Welcome Guest Tara Lain!

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How Titles Form the Story

Hi! I’m so happy to be here at Amber’s. I’m Tara Lain and I’m celebrating the release of my new romance Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns. Among the things readers comment on and ask about a lot are my titles. For many authors, creating titles is a chore, an afterthought, or even a job they relegate to their publisher. Not for me. I find titles to be one of the most important drivers for my books. I usually create the title before I start writing and only occasionally change them. They actually help structure the story.

I think one reason I take so easily to title writing is my background in advertising as a creative director. It was (and still is) my job to create headlines for ads. Creating a headline is a process of focusing on the central message of an ad, finding a few words that capture that message, and then adding a twist if possible to make the headline more memorable. I remember a really old ad from IBM that said, “A Computer Isn’t Smart Enough to Make a Mistake.” I was a kid when I heard that and I never forgot it. That’s what I try to do with my books covers – central idea, few words, twist.

As an example, look at the titles for my Balls to the Wall series. The first book originally had a different title but I wasn’t happy with it. As I wrote, I got more into the volleyball aspect of the story but Volleyballs would be an odd title for a gay romance. I mulled on it and – bingo! The two words separated and became Volley Balls, which suggested a whole world of erotic possibilities. Volley Balls not only became the title, it set the naming convention for an entire series – Fire Balls, Beach Balls, FAST Balls, Snow Balls and two new books to be added – High Balls and Bleu Balls! Each title suggests something about the story as well as adding that bite of erotic, gay romance.

Even my titles that seem just your regular have a lot of thought behind them. Winter’s Wolf is a fairly ordinary title – until you read the book and realize the apostrophe was a clue to the book’s secret.

Knight of Ocean Avenue started out with a different title that I never liked. Then one hero called the other his knight and lights went on in my brain. The whole series follows the idea of a medieval title – Knight, Knave, Prince, Lord and coming up, Fool — associated with some aspect of the story – mostly actual geographic places.

That brings us to the Cowboys Don’t Series. I’m pretty sure I thought of the name Cowboys Don’t Come Out before I wrote the first book. I like the title. It tells the reader the story will be about cowboys and it will be a coming out story. But mostly I liked that it allowed me to create titles about things that cowboys don’t do. I knew the hero of my second book would be Danny, a secondary character from book 1 and I knew I wanted to make him a bull rider. Aside from that, I had no plot. In my brain I played with Cowboys Don’t and kept asking myself what they don’t do. The line Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns popped in my head. I loved it and so did everyone else I tried it on so I went with it. Interestingly, this choice of title actually molded the flow of the story. I asked myself what type of man would be as rare as a unicorn to an alpha-male cowboy? How about a flamboyant, femme hero who likes to top? That’s how my hero, Laurie, was born.

I hope you enjoy Cowboy’s Don’t Ride Unicorns. If you’d like to win an ecopy of Cowboys Don’t Come Out, please leave me a comment and I’ll select a winner by random number after a few days.

Excerpt: Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns by Tara Lain

Cowboy Danny Boone—a name he made up one drunken night and has regretted ever since—harbors a big past and yearns for a small future. A short, bright career as a champion bull rider almost ended in his death when his homophobic father discovered Danny was gay. Now Danny longs for a plot of land he can build a ranch house on and enough money to make up for some of the education he missed.

Danny also hides a preference for beautiful femmes who like to top—a combo rarer than a unicorn. Then onto the guest ranch where Danny works drives San Francisco decorator Laurie Belmont, a young man so gorgeous he makes horses gasp, and so ballsy he almost kills Danny’s attacker.

Laurie’s trying to find his way out from under the thumb of a domineering mother, helpless father, and rich, privileged boyfriend.

But no matter the attraction, their lives are worlds apart, and cowboys don’t ride unicorns.

