Lovers, Losers and You—Blog Tour and Giveaway—An Interview With Skylar M. Cates.
Many years ago (okay so like two and a half, but it seems longer) I ‘met’ Skylar Cates—on line. This year I got to meet her in person, not once, but twice. When I got the chance to join her current blog tour, I knew I wanted to interview her again. So, with that, take a few moments to read the interview, check out the new book (and hopefully go buy it) and then enter the giveaway.
An Interview With Skylar M. Cates.
Welcome back Skylar. Since it’s been a couple years since you were last here, remind people about yourself and tell us anything new.
Hello! Thank you for having me back. I write contemporary MM for Dreamspinner. I have two series and a few standalone books.
Your first book, Exposed was released in 2013. How many books have you written since then?
Wow. I never actually added this up before, but I’m proud to say nine books and counting.
Last year you finished the third book in the ‘Guy’ Series. Any plans for addition books in the series?
I’m delighted you asked this. Yes, A Guy’s Thanksgiving will be released this November from Dreamspinner. It’s the final book. All of the previous couples are there. The book is a holiday one, and it seems like a wonderful place to end their journey.
Your books to date are almost exclusively contemporary MM romance. Any intention to move into any other genres?
I have notes for books in other genres. The one that might actually see the light of day is a MM shifter book. I never thought I’d do a werewolf story, but I originally answered an anthology call for it and decided it was truly a full length piece.
This year you started the ‘Sunshine and Happiness’ series. What inspired this series?
The first book in the series, Here for You, was inspired by two things:
I had the desire to write about a group of guys sharing a house in South Florida. I love exploring friendships.
The other inspiration is a friend of mine who was training for an Aids Ride on his bike, and he was a victim of an awful hit and run. He recovered, but his life was forever altered by the event.
Let’s talk Lovers, Losers, and You, book two in the series. Tell us about that.
I wanted a novel that explored how a couple manages a long distance problem. How do you know when the distance is worth bridging? What are you willing to sacrifice to be with that person?
That was the overall theme that began the book. It’s also about friendships and family.
Tell us a bit about your main characters, Own and Andrew.
Although Owen is from a loving family, he’s adopted, and his looks and interests are different. He struggles, as many of us do, to figure out who he is. Owen’s a history teacher whose own history is vague. When he learns about his biological brother Brendan, he feels compelled to get some answers. He’s a little shy.
Andrew is strong-willed and determined. He’s tired of being that nice guy who finishes last. He wants to go after his dreams for the café that he owns. He’s no time for dating.
What part of the book was the most fun to write and why?
Because you did it. You didn’t give up. LOL!
I actually enjoy the first few chapters too. I get involved with the rhythm of the book then, and I begin to hear the character’s voice come out. It’s fun.
What part made you struggle the most?
Definitely the middle is toughest for me. It’s a jigsaw puzzle where the frame is easy, but those middle pieces can be tricky.
Tell us something interesting that is not in the blurb?
Owen has a special needs sister, loosely inspired by my real life stepbrother.
Since there is always another story to tell, what are you working on now?
The third in this series for Tomas and Marc. I’m also working on the kinky werewolf story I mentioned, and I’m kicking around a joint novel with the fabulous Cate Ashwood.
What have you read lately that most people haven’t read but should?
I did enjoy Orphan Train and Luna lately. But I read anything and everything!
My main concern is that readers often feel ashamed in what they choose to read, especially from folks who never even picked up a romance novel. I say to hell with that!
Reading is a great freedom, and I think there should never be a stigma attached to it.
If you could meet any writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
I once met Adrienne Rich, who was my poetry idol, at a conference. But I was too afraid to approach her directly. Gah! I regret that and wish I could have another opportunity to chat with her.
The other authors are all people from my childhood. The authors who made me pant and tremble and yearn for more, more, more!
I think those early reading experiences stay with us, you know?
I’d love the chance to meet childhood influences like Shel Silverstein, Edgar Alan Poe, S.E. Hinton, and Judy Blume.
