Why Are You Here Anyway?

Welcome to the Wench's World--the A2 Beer Wench to be exact. I once owned a brewery. Also once learned a lesson from that! If you've stumbled upon me, cool. What follows may or may not be directly related to real estate, the publishing biz, craft beer, Ann Arbor, or sports, but it sure will be fun and many times profane as the circumstances warrant! Enjoy (or not) at your own risk!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Across the Bar with Seraphina Donavan

Welcome back, Liz Bar Interview Fans!

Today I'm happy to have Seraphina Donavan across the bar from me. Let's get to it, shall we?

Liz: Welcome to my bar Serphina! What can I pour for you to start?

Seraphina: My drink of choice these days is gin and sprite with a splash of OJ. I know. I’m betraying the spirits of my home state.

L: So we share a home—at least in spirit. Although I was born in Nashville, I grew up in Kentucky and graduated from the University of Louisville. Ive lived all over the world since and now call Ann Arbor, Michigan home. Your book series “Bourbon & Blood,” is set in Gods Country (a.k.a. Ky.). How much of your own experience living where you set you books did you draw on when crafting the series?

S: I grew up in Tennessee to start off, but I’ve lived more than half my life (we’re not attaching numbers to this!) in the Bluegrass region, so Bourbon is not just a drink for us. It’s a point of pride. I knew about the different types of Bourbon, but it terms of producing it and the science and art behind it, I was a little clueless. So before I started writing I toured local distilleries and did some research. The town of Fontaine is actually based on a collection of small towns in my area, little bits and pieces drawn from each one. But what really sets this book apart are the relationships and kinship of the characters. Kentucky, and most of Appalachia, still function on the clannish family structure of their Scotch-Irish ancestors and I really tried to bring that out here.

L: Is this your first series?

S: This series is my third, actually. The first is the Gresham County Series which is all southern bad boys and debutantes.

The second is The DuChamps Dynasty Series which is about a prominent New Orleans family and the machinations of their patriarch. It’s actually connected to the Bourbon & Blood Series through a couple of common characters. Loralei (the heroine from Ciaran) is a secondary character in Book Two of the DuChamps Series, Have a Little Faith In Me.

L: Uh oh, empty glass! What are we drinking next?

S: Ummm… I’m thinking a hard cider now. Something crisp.

L: I really enjoyed Bennet (book 1 in the Bourbon & Blood series)! I felt that you set up a compelling world with side characters who will flesh out nicely in future installments. Do you like writing series? Why? What is your favorite series youve read? Written?

S: I love writing series. I love getting to reconnect with my characters in each book and really explore the family relationships as well as the romantic ones. It’s always a little sad when a book ends, and this way you get the long, slow goodbye!

L: How/ much research did you have to do on the craft distilling industry before writing the series?

S: Touring distilleries. Hey, it’s a hard life, right? That was the fun part. There were hours of reading through the process of making bourbon and the learning what the different components of shipping and selling it were. It was definitely a bigger undertaking than I expected.

L: How many books will be in the Bourbon & Blood series?

S: At this time, I’ve planned 7. I’ve completed Bennett, obviously. Clayton, Book Two. Ciaran, a novella is available. Carter, Book Three is on preorder and the following books will be coming later in the year and into early 2017, Quentin, Savannah and Emmitt.

Each titular character is either a member of the Darcy family who owns the distillery or a member of the Hayes family, whom the Darcys have been feuding with for decades. They all have very distinct personalities and the way that their relationships change after their families become connected through a pair of star crossed lovers is really interesting to watch develop.

L: Finally, let me thank you for creating a world that included what felt like realistic (and realistically flawed) characters in a unique setting. I have included my review below.

S: Thank you so much for the interview and for the review of Bennett. You actually inspired the story the night we went to dinner in Michigan with Deanndra Hall. You were talking about breweries and the distilling industry. I’d been searching for a series idea for so long and when you said that the light bulb just went off! 

