The Big Secret is Revealed…

INTRODUCING

The BILLIONAIRE BAD BOY SERIES from Cat Johnson writing as Carrie Lane

Cat Haus Complete StoryBefore Cate Billionaire Bad Boys by Cat Johnson

He’s a billionaire. She’s a hooker. Things are bound to get interesting…

Cat Haus ~ The Complete Story (Parts I, II, III) as told from Cate’s Point of View

Before Cate ~ John’s Story as told from John’s Point of View

I’m sure there are questions so let’s begin….

Cat Johnson writing as Carrie Lane? Why the separate name?

Well, a certain author friend of mine who is usually dead on when it comes to publishing advice convinced me that readers were tired with the ‘old’ authors they’d been reading for awhile. (Grande dames like Nora Roberts aside.) Since my romance name was born in 2006, and publishing years are like dog years, I would technically be one of those old names readers were tired of. I personally didn’t believe what she did, that ‘new’ authors were supposedly coming out of the blue and making huge splashes on best seller lists solely because of the novelty of being ‘new’. There are far too many other factors at play in this business that dictate success or failure.

I will admit there is something to be said for the apparent trend that bloggers like to be the one to discover “new” authors and will throw all of their social media weight behind them. I’ve watched it happen more than once. In reality, quite a few of those new names are really veterans of this industry undercover. Sorry, but true. But yes, some actually were new and ripe to be ‘discovered’ when their hired publicity company handed out 2,000 hand targeted ARCs to insure 600 4 & 5 star reviews and a ton of buzz on release day. That is what made those new authors originally hit big. Of course they have to have a quality product to get readers to buy book 2 and then book 3, but taking a chance on an unknown author and book, the willingness to buy book 1 is usually all about the buzz, which drives the rank, which increases the discoverability.

Anyway, in May of 2013 I figured what the hell? I’ll give a new pen name in a different genre a try as a grand experiment. It doesn’t take all that long to write 20K words, compared to the 80K word tomes I’ve been writing for Kensington so it felt like a worthwhile endeavor that wouldn’t cost me much in time or money. And it was. I loved writing in first person. And after years of trying to avoid slut shaming by reasoning away why my heroine in my romance name books would dare to have a one night stand with the hero (because you know that never happens in real life *snort*), it was freeing writing a no-holds-barred, no apologies heroine. She’s a hooker. There’s no question she’s having sex and yeah, she enjoys it. So what? Most days I enjoy my job too. Not all days though.

So, Carrie Lane was born, my erotica pen name because this series was meant to be truly erotica. But apparently I am incapable of that. The more I wrote, the more romance crept in, until there was the L-word and romance and an HEA and all that crap I thought I wasn’t going to write for this series. But it was good and of the handful of reviews I got for my unknown name, a large number were 5 star raves. Readers really seemed to like Carrie Lane’s characters, story, and voice.

Why then did I deem this experiment a failure?

For one, I don’t have the time or energy to devote to build that pen name. Getting FB Likes, Twitter followers, blog and newsletter sign-ups, takes time. New releases drive back list sales, and I didn’t have time to write fast enough to keep Carrie alive and well. A second pen name demanded time I didn’t have if I wanted to keep building Cat Johnson, the pen name that had contract obligations. The name that pays the bills.

Reason two, I tried to get creative with the title and series name. I started with Cat Haus, the Working Girls series. A year later I changed it to the Billionaire and the Hooker series.  I lowered the prices. I made book 1 in the trilogy free. I moved the series into Select and hoped for exposure through Kindle Unlimited borrows. Nothing. Carrie Lane was too far beneath the radar, so poorly ranked, with so few reviews, Amazon’s algorithms didn’t even pick me up. Discoverability will make or break an author. Lack of it broke Carrie Lane.

Meanwhile, Cat Johnson was hitting lists right and left. Top 100 in Amazon, the New York Times bestseller list twice. The USA Today bestseller list 5 times, twice with individual titles, one of those a self published novella. Carrie couldn’t even get bloggers to read and review her. Bloggers who publicly love Cat, wouldn’t give Carrie the time of day. It was frustrating. Like beating my head against the wall.

I’m done experimenting. I write for many reasons, chief among those reasons is because I want readers to read my stuff. I’m also a full time working writer. I support myself and my husband, I pay my bills with what I make in royalties, and having a series that I truly believe has potential wallow in obscurity making a handful of sales a month is insane.

Now, a warning. This series is hot and I don’t mean hot as in ripe with unfulfilled sexual tension.

Though not technically erotica because there is too much romance in it, it’s still dirty. Let me reiterate this again. If you don’t like the words fuck, or pussy, or clit, or cock, don’t read it. If you don’t want to see a hooker heroine doing things with men and women, sometimes in multitudes, don’t read it. If you have issues with oral, anal, rape fantasies, public sex, or pegging, don’t read it. It is because of all of this content that I left the name Carrie Lane on the books. I don’t want a new-to-me reader who discovered Cat Johnson through my best selling Hot SEALs series to expect the same level of heat as in those books.

This series is closer to the heat in my self published Educating Ansley and my early Samhain threesomes, such as Rough Stock, Unridden and Bucked. If you can handle those, you’ll enjoy Cat Johnson writing as Carrie Lane.

Are there 2 books? Are there 3? Are there 5? Yes to all…

I wrote the first 20,000 word Cat Haus part 1 (in first person from the heroine’s point of view) knowing I would write 2 more novellas to continue the story arc. Later, I released Cat Haus part 2 at 20,800 words and then months after that the 27,200 word Cat Haus part 3. At that point I bundled the three parts together into one complete novel-length story (at 67,250 words), but I also left the three individual novellas available for sale. Earlier this year I wrote Before Cate, the hero’s backstory and the romance from his first person point of view (46,500 words).

So readers have many options. They can get part 1 for 99 cents and then buy / read parts 2 and 3 later, or get all three in one with the Complete story at a significant savings over buying the 3 individual parts. Wondering what John was thinking and what are the secrets from his past Cate doesn’t find out during her book? Then you can grab Before Cate.

   Cat Haus Part 1 Cat Johnson Carrie LaneCat Haus 2 Billionaire Bad Boys Cat Haus 3 Billionaire Bad Boys series by Cat Johnson Carrie LaneCat Haus Complete StoryBefore Cate Billionaire Bad Boys by Cat Johnson

THE BILLIONAIRE BAD BOY SERIES

Cat Haus (Part I)  (approx 20K words, 99 cents)

Cat Haus 2 (Part II) (approx 21K words, $2.99)

Cat Haus 3 (Part III) (approx 27K words, $2.99)

Cat Haus – The Complete Story (Parts I, II, III) (approx 67K, words, $3.99)

Before Cate (John’s Story) (approx 47K words, $2.99)

What’s next for this series?

Side characters who deserve their own story, as they often do, have presented themselves. I have plans for a story for Carrie’s favorite client Ty, and also for John’s brother-in-law, Brady, time permitting because as I said, Cat Johnson pays the bills and it has yet to be seen if Carrie Lane can pull her weight now that I’ve let her out of the closet as my alter ego and have chosen to change the series title one more time, to what I hope is a more searchable and keyword friendly Billionaire Bad Boy series name. We will see. Either way, it’s been a hell of an experiment and a learning experience all around.

Cat Haus Paperback

AND yes, for you who like to hold a book in your hand, both Cat Haus ~the Complete Story and Before Cate ~John’s Story will be made available in paperback. Cat Haus is available in print now. Before Cate is coming in print soon.

          Enjoy!!

Cat Johnson aka Carrie Lane

READ REVIEWS & MORE HERE

READ AN EXCERPT HERE

#RWA2014 San Antonio, TX – What I did on my summer vacation

My trip to San Antonio, TX was hot (well over 100 degrees daily), interesting, amazing, exhausting, eye opening and unforgettable. I went from meetings with industry professionals at the conference at the Riverwalk, to culinary adventures in Market Square, to a video filming for Amazon Kindle Love Stories and Kindle Worlds, to absorbing local color at the Cowboy Dancehall.  I now know there are more cowboys and tortillas (for breakfast lunch and dinner) in the state of Texas than anywhere else, that Prickly Pears are purple and that you can indeed have bull riding, dancing and live music all simultaneously under one roof. All in all, there were many things learned, new friends made, and old ones revisited and it was well worth the trip from NY and the time spent away from the WiP. Below are a few highlights in pictures.

The River Walk San Antonio TX

The River Walk San Antonio TX

Prickly Pear Margarita at the Kensington Dinner

Prickly Pear Margarita, Kensington Dinner, La Margarita

Bella Andre & Cat Johnson Kindle Worlds Video Shoot

Bella Andre & Cat Johnson Kindle Worlds Video Shoot

Cat Johnson Kindle Love Stories Interview

Cat Johnson Kindle Love Stories Interview

Cat Johnson at the Alamo San Antonio TX

Cat Johnson at the Alamo San Antonio TX

The Alamo

The Alamo

Cowboy Dance Hall PBR Bull Riding

Cowboy Dance Hall PBR Bull Riding

PBR Touring Pro San Antonio

PBR Touring Pro San Antonio

Live Music Cowboy Dance Hall SanAntonio

Live Band, Cowboy Dance Hall, San Antonio, TX

Brewing Up a Book with Guest Author Liz Crowe

Today I’m doing a little something different on the blog…I have a guest. Please welcome Liz Crowe, best selling author, soccer fan and beer expert. She’s got some words of wisdom about brews, and writing. She’s brought a few excerpts to entertain you and is having a SALE on her books! Meanwhile, for today you can find me over at her place. Check out my post out at Liz’s blog HERE.

BOOK BREWING 101 by Liz Crowe

There is a “regulation” in Germany—the Reinheitsgebot—that states:

“Beer is made up 4 ingredients, and 4 ingredients ONLY:

Water—Barley—Hops—Yeast”

The Germans invented the lager style of beer, using yeasts they discovered, the create a different sort of beer than had been brewed before. Ale beer was truly an ancient form of sustenance, had been around since Egyptian times and was consumed in leiu of water on many continents.

Since the advent of the “American craft beer movement” in the late ‘90s, that regulation has been tossed right out the window in the quest for unique flavors and a sort of one-up-manship among the (now) thousands of brewers seeking an audience of drinkers. Everything from corriandor and orange peel, hot peppers, coffee, and chocolate to cherries, grapes, pumpkin and ginger are now added to a host of “regulation beers” (water/malt/hops/yeast) by breweries large and small. My favorite example of going off the rez with this is the Peanut Butter and Jelly Beer brewed right here in Michigan at Short’s Brewing near Traverse City.

It’s not a bad thing to add these “adjuncts” (beer jargon for “anything not water/barley/hops/yeast). Some of them create unique, well-rounded and interesting beer drinking experiences. Others are, well, just gross but fun to contemplate.

As part owner of a craft brewery, I interact with other owners and beer drinkers every day. I’ve come to value the process of taking “pure beer” and rounding it out in a cool way with well-balanced and considered ingredients seeking alternatives for the many folks who are learning that “beer” has actual “flavor.”

I’ve also written a few books (24 at last count). And, since I have a degree in English Lit, I’ve read a fair few as well. There is a school of thought in this business that there are only seven or so basic plots: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy; rebirth. If you have some time to ponder such things, you will realize that from the Bible, through Greek plays, Shakespeare and today you can apply one or more of these to most works of literature, including popular fiction.

The fact that there are so many great books to choose from is a testament to the fact that authors take these “basic ingredients” and add their own spices, pumpkins, grapes and hot peppers to them to create a huge range of options for readers to consider.

