Layla M. Weir is celebrating the release of her latest book today, Held for Ransom! She’s brought an excerpt, and an invitation to join her on Monday to keep the party going. I loved her novella Homespun and am really looking forward to reading her novel!
Thanks for visiting, Layla! 🙂
Hi Charley – thank you for having me! My novel Held For Ransom is out today, and I couldn’t be more excited! I will be having an all-day release party on Monday, Nov. 17 at both my Facebook and my blog, so everyone is invited to that –
(It should be today, except I ran into a teensy work-scheduling problem which resulted in me being away from the computer all day today and tomorrow. Oops.)
Anyway, I’ve lived most of my life in small towns, so it’s probably not a surprise that I keep writing books set in them! Held For Ransom is set in the fictional small town of Osmar, in central Illinois. Osmar and the other places mentioned in the book (Heatherfield, Saganic, the Danby River, etc) are all fictional, but the area is not-so-subtly based on the area around Champaign-Urbana, where I lived for four years in the early 2000s while my husband went to grad school.
Illinois is … flat. Very flat. The story I always like to tell people about Illinois and its epic flatness is about the time that my husband and I did a driving tour of Champaign County which included a drive-by of Blue Mound, the only hill in the entire county. We were very curious to see this fabled “hill”, since we’d noticed a complete lack of topography in the time we’d been living there — the freeway overpasses were invariably the tallest things around.
Our first warning sign was the comment in the guidebook that at certain times of year we might not be able to see the hill, because it’s difficult to see when the corn is high.
We drove down the indicated county route. And drove, and drove. When we found the area indicated by the guidebook, the only thing to be seen in miles of cornfields was a farmhouse. Were we lost?
“No,” my husband said. “I think that’s it.”
After driving around it a few times, we determined that the farmhouse was indeed located on a sliiiiiiightly elevated patch of ground, nearly imperceptible to the naked eye. The amount of rise could not possibly have been more than 50 feet over a couple of acres.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is Illinois.
So, as you’re reading Held For Ransom, picture the flattest place you’ve ever been. Then think flatter.
Held For Ransom is about a small town in central Illinois that’s thrown topsy-turvy when a mysterious, motorcycle-riding drifter comes to town just before the annual Christmas carnival and has a one-night stand (well, that’s what he meant it to be) with the carnival’s overwhelmed organizer. There’s a touch of romantic comedy, a little hurt/comfort, a blizzard, a bag of missing cash and a whole passel of well-intentioned friends and neighbors. If that sounds like it might be your holiday cup of cheer, here’s a small taste for you to enjoy!
Ransom killed the motorcycle engine outside 324 Elm Street and sat on the seat for a minute or two, gazing along the street at the neat rows of porch lights glimmering through the chill winter darkness. Idyllic. That’s a good word for this place. It looked to him like a set from a family sitcom, the sort where father knows best and no problem is too big to be resolved in twenty-two minutes. A part of him thought it should be possible to peek behind those house fronts to see the scaffolding propping them up and the hands scurrying around the dark backdrop of a soundstage.
He wondered what it would have been like to grow up here.
The sky was flat black, the low clouds were lit with the dim glow of some bigger town off to the northwest—Heatherfield, probably. The air had a dry, sandy taste that bespoke ominously of snow.
You should be on the road.
But he wasn’t.
After a time he dismounted from the motorcycle, hung the helmet on the handlebars, patted his jacket pocket to make sure the all-important bundle was still there, and then unlatched the low gate. DJ Lanning’s house had an honest-to-god picket fence. The yard was a patch of slightly overgrown lawn with little solar-powered lights picking out the walkway. Frost glistened in their cold blue glow. It was going to be a chilly night.
He rang the doorbell and waited. He was raising his hand to ring it again when DJ opened the door—breathless and tousle-haired and lit from behind. “Hello! Hi!” he said. Then he stopped and blinked helplessly, clearly having exhausted whatever short conversational script he was working from.
“Can I come in?” Ransom prompted after a moment. “It’s cold out here.”
“Oh! Oh. Yes. Please.”
DJ ushered him into a living room that was all Ransom had expected based on the outside of the house. A real estate agent would probably have called it “cozy.” It was a little too small for its burden of overstuffed furniture, but the effect was welcoming rather than off-putting.
DJ snatched up a crumb-laden paper plate on an end table and scurried off to the kitchen with it. Ransom watched him go, amused, and laid his leather jacket over the fat blue arm of a cheap, overstuffed couch. By the time DJ came back with two cups of coffee, a box of crackers, and a bottle of hazelnut creamer, Ransom had staked out a place on the end of the couch. It was a very comfortable couch. Then he got to watch DJ try to figure out where it was best, politically, to sit. DJ eventually compromised on a recliner next to Ransom’s end of the couch.
“The committee ate everything in the house that wasn’t nailed down,” DJ said. “I hope you like crackers. Uh, sugar and stuff in your coffee? Creamer?”
“Creamer’s good.” He’d eaten dinner at the diner in Osmar. Typical small-town diner food. He’d had plenty of it in the last year. He watched DJ arrange crackers on a paper plate and thought that this could easily be the weirdest date he’d ever been on. If it was a date.
Held For Ransom
by Layla M. Wier
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel/200 pages
Two weeks before Christmas, the small town of Osmar is gearing up for its annual winter carnival, but the death of the event’s long-time organizer might mean the end of the festivities. Everyone is turning to her son DJ to save the carnival, but DJ can barely save himself. He’s spinning his wheels in Osmar—working part time at the gas station, living in his parents’ house, and trying to figure out what to do with his life. DJ is caught in a large, loving web of well-meaning family and friends, but they can’t fix his life for him.
Into this mess comes Ransom, a handsome mystery man on a motorcycle. Ransom is traveling around the country, making up for his past sins by doing “good deeds.” He and DJ have a one-night stand that neither can forget, but that’s just the start, because Ransom has a plan to save the carnival, and DJ has a plan to save Ransom… and possibly himself.
Buy at Dreamspinner Press:
Layla M. Wier is a writer and artist who grew up in rural Alaska and now lives on the highway north of Fairbanks, where winters dip to 50 below zero and summers yield 24 hours of daylight. She and her husband, between the two of them, possess a useful array of survival skills for the zombie apocalypse, including gardening, blacksmithing, collecting wild plant foods, and spinning wool into yarn (which led to her first Dreamspinner Press novella, “Homespun”). When not writing, she likes reading, hiking, and spending way too much time on the Internet.
Where to find Layla:
Stops on the Held for Ransom blog tour (Nov. 12-Dec. 1):
Wednesday, Nov. 12: Anne Barwell – http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Friday, Nov. 14: RELEASE DAY! Charley Descoteaux –
Monday, Nov. 17: Shae Connor – http://shaeconnorwrites.com/
… and **ALL-DAY RELEASE PARTY** on Facebook and WordPress:
Wednesday, Nov. 19: Grace Duncan – http://www.grace-duncan.com
Friday, Nov. 21: Jana DeNardo – http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com
Monday, Nov. 24: Anna Butler – http://annabutlerfiction.com/blog/
Wednesday, Nov. 26: Aidee Ladnier – http://www.aideeladnier.com/
Friday, Nov. 28: Sherrie Henry – http://sherriehenry.blogspot.com/
Monday, Dec. 1: Because Two Men Are Better Than One – http://becausetwomenarebetterthanone.com/