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..."