Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday Is My Monday

Today is my Monday. I decree it so. Yes, I know it's actually Tuesday, but yesterday was catastrophe after catastrophe, leaving me completely exhausted mentally and physically by three in the afternoon without having any writing to show for it. Real life can be so demanding that way, showing up at the most inconvenient moments, when I have deadlines calling my name.

Not that today will be much better, to be honest. Tuesday afternoons have two different guitar lessons, mine and my son's, and tonight is the band/choir concert at my daughter's high school. I'm part of the bake sale committee for the band boosters, which means I'll be arriving with twenty dozen cookies of seven different varieties that I've made over the past two days to sell. That was actually the only non-stressful part of the past two days. I volunteer because it gives me an excuse to bake without having to have all the sugar stay at my house. We can have a cookie or two apiece of each kind, then I get to send all the rest off. Sweet deal, if you ask me.

So maybe that means Wednesday will actually be my Monday. Considering I only have three hours of viable writing time today, I might have to consider that.


Friday, September 11, 2015

A Day of Deference

In deference to the memory of all those who lost their lives on this infamous day in American history, I'm not blogging or hanging out on social media as I usually do on Friday.

Instead, I'm going to focus on my family and the gift I've been granted by having them in my life. Time is precious. Lives are too short.

Honor the dead by embracing the living.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

TBT: Budding Hopes

MLR Press put out a submission call a couple weeks ago that has my brain awhirl. As soon as I have a little room in my schedule, I'm going to write something for it. It'll be nice to work with them again. It's a great family, incredibly supportive of all of their authors.

Budding Hopes was the last story I had come out at MLR, three years ago for Valentine's Day. It's a romantic little ditty set in 1950s Baltimore about a flower shop employee and the doctor who visits him every week.

For eight months, Dr. Mark Vance has been visiting Sheehan's Nursery to buy flowers for his mother's grave, and every week, Hal Sheehan slips an extra lily into the bunch. Mark would love nothing more than to get to know the gentle giant better, but in 1954 Baltimore, a man just doesn't ask another man out. His fears are compounded when a visit the day before Valentine's casts doubts on Hal's intentions. Maybe he really was meant to live a life of secrets. Or maybe he just needs the holiday to discover the best secret of them all.

The excerpt at the publisher site is the opening of the story. Honestly, I adore this romantic story. The time period was fraught with fear and still rife with possibility, and the potential of Mark and Hal still gives my hope a flutter. At some point, I'd really like to write a follow-up and see how they are doing.

Check it out at MLR!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Loving Luther

Like so many others, I adore Idris Elba, but I've only just recently started watching what's probably some of his best work--Luther. For those who don't know, it's a BBC crime show about a damaged cop, but man, it is so much more than that. Elba is intense and riveting, but it's got an outstanding supporting cast as well. I've only just finished the first season--that was one advantage to being so sick the past week, I got to watch a lot of television--but I'm anxious for the rest.

Look at him. And you know who else is in season 1?

The hypnotic Ruth Wilson. I have a friend who has been desperately in love with her since watching The Affair, so I'm pressuring him to give Luther a go. I have no idea how much longer she'll be on, but whatever he can get, I'm sure he's going to love it.

But there's others worth noting. Paul McGann. Saskia Reeves. The adorable Warren Brown.

If you haven't checked this show out yet, you need to do it now. It's streaming on Netflix. Treat yourself.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Before You Know It

I wish I could say I'm all better, but I'm not. I spent most of the last week curled up on the couch with no energy and a cough that wouldn't quit. While I'm still pushing myself back to health, the one bright side was that I got to watch a lot of movies and TV.

One of those movies was the documentary, Before You Know It. It follows three senior citizens, all of whom happen to be gay. There's Dennis, a widowed crossdresser who wanders from his home in Florida to a retirement community in Oregon to a gay cruise in search of companionship. There's Robert, an aging drag queen who owns a bar in Texas and is surrounded by friends. There's Ty, a gay rights activist in NYC who seems the most well-adjusted of the three. There is no judgment or even intense scrutiny here. The filmmaker seems content in capturing these men as they truly are, though a distinct melancholy permeates the entire film.

The men couldn't be any more different, and yet, in a lot of ways, their stories are universal. Dennis represents the loneliness that plagues so many senior citizens. All he wants is company, and though he's treated politely by the younger generations, he spends most of the movie a single satellite roving around the world. Robert seems to be happy, with raucous friends who would do anything for him, and yet his health is failing and he suffers from depression as he mourns his dead partner. These are issues that plague many of our older generation. They're not unique to these men just because they're gay. It doesn't take away from how affecting it can be, but at the same time, I couldn't shake the feeling that there were some real missed opportunities. I liked the documentary, but I didn't love it.

