 9 years, Iron Bowl Saturday still has a certain electricity in the air, a certain zing that has all your school loyalties abuzz.
Talk about a conundrum in my life.
Back in my high school days, back when mental illness was just something you read about Zelda Fitzgerald having, I won an academic scholarship to Auburn. Talk about being proud. I had always been the kind of kid who studied damned hard all the time. I wasn’t exactly a nerd. My “peeps” were the jocks and I never stepped foot into a science fair, a debating arena or a math competition… just because I was in classes with all those science fair, debating, math aficionados did not stereotype me as a nerd. Nope. Not at all.
Anyhow, I won the scholarship to Auburn, moved down to the Plains in the fall of my 18th year and had literally lost my mind by the spring of my 20th.
I don’t blame Auburn. That would be silly. I would have lost it no matter what great campus I was on. But…
I have nightmares.
Every single night for the last 20 years.
School nightmares of failure and insanity, of fear and of lies. And where do you think my beautiful mind locates all these night terrors? You guessed it. Auburn.
So as I sit here watching the Iron Bowl this afternoon, I will cheer for Auburn. I will cheer for them on behalf of that 18 year old girl who was so proud of earning her scholarship, for the girl who was so proud to be an Auburn Tiger.
The bad stuff I’ll leave for my dreams tonight.
Now, on to your sneak peek of the day…
Chapter Nine: Playing Chicken with God
“An hour later, as one man slept protectively tucked up against the chest of the other on a now damp bed, words of love were whispered and one heart was lost irretrievably to another.” (page 122)
I wish every one of you a terrific Thanksgiving Saturday! Only two more days until Peak and Thrust premieres. The butterflies in my gut are already getting a little nauseous… with that lovely visual I will leave you all with a “War Eagle!”
Happy Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving! As we all make our last dashes to the grocery store to pick up turkeys, cranberries, sweet potatoes and whipped cream (personally, my favorite), I thank you for spending a little part of these special days with me. Whether you are expecting a cattle-call type of event to your dining room table or if it’s more of a one-on-one celebration with a loved one, be it human, feline or canine, I wish you the very best. Eat, drink and be merry, one and all!
After giving thanks for all the blessings we have received this year, we often end up giving in to all sorts of off-the-wall cravings these few days. Be it one too many tankards of eggnog, or one too many games of not-so-touch football with the former linebacker neighbor, or one too many hours of George Bailey running down the streets of Bedford Falls, we all seem to indulge in our own unique ways. I chose your tease of the day to reflect just that…
Chapter Six: Taste’s Temptation
“Joey Ballios was a man who liked having his sex. He wasn’t obsessed with it by any means, but he’d never really understood the whole concept of doing without when a man could do with.” (page 60)
While romantic flights of fancy very rightfully take a backseat these holiday weeks, I appreciate you continuing to share in mine. All of you are my blessing.
Good Tuesday morning everyone! As it looks like I’m going to be spending my day dodging tornadoes again, I figured I’d make today’s post short and sweet… especially since you get a peek at the cover of Peak and Thrust as a special treat.
Let me count the ways that I love this cover… Better yet I’ll let you count the ways and you can get back to me with a nice concise list. Spare no adjectives, however. I live for adjectives. *grins*
As for your tease into Chapter Five, I proudly give you the following tidbit…
Chapter Five: The Coarse Wool of the Dark
“Yeah, the Fates better know what the hell they were doing because Joey Ballios didn’t know how much longer he could hold on.” (page 58)
Yes, by Chapter Five we’re hitting some heavy emotional stuff… the meat and bones to any memorable romance. And believe me Joey and Laird’s tale is a deeply romantic one. So don’t let the delicious cover fool you into expecting only really hot guys doing really hot things to one another… although there’s plenty of that… plenty. (And that ladies and gents is your tease for the day!)
Until tomorrow, stay safe…
Good morning, world at large! If you have made it here for Day Five I assume you were able to survive Day Four. I applaud you, and I thank you. My darker days can get pretty dark and I only share them with you in hopes of enlightening everyone to the often muted struggles people with mental illness must battle through every day. Your return today makes my heart swell. Thank you.
Now, on to the smut!
What shall we talk about today? Well, since we’ve already had a brief expose on mountain man Laird Fox, why don’t we share a Joey Ballios moment?
