We are Thrilled to have the Fabulous Anne Barwell and Lou Sylvre here today! They discuss what it’s like to co-author a book and dish about their latest novel, Sunset at Pencarrow!

Welcome to Top2Bottom reviews! We are thrilled you and Lou are here to talk about your newest release, Sunset at Pencarrow and share a little bit of your lives with us today. We’d love to know how your writing team came together and what it’s like to co-author a book.

Thanks for hosting us. Lou Sylvre and I are delighted to be here today as part of our blog tour for Sunset at Pencarrow.

We have a Rafflecopter running as part of the blog tour so be sure to enter—which you can more than once. Use the discount code PENCARROW for 30% off Sunset at Pencarrow only from the Dreamspinner Press store from 31st May-30th June.

When Lou asked me if I’d like to co-write the New Zealand entry for Dreamspinner Press World of Love series, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d eyed up the range, but didn’t think I’d have the time, so co-authoring solved that issue brilliantly. Lou and I were already working together on another project so I knew she’d be great to work with, which was another plus. One of the big issues with co-authoring is that you and your partner-in-crime both need to be willing to talk through everything, and often compromise, to reach solutions you’re both happy with.

We chatted back and forth—via google chat and email—until we had a synopsis we could use to pitch our idea to the publisher. Once the publisher said yes, and we had a six month deadline in place, it was all go.

We decided—as it was working so well with our other WIP—to take a POV each, and write a detailed scene by scene outline, and then work out which scene would work better from which perspective. I wrote the scenes from Nate’s POV, and Lou wrote the scenes from Rusty’s POV. We then sent the document back and forth until we had a first draft.

It’s a different experience writing someone else’s character and I was initially concerned about doing Rusty justice, although that was soon dispelled by Lou who insisted I was, and vice versa. Rusty was dictating the story to me as much as Nate was! We both wrote with the understanding that the other might tweak our character’s dialogue, although that wasn’t so much a co-authoring thing but the fact that—like our characters—I’m a Kiwi, and Lou’s American, so we might not have each other’s character’s slang quite right. Another thing I hadn’t expected was second guessing Kiwi slang. Lou would ask about something, and I’d suddenly think “hang on, is that the way we say it here?” and having to double check. I grew up in a household with a Kiwi father and an Australian mother so suspect some of my expressions are a mix of both.

Co-authoring is great for bouncing ideas back and forth, and knowing someone else is waiting for your scene so they can write theirs means the story writes a lot faster. I loved having a scene hit my inbox and inspiring my own writing as to what came next. Although we had a very detailed outline—more than what I usually have—the characters still did their own thing and we changed direction in a few places. It’s another reason why it’s important to work with someone who is happy to go with the character flow and do that.

Sunset at Pencarrow is our first published co-authored story, but we’re hoping it won’t be the last. We’re heading back to Scotland in the 1745 after this for more adventures in co-authoring land. I’m looking forward to it.

Blurb:

Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Excerpt:

“I don’t bloody believe this.” Nathaniel “Nate” Dunn took a deep breath. “So, any idea when my flight might actually leave?”

The woman at the counter gave him what she probably thought was a pleasant smile. Instead it came across as condescending with a touch of oh help me, God, how stupid is this guy?

“I’ve already told you—” She glanced at his ticket. “—Mr. Dunn… Nathaniel… I don’t have that information. The fog will lift when it decides to lift, and we can’t begin to reschedule flights until that time. In the meantime, you’ll have to wait like everyone else.”

“You don’t understand. I have to be in Christchurch this afternoon. I have a job interview tomorrow.”

“Of course you do.” The woman seemed ready to dismiss him but then appeared to reconsider. “If you’re desperate, perhaps you can catch the afternoon ferry sailing to Picton and then a flight from either Blenheim or Nelson.”

“The ferries are full.” Nate read the name on her badge—Heather Rawlins. “Ms. Rawlins, I’ve already thought of that.” He waved his hand to indicate the very full airport. Many of those in line behind him were students. Several of them looked very young, and they had parents hovering around them. Probably their first time away from home, and not a great start to a course of study at either Canterbury or Otago universities. “Uni starts back last week of February. That’s next week. There’s only me and several hundred others trying to make it to the South Island.”

“You’d better settle in and wait, then, hadn’t you? This might take a while.” Heather looked past him. “Next, please.”

