Thursday, July 31, 2014

Escaping Those Sizzling Summer Nights

Calling my summer "sizzling" is pretty spot on for how it's going, and not in the fun, sexy way! See, I live in California, and we've had a pretty hot one so far. We're looking at 100+F over the weekend, and August has only just begun. As a girl born and bred in the midwest where a year really was composed of four seasons, it's taken me some getting used to. Sometimes, I think I'm still adjusting to it, and I've been here for a decade now.

So what do I do to escape the heat? It probably sounds counterproductive, but I always turn to winter stories. I may not want to hear about snowstorms and freezing temperatures in the dead of January, but when I turn into a sweat bomb as soon as I step outside my air conditioned house, those kinds of things sound heavenly.

That's why I jumped at the chance to write a story for a collection coming out August 17 at Amber Allure that's winter-themed. It's a story about healing and second chances, and I'm absolutely in love with the cover.

That's Connor, my main character. Just looking at that wintry landscape makes the heat we're currently enduring much more bearable.

Curious about what the story is exactly about?

Life hasn’t turned out like Connor McClure hoped. His relationship is over, he lost his friends in the break-up, and nothing makes him happy anymore. All he wants is to hide from the world, but the only place available to him is his parents’ home in the rural Michigan community he abandoned thirteen years ago. Since they’re in Florida for the winter, he’ll have the whole house to himself.

Except he doesn’t. In their absence, the McClures asked a young neighbor to look after the property. Jerry is young, energetic, and oh yeah, gay. From everything he’s learned about Connor, he might be harboring a little crush, but Connor is in no place for dating. Right now, he needs a friend, someone to help him remember that second chances are always possible…

So tell me. Has your summer been a scorcher? How are you escaping the heat? 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wranglers special

Today over at Amber Quill, the Wranglers series is on a special one day sale!

All four novellas are an extra 25% off, making a 50% off total. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blog Hop this weekend!

This weekend, I'll be taking part in the Sizzling Summer Nights blog hop, along with a whole host of other authors. Tons of prizes to be given away, including a 16GB Kindle Fire!

Don't forget to stop by!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tons of Outlander goodness

I don't know about you, but I was hungry for the snippets that came out of ComicCon about Outlander. My sister keeps messaging me, sharing how excited she is about the show's premiere, which only makes me more excited. But how can I not be? The more I see of Sam Heughan, the more he seems like Jamie to me. Look at him!

So I was excited to see that they put the panel up on YouTube, too. I'm devouring every little tidbit of this show I can!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Today's Words of Wisdom

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poetry inspiration

I'll admit, I turn to poetry for inspiration when I find myself stuck on titles. Well, my favorite poets, anyway. Audre Lorde gave me Colliding in Free Fall, for instance.

So when Pepper and I were having problems titling our recent pax story, I turned to another favorite. Pablo Neruda.

The poem is Sonnet XVII, and it's one of those love poems that just make me ache. Neruda was such a wordsmith. The phrasing he comes up with always makes me wish I could be half as good, taking my breath away more often than not. If you haven't read Neruda, I highly recommend him.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Over at the pax blog

Today over at the Pax blog, Pepper and I talk about our experiences with fan conventions and how that ties in with our most recent release at Amber Allure.

Stop by and talk about your fan experiences, and have a chance to win all five stories in the pax!

Monday, July 21, 2014

New release - Between the Shadow and the Soul

It's out!

The new story Pepper and I wrote for the Risky Business pax at Amber Allure came out yesterday. You can buy it singly, or purchase the entire collection of five stories, with authors D.J. Manly, A.J. Llewellyn, K-lee Klein, and Sean Michael.

We'll be blogging about it tomorrow over at the pax blog, but if you can't wait to read about it, head over to the publisher's site and check out the excerpt!

Friday, July 18, 2014

NPR Headlines

Two articles showed up in my NPR feed that I long to share.

First, there's the piece on how a beauty contestant has decided to wear her insulin pump on full view during the bathing suit competition. Yes, she's in a pageant, and yes, pageants aren't exactly forward-thinking, but put those aside to consider what it's actually saying. This is about acceptance for everything that she is. Having the courage to not hide what is a very real part of her life. This is to be applauded, regardless of the venue where her pump is on display.

Then, there was the Fresh Air interview about the book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. As soon as I did, I ordered the book. The information it contains looks incredibly valuable, regardless of whether you're a part of the trans community or not. Understanding what others go through is a big part of the battle in making sure they get the acceptance from society they deserve. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today's Words of Wisdom

The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.

~ Ananda Coomaraswamy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cover Reveal - Flesh and Kisses

Waking up to new cover art is always exciting!