L: Happy to inspire!

Liz's 4-star review:
I'm a huge fan of the sort of sweeping saga that I feel Ms. Donovan's series is destined to become. She has done a solid job of introducing and establishing the central characters and conflict in this new-style Romeo and Juliet sort of modern-day romance. To set it in the trendy world of bourbon distilleries was what set it apart from the typical star-crossed lovers plot for me. It's a tough thing to concoct a romance heroine who is admirable, someone a reader wishes to become, while keeping her full of sass and vinegar and Mia Darcy is that perfectly balanced main character in Bennett. The eponymous Mr. Bennett Hayes is loveable, strong, and dreamy, exactly as he should be but something about him is more compelling than the millions of other Hot Hero options--and that is where the strength of the storytelling and the story teller lie in this opening novel. The book is cliche-free and, while we all know that these two are going to get their act together, despite her lame, fake-protective father and their collective passel of hard-headed siblings destined for their own books--the path to the happily ever after feels realistic to me which made it that much more enjoyable.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Love a Freebie?

Check out some FREE CHAPTERS From....

In honor of Day 2 of the MASSIVE LOVE BROTHERS SERIES SALE I'm sharing a FREE CHAPTER from Love Brewing...PLUS a snippet of Dom's (very) early years from the (currently) Free novel FAMILY LOVE!
Remember....this sale runs through Monday, May 23! Get the entires series for just $2.97!

Here are a few handy dandy links first:
Love Garage JUST .99

Coach Love JUST .99

Love Brewing JUST .99

Family Love FREE

Safe Love FREE

Love Brewing is Dominic Love's story. Dominic is the third brother in the line up. Let's meet him in his early days here:

From Family Love by Liz Crowe
All Rights Reserved

Life, as it was wont to do, eased into a familiar, post-baby rhythm. Lindsay considered herself a semi-expert now. Less inclined to freak out at every sniffle and cry. More relaxed, which she hoped would translate to a relaxed newborn.
But Dominic Sean Love was the sort of baby who nursed so often he seemed permanently attached to her boob, and who, when he wasn’t eating or shitting, was crying.
Anton had apologized, tears streaming down his face as she held her third son for the first time and put him to her breast.
He’d brushed her hair off her face, kissed her forehead, nose, cheeks and lips while Dom latched on so hard she winced. But she accepted it, and did her own apologizing for being so stubborn. They sat together, watching Dominic nurse, his tiny fists covering his face or pressing against her skin as if to force more milk out of her.  
Once home, Anton had been in full charge of Antony and Kieran for a couple of weeks while she regained her strength and tried to keep Dominic satisfied. By the end of the first month, he was still nursing five or six times a day, but had caught up, nutritionally speaking, to the point where he would actually sleep a few hours at a stretch.
Antony mostly ignored him. But Kieran was fascinated by the tiny baby, and would stand by her chair while she nursed, touching his face, his hands, his feet. He also loved to sit on the bed, watching him sleep in the bassinette she kept on her side for ease of nightly duties.
It took almost three months before he settled into something resembling a routine and became more than simply a screaming, eating, pooping machine.
He would gaze up at her, his Love-brown eyes shining, giving her almost more guilt than she could bear over how badly she’d behaved by refusing to take care of herself—and him—while carrying him.
Perhaps, because of the guilt, she allowed herself to enjoy him more than she ever had the other two.
By his sixth month, Dominic had formulated a flirty personality. He’d charm the pants off total strangers in the grocery or at church with his huge grin and grabby hands. His newborn tufts of dark hair had fallen out and been replaced by light, golden-blond strands. But he was volatile, and she still couldn’t predict when he’d start screaming for no apparent reason—too early to be hungry, diaper dry, nothing poking him.
She was sitting at the kitchen table, nursing him and thumbing through the newspaper one early summer morning, when Anton appeared, surprising her. They had not been sleeping in the same room since Dom’s birth. She insisted that he get a full night’s rest so he could manage the other boys. He’d been taking Antony with him to the brewery for the past few weeks, a few hours each day, hoping to redirect the recent destructive, temper-tantrum streak he’d been on.
At that moment, the sight of him sent a bolt of lust down her spine, reminding her of what she’d been missing for well onto a year now. They hadn’t communicated much beyond logistics, either, since the three boys sucked so much energy from them both, not to mention the fact that Love Brewing was attempting to expand, and negotiations with real banks had been underway for about a month.
Dom dropped off to sleep, as he usually did after his mid-morning meal, releasing her nipple with a pop, milk dribbling out of one corner of his pursed lips. Anton just watched them, hands in his jeans pockets, a small smile playing at his lips. She burped Dom, inhaling his baby smell, and wondering what in the world could have torn her husband away from his precious brewery at ten thirty in the morning.
“Let me,” he said, taking the small, curled-up boy and cradling him close. “Why don’t you take a bath?”
She frowned, taking in the chaos that passed for her kitchen these days. Antony was at the church pre-school, terrorizing his friends and teachers, no doubt. Kieran was still in bed. That kid would sleep until noon if she let him. She got up and stretched, wincing at the ache between her shoulder blades.
Wandering out into the living room, she was thinking about lying down and catching up on an hour of sleep herself when she heard the water running into the tub. She went in to find Anton filling it, sitting on the side and adjusting the water temperature.
“What in the world?”