“Charming,” Nate muttered. Why the hell had the fog decided to pick today of all days to turn up? Beautiful weather for weeks, and on the only day he needed to fly out of Wellington, the bloody stuff foiled his plans. His flatmate, Amy, had warned him to be prepared for delays when they hadn’t been able to see the airport from across the harbor that morning, but he hadn’t listened. Fog in the morning didn’t mean the stupid stuff would hang around all day. Typical of his luck lately. “Windy Wellington” and today there wasn’t even a breeze to blow the fog out.

It was a conspiracy.

Much like the rest of his life. One could only take so much of pretending everything was hunky-dory and plastering on a false smile. He was sick of it. Bad enough that Glenn—who he’d thought was the “one,” the guy he’d be with forever—had dumped him, but to find out his job of the last ten years was finishing as well? And now this….

“Next, please,” Heather repeated.

“Excuse me, sir,” a man behind him said in an American accent. “There’s a line here, and I’m sure the lady has done all she could to help you.”

Buy Links
Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sunset-at-pencarrow-by-lou-sylvre-and-anne-barwell-8532-b (Discount code PENCARROW from 5/31-6/30, 30% off, DSP store only.)
Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/Sunset_at_Pencarrow.html?id=267DDgAAQBAJ
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sunset-at-pencarrow/id1231980517?mt=11
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sunset-at-Pencarrow
Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1126415082?ean=2940157195564#

Author bios:
Anne bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She works in a library, is an avid reader and watcher across genres, and is constantly on the lookout for more hours in her day. Music often plays a part in her stories, and although she denies being a romantic at heart, the men in her books definitely are. Anne has written in several genres—contemporary, fantasy, historical, and SF— and believes in making her characters work for their happy endings.

Lou bio:
Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and likes to conjure it into books. The romantics on her pages are men who fall hard for each other, end up deeply in love, and often save each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very sexy. Among other things, Lou is the creator of the popular Vasquez and James series, which can be found at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and many other online vendors.

Contact links:
Anne:
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annebarwell
Email: darthanne@gmail.com

Lou:
Website: http://www.sylvre.rainbow-gate.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLouSylvre/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/sylvre
Email: lou.sylvre@gmail.com

Lou and Anne’s shared Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/

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We hope you’ll join us for the other stops on the tour. Click here to see the complete schedule and links to the blogs.

Lou Sylvre Blog Stop, Cover Reveal and Giveaway!!

The Amazing Lou Sylvre is stopping by to give our readers a sneak peek at Lou’s new book, Because of Jade!
Check out the gorgeous cover, read the blurb and don’t forget to click the link to enter the contest to win a free ebook of Lou’s newest release at the bottom of the post.

Good Luck to all of our Top 2 Bottom readers!


Book Name: Because of Jade (A Vasquez and James Novel)
Author Name: Lou Sylvre
BUY HERE





Author Bio:

Lou Sylvre hails from southern California but now lives and writes on the rainy side of Washington State. When she’s not writing, she’s reading fiction from nearly every genre, romance in all its tints and shades, and the occasional book about history, physics, or police procedure. Not zombies, though. Her personal assistant is Boudreau, a large cat who never outgrew his kitten meow. She plays guitar (mostly where people can’t hear her) and she loves to sing. She’s usually smiling and laughs too much, some say. She also loves her family, her friends, the aforementioned Boudreau, a Chihuahua named Joe, and (in random order) coffee, chocolate, sunshine, and wild roses.

Author Links: Visit her at http://www.sylvre.com or contact her at lou.sylvre@gmail.com
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Want to know more about Because of Jade? Check out the blurb below!!

Blurb:

Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade–a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.

Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.

Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.

Tour Dates: 4/25/14
Tour Stops:
https://top2bottomreviews.wordpress.com/
http://www.parkerwilliamsauthor.com
http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/the-blog-erotic-fiction-for-the-hungry-mind.html
http://www.lovebytesreviews.com
http://kimnsarah.co.uk
http://leebrazilauthor.blogspot.com/
http://myfictionnook.com
http://www.amandastonebooks.com
http://havanshawthaven.blogspot.com/
http://www.prismbookalliance.com
http://www.mrsconditreadsbooks.com
http://www.bookreviewsandmorebykathy.com/
http://cateashwood.blogspot.com
http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/
http://shirleyfrancesbooksandmore.wordpress.com/

Clink the link below to enter the contest to win a copy of Lou’s latest book! Good Luck!

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: An e-copy when the book is released

Book Spotlight on Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre

Hello Friends!

Please take a moment to check out Lou Sylvre’s newest release, Finding Jackie. We are happy to be part of Lou’s blog tour and thrilled to give you a quick glance at her latest book!

