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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Baker by Serena Yates Blog Tour (Courtesy of Divine Magazine.net)

Title: The Baker
Series: Workplace Encounters
Author: Serena Yates
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Length: 40000 words
Release Date: July 15, 2015

BLURB
BakerTheLG
Ian Wallace works as a baker for his tyrannical father in their family owned Scottish Bakehouse in Casper, Wyoming. He wants to represent the bakery in the upcoming Tartan Day competition, but his father refuses to reveal the secret ingredients that make them so successful—unless Ian gets married and has a son, proving he is fit to continue the family line.
Just before New Year’s Eve, Cameron Lewis, a former Marine turned police detective, comes into the bakery for donuts for his department and some black buns for himself. Cameron is hooked, and as his visits become more frequent, they stir Ian’s father’s suspicions. But threats can’t stop Ian from donning his kilt and entering the competition anyway—to show his father what he can do on his own. Though he might not have the secret ingredients, Ian and Cameron might still discover a recipe for happiness.
CommonExcerpt
Just before nine things had slowed down to a manageable level, and Ian was about to take a short restroom break, leaving the store to Senga. But then the doorbell tinkled yet again, and the most gorgeous man Ian had ever laid eyes on walked into the store. He was tall, probably over six feet, had blond hair in a ruthless buzz cut, and his warm brown eyes invited Ian to trust him. The man was well built, muscular like a Marine, and wore a smart dark green suit, covered by an open black winter topcoat. His facial expression seemed guarded but curious as he looked around the store. Ian had the strangest feeling he was cataloging exits and potential sources of danger.
Thank God Senga was busy with a group of women unable to decide what they wanted so Ian had an excuse to talk to the guy.
“What can I do for you, sir?” Ian’s voice sounded suspiciously hoarse, and for the briefest moment, a spark of heat appeared in Mr. Good-looking’s eyes.
“I’ve never been to this bakery before….” The stranger trailed off as he examined Ian with the same curiosity and concentration he had used to assess the shop.
I know you haven’t. I’d definitely remember you!
“A colleague at the station recommended your stuff, so I came to have a look.” The stranger tilted his head. “You’ll probably laugh, since this is such a cliché, but I’m looking for donuts.”
“Station? Donuts?” Ian’s brain refused to function for a moment.
“Yeah, I’m a cop. Well, a detective actually, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I love donuts, and so do my colleagues.” The stranger laughed, and the deep, resonant sound thrilled Ian to his core.
“Ah. Right, well, we do sell donuts.” Ian pointed to the display. “It’s not a great selection, since most customers seem to come here for the more Scottish specialties, but I hope you can find some you like.”
“I’ll take two dozen, please.” Mr. Detective smiled. “And what else do you think I should get so my colleagues can find out about your wonderful work? It does smell amazing in here.”
“Thank you.” Ian started to put the donuts into a box and, without thinking, blurted out the first thing he could think of. “Would you like to try my buns?”
“Your… buns?” Mr. Detective’s eyebrows rose, a twinkle appeared in his eyes, and an amused smile curved his dark red lips.
“Yes. The black ones.” Ian pointed at the cakes, only to realize what the stranger must have meant when the man couldn’t stop grinning. Heaven above, was the gorgeous specimen of male beauty gay? But who else would have gotten the joke? Not that Ian had meant it as a joke. He was deep enough in the closet he didn’t know how to begin looking for the door, never mind find it. He definitely wouldn’t mind trying if this guy were on the other side, waiting for him. But Mr. Detective probably wasn’t out either, even if he were gay. A gay cop, or detective, wouldn’t make it out here in the wilds of Wyoming. Ian could feel himself blush even as he realized he was now babbling in his own head.
“Oh, I see.” Mr. Detective bent toward the black buns and grinned. “They look kinda cute. Are they as Scottish as they look with that flag painted on them?”
