Hi guys, we have C.J. Anthony popping in today with her upcoming release Runaway Rock Star, we have a brilliant guest post and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Runaway Rock Star
Just hours before Brandon Harris is supposed to head home to Cincinnati for a Labor Day family picnic, his boss at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame forces him into giving a private tour to bratty British pop rock star Lucas Black. Before he knows it, he finds himself swept up in a whirlwind road trip through Ohio with Lucas riding shotgun.
Lucas grabs hold of this wild opportunity to run away—even for a few precious days—from the gilded cage that is his carefully managed life. He’s just looking for a little fun and freedom as a normal person. From roller coasters to a college football game, Brandon begins to see the real Lucas Black buried under the famous persona. But by the time he and Lucas discover their mutual attraction, they only have one night left before both of them have to go back to their real lives. The fun is over…unless Lucas can run away for real this time and keep their adventure going.
Thank you MM Good Book Reviews for having me on the blog today! Today is my first stop on my Runaway Rock Star Road Blog Tour! Join me as I hit the road—I’m going to be visiting some great blogs, sharing background about the book, about Ohio, and there may also be a fun interview with Lucas and Brandon along the way. The stops are listed below and any posts you comment on during the tour will enter you for a fun prize pack at the end that includes a $20 GC to the eBook retailer of your choice.
Runaway Rock Star comes out May 10, and it is a part of the States of Love series from Dreamspinner Press. A little background on the series for those who may not know what it is, the States of Love series is a series with one book about each state in the United States, all written by different authors.
My book is based in Ohio. Now I know a lot of people hear “Ohio” and think “boring” or “what the heck’s in Ohio?” And I admit at first I was like, um…what could I write about Ohio?
See, I have lived in Ohio all my life. Specifically, north central Ohio. So I am well acquainted with my state and what it looks and feels like. And so I was definitely like, gee, what’s exciting in Ohio? I think when you live in a place for so long you take it for granted and you often tend to focus on the negative after a while. All the things your city or state doesn’t have. “The grass is always greener” somewhere else.
In the short process (because the story came to me pretty quickly) of trying to decide what I could write about, I realized there are actually a lot of cool things about my state.
I think our most fun advantage is our size. In less than a day’s drive, you can drive from the northern most point to the southern most point. Or from the eastern border to the western border. Now, I know there are other states that can probably claim the same thing. But what we have within our borders makes us pretty unique I think, because we have a little bit of everything. We have cities and museums and theaters and any kind of big city culture you could want. Drive just a half-hour from any of our cities and you can experience small towns and farms and rural life. We have beautiful state parks to hike in the summer and fall, and snow mountain trails to ski in the winter. And all within a short drive of wherever you may live in the state.
And so my idea of basing the story around a road trip was born. In one extended Labor Day weekend, from a Thursday through Sunday, my two characters, Lucas Black and Brandon Harris make their way from Cleveland to Cincinnati–with some interesting detours along the way.
All right, well I just passed a sign for a rest stop ahead so I’m going to sign off now and make a much-needed pit stop. 🙂 The itinerary for my trip is listed below; I hope you’ll visit each blog along with me!
Item #22535: T-shirt—Ozzy Osbourne, worn onstage at Ozzy’s solo concert in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 20, 1982
Historical feature: Ozzy bit the head off of a live bat after a fan threw it onstage.
Notes: Blood spatter on front—DO NOT CLEAN!
BRANDON’S HANDS hovered over the computer keyboard in front of him, and he involuntarily grimaced at the words he had just typed. Working at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was definitely a job like no other. How many other assistants in how many offices, drudgingly doing data entry, were cataloging items with blood splatter from a bat? Assuming it was real blood splatter. Wendy, one of the curators, was arguing that there was no way that was the real shirt he wore that night, because really, who wouldn’t just burn or destroy their clothing once it’s covered in animal blood? “Who saves that shit?” was her actual quote.
Apparently someone did, and they swore the shirt was authentic. A rock memorabilia collector had sent the museum several boxes of items for an upcoming exhibit it was planning for Ozzy and Black Sabbath, on the heels of their final tour.
