Author Layla M. Wier Talks About Homespun, Research, & A Fantastic Giveaway!

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Hello! Thank you so much to Charlie for hosting me today! My blog tour for my novella Homespun is in full swing (’til Oct. 8), and today I’m going to talk about doing research. First, though, I’m doing a kinda nifty giveaway for my blog tour — if you comment on any of my blog tour posts, you’ll be entered to win a handmade scarf, knit or crocheted by me specially for you, in a style and yarn color that you get to pick! (This would also be a great holiday gift for someone else!) More details here: http://laylawier.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/scarf-giveaway/

Okay, that said … let’s talk about research, the writer’s bane! Or … in theory, it’s supposed to be. I remember a time, years ago, when I found research scary and intimidating. I hate to admit it, but it’s become one of my favorite aspects of writing.

… well, okay, I admit there are still times when research is a giant pain in the butt or scares the pants off me, but that’s usually when I have to talk to someone about their real-life experiences with the lurking fear in the back of my mind that they’re going to laugh at me for asking stupid (fiction-oriented) questions.

But! Research! It’s an excuse to buy shiny new books on topics you’re interested in, and read them and call it WORK! How awesome is that?

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Above: a sampling of the books I bought to write Homespun. (At the time, I thought I was going to need a lot more resource material on sheep than I actually ended up needing. Well, now I have a lot of books on sheep.) And this is not including quite a few library books and some other books I bought for social flavor and character details — memoirs on the gay scene in late 80s/early 90s New York City and that kind of thing.

Besides reading a bunch of books, my research for Homespun also included a road trip across central New York state with my sister (which I talked about last week at Charley Descoteaux’s blog – http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/), a couple of guidebooks on New York, an atlas, blogs and websites of people who run actual sheep farms and knitting-supply companies in New York state … and more!

I am one of those people who goes slightly nuts about getting all the details right. There’s a very brief scene in Homespun in which Owen, one-half of the main pairing, gathers late-season wildflowers to create a romantic setting for his wedding proposal:

Owen knelt alongside the driveway, gathering asters, fleabane, and goldenrod from the late-blooming wildflowers around the edges of the yard. The kitchen windows faced the east pasture; Kerry shouldn’t be able to see him as long as he stayed on this side of the house.

… and yes, those are authentically wildflowers that would be blooming in late September/early October in open sunny fields in New York state. I Googled around until I found a website that listed blooming times for New York flowers, and later (when I was actually in Ithaca at my sister’s place) was able to obtain a guidebook at the Cornell university bookstore that had common New York plants with their blooming times.

(And if you happen to know that fleabane only blooms until mid-September in the Utica area, for God’s sake please don’t tell me. I may go mad, or drive my editor to distraction asking for a revision. *g*)

Here’s a descriptive paragraph near the beginning of the story:

Farm stands selling apples and grapes, pumpkins and cider and fall mums lined the rural highways of central New York state. The air smelled fresh, with hints of wood smoke and hay. As the sun sank toward the rolling hills, the day’s balmy warmth gave way to a sharp and biting chill, the first breath of oncoming winter. Kerry was a city boy to the core, but he had been coming back to this place for two decades—his entire adult life, give or take a few years—and it surprised him how many of the smells he recognized, how many of the crops in the fields he could name along with the colors he might use to paint them.

One of the things I did when I was visiting my sister was carefully note what was in season at the farm stands in early October. This is 100% accurate, at least for the Ithaca area.

I like to think I’m reasonably sane about it — that is, there’s a point beyond which I am aware that no one cares about details (I expect this is far past the point to which I actually research them), and a reader who is swept away in the story is not likely to be wondering things like, “If you crossbreed a Jacob sheep with a Border Leicester sheep, do you actually get a spotted crossbreed, or is she LYING TO ME?!”