But you be the judge. It's streaming on Netflix right now.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Calling it early this week

Though I would love to have a real post for today and tomorrow, I've managed to catch my daughter's cold and have been pretty useless for the past couple days. So I'm going to cut my losses early this week, and wish everybody a good weekend now.

We don't have any plans for the American holiday, but if you go, have fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WIP Wednesday - The Naked Remedy

I'm in the throes of finishing off this novella for an upcoming Amber Allure pax. The pax is about connections made via communications, like Grindr, online dating, and even letter writing. Mine is called The Naked Remedy and is about a young closeted man in his 20s who falls for a blog owner.

This is how it opens...

*_*_*

I've seen a lot of naked guys online. Don't believe me? Look at the facts. I'm a twenty-six year-old closeted gay man with undiagnosed social anxieties who still lives at home. I do have a job, though. I'm not that pathetic. I'm a sonographer at the hospital which actually pays well enough for me to rent a place of my own if I wasn't so nervous about breaking out of my comfort zone.

So looking at naked men on my laptop? That's been the model of my dating life for the past seven years.

But when I saw him...he might as well have been the first. I stared. A lot. I didn't back out or click forward or scroll down or do anything that would erase him from my screen. It was like I had only just discovered how beautiful the male body could be.

He stood in roiling surf, the pinking sky behind him announcing the coming dawn. His sturdy body faced the horizon, arms thrown out in welcome, the smile he threw over his broad shoulder at the photographer radiating joy, but just as compelling as that were the scars that snaked down his right hip and thigh.

Though light brown hair furred his legs, arms, and even the robust curve of his ass, the twisting scars were devoid of any texture but the badge of long-healed skin. The right calf was noticeably smaller than its mate, more evidence of whatever tragedy had caused the scars in the first place. I felt like a voyeur, staring at the imperfections, but I dismissed my unease. He obviously knew he was being photographed. He'd even stripped down for it.

This was a man who wanted to be seen.

No text accompanied the picture. It wasn't a surprise. People shared other people's pics all the time, and this one in particular hadn't merited more than a few hundred when I stumbled across it. When I scrolled down through the list, however, an anonymous fan added a link with its note.

The dude from the Naked Remedy. He rocks.

The Naked Remedy. I'd never heard of that. A guick Google search brought it up first, though, so I clicked on it to get more information.

I'm not sure if my world changed when I saw the blog or when I first saw his picture. I suppose in the end it doesn't really matter which was responsible. The important part was that nothing was the same after that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Unconventional Hotties - Chris O'Dowd

I have been in love with Chris O'Dowd since I saw Bridesmaids. He was quirky and funny and adorable. How could I not?

It made me look for him in other projects, like the IT Crowd, and follow his career afterward, like in The Sapphires. My opinion never changed. He's just too adorable for words, and who doesn't love that accent?


Monday, August 31, 2015

Book to Film - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

A lot of voracious readers I know have problems with film adaptations. They have their own ideas about how the story should play out, or want to see faithful versions in live action, or have very specific ideas about casting. I'm not one of them. Films are my second love, which pushed me to be a film major in college, so for me the two media are very, very different. I have different expectations from each, partially because I'm intimately acquainted with the film process, partially because they satisfy different needs in me.

Take The Hunger Games. I love both the books and the film franchise, but I know people who have problems with both. Some book lovers rebelled against the casting--Jennifer Lawrence, though wonderful, is not the physical type of Katniss at all, just as Josh Hutcherson isn't--while some film lovers preferred the plot choices made onscreen rather than those on the pages. I love both because I'm not trying to compare them to anything, which is where I think a lot of people fail.

But sometimes, movies manage to capture the beauty of the book. Last week, I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for the first time. For those who aren't familiar with it, it's a French movie released in 2007 based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's autobiography of the same title. Bauby was the editor for French Elle when he suffered a stroke at the age of 43 that left him completely paralyzed except for his left eye. His brain was fully functional, putting him in what the doctors called locked-in syndrome. He learned to communicate by spelling out words by blinking his left eye. In fact, he dictated his entire biography like that.

It's an amazing story, but the film was just as magnificent. In order to recreate the feeling of being locked-in, the director, Julian Schnabel, shot the first thirty minutes from the perspective of Bauby, after we wakes up from the coma he was in from the stroke. He can't move, so people move in and out of camera. We hear his internal monologue, but we're as mute as he is when the people around him answer their own questions to him. When the doctor has to sew his right eye shut to keep it from going septic, we're there, in his head, watching darkness fall as it's stitched together.