Finding Jackie

Vasquez & James Series, Book Three

Release date: May 17th, 2013

Contemporary M/M Mystery/Suspense

Available in E-book & Print

BLURB:

Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James finally have their Hawaiian wedding, and it’s perfect, almost. But their three-phase honeymoon is riddled with strife. Luki’s status as a working badass spells discord for the newlyweds. A former informant from Luki’s days with ATFE brings a troubling message (or is it a warning?) from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, the honeymoon is well and truly over.

The couple put aside their differences and focus on the grueling hunt, which takes them from leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and calls on Sonny’s deep compassion as well as Luki’s sharpest skills. Their world threatens to fall apart if they fail, but their love may grow stronger than ever if they succeed in finding Jackie—before it’s too late.

Delsyn’s Blues by Lou Sylvre


Title: Delsyn’s Blues (Vasquez & James, #2)
Author: Lou Sylvre
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 260
Characters: Luki Vasquez, Sonny Bly James
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary/Mystery/Drama
Kisses: 4






Blurb:

Note: Delsyn’s Blues is the sequel to Loving Luki Vasquez. These books are not meant to be read as standalone novels and should be read in order.

Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are living proof that the course of love never runs smoothly. Ambushed by grief, Sonny listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. While revisiting the sorrows and failings of his past, in the here and now he puts up a wall against love. Just when Luki chips through that barricade, the couple becomes the target of a new threat from outside: an escalating and unexplainable rash of break-ins and assaults.
Thoughts of infidelity rise between them, a threat that may strain their newly mended love past its limits. To come through the trials alive and together, Luki and Sonny will have to unite against enemies who were once friends and overcome crippling hatred and overwhelming fear. If they succeed, maybe then they can rekindle the twin flames of passion and love.

Review:

”Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are living proof that the course of love never runs smoothly.”

If ever there was a single sentence that set the tone for a novel, this is it. Not only does the course of love never run smoothly for Sonny Bly James and Luki Vasquez, but Lou Sylvre throws some crater-sized potholes in the path, too, just to keep things interesting along the way. Interesting and heartbreaking and nerve wracking and anxiety inducing. And romantic and sexy and quite lovely. Delsyn’s Blues encompasses them all.

Loss, the ensuing grief, and the pain of guilt throw the first set of roadblocks across the path to happiness for Sonny and Luki. Add danger, jealousy, and the betrayal of a once trusted friend, and it becomes abundantly clear these men will have to suffer for the sake of their love. And suffer they do, but amidst the chaos, there is also the desperate need for each other that is sometimes strength, sometimes vulnerability, always present. There are endearments and affirmations and symbols that acknowledge commitment, although even those were not enough, at times, to overcome the doubt that insisted upon intruding on their plans for the future.

Learning more about Sonny and his chequered past provided not only a fair amount of insight into his character but also provided for more than a few surprises along the way. And it’s that less than flawless past that contributes to the turmoil he and Luki encounter on their journey—a former lover and Sonny’s biological father (to use the term loosely) play a part in the murder and mayhem, suspense and action that the author weaves into the conflicts in Luki and Sonny’s relationship.

So much of their connection is about trust: trusting in their bond, trusting in a future together, trusting that their love is enough of a foundation on which to build a life together. That faith didn’t come easily and its lack nearly tore them apart. But one thing they did discover through the heartache and despair is that in order to know whether they could trust in each other, they simply had to take the risk and trust in each other. It was a hard fought, hard earned lesson for Sonny and Luki, one that I hope to see payoff in a sequel.

Delsyn’s Blues is a crime drama, to be sure, though the romance did its best to eclipse that part of the plot. These men are charismatic, enigmatic, and magnetic, so becoming invested in their personal relationship was a perfect indulgence.

Reviewed By: Lisa

BUY LINK

Loving Lou Sylvre

Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, Lou. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Thank you for having me!

My background starts in Southern California (Los Angeles County) where I grew up and survived despite myself. In my twenties I moved to the Puget Sound region in Washington State, home of a living temperate rain forest. I came late, age-wise, to my college studies, attended a non-traditional school, and concentrated on music, literature, psychology, cultural studies, and (of course) writing. My non-writing work history includes sawing lumber in a mill, selling reservation fireworks, counseling adolescent girls in a therapeutic group home, and a range of things in between. I have an amazing family and a cat, Boudreau, who assists me in every possible way with my writing. Among other delights, I love strong coffee, rich dark chocolate, ocean beaches and forests and the outdoors in general, wildflowers, and sunshine—which is at a premium where I live.

When did you discover your passion for writing? Was there someone in particular who encouraged and inspired your love of storytelling?

