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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Interview: Essence of Time by Liz Crowe

Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe lives Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

What is your story's heat level? How do you approach the sex scenes?
ESSENCE OF TIME has a fairly high “heat level.” I’d say on a scale of 1-5 (one being no sex at all and 5 being fully explicit) it’s a five. However, I’d like to propose that none of my books including this one are
about the sex. I write novels that some have called “romance for real life,” others have deemed “brutally realistic relationship fiction.” My characters run the gamut of true human experience—they work, they eat, they sleep, they love and they have sex.

Some of my favorite reader comments/reviews about this book include those who have never read (and would never consider reading) books about “men in love with each other.” These now hard core Liz fans claim that this book is NOT about “man love,” but about real human beings, negotiating their lives honestly, living fully and loving completely.

I approach sex scenes with one question in mind: does it move my story forward or not?  If not, I don’t write it. If so, I make it as compelling as I possibly can in order for it to do its job as part of the story.

How do you maintain activity as a writer when sitting at a desk all day?
I practice Bikram yoga and just started taking up TitleBoxing. I’m a little sore at the moment but have realized the hard way that balancing the “sit and write all day” lifestyle with “staying healthy” is too important.

What is it that you loved about the main characters in your story?
I love Blake Thornton’s devotion so his sister (you meet Sara in books 1-3 but ESSENCE OF TIME is written as a stand alone novel) and the energy he puts into everything about his life—from his relationships to his brewing and his dedication to Rob once he realizes that he can safely love without fear of getting hurt.

I love Rob Frietag’s steadfastness, his quiet, inner strength, his comfort in his own skin, and the way he puts everything he has into his brew pub---and into convincing Blake to love him.

I love Lila Warren’s instincts to take care of both men, their home and to have their child. She is a caretaker by nature, in a way I am not but I admire that about her.

What do you feel is your strongest type of writing? Humor? Angst? Confrontation scenes? Action? Sex? Sensuality? Sweet Romance? And why?
Angst, confrontation, humor, family drama.
Probably because I have my own fair share of it?

Are you social media savvy? If so what do you suggest for others? If not, why not?
I consider myself fairly savvy, yes. But I learn new stuff every day. I’ve got about 3900 twitter followers, 5600 “likes” on Facebook, a private fan group with about 320 members, I “Pin” and “google plus” stuff a lot plus interact on LinkedIn where necessary and on Goodreads when required (as a reader, usually).

My advice? If you want to build an author platform in today’s environment you MUST dedicate a few hours EVERY day to twitter and facebook at least. Don’t “sell” all the time either, “interact.”

What are some things from your life or things you have observed that you've infused into your stories?
Pretty much every experience as a real estate agent as in my role as founder and former marketing director for a small brewery. Plus family drama…plenty of that!

If you had an unlimited budget, where would you like to visit for story-related research?
I’d retrace my steps as an ex-pat trailing auto exec spouse in Japan, Turkey and England for a long-planned semi-autobiographical novel.

Any fun facts about the research for your book?
I once contacted owners of much larger breweries than mine to ask them what is their “worst sabotage nightmare” to come up with concepts for a book called CHEEKY BLONDE, a suspenseful novella that is currently available from Decadent Publishing.

Finally, tell us a little about your newest release!
ESSENCE OF TIME is a novel about 2 men who go through their lives thinking they can’t trust love, until they meet each other. It is not about angst related to “being attracted to each other.” Both men are fully cognizant and accepting of their own bi-sexuality. It’s more about Rob’s secret that comes between them and how they deal with that and with the aftermath of it.

As I mentioned before, it is, technically book 4 of the Stewart Realty series BUT can easily be read as a stand alone/intro to the series.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy it!

A “take life by the throat” philosophy has always served Rob well. It keeps him focused, forcing emotions and potential relationships to take a back seat to his aspirations. But once every obstacle has been conquered and he’s achieved his goal—executive chef at a famous Chicago restaurant—he must acknowledge that he has reached his mid-thirties very much alone.

Blake has just jettisoned his dream job—head of a fast-growing craft microbrewery—to escape from the woman who shattered his soul. Arriving at a Chicago beer festival prepared to drown his sorrows before moving on he is miserable and numb.

Fate throws the men together altering their respective worlds forever.

Once Rob reveals the personal demon that has haunted him for years, Blake allows himself to fully trust again, and admits he wants a child. But a mutual attraction evolves out of a business arrangement with the woman hired as their surrogate, which has the potential to destroy an already delicate status quo.

But time is of the essence, and becomes the one luxury they don't have.

An honest depiction of a modern relationship mosaic reminding us to treasure every single moment we are allowed to love and be loved.