Besides reading and writing, what else do you enjoy?
I enjoy my family time. We recently went zip-lining and it was a lot of fun. Okay, I was terrified. My kids went upside-down like little daredevils while I had my eyes shut most of the time, but we had a blast. No regrets. I would go again and actually keep my eyes open. If I could, I’d do an activity like that every month with my children.
I rescued a dog this summer too. I love animals.
Besides family time and animals, I enjoy swimming, movies, and eating ethnic foods….Hmmm, I suddenly feel as if I am applying for an online dating application. Yikes! I’ll stop here.
Thank you for hosting me!
Title: Lovers, Losers and You
Series: Sunshine and Happiness
Author: Skylar M. Cates
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Angsty G
Length: 220 pages
Release Date: September 11, 2015
Blurb: How can you lose one dream and still find another?
Owen King is a lonely history teacher who wants to be braver. So when Owen learns about the deceased brother he never met, he breaks free of his safety net and risks answers. Despite his loving, adopted family, Owen wonders if there are missing pieces inside of him. Visiting the seaside town of Ocean Vista, where his brother lived and died, will be no vacation.
Andrew Teagan wants to be a winner. After being dumped by his last boyfriend, Andrew is through letting others dictate his life. To prove that dreams are possible, he’s going after his ambitions full force. Having signed on for a cooking reality show, Andrew’s ready to make his small café into a sizzling success.
When Andrew aids Owen on the beach, what starts off as an act of kindness turns into a hot temptation. But can a sweet budding romance survive when the time comes for Owen to leave town? Both men must learn to trust each other if their love will conquer the miles between them.
IT HAD been Owen’s idea to ask for his contract a week early. St. James Academy usually delivered them in the faculty mailboxes a day before spring break, but he had been eager to see if he would be offered an increase in salary. The students had voted him teacher of the year, and Owen had single-handedly slaved over the new schedule that would rotate their classes more like a college and create a more flexible day for students and faculty alike. Everybody had been excited and full of praise for his suggestions. It wasn’t mere ego to think he’d earned the 5 percent that more experienced faculty received. Owen tore open the manila envelope and quickly scanned its contents, his heart thumping hopefully.
Instead of an increase, though, he found something else entirely.
A morality clause.
Owen had spent years telling himself all of it mattered: awards, student reviews, hard work. But did any of it? Because more often than not in this world, one misstep resulted in wiping out all the rest of the path.
Son of a bitch.
Now he was blindly heading down the highway in his beat-up Honda, and Owen had the words playing over and over in his head as he drove to the outskirts of the small coastal town of Ocean Vista, Florida. He pulled off to the side of the road to think. Ahead of him was the town and behind him the highway. The day was without the mercy of the slightest breeze, and Owen felt a hot trickle of sweat at his neck.
He’d come to learn about his biological brother’s life. Each time his brother’s best friend Cole wrote to him, it had torn at Owen’s heart until he finally couldn’t ignore the need to visit. If he’d also come to avoid possible threats to his career as a teacher and hide out in a place where nobody knew him or expected anything from him—well, that was a fact he could keep to himself.
His stomach growled. First things first. He needed a good meal. Owen was normally of solid build, but he’d lost some weight. Bone-tired most nights, it was too much bother to cook. If his mama knew how he’d let things slide with his meals, she’d be all over his ass. Cooking good food and teaching manners were the cornerstones of his mama’s parenting skills.
His mama could also pack a suitcase like nobody’s business, having followed Daddy’s career from one place to another. She folded with military precision. Not so Owen, who haphazardly tossed in three pairs of khaki shorts, one pair of jeans, and some random polo shirts. He packed white socks, sensible underwear, and toiletries. At the last possible second he remembered a nicer outfit and a bathing suit, but he had little occasion for other clothes beyond school functions.
