Welcome to our 3rd week of celebration for the amazingly talented
We have a special treat today - an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming FIRE & ICE (Carlisle Cops #2) which will release from Dreamspinner Press on 5/25/15. Plus, a personal story Andrew has chosen to share, and all the info about the TALES FROM KANSAS series, as well as another chance to win one of his books!
Are you ready to celebrate??
First in the Tales From Kansas series, DUMPED IN OZ
Because of an opportunity he’d be a fool to turn down, Lyle Powers transfers to his company’s warehouse in central Kansas. The last thing he expects is to meet another gay man in the small town, let alone one who captures his interest.
Roger Kypers is a recovering alcoholic with a twelve-year-old daughter he only gets to see for part of the summer. Neither Lyle nor Roger is looking for a relationship, and they fumble at the start, yet emotions build as Roger shows Lyle the landmarks of Oz.
But when Roger’s wicked witch of an ex-wife threatens to take his daughter away for good if he doesn’t act “normally,” he’s faced with the challenge of letting her get away with it, or fighting to accept himself and standing up for what he knows is right.
“I’m sure I will,” Lyle told her and tucked right in. The frosting flowed over the roll as he cut into it, and Lyle took a bite, closing his eyes to enjoy the savory combination of flavors.
“That’s what every cook likes to see—someone loving their food,” a rich voice said. Lyle opened his eyes and saw a man about his own age with black hair, a touch of gray at the temples.
“It’s delicious,” Lyle said after swallowing. He wiped his mouth and smiled. “Did you make these?”
“Yes. I do almost all of our baking,” the man told him. “I’m Roger Kyper, the owner and baker.” He extended his hand.
“Lyle,” he said, shaking it. “I’m staying at the inn next door for a couple of weeks.” Roger held his hand a few seconds longer than necessary and then released it, not breaking eye contact. “I’ll be working at the Shoebox warehouse near the highway,” Lyle continued. He figured being friendly was the way things were done here, and he wanted to fit in. “Sorry I got here so close to closing.”
“It’s no problem,” Roger said, moving out of the way when the server returned with Lyle’s bierock. “I’ll let you finish your brunch.” He moved away, and Lyle watched him go out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t want to be seen watching another guy, not in a small town like this, but he couldn’t help it. Roger was hot, and he moved like a dancer. Lyle swallowed hard as his mouth went dry. He turned away and went back to his cinnamon roll. As he ate, the restaurant employees wiped down the chairs, swept the floor, and gathered the flower vases from the tables.
When he finished the cinnamon roll, he ate the bierock, humming softly to himself at the savory taste of bacon, sausage, egg, and ham all mixed together, combined with the bread. Dang—it had to be a local delicacy, and it was amazing. Lyle finished eating and sat back. He realized he was the only person in the room. The servers had finished their work, and he now sat alone.
“I see you liked it,” Roger said as he came back in.
“It was great,” Lyle said with a smile. “Am I keeping you from going home?” He stood up and looked for his check, then picked it up off the corner of the table.
“Not really. It’s Sunday afternoon, so take your time.” Roger didn’t leave right away, and Lyle stared at him for a few seconds. Then Lyle moved to the side and walked toward the back of the house. He stepped into a tiny bakery with a single case, now empty, but delicious scents lingered in the air. Roger went to stand at the register, and Lyle handed him the check and money.
“Please give the change to the server,” Lyle said.
“She’ll appreciate that,” Roger told him.
Lyle said good-bye and left by the back door, stepping out into the heat. He looked around and walked up toward the street, deciding he’d take a walk through the park. As he headed to the sidewalk, he saw Roger lock the door before jogging down the stairs. Lyle waved and continued across the street into the park.
It was gorgeous, with shade trees, paths, and playgrounds, like most parks. He also passed a fountain, and a cannon set in concrete, continuing his stroll down a footpath that led over to a bridge where a small pond narrowed. People fished off the bank, and Lyle saw a small wooden model boat landing near shore where a father and son operated a remote-controlled boat. Lyle stood on the bridge, leaning against the rail, just watching.
“Nice, isn’t it?” a familiar voice said.
Lyle turned as Roger joined him on the bridge.
“It is,” Lyle agreed. “What is it about this town?”
“What do you mean?” Roger asked.
