Sunday, April 29, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the months of March and April, I'm highlighting sentences from the very first novel I had published, a het vampire erotic romance called Chains of Jericho. It was the very first book I had final in EPIC's ebook awards (then called the EPPIE), and since I had two final this year, I figured this was a good time to share the one that started it all.

Dec has just learned that the nightmare he's been trying to control isn't over, and come back to his room and Maya wracked with too many feelings. A kiss has exploded into the potential for more.

Her breathing was starting to even out. “So why do you need it now?”

If he’d been more eloquent, this would’ve been the time to tell her how much she’d brought into his life over the past few months, how watching her and learning about her had shown him the costs of being driven toward a single purpose, how lonely it could be when one closed the door to anything but their goal. He would’ve told her about Tasha, and about how he’d failed, and then begged her not to give up on him just because he’d made this fatal mistake. He would’ve been able to put voice to the burgeoning feelings he had for this beautiful woman, in spite of the fact that she was human, or maybe because of it, and how she constantly amazed him with her willingness to look above and beyond.

But Dec didn’t possess a silver tongue, and he had to settle for a simple, “Because you were looking for me.”


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Giveaway - North of Heartbreak by Julie Rowe

Well, I took this past week off (outside of Six Sentence Sunday) to recuperate from RT (and yeah, I needed it, lol), but now I'm back on schedule and ready to give away another book!

This week, it comes from Carina, and features an Alaskan setting, always a weakness of mine...

Since her divorce, Willa Hayes has thrown herself into her work as a nurse practitioner in the remote town of Stony Creek, Alaska. She's regained her self-confidence and her heart is almost healed. Then her newfound peace is shaken by the arrival of sexy flyboy Liam Reynolds. Willa can't deny she's instantly, intensely attracted to him--even if she's convinced he's yet another Mr. Wrong.

Liam has his own reasons for fleeing to the isolation of the north, and a relationship is the last thing he wants. He wasn't counting on being drawn to the pretty nurse who accompanies patients on his flights to southern hospitals.

Fortunately, the temptation--and the desire to avoid anything serious--is mutual. So the pair comes up with an arrangement: sensual, steamy, no-strings fun. But when things heat up on a cold Alaskan night, the rules of the game may change forever...


You can read an excerpt at Carina.

All you have to do to enter is comment to this post. That's it. Next Monday at 9am PST, I'll choose a comment at random to win.

You don't need an account to leave a comment, but if you don't have one, please consider leaving an email address you can be contacted at. That guarantees I can get a hold of you in case you win.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the months of March and April, I'm highlighting sentences from the very first novel I had published, a het vampire erotic romance called Chains of Jericho. It was the very first book I had final in EPIC's ebook awards (then called the EPPIE), and since I had two final this year, I figured this was a good time to share the one that started it all.

Continuing on from last week's scene with Maya and Dec's finally getting sexual...

He must’ve felt her orgasm coming. Seconds before his fucking and sucking sent her careening over the edge, Dec’s mouth slid down and away, his jaw dropping, his teeth grazing over the soft skin of her inner thigh before finding the spot where it was most sensitive. Maya felt the distinct prick of his fangs sinking into her flesh, but it was the first almost painful pull that catapulted her into coming, unfettering her as her climax picked her up in fiery waves and rocked her through its wake, everything spinning out of control around her as she rode it to its finish.

Maya was only half-aware of Dec disengaging from the bite. But when he slid up her body, his weight pressing her more firmly into the mattress, she turned automatically into his kiss, tasting herself on his tongue as she moaned in satisfaction. “That ... was...” she started to say when they broke apart, but the rest of it escaped her.


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the months of March and April, I'm highlighting sentences from the very first novel I had published, a het vampire erotic romance called Chains of Jericho. It was the very first book I had final in EPIC's ebook awards (then called the EPPIE), and since I had two final this year, I figured this was a good time to share the one that started it all.

Sharing a room has progressed Maya and Dec's relationship to its natural conclusion...

She was wet, wetter than she could remember being in a long time without the aid of something plastic and vibrating directly between her legs. But though that was now where he seemed to be heading, there was nothing artificial about the way Dec touched her, or the way he growled in the back of his throat when he discovered a fresh patch of her skin to taste, or the probing of his fingers as he determinedly pulled her thighs apart. He never said a word, his mouth too busy etching a path down her navel, and she tensed as she felt his fingertips brush over her cotton-covered mound, tracing her slit with a surprising delicacy.

