Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blog Tour: Two Gentlemen of Altona: Interview with Lisa Henry and JA Rock with giveaway.

Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away an awesome prize – an ebook copy of a novel of your choice from either of our back catalogs. We’re also giving away a $20 Riptide gift voucher, and the contents of Henry Page’s bag during his arrest in THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA: that’s some Shakespeare and a bunch of Henry’s favorite candy!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! OnJanuary 9, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!

We are very happy to welcome Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Their most recent novel The Two Gentlemen of Altona, is available at Riptide Publishing. This is the first novel in the Playing the Fool series.

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters. Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Connect with Lisa:

J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. currently lives in Chicago but still sees West Virginia behind Illinois’s back.

Jodi:           Thank you, Lisa and J.A. for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. The Two Gentlemen of Altona is the first book in a three book series. What are some of the challenges in writing a series, based on a mystery?

Lisa:          Thanks for having me! I also brought J.A. along as well. :)

J.A.:           *waves* PLAYING THE FOOL is the first time we plotted something out. I mean got down and dirty, broke out the character charts, did scene by scene outlines, and planned, not just the individual mysteries, but one overarching mystery. Lisa and I always talk about how disorganized we are, and we’re not fucking around. Every day I ask myself the same question: “Where are my car keys?” And the answer is always something new and absurd, like “under the bathmat” or “tangled in my hair” or “in the car, which is parked three blocks away and still running.”

I still can’t believe we managed to plan this series in advance.

Jodi:           What inspired this series?

Lisa:           This book is our very weird homage to both Shakespeare and every single movie ever where two guys, one a by-the-book cop and the other a loose cannon, have to work together to solve the crime. Bullets and banter. Basically, we wanted to have fun with it.

Jodi:           Are you both Shakespeare fans? Tell us a little about the Shakespeare influence and allusions.

Lisa:           We both love Shakespeare. And, really, what’s not to love? Whether you’re in the mood for a fun story with a lot of dirty jokes, or something that will make you howl, Shakespeare has you covered.

JA:             Absolutely. I enjoy Shakespeare’s comedies, but probably have an unhealthy fixation on Shakespearean bloodshed. He knew how to make the most violent stories absolutely beautiful. And genuinely tragic. Even one of my least favorite Shakespeare plays, All’s Well That Ends Well, has the line, “Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes” to describe being too poor to marry the guy you love. It’s like, come on, asshole. Quit being a linguistic genius and save some talent for the rest of us. Am I allowed to call Shakespeare an asshole?

          So yes, in PtF, we do a bit of alluding. Henry’s aliases are combos of Shakespeare character names. His mother was an actress and a Shakespeare fan. We play with ideas like fate, fatal flaws, courage versus cowardice...and include enough penis jokes to make Willy Shakes proud, we hope.

Jodi:           I have that same fixation, J.A.

Lisa, in your last interview with me, you mentioned that you and J.A. Rock share a “hive mind.” Can you elaborate on what you mean? Have you written any books with J.A. Rock before? What prompted the partnership?

Lisa:           It is absolutely terrifying how in synch J.A. and I are. And not just about our shared love for cheap wine. It is incredibly easy to write with J.A. because we like to tell the same sort of stories, and we like to write the same sort of characters. We first started writing together because we’d been emailing for a while—her first book came out from Loose Id at the same time my second one did—and she asked if I wanted to write with her. And I said yes. I don’t think that we’d thought it through any more deeply than that – which is another thing we have in common. We are never in danger of overthinking things.

          The first book we wrote together was The Good Boy, back in 2013. Since then we've written ten more together, from the kinky fun of Mark Cooper versus America, to the quite dark (and one of our favourites!) When All the World Sleeps.

J.A.:           Lisa doesn’t know it yet, but the dreams she has are my dreams too. And one day we shall merge into one perfect, extremely drunk being. We shall be called Oerythu, and we shall answer to the Star Lord.

Lisa:          But I wanted to be Groot.

J.A.:           Oh my god, I didn’t realize the Star Lord was an actual thing. Okay, one day I will watch GotG, I promise.

Jodi:           Ahem … I am looking forward to seeing that merger.

Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is a hard core cop who is not happy about being played by his witness and Dean Maxfield. He also is not happy about his new diet, which, of course, causes him more stress. Tell us a bit about Mac’s character.

Lisa:           Oh, I have a total soft spot for Mac. He’s quitting sugar and caffeine, which makes him cranky enough even before he meets Henry. And Henry does not help. At all. Mac prides himself on being good at his job, and he hates that Henry makes him look like a fool. Mac doesn’t have a great relationship with his colleagues, but it’s Henry that makes him see that, and makes him try to change.