He rose and went to her, smiling. She cocked her head, curious, but also getting hornier by the second. Without a word, he unbuttoned her shirt the rest of the way, slipping it off her arms and to the floor. Her unclasped nursing bra joined it, as did her sweat pants and panties. She stood, a bit self-conscious of her soft belly and the still-red scar above her pubic bone. He dropped to his knees and pressed his lips there, licking along the edges of the line where they’d opened her and taken Dominic from her quickly failing body.

and then....when he's a Terrible Toddler...in the middle of a Major Parental Blowup....
“A quarter of a million dollars from a total stranger so you can move a perfectly good-sized brewery out of that beautiful old building you spent years and thousands of dollars bringing up to code and prettifying. So you can maybe, hopefully, possibly sell a few more bottles in states that don’t even border this one.”
“That about sums it up, yes.” A hard edge had crept into his voice. She knew it well, and also knew she’d be better off dropping the subject now and picking it up again later.
“And yet, when I tell you our very house is coming down around our ears, you still won’t allow me to touch the money my family left me legally in order to make a few God damned repairs.”
“No need to curse.”
“Fuck you, Anton. You are the stubbornest damn wop on God’s green earth.” She jumped up and headed indoors. He grabbed her arm.
“Let go of me.”
“Honey, you’re as stubborn a cursed red-headed Mick, and I love you. But I won’t have a dime of your father’s money spent on my house. We’ll get the stuff done, and we won’t freeze in the winter or hand wash dishes. And I’ll buy you a new dryer next week. I can swing that.”
She sighed. They stood, glaring at each other in the darkness, the fan blowing her hair in her face.
“Whatever,” she said, too tired at the thought of arguing anymore to bother.
He tugged her and she dropped into his lap.
“I’m not having sex tonight, Anton. I can’t afford to risk it.” He lifted her hair and started kissing her neck. Her body reacted instantly. She squirmed, sighing when he cupped her breast, already sensing herself giving in to him the way she wanted.
As she was about to pull him up and into the house, wondering if they should head for the bottom basement since it was cooler there, a loud crash and terrifying shriek from Kieran made her leap to her feet. Anton barreled into the house, taking the flight of steps in two strides. She ran behind him, heart in her throat. The scene was so confusing at first that she had to look everywhere to sort out who was hurt and what had happened.
There was no blood. No one seemed to be dead. But, for some reason, Dominic was sitting on the very top of the large bookshelf that held various framed photos, a few books, and was the repository of Anton’s massive collection of signed Kentucky Wildcat basketballs. Dom had somehow climbed up and pushed half of them to the floor where they rolled around at her feet. One of them must have hit the floor lamp, causing the crash. Kieran stood at the top of the short flight to the bedroom hall, thumb in his mouth, tears running down his cheeks.