“Attention all visitors. We regret to inform you the museum will be closing an hour early today. Please conclude all purchases at the gift shop and cafeteria in the next fifteen minutes. We apologize for the inconvenience. On your way out, please pick up a free entrance pass for your next visit.” There was a brief pause before the message began to repeat over the loudspeaker.
Brandon frowned as he looked up from his computer. What the heck was going on? Was there some sort of emergency in the building?
His office door burst open, shattering his peace and quiet with the cacophony of noise from the museum halls. Madeline Capshaw, the head curator, strode into his office and shut the door behind her firmly, silencing the space once again. Her posture and facial expression were all business, but her eyes glittered, indicating that something big was going down.
“What’s going on, boss? Why the emergency shutdown?”
“Lucas Black is in town for a show at the Q, and he wants a private tour.”
Brandon forced himself to remain impassive and not give away his true reaction. The Q was Quicken Loans Arena, and Lucas Black was a bratty privileged pop rock star who clearly thought it perfectly okay to demand the entire museum shut down so he could get his own special private tour. Never mind that the museum was a public place and hundreds of music fans that had come to visit the hall today were being thrown out unceremoniously to cater to his whims.
“Wow.” Brandon decided a safe one-word answer was best.
“I want you to accompany him.”
Brandon lost all reserve. “Me? Are you kidding? I’ve got hundreds of items to get typed into this catalog for Wendy—”
“Back burner, you can finish that later. Lucas Black is top priority.”
Clearly, since they were emptying the place out for him.
He gave his boss a sour look, and she quickly shut him down.
“Keep your personal opinions to yourself. I don’t want to hear it. Put on your best smile and give him the million-dollar tour. This is important. I’ve been trying to get him to donate his glow-in-the-dark guitar and some of the props from his tour for the Right Here, Right Now exhibit this winter. Anything would be great but… I really want the guitar.”
Lucas Black’s glow-in-the-dark Fender with electric lights was his trademark.
“So why aren’t you giving him the tour?”
“Normally, I’d love to, but I’m up to my armpits in e-mails, trying to get this year’s nominations finalized. Besides, you and he are the same generation. You’ll have more in common with him, be able to point out things in a more youthful presentation.”
Brandon bit his lip to keep from saying anything. He already knew there was no way he and Lucas Black would have anything in common. Lucas was a spoiled teen phenom who’d grown into an arrogant asshole—as all the magazine articles and TV interviews portrayed, anyway. Brandon was from the quiet suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, and had grown into a college graduate with a BA in Business from the University of Cincinnati.
Lucas Black released album after album of the same pop drivel and had probably never even heard of Bo Diddley or Eric Clapton or even the Clash. His songs had such Shakespearean lyrics as “Ooh baby, your love drives me crazy. Goin’ insane, can’t get you outta my brain.” That one had been a multimillion iTunes download.
Madeline was giving him the evil eye, so Brandon sighed and hit Save for the file he was working on. A big smile of relief crossed her face. “Wonderful!” She glanced at her watch. “He should be here in about fifteen minutes, give or take, twenty in rock-star time. And I think his tour manager, Nathan, will be with him as well.”
She patted Brandon’s hand sympathetically. “He has to be out of here by six thirty, so that’s only a couple of hours. It’ll be over before you know it.” Leaving, she paused at the doorway and wagged a finger at him. “Just remember you are a representative of this museum. And I want that guitar!”
Twenty minutes later, Brandon paced back and forth in the front of the museum entrance. His phone buzzed with a call from his mom and just as he was about to answer it, a black SUV pulled up on Ninth Street and stopped. An older man with graying hair got out of the front passenger side and opened the back door. A tall, lean man stepped regally out of the SUV. His chin-length messy hair blew in the breeze, showing off high cheekbones and a well-defined jaw. His eyes hid behind dark Ray-Bans. He wore a faded T-shirt under a well-worn black leather jacket, and ripped denim jeans that stretched for miles over his long legs. He started down the lengthy walkway to the museum in a gait that Brandon could only describe as requisite rock-star swagger. The manager lagged behind, having been detained by closing the SUV door and talking to the driver inside.
