Friday, January 25, 2013

For the Love of Romance by Kat Lee



The Roses of Prose would like to welcome Kat Lee as our guest blogger today. She'd been generous enough to offer a paperback with signed bookplate to some lucky winner! And 5 ebooks to the runners-up. Just leave a comment. Take it away, Kat!

I started reading romances when I was eight years old.  My grandmother was a huge fan of the genre and wen through about two or three of them a day.  Her tabletops and counters were littered with Harlequins, Avons, and anything else she could get her hands on and afford on her fixed income.

My parents were of the mind that as long as I was reading something, they didn’t care what it was, so the romances went from Grandma’s hands to mine.  Sure, the sexy parts were thrilling for a girl my age, but it was the story that always kept me reading.  As I got older I found myself skipping the sexy parts, unless they were particularly well-done or unique, just so I could find out what was going to happen to the main character and her bold, commanding, and soon-enthralled love interest.

For over thirty years, I read these books, and then others by Nora Roberts, Julie Garwood, Suzanne Brockmann, Danielle Steele, and countless others, soaking up every character, plot, and twist of fate.  I was an addict for love.  As I got older, I began writing my own stories for school assignments, and I penned long-winded letters to my relatives.  The thing I kept getting back from everyone was: “You should write a book.  You’re really funny and good with words.”  My grandma Grace must have said it a hundred times before she passed away.

I looked into writing a novel several times - reading about the process, picking up the directory of publishers and agents in Barnes and Noble often over the years.  But everything I learned told me it would be like winning the lottery.  Finding an agent who would take me on and then that agent finding a publisher had a one in a million chance of happening.  The process would take years, and since I am not a patient person by nature, I just gave up before I even started.

But then I read an article at the end of 2011 about a girl named Amanda Hocking, who sounded a lot like me (only still young).  After having all of her manuscripts rejected by agents (many times over), she self-published them.  And she was so successful, eventually the agents and publishers came to her.

A light bulb went on:  “Why not me?” I asked myself.

Why not, indeed.  On January 2, 2012 I self-published my first book, and I haven’t looked back since.  Most of my books are YA (pen name: Elle Casey), read by older teens and adults, but I’ve also dipped my toes into my first love: Romance and its friendly cousin, Chick Lit, with the Desperate Measures Trilogy.  Book 1, “Full Measure” is now available in Kindle and Paperback formats, and Book 2 “Measuring Up” will be published at the end of January 2013.  I’ve also dabbled in Erotic Romance under another pen name.

My first year was a great success, and I’m looking forward to many more to come.  I owe every bit of my happiness and new amazing career to the readers and bloggers who read my work and share it with others.  Thank you for allowing me some space on your blog to interact with your fans!  I love being here and hope to be chatting with some new readers on Facebook as a result.


Desperate Measures Trilogy: Book 1 (Full Measure)

By Kat Lee







BLURB



DESPERATE MEASURES TRILOGY

Three women strike up an unlikely friendship, drawn together over a love of books, and end up forming bonds that move well beyond what any of them ever imagined possible. The Desperate Measures Trilogy serves up laughter, romance, cookies, tea - and a whole lot of love.

Aimee: A housewife left in the dust by her philandering husband, with an outdated high school education but a serious talent when it comes to confections...

Elizabeth: An accountant tired of crunching numbers for hundreds of clients with more money than they know what to do with...

Kiki: An exotic dancer who wants nothing more than to get out of the game...



EXCERPT (CHAPTER 1)



Aimee sat at the table with her checkbook in front of her and her ancient laptop open to the page that showed her bank account balance.  Tears rose up and threatened to spill over onto the cheap, faux leather cover that encased the little pieces of paper that were supposed to pay her debts.  Only, these particular pieces of paper that said, ‘Pay to the Order of’ weren’t going to be paying anyone for anything, anytime soon – seeing as how the balance glaring out at her from the computer screen was glowing red. 

“Crap and double crap,” she whispered to herself.  She looked over at the houseplant dying on the windowsill and said, “How am I supposed to buy groceries with no money?  Pay the mortgage?  Get gas?”  She dropped her head into her hands, letting her pen fall to the table with a clatter.  How did my life get so screwed up? she wondered, for the hundredth time in the past few months.

She pushed her chair out and stood up, reluctantly heading over to the telephone.  By some miracle it was still working, even though she hadn’t paid the bill in two months.  She was saving her meager cell phone minutes for emergencies, relying on this landline to communicate with the outside  world.  She dialed the number that literally made her sick to her stomach as she thought about who it would connect her to.  Him.  The person upon whose feet she wanted to and could fairly lay all the blame for her current sorry situation.

