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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Introducing: A Few Words from A Wench

Greetings and salutations all you Romance Book Readers and Writers and Others!

I'm Liz Crowe, and I'm over-committed (or perhaps should be committed)....I mean, who isn't right? But no seriously, I am.

I own a craft microbrewery in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  As Marketing, Sales and Distributor Relations Director I am in charge of all promotions for the Tap Room (the beer bar that is attached to my brewery), staffing of the Tap Room (which essentially consisted of Me, Myself and I and anyone I could bribe to help for the first ten weeks or so), working with my brewer to come up with beers that will sell, managing all aspects of said sales both in and out of the Tap Room (i.e. bottles on shelves, tap handles at other bars), and all the social and face to face networking I can squeeze in there in order to further all of the above.  And it's a Small Business, meaning it's a constant, daily battle of the Great God Cash Flow, sometimes catastrophic equipment failures, managing growth (we have been very successful so far which bring its own set of dilemmas) and personnel issues.
Me and My Boys (i.e. Partners)

My first set of stories--The Brewing Passion Series--has been published by Breathless Press, beginning with "The Rookie" last September, "XXXMas Ale" this past December (on my birthday no less), and "Jockey Box" this past March.  These three hot shorts are the missing chapters that introduce characters in my novella The Tap Room, a "choose your romance" style novel releasing September 30 (and there is a follow up short to The Rookie called "Specific Gravity").

I also have a short story that was contracted at Rebel Ink Press ("Player Conference") as part of their Claw Marks Cougar Anthology.

And, as many of us do, I am sitting on my hands waiting to hear from a publisher about My Big Project: Floor Time, The Realtor Series which has been excerpted Six Sentences at at time each Sunday on my blog:  Plus the three huge WIPs I've got in some stage or another sitting on my computer or still up in my brain.

Yeah, and teenagers who play sports at a high level, an executive style spouse who's not home much, 2 dogs and....oh you get the picture.

My life wasn't always this complicated.  I spent years as a Professional Trailing Spouse, moving from town to town and eventually overseas and then some, schlepping from Japan to Turkey to England ever in pursuit of His Next Job.  My kids were small then, so it was probably good I focused on them (although  "stay at home mom" was never something I considered as a career).  In hindsight I wish I had embarked on writing then, when I had time between learning new languages just to function, and going to "International Ladies Lunches" (a.k.a. the Society of Aggravated Trailing Spouses Just Waiting for the Hubs to Stumble over a Local Hottie On the Make--been there done that, that's another blog post).  

Instead, when we determined that heading back to the U.S. was the only way we were gonna stay married, I picked up my Realtor's license where I had left it and made some pretty good money (selling real estate is basic guerilla marketing---not just anybody can do it and be good at it trust me).  When the opportunity to join craft beer bandwagon presented itself it only took me a week to ponder and research the possibilities before gathering my marketing toys and jumping on board.  I like to think the rest will be urban legend someday...

But the writing....I know that's why we are all here...after cutting my teeth on some erotic classics (Story of O/the Highlander series/Clan of the Cave Bear--oh the pleasures!) my now somewhat forgiven spouse tossed me a few newer ones (Shayla Black is one of my Biggest Influencers) told me to "shut up about it and just write" and the rest is history.  Using my life in the world of men (and the growing ever more popular with women world of Craft Beer) I concocted a brewery owned by 2 men and a woman who is going through a divorce (no I'm not projecting, merely saying "what if?").  Their lives intertwine and connect in ways that are both romantic and smoking hot.  Ultimately, "Erin" must make a choice--hence The Tap Room's "choose your romance" format.  

Coming up with three completely different story arcs and potential HEAs was brutal considering I had already decided who I wanted her to end up with but I will say that it made me flex the creative muscle in ways I never though possible and I'm glad for it.  Now once that dreaded email labeled "Tap Room First Edits" lands with a thunk in my inbox I might need more moral support BUT that's just part of the writer's life, now isn't it?

So that's Liz, in a not so brief nutshell.  I'm gonna stick an excerpt from The Tap Room here, keeping in mind it is still going through editing.  I hope you enjoy---be sure and fill in some of the blanks by grabbing The Rookie, XXXMas Ale and Jockey Box, available at Amazon, Good Reads, and on the Breathless Press site.  Follow the Adventures of the Beer Wench if you are so inclined at  (she's a lot of fun).  
Naughty brewer...

