Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Accomplished in 2013

After taking much of 2012 off, I started back in on writing in 2013 to try and get up to steam. It was a slow process, but I think I'm back in a groove somewhat, finding my rhythm as I concentrate on writing the stories and characters that are important to me. All but one of them came out with Amber Allure as well as all being m/m, but that's going to change up in the year to come. I ended up having seven solo titles and one collaboration with Rick R. Reed.

My lone non-AQP title came from Liquid Silver. A Simple Charm is a sweet historical romance about a carny who shows up in a small Indiana town and falls for a local boy who has real magic. It's one of the most gentle stories I wrote all year, with some of my best prose, I think. It makes me a little sad that this didn't get the bigger audience I think it deserves, but I always knew a sweet historical with paranormal overtones would be a hard sell for most m/m readers.

One of my first titles this year at Amber Allure was The Low Between, a 50s noir story about an ex-cop and the young actor who get caught up in murders that have nothing to do with them. I have a real soft spot for this time period, and there just isn't enough out there, especially in the m/m world. It was tough getting back into plotting, but I was happy with how this turned out.

After reading so much steampunk that focused too much on the tech and not enough on the characters, I decided to try my hand at my own version. The result was Iron Eyes. While one of my leads was a brilliant engineer from 20s Hollywood, I deliberately focused on the story they had to tell, the journey of finding a new solution to help a little blind girl see. I'm really proud of this one, plus Cap and Hector's chemistry went off the charts for me.

After noir and steampunk, I decided to dip my toes in sci-fi. Thus, Aria of the Eclipse was born. I've never created an alien species all on my own before (I've done it as part of the Jamie Craig team), so coming up with Dek was my real challenge in this. He needed to be otherworldly enough to warrant the genre, and yet relatable enough for the readers to connect with. I think, hands down, this is the most romantic story I published all year.


I collaborated with the talented Rick R. Reed on an epistolic short about two men separated by life choices, in a time when being gay wasn't nearly as accepted. Family Obligations still makes me cry when I re-read it, for everything they had to endure as well as for the lives they actually lead.

I stayed in the contemporary zone with my sweet romance, The Hearts of Yesteryear. While it's very comedic in tone, the subject matter is not. It's about a man in his seventies who ran away from his small town after his best friend and the boy he loved chose the military over him. John has to go back to that town and confront his past. To this day, I still want to see this as a sitcom. I think John and Frank would be terrifically funny as a gay senior citizen couple, with Corrine, John's personal assistant, there for back-up. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

Things sobered up for me with my next contemporary. The Unbeaten Track is about an insomniac who is still haunted by the loss of his high school sweetheart, a victim of homophobic violence. I chose to do this one in first person, mostly because it's so much about being in Sean's head. The reader needed to be there with him as he made his choices, and hopefully come out the other side better for the knowing.

Last but not least, came Threshold. This took me back to my vampire roots, about a hurt vampire on the run who holes up in an out of the way motel. Falling for him was Max, an ex-soldier who is desperately looking for meaning in his life. The connection between these two sizzled from the start. Of all the titles I released this year, this one, for me, is by far the hottest.

2014 is going to see me branching out some. For instance, I have an m/m/f menage called Enthralled in Silver coming out with Ellora's Cave, and I'm hoping to have more. There are two stories in the final stages to come out at Amber Allure, Boundless and What the Heart Thinks, and more I'm scheduled to do there. All good things!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Back from the Holiday

I hope everyone had a great holiday! I know, New Year's is still to come, but that's not so much a holiday for me as it is just a marker of time. That starting point so many need so they can say, "Okay, this is the beginning." That's not a holiday. That's an opportunity. Grab onto it with both hands and don't let go until you've wrung everything out of it that you possibly can.

I've got great stuff coming up this week, including participating in the Baby, It's Cold Outside blog hop this weekend.

There are a ton of great authors taking part, and lots of prizes to be given away, including the Kindle Fire grand prize. I hope to see you there!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bits and pieces for Friday

Blogging is likely to be spotty over the next two weeks, for obvious reasons. I'm the one who keeps Christmas moving in my house, so I'll be busy. If it was left to my husband, nobody would even get dressed on Christmas day, let alone eat.

I'm working on edits today, and I've been told there's more in my immediate future. I also go cover art for my EC menage coming out in 2014, but I'm going to save that for sharing later. Suffice it to say, it's gorgeous. I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

Don't forget to check out the Amber Pax holiday office party going on over at the pax blog, either. We're giving one more pax collection away next Wednesday, and you still have the chance to win the earrings I'm giving away on my post, too.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Cover Art - Boundless

Remember that new series I was telling you about a couple days ago? I thought I wouldn't be talking about it again until next week, but I was wrong. I got cover art to share with you today.

Love, love, love it. That's Denny, my cop, on the cover. Oh, wait, you need a blurb, too. Well, it's rough, but here it is:

Helping people is what Denny Patton does. Most of the time, it’s through his duties as a cop in San Francisco, but every once in a while, he steps in and aids his brother in an underground battle for those without any rights under the law – werewolves. Their latest mission is to rescue a group of wolves who have been held captive and forced to do the unspeakable. The task will put his career at risk, but in his heart, Denny believes it’s the right thing to do.

Especially when one of the rescued wolves turns out to be the man who disappeared from his life seven years ago.


Elijah and Denny were high school sweethearts until Elijah disappeared from the Bay Area the summer after they graduated. The note he left behind told Denny and his family to move on without him, but Denny has never forgotten his first love. Now, he wants answers about why Elijah could ever leave. More importantly, he wants the future they were always meant to have…

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Caving to the Pressure

Why do we let ourselves get sucked into stories we don't actually like very much? I don't get it. As I get older, I don't fall prey to this phenomenon very often anymore, but it just happened to me again and I'm annoyed.

See, generally speaking, I don't read YA. I find the teenage angst about dates and running hot/cold and the usual drama boring as hell. But I picked up the first book in a recent series because it got rave reviews and looked like it might break out of the norm.

It did, for the first half of the first book. Then completely devolved into the reasons I avoid most YA.

I could've stopped then. I should've stopped then. I didn't like the hero - he's inconsistently written and a douchebag most of the time - and I didn't like her heroine - she reeked of Mary Sue and I had no understanding of why she was supposed to be so special except the author told me she was - and the writing itself wasn't stellar. Lots of reasons to make it a DNF and put it aside, chalk it up to being not my thing and let it go.

I didn't. I finished the book. Then went out and bought the rest of the four-book series.

Because in spite of all the stuff I didn't like, I had to know how it all ended.

My daughter is insanely amused by this. "Just don't read them," she said when I bitched to her about them.

But what she doesn't get is, I can't. Frankly, I don't get why I can't either. I considered it. A lot. But when I would put the book aside, I found myself thinking of it until I had to put it back up again. Stupid thing was like a drug.

The only thing that makes any of this is better is the fact that the series reads fast. The time I spent on it isn't that much in the grand scheme of things. Still, I hate feeling out of control like this, especially by books I will never read again.

Does this happen to any of you? Or am I just crazy like my daughter claims?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Come Visit with Me!

I'm at the Amber Pax blog today, talking about what Christmas is to me, sharing my family's favorite cookie recipe, and giving away jewelry. Stop on by!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A New Series

I have something coming up in 2014 that I haven't had in a while - books in a series. It's not just talking about wanting to do sequels because I love the secondary characters and want them to have their own stories. There are at least two, if not three, stories coming out at Amber Allure in 2014 that are all set in the same world.

It's called Bay Wolves, and it's exactly what it sounds like - werewolf romances set in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first is a short story called Boundless, introducing the world and a set of reunited lovers, and from there, it moves on to other couples, all wrapped up in the intrigue of this underground world. In this series, werewolves are a known commodity, but they're deemed less than human and lack a lot of normal rights granted to people, thus driving many of them to keep their natures secret.

The majority of the stories are going to be m/m, but there will probably be at least one m/f (the brother of Boundess's hero is definitely straight, and I want him to have a happy ending, too). I have no idea how long it'll stretch, either. It really depends on how that world evolves. My initial plan is to focus on new couples with each one, but I'm not ruling out returning to earlier romances. For instance, the reunited lovers in the first could very well find themselves with a longer story later on.