On the other hand, one reason why I’m a fan of exhaustive research (besides obsessiveness *g*) is because you can often find some really cool details that add depth and authenticity to your writing — stuff you’d never have thought of looking up on your own — that makes it seem more real. For example, one thing I came across in my sheep-farm reading is the interesting little factoid that sheep farmers often keep a couple of aggressive herbivores like llamas and donkeys with their sheep in lieu of sheepdogs, to drive off potential predators like coyotes or stray dogs. How cool is that? So I ended up giving the Fortescues a guard donkey named Shasta rather than a sheepdog.

And there are also the things that you never thought to look up, or the things you never researched because you didn’t know that you didn’t know. One of my beta readers caught me in a really dumb mistake regarding the pitfalls Crisco as a personal lubricant. (Crisco, like all oil-based lubricants, dissolves condoms. THANK YOU ALLAN for saving me from looking like an idiot to anyone with the slightest modicum of safer-sex knowledge.)

Let’s throw the question out to the room! What are your thoughts on research — as a reader or as a writer? Are you the sort of person who is likely to notice that the writer put brass buttons in a Regency set in 1810 when “everyone” knows England didn’t have brass buttons until 1819 (example pulled entirely out of my ass; I would not have the first clue when brass buttons appeared in the historical record) or would you be unlikely to care if a B-52* bombs Queen Victoria’s coronation as long as the story is engaging?

*The airplane, I mean, not a member of the B-52s (the band). Although that would also be pretty interesting.

 

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by Layla M. Wier

 

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella/104 pages
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2013

 

Blurb:

For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.

Buy at Dreamspinner Press:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4189

 

About Layla:

Layla M. Wier is the romance pen name of artist and writer Layla Lawlor. She was born in a log cabin in rural Alaska and grew up thirty miles from towns, roads, electricity, and cars. These days, she lives in Fox, a gold-rush mining town on the highway north of Fairbanks, Alaska, with her husband, dogs, and the occasional farm animal. Their house is a log cabin in a birch and aspen forest. Wolves, moose, and foxes wander through the front yard. During the short, bright Arctic summer, Layla enjoys gardening and hiking, and in the winter, she writes, paints, and draws.

 

Where to find Layla:

Blog: http://laylawier.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Layla_in_Alaska
Tumblr: http://laylainalaska.tumblr.com

 

Stops and topics on the Homespun blog tour (Sept. 16-Oct. 8):

Monday, Sept. 16: Zahra Owens (http://zahraowens.com/) – autumn
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Tali Spencer (http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com/) – sharing passions
Wednesday, Sept. 18: RELEASE DAY! Party at the Dreamspinner Press blog!
Thursday, Sept. 19: Charley Descoteaux (http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/) – location scouting in central New York
Friday, Sept. 20: Chris T. Kat (http://christikat.blogspot.com/) – interview
Monday, Sept. 23: Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House (http://purpleroseteahouse.charliecochet.com/) – doing research
Tuesday, Sept. 24: Helen Pattskyn (http://www.helenpattskyn.com/) – bisexuality in Homespun
Wednesday, Sept. 25: Garrett Leigh (http://garrettleigh.com/) – interview
Thursday, Sept. 26: Skylar Cates (http://skylarmcates.wordpress.com/) – rural life
Friday, Sept. 27: Madison Parker (http://madisonparklove.com/blog/) – interview + review
Monday, Sept. 30: Jessica Davies (http://jessicaskyedavies.blogspot.com/) – learning to spin, part 1
Tuesday, Oct. 1: Anne Barwell (http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/) – learning to spin, part 2
Thursday, Oct. 3: Michael Rupured (http://rupured.com/) – writing respectfully from outside a subculture
Friday, Oct. 4: Jana Denardo (http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com/) – invading characters’ privacy
Monday, Oct. 7: SL Huang (http://slhuang.com/) – interview
Tuesday, Oct. 8: PD Singer (http://pdsinger.com/) – central NY photo tour

Guest Author M.A. Church – Shadows in the Night

Hey everyone! I’m M.A. Church and I’m here to talk about my latest book called Shadows in the Night from Dreamspinner, which will be released July 12th. It’s a paranormal/shifter novel that throws together a modern man, named Chip, and Jason, a Native American who lived in a time when the buffalo roamed across the land we now call America.