It's a stunning choice. We don't even see what Bauby looks like until a half hour into the movie. By that point, you're so much a part of him, it's as jarring for us as it is for him when he sees his reflection.

The book is so much about communication and how we do or do not succeed at it that I wondered how a film would capture that quality. It does so in a myriad of ways. Through Bauby's internal monologue. In flashback scenes where we see the pieces of his life before the stroke. In the occasional dream sequence where he tries to recapture some of the sensations that are now denied him. Every single element works.

I can't recommend the book and movie highly enough. Both are beautiful, gut-wrenching pieces of work. They resonate on universal levels without becoming maudlin. Get the book. Watch the movie. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Am I the last person watching Project Runway?

I'll admit, I still watch Project Runway. I have no delusions that it's good TV, or that it's not completely manipulated, or that it's about actual design and ability rather than product marketing. But I still watch because I love clothes, I love the process of creation (even in a fishbowl like this), and occasionally something marvelous comes down that runway.

All that being said...I do still get wrapped up in how wrong the final picks can be.

Which brings me to last night's episode. If you haven't watched and don't want to be spoiled, walk away now because I'm about to bitch about it.

I'm serious. I'm thoroughly flummoxed.

Because this?

Is a slap in the face to the other two in the top three.

Look, I can give Blake points for being innovative. He took a risk and it paid off as it was moving down the runway. But seriously, that dress is barely holding itself together, it's so poorly constructed. And when she's standing still, it looks awful. It's drama comes in the movement.

If I was Swapnil or Candice, I'd be so pissed about this. Because their dresses were well-made as well as being true to the challenge.

I thought Swapnil's dress was just a teensy bit too short, but the juxtaposition of the front to the back was marvelous. He also took great care on the fit, making sure details were precise. Lucky for him, too, that Tim discouraged the cheap shiny leather.

Candice might not have had the most innovative dress, but it was infinitely the most flattering of the top three and impeccably made. It looked so chic with the white jacket over it, but that leather dress (vegan leather, woo hoo!) is divine. From the way they were gushing over her, I thought she had it in the bag. Justifiably so.

At least I can cling to the belief that there is no way in hell Blake will make it to the end. He's just not good or consistent enough for that.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

TBT: Chains of Jericho

I did something earlier this week that I've meant to do since RT 2014. I finally joined RWA. It's been ten years since I published my first romance, but it took almost all of that for me to be comfortable joining the professional organization.

I couldn't do it for the longest time because I would've felt like a hypocrite. When I first started writing, e-publishing didn't count. Then when they couldn't ignore e-publishing anymore, they discriminated against LGBT authors. I couldn't, in all good conscience, be a part of an organization that wouldn't recognize so many hard-working people. It felt wrong.

That finally changed, and in all honesty, I was ready to join after having a long lunch with my old friend Denny Bryce at RT 2014. I didn't get around to it before the convention, then honestly forgot until RT of this year. It's been on my list to do, and finally, FINALLY, I applied.

I still have to join the LGBT charter and look for other charters to be a part of, but the first step is done.

So today's TBT is my very first romance that I ever published. It's an m/f vampire story that was originally published through Linden Bay Romance. When Linden Bay was bought out by Samhain, I got the rights back and re-released it through Liquid Silver. It was also an EPPIE finalist, which I'm very proud of.

Declan Jericho is a vampire with a purpose. His best hope for success rests on the shoulders of a brilliant young cancer specialist, but saving the undead isn’t exactly the career path Dr. Maya Sheldon has in mind.

When Dec kidnaps Maya from work, the last thing she wants to do is help him. Then she discovers what he wants her for: develop a cure for the mysterious illness killing the young vampires in his care. Vampires or not, she’s unable to abandon them. Her interest in Dec quickly shifts from professional to something more intimate, but as their attraction grows, darker secrets threaten their newfound relationship. Dec has his own reasons for wanting the young vampires cured, and he’s not telling…

For an excerpt and purchase information, head over to Liquid Silver Books!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Going through withdrawal

I'm in withdrawal.

Two weeks ago, we started on our mostly-vegan meal plan here in my household. Lots and lots of vegetables, a salad every day, virtually no animal products. It's not been impossible, but I'd be lying if I said it was easy, and not for the reasons I anticipated.

I love to plan, so that's not the hardship. It's the boredom. I get lots of flavors, but what I'm missing is texture. Creaminess. Crunchiness. Roasting vegetables can occasionally give me the latter, but it's a lot harder to recreate the former. Since I'm trying to avoid what I think of as weird vegan substitutes and concentrate on whole foods, I'm limited. Cauliflower mash is the only one to fill that void so far.