Jodi:           The characters in this story are interesting and well developed. The conversations between Mac and Henry are full of heat and humor from the beginning. The intensity of the situation intertwined with the humor is very engaging. Why is Henry so flippant when first talking to Mac?

Lisa:          Flippant is Henry’s default setting. Also, once he realizes how much it annoys Mac, he can’t stop doing it.

JA:             Mac’s so easy to wind up. Plus, Henry’s got a lot to hide. So a lot of his flippancy is smoke and mirrors, to get people away from the truth.

Jodi:           Why does Henry purposely rile up Mac? He seems to want Mac to be angry and yelling at him.

Lisa:           He loves it!

JA:             Totally! Henry’s like a little kid--better negative attention than none at all.

Jodi:           Behind Henry’s bravado lies an insecure and scared young man. Tell us a bit about Henry.

Lisa:          Henry does what he does because he’s good at it, and it makes money. He probably lies to himself just as much as he lies to other people. He pretends he can cruise through life with just a smile, but spinning a different lie every day to make money where he can isn't exactly a fulfilling existence. Henry pretends he’s unaffected by the things he does, and the way guys like Mac think he’s the scum of the earth for doing it, but he’s not. I think he probably wishes he was a better person, but that’s a luxury he literally can’t afford. He needs the money, and conning is pretty much all he knows.

Jodi:           Mac comes across as a hard-ass cop, but under that layer is a caring man who does empathize with Henry. Henry seems to think it is about his new costume, but there is more to it than that. What makes Mac change his mind about Henry?

Lisa:           Mac sees that underneath all his backchat Henry is genuinely terrified, and he responds to that. A lot of what he thinks about Henry--that he’s a kid playing a game that suddenly got too big for him--is absolutely spot on. Mac might be cranky and cynical but, when it comes down to it, he wouldn’t be in the job he’s in if he didn’t genuinely want to help people. And the more glimpses he gets of the genuine Henry behind the mask, the more he’s drawn in.

Jodi:           There are a lot of unanswered questions in this first book. Will the second book pick up right where the first one ends?

Lisa:          It picks up exactly where the first book ends. Like, only a matter of minutes afterwards!

Jodi:           Have we heard the last of Dean Maxfield?

Lisa:           Oh, Henry and Mac have more to worry about than Dean Maxfield! But...

J.A.:           We’ll never tell!

Jodi:           Can you give us a sneak peak of what will be in book two? Will we find out who Viola is and what happened to Remy?

Lisa:          Absolutely! Without giving too much away, we learn a lot more about Henry’s past, and how it’s shaped him as a person. In particular, one traumatic event that’s made Henry into the man he is. And we learn more about Henry and Remy’s shared past, and how Henry easily could have turned out like Remy if he’d made slightly different decisions. Also, Henry infiltrates a care facility dressed in drag, which is exactly as fun as it sounds.

Jodi:           What is your next project after this series?

Lisa:           I’m still working away, very slowly, at the sequel to Dark Space. I’m also writing a story with the awesome M. Caspian that’s taking shape in lots of interesting ways right now. But I totally need to plug J.A.’s next book, since I was lucky enough to read an early draft. It’s called Take the Long Way Home, and it’s out Jan 20 from Loose Id. It’s so wonderful. Read it!

J.A.:           More Dark Space!! (Hey, are you still looking for a title? Because you’re welcome.)

Together we’re working on another book in THE BOY series and a third book in the PRESCOTT COLLEGE series. And discussing some new ideas that will let us explore subgenres we haven’t tackled yet.

The Two Gentlemen of Altona
Mischief, thou art afoot.

Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he’s also been tasked with keeping Henry Page—the world’s most irritating witness—alive. Which is tough when Mac’s a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged, egg-obsessed Henry himself. Unless killing isn’t really what Mac wants to do to him.

Con man Henry Page prefers to keep his distance from the law . . . though he wouldn’t mind getting a little closer to uptight, handsome Agent McGuinness. As the sole witness to a mob hit, Henry’s a valuable asset to the FBI. But he’s got his own agenda, and it doesn’t involve testifying.

