March 18, 2013

Cate Ashwood: Keeping Sweets (Interview & Excerpt)

Please help me welcome fellow author Cate Ashwood. Cate just released her debut novel Keeping Sweets and answers some of my nosy questions. :)

 Title: Keeping Sweets
Release Date: March 11th, 2013

Author: Cate Ashwood

Author Website:

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Buy Link:

Genre: Contemporary m/m romance

Blurb: Days away from high school graduation, with hardly a penny to his name, Evan Lowry needs to earn money for college. When he comes across an ad for modeling, he thinks his luck has changed—until he learns he’s interviewing for an adult film and will be expected to have sex. On camera. With other men. 

For gay porn star Brandon Court, the shine has worn off of regular shoots. He and his producer, Les, decide to try something new: a reality-show porno set at a beach house. When he meets wide-eyed and na├»ve Evan for the first time, Brandon isn’t sure if he wants the kid to get lost or get naked. Naked wins. 

On set, Brandon takes Evan under his wing, and over the next month, they are thrown together in every intimate way conceivable—except emotionally. Both Brandon and Evan are terrified of trying for anything deeper, and insecurities and doubts wear on their hopes, but the chemistry between them won’t let them slow things down.

1-Welcome Cate Ashwood! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your release.

Hi Chris,
Thank you so much for having me today! I am so excited to be here!
This has been a great month for me. I have the release of my novel, a blog tour, and it’s my 29th birthday! (and I’m sticking at 29, so this is my last birthday).
Keeping Sweets is my very first novel. The very first thing I’ve ever written, actually, so I am so beyond excited that Dreamspinner took a chance on me and decided to publish it.

2-In what locale is your book set? Why did you choose this setting?

The majority of the book is set in a beach house just outside Newport Oregon. It’s right on the ocean and it’s absolutely beautiful. If you’ve never been there, you should put it on your list of places to visit.
I chose Oregon because I think it’s inherently romantic and it’s a place that’s incredibly important to me. I even got married on the beach there in September.

3-How long have you been writing?

This is my very first book. I used to love writing when I was a kid, but once I got a little bit older things just got too busy. I recently picked it up again last March, and Keeping Sweets was the result. 

[Wow! Congrats! That's quite an achievement!] 

4-What compelled you to write this particular story?

There was a song I heard a million years ago, and I don’t even remember which song it was, but it inspired an idea that changed and evolved over the eons I let it ruminate before I actually started typing. The end product doesn’t resemble the initial idea in the least, but I suppose that’s how stories work sometimes.

5-What gave you the courage to submit your story to a publisher?

A rare moment of “fuck it, what’s the worst that can happen?” I clicked the send button before I could second-guess myself and then as soon as that confirmation message splashed across the screen, that’s when the debilitating wave of panic and self-doubt bowled me over. Then it was just a matter of biting my nails and worrying for two months.

6-When creating your characters, do you have models in mind or are they totally fictional?

Mostly I have an idea in my head of who they are and what they look like, and then afterwards I go looking for a photo of someone that I think comes close. Sometimes it helps to have that concrete visual.

7-Why did you start writing m/m? Is there something special that draws you to this genre?

It’s one of my favourite genres to read. When I started writing, I actually tried to write het first, and it just wasn’t working. I switched to m/m, and something clicked. The words just started flowing.

8-What are you reading right now? Do you have a favorite author or genre?

Like most authors, I read a lot. A lot. I usually read a book every day or two. This month, my favourites have been Secret Chemistry by Chris T. Kat, Aiden’s Luck by Con Riley, Exposed by Skylar M. Cates, and Speechless by Kim Fielding. 

[Okay, I admit I had a little squee!-moment when I read this. ^_^] 

9-What are you working on now?

A three part series set in a fictional town in Maine. Each book follows a different couple and I really love them all.
Hope Cove #1 introduces Oliver and Mack. Oliver is an orphaned chef from Seattle and Mack is the sheriff of Hope Cove, Maine. He shows up on Oliver’s doorstep to let him know Oliver’s sister has died. Oliver wasn’t aware he’d had a sister, and follows Mack back to Maine to sort everything out.
Hope Cove #2 revolves around Declan who is one of Mack’s deputies and comes to the aid of Lucas when he is beaten and thrown off the lobster boat he was working on. Declan takes care of him, but they both have secrets and those secrets almost destroy them.
Hope Cove #3 is about Haydn and Trevor. Haydn is a baker in Hope Cove, and meets Trevor one night at a club. They spend the night together, but Trevor is not who he seems to be.

10-When you're not writing, how do you like to spend your time?

Right now, life is very busy for me. I am currently switching careers. I have been teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) for the last five years, but I needed a change. I decided to go back to school to try out phlebotomy, so right now my life is pretty wrapped up in books—unfortunately most of them are textbooks, but I only have a month left.

11-What are your writing goals for 2013?

I’d like to get the Hope Cove series finished and submitted for publication sometime in the next few months, and following that, I have the plot for a YA book, among other things, floating around in my head. Maaaaaaaybe a book for Colt (one of the secondary characters from Keeping Sweets). 

12-Do you have personal goals for 2013?