“Let me,” Maya breathed. She started to lift her hips to shimmy out of her panties, but Dec’s powerful forearm stopped her, clamping down around her waist while he sat up to gaze down at her.

“Don’t,” he ordered.


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

RT - Wednesday

It was...a very long day, lol.

I'm still on California time so getting up for registration at 9 was tough. Still, I managed it, and got downstairs about 9:30 to do it. I decided to wait on the goody room until the lines died down, and went back to my room until noonish to look over the program. While the parties aren't my thing, I definitely wanted to head to the steampunk panel so that's where I was at 1pm. Panelists included Eden Bradley and R.G. Alexander, and it offered a nice overview of steampunk in general.

The best thing about it was how it switched up my idea on the steampunk m/m I'm planning on writing for Amber Allure this fall. I have some very cool ideas now that I'm all set to explore.

Other than that, it was all about socializing. I got to meet up with Liquid Silver authors for happy hour, some of my favorites ever to hang around with at RT (though Dee Carney, I miss you!). Interesting (and fun) conversations about retitling stories and zombie alligators (the latter courtesy of T.A. Chase), after which I headed back to the hotel to meet up with Trace Edward Zaber from AQP and a few others.

He's not a myth, by the way. He's very much real. And just an absolutely cool guy all around.

But now it's late, and I have to go to bed. The e-book signing is tomorrow as well as another workshop I want to go to. I have writing to do in between all that, though. So...yes, sleep is in order very soon here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RT - Tuesday night

Um...well, I had every intention of writing stuff up about all the stuff I did on Tuesday night, but my flight was late getting to Chicago, so I didn't actually arrive until after 8pm. After tweeting, wondering where everybody was, I got a text from the fabulous Tina Burns (one of my favorite people from Liquid Silver) saying they were headed down to the bar.

So that's where I headed once I felt human again. She wasn't actually in the bar itself but in a quieter area nearby, along with the always adorable TA Chase, Stephani Hecht, Caitlin Willows (who has been one of my absolute rocks in this industry for years now), and...Trace Zaber! For as much as I've published with Amber Quill, this was my first time getting to meet him in person, something I've been looking forward to for ages.

The bulk of my night was spent talking to him, unsurprisingly. About just about everything under the sun. Completely worth it.

I have to register in the morning, and then look at the schedule to see what I want to do. I *do* know that there's a Liquid Silver get-together after the workshops tomorrow, but other than that...well, I'll figure it out in the morning.

If I can ever fall asleep. I'm still on California time and I'm not tired. I imagine I'll be dragging tomorrow. :P

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Off to RT

I am off to Chicago today, for the annual RT conference! This is the one convention I make sure I get to every year, as much for the week I get to spend around other writers as it is for everything else.

This year, I get to meet some people from my publishers that I've never had the privilege to see in person before, and there's always the bonus of getting to put faces to authors I've met online in the past year. I'm not much of a party person, though, so don't expect wild tales about those. I'll go to a few workshops, hang out with friends, and (hopefully) get lots of writing done.

I'm going to try and do recaps of each day while I'm here, but please note my use of the word "try." I tend not to be very good at that, and the only camera I have is on my iPhone, but we'll see what I come up with. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Last week, I offered a copy of Adrianna Dane's m/m contemporary, "White Lightning," as my giveaway. Picking a random name out of the hat, the winner is...

Kris!

Congratulations! I have your email, so expect a message from me soon!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the months of March and April, I'm highlighting sentences from the very first novel I had published, a het vampire erotic romance called Chains of Jericho. It was the very first book I had final in EPIC's ebook awards (then called the EPPIE), and since I had two final this year, I figured this was a good time to share the one that started it all.

Maya got bitten a second time by Danny when she was examining him. Dec has returned with supplies and found her buried in research.

Dropping the bags containing Maya’s things, he marched forward to reach for her arm. Maya shocked him by bolting from the chair and putting the table between them.

“Before you get mad--” she started.

Dec’s brows shot up. “Before?” he demanded. “You think I can walk into my room, see that you’ve been hurt, and not already be upset?”


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

This Week at the Movies - Winter's Bone

So last weekend, I did what so millions of other people around the US did. I went and saw Hunger Games. I enjoyed it a lot, certainly enough to really want to see the rest of the series on the big screen, but what it did more than anything else was make me curious about Jennifer Lawrence. I only knew one thing about her. That she'd been nominated for Best Actress for 2011 for the movie Winter's Bone. It was time to see what the big deal was about.


