Special Guest: Z.A. Maxfield With All Wheel Drive!

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 Z.A. Maxfield

 

All Wheel Drive
(Bluewater Bay #18)
By Z.A. Maxfield

Blurb:
Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.

Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.

Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matter.

Available to purchase at

Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Nook | B&N Paperback |  Kobo | iBooks 

Excerpt

 

 

Chapter 1

Diego

The man at the door was a mess.

Diego’s first look through the peephole showed a sort of monster silhouette—a weirdly shaped humanoid dragging a wheeled duffel bag.

In the porch light’s acrid yellow glow, the very shape of him set off a boogeyman, stranger-danger skin-crawl. Ruthlessly, he suppressed any instinct for self-preservation and opened the door wide, but his visitor was just an ordinary man with a mass of healing facial wounds, one arm in a cast, and the haunted look of a recent combat veteran. Diego didn’t recognize him, but there was nothing to be scared of. Whatever had happened to him was potentially frightening, but he was only a guy.

“Can I help you?”

“I hope so. I called about the room over the garage?”

“And I told you when you called: I’m not renting it out. I need it for storage. How did you even know—”

“I’m still hoping you’ll change your mind. I grew up around here. I remember the family that used to live here, and I feel like—” The man stopped. Gathered himself. “I need a room for a little while, and if you’re only using it for storage . . .”

Sorrow limned what few features Diego could guess at behind the bandages, healing abrasions, and the shiny pink newness of burns. Dude had shaved his hair on the sides but the top was long, the result being a man-bun swirl of wavy brown hair that looked greasy. How was this guy even keeping himself clean? Despair, and something infinitely worse hung around him like a toxic cloud. Hopelessness.

Diego recognized the man’s helpless anxiety and anguish all too well.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“John Smith.”

Irritated, Diego eyed him sourly. “I take it you ain’t filling out a rental application?”

“Sure. I’ll fill one out.” It was hard to watch a smile crack those dry, scabbed lips, but it was a nice smile. A friendly smile. Dude wasn’t using it very often, obviously. “I’m thinking of taking up fiction writing as a career anyway.”

“You make it so hard to say no.”

Diego started to close the door, but that soft cast shot out, and Diego didn’t have it in him right then to add injury to . . . injury.

“You want to try and convince me some more?” Diego asked sarcastically. “You want to add you’re also a known terrorist carrying small pox?”

“Two thousand cash a month. Six months tops. It’s a room with a toilet, a sink, and a shower, right?”

“How do you know that? How’d you even get my number?”

Dude’s eyes widened. Then narrowed. “Never mind how I know. My Uber driver left me, and I’ll have to walk all the way to the nearest motel. Where is that, anyway?”

“Three thousand,” Diego countered, “and you move whatever shit’s up there down to the garage.”

“Done.” The dude frowned. “Wait. What’s up there?”

Diego shrugged. “Stuff from my mother’s place, probably. I told the company that moved me to put whatever wasn’t marked for immediate use up there. And since I can’t exactly fly up there to take a look around”—he thumped the wheels of his chair—“I don’t give a shit. Haven’t missed a thing, so whatever’s up there can’t be too important. You move it, hand me thirty Benjamins, and we’re good.”

“Yeah?”

Was that relief on his face? Diego didn’t smile back. “Trial basis. For a month.”

“Fine.”

“Too much drinking, drugging, loud sex? Not fine. Loud parties? Not fine. No one better bother me, leave trash around, or even look at me askance. No redneck music. In fact, give me your number.” He took out his phone, opened the contacts, and let his new tenant type it in. “I control all of the music around here, or you can leave right now. I can’t walk up those stairs but I can light the place on fire from below and rebuild. If you piss me off, I’ll shoot you and tell the police you frightened my permanently-seated ass, and we’ll see who they blame.”

“Askance? Is that a thing now?”

Oh, there it was again. That elusive spark of humor. “It’s always been a thing.”

“I’ll be sure not to do it.”

“All right, then. I’ll get you a key.”

“No need.” Dude reached gingerly into the pocket of his leather jacket. He pulled out a fat wad of cash and a Costco card. “That lock’s always been a piece of shit.”

Diego took the cash, counted it out. “This is only two grand.”

“I’ll get you the rest tomorrow. I’m good for it.”

Diego nodded, wheeled backward, and gave the door a shove to shut it. It banged in the dude’s face, but that was partly the wind. Dude couldn’t blame him for the wind, could he?

So. Now he had a tenant for a bit.

He could have said no.

He could have said hell no.