I'm so excited about this series and more than a little amused. I do love following characters and worlds, but honestly never would've thought I'd be doing it with werewolves. But that's what these guys demanded, and the world they live in is too fascinating to ignore.

I'll keep you updated on how it all pans out. Next week, expect to hear more about Boundless as that one will be coming out in January!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Real treasures

When I was growing up, going to the library meant a major trip. We lived five miles outside of a small Michigan town, so it wasn't a casual thing to just stop on by to check out some books. The bookmobile was our best friend during summer months, and during the school year, I had to content myself with what I could get from our school library. I was the only kid in my grade who was allowed to exceed the weekly limit, because they couldn't get them to me fast enough.

Fast forward a couple decades when I learned that our brand new house was only three blocks away from the local library. THREE BLOCKS. That's walkable, no matter what month is it, because hello, California. I was in heaven. Or thought I would be, anyway. The reality was, I was reading a lot of stuff electronically, and the library was tiny, and the joys I'd had as a child diminished slightly in the reality of, "Well, I've read those," or, "They don't have what I want."

It's only been in the past year or so that we started making regular trips there. This has been the time when my eleven-year-old son has discovered books the way I did. He's been devouring whole series to the point where he's gone through most of what we own that would interest him at his age level, so adding in library trips to discover new authors was the perfect answer to him.

The thing of it is, I don't go to our library to check out books. In all the time we've lived here, I've never checked out one. No, I always go and spend all my time in the sale section. You know the one I mean. It's the section of library cast-offs and books that have been donated that they sell off to help raise money.

I don't always buy anything, but sometimes, I make real scores. One week, I got a bag of eight trade paperback romances - with Lorelei James, Shayla Black, and others - for $1. But last night when we walked down after dinner...oh my.

Last night, I scored a 1936 hardcover edition of the Complete Rhyming Dictionary, complete with dustjacket. For $1.50.

I have no idea when I'll ever use it. I'm not sure I even will. But old books always give me a secret thrill. I could lose myself for hours in the used bookstores on Charing Cross when we would go into London for the day. When my husband's grandmother died a few years ago, the one thing my in-laws offered to me was picks of what few books she had. I ended up with cookbooks and gardening books that were almost a hundred years old. Real treasures.

Maybe I'll have a bad poet hero in a future story. I could use the book then.

The best part is knowing I saved it from being destroyed. It's going to have decades more to live, and just maybe my kids will pass it on so that future generations can have a taste of how books used to be.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sons of Anarchy finale

Looks like it's a TV week here for me at the blog. I want to talk about my reactions to Sons of Anarchy's finale. So if you haven't watched Tuesday night's episodes, or if you want to stay unspoiled for what's going to happen, it's probably a good idea to stop reading now.

Ready?

Holy crap.

That's pretty much reaction every year, but...holy crap.

This show is going to kill me. I had to get off the computer last night early so I didn't get spoiled, then stay off this morning until I'd watched it. My stomach has been in my throat since finishing it half an hour ago.

First of all, I didn't see that coming with Tara until Unser left Gemma alone. Then, I had to actually pause the DVR and walk away because I knew it was going to be bad, bad, bad. High, vengeful, just dumped, alone Gemma? Complete disaster waiting to happen. And of course, the moment Tara thinks she might actually be happy, that's when everything gets pulled out from under her.

Seeing Jax hold her at the end killed me. Kurt Sutter said in the afterword that he needed this kind of drastic event to propel Jax into the last season, but that's got me terrified about what he intends. I don't want Wendy to be a part of those children's lives at all. Clean, sure. But she doesn't love Jax, and I don't trust her not to mess up again.

And what is Jax going to do when he finds out Gemma was the one who killed Tara? I've got to believe Juice is on the run now. Jax already put him on the watchlist with the club, so he has nowhere else to go. His helping Gemma by shooting the sheriff (god, I hated that, I really did) makes perfect sense in light of everything going through Juice's head. No place with the club. The debt he owed to Gemma for saving his life. If he sticks around, his guilt will only get worse. He's already wound too tight.

I'm scared for Jax. He's made some bad decisions, but now he's lost the two people who were keeping him morally grounded - Opie and Tara. Bobby's an excellent influence on him, but that's not the same.

Then there's Nero. Who is getting dragged back in against his will. I've always liked Jimmy Smits, but this show has really made me appreciate him more. I love him to death. I wonder what it would be like to go back and watch LA Law now, lol.

Hats off to CCH Pounder for some great guest work this season, too. I hope she's back next year.

Man, I need a drink after that.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How did they make Dracula seem so insignificant?

One of the shows that's been sitting on my DVR for me to try out is Dracula. I wasn't going to. It seemed too cheesy to me from the commercials. But then several people I trusted were enjoying it, so I decided to start recording and see for myself.

Cut to six weeks later.

I watched the first episode yesterday. So far, I'm...underwhelmed. I already have a negative bias on the actress playing Lucy. While Katie McGrath is beautiful and has certainly come a long way in her acting abilities, I find the smirking just a tad annoying, and I don't like the blonde hair. So going into it, that didn't help.

But I always liked Jonathan Rhys-Meyers before this. I loved The Tudors. And he's certainly easy on the eyes. But I finished the first episode wondering how it was they made their Dracula seem so insignificant.

Perhaps most jarring is the physicality of the role. Rhys-Meyers isn't the biggest guy to start out with, but he looks downright puny in much of the premiere, so unimposing that he gets lost even when he's the only person in a scene. His normally arresting eyes look too watery most of the time, so that he always looks like he's about to cry. Great for showing vulnerability, not so great for making me fear or be in awe of Dracula.

And let's not talk about most of the accents. Or the awful actress playing the ridiculous Lady Jayne (I realize she's done a ton of work, but I can't stand her.)

I'm not giving up. I'm hoping some of it will smooth over. I can forgive a lot of the inaccuracies and over-the-top-ness if the story and actors are good enough, so maybe they just need a couple episodes to warm up to the material.

Fingers crossed.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Anything is possible

Everyone gets discouraged. Everyone has off days. Frankly, writers work in a vacuum a large part of the time, so it's easy to lose our perspective in a lot of ways.

That's why I love getting slapped in the face with reminders that anything really is possible. Recently, news has come from the medical community about a new way of approaching cancer treatments where doctors reprogram our bodies fight cancer on its own, much like we're able to fight back against colds. Results have been incredibly positive so far. Cancer is insidious, and while it's hardly the only dangerous set of diseases humans can get, any progress that keeps people from dying is for the good.

These scientists never gave up. They took what seemed like an insurmountable problem and kept attacking it until they finally got results they wanted.

It's this kind of dedication and hard work that I fight to remember on bad days. It's something we should all remember.

Friday, December 6, 2013

What the Heart Thinks

On Tuesday, I got my novella in for the Viva La Difference pax coming out at Amber Allure in the spring. It's a rom com piece of fluff that makes me laugh every time I read it. The blurb is a little rough, but it'll give you an idea what it's about:

On a scale of one to ten, DJ Joe Salinas considers himself a four, five on a good day. Actor/part-time stripper Fess Kedley is definitely a nine, however, though Joe’s pretty sure that slides into a ten as soon as the clothes come off. So when the outgoing Fess recognizes a shy Joe at a bachelorette party from his midnight radio show and proceeds to ask him out, Joe turns him down, convinced he’s either crazy or stupid.

The only problem is, Fess takes rejection as reason to keep on trying.


The two become unexpected friends, so when the thought of trying a date comes up again, Joe decides to take a chance. Though he doesn’t understand what someone like Fess would see in someone like him, it’s hard to say no when everything else feels so right.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December giveaways at the pax blog

This month at the Amber Pax Collections blog, we're giving away three pax collections to our readers, as a way of saying thank you for all your support this past year. Leave a comment on any post made during the month of December, and you'll be up for the chance to win the pax collection of your choice.

For more details, just head over to the blog to check it out!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Voice results

Yes, I watch The Voice. I love it for the judges mostly, since my favorites very rarely do well (and if they do make it to the finale, they never win, I'm looking at you Michelle Chamuel and Terry McDermott). I've learned not to overinvest in my favorites on this show, but I'll admit, it's tough this year.

