Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Lone Star Book Trailer

Thank you for making Lone Star the #1 Bestselling title in Gay and Gay & Lesbian fiction on Amazon Kindle this week. I'm so pleased you're enjoying this little holiday story about second chances.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Pirate King is Free!

Well, for 48 hours. Death of a Pirate King -- check out the beeeouutiful new cover by the gifted Kanaxa -- is free for 48 hours at All Romance Ebooks.

Buy it now, because come Wednesday, that ship will have sailed.

And don't miss the interview with Jake and Adrien at Jessewave's tomorrow, December 20th.

Friday, December 9, 2011

And To All a Good Night!

It's time to bring the holly jolly Men Under the Mistletoe mini blog tour to an end. I want to take this  opportunity to thank Harper, KA and Ava for making this a very special holiday season. It's been my pleasure to take part in two of these anthologies, and each one has been a delight. It's kind of a new holiday tradition!

I also want to thank you, our readers, for playing along with our reindeer games and, of course, buying the book!

On behalf of Ava, K.A., Harper and myself, I hope that your holiday season is filled with love and laughter -- and that the New Year finds you happy and healthy!

K.A. put it so beautifully:

Every year, one of my blog posts falls on the day before Thanksgiving. Every year, I can’t think of anything I’m more grateful for than my readers. At this time of year when custom asks us to consider our blessings over the year, make resolutions for the year to come, and honor those important to us with gifts, I can think of nothing that makes me feel more blessed as a writer than the honor of having wonderful readers. I promise to continue to write the best books that are in me, always striving to improve.
I’m sure between now and the end of the month, one of my previous couples will be filling my brain with a what-we’re-doing-for-the-holidays kind of story, and I’d love to slip that in your stocking as a free short.(Hmm. Some of my characters in a stocking. What a delightful image.) I’ll post it on lj or on my turn on Slash and Burn and send a link here to Josh to post on Just Joshin. Some of my best stories have come from readers asking if a certain character is getting a story, so if any of you have a couple you’d like to hear about celebrating the holidays, please let me know in the comments or drop me an email.
My very best wishes that your season and your years to come are merry and bright.

And Harper, always eloquent, added:


KA has said it so brilliantly already that I can only really second her thanks and good wishes to the wonderful readers who have made this year so amazing. I’ve been writing in the M/M field for a couple of years now and I’m just bowled over by the loyalty, enthusiasm, and sheer niceness of the people who not only buy and read my books but take the time to email me or seek me out on Facebook or talk to me via my Livejournal to tell me they enjoy my writing. I’ve done my best to respond to every single one of those messages. I appreciate them so much (and if I’ve missed anybody, please forgive me and give me a nudge!)

 All I can do by way of return is tell you all that your support , both emotional and in terms of sales, is making it possible for me to contemplate edging a little further out of my day job and a little further towards full-time writing, so in future I hope to be able to give you many more of the stories you’ve been kind enough to tell me you love. I wish all the very best and warmest of festive seasons, wherever you are.

It's been our great pleasure to share the Men Under the Mistletoe release with you. Thank you all very much -- and Happy, Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Kisses

Happy Holidays! Today Men Under the Mistletoe releases from Carina Press. The anthology features romantic holiday stories to warm your heart and tingle your toes by Ava March, KA Mitchell, Harper Fox and yours truly.

We’re promoting the anthology with a mini blog tour starting right here and right now. Along the way there will be snippets to read and the occasional prezzie to giveaway -- check the bottom of this post for the week’s scheduled stops.

Anyway, today’s topic is Christmas Kisses. There’s something inherently romantic about Christmas, I think, though I’m not exactly sure why that is. It’s not romantic in the way Valentine’s Day is. The romance of Christmas is tied in with a sense of nostalgia -- that longing for the way things used to be -- for home and family and all good, familiar things. It’s the time of year when we finally stop to count our blessings, and it’s also the time of year when we almost can’t help but evaluate our lives against our childhood dreams.

It can also be a lonely time of year if you’re far away from family and friends, and maybe that’s part of where that wanting someone special and all our own comes from. Someone to open presents with on Christmas morning and kiss under the mistletoe Christmas night.

Anyway, that’s the day’s topic. Christmas Kisses. You’ll find some tantalizing oscillatory excerpts from the anthology below.

Oh! And today I’m giving away one of the rare print editions of the anthology. To be eligible for the random drawing you must A - Follow the blog (look to the right hand sidebar and follow the directions) and B - leave a comment.



