Start Your Engines…

It’s that time of year, y’all and I couldn’t be more excited! NASCAR starts this weekend, on Saturday night with the Budweiser Shootout in Daytona. When we lived in Florida, we went almost every year once we realized how much my son loved watching racing on television. We’ve been to several races in Daytona, never the 500. Not yet. I hope one year soon we’ll get to go.

As most of my readers know, I am a big, BIG NASCAR fan. I watch every weekend and when the races are held in Charlotte, we’re there, rain or shine, heat or cold. It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting. It’s entertaining. It’s research. It’s stress relief. I stand up and scream at the top of my lungs. And that I can give my son those memories, well, I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.

On Sundays, throughout the season, I’m going to be posting something about NASCAR. I haven’t figured out what yet and I don’t expect most people to care, but there will be a few who do, and those posts will be for you. And perhaps, I’ll even start posting little tidbits here and there about the next couple of race car books I have in the works… Drive Shaft and Gear Grindin’.

Speakin’ of… How about a few lines now from Drive Shaft (unedited, of course, so please forgive any typos, etc…)

Cam leaned his hip against the side of the stock car and crossed his arms over his chest. She couldn’t get over hot how he was and how damn lucky Lily was to have landed him. Not that Cam wasn’t lucky too, but…

Crapola. What was wrong with her? She was eyeing the older guy and the taken guy. Totally not like her. Totally a sign she needed to get laid.

“You two getting back together?”

“Huh? No,” she answered and judging by the smirk on Cam’s face, a little too vehemently. “We’re just friends.”

“You two hang out a lot still, so…”

“Yeah, no. Just friends.” She took a step back and pointed behind her. “I’m gonna go call him,” she said again. “Sorry to bother y’all.”

“Not bothering me. How about you, Jake? Are you bothered?”

“Nope, not a bit.”

“See, we’re not bothered.”

Jake had come to stand beside Cam and suspicion started to set in. She looked back and forth between the two men. “Okay, well, on that strange note….”

Alli turned around and started walking. She continued to look over her shoulder every couple of steps, though. Both men were staring after her, the oddest looks on their faces.

“You’re here for me.”

That was a voice she hadn’t heard before and it stopped her in her tracks. Alli spun on her heel and looked beyond Cam and Jake in the direction of the back office. She’d helped Lily, Cam, Jake, and Grant get the large warehouse size space set up and knew every inch like the back of her hand. “I’m here…” she paused and took in his long, lean body clad in dark jeans and cowboy boots, and his collar-length shaggy blond hair beneath his cowboy hat. “…for you?” Given his yumminess and the heat spiraling through her body that was just fine with her. A faded red T-shirt stretched across his chest, but not too tightly. There was a little scruff on his chin and he was young, she noted again. Damn good looking from across the room, but too young.

She let her gaze travel from his boots to his hat again. Had she told herself enough times that he was too young for her? The way her belly was doing those funny little swirly-do’s she didn’t think she had. Not near enough.

“Yes, ma’am.” He winked. “Me.”

Alli groaned and the sound echoed around the cavernous room. Oh dear God, he called her ma’am. With a wink. Yep. Way too fucking young. “I don’t understand.” But she was afraid she did. She just needed some clarification before she started plotting Grant’s untimely demise.

Hot Yummy took a few steps toward her and those swirly-do’s in her belly picked up speed. If they kept it up, they were going to end up as a full blown twister. She took an unconscious step back. “Grant set us up? You mean like a…”

“A blind date,” he finished for her.

His smile was sweet, then, patient and when he spoke, his voice was calm, gentle. Alli smiled in spite of herself and in spite of the fact she was gonna kill Grant. Her ex-lover and the very first male best friend she’d ever had. She was gonna kill him.

Hot Yummy was looking at her with that same sweet smile but his eyes were daring her to…to what she didn’t know, but, there was challenge staring back at her.

Normally she would rise to the bait because she could give as good as she got, but not this time. She was… She had too much on her plate and she didn’t need the distraction. “Oh, I’m… He shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.”

He shifted and slipped his hands in his back pockets. “Why shouldn’t he?”

“Yeah, why shouldn’t he?”

Alli looked over Hot Yummy’s shoulder. “I don’t need any help from the peanut gallery, thank you.” She coasted a quick glance over the young hunk’s body before meeting his gaze again. “Because I can find my own dates and don’t need his help in doing so.” The retort was a little more biting than she’d intended, but she wouldn’t apologize for it. She’d walked into a situation she wasn’t mentally unprepared for. She didn’t like it.