One of the Black Jack Gentlemen novels, now on sale in honor of the soccer World Cup, MAN ON, is set in the world of professional soccer (my first “adjunct” and a unique one as there are not a ton of these around). In it, you meet two of the players for the original Black Jack Gentlemen fictional Detroit-based expansion soccer team. The Black Jacks are not part of a league of “starter-outers.” It’s not a farm team for the more established Major League Soccer teams. It’s part of a “fictionalized Major League Soccer (MLS)” that was awarded to Detroit once it was determined that Las Vegas had bribed officials to get the team. Hence, the “left over” name that Detroit decides to keep.

These are men of all ranges of experience from all over the world who’ve been convinced, cajoled and paid well (i.e. more or less bribed) to come and form a legit new team that can take on teams of equal or better caliber.

My second “adjunct” to this story: these men are bi-sexual. One of them, Parker Rollings, is a young man just out of college who is struggling with his sexual identity. The other, Nicco Garza is an older player from Spain who lost his super-star status when his ex-wife “outed” him.

So you have the set up for “overcoming the monster” (acceptance of yourself as a homosexual and a pro athlete—not an easy task), “the quest” (trying to create a viable new soccer team, getting a bunch of men who’ve never played together and who in many cases despise each other, to form a cohesive group) and even “rebirth” (when Parker accepts himself as a bi-sexual man in love with another man who happens to be a teammate).

There could be tragedy of course. These men have both worked so very hard to achieve success as athletes. It is well known that the general public does not accept homosexual men on their “favorite teams” easily.  So it could be that they find each other, then make a decision to reject their potential private happiness in order to further the public success of their team.

Taking basic plots and adding the adjuncts of setting, characters, conflicts and resolution truly does resemble the crafting of a great beer. We all hope for more drinkers and readers thanks to our efforts.  And, as with craft beer, there is nothing wrong with taking the basics of a plot and adding as many unique additions as possible to craft something interesting—or something fun (or even gross). Just remember, get it edited! The best breweries never serve a beer without a lot of sampling and tasting through the process. Yeah, that’s the fun bit.

Cheers!

Liz

WORLD CUP 2014 SALE

BlackJack Gentleman World Cup SALE

The Black Jack Gentlemen

A city and a sport with something to prove—Meet the men who take that challenge… The Black Jack Gentlemen—Detroit’s expansion soccer team. They play hard. And live harder.

Book 1: Man On

Book 2: Red Card

Book 3: Shut Out

FIND THE SERIES NOW AT: AMAZON   BN   SMASHWORDS   ARe

And coming soon…

Book 4: Set Piece

Book 5: Hat Trick

MAN ON by Liz Crowe

99 cents during the 2014 World Cup!

Get it now at: ARe  AMAZON  BN  SMASHWORDS

Bad boy of European football, Nicolas Garza is about to hit American shores with a vengeance. Signed by the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen as lynch pin for their expansion club, Nicco only half believes he’s making the right move. But with a past full of ghosts and rotten behavior chasing him from his homeland, he has no real choice.

Parker Rollings is a college soccer superstar, but his parents’ plans for their only son do not include professional athletics. When the Black Jacks approach him to finalize their roster, Parker leaps at the chance to keep playing, leaving behind medical school, stability and his first and only college sweetheart.

Nicco and Parker face off as bitter rivals for a coveted starting spot at midfield and are forced to channel their negative energy into something positive for the sake of the group—and themselves.

All eyes are on the fledgling team in its debut season. It’s crucial that the Black Jacks prove all the doubters wrong. They must make a good showing in the league and with new fans. But player drama, club dynamics, and misplaced priorities may tear it apart before it even begins.

EXCERPT FROM MAN ON

A handful of fresh-faced young Americans interspersed in the group, which made Nicco feel old. Which totally pissed him off. What was Inez thinking anyway? There were two players per position in the room, two strong contenders for each spot—except his. He sipped his water bottle and glared at the Germans. Nervous tension gnawed at his gut but he kept his face calm. Finally when their temporary coach showed up and flipped the blinds closed, he relaxed.

So everyone in the room has to fight for their spot except me? That works.

He dropped his feet to the floor at Rafe’s pointed glance and propped his elbows on the table prepared to ignore the forthcoming pep talk.

He’d already made plans for the night and wanted to rest up beforehand. This

goofy welcome pep talk would be as good a time as any. Letting his thoughts wander to

the nightclub promising full discretion, he made himself stop obsessing over the recent failed therapy session.

The door clicked open and all eyes landed on the tall, blond man who walked in,

backpack on his shoulder, dressed to play. Nicco’s scalp tingled at the sight of him—

strong torso, long legs, firm jaw covered with several days’ worth of fuzz.

Good Christ but he was a perfect specimen.

Nicco kept his casual stance but startled when the guy’s bright blue eyes and huge white smile landed on him. He resisted the urge to smile back. Something about the man made Nicco distinctly uncomfortable but horny at the same time. He suddenly wished he’d held onto the shrink’s business card.

“And Parker will be working with you, Nicco.”

He sat up, knocking his water to the floor as Rafe’s words got his immediate attention. He stared at the polite hand the kid stuck in his face then over at Rafe. His throat closed up between the proximity of the impossibly handsome man and realization of the fact that the vision of masculine perfection he’d lusted after for the last few seconds wanted to take his spot on the field.

Oh hell no.

He leaned back again and ignored his inner polite self. Instead, he smirked, ignored the punk, and turned to face their coach as if suddenly fascinated by what the guy had to say. Parker stood a minute, and Nicco watched his face turn red before he sat in the one empty chair nearest the door.

Rafe passed out new phones, reminded them of their obligation to “tweet” and “post profile updates” on Facebook at least three times a day. All shit Nicco already knew. Rafe’s hot young lady assistant issued key cards to the ones who’d just arrived,

including the kid Nicco studiously ignored but whose very presence was making the front

of his jeans uncomfortable.

