Martin's Story - the Next Rogue Series Novel

Though I don't have a release date, I do know that the next Rogue Series Novel will be out later this year. And it will tell Martin's story. Here's a little taste . . . 

* * *

Martin Whelan has always been a “middle of the road” guy, content with his lot in life. Granted, his lot was a fortuitous one. As bass player for Rogue, the world-famous Irish rock band, he’d gladly ridden the coattails of his more passionate and inspired bandmates. He was proficient and dependable at his part in the band, and that was enough for all concerned.

Having at a young age gone straight from his mother’s overprotective arms to his wife’s, Martin settled into married life and quickly became the father to three boys he loved more than anything in the world. Celia ran their lives with both precision and restraint, and Martin took comfort in the boundaries she set. It was a welcome counterbalance to the reckless lives his bandmates led.

Everything was fine. Until Celia found his text messages.

Bonus Chapter Alert!

I thought I'd share this deleted chapter from Playing At Love because it references Felicity's discomfort over Sophie and Conor's relationship. That issues is explored further in Hitting That Sweet Spot. In Playing At Love, this would have happened while everyone is in New York and after Sophie's dinner party.

***

It was a busy week for the band, running from morning radio interviews to appearances on MTV and VH1, to promo tapings and rehearsals at Saturday Night Live for that weekend's show. They lost two whole days to the filming of the video for their next single, “You’ve Been Found Out.” On Friday night, they had a roving interview with Rolling Stone's John Riley joining the boys to talk and drink their way through several hot spots in New York City.

While the guys were out that night, Sophie took Felicity to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. They descended the staircase of the converted brownstone to the ground floor and were seated in a leather booth at a white cloth table.

They took the waiter’s recommendation for a red wine and started with a bowl of soup each. Before they could begin eating, the chef came out from the kitchen to introduce himself to Sophie. Felicity didn’t mind that he barely looked at her and rather enjoyed watching Sophie deftly flirt with the man without giving him any real hope. She took mental notes, thinking she could sorely use such skills.

“How late do you think the lads will be out tonight?” Felicity asked when they finally had the table to themselves.

Sophie smiled and shook her head. “I’d expect an all-nighter.”

“That doesn’t bother you?”

“No. As weird as it may sound after everything that’s happened, I do trust Gavin.”

“You two seem happy.”

“Things are good. It’s been a long road, but we made it.”

“I’m glad you did. Somehow it would be like all wasn’t right with the world if you two hadn’t made it.”

Sophie’s eyes watered at this sentiment and she blinked. “Yes, that’s how we felt, too.”

“And where’s Colette tonight?” Felicity asked as she plucked an oversized garlic crouton out of her bowl of tomato basil bisque. She bit into it with a satisfying crunch.

“I don’t know. We aren’t exactly close anymore.”

“Do you suppose that will ever change? Could make for a long tour.”

“Oh, didn’t you hear? She’s not going to be on tour much. She has her own thing going on. She’s going to do a guest stint with a burlesque group.”

Felicity pictured the buxom Colette in bra and panties, shaking her assets on stage and felt inadequate in contrast.

“Wow. Okay, then,” she said. “That doesn’t bother Conor?”

“I don’t think so. He’s not the jealous type. At least not with her, anyway.” She took one more spoonful of the soup and set the bowl aside.

Two-thirds of the soup remained untouched and Felicity knew this was typical for Sophie. She ate a little of a lot of things, preferring to taste a variety of things with restraint so as to keep from overindulging. Felicity couldn’t imagine having that kind of discipline. The soup was cream-based and went down with a richness that made her want to lick the bowl.

The waiter approached their table and apologized for interrupting the “beautiful ladies” and proceeded to take their entrée order while doing his best to flirt with them both. This time, Felicity actually thought she might be the one getting more attention and she did her best impression of Sophie’s coquettish banter as practice.

“He is jealous with you, though,” Sophie said, picking up their conversation as soon as the waiter left them.

“How do you mean?” Felicity asked. But recent images flashed through her head from when they were in London and he seemed uncomfortable with her kissing Gavin ever so briefly and then later when she flirted with Jackson.

“You should have seen the look on his face when I said that about setting you up with Stefan.”

She scoffed. “How could he be jealous about me bringing someone to his wedding of all things?”

“Because he’s confused about Colette,” Sophie said simply.

“Meaning?”

“He thinks he has to marry her. But he’s wrong and I’m going to talk to him about it.”

“Is that . . . your place?”

Sophie met her eyes. “He’s my friend, Felicity. And I think he’s making a mistake. I have to at least say something. Does it bother you that he and I are friends?”

