Author Mia Kerrick is here today, sharing about her new release The Red Sheet from Dreamspinner Press, with excerpts and an interview! Be sure to read the entire post to find out how you can enter the giveaway!
One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.
Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.
Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.
With a foreword by C. Kennedy
AT LUNCH, I plunked my tray down at the table where Scott sat alone. I didn’t ask if he minded if I sat with him, because, as he had reminded me yesterday, it was a free country and I could, in fact, sit wherever I wanted. But, yeah, it was damned quiet at our table.
At least it was quiet until my childhood friend, Josh Javitt, joined us. He dropped his lunch cooler and two cartons of white milk down on the table, offered us his crooked grin, and sat right down. I couldn’t miss that Scott looked up from his hot dog and tater tots to examine Josh warily, as if he was expecting Javitt to give him shit. But that’s not what happened.
Josh leaned over the table and extended his hand. “You’re Scott Beckett, right? I’m Josh Javitt. You and me are in PE together. You swing a fearsome badminton racquet.”
Scott took his hand and they shook briefly, but he didn’t reply, clearly still sizing up the situation.
“You must play tennis, or at least ping-pong, to have moves like that. Sometimes I pity the birdie, the way you spank it.” Josh opened up his cooler. I looked over to see what gourmet treats his stay-at-home mom had stuck in there today. (Josh’s lunches had long been -a source of great envy at the Superjock Table.)
In place of a reply, Scott took a big bite of his hot dog and nodded.
Josh then lowered his voice. “Look, man, I owe you a huge apology. I’ve been an asshole to you this year and… hey, there’s no excuse for being an asshole.”
Scott’s blue eyes widened as he chewed, but still he said nothing.
“So, I’m sorry, okay?” He pulled out a sandwich wrap that appeared to include shaved meat, chopped avocados, and, it looked like, crumbled feta. Some kind of dressing dripped out the bottom. “Anyways, want to team up with me today in gym class?
“I guess.” Scott was a tough nut to crack, but, then, he had plenty of reasons.
“See, man, I couldn’t give a crap if you’re gay or straight.” Josh looked over at me and shrugged. “I’ve got seven siblings, and two of my older brothers are rainbow warriors. And, it’s like, I wouldn’t change Dougie and Shawn for anything.”
This was all news to me. Josh had never let me in on this private information. “You never told me that, Javitt.”
Josh glanced back at the Superjocks, all of whom were displaying angry puffed-up chests and menacing glares. “Why would I? We usually hang out over there at ‘Homophobia Central.’” Uh-huh. Javitt was now glaring at me too.
“And after Saturday night went down, well, that kind of sealed the deal—I was never gonna tell you about my brothers. Seriously, I felt like shit about what went down.” Javitt looked over at Scott again. “I’m really sorry. Sometimes you think it’ll be easier to just go along with the crowd, but afterwards, you wish you stood up and said something, you hear me?”
“I guess.” Those two words had been the extent of Scott’s contribution to the conversation.
Thankfully, Javitt was something of a chatterbox, and he started in on the Appleton High School golf team’s season, the ups and downs of living in a too-many-kids-for-a-normal-vehicle family, complaining that they had to go around town in one of those big white cargo vans, and then he gave us a detailed description—and finally a very small sample—of his older sister’s specialty blondie brownies.
Nope. Scott didn’t say too much, but he listened and even smiled a couple of times, which was kind of a huge deal because they weren’t the bitter, in-your-face-asshole kinds of smiles I was used to, but the that-was-funny type.
Hello! Welcome to my blog and thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions! First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?
Hi Sarah!! Thanks for having me over to your blog!! (And I don’t think you are nosy—just curious…) So, first things first—I like intense romance. I always have; I’m thinking I always will. So, the relationship between the two men—how they meet, how their relationship evolves, and how they face their challenges together—are my areas of interest/obsession. I like my romances to be TOUCHING. I like them to be SWEET—even when one of the men isn’t (particularly sweet). I want to take my men out of their comfort zones, stick them out on a limb, and see how they figure out a way to end up together. I particularly enjoy seeing a tortured soul be saved by the simple love of a good man.
What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?
I currently reside in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, which was vacationland for me when I was a child. It is beautiful here—Lake Winnipesaukee, Gunstock Mountain, Squam Lake—and right now, lots of snow!! I grew up several hours south of where I now live in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Hamilton is a very preppy town. It has one commercial store—a Talbot’s—and Myopia Hunt Club, where you can play golf or, yes, polo. (Hamilton’s claim to fame was that it was actually in the original Preppy Handbook as one of the US’s preppiest towns.) In my hometown, we skied, we sailed, we rode horses, and we popped our polo shirt collars and tied sweaters around our necks.
How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?
Before I started writing stories in junior high, I kept a diary. My mother saved it and gave it to me several years ago—somehow it ended up in the boxes with the Christmas ornaments, so each year when we decorate the tree, my kids pull out my diary, read Mom’s fifth grade words aloud, and laugh at me! In junior high, I started writing stories in spiral bound notebooks and subsequently shoving them under my mattress whenever I started a new one. I did this off and on throughout high school. Years later, my mother found the notebooks, read the stories, and WORRIED about her daughter who was so into romantic angst!
