Thank you so much to Amber for inviting me to the blog. One of the most important decisions a writer has to make is where to start the story. Start too soon and it gets boring waiting for important events. Start too late and you have to go back and explain too much in backstory. Like Goldilocks we have to find the spot that's juuuust right.
Usually, that spot is just before a huge life-changing event for the protagonist. In both my new books -- Spell Cat and Sinders and Ash-- the action begins just before the central point of view character meets the man who will rock his world. In Spell Cat, my hero, Killian Barth, is teaching a course on the history of witchcraft which is appropriate since he is a witch! But his students don’t know that, of course. Right after his lecture, he meets Dr. Blaine Genneau, a human professor of quantum physics and the two set off their own big bang.
In Sinders and Ash, my hero, Mark Sintorella, is cleaning fireplaces in the resort where he works while the whole resort is waiting anxiously for the arrival of Ashton Armitage, the son of the fifth richest man in America. Ash is looking for a wife to save his inheritance and every mother and stepmother in the US has brought her daughters to meet him. Of course, Ash blows Mark’s sox off. Which potential bride will win the crown?
Once you know where to start, there's the issue of the first line. Will it grab the reader? Maybe go down in history like "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times," or "Who is John Galt?" That might be too much to hope for in every book, but authors still try to grab their reader's attention in the first paragraph. I love to start with dialogue. I think it plunges the reader into action and connection with a character. It suggests that the book will be more about people than description.
Both of my new books have dramatic dialogue as a first line. In Spell Cat, Killian pronounces, “Witches burned at the stake!” And in Sinders and Ash? Mark tries to brush off soot as he complains, “Damn the ashes.” I never considered how those lines might go together! LOL. What is your favorite first line?
And now for a CONTEST. Enter the Magic at Midnight Blog Tour Contest celebrating the release of Spell Cat on March 20th and Tara’s new contemporary fantasy, Sinders and Ash, on April 1.
• Leave a comment here with your EMAIL and you’ll be entered to win a $10. GCs in a drawing on April 9th.
• Want to win a poster of the gorgeous Spell Cat cover? Want to win a Volley Balls T-Shirt? Or other fun prizes? Go over to Beautiful Boys Books and enter the contest. There are lots of questions to answer and lots of fun prizes like drawstring backpacks, notepads, mirror compacts. We’ll have a bunch of winners so you have a good chance of getting a prize!
Excerpt: Spell Cat by Tara Lain; MM Paranormal Erotic Romance
Available from Loose Id and Amazon and ARe
When Killian Barth, history professor, meets Blaine Genneau, quantum physicist, they ignite their own big bang. But sadly, Killian walks away because he doesn’t do physics professors. In fact, he doesn’t do humans; Killian is the most powerful male witch in 10 generations and, though gay, he’s expected to save his declining race by reproducing. Sex with humans depletes his power – or so he’s been taught. Then why can young human, Jimmy Janx, dissolve spoons with a thought? Somebody’s a lying witch. With his powerful cat familiar, Aloysius, on his shoulder, Killian brings the lightning against deceit and greed to save Blaine from danger and prove love is the greatest power of them all.
He looked at the feline, whose head was curved around and practically tucked under his chin. “What the hell. Okay, Al, let’s go.” Since the cat wasn’t budging from around his neck, Killian got up, hugged his mother, and pulled on his jacket against the early spring chill, all with a fur necklace. He grabbed the carrier, heard a soft growl by his ear, and set it down. Okay… Cat three, Killian nothing. “Thank you, Mother. I’m sure I’ll find him very, uh, useful.”
Evangeline trailed him to the foyer of the house where a maid waited to open the door, looking slightly startled at his new accessory. He kissed his mother on the cheek. “So I guess I’ll see you Saturday.”
“No guessing about it, young witch. It will be a grand occasion. I’m already discussing details of the wedding with Nicholas Karonoff.”
He sighed. Better not to argue. Wrapping his jacket and fur cat a bit tighter around him, he stepped out into the early spring chill and headed for the car. His mother’s house -- his house actually -- sat on a grand street in New York. He preferred the bohemian flavor of the neighborhoods near the college, but still, all these trees coming into leaf, shimmering in the streetlights, made the place look like fairyland.
He glanced down at Al, whose head rested on the shoulder of his jacket. “Good thing I brought the car, cat, or you’d be demonstrating your flying skills on the back of my motorcycle.” He opened the door of the electric sports car and slid in. The cat didn’t slip an inch. “Don’t think this car is an indication of my lifestyle. I just happen to be a fool for the occasional technological toy. You’ll find the rest of my accoutrements pretty sparse.”
Killian wasn’t sure what that meant, but he didn’t comment. “So, what do you eat? Shall I stop and get you some kitty kibbles?”
Oookay, that meaning was pretty clear. “I’ve got some canned salmon. Will that do?”
