Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A Ghost in Cannon Beach, Oregon?

I'm intrigued. Charley Descoteaux is a Contemporary Romance writer and her new book, Directing Traffic, has just been published. But what's all this about ghosts? You'd better reveal all Charley!

Hi Antonia, thanks so much for having me! I love your blog—you always have the coolest posts about history and supernatural things. As soon as I knew I’d be visiting I started searching for something supernatural to bring and share. Maybe I should’ve focused on history . . .

Directing Traffic is a Contemporary Romance without a hint of the supernatural, set in my fictionalized version of Cannon Beach, Oregon. That stretch of the Oregon coast has been inhabited for centuries—first by the Chinook and the Salish (and probably others I don’t mean to leave out). William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) stopped there with a few friends in 1806, to buy whale blubber from the locals. I figured it shouldn’t be any problem to find an interesting ghost story. And I found one, but he’s not what I expected.

My sleepy beach town, known as a romantic getaway (and rightly so), has 'The Cannon Beach Bandage Man'—not the ghost of an actor who played King Lear like they have in Ashland, or even the disappointed bride who annoys the staff at the Oregon Caves Lodge in Cave Junction. No, the location I chose to set my angsty, yet hopeful, Romance has a ghost who likes to clear the local makeout spot by jumping into the backs of pickup trucks and smelling up the place with his horrid bloody bandages. (Eugh!!! AvZ)


One of the perks of being a writer is making up our own worlds and the legends to go with them. It’s like Scoop Nisker used to say (wow, showing my age here!): If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own. I don’t like the Bandage Man, so I’m going to make up a haunting of my own. I did that for one of my fictional towns in Northern California and that worked out pretty well, so here goes:

The ghost of a young woman left at the altar has been seen trying to climb Haystack Rock in her wedding dress. She’d planned to throw herself from the top in grand fashion—at least that’s what she told everyone at the Driftwood, while she drank through what should have... er...

I think I’ll stick to Contemporary Romance for now—so far I haven’t had much on-page death and blood to deal with, but tormenting my characters is fun so I make no promises about the future. 

Since I tortured you and your lovely readers, Antonia, I’ll share my long excerpt that includes a little spice (just a little, it’s Rated PG-13). I hope it’ll make up for my horrible half-baked ghost story! (Actually,  you may be onto something with it, Charley. Just add a vampire or two, Meatloaf singing 'I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)' and maybe Johnny Depp. You have to includeJohnny Depp...AvZ)

Another peace offering is happening on my blog. I’m participating in the Dirty Birdies Flock Hop with a boatload of authors who are sharing their eye candy and prizes with all the wonderful readers out there! My prize is a “Read on the Beach” swag and more pack.  And for all my international friends—on June 27th I’m visiting the Cup O’ Porn blog and will have a gift certificate to Dreamspinner Press just for you! The US prize is a fancy-schmancy bookmark—something for everyone! Hope to see you all there!

Now, here's the blurb for Directing Traffic,:
Neil Sedwick expects to spend his vacation in a sleepy tourist trap mourning his late partner’s death. Instead, he puts his recently acquired CPR certificate to use and saves an elderly resident’s life. But it’s the survivor’s nephew, sexy middle-school teacher Ty Bigelow, who causes Neil to reevaluate his routine and consider reopening his heart.  

Though the electricity between them is undeniable, Ty is struggling with his own feelings of inadequacy, and Neil is moored to the past. Even the healing peace of an old man’s garden and the ever-changing waters of the Oregon coast may not be enough to prepare Neil to overcome a crisis of the heart.


Neil stood outside the little cafe and read the sign advertising burgers, beer, and fun. He thought that to be an overly optimistic—possibly even arrogant—claim, but went in anyway. Ty sat at a table in the far corner on the other side of a pool table. Two boys, who looked barely legal, did more laughing than shooting as Neil went to sit across from Ty.

“I didn’t know this place had a pool table,” said Neil after they’d said their hellos and thank-you-for-comings.

“Do you play?” Ty sat up a little straighter and smiled wider.

“Not for a while. And I never was very good.”

“Neither am I. We should play after lunch.”

The waitress came and took their orders. They chatted about the beach and how much the little town had changed over the past few years. It turned out they’d both taken their vacations there since well before the gentrification started and agreed the project had robbed the town of much of its charm.