There have been some great new recipes added to our repertoire, though. Thug Kitchen's roasted beet and quinoa salad is one. Last Friday, we grilled portobello mushrooms and stuffed them with artichokes and pesto. Tomorrow, I'm switching up my chicken saag recipe to make it with eggplant instead. I have high hopes for that one.

But nights of great food are interspersed with meals that are just to satisfy hunger. Simple things that don't take much effort in the kitchen at all. For someone like me who loves to cook, that's a rough one to deal with. I'm hoping that once I've discovered more variations on complex options that'll fix itself.

In the meantime, I'm trying not to take my irritability out on my family. The health benefits are already showing themselves. My skin is better. We've lost weight. It'll all be worth it.

It'll just be more enjoyable once I'm past the withdrawal.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chance to Win Anomalies

Today's my day over at the Amber Pax blog to talk about my story in the collection that came out on Sunday. There's a long excerpt from Anomalies for you to read, different than the one on the website. Even better, everybody who comments on posts this week has a chance to win all five stories in a random drawing on Saturday.

Check it out!

Monday, August 24, 2015

New release - Anomalies

My latest story came out yesterday, a sci-fi futuristic story called Anomalies.

On the planet of Kathtor, Midnight Creek is special. It houses a geo-spatial anomaly that crosses the distance between opposite sides of the planet with a single step. A hundred years ago, the warring Kimon used the anomaly to invade the peaceful Therlerians, only to be driven away by their advanced technology.

Now, a single man guards the point of entry. Warden Arie Vedebel is the best of his kind, a soldier in the Liberated Therler Federacy, determined to defend his people to the death. When an electrical storm sets the creek on fire, he races to extinguish it, only to discover a man in the midst of it—General Dennick Ginn of the Elds Regime, a highly decorated Kimon officer.

Arie’s orders are to kill on sight, but Dennick’s claims that’s he come through the anomaly to destroy it make him pause. As far as Arie knows, the man’s goal is impossible. Then again, he’d always been told his post was a precautionary one, that traveling through the anomaly was no longer viable.

Warily, Arie and Dennick form an alliance. While Arie strives to find the truth, the one fact he can’t dispute is that Dennick is not what he expects a Kimon to be. The two men have more in common than military training...and they just might have a future, too.

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Flash

I was too busy to participate in Siobhan Muir's #ThursThreads contest yesterday, but I still have a couple from previous weeks to share.

I have a feeling my tendency to go het contemporary in both this and the one that came after (that I'll post next week) is indicative of my desire for something different. I've been doing primarily m/m for a while now. I'm ready to mix it up again.

*_*_*

“He’s cute.”

“He’s a player.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Really? I can give you the names of six different women he’s dated from this building alone.”

From across the narrow table, I stared at Jenny. I loved her to pieces, but ever since she and her husband went into marital counseling, she’d been a real thorn in my dating side.

“I can give you the names of seven guys from this building I’ve dated,” I countered. “Does that make me a player?”

As her eyes softened, she patted my hand like she was my Nana’s nosy neighbor and not my best friend. “You’re just lonely. I know that.”

“Maybe he’s lonely, too.”

Jenny snorted. “Dating that many women? Not likely.”

Silently, I counted to ten. Our lunch hour wasn’t the time for a lecture on Jen’s willful blindness to the double standard she imposed on a total stranger. “I’ll take the chance.”

Before I could stand, she grabbed my wrist. “Remember Neil? He was the same way and broke your heart. Just do me a favor and say to yourself, ‘This is a place I don’t want to go back to.’ Then you’ll see I’m right.”

Carefully, I tugged free. “If I judged every guy by Neil, I’d never go on a date again. Let it go. I’m asking him out.”

I felt better as I walked away. Life was too short not to take risks. How could I know if he was The One if I didn’t try?

*_*_*

What I find so refreshing about this one is a heroine who owns her sexuality and doesn't believe in labels, and yet is oddly hopeful about romantic relationships. Plus, I know a lot of women like Jenny, who hold different standards for the same behavior depending on whether you're a man or a woman. They often mean well, but that sort of gender-bias thinking is dangerous, especially when it comes to how we raise our daughters. Hopefully, I'll get to this one some day.

I have a new release coming out on Sunday, so I'll be back on Monday to talk more about it. This weekend, I get more bonding time with my daughter and friends, though I have a ton of chores to do around the house before that can happen. Plus, meal planning for the next week. Since we've gone more vegan-oriented, it takes more forethought if I don't want to get bored. That's always my downfall. I want food to be interesting. When it fails, I make bad choices. I need to break that mindset. And I will. In time.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

TBT: Aria of the Eclipse

In honor of my new sci-fi/futuristic story coming out at Amber Allure this weekend, this week's Throwback Thursday goes to an earlier sci-fi story I had come out there, Aria of the Eclipse.

Nothing has ever excited Tylen Merodine more than being invited by the Regent himself to celebrate the first solar eclipse in his planet’s recorded history. It’s the party of the millennium, and if he has to restrain his normal exuberant instincts to fit in, that’s what he’ll do to be a part of it. His good intentions vanish, however, the moment he’s presented to the Regent. Because there, in a gilded cage, playing music unlike anything Tylen’s ever heard, is the most beautiful alien he could imagine.

For more than twenty years, Dek has lived in captivity, performing at the whim of those who see him as an animal. The Regent is just the latest in a long line of owners, and while he’s kind, he’s still blind to Dek’s sentient nature. Only music gives Dek a voice, until Tylen breaks the rules and sneaks in to see and speak to him alone.

The time they have together is stolen and precious, the minutes ticking away until the eclipse is past and they have to go back to the way their lives were before. But when the Regent shows an unexpected interest in Tylen’s future, they begin to wonder if their worlds need to remain so separate...

In actuality, the two stories are drastically different. While my upcoming release is about gritty military men trapped in political intrigue, Aria of the Eclipse was romantic and melodic, about two sheltered men of different species who find love within the constraints of their existence. It's one of those worlds I've longed to get back to, but time and obligations haven't been kind to those desires. I really need to tell the Regent's story more than anything else. To this day, he fascinates me the most out of all the secondary characters. If I can get to it, his will be the story I write.

For an excerpt and purchase information, visit Amber Allure.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Upcoming release - Anomalies

This Sunday, I have a story coming out at Amber Allure as part of their military men-themed pax. It's called Anomalies:

On the planet of Kathtor, Midnight Creek is special. It houses a geo-spatial anomaly that crosses the distance between opposite sides of the planet with a single step. A hundred years ago, the warring Kimon used the anomaly to invade the peaceful Therlerians, only to be driven away by their advanced technology.

Now, a single man guards the point of entry. Warden Arie Vedebel is the best of his kind, a soldier in the Liberated Therler Federacy, determined to defend his people to the death. When an electrical storm sets the creek on fire, he races to extinguish it, only to discover a man in the midst of it—General Dennick Ginn of the Elds Regime, a highly decorated Kimon officer.

Arie’s orders are to kill on sight, but Dennick’s claims that’s he come through the anomaly to destroy it make him pause. As far as Arie knows, the man’s goal is impossible. Then again, he’d always been told his post was a precautionary one, that traveling through the anomaly was no longer viable.

Warily, Arie and Dennick form an alliance. While Arie strives to find the truth, the one fact he can’t dispute is that Dennick is not what he expects a Kimon to be. The two men have more in common than military training...and they just might have a future, too.

I wanted to be a little different with this one and went sci-fi instead of sticking to Earth-bound militaries. Any time I can create my own world, I usually take it. It's liberating. The conflicts, however, are much more familiar. It's about enemies who discover they share common ideals, drawn together by a singular goal. It just so happens to occur on a different planet with a a different political climate, that's all.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Rec - Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

I don't tend to read YA. I don't seek it out unless specifically pushed to, because most of the themes explored don't really interest me. When I do read books that are classified as YA, it's usually because my daughter has told me to.

We saw the movie for Warm Bodies on DVD when it came out, but she didn't read the book until this past spring. Then, she thrust it into my hands and said, "Read this!" I didn't want to. We'd already seen the movie. I don't like zombie books. So I stalled.

I wish I hadn't. I haven't been this surprised by a book in a long time.

First of all, it's not YA. I don't care what anyone wants to classify it as. People who are trying to qualify it as a romance or a zombie book are missing the whole point of it, too. It's about the search of who we are and the lengths we'll go to retain the status quo because the whole world is too scary to deal with otherwise. Wrapped up in a tidy zombie package.

But let's get back to that. For those who aren't familiar with the story, it's about R, a zombie who lives at the airport. He's having a bit of an existential crisis, wondering who he was, what they're doing as he and the other zombies make a pseudo life for themselves at the airport. The Boneys, the skeletal zombies who seem to run things, make up families by pushing men and women together, then giving them children to complete the unit. R is a part of this but not, choosing to live inside a plane that he's filled with mementos he's scavenged from the nearby city. 

On an eating run, they corner a group of young people and he eats one of the men, a young guy named Perry. Since they get their victim's memories when they eat the brains, R starts experiencing Perry's life, as well as gaining a new fixation on Perry's girlfriend Julie who is also part of the group. R defends Julie, then smears her with his own blood to mask her scent to take her back to the airport to keep. But for what purpose, he doesn't know, and more, once she's there, they both start looking at the other person differently.

