Hiya guys! We have Lex Chase popping in today with her upcoming release The Unlikely Prospect, we have a brilliant guest post where Lex chats about writing *gasp* contemporary romance! We also have a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Unlikely Prospect
In Prospect Harbor, Maine, lobsterman Harper Cook has always loved the sea. He and his two brothers work the harbor waters, in a fishing village of one thousand where everybody knows everybody else’s business and nobody wants to be different.
When it’s time for the annual Men of Maine pinup calendar, Harper’s brothers eagerly volunteer him. Harper isn’t thrilled to bare it all to raise money for an elementary school playground—until he meets out-and-proud Los Angeles out-a-statah Sean Blackburn: the highly available first-grade teacher with Hollywood heartthrob looks.
Harper has no desire to ever stand out from the crowd, but Sean persists and earns Harper’s friendship. Through Sean, Harper opens up to new possibilities. Things get steamy, but Harper still protects his heart. Though the right pressure in the right place might crack even a loner lobsterman out of his shell.
Hello, everyone! I’m Lex Chase and I’d like to extend a huge thanks to Pixie for letting me drop by today.
I’m here to talk about my upcoming release The Unlikely Prospect due out December 7th from Dreamspinner Press. The Unlikely Prospect is a part of the States of Love line, which features love stories taking place in each of the fifty states of the USA. Mine centers around my homestate of Maine and tells the tale of loner lobsterman Harper Cook who loves the sea and people not so much. That is until he gets “voluntold” for the sexy Men of Maine pinup calendar and crosses paths with out-and-proud LA transplant Sean Blackburn. Harper believes love at first sight is a crock of shit…or is it?
And it’s a contemporary.
Stop the damned planet.
Lex Chase wrote a contemporary.
Indeed I did.
I’m a scf-fi/fantasy writer. I’m at home in elaborate fantasy worlds and otherworldly customs. I find humanity and timeless stories in inhuman creatures looking for something beyond themselves. Love is love, no matter the parts (or if you’re a fairy tale dude princess or a cannibal either.)
I’ve had a few contemporary ideas floating around in my head for years. But it was never the right time. And to be honest, it’s not my “brand.” (And author branding is everything. Just trust me on that.)
I figured I’d never get around to any of them, or adapt them into a spec fic setting. Turning a story about NASCAR auto racing into a cyberpunk bloodsport in the far future? Sign me up!
So it begs the question for a person like me who takes great glee and pride in staging elaborate war scenes, where’s the challenge in writing a contemporary? Should be easy, right?
Well. Yes. And no.
Contemporary is all about a frame of mind. And I had to reverse my thinking. I write these vast fantasy worlds with realistic relationships with very real problems. Contemporary is the other way around. It’s the real world with fantasy relationships. It’s fluffy Hallmark moments. Or as I like to call it “What the Fresh Hallmark Hell is This.”
Speaking of Hallmark. That’s the first place I turned for research. If I was going to write these shenanigans, I needed to know the basics of Sweet and Cute and Tooth-Rotting Adorable ad scrub my brain in thinking where to bury the bodies or where the hero turns out to be a shifter.
I watched a crapton of Hallmark Channel movies. While 100% not my thing, the first four hours featured a lot of “oh come on, that’s so unrealistic.” And then the following twenty-four hours featured “Oh my God! You better tell her how you feel!” and “Yes! Save them Mr. Whiskers!” and finally “I better get proposed to like that someday.” Like I was all in. Aaaaalllllll in.
Armed with my newfound—erm—expertise I decided to give it a go. I was shocked at how…relaxing it was. I didn’t have to keep track of my stockpiles of notes about vestments for a royal holiday, or write an elaborate 5k rooftop fight scene, or explosions, or body counts!
No blood! No gore! No crazy powers!
And actually… I had a lot of fun despite myself.
Just a simple story of a lobsterman coming into his own and finding it’s not so bad to be different.
So, maybe it’s finally time to put those other contemporary ideas to paper.
Like the one about the punk mailman…
HARPER COOK never believed in destiny. Knowing your true love on first sight was a crock of shit, if he ever heard one. His cold, damp workman gloves turned his fingers into prunes as he held tight to the lobster trap towline. The sun melted over the harbor like a fresh pat of butter over a griddle. His lobster boat bobbed in the choppy waters, as insignificant as a child’s toy. He planted his feet, curling his toes in his work boots, and tossed the heavy, awkward trap into the sea.
Behind him, his brother Joe readied another trap from the stack. Meanwhile, his baby brother, Danny, stood by like a lazy asshole and sipped coffee from his metal thermos.
“Y’think you’re on a cruise, Danny?” Joe asked, scowling, his voice hoarse from the chilly morning breeze.
Harper gave an over-the-shoulder glance at the two of them before taking another trap.
“Well, if someone took care of the towlines yesterday and untangled them from the buoys, you wouldn’t be givin’ me lip about taking my time,” Danny said, taking another sip.