Owen gave all of himself to his job at St. James Academy. Hell, he lived at his job. The private school encouraged the faculty to use their tiny campus apartments or be in their dorms as a “parent.” He’d had a plan, mapping out his entire future. He was going to be head of the history department, then assistant headmaster. He’d move into the headmaster’s big sprawling house by the lake one day. Nothing had changed. Only….
Faculty could be dismissed for any reason deemed “immoral” or “unacceptable” behavior not reflecting the values of the school. Private schools sometimes did this, but this was new for St. James Academy. A pushy member of the board of trustees, Mrs. Wilma Temple, or “Mrs. Moneybags,” as the staff secretly referred to her, insisted on it. “The world is more and more filled with degenerates,” she warned as she pointed a bony finger. “We all need to protect the St. James Academy proper way of life.”
Although nobody defined the morality clause to specifically include sexual behavior, Owen could easily imagine their reaction to his arriving with a boyfriend for a student basketball game or theater performance, or even a faculty Christmas party. They’d say he was “flaunting his lifestyle” and “endangering the minds of impressionable, minor youths.” Since this was a private school, not a public one, there was nothing protecting Owen’s job.
He’d been sick when he’d gone back to his small apartment.
Not that Owen had a boyfriend to bring to a school event. He’d been alone and dateless for a long time, at least six months. His family complained good-naturedly that Owen did not make enough time for a proper social life, so busy was he with his lesson plans and textbooks.
For that reason, it had been easy not to share his personal life with his coworkers. He just couldn’t bring himself to sign a contract vowing to uphold Mrs. Temple’s idea of how he should live his life, but neither had he marched into the headmaster’s office and torn it up. He had until vacation ended to decide what to do.
Owen did not want to stay where his behavior would be so monitored and weighed. No, thank you. The ballsy thing to do would be to leave. To be brave like his parents. Like his sister was every day. But it wasn’t as simple for him as that.
St. James Academy was his lifeline. Owen had gone there as a student since sixth grade, when his family moved to the Buckhead area, when he’d craved stability desperately, and he’d thrived there. Owen’s mama, a successful television reporter, and his daddy, the ex-jock who now owned one of the largest sporting goods stores in Georgia, allowed their geeky, dreamy boy to attend St. James, even though they had reservations, but Owen had loved St. James Academy from the first. He loved the big brick buildings and the shade of the dogwood trees, could sit for hours in the immaculate gardens filled with fragrant jasmine and azaleas. He could spend every day with a good book and be perfectly happy. His favorite part of the day had been discussing battle strategies with old Mr. Hewitt, the very history teacher whom Owen had replaced a year or two ago.
Mr. Hewitt—cranky, heavyset, food in his beard—had been the most amazing teacher Owen ever met. He made history come alive. Owen wished for even half his success in the classroom. In those days the school motto was Honor Above Everything. What would it be now? Be Careful, I’m Watching You?
Owen sighed to himself as he drove through the little South Florida town. He’d have to sign the contract and make the best of it. All he’d ever wanted was to be needed by somebody, and his students needed him. The school was his life. He’d have to hope he was never outed on the Internet or questioned too closely by Mrs. Temple. If he ever did find love, he’d have to hope the guy would be willing to spend most of their time in private places. It seemed like the best solution, the most logical one. The one that would keep all his planning on track.
So why did he feel like such garbage?
He needed this temporary change of scenery. Ocean Vista was tiny, but it had a long main street filled with cutesy shops and restaurants. Perfect. It was early morning, not many cars around, and Owen had no trouble parking. He headed toward the nearest place with a sign that promised a meal.
Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.
Winner’s Prize: $15 DSP Gift Card + An e-book from Skylar’s backlist
Runner Up Prize: An e-book from Skylar’s backlist
September 8 – Diverse Reader
September 9 – Reviews by Jessewave
September 10 – The Novel Approach
September 11 – MM Good Book Reviews
September 14 – Molly Lolly: Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words
September 15 – Love Bytes Reviews
September 16 – The Land of Make Believe
September 17 – Prism Book Alliance
September 18 – Divine Magazine