I’ve never been one to really look back on a year as I sit back and welcome the start of a new one, but this year has been a game-changer in every sense of the word and it’s all because I took a chance and hit the publish button after uploading a novel I wrote for my own pleasure almost twenty years ago. I had no idea what to expect and I was absolutely terrified that people wouldn’t hesitate to tell me how bad it was. But to my complete and utter shock, that didn’t happen. So even as the decent reviews and few dollars were rolling in, I started on my second book. That was back in March.
Less than a year later and I have published 11 books and have been through many of the ups and downs that writing has to offer. And I have to say, it has been an incredible experience and the only regret I have is that I didn’t push that button sooner. Yes, there are times when I want to throw in the towel because the self-doubt becomes too much but then I get an email or Facebook post from someone who’s discovered my books and I’m reminded why I did all this.
Am I the best writer in the world? No? Will I ever be? Definitely not. Am I looking to change your life with some amazing prose or unforgettable characters? Hardly. I’ll leave all that to the more capable writers out there.
So why do it at all?
Because writing has changed my life and even saved it in some ways. It gives me a voice I never had and an escape that I didn’t even know I needed. And being able to share that with you guys…well, there simply aren’t any words. So I am just going to say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and words of encouragement. Thank you for making room for me on your e-readers. Thank you for taking a chance and spending your hard earned dollars on one of my books. I promise that I will always do my best to give you a story that will be worthy of your time and money.
Lastly, a special thanks to a couple of people who have helped me so much in my first year in this business. Rita, thanks for introducing me to an amazing group of authors and for giving each of my books the little bit of extra polish they needed to take them from pretty good to great. Susan, Barbara, Kat & Agnes, Melanie and Ali – thanks for being so willing to share your expertise with me…I’m truly humbled by all the support you have shown me. Chloe, thanks for being a great PA and for bearing with me while I try to figure out all the nuances of the business side of writing!
Finally, to all the readers out there who have contacted me directly to let me know how much they’ve enjoyed my books. I wish there was a way I could thank you all directly. My entire life has been about mediocrity and always feeling like I just wasn’t quite good enough at anything – your support and encouragement have shown me that maybe that just isn’t true and for that I will be forever grateful!
So I want to wish everybody a safe, health and most importantly, happy 2016! And as always, happy reading!
Finding Peace is live!
"I knew it would be like this...like finding something I didn't know was missing." --Luke
Author Gray Hawthorne has it all and he's on the verge of having even more. His bestselling detective novels are being turned into a movie series that will make him a household name and he's rubbing a lot more than just elbows with Hollywood's elite. Money, fame and good looks mean an endless supply of men, both groupies and celebrities alike, which suits Gray just fine. He's smart enough to know that his 5 minutes in the spotlight will be just that and he plans to enjoy every moment. Until he gets the devastating news that threatens to steal everything away...
Army Ranger Luke Monroe lives and breathes the military. They're the family he never had and a life without his brothers-in-arms is unfathomable. But the ultimate betrayal has Luke on the run and a twist of fate leads him to the small town of Dare, Montana to seek help from the foster brother who saved him once before. Only the brother he's searching for isn't the man he finds and he has no choice but to keep running. Until an encounter on the side of the road with a stranger changes everything.
The last thing Gray wants when he seeks refuge at his cabin in the secluded Montana mountains is company but a run-in with the mysterious and very straight Luke has Gray offering the damaged soldier a place to regroup. And since a physical relationship isn't even on the table, Gray finds himself enjoying something he hasn't had in a long time...a real friend.
But what happens when friendship just isn't enough? When a man who's only been with women begins to crave more?
With one man running from his past and the other running from his future, will finding each other be enough to bring them peace?
Finding Peace is in the process of being published to Amazon so hopefully it will be available within the next 24 hours.
For those of you who requested ARCs and received a confirmation email from me letting you know your request was received, please watch your email for instructions on how to access your ARC - I am trying a new website that will help distribute these. My wonderful PA, Chloe, will be helping organizing these.