Brandon stopped pacing and straightened his shoulders, preparing to present his most professional self. He was the face of the Rock Hall for this tour. He loved the museum, and he was going to show it off as best he could.
As Lucas approached, Brandon stepped forward and opened one of the glass front doors.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Black. Welcome to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
Lucas Black strutted through the door without a glance at Brandon. His manager followed, and he acknowledged Brandon with a nod at least. Gritting his teeth, Brandon locked the door behind them and took a breath before turning around to face the rock star with a sugary-sweet smile plastered on his face.
Lucas strode around, looking upward at the vast space that was the main entrance hall of the museum. Finally, his Ray-Bans landed on Brandon.
Brandon cleared his throat and extended his hand. “My name is Brandon Harris, and I will be accompanying you on the tour today. We’re so happy to have you visit the Hall, Mr. Black.”
Lucas lowered his shades just enough to look at Brandon directly. Brandon felt his body flush at the intense stare coming from Lucas’s sparkling green eyes. A second later the green dulled and his eyes disappeared again behind the Ray-Bans.
“Lucas. I fucking hate Mr. Black” were the words Lucas uttered before ignoring Brandon’s hand and turning his attention upward again.
Lucas’s skyward reaction was a typical one. Upon entering the museum, visitors were assaulted with a kaleidoscope of sights, colors, and, of course, sound. The iconic triangular glass pyramid that made up the majority of the museum’s shape allowed a partial view of every floor. Many stage props artists had used on tour—such as the cars from U2’s Zoo tour or the lighted name signs from Gwen Stefani and Moby’s tour—hung amid the grid beams and glass panels. Two escalators took visitors up and down between various floors.
“Fine. Lucas, if you’ll follow me….” Brandon headed for one of the escalators, glancing back twice to make sure Lucas—and his manager—were indeed following. Once they were all headed down, Brandon began. “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was created in 1983 by a small group of music industry professionals who wanted to recognize and archive the history of the musicians, artists, and other notable figures who created and influenced rock-and-roll music.
“The first Hall of Fame Induction ceremony was held in 1986. That same year, the foundation began a search for a place to house the Hall of Fame. Cleveland was ultimately chosen because of its historical importance. Local Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed was the first to coin the term ‘rock and roll,’ and he also helped put together the first major rock-and-roll concert, held in Cleveland in 1952. Also many major rock-and-roll acts in the 70s and 80s broke through by being played on local rock station WMMS. And of course Cleveland has always been a premier tour stop for most rock bands.”
Brandon looked over at Lucas, surprised to see the man with a smirk on his face. Never mind that he was actually quoting from Spinal Tap. With his native British accent, he sounded just like the characters in the film. Brandon’s lips quirked, but he quickly put his professional façade back in place.
“The museum, designed by architect I.M. Pei, opened in 1995. Since 1986, a total of 312 musicians or acts have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
By this time they had reached the lower level. Brandon started with the special exhibit of items celebrating the current year’s inductees. Lucas was silent, only giving blank unimpressed glances at the glass cases. As uninterested as he seemed to be, Brandon decided to cut back on his usual fifty-cent tour commentary and go for the five-cent version, which had a silver lining—they’d be in and out of here in an hour tops. Madeline’s words echoed in his brain—Put on your best smile and give him the million-dollar tour—but he pushed them aside. It wouldn’t be his fault anyway. She was the one who had taught him how to give a tour and the number one rule was to gauge your patrons’ interest and energy level. Could he help it if Lucas Black appeared bored out of his mind?
And the manager wasn’t any better. He’d already had two very loud conversations on his cell phone and he’d barely been in the hall fifteen minutes. Brandon was guiding them through the Roots of Rock exhibits featuring influential genres such as blues, gospel, R&B, country, bluegrass, and folk, when the manager’s ringtone went off again. Lucas whirled around and gave his manager the coldest stare Brandon had ever seen. He was afraid to look over at the manager for fear Lucas might have actually caused the man to keel over dead.