Anton reached for Dom, cursing a blue streak. The boy squished himself into a corner, as far from his father’s grasping hands as he could get.
“Shit!” Dom echoed, merrily. “Fuck!”
He tossed another ball over Anton’s head. It hit the front of the television hard enough to shatter it. Kieran shrieked again and put his hands over his ears. Anton had his foot on second lowest shelf, knocking over photos and scattering magazines.
“Shit fuck! Shit fuck! Shit fuck!” Dom had started crawling along the top shelf. As he was about to pick up something Lindsay couldn’t quite make out, Anton snagged him by the ankle. “Daddy!”
“I’ll Daddy you,” Anton growled, pulling the boy down to the floor and giving him three, then four, then five hard wallops on his diaper-clad behind. Tears filled the boy’s eyes as he tried to turn and look at his father.
“Stop! Hurting my brother,” Kieran said, running to Lindsay. She hauled him into her arms, but he was getting almost too big to pick up.
Anton’s face was so red Lindsay worried he might pop a blood vessel. He had hold of Dom’s arm and was shaking him hard enough for the boy’s head to wobble.
“You are the biggest troublemaker. I swan I will beat it out of you if I have to,” Anton said, preparing whack the boy’s backside again.
Dom let out a wail of dismay so loud, Anton let go of his arm and just stood there, his eyes wild. He dropped into his recliner and put his head in his hands. Kieran wiggled until she put him down so he could run to his brother.
Dom shoved him away and headed straight for her, climbing up her legs and into her arms, pressing his face into her neck. He’d shed his PJs at some point, which he did almost every night. His body temperature had always been such that he could go without a coat in the cold and wanted as little as possible on him when it was hot. He was burning up now, shaking and sobbing.
She glared at her husband. “He’s still just a baby, Anton. That was a mite excessive.”
He raised his face from his hands. “Well, I’ll tell ya what, Linds.” He got up, stepped on the second shelf again and fished around until he found something and pulled it down so she could see it. “Next time I’ll let him grab this and see what he might get up to with it, okay?”
She stared at the shotgun, her pulse racing, while she held Dom, Kieran clutching her legs. “You have a loaded gun in my house. Where our sons are fully capable of getting their hands on it.” She framed them as statements, not questions. “Were you going to let me in on this?”
“Your beloved father kept a whole God damned rack of fucking guns in his study. You wanna know how I know this?” He held the gun under one arm, his whole body tense with a level of rage she’d never seen in him. “I know because that was where he brought me to tell me my services were no longer needed on his mother-fucking horse farm. Because I had violated his daughter’s reputation.”
She swallowed hard. Dom’s sobs had calmed to hiccups. He held onto her neck and turned his head to look at his father. “Mother fucking,” he said conversationally, as if testing the words and finding them fun to say. “

And finally, from his own book LOVE BREWING, Dom as a grown up:

