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Try a Little Tenderness is here!

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I may have a small addiction to Jason Momoa. I started watching him because of Stargate Atlantis and proceeded to hunt down everything he’s ever been in. Well, almost. Baywatch Hawaii I couldn’t take, but I did watch North Shore (the series, not the movie. Jason isn’t in the movie.) Anyway, because of this obsession, I binge through Stargate, starting with SG-1 and carrying through the end of Atlantis about once every 18 months. And since I have seen the shows so many times, I have started watching the actors in the background. In one such scene, early in Jason’s tenure, he was in the background of a shot, staring into space. Pretty sure “Turkey In the Straw” was playing in his head because the conference table was doing more acting than he was. In a much later episode, Jewel Staite has a scene with David Hewlett. Jewel has only a few lines and most of her acting comes through the way she’s shifting her eyes. You read that right, shifting her eyes. She’s so good that I knew what she—or rather Dr. Keller—was thinking and all Jewel Staite was doing was moving her eyes. A lot of that particular binge session was taken up with watching Jewel Staite practice her craft. Which led me to wonder, what happens when a really good actor ends up opposite a really bad actor?

And what if that really good actor needs the really bad actor to save her part?

Thus began the three-week marathon in which I wrote Try a Little Tenderness.

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Why Brian is my favorite member of Touchstone

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Why Brian is my favorite member of Touchstone.

Brian Ellis is the second member of Touchstone that I “met.” He’s Jason’s best friend and foil and has been most of his life. I’m not sure who Brian would be without Jason. He’s very sweet natured and easy going with a pronounced savior complex. Brian never likes to see anyone hurt and he will set aside his own happiness for someone else. Which is what got him married to Bonnie. He always claimed to want to sow wild oats as long as possible, but a large part of Brian really wanted home and family. He loves his kids despite Bonnie’s best efforts.

Brian is a Cancer cusp Leo. He’s got all the grandstanding and loyalty of a Leo with large dose of homebody Cancer mixed in. He likes to keep everything steady on. As for real rockstar lineage, Brian descends sort of at an angle from Ringo Starr, but to his great musical misfortune, he’s mostly me. Yes, Brian is placating, world-traveling, homebody, can’t carry a tune in a bucket me. Poor guy, good thing he doesn’t actually have to sing.
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Surface Tension Origin Story

A long time ago in a city not so far away from where I am now, I was a huge X-Files fan. Huge. I remember working at the lamented Borders, assembling newspapers on Saturday mornings with my friend who was also a huge fan and discussing the previous night’s episode. For some reason I really liked the character Max Fenig. He was in three episodes and I was charmed.

“The X-Files: Max (#4.18)” (1997)

Max Fenig: All I wanted in life was to be left alone; don’t we all. So just my luck that I’d eventually become an alien abductee. Now I’m never alone. Any minute, when I’m least expecting it ”

In the end, the only thing that remained of Max was the name. When he developed in my story, he became a little more stable and capable, and hunkier. Somebody a girl like Rachel could fall for.

Ranley, as the ever suffering, most capable member of her team, is merely having the worst mission of her life.

Finding Roanoak Origin

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I found myself one summer housesitting for a friend and taking care of her dog for 6 weeks while she went to visit family. She owned a beautiful century home a block and a half from the fire station and three blocks from the library and a Chipotle. Also her dog was cute. Some mornings the firefighters would workout by running up and down the road. I would sit in the bedroom window with the dog and watch. It was the closest to heaven for me as is possible.She also had her TV in the finished attic. I had been overseas most of the previous three years so American cable was really entertining. She even had the SyFy channel, though I think at the time it wasn’t called that yet. Regardless, I gorged on cable when I wasn’t watching the firefighters run up and down the road or walking the dog

 

One day I was browsing the library DVD section. And I should mention here that my hometown has one of the greatest libraries on the planet. They have everything. Ask and you shall receive. During the 4 years I lived in Abu Dhabi, I borrowed ebooks from this library. Anyway, I was browsing through the DVD documentaries and spotted a DVD of historical mysteries including the vanishing Roanoak Colony. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with those kinds of things. Atlantis, Lemura, Roanoak, Bigfoot. Obsessed! One of the first movies I ever saw on the big screen was a documentary about Bigfoot because I begged my brother to take me.

 

Now you have a woman spending most of her time with a dog, alone in a big old house, watching the SyFy channel and thinking about what happened to the Roanoak Colony.

 

We’re lucky there wasn’t a firefighter in it.