“But we keep coming back anyway,” said Ty, dragging his last fry through the mixed ketchup and grease on his plate.

Neil wondered how he stayed so slender if he ate like that. He finished the last few bites of his Caesar salad and thought how unhappy Julius would be to see what this dive had done to his namesake entrée.

“Um, yeah, I guess. The beach is nice, though, and clears out pretty quickly once the kids go back to school.”

“How about a game?” Ty jumped up and started racking the table.

Neil wondered if he’d really seen a shadow pass across Ty’s face at the mention of kids and school. He was probably—straight, married, or both—worried about his uncle.

“I don’t want to keep you if—”

“You’d be doing me a favor. Once I leave here, I have no plans. Idle hands and all that.” Ty grinned and sauntered over to the rack on the wall.

Neil literally shook his head to remind himself where he was and that he really shouldn’t stare at this kid he’d just met, especially not his ass, and then forced himself across the little room to choose a cue. If that perfect round bottom had been created by burgers and fries, maybe he should reconsider his own eating habits. He was a little uncomfortable bending over the table with Ty standing right there watching, but his break probably wouldn’t have been any better had he been standing anywhere else.

Neil had felt a static tension in the room as soon as he reached the table, and as they played it only got worse. And all that bending over and thoughtful lining-up of shots that were missed by miles didn’t help.

They each had two balls left on the table, and Ty asked if Neil wanted to make it more interesting.

Neil laughed. “Not sure I can handle more interesting. But what do you have in mind?”

“Loser buys dinner.”

Ty bent over to line up his shot and his tank top draped over the table, giving Neil a prime view of Ty’s tanned chest and a tease of muscular stomach. Ty missed an easy bank shot.

“Or I can get it after I win.” Neil sank the two ball in the side, and then bumped a stripe in for Ty along with the six ball. As he lined up the eight ball, Neil realized what he’d done. He’d just asked this young guy out to dinner. He’d never asked anyone out before, not once, and this seemed as though he’d done it behind his own back. His hands shook enough to ensure the cue ball followed the eight straight into the pocket.

Ty laughed. His laugh made Neil grin, even through the burning blush he was sure encompassed his entire face, neck, and most of his chest.

“I warned you I wasn’t very good.”

Ty shook his head. “You weren’t kidding.” He replaced his cue in the rack, and maybe he was a little pale when he turned back around. “You don’t have to—”

“You’re suggesting I welch?”

Ty’s grin returned fast, forcing Neil to wonder again about his age. When he grinned like that, he looked almost as old as Neil himself, who wasn’t quite ready to admit he was pushing forty. But when he turned away from the cue rack, he seemed barely old enough to be in the bar. Ty raised an eyebrow, and Neil realized he’d been staring.

“Where would you like to eat?”

“You’re buying, so you decide.”

“My hotel has a restaurant next door. I’m not sure if it’s any good….”

“Sounds fine to me.”

Neil smiled and nodded, and they agreed on a time. When Neil left the cafe, Ty walked alongside him. They continued in a companionable silence to the end of the main drag. Neil expected him to drop away at any time, stunned by the realization he didn’t want that to happen. Ty kept walking with him, his flip-flops matching every step of Neil’s canvas deck shoes.

They reached the hotel, and Ty said softly, “Food’s good here.”

Neil glanced at Ty and then started up the weathered wood staircase to his room, holding his breath. He slowly let it out when he heard the slap of Ty’s flip-flops behind him. Neil’s hand shook the tiniest bit as he swiped his key card and opened the door. He hesitated, and Ty brushed past him into the room. Neil flinched away from the jolt he got when their arms touched.

Neil closed and locked the door and Ty was right there, his auburn curls shivering with his quiet laughter. Close up, his hazel-green eyes were even more beautiful than from across the table, and before Neil was able to think past them, Ty’s hands were on his chest and one snaked up into his hair.

Just before Ty’s mouth found Neil’s, he whispered one word that made Neil smile too. “Electricity.”

