Monthly Archives: June 2013

New Releases by Authors I Know, and One Great Review

So, I realized today that I had forgotten to post a few new releases that just came out in the past week and a half. (Yeah, maybe a week and a half isn’t shiny new, but it’s still pretty spiffy.) So, here they are:

America’s Darlings by Gail Bridges
americasdarlings_9781419945410_msr

Leah Collins is a sexual gymnast, a brilliant athlete poised to compete in the Mexico City Olympic Games of 2112. She takes pride in her advanced skills in the sexual arts, but performing Courtesan’s Treat and Raging Volcano in front of thousands of cheering fans is no easy task, especially when sexual malfunctions threaten.

At her side, a pillar of strength and compassion, is her best friend, Benson White. He is the one who scrapes her from the ground when her self-destructive tendencies surface. Benson is a talented sexual gymnast in his own right, the other half of America’s Darlings.

They hope for a gold medal. What neither of them expects is to fall in love.

Inside Scoop: This book contains a mixed-gender ménage, girl-on-girl, references to male/male sex, group sex, voyeurism, exhibitionism and everything else you’d expect from a society where sex is a game.

An Exotika® futuristic erotica story from Ellora’s Cave

Click here to go to the book’s page and buy.

Angel’s Redemption by Azalea Mooneangelsredemption_3d_500
Twenty-four-year-old Blaine Schneider is seasoned to hardship. Since the age of eight, he’s experienced nothing but a swarm of bad luck: from the funny electrical fire in shop class to failing grades and relationships gone sour. He believes he’ll never get past it; only his band, ‘Til Dark, and their dream, keeps him going through it all.

Shortly after he mysteriously inherits a beautifully carved angel statue, Blaine also finds an apartment big enough to display the lifelike sculpture, and he thinks his luck has finally taken a turn for the better. But when he discovers the spell inscribed on the statue’s base, he frees Lynsael from his stone prison, a handsome fallen angel who claims to be Blaine’s former guardian angel, and then his luck really improves.

But while Blaine is falling hard for the angel’s blue eyes and lively personality, in the shadows, dark forces are working to keep Blaine and Lynsael apart. It will take more than luck for the pair to come through unscathed—it’ll take a miracle.

Click here to go to the book’s page and buy.

And, a fantastic review of BD Heywood’s Eternal Samurai, at Rainbow Book Reviews. BD is a member of my critique group on Yahoo.

Windows 8 is still kicking my butt, but I’m getting used to it. Edits are almost ready to go back to the editor and I got no words written today, lol. I did go see Monsters University, which was cute, but couldn’t hold a candle to the first one. Next up is, I believe, The Lone Ranger, which I expect will be Jack Sparrow on a horse with feathers in his hair. Okay, Jack Sparrow, then.

Good thing I like him.

It’s a lot like baseball…

Writing, that is. Long periods of sitting around waiting for something to happen, punctuated by short periods of intense “oh, my God, I must get this done”. And, in the meantime, keeping up with the daily grind of getting words down on new work.

I’m still trying to finish the Christmas story I started with the idea of sending it in for Dreamspinner’s Advent Calendar, but the world keeps shouldering its way into my writing time. It’s almost done, probably no more than five hundred words away, but, getting in the Christmas spirit in June is an interesting exercise in self-hypnosis. My husband gave me some funny looks this morning when he looked over my playlist–Straight No Chaser’s Christmas album, Jim Reeves, A Very Special Christmas. He didn’t say much, but he didn’t need to.

He thinks I’m nuts. (He’s right.) Once I get this finished, I need to point my subconscious at the genderfluid angel story and see what I can kick loose. Hoeing weeds in hub’s market garden today shook one idea free. I probably need a few words down before I can tease any more threads loose.

Working on the bisexual rock star story and playing with a new technique, which may be a bit beyond my capabilities at the moment. I’ve got two characters, from very different backgrounds, who have very different vocabulary sets as a result. How much of that vocabulary to allow bleed into the narrative for each POV is a more delicate balancing act than I had anticipated. It’ll be totally cool if I can pull it off, though.