The book has been labeled a Romeo and Juliet/zombie mash-up, which in all honesty it is. The naming conventions (R=Romeo, Julie=Juliet, Perry=Paris, and their friends have the same correlations) are the strongest, but that's where the comparisons fall apart for me. Some people have focused on the romance between Julie and R, but that didn't strike me as nearly as central to the story as R's discovery of himself. He spends over half the book either talking to himself, experiencing Perry's memories, or interacting with a dream Perry inside him. This is about R's journey, not the fact that love somehow "fixes" him.

Plotting is not its strong suit. If you lay it out, not a whole lot happens. But what makes it transcend its stifling labels is the author's voice. Simply put, this might be one of the most beautifully written YA-classified stories that I've ever read. His voice is poetic and visceral, and I caught myself over and over again either gasping or sighing over his prose. It's wrapped in the zombie package, which means there's gore and violence, so if that bothers you, you might not enjoy it as much. I don't mind, so it worked for me.

But it's passages like this that sucked me in early: I dream my necrotic cells shrugging off their lethargy, inflating and lighting up like Christmas deep in my dark core. Am I inventing all this like the beer buzz? A placebo? An optimistic illusion? Either way, I feel the flatline of my existence disrupting, forming heartbeat hills and valleys. 

And this... if these staggering refugees want to help, if they think they see something bigger than a boy chasing a girl, then they can help, and we'll see what happens when we say yes while this rigor mortis world screams no.

There's so many more, I could go on for hours.

If you want to read this because you love romance or zombie books, you might be disappointed. But if you're interested in falling for a zombie in his search to be something other than what he is, I can't recommend this highly enough.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Embracing Our Garden

We've made food changes in our household. To our friends, they seem pretty drastic. In some ways, they are. I certainly didn't see it coming. But health issues have reared their ugly heads, and when that happens, you do what you have to do.

My household has gone vegan. Mostly.

What that means is six days a week, we don't consume animal products or anything processed. No salt, either. Our big meal is always a salad, and water consumption has gone through the roof. Right now, I just can't do it every day, so I'm reserving Sunday as a day that's more omnivorous, but plain eating is still the priority.

So far, it's not going too badly.

Breakfasts are the hardest for me. I can't eat oatmeal every day, and smoothies do absolutely zero to fill me up, so I've had to work at finding alternatives. The first thing that's worked is this antioxidant-rich breakfast bar, which I was more than a little shocked I enjoyed. It's incredibly filling, too. I need that. Since I'm at home most of the day, it's too easy to snack on something I probably shouldn't.

Planning is the key. There are certain foods I have to work into our diet on a regular basis, and I'm the kind of person who gets bored easily. I want flavor. And I want a variety of them. I've subscribed to a few food blogs that look promising, so as I try things out, I'll be sure to share.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Flash

A few weeks ago, I judged at Siobhan Muir's #ThursThreads contest and realized how much I'd missed writing flash fiction. I joined in the following week, which means I now have three different snippets of brand new story ideas. I love this way of inspiration.

The first had to be centered around the military in some way, so I went futuristic.

*_*_*

One of these days, she’s going to get caught. The password she steals on a weekly basis from Central will fail. The sentry will change his routine. The commander will finally decide the relics are better off destroyed.

But as she slips beneath the imaging sensors that line the corridor, Right Lieutenant Nika Kivale doesn’t think about what can go wrong. Her thoughts focus beneath the compound, in a room her peers don’t realize exists, a space of shame her leaders refuse to acknowledge. She stops to disable the heat arrays beyond the next door, then counts to twenty before thumbing the release to open it.

From there, it’s only a single staircase before she’s inside the archives. The hardest part about standing amidst the relics is not deciding what to save, but ignoring the guilt that threatens to immobilize her from acting at all. These are the last remains of those who were lost to the war, lost to peace, kept here without thought to the families who mourn for them, simply because they were the enemy’s fallen and not her side’s own.

She wouldn’t want her mother to never have closure. Stealing what she can to return to parents who weren’t as lucky as hers is the least she can do.

One of these days, she’s going to get caught.

But as she slinks back to her quarters to prepare the package to send off in the morning, she knows…today is not that day.

*_*_*

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the opener of a novel. I'm going to expand it to flesh out the actual breaking in and what she's doing, but this is an excellent way of introducing Nika and showing just who she is as a person. I imagine it's going to have something to do with something she steals and sends out that is going to come back and bite her in the ass somehow. The specifics of finding that out intrigue me. A lot.