How it happened

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So, in the middle of writing 6 books about one band one would not think that one would want to break away and write 4 more about another band. One would, but not me. SendDown appeared in the first Drawn To the Rhythm book Satellite Of Love. At the time they were walk ons who I never expected to see again. Silly me. While I was working in Korea I happened to take 3 separate vacations to the Philippines, which I loved, but whose major export is sex. Prostitutes everywhere. Even worse, all women so I wasn’t really interested. I was less interested when, laying on the beach one day drying off after a lovely swim in Subic Bay a gentleman obviously of European descent (as in, not local) walked up to me, gave me a surprised once over and muttered an apology before vamoosing. The idea of being mistaken for a prostitute didn’t resurface until I was working in chilly Chile where I had no internet and lots of writing time on my hands so I penned this story. It ran a bit hotter than my normal fare, but it worked for the story and enlightened me to the various other members of the band which in due time led to the other three books in the series.

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The Story Of This Book

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To be totally honest, I wrote this book because I wanted to practice writing sex scenes. After I finished my first and second books (Three Alarm Tenant and Spark of Desire) I decided I needed practice writing sex scenes. When I finished it, this manuscript was a mess of head hopping, bad grammar and continuity errors, but there were lots of sex scenes and I never planned to publish it anyway. Well, as it happened, I was working in South Korea and decided to look for a writing group online. I happened across the group I am still with many years and three continents later. At the time, new applicants were required to submit some writing and a bio, and do a sample critique. Why I decided to submit Jason and Cassandra’s story, I don’t know. I had two completed novels and a novella gathering cyberdust on my hard drive at the time. Regardless, it worked and I was accepted by the group.

 

Within the first few days of being accepted there was a kerfuffle over another writer who had applied at the same time I had. Apparently she had read through some of the posts about her when the group was discussing letting us join and was offended, quitting the group immediately. Well, it had not occurred to me that the group might have discussed me and I wanted to know what they had said. Not much as it turned out. One member who shall remain nameless because I have no recollection of who it was said she thought I would be a decent critiquer, but thought my manuscript would be a “plotless wonder” (this I remember.) I already had a pretty thick skin by that point so I shrugged, laughed and filed the phrasing away as it was the first time I’d heard it.

 

This book was milled through the group and then published with another house under the unfortunate title The Rockstar’s Retreat. Believe me, that was the best one we could come up with at the time. I hated that title and knew I could do better by the story, so when the initial contract expired I took back the rights and proceeded to mess with it some more in addition to writing four more novels and five more novellas (and counting) in the same world.

 

And so the story goes.

It Starts

“Where do you get your ideas?”

Every author dreads this question. From conversation I get the impression that most authors dread it because the answer is too complicated. Don’t get me wrong. If I’m fresh out of edits or, God forbid, just finished writing the first draft, then yes, the answer is complicated. The male lead is 10% this guy I dated in college and 30% someone else and the balance is made up from snips of conversations and inspiration (that occasionally surprises me.) The female lead is the same stew of character traits and guesswork. The plot starts someplace logical and then usually takes off like a fire hose on full power with just little old me hanging on for dear life. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I have no idea what’s going to happen from paragraph to paragraph in the story I’m writing.

However, I love learning the connections between things. One of my very favorite shows ever is James Burke’s Connections (the first series more than the second.) I love knowing how things connect. This series came about more or less because I wanted to know how things connected. How did these men in this band work together? Where did they come from? Thus the series was born.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m supposed to be talking about the origin of this book and these two people.

I wrote the first book in the series first. Had it published even. While I was working through the edits I started thinking about the other guys. No, that’s not right. It didn’t start there.

It started when I was in college sitting through boring required liberal arts classes. I had two choices: write or pick at my split ends. Not that I didn’t find things in the class interesting, but it was a huge lecture hall with a professor droning on at the front at a pace better suited to the very slowest student in the room. So I started writing in the margins of my notebooks. (Does that tell you how long ago it was? Notebooks.) I would write in tiny cramped print, two lines of text per line of margin, the thrilling adventures of Jason Callisto and his best friend and bass player, Brian Ellis. The drummer’s name was Bear. The keyboardist’s name was Leo and the singer had no name because he wasn’t especially important. I filled the margins of many notebooks.

Years pass.

I write and publish a couple of books under another name. They’re good. Well reviewed, solid books. My heart was in them. But I needed to branch out and my boys were always there. I also decided I needed to practice writing sex scenes. Don’t laugh. It’s very difficult!

Who better to practice sex scenes on than a rock star? So I wrote the second book in the series. It was published by another house under a different title and during the editing phase I was thinking about the characters. Specifically I started thinking about what the circumstances would have to be for Bear to have dumped a Coke over Jason’s head during the tour. What kind of person resorts to that instead of punching him or retaliating in some other way?

The band members were sitting around the dinner table talking after Jason and Cassie got together and someone asked, “How did you meet Maureen, anyway?” What, you thought the characters stopped when the book ended? No, mon ami, they are there, going about their lives in my head as long as we all shall live. So somebody asked and Bear answered, “Her brakes were squeaking and she brought the car into my brother’s garage to get them fixed.”

And there it was. The origin of Satellite Of Love, and the origin of Drawn To the Rhythm.