RED CARD by Liz Crowe

FREE during the 2014 World Cup!

Get it now on:  ARe   AMAZON   BN   SMASHWORDS

Free will makes us human.

Choice makes us individuals.

Love makes us unique.

Metin Sevim has it all. At the pinnacle of international soccer playing success, he has managed to craft a perfect world for himself along the way.

When fate strips him of free will and the ability to choose his own path, he retreats from everyone and everything, destroying his hard-won career in the process.

Dragged back from the brink by his desperate family, Metin reluctantly agrees to coach the Black Jack Gentlemen Detroit soccer team but remains debilitated by memories and loss. When a surprising friendship emerges, it renews his passion for life, providing much needed solace… and extreme complications.

A saga of family dynamics and gender politics that cuts across cultures and circumstance, Red Card illustrates the human capacity for forgiveness through the life of one man as he attempts to rebuild his shattered existence.

EXCERPT FROM RED CARD

“It’s your hips that are the problem.”

Alicia started at the sound of his now-familiar, sing-song accent. She’d been kicking a line of balls into the net, one after the other for about fifteen minutes since she’d been early in her haste to get the hell out of her house and away from her sister’s violent disapproval.

Taking a breath, she crossed her arms and studied him. Metin wore a pair of dark blue soccer shorts, plain heather-gray shirt, and cleats as easily as he’d worn the dress pants and crisp cotton shirt the night she’d met him—the night you fucked him, you mean.

He stood, loose-limbed, at ease in his element. His teeth glowed against his dark skin. The eyes she had melted into not forty-eight hours ago shone with something she couldn’t identify—happiness? Sarcasm? Lust? Who knew? Hoping to hide her frustration, she bent down to tie her laces tighter so he couldn’t see her face flush when her gaze hit the front of his shorts.

She rose, determined to resist the take-me-now aura the guy threw her way. He probably didn’t even realize he did it. Not anymore. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s wrong with my hips?”

“Come at me.”

She blinked, confused. “Um, huh?”

“Attack, make like you want to score. You know? Like you do in games?”

“Oh, right.” Dropping the ball tucked under her arm, she glanced over his shoulder at her target. He let her, trotting backward a few steps, then made for the ball. She feinted, maintaining possession before dribbling a few more feet.

He came out of nowhere as she was about to make her final scoring charge, stripping her of the ball and sending her crashing to the turf.

“Ow. Shit,” she muttered, getting to her feet, a familiar, angry competitiveness stripping all the horniness right out of her head. “I still don’t get what….”

“Do it again.” He kicked the ball toward her, harder than necessary, but she stopped it and placed her cleat on top contemplating a different strategy.

Shifting to the side, she danced past him, using all the speed she could muster, and made straight for the goal. And there he was again, taking the damn ball away from her as if she were a rookie.

She tried to shield it, putting her back to him and sensing every inch of his warm, perfect physique against her skin. Forcing herself to focus, she landed a hard elbow to his midsection and escaped his trap then traveled down the field alone, turning on all her motors, no longer hearing anything, way into her zone.

And then, the damn man appeared in front of her again, batting the ball between her legs and taking off in the other direction, hand to his side where she’d nailed him.

“God damn it, Metin. What is your point? You’re a pro. I’m an unemployed college graduate. You’re a man. I’m not. You make money at this, and I never will. What the hell are you trying to prove?” Her legs hurt from her workout the day before and she could barely catch her breath. She was, in a word, miserable. But the sight of him a few yards away, messing with the soccer ball while he stared at her, brought visions of tackling him, holding him down, and kissing him right to the front of her overheated brain.

“Once more.” The soccer ball smacked the back of her legs so hard she yelped. “That’s your fucking yellow card for the elbow. One more and you’ll sit.”

SHUT OUT by Liz Crowe

Only 99 during the 2014 World Cup!

Get it now on: ARe   AMAZON  BN  SMASHWORDS

A submissive once, a submissive forever?

A man on the run from the only life he’s ever known, Brody Vaughn is poised to accept the Black Jack Gentleman’s newly vacant goalkeeper’s position. It’s a desperate move, but one he must take to regain his emotional equilibrium. Reeling from his Mistress’s rejection and on the ragged edge of a total breakdown, he arrives in Detroit. Numb with thinly veiled grief, he walks into the club’s front office completely unaware that an encounter with true destiny awaits him.

Sophie Harrison has seen it all–as Domme, sub, and victim. Now that her complicated circumstances have landed her as legal counsel for the expansion Black Jacks team, she holds herself aloof in body and spirit. Nothing and no one gets past her fiercely guarded walls. Until the day she looks up to greet the new goalie standing in her doorway, his raw combination of vulnerability and strength making her breathless.

Two people, horribly scarred by the excesses of the BDSM lifestyle and hiding from their true selves, meet across a desk over a simple contract. All bets are off.

EXCERPT FROM SHUT OUT

“Vaughn! Goddamn it.”

Brody sat, staring at his feet, ignoring the usual post-match noise and bustle around him. Most especially he hoped to hide from the voice of Rafael Inez, the club’s manager. Reminders of how poorly he’d performed today were not going to help him. He’d been playing soccer in some capacity since he walked, since he had memories of anything. And today had been among his worst, ever.

Since his days on the streets of Nashville and the hills of East Tennessee, he’d been on teams, in clubs, trained by himself, trained by pros, you name it. He’d seen every sort of match condition, coaching, officiating misstep, and parental overreaction. He realized what it meant to suck serious ass—he’d done today. And he understood why, too—hence the dark clouds draping his consciousness

“Fucking… shit.” The team manager drew closer, his deep voice joined by another, as a sort of bonus, really. He leaned against the dark wood lining the walls in the over-the-top, fancy locker room.