“You’re crazier’n a whole house of bedbugs,” Dominic called out from the depths of the barn as he watched Diana stumble in, water sluicing off her hair and skin. The slowness had returned. A familiar, burdensome lethargy had firm hold of his all his limbs, even his throat, making his normally light drawl slow and slurred as if he were still drunk. All the booze he had consumed over the last two days didn’t help. Neither did the fact he’d been off his antidepressants for so long. His brain urged him forward, telling him to go to her, take her in his arms, let her soothe him and make it better like she’d done so many times before.
She turned away from him and wrung the water out of her hair in silence. Not that he blamed her. His head pounded. His throat closed with remorse at his view of Diana’s tall, slim, well-remembered perfection.
The sudden lightning bolt memory of Kent Lowery’s expression when he’d spotted Dom standing in a pew, yelling like some kind of jilted, romance-novel diva at that horror of a wedding brought back nauseating dizziness. Dom took the memory of his former lover, shoved it down to the barn floor, covered it with some mental dirt and relegated it to the realm of “never again.”
He stayed seated as Diana took off her shirt and jeans right in front of him before she grabbed a towel off a nail and used it to dry her hair without a lick of modesty in her plain bra and miniscule panties.
Something warm and furry bumped his leg. He scratched the dog behind her ears, refocusing his attention outdoors. The rain had intensified, hammering the barn roof. The light and thunder show accompanying it provided a magnificent soundtrack to his inner turmoil. He wished he had the capacity to be impressed by anything anymore.
Dom shook his head, and willed everything about that man and that part of his life out of his head. He, Dominic Sean Love, was not that guy. He was. But he wasn’t. He couldn’t be. Not and still remain a part of the Love family inner circle. It had been…what? A whim, a personal dare, boredom getting the better or him. Logging onto that illicit, explicit dating site late one sleepless night had been a buzz. But of course, what had he done? Gone and fallen for a man.
A distressingly familiar set of options popped into his brain. All the years he had spent as a boy and a teenager bouncing between mind-numbing rage, paralyzing depression, and fits of mania had worn a groove in him. He slid into it now, caressed its edges, got comfortable inside its well-worn contours. The usual mental whispers about guns versus ropes versus pills versus slamming his car into the rock wall at the corner of Hunter Road and Highway Twelve accompanied it.
Which one would be the least upsetting to his mother?
He’d thought about those options so many times, and they snuck back in now as he sat in Diana’s barn while the good Lord dumped water and showed off with His lights and noise felt, surprisingly, sort of nice—like a warm bed and a soft pillow after a long day of work. Which, as he well knew from his time spent in talk therapy, was not good.
He kept scratching the ears on the wet dog in front of him, blinking slowly, trying to process why he’d even come here.
What had he been thinking? Better yet, what sort of mess had he left behind?
He wished he could talk to his older brother, Kieran. They’d gotten close in the last months since Dom had required a rather alarming rescue from a jail down in Georgia and Kieran had shown up, very few questions asked. But no, his brother had his own issues and likely at that very moment was busy trying to convince his old high school girlfriend to marry him, even as she processed being jilted at the altar by a different man.
He attempted to banish all the mental images of Kent for the zillionth time.
“What are you gonna do for dry clothes?” Diana asked, interrupting his pity party.
He shrugged and kept his gaze fixed on the view of rain, skipping the torture of seeing her near-nakedness. “Your garden looks like shit. When’s the last time you bothered to pull weeds?”
She snorted. He smiled. He used to love it when she’d do that. He’d honestly had no intention of showing up there today. The Brantley farm remained way off the beaten track, if the track around Lucasville could be considered beaten in any way. When he’d raced out of the stifling-hot church sanctuary and hotwired Kieran’s car, he’d driven off without a single thought in his addled head other than escape.
But when he’d finally released his death grip on the steering wheel a few days later, he’d been facing the old two-story farmhouse where he’d lost his virginity—not to Diana, but to her sister Jen, an older version of the girl he’d been hanging with since God was a boy. The whooshing sound deafening him for the last couple of days had receded ever so slightly when he’d arrived even though he’d not been welcome anywhere near the place in years. He groaned and ran a palm across his wet face.