Set Up:  Erin Brady's life is spiraling out of control in spite of the fact that her microbrewery has been wildly successful.  Her spouse is resentful of her time away and has decided to find comfort in the arms of a young colleague at his bank.  One of her business partners (Owen) has a mad crush on her but she has no idea how to deal with it while the partner who brought her into the company (Trent) is trying to revive an old flame they nurtured many years ago.  Now that Owen has revealed his intentions with her during a particularly hot day in the brewery, depending on what story arc the reader chooses, she will rebuff him, or give in to his advances.  But both options include a brief flashback to a day early on in their working threesome with Trent....and adding fuel to the inferno on that day is one ruined pint of beer....


            Erin closed up the bar and climbed into her SUV.  Her exhausted brain automatically cast back to the exact moment she realized that her cozy little business threesome with an old friend and a new one could get complicated.


“Fuck, fuck, God damn fucking FUCK!” Trent raised his head up from the bar top and glared at the cloudy glass of viscous liquid that was supposed to be their latest addition—a first attempt at a dunkel style beer.
Erin leaned on her elbows across from him.
“What happened?”
Trent stared hard at the nearly black liquid—liquid that should have been a deep reddish brown. Erin studied him. His dark hair and intense deep brown eyes were a nearly perfect foil to their other partner’s bright blue eyes and thick blonde curls. The three of them did make for an attractive picture—something she used to full promotional advantage even if she was getting a little tired of the “amber ale between pilsner and stout ” commentary. Trent heaved a sigh worthy of a teenager.
“Christ, I knew I heated that mash too fast,” he turned around on his bar stool and leaned back. Erin reached over and moved the glass before he knocked it over, glancing at his phone which was buzzing its way across the bar top and frowning at the caller ID.  Knowing this would be a long conversation and probably end badly--sort of like the conversations she’d had lately with her own spouse--Erin  sighed and grabbed a glass of water.
Trent stomped into the brewery without looking back, the phone pinned to his ear. Erin continued to stare at the poisonous looking brew in the glass and mentally calculated how much it was going to cost them in terms of distributor’s good will and actual purchased advertising now that they were back to square one with this damn thing. She could hear Trent’s raised voice through the thick concrete walls.
When he came striding back towards the tap room doors she busied herself wiping down the already spotless bar top. Trent did not have a short fuse—he was probably the calmest of the three partners, but his wife was not happy with his commitment to the brewery on top of the time he spent at his two restaurants. Erin suspected that she also didn’t care for the hours Trent spent with his attractive red-headed female business partner.
It didn’t help that Erin and Trent had some history. Memories of  their wild Ann Arbor summer evenings together the year they graduated from high school were never far from the surface. Erin truly liked him a lot, and would have considered a serious relationship after that summer but they went to different colleges, lost touch and didn’t really reconnect until she moved back to town with her husband and kids. It made for some pretty racy corporate meetings, but she considered it all talk and would not have dreamed of actually doing anything with him now that they were both married, albeit not so happily.
The bang of doors being thrown open startled her. She looked up and caught Trent’s brown eyes glimmering with a fury she didn’t know he possessed. He crossed the room in four strides of his long legs, grabbed the incriminating glass of useless, burnt coffee tasting lager and heaved against the wall, barely missing Erin’s head. The foul smelling brew splashed on her face, and dripped down her blouse. She stared at him, speechless.
“What the FUCK,” she regained her voice when she realized he wasn’t moving, just standing and staring at her across the bar.  Beer went sluicing down her arms to the just cleaned floor and onto the bar top. “You know nearly brained me with that shit.”
Turning around to grab a clean towel, thinking ahead of how she would have time to get cleaned up in here now, change and get to her son’s band concert and get some sort of dinner established for her demanding husband and other son Erin jumped as she felt hands on her waist. Trent pulled her up straight and close to his body.  Heart racing, she leaned back to stare at him, questions in her eyes.
Trent put a finger on her lips before she could speak, then leaned in and covered them with his. Erin opened her eyes wide but within seconds had her arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer. His body was long and lean, a runner’s frame, and she molded herself against it, familiar, as if they’d never had a nearly twenty year break between physical encounters. His tongue demanded hers and she gave it.   Leaning her head back Erin surrendered to his touch, his whispered endearments and pressed herself against the growing bulge under his jeans. 
“God, Erin, I have wanted to do this. . .” he came up for air and took her face in his hands once more. She shook her head, and tried to break away.
“Trent, seriously stop,” she put her hands on his shoulders. But she knew her eyes belied her words as he smiled slowly, and his eyes darkened, this time with lust, as he pulled her close again. At just shy of five feet eight inches she was not that much shorter than he was and they fit together nicely, just like she remembered. He fisted his hands in her thick hair and brought her lips back to his, which he caressed with his tongue, again, like she remembered. The tell tale dampness in her jeans at the memory of other talents he had with his tongue made her shift when he shoved his leg between hers to allow more contact. She hiked one leg up and around him as he turned her so she was leaning with her back against the bar.
“No, we can’t” she muttered into the skin of his neck as he ran his hands down to cup her breast under her thin t shirt.  Sweat dripped between her shoulder blades and she could taste the salt on his skin. His hands felt so comforting, so familiar. Erin sighed and could feel Trent grinning against her skin.
“What? Bored already?” he pulled his face back and stared into her eyes.