I will send out another notice once the book is live! Hope you like it!
I am about halfway done with Finding Peace and wanted to share the first chapter so you have a chance to meet Gray and Luke...enjoy!!
“Son of a bitch!”
Gray Hawthorne let off another string of curses as he felt the seat belt slam against his chest as his foot jammed the brake pedal down as far as it could go. Although his gut was telling him not to jerk the wheel to the right, he did so anyway and his only indication that he hadn’t run over the big dog standing in the middle of the road was the fact that he didn’t feel his pickup truck’s wheels plowing over the dog’s body. And since the dog didn’t let out a scream of pain, he was hopeful he’d jolted out of his maudlin thoughts quickly enough to avoid causing the animal any kind of injury at all. His truck skidded to a stop on the gravel shoulder and he managed to twist the wheel enough to keep the vehicle from rolling into the ditch.
“Jesus Christ,” he muttered as he put the truck in park and tried to catch his breath. His whole body shook from the adrenaline rush of the near miss but he managed to lift his eyes to the rear view mirror. Damn dog was still standing in the exact same spot in the middle of the road. Although there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the back country road leading towards his cabin, Gray knew that the dog would have a very short lifespan if it didn’t get its ass off the pavement. Between the ranchers and the hunters that lived and visited the area, a dog’s life was on the very low end of the value scale.
Gray managed to release the seat belt that was still strangling him, though it took several tries. He checked for traffic and then got out of the truck. The dog was less than a hundred yards away and was barking incessantly.
“Come here, buddy,” Gray called as he squatted down. He didn’t know much about dogs, but he figured making himself seem as unintimidating as possible was the way to go. But it didn’t matter because even though the dog turned its big head his way, it didn’t budge and it never stopped barking. Between the close call and the anxiety that had been rolling through him long before he’d lain eyes on the animal, Gray felt an urge just to get in his truck and keep going. It wasn’t the good guy thing to do but that was a label he’d given up a long time ago when he’d learned that the good guys didn’t win in his world. They didn’t even get to play the fucking game.
Gray rose and reached for the door handle before he let out another foul curse. He sucked in a breath and then began moving towards the dog, his eyes scanning the road both in front and behind him for cars.
“Come here, boy,” he called but the dog continued to ignore him. As he got closer, he could see it was a German Shepherd and it was enormous. But it was also a mess. Mud caked its fur and even with its thick coat, Gray could see its ribs protruding. Gray tried lowering himself again but the dog didn’t budge. It did stop barking however, and Gray couldn’t decide if that was a good or bad thing. The dog’s golden brown eyes shifted between him and the grove of trees just off to the side of the road. It was the same thing the animal had been looking at when his truck came flying over the road’s slight rise.
“Good boy,” Gray whispered once he was within a couple feet. To his surprise, the dog trotted up to him and sat down at his feet. But instead of barking, it began whining and when it pressed against his hand with its cold muzzle, Gray ran his fingers over the animal’s head. The second he removed his fingers, the dog barked and then took several steps toward the side of the road.
“Okay, Lassie, I get you,” Gray drawled. He followed the dog and wasn’t surprised when it disappeared down into the ditch. He was half expecting to find another dog, maybe an injured one, laying in the heavy brush that was so predominant in this area. But he knew as soon as he reached the side of the road and looked down into the ditch that the curled up form laying among the foliage wasn’t a dog at all.
Luke Monroe felt cold all over even though it was unbearably hot outside. Except his face – it just felt wet…again. Damn dog. If the mangy mutt wasn’t licking his face, then it was going after any exposed skin it could find. He tried to roll away from the dog’s sticky tongue but pain seared across his side and he bit back a moan. He could feel sharp rocks digging into his body but couldn’t process where they’d come from. The last thing he remembered was walking along the side of the road, the hot pavement reflecting the heat back up at him so it felt like he was trudging through a furnace. There’d been a slight breeze but it had only made the dry heat that much more sweltering and he’d cursed himself for not having the sense to search out a couple more water bottles besides the two he’d stashed in his duffle bag.