When I was seven, I walked quite a way to school, and one day I spent the entire time writing a brand new song in my head, about the yellow rose of Texas. My mother wasn’t impressed. As a teenager, I wrote a poem about a soldier returned from Viet Nam in a coffin. I thought I was another Poe. (Who was in fact an influence at that time.) But in 8th grade advanced English, I had a teacher—Mrs. Horne, a beautiful, quiet woman—who did encourage me. I wrote a science fiction story about which I have no recollection except that she was impressed and told me I should write more and told me over again until I listened.

I did keep writing, but for a long time my most creative writing was in letters and journals. In college I wrote creative non-fiction as well as academic papers, and there was some satisfaction to that. But I always came back to stories. Truth—I didn’t discover my real passion for writing until I let myself fall in love with my characters and discovered that they often have a penchant for doing what they want to do despite my intentions.

Loving Luki Vasquez is your first published novel, is that right? How long did it take to write the book, then to get through the publishing process?

I have another published novel, young adult fantasy, under a different name, so this is actually my second, and writing it went much smoother and faster than the first. The whole thing, from concept to submission took about four months—working on it part time, and then another three or four to get through edits and so forth with the publisher. (That’s a general timeline, not at all exact.)

Did the title of the book come to you as you were writing, or did you have the book titled before you began?

In this case, I actually had the title in my head soon after I started—the phrase had come up in the writing. But I thought for a long time I would change it!

If I were to ask Luki and Sonny how they felt about having their story told, what do you think they’d say?

Oddly, though Luki seems the most private, I think he’d be secretly relieved to let people see how difficult it is for him to keep everything together, not let anything slip. Sonny, however, might be a little belligerent.

Do you think they’d be comfortable knowing they’ve acquired a group of adoring fans who are cheering them on to a happily-ever-after?

Again, I think it’s Luki who would enjoy having a throng of admirers. He’d pretend to take it in stride, but he probably would have a hard time not straightening his curls repeatedly. Sonny wouldn’t have to pretend, he really would take it in stride. I’m sure he’d find humor in the situation, but mostly he’d just go on doing what Sonny does.

Sonny is a gifted artist, while Luki is, for lack of a better description, a gifted arse-kicker. How do these two opposites balance and complement each other?

I think I can best phrase this answer in terms of need. Luki needs (desperately) to have someone see inside him and find that little core of beautiful Luki that still lives there, to help him acknowledge it, and to open up the world to him as a beautiful place. Sonny on the other hand needs a champion and needs someone who will be a sort of scaffold for him to climb out into the world and be unafraid to suit up, show up, and just be Sonny.

I would like to add, though, that Luki loves music and cooks, and Sonny wrenches on cars and drives like every road is a NASCAR track.

Asking this question might be a bit like asking you to choose a favorite child, but which character did you enjoy writing more: Sonny or Luki?

Luki was lots of fun. He surprised me constantly, and had me laughing a lot, and there always seemed to be so much that he needed to say. Sonny was especially gratifying to write in other ways; it was a wonderful thing to experience the world through his artist eyes for a bit. So the answer is: both. Yes, that’s a bit of a cheat.

Is there any one message you hope your readers will take away from Luki and Sonny’s story?

Very interesting question. I didn’t have anything in mind when I wrote it, but of course every story has some message. I have some vague answers, but I’m not sure it would profit for me to bumble through. I’d love to hear from any readers that might have an answer for this question—what message, if any, did they find?

Would you do us the favor of maybe giving us a bit of a teaser as to what we can expect for the two men in their sequel?

One of the things that some readers and reviewers have mentioned is that they’d like to get to know a little more about Sonny and his background. Book two, Delsyn’s Blues delves deeply into that. As for Luki, his love for Sonny is really put to the test. The two men have a lot of growing to do to make their romance work and keep on track for their happy-ever-after. It would be easier to do that if they didn’t find themselves in the way of some criminals seeking to make a buck, and killing people who get in the way.

I think it’s safe to offer this very small excerpt, though the manuscript isn’t finalized. Tentatively, Dreamspinner will release Delsyn’s Blues sometime around January 2012.

Black. Black shoes. Black socks, black jeans; calf-length, tailored, black wool coat. Sonny took the clothes out of their long stored plastic shrouds, his eyes of their own accord seeking out the white silk strips across the chest and shoulders of his ribbon shirt, the short white streamers which would be anchored over his scapulae and left loose to flutter as he moved, or danced, or stood in a breeze. Not that they would move today—they’d be buried under the black coat. And Delsyn would be buried under the black ground.