In the beginning of My True Love Gave to Me, I tried to capture the intensity of first love. The rush of emotion, the innocence of youth, the all-encompassing need to be together. In Alexander and Thomas’s case, it’s 1817 and the holiday season, which means a continual press of social and family obligations. Finding time alone with no one else being the wiser is almost impossible. In this excerpt, Alexander arranges some time completely alone with Thomas. It’s first time since they’ve arrived in London from Oxford when they have more than a brief stolen moment together.

A cool draft of air swept into the entrance hall as the butler opened the front door. “Mr. Norton, your carriage.”

It was all he could do not to dart out the door. His father’s black town carriage stood at the ready at the foot of the stone steps. Another one of their hostess’s footmen had the door already open. Rather than immediately enter, he paused to give the direction to the driver then followed Thomas inside, settling on the black leather bench opposite him.

The door snapped shut.

“Why are we going to Drury Lane Theatre?” Thomas asked.

“We aren’t.” He closed the shade on the window in the narrow door, cloaking the interior in almost full darkness. “I needed to give the driver a direction and it will do as good as any.”

The carriage lurched forward.

“But—?”

Alexander pounced on Thomas, cutting off his words.

Knees straddling muscular thighs and with his hands cupping that strong jaw, he pressed his lips to Thomas’s. Greedy and impatient, he flicked his tongue against the seam of Thomas’s lips.

With a groan, Thomas opened his mouth. A silken tongue brushed his own.

Hot and intense, sensation washed over him, filling his chest, his heart, his soul. A moan shook his throat.

By God, it was only like this with Thomas. No other had ever come close to rousing these feelings within him. Making his pulse pound through his veins and need claw desperately at his throat. This was where he belonged. With Thomas. In the man’s arms.


Harper’s tag for this scene from Winter Knights read “A less-than-obviously-romantic Christmas Kiss from Harper – this one takes place in a cave, and isn’t even between the book’s two main protags.” But I think you’ll agree that this scene where rescue-worker Arthur desperately tries to calm Gavin down after a rockfall, and one thing leads to another, is anything but unromantic.


He lifted me carefully into his arms. My mouth found his and he pushed me back for a second, then groaned and sought me for himself. I buried my hand in his hair’s rough silk. Shuddering, he kissed me, his fingers clenching on the collar of my shirt. He laid us
down on the debris-strewn floor. Dust and small stones were still falling—seeing this by lamplight, I choked in terror, but he hushed me. “No. Look at me. Just look at me.”

His clear grey eyes, his smile, were enough to stop the roof from caving in. They would hold up the sky. I imagined him as Orion, or Bootes, the shepherd-god who bore his namesake star Arcturus, stretched out across the starry night, and I seized him.


The first kiss in "The Christmas Proposition" is more about a kiss that they don't share, mirroring the words that neither of them were willing to risk saying during their first time together. It also gives the reader a chance to see how things went down (ahem) the first time Mel and Bryce met.

Mel is a waiter at Skipper's Diner and he's just helped a waitress handle a bunch of rowdy drunks. But as it turned out, one of the men wasn't drunk, and Mel knows him very well.

The bags thudded and clanged as I tossed them up into the dumpster. The air froze the inside of my nose, almost enough to make the smell bearable. I might have been expecting it, but my heart still leapt into my throat when a hard warm body pressed into me, shoving us through the back door, pressing me up against a stack of empty crates from Doyle’s Dairy.

The smell of him, sweat and dirt and man, chased away the leftover stench that leaked from even frozen garbage.

The back door banged shut behind us.

“Still fucking cold,” he said.

“It’s winter.” Not my best comeback. I’ll warm you up had a lot more charm. But my heart still pounded and the smell of him, the feel of him against me had way too much of that circulation focused on my dick. My brain was suffering oxygen deprivation. At least, that was my story, and I was sticking to it. It had nothing to do with whose body had me pinned against the crates.

The body that was sliding down, the man who, without a word or a kiss hello, was dropping to his knees for me. Why kiss me hello? He hadn’t bothered to say good-bye.

I knocked the cap off his head. Even in the dark, his hair gave off those beautiful auburn highlights I remembered from two summers ago.

Bryce reached behind me and untied my apron, letting it drop to the floor before working back around to my fly. His breath flowed hot and damp over my cock.
 
The instant before those full lips closed around me, I whispered, “Just like the first time, huh?”
 
 
 

Though Mitch and Web were best friends and boyhood sweethearts, their relationship ended bitterly. They haven’t seen each other for nearly a decade and their lives have gone in very different directions. Mitch is on the run from a busted romance but somehow he finds himself falling for Web all over again.