See, for the first time in a long time, I really like nearly all of the top five. I have my favorites - James Wolpert and Will Champlin by a mile - but Tessanne Chin and Jackie Lee are both so talented in their own rights, I wouldn't mind if they win. The only one I can probably do without is Cole Vosbury, and that's not really his fault. He has a solid voice, but he gets overshadowed by the other four. Plus, in all honesty, he has never topped his blind audition for me. Because the ballsy, rocking version he did of "Movin' on Up" was too cool for words:



Where did that go? Blake completely homogenized him.

On the other hand, James still excites me every time he comes onstage. I love his range, his ability to go from theatrical to completely understated. Unlike Blake, he is still doing great things, too. Like the week he did "Somebody to Love:"




Do you have any favorites? Are you done because your favorite is gone?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book recommendation: Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb

Recently, I've been reading Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb because I wanted something more in depth and dedicated than shorter articles might provide. It doesn't cover much beyond parts of Europe and some of America, with an emphasis on the more well-to-do, but that's due primarily to the lack of good records for those sections of society to validate any of his research and others.

But let me say this. It is utterly fascinating. The tone is a tad dry, so it's not really fast reading at all, but the information it imparts casts new light on the period for me. Once you get past the beginning, which focuses on statistical analysis of crimes and punishments, you get more anecdotes that help bring it all to life. If you're not familiar with gay history, the constant barrage of names might be a little overwhelming at first, but honestly, for me, it just compelled me to do more research into those I didn't recognize.

At the end of the day, I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in gay history and who is comfortable with prose that doesn't talk down to the reader. I imagine it's going to be a great resource for me in years to come. My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why does December come so quickly?

December 2. Wow. It's hard to believe this year has flown so quickly, though in all honesty, the next three months are always the fastest for me out of the year. It's not just Christmas, but the fact that both of my kids' birthdays happen as well, one in December and the other in February. I spend a ton of time preparing and making things special for them. The one thing I can guarantee them keeping is memories, so I want them to be as good as possible.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My father-in-law arrived from the UK on Tuesday. He'll be staying with us until mid-February. But this was his very first American Thanksgiving (I did a half-assed version when we lived in the UK, but it was never the same), so he learned that yes, we really don't stop eating for three days. :)

Which means the next three weeks are detoxing in preparation for Christmas, lol.

Writing will be slowing down a bit, though not stopping. There are always deadlines to meet, most of which I actually hit. But I've decorating to do, baking, birthdays, the holidays...busy, busy, busy, but really, the alternative where I have nothing (or if you're going to go bleak, can't do it at all), isn't acceptable. Life is too short. Children grow up. I'm not missing those.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Off for Thanksgiving

I am about to inundated with guests for the holiday week, so to make things easier for myself (haha, not by much, but anything crossed off my to do list is good!), I'm taking the week off from blogging. I'll be back next Monday, December 2.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, November 25, 2013

New review for The Unbeaten Track

I got a lovely surprise over the weekend, a review from Love Romances for my short, The Unbeaten Track. She called it compelling, but the best part was that the reviewer really seemed to get what I was trying to do with it. It's a character piece more than anything else, and she responded to Judah and Sean exactly as I hoped.

It's always a gift when that happens. When authors put stories out into the world, they take on a new life. People bring their own experiences and expectations to reading our work, and we have absolutely zero control over how they will respond to it beyond ensuring that it's as technically polished as possible. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Certainly, I as a reader have responded to books in different ways than some of my best friends. That's what makes us all so unique.

But from a writer's point of view, it's sometimes hard to see, especially if actions or intents get misinterpreted. The urge to explain to the reader, "No, this is what I meant, see?" is almost always there. In order to respect the reader and the subsequent opinions that are formed, we have to keep our mouths shut. It's out of our hands, and frankly, none of our business. I wouldn't want my favorite authors telling me what to think, so why on earth would I do the same to people to read my work?

Which is all a tangent and has absolutely nothing to do with Helen's review at Love Romances, except that I finished reading what she had to say about The Unbeaten Track with a huge smile on my face. Reviews like that are a reminder of why I do what I do. She complimented me on how real both men and their world seem, which is almost always my primary goal.

She got it. So to her I say, thank you so much!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Last chance to win

Over at the Amber Pax Collections blog, today's the last day to have a chance to win all five stories in the No Tell Motel pax that just came out. All you have to do is leave a comment on any of the posts made this week. Tomorrow, one winner gets drawn at random.

What've you got to lose?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting excited for Catching Fire

Our local AMC is showing Hunger Games tonight as a double feature with a preview of Catching Fire. You can be absolutely sure that I already have tickets to it. My daughter and I are both going, me because I can't wait until this weekend to see CF and her because she loves the idea of the double feature. She's only thirteen and has never had the chance to see one at the theater before.

I know it's a little silly to be so excited about it, but I love those books so damn much. I read very little YA. Most of it doesn't interest me, and I find it difficult to relate to a lot of the themes. HG is the exception to that. They're far from perfect books (don't get me started on how clunky all of the final chapters are in each of the books), but the characters and ideas presented resonate so strongly with me that I don't care about their imperfections.

While some readers find it difficult to accept movie versions of their beloved books, I rarely have that problem. It's easy for me to see each as it's own entity and accept that movie versions, by their very nature, cannot and will never be the book experience. I was a little luckier with the HG franchise because I didn't actually read the first book until after I took my daughter to see the movie. I was so provoked by the themes in the film that I zipped through the series in the week afterward, sobbing after each one ended.

They are not the same. Changes have been made. And I'm okay with that. I love them both, and if I can have a visual escape into a world like the one created for me by the books, I will jump at the opportunity. I certainly did with the first movie. My daughter teases me that I saw it seven times in the theater, but she fails to remember that I'm one of those people who will watch something over and over if she loves it enough.

I'm pretty sure the same will hold true for Catching Fire.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An interview with Sam Heughan

I am getting way too excited about Outlander. I've been re-reading the series since they announced it, and falling in love with Jamie all over again. And the more pictures I see of Sam Heughan, the higher my hopes get.

This interview he did at the Scottish Baftas is a tad silly, mostly because of the woman interviewing him, but he does his best with what he's given, poor boy, lol.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Shipping animated turkeys

Last night, I took the kids to go see "Free Birds" before it disappeared from theaters. For those who haven't heard of it, it's an animated movie about how a couple of turkeys go back in time to try and get turkeys off the Thanksgiving menu. It'll never win awards for originality, but it had a certain charm and more than a few laughs, so was worth it for us.

But one aspect disappointed me, if only because it seemed like such a missed opportunity. The turkey sidekick is named Jake, a buff not so bright guy who drags our unwilling hero back in time. Back in 1621, they run into a flock of turkeys, and Jake gets into a macho contest with the chief's son Ranger, another buff not so bright guy. This is played for laughs, though my brain kept seeing romance potential.

Yes, I really did just admit to seeing romance potential between a pair of male animated turkeys.

But hear me out. Jake obviously admires Ranger. He mimics him, all the way until they get into an actual fight. A fight, by the way, that devolves into literal dancing. DANCING. With no embarrassment. Just two guys (okay, turkeys, but male nonetheless), enjoying being physically intimate with another in a way usually reserved for het couples in animation.

They became sorta buddies after that, and their bromance is more than a little adorable. So when it reached the end, I fully expected the movie to take that extra step and have Jake and Ranger ride off into the virtual sunset together (albeit as friends with the rest of it up to our imaginations). Color me disappointed they copped out of that. What could've been a great chance to introduce this potential relationship as normal to kids was wasted.

Plus, Jake and Ranger were totally cheated out of their happy ending.

Am I surprised? Not really. It's still an animated holiday movie, for goodness sake. But it would've been nice to have it go in that direction. With LGBT lifestyles becoming more accepted among the norm, this could've been another step in portraying them as such in mass media.

And if kids-oriented animated holiday films aren't the ideal medium for happy endings, what are?