“Nephew,” Sonny whispered into the air that he’d let go cold, so cold indoors that he could see a faint shadow of his breath float into the room. So cold it hurt, which was one reason he’d let the fire die. The pain could replace the tears he would not cry. And then, too, the fire had no right to live, to crackle and sway, brighten and warm the day. No, if Delsyn had to die, then the fire would die, too. Sonny would see to that.

He needed tight braids bound far back behind his ears, but braids like that are impossible to do for oneself, so he gathered his white ribbons and took his hair to Margie’s, resolving not to cry no matter how many times she tried to tell him it would be okay to do so, no matter how much she tried to comfort him.

Before minutes passed, or so it seemed, he stood at the grave. The cold March wind biting his face with sharp teeth like tiny arrows. The man he’d called to say words at the graveside, a Lummi elder he knew from the few years he’d spent north, in Bellingham, where frost was likely to coat the rooftops on a grey March day like today. Sonny knew the elder’s words, his prayers in four directions, the sage and cedar he kindled and passed to the small band of mourners around the grave, all of these things, were meant to help Delsyn’s spirit pass.

And to ease my pain.

Sonny couldn’t let that comfort happen. My nephew, my boy, is dead. And it’s my fault.

(Sorry, readers, that’s not very cheerful, but I guarantee the book will have humor, sex, and happy moments.)

How much creative input did you have in the cover design of the book?

Much to my surprise and delight, Dreamspinner sent me a questionnaire, and I sent it back with probably more information than they wanted, all about the characters, setting, type of cover I preferred, elements, etc. Then, I got nine mock-ups. Nine! It was tough choosing but I’m in the end very happy with the cover Reese Dante created.

Is there a particular sub-genre in which you enjoy writing more than others? (i.e. paranormal vs. historical vs. contemporary)

Right now, I’m pretty focused on the suspense/mystery M/M romance. I love it, and I don’t see that changing in the near future, though I have stories I want to develop in other genres.

Do you prefer writing in the 1st or the 3rd person? What advantages do you see in writing in one vs. the other?

I generally prefer 3rd person limited POV.

First person makes for an easy intimacy with the POV character, and also can set a tone for locale and time period, character age, etc, pretty easily. Also it works great as a filter for information. I have used it, and even written with multiple characters all presented (serially) in first person. But it limits the writer to seeing the world exactly as the character sees it.

In 3rd person limited, I find I can achieve the intimacy and the tone but I might have to work a little harder to finagle it. It gives me just a little more freedom with language and a slightly broader point of view.

Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you attempt to dedicate to your writing?

Alas! No, I don’t write full time (yet). I work 40+ hours per week at the job that pays most of the bills. A little difficult to pin down a number of writing hours. More if I’m “writing hot” (can’t stop my fingers), less if I’m feeling stuck-ish. More if I have a deadline, etc. Probably, in general, about 25-35 hours per week. I am working toward full time writing.

Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?

I start with an attempt to outline, have to stop and write something before I forget it, get back to trying to outline… Rarely do I actually end up with a whole outline in the beginning. But, about halfway through, I outline. Something I do that’s a little different than some, I like to write the beginning, the climax/end, and a middle scene, then start up front and work through. I’ll almost certainly change that final climax, but in the meantime it gives me a direction toward which to write.

How much do your characters resemble you and/or the people you know?

Me—not much. People I know—quite a bit but only in general. In other words, a ‘type’ of person I know, rather than an individual.

How much do you draw upon your own life experiences in your writing?

I’m never thinking in those terms, but of course what I write has to have a basis in what I’ve experienced. I think it comes through in impressions, rather than in a literal sense.

Are you surprised by the ever growing female fan-base of Male/Male fiction?

No. I’m not surprised by it, and I’m not surprised that non-gay men generally do not seem to be reading it yet. I have recently thought about working out why I’m not surprised, but I haven’t. I do think many women simply find love, and healthy sex, beautiful in its own right.

When did you begin writing in the Male/Male genre? What about it interests you the most?

Loving Luki Vasquez is my first M/M romance. I have written M/M stories before, the first being about three years ago. I didn’t set out writing LLV thinking about the M/M romance genre. I just had these characters and they had all this stuff going on. When I was nearly done, I started looking for possible publishers and realized there is a whole market grown up around this particular genre. What interests me is the same thing that interests me in writing other genres—the people and what happens to their worlds when they interact. I think there is a lot of opportunity for beauty, for the occasionally raunchy, for strength.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to the art of writing? How did it change the way you approach your craft?

Never end a sentence with a semi-colon.

