October 13, 2013

Gay Romance: Single Use Only @pendermackie #RLFblog #contemporary

Single Use Only 
Pender Mackie, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Single Use Only.
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover artist: April Martinez
Length: Novel, 257 pages
Heat rating: Hot
Tagline: Mike's tired of the hook-up scene, Chris hasn't even been to a real gay bar, but when the two men meet they discover they have much more in common than a mutual friend.
Mike Strenton is tired of the hook-up scene. All the men he meets in the Las Vegas gay bars are interested in one thing only and only one night. Been there done that. About to turn thirty-eight, Mike avoids casual sex until his need for contact is too great to ignore. He secretly longs to meet someone who sees beyond his laugh lines and broad shoulders to the sensitive lover underneath. A man who will choose him over the early morning walk of shame.
Twenty-something Chris Bennington has never even been to a gay bar though he's into men as well as women. He sees the funny side of just about everything, including his first time with Mike. Chris wants a lover who doesn't have a problem with his quirky sense of humor, his inability to cook or his bisexuality and he thinks Mike fits the bill. All he has to do is convince the big guy he's not just sticking around for breakfast.
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What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Mike Strenton is thirty-seven and starting to feel his age. Mike's the props manager and photographer for the Erogenous Zone, an all-male revue in Las Vegas.
Chris Bennington is a happy-go-lucky twenty-seven. He works as a blackjack dealer for an older, Irish-themed casino on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.


"You've got a delivery?"
Chris straightened. From farther down the hall, a man wearing jeans and a T-shirt strode toward him. The guy was a few years older and big. Broad shoulders, powerful arms, dark blond hair pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail. Sexy little goatee that was more stubble than beard. Nice.
Chris bent and picked up the box. He waited as the man came closer. Striking blue eyes full of good-natured intelligence, a few threads of silver shot through that dark blond hair. Very nice.
"Devon said you had a delivery."
Chris mentally cursed out the bartender. What an airhead. "Not exactly."
He explained about Jesse's old costumes. When he mentioned Jesse's name, the man's face lit up, but he waited for Chris to finish speaking. "…but the office was closed, and that bartender wasn't the most helpful guy." Or the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
"Yeah, Devon's kind of self-obsessed." The man's tone said Devon was old news. "So how do you know Jesse?" he asked with more animation.
"We were roommates."
"You're Chris."
The big man examined him. Under that curious gaze a tendril of heat unfurled in Chris's gut, like the first wisps of smoke from a fire. Down, boy.
Chris looked up at him from under his lashes. "That's me. And you are…?"
Oh, God. He held his breath. Please don't be Chaz. Don't let me be warm for that asshole dance captain.
"Mike Strenton." Mike offered his hand. "I'm a friend of Jesse's."
Damn, this was Mike? Chris's preconceived idea of Mike didn't mesh with the hot guy standing in front of him. Why had he never been lucky enough to be at home when Jesse brought Mike around?
"Chris Bennington." He juggled the box to shake hands and made a quick save as the cardboard slid toward the floor.
