The Erotic Romance Scavenger Hunt is a blog hop featuring nineteen authors, a ton of exclusive material and fantastic giveaways, and an amazing grand prize for one lucky scavenger hunter.
Just joined the hunt? Click here to start from the beginning.
RULES: Hidden within each post on the hunt will be a single letter that is red. Jot those letters down because they're part of the following mystery phrase you'll need to unscramble:
At the bottom of each post will be a link to your next stop on the hunt. Once you've completed the hunt, read all the fantastic exclusive material and entered all the individual giveaways, unscramble the letters you collected to reveal the mystery phrase. When you've uncovered the phrase, fill out the entry form in order to qualify for the grand prize. Grand prize is open internationally. You must be 18 or older to enter.
The hunt will only be open for 72 hours so play fast! Entries sent without the correct phrase or without contact information will not be considered. All entries must be received by May 28 at noon Central Time.
On with the hunt!
For my stop along the hunt, I have the pleasure of hosting Z.A. Maxfield.
Z. A. Maxfield is a fifth generation native of Los Angeles, although she now lives in the O.C. She started writing in 2006 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends.
If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four manages to find time for a writing career, she'll answer, "It's amazing what you can do if you completely give up housework."
I recently participated in a panel about editing at the Romantic Times convention called Making The Cut. As writers, we're forced every day to sit down at the computer and slog along on our manuscripts. Some days this process goes better than others. I made the point then that the delete button is your friend; that taking something out isn't a failure, but the best kind of success.
When you know what you've written doesn't belong in your book, you're not merely just winging it from "Once upon a time" to "happily ever after", you're actually doing your job. Sometimes, that job is hard.
A real writer can't be afraid to write something that will eventually be taken out of a book. A real writer must never hesitate to edit -- even their best, most favorite, finest words -- if the scene don't belong in that particular story. To that end, I'm sharing a piece from my latest work in progress, Gasp!
I originally thought that my character, who got his feelings hurt due to a misunderstanding, might throw caution to the wind and accept an invitation from another man for a drink. Yeah... No.
Don't get me wrong, I like a "big misunderstanding" sometimes. I just didn't like that this particular character, who is pretty forthright and really very honest, would go off without getting his facts straight. Some characters might. My character, Jeff, would not.
It's part of the process, though, to try something and see if it will work or not. It was tough taking that thread out, it was long, and it had a character I liked in it, a sexy older cowboy type, who really appealed to me. Maybe I'll bring him back for something else. Maybe not.
I guess my point about editing, the point I made at the convention and the point I'm making now is this: They're only words. We have a geschmillion of them. It doesn't diminish us to lose a few from a manuscript if it makes the manuscript better. Trial and error makes everyone a better writer. If something doesn't advance plot, if it doesn't reveal character in a thoughtful way, if it's not right for the story arc, then that's what the delete button is for.
For the record, I don't fully delete anything, I just save it in a file because someday, somewhere, those deleted words might be useful. Here's the edited out portion of my novel, and thank you for playing along!
"Take a break Jeff," Mac ordered, giving him a broom and dustpan for the third time that night. "Did you suddenly develop a hatred for glass?"
"Your mind isn't on the job man, go grab a cup of coffee, and take a break. When you come back I want your head in the game."
"Sure. I got it. Sorry."
Jeff tossed the broken glass in the trash and got himself a cup of coffee, which he took with him when he exited the bar. Once outside, he leaned against wall on the parking lot side of the building, watching steam rise from his mug. While he waited for it to cool a group of rowdy cowboys arrived in a massive black pickup truck. They brushed past him to go in -- all but one of them -- a tall man who took off his hat to reveal salt and pepper hair. He stopped when he saw Jeff standing there.
The man's friends glanced back curiously, but he waved them on. "I'll be there in a sec."
"You're buying the second round," one said before he entered the bar.
The cowboy nodded. "Hey army. Taking a break?"
"How'd you know I was army?"
"Mac told me."
Jeff looked him over. He was probably ex-military as well. He had the bearing for it. "You?"
"Yep. Special Forces."
"Green beret. I am suitably impressed." Jeff held out his hand. "Jeff Paxton."
"Greg Hanes." The man smiled warmly.
"Nice to meet you."
"Mac and I go back a long way."
"Yeah. He said you just got into town? Why'd you pick Austin?"
"My family lives here. Anyway, Mac offered me a job. "
"You don't sound like a Texan."
Jeff shrugged. He liked Greg's slow smile and the way Greg's gaze lowered to his mouth and back to his eyes. Mac must have told Greg a little more about him than just what branch of the service he'd been in. Jeff took a sip of his coffee. “I’ve lived lots of places. Austin’s home.”
"Like the weather here?"
“It gets a little hot."
"I know what you mean. The heat just fries your brain. But you must be used to that after Iraq. How come you're holding up the wall out here when you're supposed to be pulling beers?"
"I'll be in as soon as I've finished my coffee." When Greg didn't move Jeff glanced up at him with some surprise. His grin was contagious. Jeff grinned back.
"Maybe you can pull something for me.” Greg winked at him.
Whoa. Message received.
As Jeff watched Greg walk away he noted the man's muscled build, his tight ass. and the he way he walked with a swagger, as if he really was a cowboy in a western movie. Jeff gave his situation some careful thought.
It wasn't like he had anything going. Low-paying job. Crap apartment. It wasn't like he and Nigel had any kind of understanding. They had the opposite of an understanding really, because Jeff didn't know what the hell Nigel wanted from him. He didn't know what he wanted either, which made it hard to ask for, even if he had the balls to ask for it, which he did not. He'd been mooning over Nigel Gasp, for God's sake, not some Joe 'Mo in the next cubicle.
