October 28, 2013

Two Can Play by Dawn Atkins {Author Interview & Giveaway}

Two Can Play Cover 2

“Woot! Strap yourself in for a fast paced thrill ride with TWO CAN PLAY by Dawn Atkins. I could not put it down! Rena Novo is a refreshingly strong heroine matched perfectly by her handsome counterpart Gage Stone. The heat that ignites between these two while they try to solve their own personal quests positively scorches. This is a do not miss!” — Jenn McKinlay, New York Times bestselling mystery author

Live. Breath. And Believe — to Rena Novo there’s nothing better than being a part of the most popular virtual-reality game—EverLife…until she’s given a Quest to evict her best friend from the society she’s come to love. If she completes the job—she’ll rise to the top, but a sexy recruit is stirring a different kind of passion within her and making her question everything that makes her life complete.

Hunting for his missing sister, investigative reporter Gage Stone goes undercover in the gaming cult that’s taken over his sister’s life. But his biggest obstacle is the sizzling attraction between he and Rena, the extremely hot gamer assigned as his trainer. As their attraction builds, Gage realizes his sister isn’t the only one he can’t leave without. Now he must convince Rena the rhetoric the company’s pushing is just a plot that will culminate in the deaths of hundreds… before she turns him in and gets them all killed.

Publisher: Entangled Publishing – ignite imprint 
Publication Date: October 28, 2013

Tour Banner - Two Can Play

Monday, October 28, 2013
Authors’ Cafe {Author Interview} 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Paranormal Dimensions {Guest Post}
Deal Sharing Aunt {Guest Post} 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Musings and Ramblings {Author Interview}
Paranormal Realms {Guest Post} 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013
Romance Me {Guest Post} 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Nancy Jardine Features {Guest Post} 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Pretty Girls Read Books {Guest Post} 

Thursday, November 7, 2013
What Readers Want {Guest Post} 

Friday, November 8, 2013
Talk Supe {Guest Post}

“What’s not to like?” He caught her gaze and got a full-on punch of heat. The two of them naked on all that bed sounded pretty damn good to him. The spark in her lake-blue eyes said she agreed. When she held out her hand, he almost yanked her close for a taste of those soft lips of hers.

“Your jacket?” she said, tilting her head.

He shrugged it off. She watched him, her blue eyes flaring hot, like the pilot light to her sex drive. Should he go for it or take a pass?

He wanted her–he was a man with a pulse, for God’s sake, of course he wanted her–but he had to do what was smart.

He dragged his gaze away, cleared his throat and looked around. “You’ve got some pricey stuff in here. God help him, he found himself staring at the bed again.

“I go after what I want,” she said, low and sexy, her eyes glowing hotter than ever.

She smelled sweet…edible. Was it coconut? Maybe just a taste.

“And what is it you want?” he asked, telling her he wanted it, too with a tone that registered in her eyes like the flick of a gauge needle.

She hesitated, stepped back, on guard. “It’s more important what you want, Gage. Why are you here? In Lounge Life?”

His answer counted big, he knew. “I’m a gamer. I needed a job.” What would a true believer say? “I like what’s here. It’s like a family.”

“You don’t have one already?” Her eyes glittered with suspicion.

“Not really.” His sister Beth was all he had and she was missing. That was his real reason to be here.

“Lifers are my family,” Rena said, emotions rippling beneath her words, like muscles under an animal’s pelt.

Their gazes locked and the connection went abruptly personal. He saw a lonely little girl behind her eyes and she, no doubt, caught a flicker of the grim kid he’d been.

The past reeked, but it was gone.

An electric thread sizzled between them. “What I want is right here.” He looked her up and down, wanting in, letting her see that. He liked the spark in her eye, the challenge in her half-smile, not to mention that tight, strong body of hers—everything in the right place and then some. He was pretty sure it was her hair that smelled of coconut. “How about you?”

She moved grabbed his belt and tugged, telling him all he needed to know.

Thanks so much for stopping by the Authors' Cafe today, Dawn. I'm very excited to host you and your book, Two Can Play!

Okay, I see you've got your espresso and cinnamon roll with double frosting (yum - I think I'll have one of those too!), so let's get right to the interview.

At what point in your life did you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?

That’s a two-part question. I first began to believe I would actually be published when I got a revision letter from an editor at Kensington for the romantic comedy I’d submitted to them. It featured a guy who had a bike wreck caused by the woman who would turn out to be the nurse taking care of him. Among her suggested improvements was this caveat: “Road rash is not sexy.” Makes me laugh now, but at the time it made me break out in a sweat, wondering if I even knew what was sexy…or if I could fix the book enough that she’d buy it. I did and she did and GETTING ZACK BACK came out in 1998.