“It seems so perfect,” Lyle said, and Roger chuckled lightly.
“Most folks who live here grew up here. And we believe in taking care of what we have. Everyone pitches in to take care of the park and keep the town clean. There isn’t a lot, but we do okay. A lot of people in town work either at the feed mill or at Caterpillar. Some work at the Shoebox warehouse too. And there are lots of farmers and farm support.”
“It’s like stepping back in time,” Lyle told him.
“That it is. Since we don’t have a lot, we want to preserve what we have. Years ago, when folks started tearing down the old buildings to create new, some folks got together to try to rescue what was still around,” he explained, motioning toward a cluster of small buildings. “So we started the Wamego museum. We moved the old buildings to one location, just like we moved the windmill into the park. Folks here are proud of their town.”
“That’s obvious,” Lyle said. “Do you get a lot of visitors?”
“The Oz stuff brings in a few tourists and curiosity seekers, but mostly it’s just us. Except for during Oztoberfest—then the town fills up with people wearing green everything. It’s a real emerald city, and the characters come out all over the place. People dress as their favorite characters from the movie. Basically, everyone has a great time.”
“I’ll look forward to it,” Lyle said.
“Then you’ll be here a while,” Roger said.
Lyle nodded. “About a year. They’ve put me up in the inn for a couple of weeks, but I need to find a place to live. I figured I’d ask around at work to see if anyone knows of anything. I understand a lot of them live in Manhattan.” Lyle looked around. “But this is so nice.”
“It’s too quiet for some folks,” Roger said, leaning on the railing next to him.
“I think quiet is nice. Harrisburg isn’t big as cities go, but it’s noisy and fast.” His condo building always had people coming and going. Lyle turned to look at Roger and saw him looking back. Lyle’s belly did a little flip as he recognized the interest in Roger’s eyes. Then it vanished and Roger turned. Lyle stifled a sigh as he watched the remote-controlled boat glide under the bridge. He turned and watched as it floated out the other side and made a lazy circle on the water before starting its return trip. “I could use some quiet.”
Lyle heard the kid laugh as the father handed the controls to the boat to him. From the bridge, Lyle saw the kid smile as he took the controls. The boat glided back to the center of the pond and then began making all kinds of circles and loops. Lyle turned back toward Roger, and he could have sworn Roger turned away just as Lyle began looking. Lyle opened his mouth to say something, but Roger pushed away from the railing. “I’m sure I’ll see you around,” he said. Before Lyle could open his mouth, Roger had turned and started striding back along the path through the park.
Lyle watched him go, wondering what had happened. He shrugged and pushed away from the rail himself, continuing across the bridge and on closer to the stone windmill. Lyle looked around the stone structure and saw Roger coming up the other way. He watched him for a few moments and realized he was being watched in return. Lyle walked over to where Roger stood. As he approached, Lyle once again saw a quick flash of desire, and then, just like before, it was gone and Roger turned away. This time Lyle watched him walk all the way across the park and back to the restaurant. He had no idea what was going on, so he pushed it from his mind. He wasn’t here to hook up, or even to meet anyone. He had a job to do, and he planned on doing it to the best of his ability, and taking some time to think and contemplate what he wanted. He certainly wouldn’t get caught up with a small-town closet case too afraid of what the neighbors would say to even be seen speaking to him in broad daylight.
He ambled back through the park, then stopped by the community pool to listen to the kids as they screamed with watery delight before continuing on and back to the hotel.
“Did you have a nice walk?” the hotelier asked as Lyle approached the stairs.
“I did. Thanks for the restaurant recommendation—the food was amazing,” Lyle said, and then smiled before continuing up the stairs.
“Did you meet Roger?”
Lyle paused. “Yes. He seemed very nice. We talked a little while I ate, and then I saw him in the park.”
The proprietor nodded slowly. “He’s a very nice man. Tragic, but very nice.” Lyle paused to see if he’d go on, but the older man simply turned and went back through the private doorway, leaving Lyle to wonder if people in town were crazy or just out to raise his curiosity. As he climbed the stairs, Lyle pushed all of it from his mind. He was starting a new position in the morning, and that was more than enough for him to worry about. He didn’t need to add the crazy cast of local characters.