"Whoa." Mike grabbed for the box too, fingertips brushing Chris's and causing that tendril of heat to twist and curl.
Chris relinquished his hold. "You're the props manager, right?"
"Uh-huh." Mike smiled as if pleased that he knew.
Chris had a sudden urge to finger comb his shaggy hair into submission. He stuffed his hands in his back pockets instead and rocked back on his heels. "So can any of the stri—dancers use that stuff?"
Mike grinned at his automatic correction. "Most of this will probably fit Tyson, and he'll be glad to get the clothes. His washing machine chewed up a pair of jeans just last week."
"Uh, he doesn't wear that stuff at home, does he? Call me crazy, but I'd hate to walk down the street in pants someone could rip right off me with one good tug."
Though the idea of being undressed by this guy flitted pleasantly through his mind.
Mike laughed. "No, but the guys are responsible for maintaining and washing their own costumes."
"Right. I knew that," Chris said. Way to make a good impression.
Their gazes met, and Mike's smile grew smaller but didn't fade altogether. There was speculation in those eyes. Maybe a question. Chris let his interest show for a couple of seconds before he lost his nerve and dropped his gaze. Chickenshit.
"I'll put this in the locker room. I don't have a lot of time right now, or I'd show you around." Mike glanced at the box. "Thanks for bringing this down."
"No problem. I should have done it sooner."
Mike leaned in a little. "I could show you around another time, or maybe meet for coffee? Catch up on what Jesse's been doing in New York."
Chris hesitated. Which one of them was supposed to catch up? He'd talked to Jesse just last week. About to say so, he paused. Maybe Mike and Jesse didn't keep in touch, or more likely Mike was hitting on him. Did Chris want him to? God, he was crap at this stuff.
He jumped as a man appeared at his elbow as if from nowhere. He'd been so focused on the big blond he hadn't heard the other guy's approach.
The man called out a greeting as he passed. "Hey, Mike. How's it going?"
"Good. You?"
The guy kept walking, waggling his hand from side to side. "Same old, same old."
Chris allowed himself the briefest of glances at that muscular, denim-clad ass. Was he one of the dancers? He carried a gym bag slung over one shoulder and was built like someone who'd look good naked, not all pale skin and jutting hip bones. Chris's gaze flicked to Mike. Had he seen him sneak a peek? Hard to say.
Mike jerked his chin toward the man's receding back. "That's Brad. He's one of our senior dancers."
"Oh…great," Chris said, which was totally lame.
Mike discreetly checked his watch, and Chris straightened, recognizing he'd been dismissed. Well, no wonder. He sucked at normal-sounding chitchat. "I guess I should let you get back to work."
Mike smiled, laugh lines appearing around his blue eyes. "Anytime you want to get together, just let me know."
"Thanks." Chris swallowed. Maybe he was imagining the flirtatious tone, but he couldn't stop thinking of their sweaty bodies heaving together. He shook his head to clear it.
"It was nice meeting you, Chris," Mike said.
Chris liked hearing Mike say his name. For the first time he realized if he dropped the R, his name sounded like kiss. "Same here," he murmured.
Chris left, aware the other man was watching him walk away. He wondered if that sharp gaze had slipped to his ass. His gait stiffened as he tried to minimize any wiggle of his hips.
Had he just been cruised, or was Mike simply looking for an update on Jesse? He honestly couldn't tell. He really was crap at this stuff.