When evidence surfaces of a mole in the FBI office, Mac and Henry are forced to go into hiding. Holed up in a fishing cabin, they’re surprised to discover that their feelings run more than skin deep. But as the mob closes in, Henry has to make his escape. And Mac has to decide how far he’s willing to go to keep Henry by his side.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Blog Tour: Razor Wire Featuring an Author Interview with Lauren Gallagher with GiveAway [f/f]

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Lauren Gallagher blog tour for Razor Wire!
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (as L.A. Witt or Lauren Gallagher; excludes Razor Wire) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 28th, and winners will be announced on December 29th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

We are very happy to welcome Lauren Gallagher to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Lauren’s latest novel Razor Wire is available on Riptide Publishing.

Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

·       Website
·       Author Blog
·       Twitter
·       Facebook
·       Goodreads

Jodi:          Thank you Lauren for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. I have to admit I am a long-time fan of L.A. Witt’s writing. This is the first book I have read penned by Lauren Gallagher, and it was as intense and intriguing as the male/male novels. Kim Lockhoff has been the victim of a brutal crime, and she is the victim of psychological and verbal abuse from her fellow sailors and her superiors. She is trapped in a situation that seems insurmountable. Tell us a little about Lockhoff’s character.

Lauren:    Lockhoff is an amalgamation of several woman I’ve met in the military. They’re brushed off as stupid and useless because they’re women, but when they don’t *act* stupid and useless, they’re brushed off as bitches. They really can’t win. Lockhoff is hell-bent on making a career in the military, even if it means playing games she can’t win, but she never expected it to blow up in her face the way it did.

Jodi:          When readers first meet Reese Marion, we are presented with a hard-as-nails Navy officer who seems to instantly dislike Lockhoff. Why does Marion dislike Lockhoff and not trust her?

Lauren:    Like Lockhoff, Reese is similar to some real people. She’s a woman in a male-dominated environment, and refuses to play their games. When women come along who use their looks (especially specific “assets”) to get promoted or to get out of disciplinary situations, she has no patience for it. As such, she can’t stand Lockhoff, who appears to be the epitome of everything Reese can’t stand in a female colleague. Reese has also become jaded by the idea of the “rape card” – a woman wants to blackmail a man or doesn’t want to get strung up for adultery/fraternization/etc, so she falsely claims she was raped. Right or wrong, that is an attitude that I’ve seen crop up many times in the military. That’s actually part of why I wanted to write this book – because I’ve seen and heard those very conversations in real life.  It’s part of why, at least with people I’ve spoken to, women are afraid to report sexual assault, and some men and women are reluctant to take the reports seriously.

Jodi:          Tell us a little about Lieutenant Stanton and how he is able to get away with his misogynist and criminal behavior for so long.

Lauren:    I really wish I could say that Lieutenant Stanton was, unlike Reese and Lockhoff, a figment of my imagination. Sadly, he is also an amalgamation of very real people who abuse their power and their subordinates. His specific actions are fiction, but his attitudes and the attitudes of those around him? Definitely real. The “charming to your face and creepy behind closed doors” persona? Seen it in the flesh, and it’s very difficult for women to convince others (especially their male superiors who think Stanton is a good guy) that he’s done or said something horrible. Lieutenant Stanton’s wife is even based on reality, as sad as that sounds.

Jodi:          As a Navy wife, did you base this story on your personal experiences or is the story complete fiction?

Lauren: The story itself is complete fiction, but like its characters, it’s made up of pieces of reality. Some are things I witnessed myself, some came to me second, third, and fourth hand. Criminal actions being swept under the rug, higher ups abusing their authority and subordinates, sexual assault being either unreported or ignored, people being threatened with their careers, etc. These are all unfortunate realities of the military, but realities nonetheless.

Also, for the record, this book isn’t intended to single out military cops. I wrote it about military cops because that’s what I’m around mostly (my husband is a master-at-arms), so it’s what I’m most familiar with. This scenario could have happened within any rate on any base, but using cops for this one was partly “write what you know” and partly a way to keep the cast reasonably small (since the characters involved would also be involved in the investigation). I chose Okinawa because of its geographical isolation, not because of any nasty feelings toward that base.

Jodi:          What kind of research did you do for this book?

Lauren:    I mostly picked the brains of military cops and a couple of military lawyers. The really sad part? Upon hearing the summary of the story I intended to write, they all agreed that Razor Wire was definitely a plausible scenario.

Jodi:          Rape is a violent crime in any circumstances. Somehow the crime seems more brutal based on the fact that Lockhoff is a lesbian who has never had sex with a man. Was it difficult writing about this issue?

Lauren:    It was definitely difficult, yes.  

Jodi:          Both Lockhoff and Marion struggle for acceptance in a historically male-dominated world, and the men in this novel seem especially intolerant and crass. Tell us a little about Alejandro who also is conflicted throughout the novel.