He swore the damned cat smiled.
Driving into SoHo, where his apartment was, even the hum of the little car couldn’t keep his mind from the sorry state of his life. The stupid cat purred in his ear. “Glad you’ve got something to purr about.” Powers that be, the whole universe was closing in. He wanted a life. Every cell ached to be loved. He yearned for someone like… No. He just wanted someone to love him. And he was signing away that chance on a marriage license. It would be great to be noble, but -- face it -- he wasn’t. He was no Witch Master. Why couldn’t he have been born human? What kind of prankster gods gave him more power than any other witch? He felt like the lead performer in a giant cosmic joke.
He pulled into the very expensive parking garage -- his other indulgence -- got out, and locked the car in its stall beside the motorcycle. He walked the block to the old brownstone, the top floor of which he called home. The mail was boring. Okay, cat, check out your new digs. He opened the apartment door.
Aloysius leaped off his shoulder, hit the floor with a soft thud, and began exploring. Make yourself at home. He closed the door. “I know. I told you, it’s not much.” Of course, it was perfectly decorated, though in flea market finds and amusing hand-me-downs from friends. So what? It interested him to see what he could do, living without any of the resources to which he had title. No one understood it. Maybe he didn’t either.
He walked into the small bedroom and took off his coat and shoes, stripped off the semigood clothes he’d worn to his mother’s, and pulled on a pair of drawstring sweatpants and a comfy sweater. The cat followed on his heels into the kitchen. “Okay, I know I promised.” Aloysius watched carefully as Killian opened a can of salmon and dumped it in a dish. He started to put the dish on the floor and got one paw crossed over the other and a patient stare. “Oh hell.” He set the dish on the counter. Al hopped up and dug in.
Killian sat on the little chair by the breakfast table. He’d remodeled this kitchen with his own hands, scrounging used subway tile and pieces of granite. He’d only used magic when he couldn’t lift an object or make two pieces fit. And he’d spent a bit extra on the appliances. “So what do you think?” The cat kept eating.
Killian leaned his head against the wall. “What am I going to do, Al? Everyone expects me to do this marriage. I guess it really could mean a lot to my people. My people… Well, you know what I mean. But gods, producing kids with a woman! I don’t swing that way.” He got up and walked down the short hall back into his bedroom. When he looked down, Al was right there.
Killian sat on the edge of the bed. “If you’re supposed to be my familiar, I guess you better know that your witch is a fag. And not a very good one. Can’t really do the job for witchery, but I’m no better at doing the job for myself.” He fell back on the blue bedcover, a bedcover that had hardly seen anyone on it but Killian since he’d gotten it. The cat jumped up and looked at him as if he understood. Okay, he was losing it. But he had to talk to somebody.
“I haven’t ever had a serious relationship. When I was young, my mother managed to scare off any boyfriends I could find, and she wouldn’t let me anywhere near human boys. I guess she was just protecting me, but still, no boyfriends for me. And now, I just get users who think I’m some kind of road to the top of witchery. I hate it so much.” Damn. His eyes blurred. “You’re going to think I’m some kind of witchy wuss.”
The cat walked over and licked his hand. The sandpaper surface tickled his thumb. That did it. When had he last felt even a tiny lick done with true affection? His mother loved him in her way, but she was a Master Witch and cared far more for power and scheming than she ever had for love. She couldn’t understand why he didn’t value the same things. She had carefully selected his father for his good breeding potential, and she’d sent him on his way as soon as she’d shown signs of being pregnant. She’d gotten just what she wanted. The most powerful witch in the world, or at least one of them. Well, no. He guessed she hadn’t wanted a flaming gay witch who would give his last spell to be held by a lover who truly cared for him.
Tears began to drip from his eyes. Hell, what’s the use? He might as well cry. A moan escaped him, and he rolled into a fetal ball. “Oh, Al, I’m so lonely. So very, very lonely.” He cried until he slept from exhaustion.
Aloysius stared at the lean body and the long dark gold hair. He slipped under the man’s arm so he could lie close to his chest and hear his heartbeat.
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Tara Lain never met a beautiful boy she didn’t love – at least on paper. A writer of erotic romance, mostly ménage and male/male, Tara loves all her characters, but especially her handsome heroes. A lifelong writer of serious non-fiction, Tara only fell in love with EROM in 2009 and, through perseverance and lots of workshops, had the first novel she ever wrote published in January of 2011. Then she capped off the year by being voted Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and had her Genetic Attraction Series named runner-up for Best Series of 2011! A very good year. After an exotic life of travel all over the world and work in television, education and advertising, Tara settled in Southern California with her soul-mate husband and opened her own small marketing business. She paints, collages, and started practicing yoga “way before it was fashionable”. Passionate about diversity, justice, inclusion and new ideas, she says on her tombstone it will read, “Yes”.