And, avoid selling your reader short, underestimating their savvy. Don’t tell them what they already know, or what they should expect, or give them a blow-by-blow description of your character putting his shorts on. (I’m being facetious, but you get the idea.) In terms of my approach, it encourages me to let the storytelling/showing flow more naturally, and it helps keep the pace up.

Will you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?

I know now that what works in fiction is readability, bottom line. Beautiful words used sparingly and very carefully, if at all.

I know that for fiction to be marketed, it not only has to be good writing, it has to be offered to the right market at the right time.

I know that readers are the icing on the cake, the really good stuff, and they are not to be taken for granted.

If you were to offer a word of advice to a new author just starting out, what would it be?

Three words: Persist, listen, wait.

Persist in your efforts, write no matter what.

Listen to your admirers, teachers, critics, and bystanders. You don’t necessarily have to take the advice, etc, but listen to it and figure out where it belongs.

Wait. After you submit. Before the next idea comes. For your computer (especially that).

What is the question you’re most frequently asked by your fans?

I think the question I most often get asked is where my ideas come from. (I don’t have an answer.)

What is your most memorable fan experience?

I can’t really come up with a single instance or event. I have been blown away every time someone I’ve never met goes out of their way to contact me to say they loved my fiction.

In another vein, however, a group of readers had a discussion with me online about whether Luki and Sonny should acquire a dog in book 2 (Delsyn’s Blues). The verdict was yes, and I’ve taken it to heart—by the end of book 2 they will have a dog. That’s memorable in another way, and fun.

Digital media—the e-reader/tablet computer/Android apps—is changing the way people access and enjoy books. What pros and/or cons do you see surrounding the business of e-publishing? How do you see digital media evolving in the years to come?

That is an interesting topic. I recently heard that e-books now account for more total book sales than print books. Whether that is precisely correct of not, I think even the fact that it could be bandied about is evidence that there’s no going back. I think that in the future we can expect to see even more usable readers than we now have—lighter, etc.

Something that I believe has already changed dramatically because of e-publishing is the increased market for short fiction—both in terms of a way for authors to market their work, and in terms of getting the stories out there and accessible for readers. In the past, you could market shorts through zines (including ezines), anthologies, or if you already had a ‘name,’ a collection. Now, publishers actually accept and publish free-standing short fiction, complete with cover art, etc. A fabulous development. There is already much more self-publishing—it’s cheaper and easier. That could be a good thing for some but has the potential to compromise quality. One thing I’d like to see but may not, is publishers make full use of the capacity of e-books for a beautiful product—styling, perhaps limited illustration, etc.

When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?

The answers to both those questions are fluid. For the time being, I’m reading lots of M/M romance, some mystery, some het historical romance. I have read lots of fantasy—recently urban fantasy—and some sci-fi and will undoubtedly return to that, and more recently urban fantasy.

As far as favorite authors, I’ll give that a stab, but I’d like to mention that it’s very likely my most loved books were not written by my favorite authors. I love Tolkien, Jim Butcher, Louise Erdrich, Dick Francis, Anne Perry, Martha Grimes, Mary Balogh. And the list could go on. I haven’t added any M/M authors in yet only because I haven’t yet sorted out faves.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Unhappy.

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?

I read (surprise), play guitar, sing; dabble in artistic endeavors; spend time with four generations of family and some pets; spend too much time in bookstores; go to the movies, live music in small local venues, or theatre; go to fairs and such. I love to walk outdoors—particularly in the forest, and love the ocean beaches. Many things.

If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit? Why?

Wow, I didn’t realize what a difficult question this would be. I think the answer changes depending on “where” I’m traveling. To take a stab at a couple, I might choose the Renaissance if I was looking particularly at Western Europe. For North America, I think the time period might roughly coincide but the term ‘Renaissance’ wouldn’t apply—instead, pre-Columbian.

If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, either past or present, who would you choose and why?

Again, way too many great candidates. How about Freddie Mercury? Because wow, what a voice!

If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?

Um. A mess? Lots of notes on scraps of paper, some notebooks. Some things I printed out when doing research online. Pens that never write. Definitely a coffee cup, more than likely with cold coffee in it. Cat toys. Cat. Possibly sketches. Rodale’s Word Finder, which is like a thesaurus on steroids, dictionary, etc. And a five-inch green baby Cthulu crocheted by my friend Brian Harrison. Cthulu also has a little tiny set of bagpipes.

How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

My sense of humor is best described as overactive. There is probably nothing I can’t find something funny in. Laughing is one of my favorite activities and it also has been, for me, sort of a survival tool. Not a very specific answer… Monty Python’s The Life of Bryan. Mel Brooks’ Dracula, Dead and Loving It. Many things.