________________________

Two hours later he’d drawn his bull—a huge sucker named Scorpion, and from the looks on Maury’s team’s faces, he must have the sting to go with the name. As they walked to the chutes, Maury clapped a hand on Danny’s shoulders. “Careful. Don’t underestimate Scorpion. He’s meaner than piss.”

“Sounds like not my luckiest draw.”

“Well, let’s just say he’ll earn a lot of points.”

Danny propped himself on the fence and slid onto the broad back, feeling the heat of the animal under him. He worked with the rope puller Maury had provided to get his bull rope in exactly the tautness and configuration he liked best. Scorpion shifted restlessly but didn’t try to slam Danny against the fence. Danny leaned down toward the twitching ear. “I’m your friend, Scorpion. I’ll make you look good if you return the favor.”

The cowboy closest to Danny chuckled.

The announcer called, “Next up, we got a new rider named Danny Boone. If you’ve been in California lately, you know Danny’s been doing his share of winning. So let’s see if he’s up to the great state of Nevada.”

Danny adjusted his vest, planted his hat, wrapped his hand tight enough to hold but not so tight he couldn’t let go—and nodded.

Fucking hell broke loose. The bull leaped out of the stall in a full breakaway—not a move bulls usually performed. Danny vaguely heard the crowd gasp over his own intake of breath. She-it. Just pretend he’s a bronc. Danny flapped his loose hand toward the sky and adjusted the roll of his hips and movement of his spine to accommodate the bull’s unique style. He spurred for a couple of extra points, but truth was he could barely stay on this sucker. Just try to look good. The hurt didn’t exist—until later.

Scorpion sunfished, throwing his legs to the side, and Danny rode the buck, trying like a son of a bitch to look in control. Wham! All four hooves hit the ground straight-legged, and the impact shot up Danny’s back in a bolt of pain. Much longer and that bell on the bull’s belly would be tolling for Danny. For an instant Laurie’s face flashed in his mind.

After what felt like an hour, the horn sounded.

He waited for old Scorpion to stop spinning, kicked to the side, and landed standing. Scorpion hadn’t taken kindly to Danny’s offer of friendship and took off after him like he’d been given a contract on his life. Danny leaped to the side and let Scorpion sail past. Two bullfighters jumped in front of Scorpion, but the damned bull was hard to distract. He swiped at Danny twice more, getting lots of reaction from the crowd, and finally stampeded after the bullfighters, who lured him into the exit chute.

Danny walked out of the arena too as the announcer said, “Looks like Danny Boone can take on the big dogs with the best of them. Good ride.”

A couple of guys slapped his shoulder, and he nodded. Don’t let ’em see you sweat.

___________________________________________________________

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Blog:               http://www.taralain.com/blog

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

FB Page:         http://www.facebook.com/taralain

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 36. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

Max & Adam – 6

It turned out that it was weeks before Max saw Adam again. Adam had texted him about picking up a big case and Max didn’t hear back for three weeks. Max didn’t worry though. He would’ve heard around the station if something had happened to Adam. Cops loved to gossip and news would’ve spread like an arson’s flame if one of the most popular detectives vanished.

Max resisted the urge to growl when one of the female cops started talking about Adam’s fine ass in a loud voice. Adam took great satisfaction in sending her an anonymous email about the department’s sexual harassment policy. She’d been quiet for the past week.

A quick gulp of water to wash down his suppression pills was all the time Max took on self-care. His latest investigation was to find where the money flow was coming from on a trafficking ring. Max froze when his last search came back with a familiar name.

Crandel Kane.

Crap. What was his cousin up to? An hour later Max’s stomach was spinning like an out-of balance clothes dryer and he barely kept his morning toast in his stomach.

“Something wrong, Max?” Julie asked.

He must be looking pretty bad if Julie commented. She usually had the attitude that if someone wanted to share they would’ve already told her. Julie didn’t pry.

