Friday, August 30, 2013

Why, yes, I am an introvert

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Writing crutches

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

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

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

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

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

I guess I hate being predictable.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today in history

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

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

Go and follow it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ongoing education

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Trying out Mad Men

I caved to peer pressure last night and finally watched the first episode of Mad Men. A lot of people I know have been watching from the start, with more coming in during recent seasons, so I'm aware of certain plot points and character arcs going in. I just had no idea what to expect from the show itself.

It's definitely a slow burn. I can't say for sure which way I'm going to swing on it yet. I always try to give shows 3-4 episodes (unless they're The Fall when there are only five and it's obvious after two I'm not going to enjoy it), so I guess we'll see. Part of me is hoping it does click. There's five seasons for me to watch on Netflix, with another that will probably show up before I'm done (if I get that far).

It's weird seeing Vincent Kartheiser, though. He still creeps me out, even though I know there are those out there who love him.          

Friday, August 23, 2013

Project Runway made me cry

Spoilers ahead for last night's Project Runway...

I cried. I admit it. Justin is an absolutely sweet guy, and he was so obviously upset about the whole thing that I couldn't help but get wrapped up in it with him. Especially since I didn't think he should've been last man standing. Karen should've got the boot because hers was both boring and ill-fitting. At least Justin tried, which shows genuine effort.

I know people are calling manipulation on Tim's save, and it probably is, but I genuinely don't care (though if Jeremy, Bradon, or Dom end up going home before the finale because Tim wasted his save on Justin, ask me that again, lol). I think the workroom needs Justin calming presence to help counter some of the drama, which makes it as valid reason as any. He's never going to be a real contender, but that doesn't mean he doesn't add value to the show with his presence.

As for the actual designs, my least and most faves were...

I hated Alexandria's from start to finish. Hated it. I wanted her in the bottom so bad, and I have no idea how it won. I actually disliked it more than I disliked Justin's and Karen's. Anyone with thighs will tell you dropped crotches suck, and the jacket didn't look like it fit right.

I was in love with Jeremy's calligraphy bias dress. I'm a sucker for script in any format as decoration, and this was just stunning. Even when he's just been safe this season, he's consistently pulling out some of my favorite looks. I'm most definitely his customer, lol.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The opening of my latest WIP

I've been working at this untitled short story all week, and I thought I'd share the opening today. It's an m/m erotic contemporary for a train-themed collection, and I'm shocked at how quickly it's going, considering how little actual writing time I've been able to commit to it.

And I really need to figure out what to call it.


I don't sleep.

Okay, that's obviously a lie. Everybody sleeps, or else we'd be a planet full of psychopaths. I can already hear Dr.Willoughby scolding me. "Stop exaggerating, Sean. You're not doing yourself any favors."

She was a bitch, but she was right most of the time so I guess I should probably listen to her when she decides to poke her nose into my psyche these days.

I don't sleep much.

That's more accurate.

I go two, maybe three hours tops. That's my last parting gift from Dr. Willoughby and the staff at Bronx Lebanon. It's not their fault. Fuck, they were great, everything considered. It's just that after spending so many weeks sedated and stuck in bed when that hospital was the last place I wanted to be, I think my body has revolted. It's like it thinks that if I go to sleep again, really asleep, I'll end up back there, and that's the last thing I want. I've worked too hard to move past it all.

So after work, I get on the train and I just ride until my head feels like a cannonball and my brain is tripping over itself trying to remember where my stop is. That usually happens around four, five in the morning. I don't leave Manhattan. I'm not that fucking nuts. Plus, it helps that I look the way I do. People don't mess with a guy who's six-two and packing a hard two-twenty. They take one look at the shaved head and tatts and assume the worst.

If Dr. Willoughby saw me now, she'd probably have a field day telling me how I'm trying to live down to people's expectations, but that's not it. It's about putting on armor. It makes me feel stronger if I think people see me that way. Trust me, I need that boost. When you get broken bad enough, and then fix yourself up again, you never want to end up in that place again.

The thing about the train is how easy it makes it for me to shut off. It's quiet. Sometimes, there'll be pockets of people coming from a late night party or show, but I've gotten better about avoiding the parts of the city where that could happen. I like that I can sit there, and the rhythms of the train, the rocking, the hum, the hollow roars, all of it works to erase the effects of my day. Nothing to distract me. Nothing to do. Just be.

That's why I wasn't prepared the first time it happened.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chance to win entire AQP pax collection

This week over at the Amber Pax Collections blog, authors are talking about their stories in the most recent m/m pax release, Dream Man. I don't have a story in this collection, but the theme is fun, isn't it?

PLUS, if you leave a comment on any of the posts this week, you get a chance to win all five stories. Comment on all of them, and that's more chances to win. Go check 'em out!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Movie night

More movies last night! Mondays and Tuesday evenings are long and quiet for me, and since I don't write well after dinnertime, I often spend those nights catching up on TV, watching new shows, or watching movies. Last night was movies.

First off was the 1984 film "Another Country."

It's one of those I've always meant to watch and just never did, about young British school boys in the 30s and the atmosphere of conformity and oppression that pervades. Rupert Everett plays a gay boy in love with Cary Elwes, and Colin Firth was a vocal communist amongst a group of young men struggling with the roles they're locked into.

They're all so young in it! Cary has that babyface prettiness he managed to hone a tad for Princess Bride. Colin was the most eerie one to watch, though. He's so very young, and yet, the voice that comes out of that young face still manages to sound like an over-educated fifty-year-old man. It was very disconcerting, lol. A good movie, though. A lot to say about the nature of what drives a man to make the choices he does, with some beautiful cinematography and compelling performances to boot.