And into the middle of all that, edits for Bite Me Tender dropped into my mailbox, with a requested return of Monday morning. Eek! Add into it, my editor is evil plotbunny fodder and conversations with her inevitably result in me hiding in the corner in the ‘nuclear explosion’ position, hoping the bunnies get bored and go away.

It never works.

Wishing everyone a great weekend and lots of words, both written and read. And sunshine.

Tuesday Tickle, an Apology and an Update

rockstar sunburstSorry for the blackout this weekend. I woke up Saturday morning, turned on the computer and…nothing. The fan started, lights came on, but the screen was dead. Of course, the technicians don’t work on weekends, so it was yesterday before I got confirmation that the motherboard was fried, and today before I could get my data transferred over. To say I panicked is an understatement. I was able to do some work this weekend, but no writing, because the desktop computer is so dilapidated it can barely handle having a browser with two tabs open. But I’ve got a nice new little Toshiba now and things should start rolling along. Windows 8 is weird, though.

The update is that the promo forms and the cover art forms for Bite Me Tender have gone back to LI, so that ball is rolling now. I have a tentative release date (much sooner than I expected!) but I don’t know yet if I’m allowed to reveal it. Trust me, all the world will hear when I get the nod to go live with that. Oh, and still no word when Sign of Spring if coming out. I’m suffering from pre-release author paranoia and worrying that they lost it and don’t realize.

And, for the Tickle, I thought I’d throw out a the very beginning of the rockstar romance, since I’m picking away at that one, too. There’s a call in the autumn that this story might suit very well, so I hauled it out, brushed the boys off (Phane enjoyed that much more than John, but that’s not my problem, 🙂 ) and tidied up the first couple of chapters.

So, here we are, our first sight of John, my lovingly uptight little med student and all around good boy who’d like to be just a little bad.

Izzy pulled another pair of jeans off the rack as John was talking to the clerk working the fitting rooms.

“Try these, too,” she told him, piling them on top of the pairs draped over his arm.

John fished the tag out of the pocket and whistled at the price. “I don’t think so, Izzy. Starving student, remember?”

She tched at him, pulled one long brown curl out to its full length, then let it snap back into its usual corkscrew. “Two more years, you’ll either be a really successful pediatric resident, or you’ll be opening your own practice. I think you can afford a pair of jeans.”

John tried to give the pants to her to put back, but she pushed them into his arms again.

“Izzy, they cost an entire evening’s tips! No way I’m spending that much on a pair of jeans.”

She raised her eyebrows at him. “I didn’t realize rockstars and movie tycoons were such bad tippers. And the jeans aren’t that expensive—maybe an hour’s worth of tips.”

He laughed. “Izzy, the jeans are too darn expensive.”

“How are you going to snag your Hottie-without-a-Name if you don’t put yourself out there? For a gay guy, you really are obtuse.”

“He has a name, I’m just not telling you what it is.”

Izzy pushed him toward the fitting rooms. “Go try them on. Trust me. Auntie Izzy will make sure you get laid.”

John laughed, half amusement and half embarrassed shock. “I’m not looking to get laid, Izzy. I just think he’s—nice.”

“Yeah, and vascular disease gives everyone a boner during study group. John, it’s time you did something about this or you’re going to end up drifting off during an exam and passing in some eyebrow raising answers.”

Don’t worry, Izzy comes back through the story. She’s kinda fun, isn’t she?

Late Night Art

Because, holy crap! If that’s not a plot bunny, I don’t know what is.

Don’t I have lovely bunnies? Sigh.

A funny thing happened…

I had a plot bunny. Oh, it’s not a new bunny. In fact, this bunny is pretty near a year old now. There’s been a few words already allocated to it, in fact. So, why am I talking about my geriatric bunny?

Well, Riptide just announced an open call for October. Now, I know you’ve got to be thinking, “Didn’t she already send something there?” And, yes, you’re right, I did. But, what if that story isn’t right for them? So, as I was wandering around the website, I stumbled across the bio for the submissions editor, Sarah Frantz. And this bunny started waving its grizzled, ancient paw and squeaking, “Pick me, pick me!” Because, you know, it’s something she may like. It won’t push all her buttons (and, I have to tell you, the plot bunny inspired by that list currently resides in an electrified cage, with razor wire and guard dogs to keep it in, ’cause no. Just no. Not until I clear the decks a little). But it will hit a few. Well, one, for sure.