Lauren:    Like all the others, the guys are based on real people. Most of the comments they made are comments I’ve heard, and I was aiming to replicate the “locker room” atmosphere that sometimes shows up on bases. It’s generally brushed off as “boys will be boys,” but it can get pretty crass.

As for Alejandro, I think he’s representative of a lot of men in the military. He engages in the crass locker room stuff, but he’s also empathetic and generally tries to be a good person and a good leader. He’s also dealt with women who use their “assets” to advance and men who act like “if she’s pretty, she’s asking for it,” so he’s never quite sure what the reality of a situation is until he’s delved a bit deeper.  He wants to do the right thing, though.

Jodi:          At the end of the novel, Lockhoff mentions, “It felt good to be back in my own skin.” She is a dynamic character who evolves a great deal through the course of the book. The one thing that has not changed though is her inner strength, which is obvious even when she appears weak. Was this a difficult characteristic to develop?

Lauren:    It really wasn’t. I had actually envisioned her as being a bit more fragile for the first part of the book, but once I started writing, it became obvious that she wasn’t having it. I really liked her because of that.

Jodi:           Will there be any more books with these characters?

Lauren:    It’s entirely possible. I don’t have anything planned at the moment, but I definitely haven’t ruled it out.

Jodi:          Both Lauren Gallaher and L.A. Witt write in the romance genre, but while Gallagher writes male/female (including lesbian and bisexual) romance, Witt focuses on m/m romance. What are some of the challenges when focusing on two male protagonists as opposed to a male and a female or two females?

Lauren:    In general, there’s really no difference. In a military setting, though, that’s not quite true. You tend to have a very high ratio of men to women. There are attitudes within the ranks that haven’t caught up with the rest of society, including victim-blaming and rape apology. So going into a lesbian military romance is going to have some different dynamics than a civilian romance or a gay male military romance. You tend to have women who’ve been fighting an uphill battle since boot camp, and they’ll be fighting that uphill battle for the duration of their careers.  Is that true for all women in the military? Maybe not, but I can’t say I’ve ever encountered a female service member whose gender hasn’t come into play at some point in her career.

Military aside, I don’t find it too difficult to switch between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and straight relationships.

Jodi:          What is the main difference in the sex scenes when writing about two men together and two women together (besides the body parts)?

Lauren:    It really does just come down to body parts. I’ve heard it said that women focus more on emotions and men focus more on the physical, but I don’t really buy that. Women can get just as primal as men, and men can get just as emotional – it just depends on what the sex scene calls for.

Jodi:          Although Razor Wire is not the first romance you have written focusing on two lesbian characters – the short story What This Woman Wantsis available at Riptide Publishing – it is your first full-length f/f book. Will you be writing more novels with two women protagonists?

Lauren:    Definitely. For whatever reason, I find it harder to come up with stories for two women than I do for two men (I seriously have no explanation for that), but I will absolutely be writing more.

Jodi:          You mentioned in our previous interview that you are writing Anna Maxwell’s book. Anna is a character in L.A. Witt’s Starstruck, which is part of the Bluewater Bay series. When is that book tentatively scheduled to publish?

Lauren:    It’s hard to say. Probably sometime in 2016. I’ll be writing that one very soon, though.

Jodi:          What is your next project?

Lauren:    I’m currently on a bit of a ménage kick. I’m working on a few bisexual books at the moment, and I’ll hopefully be taking a little detour in 2015 to write some more mainstream science fiction. At the moment, I’m finishing a ménage story and the sequel to Aleksandr Voinov’s Dark Soul. After that…well, it depends on how long it takes to settle into Spain. LOL

Razor Wire

Two women. One terrible crime. Zero allies.

After being raped by a superior officer, MA3 Kim Lockhoff wants to leave the whole thing in the past. A cop herself, she knows all too well that it’s her word—and slutty reputation—against that of a respected Navy officer.

MA2 Reese Marion, a tough cop hiding her own trauma behind a hard-as-nails exterior, has no patience for pretty little princesses who use their cleavage to win favor with the guys. But when Reese is partnered with Kim, she slowly realizes that reputations can lie. Kim is whip-smart, ambitious—and scared. The man who attacked her won’t let anything damage his career, least of all Kim . . . or the baby she’s carrying as a result.

Isolated on Okinawa, thousands of miles away from home, the two women lean hard on each other. But when Kim confides in Reese, she unwittingly puts her new lover—and both of their careers—in the line of fire. Now her attacker just might have the leverage he needs to keep her quiet for good.

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