Joe snorted. “I had t’pick up Maggie from school. So, I rushed. Now it’s ya job to pick up the slack.”
“Ass,” Danny said. “You know what Mumma would say.”
Harper gave a deep, frustrated sigh. Here they went again.
“Now, if Mumma was still alive, she’d be too busy worryin’ if Hap would ever say more than three words,” Joe said.
Harper bristled. Couldn’t he just get the morning over with and have minimal discussion? Joe and Danny were the chatty ones. Harper had never been one for small talk. It was never important. Especially after the humiliating dream he had the night before that he still couldn’t shake.
Soon as his head had hit the pillow, his dream guy had appeared in his mind like he had been sleeping next to him for years. The kiss felt too real, and the wet dream that followed was definitely real enough to be embarrassing. He was up before the sun washing and drying his bedsheets. While the details of the guy had faded soon as he woke up, the comforting feeling of true love and destiny wouldn’t leave him.
He wrote it off as Joe’s wife, Grace, going on and on to her neighbor about those damned Nicholas Sparks books. True love and destiny weren’t real. Conditioner in the shower did the job well enough.
He clung tighter to the trap and, on a count of three, flung it into the stormy waters.
Harper scrunched his brows, then adjusted his trucker hat lower over his eyes to block the sun. The tourists would be out soon on their luxury lighthouse tours, and the damned guides would be getting in the way of their trapping territory. They had already lost two buoys last month over some jackass in a speedboat snapping the lines.
“There’s a Men of Maine calendar comin’ up,” Joe said, perhaps to Danny. Harper vaguely paid attention.
“Ayuh?” Danny asked while he worked with the knotted towlines. “Dammit, Joe. Y’did a number on these.”
“Anyway,” Joe said, “they asked me if we’d be interested.”
Danny chuckled. “No way. The only lady who sees this is my wife.” He patted his stomach.
“That’s why I volunteered Hap,” Joe said.
Harper’s eyes snapped wide. He spun on his heel to his brothers. “Y’did what?” he asked. His stomach clenched. So much for surviving this morning without harassment. “No.”
Danny brightened. “He speaks.”
Harper glowered, then snatched a trap from Joe’s hands.
“Hap,” Joe said. If he was trying to be encouraging, he was encouraging a fist to the face.
“No,” Harper said firmly. Angrily, he slung the lobster trap into the water. “I said no.”
“Harper,” Joe prodded. He could never say Harper’s full name right. The way he said it sounded the same as harbor—Hah-bah. Came with the Downeast accent that no one could say Rs. Bless their mumma and her shortsightedness. Joe gave a slight smile.
“C’mon, Joe,” Danny said while struggling with one stubborn knot. “Harper doesn’t like having his picture taken.”
“Especially naked,” Harper grunted, and slid another trap off the rack.
“Y’won’t be naked,” Joe said. “Y’be fully clothed, loungin’ on the boat, looking like a fine lobsterman, I might say.”
Danny nodded. “Ol’ Phil did it last year. No issue.”
The brothers paused and raised their right hands skyward. Bowing their heads, they muttered, “Ol’ Phil….”
“God bless ’im wherever he went,” Joe said, picking up where he’d left off as he readied another trap. “I’m just sayin’, it’ll be fine. Do I have the face of a liar?”
Harper pivoted on his heel, giving Joe a deep scowl. Silently he took the trap from Joe’s hands.
Danny spoke up. “Y’don’t want to know, Joe.”
Joe snorted as Harper tossed the trap out into the water. Harper contented himself to watch it bubble and sink before the neon orange buoy righted itself on the surface.
“Hand to God, Harper, cut me some slack,” Joe said. “I’m the good one, remember?”
Danny smacked his forehead. “Oh, brother. Here we go.”
Harper hefted another trap from the stack and then turned back to the open water. On the count of three, he gave it a strong toss. The trap splashed into the dark water in a magnificent foamy spray. He smiled at the sunlight painting the harbor like flecks of shimmering bluefish scales.
“Now Mumma, God bless her soul, when she was alive, she’d want you to come out of your shell.”
Harper blinked and looked back over his shoulder at Joe. He tilted his head, trying to piece together what he’d missed in Joe’s entire ramble. Not that it mattered. Joe was all talk. Regular chatterbox, that one.
“He’s not gonna give up on it, Hap,” Danny said.
Joe shrugged. “Look. It’s for Maggie’s playground. The school needs a new one, and she loves the monkey bars.”
“Okay,” Harper said.
Danny dropped the buoy along with his jaw. “What?”
Harper rolled his shoulders from soreness, but mostly irritation. “I said fine.”
Joe tossed his head back, crowing a round of belly laughs. “Attaboy. I’ll hook you up with the guy.”
“Guy?” Harper asked. His stomach tightened.
Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” Now, she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.
Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.
Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, she has intense emotions about Hannibal’s Hannigram, and unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.
You can find her in the Intarwebz here: