Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Oscar predictions

Oscars are today. This is a big deal in my house. Well, it is to me, anyway. The very first book I had published years ago was about Oscar history. I've been a movie lover for most of my life, and though I know the Oscars are just as much about politics as they are anything else, I still love 'em.

It's been hard for the past decade to see many of the nominees, though. First there was living in the UK, when I often had to wait to see American releases. Then there was having young kids, which meant the only movies I saw had talking animals. But it's changing, thank goodness. And I've actually seen more than half of the Best Picture nominees this year. :)

But half the fun is in predicting them, right? So here's mine.

PICTURE: Argo. It's going to win because everybody got pissed Ben Affleck got skipped over, but honestly, it's the one I liked best of the five I saw. Plus, it combines political commentary with movie-making talk, two things Hollywood loves to recognize.

ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. This one's a lock and has been for months. Everybody else is just along for the ride.

ACTRESS: I'm going to say Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. For a few reasons. One, she's pulling in most of the major awards. Two, it'll be a token win for SLP. Of the other nominees, Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis are there just for the recognition. I'd thought Jessica Chastain would beat Jennifer Lawrence until I saw Zero Dark Thirty, but I was so unimpressed by her performance that I think she'll get swallowed by the Lawrence juggernaut. I haven't had the chance to see Naomi Watts in The Impossible, and though I've heard great things about it, I don't think enough people saw it to give her the win.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: A tough category. All five have won before and have great respect in the industry.  So I'm going to go with who I want to win. Christoph Walz for Django Unchained.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables. Another lock. The only one who stands a chance at beating her is Sally Field, and I just don't think it's going to happen.

DIRECTOR: Without Affleck in the category (he won the Director's Guild Award, which is usually the best indicator of who's going to win the Oscar), it's hard to predict. Lincoln isn't Spielberg's best, while Haneke and Zeitlin aren't known. That leaves David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook and Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Directors don't often win for comedies, so for name recognition and technical prowess, I'll go with Ang Lee for the win.

Of course, everyone knows it's who manages to pick Best Documentary and Best Animated Short that usually ends up winning the Oscar pool. So do these end up really mattering? Only for the obsessed among us.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What I'm reading this weekend

This weekend's reading was an absolute no-brainer.

Prince Richard is cursed. Enslaved to a magic mirror, he must truthfully answer the evil queen when she uses it to call on him. To keep from betraying innocents, Richard wanders the countryside and avoids people.

All her life, Gretchen has been teased for being small. When she hears of a hidden farm populated by little people like her, she sets out to find it--and is welcomed by the mostly male inhabitants. Lars in particular woos her with his gentle kindness and quiet strength.

Danger looms when Gretchen meets a runaway princess and offers her shelter at the Little Farm. Wandering nearby, Richard instantly falls in love with the beautiful princess, and is later compelled to tell the queen that she is not the fairest of them all. Enraged, the queen vows to find them and destroy them.

If either Gretchen or Richard are to have their happy endings, they must team up to break the mirror's spell before the queen kills them all...

This is the second book in the series by Tia Nevitt, the first of which came out a couple years ago. I read the first when it came out, then was tickled pink when it won the Epic Award last year for Best Fantasy. It's not a typical romance, though highly erotic in nature, but I absolutely loved the heroine, and found the entire story original and satisfying. I highly recommend it, especially if you like unconventional love stories.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Over at Amber Pax Collections

Today, I blogged over at Amber Pax Collections, with another long excerpt of my just released steampunk, Iron Eyes.

Check it out!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New release - Iron Eyes

My m/m steampunk is out! It's part of the Steampunk pax collection at Amber Allure, and can be bought alone or with the four other stories at a discounted rate.

For three years, Cap Kaufman has been trying to make amends to his war buddy’s orphaned daughter—building her a safe home, and even finding her the best nanny. Now, he’s kidnapped the man her doctor says is the best bet for fixing her blindness.

When Hector Gabourel wakes up on a boat in the middle of nowhere, he’s confronted by a man determined to get his own way. He has no choice but to play along and wait for a chance to escape. What he doesn’t count on, however, is learning to respect the man who uprooted him from everything he knew, all for the love of a child.

For Hector, it’s a challenge. For Cap, it’s penance. For both of them, it’s a chance for love. All it takes is opening their eyes to see what’s right in front of them...

Other stories in the pax collection are:
Balthazar Starblitz by AJ Llewellyn
Harnessing by DJ Manly
The Tinkered Pinkerton by Helen Louise Caroll
The Whore of New Slum by TA Chase

Go check them out! There's a wide variety of stories there. You never know what you might find!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What I'm reading this weekend

This weekend's reading is an anthology, actually. I love reading these to discover new authors.