Of course, two should have been plenty considering his final destination hadn’t been more than half a day’s walk away. As he had gotten closer to his destination, he’d actually felt little zings of excitement go through his body at the prospect of a soft bed and a hot meal tonight instead of another night trying to fall asleep on the cold ground with the contents of his last MRE sitting like lead in his belly. But truth be told, he’d been even more enthralled with the idea of finally feeling safe; of finally not having to be looking over his shoulder all the time. To have the one man he trusted above all others watching his back like he had when they were kids.
He still wasn’t sure why he was surprised to find that his last hope for salvation had turned out to be wishful thinking. Luke had known it the instant he saw the police car pulling onto the dirt road that led up to the CB Bar Ranch and recognized the familiar face behind the wheel – the one that hadn’t changed much in the seven years since he’d last seen it. At least he’d been smart enough to take cover in a line of trees on the other side of the road while he’d scouted out the area. Once the car had been out of sight, he’d started the long walk back towards town while his weary brain tried to come up with plan B which probably should have been his plan A, since all he’d managed to do in the last three days was spend what little money he had left on the bus ticket that had only gotten him to Billings. After that, he’d hitchhiked with a variety of truckers who’d either wanted to talk his ear off or propositioned him. He’d lucked out with the last trucker though because the old man had simply dropped him off with a few words wishing him well before he’d continued on his journey west while Luke had gone south on the highway that would lead him to the small town of Dare, Montana.
Luke hadn’t actually seen much of the town since he’d hadn’t wanted to risk being noticed so he’d stayed on the outskirts and had only gone into a gas station to fill up his water bottles and get cleaned up. It had taken several hours to head out of town towards his destination but since that had turned out to be a bust, he’d been left with no choice but to retrace his steps back to Dare so that he could spend his last few dollars on a much needed meal. But between the gnawing hunger and lack of water, his body had clearly had other thoughts and for the life of him, he couldn’t remember anything after seeing black spots dancing across his eyes. Now he just needed to figure out if rolling down the embankment had caused even more damage to his already battered body.
Luke heard the voice only a fraction of a second before he felt fingers close over his upper arm. He heard a grunt as he lashed out with his right hand and shoved his attacker away from him while he scrambled to his feet. Ignoring the agony that shot through his side at the move, he scrambled to his feet and reached for the gun tucked in the waistband of his jeans. A wave of dizziness swept through him as he tried to aim his Beretta at the man who was still bent over on the ground, his hand pressed against his chest.
Gray tried to suck in a breath but the pain was too overwhelming and he could only helplessly gasp as he willed himself not to panic. The fucker packed one hell of a punch and Gray had no doubt he’d end up with a bruise where the guy’s fist had connected with the right side of his chest. But the need for oxygen became an afterthought when he looked up and saw the gun aimed at his head. Gray forced himself to drop his hand and he held both arms out, palms open. Standing wasn’t an option yet since pain continued to radiate through his body but he was surprised when the man instantly lowered the gun and held it loosely by his leg.
“Who are you?” the guy snapped as he scanned the area around them. Probably looking to see if Gray was alone or not.
Gray slowly lowered one hand back to his chest as he tried to stand but couldn’t manage it. He was shocked when the guy stepped forward and wrapped an arm around him and eased him up from the crouching position he’d be stuck in.
“Try not to take deep breaths,” the man said as he used his hand to push up the T-shirt Gray was wearing. Under any other circumstances, the rough fingertips dragging over his skin and the husky voice near his ear would have turned Gray on but all he felt was fear as the immediate threat of being shot dissipated and his air-starved lungs refused to heed his order to suck in some much needed oxygen.