The man nodded. Man was a bit generous, she thought. He looked like he could still be eighteen, maybe twenty.

“He thought you might like to have a little fun. Said you’ve been pretty busy lately with going back to school and all. Thought we might have some things in common.”

“Yeah well, it’s still none of his concern. I’m sorry to break our blind date, but I just…” She shook her head. “I can’t.”

There, she’d said it. She’d said no even though she’d wanted to say yes in the worst way. She took her keys out of her pocket and started for the door again. Damn Grant for knowing her so well. Damn him for interfering. Damn him for putting a cowboy in front of her. She’d never been with a cowboy.

“Why can’t you?”

“What?” Her mind was already on calling Grant and giving him a piece of her mind. A thank you, as well, but only after a piece of her mind.

“Why can’t you go have a beer with me? Why do you have to break our blind date?”

He was coming closer and man oh man oh man. “Um. Uh…”

 “You’re… I just don’t have the time.”

“Really? You were making the time when you thought you were going out with Grant.”

Crap. He had her there. She couldn’t tell him the real reason though. She wasn’t even sure what the real reason was. “I don’t know you. I don’t know anything about you.”

“Have a beer with me and you can learn all you want or need to know.”

“We’ll vouch for him,” Jake offered. “He works for us.”

“Yeah, he sure does.”

She glared over Hot Yummy’s other shoulder and through clenched teeth, said, “Not helping, Cam.”

“What else, Alli? What other objection do you have?”

Hot Yummy pulled her attention back to him and he was suddenly standing so close, so very close. He smelled like… God, he smelled like Stetson. Her boyfriend in high school wore that cologne. It turned her on so much when she’d bury her face in his neck and… She didn’t even know they still made it.

Looking at him from this close, he didn’t appear as young as she first thought but he was still… “You’re too young.”

“Oh shit, Alli. Not you too with that lame ass argument.”

“Shut up, Cam.”

“Lily tried to pull that crap with me. Don’t listen to her Jason.”

Alli was well aware of the merry-go-round Lily and Cam went on about their age difference. “Shut up, Cam.”

“Yeah, man, don’t listen to her about that age thing. She did date Grant after all and he’s what? A year younger than you?”

Another peanut from the gallery. “Not helping either, Jake.”

Hot Yummy nodded his head and she shook hers.  “Only by a few months, but you do have a point.”

They were ganging up on her. Not the fun sex kind of ganging that three hot stock car guys could give her, if one wasn’t in love with one of her best friends and if the other didn’t have the hots for another best friend, that is.

“No, there is no point to be had.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want to date anyone. I would have gone out tonight with Grant because he’s my friend and friends do that. I’m not looking for a date with –”

“I can be a friend,” Hot Yummy stated matter of factly. “I can be a damn good friend.”

Please enjoy the following song and video by Brad Paisley, called Old Alabama. It features Brad, the band Alabama, Darrell Waltrip, and Jeff Gordon…

Have a great weekend…

~lissa

I Met Kyle Busch!

(this was the image that was the first inspiration for Cam Carter in Stick Shift…cocky, self assured, a little wicked and devilish)

Yes I did!

He was doing a signing at Walmart, organized by NOS Energy Drinks. The store is down the street from me and well, hell, y’all KNOW I’m not gonna pass up the chance to meet him.

I’ll pass up the chance to meet authors (Eden Bradley is the exception for this) and music stars and actors and most other sports stars (save for a few in golf, football, and racing), but Kyle Busch. Not unless I’m dead and since the rapture didn’t happen over the weekend, I’m still alive and kicking and WOW…

We stood in line, me, my son, and my mom for little over an hour.

I got the guys behind me to let me take a picture of their really cool motorcycle helmets.

My son talked to me about his day with his grandmother. They went to Hendrick Motorsports today and saw Chad Knaus, crew chief of the #48 Lowes Chevrolet. I played peak a boo with the baby in front of me who like to laugh. I marveled at the size of the line, which wasn’t huge but wasn’t small either. And then …

Yes. I was a fan girl. I was not squee’ing at this point, but WOW!

(he was signing my shirt)

(after he signed my hat)

I simply think he’s adorable. He’s got the smile down pat and rightly so. He said hey, how ya doin’… and I. Was. In. Heaven. He was kind and polite. NOS Energy people were everywhere, police and security were too. They didn’t let people touch him or get next to him. They moved the line very quickly and even though it was like a tightly run ship, it was awesome to meet him. All night I have gone around saying ‘I met Kyle Busch’. And I did. It was cool.

