Special Guest: Mary Calmes with A Day Makes!

Hi. This is Tara. Thank you for stopping by the blog. I’m on vacation right now — the first longer-than-a-weekend vacay I’ve taken in years that didn’t include writing workshops. While I’m gone, I invited a bunch of my friends — some of your fave authors — to stop by and share their news and new releases. I know you’ll love it. Enjoy. Talk soon. : )

Please welcome author Mary Calmes

 

 

A Day Makes
By Mary Calmes

Blurb: 
First from The Vault

Mob enforcer Ceaton Mercer has killed a lot of people in a lot of different ways—he stashed the last two bodies in a toolshed belonging to a sweetheart marine researcher in an idyllic island community—but he’s really not such a bad guy. Over time he’s found a home of sorts, and he even learns he’s found a place in the hearts of the people he works with… at least enough so that they won’t put a bullet in his head because he’s outlived his usefulness to the boss.

But he never thought he’d find one day could change his life, and he’s about to discover how wrong he is.

Because in a single day, he meets the man who looks to be the one, the love of his life. It’s an improbable idea—a man who deals in death finding love—but it’s like it’s meant to be. That single day gets weirder and troubles pile up, forcing Ceaton to take a hard look at his dreary life and accept that one day can change everything, especially himself. His future might be brighter than he expects—if he can stay alive long enough to find out.

 

Available for purchase at
Dreamspinner | Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audible | Nook | B&N Paperback | Kobo | iBooks

Excerpt

 

Chapter Two

BEING MOB muscle was probably not a lot of people’s idea of being safe and sound, but for me, it was grounding. There’s comfort in knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing at any given moment. It’s what I loved about being in the Marines, the lack of questions. Being on Grigor’s payroll was similar. I knew what to do when I got up, where to go, who to check in with, and that I was to follow up with Grigor if I found any issues.

What started out as me standing in the background, listening, watching, changed over the past eighteen months to me leading. Grigor grew to trust me to get things done without him having to be there with me or me having to check in with him. I was not a guy who needed to be micromanaged, and he appreciated that. Since he traveled almost exclusively with Doran Loncar, who was in charge of his protection, that left me, Pravi, Marko, and Luka Novak to do the things Grigor preferred not to dirty his hands with.

For instance, Grigor didn’t want to talk to the drug pushers. He had no interest in meeting them, handing out the product, or making sure that what was sold and the money that came in balanced. Marko wasn’t terribly patient with that either. I’d been surprised that there was a Russian in Grigor’s inner circle, once I figured out that everyone else was Serbian, and it turned out that Marko was just as amazed by my inclusion.

“How did you start working for Grigor?” I asked Marko one day, drunk enough that I was brave and sober enough to process the answer.

“Grigor and my old boss, they wanted to do business, but there was no trust.”

“Sure.”

“So they switched us, me for him. I would protect Grigor; Grigor’s man Todor, he would protect Bohdan.”

“But?”

He leaned forward on the table, looking at me, and I realized he was sloshed too. “Todor, he was no good, and Bohdan died choking on own blood.”

“What’d you do?”

“I gut Todor and killed man who came after Grigor in the night.”

“Did whoever took over for Bohdan want you back?”

He lifted his brows to indicate the yes. “But already, my loyalty was for Grigor. If I went back—with new boss there, I start at bottom.”

“That sucks.”

“Da.”

I blinked. “How come ‘yes’ is the same in Serbian and Russian?”

He stared at me.

“That’s weird, right?”

He tipped his head back and forth like, maybe.

“We’re bonding, am I right?”

The look I got told me the jury was still out, but that was okay. We were the two odd ducks, the two everyone else gave the side-eye to when they first met us, which, of course, made us closer. He was the one I ended up taking with me whenever I went to talk to club owners, another thing Grigor didn’t like to do.

Collecting protection money on a large scale was something Grigor approved of. Nothing small, no mom-and-pop gas stations, no diners, no quaint little bed and breakfasts. Big dance clubs, lounges, restaurants, and anyone who owned a string of something like car dealerships, food trucks, check-cashing places were fair game. He liked funds rolling in, but again, going to those places, showing his face, was not his bag.