This is for my story in the Silver Foxes pax that comes out in September at Amber Allure. It's about two men who reconnect thirty years after they graduate from high school. More details to come later!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jamie Craig excerpt at Amber Pax blog

Today, over at the Amber Pax blog, there's an excerpt for the upcoming Jamie Craig release, Between the Shadow and the Soul. The story comes out this Sunday as part of the Risky Business pax, stories all about the edge of danger, and it's the first story Pepper and I have collaborated on in over two years.

Check it out!

Monday, July 14, 2014


On Friday night, my husband and I went to see Snowpiercer. My choice because he didn't mind. We had very different reactions to it.

For those who haven't heard of it, don't be surprised. When it came out two weeks ago, it only released on eight screens. It's expanded slightly in the time since, and somehow ended up in our local theater. It's a sci-fi set in the future where man has attempted to fix global warming and instead frozen the world, killing off most of the population. The few survivors exist on a perpetually moving train that circles the world. Chris Evans plays a man who's lived half his life on the train in the tail end, who is trying to plan a revolution to take over the train. The cast includes Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, and John Hurt. I liked it. My husband really didn't.

His issue related mostly to the continuity errors and absurdity of the situation. His scientific brain thought it was too over the top and couldn't get past it to get immersed in the world-building or characters. We spent almost an hour talking about it afterward, which actually hasn't happened with a movie for a long time. Honestly, I take that as a good thing, because it started a dialogue which I really can't say about a lot of movies.

The film is slow-paced at first, establishing the world and circumstances in which they live. The internal design is excellent and immersive. You get sucked into the cramped world of the train right away, gritty, claustrophobic, and desperate. Soon enough, however, the revolution begins, led by a surprisingly strong Chris Evans with Jamie Bell as the young Edgar who adores him at his side. The action sequences are well-choreographed and utterly brutal, but as each gate opens to reveal the next train, the sense of "What the hell is going to happen next?" gets stronger. This was the absurd my husband couldn't get past, and yet for me, it lent an air of unpredictability that helped keep me engaged when my logical brain caught continuity errors.

Performances are memorable, to say the least. Tilda Swinton plays the liaison Mason who moves between the cattle and first classes. She is bizarre and over the top, but Swinton keeps her palatable when I think a lesser actress would have us gritting our teeth in anticipation of her getting off screen faster. Bell is appropriately earnest, Hurt brings gravitas, Spencer is the earthy maternal figure to give a face of humanity to the fight, but oddly enough, it's Chris Evans who anchors it all together. His performance, while not perfect (his big speech near the end had me unfortunately giggling throughout because he just couldn't sell the truly awful dialogue to me), is realistic and sympathetic, without being simple. He is as flawed and unpredictable as the train upon which they live, and it's because of him that I was willing to go along with the story to the places it went.

The movie doesn't want to be pigeon-holed into a single category. It's sci-fi dystopia, but also political parable, and the ending totally plays into that. I won't spoil it, but it was another major talking point with us. 

Do I recommend it? Yes, for not being your completely Hollywood sci-fi dystopian movie. It's visually stunning for the most part and will get you thinking. Plus, Chris Evans. And I say that as someone who has never been overly impressed with him before. As an extra, there are a TON of film and literary references in the movie. For people who like finding that kind of thing, it's a smorgasbord.

I don't think it's the best film of the year as so many reviewers are espousing, but definitely worth it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dominique Christina - "The Period Poem"

I posted this link on Twitter yesterday, but I love it so much, I'm posting it on the blog today, too, to boost the signal on it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Another snippet from Placeless

I'm so excited about the direction the next Bay Wolves story is taking that I'm sharing another snippet. This is when the narrator, Keaton, first runs into Scotty.

* * *

The nearest theater was the AMC on Van Ness, an easy jog in my current state. I loved the fact that it was a converted building designed to fit into the architecture of the neighborhood instead of screaming modern movieplex. The individual theaters weren’t large, and you had to take an escalator to get up to the top floor which was a pain in the ass if you were running late, but during the day, it wasn’t busy, so I could sit in quiet and enjoy whatever I wanted.

Needless to say, I went a lot. I’d always loved the escapism of Hollywood, imagining myself up on the big screen as I went to audition after audition. Now, I viewed it all with a sense of sad nostalgia, because the odds of me ever acting again were pretty much nil.

As I paid for my ticket, a guy got into line behind me. He was shorter than me, probably five-eight at best, with windblown black hair and dark eyes partially obscured by heavy-framed hipster glasses. The clothes were pure hipster, too, his jacket hanging open to reveal a flat stomach and slim hips. When our gazes met, he smiled, and for a split second, I got distracted by how damn pretty it made him. He might be older than me by five or six years, but before I’d been changed, I would’ve hit on him at a bar in a heartbeat.

The corner of my mouth lifted before I turned back to the cashier. A second later, a wave of arousal hit my senses.

My breath caught at how intense it was. Being able to smell other people’s desires had overwhelmed me at first, especially when I got rented out during my captivity. I didn’t want to know how badly those men and women wanted me, especially when I was shifted. Rather than make me feel desirable, it reminded me I was a creature to them, not a man. I’d learned how to tamp down my disgust, both with them and myself. It made living with it easier. A lot easier.

Since I’d been freed, I was too much of a loner to find myself around people who’d find me attractive. Corey didn’t, but then Corey was straight as far as I could tell. Nobody in group was interested in me in that way, either. That was the sum total of my human encounters for the most part.

The man behind me thought I was hot. Very hot. And knowing that might’ve been the first thing to make me feel human in a very long time.

My gait was looser as I strolled inside and headed for the concession stand. I ordered popcorn with extra butter and a large soda, during which time my admirer from the ticket booth showed up to buy his own movie snacks. The smell of him was stronger than the food, and my dick began to harden against my thigh.

That was a first. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been aroused of my own volition.

I stepped aside as I waited for my order, angling so I could look at him more naturally. He smiled first, which made it easier to break through my shell and smile back. It wasn’t much, probably obscenely shy compared to how confident I used to be, but considering how crappy this day had been already, I shocked myself by being able to smile at all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Opening doors

I spent a lot of last week arguing with people about the Hobby Lobby ruling. In all honesty, I haven't been this angry about a political ruling since Prop 8 in 2008 when I sat up until 5:30 a.m. watching the numbers stay too close to predict, and then went ballistic that misinformation had so thoroughly been disseminated. I understand the issue of religious freedom, but the longer reaching implications of what this ruling meant were far more dangerous. Giving Hobby Lobby the freedom to ignore a law it doesn't like opened a door that I am 100% convinced will be exploited for years to come. Yet, a lot of people I know didn't see that.

The newest repercussions hit the news this morning. A number of LGBT-supportive agencies have dropped their support of ENDA. Previously, they'd supported the religious exemptions it proposed, but in the light of the Hobby Lobby ruling, they've finally seen just how that will be playing into the religious right's agenda.

Frankly, it's terrifying, and I simply can't comprehend how any reasonable person can see the ruling as a good thing. How can they not see that their behavior is analogous to how people found reasons to discriminate against people of race in the past? Or women? Rights are not arbitrary. They argue that it's their right to believe what they want. On this, I agree with them. What isn't their right is to inflict harm on others because of those beliefs.

The one aspect of this that saddens me the most is how it is driving an even greater wedge between the secular and non-secular portions of our country. I know plenty of Christians who are appalled at Hobby Lobby's hubris at pushing the law this far, but their protests are overshadowed by those who monopolize media time. It's those people who many secular citizens witness, which only exacerbates any negativity they might feel toward those holding religious beliefs. How are we supposed to move beyond this when there is such a schism? I have to hope that eventually the Supreme Court will come to its senses and fix this with later cases, but in the meantime, I will do all I can by voting and not supporting companies like Hobby Lobby that insist on abusing their religious freedom to discriminate.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Today's Words of Wisdom

Monday, July 7, 2014

My one week of freedom

This is the one week of the summer where both of my children are away at their vacation programs. My 14 y/o daughter is off at UC-Santa Cruz doing a three week course on astronomy, while my 12 y/o son left yesterday for his camp, a week-long program that focuses on science and humanist values. No party for me, though. I have a ton of work to do, and I got called for jury duty on Thursday. Fingers crossed I don't actually have to go in, because I could really use the extra alone time to write.

We got home from dropping our son off yesterday, and the first thing my husband said was, "Welcome to your future."

I never thought I'd be one of those who'd suffer terribly from empty nest syndrome, but I'll admit it, I miss them and worry constantly. I've got at least six more years before it happens for real. I have a feeling those years are just going to fly by.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Boys of the Zodiac sale

Today at Amber Allure, all the Boys of the Zodiac titles are 50% off!

This series is 12 novels written by me, Pepper, and both of us as Jamie Craig, four titles apiece. Eight of them are standalones:

The remaining four are pairs of sequels:

There's a wide variety of genres, from contemporary to fantasy to paranormal. And at $3.50 a pop, how can you resist?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Today's Words of Wisdom

A quote today from one of my two favorite poets, Audre Lorde.