By the Rules (Evergreen Grove #3) by Elisabeth Staab
Release Date: 1/19/2016
He thinks I want him because of the rumors around town. Because I think he’s easy. I want AJ, because he’s AJ.
No liars. No suits. Absolutely no straight guys…
AJ Fabin’s list of rules keeps him safe. Since getting kicked out of his parents’ home and attacked by a former escorting client, his rules and his life in the tiny town of Evergreen Grove provide a quiet haven. He may be lonely, and he may stick out like a sore thumb, but the folks like him well enough. When he’s not dodging his old pimp, things are peaceful.
Hayden Price is having a quarter-life crisis. Engaged to a woman he can’t connect to and working a job he secretly hates, he comes to Evergreen Grove to help his mother through a health scare. Returning to his childhood home makes Hayden reevaluate a lot of things, including himself. When he meets AJ and finds he can’t stand the mouthy jerk—almost as much as he can’t stop thinking about him—he has a lot more to change than his career.
To be together, they’ll both have to break all of their rules.
By the Rules is book 3 in the Evergreen Grove series, but reads as a standalone.
Excerpt (AJ’s POV):
I jog down Main Street to get to Cassie. I’m reaching for the door to Delia’s Coffee Shop and Bakery when the damn thing swings wide to reveal a younger man wearing a suit and tie. At least I think he’s younger. I’m nearly blinded first by his face, and then by the door smacking me in mine.
When I swing around to confront him we collide, hard chest meeting hard chest. I put my hand up to brace myself and wind up grabbing a firm pec, only missing smacking faces when he jumps back with one arm out to avoid smashing his to-go cup. We get close enough that his stubble scritches against mine and I smell mint on his breath as he pulls away.
About the Author
Elisabeth Staab started hunting mutant hedgehogs back in 1842… Oops, wrong bio… Elisabeth Staab digs coffee, saucy stories, and sexy things that go bump in the night. Once, she ate dinner in a jail and liked it. She lives in the Washington DC area with her incredible family and does her best to juggle life while ignoring the laundry.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve written in some way or another my entire life, but I didn’t start writing for a living until about six years ago. I started my first novel, King of Darkness, right after my youngest was born.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
King of Darkness took about a year and a half. I wrote it with two babies at home and sometimes I had to type one-handed while they slept in my lap so it was slooow. These days I’m able to write faster and I have more time (in theory!), so it all just depends on the book. My fastest book was two weeks. Tougher/longer books, like my latest, By the Rules, can take a few months.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
My “day job” is still parenting so I’m writing as much as I can whenever the kids aren’t around or whenever my husband can watch them. Usually that means during the school day, evenings, or even on holidays.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a linear writer, so I really, really like to do a book in a straight line start to finish. Sometimes scenes come to me out of order but it drives me bonkers because then I have to figure out where in the book they belong. Like pieces of a puzzle. It’s not all bad though. When I wrote By the Rules one of my favorite scenes at the end of the book was one of the first things I wrote down.
5. How do books get published?
I’m a hybrid author, which means I’ve published both traditionally and independently. My vampire trilogy, The Chronicles of Yavn, was published with a traditional publisher. At the moment I’m enjoying the flexibility of self-publishing (with small children it’s nice not to have deadlines), and I LOVE the covers on my Evergreen Grove series—I don’t know if any publisher would’ve given me those covers—but I might publish traditionally again if I found the right fit.
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
All over. Google is my best friend for research, but sometimes I interview people, take tours, or read books. I’ve done a police ride-along and been to a gun range. My ideas come from people I see, places I go… pretty much anywhere. I like to people watch and make up stories about people I spot in coffee shops which sometimes gets me in trouble for staring. ;)
7. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Well, I started King of Darkness when I was recovering from the birth of my youngest child. I can’t tell you how old I was because I stopped counting my age at twenty-nine.
8. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read! I am still a die-hard, avid bookworm, and reading before bed is my big treat every night for getting my work done. It’s also how I chill out when I’m sick or have had a rough day, and I’m trying to pass that on to my kids because when you have a book you’re never truly alone. I also enjoy TV, drinks with friends, cooking with my kids, and quiet time with the husband, but reading will always be a great joy.
9. What does your family think of your writing?
Mostly they’re supportive. My husband especially, and thank goodness. With rambunctious kids to take care of, I don’t know how I could do it if I didn’t have his help. My mom doesn’t read my books but my grandmother does, which is a little funny. I love getting emails from her along the lines of “I liked Hunter by Night but you used the F-word a lot!”
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I’m so pleasantly surprised at what the readers latch onto. By the Rules was written because after book one of my Evergreen Grove series readers started asking “When is AJ going to get a book?” I’d written AJ as a support character, and because of his checkered past I hadn’t thought of him as romance hero material. But the readers did, and his story turned out better than I could have imagined.
11. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Including novels and novellas, By the Rules is my tenth book. There’s a trilogy of werewolf shifter novellas in that mix, which of course didn’t take as long to write as some of my others. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they’re all unique and special in their own way, but I do love By the Rules. It’s my second-longest novel, and one of the most humorous as well as more emotional. I put a lot into that book.
12. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
My favorite advice is paraphrased from a speech I heard Sylvia Day give at the Liberty States Fiction Writers con a couple of years ago: read a lot, plan smart, and dream big. A related piece of advice I read or heard recently was that if you read a book you thought was amazing, go back and re-read it right away. I try to do that, and I always feel like I learn something.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I’ve heard I love your books and will there be more in
series, which are amazing things to
hear and I’m so grateful. Sometimes I get asked if so-and-so will get their own
story in a series—hence my writing By the Rules.
14. Do you like to create books for adults?
I love it. I’ve considered doing YA or even children’s books, but I’m not sure if it’s my bag. I’d have to put a hold on the swearing, and that’s tough for me. Using the F-word a lot is one of my favorite things.
15. What do you think makes a good story?
Characters I can care about. Tension, conflict, and a good plot are all important, but my personal philosophy is that the characters come first. If I read a book with a fascinating protagonist, I’ll follow them almost anywhere.
16. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I think for a long time it was to be a veterinarian, which in hindsight I would’ve been terrible at. I love animals, but seeing them hurt makes me cry. I’d have wound up sobbing at work every day.
17. What Would you like my readers to know?
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