You earned the reception you received, numbnuts.
As if on cue, the dog whined and bumped his leg with her huge muzzle.
“Bossy bitch.” He gave her another scratch. The animal gazed at him adoringly. Yeah, dogs always did love him. He glanced up and spotted Diana tugging on a shirt that looked way too big for her, that sent a thrill of something he didn’t want to acknowledge as jealousy down his spine.
You have less than no place being jealous of anything about her.
She glared at him as she buttoned the light-blue, obviously man-sized shirt. He had to concentrate on not blinking too fast at the onrush of memories threatening to mow him down.
“Put on a few pounds, eh, Di?” he asked, leaning against the rough barn wall. The dog crawled up onto the hay bale and laid her head in his lap. Damn thing must weigh over eighty pounds and smelled like rancid pond water, but Dom didn’t care.
“Fuck you.” Diana turned away and gave him a lovely rear view. “Come up to the house and get some dry clothes on.” She crossed her arms in that…man’s shirt, her legs bare and beautiful. He set his jaw against the alarming urge to weep.
“I missed you and your ladylike ways.” He resumed his study of the rain pounding against the window. “Ow!” The towel pop flicked his neck, then his thigh. “Damn girl, you on your period or what?” He rubbed his leg and noted that he was, indeed, soaked through and could use a change of clothes. Too bad he hadn’t thought of that when running away from what remained of his former life about forty-eight drunken and half-forgotten hours ago.
“Your sorry-ass, crybaby-ing is breakin’ my heart.”
Anger burned every inch of his skin. But in her deep-blue comforting gaze, he was reminded why he’d shown up there, on what could be labeled as the worst, lowest moment of his sorry-ass thirty-some years.
“How’d marriage work out for ya?” He shoved the dog off his lap and got to his feet, wincing at the stiffness in his neck and back from sleeping in the car.
“How d’you think? I mean, I’m sure it was the talk of the town.” She clenched her fists, keeping her distance. Dom wanted so badly to close that gap, to feel her skin, taste her lips. But he rose, keeping the four or so feet between them, the dogs milling around their ankles making worried noises. An errant drop of water fell from a lock of hair into his eye. The moment was unbelievably fraught with old, stale emotion and he cursed under his breath for causing her pain again. And again.
“Well, I guess the guy was lucky to escape with his balls intact.” He regarded her, drawing on all his reserves to remain calm. “You’re still as ugly as homemade sin,” he lied.
Diana smiled and shook her head. Dom exhaled with relief.
It’s on now. She’ll let me stay, at least for a while.
“Aw, bless your heart.” She cocked one hip. “You always did think the sun rose everyday to hear you crow.”
“But it does, darlin’,” he said, stretching and noting how her gaze flickered up and down his torso. Unable to help it, he ran both hands down his wet shirt to his legs.
“So help me to God, Dominic Sean Love, if you touch your crotch and think I’m gonna fall out over that, you are dumber’n a bag of hammers.” She raised one eyebrow, putting him firmly in his place.
His skin burned and the whooshing sound returned, along with a crippling nausea. “You win. I got nuthin’.”
Her face fell. “I hate you.”
“With good reason. Diana, I swear, I just need a few days, I think. Gotta lay low, out of Papa Love’s line of sight.”
“What happened?”
“I, um, don’t wanna talk about it.”
“Wow. If you aren’t braggin’ then there must be a dead body somewhere.”
“Can I stay? Please?” His pulse raced and his stomach churned. He hated his own guts so much right then it hurt his very soul.
She headed out of the barn door into the now drippy paddock. “Come up to the house and get some clothes. They’re still in the dresser. You know what room.” Her voice faded as she headed to the side porch.
He deflated, his normally strong legs weakening even further. Thank the Lord for well-placed hay bales. After a few minutes, he got up, still shaky, and walked through the paddock, across the soggy grass and up to the porch. Diana blocked the kitchen door.
“You aren’t allowed to touch me, Dominic, do you understand that? I really don’t want you to even look at me. But I know that much can’t be helped.”
He hesitated at the lower step, already feeling at home there in ways he didn’t deserve. At that moment, for some reason, touching Diana had become his number one priority. She let out a loud yelp of anger, shocking him since he didn’t think he’d moved, much less said anything.
“Goddamn it. All you ever want is whatever you can’t have.” She whirled away from him, leaving him on the porch, surrounded by her passel of mutts.

Oh yeah...you know you want him...but can you handle him?
Read Dom's story for JUST .99 for a few more days!