Metin Sevim, their Turkish coach, once a Spanish league phenom, had had the world at his feet until a horrific tragedy struck, leaving him drunk and useless for years. He was now recovered. And he had a look on his face Brody Vaughn read loud and clear—the we lost and it is pretty much your fucking fault glare that coaches the world over affected while trying to remain “supportive” of a new player.

Exhausted in mind and spirit, sick of the chewing out before it even started, Brody gazed at both men. Rafe’s snapping eyes reflected the same expression as Metin’s. He opened his mouth first, but the Turk put a hand on his arm. The men regarded each other as the swirl of post-match activity came to a loud peak.

Players in various stages of undress wandered in and out of the main locker room, grabbing towels, pulling on the dress pants, shirts, and ties the club required of them when entering and leaving the facility. One thing Brody would say about the former-hot-headed, player-turned-failure-turned-coach, Metin knew when not to talk. He tilted his head, still pinning Brody with something that faded from this is your fault to what the hell is wrong with you because you are too expensive for me to drop from the roster?

Then he sighed and, to Brody’s surprise, sat down in the chair next to him, leaned forward, elbows on knees, and seemed to examine the expensive, rubberized floor. Brody hadn’t even made it to the shower yet. He felt so weighed down and lethargic, just lifting his arms to put his head in his hands took more energy than existed on the planet. He understood why, along with the fact that there wasn’t a thing to be done about it.

How would he even begin to describe his… issue? Heart pounding, legs aching, shoulder screaming where he’d landed on it, hard, then waved away the trainer at the sixty-fifth minute. By that time all of the players were pretty gassed from the late summer heat, but held on, toe-to-toe, with the Canadian national team in a friendly. The sneaky forward had seen him wincing, favoring his left shoulder, and drove the ball right in on his newly-weakened side. It had been a simple fifty-fifty ball; face to face. He had blown it, him and his overpaid, lame ass, wobbly self.

Thanks to his one quick encounter with the front office legal woman, he’d been left in a quivering, useless, uncertain heap of need. Fuck that. He had to get a grip.

 

ABOUT LIZ CROWE

Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe lives Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

lizcrowe.com     brewingpassion.com

facebook.com/lizcroweauthor     facebook.com/groups/lizcrowefans

twitter.com/beerwencha2    a2beerwench.com     Amazon Author Page

In defense of Jace EXCERPT #2 Three Weeks with a Bull Rider…

THREE WEEKS WITH A BULL RIDER CAT JOHNSONIt’s interesting to sit back as an author and watch readers react to your characters. I’m finding that particularly so with Jace from the Oklahoma Nights series. He’s not perfect. I know. I wrote him that way. There are reasons for his flaws and for his behavior, but you, the readers don’t get to see all that until his book, Three Weeks with a Bull Rider. Some readers of Book 2 complained about Jace as a character. What I would hope is that readers realize that if I can make him bother you in Book 2, I have the skill to turn both your opinion and his character around in Book 3.

In real life no one should judge another person until they’ve walked a mile in their shoes because what we see of each other is only the tip of the iceberg of a complete world that makes up each of us. More than that, not one of us is perfect. George RR Martin, author of Game of Thrones, says his favorite characters to write are the ‘gray’ characters because they are the most true to life, and I think, more interesting. I want to throttle perfect characters. They are cardboard, two-dimensional beings. Real people make mistakes. Real people are capable of great deeds, and even greater mistakes and stupidity.

Jace, on the surface, is a fickle womanizer, a player and a fool. Dig deeper and you’ll find a man who’s tortured, Be Kindwrestling with a past he can’t close the door on, as much as he tries to move forward.

Here’s a never before seen excerpt from Three Weeks with a Bull Rider. It’s a peek into a dark side of Jace’s life, his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. They dated for 7 years and even now, a year after their break-up, she’s still a drug he can’t resist. But just like an illicit drug, she’s toxic to him and he knows it. In this scene he’s given his best friend’s sister a ride home from a rodeo because her car broke down. READ THAT EXCERPT HERE But his ex-girlfriend, who likes to keep tabs on him even though they are broken up, is angry at him for being in the truck with another woman…

EXCERPT

Jace drove to the next block, and then pulled to the side. Letting the truck idle, he picked up his cell phone and dialed Jacqueline. He was tired. Bone deep exhaustion began in his heart and had nothing to do with the competition tonight.

Jacqueline answered on the second ring. “It’s after eleven o’clock.”

“I told you I’d call when I got to Stillwater so I’m calling.”

“It doesn’t take that long to drive from Shawnee. What did you do? Pull over and fuck her?”

“Yeah, Jacqueline. I fucked her nine ways ’til Sunday, right here in the truck. Then I dumped her off with her brother—my best friend—and told him what a great lay she was.” Jace’s heart pounded as hard when he fought with Jacqueline as it did when his hand was strapped to the back of a ton of bucking bull. That kind of stress couldn’t be healthy.

“Then why did fifty miles take you over an hour? I know how fast you like to drive.”

“It’s closer to sixty miles and I was towing her car behind the truck. I had to drive slow. Then I had to take the time to unhitch it when I got to Tuck’s place.” Jace gripped the phone tight and tried to maintain calm.

Maybe she’d believe he was telling the truth. Maybe not. That was always up in the air when it came to Jacqueline. He heard the sniffle and the shaky intake of breath.

“There’s nothing to cry over.” He was safe, back in Stillwater and alone. What the hell more could he offer her? Still, the tears always did him in. It seemed more so now that they were broken up. “Hey, you know what else? I came in second. And even better, I didn’t get hurt.”

Jacqueline let out a snort. “Too bad.”

Jace smiled at that. She’d stopped with the accusations about other women and resorted to insulting him. He knew they were on the upward slope of the fight. “This should make you happy. A young kid riding injured beat me out of first.”

“That’s because you’re old.”

“Pfft. Those young guys don’t know shit. You know that. Now me, I’m old enough to know where everything is and how to use it.” Jace’s voice dipped down, low and suggestive.

