Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Master Chronicles sale

Today over at Amber Allure, the entire series of the Master Chronicles is on sale. For those who don't know what that is, that's the 10-book (plus prequel and sequel novellas) series I wrote with Pepper under the pseudonym Jamie Craig, about vampire Gideon, his assistant Jesse, and empath Emma.

Today, you can buy any of the e-titles for 50% off! The books are hot as hell and very dark in places (Jesse is a masochist and Gideon's a...well, he's a vampire so he does like his pain and blood), but in the end, they're still love stories as the men first discover each other, and then find Emma, the third that completes them.

The series starts with Master of Obsidian and then goes from there. The complete list in order is:

Master of Obsidian
Mosaic Moon
Seduction in Black and White
Chaos & Communion
A Renaissance in Blood
The Age of Retribution
However Long the Night
The Price of His Redemption

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Branding guilt

There's a lot of advice for authors out there that says, "Create an author brand." That's so readers can know what to expect when they buy one of your books. It's great advice, frankly. But I'll be the first person to admit I don't follow it.

Writing has been my only creative outlet for fifteen years. Prior to that, I was involved in film and theater as my primary source, experiences I loved and cherished and still often miss. Moving to the UK and then having kids changed all that, though, so I started seeking out other means. That's where writing came in. I needed to get out the creative energy in me before I had a meltdown. I loved my babies, but being at home full-time for the first time ever as an adult, without a job and outside adult interactions to engage me, was hard.

From the start, I never really cared about how substantial my audience was. Would it be nice if it was big? Absolutely. But it wasn't what drove me, and it never felt healthy for me to try and seek it out. It was a lesson taught to me in college, when I was acting. Most actors never get consistent work. Rejection is a huge part of the game. To expect big breaks is inviting disaster most of the time, because the reality is a lot harsher than that.

So creating an author brand never seemed as important to me as loving what I do. And frankly, I write the way I read or watch TV. I am not a single genre gal. I'm not even a single mood gal. I love horror as much as I love romantic comedy, and shows like Sons of Anarchy are just as much must watch TV as Modern Family is. I get bored with the same thing over and over, which is why I go from writing light to dark to contemporary to paranormal, and all the orientations in between. It's what keeps me sane and happy.

On the flipside of that, however, is guilt. Because I totally get why author branding is important. I understand readers want to know what they're getting. I do what I can to make it easier for them by putting labels on my stories on my website, but that doesn't really do much to help the readers who never shop anywhere but Amazon. All I can do is hope that the blurbs make it clear what they're buying, and pray that readers will understand my need to do what I do.

If I didn't switch it up, I wouldn't be able to continue at all, and brains leaking out my ears because I don't have anywhere to shuttle creative urges isn't attractive to anyone.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Notes from a Field Trip

I have too many thoughts about last night's Mad Men to be coherent. So I'm going listy with the top 6.

1. Attaboy, Roger. That's the Roger I know and love, the one who seems entirely too laid back, but strikes out at just the right moment. I loved him standing up for Don, for forcing the meeting that wouldn't have happened if he hadn't made Don wait, for lashing out at Cutler (who I hate almost as much as I hate Lou).

2. My love for Stan grows with each episode. This time, it was two tiny gestures that did me in. First, holding his hand out to Peggy to help her stand and go face Lou. Second, trying to save Don's feelings by referencing Lou's forgotten meeting. He has grown so much.

3. Don made long strides in this episode, though it doesn't look like it by acquiescing to such demeaning stipulations. But he deliberately takes the hard choice every single time - he doesn't ignore Megan's career but goes to help her, he doesn't take the offer but goes to Roger, he doesn't sleep with the blonde but instead stays straight in his marriage even if it feels like it's over. I loved that he accepted the stipulations with barely a glance at the paper and a soft-spoken "Okay." Because if there's one thing Don knows, it's how to start over. Whether this one sticks or not, however, remains to be seen.

4. Betty's childishness and bitchiness strike hard when she seems to be acting so differently throughout the whole episode, by being the mom Bobby wants her to be - talking to him about his obsessions, being the daring mom who is willing to try the milk - and then reverting to form when Bobby reminds her all too clearly that her children have an entirely different view on her than she does on herself. And that she doesn't like that version. Forcing Bobby to eat the candy feels like an awkward metaphor for her whole life - even if you don't like what you've traded for, you eat it and smile because that's what you do.

5. Poor Bobby. He seems like such a good kid, and Betty's messing him up. :(

6. Get your head out of your ass, Peggy, and start acting like a grown-up without taking it out on the people around you.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Over at the pax blog

Today is my day over at the Amber Pax blog, where I talk about puns and how What the Heart Thinks originated.