Monday, November 18, 2013

New release - Threshold

It's here! Threshold, my m/m vampire erotic romance, is now available at Amber Allure:

It's part of the No Tell Motel pax, but you can buy it separately. However, the other authors involved are phenomenal - Rick R. Reed, Heidi Champa, L.A. Witt, Adrianna Dane - so you can get up to five different stories all related to the motel theme.

Even better, the entire pax is discounted this week. You can get all five stories for only $15.60!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Blurb and excerpt of Threshold

My upcoming story, Threshold, is featured over at the Amber Pax blog today. Pop on over to read the blurb and an excerpt!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I will always love vampires

I love vampires. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Sure, I read a lot of different kinds of paranormal, but ask me to pick one type, and vampire stories are it. I've loved them since I was young, when they were horror stories first and Salem's Lot scared the bejeezus out of me. Then into high school when things got romanticized with Interview with a Vampire. The very first produced play I wrote in college was about vampires. So when people say they're tired of them? I just kind of shrug and hold my tongue, because I will almost always respond to a well-written or original vampire story.

It doesn't even matter what type of story it is any more. Sure, I read a lot of romance, but I also devour mystery, thrillers, and horror. One of my favorite vampire takes is Brian Lumley's Necroscope series which didn't even have a vampire protagonist. Those books are pure horror, too, and I devoured them like candy when they first came out.

Is it a bulletproof kink? Absolutely not. I can think of quite a few popular series that leave me cold, either because I couldn't connect with the characters or the author's voice didn't engage me. But it's a lot easier to sell me a vampire story than it is any other paranormal type.

The book that sucked me in over the weekend was Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster, a steampunk paranormal romance with a complicated hero and a smart heroine. She took the paranormal world and twisted it into a new version, where "blue bloods," blood drinkers pre-turning into a full-blown vampire, are the ruling class in England. It combines a new take on the vampire mythology with another favorite trope of mine--alternate history--so it was probably guaranteed to be a win for me. The second novel is about a werewolf, so we'll see if I respond to it as strongly, but considering she's sucked me into her world, I have little doubt I'll see the series through regardless.

This weekend, I have a release at Amber Allure as part of the no-tell motel pax that is coming out. Guess what? It has a vampire hero. And I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Blacklist

If you're not watching The Blacklist and plan to, don't read further. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who would like to remain surprised.

Don't worry. I'll wait while you click away.

[INSERT JEOPARDY MUSIC]

Still here? Then you either don't care about getting spoiled, or you're watching along, and if you're not watching along, why not? Unless you despise James Spader in which case you're perfectly justified because he's what makes the show so worth it.

Anyway. I'm all caught up through this week. It's the one show my husband wants to sit down and watch with me, so that doesn't get left on the DVR more than 24 hours. And though I wondered if it was going to go there, I'm a little disappointed that it really does look like Red is Elizabeth's father. His speech to Tom about her father always keeping her safe sounded a little too ominous not to put him in the father's shoes, and considering he killed her adopted father when he made it clear he wanted Elizabeth to know the truth (though yes, it was more a mercy killing than anything else since he was terminal and had already expressed how much he didn't want to go through that), it seems like a safe assumption.

It also looks like her mother was convicted of some violent crime, which is a little more interesting. Now, it could be that Red's guilt has something more to do with his association with her mother rather than abandoned paternity, but I'm not holding my breath. Like I said, his comments to Tom were too pointed.

But raise your hand if you thought Tom and Red were going to know each other when Red sat down next to him! I sure did. I liked that Tom seemed so innocent of everything in the conversation, but something is still going on there. I find it hard to believe that Red would be so wrong about him, otherwise. Maybe I'm putting too much faith in Red's intelligence, but considering how infallible and devious they've made him, I don't think so.

Then again, nothing is safe on this show. Especially Red. It's yet another reason why I love it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's never too late

Yesterday, I got some fabulous news. My husband's brother and sister-in-law are two very active, social people, always have been. Until four or five years ago, few of their activities overlapped. That worked for them, mostly. Well, my sister-in-law began to complain she wanted to see her husband more, so he suggested they both take up archery. He'd done marksmanship/shooting over the years, and she wanted to learn. So they did.

Then they started going to weekend tournaments. It turned out, while he was good, she was very good, consistently placing high and doing well. She's gotten even better over time and has frequently been told she could've been an Olympian already if she'd started younger.

Last weekend, they went to another tournament. My sister-in-law got two golds in her events, beating out two members of the current national English team. That's not new. She does that occasionally. What was new was the phone call on the way home.

The English team has asked her to join them to represent England at an international championship in December.

How flippin' cool is that?!? I'm so damn proud of her. I love that she's been able to discover this at 40. She is living proof that it is never too late to discover new things about yourself, develop new skills, reach new dreams. It would never have occurred to her 20something self that she could compete on an international level in a sport, and yet, here she is.

Now she knows, the sky really is the limit. That's a lesson we all need reminding off every once in a while.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beginning a busy week

This week is going to be crazy for me. I have deadlines galore and very little time. I'd hoped to get more done this weekend, but then something else showed up in my inbox and, well, I didn't.

My m/m vampire novella, Threshold,comes out next Sunday, so there's that to get ready for, too. And I got sucked into a series this weekend while we were driving that I wish desperately I could just sit and read, but I can't because....well, I mentioned this week was crazy busy with work, right?

But I'm going to talk about the book later this week, maybe more if I can sneak in more reading. ;)

Friday, November 8, 2013

TGIF

Tonight, we're going away for the weekend for my daughter's last softball tournament of the season. I don't imagine it will be very productive.

On the other hand, being away from the internet for a couple days might talk me out of getting my hair cut to look like Jennifer Lawrence's because so far, I am failing miserably at it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WIPs going on the shelf

Damn it. Yesterday, I realized that my WIP was going to be way too long for the Viva la Difference pax collection. I get that problem a lot. So I did the hard thing and shelved it so I could start brainstorming other ideas.

The plus? I got an idea that makes me chuckle every time I think about it. And I ripped out the first thousand words in absolutely no time last night, which is always a good sign that the story is working.

The minus? Another WIP I wonder if I'll ever get back to. I hate that. I've got far too many, ideas I just didn't have the time to sit and work on because other deadlines got in the way.

That WIP virtual drawer is filling up too fast. Where is that computer program that lets me mentally dictate the story while I sleep?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tapping other creative sources



In my mid 30s, I decided I wanted to take guitar lessons. I'm not sure what sparked it. Probably a celebrity crush on some musician. It wouldn't be my first instrument - I learned how to play piano and flute as a child - but it was still pretty foreign to me. I like music, but I'm not as rabid about it as some people I know. I suck at remembering lyrics and titles to songs. I don't like it playing in the background when I'm working. I don't really have an ear for picking things out in songs.

But I find playing relaxing, something I rediscovered when I took those lessons. Then we moved to our current house, and I was too far away to keep the lessons up so I stopped.

Fast forward four years. Yesterday, I played my guitar in front of a teacher again.

My musical daughter is in jazz band, symphonic, as well as chorus. She plays piano and flute like I did and has an incredibly pure, beautiful voice. Her best friend plays bass guitar in their jazz band, so my daughter decided she wanted to learn guitar, too, and asked me for lessons. I said yes, mostly because her BFF's teacher came so glowingly recommended.

I signed up again for a few reasons. I missed it. I really wanted that release again. Plus, she wanted us to have this together, and really, how can I resist that? My thirteen-year-old daughter is actively seeking an activity we can share just the two of us? What mom wouldn't jump at that? So I did.

My fingers are killing me today. All of my calluses are gone, so it'll take some time to get those back. But I love how it energizes me. I love how my brain won't stop now. I love that my daughter and I can have this together, though I imagine she's going to leave me behind in the dust fairly quickly.

And see the two beauties in the post? The blond is William, my electric Fender that I'm using, and the blue one is Delilah, my acoustic that my daughter is learning on. If she really gets into it like I think she will, we'll probably end up letting her get her own for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Getting excited for Catching Fire

With all the holiday movies coming out, the one I'm crazy excited for - and getting more excited about every day - is Catching Fire. There was a new spot on TV last during The Voice so if you haven't seen it yet, you have to go now and watch. There's more Cinna, more Mags, more Johanna...