Then Netflix decided to suggest "Seeking Justice" to me, a 2010 Nicolas Cage thriller.

I wasn't going to say yes. Cage has too strong a propensity to do awful little movies lately. But then I saw that Guy Pearce played the bad guy and the reviews online didn't completely suck so I decided to give it a go.

Cage is a high school English teacher in New Orleans, who, when his wife (January Jones) gets raped, is approached by Pearce, the leader of a vigilante group that metes out their own justice. All they ask in return is that somewhere down the line the favor is repaid. Cage agrees because he's out of his head with anger and worry about his wife, and the rapist is killed. Six months later, he gets called upon to kill someone himself. His conscience sets off a whole string of events which are over the top, yes, but managed to be twisty enough to keep me distracted from how quiet my house gets.

It's not great filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination, and the performances feel phoned-in much of the time. The script gets plain silly at times as well. But I didn't finish it feeling like I'd just completely wasted two hours of my life, and I got genuinely surprised by a twist or two, in spite of its lack of subtlety otherwise.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A return to favorites

I've had company this weekend, and one of the things we always end up doing is rewatching favorite movies. We tend to have very similar tastes most of the time, so it's a trip to sit and giggle or sigh over our favorite parts without being self-conscious about it.

Our choices ended up being The Avengers and Crazy Stupid Love.

The Avengers happened because it wasn't just us, it was us and my husband and my kids, so something everybody was going to enjoy. I'm not a comics girl, but I am a Joss Whedon fan and the movie has always been a pleasure for me, even if it's supposedly just another superhero film. The characters aren't black and white, it never forgets the humor, and the performances are fun. A win, all around.

Then came Crazy Stupid Love. I saw it when I came out in the theater with my friend who visited this weekend, and she hasn't seen it since, so the choice was easy. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love this movie. The performances by Carell and Gosling are subtle and so nuanced, they manage to anchor the film in reality without losing the charm or humor in the script. Each relationship has something true to say about love, whether it works or not. And that moment where Kevin Bacon shows up at the house and Ryan Gosling hears who he is? Still one of my absolute favorites ever. Because look at it. Regardless of the fact that Cal has just told him off and said some really nasty things about him, Jacob leaps to attack for him because of their friendship anyway. It's that, "Okay, I'm going to watch your back no matter what" attitude that makes him such a wonderful character for me.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I finished that vampire motel story yesterday, though now I'm considering changing the title on it. I'm torn, so I'm going to let it stew over the weekend, give it another readthrough and edit next week, and decide then. I think right now I'm too close to it.

Today is a reorganization kind of day. I usually allow myself one of these after I finish a project as it helps me regroup and focus for the next one. I especially don't want to start anything today because I have company coming this weekend and I really don't plan on being on the computer for long. There's nothing worse than losing momentum on a brand new story, so I'll make it easier on myself and just start it on Monday.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cover reveal - The Hearts of Yesteryear

I got new cover art!

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.
Over fifty years ago, he 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'm so pleased with it. The Hearts of Yesteryear is my sweet, senior citizen m/m romance, and the cover is perfect for it. It comes out on September 22 from Amber Allure.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Outlander obsession

With each step the Outlander series takes toward its premiere, I get more excited.

I was warily enthusiastic when they cast Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Diana Gabaldon gave her full endorsement to the choice.

But then he tweeted this in July, and he completely won me over.

I wasn't following Gabaldon on Twitter prior to a couple weeks ago (because that felt like just a step too far into obsession, lol), but since succumbing, I've been witness to some lovely interactions between her and Sam about the project. Plus, she always has information about what's going on with the show. That might not last if the show takes off, but in these early stages, it's absolute gold.

Which sounds like an obsessed fangirl, I know, but...Outlander! Jamie Fraser! How can I not be obsessed?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The state of my writing world

I haven't been completely slacking off in the time away I've been away from my blog. My productivity might not be anywhere near where it was when Pepper and I were working together, but I still try to get a little bit done every day.

So what's in the pipeline...

On September 22, The Hearts of Yesteryear, my novella about an aging actor who returns to the home of his youth for the relaunch of the movie palace that changed his life, comes out at Amber Allure. No cover yet, though I'm hoping to see that soon.

I'm in the throes of finishing up a vampire m/m novella called Threshold. It's about a vampire who crashes at a motel for the day after barely surviving an attack and the ex-Marine who finds him and refuses to let him die.

Once that's done (which should be by the end of the week), I have a short story to finish that's due by the end of the month. That one doesn't have a title yet. I had a longer idea I was going to do for that particular collection (stories set on trains), but I don't have time to do it justice.

And finally, I wrote a het paranormal short story called One More Bloom for a charity anthology created by Kallysten. The anthology is called Shades of Pink and will benefit breast cancer research. That comes out in October, and I will definitely be sharing more details about that as the date gets closer.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Apparently summer does mean I take a break...

Ha, apparently I was wrong with my last post from almost two months ago. Summer does mean I take a break, lol.

I didn't mean to. It was just incredibly busy with lots of traveling and time sucks that had absolutely nothing to do with writing. My daughter made the all-star team for softball in her league, so we had those playoffs (they made it all the way to the northern California finals!). Both of my kids were involved with summer programs--my daughter spent 3 weeks at UCSC studying engineering while my son went to camp for a week--and then I got to go to Las Vegas for my birthday in July. Toss in the fact that my kids started back to school at the end of July, and, well, you get the idea.

With them out of the house during the day again, however, I'm getting back on track.

How did it get to be August already?