About the Author:

Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough.  In exchange, they let her sleep once in a while. Charley’s a firm believer that everyone deserves a beautiful love story even, or maybe especially, the folks who would usually be in the supporting cast. Home is Portland, Oregon, where the weather is like your favorite hard-case writing buddy who won’t let you get away with taking too many days off, and in some places you can be as weird as you are without fear.  As an out and proud bisexual and life-long weird-o, she thinks that last part is pretty cool.
Buy Directing Traffic, Dreamspinner Press 
Rattle Charley’s cages:

Friday, 21 June 2013

Sex and the Serial Killer - Jerrie Alexander

Jerrie Alexander writes taut romantic suspense, with strong, complex characters. I'm delighted to welcome her as my guest today. Over to  you, Jerrie:

 I love writing the tension, suspense, and passion in my romantic suspense books. Wrap those elements together, throw in a little fear, and give the hero and heroine a villain or a serial killer to catch. Woot, sit back and watch the fireworks. These troubled, sexy alpha males and independent minded women ease the tension in a number of ways. Full throttle danger and heart-stopping action can produce mind blowing sex. These characters love as voraciously as they defend the innocent. 

This isn't the only genre around you can find these elements, but it's where I belong. It's where I love to research the inner workings of the deviant mind, such as the monsters who kill without caring who gets hurt.

Even more, I loved researching the FBI and the Atlanta Police department for THE LAST EXECUTION. Learning how our law enforcement actively pursues, captures, and prosecutes criminals was interesting. I actually spoke with an FBI agent who graciously answered all my questions. 

If I've brought all the above to the table then I've done a good job. If I've kept someone up a few hours extra, made them cheer for the hero and heroine, or touched them with the resolution and happy ending, then I've done a good job. After all is said and done, that's my goal!

Thank you Jerrie. Now here's the blurb for The Last Execution:

Homicide detective Leigh McBride's first assignment with the FBI brings her face-to-face with a past she's tried hard to forget. And when her temporary partner, a cynical ex-marine, lights a fire in her she thought long-extinguished, her darkest secret is threatened.

Scarred both physically and emotionally, Special Agent J. T. Noble is a man of few words. He prefers to keep people at a distance—until he meets Leigh. He's attracted to her strength and drawn in by her secrecy. But in their line of work, secrets can be deadly.

When the killer they are hunting aims his vigilante justice at Leigh's past assailant, the fine line between right and wrong blurs. To heal the past—and find their future together—Leigh and J. T. must learn that only through trust and forgiveness can love grow.

And here's an excerpt:

The six-year-old missile launched himself into the air, giving J.T. two choices. choices. Catch the kid, or let him fall to the ground like a deflated football. J.T. grabbed him and held Ethan out in front, as he would a wet, smelly dog.

            Leigh jogged down the sidewalk, sparks flashing from her eyes. She pulled her son out of J.T.’s grasp and plopped the kid down at her feet. She knelt and got right in his face. J.T. made a mental note to not piss her off.

            “What have I told you about running out the door?”

            Ethan’s head bowed. “Don’t even think about it.” He stared at the tops of his bare feet.

            “Obviously, you didn’t listen.” She tugged the knot at the back of her head tighter before she looked up. “Sorry about the attack.”

            “Kid’s a natural born high jumper.” J.T. stuffed his hands in his pockets. She’d wadded her hair in the old-lady-school-teacher-bun-thing she wore at work. Probably just as well. If she’d left all that blond silk loose and sexy, he might’ve thought this was a date or something, which it wasn’t. Him being here was entirely the fault of his own big mouth.

            “Please.” She waved a hand toward the wide-open front door. “We were about to come and get you.”

            “You knew I was here?”

            “A black Corvette rumbling around in our neighborhood doesn’t go unnoticed.”

            Dressed in blue jean shorts and a thin-strapped top exactly the same blue as her eyes, Leigh looked more like a model than a mom. J.T. was glad he’d worn a T-shirt and Wranglers.

            His chest double-clutched and pulled a weird stutter step when a small hand gripped two of his fingers and two small feet shuffled hurriedly to keep up with him. Tonight was a mistake. 
You can catch up with Jerrie here:

 Buy links:  
The Last Execution
Someone To Watch Over Me

Jerrie Alexander bio:

A student of  creative writing in her youth, Jerrie set aside her passion when life presented her with a John Wayne husband, and two wonderful children.  A career in logistics offered her the opportunity to travel to many beautiful locations in America, and she revisits them in her romantic suspense novels. 