Now ask yourself this: What if the Native American history we learned as children isn’t precisely right? Is it possible the history books—books written by the White Man—are nothing more than a combination of a few correct facts and many inaccuracies? Could there be more than what we were taught about this proud group of people?

Jason would tell you that long ago The Great Spirit, who they called Wha-tay, created Mother Earth, an untouched land filled with beauty and life. Then her children, The People, were allowed to inhabit the land. The People settled at The Tree of Life—the soul of Mother Earth. The People believed the universe was bound together by the spirits within all natural life—from plants, animals, humans, water, and even the earth itself.

When a child was born to The People, that child was joined with a spirit, a totem. Could be a land spirit, a water spirit, a plant spirit, or an animal spirit. And once bound, that person had the ability to use the gifts the spirit had.

But Time didn’t stand still and, as it moved forward, it brought with it the White Man, who left in his wake a trail of tears and destruction. Very few of the original People survived—and those who did retained the ability to shift, or use whatever ability their totem spirit had gifted them with.

*grin* And welcome to my world of shifters, lol. J

Shadows in the Night

~A Leap of Faith Novel

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Blurb:

When Chip Riley’s beloved granny passes away, she leaves him all her money, her land, and a house that needs some tender love and care. She never mentioned the legacy comes with a Native American shifter who intends to claim Chip as his mate.

Jason Sky has lived since buffalo roamed the land. When his totem spirit, a black cougar, saves a little girl, he doesn’t realize that generations later, her grandson will become his mate, leaving him to take on a modern man with modern ideas. But that’s the least of his problems.

Garon, another shifter with a long-held hatred for Jason, plots to kidnap Chip and lure Jason to his death. Soon Chip finds himself in an untenable position between a rock and a hard place. A leap of faith may be the only way to save himself and the man he’s learned to love.

Pages: 200

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3990

Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3991

 

Excerpt:

Chip sidestepped to the left, moving slowly. Hadn’t he read somewhere not to make eye contact—cats took that as a sign of aggression? Or was that dogs? Did it matter at this point? The cat was bigger than he was and had long, sharp teeth and claws—enough said. Maybe if he could ease around to the back door—

Calmly the creature lifted a paw and cleaned the blood from its muzzle. Eyes trained on Chip, it let out a loud warning yip, then slammed its paw down.

“Son of a….” Chip yelped as he cleared the ground in fright. Once he had his feet planted safely back on Mother Earth—and his heart crammed back into his chest—he glanced at the black cougar. Now it was tending the bite to its haunch. Again, Chip edged toward the back of the house and another loud yip sounded, stopping him in his tracks. But the big cat climbing to its feet made the air in his lungs freeze. With a grace that belied the pain it had to be in, it jumped off the porch.

Feet rooted to the ground, Chip watched as the cougar, rumbling deep in its chest, blocked the path to the back of the house. He risked all and made eye contact. Holding his eyes, the black cougar turned its head, slowly looking at the front door. Cutting its gaze back at him, it huffed out a breath. Chip, mouth hanging open, stared at the big cat.

Oh no, it did not just…!

Chip side-stepped again, and the animal’s tail swished on the ground and again it slammed its paw down. Once more, it yipped at him.

Oh yes, it just did.

“That’s it, I’ve flipped completely out. Heat stroke combined with sheer fright has fried my brain.” Why the hell does it want me to go in the front door? Did I really just think that? Chip flinched as the cat stepped nearer. “Okay! Front door it is. Then a phone call to the local shrink, ’cause I’ve lost my damn mind.”

Chip walked backward; he was not taking his eyes off that wild animal. And damn if it wasn’t following him. At last he reached the porch and had to turn around or trip. Jumping on the porch, he dug in his pocket for his keys. The thump of the big cat landing behind him caused him to go light-headed and made his hand shake. The smell of crushed grass, wild animal, and something more pronounced—a woodsy musk—enveloped him.

