Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ABOVE THE NOISE cover reveal and CHAPTER 1

I can NOT believe this day has come!
Last year at this time I was working on final edits for IN TOO DEEP, my debut novel, and worrying people may not like it.
And, today, because of all of the AMAZING Gracie fans, I've released the sequel ON SOLID GROUND in December and now I'm revealing the cover for ABOVE THE NOISE... the third and final book of the IN TOO DEEP series.

This last year has been amazing! Unbelievable! And I can't that all my family and friends, betas, bloggers, readers and author friends for helping this dream come to fruition. There are days I still have to pinch myself!

Well, I know you're all waiting for Calon and would like me to stop babbling...so here he is...on the

And here's the synopsis:

Becki Mowry’s journalism expertise keeps her busy as she spends her waking hours filling a calendar with gigs and public appearances for her boyfriend’s up and coming band, Alternate Tragedy. Radio interviews and TV spots result in sold out concerts and rowdy groupies hot for her guy; lead singer, Calon Ridge. But, as fame would have it, their time in the limelight also brings sabotage, rumors and false accusations. Becki and Calon try to stay steadfast on a personal journey that takes them to the depths of fear and uncertainty. And finally, the rug is pulled out from under the band when they must make a transition they never dreamed they’d be faced with.

In this third book of the In Too Deep series, Becki and Calon struggle to find balance as they navigate their new relationship while living amid the rock world’s nocturnal chaos. But when life’s unexpected obstacles come out of nowhere, they focus on finding their own private solace Above the Noise.

And like I promised, here's the ENTIRE first CHAPTER because you are all so awesome and have waited so patiently (NOT!) for this final book in the series. I will miss Calon terribly and after this book, you will, too!