Do you have an all time favorite fictional character?

Well, no. Again, I’m fickle. For now I’ll choose Lord John Grey, a creation of Diana Gabaldon.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I only know the answer to this when it’s actually bothering me.

Do you have a favorite personal mantra, quote, or saying that describes your outlook on life and the way you approach each day?

You never know.

Do you speak more than one language? If so, which one(s)?

English is far and away my only fluent language. I was, however, raised in a multi-lingual home. My mother was German, and didn’t get to the States until she married my GI father. And my father was of French Canadian/native extraction, and his first language (spoken at home and in the community) was French. So it wasn’t unusual for me to be told to turn the light out in one language and to shut the door in another. (One of my favorites has always been being told ‘sit down’ in German, and ‘shut your mouth’ in French. It’s an experience every child should have.) Nevertheless, I never really learned those languages, and am only now learning to speak French.

Of all the modern conveniences, which one would you most likely say you couldn’t live without?

If television is a convenience, that’s the one.

Do you have any new projects/works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

I do have another Vasquez and James book planned, and possibly one more. That series will end with a novella which is already written, mostly, entitled “Yes.” It definitely is romance, but quite unlike their current adventures.

On a back burner, I have a plan for a M/M romance involving two very different workers at an aviation manufacturing plant. Also a historical romance set in dark ages or early middle ages in what is now France. I have short story ideas I’d like to flesh out and other far flung beginnings.

Thanks again for spending some time with us, Lou. It’s been great having you with us. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?

The pleasure has definitely been mine. Thank you for having me!

Here’s my contact info:

http://www.sylvre.com
lou(dot)sylvre(at)gmail(dot)com
Look for Lou Sylvre on facebook and Goodreads
My Twitter user name is Sylvre

And we’d love if you’d consider sharing a favorite excerpt from Loving Luki Vasquez with us.

I’d be delighted! Here’s a sexy one I hope you readers will enjoy.

Leaning back on the low balcony wall Luki gazed through the glass. Inside, an electric fireplace threw orange light and blue shadows over the room, casting Sonny’s shoulders in bronze. Luki found himself imagining the rest of Sonny’s bare skin glorified in that light. He went back inside and stood at the foot of the bed, couldn’t help it, stared at Sonny’s sleeping form, chewing his lip.

“What are you looking at?” Sonny asked, apparently not sleeping and always the jester. Luki almost laughed. Sonny seemed to be trying to find some moisture in his drug-dried mouth, so he took him a glass of water. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he watched him swallow.

Sonny managed to deposit the water glass on the night table without a major spill, then met Luki’s eyes again, more serious this time. “What are you thinking about?”

Luki waited, feeling his breath go scarce, his heart insisting on heating his blood. “You,” he said. After his treatment of Sonny that morning, speaking his mind now felt like a frightening plunge. “I’m thinking about putting my mouth all over you.”

Sonny returned his gaze. Faint, sober smile. No jokes, no words.

Luki leaned over and kissed his mouth, sweet and soft. “Yes?” he asked.

“Yes.”

Luki started with another kiss, sucking honey from Sonny’s lips. He visited tender, fleshy earlobes, dusted the lightest of kisses over fluttering eyelids. He feathered his lips and tongue over the line of Sonny’s jaw and down to the dip at the base of his throat. Sonny moved as if to participate. Luki held him back, gently pushed him down. With tongue and teeth and lips he paid tribute to every beautiful curve and hollow and rise of Sonny’s body he could reach without causing his wound to hurt. He kissed the hollows behind his collarbone, gently nipped taut nipples, poked his tongue into the dip of his navel. Then, the miraculous valley inside each hip—there he started at the fold of Sonny’s thigh and blazed a trail of kisses to the place that made Sonny dig his hands into Luki’s hair.

Once more, on the other side.

Sonny shifted again as if to participate, but Luki took hold of his hands and paused to meet his eyes. “No,” he said. “Be still.” Sonny’s belly clenched and he gasped, as if he thought the words, all by themselves, were sex play. His prick had hardened to the point that the tight skin pulled it almost flat against his belly. Luki ignored it, except to run his tongue beneath to collect the pool of pre-cum that had gathered there, brushing across the head of Sonny’s penis in the process. Downward again, inside the thighs, behind the knees, the sensitive toes and arches. Slowly, then up again, until he came once more to the center of Sonny’s excitement, pleasure, and despair, and began to address the heat arising there. He spread Sonny’s legs, burrowed his hands beneath his ass to hold him still.

Sonny grabbed at his hair again, said, “Luki, please.”