“Get the door open, Chip. Now,” he mumbled to himself as he dug his keys out of his front pocket. He stabbed the key at the lock. Why the hell did they make these things so damn small? Didn’t the stupid manufacturers understand that being ordered by a big-assed cat weighing more than him and standing waist high was a fucking tad unnerving? Thank God he hadn’t locked the deadbolt. Just as he slid his key in, a low, vicious growl sounded behind him.

Chip closed his eyes, assaulted by visions of his body torn to bits. Glancing over his shoulder—prepared to look death in the eye—he instead found the big cat staring at the woods. Its ears were laid low, tail twitching madly, and hair bristling. It dawned on Chip the black cougar had its body between him and woods, almost as if it was… guarding him.

Was that other cat out there?

With a hiss, the big cat stepped away from Chip, backed up to one of the pillars, and arched its tail….

“Oh come on. Not with the spraying again!”

The smell of urine flooded the area as the black cougar turned its head and balefully eyed Chip. Looking back at the woods, it let loose a scream that had every hair on Chip’s body standing up. But the answering call made him light-headed.

Something was out there.

A not-so-gentle nudge nearly knocked Chip off his feet but got his attention. The damn animal was herding him indoors. Throwing the door open, he scrambled inside and slammed it shut. He quickly locked the door. When that didn’t make him feel any more secure, he used his keys to lock the deadbolt.

“Oh God, oh God….”

His mind was in an uproar—mainly because he had company. The big cat had trailed him into the house. He’d tried to keep it out, but it just shoved its way inside. Stunned, he watched the black cougar limp across the floor toward the kitchen. Unsure what else to do, Chip stood by the door.

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Author bio:

M.A. Church

M.A. Church lives in the southern United States and spent many years in the elementary education sector. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Her hobbies are gardening, walking, attending flea markets, watching professional football, racing, and spending time with her family on the lake.

But her most beloved hobby is reading. From an early age, she can remember hunting for books at the library. Later nonhuman and science fiction genres captured her attention and drew her into the worlds the authors had created. But always at the back of her mind was the thought that one day, when the kids were older and she had more time, she would write a book.

By sheer chance she stumbled across a gay male romance story on the web and was hooked. A new world opened up and she fell in love. Thus the journey started. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading the latest erotic and mainstream romance novels.

 

My links:

Blog http://machurch00.blogspot.com

Twitter @nomoretears00

Facebook: M.A. Church http://www.facebook.com/pages/MA-Chur…

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5141393.M_A_Church

 

Chris T. Kat – The Caveman and the Devil

Charlie, thank you very much for having me on your blog! I’m excited to share my new release The Caveman and the Devil, with you and your readers. Dreamspinner Press published it on May 1st.

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The Caveman and the Devil is an m/m contemporary romance story. The main characters are Paul Myers (POV) and Noah Collins. They’re both zookeepers at the Philadelphia Zoo and became a couple a year ago.

Paul is eleven years older than Noah, which to a certain degree shows in their relationship dynamic. Noah isn’t immature but he acts on impulse and trusts Paul to be his safety net. Paul loves to take care of Noah—even though it came as a surprise to him—and if he’s honest with himself, he’s often amused by Noah’s antics. As long as Noah doesn’t jeopardize his health or safety, that is.

Years ago Noah had been injured by a jaguar and he’s still carrying scars. The physical scars have healed—some better than others—and they are mostly hidden when he’s dressed. Noah refuses to talk about the emotional impact the attack has had on him and Paul doesn’t push him, accepting Noah’s wish for privacy.

Both men are awed by the fact they’re a couple because Noah chose to become a zookeeper after reading about Paul in magazines and developing a crush on him. There’s a still a bit of hero worship going on from Noah’s side, which he often tries to hide behind teasing remarks. Noah refers to Paul as caveman frequently and for a good reason!