Buy Links:
Barnes and Noble

Rob interrupted him, keeping his distance, his voice low and calm. “I don’t want to do anything that will make you unhappy. It’s all I do anymore it seems. I know, I know, me being sick doesn’t make you unhappy it makes you mad. Whatever. Listen,” Rob said, taking the few steps between them and pulling Blake to his feet. “You look like you’re about to walk in front of a firing squad. Fuck it. Let’s call it off.”

“No.” Blake let himself be held a moment, listened to the sound of his lover’s beating heart, his arms wrapped around the man’s too-thin waist. “It’s okay. She’s…I mean, I think it will be fine.”

Rob tilted his chin up. Blake studied Rob’s face, stared into his brown eyes, memorized it, for later. They both smiled. Blake pressed a quick kiss to Rob’s lips, then began to disentangle himself. They needed to get on with it. Lila would be sitting and waiting by now. It would be rude to…But Rob held onto him, his grip strong. The lips he pressed to Blake’s, parting them with his tongue were firm and had a familiar urgency.

Blake broke the kiss first, held onto Rob’s face. “Keep that up and the poor girl will have to pay her own expensive dinner bill. Come on, let’s go. I’m tired of waiting on you.” He brushed a hand across Rob’s chest, and lower, grinning. “Save this. I’ll take some later.”

The ride downtown shimmered with anxious energy. Rob hummed, a clear sign of his nervousness. Blake tapped his fingers on the armrest, fiddled with the window, the HVAC, the radio.

“God damn it.” Rob smacked his hand away from the controls. “Cut it out. You aren’t making either of us feel any better.”

Blake blew out a long breath. “It’s not like I know how to act here. I mean, what the hell are we supposed talk about? The bank transfer of the money? The process? Who gets her first? If she wants it in both…”

“Stop it.” Rob’s voice was strained, his jaw clenched. “I don’t know either but I damn sure am not gonna ask her if she wants a DP. At least not on the first date.”

Blake laughed so loud he snorted. Rob shot him a sideways look as he pulled the F-150 into a parking spot behind the restaurant and put it into park. They both sat, frozen with indecision and anxiety.

“Do you remember Paris?” Blake put a hand on Rob’s thigh. The other man’s muscles twitched under his palm. “That girl, from the nightclub? Our first vacation?”

“Yeah.” Rob kept his hands on the steering wheel, eyes trained straight ahead. “What about it?”

Blake sighed. Rob’s body language, his clenched teeth and white knuckled grip only ramped up his own stress. But he needed them to get past this. They had to go into the restaurant, meet with Lila, eat, drink some wine then…possibly…go home and…He shook his head. He ran fingers through Rob’s hair, the silkiness of the new growth brought a smile to his face. “That was pretty easy. I mean, you know, my first time as three.”

Rob turned to him, anguish suffusing every pore of his handsome face and filling his eyes. He gripped Blake’s hand, yanked him across the console and kissed him hard. When he broke away, Blake touched his face. “You’re the expert here. Not me. The ladies love your tall, blond, Germanic hotness. I’m along for the ride. I’ll…watch and learn.”

“Don’t be an idiot.” Rob leaned his head back, hand over his eyes. “Jesus, this is…about as fucked up as it gets.”

“No, it’s not. Even if you weren’t sick we would be doing it. You know that. We wanted a baby.”

“You wanted a baby. I’m perfectly fine without…”

“You told me a thousand times you weren’t doing this to humor me. Were you lying then, or are you lying now?” Blake’s ears got hot and his chest tightened but he clamped down on the anger. “All we have to do is figure out how to share. That is one thing we know we both need to….practice. I don’t want her to think we’re a couple of barely evolved Neanderthals.”

Rob turned to him, his eyes still bright with unshed tears. “Even though we sort of are?”

Blake shrugged, unable to resist a smile. Rob sighed and climbed out, meeting Blake at the back bumper. He grabbed his arm. “I love you Blake Thornton. God knows I do. So, let’s get on with this, shall we? Not quite the impromptu heat of a Paris nightclub but…we’ll make do with the Chop House.”

The men walked around the corner and up to the restaurant in silence each deep in the mire of his own misery. They spotted her, seated at a table in the front window, before she saw them. Blake took a breath and leaned into his lover’s ear. “Don’t stand there and tell me that she is not beautiful. That she doesn’t do anything for you.”

He put a hand on Rob’s back, as they walked towards her. She looked up and smiled. Blake felt Rob shiver under his palm. “The mother of our child, Rob. The child we both want,” he whispered, then stepped aside so Rob could give Lila a quick hug before he did the same.
Liz will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner


  1. Nice Excerpt! I hope to read this book.
    Thanks for the giveway!

  2. I liked the interview, thank you.

  3. Excellent interview!

  4. A fantastic interview and the excerpt made me want the book....Thank you for the chance to win!!!

  5. I love Liz's books. Blake and Rob are two of my favorite characters! <3

  6. I enjoyed the interview I like how much she obviously loves her character