Book and Author Spotlight: Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins
by Amy Jo Cousins
Date Released: December 5, 2016
About Glass Tidings
Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus to Texas after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.
He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.
Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.
Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.
But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.
Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays.
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An Excerpt from Glass Tidings
That girl was probably dead by now, and he would remember the sight of her pinwheeling through the air for the rest of his life. Would remember that he hadn’t shouted in time to save her.
He wasn’t going to tell the cop about that part. He couldn’t. They’d lock him up for sure. Failure to Be a Good Samaritan or Stupid Fucking Dumbassness or some charge like that.
He couldn’t tell the cop about how he could’ve prevented the accident, but Eddie could point the law in the direction of the driver who’d fucking run a girl down with his car and then just kept going.
Hell, maybe I didn’t save her, but I didn’t fucking kill her. And I didn’t leave her. I stayed.
“There was a car. It didn’t stop.” He could get that much out before choking.
“A hit and run?”
He glanced up. The cop was writing things down in a tiny notebook as she fired more questions at him about how long ago it happened, in which direction the car drove off, had it swerved at all . . .
“What kind of car? Did you get a plate number?”
“No. I . . . It happened so fast. It was a regular car. I mean, a . . . what do you call them?” Words were fading in his mouth faster than he could say them, a gray cloud hovering over his tongue. “A sedan. Four doors. I think. A dark color. I think.”
He was waiting to be asked what he was doing here, who had given him permission to walk the streets of this nice, normal town.
Nice, normal town where people run you down and kill you.
“Did you get the plate number?” the cop repeated.
Guilt swamped him. Useless. He was so fucking useless. Eddie shook his head. “No. It happened too fast.”
He hadn’t been able to take his eyes off that flying body. Even the driver’s face had just been a streaky blur of pale skin and a dark slash of eyebrows.
Shivers wracked his body. He turned his face away, looking for something, anything else to distract him long enough for the images to fade.
A man was walking across the lawn of a big house three doors down. With broad shoulders, his head hunched down into the collar of his jacket, the man strode with a rolling gait Eddie imagined sea captains of old deployed on their ship decks. His hair was short and dark, with gray patches at the temples, and the strong line of his jaw blurred into the night with a way-beyond-five-o’clock shadow.
The man nodded as he came to a halt at the edge of whatever circle of politeness kept people from standing on each other’s toes. His eyes skimmed over Eddie, pausing on his face for a long moment that made Eddie’s breath catch.
Surreal, being clocked by another gay man in a situation like this.
Eddie turned back to the cop in time to catch her return nod to the man.
Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series again.
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A Q&A with Amy Jo Cousins
1. Glass Tidings is your third holiday story. What inspired you to write it and is writing a story set during the holiday season different from a non-seasonal one?
My inspiration for this book is a mashup of a whole bunch of things, tweaked by my eternal need to upend expectations at least a little. I love, love, loved the Renaissance Faire near us when I was young and used to go every summer. I loved the arts and crafts, the performers, the fantasy of it all. I stopped going when I was about college age, but as soon as I had a kid, we started attending every year with friends and it’s fun to see the magic repeated for the next generation. I’ve also always loved Christmas shops and been fascinated by the idea that they exist for such a limited purpose, but bring joy every year. And I wanted to write about two people who weren’t used to enjoying the holidays, because they are both, for different reasons, loners. As for the difference, part of what I love about writing holiday romances is the total permission you have to get extra smushy and intensely emotional in the happiest of ways. It’s the best!
2. Glass Tidings is part of Riptide Publishing's 2016 Holiday Charity Bundle. You've written stories for anthologies that benefit charitable organizations in the past as well. What motivates you to continue to join projects like these and do you have a favorite charity to donate to?
Oh, man. My reasons are legion. 🙂 A big one is that I’m a single parent working in the creative arts, which means my finances are often precarious. My ability to donate large sums of money is…non-existent? But I can use my writing to contribute to projects that raises thousands of dollars for valuable causes, so that’s what I do. And because there are so many generous, compassionate readers out there, we’ve managed to raise a ton of money for The Trevor Project, Lost-N-Found Youth, and RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Plus, when I work on shorter pieces, I often give myself permission to try stylistic things I wouldn’t otherwise risk in a full-length novel. It’s fun to change up my narrative voice from time to time, and I’ve done that in several of my shorter stories. As for myself, I donate to a variety of organizations, because even small donations add up, so don’t be afraid to make those $5 gifts! This year, I’ve given to the White Helmets (the all-volunteer Syrian Civil Defense Force), the ACLU, the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, and Girls on the Run. But my most consistent charity for donations is probably Partners in Health, whose mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in healthcare on a global scale. They’re an amazing organization and a big reason for that is their commitment to working with communities to train locals to run and staff their operations for the long-term. You can read more about them in Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, an absolutely brilliant book. Then send them money!