“Do you have to work early in the morning?” Jacqueline’s tone had softened.

“No.” He never scheduled jobs for the morning after he rode. There were times he needed the recovery time, or a visit to the hospital. Either way, he didn’t want to leave a customer expecting him and then not show up.

“Can you come over?”

His cock heard the invitation in her voice and immediately rose to the occasion. The damn thing was like his parents’ dog when he was growing up. Buster could be at the other end of the house, hear the can opener and come running, thinking it was time to eat. Like a reflex reaction, Jace’s dick heard Jacqueline’s voice and figured it was time for some lovin’. Truth be told, he hadn’t taken it out for a spin since the last time he’d been with her.

He drew in a shaky breath. “All right. I’ll be there in five minutes.”

Jace had taken his time on the drive from Shawnee to Stillwater, but he didn’t on the way over to Jacqueline’s apartment. He risked a ticket and sped down the dark, deserted streets as the clock on the dash told him it was getting closer to midnight. He wouldn’t stay the night. It would be too painful. How could he hold Jacqueline all night, wake up next to her in the morning in the home they used to share, and then get up and leave to go back to his empty apartment?

This was self-destructive behavior, and yet he was pulling his truck into her driveway, throwing it in park, and heading for the door . . . and her bed. They needed to talk. He needed to stop this. She needed to stop inviting him over. They both had to get on with their lives.

But not tonight. He’d come over tomorrow in the light of day when he wasn’t so tired and needy. They’d talk like adults and agree to be friends.

Jace felt satisfied with his plan as she opened the front door. He was good with it right up until she grabbed his shirt and pulled him inside and her mouth crashed into his. Then all rational thought was lost. He thrust his hands beneath the silky fall of platinum blond waves that hung nearly to her ass. She’d been the local rodeo queen the year he’d met her, and he had no doubt she’d still be able to take the title all these years later.

Yanking her head back, Jace took possession of her mouth. Without breaking the kiss, he backed her inside, kicking the door closed behind him.

Jacqueline wiggled both hands between their bodies. Blindly, she unhooked the buckle on his belt. After seven years of being together and a year of having sex while broken up, it was no surprise she could maneuver his belt as well as he could. She went to work on the fly of his jeans as he anticipated what would be next—her hands on him. Them on the bed. Him inside her.

He tugged the bottom of the tank top out of her pajama bottoms. Sliding his hands beneath the elastic waistband, he felt the bare skin of her ass. He loved how she slept commando. No underwear. Nothing beneath those PJs but his warm, smooth woman . . . except that she wasn’t his. Not anymore.

But for tonight—for the next hour or two—she’d be his.

Jace hoisted her up and she wrapped her legs around his back as he carried her to the bedroom. As he cleared the doorway of the room so familiar to him, he noticed she’d gotten a new lamp and painted the walls. The changes were physical reminders, like a fist to the gut, that they weren’t together. He tossed her onto the bed where she landed with a bounce on the mattress. He followed her down and knew with certainty they shouldn’t be doing this.

Yanking his T-shirt off over his head, Jace tossed it to the floor, realizing it wouldn’t remain there long. He’d put it on after they were done and drive home. In the morning, he’d wake up alone in his own bed. Tomorrow, he’d go back to wondering when the next phone call or text would come from her. When she’d ask him to come over again. And he’d do it, knowing it would hurt like hell afterward.

He didn’t want to live like that anymore.

The knowledge tickled the back of his mind, but the words never made it out of his mouth. Maybe because his mouth was too busy biting her neck, marking her. She raked her nails down his back, likely leaving marks of her own.

Their sex always had been intense. Rough. Passionate. Almost violent, just like their relationship. The worse the fight, the harder the makeup sex. Today’s argument had been nothing compared to their usual, but Jace was too needy, too deprived for too frigging long to not take her hard and fast.

Two fingers thrust inside her told him she was wet and ready. The damn woman always had gotten off from arguing with him. Jacqueline threw her head back, eyes slammed shut from the feel of his invasion. He could bring her to orgasm fast enough. Just a thumb or his mouth on her would do it. He knew her so well, it would take no effort at all, but he was mad and he needed to be inside her. Needed to pound away the emotions.

Jace reached for the drawer next to the bed.

“There aren’t any more in there. You used the only one left last time you were here.”

There’d been plenty of times he had gone without protection with Jacqueline throughout the years, but not now that they were broken up. Especially not after Tuck’s revelation about Emma and Logan’s unplanned surprise. He sat up. “I have some in my gear bag. Be right back.”

“You what? You carry condoms in your gear bag?” Her eyes opened wide.

Crap. He realized his mistake too late. Jace knew that tone, knew that look. He sighed. “Yes, I have a box of condoms in the truck.”

“Why? Who are you fucking at the arena, Jace? Her? The one I heard on the phone tonight?”

“I’m not having sex with anyone besides you, Jacqueline.”

He should lie and tell her he’d picked up a new box because he’d remembered they’d used the stash he always kept in her drawer, but she’d see the box wasn’t new. Some were missing.

He could tell the truth, that he’d started carrying that box around with him shortly after they’d broken up. Since he hadn’t been with anyone else, he’d never used even one. The strip missing were the ones he’d given to Tuck the night he met Becca. But there was no winning a fight with Jacqueline when she got jealous and irrational.

“You’re a pig! You fuck your little tramp and then come here to my bed?” Jacqueline reinforced her accusation by grabbing the phone next to the bed and throwing it at him.

Only his quick reflexes blocked it from hitting him in the face. It bounced off his forearms as he held them in front of him. She threw a pillow next, which was fine. That couldn’t hurt, but when she reached for the lamp—the new wrought iron lamp he’d noticed when he’d walked in—he took a step back.

Jace couldn’t count how many times he’d walked away from a fight with Jacqueline, scratched and bruised. Being a bull rider, he was always hurt, so no one questioned or even noticed a few more injuries. The physical stuff healed. The hurt inside . . . not so much.

