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.
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5679
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:
Stops on the Held for Ransom blog tour (Nov. 12-Dec. 1)
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/