Tell us about your story's world. What is it like in this period or place?
Like Stage Fright, my first full-length novel, this new story, Single Use Only, is set in modern-day Las Vegas. Many of the characters are in both stories, though each novel features a different couple. In Stage Fright, Jesse, the main character, is closeted. He's living a lie and that distain for his own behavior bleeds over into his surroundings. Vegas seen through Jesse's eyes is a seedy place full of cheap illusions and tarnished facades.
Chris and Mike don't see Vegas that way. Mike notices the hummingbirds in his backyard and the way the sun brings out the different colors in Chris's hair. Chris just notices Mike. In Single Use Only Vegas is a playful place.
What inspired you to write this book?
My editor. Mike and Chris are secondary characters in Stage Fright and have a mutual friend, Jesse, who dances at the revue. When I wrote Jesse and Val's story I gave Jesse a roommate who was a hopeless cook with an offbeat sense of humor and a fondness for goofy T-shirts. That's Chris. I wrote Mike as Jesse's best friend, and a kind of mentor for him. Chris and Mike never met in that story, but my editor thought they'd be perfect for each other. She was right.
Which character in your current book do you think readers will like the most?
That's a tough call. Some readers will have a soft spot for Mike. He's been rejected, more than once, so he's cautious, but he still secretly yearns to be loved, to be valued. I think that desire to cherish and to be cherished will resonate with a lot of people.
Other readers will enjoy the way Chris's mind works. He doesn't always think like the rest of us and he's a little bit clueless at times. But once he figures out what he wants, he goes for it. He's a breath of fresh air for Mike and perhaps for some readers too.
Why do you write?
I've always entertained myself with stories. I still do a mental rewrite if I don't like the ending of a movie. Before I started writing my stories down I'd make up a story every night when I lay in bed, usually picking up where I'd left off the night before when I fell asleep. Now that I'm sharing I fall asleep faster. I write because the stories in my head need to get out.
When you write, what things do you want close at hand? (Coffee, water, chocolate... pictures of gorgeous hunks for inspiration...?)
I don't really need much. Coffee in the morning for sure and keep it coming please. I prefer my laptop, but I'll use paper and a pen or pencil if necessary. Single Use Only was written almost entirely from my favorite corner of my couch. Hardly any chocolate was harmed during the writing of the story, though many, many coffee beans were sacrificed.
What aspect of your life do you write into your books?
My sense of humor sneaks in there every time. I can't seem to help myself. When I first (shyly) told a friend I'd written a book, the first thing she asked was, "Is it a funny book?" She didn't believe me when I told her it was a romance.
When an idea hits you, what do you do to capture it?
Usually I scribble it down on whatever I can find, trying to record as many details as possible. I don't like to use my computer then, because I'm usually nowhere near it and I can scribble much faster than I type. Plus, if I make a typo I always have the overwhelming urge to correct it and sometimes I'll lose the flow if I do that.
I have a whole file folder full of scraps of paper, napkins and sticky notes. I even have the rough outline of a story featuring a police officer, a criminal and a plane crash jotted down on a cardboard coffee cup sleeve.
What other jobs have you held besides writing?
I grew up on a dairy farm so I've milked cows (by hand and with a milker) and helped deliver calves. I've been a coat check girl, a waitress, an ice cream scooper, a short order cook, a dispatcher (for a photocopier repair company, which I'll bet is not nearly as interesting as being a dispatcher for the police) and even a blackjack dealer, though not in Las Vegas. I've done a fair bit of technical writing too, which means I automatically write in the passive voice. I had to train myself not to do that.
Which of your books was the hardest to write and why?
The ones that aren't finished. Seriously though, I always have a spot somewhere in every book where I think I'll never finish. Short story, novella, novel, it makes no difference. At some point I'll want to chuck the whole thing in the little trashcan icon on my desktop. If I push through and keep going, I do get past that. I may have to rewrite a few scenes at a later date, but I do get my mojo back.
Do you believe in luck?
I do. Not the must-carry-a rabbit's foot-in-my pocket kind of luck, but I do believe chance influences outcomes. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not.
What kind of music do you listen to while driving? Same question when writing?
I usually don't listen to music while writing. If a song's got words or is too loud I'll get distracted though sometimes I listen to moody, instrumental soundtracks while writing. I love electronic music. Right now a favorite is the Tron: Legacy Reconfigured soundtrack and when I'm driving I like my music nice and loud so I can tap my fingers and sing along.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Tuba, which I was forced to learn in high school. No one else would play it and apparently we couldn't have a band without a tuba. I also play a little bit of piano, but that's only because I can still read music and I learned the keyboard fingering from my daughter. One day, when I have more time I'll take lessons and learn to really play.
What is your secret talent?
I have more than one. J I can wiggle my ears plus I can pick things up with my toes. That second one's a useful skill when someone's stinky socks are left lying around like discarded snakeskins. A curl of my toes and a quick flick of my foot and those babies are in the laundry basket.
What's your favorite movie?
I don't have just one, but I love action or sci-fi movies, British comedies and film noir. Some of my favorites are Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Touch of Evil… I could go on and on.

Please complete the sentence

I love pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers.
I'm always ready for chocolate.
When I'm alone, I secretly enjoy the fact that no one else is around, though I know I should be more sociable.
You'd never be able to tell, but I'm quite shy.
If I had a halo it would be confiscated pretty quick.
If I could go back in time I'd learn several foreign languages.
I can never be an Olympic gymnast because I'm much too old.

Previous Books

Stage Fright
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover artist: Ginny Glass
Length: Novel, 169 pages
Heat rating: Hot
Tagline: Jesse Snowe has no trouble taking his clothes off for an audience, but if he wants a lasting relationship with his new lover, he'll need to reveal more than just his body.

Find Me Here

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4716055.Pender_Mackie


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