And with that, I'm signing off for the week. I have fun plans for tomorrow. I'm going into San Francisco with my daughter, her BFF, and BFF's mom (who happens to be a very close friend) to go to Modcloth's pop-up shop. The girls have homecoming in September, so we're hoping to find dresses for them. It'll be a girlie day out, which I don't get enough of. Plus, my daughter is only home for three more years before going to college, so I want to milk that for all it's worth.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

TBT: Walk Among Us

My idea journal has been chock full of dark ideas lately, which makes me nostalgic for one of my early novellas. It was part of a collection about priests I did with Pepper Espinoza called A Calling of Souls. We each wrote a novella, and then wrote one together as Jamie Craig. Pepper's was a fantasy about a young man who'd given up going into the priesthood, our Jamie title was about an English priest questioning his faith, and mine is a paranormal about an ex-priest who sees demons.

As an artist in New York City, Calvin Shumacher finally has the life he’s always wanted. In fact, only one thing can get him to come back to Illinois—his father’s funeral. All he wants is to bury his dad and hightail it back to New York, but a sniper at the graveyard puts those plans on indefinite hold.

So does Matthew Soto. The gorgeous gunman who speaks of monsters wearing human faces. And predicts there won’t be a body for police to find.

Calvin doesn’t know what to think when Matthew claims he didn’t do anything wrong. All he knows is that this man’s haunted eyes seem to pierce right into his soul.

But as each of Matthew’s assertions comes true, Calvin slowly realizes this killer could be the only thing standing between him and an unspeakable evil…

Even though it's been six years since I wrote this, the tale sticks with me. These men are both incredibly lonely, and I found Calvin's head a familiar place to reside for a while. He's an artist and views the world as such, filtering things by color and shape. Most writers I know do the same, except with words and phrases.

To read an excerpt and for purchase information, check it out at Samhain!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Savage Estate by Vivien Dean

The second of my new releases over the past couple months was a shapeshifter novel that was a part of the first SuperPax at Amber Allure. It's called Savage Estate:

For his twenty-fifth birthday, Alec Savage gets the gift of a lifetime—the chance to meet his father for the very first time. What he finds upon his arrival in Washington, DC, however, is a smashed window, an empty house, and a scrawled note with only his name and a phone number on it. Panicked, he dials the number and talks to an uncle he never knew he had, one who insists Alec is in danger if he stays in the house. That’s when everything starts to get really weird.

Within minutes, he’s teleported all the way to nowhere Montana, in the company of the most gorgeous guy he’s ever seen, hearing about how he’s the latest mage in the Savage line. Alec doesn’t want to believe Rowan Bouchard, but it’s hard to argue with the reality of his new snowbound location or the confirmation from the uncle who greets him. He even thinks staying on the estate while they hunt for his father won’t be so bad if he has Rowan as eye candy.

Except Rowan is more than that. He’s a shifter, the most beautiful black panther Alec could imagine. And according to his Uncle Martin, he’s now Alec’s familiar, too...

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Unison by Vivien Dean

I've had two releases in my hiatus, both at Amber Allure. The first was a short story time travel, about the dreamer in all of us.

Freddie Valek is a dreamer. He dreams about the fantastic as a means to escape, about finding the perfect man, about anything his imagination can conjure. When he falls asleep after work one day and finds himself in pre-Civil War Louisiana, he can’t say that he’s surprised. The only part of the dream that shocks him is that it’s taken him ten years to have a dream about the history of his most prized possession—a water-logged portrait of a man named Ezekiel.

All he knows about Ezekiel is what the woman who gave it to him said. That Ezekiel was the son of a plantation owner and a slave. That nobody ever found out what happened to him. Freddie’s dream thrusts him into the parents’ lives and their demands that he’s been brought to them to find their runaway son, a mission he is more than happy to accept.

But the closer Freddie gets to finding Ezekiel, the more he’s convinced that none of this is actually a dream...

I might be in a minority, but time travel is one of my favorite genres. I love the possibilities of what if, the chance of starting over in a land unknown. It's hard to write it as a short story because of the mechanics that are usually involved, so I focused on Freddie and his needs, the fact that he's a dreamer who just desperately wants to believe in the best of people..

For an excerpt and purchase information, head on over to Amber Allure!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Coming back

Wow, my mini-break lasted a lot longer than I anticipated. We had end of school stuff, then traveling for the kids' camp, then my visit to NC to see my sister, then more traveling for the kids, then back to school. We are just now starting week three of the new school year, and my life is resembling normal more and more every day.

Which meant I no longer had a reason to be lazy and ignore the blog anymore.

That's the problem with taking breaks. The longer it stretches, the harder it gets to actually consider it a temporary thing.