Not that I blamed him. As the head of the Serbian mob in Las Vegas, making deals with drug cartel kingpins was more glamorous than collecting money from pimps, running down leads from guys who stole guns or product from us, or killing people. With me in charge of those efforts, Grigor drew further and further away from anything remotely criminal. And while no one was stupid enough to think that Grigor Jankovic was completely on the up-and-up, he couldn’t be directly tied to anything particularly illegal… at least on paper. The dirt had to be excavated, and since no one could get a warrant to do any digging, he looked really good from the outside.

He made huge real estate deals to buy and sell hotels as well as investments in startups, casinos he had his fingers in, and the stock market. He built a wing in the local children’s hospital that he got to do the ribbon cutting for when it opened. He donated a shit-ton of money to the symphony and got his own private box, and he really enjoyed flipping mansions. Not big houses, but actual mansions that sold in the millions. When he took over a strip mall that turned into an urban renewal project, he couldn’t be seen in public with me and the others anymore. Only his lawyer, his accountant, and Doran were allowed in photographs with him. The rest of us were a little too shady.

When he was invited to a fundraiser for the mayor, I thought Marko was going to choke on his laughter.

“What?” Pravi asked.

“Is so—” Marko looked at me, gesturing with his fingers, searching for the word in English. “How do you say—against what is right?”

“Hypocritical?”

“Da.”

Pravi nodded. “He doesn’t do his own killing.”

“That’s what we’re for,” I told him.

On his way out the following night, before he left in the limousine in his Armani tuxedo with his socialite tobacco heiress girlfriend on his arm, he stopped and passed me a box. I got a pat on the cheek, and then he was gone.

Inside, there was a nickel-plated Armscor Rock Island Armory M1911A1 with pearl grips. It was gorgeous, and just like the one he carried. I was very touched.

“Is pussy gun,” Marko said at dinner later that night after we’d made our runs. Luka Novak, who had joined the crew right before me, still lived at home with his mother, and when we dropped him off—or tried to—she always made sure we had a little something to eat before we went home.

At the moment, she was bustling around the table, having made goulash that smelled like heaven, cheese rolls, and Salcici—sort of a puffed pastry filled with jam—for dessert.

“She’s cooking too much for us,” I told Luka, smiling up at Mrs. Novak as she stopped behind me, put her hands on my face, and then pressed a kiss to my cheek.

“What about my nice nephew, Ceaton. He asked after you last Friday after Mass.”

I whimpered and looked at Luka, who pretended to be very interested in his roll.

“Oh, Ma, the cheese in here is so good.”

She was delighted and flitted off to get him a couple more.

“You should have never told anyone you were gay,” Pravi stated. “It was a mistake. Now all the mothers who have a son who doesn’t want to get married to a woman have their sights set on you.”

“Was mistake,” Marko agreed.

“At least they’re trying to get me laid,” I chimed in. “That’s nice.”

“They’re trying to get you married,” Pravi said, enlightening me. “Which is not so nice.”

The issue was, besides the occasional blind date, I wasn’t seeing anyone at all. There wasn’t time. Much like the other guys, if I had an itch, if the lack of sex went so long that I thought I was going to die, then I’d find some guy willing and able to help me out. I got the occasional fuck, but what I did couldn’t actually be classified as one-night stands because they never took that long.

I’d hooked up with men in bathrooms, in the backseat of cars, in alleys, and very rarely, in their apartments. It made no sense to follow someone all the way home and be leaving fifteen, twenty minutes later. It could have lasted longer, but I just wanted to get off and go. Kissing was a lost art with me; I had no interest, it took so much time. Fucking was about fast and dirty and hot and done.

I tried to want more from people, but no one held my interest at all. I never stopped dead in my tracks, overwhelmed by another person’s beauty or allure. I noticed men, but no one made my whole body go still in anticipation of the next words out of their mouth. I’d never stood transfixed in another person’s glow.

Not that I didn’t want to find a man who made me look at him twice. I had dreams of finding the one, the guy who would care as much about my mind as he did about my body. I had the whole lazy Sunday morning fantasy going on, where making love and talking were spread out through the entire day.