Felicity shook her head but wasn’t sure what she felt about the entanglements they all had made over the years. It definitely complicated individual dynamics.

“Well, there’s no reason for you to be worried by our friendship.”

Felicity almost laughed at the innocence Sophie was trying to project. “He told me how in love with you he was . . . for years he was in love with you, Sophie.”

Sophie took a deep breath and sat back in her chair. “I know. And I know that must be weird for you to know about that. But we have absolutely put it all to rest. We’re keeping our friendship, though. As his friend, all I want is his happiness.”

Felicity wanted to ask what the depth of Sophie’s feelings had been for Conor. At the same time, she did not want to know. Sophie had quickly become her good friend once again, and she knew instinctively that it could only continue that way if she willfully stayed uneducated on the level of Sophie’s emotional intimacy with Conor.  

“I hope it’s okay with you that he and I are friends,” she continued.

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Oh my goodness!” Sophie said and smiled. “It’s so obvious that you and Conor have a connection. Felicity, the way he looks at you . . . there’s definitely something there.”

Felicity looked away and thought about her friend’s assertion. It confirmed what she thought she had seen and felt herself but it didn’t resolve anything. Conor was still about to be married. He was still an immature rock star and not the vision of stability she always said she wanted. And he definitely wanted children, something she couldn’t give him.

“We have a good time together, is all.”

“You’re telling me that if he was free you wouldn’t be open to being with him?”

She took a slow sip of her wine, trying to craft an answer.

“I knew it! You like him!”

Felicity had to laugh at Sophie’s contagious giddiness. “Even if I did, there’s no future there, Sophie.”

“Why? Tell me why.”

They spent the rest of the evening talking non-stop as Felicity admitted to her attraction to Conor but also explained her reasoning for why the two could never work even if he were free.   

© Lara Ward Cosio

E-book vs. Paperback

Most sales of the Rogue Series are via e-book copies. I suspect that is the case with the majority of indie authors' books. Likely because of this, a lot of authors don't bother with offering a paperback version. But I always have and always will go to the trouble of offering a paperback version of my books. I'm old-school like that. I need to see and feel a book - especially one I've written! This is not to say I don't read e-books or otherwise have anything against them. I just will always be one of those holdouts, hanging on to the "old" version of books. 

That being said, all three of the Rogue Series Novels are now available as paperbacks! I've kept the original cover design for these. Go ahead and grab a copy - if you're "old school" like me, that is!

Tangled Up In You
Playing At Love
Hitting That Sweet Spot
 

Release Day for Hitting That Sweet Spot is here!

So very excited that the day is finally here! Shay's story - Hitting That Sweet Spot - is now out and in your hands. I so hope you enjoy!

99 Cents for a limited time!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ljCEXZ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2kIxtCm

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2kIIjbp

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2miFVV4

#KindleUnlimited

Shay and Jess

Shay and Jess' love story is revealed in Hitting That Sweet Spot - out Tuesday, March 7 (pre-order now!).

Here's a little snippet from their first meeting: 

Shay had stood outside the restaurant that night, leaning against the stucco wall as the summer heat abated. It was after midnight now and the staff had been departing in a slow trickle without sign of the one he waited for. He didn’t mind staying put. Patience was something he had always possessed.

Fishing in the pocket of his black flight jacket, he pulled out a pack of Lucky Strikes and a lighter. He should quit. That’s what he told himself every single time he lit another cigarette. People quit all the time. It can be done. Isn’t that what he had told Danny Boy? This argument was as effective with himself as it was with his brother.

Laughing softly at himself, he pressed the cigarette between his lips and tilted his head toward the flame of the lighter cupped between his hands.

“A smoker? Strike one.”

He looked up quickly to find Jessica—the waitress he’d been waiting for—standing before him. Damn it. He didn’t like being caught unaware. But he saw that though her large dark eyes were trained on him, they shone with amusement.

“Make that strike two,” she said and adjusted the canvas carryall on her shoulder. She was slight of frame, though not frail. There was strength in the way she held herself. With both Asian and African American features, she was a captivating beauty.

Careful to blow a stream of smoke away from her, he then lowered the cigarette to his side. “What’s the other strike?”

She gestured to him, then the restaurant. “Stalker.”

He laughed but her face was impassive. Shite. Did she really fear for herself with him being there? He had her number from earlier, when he and Conor had dinner there. She’d been their waitress and Conor had taken it upon himself to play matchmaker. It only occurred to him now that waiting for her this way might have seemed too forward. If you had a phone number, that meant it was okay to call. Not okay to skulk around outside the woman’s workplace.