Yanking the plug from the wall, she hoisted the lamp over her head and his anger broke through. Jace had never once laid a hand on her. Even when she’d broken his nose, he’d done nothing but try to protect himself from the blows.

No more. He grabbed her forearm and held tight, hard enough to leave bruises from his fingers. The way he teetered on the edge of losing his temper and his control, if she hit him with that lamp, one or both of them would end up in the hospital.

“No, Jacqueline. No more.”

“Don’t you dare tell me what to—”

“No. No more berating me, or jealousy, or hitting me. No more sex. No more phone calls. Nothing. I have never once cheated on you. Never given you cause to feel or act the way you do. I can’t do this anymore. Don’t call me. Don’t text. Don’t come by my house or my work. I’m sorry, but we can’t even be friends. We sure as hell are no good at it.” He managed to keep his voice calm even as his heart thundered.

The hand that held her shook, but still he held tight. He stayed strong. He couldn’t do this anymore. Live in limbo. Hang on to a small thread of a relationship that he knew deep down was toxic to them both. She’d begun to act crazy months after they’d started dating, but he’d lived in hope she’d get over it, that she’d realize he wanted to be with her and only her. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen.

Jace released his hold on her and remained braced to block a blow, but it didn’t come. She stood before him, wide-eyed and shaking, looking small and vulnerable and making him want to do the one thing he couldn’t let himself—wrap his arms around her and comfort her.

This woman drove him nuts. He’d survived two of the rankest bulls on the circuit tonight, but he’d be lucky to get out of her apartment without a concussion or a few broken bones from a hundred and twenty pound woman wielding a bedside lamp.

In the midst of it all, he felt sorry for her. How crazy was that?

Jacqueline was his drug, his addiction, his kryptonite, and because of that, the only thing to do was go cold turkey. Walk out that front door, drive away, and never look back. No matter how much it hurt both of them.

“Good-bye, Jacqueline.” He turned and headed for the bedroom door. Flinching at the sound of the lamp hitting the floor, he kept walking.

“Jace.” The sound of her footsteps followed him down the hallway. “Please, wait.”

He put one hand on the doorknob and turned it, ignoring her plea and the sob that followed it.

Outside, the cool night air hit his face as he strode for the truck.

“Fine. Never come back!” Her front door slammed behind him, hard and loud, the sound cutting through the quiet of the night. With the truck doors locked and the key in the ignition, he let himself glance at the house, half expecting to see her running at him with the lamp, or the baseball bat he knew all too well was in the hall closet. But the front door didn’t open again. He pulled away from the curb. Only then, did Jace let himself breathe freely again.

The first text came before he’d left her block.

I’m sorry. Please come back.

In the past, this would have been where he’d make a U-turn. Spin the truck around, go back, and bury the anger with makeup sex. Things would be fine until the next fight began. He couldn’t do it anymore. Drawing in a bracing breath, he stayed on course for his own apartment.

The second text followed before he’d driven five more miles.

Where are you? Going over to fuck her? Have fun!

Jace shook his head and swiped a palm over the moisture in his eyes.

This Jacqueline—the angry, irrational one—was a hell of a lot easier to resist than the soft, tear-filled one. He hit the button to power down his phone. He knew her. The texts and phone calls wouldn’t stop all night. In fact, there was a good chance she’d drive over, if not tonight, then by tomorrow at sunrise, and bang on his door until he let her in to prove he didn’t have a girl inside. In fact, given the mood she was in, it was almost a certainty.

Crap. He couldn’t go home. The battle would just continue there. Knowing that, he swung a sharp left and headed away from his apartment, toward the practice arena used by the Oklahoma State rodeo team he sometimes helped Tuck coach.

He’d slept in his truck before, and chances were he’d do it again. It was part of life on the rodeo circuit. Sometimes it was easier to pull over and sleep for a few hours rather than get a hotel room for the night. It was sure as hell cheaper. There’d been other times he’d spent the night in the truck in a parking lot, sleeping off a drunk. He didn’t drink and drive, but that didn’t mean he always took a taxi home. The truck was good enough for him for one night at times such as those, and it was good enough now.

Eventually, he’d have to turn on his phone again and go home. He’d figure out what to do about that later, after some sleep and distance.

Jace cut the engine and stared out into the night. Peace and quiet. Nothing but the stars and the empty practice arena. Easing the seat back as far as it would go, he tilted his hat lower, slumped down and closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be a better day. True or not, he had to believe it.

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Put on your cowboy boots, it’s time to kick some plagiarizing ass…

*****UPDATE******

As of 10:25 PM Eastern time her site is down and her Twitter feed, which we obtained from the links on her own site, is saying it’s not her. However, this author on her blog posted screenshots of Alison promoting her twitter account on the Weebly where the work was posted. HERE

**NEW** Woke Saturday morning to find her Twitter account is also disabled 🙂

Alison Gilmore Plagiarist Alison Gilmore plagiarized Lorelei James then denied it

************************************

**ORIGINAL POST**

We have a serious situation.

Author Lorelei James has found her work ALL JACKED UP from the Rough Riders series (2009) being plagiarized word for word by a woman who is posting it one chapter at a time and claiming it as her own. Legal threats have not worked so now it’s time mobilize the reader community to come together and shame this woman off the web and educate all her “readers” that the work they are commenting on and so enjoying is stolen. She’s on Twitter at @AlisonGilmore . Not on Twitter? Her website has a comments section!

The stolen works are posted on http://ihadthestrangestdream.weebly.com/index.html . Though I hate to give her any public attention at all this is Lorelei’s last resort. We’re rallying the troops and I’m counting on all of you! We’re not the copyright holders but maybe a few thousand messages written to her webhost will get it taken down. Here is the link http://www.weebly.com/dmca/

Sadly, I fear she will just pick up and move to another host but it’s worth a try.