Check it out, and if you leave a comment on it or any of the posts at the pax blog done this past week, you could have a chance to win all five stories!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another excerpt of What the Heart Thinks

The excerpt on the publisher site for What the Heart Thinks is the moment Joe, the DJ, first sees Fess. Today, I'd like to share how Fess sees Joe. This takes place after they've been chatting on the phone for a few weeks, and Joe has finally agreed to meet Fess in public. A breakfast date that started off on the wrong foot.


...He topped six feet by several inches, with legs like tree trunks and hands that would leave no doubt they’d touched you when the time came. His auburn hair was done neat and short, and if it was more Super Cuts than super chic, that just fit with Joe’s no nonsense personality. Fess was rather enamored with the beard Joe so blindly sported, and his hazel eyes were clear and intelligent, unblinking and intense when he decided to fix them on a person.

That didn’t happen enough, as far as Fess was concerned. Too often, Joe would look elsewhere, or duck his gaze, anything but look at Fess directly.

But what Fess couldn’t resist, what he’d never been able to resist ever since the first time he heard Joe on the radio, was that voice. When Joe spoke, thunder rolled in the distance. It was slow and hypnotic, like every word meant something, sinking beneath Fess’s skin to take root deep in his gut and send tendrils of smoke and fire out to every single nerve ending he possessed. He hadn’t heard a word of Joe’s broadcast that first time, too lost in how molten his body became just listening to him. He’d jerked off as soon as Joe went off the air, coming so hard he’d crashed for hours afterward.

That voice was his porn of choice over the next few months, but as he listened, he discovered the man behind it. Meeting him in person hadn’t changed a single thing about how attracted he was to him. If anything, it had enriched his fantasies since he now knew exactly what Joe looked like.

Joe didn’t know any of this, of course. After Fess’s stupid stalker comment, he couldn’t afford coming across as an even bigger groupie freak than he was. That might change down the road, or if Joe continued to be a dumbass about believing Fess would want to go out with him, but for now, Fess was going to keep his mouth shut on that particular detail.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New release - What the Heart Thinks

My new story is out, woo hoo! What the Heart Thinks is a romantic comedy about a radio DJ who doesn't think he's nearly attractive enough to merit the attentions of a gorgeous actor/stripper who thinks he's the best thing since bacon-flavored lube. It came out yesterday as part of the Vive La Difference pax collection at Amber Allure, along with stories by Pepper Espinoza, A.J. Llewellyn & D.J. Manly, Marie Sexton & L.A. Witt, and Sean Michael. Look at that author line-up!

It's a great value this week, too. If you buy all five stories, you get a 35% discount. That's less than $20 for all five stories. You can't beat that.

On a scale of one to ten, DJ Joe Salinas considers himself a four, five on a good day. Actor/part-time stripper Fess Kedley is definitely a nine, however, though Joe’s pretty sure that slides into a ten as soon as the clothes come off. So when the outgoing Fess recognizes a shy Joe at a bachelorette party from his midnight radio show and proceeds to ask him out, Joe turns him down, convinced he’s either crazy or stupid.

The only problem is, Fess takes rejection as reason to keep on trying.

The two become unexpected friends, so when the thought of trying a date comes up again, Joe decides to take a chance. Though he doesn’t understand what someone like Fess would see in someone like him, it’s hard to say “no” when everything else feels so right. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Two more days!

Two more days until my m/m rom com, What the Heart Thinks, comes out, woo hoo!

The blurb and an excerpt from how they meet is up today over at the Amber Pax Collections blog, so head on over to check it out!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Newman

In the past two months, I've developed a new music obsession. It's Yorkshire talent, John Newman. I heard the first fifteen seconds of a song called "Running" and promptly went out and bought the whole album. I rarely do that. The CD got put in the car for the drive to Las Vegas last month, during which time my daughter got obsessed with it.

We've been playing it nonstop ever since.

It's called Tribute, and it's just astounding. There isn't a weak song on it, though some are definite stunners. The London Philharmonic plays on it, and his use of sax and strings as well as the typical "band" instruments gives him a jazzy vibe on top of his soul tone.One of my favorites is "Losing Sleep," just love it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vive la Difference Pax

On Sunday, the Vive la Difference Pax will be released at Amber Allure. I've got a rom com called What the Heart Thinks that's part of it, but there's another reason the pax should interest you.

Pepper Espinoza has a story in it, too.

For those not in the know, Pepper and I wrote together as Jamie Craig for five years, but Pepper took a large part of the last couple years off from writing to concentrate on real life stuff. This will be her first pax story in a few years, so that's definitely reason to celebrate.

On top of that, we're doing a little bit of writing together as well. Nothing long right now, but there will be a Jamie Craig story in the July pax.

But seriously. A Pepper story in less than a week. A western, which she excels at.

Get excited. I sure am.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The return of Mad Men

Who watched Mad Men last night? Were you as excited as I was by its return?

Since I mainlined the first six seasons not too long ago, this will be my first foray into watching it as it airs. I wonder what my end reaction is going to be about the entire season (or first half anyway since it's getting divided in two) with having to wait a week in between episodes instead of drinking it all down in one gulp.