“Change our image? Are you fucking kidding me? This is ridiculous! Guys, Becki. We’re out!” Calon’s voice was sharp and his stance was on the verge of threatening. It was unusual to see him that way. He’d been nothing but sweet, sensitive, passionate and gentle since we first met. I’d heard him get loud with Gracie when they practiced new songs at Mitchell’s but that was usually because she held back what he tried to pull from her. That kind of passion was a cool thing to see. The clenched fist thing in Greystar Management’s conference room teetered between passionate and dangerous and that was a first for me.
Mr. Barnes sat with his eyes fixed on Calon but seemingly unshaken by my new boyfriend’s outburst. I sat with the band, across from Mr. Barnes desk, on an eccentric couch. I looked around at the other guys to see if they were as thrown by Calon’s booming voice as I was. They didn’t seem fazed. Spider leaned back into the couch with his arm up over the back. Manny sat next to Spider with his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped under his chin. He rubbed his forehead then turned his head away from Mr. Barnes, looked passed me and grinned at Bones. Bones nodded, straight-faced, then looked back at Calon. I was the odd man out, the only uncomfortable one in the room. I felt like I should stand up to leave as per Calon’s directive, but no one else budged.
“Mr. Ridge, listen. It’s common practice in this industry for management to help you create an image. Your image is what sells your music, that’s no secret.”
“Funny! I like to think it’s our talent.” Calon wasn’t about to let this go. It was incredibly sexy to watch him take charge and stand his ground but I would have rather had toothpicks shoved under my fingernails than spend any more time in the meeting.
“Calon, think of the bands you know off the top of your head. You can picture the band members, right?”
“Of course I can, but that’s not what sells a record, Mr. Barnes. The passion for the craft, the investment in the art of taking an emotion and slinging words around it then folding in just the right beat and melody is what sells. Not my hair or the style of my clothes. I don’t even think about that stuff before I go on stage. All I think of is how I’m gonna move my fans. And I sure as hell think they’re longing to be moved…by my voice, not my image.” Calon added air quotes at the end of  his rant.
“Honey, what’s your name, again?” Mr. Barnes pointed at me with his pen as he stood and walked around the back of his chair. I hated that he called me that but I decided to ignore it so as not to add to the stress level in the room. He nodded in my direction and that proverbial pin would have split my eardrums against the silence in the room at that moment.
“Becki.” My name came out of my throat like it’d been dragged across sand paper first. I hated that this cocky man had me so worked up.
“Becki, you’re Alternate Tragedy’s manager.”
I nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Which means you must be a fan of their music, correct?”
“Of course.” I nodded again and rubbed my hands on my knees to try and keep my body from shattering from the nervous energy that ran through it.
“Are you also a fan of their look?” He raised his eyebrow at me and slowly turned his head to Calon as if he was drawing an imaginary line between us, challenging me.
I took a slow deep breath and gathered my thoughts before I spoke. . I stood and walked toward a bookshelf where a framed photo of Mr. Barnes and the members of his company sat. Mr. Barnes blinked a couple times as though I caught him off guard with my decorum. I made it obvious that I would use that photo as a means to turn the table on him. I nodded in the direction of the stuffy, exclusively male executive team posed against a boardroom table in the frame.
“Mr. Barnes, image sells, you’re right. So, we agree that people may not take your company seriously if your trademark photo had been taken on a beach and you were all shirtless and in Hawaiian swim trunks. Correct?”
“Sure.” He remained behind his chair, an obvious comfort zone. He looked nervous. But I told myself I made him nervous, then tried not to pass out.
“There is no doubt in my mind that women will fall in love with these guys, as they have for years, for their music and what it does to them while they listen. I’m sure they’ll each have their very own groupies.” I heard a loud slap and looked over my shoulder at Spider who threw a dirty look at Bones then rubbed his arm. Bones who looked up at me like a scolded child. Dork.
“That’s exactly what—”
“Excuse me, I’m not finished making my point Mr. Barnes.” I nodded when he motioned with his hand to continue and I walked back over and stood behind the guys on the couch and next to Calon who had stepped out of my way when I stood up to go head to head with Mr. Barnes. “As an avid music fan and former groupie myself, I have to stand behind my clients and support Calon’s concerns. There needs to be an authentic match between appearance and music. If there’s even the slight shift it will appear orchestrated and unnatural to the fans who’ve followed them for years. Just as it would if the professional reputation of your company was challenged by a beach bum photo. Do you see what I’m saying, Mr. Barnes?”
Mr. Barnes folded his arms across his chest and reached up with one hand to rub his chin. He walked around the front of his desk and sat on the edge.
I took my phone from my pocket and scrolled through my music while I struggled to keep my trembling under control. I pressed play. The acoustic guitar that sprung forth would not only prove my point, it would help to calm my nerves immediately.
 “Mr. Barnes, you know this artist.” The guys instinctively kept the beat with their feet on the expensive oriental carpet under their shit-kickers.
“Chris Cornell.”
“Yes. When you close your eyes and picture him performing this song, ‘The Keeper,’ live. Can you feel the vibe he has?”
“Of course. The man’s an icon.”
“But that’s not why you can picture him. You can picture him easily because he wears his music. Everything about who he is, what he loves, what cuts his soul, how deeply he loves and how passionate he is about his fans is externally evident in his image. If I saw Chris perform in anything other than his signature combat boots, jeans and t-shirt it would be a distraction. If he walked out on the stage holding his guitar in a pair of Justin Bieber’s saggy leather dance pants, a flat brim hat and awife beater I wouldn’t appreciate what he had to offer that night. It would seem contrived. I would feel cheated out of what I could have received from him in the form of an artistic experience.”
I looked up at Calon for approval of my calm rant. He smiled that crooked smile that dropped the bottom out of my stomach. He tried to hide the smile and scratched his forehead, then nodded.
“Mr. Barnes, what you see in front of you in how these guys are dressed and how they wear their personalities is what you get on stage. Calon couldn’t take a handful of short hair in his hands to show the ache in the words he’s singing. Spider couldn’t throw it down on the drums the way he does if he wasn’t comfortable in his own skin. Manny and Bones light up the stage with those guitars, if you asked them to morph into something they are not, they wouldn’t suck that crowd in like I know they can. Listen, it’s smart marketing. You can look at a photo of Alternate Tragedy and know the kind of music you’re getting just like you can with Chris Cornell. Asking them to become something they’re not, would be cheating everyone out of what they have to offer. And in my honest opinion, that would be a huge mistake for you and this tour.”
Mr. Barnes looked a bit stunned but kept his eyes locked on mine. He wasn’t going to admit that I’d just put him in his place. “Becki, you raise a good point. Let me mull this over and we can get together tomorrow and discuss my thoughts. Sound good?”
“Sounds great.” Calon’s voice was calm and relaxed. However, I was about to throw up but I plastered a classy smile across my face and nodded. We all shook hands and left Mr. Barnes’ office in a single file line; Calon right behind me bringing up the rear. We walked silently to the elevator and once we were in and the doors closed all four of them let loose. Whoops and yelps that I’m sure could be heard two floors away were showered down all around me. All I could do was laugh. My very first official day as Alternate Tragedy’s manager and I rocked it like nobody’s business.
Calon turned his body to mine and forced me into the corner of the elevator. He pressed his hips into me and slid his face next to mine until his lips touched my earlobe. I could feel his hot breath on my neck as he spoke. “That was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen, Becks.”
“Oh, here they go again. Good grief, get a room, would ya!” Bones was always the one to complain about me and Calon. The other guys didn’t seem to mind all that much and it’s not like we were all PDA all the time. We’d been stuck in a van with all of them since we left Knoxville for LA. Calon hadn’t gotten anything from me in all that time except a few stolen kisses.
“Yeah.” It was the breathiest word I’d ever spoken but the sexual tension between the two of us turned me inside out.
“I can’t wait until we have our own room.” Calon spoke loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Me too.”
“We can’t wait either.” Bones’ voice was harsh. “God, you’re making me horny. Would you put your dick away, man. All this sexiness is really starting to be a problem for me.” He grumbled something else under his breath and Calon chuckled and turned toward Bones in our cramped space..
“Bones, man, I’m sorry my dick is such a problem for you.”
“Shut up, faggot.”
The elevator erupted into celebratory laughter. When the doors opened on the ground floor of the posh LA office building, we stepped into the glass atrium and the late afternoon August sun stung our eyes. Manny spoke the words forming in the back of my mind.
“Let’s go get some drinks.”