So I’m still working on the Christmas stories, but I spent this morning going over the first three chapters of ancient bunny and, you know what? It’s not half bad. Well, I think it’s not bad. We’ll see what the crit group and the beta readers think about it.

Gonna be a fun old summer. Wonder how the laptop will handle days at the beach?

Oh, and Jena Wade’s story Strip, Please, is up at Goodreads. And Kimber Vale’s story Sticking It is available for download. Happy Friday reading!

Tuesday Tickle: The Boyler Room

aquatictoy2 (Image taken from thegraphicsfairy.com)
 
 
A little steampunk for your day.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Gideon Lynch brought his zeppelin in to the mooring station indicated by the flagman’s spastic posturing on the walkway below him. Magdalene, as a former Union Air Force corvette, was small, perfect for fast take-offs and sudden stops and easy to fit into tight spaces. All of which the flagman must have cottoned onto, because he was sending Gideon toward the tiniest slip he’d ever seen outside of a smuggler’s hideout. It was going to be a squeeze, even for Maggie.

“Run out the grapples, Cap’n?”

“Pete, there’s only the two of us.”

“Still makes you the Captain.”

Gideon laughed. “All right, First Mate Bower, run out the grapples. Asa’ll be waiting for us.” He hadn’t seen his brother in near six months, not since the day he’d come home from a shipping run and found the family in an uproar over Asa’s illicit association with the physician’s assistant.

His attempts to defend Asa hadn’t helped set matters aright and, in the end, Asa’d high-tailed it west. To make his fortune in the gold fields, he said, though Gideon thought it was more likely he wanted to avoid the constant lectures and attempts at supervising his every move. Finding himself now in the spotlight of the family’s ire, Gideon’d followed his brother’s lead. He’d taken Maggie and moved south, drifting gradually around the country like an airship without a rudder, until a telegraph from Asa sent him to San Francisco at Maggie’s best pace.

This will be a fun story to write, once I clear a few other things off the decks. Furface is staggering along–so typical of this point in the story, when creativity has to take a back seat to logic and accuracy. And there are a couple of Christmas stories hanging around, jingling in my ears.

On setting boundaries: My book is my baby!

First off, a quick Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. I took my brother out for dinner today for his Father’s Day, which is why this post is so darn late. We got talking, we got walking, we got drinking (but just a little…). I do have to admit, we walked so far, and I was wearing such totally inappropriate footwear, that I will be doing a lot of sitting down and/or hobbling until the blisters heal.

Anyway, we got talking about a lot of artistic type things, because we both work in artistic areas. He works in story and game design. And one of the topics that came up was about boundaries. And kids, because we both have kids at those scary transition points–his going to school for the first time, mine moving on to junior high. Eek!

So, bear with me, because this is a little bit about consolidating it for myself as well, since I tend to have problems with boundaries. And a lot of this is probably repetetive, but it’s good for me to put it in a framework. Think of how much good you’re doing me. 🙂

Boundaries, for an artist, exist in all sorts of ways. And not necessarily in the ways that we think of them.

First of all, you need boundaries between your writing time and the rest of your life. The obvious meaning of that is that you need to keep your regular life from taking over your writing time. Which means you have to prioritize tasks, some of which might not get done if they butt up against your writing time. It means making sure that people understand that, when you’re writing, or researching, or working on your author’s blog, or reading other authors’ blogs, you are working. This is like a job. For that period of time, people need to only contact you for emergencies, just as they would if you worked at the corner store or the local Department of Transportaion. This counts even if you aren’t getting paid yet. Why? Because they wouldn’t bother you constantly if you were studying in your spare time to become an accountant, right? Even if you’re not making money at it yet and you don’t know if you ever will. I mean, you can study to be an accountant, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll ever make a living at it. Still, you’re putting in your time, improving your craft, and banking that this investment of time will have a payoff. And at least it doesn’t cost anything except a few dollars on the electric bill, right? Darn sight cheaper than distance ed.