On Saturday, we went to pit road and that too was awesome.

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve got a lot of research material for my next racing book. I’ve got a lot of fun memories and the week isn’t over yet. I think we’re going to KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) tomorrow or Thursday. I even managed to get a little writing done today and will try as I can for more over the next days.

Y’all are amazing and I thank you for indulging me in my love of NASCAR and Kyle Busch.

~lissa

It’s Race Day in Charlotte and You KNOW What That Means!

Yep! It means yours truly is headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway for some racin’!

My boy Kyle won the truck race last night. I wasn’t there cause it was my daughter’s 17th birthday. But, it’s all good. I will be at tonight’s race, sitting on the front stretch between the exit of pit road and the flag stand. I also have pit passes for before the race. So, that means … RESEARCH! Purely and totally 100% research and NOT anything to do with me absolutely loving the sport.

I tell ya, what I do for my job…grins

I will try to tweet pics from tonight.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful weekend so far and will continue to do so! And no, there’s still no word from my editor.

~lissa

A Random Thursday Post

Today’s post is exactly that. Random. As a matter of fact, it’s so random, I completely forgot what I was going to blog about. Isn’t that lovely?

Let’s see if I can at least come up with thirteen things to talk mention…

1. Tonight is the NFL Draft. I think there will definitely be an NFL season. I think players get paid too much. I think rookies that get bonus’ higher than the salaries of veteran players is outrageous. I think there’s too much talk about ‘Show Me The Money’ and not enough talk of ‘What kind of player are you going to be for me, for the team, for the fans?’ I don’t think Cam Newton should go first. I do think I’ll be handing my husband a tissue to cry into when the Jacksonville Jaguars make some hideous draft choices.

2. My family and friends in the Alabama area are fine and safe and their homes are still intact. My thoughts go out to those who have been injured, have lost everything, have lost someone near and dear.

3. I am reading Rednecks and Roses by Judy Mays. It’s freakin’ hilarious. What’s been done to her is appalling and atrocious.

4. I’m going to Atlanta this weekend with my family. DH and DS are going to a Braves game of which I could care less. DD and I are going to spend the day at the Georgia Aquarium. We’re staying in a downtown high rise hotel and are going to have a blast. I hope to visit reader Janeen’s family’s Italian Restaurant Saturday evening before we head back home.

5. People that abandon animals should be shot.

6. Trader Joe’s has some of the most addicting foods and snack items. Ever. My current obsession is their Chile Spiced Mango slices. I love their selection of cheeses too.

7. I am loving both my Kindle and my Nook Color. Both are very different but wonderful.

8. I am going to the Lori Foster event in June. Are you?

9. Twisted Up will be turned in tomorrow evening before I leave for Atlanta.

10. I watched the new trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 today. I will be devastated when all is said and done. As with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter has been an awesome adventure. My daughter has grown up watching HP and to her, it signifies the end of her childhood as she’s always known it. It is bittersweet but I cannot wait to see it July 15th.

11. NASCAR will be in North Carolina next month and y’all know I’ll be going so’s I can scream and yell my fool head off. It will help inspire me to work on Drive Shaft. At the present time, Alli is nursing her second beer.

12. Did y’all know my books are available on Barnes and Noble for the Nook? I’m guessing by the rankings that most of you don’t. Most of your friends don’t either. I’m hoping to change that soon with a Nook giveaway.

13. It’s 6:30pm and I need to get working on more revisions before the Draft starts in a couple of hours.

13 1/2. Yes, I am getting up at 3something in the morning to watch the wedding. I watched Princess Diana get married. I watched her funeral. It’s only fitting that I watch her son. I wish them the very best of life and I hope their marriage fairs better than his mother’s did. You can see her in his smile. I have always been fascinated by British history, by the monarchy. The first book I read, that I remember aside from Cinderella was called Good Queen Bess about Queen Elizabeth I. She has always been my heroine and I think that’s where my fascination began with history in general and with British history in particular.

Have a great night.

~lissa

Snippet Saturday – Active

Happy Saturday! If you’re reading this and you’ve been caught in an area of bad weather as most of the Southern US has the last 36 hours, I hope you and yours are safe and sound.