"Just because there's snow on the roof, doesn't mean the fire's gone out in the furnace." There's something to be said for maturity and experience, and in all of these relationships, at least one of the lovers is over forty. Whether it's a May/December romance, a second chance at love, or finding a soul mate later in life, these stories prove that it's never too late for love.

Stories Included are:

Nachos on Saturday by J. Leigh Bailey
Queening Out by Mari Donne
Granddad's Cup of Tea by Amy Rae Durreson
The Way to a Fisherman's Heart by Tray Ellis
No Place Like Home by Kim Fielding
Ivory Black, Flecked with White by Laylah Hunter
Loving Again by John Inman
Full Circle by Rhidian Brenig Jones
Straight Shooting by Maggie Lee
Hero Worship by Sam C. Leonhard
Curtain Calls by Pinkie Rae Parker
The Bodyguard's Dilemma by Chris Scully
Picture This by Dottie Stratton & Linda James
Hunting Season by AC Valentine
Waiting for the Light by Layla M. Wier

Friday, February 15, 2013

Aria of the Eclipse

This spring, I'll be a part of another pax at Amber Allure, a music-themed one. My story is all done and in, and...a little off the beaten path.

Here's the blurb:
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. However, his good intentions vanish the moment he’s presented to the Regent. Because there, in a gilded cage, playing music unlike anything he’s ever heard, is the most beautiful alien he could imagine.
For over 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…
It's gay sci-fi erotic romance, and is probably the most romantic thing I've written since Budding Hopes last year. I already know I'm going to revisit this world in future stories, at least three, but none of those three are gay. Two are het, and one is m/m/f menage. I might end up discovering more gay stories when I do those, but at this point, I have no idea. One story at a time. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Another day for love

Yes, it's Valentine's Day, and I know as a romance writer I should have a soft spot for it, but...well, I don't. Because I don't think showering people in love should be restricted to a single day a year.

Life's too short for that.

People should feel special, no matter what the date is. And it's not about the chocolate or the flowers or the gifts.

It's about the connection.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Letting the characters define the story

This Sunday, my steampunk novella, Iron Eyes, comes out at Amber Allure. I'm both excited and nervous about it. Excited, because I really adore these characters, but nervous, because it was my first attempt at steampunk, and at the end of the day, it focuses far more on the characters and their relationship rather than the steampunk world around them.

I did that on purpose. 90% of the steampunk I've read has been mostly forgettable or something I couldn't finish, because I found the world-building too boring to slog through. Not that the worlds themselves are boring, but so much focus is placed on creating them that the story and characters ultimately become lost.

When I set out to write a steampunk, I wanted to turn that around. I wanted to write about seemingly normal people living in a steampunk world, people who take this technology and lifestyle for granted, people who used the technology when it was necessary but weren't ruled by it.

Ultimately, I wanted to write about the romance, not the gear. The gear is just window dressing for me.

So...I'm a little anxious. This story is exactly what I wanted it to be, the romance between a brilliant engineer and a lonely ex-soldier, both of whom have benefited from technology in a steampunk world. For me, it's about them defining the story rather than the technology doing the job.

After all, for me, that's what this particular romance is all about.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The next phase of motherhood

Yesterday, I became the mother of a teenaged girl.

How in the world did that happen so fast?!?

Sometimes, I don't feel old enough to have a thirteen-year-old daughter. I mean, it definitely doesn't feel like my husband and I have been together for sixteen years, but I've got the living proof of that sleeping down the hall. She was very quick to remind me, too, that she'll be starting high school in eighteen months.

I did not need that reminder.

My own mother is currently visiting, helping me out a little as I'm healing from my surgery, getting to spend some time with my kids, and so on. My relationship with my daughter amuses her to no end. She's told me more than once I've got a mini-me on my hands, which...oh my god, I really hope not. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she's smarter and more secure than I ever was so she doesn't make the same stupid mistakes I did.

Just different ones.

It was funny the other day, though, when my daughter and I got to talking about embarrassing mothers. I had said something to her in the car in front of her BFF, and when she protested, I proceeded to inform her that there was absolutely no way I would ever be as bad as my mother had been to me. Mine reveled in embarrassing me as much as she could, so I told my daughter the worst story about it.

It's the story of my prom night, senior year. I was going with a junior named Mike, who I had the hugest crush on. He was a bad boy, this honors student's big weakness, and I do mean bad. When we met during the spring play (he was playing my father, don't even get me started on how warped that all was), he was on probation for breaking into the school and trying to steal something from his history teacher's desk. These were details I didn't share with my mother, of course, but being my mother, she found out anyway.

The night of prom, Mike showed up at my house to pick me up. Mom hustled him in so we could take pictures, and as she's about to take the first one, the camera to her eye, she said, "So, Mike, how's your probation officer?"

She then took the picture without waiting for an answer.

I still have it. In it, Mike looks like someone's just stuck a huge spider down the front of his pants and he's been ordered not to move in case it scares the thing and it bites. Me, I've got the most nervous smile on my face, my eyes huge with shock.

I got us out of there as fast as possible, but when we got to the car, Mike laid into me, furious that I'd told her. I argued back that I hadn't said a word, but he didn't believe me.

Needless to say, prom did not go well.

Anyway, my daughter barely registered much of that story. She doesn't even care that her grandmother embarrassed me enough to ruin prom. No, she got hung up on the exposition of the story, the detail where she discovered her mother used to go out with bad boys.

I think I opened her eyes a little bit with that one, lol.

And I'm hoping it shows her that Mom has been around the block enough so that she can't get away with anything without me finding out. ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Writing Update

I haven't done an update in a little while so it's probably time for that.

I just finished the first draft of my story for the upcoming Music pax at Amber Allure. It's a 35k sci-fi called "Aria of the Eclipse," and it just might be one of the most romantic things I've ever written. I had a few false starts with it. In a last ditch effort to save it, I decided to switch from limited 3rd of one hero, to 1st person of the other, worked. That first chapter came out like water.

And then I made an even riskier choice.

I decided to do it in alternating 1st person. So chapter one is from Dek's POV, chapter two is from Tylen's, and back and forth like that throughout the whole book. I know it's not everybody's cup of tea, but I absolutely love 1st person. I love writing it, I love reading it, I love everything about it. And with this story? It really was the best way to serve Dek and Tylen's romance.

So with the first draft done, I'm going to set it aside for a week, then go back through it. In the interim, I have my galley of "Iron Eyes" to get through. I probably won't start a new project until both of these are done, though I have a couple ideas about what I'm going to try.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My 5 favorite new Valentine's treats

Valentine's Day isn't just about love. Or chocolate. Or...

Okay, I got distracted by the chocolate for a minute. My weekly weigh-in is this morning, so I'm a little hungry at the moment.

Anyway, the ideas inspired by this holiday are pouring into my Google reader. These are my five favorites.

1. No Bake Oreo Truffles. Ohmigod, yum. I have a friend who makes these every year and sends me a box.

2. Rock candy. So pretty! And remarkably easy, especially with this tutorial.

3. EKG cookies. Such an original idea, and very easy. You can decorate just about anything using this as a model.

4. Red velvet blossoms. A red velvet take on a traditional thumbprint. I have a son who is mad for anything red velvet. These are a favorite in my house.

5. Berry chocolate krispie treats. My son's class is getting this one this year.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What I Read

Though I live in the Bay Area, I did not watch the Super Bowl yesterday. We're not a football family, not when I have a British husband who played rugby as a kid. I ended up reading and writing for the most part, which is how I usually spend my Sunday afternoons, frankly. I read a wide variety of stuff, but yesterday, it was m/m time travel.

When Ted Ennis steps out the doors of the Criterion Theatre for a cigarette and finds himself in Victorian London, he begins to doubt his sanity. At first he thinks it's all a film set, and is sure that the strikingly handsome young man leaning against a lamppost must be the leading man...
What starts as a sordid transaction with a beautiful rent boy quickly turns into something much deeper, drawing him back again and again as he gets to know Jem and craves meaningful encounters with him.
But Ted doesn't understand the exact conditions necessary for his trips through time--and for Jem, time may actually be running out. Now Ted has one last shot to get back to Jem and save their relationship, before it's too late...
I didn't stand a chance against this one. Time travel? Check. Theater? Check. I made my choice to buy it before I finished the excerpt.

It's a highly romantic, very sentimental erotic romance. Its novella length does mean that it's a little bit of insta-love, but sometimes, that's what I'm looking for, and this one worked for me. It's told in first person, in Ted's POV, and he really benefits from this. He's a damaged, grieving man, and the vulnerability he presents is well-balanced with the glimpses we get into how he fights against it. I loved Ted to pieces. I did wish that I could get to know Jem better, especially why he fell so quickly for Ted, but I still liked him enough to be invested in their HEA.

For more information, check it out at Carina.

Because I enjoyed this one, I'd like to spread that joy! I'm going to give a copy to a random commenter on this post. I'll pick a winner on Saturday.

And don't forget, comments on this post still qualify for my giveaways for my two January releases!