Today I’m excited to share an excerpt of a new novel by Layne Gray called Crushed and a fab interview with the author!! Read on to find out more about the author, get a sneak peek at her novel, and enter the giveaway!
Crushed by Layne Gray
Book Details: After a decade of dialing it in on her marriage – subsisting mostly on school fundraisers and designer trunk shows – Grace, on a whim, surprises her husband at the airport, picking him up in nothing more than scant lingerie and a fur coat. But that backfires spectacularly. Hoping to help, Grace’s best friend tells her of a secret retreat for discarded wives—Finedale, where Grace just may be able to get back her confidence, build her self-esteem, learn a rewarding career, or even rediscover that hot sex needn’t be a thing of the past.
Before long, Grace is orchestrating a new, fabulous life. Everything seems to be going brilliantly. But as cracks begin to appear the possibility of another, darker, truth behind Finedale catapults Grace into a role she never anticipated.
About the Author – Layne Gray
Layne Gray is an author, entrepreneur and experienced marketing strategist. Layne’s background is in technology marketing and she has worked for large companies, including as Director of UNIX Product Line Marketing at Oracle Corporation and Director of UNIX Application Marketing at Altos Computer Systems. She was the founder of LKE Productions, a global technology conference production company that ramped to over $20M in annual revenues.
Layne is a seasoned charitable fundraiser who has helped raise millions of dollars for local and national charities through events she has chaired and campaigns she has spearheaded. Bay Area beneficiaries have included the San Francisco Ballet, Junior League of San Francisco, San Francisco Zoological Society. National organizations include buildOn, UN Foundation Girl Up and Mocha Moms.
Born and raised in Oregon, Layne received a B.A. in Marketing and Statistics from the University of Oregon. She has taken the WSET Level 3 Certification and teaches wine classes around the country. Layne is an Emeritus Board member of the San Francisco Zoological Society and a sustaining member of the Junior League of San Francisco and the San Ballet Auxiliary. She lives in San Francisco and enjoys cycling, snow skiing and walking her dogs at Crissy Field.
Interview with Layne Gray
1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
Hi, I’m Layne Gray, author of the novel, Crushed: Happily Ever After 2.0.
2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?
Set in San Francisco, Crushed is about a woman, Grace, who thinks she sees her husband having an affair. Her best friend rushes her off to a secret spa in the Napa Valley. There, Grace is able to build up her self-esteem, get back her confidence, learn a new career and even discover hot sex again. She leaves and is on top of the world and then starts to lose it all. With twists and turns, and a new romantic interest, she puts the pieces together about the truth behind the spa.
One of the main inspirations for the book is I want women to realize that even if their marriages are over there are new opportunities for them. I’ve had many friends send their friends who were going through divorce to me because my marriage was dissolved amicably. I was able to discover new chapters that were more exciting than my married life. I wanted to share that with others.
3. How long did it take you to write Crushed? What is your writing process like?
It took approximately six months to write and another three to four months to edit.
My writing process is to be in total silence. What I did do that may be different is that I had a group of fifteen women, some of whom I knew and others I did not, who read for me. I asked them to fill out a survey at the end of each of the three parts to the book. It really gave me some great insights from the reader standpoint and I did make some tweaks because of that process. Finally, I hosted a focus group dinner for those early readers who lived in San Francisco.
4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m working on the sequel to Crushed. The end of the first book lends itself to a follow-on, although I’d like to believe its still a satisfying conclusion on its own. I have approximately fifty women who have offered to be early readers for the next book, which I take as a great compliment.
5. What’s your favorite quality about your heroine?
I like Grace, the heroine, a lot because she’s vulnerable but gains this real strength through her journey. She’s forgiving but is not a push-over. Many readers ask if she’s ‘me’ and the answer is a most definite No.
6. If you were given an offer to turn Crushed into a movie, who would you want to see playing the roles of [female lead] and [male lead]?
I wrote the novel with Jessica Chastain in mind as Grace. Peter, Grace’s husband, is Robert Downey Jr. and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is the Police Chief, Ross.
7. How would you describe your writing style and previous novels to someone that has never read your work before?
My writing is pretty straight forward. There’s some humor in the novel and a bit of sex (overwhelmingly the early readers who filled out the surveys voted the big sex scene in Chapter 15 as their favorite chapter of the whole book!). There are also some emotional parts that have made some of my readers (many who have written reviews on Amazon) cry. I’ve actually cried, myself, reading those chapters again. I say to people that I am no Shakespeare but I’d like to believe my writing style doesn’t get in the way of the story I’m trying to tell.
8. Who are the authors that inspire you and what genres do you enjoy reading?
Kristin Hannah, Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriarty are some of my favorite authors. I enjoy reading romance, chicklit, historical fiction, and non-fiction history.
