Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Guest Post with Z.A. Maxfield and Giveaway

Meet Z.A. Maxfield author of My Cowboy Heart.

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

Her published books include Crossing Borders, Drawn Together, and the St. Nacho’s and Brothers Grime series from Loose Id, ePistols at Dawn and The Pharaoh’s Concubine from Samhain Publishing, and Notturno, Vigil, Stirring Up Trouble, and All Stirred Up from MLR Press.

Places to find Z.A:
| Site | Facebook | Twitter

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

All stories are about one thing: conflict. The actual tension in any narrative comes from two opposing forces, whether it’s will they/won’t they of a romance, or a live or die battle against aliens. Conflict comes in two flavors, internal and external. I owe a lot to writer Josh Lanyon for a brief article I read of his on the subject at a point in my career when I needed to understand the subject, and that’s when it became clear to me exactly why both are necessary.

As writers, I’m not sure we always pull every arrow out of our quiver. I often write relatively conflict-free sweet stories of love. These are are more like little vignettes of sweet moments in a couple’s life. Those are fine, but they don’t satisfy our hunger for real drama the way a story with true conflict will.

Internal conflict comes from a basic struggle within the mind of a character. External conflict happens from outside. When a character wants something and there are physical obstacles in his way, that’s external conflict. When a character wants something and he won’t allow himself to go after it (for reasons of fear, or a sense that he doesn’t deserve it) that’s internal conflict.

The best stories have both playing out in two separate arcs at the same time. Those are the stories where the I hang on a writer’s every word because if both internal and external conflict are in play, I am not certain how it will end until the very last page.

In My Cowboy Heart, I guess the tension comes from the uncertain future of the ranch. Whether the ranch will be sold -- whether the main character Malloy can stay in the home he loves -- is only one part of the equation. Malloy has to decide whether he’s the type of man who will stand by and let life happen, or whether he’s the type to ask for what he wants. He has to decide if he’ll fight for his home and family, and part of what’s stopping him is he has to decide if he’s worthy of it. All these decisions are I’m hoping will make people turn the pages of My Cowboy Heart!

I love that moment when a character reaches for his goal, especially if it’s difficult. Especially if it’s that “all in” place in a book where his fate will be decided. I hope I created enough tension, enough drama for my readers here! I’d love to hear from you! Let me know at zamaxfield @ zamaxfield (dot) com!

Best wishes and stay tuned for My Heartache Cowboy, a follow up to My Cowboy Heart, come January.

A cowboy's heart has room for anything…

J-Bar ranch foreman Malloy pretty much keeps to himself—slinking around the edges of everybody else like an old coyote, doing his job and staying private. That is until Crispin Carrasco shows up.

Lean, muscular, and with a motor mouth that won’t quit, Crispin sparks something in Malloy—something the foreman didn’t know was there. But how does a lone coyote approach the warmth of a fire? And more important, what would happen if that fire burned?

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance |

“Hey, cowboy.”

I startled and pushed my hat back. Crispin sat in the passenger seat, his filthy coat in a bag on his lap. He wasn’t smiling.

“The dog?”

He shrugged. “Won’t know for a while. She’s lost the leg. We’ll see how she does in the next few days. They have my cell number, and I’ll be calling and checking. I had to sign my life away.”

“How come?”

“Vet care is expensive. Someone’s gotta pay for it.”

I hadn’t thought of that. “What’s it going to cost?”

“Plenty. Nina Flora always says no good deed goes unpunished.”

“Sorry you stopped? You could have just put her down out there. No one would have held it against you.”

“I would have, if I thought she didn’t stand a chance. No point in letting her suffer, in that case.

But I could tell she had a lot of fight left in her and--" he swallowed hard "--I couldn’t do it.”

“I’ll help. Paying I mean. I got some money saved up.”

“No. It’s fine. My choice, my responsibility.”

“Okay.” I knew better than to argue with him. There was always a way around stubborn cowboys. I could just call the vet later on and offer to shoulder half the load. The kid didn’t even have to find out.

“How’re you? You need another coat.”

“I’m fine.” He flushed. "Sorry.”

“We’ll get one while we’re here. That one didn’t fit anyhow.”

“I want a synthetic coat.”

Oh, right. Sheepskin might offend the sheep. “Whatever you like.”

“What are we here for anyway? You never said.”

“I have a doctor’s appointment, and I figured it’d be a quicker trip if someone came with me and did the shopping. I have a list of things I need. We can go to the hardware store together, and you can go to the feed store while I’m at the clinic. You did say you wanted to see your aunt? You can pick me up after you visit. We’ll hit the market on the way back.”

“You’re going to the doctor?” He frowned. “Is something wrong?”

“I got thrown and stomped on last year and I broke a couple of bones. Had to be pinned together and shit. It’s just a checkup.”

“You let that barge of a horse throw you?”

“Yeah, yeah. Teddy was avoiding a snakebite and I just wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was doing." I’d been watching a red-tailed hawk against the bluest, deepest sky. I’d been awestruck by the raptor, the way it wheeled and turned on updrafts with barely a beat of it’s wings. I’d watched it glide along the air currents, effortlessly. Beautifully. As graceful as the wind itself. "It wasn't Teddy's fault."

The sight of that hawk was so exciting I’d focused on it, muscles tense, body straining, as if I could take off and fly with it.

I was unprepared for a shift in balance then, just like I was unprepared now, when Crispin’s clear intelligent eyes followed my every move and it seemed to me my center of gravity was about to change again.

“He likes to be called Theodore,” Crispin whispered.

Had he moved closer? Or had I leaned in. Our faces were only inches apart, our breath mingled, his exhalations felt damp against my skin. My stomach dropped when one of us inched forward. I could no longer focus on his whole face--I had to pick something from the features I found there and I couldn’t look at anything but his mouth--his lips, which had parted in surprise--because yeah, he was probably as surprised as I was, only I was surprised and anxious as hell and he’d probably done this before.

Had his first kiss had been with a man, and if it was, who made the first move? Had Crispin kissed someone the whole world said he shouldn’t, just because he wanted to? Or had he been on the receiving end of that first forbidden taste.

Thank God for the fogged up windows, for the winter dark afternoon sky, for the fact there was hardly anyone out on a cold day like that because it wove a spell around us that made it seem like we were the only two people on earth.

Whoever provided the final push between us, our lips met softly at first. Tentatively. Heat built between us. The first velvety impression lasted only seconds, but somehow I’d parted my lips--maybe on a sigh--and Crispin’s tongue slid along the opening I gave him as natural as breathing.

I tilted my head so he could delve deeper, and my hat fell off, forgotten. His hands curled in the hair at the nape of my neck.

He smelled a little like antibacterial soap and a little like bacon and the next thing I knew I was pushing whatever was between us on the bench seat onto the floor, trying to get closer, trying intensify my contact with his body because that kiss was oxygen and I had been suffocating all my life.

And my cock...

My cock filled and throbbed. It pushed against my zipper as need flooded my senses and filled me with desire like I'd never felt before. I was hard and ready, aching over this kid and I couldn't fathom it.

I just had to have more.

He put a hand between us, flat on my chest. I pushed back against it, because even that felt so fucking good. Physical touch--I guess I’d been starving for it. I didn’t even know that until his hand ghosted over my nipple and stayed there for a second, causing me to groan and arch forward for more.

He tensed like he suddenly realized what was happening, and I knew I should back away. I just couldn’t resist one more taste of him, one final, scorching kiss to prove to myself it was worth it to risk ruining everything.

"Did we just--" he touched his fingers to his lips. "Did I do that or did you?"

“I don’t know.” I honestly didn't know. If he'd kissed me I wouldn’t have stopped him, and if I had kissed him, it was because I'd wanted to.

But I didn’t have to admit it.

My heart still thudded hollowly and inside me my blood rushed so hard I could hear it in my ears.

"Have you ever kissed a man before?" Crispin’s expression was unreadable.

I had to get my breathing under control to talk. "Can't say I have."

“Oh, Christ. This shit’s gotta stop right now.”

Somehow, I’d pictured this after-part going different. Like maybe he’d be trying to convince me to talk about it, and I’d be the one running away.

Funny how things happen. “How come?”

“I’m not some experiment you can just--”

“Experiment? I didn’t start that. If I did, it sure as hell wouldn’t have happened in a public parking lot.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Now?” I sort of gaped at him. “You don’t want to talk now when that’s all you’ve done since we met? Why the hell not?”

“Well, for starters, I’ve got dog blood all over me and I’m a wreck. I just watched an amputation, okay? So maybe it was just…adrenaline.”

Put like that, his words flooded me with shame. I keyed the ignition and started the engine. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry." He threw the bag with his coat in it into the back as I edged out into traffic. "It's just not a great day all around.”

“I’m sorry to make a bad day worse.” Maybe that was a little sarcastic.