Part two was when I thought I could make writing a full-time career. Four years after I began writing for Harlequin (I wrote for Duets, Temptation, Blaze, Flipside and still write for SuperRomance), I began doing the math on replacing my day-job income with my book income. Until then I was producing 3-4 books a year and working a demanding full-time job, while raising a son (with my husband’s help, of course). Talk about juggling! When the math worked, I quit my day job and became a full-time author. That was seven years ago and I’m still pinching myself. I am a lucky, lucky, lucky girl!

Indeed! Okay, so tell me, which of your characters is most like you?

All my characters have a little of me in them…You know how authors are . . . multiple personalities and all . . . but any character with a lot of drive and a big fat wad of insecurity is pretty much my zip-plus-four.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which character from Two Can Play would you want with you?

That’s an EASY one. Gage Stone, of course. He’s ruggedly handsome, funny, sarcastic and smart, plus a generous and tender lover. Oh, and there’s that Norton Commando motorcycle he rides. We wouldn’t have to drive it…just, um, sit on it, you know.

Yowza - Gotta love the handsome, funny, sarcastic and smart hero! Where do you write?

We turned one of our bedrooms into my office. A futon serves as a guest bed when we have company, but an office with a door is a total luxury, since I used to write on my laptop in the kitchen area so I could supervise my young son’s video gaming (um, bad mom?) while I wrote on evenings and weekends and vacations. 

Do you have any “rituals” you go through before you write?

I’m up early--5 or 5:30 and my first act is to grab a cup of coffee with heavy cream and lie on the sofa reading fiction with my cat kneads my neck and purrs in my ear for one glorious hour. After that comes the gym (Zumba, multi-step or cardio-pump), a quick round of Mosaic: Temple of Doom, my fave video game--it’s like Tetris on crack--and I’m off to the races--I mean, pages--for the day.

That all sounds really organized - I'm seriously jealous! What was your favorite chapter (or part) of Two Can Play to write and why?

I loved the final chapters when Rena and Gage cook up a plan to foil the bad guys…I don’t want to say much that might spoil the story, since there are some secrets revealed throughout the book that play out her. Needless to say, the plan goes awry, and even when they think they’ve overcome that, there’s a twist and it takes everyone to finally--whoops…better stop there. What I loved about it was seeing Rena shine as a kick-ass heroine. It still makes me smile.

How awesome is a kick-ass heroine - Don't we all secretly want to be one?!? How did you come up with the title?

It took a while, let me tell you. The working title was The Real Life Lounge, which is the name of the chain of gamer arcades where the story takes place. This is a romantic suspense and that did not convey either romance or suspense. I generated a big fat list of possible titles and the fabulous editors at Entangled chose this one. It’s perfect because “play” fits with the gaming aspects and suggests some kind of cat-mouse game because there is suspicion between the two of them and “two” suggests the romance. I love how the cover has a game switch incorporated into the letters, for an added tie-in.

Well, I think it's a perfect title too - And I LOVE the cover! What would YOU like your readers to know about this book or you in general?

We’re both quirky--the book and I--and full of surprises--and we’re not what we appear to be. The book is not about video games, it’s about the appeal of video games, and the desire to form relationships around virtual reality games and how that urge could be abused by someone up to no good. As for me, I might look like a mature adult woman, but I’m really and truly and forever a 13-year-old girl.

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?


Writing is a craft. It takes practice. Elmore Leonard said you have to put down a million words to be publishable. So start counting . . . 

Do you have a favorite author?

Too many to list, I’m afraid.

I hear ya there! What is your favorite quote?

“I get up…I fall down…Meanwhile, I keep dancing.” (Rabbi Hillel)

Love it! What genre of books do you read for pleasure?

Contemporary women’s fiction is my go-to read, but I enjoy a wide range of books. I just finished AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED by the author of THE KITE RUNNER, set all over the globe (mostly Afghanistan) and I’m reading SERENA, by Ron Rash, a dark historical thriller set in Appalachia.

What’s the most amusing thing that’s every happened to you?

The first thing that comes to mind is the time I rode up in a glass elevator in the atrium of a posh hotel in view of a bunch of men in leather chairs with my skirt tucked into my panty hose.

Yikes - I'm always afraid of something like that happening to me! What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read, watch movies and (good) TV, play casual video games--currently obsessed with Plants vs. Zombies 2 (OMG that’s a great game…and it’s free!), and spend time with friends.