“Go take that fucking phone somewhere else or I’m going to smash it to pieces.”
Brandon was appalled by Lucas but even more appalled that the manager simply turned and left the room. Secretly he was glad, as the cell phone conversations frankly were rude, but Jesus, what an asshole way to treat someone.
Lucas turned in Brandon’s direction. “Sorry about that. Motherfucking phone is glued to his ear twenty-four seven.”
Brandon had to clench his jaw to keep it from falling on the floor. He was amazed Lucas Black was apologizing. Granted it seemed to be for his manager’s behavior, with no compunction about his own.
“Ah… no problem,” Brandon fumbled. He decided it best they move on. They wandered through the Cities and Sounds exhibit and the Legends of Rock and Roll, which had many items and memorabilia from bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, from Elvis and Jimi Hendrix and even more recent acts like U2 and Michael Jackson.
“Fuck me,” Lucas breathed.
Brandon, several steps ahead, stopped and glanced over his shoulder. He had assumed Lucas was following him. Turning back, he saw Lucas staring in awe at John Lennon’s piano.
“That is the piano that he used to write songs for the Double Fantasy album. There are still drips of wax on it from candles he burned,” Brandon said.
“Beatles or Stones?”
Brandon hesitated, not sure what Lucas was asking. This caused Lucas to look over at him impatiently.
“Are you a Beatles guy or a Stones guy?”
Brandon smiled cautiously. “Beatles.”
Lucas nodded approvingly and turned back to his admiration of the piano. “Good answer.”
Brandon cocked his head. “You like the Beatles?”
A muscle in Lucas’s jaw twitched as he looked at Brandon. “Hard to believe?” His words prickled with tension.
Oh crap, Brandon thought. “Uh, well… no….”
Lucas left the piano and wandered around, looking at the wall of glass cases. “You know they started their career with ‘she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah’ and look where they ended up.”
“In a yellow submarine?” Brandon quipped.
“Okay, yes, wisearse. But there was also ‘Sergeant Pepper’ and ‘Let It Be’ and ‘The Long and Winding Road.’ They made the music they wanted to make, you know? They didn’t write ‘yeah yeah yeah’ their whole career. I mean look at this.” He tapped at one of the display cases for emphasis. “The handwritten lyrics to motherfucking ‘In My Life’!”
“I have to say that is pretty cool. It’s one of my favorite artifacts.” Brandon contemplated Lucas’s words and reaction as he stood off to the side and allowed Lucas to meander silently through the room’s other exhibits and cases. He was a bit taken aback at Lucas’s strong opinion on the Beatles, much less even knowing who they were—he had seen enough of his and Lucas’s generation come through the museum who had never even heard of the Beatles. Then again Lucas was British. It was probably blasphemous not to know who the Beatles were. Brandon wondered if he was going to have to change his view on Lucas… although a love of the Beatles was not enough to redeem the pop drivel he created.
Brandon’s phone started buzzing in his pocket. A quick glance showed Lucas was engrossed in viewing a display on U2, so he quickly pulled his phone out. “Mom” flashed across the screen. He silenced it and slipped it back in his pocket.
They moved on to a room filled with iconic clothing from rock stars of all decades.
“Gross!” Lucas exclaimed. “Is that really Lady Gaga’s ugly meat dress?”
Brandon chuckled. “Yes.”
“But that was….” He leaned closer to look at the info card. “Six years ago! That can’t be real, right? It’s a fake?”
“No, it is the real dress. It’s been treated and basically turned into jerky, and it’s quite hard to the touch. The glass case is temperature controlled and monitored twenty-four seven for humidity. We don’t know how long it will last, but so far it’s holding up.”
Lucas wrinkled his nose. “Crazy. I walked by her once that night and it smelled disgusting. I don’t know how she wore it.”
“You were there?”