But my reality was guys hanging upside down on meat hooks while Marko carved pieces out of them so their boss or their friends didn’t fuck with Grigor. We had to intimidate and enforce, collect and distribute; it was a full-time job that did not leave a lot of time for dating. What I realized, however, was that despite all that, I was still a romantic at heart. And while it was difficult, surrounded by death, by the solitary existence I led outside of work, I still took every corner wondering if this was the turn that would lead me to the one.

It wouldn’t be easy, with the company I kept.

“You should not be married,” Marko said, interrupting my thoughts. “To leave someone behind to bury you is not kind.”

I shot him what I hoped was a pained look.

He scowled quickly. “Is true.”

“Wouldn’t it be worth it to find love?”

“For who?” He arched an eyebrow at me.

“And is it fair to drag a nice person into this life of guns and death?” Pravi posed. “I say no.”

Both fair points.

Marko tipped his head at the new gun in my holster. “You should not carry that. People will try and take it from you for no good reason. A man who carries that kind of gun has small dick.”

I smiled at him. “Grigor carries the same gun, asshole.”

He shrugged and leaned sideways, lifting a gun from his ankle holster and passing it to me. It was a Sig Sauer P226. “Take this.”

“I don’t need a new gun, M,” I assured him. “I have the one I got originally, and now I have one that’s really fancy.”

“Is too fancy,” he declared, using my word, enunciating it and making it sound stupid. “And this one I give you, I have Osprey silencer that fits it. You need this.”

I glanced over at Pravi, whose mouth was hanging open, and then at Luka, whose eyes were huge and round. I understood why. Marko didn’t hand out firearms to just anyone.

Leaning sideways, I bumped against him and was surprised when he didn’t let me straighten up instantly, instead curling his hand around my cheek and pressing me to his shoulder for a second. I had no idea he was capable of any sort of warmth at all, so really, I was as shocked as the others.

I told Grigor when I saw him the next afternoon how much I loved the gun but that carrying it would bring attention, even under my coat, and that wasn’t a good idea. The idea was to be forgettable, not memorable in any way.

“So the gun is too pretty?”

“Yeah.”

He squinted at me. “It’s the same gun I carry.”

“You seldom carry a gun anymore.”

“True.”

“And when you are strapped, I’m thinking you carry this one to be memorable. Am I right?” I asked, hoping it would make sense to him. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings over the fact that I wasn’t going to use his gift, but Marko was right. It was too flashy for me.

His nod, along with the smirk, made me laugh.

“You are not as easy to forget as you think,” he assured me. “You’re a handsome man, Ceaton Mercer. All the women ask after you.”

I grunted.

“You’re lucky you’re gay, or I’d have to get rid of you.”

“Oh?”

“No man wants to be in competition with his own, and I have enough problems already with Pravi.”

He was right about that. Pravi gave new meaning to the words “smooth operator.” The charm that oozed off that man was lethal. A few times there had been a woman on Grigor’s arm who had watched Pravi with the eyes of a huntress. And even as I thought about the ridiculousness of the conversation, I saw how flat Grigor’s stare had become as he gazed off into the distance.

He didn’t like being second in any area of his life, and that included being the best-looking of us. I hadn’t really considered the idea that his ego would extend to something so small and petty.

“Yeah, but you like your women classy,” I commented, going with the pretext that we were just shooting the shit and that this wasn’t, possibly, a life-and-death discussion for Pravi. “And your boy likes them easy.”

It took a moment, but my words sank in, and he turned and grinned at me. “Yes, that’s true. Pravi has a definite type.”

I snorted out a laugh. “And it ain’t the same as yours. Can you imagine Brooke Collingsworth looking twice at Pravi?”

She was Grigor’s latest socialite, her father worth a cool billion.

“No,” he replied smugly, “she would not.”

I shrugged. “So who cares.”

He nodded and gestured for me to sit with him.

I was about to do as he asked when the door opened and Jaja came rushing into the living room and over to Grigor. She grabbed his hand and told him that something was wrong with Sonya.

Normally Sonya, Jaja’s youngest daughter, called Grigor every Sunday while he was hungover and watching soccer. They had been raised together, and he thought of her as more of a sister than a cousin. Because it was his veg day and the one day a week she didn’t have classes or have to work, always, without fail, they spoke at some time between one and four. Now he looked at the time and saw that it was only three, so he told her not to worry.