“Look at me,” the guy suddenly said as he moved so he was standing in front of Gray. “Slow, short breaths like this,” he said as he demonstrated. Gray didn’t miss the fact that the man was still brandishing the gun but his silver-blue eyes never left Gray’s so Gray focused on them instead and tried to mirror his breathing to match the other man’s. To his relief, air began moving more freely through his chest. The man seemed satisfied and dropped his eyes to skim over the place on Gray’s side where his fingers were still gently probing him.
“Does your whole chest hurt or just here?” the man asked as his warm hand settled over the spot just beneath Gray’s pectoral muscle.
“Just there,” Gray managed to get out. The pain was still intense but it was indeed localized to where the guy had hit him and although it still hurt to breathe, at least he could actually manage it now.
“I don’t think your ribs are broken but they could be cracked or bruised. You’ll need a chest X-ray to know for sure.”
Gray shoved the guy’s hand away. “I’m fine,” he snapped even though he knew it wasn’t the smartest attitude to have since they guy had yet to put the gun away. But he was also royally pissed. “You go around pulling guns on everyone that tries to help you?” he managed to wheeze between choppy breaths.
The man stepped back and then looked down at the gun in his hand as if he just now realized it was there. He tucked it behind his back and said, “You shouldn’t have touched me.”
“And I didn’t need help,” he added.
Gray snorted and shook his head. “So you just like taking naps in ditches?” he bit out. When the guy didn’t respond, Gray said, “You know what, fuck it. Keep your dog off the road.”
“He’s not my dog.”
Gray nearly laughed at that but his ribs still hurt too badly so he just glanced down at the German Shepherd that was practically pressed up against the guy’s leg. “Right,” Gray murmured as he turned to go. But as he began to climb the slight incline, a wave of heat passed over him and his stomach rolled violently. His vision dimmed as he took his next step and he closed his eyes desperately to try to maintain his equilibrium. It was no use though and he tried to put his hands out in an effort to break his fall as his knees buckled. But his body never made contact with the ground as an arm wrapped around him from behind and kept him upright. He knew he should either say thank you or shove the guy away but all he could do was turn his head to the side as he leaned over and threw up.
Luke managed to maintain his hold on the other man as he continued to retch long after the contents of his stomach had been emptied. Although the man was sweating profusely, his skin felt cold and clammy. He’d hit the guy pretty hard but he was almost certain he hadn’t caused any injury to any internal organs…almost.
After several minutes, the man’s spasms began to ease and Luke felt his own side burn with pain as the man pressed back against him, his full weight sinking onto the arm Luke still had wrapped around his waist.
“I’m okay,” the guy said as he tried to pull away but as soon as Luke loosened his hold, the man became wobbly again.
“I need to get you to the hospital,” Luke said as he glanced around the ground to search out his duffle bag.
“No,” the man said quickly. A strange sensation passed through Luke as he felt the man’s fingers resting over Luke’s forearm but he ignored it.
“I could have caused some kind of internal injury-”
“No. I was feeling sick before…it must be the stomach flu. I’m okay.”
Luke wasn’t convinced but when the man pushed his arm away, Luke released him. The guy teetered back and forth a bit but then steadied. Luke kept his eye on the man as he quickly took a couple steps back and snagged his bag off the ground. As the man began walking back up the incline, Luke could see he was struggling and he wrapped his arm around him once more.
“I’m fine,” the man said weakly but the words were barely a whisper and his skin had gone deathly pale. They’d barely made it up to the top of the ditch when he began throwing up again but since there was nothing left in his stomach, all he could do was dry heave.
Luke spied a pick-up truck sitting further up the road and got the man moving in that direction as soon as the episode passed. By the time they made it to the vehicle, the man was breathing heavily and Luke didn’t miss the grunts of pain. Guilt went through him at the knowledge that the guy’s vomiting was likely making his injury hurt all the more. Luke could feel wetness seeping through his own shirt but he ignored it as he took nearly all the man’s weight on himself as he reached for the passenger side door. It was a struggle but he managed to get the guy into the seat.