What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?
I just figured, why not? And so I sent it in!
I see you write M/M fiction. Would you characterize your stories as M/M romance, erotica, or something in between?
I would definitely characterize my stories as romance, although when the love is strong, the sexual content can get very hot!
What draws you to the M/M genre? Have you written in other genres?
The only genre in which I am published is the M/M genre. I have several reasons for being drawn to write in this genre. First of all, it was what I was reading for several years prior to becoming a writer. The reason I started to read M/M is because I loved the interaction between two men. I find the way that men must bend so that they can express themselves sufficiently, yet still maintain their masculinity, to be fascinating, not to mention extremely alluring. I also create complex male characters, with more depth and less “stereotype” than I do with female characters. But I also strongly believe that love is love, which sounds simplistic but is also quite true. I tend to put myself in the shoes of the person who is being treated unfairly, and when I do this with the concept of marital inequality, I realize how difficult it would have been for me had I not been able to marry the one I loved.
City Girl or Country Mouse—and why?
Interesting—as I truly am a bit of both. I live in the country and honestly, I love the slow pace and the lack of crowds. However, I spend a lot of time visiting my daughter who lives in New York City, and I feel equally at home in Manhattan. I love the conveniences of the city as well as all of the cultural opportunities.
“Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?
This statement is extremely significant to me as a writer. I find myself limited by this belief, as I do subscribe to it. I am able to come a certain distance out of my comfort zone in terms of my writing, but at a certain point in writing what I am unfamiliar with, I do not feel as if my writing is real and will be convincing.
So I write about what I know, and I what I have heavily researched. But I will not extend myself to write about something I have had absolutely no exposure to.
Are you a panster or a plotter? Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?
Again, I am a bit of both. I start out with a general idea of the story. My writing kick-off begins with this general idea. As I get to possibly 1/3 of the way through, I make a list at the end of the manuscript of events I want to occur—which amounts to something of an outline. As I move forward in the story, I check off the “events” as they have happened, and sometimes I add in further events. That is my version of an outline.
What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
A week in Walt Disney World would work for me. I, of course would want to visit each of the theme parks. But I’d visit them in the late afternoon into the evening, as the mornings would be spent poolside drinking mocha lattes and reading M/M romance.
Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? Why does this character resonate with you?
My favorite character would have to be Brett Taylor of Beggars and Choosers. He is the culmination of all of my girlhood “best boyfriend in the world” dreams. I like the way he is a tortured soul, he is relatively serious and straight-laced, and is trying to rise above his difficult life circumstances, he is ABSOLUTELY devoted to Cory, to the point of painful self-sacrifice. Oh, and he is gorgeous, which doesn’t hurt at all. But he doesn’t know how hot he is…
Of the stories you’ve written, which one do you like the most? Which one would you recommend a new reader begin with?
I think a good one for a new reader to begin with, especially if the new reader is a young adult, is Not Broken, Just Bent. A reader can easily relate to the characters and the story, itself. There is conflict, but I do not believe it is overly frustrating. The boys speak as teenagers do, but they do not speak in a dialect. I also think The Red Sheet is a great place to start but it is actually a bit more humorous than my other novels, so it is a slight departure.
What are the three most important things in your life—the things you can’t do without?
My husband, my kids, mocha lattes. Okay, I’d really like to hang on to my older sister and my lap top, too, thank you.
If you could have one super power or magical element from popular science fiction movies or literature, what would it be and why?
I would like to be able to materialize in different places without having to deal with all of the travel. That way, I could press a button and be in Washington, DC, to visit my sophomore daughter at Georgetown University, or climb into a “relocation” machine and be instantly reunited with my dancer daughter in NYC, or be with my mom and sister in Massachusetts.
Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full time writer at some point in the future?
At first, writing was simply a hobby. And I must admit that it is still my favorite activity to do for fun, but it has turned into a rather full-time job, since I write so much, and then I promote my books, and must do edits and proofs. It takes up a lot of time. But, going back to the fact that writing is my hobby, I don’t mind at all.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?
I would tell the person that it is a difficult goal to achieve, to start with, but to persevere. I would also encourage the person to have a beta reader or two read the novel before submitting so you can get general impressions of the novel and make changes if necessary prior to submitting.
Most authors admit to feeling uncomfortable with the degree of self-promotion necessary to be successful. Are there some aspects of social media and self-promotion that make you more comfortable than others? Are there some you avoid like the plague?
It is very difficult to do what might be understood as bragging- “See my awesome review, everybody?” “Look, I’m on Amazon Top 100!” and “Check my book out-everybody is RAVING about it!!” It is so not in my nature to brag. But I do it—for the sake of the book, of course. What I love to do, in terms of promoting my book, is to create funny ads to catch potential readers’ interest. For example, I talked a lot about packages when I was promoting “A Package Deal.”
It’s not that kind of package.
And with Not Broken, Just Bent I had some fun.