Ah, Joey. I love him so. He’s the first cop I have ever written which amazes me really. Growing up, I always enamored by cop shows. Men of the shield intrigue me, tease me with their sense of lawfulness while carrying a big, bad gun and tickle all my good spots with their hero complexes. Let’s face it, folks: cops are hot… at least the fictional ones are. Hopefully Officer Ballios of the Detroit P.D. will fall into that sizzling category for you. I know he certainly stoked my fires. *grins*
When I was describing Laird a few days ago (let me just say here, that if I start footnoting myself in these blogs, I’m throwing myself off the nearest barn roof), I described him as a black and white kind of a guy… an attitude usually associated with cops. I wanted to switch things around a little. I wanted to make Joey be the guy who lives in the world of grays. I think it’s an interesting twist and I honestly think it works really well in Peak and Thrust. I sincerely hope you all agree.
So without further lollygagging on my part, here is your sneak peek of the day!
Chapter Four: Home Truths with Betty White
“Joey wasn’t about to make this guy too comfortable. Call it cop sense or animal heat.” (page 48)
Now, come on folks, how many romantic smut authors can give you Betty White with their hot ass men? I think I deserve a cookie for this one.
As Thanksgiving week dawns and Black Friday nears, I leave you all today with a reminder that Hard Wood, Soft Heart will be half-price on Friday at AllRomance Ebooks. I’m only one of 12 Ravenous authors being given this promotion honor so please keep me and my men in mind. I really don’t want to be laughed off the platform with the likes of Ryan Field, etc. (you know, the big guns). Yes, this is a plea. There is no shame in begging… right? *smiles*
Until tomorrow, may the only cops you dance with be superbly hung fictional ones.
Excuse me, but has anybody seen the sun? You know, big orange heavenly blob that makes the world a prettier place to be? I was told by numerous sources on the Weather Channel that it was supposed to be here today. In fact, I counted on it being here. Had all my merry little plans made for a bright and shiny Sunday afternoon of football and romance, writing and holiday-making…
I think I’ve been stood up.
Bummer… No, really.
Ready or not here comes a peek into my messed up world. I warned you this might happen and here it is. File all complaints with Mr. Jim Cantore and the fake little sun he plopped over my head last night.
Honestly, I’m on a lot of medication for my panic attacks. I have been for many years. With these meds I’ve been able to weasel out a mostly doable life that has me playing in the sun a lot more than just surviving in the shadows. Yeah, I know, not a pretty picture… but a lot of Picasso’s stuff wasn’t pretty either but they turned out to masterpieces in the end. So, here’s to hoping that there’s a little bit of Picasso buried deep down beneath the screwed up fear.
Anyhow, it’s hard to “play in the sun” when there’s no sun. Not kidding, here. Sometimes the sun and a beautiful blue sky seems to play as important a role in my struggling mental health as the meds. I know a lot of people with depression feel the same way. It’s fine if it’s raining, snowing is glorious, but when the day is just this big heavy brick of gray ugliness my mind just settles back in its perpetual shadows and burrows itself in for the duration.
And see now that I have actually complained to you about it, I feel even worse. What kind of crap is that?
Well, on days like these you all are truly the manifestation of the song, “You are my sunshine.” I’ll more than likely write the day away, running toward the sunshine your happy, satisfied faces bring me when I’m able to deliver a good story to you… Sounds lame, I know. But the truth of my life often is a little crooked and off-putting, so lame just about fits perfectly here.
As I leave you this day with your Chapter Three excerpt, I wish you all sunshine and little Picasso’s in the shady corners of your souls…
Chapter Three: Powdered Sugar Clues
“The amount of skin stretched over the perfectly sculpted six pack and deeply barreled ribs gave Laird such a head rush that he found himself reaching back and grabbing at a wall just in case his knees decided to join his dick on its unplanned trip around the moon.” (page 39)
Good morning ladies and gents! Day Two has arrived and with it comes the scrapping of the whole 12 Steps to a Better Sex Life theme. It just wasn’t working for me so I’m afraid you’re just stuck with pure Chloe for a while… Buck up, folks. I have to deal with her 24/7. *grins*
A few days ago I wrote about the trials and tribulations wrought by Peak and Thrust’s infamous Chapter One. To summarize: writing it was a little piece of hell. However, the end result actually came out pretty sparkly and juicy (something a smut/romance writer is always proud of). I’m happy with it and I can only hope you’re happy with it too. So without further adieu here is your tease of the day!