Paul isn’t someone to discuss things. He sees what needs doing and does it, no matter if he comes across as overbearing. He also discovered a unique way to get through Noah when he’s mid-tantrum. Noah loves Paul’s caveman-attitude even though it sometimes means standing under an ice-cold water spray. 😉

Since Noah so often reacts impulsively and teases Paul whenever he can, Paul gave him the nickname Devil. Usually, I struggle for a while (okay, sometimes it’s a long while) to find a title but this time it was easy. Both characters are sufficiently characterized by their nicknames, so why not just use these as the title?

I’m hoping the title will catch the reader’s eye (as well as the gorgeous cover), make them curious enough to take a look at the blurb and eventually feel compelled to read Paul and Noah’s story.

 

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This is a continuation of Paul and Noah’s story “Cuddling Up”, which is included in Dreamspinner’s Animal Magnetism Anthology.

Buy links:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3793

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Caveman-Devil-ebook/dp/B00CLME0MY

All Romance: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thecavemanandthedevil-1186678-149.html 

 

Blurb:

The animals at the Philadelphia Zoo brought zookeepers Paul and Noah together, but now they might tear them apart. When a bloodthirsty lioness stalks her cubs, Noah charges into her enclosure without regard for his own safety. Luckily, a coworker catches his mistake and saves the day. It’s not the first time Noah’s rushed in on impulse, and he still carries scars from the last time.
Paul can’t pretend nothing happened. Frustrated, he tries to comfort Noah, but he can’t get past his anger. As head keeper of the big cats, Paul must report the incident and figure out how to keep his reckless lover safe. Somehow he has to make Noah see that his carelessness could cost him his job or his life—and maybe Paul too.

 

Excerpt from Chapter Three:

Once inside the bathroom I inspected my reflection in the mirror. I looked exhausted but also ready to pop a vessel. Since the sight wasn’t all that inviting, I turned away. I hadn’t even opened the first button of my shirt when the bathroom door opened. It was all I could do not to snap at Noah. Was it too much asked to have some alone time so I could calm down? I hoped he’d get the hint if I didn’t stop with my task at hand.

Noah, being Noah, either didn’t understand the silent treatment or ignored it. If I would bet I’d put my money on the second option. He walked around me until he stood in front of me and since I didn’t trust my voice, I chose to glower at him.

“Hey, Caveman, are you mad at me?”

“Me?” I asked, feigning surprise. “Whatever gave you that impression?”

“You are mad.” He wrinkled his nose as his searching gaze flitted over my face. He was clearly puzzled by my behavior. “Why?”

“Why? Why? Seriously? You’re seriously asking why I’m mad at you?”

“Yes, dear almighty Caveman, I’m seriously asking why you’re mad at me! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Utterly baffled, I forgot all about what I was doing or what I had intended to do. I stared down at Noah, my lover, the man I’ve loved for almost a year now. Incredulous, I croaked, “You didn’t do anything wrong today? Is that right?”

The light bulb slowly went on for Noah. Of course, he immediately lunged into defense mode. “I just wanted to get the cubs out of there!”

“You went into Kiara’s compartment without waiting for the inner door to be locked! She had just killed two of her cubs and was in the process of killing the other two!”

“She had walked into the other compartment!” Noah protested.

“But the separating door wasn’t closed yet!” I shouted, eventually losing the fight with my emotions.

“He locked the door right after I was inside.”

“Yes, and she came back and jumped against it, roaring. What if Trent hadn’t managed to lure her away?”

“But he did. Don’t be such a nitpicker all the time.”

I could hardly breathe. The memory of Noah crouching in Kiara’s compartment, cooing at the two surviving cubs in the middle of a bloodbath, raised the hairs on my arms again. Nausea rolled through me, sweeping me up. It could have been over today.

Chris T. Kat

Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.

Links:

Blog: http://christikat.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/christi_kat

GoodReads:http://www.goodreads.com/ChrisTKat

DSP author page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=605