As soon as the dude got a look at his room, he’d probably come back down. If he caused any trouble, Diego could give back the money and boot his ass. If John Smith gave him any attitude, Diego could call the cops. But that would be a lot of bother to go through, when spending the night in a dank-ass garage apartment with no bed, no food, and a single hanging overhead lightbulb was punishment enough.

A quick look at the time told Diego he’d better call it a night. While he went through the motions getting ready for bed, the part of his brain that remembered the haunted look in his new tenant’s eyes—the part of him that recognized and responded to and acknowledged the unfairness of things and the failure of good people to alleviate human suffering in the long run—listened with half an ear for the sound of boxes being shuffled around.

The man couldn’t move things in his condition. He’d have to ask for help, at which point Diego planned to drive him to the nearest bed-and-waffle-buffet motel. Such a thing would probably cost less than the three grand he’d promised Diego anyway, and sure as fuck nobody’d be feeding him here.

Diego definitely did not think about dust or spiders or other critters. He was not imagining a room he’d never even been in but could visualize from realtor’s photos—wood-paneled walls and vinyl flooring in sickly, faded shades of brown and orange and yellow. But he’d never wanted a tenant. He hadn’t sent anyone but the movers up there after he’d come to Bluewater Bay. Hadn’t cleaned the place. Hadn’t advertised it.

It was almost a public service letting the dude get his fill of it. Returning home after a traumatic event might seem like a good thing to a guy like that. There was a lot to be said for nostalgia. But an old childhood hangout wasn’t the place for someone so physically banged-up, and he’d soon realize it.

What he needed was his family. Friends. Tribe. What he was looking for was safety. Diego could tell him that safety was an illusion, but it looked like he’d already gotten the news.

Even as he grew sleepy, Diego kept an ear tuned for unusual noises.

John Smith’d be back if he couldn’t get the door open. He’d knock if sleeping on the floor beat to hell like that was as fucked up as it sounded.

Diego drifted off to sleep wishing he was the type of guy to treat a man’s pride like it wasn’t as important as his body.

 

About The Author

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

 

Readers can visit ZAM at her
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Putting the SQUEEEEE in Sequels

Hi everyone– 
Today i’d like to talk about romance sequels. Love ‘em or hate ‘em? Many readers love sequels because they’re already invested in a world and its characters and want to see more and more. This is great for an author. Your readers are waiting with bated breath for your next book and new readers are likely to want to buy the previous books in the series. IFyou don’t disappoint them! I’ll bet you can think of several big name authors whose series finally just ran out of steam. They keep writing but more and more readers jump ship as they are expected to pay top prices for boring, badly written books. That’s why many publishers don’t want more than three books in a series.
I didn’t start out to write sequels but the characters yell at you until you continue their story. My first series was the Genetic Attraction Series which was runner-up for Best Series of the Year in 2011 in the LRC Awards. The series includes The Scientist and the Supermodel, Genetic Attraction and Deceptive Attraction. Then i wrote Volley Balls. I intended it as a stand-alone book, but there was this feisty little guy named Rodney who just demanded his own book. Fire Balls was born! It became the number one bestselling gay romance on Amazon and a lot of people went back and bought Volley Balls too. Then i had an idea for a third book. An enemies to lovers story about a developer lawyer and an environmentalist. That book is called Beach Balls and it will be out in May. I think there is a fourth story brewing in the Balls to the Wall Series also. My two new books, Spell Cat releasing March 20 and Sinders and Ash which comes out on April 1, could both be the start of new series.   
Two things seem true to me about series. First, compulsion. Writing that next book should feel compelling and important. There need to be characters crying out to be heard and stories longing to be told. If the sequels are written just because it might sell more books, readers are going to know and start to bail out. Second, new central characters are a pretty good idea. Trying to carry a series with one central character again and again is really tough because the readers have no one else’s point-of-view in which to become involved. Eventually, you know that lead character so well it can get boring. I wrote the Scientist and the Supermodel from Jake’s POV. Readers have begged to see the story through Roan’s eyes, but I can’t do that. The love story has been told. Their story is complete. They have their HEA and I won’t mess with it. I don’t like sequels in which complications are introduced to tear apart two lovers that you’ve already enjoyed getting together. I think it cheats the readers. Roan appears in Deceptive Attraction and he will appear in yet another book, but he will still be madly in love with his two scientists.
Yes, it’s true. There will be another book in the Genetic Attraction series. There is a character who is calling my name. Want to guess who it is? He’s a minor figure in at least one of the books. I’m writing the new book now. Watch for more hints soon.
Thank you all for making my series so successful! And thank you for visiting the blog!