Today’s theme is Active… dancing, singing, sports, etc… So, I think in the spirit of all things Talladega and NASCAR I’m going to pull from Stick Shift. There’s been talk over the years that race car drivers aren’t true athletes because they sit in a car and turn left most of the time. Well, you try driving at 200MPH with 42 others driving at 200MPH and you tell me how non-athletic these guys are. And that’s when things are going smoothly. Think about hitting a wall at 200MPH…  Most of the drivers and those that work with them and those that watch them would heartily disagree. The mental and physical exertion they put their bodies and minds through is amazing. Many of them train and hone their bodies to peak performance… I admire them as much as any football or baseball player, dancer, rock musician, etc…

As a writer, I should do more to improve my activity level, my mental awareness, my body’s performance on a healthy level. I will not, give up coffee though… We can discuss anything else, but coffee, no…

Snippet:

Lily’s heart threatened to pound its way right through her chest wall as she was strapped into passenger side of the demo race car. She’d never been so nervous or scared in all her life, and she couldn’t stop checking to make sure that the helmet was on her head as tight as it could be and that her safety belts and neck restraints were secure enough to prevent her heart or any other part of her person from becoming detached.

Cam climbed in through the driver’s side window and grinned at her. “You’re a little on the pale side inside that helmet, and your eyes are really wide. You okay, baby?”

Lily just nodded, quite certain that she wouldn’t be able to find her voice.

“Do you want to get out? We don’t have to do this. I just thought you might have fun.”

“I-I’m just a little nervous.” A little nervous, hell. More like a lot nervous. Her voice was barely a squeak, but she managed to get the words out. She had a death grip on the padded straps that looked like the harness on a roller-coaster ride and held her against the seat.

Cam reached over and curled his hand over one of hers. His warmth, his smile, the reassuring look in his eyes calmed her like nothing else could. He squeezed his fingers over hers and winked, then sat back. One of his crew helped him get strapped in while Cam put on his helmet. Attaching the steering wheel was the last thing he did before he flipped the ignition switch.

The thick lining of the helmet did little to muffle the roar of the engine as it came to life. The car vibrated around her and for a few minutes she felt as though her teeth were going to rattle right out of her head.

“Ready?”

She turned her head as Cam’s voice sounded in her ears. She hadn’t known there was a radio inside her helmet, and if she could have him talk to her throughout this little track adventure, she felt sure she’d be okay.

She nodded at him, and he nodded back, then peeled out of the pit box. Being that there was no race and no one else was using the track, there was no pit road speed for him to be cautious of, and Lily couldn’t stop the little scream that escaped her throat.

Cam laughed. “Hold on.”

Their speed steadily climbed and never dropped, even as they took the corners. The butterflies in Lily’s stomach went crazy. Being on the track like this was like nothing she’d ever felt before.

Cam used up the whole track, riding up high against the wall, so close Lily didn’t know how he avoided slamming into it, and riding so low to the apron, she didn’t know how he kept control and never once went below the yellow line, though he seemed at times to be jerking sharply on the wheel.

“You want to go around some more?”

Lily nodded and then loudly said, “Yes.” And so, they did. Half a dozen more times, he drove at two hundred miles an hour, giving her one of the most exhilarating and thrilling experiences of her life.

She loved it. She loved the feeling, after she’d gotten used to the quivering in her belly and the thumping of her heart, of course. But she loved the feeling of flying while still on the ground, the speed, the sound of the engine at full throttle, the man in the seat next to her. She loved how he gripped the wheel because it was how he gripped her body, firmly, with utter control and confidence.

When he pressed on the brakes, she could smell a mix of rubber, dust, hot concrete, and oil. She loved that. A stock car fan all her life, she was finding a new appreciation for it. The look and feel he’d given her in the last hour between the tour of the garage area and the ride… Damn, why hadn’t she thought of being a driver?

Once they were back in the pit box, Cam twisted and unlocked the steering wheel from the steering column and slid it up on the dash. He then went to work on his helmet, tugging it off his head, then finally worked on his safety belts and neck harness.

Lily had barely gotten her helmet off when the window net on her side of the car was pulled down and one of Cam’s crew members reached in to help her with her buckles, hooks, and catches.

“Have fun?”

Lily looked up at the kid. Well, he wasn’t a kid really, but he likely wasn’t any older than Cam. That brought her up short. Looking back and forth between the two men, young though they might be, there was a vast difference in their faces. Cam had youth, but his eyes seemed older than his actual years. The man at the window helping her seemed more like a boy than a man. Cam had responsibilities on his shoulders that most men her age wouldn’t be able to handle. Cam carried the weight of his crew, his sponsors, his bosses, his managers, and his family on his shoulders. They depended on him, and he depended on them.

Lily swayed when she stood on the ground, and the kid held on to her arm just a bit longer. She leaned back against the side of the car and took a few deep breaths.