“I’m kidding!” she said.

Her smile was something to behold. It brought out dimples in her cheeks and made you want to smile right back. And so he did.

“You remember me from before, yeah?” he asked and she nodded. “Would it be all right if I saw you home?” he asked.

She watched him for a moment, assessing him. He waited her out.

“My roommates are expecting me,” she said cautiously.

“Listen, I’m sorry if this seems odd. I know you gave me your number and that I should’ve waited a few days and then called you or texted. But, I just, I—”

“You what? Thought you’d cut to the chase and try to get lucky?”

The amused smile wasn’t quite gone, but had definitely faded as her guard came up.

“Jesus, no. I was going to say that I don’t play games. I don’t even know how. I liked your smile when you waited on us. I liked that you looked at me, not just—” He cut himself off rather than finish the thought.

“Not just Conor Quinn, the gorgeous guitar player for Rogue?” she asked.

He met her eyes, silently affirming this information. As the epitome of a sexy guitar god, Conor was recognized nearly everywhere they went. More often than not, Shay would happily slide by undetected. He hadn’t thought she recognized either of them earlier, though.

Flicking the cigarette ash he knew without looking was growing, he prepared to apologize and move on. What a stupid move it had been to just show up and wait like this. Casanova, he was not.

But she spoke before he could. “Well, if you don’t mind me smelling like tempura . . . .”

“What now?” he asked.

“I always come away from the restaurant smelling like fried tempura. Hazard of the job,” she said with a shrug.

“Ah, no, I don’t mind. It’s grand, Jessica.”

“This way, then.”

She started walking and he was struck dumb for a moment, admiring the view of her long, lean legs through the slits in her dress. Her movements were fluid, easy. She stood straight, her head elegant and poised as she looked forward.

“Come on, Shay,” she said.

He dropped the cigarette, crushing it with the toe of his shoe and followed after her.

* * *

And here's a good photo to keep in mind after you read *that* elevator scene:
 

Release date for Hitting That Sweet Spot

The release date for the third book in the Rogue Series is here!

Shay's story will be revealed in Hitting That Sweet Spot on March 7, 2017! Pre-order is available now for only $0.99, so grab it at that price while you can. 

I hope you will fall for Shay like you did Gavin and Conor. Here's the blurb for the book:

Shay Donnelly has always been the support player. Whether it’s taking care of his irresponsible brother or being the drummer in his band, he’s always there for others—even at the expense of his own wants and needs. 

Jessica Hall only ever wanted to dance. Dancing was the one place where she felt at ease, where she belonged. After being told she wasn’t quite good enough, however, she set her sights on a more mundane career. Just when she thought her life’s plan was made, the drummer for the biggest rock band in the world upended it.

Together, Shay and Jessica found a sweet spot of happiness. But when Shay’s split allegiance costs him the love of his life, he ends up at a breaking point. It’s the point at which he must finally find his own life’s rhythm.
 

The new look of the Rogue Series

After much internal debate, I decided to veer away from the hot-barely-clothed-guy on the cover vibe for the new look of the Rogue Series. The books aren't about just the male lead, after all. They are about the relationship dynamics of the various couples: Gavin and Sophie, Conor and Felicity, Shay and Jessica. 

To that end, I found that couples might give the right vibe. You might notice that I tried to pay "homage" to the old covers with the colors of the font.

Re-branding the Rogue Series?

One bit of advice has stuck with me ever since I started this indie author thing:

"Don't be afraid to change your cover."

I have long resisted this idea, though, even as I've seen that the books shown on my books' Amazon page's "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" have covers very unlike mine. Those covers invariably feature a good looking man or couple, some with a musical instrument or a concert audience to suggest the rock star theme.

Though I absolutely adore the simple covers I already have (especially when they are grouped together), I have to admit that they may not be as compelling as they could be to the average reader. 

The other bit of advice that I keep thinking of is that your cover should immediately show the reader what your book is about.  Mine are contemporary (rock) romance, but the visual of, say a tangled up mic and cord for Tangled Up In You may not evoke that as quickly as it should when taking into consideration the need to express this within a glance.

So, I've commissioned new covers for the Rogue Series Novels in hopes of producing a look that might tempt more of those "one click" buys. It will be an interesting experiment to see how/if this makes a difference. 

I'll be sure to share the new covers here. In the meantime, here's a bit of eye candy that'll give you a sense of the new direction.

Calling all Rogue Street Rockers!

As I've said before, I'm so grateful to have found YOU.

I'm calling upon you now to see if you might join this newly formed

Street Team:
Rogue Street Rockers!
 

This group has been formed with the wonderful assistance of
Kathy and Sandy - my dynamic duo!

It's a closed (private) Facebook group that will support the Rogue Series Novels (and me) by posting on Facebook and Twitter whenever and wherever you can - as frequently (daily, if possible!) as you can. 

In return for this support you will be part of a group that tries to have a little fun each day. You'll also receive an advanced copy of the next book in the series and the occasional merch.

Sweet deal, right?

Just fill out the form (link) below and be sure to connect with me on Facebook at Lara Ward Cosio  

 Rogue Street Rockers Sign Up

Reader feedback

Writing is amazing. I love it (obviously). But there are lonely moments when you wish you could pick the brains of readers to find out exactly what it is they like about your stories and characters. It might help sort out whether you are on the right road or if there's something else that might be worthy of more attention. 

So, if anyone feels like sharing their thoughts, I'm listening . . . 

And then there were three

It's so exciting to have the cover for the next in the Rogue Series. I think these triplets look great together:

Hitting That Sweet Spot isn't quite ready for release yet, but the pieces are falling into place. Here's the synopsis:

Shay Donnelly has always been the support player. Whether it’s taking care of his irresponsible brother or being the drummer in his band, he’s always there for others—even at the expense of his own wants and needs.

Jessica Hall only ever wanted to dance. Dancing was the one place where she felt at ease, where she belonged. After one too many times of being told she wasn’t quite good enough, however, she set her sights on a more mundane career. Just when she thought her life’s plan was made, the drummer for the biggest rock band in the world upended it.

Together, Shay and Jessica found a sweet spot of happiness. But when Shay’s split allegiance costs him the love of his life, he ends up at a breaking point. It’s the point at which he must finally find his own life’s rhythm.

 

Visual stimulus vs. imagination

I'm always hesitant to apply too literal a visual interpretation of my books - both in covers and in the teasers/promos I put together. I don't like the idea of assigning an idea of what a character looks like when it should be up to the reader to fill in those blanks. 

This hesitation seems to be completely contradicted by the wealth of material out there suggesting this doesn't matter. The vast majority of book covers in the romance area feature photos to give you no doubt as to how the author sees their character(s). Those books obviously sell and don't seem to hinder the reader's acceptance of that visual. 

Given that, maybe I'm just someone who prefers to tease . . .

 

 

When your heart and soul aren't enough

Being an indie author is exhausting. It means that everything is on you. Not just the writing and the editing and the rewriting, but the packaging and marketing, and oh don't forget that you have to write the next book. 

I spend almost every free moment I have trying to figure out ways to connect with readers. 

All that is part of the deal. That's what I signed on for when I decided to stop my search for an agent and go out on my own. 

The workload is enough to be tiring but the thing that really takes a toll is the cost of putting all that heart and soul into these efforts with not a lot of payoff.

As an indie author with a day job, I have the luxury of not relying on my writing to pay the bills. The point of how hard it can be to pour everything you've got into something without seeing the return you'd like was echoed in a Facebook post I saw today from a chef/restaurateur lamenting the end of her business. I teared up reading it because I identified a lot with the sentiments about just wanting to do the work (cooking for her/writing for me) instead of all the constant hustling and marketing that goes with it because the passion is so clear and so pure. It made me wish we could all not just honor each of our passions, but be rewarded for it. And the sad reality is that the vast majority of people don't get either of those things. 

So, what to take away from this? Well, to always focus on the work when the other things start to drag you down - that is where the passion and joy lives. And as far as hoping to see some return on the work, as an indie author the best thing is to just keep your head down and keep at it. Every so often, it seems like I need to remind myself of this message. I need that "reset" button. I think everyone probably does to some degree. That chef was feeling relief from admitting that it had all become too much. She wasn't ready to quit cooking or pursuing some type of restaurant but she was aware of needing that clean break in order to start again. 

So, here's to starting again - in ways big and small - and never really giving up!

 

 

Tom Petty was right

The waiting is the hardest part*
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
*omitted the next line to suit my own purposes

The part about being a writer that isn't talked about very much is that craving to be rewarded with feedback from readers. You want a tiny bit of validation that you've crafted something that people connect with.

But not only is publishing the ultimate long game, getting a review or other contact from a reader is very hard to come by. I'm not sure what the correlation is of buyers to reviewers but I think it has to be quite striking. That is, I think only a very small percentage of buyers actually post a review. 

So, until another one comes in, Tom Petty was right . . .

The waiting is the hardest part!

The soundtrack to Tangled Up In You

In my mind, certain chapters or sections of Tangled Up In You are connected deeply to specific music, none more so than Kodaline's "Love Like This." The song is upbeat and joyful despite its main refrain:

A love like this won't last forever
I know that a love like this won't last forever
But I, I don't really mind, I don't really mind at all

And it fits so perfectly with the bittersweet section late in Tangled Up In You where Sophie and Conor finally connect. I wonder if readers will agree with me that this song is the perfect match for all the emotions that go into that relationship.

https://youtu.be/IkAOasSJro0

Bonus chapters from Playing At Love

This is actually two chapters that I pulled from what could have been the start to Playing At Love. I cut them so that I could get more quickly to the crux of Conor's journey of trying to find some way to repair his relationship with Gavin, the friend he betrayed. But I still enjoy looking back at these scenes where Conor rushes blindly down the wrong road, stubbornly trying to convince himself that Colette is the one he should be with, the one who will help him fix his mistakes. It also illuminates how it is that he backed into a second engagement with Colette. Hope you enjoy this extra bit from the Rogue Series Novels!

* * * 

The thrust of it was out there now. Conor Quinn, book smart but love dumb had made his confession to his ex, certain on the surface of things that it was the way to start anew. It would take him longer than he’d like to admit to realize the whole exercise had been a continuation of what he had done all his life: let his reckless heart lead the way.

When Colette’s lack of a response stretched out, he rushed to sum up. “So, it happened once,” he said. “Just once. And there’s nothing more there.”

Then he dropped his eyes from hers and looked down at his hands. The irritation on the thumb of his fret hand was beginning to turn into a callous. With the band on indefinite hiatus, there wasn’t much else to do besides work on new music by himself.

“I don’t think I understand,” she said slowly. “How did this happen? When?”

Conor took a deep breath and held it as he watched a pigeon flit by outside the living room window. The bird held its own as it trailed a bicyclist down Barrow Street. He watched both until they slid by and out of sight. The afternoon light had faded into twilight and shadows blanketed the room, but she hadn’t made a move to turn on a lamp.

Finally, he let out his breath and answered, “A couple months ago, after we broke up—”

“You mean, after you ended our engagement.”

“I, em . . . yeah.”

She nodded sharply at the validation. “Go ahead. Explain.”

He nodded, opened his mouth, and then shut it. After two months of stewing over the mess he had made of things, he had concocted this grand gesture of showing up unannounced at Colette’s New York City apartment to win her back.

“Well? Speak. That’s what you came here for, right?”

He forced himself to meet her eyes. “Yes. So, the explanation is this: I stopped by to see Gavin but he was in LA and Sophie was at a loss for what to do about their marriage, what with him lost to cocaine and MIA in general. We . . . it just happened.”

Colette narrowed her eyes at him. “Why are you telling me?”

Because it’s gonna come out one way or another. Because I need you on my side as I try to fix all thisAnd I don’t want to lose you for not saying anything at the start.

“Listen,” he said instead. He pulled his sunglasses off his head and shifted in his seat on the red fabric sofa they shared. “I want you back. I want to make a real go of it, with nothing in our way this time. You always thought Sophie and I had a history. I thought you deserved to know all that it amounted to. It was a one-time thing that is one hundred percent over and will never happen again.”

“Because?” When he hesitated too long, she added, “Here’s where you say because you love me, not her.”

Fuck. This wasn’t going exactly as he’d envisioned . . . read more

Flawed characters

My characters are flawed. They make mistakes. They hurt others. They hurt themselves. They struggle to absorb the consequences of their actions and to make things right. 

I'm drawn to writing them because all their complicated messiness feels real and right - even if I also love to put them into ultra glamorous settings!

The thing with embracing characters' less attractive sides is that it means readers might not love them as much as I do. They might not feel the same attachment I do. I'll just have to hope that readers of Tangled Up In You and Playing At Love give the characters a chance to figure themselves out, because just as in life, it will take them many trials and errors before they do!  

 

Tangled Up In You: The Gavin/Sophie/Conor backstory

In prepping for the release of Tangled Up In You, I realized that I could just go ahead and get it out there sooner than I anticipated! So, the new release date is now July 7, 2016

I'm excited for those who have already read Playing At Love to dive into Tangled Up In You. This book explores the deep connection between Gavin and Sophie, as well as that love triangle with Conor. I wonder if readers would have made a different choice than Sophie does . . . I'd love to hear feedback on that!

And for those that may be starting with Tangled Up In You, they should enjoy the fact that they can continue on to Playing At Love right away. 

Until then . . . happy reading!