Adapted from a 2006 novel by the same name, Winter's Bone is the story of Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old girl in the Ozarks, doing everything she can to hold her family together. Her mother is catatonic, and she has two younger siblings, aged 12 and 6. Her father is nowhere to be found, currently skipping bail for cooking meth.

When the sheriff and then bondsman arrive to let Ree know that he has to make his court date or risk losing the bail - for which he'd put up their home and land - Ree takes it upon herself to find him. Nobody wants to talk to her. Her family and the larger drug community just want her to leave well enough alone. But Ree is the sole caretaker for her poor family, and she can't give up, even when everybody warns her off, saying (and trying to provide evidence) that he must be dead.

This is not an easy film, not in emotional simplicity, not thematically, certainly not to watch. Shot entirely in Missouri, it's an unrelenting view on the barren world of poverty in the Ozarks, on the people who do what they must to survive, on the physical topography that ultimately becomes an additional character fighting against the determined Ree. There are no shortcuts here. People go hungry. Actions are taken that are neither pretty nor forgivable. Characters have both terrible and redeeming features that make them, in the end, utterly and completely human in their flaws.

All of this doesn't necessarily up to a great movie experience, however. While I can appreciate much of this after the fact, and some of the great things it has to offer during, the tedious pacing through much of the movie makes it feel longer than it actually is. The movie only runs 100 minutes, but there were times my attention wandered due to the laggy pace. It's a combination of a couple things - the languorous pace of the setting as well as the slower editing - and ultimately keeps this from being a real keeper.

But none of this was why I watched the movie in the first place. Jennifer Lawrence's performance is understated and stoic, never betrayed the steel that runs at the character's core, and yet, she still manages to let vulnerability peep through when the moment demands it. When Ree breaks down near the end, wondering what she's going to do, the viewer is roughly reminded that this is a child we're watching, a nearly full-grown one, yes, but still a child, who is swimming against the tide in every possible way. Moments like these are what makes Lawrence riveting. She can, at times, come across as a little blank (which makes me wonder what she'd be like in a less internalized role, if she's a versatile enough actress to go flamboyant if the part demanded), but for the purposes of Ree, that's a necessary mask. She also lets enough out to show that it's not all about being strong.


Lawrence's Best Actress nomination wasn't the only one this movie received. Along with a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, actor John Hawkes was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Ree's uncle, Teardrop. Teardrop is a meth addict, and the relationship he had with Jessup (Ree's uncle) is complex at best. He's one of those dangerous characters in this that shows how close to humanity so many of them come. While he's more than a little scary with his addiction (and unpredictable behavior), he's also surprisingly devoted to Ree and her siblings, fierce when the circumstances demand, gentle when you least expect.

I can't say that any of the nominations should have won yet as I've yet to see all the entries in those three categories, but I can certainly understand why they got the nomination in the first place. Lawrence has a huge career ahead of her, thanks to Hunger Games. I just hope she doesn't get pigeon-holed since it's clear she can actually act.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cooking like the Pioneer Woman

I'm not sure who pays attention to my blogroll there at the side, but on that list, you'll find one of my favorite home and foodie bloggers, The Pioneer Woman. Haven't heard of her? Where have you been? This is a romance novel come to life, one she's written herself, even.

However, I mention her today because I got another of her books this week. Her second cookbook. This particular cookbook:

I already own the first, but as soon as this came out, I went straight to Barnes & Noble and got it.

Why? Not because it's healthy diet food, that's for sure. The Pioneer Woman feeds growing kids and ranchers, and is married to a man for whom most vegetables are too weird to eat. She cooks hearty, homestyle food most of the time, with the occasional urban dish thrown in to satisfy her roots.

But I got this one for two reasons. First, some of the recipes in the first book are now family favorites. I made her olive bread at Christmas and just about had an orgasm from how good it was. My kids are always whining for me to make something from it, and I have to put them off a good part of the time because eating that way when you're not a rancher would have you breaking your scales before too long. But they're easy to cook and easy to follow, with gorgeous pictures to help along the way. I have to indulge every once in a while

I love her cookbooks for how homey they are, too. They are chock full of photos of her life, her kids, her husband, her animals. This is a woman who has laid herself bare for her readers. If you follow her blog, you will soon know this family as well as you know your own.