I'm going to be a wreck over this movie. This was my favorite of the trilogy, the one I devoured in record time, the one I sobbed over, the one that made it impossible to breathe. I don't get rabid about many stories, but this one, oh my god yes...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lost weekend

The cold I was catching late last weekend took deep root this weekend. I spent most of it on the couch, drugged to the gills, either sleeping or watching movies.

Needless to say, I watched a lot of movies this weekend - The Artist, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, Serpico, The Field, Zoolander, Oh, God!, Hoosiers...

The one I enjoyed the most, though? A little movie called Love Potion #9 that got ignored when it came out and only achieved recognition later because it was one of Sandra Bullock's early movies.

For whatever reason, this movie charms me in ways more sophisticated/expensive movies do not. For those who don't know, Bullock and Tate Donovan play two science geeks with lousy luck when it comes to the opposite sex. Donovan gets a love potion from a fortune teller that he then throws away, but after his cat gets into the trash and his apartment gets swarmed by other cats chasing it down, he takes it more seriously.

It's a romcom, true, but there's so many small moments, I love it as much for that. When Donovan comes home to find the garbage tipped over and then proceeds to hold the cat over it saying, "Bad, this is bad," I die every time. How many of us cat owners have done something remarkably similar? I could go on and on about how much I love this movie, but I won't. It was exactly the kind of medicine I needed yesterday.

Of course, having taken the weekend off, I now have a mountain of work facing me today. Which means it's time to buckle down!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The best treats I saw

Last night, I walked around with the kids while the husband stayed home to pass out candy. As is tradition, we started out at a close friend's home on the other side of the neighborhood we live in, then everybody walked together toward our house. Some of us walked slower than others. My daughter touched up the costume she made last year and went as a Tardis. It's a great costume, with a ton of detail, but it's bulky and hot and she can't go up stairs or in narrow paths with it. She usually let the other kids go first, then followed after.

Anyway, when we got to our street, we did our neighbor's house next to last (our house is always last stop). I'd seen her getting ready before we left but hadn't paid too much attention. When we got there, she had a whole flock of kids on her driveway, with lots of chattering and laughter.

Turns out, she wasn't giving away candy. She was giving away BOOKS. She had boxes and boxes of them, and bags for the kids to carry what they wanted.

And these kids were in heaven. After they left, they would tell the kids approaching what they just got, inciting even more excitement. I talked to my neighborhood as our friend's two-year-old was looking at a storybook, and she said it had been like that all night.

I love that. I love how thrilled these kids were over getting books. There was no grousing about, "Where's the candy?" She gave them something to truly remember this holiday, because you just know years from now, these kids will be telling their kids, "One year, we got books..."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Adding in exercise

Last night's big achievement: I went to the gym.

Exciting, huh? It makes it sound like I didn't start that yoga class there or or had some weird phobia about sweat and jocks in public or something. But since we got back from Florida - where I managed to eat half the state - I've known I had to add regular exercise into my schedule if I wanted to affect real change. Walking the dog isn't going to cut it, because a) we're entering winter which means a lot of rain and I don't walk in the rain if it's not in Scotland or I'm paying for an experience I want to get the most of, and b) I get caught up in the work during the day so don't always get her out then.

So if I have to do exercise in the evening, and I'm paying for my membership anyway, I decided to go back to working machines at the gym. Last night was the treadmill, which I haven't done since my foot surgery last January. Done plenty of walking, sure, but not this. I like it at night because it's not nearly so crowded. The only downside is that I can't wear headphones to listen to anything, so it gets pretty boring. Still, I lasted forty minutes, which I consider a win.

Also, I found a typo in the treadmill's instructions. They had "instuctions" which I found hilarious. Until it dawned on me that my finding it was more likely a reflection of the fact that maybe I should've pushed myself harder so that I couldn't read the small print so intently.

The plan is to go five nights a week at least. Some nights will be too difficult, like Thursday since it's trick-or-treating, but I'm going to do what I can. I'm still not where I was before I left for Florida, so I have to work to get there, and then work some more to get on the path to hitting goal. I talk about it too much. It's time for doing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall TV

My Fall TV is finally starting to shake out. I dropped most of the sitcoms I tried - Dad, The Goldbergs, Brooklyn Nine-Nine - though I'm thoroughly in love with The Crazy Ones.

I'm also in love with The Blacklist. That has lived up to all my expectations and then some. My husband and I spent half an hour after the show last night tossing around theories about what exactly is going on. We can't decide on anything, which has me all kinds of intrigued about where it's going. I really hope it doesn't let me down, though I'm not sure how it could at this point.

The jury is still out on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. My husband loves it, but I'm really not invested. I find most of the characters bland and uninteresting - probably because of bland, uninteresting actors. Five episodes in, and as soon as I walk away from the show I forget which one is Fitz and which one is Simmons. I won't even start on how dull I find Ward and Skye. But I'm not sure it's a good sign when I start the episode more curious about which origin story they're going to try and tell rather than wonder what's going to happen to the actual cast.

I haven't watched Dracula yet. That's sitting on my DVR. But the show I'm looking forward to now hasn't even started yet. It's Almost Human with Karl Urban. I adore that man. I even sat through Dredd for him. And I'd love a good sci-fi action show to sink my teeth into.

What are you watching? Anything you love? Hate?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Time is running out

The breast cancer charity anthology I contributed to, Shades of Pink, will only be available for purchase until November 15th, so the clock is ticking for you to get your copy. The anthology is over 200,000 words of romantic goodness, and all proceeds go toward breast cancer research. What are you waiting for?

Kallysten, the wonderful woman who organized the anthology, interviewed me as part of the promo for it. That interview went up on Saturday at her blog if you want to skate over and take a look.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chance to win entire pax collection

Today over at the Amber Pax blog, I blogged about my contribution, The Unbeaten Track. Find out why I wrote thousands of words that never made it into the story, as well as read one of the letters.

Also, anybody who leaves a comment on any of the posts this week has a chance to win to all five stories in the All Aboard pax collection. So what've you got to lose?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Etsy items I love

I'm starting to collate my Christmas shopping, which means I have a tendency to turn to Etsy to fill in gift holes. Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who does their shopping all year 'round so I'm usually done before December hits.

But in my recent Etsy hunts, I find myself wanting more for myself:

I order from this shop almost every year. I love her work. It's both pretty and durable, a great combination. I've been in love with her leather journals from the start. I'm thinking this might be the year I finally get one.

Isn't this adorable? She recycles sweaters into these hoodies and fingerless gloves. I bought one from her last winter and love it to pieces. Even better, she does a huge range of sizes and colors.

I love steampunk styling. I have a version of her mended heart necklace that I got as a treat to myself after Iron Eyes came out that I get comments on all the time. Lovely and lightweight.

I'm probably one of the few romance writers who doesn't like Jane Austen, but I love, love, love these earrings.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Biggest Loser

Okay, I know it's a show. I know a lot of people who lose their weight on here gain it back. I know this isn't how the real world works.

But damn, I do love this show, and I'm glad it's back on.

It's a few months of weekly inspiration, both from the contestants and getting to stare at Dolvett. I like the other trainers, but Dolvett gets to me in ways the others don't. I mean, look at the man!

Yes, very pretty. Especially when he smiles. But the way he chooses to push and inspire his teams makes my heart twist. I will totally use these next few months to help in staying focused and not going too nuts in the upcoming holidays.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New cover art for Threshold

I got the cover art for my novella coming out in November!

I love how moody it is, and the angularity of the title font since it's a vampire story. That's my vamp on the cover, by the way. His name's Sutter. Pretty, right? No wonder Max falls for him so hard.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekend news

My short The Unbeaten Track is now available for sale at Amber Allure!

In non-writing news, yesterday I had breakfast in San Francisco with a college friend I haven't seen in twenty years. He's recently been making a driving tour of the country, reconnecting with people, and he's on the west coast for the final leg of his trip. We were both in the theater department and performed together, but I remember him most for being a director and assistant director. He cast me in his production of Les Belles Soeurs in what was one of my most challenging roles ever. It was also my last role in the area before life moved me on.