So I'm back, though I'll be rolling into it a little slowly until I get up to speed.

Translation: Today's about waving to all of you out there to remind you I'm alive.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another mini-break

I'm disappearing into a writing cave over the next couple weeks, so to save myself some time and stress, the blog will be on radio silence while I'm working.

The plan is to return June 8, but if I get what I want to accomplish done ahead of time, I'll pop back sooner.

Enjoy the next two weeks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Back from RT

All my good intentions to blog while I was at RT disappeared once I was actually there. I really need to learn that lesson since I've failed every single time I've tried.

Today is my first full day back, but my family apparently fell apart in my absence so I'm in catch-up mode. I'll be back tomorrow with what I got out of RT 2015. Short answer? A lot.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Over at the pax blog

This weekend, the Second Time Around pax comes out at Amber Allure. My short story, Wild Fragile Vines, is part of that.

So today is its day over at the pax blog. There's a blurb and an excerpt for people to get an early taste, then starting on Monday, you'll see posts from the authors about their individual works.

Check it out!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Blogging through RT

My blogging is going to be real hit or miss over the next ten days. I'm uber busy at home with non-writing stuff, and then I leave for RT on Monday. So while there will be sporadic posts (I have a release this Sunday, woo hoo!), it won't be on my usual Monday-Friday schedule.

So enjoy your Thursday, everyone! The weekend is almost here. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Social media

Dear Author talking about Twitter today got me thinking about how I've stopped using it for any kind of interaction. With time so much at a premium for me, I can't afford what it takes me to scroll through and try to keep up with what people are saying, especially since I'm not online constantly. Twitter is great for instant news information, but if you're not there when a conversation actually starts? Forget about trying to keep up.

I've tried. I really have. I loved Twitter so much when I first got over there. Short little soundbites were infinitely easier for me to do than blog posts or Facebook. But the more people I followed, the more I lost. Plus, in the beginning I was monitoring three different accounts (my Vivien one, the Jamie Craig one, and a private one), which made an app a necessity. When I had to switch to Janetter a while ago, everything started going downhill.

It began with the fact that Janetter errors out if you get offline for too long. It requires closing the program and reopening it to get it to work again. It's not hard, but it's annoying, and it launches the snowball that turns into an avalanche of reasons not to bother with Twitter at all.

Like trying to sort through what is actually being said. Yes, I have created lists to try and manage that, but they're still bulky and unwieldy as soon as you have a few hundred people on them. Excluding people completely is pretty pointless to me. Why would I follow them in the first place if I wasn't interested in what they were saying? Yes, I realize it's about reaching a larger audience with reciprocation, but if I'm too busy to spend the time on Twitter or I miss their tweet because it's buried in a thousand others (and that number is conservative, when I wake up in the morning after nine hours of being offline, the number of unread tweets is four figures easily), what's the point?

So since I got back from San Antonio, I've been paying more attention to Facebook instead. So far, it seems to be working out for the better. It's still not ideal, but I'm enjoying myself with it more than I did the first time I tried it out. I don't really take pictures, which makes Instagram pointless, while Tumblr gives me a headache. I'll still post announcements to Twitter, but I don't see the fun happening there anymore for me. Which is a little sad considering how much I adored it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Bright Spot in my Weekend

My husband is away on a business trip this week, which always leaves me a little melancholy, but my Monday is a little brighter because of this tidbit of news.

A Soul Remembered was chosen by The Novel Approach Reviews as one of their favorite books from April!

Hopefully this will be enough for me to stay motivated this week!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

May Movies

My kids and husband have been looking forward to this weekend for months. Why? Because the new Avengers movie is coming out.

Me, I'm just excited because there will finally be movies in the theater I want to see again after a couple very lackluster months.

First up: obviously Avengers: Age of Ultron. That one goes without saying.

But the movie I'm actually most excited about seeing this month is Mad Max: Fury Road. Dystopian future. Tom Hardy. Charlize being badass. The newest trailer for it has me practically giddy.


Also coming out on that day is the other May release my daughter has been excited about: Pitch Perfect 2. She knows the first one backward and forward, she adores Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, and she has made me promise we'll go see it as soon as I get back from RT. I don't have a problem with that. I liked the first movie, too.

What movies are you looking forward to this month?


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Amber Quill sales

The sales that start today at Amber Quill are particularly great this week!

First off, all werewolf titles are 50% off through May 1st, regardless of whether it's gay, het, or non-romance.

Then, there are some fabulous authors that are also on sale this week, including Marie Sexton, KC Kendricks, and my very good friend Caitlyn Willows.

With this kind of sale, there is no way you can't find something fantastic to read this week at Amber Quill!