“You okay? Sometimes it takes a few minutes to get your bearings again after a ride like that if you’re not used to it.”

Lily smiled at him. “I’m fine, just needed to catch my breath.”

Snippet 2…just because:

The green flag dropped, and the cars picked up speed over the start/finish line.

She would focus on the race. She had been in one of these cars going two hundred miles an hour, and she’d sat up on the pit box. She had such an intimate knowledge of things, more so than she’d had before, more so than a lot of people would ever know. The word “intimate” ran in circles inside her mind. Just the word and she felt her hunger for Cam pulse.

Shaking her head to try to clear it some, she sought out his car and grinned wide, yelled loudly as he flew by. More people turned to her as she cheered him on. Some had astonished faces, some just laughed at her, and some glared. She truly loved it, all of it. Cam was still in the lead at lap thirty and was coming up on lapped traffic. Things could get dicey. The flagman waved the blue flag with the diagonal orange stripe as a signal that the faster, lead lap cars were coming, but it didn’t seem to be working. No one was moving out of the way; no one was giving up the tenuous hold they had on their position.

Cam drifted down to the inside groove, trying to pass the same car that had wrecked him the week before. Lily tensed as they came around turn four, headed for the front stretch and turn one. Jake Curtis bumped the rear quarter panel of Cam’s car, causing him to swerve down onto the apron in order to not wreck other cars. Son of a bitch. Jake was trying to screw Cam again.

“I wish we had the headsets like we did down in the pits,” Alli yelled.

Lily nodded her agreement. She’d love to hear what Cam was saying, what was going on. Not for the first time, she was regretting the decision to sit in the stands.

Cam pulled back in behind Jake, and each time he tried to pass, Jake blocked. She wanted to believe Jake was just trying to keep from going another lap down, but at the same time, she couldn’t. It was no secret in the racing community that there was animosity between the two drivers, but it seemed lately that Jake was blatantly out to get Cam rather than to simply race him hard.

She didn’t understand it, why it appeared Jake hated Cam. Sure, Cam had a few racing moves that mimicked some of Jake’s from earlier in his career and Cam drove the wheels off his car every race. No one was immune to his aggressive style, but he didn’t deliberately try to wreck others. He was just out there to win. The fact that he could and did more often than not…well, she figured that rubbed other drivers the wrong way. He wasn’t afraid of nudging someone out of the way and he wasn’t afraid of payback. He liked good hard racing, the way it used to be.

Just before Cam and Jake got to turn one, Cam tried to make one more pass. He pulled up alongside Jake on the inside. He had the pass made cleanly, and then…

“Shit! No!” Lily screamed.

Jake spun Cam out by catching the tail end of the car. Cam slid down onto the apron, then back up the track, catching traffic on all sides. By the time he came to a stop, the front end of the race car had been sheared off, the back bumper and driver’s-side quarter panel were gone, and the driver’s-side door was smashed in. The cheers in the crowd during the crash sickened her. She couldn’t believe the happiness people showed at what might be a fatal crash.

She stood there on trembling legs, trying to keep from hitting something, someone, anything to get out some of her anger. The car was pressed right up against the wall, and she couldn’t see what was going on with him other than what the JumboTron in the middle of the field showed her, which wasn’t much at all.

Her heart beat wildly in her chest, and fear traveled up and down her spine. Was he okay? Was he hurt? She couldn’t think, couldn’t feel anything but the knot in her gut. Her gaze was fixated on the giant screen, which was now centered on the window net of Cam’s car. It was still up and that wasn’t a good sign. The signal that he was okay was for the window net to be down and it wasn’t. She was shaking, so scared because she didn’t know what the hell was going on with him. She’d never invested in a race scanner since she didn’t go to races as often as she wanted, but she wished she had one right then so she could at least hear what was being said on the radio. Damn damn damn.

“C’mon, Lil. We’re going to the infield. That’s where we should have been in the first place.”

Alli grabbed the small duffel bag that held their wallets, a couple of towels, drinks, and snacks. She snagged Lily’s hand and gave Lily no choice but to follow her.

“Awww, you leavin’ already? If you backed a real driver, yo –”

“Oh fuck off, asshole!” Alli sneered at the man in front of them.

Lily turned her gaze to her friend, her eyes wide. Alli was definitely more outspoken and more brash than Lily, but she’d never heard that kind of language from her. Lily grinned.

End

Check out the following authors and their snippets today!

Jody Wallace
Shelli Stevens
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Selena Blake
Taige Crenshaw
Delilah Devlin
T.J. Michaels

Have a great weekend, y’all!

~lissa