“Hello, Parsons, Kenrick, and Glad, Attorneys at Law, how may I direct your call?” said the cheerful, professional voice on the other end.

“May I speak with Jack Parsons, please?  This is Aimee.”

“Oh,” said the voice, abruptly.  And then, “Hi, Aimee,” in a softer tone laced with pity.  “Hold on a sec, okay?”

“Sure, Lucy.  Thanks.”

Aimee thought about all the years she’d known Lucy, the dependable receptionist at her husband’s law firm.  She wondered how much Lucy had known about Aimee’s husband and his assistant, Tiffany.  She speculated about all the things Lucy hadn’t said to her when she’d had plenty of opportunity.  Aimee didn’t believe Lucy was as clueless as she acted; but she tried to remind herself that Lucy had children to support and really needed her job.  She couldn’t be expected to tell Aimee any of the firm’s dirty little secrets, even if they did involve Aimee’s husband.

The line clicked and Jack Parsons came on the line.  “Jack.  What do you want?”

“Hello to you too, Jack,” said Aimee, hating her meek tone but not having the guts to change it.  She wished she could sound more angry, but something always stopped her.  She wrote it off to years of her mother telling her that manners were what separated us from monkeys.

“I don’t have time to play games, Aimee.  What do you want this time?”

She hardened her heart to his disregard.  “I need you to pay me my temporary support.  You’re three weeks late now.  I can’t pay my bills ... I can’t even pay for food at this point.”

“You need to get a job.  You know that.  I’ve told you several times.”

“Listen, Jack, you know I’ve been trying.  No one is hiring right now, especially someone without a college degree who’s been a housewife for the past ten years.  I have no current work experience!  I can’t even get a job cleaning houses, for chrissakes.”

“You don’t need to curse at me.”

“Whatever.  I don’t have time for your self-righteous bullcrap.  You filed for this divorce.  I need to come pick up a check.  When will it be ready?”

“I’m busy right now.  Heading out for depositions.  You can come by on Monday.”

“That’s three days from now!” she cried desperately.  The couch cushions had long ago given up the last few coins they held.  And if it hadn’t been for him emptying out their savings accounts behind her back, she wouldn’t be where she was right now – poorer than she’d ever been in her entire life.  Even as a teenager, she’d always paid her bills on time with money she’d earned and saved.

“Not my problem,” he said callously.  “Maybe if you’d tried harder to get a job two months ago, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Aimee gripped the phone so hard, it was a miracle it didn’t break in half.  “Oh yeah?!  Well, maybe you shouldn’t have cheated on me and slept with your practically-teenage, bubble-headed assistant!  Ever thought of that?!”

The only answer she received was the sound of a dead line.  She didn’t even know if he’d heard that last bit – and that only made her angrier, because that was the piece he really needed to hear.  She wished she could cram it down his throat.  With a golf club. 

Her eyes lit up.  Golf clubs!  He had put his favorite set in the garage the other day when he’d run out of room in the trunk of his Aston Martin.  She remembered seeing it propped up in the corner near the water heater when she’d gone out to find the mop earlier.

She put the phone down on the counter and ran to the three-car garage, flicking on the light absently while her eyes scanned the hyper-organized space, looking for the dark blue hulking figure of her almost-ex’s well-maintained, top of the line set.  He called these golf clubs his babies.  She remembered bitterly what he’d said when she saw the credit card balance and the ridiculous charges for the various drivers and irons. 

“I have to spend my money on something,” he’d said.  “You aren’t getting pregnant, so if I can’t have a kid, these new clubs will be my babies.”  He’d poured himself another martini and laughed at his own cruel joke, as Aimee struggled not to wad up the credit card bill and throw it in his face.    Instead, she’d calmly filed it away, as she was expected to. 

Stupid, stupid, stupid.  I was such a frigging welcome mat for him – always letting him wipe his feet off on me.  Frigging jerk.

Her eyes lit up as they spied the leather bag that held Jack’s babies.  He’d spent over thirty grand on them a year ago.  That was just before he’d started boinking his assistant, Tiffany.  Aimee’s upper lip raised in a silent snarl, just thinking the name.  Tiffany.  He’d stopped golfing so much after he started ‘working late’ and going on ‘weekend work retreats’.  And after Tiffany had gotten pregnant?  Well, these golf-club-babies had taken to hanging out in Aimee’s garage more often than not. 

Apparently, Tiffany’s garage was too full of the new SUV Jack had bought her and all the baby gifts he and his friends had started collecting.  Jack and Tiffany were having a boy, so there were a lot of things to buy, of course.  And there would be no money left over for spousal support or food for an unemployed soon-to-be ex-wife.  Aimee knew that short of a huge court battle, she wasn’t going to be able to depend on any financial support from him.  She tried not to scream at the unfairness of it all, focusing instead on doing what needed to be done.