“Yes, they’re a traditional cake eaten during the traditional Scottish Hogmanay celebration on New Year’s Day.” Ian finished packing up the donuts, closed the box, and placed it on the counter. “Would you like to try one?”
“Yes, please. I have no idea what’s inside, but I like surprises. I’ll try to figure out what the ingredients are.” Mr. Detective looked back up. “Gives me a fun mystery to ponder.”
“Okay, I’ll get you one in a small box.” Ian wasn’t going to ask about the other mysteries, the not-so-fun ones, in the man’s life. He might be a homicide detective, and eww, Ian wasn’t going there. “Anything else I can get you?”
“Nah, I’m okay for now.” Mr. Detective grinned again. “But if your stuff tastes as good as it looks and smells, I’ll definitely be back. Can’t believe I’ve worked here for five years and have never noticed this place. Don’t tell anyone, or they’ll take my badge.”
Ian laughed as he rang up the purchase and took the guy’s money. As far as I’m concerned, you can come back anytime, Mr. Detective!

AuthorInterview
What inspired you to start writing?
When I was very young and before I learned to read, maybe around the age of four, my mother used to read me stories. Mostly fairy tales, I think. And there was this one time when I hated the ending and I thought to myself ”I can do better than that. I want to write a fairy tale better than this one.” I think that was the very beginning of many years of scribbling stories and thinking ”what if”—which ultimately led to me wanting to become a writer.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writig ”for fun” since I was about ten years old. I got serious about wanting to make it work about twelve years ago, and once my first book (To Find and to Keep) was published six years ago, in June 2009, I finally began to write full-time.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Keep writing. The only reason to stop is if you find out it’s not enjyable anymore. Keep reading. The only way you can find out what is out there, what kind of stories are getting published, is to read. And if you want to get published? Keep trying. The only way you will succeed is by not giving up. Believe in your stories and keep looking for a pubisher that fits with what you want to do as a writer.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I suffered from really bad writer’s block throughout 2013 and most of 2014. Although I kept trying, I didn’t like any of what I wrote. I discovered that creativity is not something I can ”force” by pushing myself harder, and that was a tough lesson.  In the end, I took a step back, gave myself permission to do other things, and once I was more relaxed the ideas came back.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Isaac Asimov. He was the first science fiction writer I read when I was about ten, and I will never forget his Robot stories, or the whole Foundation series. What an imagination!
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I think this is different from person to person. There are professors of literature who will tell you what makes a good book, and for them, that is probably true. Many of those books make me go to sleep almost instantly, or they scare me to death. I have found that there are about as many definitions of ”good writing” as there are people, so I can’t give you a general definition.
For me, good writing is about storytelling. Not literary worth, or the technical side of writing, or how brilliant someone’s style is. For me it is about a story that captures my imagination because of the story idea, or the characters, or the setting, or the action... It could be any one of those elements or a combination that will make me say ”That is a great book!”
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Most of my ideas come to me in dreams. I dream about a character, or a scene wil pop up, and I’ll become interested. Then I sit down and think things through, try to figure out what led to that scene, or wnat makes a certain character tick. Then I map out their story on a spreadsheet. Each chapter gets a column, and then I note points like the date, the point of view character, a rough description of each scene in separate lines from top to bottom. It helps me see the story at a glance and discover any holes. Initially only the first three of four chapters are clear, the rest is more vague. But as I write each chapter, stuff that might happen in the next few chapters pops up and I add it to the spreadsheet. So it’s very much a “living” document that changes as I go. But it really helps me stay on track. And believe me, with characters like mine, who can be very stubborn, keeping them reined in can be a full-time job.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
It depends. Mostly it starts with characters for me, but I have had a few books where a scene from a story, or even a whole part of the beginning came to me. And sometimes I ask ”what if” and some sort of alternate world pops up.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Throughout the story, Ian (who is of Scottish descent) keeps mentioning wearing his kilt. Cameron cannot wait to see it happen, and when it finally does—all I will say is that what follows is one of the hottest scenes in the entire book.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?