So buying her cookbook? Is a little like coming home.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Staying Awake with Jason Isaacs

Is anyone watching Awake?


I've been intrigued by this premise for a long time, that a man lives a dual existence, one where he lives with his son after his wife's tragic accident, then wakes up to find himself living a life with a wife who survives and a son who was killed. It's got a stellar cast - the fantastic Jason Isaacs, BD Wong and Cherry Jones as his two psychiatrists, Steve Harris and Wilmer Valderrama as his different partners at work. So far, though, it seems to still be in a kind of holding pattern, like it can't completely decide what it wants to be.

Is it a police procedural? Is it about the existential questions it raises? I think it's striving to be both, but it's not quite gelling for me yet. I'm not sure why. Performances are solid enough. Everybody is believable, committed to his or her reality. I wonder if it's because it straddles the believable line too strongly. It's not eerie enough to raise questions about either side, and the focus on solving crimes in both as tools to help deal with the emotional baggage that comes from the grieving process is a tad too pat.

However, I'm sticking with it. I like procedurals, so if it chooses to go in that direction, I'll be in. I also enjoy mind trips, so if that's the way it goes, I'm there, too.

Plus, Jason Isaacs. I mean, come on. Those icy eyes. That voice. It's worth it just for him.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I've been working and polishing an m/m story, still untitled, set in the American Midwest in the Depression era, but it's not quite a straightforward historical as it has a soft paranormal aspect to it. This is the beginning, unedited...

------


There wasn't a spot in the whole of Brookburn where the tiny colored flags on top of the tents pitched outside of town weren't visible. The red and yellow wisps fluttered whether Levi could feel a breeze or not, like they were caught in a world of their own making, someplace separate and magical where the wind didn't whip up the dust to get caught in places it had no business being. He even caught them dancing at night, when he climbed out his window to sneak down to the gulley that cut the carnies off from the rest of town. He'd stretched out on his stomach, as flat to the packed earth as he could get, and drank it all in until the last light had been extinguished.

Everywhere he looked was an explosion to his senses. Colors rainbows would've been jealous of. Laughter and music and hushed whispers as shadows would emerge from one tent only to meld into a single entity before disappearing into another. Roasting meat and strong whiskey that made his stomach rumble even though he'd had his full at suppertime. His fingers curled into the dry grass, because he needed to stay put, not make a run for it like everything inside screamed at him to do.

He crept back to the Beckerman home before the night relinquished its hold on the sky. His dreams for the few hours he got before Pap pounded on the door for him to get to his chores left him with a hollow longing in his chest.

"Mr. Trumbull's closing the store tomorrow," he commented at the supper table, staring at the beef he sawed away at on his plate rather than anyone else at the table.

"Now why would he go and do a fool thing like that? Saturday's your busiest day of the week."

Levi had been working at the general store since he was twelve and it became increasingly obvious to his burly father that his only son was built more like his wispy mother. He wasn't short, but he'd always been thin and too scrawny for most of the labor out on Grandad's farm. Pete Beckerman talked Artie Trumbull into giving Levi a job, in hopes the hours helping with inventory and making deliveries around Brookburn would put some meat on his bones.

It hadn't. Levi was stronger than he looked, though. He used that disparity to his advantage as often as he possibly could.

"He says everyone will be at the carnival tomorrow anyway," Levi said in response to his mother's surprised question.

Pap snorted. "And then at church on Sunday like they didn't throw good money after bad just the day before."

"You never know, Pete." Levi and his sister Annie might have cringed a little at the harshness of Pap's tone, but Mom was unfazed as always. She reached for the mashed potatoes to scoop another spoonful onto Pap's plate. "I heard someone over in Jagerstown won a brand new stove in that grand raffle of theirs."

"A stove."

"That's what I heard."

"Those people don't even have homes. How would they find the money for a stove?"

"Mr. Trumbull's going." Nobody in town really trusted the carnies, so Pap's reactions were hardly unusual, but Levi wished he could see what else they offered, the dreams they held out with both hands to anybody who wanted them. Those were all Levi had thought about from the moment the first flyer had shown up on the post outside the newspaper office, though his were buried so deep, they'd need more magic than a few pretty flags and some fast words to set free.

"Well, with the store shut, he doesn't have much else to do, now does he? Some of us have real work to do."