She walked over and grabbed the bag, wrestling it across the empty garage and into the house.  She dragged it to the living room and dropped it heavily in the middle of the floor.  She didn’t have to worry about hitting any furniture on her way, since most of it was gone now.  Her ex was fond of making unannounced runs over to her house when she wasn’t home, to steal furniture, paintings and the knick-knacks they’d collected during their marriage, to bring back to his new girlfriend’s place.  Aimee had heard from a neighbor that Jack actually brought Tiffany along when he came sometimes, which meant that the slutty husband-stealer had been walking through Aimee’s house as if it were a department store, picking out all the items she wanted to furnish her house with - the new townhouse that Jack had bought with their marital savings and put in Tiffany’s name. 

Aimee had finally gotten wise to his deceit and had taken her favorite things and locked them in the trunk of her car.  So far, he hadn’t figured that out.  Not for the first time, she wished she had a friend who would take some things for her, to keep them out of Tiffany’s hands; but all of the people she had thought were her friends, were actually just wives of her husband’s friends.  Once he’d declared his undying love for Tiffany, they’d all flocked to her like flies on crap. 

Aimee left the room to retrieve her camera from her purse.  She needed to get a shot of the golf clubs while there was still some good light in the front room.

Twenty minutes later, she had four nice pictures of the clubs, the bag, and all the little gloves and balls and tees and whatnot that had been in the pockets, loaded up onto the Internet and advertised on Craigslist.  She rubbed her hands together, waiting for the emails to start flooding in.

The first one came within five minutes.

IS THIS FOR REAL?  YOU’RE REALLY SELLING THESE OR IS THIS A SCAM?

She smiled, more than a little maliciously, her conscience only nagging her a little.  She typed out her response:

YES IT’S FOR REAL , AND NO, IT’S NOT A SCAM.  MAKE ME AN OFFER.

While she waited for the disbeliever to email her back, another email came in.  And then another.  “Thank goodness for golf nuts,” she said to her houseplant, as she replied to each message in turn.  All but one sender wondered if she were off her rocker, so she started just cutting and pasting a standard response.

She felt something on her leg and reached down automatically to pet the cat that wasn’t there.  He hadn’t been there for months.  She was pretty sure he’d died of a broken heart after Jack had left and refused to take him along.  Tiffany was allergic to cats, plus there had been the future baby to think of.  Chauncey was never Aimee’s cat – Jack had bought him one day fifteen years ago on a whim – but she missed his company anyway.  She wished she could get a new pet, but was worried about how she would feed it.  The houseplant was going to have to fit the bill for now.

She focused on the last email that had come through – this one different in tone than the others – from someone named ‘Elizabeth @ Channing Burkes’.

I HAVE A CLIENT WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED.  WOULD YOU TAKE TEN THOUSAND FOR THE SET?

“Whoa!” Aimee shouted out into the empty kitchen.  She knew the clubs were worth nearly three times that, especially since they were hardly used and a few were custom made, but she had never expected to get anything near this amount.  She narrowed her eyes.  “You’d better not be scamming me, you turd,” she said.  She started typing,

YES.  BUT NO CHECKS AND NO WIRING OF FUNDS FROM NIGERIA.  AND IF YOU’RE A LAWYER, YOU CAN FORGET IT.

The houseplant sat there, almost as if staring at her ... admonishing her.  “What?” she said, looking at it and trying again not to feel guilty.  “He’s the one who left and took all our money, not leaving me anything to support myself with.  What else am I supposed to do?  I already sold my wedding ring and engagement ring – which was a quarter the size of Tiffany’s by the way – and all the silver and china.”

The houseplant just sat there.  Being a plant.

Aimee rolled her eyes.  “He’ll have me committed if he ever catches me talking to you, you know.”  She refused, for that reason, to further defend her decision to sell the clubs and not to any lawyers.  Lawyers were bad guys in her book.  In her experience, all they did was take and take and take ... and then walked all over anyone who was stupid enough to have given them anything.  Just like Jack.

The email inbox beeped at her, telling her a new message was there from Elizabeth.

NO, I’M NOT A LAWYER.  I’M AN ACCOUNTANT.  I’M HAPPY TO BRING YOU CASH.  I’VE ALREADY SPOKEN WITH MY CLIENT AND RECEIVED HIS APPROVAL.  WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET?