“No. Not really. Just found some surprising information on a case.” More like vomit-inducing but he wouldn’t tell her family business. The only person he could inform was his uncle and he had to hope Uncle Barnie wasn’t involved. He had thought better of his family than to think they would do something this illegal much less morally repugnant.

“Oh okay. Let me know if I can help with anything.”

“I will.” He tried out a smile which must have been successful because she wandered back to her cubicle without any fuss.

 

If his idiot cousin exposed them he would borrow Adam’s gun and shoot him. Max clenched his hands into fists then took several deep breaths to pull back his anger. He couldn’t let his fury loose. The cost to replace everything he broke would be phenomenal.

Keeping in the shadows was more than a way of life it was a necessity. He slid his fingers along the phone receiver debating on his next move. Should he investigate more to be certain, or should he contact his uncle and find out the truth? He jerked his hand back. Better to find out more before he started waving accusations around. Not to mention he couldn’t exactly have this conversation at work. He’d have to do it on his own time where there weren’t an office full of people to eavesdrop. Maybe start by calling his dad. His father would be able to confirm any rumors and give him good advice about confronting their relatives. The hard part would be if he had to do a cover up. Shit. Working for the cops was turning out to be a big mistake. When he’d agreed to take this position for the family he had thought he could keep an hand on the pulse of the local law enforcement. Better to know if a hunt was coming than be surprised. In the two years he’d worked there not once had a hint of interest been shown about his people.

He hated to ruin a perfect record.

His phone rang pulling him away from his fixation on the computer. Ignoring his first impulse to hide from the phone call. Interrupting his search for the truth with work would slow down his investigation.

After the fourth ring Max gave in. “Hello.”

“Hey Max, I just got freed from the case I was working on and I wanted to know if you had time to have dinner with me. I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to talk to you before but I’d love the chance to make up.”

Max winced. “I’d love to but not today.”

“Sorry I know it’s last minute…”

Max interrupted him. “I swear, I’m not brushing you off but I really need to go see my dad.”

Silence filled the line. “At least you have a realistic excuse. Give me a call when you have some time. I’ll see you tomorrow at work.”

“Yeah tomorrow.” Now he just had to live past tonight when he told his dad about his cousin’s actions.

My Subby Valentine – 10

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With shaking hands Kit pulled his phone out of his pocket. It took him a few tries but he was finally able to dial Mase’s number and he waited impatiently for him to answer.

“I take it you made it home safely,” Mase answered the phone, obviously watching his Caller ID.

“M-Mase. Someone’s been here.” He hated that he sounded like a scared little kid but there was something menacing about the message. He figured Mase would ask a lot of questions but the Dom only asked one.

“Where are you?”

Kit gave Mase his address as he snuggled Pixie close.

“I’ll be there soon. Stay inside,” Mase warned before hanging up.

Staring at the phone, Kit sighed. He doubted the Dom could solve all his problems. He didn’t feel safe in his home right now. If someone felt brave enough to walk up to his door and do this, it was a small step to breaking inside. Images of the scary man from the restaurant filled his head. If Philip thought it was in Kit’s best interests to stay away from Mase, what else would he do?

Kit didn’t know for certain it was Philip but he doubted there were tons of people trying to rehash old news and make an innocent man pay for an imagined crime.

Kit paced, drank some coffee, and petted his dog, but couldn’t settle in one place for more than a minute as he waited for Mase.

The doorbell rang, jerking him out of his musing.

His heart skipped a beat. His nails were never going to recover. Frozen in place, he listened to the doorbell again.

Pixie gave a bark and ran to the door, eager to protect her house from any intruder.

An impatient knock jerked him into action.

He almost tripped over Pixie on the way to the door. Scooping her up before she could escape, he held her with one hand and opened the door with the other.

Mase stood on his porch, a scowl crossing his face as he examined the spray painted message. “I’ll get him for this.”

“I thought it might be that Philip guy from the restaurant,” Kit hesitantly offered.

Mase nodded. “Yeah, it probably was. We need to report this to the police.”