NOT BROKEN…JUST BENT…
I enjoy commenting on Facebook about why a certain review means a lot to me, for example… Take this review on Out of Hiding:
A 5 STAR Goodreads review for Out of Hiding. Thank you, MC!!!
MY FAVORITE POINTS:
*MC offers a new view of a DOM/SUB relationship and discusses the concept of family*
“Mia Kerick handles two incongruous concepts – fragmented families and a dominant/submissive MM relationship – and weaves them into an unlikely romance of love and healing…. (This) made the dom/sub aspect just one of the many relationships that brought healing and wholeness to the many characters, and the possible stigma of a sub/dom style was both lessened and clarified as a loving relationship. I think of myself open-minded enough about such partnership styles to begin with, but as a reader I appreciate the care Ms. Kerick put in emphasizing love as the important point of the relationship rather than giving the partnership style any shock value.”
I also enjoy creating inspirational posts on Facebook, like this one that I made about the theme of forgiveness in The Red Sheet.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
~Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness is a major theme in The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick, as well as in the book’s foreword by Cody Kennedy.
Forgiveness of the one who has wronged you…
Forgiveness of oneself…
Forgive…and set yourself free.
Another fun way to promote my books is on my website:
Here is chapter two of what-Mia-has-been-up to! Chapter One is too…uh, I just can’t share it right now, that’s all. It will spill too much of the flavor… (And by the way, my MC “Bradley” looks like Bradley Cooper- it makes Random Acts lots of fun to write!!)
Meeting an angel
My truck is running like shit, I thought, while trying like hell to pretend it wasn’t sputtering so violently. After one particularly un-ignorable shake, I admitted to myself, I’ll be lucky if I get this baby home so Billy can take a look at it out back in the garage.
As I pondered whether or not I should go straight to the auto repair shop instead of home to our garage, my truck made the decision for me. It gave up a last urgent shudder and died, right there on Main Street in Maddy’s charming North Shore town of Oceanside, Massachusetts.
Oceanside is a great place to visit, but I sure as shit don’t want to get my ass stuck here.
It looked, however, like I didn’t have much say in the matter.
And knowing I’d rather pull the back plates and abandon my truck in the middle of the damned road than return to Maddy’s house to get help, I did take a minute to stop and curse myself up and down for being such a half-assed loser. Last night, in my frenzied rush to arrive at the booty call, I’d managed to forget my cell phone; it was probably buried beneath a pile of dirty boxer shorts in my cluttered bedroom.
Still cursing, I hopped out of my old black Ford F-150. I’d bought it used a couple of months ago at an auction, and had been crossing my fingers ever since that it wouldn’t pull any major shit (like this) until I’d saved up enough extra cash to get it overhauled. I stretched once and I stretched big, out of a combination of shot nerves and habit, and then moved off to the side of the road so I could survey its location on the street. My dumb truck had died smack, dab in the middle of the road, but thankfully it was still early on a Saturday and the yuppies in this part of town apparently were sleeping in this morning. Give it an hour, though, and the road would be overrun with well-rested preppies on their way to the stables, or to golf courses, or to wherever the fuck it was that rich people went after they counted their money over Nespresso lattes on Saturday mornings.
I even had a party on Facebook.
So, to sum it up, some means of promoting are fun, others feel wrong…but I do them anyways!
Anything for the book…
How often does your real life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?
Another great question! I usually base the settings in my novels on either New Hampshire or Massachusetts, because I have lived in both of these states for long periods of time and I feel comfortable describing them. However, I use fictional town and city names. I also base my books on jobs and colleges with which I am familiar. In Out of Hiding, I based the novel on the exploration of the NYC dance scene, as I had recently explored it with my own daughter. And sometimes characters are based upon people I know, but I’ll never tell you which ones! Not even if you tickle me!!
Research: love it or hate it?
I enjoy research—Boston College History major!
Editing: love it or hate it?
Like it—it is a necessary evil!
How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?
I think they factor in a lot. I never realized exactly how much until I started writing.
Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?
Um…YES!! I have cried, refused to eat—if you knew me you’d realize this is serious—had too many glasses of wine, become depressed, and stopped writing for a week—all in response to bad reviews.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, do you find what you listen to influences the story at all?
Yes- I always listen to music when I write. Pop music—current hits or 90’s pop. I use songs in my writing—in fact almost every book has some current music in it.
Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?
I miss my characters when I finish a novel, and in one case I have wrote a sequel and in another I wrote a short story to follow up. I actually become depressed when I am between books, as if my mind has no real purpose.
What are your writing goals for 2014? Your personal goals?
My writing goals for 2014 include finishing Random Acts, an adult M/M romance I am about halfway through, and then to write a sort of new adult-ish sequel to a YA that is coming out in March or April from Harmony Ink Press.
Beyond that, I would like to continue to promote my books, and I am especially interested in the idea of mainstreaming LGBT YA novels so that they are more widely available at schools, libraries, and bookstores.
About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them.
Below is the giveaway codes. At the end of the tour there will be 5 names drawn from the Rafflecopter to win one of the 5 prizes.