Hey everyone! My name is Jodi Payne, I’m a proud Jersey Girl, I love Broadway musicals, the beach, tequila, and I’m almost always caffeinated like whoa. Below is an excerpt from my new contemporary romance novel, Creative Process.
Reese Kelsey is a bestselling author living in New York City. He’s written a series of books that have been wildly popular, gained him respected reviews and rocketed him to the level of stardom with thriller fans. When the story begins, he is in the middle of publicity for book three and is working on book four, the last book in his series.
In this exclusive excerpt, Reese is having a conversation (and drinking) with his publicist and best friend, Chad, about finishing that book.
They each took a sip of their beer and set up for the second round. “So this one,” Chad suggested and raised his shot glass, “should be to finishing book four.”
Reese shook his head. “Nope. I’m terrified of finishing four. Try something else.”
“Really?” Chad snorted. “To us, then.”
“To us,” Reese agreed and drank.
They were quiet for a bit while they enjoyed the onset of the warm glow from the tequila. Chad sipped his beer and then looked at Reese. “So. You’re terrified to finish the book?”
“Hey, can I get you guys something to eat?” Their server suddenly appeared and began cleaning up the empties. Chad ordered a buffalo chicken sandwich and Reese did, in fact, order a bacon cheeseburger, rare. But apparently all of that wasn’t enough of a distraction for Chad.
Reese tapped a finger on the table. “Because.” He wasn’t entirely sure how to put it into words. “Because Harris has been talking to me for more than a decade. He’s the one with the answers. He’s the guy who figured things out when I didn’t know what to do next. He’s been the voice in my head, you know?”
He looked at Chad. He’d considered the idea a couple of years ago. Was Harris just a shadow of himself? Was Harris his Mary Sue? But in the end he’d decided no. Harris was a character he cared about, someone he’d spent years developing, balancing, creating. He was kind of like Reese’s ventriloquist dummy—Harris was someone he imbued with life but who didn’t have any life without him.
“No, he’s not me. But he’s mine.”
Chad nodded. “Okay, so you have an unhealthy codependence on an imaginary friend.”
“Yes!” Reese said slapping the table. “Wait a minute. No.” He slouched in his chair, starting to feel the effects of the tequila. “Sort of.”
Chad shook his head. “You really are a lightweight these days.”
“Listen, honey. I can understand being anxious about ending something you’ve poured so many years of your life into. I really can. But maybe knowing this will help.” Chad looked at Reese meaningfully. “I’m not worried.”
Reese raised an eyebrow. “You’re not writing it.”
“Exactly. I’m not writing it. I have no control over how you end it, or whatever project you start next. But don’t forget, honey, you’re my bread and butter. I could be very worried about my rent going forward, but I’m not because I know you. You’re a writer. If this book really is the end of this series—”
“Not if. It is,” Reese said firmly.
“Sorry. Since you say this book really is the end of the series—”
“You’re doubting me?”
“No, honey, I’m not. But I’ve told you before—I’ve learned to wait and see with you.”
Reese sighed. “Whatever.”
“If the series ends, you’ll write something else. Maybe you’ll take a break, travel or something. Rest. And then you’ll be called back to that keyboard. I’m not worried about you. What you do isn’t a hobby.”
Reese nodded. Jesus, Chad knew him way too fucking well. Reese’s writing wasn’t really a choice at all; it was an imperative. He couldn’t remember a time in his life that he hadn’t been writing something. “You’re not worried about your paycheck?”
“No, honey. I am not worried about my paycheck. I have faith in you.”
Reese smiled. “Thanks, Chad.”
“So, okay, how are you going to deal with this fear of ending it so you can actually do it?”
“Same thing I always do. I’m going to sit down at my computer with my ideas about how things should go, and if I run into issues, Harris will tell me what’s next.” As if Reese could do it any other way. Either the words would come or they wouldn’t. His anxiety about it would hardly even factor in.
“Did you tell Harris you’re finished? That this is your last one?”
“Well, it only seems polite.”
“Okay, okay, Chad. He’s not real. I know that. He’s a character. A voice. I’m not losing my mind.”
He hoped, though he’d had his moments. When he really got lost in his writing, when his writing transitioned from inspired to imperative, sure. He could hear Harris, get caught up in Harris’s emotions. The horrors his killers created felt like more than just images in his mind.
Best-selling thriller author Reese Kelsey knows his career isn’t conducive to romance. He doesn’t work the normal nine-to-five, and sometimes his characters take hold and demand all his attention, causing him to neglect important appointments… and lovers. Rather than go through another heartbreak, Reese contents himself with his small circle of friends—fellow gay New York City artists—and his dedicated publicist, Chad.
Until he sees Owen Mercado lugging his cello toward the subway and impulsively offers him a ride.
Owen has worked long and hard for a career in the symphony, and success comes with a demanding schedule—something Reese understands. Their desires and lifestyles are surprisingly compatible, and Reese and Owen certainly set the bedroom on fire. They’re both carrying baggage, but they fit, and it’s hard not to hope for a future that once seemed impossible.
But when Reese’s work inevitably pulls him into its dark world and refuses to let go, Owen draws a hard line, and Reese discovers he can’t rely on good intentions alone. He will have to control the obsession that drove his other lovers away or risk losing Owen as well.
Jodi Payne spent too many years in New York and San Francisco stage managing classical plays, edgy fringe work, and the occasional musical. She therefore is overdramatic, takes herself way too seriously, and has been known to randomly break out in song. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likeable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies. They are characters you can’t help but fall in love with while they stumble along the path to their happily ever after.
For those looking to get on her good side, Jodi’s addictions include nonfat lattes, Malbec and tequila any way you pour it. She’s also obsessed with Shakespeare and Broadway musicals. She can be found wearing sock monkey gloves while typing when it’s cold, and on the beach enjoying the sun and the ocean when it’s hot. When she’s not writing and/or vacuuming sand out of her laptop, Jodi mentors queer youth and will drop everything for live music. She lives near New York City with her beautiful wife, and together they are mothers of dragons (cleverly disguised as children) and slaves to an enormous polydactyl cat.
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