Please welcome romance author Liz Crowe to my blog. Liz is one of those authors whose stories I sit down to read with a box of tissues. I just know she’s going to make me cry. And that to me means I automatically love the book.
Hi Liz! Can you tell us about how you started your writing career?
LC: Kind of by accident, or, if I’m completely honest, boredom. I am a voracious reader, but primarily mainstream fiction. I have never read (nor do I plan to read) “traditional romance” books. However, I was sort of bored with my book options back in 2009 or so, and was pleasantly surprised to find a box of hot ‘n steamy books at my door one day (one only had to complain a few times to spur the spouse to action back then). I read my way through Shayla Black and Lauren Dane’s non-paranormals and the “Mona Lisa” series by Suny (the only paranormal series I ever really liked). And between taking little “me time breaks” if you know what I mean I was hooked.
And I was bored at work—I was a realtor, a successful one mind you but that job is fraught with boring stretches of waiting and staring out of windows. So I came up with a concept for a book that eventually became my best selling Stewart Realty series (while I was working on getting my microbrewery open—dang, I must have been really bored!)
And the rest is history, on a small scale, I suppose.
LC: The Turkish Delights series began as a trilogy of “1Night Stand” stories, the popular Decadent Publishing series about a mysterious dating service run my the never-seen Madam Eve. Once those were done I simply had to tell the prequel story and then the plot line I left dangling needed tying up so I wrote the final novella. There are 5 books in the series, ranging in length from 9,000-33,000 words. Decadent has re-packaged them for me as an “ebook bundle” at Amazon and under one really beautiful cover as a print anthology, and let me tell you they read like a long juicy novel now.
What was your inspiration for these stories?
LC: A challenge, actually. I had just gotten yet another rejection (from Decadent) for Floor Time, Stewart Realty book 1. The editor tossed me a bone by suggesting that I try “one of their short story lines for submission.” Well, I fumed around, kicked some rocks, pouted, declared myself incapable for writing short stories, then started to ponder the possibility of a 1Night Stand branch….in Istanbul. I lived there for a bit over 2 years myself and it was the first place my mind went when pondering this challenge—what sort of couple could I put together that would not otherwise meet? That would require the help of a dating service in order to get real about what they already felt about each other? And so Emre’s story developed, a “cougar story” as he is ass-over-teakettle in love with Elle Kensington, an American executive of a pharmaceutical company who is 15 years his senior. That was the original “Turkish Delights.”
As you know Jessica I am pretty much incapable of crafting stories without compelling side or secondary characters. And once I realized that Emre’s identical twin Tarkan was already involved with Elle’s male personal assistant…and that Tarkan had agreed to take on the family’s military obligation by serving the required 2 years at an outpost somewhere…well, the rest of the series just took off from there.
Blue Cruise is Caleb’s story (Elle’s assistant). Tulip Princess is the story of the twins’ younger sister Lale.
The Diplomat’s Daughter is the story of the fated-loved of the parents of these people and Flower Passage is the final novella.
Who is your favorite character from any of these stories? Can you include an excerpt involving this character?
LC: Honestly, there are so many compelling characters in this series…between Lale and her Greek Dom Andreas; Emre and Elle’s power play dynamics; Tarkan, Caleb and a new man, Adem…
I think though when I was writing it, Caleb truly spoke to me.
Caleb sipped at the smooth brown liquor. Once again, he ran a finger over the heavy ring Tarkan had given him on the small yacht they’d rented for the week. Fear made his throat tighten at the thought of his soul mate, spending his last weeks on duty in the Turkish capital. They’d argued their last night on the boat.
“I still don’t understand why you’re doing this,” he’d said, sitting back on a large bench on the boat’s second level, Tarkan’s head in his lap as they took in the fading beauty of a sunset over the ocean. They’d consumed a huge delicious meal prepared by the on-board cook, an attractive young man who’d obviously been chosen for the job because he didn’t mind two men sharing a bed. Adem was attractive and slender with a French father and Turkish mother. An aspiring chef, he’d told them, and one day hoped to own his own exclusive restaurant in the southern resort town of Antalya. And he knew when to disappear and leave them alone.
The deep blue sea below them and velvety soft air all around had turned the trip into one of the most erotic vacations Caleb could possibly imagine. He shut his eyes tight, fighting anger at the memory of putting Tarkan back on a plane in his stark military uniform the day before.
That night, he had taken Caleb’s hand, threaded long fingers through his and brought them to his lips. “It’s a Turkish thing, my love.” Caleb grimaced, remembering how he’d yanked his hand away in anger.
“Bullshit. You’re just trying to please your father again. Deflect attention from us so your family won’t notice that we’re together.”
Tarkan had stayed silent, turned on his side, and let his empty hand trail along Caleb’s knee, down his bare calf and back up, soothing and calm as usual.
“Shh, my lover. It will be fine. Only a few more weeks, and then we will be together again, like we planned. Seni seviyorum….”
Caleb swallowed hard, remembering how he’d tried to resist, tried to stay mad, but Tarkan’s hands, then later his lips and tongue, and his lean strong body, had made him forget his anger, forget everything but how much he loved the man once again. He had demanded they tell Tarkan’s parents the truth. After nearly six years in a monogamous, loving relationship, he was not about to keep sneaking around and hiding who he was. He had an uneasy truce with Tarkan’s parents, but the aging grandmother who lived in their large mansion loved him, Caleb knew, because she wanted whatever made her grandsons happy. But as tough as it might be to live as openly gay partners in the U.S, it was unthinkable in Turkey, so their plans included a move to California in three more weeks. Tarkan and Emre’s nineteen-year-old sister, Lale, was already begging her parents to let her move to the States as well, finish college at UCLA to be near her brothers and their families. She and Tarkan were extremely close, and his stint in the military made her even angrier than Caleb at times.
A sudden, piercing pain between his eyes made him grunt and lean up, forcing the woman drooling on his shoulder back into her own seat.
“Jesus.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. A flight attendant set a bottle of water on his tray. He gulped it down, but instead of helping, the pain spread, making him squint and grab his temples, trying to quell whatever thrashed around behind his eyes. He groaned and sat back, dreading the thought of a migraine on the last three hours of this flight. Then, as quickly as it gripped him, the headache left. For the first time in his memory he literally saw stars. He took deep breaths until his head cleared when a massive wave of panic replaced the pain.
He yanked his seatbelt off and stood. Running a hand over his stubbled face, he tried to fathom what in the hell was happening. It had to be some sort of anxiety attack, brought on by memory, anger, fear, and longing. Jesus, whatever it was it sucked. Shoving his hands in his trouser pockets, he started pacing the aisle, willing the lump away in his throat. He sat again. Got antsy. Stood and paced some more. Flight attendants gave him worried glances.
Nothing helped. If anything, he became short of breath. His heart pounded in his ears and he tried to lecture himself into calmness. Attempted to picture Tarkan’s soft eyes, imagine his hands on his shoulders, rubbing, soothing away Caleb’s Type-A stress. For some reason, for the first time in years, he couldn’t conjure mental images of his lover at all. That tore it. He took four long strides to the flight attendant’s area. He had to be quite a sight, eyes wild, hair standing up where he’d pulled at it for the last hour, but he no longer cared. Something was seriously wrong.
No one acknowledged his presence. That was odd. First class passengers typically wouldn’t tolerate being ignored. Caleb cleared his throat. The group stayed clustered around a small screen in their kitchen area. He muscled past them. Someone in the group quickly flicked off the screen. The attendant who’d been bringing him drinks fixed a smile on her face, but he saw the fear in her eyes.
“What.” His jaw ached from clenching it.
“Nothing sir, can I get you anything else?” The group disbanded, doing their jobs, completely silent. He used all he had not to yell with frustration. Obviously whatever had happened, no one planned to share it with passengers who might panic. His gut rolled again.
“Water,” he croaked. “Can I…?”
Someone shoved a piss-warm glass of water into his hand—again, very unlike the formerly polite and attentive crew. He took a deep breath, tried to catch the eye of the uniformed woman now carefully ignoring him. Giving up, he stumbled back to his seat, his knees suddenly unreliable. What in hell is going on? Whatever it was, he didn’t want to face it, hoped the flight would simply go on and on forever, never setting down and forcing him deal with the utter devastation that must have occurred. Was it an earthquake? Was Istanbul hit by terrorists? He talked himself out of the doomsday scenarios playing in his head, popped an aspirin, and concentrated on getting some sleep. Anything to hold at bay what was about to make him throw up the bourbon, food, and water he’d had that day. He settled for fuzzy daydreams about Tarkan, their smoking hot beginning, turbulent early days, and the moment he gave in to his true heart and admitted how he felt. He sighed, ignoring the niggling sharp pain that had developed behind his eyes again and drifted. Memories crowded his medicated brain, tumbling around and bringing home the very first time he realized he’d found the love of his life in Turkey.
I agree. They are are so compelling. What other titles do you have published?
LC: I have a book called CHEEKY BLONDE with Decadent Publishing that is a bit of romantic suspenseful romp through the craft beer business that came in 2nd in the Love Romances Café popularity contest—right up there with JD Robb (the significance of which had to be explained me).
I also have another 1Night Stand with Decadent, a soccer based one called CAUGHT OFFSIDE.
HEALING HEARTS is a novella that launched the Challenge Series for Decadent.
My Stewart Realty series is a soon to be 7 book series that is a best seller. It includes: FLOOR TIME, SWEAT EQUITY, CLOSING COSTS, ESSENCE OF TIME, CONDITIONAL OFFER, ESCALATION CLAUSE, and coming this spring: MUTUAL RELEASE (which could be read as a stand alone novel)
PARADISE HOPS is a stand alone also set in the craft beer business and one of my favorites.
HONEY RED is a recent ménage I had published.
So, a lot to keep readers happy. Where do your best ideas come from?
LC: I try to pull from my real life experiences and ground my stories in reality as much as I can which sometimes leads to some tough endings for some of them.
What is your favorite book that you’ve read?
LC: Depends on when you ask me. Right now I would say “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Greene followed closely by “The Dinner” by Herman Koch that I am reading right now. I judge my “favorites” by “willing to read them again-isms” and for that I’d say Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell or Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood.
Do you belong to a critique group or have critique partners? If so, what have you learned from them? How has it affected your writing?
LC: I don’t belong to groups per se although I have a solid base of beta readers and other folks I bounce ideas off of. I can’t offer my time to read pre published things as I am pretty darn busy elsewhere in my life so I don’t feel right asking anyone else to critique me in the early stages.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?
LC: Don’t think you are above a hard editing session. You aren’t. Ever.
So true! Is there anything else my readers should know about you?
LC: I am also known as The A2 Beer Wench because I am part owner of a craft brewery in Ann Arbor and handle marketing, sales and Tap Room management for it (hence my lack of time to read and critique things for other writers).
A young American woman comes face to face with her destiny in Istanbul in the 1960’s and an epic dynasty is born.
When Vivian Kinkaid turns around in her college classroom and makes eye contact with a man who was once her forbidden childhood friend, her life is changed forever.
A sweeping saga of family, love, loss and recovery—The Turkish Delight series begins with a special sort of magic. Then Madame Eve works her miracles for the Deniz family, but even she can’t overcome the harsh realities that force this Turkish/American family all to deal with tragedy when one of their own is ripped from their close-knit circle.
“The Turks” opens with best-selling classic romance for the ages. Then ends with a thrilling novella that brings all the players back together. Set in Istanbul, Las Vegas, and Southern California, The Turkish Delights series has it all—heat, heart, intrigue and a deep, family connection that transcends all barriers.
The Diplomat’s Daughter
The final stop: www.decadentpublishing.
The commenter who gets the most answers correct AND leaves their email in their comment wins:
1 signed print copy of Turkish Delights
$50 Amazon gift card
and if they get the BONUS question too: a Beer Wench tee shirt from Liz’ brewery.
Here is the tour schedule:
About the Author:
Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry), has prepped her for life as erotic romance author.
When she isn’t sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.
Her groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” has gained thousands of fans and followers who are interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)
Her beer blog a2beerwench.com is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.