Hi everybody. Thanks so much to Elizabeth for hosting us. We’re super stoked about the release of Sweet Fire. It’s our second novel but our first m/m and our first for Dreamspinner Press. So exciting.
Being a mother/daughter team doing this together moves us quite a few points up the weird scale. Writing steamy m/m this way multiplies that weirdness factor exponentially. The funny thing is, for us the partner part of this is the easiest thing ever. Partner writing with anyone else would be hard but writing together with Shannen feels natural to me. After all, we’ve been doing this very nearly all her life.
I’m an accountant by day but Shannen has always been a writer. When she was a little girl, for a while limericks and Doctor Suess-style rhyming poems were her thing. The whole family, (Shannen and I, my husband and Shannen’s younger brother Derek,) would sit around the living room brainstorming poetry, both kids shouting out lines from their beanbags on the floor and cracking themselves up. I know, normal families play board games or watch TV. Even that far back, “just a little weird” was our normal.
My Ugly Dog
I paid a call on my best friend Jerome,
To find just the right dog for me to take home
And when I got there
I knew just what I’d find;
A puppy so ugly I’d want to go blind…
OK, even I know that’s terrible. It’s been a long time and I never claimed I could do this by myself. Together we’d have come up with something better. Just like our novel writing, the end result is greater than the sum of its parts.
When Shannen and I are ready to start a new book, we simply sit down together and tell each other a story. We argue about plot and characters, motive and heat level. It can get both loud and graphic as we work out all the details for a full length romance novel and we’ve learned to do most of it in private, as it drives the rest of the family bugnuts. We eventually drag them in for some of the details, as my son is now a martial arts instructor (and our fight scene choreographer) and my husband has a very analytical mind. He often finds plot holes and asks questions that never occurred to either of us. In just a couple of hours we can come up with the bones of a novel, characters, romance, and action, beginning to end.
After that it’s a matter of trading the notes back and forth until we have what amounts to a primitive rough draft, a 10-12 page, scene-by-scene outline with a thick paragraph spelling out what each scene has to accomplish. Whoever is most attached to the characters at that point takes it over and writes the first draft, with the other editing it scene by scene along the way.
After two years of this craziness, we’ve got the first two novels in print. We have at least five more Gifted or Gifts of Fate novels in the works and we’re still having a blast.
When Shannen and I first sat down to write,
We thought maybe the books would be good.
“You write that with your daughter?”
The other authors all cried.
No way could most have understood.
But we kept right on writing, more stories to tell
Might not get famous or make us a dime
We might land on our backsides
Or fall on our face
But at least we’ll have had a good time.
Oh, man. This is why I don’t do this alone...
All right, enough foolishness. Sweet Fire, released January 2 from Dreamspinner, is book one of Gifts of Fate. Here’s the book, along with the opening scene. I hope you like Aaron and Ramón as much as we do. Click on the pic to go to the book on the Dreamspinner web site.
Between Homeland Security's Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace, having paranormal Gifts is a dangerous thing. Pyrokinetic Aaron Flores knows firsthand how difficult it can be to control his power. Still, he runs his bakery and never gives up on finding his Happily Ever After. When Aaron's cousin asks him to check on her former EMT partner, Aaron’s chance has finally arrived. He's determined not to let anything stop him from catching (and keeping) his man.
Ramón Del Rio spent three days at the tender mercies of HOMSEC agents when his former partner was taken. He wants nothing to do with a Gifted guy, but Aaron is nothing if not persistent. He's a pastry chef after all, and the way to a man's heart really is through his stomach. The physical passion they share is the icing on the cake. Just when Ramón decides that having Gifts might not be a deal breaker, someone close to Aaron decides his fire needs to be put out—permanently. Ramón will have to face his fears to save them both.
The fire called him. The fryer grease landed on the gas burner and flared toward the ceiling, and Aaron felt it, felt the slight wrongness of it in his orderly kitchen. His pyro-kinetic Gift was damn handy in a bakery, and Aaron Flores knew how to make the most out of what he’d been given.
Right now, making the most of his Gift meant putting out that fire. Aaron sprinted in from the back courtyard where he’d been shooting the shit with the delicious new driver from Petrov’s Creamery. Skidding to a halt just inside the kitchen door, he saw his two employees ducking for cover. The white-gold flare of the grease fire licked hungry flames up from the gas burner like tongues after his chocolate cream. Hot oil from the donut fryer lay splattered in a wide swath.
Aaron snatched a wide round lid from a hook on the wall and raced across the room toward the big range top. It should have been a simple matter to move the saucepan of maple butter sauce off the fire and slap the lid over the burner, smothering the flames. Unfortunately, before he reached the range the fire flared higher, reaching past the big stainless steel hood toward the exposed beam above. Shit! No time for conventional methods now. Even as he crossed the room, Aaron reached out a hand toward the aggressive flame and damped it. The fire, right down to the pilot light of the gas burner, flickered and died a split second before he was able to shift the saucepan and drop the lid over the mess on the range top. He switched off the gas to the burner.
Whew. Disaster averted. Aaron’s ability to control heat and flame helped make Sweet Nothings’ reputation as the best gourmet bakery in Spokane County, perhaps even the best in Washington State, but being Gifted in this time and place was perilous. He could have done without the audience.
“Holy crap, boss! That’s some skill you got there!” Shit squared.
Jaqui Robson, his first assistant and office manager, climbed to her feet behind him. Too much to hope that they were both too busy ducking to watch me, or that Jaqui would shut up.
“You want to tell me how you were able to do that?” Jaqui stepped up beside him and gazed down at the range top with wonder.
“You want to tell me what the hell happened here and why my kitchen was on fire?” Maybe she could be diverted.
Jaqui turned to glare at the bakery’s second employee, a big man climbing to his feet with a sullen scowl and a mostly empty coffee cup.
“Simon tripped and spilled his coffee into the deep fryer.”
Well, fuck! Coffee, being mostly water, would sink to the bottom of the hot oil and become instantly superheated, expanding in a steam ball that would send oil (and half cooked donuts) flying everywhere. Simon had been cooking maple glaze for the donuts on the gas range. Open flame + flying oil = fucking mess.
“Dammit, Simon!” Aaron stopped himself and drew in a deep breath of donut-scented air. He really worked at not being a raving bitch to his employees, but this one passed by honest mistake and strolled right into dangerously stupid.
For more on our Gift of Fate series or our weird and wonderful publishing journey, visit us on our own blog, like us on FaceBook, or follow us on Twitter.