“Shut up and kiss me some more,” she demanded and he obliged her, but slower this time, at first holding her face in his hands and lingering over her lips. He made a satisfied sound deep in his throat and popped the button on her jeans Her brain fuzzed over with desire, but was starting to sound alarm bells as she maneuvered so he had better access. It was six on a Sunday night, they were actually still open, and there was a huge nasty mess of beer dripping down her wall. But his fingers found the edge of her panties and as he pressed against her flesh all rational thought fled.
“Mmmm,” he muttered against her lips. “I remember this now.”
It was her turn to grin. 
“Yeah, me too, now less talk, more action,” she shifted again, so he could reach down further and gasped when he plunged two fingers into her wet depths.
She gripped his shoulder as her knees went instantly weak at his touch. It had been weeks, hell, maybe in months since her husband had laid a hand on her. Their passion for each other got a daily dousing ever since she agreed to join this venture—he preferred her home, out of the limelight, at his side, wherever but certainly not always gone and unable to make dinner every night like she used to. She hadn’t realized until this exact moment how much she missed a man’s touch on her skin, or how horny she was.   Her pussy clenched and she shuddered against Trent’s chest.
“Damn, sorry, I’m sort of pent up I guess,” she whispered before he covered her lips with his.
He broke away and smiled at her. 
“That was the goal, dear, now let’s see if I remember how you like this,” he whispered in her ear which brought goose bumps to every inch of her skin.
Turning her around Trent eased her jeans down over her hips, his hand lingering on her flesh. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror across the room--thick auburn hair disheveled, green eyes glittering,  lips red and swollen from Trent’s kisses. 
 Oh yes, he remembered just what she liked all right.  
 She arched her back and pressed against him. He grasped her hips and slowly slipped into her, one amazing inch at a time, groaning as he reached up to fist his hands in her hair and pull her back against him harder.
Skin flushing with long-suppressed passion, Erin pressed back, longing to feel Trent’s entire length.
“Harder,” she muttered through a clenched jaw.  “You know how I want it."  The hand clutching her hair flexed and pulled her head back.
  Erin braced herself on the bar as his thrusts shoved her up against the cold stainless steel top.  The sour smell of a ruined beer that represented weeks of work on Trent’s part and tons of publicity effort on hers was replaced by the musky odor of their combined lust. Spreading her legs farther apart, Erin could feel the glass from the destroyed pint under her thick-soled brewery boots.
“Oh God, Trent, yes, right there,” she shoved herself back, wanting to possess every inch of him.
 One hand took on a life of its own, rubbing and stroking her own clit as he pounded her from behind. She could tell he was close, and with one last stroke sent herself over the edge, grasping the bar with both hands again just to stay on her feet. Her pussy spasmed and she cried out as Trent shoved her hard up against the cold stainless steel with a final thrust and a grunt of release. He shuddered and released her hair, running his hands across her shoulders and down to the small of her back.
“Jesus, I needed that.” he pulled out of her body, his cock glistening, pulling his jeans up from his knees.  With a deep breath he turned her back around to face him again.  
They shared a long, satisfying kiss as he eased her jeans back up and zipped them.  Erin was struck with the memory that she had been ready to marry this guy all those years ago, based on his talented lips and tongue. Now, her brain was starting to engage again, reminding her she’d just fucked a married man, in her bar, while she herself was still married, granted to a controlling asshole who begrudged her every single moment she spent trying to build this company into something more than a gimmick. She pulled back from him, her mind spinning.
Trent put a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. Erin blinked as tears of regret and stress formed behind her eyes.  Brushing them away, he brought his lips to hers once more.
The sound of the door rattling forced them apart and Trent turned quickly to tuck his shirt back in and zip up his own jeans. Their other partner, Owen sauntered in, his thick blond hair windblown, blue eyes bright with excitement.
“Hey guess what?” he yelled out as he threw some new posters down on the end of the bar nearest the door.
“Um, what,” Erin blushed, and pulled her hair back into a pony tail.
Owen looked up at her, his eyes narrowed and his nostrils flaring.
“I think I found us a brew master." His voice was low and slow and, she realized, suspicious.
She smiled at him, trying to shake the just fucked look off her face and those stupid tears out of her eyes.
“Really? Great! Who?”
Trent stepped from around the bar, but she could see he was still flushed from their encounter and just knew Owen would be onto them.  Ignoring them both, she busied herself with cleaning up the shattered glass and now congealing mess of ruined beer on the wall.
“Yeah, it’s this kid Jeff Thornton, he’s a townie and just got back from a stint in Munich.” Owen watched Erin scurry around.
“What the hell happened in here?”
Her skin flushed deep crimson.  Erin could still feel Trent pushing her up against the bar... then realized he could be asking about the mess of glass and dark liquid on the wall. She closed her eyes against the image of their intense encounter and felt her pussy pulse again. Jesus, what had she done? This could ruin their perfectly balanced working threesome.
Trent ran a hand over his face and sighed.
“The dunkel is totally fucked, dude. I’m gonna go dump it out right now.”
Owen reached out and grabbed Trent’s arm as he passed by him on his way into the brewery. “That’s not what I meant,” he glowered at his old friend and business partner. “I know a ruined batch of expensive ingredients when I smell it.”       
Trent pulled his arm out of Owen’s grasp and looked over at Erin. She was frozen in place, with a death grip on the broom handle. Owen stood for a minute and watched them, then threw his hands up in disgust.
“Sweet zombie Jesus, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” he demanded staring straight at Erin. And she would swear the look in his eyes was naked jealousy. Her own eyes widened in surprise as it hit her. Owen was an avowed bachelor, and their long running joke was that part of the appeal of their beer was his surfer-boy good looks and long list of female admirers. She swallowed as she thought back to the many late nights work sessions that many times ended in backrubs for her, from him.      