He shrugged with a blasé expression. “I got invited by MTV because my first single had started to blow up a few months before. I even got to perform.”
“That must have been quite an experience.”
Lucas smirked. “For a green sixteen-year-old, at my first ever award show, it was ‘so super cool.’” He motioned air quotes with his fingers. “I was so hyper, I was like hopped up on speed. Of course, the downer was having to have my dad there with me, as my chaperone.”
Brandon’s phone chose that exact moment to buzz again. He hurriedly fumbled in his pocket to turn it off.
Lucas didn’t turn his attention from the display on the wall. “Just answer it for Christ’s sake. Someone’s on your chain about something.”
Brandon’s face got hot as he turned and walked a few paces away, hoping it would be far enough for Lucas not to hear him.
“Sweetie, you didn’t answer earlier. Are you on the road?”
“Um… no, I’m still at work.”
“At work! What’s going on? Some kind of rock-and-roll emergency they have to keep you late on a holiday weekend?”
Brandon smiled and shook his head at his mom’s sarcasm. “Actually… sort of.” He whispered into the phone. “Lucas Black is here for a private tour, and Madeline wanted me to do it.”
“Lucas Black? Who the heck…. Oh wait, is that the guy plastered all over your sister’s wall?”
“The one and only.”
She sighed. “Oh great. Your sister’s going to be spazzing all weekend once she finds out. Maybe we won’t tell her?” Her voice sounded entirely too hopeful.
“Not coming from my lips. She’ll be bugging me with questions all weekend. While simultaneously cursing me out for getting to meet him.”
“Okay. Virtual pinky swear. My lips are sealed too. Well, honey, just get out of there when you can and drive safe. Text me when you leave.”
“Love you, doodlebug.”
Brandon rolled his eyes at his mom’s childhood nickname for him, thankful that Lucas couldn’t hear her.
“Yeah, yeah. See you later, Mom.”
Brandon put his phone away and turned around to see Lucas smirking at him.
Brandon looked sheepish. “Family barbecue for Labor Day. I’m heading home—to my parents’—right after I’m done here.”
“Ah. So she’s checking up on her little boy. I thought maybe it was your girl on your arse about something. Or… maybe your boy?” He side-eyed Brandon.
Brandon didn’t even know how to respond. Lucas’s nosiness was getting annoying. What was it to him if it was his mother or a girlfriend or a boyfriend? Or that it would never have been a girlfriend?
“Ah well, neither right now,” he finally blurted out.
Lucas’s gaze was still trained on him. Brandon decided to move things along. He directed Lucas toward the next exhibit. Along the way Lucas stopped to view a case of Green Day items on the wall.
“Green Day is the shit. They do whatever the bloody hell they want and don’t give a fuck about what anyone else thinks. They got so much shit from their fans who thought they’d sold out, but they said fuck everyone and did the music they wanted to.”
Lucas was animated, jabbing at the glass. Brandon stayed silent and observed. This was the second time Lucas had mentioned artists evolving and doing their own music their way, and Brandon was getting the hint that Lucas wasn’t talking about the Beatles or Green Day anymore.
C.J. Anthony grew up watching soap operas and reading piles of books. She attributes her love of reading and romance to her mother, who not only taught her to read but also made countless trips to the library lugging piles of books home for her. It wasn’t a far jump to start writing her own stories, early childhood tales about flower families and traveling to the moon with her best friend.
C.J.’s favorite stories to read and write include “opposites attract” pairings—couples who appear to be an odd couple to the rest of the world, but fit together perfectly, finding their own happily-ever-after with a little hard work and a whole lot of love.
Not surprisingly, C. J. is a big lover of rom coms—she’ll gladly take Julia Roberts standing in front of Hugh Grant asking him to love her over car crashes and shoot-em-up movies any day. She also watches way too much TV and every singing reality show there is. She loves music of all genres and attending live concerts.
She spends most of her time juggling a day job and a commute and freelance and falling asleep on her couch, dreaming of a day when she can write all day in her pajamas while living in a house by the beach.