Monday, May 14, 2018

Guest Post & Giveaway: Plummet to Soar by Z.A Maxfield

 Plummet to Soar by Z.A Maxfield

Blurb: Feckless, luckless, and charming, Mackenzie Detweiler is the author of a self-help book one reviewer calls “the most misbegotten motivational tool since Mein Kampf.” He’s maneuvered himself into a career as a life coach, but more often than not, his advice is bad. Really bad.

It’s even getting people hurt… and Mackenzie sued.

It falls to Mackenzie’s long-suffering editor, JD Chambers, to deliver the bad news. He chooses to do so face-to-face—to see if the spark he senses between them is real when they’re together in the flesh. Unfortunately, a snowstorm, a case of nerves, a case of mistaken identity, and finally a murder get in the way of a potential enemies-to-lovers romance.

There are many, many people who have good reason to want Mackenzie dead. JD must find out which one is acting on it before it’s too late for both of them.

Release Date: 5/8/2018

Five things I learned while writing “Plummet To Soar”

* Last year I was overcommitted, stressed out, and deeply depressed, so when it came time to decide what kind of book I wanted to write, I asked myself what kind of book would make me feel better if I read it. All books include conflict. Without conflict it’s not a story. I was working on a difficult family saga on one hand, so I gave myself permission to get National Lampoon levels of silly in Plummet to Soar. Basically, I started my day with angst and ended with humor. I highly recommend that as a stress release! 

* There’s always a reason why I write a book, even if I don’t know what it is at the time. Although you’ll see very little of this in the text, I did a lot of reading about different types of meditation and stress relief breathing. I tooled around on the web checking out life coaches. I read Super Better by Jane McGonigal, and reread Jon Kabat-Zinn. I watched Ted Talks on Flow. Nothing is ever wasted. As 2017 rolled into 2018, I found myself needing every single one of these things every time I looked at the news on my phone. 

* I prefer to write ensemble comedy. I like to create characters and allow them to play off against one another. It’s a kind of writing that goes fast, and if you’re clear on each of the characters, they move the plot along and create conflict “all by themselves.” I don’t mean that I’m not in control of them, I am. It’s just that I’m so used to the free for all of a large family, I don’t know if I’ve ever written a book where characters don’t interrupt one another all the time. The EM dash is my crutch. 

* I love writing sex, and reading sex, but not every book needs massive quantities of (even awesomely written) sex. This is a romantic-comedy suspense and the entire book comes in at around 60K, so I couldn’t squeeze too much in, as it were… For my money, there are two reasons to include sex in a book that is not erotica: to tell the reader something about the characters, or about the world, that we could not tell them without sex in the book. Three penises? By all means, we need to see that play out… Lifelong fear of pubic hair? We probably won’t find that out until someone drops their pants. Still, don’t worry! Despite my reticence, between JD and Kenzie sex is a foregone conclusion, I give them the on-page happy ending they deserve! (Note the word deserve, and email me later if you laughed at that point, at all.) 

* The characters in the books I’m writing these days aren’t all awesome people. Sometimes they’re selfish, or prideful. Some make bad mistakes. I started out writing flawed characters in the beginning, and I think that concept still drives every story I write. But lately, I’ve been writing characters that can be kinda unlikable. Now I find pleasure in creating a character in one book, *Cough*OfficerHsu*Cough who seems like a douche canoe, and in the next book, I make him a better offer. I have already discovered the certain someone for whom my erstwhile douche canoe wants to be a better man… Stay tuned.

I can’t thank everyone enough for giving this book a try. Look forward to more books loosely based around the concept of Plummet to Soar. Thanks again!