The first kiss was tentative. The second kiss not so much.

They had kissed as boys, but back then the simple pleasure of mouths pressed together and shared breath had been fraught with their own insecurities about who and what they were. Kissing had somehow seemed more gay than the other things they did, and neither of them had been totally comfortable with it.

So it was a surprise to realize how familiar the taste of Web’s mouth was. Twelve years ought to make a difference, seeing that it was unlikely Web still lived on chili dogs, Dr Pepper and Goodart’s Peanut Patties. But Web still tasted sweet as Mitch parted his lips with a gentle tongue. He closed his eyes, savoring Web’s instant, generous response. Yes, they’d both learned a few things over the years. Web’s tongue touched his own. It really didn’t get a lot more personal than tongues twining in the dark, moist heat of two men’s mouths.
Mitch broke the kiss with reluctance and one final, teasing lick. The hardness under his caressing hand began to throb more urgently, and he was conscious only of wanting to make this good for Web. The best ever. Maybe he had been a moody, difficult kid, but he had loved Web with all his heart, and if he hadn’t taken the time to show it then…

*****

Don’t forget to join the blog and comment below for a chance to win a print copy of Men Under the Mistletoe.

The schedule for the rest of the week looks like this:



ALSO ON DECEMBER 7TH we’ll be blogging at Carina about what the boys will be doing next year -- and we’ll be exchanging cookie recipes. Seriously.


And a final Happy Holidays from all of us on December 9th right back here where you started!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Men Under the Mistletoe Scavenger Hunt

Today kicks off promotion for Men Under the Mistletoe, the male male holiday anthology being published through Carina Press the first week of December. This year the stories are by Harper Fox, KA Mitchell, Ava March, and yours truly. I'm hoping you'll enjoy them as much as last year's wonderful offerings.

Anyway, KA was the one who hit on the idea of a scavenger hunt to kick off the promo efforts. The hunt begins today. It's pretty simple.

THE MEN UNDER THE MISTLETOE
SCAVENGER HUNT


Who doesn't need a little something extra in their stocking this time of year?

Come visit the authors of Men Under the Mistletoe and enter to win a $100 gift card to the e-book retailer of your choice. (Hey, you could buy an e-reader for that!) Two entries will also be randomly selected to win a free download of the Men Under the Mistletoe anthology.

In order to play, visit each of our websites and read the excerpt for our holiday releases. Then fill in the entry form with the correct answers to these four questions based on our excerpts. The winners will be randomly selected from the correct answers. All entries must be e-mailed by 11:59 PM EST on December 2.
Good luck and come see what we have waiting for you under the mistletoe.
 

You can start at any of our websites. Here's the link to mine. But from there you're on your own! We have to make it a little challenging, after all.

There's lots more fun to come as we count down to the book's release, so don't touch that dial!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Flying High Interview Questions

I'd mentioned a while back that although I didn't have energy for an Adrien English Christmas story this year, I would probably go ahead and do an interview with Adrien and Jake -- something on the lines of Slippery When Wet.

So, in conjunction with Jessewave Reviews, I'm going to be collecting questions for a few days for the interview that will run the next to last week of December. 

Now, guessing from the number of questions that popped up for Will and Taylor's interview, I think I'd better caution people right now that I probably won't use everything and there will be a lot of consolidating as there was for the earlier AE interviews. I won't be using the same format Wave uses.  

If you have a question for Adrien or Jake, go ahead and put it in the comment section below.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh, time, time, time is on my side, yes it is

One of my reader friends, Emma, sent me a copy of an essay by Maj-Britt Rosenbaum, MD titled Sabbatical. I wish I could find a copy of this article on-line because it’s probably the best thing I’ve read on the topic. Rosenbaum perfectly captures the mix of anticipation and anxiety triggered by the very thought of that much “free” time.

“The private fantasy of uninterrupted time--time to waste, time to pour through my fingers if I want to, time to savor, time to loll in--has a different emotional texture than planned time off. Time extracted from the ongoing stream of schedules, commitments, and responsibilities, always balanced against such counterweights as “Can I afford it?” “Do I deserve it?” “What are my responsibilities?” “Will it be worth it?” and “Dare I, can I actually get away with it?”

All this -- and more -- is constantly churning in the back of my mind as I get closer and closer to the end of the year. Am I really going to do this?

In fact, it’s pretty much too late to turn back now. I’ve steadily (stubbornly?) resisted taking on any commitments for 2012, and now most of my publisher’s schedules are filled. If I publish anything next year it will be self-published.