While the symbolism seems knock you over the head heavy once you're looking for it, I'm still so in love with how smart this show is. Everything ties into each other, nothing is left to chance, almost everything has some kind of meaning. The fun is trying to find what it is.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the as low as you can go feeling permeating most of the characters is equivalent to that moment before the climax of the story where it seems like all is lost, right before the big payoff happens. It's that juxtaposition of dragging the viewer as far away from release as possible and then slingshotting them up to the climax. It's called that for a reason, after all, and the best way to make that as effective as possible is to make the difference as marked as you can. I want to believe Don can find a way to be happy, though it certainly won't be with Megan. At some point, Peggy needs that too, because right now, they are both utterly alone. At least in the past, Peggy's had her work to help make up for her sucky personal life, but with Lou as her boss, she doesn't even have that anymore.

But everybody's alone. When Roger gets back after his disastrous brunch, he's got two people in his bed who curl up on their side and don't even touch him. Ken feels like he's on his own (which he most likely was before recruiting Joan's help). Joan does everything she can to survive, just like she's always done, but it's still her against the establishment and expectation. Megan's mostly alone in LA since Don is living bi-coastal. Even Pete's alone, but at least he's happy about it all.

The question becomes...who will figure out how to change enough with the world around them to survive? And how ironic is it that Pete is the first who seems to have done so?

Fave moment: Discovering it was Don's pitch, not Freddy's. It seems obvious in hindsight. The whole speech reeked of Don and the fact that Peggy was so surprised to hear it from him should've been a huge tip-off.

Least fave: Peggy's attitude with Stan when she calls him a hack for not caring. It's not out of character at all for either of them, and I'm glad he just walked out on her rather than engaging a pointless battle, but it still made my Peggy/Stan heart wish for better. Peggy needs to open her eyes and see what a find she has in her friend and stop treating him like crap. He came to her rescue when she couldn't be in the same space with Ted. She relies on him. Now she has to stop acting like Don and appreciate it.

What did you think?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blog hop winners

Thank you to everyone who stopped by for the Fool for Love blog hop! I picked the names for my post's winners during the closing chat yesterday, so in case you weren't there to check it out, here they are:

Pink Cosmo silver clutch: Bethanne Strasser
Fangs bracelet: Diana Merritt
Copy of Enthralled in Silver: JoAnna

Congratulations to everyone! I'm looking forward to the next blop hop. Just Romance Me does the best ones. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Vampires in Love

When I hear the phrase "fool for love," a very specific image comes to mind. This one:

For those who don't recognize them, that's Buffy and Spike from the season 5 episode called, you guessed it, "Fool for Love." It's the episode where viewers finally got some real backstory on Spike, and it wasn't what most of us predicted. The badass vampire was revealed to have come from nerdy roots, ultimately getting turned because he was mocked and rebuffed by the woman he loved. Here, he's on his knees in front of Buffy, a fool for love yet again because he knows his feelings for her will never be returned.

To this day, Spike remains one of my favorite TV characters ever. He's the epitome of everything that breaks my heart in romantic heroes - that badass edge that hides a heart that loves too easily and deeply. He tries to earn a place in Buffy's life over and over again. Sometimes, he fails so spectacularly it just makes you love him more. Because it makes him human, even though he's a vampire.

I've never made it a secret how vampires are my favorite paranormal creatures, so when it came to my latest menage, I knew that was the direction I wanted to take it. My male heroes, Seth and Simon, are thralls to a dangerous female vampire who's enslaved them for decades. They have some of the abilities but not all of the limitations that come with being a vampire, a fate that Seth sealed for Simon when he fell in love with the other man in the fifties. He did it all for love, but now, he wants a better future for Simon. That's where Claire, the granddaughter of the mage who trapped them, comes in. It takes all three of them, and feelings none of them quite expect, to set the men free.

You can read an excerpt at Ellora's Cave. It might even tempt you to buy a copy.

In the meantime, though, as part of the bloghop, I'm doing a little giveaway to three random commenters. Leave a comment on this post and you have a chance to win one of three prizes:

1. A free copy of my e-book, the interracial vampire menage Enthralled in Silver
2. A Jules Smith gunmetal bracelet with a fangs charm:
3. A silver Pink Cosmo heart clutch:

So tell me. What do you think of when you hear the phrase, "fool for love?"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I hate April Fool's

For the record, I hate April Fool's jokes. People are gullible, and conning people is never funny. If someone got hurt by a con, nobody would think it's funny, but the same methodology to make people look or feel stupid is revered as humorous. I think that's hypocritical. And it's not because I may or may not get caught out on a joke. It's got nothing to do with that.

It's about trust. Cons break that level of trust.

The world already does everything it can to take away our faith in each other. I don't see any reason to add to it.