Book Links:  
Goodreads Dreamspinner: eBook: Paperback


DESPITE THE white noise generated by the heater and the hum of someone’s television, silence threatened to overwhelm JD after Mac left. The room was nice—super-dated decor, traditional furniture. The linens, though, had that “international chain hotel” look—white on white with a colorful runner and fancy round bolsters to go with ample standard-size lumps for sleeping on. And right next door, lying on his back, among all those many pillows….
You can call me anything you want. You contracted the book, man. People have called me everything—Mac, Mackenzie, Z, and shit-for-brains.
I’ve never let anyone call me Kenzie.
Why’s that? Breathlessly curious about the odd new writer—the goofball his colleagues laughed at and jokingly called Humpty Dumbass behind his back—he switched to text.
Mac texted back, Dunno. I think I’ve been saving that one for someone who loves me.
JD thumbed, I love being inside your head during the journal entries. A long hesitation. Oh, God, was that too much? He always gave away too much, goddammit. He typed like lightning—I mean that’s how I felt when I first read it. I love these ideas, finding resilience. It resonates with me in a way I can’t really explain. I loved being in your head, reading words as you thought them. Wrote them.
My book is me, distilled. Maximum me. Call me Kenzie.
Like whisky, the words, the book, the man went to his head. All right, then, Kenzie.
JD loved their secret nicknames, loved knowing what it meant. He connected with Kenzie daily, over the minutiae of publishing his book and well beyond that, into late-night emails and intimate text conversations about the meaning of life. But while he coyly obscured all but a few details and kept his face, even his voice, hidden for no reason but his fear that if he broke the fantasy, he’d lose it, Kenzie was transparent. Since Kenzie Detweiler had become the single most important thing in his life, and since JD had nothing in his life to compare the experience to, he was ill equipped to handle such a thing.
Kenzie was made of minutiae, it turned out. He’d spent endless, generous time explaining how he saw the world and why he saw it that way and what it all meant.
Chambers Lighthouse Publishing published books by authors with whom JD had never spoken a single word. His name was on the door, but he had people for interacting with the authors. But the Lamplight line was his sole purview. He was its acquisitions editor and its executive editor.
Lamplight, started by his grandfather, put out almanacs, books of prayerful sentiment, and the journals of thoughtful, barely known but highly influential men. He’d kept his output to three or four titles per year. The authors were thought-provoking but never controversial—Norman Mailer and Truman Capote and Joan Didion need not apply.
His father changed all that, publishing astonishingly sexy memoirs and books by people who really set society’s hair on fire, becoming the enfant terrible of the legacy publishing world for about five minutes. And now, no matter how many pairs he tried, JD could fill neither man’s two-tone, lace-up, wing-tipped oxfords. Shortly after he took over, he vowed to publish books he liked, and people called him sir, or Mr. Chambers, or they got out of his way.
But not Kenzie, who called him JD.
Somewhere between the contract and the first marketing campaign, Douglas—oh, who was he kidding with the fake name and this ridiculous trip—Jacob Douglas Chambers IV—fell in love.
That Kenzie didn’t know who he was? Was both a godsend and a curse. A godsend because he could choose the perfect time for The Big Reveal, and a curse because if he was wrong about this? There was no perfect time.
He really expected Kenzie to know him. That was the thing. He told Kenzie that he was allergic to cameras, but who stops there? There were exactly five pictures of him online. One in a morning coat, top hat, and tails at a wedding, even. JD could have told Kenzie who he was at any time.
Why hadn’t he?
He’d foreseen the moment for so long. What was he protecting himself from? He’d developed a deep, unhealthy emotional attachment to the man who was taking a shower—if the running water was anything to go by—in the room adjacent. There was a gap under the connecting door, and every sound was amplified through it.
Kenzie, singing “Despacito.” The sexy slap of water on the tub floor. He didn’t dare take his imagination further than that. He’d believed in Mackenzie Detweiler, trusted his words, his thoughts, his heart.
And it seemed as though he’d been deluded, along with all the other saps who bought Mackenzie Detweiler’s spiel. But maybe that wasn’t fair, because even tonight, even in pain from an injury he got—not while following Kenzie’s very well-meaning advice, but Kenzie didn’t know
that—right up until the moment he’d seen Kenzie face-to-face, JD wanted to believe that what they had was foreordained or somehow magical—celestial.
He wanted to believe there was some sort of there… there.
I’d ask your definition of freedom.
Kenzie always had a comeback. There was another reason not to get sucked into the happy complacency of letting someone else do his thinking for him. JD had tasted the Kool-Aid, siphoned a little to see how it felt, and then guzzled it. And when the unthinkable happened, and the scythe came too close to miss him, he didn’t have the revelations he’d been promised. He simply felt… pissed.
Yes. That was it. Pissed, because in no way did he believe Mac lied in the book. In Mac’s case a near-death experience solidified who he was. He seemed happy. Fulfilled and content. His weird personality traits and his inchoate yearnings had incubated—hatched into someone fierce and proud and unfailingly kind. JD would stake his life on the fact that Kenzie was legitimately happy.
JD was pissed because he felt goddamn nothing.
Stupid for hoping that, if he embraced the worst, his fears would go away.
Stupid for asking for more than he had when he was arguably the richest, luckiest person he knew.
Stupid for trying out any advice he got from a dumbass like Mac, who had turned out to be just another fucked-up human being after all—even if he was a delightful one.
They were all lucky no one had gotten killed. Yet.
Everyone from editorial to corporate had put in a word. Plummet was going to be pulled off the shelves the following Monday. Press releases had been written. Lawyers were on standby. And he had to tell Mac about that too.
Sorry. I’m the man you trusted with your career, and I’m here to pull the rug out.
It wasn’t right to keep it from him. Years back, they’d pulled a book on canning while the author reworked the section on food safety. Those things happened. But they wouldn’t offer Mac a chance to rewrite and rerelease. The ideas JD had embraced so fully only alarmed them after his ludicrous brush with death, though it had nothing to do with the book.
No. The board didn’t want anything to do with Mac anymore.
JD had argued at first. Thrown his weight around. What happened to him didn’t result from Plummet to Soar. All he’d done was attend a contentious co-op board meeting. Those were a bore but not normally dangerous. It wasn’t like he’d run with the bulls in Pamplona. No one could have foreseen his ex catching him in the parking garage alone.
JD absently rubbed his knee. And why, when his leg was broken on one side, did the other knee hurt so much? JD made a mental note to call his doctor and find out.
His eyes snapped open when the water shut off. From the other side of the door came the sound of more humming and rustling noises. Curiosity was killing JD truly. Killing him.
How did connecting doors in hotels work, anyway? Were there two doors or just one? It seemed kinda old-school—a knob, a dead bolt.
Is the lock engaged?
As though it heated before his eyes, the lock seemed to glow with some inner fire. The knob was the only thing he could focus on. God, his leg hurt. The buzz from the flight, from the bar, was fading. If he took a pain pill, it would knock him out too hard.
JD laid his cheek against the door and put his hand on the knob. Nope. Nope, Nope. Nope. The door between their rooms felt cool. He let go of the knob, as though it would brand him, but that was just more melodramatic bullshit. He could hear his mother’s voice telling him to get a grip on himself. Which, really, anyone who ever met him would have known that having a grip on himself was part of the goddamn problem.
Try the door.
It was almost as though the door were talking to him—or was that wishful thinking?
He wanted to try it anyway, and what was it they said about confirmation bias? You generally fall in with the data that supports what you already believe?
No. It wasn’t all a scam.
The doorknob turned in his hand. The door opened in his direction. He had to step back to get out of its way. And then he was standing there, staring at Kenzie Detweiler, who wore nothing but a towel. 

Author’s Bio

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

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