Chapter One: A Sloe Gin Fizz and a Nice Juicy Steak…
“Laird Fox sat at the bar nursing a Sloe Gin Fizz, a ham sandwich and a hard-on.” (page 2)
And that, one and all, is the introduction to Laird, the mountain guide of our little Alaskan tale.
Speaking of Alaskan tales… doesn’t every romance author have to write at least one? I mean, Alaska is just this big old wilderness teeming with storylines, dangers, romantic rendezvouses and good ol’ fashioned adventure. It’s literally ripe for the picking. Besides, what better opportunity is there for a man to show off his manliness than in the closest thing America’s got left of a frontier? Think modern day cowboy without the funny hat and spurs.
To be honest, that was the reason I was a little leery of writing a novel based mostly in Alaska. It seems to have been done to death… and done to death brilliantly by so many better authors than myself that I was a little scared of sticking my toes into such a thriving pool. I enjoy my toes, having them nipped off by ho-hum sales I’d like to avoid.
Yes, color me a chicken.
But also color me a sucker because in the end I just couldn’t resist Laird Fox.
Once a character gets sown in my head, it’s really hard to let him go unborn. That was the case with Laird, my surfer boy in flannel (yes, that’s how I picture him in my head; blame the medication.) His story is one of love/hate, everything in his life falls into one category or the other. It was fun fleshing out a man so black and white into a whole array of fascinating and fearless colors. I try to make my characters as real, as heart-hungry and broken, as quirky as life truly is. I hope I was able to capture Laird in that light.
So will Chloe Stowe’s foray into the Alaskan wilderness be a success or a flop? Will her toes be nibbled off and carried away on the tides of “Been there, done that better than you, little girl”? Or will she and her extremities survive to write romantic smut another day? It will be a waiting game of epic proportions, one where sanity and self-worth teeter on the line between success and institutionalization…
Hmm, a back cover blurb for authors? Could be the wave of the future, folks… Just remember you heard here on Day Two of “Peak and Thrust’s 12 Day Sneak Peek Event” first.
Good morning world! Welcome to our first day of priming your pumps for the release of Peak and Thrust on Monday, November 28! Yes, the big date has been at least penciled in on stone, so we’ll aim our sites on being all ripe and ready for Joey Ballios and Laird Fox on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Are we all excited?
*pause under the weight of complete and total silence… I’m not even hearing crickets here, folks*
Well, yeah, that’s kind of why we’re here. We’ll get those crickets warmed up and singing off their little toes in no time.
It’s sort of apropos really, starting off with the whole world is deathly quiet thing, I mean. That deafening silence of no response, no feedback, no hoots and hollers, no whines and moans from an eager audience, that’s what I, like any author, feel like when I sit down to write those crucial first lines of a novel.
A blank slate.
We’re talking freaking out scary, the kind where that flight or fight response kicks in and all your nerve endings get all prickly and nauseous and you start re-thinking your purpose in life and if you’re really worthy of being considered a life form above a slug and even those mute little crickets outside your window are starting to look at you funny…
Ok. That may be just me.
But you get the picture.
So how do you start? It’s the Dickens versus King Dilemma.
Do you roll like Dickens and weave and sow words and characters and settings into a world so tight and so real that the reader loses themselves completely within it after the first ten or twenty pages?
Or do you go for the shock value, mold your efforts after Stephen King and throw the reader into the deep end of the story before they have time to even grab one last breath?
For me, when writing a romance that will be vying with all those millions of other romances out there, I go for the Wham Bam Theory.
Right out of the box, I try to hit the reader in the face. Slap a storyline or an emotion on them so fast that they have no choice but to turn to page two.
Then, after a few pages, when they’re hooked but still squiggling on the line, I try to reel them in with a little Dickens. Make them want to stay beyond just having to stay to find out what happens next.
At least that’s plan.
Does it work or not? That’s up to you, the fishes that give life and reason, the beautiful creatures that give slugs like me the courage to string a little line into the literary waters and hope for the best, little lines like these…
Gunfire erupted from the darkened house.
An unmarked police car sat in the driveway, its blue lights whirling madly in the hot Detroit night
There were no screams, no shouts of fright or anger.
