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Title: Charlie’s Hero
Author: Nic Starr
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Length: 200 Pages
Release Date: June 17, 2015
Blurb: Schoolteacher Charlie Matthews returns to his hometown, looking to regain a sense of community, reconnect with friends, and settle down. It looks like his dreams have come true when paramedic Josh Campbell attends an accident at the school. It’s love at first sight, and a romance begins.
But Josh’s reluctance to come out to the brother who raised him, puts pressure on their fledgling relationship. While Charlie understands Josh’s concerns, he can’t help growing impatient. After all, Charlie came out years ago.
It’s not until Charlie confronts his own parents and realizes he hasn’t come to terms with their rejection that he fully understands what Josh has to lose. But Josh is Charlie’s hero, and Josh will do anything to prove to Charlie that to be part of a family, he doesn’t need his parents.
HE WAS in love. Totally, wonderfully, head over heels in love. Love with a capital L, hell, love in full uppercase. All it took was one look, one simple glance, and he was a goner. Of course the object of his admiration was classically handsome—tall and athletic, glowing with good health. Bright eyes, wide smile, waves of shining hair tucked behind perfect ears. He was like all Charlie’s dreams come true, with golden skin hugging strong muscles that strained on long limbs. But even if Charlie hadn’t been attracted to the man’s spectacular good looks, there was no way to overlook his actions.
When Charlie first saw him, he was kneeling on the schoolyard ground, tending to a little girl who was lying prone on the soft-fall rubber surface under the play equipment. She was one of Charlie’s second graders. Her right leg, bent at a strange, unnatural angle, gave a big clue as to her injury. Charlie hoped the leg was the worst she was hurt.
An efficient auburn-haired paramedic was treating her injured leg while the gorgeous guy knelt by her head, hands on either side of her blonde curls, keeping her still. He whispered into her ear, the words obviously having a calming effect—the little girl stared intently up at him, the hitch in her breathing the only evidence of any distress. There was a gentleness to his touch, despite the large hands, and caring in his tone as he concentrated on his patient. How could Charlie not fall in love with this glorious combination of caring, masculine beauty?
“Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews.” The urgent high-pitched voice and persistent tugging on his hand drew his attention reluctantly away from the scene unfolding in the playground. Shit, he thought, what the hell am I doing just standing here staring when I should be taking care of the other children, who are no doubt worried and scared? Dropping to one knee and looking Jennifer in the eye, Charlie gave her his full attention. “What is it, Jenny?” he asked, knowing she was going to voice her worry about her small friend on the ground.
“Is Alison going to be all right, Mr. Matthews?” she asked in a low and quavering voice. He replied in a way he hoped would calm her fears, by keeping his voice even and low.
“She’ll be fine, Jenny. Her mummy and daddy will meet her at the hospital, and Miss Bryant is going to go stay with her until they get there. Alison is in very good hands. See those paramedics?” He pointed toward the action under the monkey bars, and she looked across at the small group on the ground and nodded gravely. “Well, they’re very good at their jobs. They’re going to take Alison to the hospital so the doctors can put a cast on her leg. I’m sure she’ll be back at school in no time.”
“But she won’t be able to play,” she whispered, obviously still worried for her friend.
“No, she won’t,” he admitted. “At least she won’t be able to run around for a while, but she will be able to draw and play board games. I know you love to draw, so maybe you can play with Alison to make her feel better. I bet you’ll be able to write your name on the cast too.”
At that, Jenny met his gaze and finally smiled. “Really!” she said with excitement. “That’d be totally cool!”
They looked up as the paramedics wheeled past with the gurney. Little Alison was tightly strapped aboard. She was lying still, no doubt in shock, and holding tightly to the hand of Charlie’s hero. He only glanced their way for a second, obviously reluctant to take his attention away from the little girl who needed him, but that was enough. Their gazes connected, his warm brown eyes seeming to look straight into Charlie’s soul. The surge of emotion that flooded through him took him by surprise. The paramedic blinked and the spell was broken. They moved swiftly past Jenny and Charlie, then loaded the gurney into the back of the ambulance.