“No,” Luki said. “Wait.” Thick, wet lips, the flat of his tongue, a long, light kiss. He teased at the small, diamond-shaped tenderness just behind the head of Sonny’s penis, circled the smooth coronal ridge with his tongue, closed his mouth over the taut, curved head. Pleasuring. Or perhaps, judging from Sonny’s struggling breath, torturing.

“God, Luki, please,” he panted.

“Wait,” Luki said. He stroked the length of Sonny’s cock, squeezing, and with thumbs gathered the lubricant that emerged. Again cupping Sonny’s ass in his strong hands, he used the now slick thumbs to massage the sensitive rim of Sonny’s anus, sucking at his firm testes before moving his mouth once again to his erection. Sonny felt good to him, tasted sweet. Luki rejoiced in every touch he applied to Sonny’s gorgeous skin. But what drove him on his quest was a deep, unfamiliar desire to please at all costs. Luki applied all his experience and skill, relentless, merciless, demanding, but slow and sweet.

Sonny’s breathing became ragged and his grip on Luki’s hair turned desperate, insistent, almost violent.

Luki dropped his mouth over Sonny’s shaft, opening his throat, and then sucked upward, slow and hard, at the same time pushing his two thumbs just inside, just past the pliant opening.

To Luki’s overwhelming pleasure, Sonny responded just as intended. He moaned long and low, almost silent, and the first hard pulse of orgasm shook him, splashing semen against Luki’s swollen lips.

After a while Sonny’s breathing calmed. Luki flared his nostrils to draw in the smell of Sonny’s sex, like saving it up.

Loving Luki Vasquez by Lou Sylvre


Title: Loving Luki Vasquez
Author: Lou Sylvre
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 220
Characters: Luki Vasquez, Sonny Bly James
POV: 3rd person
Setting: Washington State
Sub-Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Romance
Cover Rating: 4
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

Reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James controls every color and shape in his tapestries, but he can’t control the pattern of his life—a random encounter with Luki Vasquez, ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, makes that perfectly clear. The mutual attraction is immediate, but love-shy Sonny has retreated from life, and Luki wears his visible and not-so-visible scars like armor. Neither can bare his soul with ease.

While they run from desire, they can’t hide from the evil that hunts them. After it becomes clear that a violent stalker has targeted Sonny, Luki’s protective instincts won’t let him run far, especially when Sonny’s family is targeted as well. Whether they can forgive or forget, Sonny and Luki will have to call a truce and work together to save Sonny’s nephew and fight an enemy intent on making sure loving Luki Vasquez is the last mistake Sonny will ever make.

Review:

Back in 1982, in Oak Flats, Nebraska, a young Luki Vasquez was taught a harsh and vicious lesson. In a single moment of adolescent cruelty, Luki was schooled in the subjects of hatred and intolerance, forever branded as different, the consequences of which were so entirely malignant that it set its scars deeply and irrevocably shaped who Luki would become.

The incident served to stain and alter the relationship between a boy and his father, stealing Luki’s innocence, labeling and isolating him, and finally, teaching him that the means of survival in a world that has marked him as different will mean closing himself off and finding the strength to protect himself both physically and emotionally. Luki’s life becomes a study in maintaining a cool demeanor, keeping feelings hidden behind a façade of chilly detachment. Both life and work are a methodical exercise in keeping to the shadows, not getting too close, not letting anyone get too close him.

The problem with resistance, however, whether it’s resisting temptation, feelings, a particular someone, is that eventually you’ll meet an opposing force that is stronger than your ability to defy or deny. For Luki, that man is Sonny Bly James: artist, enigma, and the man who conquers Luki’s resolve. The power to resist becomes the law of attraction, and when the rules change, nothing will be the same for these two men.

Luki and Sonny are irrevocably joined, first by a horrific crime, then by the mysterious disappearance of Sonny’s nephew, and finally, by a need so utterly tangible it feels as necessary as breathing. And denying themselves the love they so obviously want and need works about as well as denying themselves breath. Their relationship is a transformation, a hard fought lesson in the truth that sometimes it takes far more strength to let someone in than to let someone go.

”Loving Luki Vasquez isn’t all that easy.” At least not for Sonny. For me, loving Luki and Sonny was the easiest thing I’ve done in a long while.

A perfect blend of romantic tension and criminal suspense, Lou Sylvre’s debut novel is truly something to celebrate. Every sentence is an indulgence, beautifully composed to draw the reader into the lives of two men who, ironically, might be uneasy with the scrutiny. It’s impossible to resist, though, so why would you? Reading Loving Luki Vasquez should be on everyone’s list of things to do.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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