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!