Anyway, we had recently reconnected on Facebook, and yesterday's breakfast was a two-hour extension of that. It's always weird how other people see your life. He paid me a great compliment in telling me how much better I looked now than I did in college, which I attribute to being happy. I wasn't back then. My early to mid twenties pretty much sucked. Theater and performing was my only place of joy then.

But the place I'm in now...it's not what I imagined the last time I saw him. I don't think anybody can predict where they'll be accurately. And I think we spend too much time trying to make things static and perfect when that's not what life is all about.

I'm reminded of a Faith Baldwin quote: Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations. Change will happen whether we want it to or not. That's the nature of life. Our happiness can hinge on our ability to embrace the change. If we resist, we have to be prepared to live with the consequences, but if we go with the flow--or even better, create the change ourselves (frankly, my husband is a master at this; when he wants something, he begins sculpting and influencing the world around him until he gets it)--we can release the fears and anxieties that might hold us back.

It's funny because I'm a very obsessive person who needs to be in control in a lot of different areas of my life. I make spreadsheets for everything, I'm obsessive about time management, and the list goes on. But I have had a ton of change in my adult life. Change I've sought, change I've welcomed. Until I moved to California, I had never managed to live at a single address as an adult for longer than 20 months at a time. In that fifteen-year period, I had twenty-one different places I called home. I changed continents twice within six years. I did so willingly and often eagerly. Now that my kids are in middle school, we don't do that anymore, but my husband and I have already started talking about what happens in seven years when both kids are out of high school, where we might want to live, what we might want to experience.

Yesterday, my college friend was telling me about the various times in his life, and he reached a period in his late twenties when he was making good money and had lost a lot of weight so he went a little crazy on the dating scene. He almost seemed apologetic when he told me, so I interrupted right then and said, "Good for you. You were young, you had the means, so why not have fun?"

This is the only ride we get. We might as well make the most of it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Over at the Amber Pax Blog

I have a new release coming out this Sunday at Amber Allure, a short in the All Aboard pax. To read more about it, head over to the Amber Pax Blog, where there's a blurb and an excerpt posted today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New contract

Now that I've sent the contract back, I can squee about my latest sale. My m/m/f paranormal erotic romance, "Enthralled in Silver," has been contracted by Ellora's Cave!

I don't have a decent blurb for it yet, and the synopsis is too long to post (and would give away too much), but I can say it's about Claire, a grieving young woman, who meets Seth and Simon when she goes to their employer's estate for a meeting. Unbeknownst to her, the men are lovers and locked into a turbulent relationship with their vampire boss, one they're desperate to escape. They can only do so, however, with Claire's help, so the men set out to try and seduce her into aiding them.

It's been too long since I've published with Ellora's Cave, but hopefully that's going to change in the future. I miss writing het and menage, and the heat of this particular trio makes me hungry to do a lot more.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Transgender book recommendations

When I saw this on Twitter, I immediately retweeted it. And because I think it's a good list to share, I'm telling everyone about it here.

On her blog, Malinda Lo posted a list of 10 books by transgender authors about transgender characters, all of which were YA friendly. I'm familiar with a few of the titles - isn't Kate Bornstein considered a must-read these days for trans stories? - but I'm excited about several new to me options, like the Kicked Out collection and Nevada by Imogen Binnie. Those are in my shopping cart right now.

Go check it out. If you haven't read any trans work, I challenge you to try it. Every voice deserves to be heard.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New review for The Hearts of Yesteryear

I got a wonderful new review for my latest release, "The Hearts of Yesteryear." Cat at MMGood Book Reviews gave it 4 hearts and called it "well written" and "a very sweet love story," which just makes me all kinds of happy. John holds a special place in my heart, grumpy old man that he is, and the whole point of the story for me was to show that we all need love no matter how old we are or how settled we are in our lives. Cat got that, and for that, I'm so grateful. Thanks, Cat! 

For an excerpt and purchase information, check it out at Amber Allure.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Back to the grindstone

I am back from Florida, tanner than I left as well as exhausted. Two weeks with two kids and a husband who want to do everything under the sun - and in the rain - is tiring!

We only returned last night, so I'm in the throes of getting caught up on everything. I've got good news to share this week, as well as a new release coming out this next weekend. Lots of stuff to look forward to!

Have a great Monday, everyone!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Flying to Florida

Tonight, I get on a plane with my family and fly to Florida for a well-needed two-week vacation. It'll be the first one we've taken together that didn't have strings attached for other things in over six years. Needless to say, we're overdue.

We're staying in central Florida, and I'm going to have internet access, so I will be posting while I'm gone. Maybe not as much, but if I get some cool pictures, I'll definitely share. At least one thing we're doing is an airboat tour through the Everglades, which I'm oddly excited about. My daughter is freaking, which is funny because I'm the one who hates boats so much. Then there will be Harry Potter World, and Epcot, and Disney, and outlet shopping, and even Medieval Times because it's cheesy fun and my kids have never been. We've got two weeks to overindulge, and my husband is the type that overschedules us for everything (which, for anyone who knows me, is highly ironic because that's usually my job). I imagine I'll need a vacation to recover from my vacation when I get back.

When you hear from me again, I'll be on the other side of the country. Whee!!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September is almost over

September only has a few days left, which means there's not much time to head over to the Pax Collections blog and leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate at Amber Quill Press.

A new interview went up this week, this one for the inimitable Christiane France. Tomorrow, there's a sneak peak at the covers for the upcoming train pax in October. Don't lose out on the chance to win!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

James Spader and The Blacklist

I am a HUGE James Spader fan. I have been since Pretty in Pink. So watching his new show this fall? Pretty much a done deal.

Even better is that I loved it.

Spader is one of those actors you either love or hate. The intelligent disdain he brings to most of his roles can put people off, but that's precisely one of the aspects of him I adore. His characters' intelligence always masks something deeper - anger, sexual dysfunction, insecurity - and it's that depth that always intrigues me. Plus, his timing is impeccable. He's capable of delivering the lengthiest, wordiest speeches, and nailing the point every single time. His monologues on Boston Legal are proof of that.

This promises more of the same. We've only received hints of what lies beneath that exterior, and the notion that nothing is as it seems is inherent to everything Spader has always done as a performer. I'm excited about where it might go for future episodes.

Because how can I not love the man who was in Secretary? sex, lies, and videotape? The man who delivered all those amazing monologues as Alan Shore?

Which reminds me, maybe it's time for a Boston Legal marathon. It's been too long since I watched it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Authenticity in our stories

Yesterday, an article appeared on NPR featuring UCLA professor, David Saltzberg. Don't know who he is? That's okay, most people won't. He's the science advisor for the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. It's his job to make sure the formulas on all the whiteboards make sense, as well as review the scripts to make sure the science is accurate. The vast majority of the TV viewing public wouldn't know if the show got it wrong, but that does nothing to lessen just how important his job really is. Because it's his responsibility to make sure the science and by extension these people are as authentic as possible.

This isn't any different to writers putting in the effort of research on their stories. Most of the time, readers will never even notice the details we put in, but rest assured, the one time we get it wrong, someone will spot it. But it's this minutiae that adds to the verisimilitude of the worlds we create. I've spent hours researching radio models, reading census and tax reports, even studying current technology on how to make glass, all in the interest of authenticity. Because that one detail we might get wrong? Can turn around and bite you in the butt.

When they turn to the first page of a book, readers put their trust in the author. They hand over their imaginations and feelings in exchange for the promise of a satisfying conclusion. If we fail on any part of our promise, we have to fight to get that reader's trust back. And failure can totally mean getting a detail wrong. It's not just about continuity errors, though those rank pretty high for me. It's little things, too. Like the formulas on the whiteboards for TBBT, road names in areas I'm familiar with, or historical facts that are easily checked.

There are criticisms out there that historical readers are the worst of the lot, picking out anachronisms and inaccuracies from otherwise perfectly fine stories. While I've certainly been on the receiving end of that, I can see their point, too. People who read historicals often want to be immersed in these other worlds. The history matters. Get that wrong, and why should they bother continuing when they can't guarantee they'll get what they want?

The same holds true for every reader. Someone, somewhere, will know if you get a detail wrong in your story. It sucks when they point it out. But at the end of the day, that pushes me to strive to take even more care in the next story I tell. It makes me better.