9. What inspired you to start writing and what continues to inspire you?
I have a mentor – an old boyfriend, who lives in London and has written many fictional novels. He inspired me to ‘tell this story because it is inspiring to women’. Now I am inspired to write the sequel because of the encouragement from so many readers.
10. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
The best advice I’ve received is to follow your dreams and do what you’re passionate about.
11. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?
Leggings with over-the-knee boots are my go-to staples for winter paired with a big sweater. Spring and summer I’m mad about skirts with simple white t-shirts (H&M sells some pretty high-quality t-shirts occasionally – when I find one I like I buy like five at a time!). I throw over one of my dozen or so J. Crew cardigans. Plus a pair of really cute, yet comfy, flats.
12. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?
In my handbag right now you’d find a Sephora light pink lip pencil, my favorite YSL Volupte Sheer Candy lipstick, a pot of True Nature Botanicals lip balm, my well-worn pink Goyard wallet with receipts haphazardly sticking out, a pencil (yes, the old-fashioned kind with the lead often broken off), a pen with purple ink, more loose receipts, a spare iPhone charger and all the cards that fell out of the outside pocket of my wallet. And a spare pair of athletic socks.
13. A few of your favorites…
– Favorite scent? Guerlain’s Shalimar.
– Favorite color? Purple.
– Favorite food? I’m going through a paella phase right now.
– Favorite word? Hmmm…well, maybe it’s ‘hmmm…’ Or ‘brilliant’ – it’s so British. I love saying, “Oh that’s just brilliant”.
– Favorite song? I enjoy so many types of music. Specific to the book, I used several songs that I love as the base for many chapters. For example, in the first chapter when Grace decides to surprise her husband at the airport U2’s ‘All I Want Is You’ was used for the pacing of how the action unfolded. In another pivotal chapter I used Mindy Smith’s ‘Come To Jesus’, a beautiful, haunting ballad that fit perfectly with the highly emotional scene. Finally, the song, ‘Hope Has Come’, was the basis for a concert Grace’s son performs in; the metaphor is he has sought Jesus as a replacement for his father. Sounds kinda religious but tis not.
– Favorite book? Modern: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Classics: Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’.
– Favorite/dream vacation spot? Cap d’Antibes, France.
– Favorite time period in history? The first industrial revolution – really changed everything in terms of the economic ramifications of innovation.
– Favorite article of clothing? An old, boxy, beige suede Louis Vuitton jacket with a narrow column of double buttons and three-quarter length sleeves. Timeless.
– Favorite drink of choice? Definitely Dr. Pepper during the day. White Burgundy in the evening. Oh, I feel obligated to mention water.
– Favorite celebrity crush? Alan Rickman, may he rest in peace. Donnie Osmond when I was young (did I just date myself?)
14. Either or…
– Dogs or cats? Dogs! Pugs in particular (I have three), and I follow pretty much every Instagram pug – definitely check out @ItsDougThePug. Hilarious.
– Red wine or white? White except when there’s a steak involved and for that there’s nothing like a great big Cab.
– Coffee or tea? Yes.
– Summer or Winter? I like San Franciscan summers because they’re not hot. If I had to choose between summers that are hot, over 80 degrees, I’d choose winters. San Franciscan winters, since the temperature averages around 60 degrees (notice a recurring theme of San Francisco here? Hmm…)
– Sleep in or get up early? Early.
– Apple or PC? Go Team Apple!
Excerpt – Crushed
From the stress of the day Grace could use a good cry, but her tears were kept at bay by the seasoned officer who spun tale upon tale of the best excuses for speeding he had heard during his career in the field as they drove her to City Tow to retrieve her car.
“One time, I pulled over a couple and the driver told me he was speeding twenty miles over the limit because he was racing to get his wife to the hospital to have a baby. She didn’t look pregnant to me, but I escorted them to the hospital anyway. I walked them in and made sure they got signed in and a room.”
“Did you end up giving him a ticket?” asked Grace.
“Nope, I figured the hospital bill was punishment enough.”
In the rearview mirror, Grace could see his eyes. They’re so green…and penetrating. She flipped her hair off her right shoulder and gave out a quick laugh as she batted her eyelashes.
When they reached City Tow, her heart sank again. There, extending out the double glass entrance doors and down the sidewalk, were dozens of people waiting impatiently to retrieve their expensively towed cars. Her eyes welled with tears.
He turned and handed her the handkerchief from his breast pocket. “It’s okay. I’ll take you in so you don’t have to wait in that line.” His deep, soothing voice restored her equilibrium.