But the characters went with her, talked to her, and insisted she share their dark, sexy stories with others.  She writes alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other.  She likes to torture people, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after.

The author of THE GREEN-EYED DOLL, THE LAST EXECUTION, and SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME, Jerrie and her husband live in Texas. She loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Eden Summers Talks About Blind Attraction - And Prizes!

 I'm delighted to be joined by author Eden Summers, whose Book Tour for her new release, Blind Attraction, is stopping off here today. She has sunk herself into my comfiest sofa, drunk a large glass of Blauer Zweigelt and now she's going to tell us why she wants to be stranded on a desert island with McGyver.
 Oh, and did I forget to mention? She's giving away prizes too!
Hi Eden, firstly, without giving too much away, tell us more about 'Blind Attraction' and what led you to write it.
Blind Attraction is the first book in the Reckless Beat series. It’s a contemporary erotic romance about the lead guitarist – Mitchell Davies and a woman entirely out of her element – Alana Shelton.

What led me to write it? Music. I was inspired by a lot of the lyrics to Daughtry’s songs and the series came to life quite quickly.
When did you first start writing and what did you write?

I’m only relatively new to writing. A few years ago I started my first piece—a contemporary romance about another band of rock stars. Unfortunately, it still isn’t finished and is a big ol’ mess. But I hope to dig in and publish it one day…when I have more patience to correct all my mistakes ;)

I have a few like that! They lurk in drawers an challenge me when I;m least expecting it. Now, who are your favourite authors/books and why?
I’m a huge fan of Cindy Gerard. She has a great mix of suspense, sexiness and dominant males. She doesn’t waste words. Every page, every paragraph, every sentence, is perfection. I also love Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole, J.R. Ward, the list goes on.

Writers today need to be self-marketers. What do you love/hate about promoting yourself and what advice would you give to new writers about online marketing (using social media etc)?
I love being able to interact with readers. That is the biggest bonus to promotion. I hate? Umm, probably the time it takes away from my writing. I strongly believe in doing a lot of marketing, but a lot of marketing means a lot of time.
My advice to new writers would be to realize that book bloggers run their blogs (usually) without any financial reward. Respect that they are doing you a favor and not the other way around. Great relationships with bloggers can be invaluable and I’ve made a lot of great friends who dedicate their spare time to promoting our work.
Excellent advice, Eden. Now, for a bit of fun. If you were to be stranded on a desert island with four other people (living or dead, real or fictional) who would they be - and why?

1. My husband – always. I can’t live without him. I won’t say my children, because hopefully they will be home safe with my parents. 2. MacGyver. I’m hoping that dude can find the food and water and make a shelter. 3. My sister-in-law. I’d need female companionship and she is an awesome female who wouldn’t try and seduce my husband during the lonely nights ;). And 4 … Hmm, maybe someone hunky to provide entertainment like Raffaelloe Balzo, Jason Momoa or David Gandy.

Blind Attraction
(Reckless Beat #1)

He can seduce with a single glance.

Peering down at a sea of fans, rock star, Mitchell Davies can’t deny the innocent beauty of a woman in the front row. He’ll stop at nothing to get to know her. When a public altercation leaves her weak and defenseless, he takes the opportunity to be her savior.

She’s been sheltered from the world.

Alana Shelton wants to spread her wings and experience life away from her restrictive upbringing. But she isn’t prepared for a gorgeous stranger to sweep her off her feet while at her most vulnerable.

Attraction will bring them together, but their pasts will try to tear them apart.

He wants to teach her how to trust, but she’ll show him how to love. In a glamorous world of rock-and-roll, only time will tell if they’re up for the challenge.

Want more information on Eden?
Eden Summers Website
Facebook Page

Now for those fantastic prizes!

The giveaway is open internationally.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Whatever Happened To... Jacqueline Susann?

In an era when writers were supposed to...well...just write, and leave all the marketing and publicity of their work to the small army of publicists employed by their publishers, Jacqueline Susann broke new ground.  Along with her husband, press agent Irving Mansfield, she tirelessly and shamelessly travelled to every part of the English speaking world to promote her books.

