About Me

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Born and raised in Southern Indiana, this Hoosier transplanted herself to the Windy City after graduate school. Her passion is teaching, with writing come a close second and gaining momentum. She currently teaches College of DuPage as an adjunct professor in the physical education department and runs a martial arts studio in Naperville, IL. She holds the rank of 3rd Dan in the United States Hapkido Federation.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Guest Author - Layla M. Weir

Hi Sherrie! Thanks so much for having me! I'm blog touring for my new novel Held For Ransom, set during Christmastime in a small town in Illinois.

Today I am also having a release party on Dreamspinner Press's blog (http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/), so please come by and check that out too if you get a chance!

For those of us in the U.S., today is the point when the ramp-up to Christmas begins in earnest -- Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday is here, and most of us are looking forward to the holiday season with some combination of delight and dread. I admit that for me, despite being your basic secular humanist atheist and therefore not involved in the religious aspects of the holiday, the delight tends to overwhelm the dread. Okay, yeah, there are always those terribly awkward family members to shop for, and the usual handful of family Christmases we don't like to talk about when things went dreadfully wrong. But for the most part, the Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year. I still have a childish delight in the brightly colored lights, the festive store displays, the Christmas music on the radio and the special holiday episodes of all my favorite TV shows. (Okay, maybe I could do without the same Macy's ad on TV every other commercial break ...)

It's not that I don't understand why some people hate the holiday season and brace themselves for it with despair. It's over-commercialized, the stores bring out the decorations in freakin' August (or at least it seems that way), and the obligation of having to shop for every relative under the sun strips out a lot of the fun of gift-giving ... and I feel for the plight of the non-celebrants at this time of year, who must be trapped in what seems like an inescapable, never-ending holly-filled purgatory.

But, yeah, I'm going to be that person who trots out all my holiday icons and wanders down the craft aisles at Michael's to smell the fake cinnamon potpourri. I know the holiday isn't perfect, but I find myself wallowing even in its less perfect aspects. Yeah, I like the stupid mall Santas and the dopy fake wreaths on the downtown lampposts, and even if I flip the radio channel at the first strains of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer", it's also with a certain wry indulgence (in addition to the cursing).

And so, in some ways, this is what Held For Ransom is all about, I guess. It's my personal paean to the Christmas holiday season -- the good, the bad, and the dreadfully awkward.

Here's an excerpt in which DJ Lanning, one half of the novel's main pairing, contemplates his own Christmas-related problems.


            Typically, three days before the annual Christmas carnival, the ball field would be echoing with the ring of hammers and the cheerful cries of volunteers as they put up the booths. This year no one had given any thought about the carnival—least of all DJ Lanning, until he started getting panicked calls from his mother’s friends a week prior. For the past twenty years, his mother had been organizing the whole thing by herself, and no one knew how anything was done. Vivian Lanning had obtained the necessary permits, called all the vendors, put together the fundraisers, and bought exactly enough of everything from bratwurst to balloons.

            Now with his father on a ’round-the-world, post-midlife crisis, and his sister in Chicago, he was the only member of the Lanning family readily available—and therefore, the one who would save them all.

            I can’t even save myself; how can I save the whole town?

            He rose stiffly, brushed bits of dead grass off his coat, and picked up the manila envelope full of flyers. One of them was clipped to the outside. DJ had hacked them together the night before in Microsoft Word and printed them out on the black-and-white laser printer at home. He should probably call Inga back and let her know that he’d already media blitzed every lamppost in the whole two-block downtown, but he couldn’t deal with her agitated energy on top of his gloomy mood. She probably wanted to ask him some question he didn’t know the answer to—where Vivian’s records were for the fundraising bake sales, who to call at the Tri-City Gazette about running an ad, where the plans for putting together the dismantled booths had gotten off to.

            How his mother had managed to keep this bunch organized was beyond him. Vivian had never seemed like a together kind of person. She was, in fact, the classic absentminded professor, with her flyaway hair and her habit of forgetting everything from her reading glasses to the water boiling away on the stove. Her desk, at home and at her office on campus, had been a disastrous drift of papers. DJ was still finding Post-it notes stuck on random surfaces—his mother’s desperate attempt at stemming her life’s slide into entropy—which he didn’t have the heart to remove. She’d always been on the phone to someone, usually while doing a dozen other things badly.

            And yet somehow she’d made her mad juggling act work. She’d kept all the balls in the air—wife, mother, English professor, member of every committee in Heatherfield County—and only dropped a few. Even during the past year, when she was weak and frail from cancer, she still ran the carnival committee and made it a success.

            But that was half the problem this year. In the last months of her life, his mother had been dropping more balls than she kept up. Drugs, pain, and a never-ending regimen of chemotherapy and doctor’s visits made her forgetful. At times during the lead-up to Christmas last year, she’d been sleeping sixteen hours a day. No one could have managed everything she tried to do. If she’d handed it off to someone when there was still time to explain how everything was done—

            But she couldn’t do that without admitting she was in the final months of her life. And Vivian hadn’t been able to. Neither could her husband and children, and neither could her friends, who included nearly everyone in Osmar. So we all went on pretending Mom was going to get better, and then she crashed. And now she’s gone, and we’re all left picking up the pieces.

            DJ taped a flyer to the light pole before the river bridge, just below the Christmas wreath that the town council had hung, and then crossed to the middle of the bridge. From there he had a panoramic view of the town—what there was of it.

Held For Ransom 
by Layla M. Wier
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel/200 pages
Release Date: Nov. 14, 2014

Two weeks before Christmas, the small town of Osmar is gearing up for its annual winter carnival, but the death of the event’s long-time organizer might mean the end of the festivities. Everyone is turning to her son DJ to save the carnival, but DJ can barely save himself. He's spinning his wheels in Osmar—working part time at the gas station, living in his parents' house, and trying to figure out what to do with his life. DJ is caught in a large, loving web of well-meaning family and friends, but they can't fix his life for him. Into this mess comes Ransom, a handsome mystery man on a motorcycle. Ransom is traveling around the country, making up for his past sins by doing “good deeds.” He and DJ have a one-night stand that neither can forget, but that's just the start, because Ransom has a plan to save the carnival, and DJ has a plan to save Ransom… and possibly himself.

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5679

About Layla: 
Layla M. Wier is a writer and artist who grew up in rural Alaska and now lives on the highway north of Fairbanks, where winters dip to 50 below zero and summers yield 24 hours of daylight. She and her husband, between the two of them, possess a useful array of survival skills for the zombie apocalypse, including gardening, blacksmithing, collecting wild plant foods, and spinning wool into yarn (which led to her first Dreamspinner Press novella, "Homespun"). When not writing, she likes reading, hiking, and spending way too much time on the Internet.

Where to find Layla:
Blog: http://laylawier.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Layla_in_Alaska
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laylamwier
Tumblr: http://laylainalaska.tumblr.com

Stops on the Held for Ransom blog tour (Nov. 12-Dec. 1)

Wednesday, Nov. 12: Anne Barwell - http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/

Friday, Nov. 14: RELEASE DAY! Charley Descoteaux - http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/blog/

Monday, Nov. 17: Shae Connor - http://shaeconnorwrites.com/ 

... and ...

**ALL-DAY RELEASE PARTY** on Facebook and Wordpress

http://laylawier.wordpress.com - https://www.facebook.com/laylamwier

Wednesday, Nov. 19: Grace Duncan - http://www.grace-duncan.com

Friday, Nov. 21: Jana DeNardo - http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com

Monday, Nov. 24: Anna Butler - http://annabutlerfiction.com/blog/

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Aidee Ladnier - http://www.aideeladnier.com/

Friday, Nov. 28: Sherrie Henry - http://sherriehenry.blogspot.com/

Monday, Dec. 1: Because Two Men Are Better Than One - http://becausetwomenarebetterthanone.com/

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Don't Give In! Resist the Urge!

Originally published on my Facebook profile:

Please, please don't go shopping on Thanksgiving. If we stopped going out to shop, the stores wouldn't be open and the employees can be at home with their familes (or at least enjoying a day off). We need to wean ourselves from our addiction to cheap Chinese goods and the notion that if we don't get it RIGHT AWAY, we won't get a good deal. Patience is your friend. You can find excellent deals closer to Christmas; sometimes even better than the ones you find on Thanksgiving/Black Friday.

And remember, the retailers are putting out ads for TVs and electronics as SUPER DUPER LOW PRICES, but please, they have MAYBE 10 in stock. But of course, you can get this comparable TV at a discount too (never, ever close to the 'discount' advertized for those 10 TVs that were taken in the first minute). DON'T FALL FOR IT! STAY HOME, PIG OUT, WATCH TV, NAP ON THE COUCH.

After some huge losses some friends of mine have suffered the past few weeks, I wanted to remind people of something:

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family. It's a time to pig out, watch football (or whatever is your traditional movie) and be together, even if all you do is watch the damn DVD.

Think about this: none of us knows how long we have on this earth. This may and probably will be the last Thanksgiving for some of us or will be the last Thanksgiving for a loved one. Do you really want your last Thanksgiving to be at the mall? Do you really want the last memory of your loved one, that you only see once, maybe twice a year, to be of them waving at the door as you back the car out of the driveway and head out to shop?

How about the employee at the store? What if they have loved ones at home that they know they won't see again after this day? Maybe they know this is their last Thanksgiving due to illness and yet, to keep that precious health insurance, they are forced to work rather than be at home with family one ... last ... time. (Let that sink in - some illnesses don't present themselves to the outward appearance. That sales clerk at the checkout stand may only have a few weeks to live and yet here you are, shopping, telling Corporate America they'd better have stores open or else.)

Are you really that selfish, greedy, apathetic? If you are, I feel very sorry for you.
I heard that Maine has blue laws that forbid stores from being open on certain holidays, Thanksgiving included. I wish the remaining 49 would do that. This is one blue law I could get behind. NO ONE should have to sacrifice time with family because they need a job.

If you still feel the need to go shopping on Thanksgiving, do me a favor and unfriend me. I don't want you around and I really don't want to know you.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Guest Author - Grace Duncan


In a world that's gone to hell, will you let old fears keep you from the chance at more than just survival?


When Duncan stumbles into a pharmacy in search of something to fix his broken leg, he’s surprised to find someone else there. Like the rest of the post-pandemic world, it appeared empty. Instead, he discovers Mark, a former nurse who walked away from his profession after losing too many patients to the virus. Despite swearing he’d never practice medicine again, Mark patches Duncan up over Duncan's protests. He even finds an abandoned house in the tiny town, and they settle in until Duncan heals enough to look out for himself. Much to the chagrin of both, they find themselves caring for each other.

Duncan welcomes it, thrilled at finding someone he can trust. However, he’s well aware of the shadows in Mark’s eyes and understands Mark’s reticence as he learns the story. But as he’s starting to do things for himself again, Duncan realizes he doesn’t want Mark to leave. He’s not sure if can get Mark to let go of his fears so they can stay together and love. But Duncan’s damned sure going to try.

Buy link: Dreamspinner Press



He should have known better. Under normal circumstances, it was a stupid move, but right here, right now, “stupid” didn’t begin to cover it.

Duncan glared at his leg for another moment, then leaned his head back against the wall. He needed to keep moving. It hurt like hell, but he had to keep going. It wasn’t going to get better on its own. The gash needed to be cleaned and bandaged, and even if the break wasn’t bad, it should at least be braced. And it wasn’t like he could call an ambulance. Or even go into an emergency room.

Well, he supposed he could go into an emergency room, if he was in the city. But like a lot of other people, he avoided the cities whenever possible. And when it wasn’t, he stayed as far on the edge as he could. But even there, it was a dangerous risk. As corrupt as the cities were now, the price of anything was higher than most could pay. He’d heard rumors that, in some of the worst cities, people simply got shot if they couldn’t pay what the thugs in power wanted. It was all rumor, but rumor he wasn’t about to ignore.

So he did his damnedest to stay away.

He’d been stupid to jump off the ledge. Even at only a couple of feet higher than he was tall, the risk hadn’t been worth it. He’d have thought, after nearly three years, he’d learned how to be more careful and not take those kinds of risks. It wasn’t the first time he’d fallen and hurt himself—though, thankfully, the last one hadn’t involved a broken bone. Maybe it should have; he might have learned his lesson then.

“Really fucking stupid, Dun.”

Duncan steeled himself and pulled to his feet, grimacing when the sharp pain shot up his ankle and through his leg. “Fuck,” he muttered, breathing hard through his nose. When he finally focused past the pain, he looked up and noted the position of the sun, the only real indication he had for the time, and figured he had another good hour or two of light. If he was right about where he was, he wouldn’t need all of it. He tucked the stick he’d found under his arm, grimaced when it dug into the soft flesh, but then leaned on it and hobbled along again.

Grace’s Bio:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age - many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children - both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Check her social media:
Grace's website
Twitter: @GraceRDuncan


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