Levi stopped trying then. Pap was just like the soil he tilled, practical, unchanging, ultimately immovable.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Art is in the details

What memory has in common with art is the knack for selection, the taste for detail. Complimentary though this observation may seem to art (that of prose in particular), to memory it should appear insulting. The insult, however, is well deserved. Memory contains precisely details, not the whole picture; highlights, if you will, not the entire show. The conviction that we are somehow remembering the whole thing in a blanket fashion, the very conviction that allows the species to go on with its life, is groundless. More than anything, memory resembles a library in alphabetical disorder, and with no collected works by anyone.
- Joseph Brodsky

I have a particular fondness for this quote, not just for how true it seems to be, but for the library imagery it ends with, as libraries are a personal fetish of mine. But it's the correlation between memory and art, between what a person will remember and what a person could create, that prompts me to blog today.

When I was working on my film studies in college, one of the things we were taught was to pick out what was important and throw away the rest. Because people fill in the blanks whether they think they do or not. They don't need to be told every little minutiae, not just because it's boring as hell but because they already know it. Our job as creators is to give them the details they don't already have.

What those details are...well, that's up to you and the story. Choose what's most important, what's most vivid, what's going to service the work as best as possible, and run with it. Sometimes, it's only a sentence or two, sprinkled amongst dialogue. (That's why dialogue tags are so often redundant. In a two-person scene, it's usually pretty easy to tell who's talking.) Others, it might be a couple paragraphs of setting description.

Either way, what you don't provide, the reader will create for himself. Because at the end of the story, he's probably not going to remember that the couch in the living room was purple. He'll remember the highlights, the emotional highs and lows, the specific scenes that rang truest for him, and the rest of it will be gone, either until he reads the story again (if you're so lucky) or until his memory replaces them with his own.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giveaway - White Lightning by Adrianna Dane

After a couple weeks of mostly being off blogging, I'm getting back on track today with another giveaway!

In Kentucky, where loyalty means everything, secrets and disloyalty can kill, Linc, the son of a mountain moonshiner, and Whit, the son of the local banker, had dreams of a future together far from the Kentucky hills. But one dangerously foolish act culminated in Linc's need to make a painful decision in order to protect his secret lover. Whit left, and the years have made Linc a hard, dangerous, and lonely man.

When Whit left for college, they’d made a promise to each other. Whit would have stood by Linc no matter what, but Linc shut him out. Years later, a successful New York entrepreneur, love still eluded Whit. Those very hills and the memory of his Kentucky lover called him back to find closure, one way or the other.

Whit couldn’t have picked a worse time to return to Kentucky as a murderous war was about to erupt. Moonshine and bad choices tore Whit and Linc apart a long time ago. Can Linc protect Whit, the man he still loved, from being drawn into the power struggle between moonshiners and drug lords, or would they both die when the smoke cleared, never having a chance to reclaim the love they thought lost?


You can read an excerpt at Loose Id.

All you have to do to enter is comment to this post. That's it. Next Monday at 9am PST, I'll choose a comment at random to win.

You don't need an account to leave a comment, but if you don't have one, please consider leaving an email address you can be contacted at. That guarantees I can get a hold of you in case you win.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the months of March and April, I'm highlighting sentences from the very first novel I had published, a het vampire erotic romance called Chains of Jericho. It was the very first book I had final in EPIC's ebook awards (then called the EPPIE), and since I had two final this year, I figured this was a good time to share the one that started it all.

Maya is examining Danny, the teenaged vampire who attacked her the first night in the refuge. She's discovered Danny is Dec's little brother and the progression of his illness is the reason Dec is so gung ho about finding a cure. (For clarity's sake, Katie is Dec's main lieutenant.)

Beads of blood swelled in the grooves, and purple and blue bruises were already joining the green marks from yesterday and before. Danny’s whimpers of pain tore through Maya’s defenses, making her wince with him, and she reached down to her bag and some bandages, holding the chains away from the worst of the injuries near his neck as she did so.

The sudden sting of his fangs sinking into her wrist made her cry out loud. Maya yanked against the attack, feeling her flesh rip as she broke away, the blood spurting from the exposed vein. Danny grinned at her with a sickening crimson leer, his head falling back onto the pillow, but it was wiped from his face when Katie’s fist connected with his jaw.

“I told you not to move the chains,” Katie said as Maya stumbled away from the bed.


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.