Nigel Gasp wasn't some guy he met in a bar. Even though they liked each other -- even if they loved each other -- a relationship was as impossible as any kid cartoon about foxes and hounds or mermaids and humans.
Nigel was on the road eleven months out of the year. He surrounded himself with people he could pressure into anything. Jeff was only too aware of how much dick and pussy Nigel could get if he wanted it, plus Nigel didn't seem very picky. He was safe, but not necessarily discerning.
Nigel simply wanted to be the center of the universe. Easy Peasy. He'd made his dreams into reality.
Nigel probably needed to be reassured that Diedre'd be there for him even though she had a family now. It had been on Jeff's mind to call Nigel and reassure him about Deidre -- that she'd always have his back, and that Jeff too, would be there if Nigel needed him.
Of course, he hadn't been able to deliver the message because Nigel was getting blown in the bathroom by some damn groupie.
Which sucked, no pun intended.
Outside in the dark like that Jeff could admit -- if only to himself -- that hearing about Nigel with someone else hurt. The pain caught him right in the solar plexus where he'd been feeling hollow since he'd left Bluebird Mountain. It settled in the exact same place where Nigel's smile had made him feel so happy.
Nigel was free to be with anyone he wanted. That's the way they'd left it. In the end, Nigel hadn't asked and Jeff hadn't stayed.
That didn't mean it wasn't going to ache a little when Nigel moved on.
Jeff finished his coffee and tossed his cup in the trash on the way into the bar. Out of habit, he reached into his pants pocket and realized he'd left his phone behind the bar. Well. He didn't need to check it again anyway.
Mac's friend Greg came up a couple of times. He'd order a beer and stand there, smiling shyly. They traded stories about their time in the service. Even as limited as their conversations were, even in a redneck bar things heated up between them pretty fast. Jeff wasn't surprised when Mac gave him a knowing tip of his hat and told him he had the rest of the night off.
"Get out and have fun, son. Maybe if you do you'll stop dropping my glasses."
"Answer me one thing. Did you set this up?" Mac glanced toward Greg and back so quickly Jeff almost didn't catch the look they shared. Jeff pulled up the bridge and made his way out from behind the bar. "I don't need you playing matchmaker."
Again, Mac glanced to where Greg leaned, indolently, one cowboy-booted foot crossed over the other at the ankle.
"You can't argue the results though. I don't have a degree in gender diversity but even I can see that's one fine-looking cowboy."
“Well, you got that right." Greg was exactly what Jeff had always liked in a man. He had a long, lean body and his clothes couldn't hide sculpted muscles. His low jeans stayed up via a wide belt that drew Jeff's attention to some of his best features: an ass so architecturally perfect it didn't look real, narrow hips, and a package Jeff thought he'd like to deliver personally.
"Go on now, I think he's waiting." Mac nudged him along.
It took that nudge, to get Jeff moving but eventually he picked up speed on his way toward Greg at the end of the bar.
"Can I buy you a drink?" Greg asked, his eyes full of the kind of mischief Jeff liked. The kind that said he'd gotten what he wanted and now he planned to enjoy it.
"Sure, but not here."
"'Cause you work here, I hear you." Greg jerked his chin back at Mac, who gave him a lazy nod. He tried to maneuver Jeff toward the door.
Jeff hung back. Over a new song that seemed to inspire some whistling, he yelled, "I need to get my jacket."
"All right." Greg stopped. "That'll give me a chance to tell the guys they'll need to find another ride home."
"Is that going to be a problem?"
"Not for me," Greg grinned again.
Jeff headed toward the employee's lounge, which wasn't much -- a drab place, at one time painted lime green. The room featured a shabby plaid couch and a card table with metal folding chairs where the staff could eat. Against one wall a row of cabinets surrounded a tiny kitchenette. Jeff had hung his coat on the rack by the door, and he grabbed for it, barely stopping to look around before he turned to the bar and Greg, who waited for him. If he thought too much about this, about what he might be doing, he'd stand there stuck for a while.
Jeff turned off the running commentary in his head as they left for the parking lot together. Greg fired up the engine then edged the truck out onto the road. Jeff had no idea where they were headed.
Jeff couldn't stop himself from taking out his phone to check his messages.
"You got someplace you'd rather be?"
"What does that mean in Jeff speak. You don't have someplace you'd rather be or you do but you can't be there."
Smart cowboy. "I can't be there."
Jeff glanced away. "In the interest of full disclosure, I got my feelings hurt and I'm not in a great mood. I might have come along because I'm pissed."
"I've fucked a guy for worse reasons."
Jeff couldn't help laughing. "So have I, but I don't believe that's what's happening here."
"You don't know that yet. Why you gotta go be all not happening? Let me buy you a couple drinks and we'll talk."
There’s a giveaway today! Leave a comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter to win an ebook copy of any book from my backlist. Winner’s choice!
-Contest closes at midnight EST Sunday 5/27 and winner will be announced here by 5/29. If you leave a comment and your blogger profile doesn't include your email addy, be kind and leave it in your comment.
-random contest info: void where prohibited, must be 18 yrs old to enter, winner to be chosen at random, one entry per person.
Ready to move on? The next stop on the Erotic Romance Scavenger Hunt is... Rowan McBride!
...and the winner is.....
Congrats Tracey, and thanks to everyone for visiting and for playing along in the hunt. And a special thanks to ZAM for being my guest and sharing her insights on editing.