3. What is your favorite thing about the holidays? Do you have a memory that you cherish most?
Spending time with my family is definitely my favorite part, and that includes any holiday orphans we have spending the day with us on Thanksgiving or Christmas because we almost end up with a couple of those kicking around. Most of my family has worked in the restaurant business at different times, as servers, bartenders, or hosts and in wine sales, so we almost always know people who are stuck working and can’t go home for the holidays. Our table always has room for more! From the time we dropped a tinfoil tray of lasagna (crying with laughter afterward, as pasta, cheese, and tomato sauce coated the walls, the ceiling, dripped gently off the ceiling fan) to the time my mom somehow managed to pull the entire spine out of the turkey before carving it (that was one magically tender turkey!), there are always mishaps and laughter. Also, poop jokes. Seriously, we try to be classy, but someone always manages to make a poop joke in the first hour. We’re the worst. 😀
4. Is there a tradition that you've carried over from when you were growing up to your family now?
Yes! When I was growing up, each of my siblings and I always got to pick out a new ornament of our own every Christmas. We’d spend weeks paging through catalogs (because I’m old and in times of yore, Amazon was called “the JCPenny catalog”) or going to stores in town, looking for something special. We wrote our names and the year on each ornament before hanging them on the tree. My mom always told me that the first time she put up a Christmas tree as an adult on her own, away from her family, she remembered how sterile her tree felt with new-bought lights and only glass ball ornaments. So she wanted us each to take with us our ornaments and the twenty years of memories that went along with them when we moved out after college and put up our own first trees. And I did! My first Christmas tree with my roommate after college was so much fun to decorate, and I told her stories about all of my ornaments: the Nativity scene with real straw on the roof I’d picked out when I was nine, the lei-wearing Snoopy my parents brought me from their second honeymoon in Hawaii, the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz I’d picked out at the Christmas shop in New England that we stopped in every year when we visited our East Coast relatives. My son is twelve years old now and we spend a lot of time picking out his ornament every year. There’s been a taekwondo hippo, a glass fairy tale frog wearing a crown on his lily pad, and a Millenium Falcon, among others! It makes me happy to think of him hanging those ornaments on a tree of his own someday and texting me a picture of it.
5. Aside from the Cubs winning the World Series, what's the one thing you're most thankful for this year?
Ha! Aside from that indeed. 😊 I am grateful forever and always for my family, who never stop being the smartest, funniest, biggest hearted people I know. I write a lot of books about people who are estranged from their parents or siblings, but an equal number about characters who find support and safety with theirs. Whenever you read about Mr. Anders or a Mr. Vargas, about the Castro sisters from Level Hands, or the made-from-scratch family Tom and Reese form with their friend? Yeah, all that love and goodness and nonstop teasing comes straight from a lifetime with my family. I couldn’t make it without them. And since I’ve got this incredibly awesome son too, I’m betting you’ll see some fantastic kids showing up at some point in the future…
6. If you could have anything you want for Christmas--but just that one thing--what would it be and why?
I’m going to avoid using this as an opportunity to agitate for political change and just say that I’d love a new couch for my living room. Mine is about a billion years old and although I love its smoky blue velvet fabric, I must admit that our butts have rather managed to destroy the structural integrity of the cushions after all these years. I fall asleep on that couch more nights than not, and I’d love not to feel my butt slowly sinking in between the cushions. I feel like I’m talking about butts a lot here. New couch! (And protection for LGBTQ and other civil liberties for marginalized communities under the new administration!)
7. What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring writers who look up to you as their inspiration?
Don’t believe anyone who tells you there’s only one way to do this writing thing. You have to find the way that works for you, and if you’re anything like me, your brain is a total brat so that way changes from year to year. Or month to month even! But anyone who tells you “you should outline” or “you should let your characters dictate the story” or “you should do #1k1hr sprints” is only telling you what works for them. It may or may not work for you. Give it a go, sure! I’ve been quite surprised by some things I’ve tried. (I had a huge resistance to outlining at first, but my easiest writing experiences happened when I outlined heavily in advance. Mind you, I still don’t do this every time, because I’m less bright than I look, but at least I know it’s an option that works for me.) Just remember: there is no one right way. Writing slow is not better than writing fast, and vice versa. Outlining is not better than pantsing it, and vice versa. Figure out what works for you and then hammer it home. Finish your ms. Even if you never sell it, you’ll learn from every book you write.
Also, connect with the authors of Romancelandia. They are smart, savvy, hilarious, and generous people and I cannot express loudly enough how much I learn from them every damn day. Aspiring, amateur, pro, everyone is learning and sharing knowledge, and Jason Momoa videos! The community is what gets me through most days. It’s a gift. Make sure you grab hold of it and don’t let go.
Thank you to the amazing Amy Jo Cousins for taking the time to give such thoughtful answers to my questions and to Kelly Miller for facilitating! ♥
To celebrate the release of Glass Tidings, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 10, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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