Really, isn't that what we all want?


Monday, September 23, 2013

New release - The Hearts of Yesteryear

My new sweet m/m romance, The Hearts of Yesteryear, came out yesterday at Amber Allure!
Throughout his career, actor John Paravati has stuck with the line he sold to the gossip rags—he’s been in like, been in lust, even been in respect once or twice, but never love. It works for him. After all, the only thing he’s ever cared about is performing, and if he’s stuck now doing commercials for cruise lines to pay his bills, at least it’s better than shilling adult diapers.

But people in Hollywood are pros at pretending, and John is the master of them all. Because once upon a time, in the world of his youth, he loved two things with all his heart—his best friend Frank and the movie palace he used as sanctuary.

More than fifty years ago, John ran away from his hometown, never to look back. Now, someone has decided to restore the theater he left behind, and they want John to be a part of its relaunch. Though the memories still sting, he swallows his pride and agrees to go, even if it means finally dealing with the heartache he’s ignored all this time. At seventy-seven, he’s too old to continue holding onto the hurt. The question is, however, is he too old to start over once it’s gone? 

I love this story, plain and simple. It's about second chances, it's about letting go of the power of the past, it's about the acts we put on for family and friends. This was one of those stories where the characters felt like people in my life, with all their humor and imperfections. I think what I love the most is that it breaks out of the typical gorgeous hunks mold and tells the story of two men who have already lived their lives and are fighting for one more chance at love.

You can read an excerpt at the Amber Allure site. Even better, this week it has a new release discount if you decide to buy! Check it out!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My re-education

Remember when I said I was going to take some online classes this fall? One of them started this week.

Man, am I out of practice for this.

It's called A Global History of Architecture. There are three video lectures a week, each with homework questions and associated reading, and four exams over the next twelve weeks. Now, I always loved school. I was always a so-called "brain," graduating at the top of my film class in college, in the top 10 of my high school graduating class (stupid gym grades from freshman year really put a dampener on breaking the top 5). But it has been fifteen years since I've had to crack open a textbook and apply myself so diligently.

I have just crashed the past two nights after doing the reading.

It's not light stuff. And it's not only a little. I read a hundred pages of this text last night. Part of the issue is probably that this is not, and has never been, my area of study. I'm not a big fan of studying history outside of the very specific eras that interest me. Most of my education was in the arts and English subjects (and math, but only because that was always my easy A). I chose this because architecture itself interests me, but it's more entrenched in the history than I anticipated.

It's not a bad thing. Just unexpected.

The hope is that I'll fall into the habit of studying soon enough to make it less taxing. That cooking class starts in a couple weeks, and on top of that, I'm taking a guitar refresher course that starts in a month. Those are my fun classes. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

And don't be surprised if you see details from what I'm learning start to show up in my writing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One More Bloom excerpt

Preorders have begun for the Shades of Pink anthology to benefit breast cancer research. The suggested donation is $5, but really, any little bit helps.

There's a teaser for my story, One More Bloom, up at Kallysten's blog today. Here's the blurb:
Lovers Adam and Rachel have been cursed for over a century, doomed because the world wasn’t ready to see past the colors of their skin. But now, under the canopy of Washington DC’s cherry blossoms, Adam finally has the means to put an end to it, once and for all.
I love this short. It very much appeals to the romantic in me, that sense of one lover willing to do whatever it takes for the happiness of the other, regardless of the cost.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Over at the pax blog

Today over at the pax blog, interviews with AJ Llewellyn and DJ Manly! Remember, anybody who comments over there in the month of September gets a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Amber Quill Press.

Monday, September 16, 2013

On the writing front

I'm in a mild state of flux right now. I spent the first week of September catching up on administrative stuff I'd let slide while I raced to meet my deadlines, then did edits and a galley on two separate stories. I had every intention of starting my next WIP last week, but I struggled with it all week long. It's an m/m novella for the Brand Me call at Amber Allure, stories about tattoos and the men who wear them, and it just wasn't working.

I realized why yesterday. I was starting in the wrong POV. I need to be in the other hero's head, who I'm envisioning as this guy:


This is exactly what happened to me with Aria of the Eclipse, so you'd think I would have learned my lesson by now, but no. Oops. Anyway, I'm going to be throwing myself hard into that this week and next, because in less than two weeks, my family and I will be going to Florida for our vacation. I'll take my computer with me (it never stays behind, no matter where I go, lol), but obviously, my writing time will be greatly restricted.

I got some great news over the weekend, but until I get the contract signed, I can't share details. But hopefully it'll mean I'll be doing more het and menage in the future. I've published primarily m/m the past few years and got my het/menage fixes in other ways, but I'm hungry to get back to the stories I started out in. I won't stop the m/m, but I really want a more balanced mixture than what I've had in recent years.

Love is love, after all.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Mad Men obsession

My Mad Men watching turned into an obsession. I'm just a few episodes away from the end of season six right now, which means I'll be in the same boat as all the rest of the fans very soon who have to wait impatiently for the next season to start.

It's so unlike all my other favorite TV obsessions, though. For the most part, I have a tendency to fall in love with one or more characters that compel me to watch regardless of how good the writing/storytelling may be (like Revolution, I know how flawed it really is, but just don't care because of how much I adore Miles and Monroe). That's not the case with Mad Men. I don't actually like very many of these people. In fact, some of them, I downright detest. But they so completely fascinate me, and the writing is just so layers, I can't look away.

If anyone has made me feel bad for them, it's Joan. I wasn't an early convert, but as the show has progressed and the world she was able to navigate so effectively has changed to make her particular skill set obsolete, I've grown more sympathetic to her plight. The episode with the Jaguar dealership guy in season five is the only episode the entire series that made me cry. To see her put in that kind of scenario just broke me. Sure, she has benefited from it, securing hers and her son's future, but how she had to get there should never have happened in the first place.

My feelings for Don and Peggy are more ambivalent. I feel like I know them at this point, but they don't really evoke emotion in me at all. They're more like incredible character studies than anything else, which is so antithetical to how I usually respond to stories that it's a little boggling to me. Don's grown less interesting over the years, since he's been reduced to repeating his unhealthy patterns, but I've invested so much in finding out where he ends up that there's no way I'm giving up on him until the very end.

Then there's Pete, who makes me rage. There was a period in the middle where he started becoming more tolerable, but with season five, that's taken a reverse again. At least his wife Trudy recognizes it now, which makes me respect her all the more (though there was a time I would've colored her with the same brush).

You know what it really makes me want to do? Write stories set in the 60s. I only wish readers were interested in that era enough to make it worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shades of Pink Anthology

Last spring, my friend Kallysten approached me about contributing to a charity anthology she wanted to do again. She had raised $250 for breast cancer research in October 2012 with her Shades of Pink event and wanted to do it again.

I jumped at the chance.

Breast cancer runs in my family. I lost two aunts to it in the eighties and, in the past ten years, had two extremely close friends get diagnosed as well. Thankfully, theirs was caught in time and they're both doing great now. But it's an issue that is near and dear to me as a result, and it was an honor to be a part of Kallysten's noble efforts.

The anthology has 33 author contributions, with stories ranging from 3-10k in a wide variety of genres. It becomes available on October 1, but on September 15th, the donation page will go live so early donors can get the anthology a little early. More details are here.

In the meantime, Kallysten is posting excerpts and blurbs of all the contributors on her blog. Mine goes up next week on the 18th, but there are already two there for people to see. As we get closer to the release, I'll post more information and keep you updated. It's a great thing she's doing, and really, everybody wins. Readers get 33 stories to read, and all money raised goes directly breast cancer research.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The pax blog

There's probably going to be weekly posts like this through September. I help maintain the pax blog, and since most of what I'm publishing today is coming out that way, it's important to me to support it and my fellow pax authors.

Today, there's an interview with one of them, the wonderful Deirdre O'Dare. Plus, the post about what readers might want is still very much relevant. If you have a moment, hop on over and take a look. Remember that all comments made on the pax blog are eligible to win a $25 Amber Quill Press gift certificate, too.

Monday, September 9, 2013

TV dreams

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was quiet, but productive. Lots of work, though not the work I imagined I'd be doing.

