Today I am so pleased to welcome Skylar M. Cates to Joyfully Jay. Skylar has come to talk to us about two new releases, The Last Guy Breathing and The Holiday Hoax. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Writing Two Books At Once (Or How I Needed Lots of Chocolate and Vodka)
It has been a crazy few months as I edited two very different books. Going back and forth between a tense thriller and a sweet holiday book was difficult at times, but I am proud to share a little of both books here.
The Holiday Hoax is my first book in the new adult genre. I decided to write in a first person POV. I like first person for a younger voice. It is a sweet little novella with two young main characters. The book has humor, little angst and a lot of heart. I wanted a happy holiday feelings, and I also wanted to celebrate both Hanukah and Christmas in the novella. It’s my book that makes me think of gooey chocolate.
In contrast, The Last Guy Breathing is part of a bigger series. It has returning characters and I hope readers enjoy seeing the Carrino family again and the changes in their lives. Henry was in the other two books, and Locke appeared briefly in The Only Guy. Since I never like to do the same thing, I also challenged myself to add a new element, and I put in a small mystery for the guys to solve. It was fun to add the thriller as it unraveled, even if it was hard work. Because of all the twists and turns in the mystery, and because of the tumultuous nature of the relationships in the story, this is more of a vodka martini book for me.
What did surprise me as I wrote this blog was the realization that the two books do have one big similarity—they each have a pretend relationship at the start of the novel. And of course, those pretend relationships turn all too real.
Here are two excerpts. Thanks again for hosting me! I hope you’ll enjoy them!
The Holiday Hoax
Feeling like a total geek, I swung to hide my sudden nerves. As I moved, the swing groaned in protest. It was not often used anymore. I swung higher before I jumped. Launching myself into the snow, I landed on my butt with a hard thump. Then I turned and signaled JD to do the same.
JD snorted. “No thanks.”
I grinned and swiped the snow off my clothes. “I’ll give you a push.”
“No, you won’t.” JD gave a small smile.
“Yes, I will!” I started toward him with my hands outstretched.
“Hello? Anybody back here?” my sister Courtney bellowed. She and her boyfriend came into the yard. “Oh! There you are, Stinky.”
“Stinky” was Courtney’s childhood nickname for me. I winced hearing it and refused to glance at JD.
“Who are they?’ JD asked in a low voice.
“My sister and her boyfriend.” When I finally turned to look at him, JD appeared nervous.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing. It’s just a lot of meeting people at once.” He ducked his head. “I’m used to being kind of invisible.”
“Aww.” I grabbed his hand. “Not anymore.” I dragged him with me to the edge of the yard. “Hey, guys. This is Tyler.”
“Great to meet you!” Courtney pulled JD into a fast hug.
“You too.” The tips of JD’s ears turned red.
“Oh my God, he’s a hottie,” she whispered as JD and Noah exchanged hellos. “Why’s he with you again?”
“You’re a riot, Courtney. Not. Why is Noah with you? Charity? It is the giving time of year,” I added waspishly.
“Geez, I was joking. Touchy much?”
I was being overly sensitive; it had always been one of my worst traits. I got my feelings bruised easily. Being called Stinky didn’t help my mood any either. But then I glanced at JD, who seemed to be over his apprehension. Seeing JD happier made my embarrassment at my nickname fade, and I smiled.
Courtney and her boyfriend Noah were inseparable these days. Noah, like Courtney, was a sophomore in high school. He had a sweet face and messy brown hair tucked under a woolen cap, and even with the last traces of acne that tetracycline hadn’t yet eradicated, he was attractive. He hadn’t quite grown into his height, though; his gawky arms and legs were always in motion. Noah’s parents were in the middle of a bitter divorce, according to Courtney, each of them dragging Noah to their different shrinks, hoping he’d say he wanted to live with them full time, and each trying to bribe him with trips to football games or giving him endless tokens at Chuck E. Cheese, where they’d fill him up on watered-down Cokes and pizza until he was almost puking.
The only place Noah wanted to be was away from his own house. He’d latched onto Courtney sometime while I began college. Courtney already was a knockout, which was weird for me, because just yesterday she’d been a giggling tomboy burping the alphabet and climbing trees. I kicked some snow at my sister.
“What’s your problem?”
“You.” I bent down and made a snowball. “I’m going to get you this year.”
“Oh, no you’re not!” Courtney scooped up some snow. She expertly cupped it in her palms. “I won’t even waste my time on you. You’re easy.”
“That’s what all the boys say.”
I had to admit that Courtney could crush my slight frame in five seconds flat if we did fight. She’d done it often enough on other occasions.
I didn’t care. The Goodman snowball fights were part of our Christmases, and so what if Courtney was always the victor and I was always the one with my face rubbed into the cold snow? It was tradition.
But Courtney had dismissed me, zeroing in on the others instead.
“Snow fight!” Courtney ran full steam at Noah and JD. She flung herself at them, trying to wrestle them into the snow.
“Already?” Noah yelped as she attacked.
JD’s eyes widened as she rushed him.
“Wait! I want to make teams.” I ran up and pulled Courtney off. “Tyler and me versus you and Noah.”