Aimee hemmed and hawed.  Where? Where? Where?  She looked at the plant again.  “Where should I meet her?  I don’t think letting anyone come here is a good idea.”  She was a single woman, alone, and desperate.  That would be obvious to anyone seeing how sparsely the place was furnished now and how crappy Aimee herself looked.  Jack was almost fond of saying how much she’d let herself go.  He, on the other hand, looked as if he’d just stepped off the cover of a men’s fitness magazine.  All the weight he’d gained during their marriage had melted off once he’d started staying at the office late.  Funny, how that worked. 

Before she could come up with a suitable answer, another email from Elizabeth came through.

I’M GOING TO A BOOK CLUB MEETING TONIGHT.  YOU COULD MEET ME IN THE BOOKSTORE PARKING LOT IF YOU’D LIKE.

“Hmmm, bookstore.  That sounds safe and anonymous.”

Aimee quickly responded, THAT SOUNDS GOOD.  SEND ME THE ADDRESS AND TIME AND I’LL MEET YOU THERE.  REMEMBER, CASH ONLY.  NO HUNDREDS.

She felt a little like a thief, the way she was talking, but she worried that someone was going to pass her a bunch of counterfeit money and leave her minus the only thing she had left of value in her house, other than her car - which she couldn’t afford to sell and be without transportation.

Another message popped up.

I DON’T MEAN TO BE RUDE, BUT I NEED TO TELL YOU THAT I CANNOT PURCHASE STOLEN MERCHANDISE.  DO YOU HAVE PROOFS OF PURCHASE?

Aimee’s face colored.  But she quickly pushed aside any misgivings about the ownership of the clubs – since technically Jack was still her husband, and he’d already taken more than that in value of her stuff – and typed, THEY ARE NOT STOLEN.  THEY ARE MY HUSBAND’S.  I WILL BRING THE RECEIPTS.  I JUST DON’T WANT ANY COUNTERFEIT MONEY.  SORRY IF THAT WAS WEIRD.

Aimee had kept the receipts as directed by Jack, who was really anal about financial records.  He insisted that she tape all of their receipts onto pieces of paper and then file the papers in binders, while also simultaneously entering the amounts into the accounting software they kept for personal expenses.  So when their accountant came each year, he could be left alone in a room with all the binders and the computer to do his work uninterrupted.  Jack didn’t want to pay a single red cent more to the accountant than he needed to, so he used her free labor to do most of the job all year long, allowing the tax preparation to be done in record time, especially taking into account their considerable household expenses.  Golf club community living didn’t come cheaply, nor did Jack’s expensive habits.

The response email came with a beep.  VERY GOOD.  I’VE ATTACHED A MAP WITH DIRECTIONS AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE WOMEN’S BOOK CLUB MEETING, IN CASE YOU WANT TO JOIN US.  IT’S A NEW GROUP AND WE NEED MORE MEMBERS.

Aimee clicked on the attachment and saw that the bookstore was close and that the book club had just finished a book she had read herself last week.  It would only take about ten minutes to get there.  She was a serious book lover, but hadn’t been to that bookstore in months.  Unable to afford new novels anymore, she was at the library two times a week, trading in the already read for the unread.  She’d even gone so far as to trade in all the books she’d collected over the years to get credits at the local used bookstore.  She’d burned through those in two months.

Aimee thought about the idea of gathering with a group of women to discuss stories they’d read and was definitely intrigued.  She didn’t have any friends to talk to.  It might be nice to have something to think about other than desperation, for a change.  She looked at the houseplant and frowned, trying to remember how much gas she had left in her car.  She smiled as she realized that soon, she’d have ten thousand bucks and would be able to fill up her tank and maybe even buy a new book as a treat.  The rest of the cash she’d hide away for emergencies.  Like food.  Her stomach growled, reminding her that it hadn’t been fed yet today.  She quickly typed out her response,

I’LL SEE YOU AT SEVEN.  AND I WILL PROBABLY STAY FOR THE MEETING.  SOUNDS FUN!  THANKS FOR THE INVITATION.

She clicked over to the ad she’d placed and removed it, sending out a mass email to all the people who had responded, over fifty in less than thirty minutes, telling them the clubs were sold.  Once she heard the zooming sound that told her the email had gone out, she shut her computer off and went to her bedroom, looking for something to wear that might be suitable for an evening of talking about romance and true love.  Bah.  As if that even exists.



5 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

Darling covers. Like your trilogy idea. Such different characters. Best of luck.

Calisa Rhose said...

Ok, I got so wrapped up in the chapter I forgot it was a blog post! lol I'll take one, please. :) Oh, and nice to meet you, Kat! :)

Jannine Gallant said...

Sounds like a terrific series. Best of luck with it, Kat!

Barbara Edwards said...

Great excerpt. Looking forward to reading the whole trilogy.

Kat Lee said...

Thanks, ladies! And thank you Roses for including me on your blog! :)