The three of them got out of the squad car and made their way into the reception room. Grace couldn’t be sure whether he blinked or winked at her before disappearing with his young associate through a restricted door. Sitting down on one of the hard plastic benches, Grace listened to the spectrum of justifications people were giving the clerks as to why they should be exonerated. Four broken parking meters and three lost keys later, the men in blue reappeared before her with a squatty short-sleeved bureaucrat whose shirt pocket was armed with an authentic plastic penholder.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Chief Jones told me of your circumstance, and we’ll have your car in the side driveway momentarily,” said the man, who kept looking up at the older, taller officer as he spoke. He then scrambled back to his lair.
Grace reviewed the name badge on his uniform. Jones.
“So, who else besides the guy who runs the police department gets to be called Chief?” she asked.
The junior officer answered proudly. “No one.”
“Then what the heck are you doing here? Is this an Undercover Boss taping?” Grace darted her eyes back and forth, scouting for hidden cameras.
“I do it one day a month.” The chief slayed her again with his grin. “Keeps me in touch with what my men and women are facing out here every day. Randy, here, was considerate enough to let me ride with him today.” Chief Jones gave Randy a nod.
Randy pulled his shoulders back squarely and positively glowed.
Grace was itching to ask how Chief Jones had gotten her out of the ticket, but decided against it since there were at least twenty people around them pretending not to listen to their conversation. Outside where her car was waiting, Chief Jones handed her his card, but it wasn’t a normal business card. Rather, it had his picture on one side, with his hobbies and length of service with the police department. On the flipside, the expected business information confirmed that Ross Jones was, in fact, chief of police.
“Oh, look, it’s like a baseball trading card!” said Grace, unable to bluff nonchalance, and before she could stop herself, she found she was flirting like that Southern belle, Professor Johnson at Finedale. “Why, you’re a veritable collectible, Chief Jones, I dare say.” She lifted the card up to her face in preparation to fan herself, but instead tucked it into her brassiere. Eagerly, Randy handed Grace his card with the same double-sided format. “Very nice,” said Grace, handing it back to Randy. She looked at Ross’s face, a good six inches above hers. “Let’s see, you like Giants baseball, surfing and skiing. Do you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, too?” Having sworn off men for at least a year—although no one had ventured to test her resolve on that issue, Grace cheeks burned hot.
“It’s the newer, friendlier police force. I hope you like it,” replied Chief Jones with that partial uplifted smile. But it wasn’t just any smile. It was warm, lingering, and very seductive.
How can he be the police chief and I’ve never seen him on the evening news? Discreetly, from behind her Gucci sunglasses, Grace checked out his physique, but she could only get a tease of how toned his body was under his police-sanctioned, navy short-sleeved shirt and bulletproof vest. She imagined herself again swooning in his muscular arms by Renata’s revolving door.
“Note to self, get arrested … soon!” said Grace to Chief Jones as she patted her chest where his card was stowed. “Only because my pants have no pockets did I put your card in here.”
Suddenly overcome with mortification at how completely daft she was sounding, Grace threw open her car door and clambered inside. Ross Jones and his junior officer headed back to the chief-mobile. But Ross reversed his stride and tapped on her driver side window.
“By the way, I do like piña coladas… especially with those little paper umbrellas.” He winked at Grace. This time, she was sure of it.
Grace came unglued with glee as she watched him saunter back to his squad car. Wait, little paper umbrellas? Is he friggin’ kidding with me? Shit, maybe he’s a charming gay man just trying to make me feel like a valued woman in solidarity. How am I supposed to figure out men when I’ve been off the market for so long? It’s unfair and makes me mad that Finedale didn’t teach me how to distinguish gender preferences in prospective dates.
As she switched on the ignition, she realized that Chief Ross had indeed given her a sign—two, in fact. He’d lingered in her personal zone, used Flirting Technique No. 5 – returning to her after the end of a conversation. And No. 7 –responding to an overt opening flirt. Professor Johnson would be proud. Two points for Lilienthal!
Enter the giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out the other stops on Layne’s blog tour!
April 4- A Southern Girls Bookshelf – Excerpt
April 4 –Literary Chanteuse– Excerpt
April 4- Wendi Nunnery –Review
April 5 –Change the Word – Q&A
April 5 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
April 6 – Sweet N Sassy Bookaholics – Excerpt
April 7 – Nerdy Dirty and Flirty – Excerpt
April 8 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt
April 8 – Kate-Book.com – Review & Excerpt
April 8 – Blurbs and Words – Review & Excerpt
April 8 – Around the World in Books – Review & Excerpt
April 12 – Living Life With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt
April 12 – Coffeeholic Bookworm – Review
April 13 – Curling Up With A Good Book –Review & Excerpt
April 15 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews –Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
April 18 – The Phantom Paragrapher – Review
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