“You’re bleeding,” the stranger said softly as his glazed eyes fell to Luke’s side. Luke glanced down and saw that a small amount of blood had seeped through his shirt. He’d definitely torn his stitches but when he pulled his shirt up, he sighed in relief to see that most of them were still intact. Looking up, he saw that the man’s gaze was on the injury and when Luke dropped the shirt to cover it, the man’s hazel eyes lifted to his. But anything he was about to say died on his lips as he began retching once more.
For those of you who have been kind enough to friend and follow me on Goodreads, I just wanted to give you a heads up that I will be stepping away from Goodreads for a while. Even though I believe GR is a great place for readers to connect and share their love (or hatred) of the books they are reading, I find that as an author, GR has become a place that only feeds the insecurities that are an inherent part of being a writer, especially one such as myself who is still in the early stages of her career.
I am a big believer in people being able to share their thoughts, positive or negative, regarding the books that do or don't move them but I think there are a few people who sometimes forget that there is a real person on the other end of the review - someone who has put a little piece of themselves into each and every character they breathe life into. But the real problem lies with me because I am the one who is allowing these few voices to overpower all the positive ones. So for me, this is the step I need to take to make sure those voices don't take away something that has become very dear to me.
I am sure there will be many who will say that if I can't take criticism, I shouldn't be in this business. Maybe that's true...maybe not. I suppose time will tell. But until then, I want to keep sharing my love of romance with you guys. So while I try to grow that thicker skin that is needed to survive in this business where criticism and vitriol tread a fine line, I need to keep myself in a place where I focus only on the story I want to write and not how it will be received or, worse yet, scored by a rating system that is entirely subjective.
Thank you so much to those friends who have been so supportive in their reviews (even when you didn't care for one of my books) and feedback. I am hoping you will consider following me on other sites like Facebook or Twitter where I will provide information about upcoming books and release dates. You can also subscribe directly to my blog via my website, www.sloanekennedy.com. And as always, you can email me directly at Sloane@sloanekennedy.com.
As always, happy reading!
If anyone is interested in signing up to receive an ARC of Finding Peace, please use the following link to sign up. Note that I only have a limited number of copies available in exchange for an honest review being posted on Amazon upon the book's release. I am expecting to release the book sometime in January 2016.
Wow, I am really on top of things - the cover for Finding Peace is done! Now if I could write the book just as easily!
So after taking a little bit of a break for the holiday, I am finally back to work on book 3 in my Finding series (Gray and Luke's story). I went ahead and got the blurb done and wanted to share. I am hoping to release this book, Finding Peace, in January sometime...
Author Gray Hawthorne has it all and he’s on the verge of having even more. His bestselling detective novels are being turned into a movie series that will make him a household name and he’s rubbing a lot more than just elbows with Hollywood’s elite. Money, fame and good looks mean an endless supply of men, both groupies and celebrities alike, which suits Gray just fine. He’s smart enough to know that his 5 minutes in the spotlight will be just that and he plans to enjoy every moment. Until he gets the devastating news that threatens to steal everything away…
Army Ranger Luke Monroe lives and breathes the military. They’re the family he never had and a life without his brothers-in-arms is unfathomable. But the ultimate betrayal has Luke on the run and a twist of fate leads him to the small town of Dare, Montana to seek help from the foster brother who saved him once before. Only the brother he’s searching for isn’t the man he finds and he has no choice but to keep running. Until an encounter on the side of the road with a stranger changes everything.
The last thing Gray wants when he seeks refuge at his cabin in the secluded Montana mountains is company but a run-in with the mysterious and very straight Luke has Gray offering the damaged soldier a place to regroup. And since a physical relationship isn’t even on the table, Gray finds himself enjoying something he hasn’t had in a long time…a real friend.
But what happens when friendship just isn’t enough? When a man who’s only been with women begins to crave more?
With one man running from his past and the other running from his future, will finding each other be enough to bring them peace?