You also need to keep your writing life from taking over your regular life. Which means you have to leave time for family, for earning a living and for not writing. Yeah, I said it. Not writing. Why? Because, as lovely and fun and exciting as writing is, no one ever said it wasn’t work–especially if you’re doing it right. If all you ever do is work to make money, work to look after family and work to make art, you’re going to drain your well dry. An odd parallel is when you have a newborn child. The nurses themselves will tell you, once the child is six weeks old, to take an afternoon to do things that are just about you and have someone else look after the baby. Why? Because loss of freedom creates resentment. What a horrible thought, to come to resent your child, whether of your body or of your mind, simply because you could not set boundaries on the demands it makes of you. Go, have fun, recharge. It’s good for the baby, too. A happy parent makes for a rich, vibrant baby. Of both kinds.

The other thing we talked about was craft. Crafting your story, and crafting yourself as an author. Hang on, it’ll make sense in a minute.

Setting boundaries with your book? This comes down to a lot of that author advice we get, that we go all rah-rah about when we hear it and then whine and cringe when we have to apply it. So, have people read your story, have them critique it, talk to them about strengths and weaknesses. And then decide what’s valuable and what’s hogwash. Not everyone is the right critiquer for your story. Not everyone has developed the skills to critique appropriately. You can let them go, not let them affect you, recognize that what they find as a problem is not, in your story, written in your style, a real problem. My own critiquers consist of a really varied group, and each one has their own strengths and adds a different level of polish to my work. It doesn’t mean they’re always right.

But sometimes, they are horribly, terribly, soul-crushingly right. And then you’re forced to set boundaries around yourself. Because sometimes, we are our books own worst enemies. This is where the idea behind “kill your darlings” or “put it away for two months and then edit” comes from. It’s setting boundaries for ourselves, so we don’t spoil our darling by refusing to believe that they aren’t the Einstein/beauty queen/gold medal athlete/movie star that they are when they first pop into our heads. It takes a lot of labour to push a book out onto the page, just like it takes a lot of labour to push a kid out into the world. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe their newborn as being stunningly gorgeous, except through those rose-coloured parent glasses. (Or the ‘I’m still totally drugged up glasses’) But, give them a wash, feed them up a bit, put a cute hat on them and presto! Darlings! Crit partners really help with that.

And then we push them out into the world, like sending our kids to school. Until they go into that environment, they’re perfect. Oh, maybe they have a temper, or a tendency to lisp, or like to talk in huge, drawn-out sentences, but they’re really lovely. After all, you’ve coaxed them through all their different incarnations and you know, in your gut, how much they’ve grown.

And then you meet someone who doesn’t like them, or doesn’t like them as much as you do, because they can’t see the growth that went into this little creature. You’ve put so much time into them, taught them manners, used all the appropriate comma rules, dressed them up nicely, had people you trust critique them. They are as perfect as you can make them–but still, someone doesn’t like them. You want to do all sorts of nasty things to that person, because this is your baby and you’ve put so much time into it and look how clever they are, tying their shoelaces. Boundaries, again, or you risk falling into that crazy parent/author behaving badly trap. Yes, they didn’t like your work. It didn’t suit them, as they are, at this time of their life. Or maybe they picked it up, thinking it was one thing, and it was something completely different. Who’s to say they won’t pick it up again in five years and go, “Wow, why did I not see how complex/vibrant/eloquently written this was?” Or, they might pick it up and say, “Yeah. Still crap.” It’s not about you. Not any more. It’s about whether their needs were met. If they met you at a party, you might become best friends–I have lots of friends who won’t read my stuff for various reasons. (The best one was from a lesbian friend who said, “Ewww, boy bits!”) But, they still won’t read my books, because my books don’t meet their needs. It’s not personal.

If you’ve done your job properly, made sure your storylines hang together, made sure everything happens for a reason, made your characters human and accessible (even the aliens) and haven’t done anything in your writing that distracts the reader from your story, there will be people out there who will like it. Just as there will be best friends for your child when they go to school, if you’ve taught them to share and be polite and be kind. Just remember that not everyone will be your child’s friend.

The gospel according to wine and Corona. 😛 And I know I’m going to have to come back and re-read this when the first reviews of Tender start coming out.

I will be a good author, I will be a good author, I will be a good author. (Can you see me squeezing my little fists and wishing every so hard?)

If I blow it, you all have my permission to beat me with a 10-day-old trout from the fish market.