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Second in the series, STUCK IN OZ
When Jeremy and Petey’s mother died, their house was taken to pay the debts she left behind, leaving them homeless. Afraid Petey will be put in foster care, they have no one to turn to but their Uncle Milt, so they pack up Jeremy’s beat-up car and leave San Diego for Wamego, Kansas.
They arrive in the middle of a snowstorm and stop at the local diner to contact their uncle, where they meet Nate. Nate and his aunt help them contact Uncle Milt, and he agrees to help.
Jeremy and Nate hit it off quickly, but Jeremy runs when he’s made to believe their new home isn’t permanent. Nate goes after him, finds him, and convinces him that he’s wanted. However, just as Jeremy and Nate begin to trust each other, Petey’s estranged father appears and threatens to tear Jeremy’s new life and fledgling family apart.
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And 3rd in the series, TRAPPED IN OZ
Martin Long has plans and dreams, but they are derailed when his parents move and must sell their house. In need of a place to stay, fast, he answers an ad for a roommate, and even though the house needs work, the owner seems nice so Martin agrees to move in.
Gary Hunter is barely making ends meet, with mysteriously disappearing tips at work and tuition to pay. Disowned by his family and left with a house in need of repair, Gary desperately needs the extra set of hands along with the money.
When Gary confesses that his family disowned him for being gay, Martin makes his own confession that opens a world of possibilities. But Gary has paid a heavy price for being who he is, and Martin’s unwillingness to open up to his family puts strain on the fledgling relationship.
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From the Carlisle Cops series, FIRE AND WATER
Officer Red Markham knows about the ugly side of life after a car accident left him scarred and his parents dead. His job policing the streets of Carlisle, PA, only adds to the ugliness, and lately, drug overdoses have been on the rise. One afternoon, Red is dispatched to the local Y for a drowning accident involving a child. Arriving on site, he finds the boy rescued by lifeguard Terry Baumgartner. Of course, Red isn’t surprised when gorgeous Terry won’t give him and his ugly mug the time of day.
Overhearing one of the officer’s comment about him being shallow opens Terry’s eyes. Maybe he isn’t as kindhearted as he always thought. His friend Julie suggests he help those less fortunate by delivering food to the elderly. On his route he meets outspoken Margie, a woman who says what’s on her mind. Turns out, she’s Officer Red’s aunt.
Red and Terry’s worlds collide as Red tries to track the source of the drugs and protect Terry from an ex-boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer. Together they might discover a chance for more than they expected—if they can see beyond what’s on the surface.
“Terry Baumgartner,” he answered, swallowing hard. “He and his friends were horsing around on the pool deck. I told them more than once to stop and was about to ask them to leave when I turned away because a little girl had approached my seat. And when I looked back, I saw him under the water. I dove in, along with Julie.” He motioned to the young woman in a red one-piece swimsuit who stood a little ways away. “I reached him first and pulled him out. We started resuscitation right away and continued until we were relieved a few minutes later.”
“Who called this in?” Red asked.
A man stepped forward. “I did. They yelled to call 911, so I did. The kids were roughhousing, and I remember thinking someone was going to get hurt.”
“Daddy, is Connor going to be okay?” a little girl in a wet bathing suit asked as she walked up and took the man’s hand.
“Yes, honey, he’s going to be fine,” he said, soothing the kid’s fears before turning back to Red. He swallowed as he met Red’s eyes. Very few people did that anymore. “What he said is the truth. The kids were asking for trouble. If the lifeguard did anything wrong, it was not kicking them out earlier. But he did warn them.”
Red glanced to Terry, who nodded. Some of the worry seemed to slip from his aqua eyes, and his godlike, lanky body lost some of its tension. He lowered his lean arms and let them hang down from his sculpted shoulders. Damn—the kid wasn’t big, but he was perfect, as far as Red was concerned.
“Thank you,” Red said, turning back to the man. He took down his contact information and asked a few more questions before thanking him again. He then talked to the other lifeguard, Julie, who confirmed what Terry had told him. Red was satisfied that this was an accident and that the lifeguard hadn’t been responsible. He then spoke with the manager of the facility and got the necessary information from him. He was very helpful and seemed concerned and relieved at the same time.