“I didn’t mean it like that. Christ. I do way better with animals than people. Animals aren’t all judgy and they don’t get caught up in emotional shit like people do. Animals do what they want and they don’t second guess everything."

“I didn’t hate it or nothing.”

“I could tell.” His gaze flicked to my dick and back up to my face again. “I've got to say, the J-Bar is turning out to be a surprise.”

“How so?”

“I already had to back Jim off and Eddie sees me as a younger version of himself. He wants to protect my virtue. Now I’m kissing my ranch foreman in a public place? What did you do for entertainment before I got here?"

This was one hundred percent mortifying. "Can we just forget we ever--"

"It's forgotten." He stretched his head from side to side. I guess he was trying to ease out a little tension from his neck. “I’ve forgotten it already.”


“Not remembering. At. All.”


“My mind is completely blank. I’m sure not thinking about how your hair felt in my fingers. The way your lips opened right up and you let my tongue inside, let me lick you until our tongues got tangled up together—”

“Okay, that’s not how I think of forgetting.”

“How I wanted to crawl into your lap and just do you right here, steering wheel at my back until we both blew a load into our jeans while it snowed all around us.

Uh… Red light. Red light!

“Whoa! Watch the road.”

I cursed. “Glad it’s forgotten.”

“Yeah.” He chuckled. “Me too.”

Check out what's up for grabs.

Up For Grabs:

To Enter: 
  • Please leave a comment for Z.A.
  • Please fill out the Rafflecopter form.

Good Luck! 

Special thanks to Z.A. Maxfield & Enchantess of Books Blog Tours for sponsoring this giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Sounds like it will be a good read.

  2. I LOVE cowboys! My absolute favorite kind of book. Something about cowboys and ranches just draw me in. Thank you so much for this giveaway! I'd LOVE to read your book. :)

    Wanda Barefoot

    1. Thank you Wanda! My drawing will take place soon!

  3. Love cowboys. :) Sounds like a terrific book!

  4. I do like cowboy books! ...and this one sounds hot!! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

  5. This books sounds great! Definitely a different take on the typical cowboy story I've read, and I can't wait to read it! lol Thanks for the great giveaway chance!

    1. Yeah. Nothing typical about Crispin, he's a little quirky! Thanks Marcy.

  6. The book sounds really good and I loved the excerpt.

  7. A tough, hard working man on horseback, what could be sexier?

  8. Sounds wonderful, i love cowboys.

  9. I love cowboys,and love the excerpt so i'm looking forward to read it!!!!

  10. I love the cover and cowboys are always a must on the reading list. Looking forward to reading the book.

  11. Love the excerpt! Sounds like a really good book and I am looking forward to reading it. evamillien at gmail dot com

  12. Sounds great!
    lorimitchell257 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  13. I always love your advice on writing - thank you! But even better are cowboys in conflict. And in jeans. And out of jeans... well - looking forward to this story. Congratulations on another winner. LE

    1. Thanks LE. Yeah, cowboys, in jeans or out of them... You are preaching to the choir!

  14. This sounds like an awesome read.
    Thanks :-)

  15. Ohhh~~ this story sounds absolutely wonderful...
    >o< I hope i'm lucky enough to win.

    thanks so much for the contest!

  16. Great excerpt!


  17. Believe it or not this book is next up on my shopping list! I have enjoyed all the ZA Maxwell books that I have read and it sounds like this one will join the list.

  18. This sounds like a good read. Thanks for the giveaways and the excerpt.


  19. I so happy to see a new book by ZA Maxwell & even happier to note that another one is coming in January. The blurb sounds great (as if it wouldn't) :D Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

  20. i always love reading about cowboys :)
    thx u for the chance ;)

  21. Can't wait to read this one! The only thing sexier than one two cowboys.

    Hokykogy at shaw. Ca

  22. I think it sounds like a wonderful read - that excerpt sure was great :D

    felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

  23. So excited to be reading again after so long.

    Steven A Hall

  24. Seriously, you had me at "Cowboy".

  25. It sounds interesting

  26. This looks so good!

  27. Can't wait to get my hands on this!

  28. I love read cowboy story. Wanna read this one, look great read :)

  29. I really like how the characters don't just seem like your standard alpha male rough and dirty cowboys. I got a softer dreamer-like impression from Malloy. And Crispins snark/sass helps create a really sweet dynamic between the two. It's definitely on my goodreads to-read list :)

  30. This sounds like it will be a great book! Congratulations on its release! I look forward to reading it sometime. Thanks for the great excerpt!

  31. This sounds like a good read. I have been looking for a cowboy romance, and this sounds like it!!