I am working on a sequel to Eye of Scota, a science fiction novel I wrote a few years ago. I am also writing The Lumberjack, a Workplace Encounters book that will release in 2016. And there are a few more ideas bubbling in the background...
What are you reading now?
I read a lot. Short stories, novellas, novels. The vast majority are gay fiction, and the best way to find out details is to chck my account on Goodreads.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Probably all the science fiction, fantasy, and adventure stories I rad whe I was a teeneager!
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Some of them are predetermined, like the books in the Workplace Encounters series. they are simply the job titles or professions of the main character. Other titles? I have no idea where they come from. Sometimes I know the title before I start writing a bok or a story, and sometimes it doesn’t come to me until I type The End. It’s a total mystery! 
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I began to read books about writing, took some online classes to cover areas I felt weaker in, and wrote on a regular basis with the intent to submit. That wasabout twelve years ago.
Describe your writing space.
It’s a desk in front of a window in my upstairs study.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
It varies. Sometimes it is finding the beginning of a story, more often it is keeping my characters on track. A few stories I have carried with me for many years, and I am only now starting to figure out how to write them.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
Never the same. I hate routine, so I have to keep it variable to stay interested. Most days I will begin to write in the late afternoon, and work late into the night. I usually go to bed around 3:00 am and get up around 11:00 am. It fits my rhythm as a night owl perfectly. On very few occasions I wake up and go straight to writing, but mostly it is coffee, e-mails, and social meduia first, then some reading, and writing after lunch.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I really have no idea. I’m a very sequential writer and work in chapter chunks. I can’t start the next chapter before I am happy with the previous one. Most witers I have spoken with are a little less ”rigid” in their approach.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Readind. I like to travel to new places, but have ot some a lot in the last few years. I love to spend time with my nieces, and that is time-intensive. I also love to learn languages and try to keep up with the newest scientific developments. Astronomy fascinates me.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
When I first started being serious about becoming a writer, I was still working full-time as a management consultant. That does not leave much time for writing. So I did a three-month sabbatical, and was surprised that what my brain produced were romances. I had never read one in my life. But apparently, that was what my muse had decided.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have published a total of 65 novels, novellas, and short stories. A few more have been written and contractd, but are not released yet. I love them all, but my favorite will probably always be the first one I published—to me, there is just something special about my very first book that saw the light of day, so to speak.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
Usually they are asking for the next sequel in one of my series, or they want to know more about a certain character. Sometimes they just contact me to tel me the liked a book.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh, everything from a doctor to an astronaut, a pilot for a while, and then a race car driver. I figure being a writer allows me to live vicariously in many of those worlds.
How do you do research for your books?
I love Google. The Internet has made doing research so much easier and is a perfect starting point. Depending on the subject, I will talk to people as well, or contact them via e-mail. Usually they are very helpful. For one book I needed some information about police procedures in Britai. So I asked a police officer in the village where I live (he was just coming out of the station) if he could tell me what would happen if a dead body was found in Scotland. Which branch of the law would be in charge—the local police or Scotland Yard? I got a very strange look and did some fast explaining to avoid getting arrested! 

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AboutTheAuthor
I’m a night owl and start writing when everyone else in my time zone is asleep. I’ve loved reading all my life and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. Although I always wanted to be a writer, financial independence came first. Twenty-some years and a successful business career later I took some online writing classes and never looked back.
Living and working in seven countries has taught me that there's more than one way to get things done. It has instilled tremendous respect for the many different cultures, beliefs, attitudes and preferences that exist on our planet.
I like exploring those differences in my stories, most of which happen to be romances. My characters have a tendency to want to do their own thing, so I often have to rein them back in. The one thing we all agree on is the desire for a happy ending.
I currently live in the United Kingdom, sharing my house with a vast collection of books. I like reading, traveling, spending time with my nieces and listening to classical music. I have a passion for science and learning new languages.
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