Christ. This is gonna get messy.


Erin gasped and turned the key, as the powerful vehicle roared to life.  How long had Owen been wanting to kiss her?  While she selfishly fucked around with his friend and co-founder of the company they would all take a bullet for?  Face stinging with memory and remorse, she tore out of the brewery parking lot onto the main road, headed to her large empty house.


K.T. Bishop said...

Liked the sequence

Liz said...

thanks! stay tuned...

Marianne Stephens said...

Welcome to our new Member Author, Liz. Learned lots about you!

wlynnchantale said...

Loved the posting. I am thoroughly intrigued with the plot. I'm definitely picking up a copy of your earlier works. Congrats and good luck!

Molly Daniels said...

Wow! Got me hooked:)

Congrats! That 'choose your romance' style sounds like it was challenging in a good way:)

Tina Donahue said...

What a cool job you have. I'm afraid if I owned a microbrewery, I'd be drinking up all the profits on my bad days. :)

Loved your excerpt.

Linda Kage said...

Hey Liz, nice to meet you!

My hubby and I used to go to this shop in Joplin Missouri called MacAdoodles, where he could buy all these rare beers, wines, and bourbons.

But it was leveled in a tornado two weeks ago and he was SOOO depressed to see it go. My nephew worked search and rescue in that area and said the entire place smelled like rotten beer. Very tragic.

Liz said...

thanks everyone! I'm looking forward to being a part of your group. I await the "thunk" of edits any day now---I hope you enjoy reading the "missing chapters". and now? off to my current obsession: The New WIP (Vegas Miracle).

Anonymous said...

I take it those two men don't like to share? Very hot scene. I'm curious who you wanted her to end up with. I'll have to read more before I decide!

R. Ann Siracusa said...

Liz, we're quite an international group, aren't we? Welcome to RBRUS from another newbie. Great post. I also want to know who your heroine ends up with.

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