Part of it was prep for my upcoming release. On the 22nd, my novella, "The Hearts of Yesteryear," will come out at Amber Allure. It's an m/m sweet romance about an aging actor who has to confront his ghosts in the hometown he abandoned fifty years earlier. Have I mentioned how much I love this story? Every time I read it, I want to see it as a TV show. It's got sitcom written all over it.

Two gay senior citizens who have reconnected after decades with the quirky but flighty female assistant/surrogate daughter living with them in sunny LA? One of whom is an actor trying to stay relevant, the other retired military who hasn't dated since 1979? I would watch that in a heartbeat. Because the being gay part is just incidental. It's about living life to the fullest when you're starting over at such a late age. With humor.

But ah, that's just a pipe dream. For now, I have to live vicariously through the story where they reconnect. I plan on having a freebie short available after it comes out, but more details on that later.

Friday, September 6, 2013

TGIF

I am in desperate search of my routine, so if anybody finds it, please let me know.

I was going to chat about Mad Men and how much I love it today, but I'm exhausted and it deserves more brainpower than I currently have. So that will be coming next week. I'm halfway through season four and just completely enamored with the whole thing.

I have plans to run to the theater this weekend and watch Riddick, even if it means I have to see it on my own. I love Pitch Black, Vin Diesel, and Karl Urban, so there is no way I'm missing this. None.

Other than that, it's a quiet day in the Dean neighborhood. I hope everybody has a great weekend!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Threshold

The other story I just finished is due to come out some time this winter at Amber Allure, though I don't know when for sure yet. Either November or January, one of them. It's for a pax about no-tell motels, and I went back to my paranormal roots for this one. It's called Threshold, an m/m vampire erotic romance.

Sutter is a vampire on the run. After barely escaping the hunter his sire sent after him, he makes it all the way to the middle of nowhere, Oregon, before the approaching sunrise forces him to stop. He only intends to rest, then hit the road again as soon as night falls, but that plan falls apart when the motel’s maintenance man discovers him passed out on the bathroom floor.

Ex-Marine Max Rowell hasn’t had a purpose in life ever since coming home from the Gulf. Though he works at his father’s motel, drifting through days that bleed endlessly into each other, it takes discovering an unconscious guy who looks like an angel but has clearly been through hell to give him new purpose.

Max isn’t letting Sutter go anywhere until he’s healed up, but Sutter needs more than a warm bedside manner to get stronger. Though they strike a deal, the clock is ticking. Sooner or later, Sutter will need to run again, or risk putting Max’s life on the line when Sutter’s past catches up to him…

I've written a lot of sweet stuff this year, so maybe that's colored my opinions a little, but I gotta say, I really do think this is one of the hottest things I've written in a while. It won't be to everyone's tastes--my vampires never forget what they are or how they need to survive--but this worked so well for me. Max is a do-gooder in a killer's body, while Sutter is a killer in an angel's body. I love, love, love that dichotomy.

Plus, there's a threesome scene at an underground club that just about melted my socks off. Guh.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Unbeaten Track

One of the projects I was working so hard to get done has already come back to me in edits, believe it or not. It's for the upcoming train pax, coming out on October 20.

I went back to first person POV for it, because it's the kind of intimate story that really demands it. Man, I really do love writing in that perspective.

Here's the blurb:

Insomniac Sean Diaz spends his nights riding the subway around Manhattan, ignoring the people he might encounter, getting lost in the rhythms of the train so he’s exhausted enough to sleep once he gets home. A hallucination about his dead high school boyfriend turns it into an obsession, but when Sean sees him a second time, he nearly falls apart.

That’s how Judah Morey finds him. Concern prompts conversation, which in turn sparks friendship. When Judah invites Sean back to his place, Sean decides to take a chance for the first time in nearly a decade. Dating is new territory for him, but he thinks he’s ready for it. He just needs to figure out how to let go of the past so he can take that step into his future…


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reader voices at pax blog

Over at the Amber Pax Collection blog, we're asking readers what kind of stories they'd like to see for future paxes. Head on over and give us your thoughts!

As an added bonus, anybody who comments over there in the month of September gets the chance to win an $25 gift certificate to AQP. Even more reason to speak up!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why, yes, I am an introvert

The Huffington Post had an article earlier this week about signs you're a secret introvert. Some very interesting reading, though honestly, most things like this can be twisted to mean just about anything.

But I knew I was an introvert long before I read the article. It's very hard for me to put myself out there. I need that time to recharge after being thrust into social situations. I think only one or two of those signs didn't actually apply to me. Learning that and accepting it has ultimately made my life much easier, because I've stopped placing expectations on myself that are just completely unrealistic.

Like public promotions. I've gotten better at not completely shutting down in groups of people, but it's still very tough. My first choice would be to never do it. Hell, that would be my second, third, and fourth choices. That results in me being picky about which ones are actually worth it for me. Is the effort worth the potential reward? RT is, that's for sure. I always walk away from that so charged. But other cons...well, that's something to evaluate on a case-by-case basis, depending on my time and energy at the time. It takes effort to put myself out there. A lot of it.

Blogs help with that to a degree. It's still hard, because honestly, number one on that list about small talk is a big one for me. I often sit quietly on the sidelines because I literally have no idea what to say. Writing small talk is hard, too. Whenever we would get to one of those kind of scenes in a story, I would always complain about it being boring and Pepper would always come back with how vital it was for the characters. She invariably won almost every one of those arguments.

This particular introvert will be taking it easy this weekend. Though it's a holiday weekend here in the US, I have been sick with the same cold that flattened my family earlier this week. My plan is to rest, read, and leave the house as little as possible. Maybe it sounds boring to some of you, but for me, right now it's nirvana.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Writing crutches

I discovered a new writing crutch of mine yesterday when I was working on finishing a story. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is because that would be showing my weaknesses and there's enough people out there willing to look for flaws in others without me helping the matter by pointing them out ahead of time.

(As an aside, I've had to completely redo the end of this story because the thought of getting caught out on this crutch leaves me terrified.)

But it got me to thinking about all the things we do that we don't even realize we do until somebody points them out to us. Habits we get into. Tropes we keep coming back to. When Pepper and I were writing together, she read enough of my stuff to be able to point out my idiosyncrasies. Like, for some reason, I am loathe to use a character's name at the start of a paragraph. I often will start with the pronoun, then throw the name in later. It often leads to confusion, which means I have to be careful about when I do it. And the thing is, I hadn't even realized I did that until she told me about it.

Discovering yesterday's crutch completely threw me off my game. Wednesdays are killer for me in terms of running around with the kids, so I took a notepad with me to write longhand during my daughter's softball game. We weren't there for ten minutes before I realized what I'd done, and I literally sat there for the next ninety minutes flummoxed and upset. I didn't write another word. In fact, I didn't write another word until ten o'clock last night when I deleted everything I couldn't use (one of my worst nightmares) and tried to segue into something fresher. Today, I have to finish this story so I can get it into my editor on time, and it's difficult because I'm now in questioning mode, doubting everything I'm doing.

We all do it. It's how a lot of us read, too, drawn to specific tropes and themes time and time again. So I just need to figure out why finding this particular one is bothering me so much.

I guess I hate being predictable.

Which is funny considering romance is one of the most predictable genres out there.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today in history

Today is an important day in recent American history - the march on Washington fifty years ago. The most fascinating approach to it I've seen?

@Todayin1963 is livetweeting it as if it it's happening now.

Go and follow it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ongoing education

It's never too old to learn. Funny how it's always people older than thirty who say that.

But it's true, and I'm putting my brain where my mouth is this fall. I've been looking into an online learning environment called edX after seeing its president on a July episode of The Colbert Report. It's a variety of college-level courses put together by professionals from a number of prestigious universities, like MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley, then placed online. People can take them for free, working at their own pace within the time frame the course provides, usually 6-12 weeks.

The one course I know for sure I'm going to try is called Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science. Since that doesn't start until October, I'm going to choose one or maybe two more to do this fall. The problem is narrowing down the ones I like. My short list still has a dozen options on it.

It seems like such an excellent opportunity, though. Some of them could be the basis for future stories. Others would just be for fun. Regardless, I see a lot of this in my near future.