“Is that really necessary? I mean, what will they do?”

“Have it on record. You have to establish a pattern to get him to stop. Of course, it would help if we could prove it was him.”

“Yeah, unfortunately I don’t have cameras mounted outside my door.”

Mase gave him a bittersweet smile. “I do.”

Kit didn’t have an answer to that.

“Get a suitcase packed. You can come and stay with me for a few days until we can get the Philip thing straightened out.”

Kit lifted up Pixie. “What about my dog?”

“Bring your dog too.” Mase rolled his eyes. “I can see the two of you are a matched pair.”

Kit gave Pixie a high five, paw to palm. “Do you hear that, girl? We’re going to visit with Mase.”

“If you start talking baby-talk to her, I’m having her kennelled.”

 

Mase bit the inside of his cheek to hold back a laugh as Kit gave him a completely horrified look. He’d never do that to such a little dog but teasing Kit took away some of his ire over the situation. He hadn’t planned on moving Kit in with him right away—hell, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be ready for that—but he couldn’t let the man be terrorised by Mase’s past either.

Running into Philip at the restaurant had been a bad stroke of luck. Now that he’d had time to think about it, he wondered why the man was even in town. As far as he knew, Philip still lived in Chicago.

Mase flipped open his phone and called Jon. After a short conversation with his friend and fellow Dom, Mase hung up. He knew Jon would find out who was behind this. Mase’s first priority was to keep Kit safe. He wasn’t going to lose another sub, especially not if he could stop it by personally watching over Kit.

Kit walked back into the room pulling a small rollaway with him, the little dog tucked under his arm.

“What’s the beast’s name?”

“Pixie.” Kit gave him a cautious smile. “You’re not allergic are you?”

Mase shook his head. “No.” Looking at the little collie he had to smile. “Cute little thing.”

“I found her at the pound. One of the dogs there had pups. She was the runt of the litter. They were going to have to put her down if they couldn’t find someone willing to adopt her.”

Mase did a quick scan of the apartment. Everything was neat and tidy. “Do you have any other creatures I need to worry about?”

Kit shook his head. “No, only Pixie.”

“Good.” He spotted the dog water and food bowls. After dumping the water out, he stacked them and set them on the table. “We’ll leave after we report this to the police.”

Out Today! The Case of the Guilty Ghost!

AMAZON | SMASHWORDS

Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world?

My Subby Valentine – 9

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I had a lag in creativity. I’ll do an Adam and Max posting tomorrow but here is the one for today!

****

A twenty-minute drive later, he pulled up to his house. Kit didn’t have a lot of money but his parents had given him the house when they’d run off to retire in the Dominican Republic. He didn’t have a mortgage and the taxes were paid through a fund left to him by his grandfather when he’d died. Kit’s job as a graphic artist gave him enough money to have a little fun. It wasn’t a glamorous job but he enjoyed it.

Humming, he unlocked the door and quickly closed it before the tiny creature escaped. Yipping, the small puppy danced around Kit’s feet. Pouncing, it bit one of Kit’s shoelaces and shook it with a low growl.

“That’s right…teach my shoes who’s boss.”

Laughing he picked up the baby collie. “How are you doing, Pixie?”

The wiggly creature enthusiastically licked his chin.

“Oooh doggy germs,” he teased as he cradled her close to his chest.

Smiling he walked deeper into the apartment, dropping his keys in the dish on the table. He liked to keep his house neat and tidy. “What do you think, girl? If I pick up after myself and you don’t pee on the floor do you think Mase will keep us? God, I hope he’s not allergic to dogs.” He earned more chin licks.

“We’ll have to talk him into it,” he continued his discussion with the dog. “For a big bad Dom, he’s scared of keeping another sub. Maybe we should take it slow? Have a scene and leave right after so he doesn’t feel pressured. I mean, I didn’t go to all the trouble of losing that bet to let him get away now.”