There were no mad rushes, no frantic footsteps fleeing the scene.
And there was only silence on the police radio.
Stillness strangled the night.
If this peek at the Prologue of Peak and Thrust works for you, entices you to come back tomorrow and get a peek at Chapter One, I lay its success entirely at the feet of the Wham Bam Theory… since without that first initial “Wham!” there would be never be the proverbial sweet “Bam! and Thank you, Ma’am!”
I do hope to see you tomorrow, even though I realize now that I have compared you to bugs and big mouth bass… Hmm, I guess there really is a reason why my social life is stunted.
Until tomorrow, tell your friends, family and all your best fishes to come on by and help us warm up a few cricket toes.
Chloe Stowe, the slug in today’s little drama
Welcome one and all to the 12 day preview of Peak and Thrust! Over the next week and a half, we will explore how my eighth novel can bring you a more satisfying roll in the hay. Yes, by following these 12 steps you and your lover can experience more zing in the sack, more va-va-va-boom in that oft-shared shower, more “ooh” in your “ooh-la-la”…
Or this could all be some clever marketing scheme to “peak” (notice smart tie in, please) your interest in my upcoming release? Hmmm. Well, the truth of my motives I leave to you my dear friends. I can promise you that if you do follow along you will be entertained, enlightened and quite possibly emboldened in your day to day life.
How you might ask?
With every step will come not only a preview of the name of one of Peak and Thrust’s chapters but also a teasing little excerpt to tickle your romantic bone… or your smut bone, whichever you bring to the party.
Along the way, my wry sense of humor will make frequent appearances as I give you all a behind the scenes “peek” at the writing of P&T.
More importantly, however, (at least I hope) are the tiny insights I’ll give you into life with a chronic mental illness.
Whenever you pick up a Chloe Stowe original, you get a little piece of me with it. It may not always be pretty and shiny, but I do hope it is always enlightening. Shining my little penlight into the often over-looked shadows of mental illness may be my reason for being here on this planet. I hope it is and I hope you will all share a little of your light with those still lost in their mind’s dark.
Then, of course, there’s the sex… or the step to better sex, I should say. (Sorry but the budget didn’t really allow for passing out condoms to all comers, so there will be no author sanctioned penetration here. However, please feel free to bring your own though to share with the rest of the group. The more condoms the merrier, I always say.)
Anyhow, there will be fun. There will be teasers. There will be uncut gems of hope. All I ask for in return is your patience with my sometimes royally screwed up mind. It may be a bumpy ride folks, but when we’ve got hot guys hungry for some loving bumping along with us then it’s all good, right?
Tomorrow Step One will arrive in your social media outlets and with it a look at the Prologue for my eighth original novel. Until then and to thoroughly whet your appetite for more I give you today the world premiere of the official (at least until my publisher changes it) back-cover blurb for Peak and Thrust…
“Happily ever after’s” rarely came to men like these…
Joey Ballios was a cop. For ten years his life had been little more than long foot chases through the cold Detroit snow, piles of paperwork on perps who would never be caught, and forty hour shifts that were as thankless as they were heroic.
Laird Fox climbed mountains. His whole life had been dedicated to scaling the unreachable and bringing the unattainable into the novice’s reach. He was a mountain guide in Alaska, a man who spent his days taking strangers to the top of the world, fulfilling their dreams while ignoring his own.
The two men’s lives should never have touched, their worlds never have crossed.
But when three gunshots ring out in a sweltering summer night, some lives are cursed while others are saved…
Joey’s partner is dead, shot in a darkened house that bears a dangerous secret. Running from that night, Joey escapes to Alaska.
There he finds Laird, a man who offers him sweet, scorching sex, a fresh take on life and a heart as scarred and as neglected as Joey’s own.
For five weeks they live for and love each other. But when the long held secrets of the past won’t let Joey go, both men’s futures are put on the line.
Will they surrender to a litany of lies? Or will they rise above them and rescue each other?
Sometimes Fate is more than just a whisper in the hot Detroit wind, more than just a wish on a distant Alaskan star.
Sometimes Fate arrives on tragedy’s tail, a post-script that begins with “Once upon a time.”
I hope to see you all tomorrow for Step One. Please bring your friends and your condoms!
Until next time…
Thank you all for reading!