Besides finishing school and getting a new job, I’d like to expand my horizons socially. I have always been shy—painfully so. It was the only comment my teachers ever made on report cards. They wanted me to speak up more in class and be more outgoing in groups. I’ve always had trouble with it. I was the kid that would rather spend recess inside with my nose buried in an Enid Blyton book than play tetherball with the other kids. (Side note, is it that weird that I would prefer The Mountain of Adventure over getting beaned in the head with a volleyball? I don’t think so.) Anyway, I am going to be at GRL this year as one of the newbie authors. I want to try to step out of my comfort zone a little and am really looking forward to meeting lots of new people. 

[I think reading an Enid Blyton book sounds very reasonable!] 

Would you like to share an excerpt from “Keeping Sweets”?

Evan raised his eyebrows, which made him look tempting as sin. Bran absolutely wanted to attack him, show him how good it can be when two people want it, and Bran definitely wanted it.

Evan’s breathing was already becoming ragged as he dragged his fist up and down. Bran flushed with desire. He needed to remember the rules. He wouldn’t get attached. He would keep this compartmentalized.

Get yourself under control, Bran, he mentally castigated himself.

He pulled off his own T-shirt, trying to lower his temperature and get his body back under control. His cock was pressing insistently against his zipper, begging to come out. He was used to coming multiple times per day and he hadn’t gotten off at all today. It was borderline painful.

Evan had increased his speed, his breathing quickening along with the rhythm of his strokes. His eyes fell closed as his head bobbed back, mouth open slightly. He was far too tempting not to touch.

Bran reached over and ran his hand from Evan’s knee to hip, feeling the soft skin, the light dusting of pale hair, and the tensing of muscles beneath his palm. Watching Evan’s expression carefully for any signs of discomfort, he allowed himself to continue lightly trailing his fingertips farther north over his left nipple.

Evan let out a small moan of pleasure. So, he had sensitive nipples. Bran could work with that. He leaned over and placed his lips on the side of Evan’s neck. He sucked gently, eliciting more moans from Evan, who was now so far gone in his pleasure that all he could do was feel.

That was exactly what Bran wanted him to do. Feel good. He pressed gentle kisses down his neck and over his shoulder before dropping lower to lave and suckle at his nipple. Evan lost it then, increasing his pace and thrusting up into each counter movement of his hand.

The sound of Les’s voice shook them both from the erotic spell that enveloped them.

Noah, pull Jackson into your lap. Touch him.”

Bran lifted his head and looked at Evan, raising his eyebrows in question. Evan’s pupils were blown and his gaze glassy with need, but he managed to give a slight nod. That was all the permission Bran needed.

He reached over, hooked Evan under the armpits, and pulled him into his lap. The few inches difference in height made for a perfect fit. Bran reached beside the couch for the bottle of lube they kept there. He poured a healthy amount into his palm and pulled Evan’s hand away to replace it with his own. Gripping tightly, he ran his fingers over Evan for the first time. Evan hissed and arched against him, bucking up into his hand.

Oh my God, Noah. So good. So, so good,” he whimpered.

The friction of Evan’s ass against Bran’s raging erection was torturous. It felt good, but wasn’t enough to give him the relief he craved. He used his other hand to push Evan’s hips back down, holding him close against his body. He could feel the heat rising off the boy, driving his passion to a fever pitch.

He once again tried desperately to get his own body under control. This wasn’t about him. This was Evan’s first time, and he wanted to make it as good as possible. He leaned forward and brushed soft kisses against Evan’s temple.

Shhhh, it’s okay, just relax and let me take care of you.”

Evan let his head fall back against Bran’s shoulder, surrendering his body to him to do with what he pleased. Bran wanted desperately to bury himself inside the younger man’s body.

He could feel Evan trembling with the need for release. He was close. Bran could feel it. He snaked his hand down and pressed his fingers firmly against the sensitive skin behind Evan’s balls. Evan cried out as he came. Thick ropes of come splashed over his stomach and coated his abs and Bran’s fingers.

Bran slowed his strokes to bring Evan down slowly. He laid kisses along his neck and shoulders as Evan relaxed back against him.

That was so hot Bran had almost come in his pants. He needed to get a grip before he lost it entirely. Maybe one too many years of denying any sort of connection with the guys he worked with had come back to bite him in the ass. He was going to have a hard time denying the attraction he felt for this one.

Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after.
Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.



  1. I'm curious, how has teaching ESL affected your writing process? I've always felt that foreign-born speakers seem more careful and precise with English, and I wondered if being in that atmosphere would affect your style. The book sounds amazing!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

  2. Hi Trix,
    I think that it has definitely helped with the technical aspect of writing: sentence structure, grammar, etc, but because of the culture of the students I was teaching, I acted more like a counselor than a teacher most days. There was a lot of pressure placed on these kids to achieve and to be something that they weren't necessarily comfortable being. I think that translates well to our genre; so many of our characters are struggling to figure out who they are and where they belong in the world, just like a lot of my students were.

  3. Thanks for the great interview! Congrats on getting published! My mother went back for her Masters in ESL and is now teaching adults in a pre-university program. She has found it very frustrating. I hope the new schooling goes well, I graduated college in December and just couldn't stand more school. :P
    OceanAkers @