It had taken careful manoeuvring and paying for a lot of liquor before he had been able to arrange the entire situation. His friends were predictable enough that he didn’t have any problem getting them to bet him to approach the most intimidating Dom in the club.

“So far it’s going according to plan but now is the tricky part.”

Pixie tilted her head in an enquiring look.

“We have to convince him he can keep me. Don’t worry—I won’t go without you,” he reassured his puppy.

After setting the dog on the floor, he grabbed and filled the dog’s food bowl before setting it back on the floor. He smiled as the dog rushed over to gobble down the food. He didn’t leave any out when he was gone because the little creature would eat herself sick. He filled her other bowl with water.

Kit nibbled his lip as he examined flaws in his plan. Nope…he didn’t see any. Although Mase had said the decision was his, Kit knew he needed a little nudge.

He reached for a coffee cup, intent on obtaining caffeine while he brainstormed.

Pixie’s ears perked up and she tore off towards the door.

“What do you hear?”

The little dog was unpredictable but she had good instincts. Yipping at the door, she then let out a low growl.

“More shoelaces attacking?” Kit teased even as he cautiously approached the door. He didn’t hear anyone and when he glanced through a gap in the curtains he didn’t see a car outside. However…his dog rarely barked, one of her more endearing features. He tried to look thoroughly around outside without appearing obvious. If there was someone out there, they didn’t belong.

He laughed nervously at his poor spy techniques.

“I don’t see anyone. Are you sure someone’s out there?” he asked the small dog.

Pixie tilted her head as if trying to formulate the right answer.

“You’re not a big help.”

Somehow talking to the dog didn’t make him feel better. A knot in his gut told him someone was indeed out there. Peeking through the peephole, he let out a sigh. No one in view.

Pixie stopped barking.

“Did you smell a squirrel?”

Curious, Kit picked up the dog and unlocked the door. Opening it slowly he held onto Pixie with a firm hand so she couldn’t escape. It would break his heart if his dog ran off and got hit by a car or something.

He opened the door wider and took a tiny step outside only to see the porch completely deserted.

Huh.

His skin crawled as though he could feel eyes watching him. Clearing his throat, he closed the door.

Pixie let out a low growl.

Shit!

Walking to the right of his little porch, Kit peeked around the corner of the house.

Pixie barked.

No one was there.

“Shh, girl. It’s nothing.”

He didn’t know what she smelt but the butterflies in his stomach were flapping like gale force winds. Unable to take the sudden unexplained fear, he spun on his heel and rushed back towards the door…

And stopped short. His stomach dropped to his feet. Painted in red in big bold letters was the word ‘Beware’.

“Oh crap.” Taped to the wall below the word was a printout with the headline—‘Killer Dom Acquitted’. Someone didn’t want Mase to be happy. When a quick glance around didn’t reveal the perpetrator, Kit slammed the door closed.

Soldier Mine is Re-Released!

If you would like the new version of Soldier Mine and have already purchased a previous version, Do not repurchase! Instead contact Sheri at authoraccomplice@gmail.com with your receipt/screenshot of your library of the book for a free replacement! Please let her know the format you would like when you email, this speeds up the process.

 

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Amber Kell Books | Amazon

RE-RELEASE – don’t repurchase.

When Kreslan is attacked, little does he know the shape-shifting beast who saves him will completely change his life.

When Kreslan Piers is attacked in the cargo hold, he is rescued by a rare shape-shifting beast who transforms into the reincarnated leader of an entire planet. Will Kreslan be willing to give up his dream of being an ordinary soldier to partner with an extraordinary creature?

Vohne has been named by his human half, and the longer they’re together the more he’s remembering the details of their previous lives—lives he shared with Kreslan before watching him die. When they reach the Thresl home planet, Vohne has to break the news to his skittish mate that they not only does he belong to Vohne, but he is fated to be his other half for the rest of eternity.