I haven't heard of Plants vs. Zombies 2, but I'll definitely be checking it out! If all TV shows were real, what show (all time) would you most like to live in?

What a great mind-boggling concept…As a kid, I wanted to live with Jeannie of I Dream of Jeannie in her bottle. Later, I wanted to be a spy with David McCallum (Ilya Kuryakin) on Man From U.N.C.L.E. 

Currently? As an adult? I have no idea. Is there a show that’s peaceful and luxurious, set on a beach, where I’m always thin and young and happy with great friends, the love of my life, and a cat. Two and a Half Men during a boring episode? That would NOT make good TV. You need conflict, risks, loss, triumph, lows and highs. I want a hammock and a book. FRIENDS maybe? I might like to live in that show, as long as I could pick the guest love interest…

Party dress or blue jeans? Blue jeans

Plotter or Panster? Plotser…as in, I plot three chapters, pants it a while, then plot three more.

Print or e-Book? Again, both. I read and write both e-books and paper books. Love my iPad with retinal display, but I’ll always like paper, too, I think.

Coastal walks or extreme sports? I’d rather be dancing . . . 

Cookies or cupcakes? Depends. Have to be moist and rich and sweet. Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, cookies with lots of stuff packed in--coconut, nuts, chocolate, raisins, toffee chips . . . Stop! My mouth is watering.

Super hero or super villain? Hero to sleep with. Villain to study.

If I had a free afternoon I’d . . . do a little of all my fave things, then take a walk in the desert with my husband.

Peanut Butter: Crunchy, Creamy, or I hate peanut butter and am addicted to Nutella. Crunchy…love extra gift of crunch.

You suddenly realize you live in a haunted house. Do you:

  1. Run screaming for the door. 
  2. Bravely go to a church, load up on holy water and try to get rid of the ghost. 
  3. Set up ghost hunting equipment to capture phenomenon. 
  4. Call in the Ghost Adventures crew so that you can ogle the lead guy Zac’s amazingly stiff hair when you’re not ogling his….physical attributes. 
  5. Deny you have a ghost and just let it scare the bejesus out of your visitors.


Get Sam and Dean Winchester from SUPERNATURAL to get rid of it for me and then Dean could comfort me!

LOL!!! Could you tell us five random facts about yourself?

  1. I’m the oldest of 4 girls.
  2. When I travel, I desperately miss my cat.
  3. When my first romance was rejected, I assumed I didn’t have the talent and didn’t write another book for 13 years.
  4. My secret dream is to be a stand-up comic.
  5. I’ve tried to learn piano, recorder, saxophone, ocarina, guitar, autoharp and organ and currently couldn’t manage a tune on a single one. Just wait until I retire!

Well, Dawn it has truly been a pleasure to host you here at the Cafe today, and I can definitely see you as a stand-up comic - Thanks so much for sharing Two Can Play with us! 

Author Picture - Dawn Atkins

I always wanted to be a writer–from the moment I put fat pencil to brown-lined paper in second grade to write an elaborate story using all the spelling words on our list.

Though I always wanted to be a professional writer, I wasn’t sure I had the stuff, so I graduated from college with a teaching degree and taught elementary school–second and third grades (the best)–and then began freelance feature writing for newspapers and magazines, local and national.

I left teaching to work in public relations–skills I use today in my job as a writer/editor for the Arizona Education Association.

I met my husband, David Weiss, my very own hero, in 1980, on an airplane. We made the “love thang” permanent in 1985, when we married taking our Hobie sailboat to San Diego for our honeymoon. Then in 1990, we welcomed a son into our lives. He continues to be the light of our life together.

My first romance credits were two stories in True Love magazine. I went on to write a sexy romance in 1983, which was rejected–sniff.

Years later–1996–I got serious about getting published. Though I endured some rejections as I honed my craft, in 1998, I sold the first of two short romantic comedies to Kensington Publishing–Getting Zack Back, published in December. In July 2000, Baby Makes Three was released. After coming in second among published authors in a Harlequin Duets contest, I sold to Harlequin in 2001, quickly selling another comedy. In addition to Duets, I write for Temptation, Blaze and, the new comedy line Flipside.

Most of my hobbies–sailing, scuba-diving, playing the piano (badly)–have gone by the wayside as I devote all my non-family spare time to writing. I live in the Phoenix area with my husband and son, who proudly brings my books to his teachers and swears he doesn’t read them–except for the funny parts.

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  1. Loved the excerpt and am super excited to read the book! That was a great interview and super fun to read. Thanks for the giveaway :)

    Crystal Guidroz


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