Charlie stood frozen to the spot, still holding Jenny’s small hand in his, and watched the ambulance leave. Finally he took a deep breath, turned back to the schoolyard, and started to round up any children still in the playground.
“Come on, everyone,” he called. “It’s time to get back to class.”
As the last stragglers made their way into the single-story building that housed the small group of classrooms, he knew he would be spending the afternoon reassuring the children. He decided that making get-well cards for Alison would be the best way of distracting the group of second graders.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
There’s probably some correct theoretical answer to this question, but for me, good writing isn’t about whether all the ”rules” have been followed. So long as the characters are well-fleshed out, and the plot is engaging, I’ll enjoy a book. That being said, ’bad writing’ can draw me out of a story, so there are definitely elements that should be avoided.
I love a story where the author sucks me in, allowing me to get to know the characters (show not tell), causing me to care what happens to them. Natural dialague is important as is a good pace to the story. I know some readers complain about the use of plot devices such as ’miscommuniction/incorrect assumptions’ or ’the big misunderstanding’ but these are facts of life, and so long as used with some originality, there presence in a story doesn’t bother me. So overall, it comes down to strong characterisation, and engaging plot. Oh, and I need a satisfying happy ending. J
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, editing, promoting, or blogging, I’m usually wearing my ’mum’ hat or my ’corporate’ hat. If I manage to squeeze time for myself, it’s often spent reading. One of my favourite things to do, is spend time in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a great story. I adore to cook so trying out new recipes is a regular passtime. I also love to escape to my house in the country. Added to the list is playing with my Cairn Terrier, and enjoying time with my family and friends.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I love hearing from my readers. I’ve had people seek me out on Facebook for the sole purpose of telling me how much one of my stories touched them, and it’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve never had someone contact me with negative feedback. The people who have taken the time to reach out – via FB or a comment on my blog – have done so because they’ve enjoyed my story. I’ve also had requests for follow up books. For example, Justin is a side character in Waiting, Hoping, Wishing, my free story. I’ve had numerous requests to give him his happy ending. I’ve also had requests for Tim and Scott’s story (from More than a Superstar). The good news is that one (More than a Friend) is due for release in October. Justin is still on the drawing board but calls to me regularly, so he may get his story soon. *wink*
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in high school, I dreamed of working in a hotel or restaurant. I’m not sure exactly what role I thought I was going to take, but I think it involved swanning around and greeting guests, playing ”hostess with the mostest”. I worked in pubs and restaurants while I studied hospitality managment. After three years, I finally worked out I wanted to be one being waited on, not the person spending long hours on my feet and working every Friday and Saturday night. J Thus a career change which took me into the corporate world.
How do you do research for your books?
Research takes place in many forms, some of them traditional, some a bit more ”outside the square”. Before I start writing, I spend some time online to collect visuals to support my story. This could be inspiration images for my characters, or photos of various locations. These images are pinned to my Pinterest boards, some are printed for the notice board above my desk, and lastly added to my manuscript.
Google is wonderful for providing information on specific places and events. For example, my current WIP is set in Tamworth and Armidale, two country towns in New South Wales. I used Google to find out about the size, population, amenities etc. I also visited YouTube which was a surprising resource to find out more about these places. People have actually posted videos of themselves driving around town using a dash-cam, so I’ve been able to see the places as they’d be viewed if I was driving around myself. Brilliant! J
The local tourism office also provided a great source for travel brochures and maps, plus I reached out to people I know in the area who provided information. Facebook also comes in handy when I want to know an answer to a question. I reach out to FB friends who live in other countries when I’m not sure of how a local would refer to something. Charlie’s Hero is set in the US, and I’m Australian, so it’s great to have a group of people who can help me be true to my stories.
Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!
When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family-an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters-and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.
You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.
Website & Blog: http://www.nicstarr.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nic-Starr/e/B00MAWRRQG/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NicStarrAuthor
Winner’s Prize: $20 Amazon/ARe Gift Card.
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