By the time Red was done, Connor had been taken to the hospital, and most everyone else had been dismissed. He was getting ready to leave when he saw Terry and Julie standing off to one side, talking animatedly back and forth. Their voices weren’t as quiet as he assumed they meant them to be, because he heard little snippets of their conversation. “I’d die if that happened to me,” he heard Terry say and saw the kid looking his way. Red ignored him and walked carefully over the wet tile toward the door. Beauty was only skin deep.
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And coming soon, FIRE AND ICE
Carter Schunk is a dedicated police officer with a difficult past and a big heart. When he’s called to a domestic disturbance, he finds a fatally injured woman, and a child, Alex, who is in desperate need of care. Child Services is called, and the last man on earth Carter wants to see walks through the door. Carter had a fling with Donald a year ago and found him as cold as ice since it ended.
Donald (Ice) Ickle has had a hard life he shares with no one, and he’s closed his heart to all. It’s partly to keep himself from getting hurt and partly the way he deals with a job he’s good at, because he does what needs to be done without getting emotionally involved. When he meets Carter again, he maintains his usual distance, but Carter gets under his skin, and against his better judgment, Donald lets Carter guilt him into taking Alex when there isn’t other foster care available. Carter even offers to help care for the boy.
Donald has a past he doesn’t want to discuss with anyone, least of all Carter, who has his own past he’d just as soon keep to himself. But it’s Alex’s secrets that could either pull them together or rip them apart—secrets the boy isn’t able to tell them and yet could be the key to happiness for all of them.
Carter stifled a groan and responded. Domestic calls were the worst. Half the time it was nothing, like neighbors calling in because the people in the next unit were yelling too loudly. Most of the rest were people in need of help, but often they refused to press charges. Those were the most frustrating for everyone on the force. Carter pushed that from his mind, going as fast as he dared, reaching the house within minutes.
There was little doubt what had prompted the call. As soon as he opened his car door, high-pitched screaming rattled his spine. It seemed to be coming from inside the open-windowed row house. Carter called for backup and sprang into action. It sounded as though someone was being injured. Sirens blared in the distance and patrol cars arrived, blocking the street. Carter explained what he’d heard and the screaming began again, this time louder and more frantic. Officers spread out, and Carter headed to the front door. “Police,” he yelled and tried the knob. The door opened, and he rushed inside, weapon at the ready.
Carter heard other officers enter from the back. He quickly cleared the front rooms and the others the back. The house was quiet now, and Carter motioned toward the stairs.
“Get out of my house!” a man yelled as he barreled down the stairs, red-faced, eyes glazed over in rage.
“Down on the floor now!” Carter yelled forcefully and pointed his weapon at him, finger on the trigger. The man reached the bottom of the stairs, and Carter wasn’t sure he was going to stop. His finger began to move against the trigger. His training kicked in. “Get down!” he yelled again, and the man stopped and dropped to his knees. Carter inhaled and released his finger from the trigger, but stayed alert. There was at least one more person in the house—this guy wasn’t the person he’d heard screaming.
One of the other officers cuffed the man as Carter began climbing the stairs. He stayed close to the wall, gun in his hand, ready to defend himself. He reached the top of the stairs and heard crying. The officers behind him spread out, checking the other rooms while Carter moved toward the sound. He pushed open a partially closed door and gasped.
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How Andrew got writing...
As a kid I never thought of myself as a writer. In school I hated writing assignments. They were boring and the teacher used to give us topics that I hated. So it wasn’t until I was in my forties that I discovered a passion I never knew I had. I was going to the gym to lose weight and discovered gay romance because what makes treadmill time go faster better than reading sex?
The stories had gay characters and happy endings, [unlike] the gay stories I’d read up till that point [which] were depressing with sad endings. I devoured the stories and after some months, decided to try writing one. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. Even Dominic didn’t know I was trying to write a story until it was half done. I wasn’t sure it would work out. But it did.
My first attempt was passable, but I learned a lot in the process. I got it published, but it wasn’t until my second story that I found Dreamspinner Press. They are part of my family and my home. I have written over 100 novellas and novels, with the 100th being released in August, and it all started with me getting on a treadmill.
More about Andrew:
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now writes full time.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Thanks for joining us again this week. Be sure to come back next week for our Q&A with Andrew, and all the info about the FARMS series, plus one more chance at winning a book from Andrew's backlist.
Until then, happy reading!!