Her activities earned her derision from some of her fellow authors.  Gore Vidal said, "She doesn't write, she types!" Others scoffed and said she "typed on a cash register." Not that she cared. After all, her books were bestsellers and she could have the lifestyle she had always wanted.

Jacqueline Susann led a colourful and, at times, controversial life. She was born in Philadephia on August 20th 1918, the daughter of Robert Susann, a portrait painter with a roving eye. Her mother, Rose, was a schoolteacher and convinced her clever daughter would one day become a successful author. But at first Jacqueline had no such aspirations. She wanted to be an actress and started out to achieve her goal.

In 1936, after dabbling in drugs and gaining a reputation for being a goodtime girl, she graduated high school and left for New York City. There she landed small parts in films and plays and after a year landed a role playing a lingerie model which paid her the princely sum of $25 per week.

She met Irving Mansfield and they married in April 1939. It has been said that he adored her but she wasn't sexually attracted to him. He won her over by publicising her in the theatre and society sections of various high circulation newspapers in New York. A lot has been made of her sexuality over the years, with strong and persistent rumours that she was bisexual. She is alleged to have had affairs with actress Carole Landis and famous fashion designer Coco Chanel. She is even supposed to have tried to start a physical relationship with Ethel Merman! Most of her friends dismiss these allegations as utter fabrication.

On the other hand, her extra-marital affairs with men, such as actor and singer Eddie Cantor, nearly broke up her marriage. Then, in 1942, she fell in love with comedian Joe E. Lewis. Irving had been drafted into the US Army and learned of the affair when Jacqueline sent him a letter telling him she wanted to end their marriage. Unfortunately, Lewis wasn't so keen on the idea - especially when he discovered Jacqueline had set her sights on marrying him. He immediately applied for a posting overseas and was sent to New Guinea!

In 1944, she and Irving reunited and had a son - Guy - two years later. Sadly, he was diagnosed as autistic at the age of three and the following year, he was committed to an institution. In those days little was known about the condition and this was considered normal practice. The decision to commit him wasn't taken lightly and Jacqueline remained wracked with guilt for the rest of her life. As far as is known, Guy is still in the home where he was placed. Unable to admit the truth, his mother told everyone that Guy was asthmatic and needed to live in Arizona for his health.

In 1955, Jacqueline acquired her black poodle, Josephine, who became the subject of her first successful book, Every Night, Josephine. In this funny - sometimes hilarious - story, she recounts life with her dog who had to suffer the indignity of appearing in public in outfits matching her mistress's. A quirky novelty, the book's decent sales funded her next project - an expose of the seedier side of show business and drug dependency. Fiction it may have been but Valley of the Dolls struck a familiar chord with many people in the industry and beyond. Published in 1966, it hit the New York Times Bestseller list and remained there at number one for many weeks.

Since 1962, Jacqueline Susann had kept a tragic health secret. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a mastectomy. She didn't let this deter her from her goal of becoming an international bestselling author and followed up the phenomenally successful Valley of the Dolls with two further novels, The Love Machine and Once Is Not Enough. Her promotional tour schedule was punishing and everywhere she went, she signed copies of books, took down names and addresses of people she met, and kept in contact with them. If only email had been around then!

Jacqueline Susann was much in demand on talk shows for her sharp wit, and had a famous spat with Truman Capote which he initiated when he said she looked "like a truck driver in drag". She reponded by threatening to sue, so Capote apologised  - "to truck drivers everywhere". Johnny Carson invited her onto The Tonight Show and asked what she thought about Truman. She replied, "Truman...Truman... I think history will prove he's one of the best Presidents we've had."

In January 1973, she was admitted to hospital suffering from a persistent bad cough and associated breathing problems. A tour to publicise her latest novel, One Is Not Enough, was imminent and she was determined to go through with it. Tests revealed a nodular lesion in her right lung, and transfer to Mount Sinai hospital, followed by further tests, revealed  that the breast cancer was back. She was given just months to live, but insisted on carrying on with her book tour.

In the summer of 1974, she was admitted to hospital for the last time and lay in a coma for seven weeks. She died on September 21st 1974 at the age of 56. Her last words to Irving Mansfield were, "Hiya doll. Let's get the helloutta here."

There is a website dedicated to her. Here's the link
Finally, here's Jacqueline Susann in the American version of What's My Line: