Day 1

Today, right now actually, I’m sitting in the Shuttlesworth Birmingham International Airport. After this airport comes Atlanta and after Atlanta, Seoul. I’ve never been to Seoul and I don’t speak Korean, but I do have an app and of course I’m game for just about anything.

This trip is about writing. Actually, this trip is about my birthday. My birthday always makes me contemplate who and what I am, which makes me really, really want work in words. Already, I haven’t blogged here in 2 years (has it been that long?!?) but now I want to memorialize this trip here.

So. Day 1. Will be back with more.

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Meet Brighter and Waylon

Who starts from the beginning? My excerpt is close to the end…

MH900387139Brighter Day
Grayson Reyes-Cole
© 2014

“Um Hi. Yeah. So. Hi. Um. Hm… Waylon, it’s Brighter…uh Brighter Dey. Gosh, I said that like there’s another person with such a name, you know. Of course there isn’t. This is Brighter, just Brighter.  So, yeah. Your machine probably told you, or. No, well, yes. Your machine probably told you the time. Why do you even still have a machine. It’s um around 1:30PM on Wednesday and well, I don’t want it to see m weird. I really don’t. But, I can’t talk to you it seems, and I’ve tried and so I figured, right, that I would call and leave you a message when I knew you weren’t home. That’s sounds crazy, right. But, I swear, to you, I’m not crazy. I’m not stalking you or anything, I just want to get in front of this. I don’t want what happened to make everything weird.

“Oh my God, you just came in and sat at your desk. It’s weird leaving this message while I see you sitting here.

“OK bye, love you! Argh! Wait, I didn’t mean to say that. I don’t know why I did. I mean I don’t. Right? That would be super crazy and saying it would completely undermine this message and things would totally get weird… er. God, I’m such a malformed person sometimes, it’s like my parents didn’t ensure I had all the proper nutrients growing up. No, they did, my parents are great. Your mom is great. She talks to me sometimes when she stops by and waits for you. She’s so nice, I wish she didn’t marry a man with the last name Day. How can I possibly marry a man with the last name Day? I’ll be Brighter Dey Day? W-T-F. Good God you haven’t even asked me to marry you.

“Waylon, really, the sad part about this is that I’m probably going to have to break into your house now. You can’t get this message. I can’t let you find out how bananas I sound. Love you, bye. Damn it! I can’t stop it. What is wrong with me?

“Oh God don’t smile at me like that. Don’t come over here!”

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I Killed Jason Morales… Then Went Out for Mojitos

Will Jada and Devon find their separate paths lead to a passion neither can forget? It’s true. I killed Jason Morales in The Builder. I loved him, but it had to be done. Now, I think about him alot. What he was like growing up, what his family and friends were like, how he loved, what his favorite meals were… why he deserved Jada’s love before Devon did.

Jason, like many other of my characters, won’t stop living in my head. I kinda wish he would, though, because the more I think about him and he comes more three dimensional to me, the more I grieve his loss. I’ll never tell his story because we all know how it ends and that would be hard. So what does a writer do?

She goes out for drinks and becomes a bit Buddhist… in a literary sense. The guy in my head deserves his own story and one that has a happy ending, because I adore a happy ending. So my solution is to resurrect him. His name in this new incarnation will change, but his story will be much the same. His struggles, his loves, and the essence of him. He’s cocky, he’s aggressive, he’s also intensely thoughtful, in a way that scares a woman to death who just might love him but is a little bit of a commitment phobe.

Which reminds me… a lot of my heorines are commitment-phobes. Either that or they are 100% psychotically devoted to their men (if you’ve read my fantasy, you know what I mean). I have been told more than once that a man has to–at least figuratively–club me over the head and drag me away to a cave in order for me to respond even in the face of my own desperate attraction, but once that happens I’m devoted. I guess my fiction does reflect my personality a bit :). That’s all right; that’s my voice.

If you’d like to read the few moments dedicated to Jason Morales… who will soon become Robert Patton in my 2014 release The Useless Girls of Tampa, you can read The Builder on Nook, Kindle, and iTunes.




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Qualifications to Make Me a Sandwich

So, just who is qualified to make you a sandwhich? I was trying to pick an excerpt, the first I’ve shared, from my upcoming title Severance Pay. I thought that maybe I would pick the very first moment that our protagonist meets… well the antagonist (of sorts). Then I realized that she says during the encounter that he shouldn’t be making her a sandwhich. As the author, I take no responsibility for this! 🙂 He can make me a sandwhich any day. Enjoy! – GRC

Severance Pay
Grayson Cole

When I pulled around to the window, the girl leaned forward to hand me two fountain sodas with two straws. She looked quite exotic to me. Skin the color of almond paste, long, coarsely curly black hair, and light brown eyes were set in an oval face with a straight, narrow nose and dimpled chin. She was medium height and incredibly thin—teeny tiny waist—despite looking healthy and lithe. Not anorexic, anemic, or sick in any way. Just foreigner tiny. She had long, taut limbs, narrow shoulders, a tiny waist, but flared hips. That kind of body made for the perfect underwear model.

“I didn’t order—”

“It’s on the house,” she told me.

Two sodas on the house because I had ordered so much… only a little bit embarrassing. I really wanted to tell her that the food was only for me, but that I wasn’t going to eat it all that night. A string of strange and unpleasant emotions chased through me as I worried that maybe she would think I was wasting food, or that worse I was bulimic, or God knows what else. I wish I hadn’t said anything about the tomatoes and onion.

Really, I am so thankful that I could keep my overreactions inside back then where they could do no harm to others.

When she took my card, she passed it to a man standing behind her. I hadn’t seen him earlier, maybe because he wore dark ash jeans and a faded black t-shirt or perhaps because he was tall and I couldn’t really see above his shoulders until I leaned forward. Wow. Very tall. Lean, sleek muscles played in his back and corded his long arms. He turned so that I could see his profile and my heart stopped just a little. My mouth dropped open just a little. Wow. Handsome. Very handsome. He had wavy brown hair almost like the girl at the window, but lighter in what had to have been premature gray—because he didn’t look a day over thirty. Silver streaked through the strands giving them almost a pewter shine, striking against his sun-kissed complexion. A prominent nose, straight and narrow, coupled with eyes that were just a little tilted enthralled me. I couldn’t quite tell their color, but long black lashes rimmed them and I wanted to see them.

As if I had made the request aloud, he turned his head to say something to the girl and I saw his eyes. They were light, pretty, but I still couldn’t tell what color. Maybe green, maybe gray, maybe soft amber brown. Was he Greek? A Cypriote maybe? He looked Greek and then he didn’t. He looked a little French. The nose could have been either. His sculpted lips were just a little bit full, his jaw strong like Ares fresh from Hadrian’s Villa. Maybe he was Italian. Maybe I was losing it. Of his handsomeness, though, I had no question. Almost too handsome, his features too sophisticated to be making me a damn sandwich. I gave myself a mental shake. He had an air of smoothness that would clearly be a draw for a different kind of girl. Certainly, he wasn’t the kind of guy I would typically be interested in, or that would look at me twice, but attractive just the same.

I tried not to get distracted by his big hands with elegant, piano player fingers as he ran my card. He glanced at it quickly then ran it through the reader at the front counter. Leaving it beside the register, he went back to the savory elephant leg rotating to the side. With a knife as long as my forearm, he sliced several long pieces of succulent lamb off of it and onto a platter with grilled pita points, tsaziki sauce and some other things I couldn’t identify. The plate presented as… artistic and made me a little melancholy about getting my food to go. It wouldn’t look like that at home.

The girl snapped open a giant paper bag, reinforced the bottom with a piece of cardboard from a case of beer, then packed up my food in another bag and gingerly set it inside. She passed it through the window just as the guy got the credit card slip for me to sign. He handed it to her then she passed it to me with a pen. I signed the slip then returned it, smiling. I thanked her, but I glanced at him again, and was startled when our eyes met. Straight on, gray eyes like a wolf, straight nose, firm lips, and blunt chin like a cologne model. Yes, cologne model was probably a better analogy, a lot less romanticized.

Like the coward I was, I jumped back into my seat, afraid he’d think I was staring… because I had been.

Taking a deep breath, I drove away without looking back.

At home, I tore into the bag. The mouthwatering aromas had nearly driven me crazy on the way. The dishes didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t eat it all, for sure, but there was nothing, not one thing, that didn’t taste scrumptious. Every bite made me moan like I had never eaten food in my life before. Just like that, I had found the absolute perfect Mediterranean restaurant. Life in Florida was looking up.

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Being Thankful When You’re Not in the Mood

Grayson's Chillin'So this is a day when people all over the US pause to think about what they are thankful for. It’s a good thing. But…

Sometimes, I’ll admit, listening to declarations of profound gratitude can feel uncomfortable to me. I am enough my mother’s daughter to doubt the absolute truth in any public confession. Also, of late, I’ve been in a terrible mood. Miserable about a stretch of glinting concerns, immovable and unavoidable in the road ahead. Darkness, lit only by these shiny, sharp, and dangerous candies, makes positive moments take on a saccharine edge in my mind. Over-sweet. Sickening. I can feel my blood turn to hot syrup that hardens into anger. Have you ever had that? It’s like a persistent hangover, any stimulation, even the good kind, causing pain that over time becomes a suppressd sort of rage that you can’t share with anyone? Lately, I feel that way too much, and anger all of the time is exhausting.

I’m not interested in feeling that for months on end. So, what to do? How to smile? I take a step back and remind myself that my life, though troubled as anyone’s, is not awful. There’s no shelling outside my house, no one’s going to kill me in some honor killing for speaking the way I like, I’m not hungry. I haven’t been sold into white slavery and forced into a heroine addiction (maybe that was the plot for Taken).

I take a breath.

I stop sneering at sweet things, imagine my road well-lit and hazard free, then remember all the damn things I really do have to be thankful for.

So here’s my public declaration of thanks.

  • I am thankful that my mother is alive and we are close.
  • I am thankful that I have a couple of great jobs, one that feeds my belly, the other that feeds my soul.
  • I’m thankful that more people love me than I know. Every year. I feel like the number of people who truly care about me, my well being, who would be willing to help me if I really needed it, is shrinking. Some of that is reality, some quite likely in my head. So I’m thankful for the people that still love me whether I know it or not.
  • I’m thankful for my home. All year I’ve complained about my desire for new floors, the need to paint so the place is less beige, a blue toilet, landscaping, but there’s no place I love being more than at my house.
  • I’m thankful for my education. The older I get, the more kids I see entering the workforce, the more I realize just how good it was and how lucky I am to have a parent who cared that I get that stellar education.
  • I’m thankful for my publishers… even the ones who don’t pay. Every one of them has helped me grow in very concrete ways.
  • I’m thankful I was born and raised in the US. Plenty of people feel that way who haven’t been anywhere or experienced other cultures in any fundamental way. There are great cultures and places out there besides the US. Lots of them. To acknowledge that does not mean that this isn’t still a place that leads the pack. It’s good.
  • I’m thankful I didn’t burn anything while cooking last night.
  • I’m thankful that even when I don’t have time to write… I’m still inspired every day by my environment. That means there’s still hope for me and my happiness 🙂
  • I’m thankful for Jameson and Diet Coke with lime. Yes, I am. When all else fails, there’s that.

Get your bah humbug in… then get it right out. That’s the way I enjoy the holidays.


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Back to My Fantasy

The Lover's Opalus: The Empire

When true love is the only weapon that matters.

Sooo, in my latest release The Empire, first book of three in my Lovers’ Opalus series, I have made my return to writing fantasy. Creating new worlds, applying what I know and feel about this world, adding in some great characters, all exhilarate me to no end. Fantasy generates the most anxiety in me compared to any other genre I pen.

It’s possible that this nervousness stems from an experience I had in middle school when I shared some of my work. A fellow seventh grader–seriously, can’t make this stuff up–called my story derivative. She thought it had a little too much of The Princess Bride in it. Sadly, it was true. I had seen the movie which inspired me to read the book which amped up my creative thought process in a new and interesting way. I wanted to explore that world more and use characters that had become people to me. I didn’t seek to improve on the original work, only to do something just as cool. Apparently, what I had done, unbeknownst to me, was write some overly-exuberant fan-fiction. Nothing wrong with fan-fiction, but in order for me to grow as a writer, I had to be inspired by the art I consumed, but rather than regurgitate it, I needed to use it to nourish new life, new art.

Still, there lingers this fear. What will my work be compared to? How will I measure up? Then come the darker questions… how can I control the audience to understand where the comparisons are appropriate, where they are not, and worse, how will they know if they think I’m referencing something I’ve never even seen or heard of before? Yeah… I’m crazy, and a tad bit obsessive. I’m also a writer. And I love fantasy. And I love words. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I love romance. So without further ado, I’m going to make some fun comparisons of my own before someone else does it.

  1. The Empire is like the George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Thunder (Game of Thrones; and on a side note, why do I always want to call him George A Romero? I mean, I know the difference) series if it were about making love not war.
  2. The Empire is like CL Wilson’s Tairen Soul series, but the heroine knows who she is from the very start and wields power from the very start.
  3. The Empire is like Susan Carroll’s Dark Queen series. OK, it’s not, I just really like that series of books.
  4. The Empire is like Jacqueline Carrey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series without slavery or the central character sleeping with absolutely everyone she encounters.
  5.  The Empire is like the Number Hues of a Color series (no, not the name of the series, but close enough for my purposes), in that it has more sex than I’m accustomed to.
  6.  The Empire is like House of Leaves … wait… it’s totally not like House of Leaves. OK, hmm… maybe it’s like House of Leaves in that even when it’s confusing, it’s not so confusing.
  7. The Empire is like the dictionary, except most of the words are used in sentences.
  8. The Empire is like my house in the sense that trees border it to the East, the coldestpart of the house is in the north (I like to keep my bedroom cool), the warmest part (kitchen) is in the west, and barbarians are kept out by the fence to the south. 🙂
  9. The Empire is like a pop tart that hasn’t popped out of the toaster yet. It’s hot, acidic, a little sweet, and leading to something explosive and fantastic.
  10. The Empire is like me… I’m a lot of things.

Grayson Reyes-Cole (that’s my fantasy name, lol)

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A First Look at My New I/R Romance: Severance Pay

Grayson's Chillin'Ladies and Gentleman, I’d like to introduce you to my upcoming release Severance Pay.

Its a dirty job, but sharp HR Executive JJ Prentiss is fantastic at it. When her company acquires another, she uses expansive severance packages to make all those redundant heads go away with the least litigation possible.
She manages her personal life much the same way. Always finding herself in relationships with men who cannot emotionally or even physically return her affection, she uses the same calculated strategy to end things when its time.
And its time.
JJ has been in love with Dennis Rains for years, but nothing has come of it mainly because the COO is her boss and hes married. She knows shes long overdue to let him go and get on with her life. So, when the Board of Directors secretly engages her to wrangle a resignation out of the brilliant Dennis no matter the cost, JJ accepts the task. She knows it will devastate Dennis when he finds out, but she needs to drive him out of her life for good.
She also has a solution for the trouble that is bad boy chef Conrad Dee. Connie is more than willing to give her the physical relationship she isnt getting from Dennis, no strings attached, but lately theres just something different about the way hes looking at her. JJ has a perfect plan, until she discovers: not everyone is interested in Severance Pay.

Yes, it’s messy… very messy.

This novel has wrung a lot out of me and challenged me on my own thoughts about relationships, specifically fidelity and expectations around social and financial responsibility. Sounds weighty. Maybe it is a little, but at it’s heart, this novel is still about falling in love and accepting it even when it’s not quite what you want. It’s possible in the journey of writing it, that I was trying to teach myself a lesson. Don’t know that I learned it. Although, to be clear, this novel isn’t about me. Every character has a little of me in them, but they are all smarter and quicker to relinquish stubborness in favor of the potential of finding love.

In the interest of full disclosure… Severance Pay is not quite finished yet. Yes, I have a deadline, yes, you should still be able to get your hands on it first quarter 2013, but no, it’s not quite done. I’m having a crisis of editing. The story is a little more sensually explicit than what Grayson is typically comfortable with. But… I think it’s necessary. The topic is racy, the charactes are all intense adults in their own way, and the heroine, who tells this story from a first person perspective, is very clear on her feelings and very frank about acknowledging them as she relates her experiences. So, I think I cheat if I tone her down, sense we are inside her head. On the other hand, I don’t want sex to interfere with the enjoyment of the more subtle and complex aspects of the story. Did you just read what I just wrote? I think I’m having a relatioship with my book! ROFL!

Curious to know your thoughts. ALSO… did you know you could Like me on Facebook?


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