PLEASE SHARE EVERYWHERE!

Insight into the mind of Tucker from ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY

I’m a woman. I’m a civilian. I’m not a testosterone-fueled man. I’m not career military personnel. In light of all of those points, I do one thing to help me write my military characters…I talk (on IM, by phone, on Skype, etc) to active duty, career military personnel as often as possible. Below, paraphrased because I don’t always take notes during these conversations, is what I’ve heard some of them say…

1) “They came by the shop today asking for volunteers to go be door kickers in Afghanistan. If I was 10 years younger I would have volunteered to go.” …Let me interpret this statement for you. This was about 4 or 5 years ago, before the troop reductions had begun. This active duty Marine, nearing his 20 year mark, was safely stationed  in the US. Someone from the Corps came to his squadron to ask for volunteers to go to Afghanistan and become part of a team whose job was to literally kick down doors to inspect the residences and search for insurgents, and men were going, while others who didn’t volunteer wished they could.

2) “I had to pull one of my guys off the Afghan det. He’s really pissed.” This was just last month. A Staff Non-Commissioned Officer is explaining how one of his troops was scheduled to go to Afghanistan this summer with the rest of the squadron, but for some reason he can no longer go and now this Marine is upset because instead he will have stay in the rear, safely in North Carolina.

3) Just a few months ago, another Marine was about to leave in January for Afghanistan when he went to Medical with severe back pain. He was told if his condition didn’t improve, he wouldn’t be able to deploy with the rest of his unit. He was nearly inconsolable about that. He said, “Now I’ll never get to go. We’ll be out of Afghanistan by the time the next det goes.” He did everything he could to heal and though he didn’t get to deploy with the advanced unit as he’d hoped, he did get to go with the main unit and is there now.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m seeing reader reviews of ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY in which the reader doesn’t understand why the hero would volunteer to deploy to Afghanistan when events at home in Oklahoma make him believe it would be beneficial for him and the woman he cares about if he could separate himself from her for 6 months and then come back. It’s not a large amount of reviewers who say this, it’s just a few, but in my mind, even 1 is too many. 2 reviewers called his motivation “juvenile” and “infantile”. A couple of others thought it wasn’t a believable scenario he’d volunteer to go to Afghanistan. Sometimes that disbelief is because he ends up in a pretty hellacious region of Afghanistan. What we have to realize is this, soldiers don’t get to pick where they end up going. You say you’re willing to deploy, they don’t let you choose which base. This isn’t Club Med. “Kandahar or Korengal? Both are lovely this time of year, though I must say the food is better in Kandahar…”

These men I discuss above are the men I based Tuck’s character on. It’s their motivation I tried to capture.

I know the failure is mine as an author that I didn’t convey the above motivation better in the story. If I’d done my job, Tucker’s motives wouldn’t be questioned, he wouldn’t come across to some readers as a bratty child picking up his toys and leaving when things get tough. My only excuse is I failed to remember that not everyone has my experience with these kind of men. Not every reader is getting the “Good morning, Sunshine”  instant message that I get from the war zone on the other side of the world at night before I go to bed. Not every reader is waking up the next day to another message about how, now that the day is done in Afghanistan, it’s been a hell of a day and he’s heading to bed hoping tomorrow will be better. Not every reader can hear the disappointment in the voice of the man who just got told he can’t go with the rest of this squad. And that’s my fault for not realizing that and writing that better into the story. I’ll try not to make the same mistake in future books should I choose to focus on a military character again. For now, I hope this helps to give readers who haven’t had the same experiences I have a little insight into what I see, and what I’d hoped to convey.

Cat

Beware: deep author introspection ahead

photo credit: dreamstime freeMark Coker of Smashwords, a man I hold in the highest esteem, whom I’ve listened to at conferences, read word for word in emails, and have followed the advice of, recently posed this question: why would any author want to traditionally publish for 25% when there’s so much more to be made by self publishing and reaping a 70% or more royalty per sale?

I can tell him why–because I’m finding the percentage of readers and reviewers who are writing about my first Kensington Brava book that they’d never read me before staggering. And we’re only at the Advanced Reader Copy stage right now.

I have about 3 dozen titles for sale, most through one of the larger small presses, and some through self-pub. My top sellers at digital first publisher Samhain have sold over 20,000 copies each and have topped category bestseller lists at all the big outlets. These reviews from new readers are coming from people I see on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and even live and in person at conventions, but still they never read me until I signed with a NY publisher and they picked up an ARC of that NY book.

Don’t get me wrong, it was for this exact reason that I signed with Kensington, knowing I would take a big hit in income, but also knowing in exchange I’d gain new readers by hitting a market who are print and NY publisher loyal.

For once I’m not happy to be right. I guess deep down I’d assumed that by doing a job and doing it well, those people I already had access to, who I see and who see me and my promotions, already read me. But, for these readers, I was just shouting in the wind–until I signed with NY. I wanted to believe “if you build it they will come”, but apparently, you can’t build it in a cornfield like Kevin Costner or at a small press. It has to be built in a high rise in Manhattan in the offices of a staid old publisher. The EL Jameses of the world are one in a million. The rest of us have to go it the old fashioned way. For me, that’s simultaneously juggling new releases from NY for legitimacy, small press for monthly steady income, and self-publishing for flexibility.

So, Mark, my answer to your question is this… I have back list, I promote and market and blog and tweet and all that other stuff. I think outside the box and hit outside the romance market, I’ve had my website and tagline on everything from a bull rider’s riding shirt and his skin in a tattoo, to a Oklahoma restaurant who promotes me right along with their menu items, but until I had that NY seal of approval I wasn’t going to be read by a large segment of the market. That’s the cold hard truth–for now, because if I’ve learned anything at all being in this business it’s that everything changes, fast and often. Adapt and overcome. Roll with the punches. Any and every cliche applies because we are in the wild west of the new world of publishing and anything can happen.