“Fine. Five minutes to work with your partner and then the battle begins. Right, Noah?”
“Whatever.” Noah shrugged, his eyes on Courtney’s chest, which had budded significantly over the past year.
She grabbed Noah’s gloved hand and yanked him with her to one side of the backyard. I pulled JD’s arm.
“Come on. Courtney makes snowballs fast.” We ran to the opposite end of the yard and began to roll our snowballs until we had a nice little stockpile. JD, I noted, was much more skilled than I was at snowball making. My snowballs never seemed to pack on enough, but JD’s all looked rock solid.
“Time!” Noah yelled.
He and Courtney began to hurl their snowballs at JD and me. One hit my shoulder, and I ducked a second one in time. JD flung snowballs back, hitting Noah’s face. As Noah temporarily was out, I took a chance and scurried to a nearby tree, snowballs in hand. I launched one at Courtney as hard as I could, striking her thigh. Before I could dash back to JD, Courtney let out a roar and charged me. She threw two snowballs at once and then knocked me backward into the snow. Here it came—the part where I lost and had my face rubbed with snow.
Suddenly Courtney was lifted away. JD pulled back her coat collar and slid the snowball down, dropping it right under her jacket.
“Ah! That’s cold!” She ran in a circle, shrieking, trying to get the snowball out.
JD quickly offered me a hand and pulled me to my feet. Unfortunately Noah took that second to fling a snowball at JD, striking him dead center in the chest. JD and I looked at each other, and then together we attacked Noah, hurling snowball after snowball.
“I give up!” Noah used his hands to shield himself. “Mercy!”
“We did it!” JD turned and embraced me exuberantly, squeezing tightly before letting me go. “We won!”
“Yeah.” I grinned, breathing hard. The air was cold enough to see our breaths mingling.
Courtney meanwhile had grabbed Noah by the front of his jacket and was kissing him after he’d gallantly rescued her from the snowball down her jacket.
As my younger sister kissed her boyfriend, JD and I simply stood there, our bodies swaying closer, our eyes locked, and for a second, JD’s gaze dropped to my lips.
He wants to kiss me. I can see it.
The Last Guy Breathing
Every time he looked at Locke, Henry wanted to wring his neck, not smile at him. Worse, the real problem that had his gut churning, every time Henry looked at him, he wanted Locke to look back. He wanted to see the heat flare in Locke’s eyes. He wanted to be grabbed and kissed ruthlessly, like he had been that night.
ANTHONY AND Dean’s wedding was nearly over. The cake had been sliced, the speeches made. Henry ducked out of the reception hall for some air, swaying slightly as he walked. His head buzzed with too much champagne. The floor seemed a little tilted.
“Maybe four glasses were too much.” He opened the door to what he thought was the restroom. It was a broom closet. Henry giggled. Good thing he didn’t have to pee. He only needed to splash some water on his face. He stumbled down the hallway and approached the only other door there.
“This must be the right one!”
Opening the door quickly, Henry stumbled inside.
A man stood in the center of the conference room. The collar of his crisp white shirt was open, and his sleeves were rolled up. He turned at the sound of the door opening, and narrowed his eyes at Henry in a hostile way.
It was that fucking cop, Deputy Locke, who’d given him those speeding tickets. Henry tried to straighten up and glare back.
His skin looked good, man, lickably good. Was lickably a word? Who cared? Henry wanted to slide his tongue up Locke’s neck and over to those incredible lips.
Henry was drawn closer, walking in a daze. He was going to tell this asshole off. Right after he tasted him.
I’m Evan Goodman, budding actor, future star, college freshman. Oh, and let’s not forget—recently dumped. If only my family wasn’t expecting to meet my new boyfriend over the holiday break. Enter JD Laurens—a sweet and quiet science major who mostly keeps to himself. When he gathers the courage to come out, poor JD gets abandoned by his only family right in front of me, and now he has nowhere to go for Christmas. But I have a proposition for him: pretend to be my boyfriend for the holidays so I can take him home. It’s a win-win. What could go wrong?
Henry Clueley doesn’t want to be in Glamour, not after moving far away to overcome a difficult, if privileged, childhood. He’s no longer that pudgy kid desperate to escape his hometown, but it still holds painful memories. When his recently widowed mother needs him, however, “dependable Henry” does the right thing—even if it means leaving the IRS to take a boring corporate position. Things don’t stay boring for long. Soon Henry helps the local sheriff’s department unravel a crime. Posing as half of a fake couple seems like a fun idea… until Henry learns he already knows the deputy playing his other half.
Deputy Locke may be new to the Glamour Sheriff’s Department, but he’s fought his way up in the world and is determined to make a good impression. He keeps his private life quiet, even from his beloved younger brother. Locke knows better than most the need to protect what’s his.
Henry resents the arrogant, gorgeous cop, and Locke thinks Henry is sheltered and spoiled. Their secret and steamy encounter only adds to the animosity. As they join forces, Henry thinks a relationship with Locke would be catastrophic, but the white-hot passion between them makes it hard to resist.
Where to Find Me:
Skylar has brought a choice of one of her ebooks to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, December 5th at 11:59 pm EST.
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