Summer flashback
The first time Calon and I drank together was after one of their shows when he walked me back to my dorm. The guys didn’t usually drink during a show but a big storm rolled in that night just as their first set started. The atmosphere inside Mitchell’s unexpectedly turned from a slamming rock sound to an acoustic vibe when the lights went out. Gracie ran around and gathered as many candles as she could from the back room and we all helped her light them and place them on the silenced speakers on and around the stage. Calon and the guys enjoyed beer after beer and did a show like I’d never seen from them. It was rustic with a little folk-funk. The bar’s patrons sang along in the glow of about forty container candles of all different sizes. Calon sat center stage on a stool and sang away the hours with his guitar resting on his thigh. The whole night was ethereal and quaint and very fucking sexy.
He asked if he could walk me home again which was exactly what I’d hoped for. When we crossed the road right outside of Mitchell’s, Calon grabbed my hand and we ran for the opposite sidewalk that lead across campus and up to my dorm. Electricity ran through the hand he held, I was sure he could feel it because he didn’t let go.
That night he told me groupie stories for the entire length of our walk. I was laughing when I pushed my door open. And being a little tipsy, I tripped and fell into him, pinning him against the open door. My hands landed on his chest and in an attempt to keep up both upright, his strong  hands grabbed my hips. My mind shot back to the thoughts I’d had earlier watching his deft fingers move on the strings of his guitar.
His t-shirt was damp from sweat and his curls tickled my forehead when he laughed. It was one of those moments you see in movies when the couple finds themselves in a compromising position and they freeze. Chests heaving, mouths agape and hearts racing. His eyes searched my face but for what I didn’t know.
I pushed off his chest and walked, a bit shaken, to the mini fridge and grabbed the bottle of vodka from the top freezer portion.
“Shots?” I spun around and took him all in. Dark curls, sultry deep green eyes, an intense stare and lips I could entertain for days.
“Absolutely.” He plopped down on my bed and leaned back against the wall, his legs so long they hung at a weird angle not quite touching the floor. He had a hole in his jeans just below his front pocket which puckered when he sat and I had a hard time not trying to see into it.
I was completely oblivious to what my heart was capable of at that point, so the alcohol was an attempt to loosen up before we started making out. He kind of brushed me off the first two times he walked me home like he didn’t want to be that jerk rock star and left without even a kiss.  But this was the token third time he’d been to my room and that’s just how it typically worked. The guy comes back the third time after not getting any the first two, you know they want it or they’d have given up after the second night of blue balls.
We did a couple shots and laughed about random shit and then there was the uncomfortable silence; it was deafening. I decided to make the first move before it got really awkward. I turned on the twinkling lights that hung above my bed and flipped the switch for the overhead fluorescents. I climbed onto the bed on my knees facing Calon and reached for his face to pull him in for a kiss. He stopped me, and held me still by the wrists.
“Becki, I’m not here for that.” He loosened his grip on my wrists and I dropped my hands in my lap.
“Oh.” Fuck. He wasn’t interested. It was one thing to be turned down by the conceited freak from my study group but to be turned down by a hot rock star seemed to slice a little deeper. I brushed it off like it didn’t bother me, but it did.
“No, no. Listen.” He took my chin between his thumb and finger and pulled my face a little closer to his. “I am extremely attracted to you, Becki. I love your personality and you are gorgeous, so my comment wasn’t a rejection.” He smiled and I felt like a complete idiot. A slutty idiot.
“It’s okay, I get it. It was stupid for me to—”
“Shh. No regrets, Becki. You’re attracted to me, too and I’m glad. I’m just not one to rush into that kind of thing.” He dropped his hand from my chin and it joined my hands in my lap. I held his hand with both of mine.
“Wow. I’m pretty sure you’re the first rock star in history to turn down a groupie.” I rolled my eyes and got up to pour more shots. Calon followed me over to the mini fridge, put his hands on my waist and spun me around. His thumbs touched my skin when my blousy Marilyn Monroe tank flounced with my spin.
“I don’t see you as a groupie, Becki, and I’m technically not turning you down. I can’t explain it but I feel like there’s more here, between us. A connection that we should pay attention to.” He rubbed the outside of my bare arms with his warm, strong hands. Those fingers.
I didn’t know what to say. I suddenly felt mute. He had all the right words and I didn’t have a single word in my head. He left me speechless which is no easy task.
“So, am I crazy? Or do you feel it, too?”
“Yeah." It’s all I could muster but admitting just that much sucked the air from my lungs. I wasn’t the sappy, talk about your feelings kind of girl. In my experience, it just made life messier. But there was something about those green eyes and sexy grin that pulled the sap right out of me without even trying. He was so incredibly intense and it took years for me to build the walls I had around my heart. He’d already knocked away a couple bricks and something told me he could get to my heart if he really wanted to. Calon may be ready for me, but what if I wasn’t ready for Calon?

And, don't forget, you can find EACH BOOK'S playlist on SPOTIFY! Just search my name.
I think this playlist is my favorite...well, they're all my favorites!

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