“No,” she insisted, her grip on his hand tightening. “A mother knows. I know.”

He stared at his aunt for a moment and then turned to me. “Go check on Sonya.”

“Going now,” I agreed, getting on my phone and calling Pravi. “I’ll call when we get there,” I said to Grigor before I walked out the door.

Luka, Marko, Pravi, and I were on a plane for Boston two hours later.

 

 

About The Author

Mary Calmes believes in romance, happily ever afters, and the faith it takes for her characters to get there. She bleeds coffee, thinks chocolate should be its own food group, and currently lives in Kentucky with a five-pound furry ninja that protects her from baby birds, spiders and the neighbor’s dogs.

 

You can find Mary at

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon 

 

Get Ready for Magic, Shifters, and the Coolest Cat Ever! #CataclysmicShift

Hi — 

I’m so excited to tell you that the re-release of Cataclysmic Shift is only 3 days away. This is a book in my paranormal series called The Aloysius Tales, and the first time it released, some mix ups in categorization meant a lot of people missed the book. If you’ve read either of the other Aloysius Tales — Spell Cat or Brush with Catastrophe — and enjoyed them then you’re not going to want to miss Cataclysmic Shift. But you don’t have to have read those books to enjoy this one.

This story includes not only witches like the other books, but also a shifter, and the coolest cat ever, Aloysius.

Here is the blurb —

Aloysius, the magical black cat and powerful witch’s familiar, isn’t afraid to go into battle to protect his master, but the outcome of the fight turns his feline world upside down. A direct hit of magic steals not only his memories and power, but even the body he’s lived in for several centuries. When he wakes up naked on the floor of a veterinarian’s office, it isn’t as the cat Aloysius, but as the sixteenth-century French gentleman Alain Bellarose. And when Alain sees sexy and enigmatic veterinarian Luke Elliott, he decides he’ll make the best of his time as a human.

Luke is a man with secrets who generally prefers the company of animals—though the flamboyant boy who washes his face with the side of his hand and tries to lick his own privates might prove an exception.

Meanwhile, Witch Master Killian Barth and his secret weapon, Sammy, struggle without Aloysius’s power to draw on. Two evil females are circling, and seeing the coven’s weakness, they’re about to move in for the kill. When Alain’s memories return, he’s faced with the ultimate dilemma: protect his community or stay with the man he loves.

If you’d like to read a full excerpt, click HERE. 

You can buy it at HERE. The release is September 13th and there will be a blog tour with a nice prize, so be sure to visit!  : )

 

Guest Week: Meet G. G. Royale

Hi everyone. My special guest today is G.G. Royale who agreed to answer questions for all of us about her books, career so far, and inspirations. I think you’ll find this interview as fascinating as i did. Be sure to check out G.G.’s new releases from Loose Id, and the brand new novella, The New Game from Dreamspinner coming out on Dec. 29. Get your red hot sneak peek here!

Blurb: Over the years, Josef Ramirez and Connor Fahy have run many cons to make their way in the world, but cheating at cards is their forte. One day, though, their scam is outed, and the two take off with the gangster they’ve robbed hot on their heels. The stress of the run is too much for Joey, and feelings he’s been hiding from Connor for a long time bubble to the surface. Now he’ll find out if Connor will stick with him or go find a new game.

Reach GG here!

·        How long have you been writing fiction? How many books have you published? I have been writing fiction forever, really. For as long as I can remember. I graduated from my MFA program in May of 2009, and since then, I’ve been submitting fairly regularly. I have produced seven novellas, published with Loose Id, Carnal Desires, and Dreamspinner. I also have a lot of short stories out there, some with New Line Press, one at Dreamspinner, and a few in anthologies.
·       
 H   How long does it take you to write a book? Well, I tend to write on the shorter side, so if I set my mind to it — and taking into account my day job — I can do a novella in about six weeks. Less time when I’m not working. I’m going to try over the next few months to write something longer, with more nuance and detail, but I’m not quite sure what that will be. I have a few ideas bouncing around in my head, but most of them fit my regular pattern of 25 to 30 thousand words.
·         
          What inspired you to become a writer? Like I said earlier, I’ve always been a writer. Deciding to become a professional writer was something different, though. My first publication came in high school. After that, it sort of became like chasing a high for me. If I’m not turning out stuff and submitting and getting acceptances — and rejections — I don’t feel like I’m fulfilling the role in life I’m supposed to. I can’t wait for the day when I finally have enough royalties coming in so I can quit the day job.
·       
            You write about so many exotic places. Have you been to all of them? What is your favorite location? How do you research them? I did travel a lot when I was younger, though recently I’m so content in my neighborhood in New Orleans — plus there are chickens and dogs to take care of that — that I don’t travel so much anymore. I haven’t been everywhere I write about, but I try not to write places that are too foreign. I’ve never been to Thailand, for instance — the setting of Jake’s Alchemy — but I did visit Indonesia, so I feel confident writing about Southeast Asian beaches. I lived in London for a time, which was a fantastic experience. My favorite place ever was probably the Yucatan of Mexico. Amazing history, beautiful beaches, lovely people, and awesome food. Can’t go wrong.
·         
      You say your favorite subjects are historical and BDSM. I love this combination. Do you combine them? The Flapper and the Fellow was a combination of those two, set in the twenties. I have another planned, set during the time of the Louisiana Purchase, but that’s going to take a lot of work — and reading about the politics of the era — so it’s sort of on the back burner.
·         
      Many writers are interested in BDSM as a theme, but shy away because they don’t want to sound inauthentic. What would you recommend to help gain a true voice in this genre? I hope this isn’t too much information but… Hypothetically speaking, let’s say, I don’t think anyone should write BDSM unless he or she has at least experimented a little, even if it’s only in the bedroom. Buy some cuffs and a flogger. See what comes of it. Play with dominant and submissive roles. I would also recommend following blogs of real people in the lifestyle. I particularly love http://domesticservitude.blogspot.com/ because the contributors offer a lot of practical advice, though it is mostly for master/ slave relationships, not just domination. Even visiting clubs to watch, or burlesque shows, and demonstrations at munches… All this can help.
·         
      What do you like most about writing erotic fiction? What do you like least? I think I like the freedom the genre offers because you know people are going to be more open minded in that market. I don’t have to watch my language or graphic details as closely as I would writing mainstream. Honestly, what I think I like least … Well, not least but what can be the most frustrating, is keeping the sex fresh and new. When you write books with four to five sex scenes, and you’re turning out five or six of those books a year — plus short stories — it’s always a challenge to figure out some new kink or position or location that I haven’t already used.
·         
     Who is your favorite heroine? And my personal favorite question, who is your favorite hero? Out of my own stories… I love Dot from Flapper as far as my heroines go. I think she’s the most fierce and talented. Plus, she’s got all the great clothes from the era. My favorite hero is harder. It’s probably Levi in my upcoming Loose Id release Necessary Roughness, and I’m not just saying that because I modeled him after New Orleans Saints’ tight end Jeremy Shockey. I have no crush whatsoever on number eighty-eight. None whatsoever. Really. Seriously…
·         
     What do you think most sets you apart from other writers of erotic fiction? I’ve worked on both sides of the business, editing for four years before publishing my first book. I’m also formally trained, which I think a lot of writers of erotic fiction don’t need to do. I gained a lot from working through the MFA program. I think it’s part of the reason why I can turn something out so quickly. I’ve internalized so many of the rules and expectations of what finished fiction looks like that I don’t spend a lot of time putting down words that won’t make the final cut. That can get very frustrating, but I do have cleaner copy in the end.
·        
      Please tell us about your new releases from Loose Id and Dreamspinner.. The Adoration of Addana came out 14 December. This is a “Not Quite Christmas” tale set in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of Holy Cross the first December after Hurricane Katrina. I’m donating twenty percent of my royalties on that title to Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together, to charities still doing work down here. My latest release is actually The New Game with Dreamspinner, which comes out 29 December. This is a m/m contemporary with two con-artist antiheroes, Connor and Joey, battling against a crooked kingpin and their own feelings for each other.