That in itself is exciting. A new direction. A new challenge. A new adventure.

But doubts whisper in my other ear. I’ve worked hard to reach this point, the point of being able to even consider taking a serious amount of time off. Am I subconsciously sabotaging my success?

 Will I miss my fantasy, so shiny and satisfying, so “unattainable”--an ideal I can wistfully compare to my busy, hectic life? With no future fantasy beckoning in the distance, will I instead look back to these busy days as the more rewarding times, when what I did mattered, when I felt useful, and “good,” because I did for others?

How ingrained the work ethic is: to contribute, to excel, to climb the mountain, to use my “gifts” to do, to do, to do--to produce, to accomplish, to succeed.

Oh yes. I feel guilty even contemplating rewarding myself with sabbatical. Especially when everyone I know is busting their butt to make ends meet, to hit their goals, to carve a career out of ice.

Not that I’m choosing a sabbatical as a reward. I’m burnt out. I’ve been burnt out for nearly two years. But so what? I can still produce. The fact that I’ve come to dread writing is sort of beside the point, right? Because as long as I can function, it seems like I ought to.

I suppose that’s why the decision to go on sabbatical feels increasingly like a reward and not therapy.

All I want is the chance to stand still for a while, to reflect, to feel, to listen more carefully to my own voice. Just to wait and see what bubbles up. One fear is that nothing will “bubble up,” that no combustion, no energy will be generated. I fear that only cold wind blows in there--I fear a desert inside.

Yes. Exactly. Worse…right now I can function. I can produce. What if I come back from this break and I’ve lost the ability to drive myself forward, to work under this kind of pressure? What if it turns out I can’t refill the creative well and on top of that, I’ve lost the discipline to march on without water in my canteen?

What then?

It’s a risk. Will readers remember me in a year in a genre where there a couple hundred new titles every month?

I wake up at night thinking are you really going to do this? And yet…and yet…

I prefer to see it as a test run, a chance to find out if I have filled my house with enough life. I prefer to see it as an opportunity to listen to--and to express--my own voice, not the echo of others, not what they want to hear, what they want me to do, but just because, just because.

Maybe it is a mistake. But then, leaving the security of my day job was a risk too, and I’ve never regretted that decision. Not for one moment. I don’t know if this sabbatical will bring equally dramatic results to my life, but I know that for better or worse, I’m going to do it.

And in an odd way, making this decision to leave, grabbing this chance, feels like taking the first step to coming back.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Mummy Walks

Hopefully onto your Kindle or Kobo or Nook or reading device of your choice.

Yep, Mummy Dearest is live and currently haunting the #1 slot on Amazon's Gay & Gay & Lesbian lists.


Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Holidays
Publication Date: 10-04-2011
Length: Novella
ISBN: 978-1-60928-536-4
Series: The XOXO Files
Price: $3.50

BLURB:
The truth is out there. Way, way, way out there!
The XOXO Files, Book 1
Drew Lawson is racing against the clock. He’s got a twenty-four-hour window to authenticate the mummy of Princess Merneith. If he’s not at his boyfriend’s garden party when that window closes, it’ll be the final nail in their relationship coffin.
The last thing he needs traipsing on the final shred of his patience is brash, handsome reality show host Fraser Fortune, who’s scheduled to film a documentary about the mummy’s Halloween curse.
The opportunity to film a bona-fide professor examining the mummy is exactly the aura of authenticity Fraser needs. Except the grumpy PhD is a pompous ass on leave from his ivory tower. Yet something about Drew has Fraser using a word he doesn’t normally have to draw upon: please.
With no time to waste—and a spark of attraction he can’t deny—Drew reluctantly agrees to let Fraser follow his every move as he unwraps the mummy’s secrets. Soon they’re both making moves behind the scenes that even the dead can’t ignore…
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Product Warnings
Whoso shall ever open this tomb, er, book shall suffer the curse of the Pharaohs. Okay, maybe not. But set aside a chunk of time for marauding mummies, too many cosmopolitans, illicit sex in hotel rooms, and other non-academic shenanigans.

You can purchase through All Romance Ebooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Samhain itself...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Float Like a Butterfly Sting Like a Bee

Speaking of short stories, I’ve been thinking a lot about the creative process lately. Maybe too much, because over-thinking and over-analyzing can make you stilted and self-conscious in your craft.

But anyway, I’ve been mulling over where ideas for stories come from. Does everyone get ideas for stories? And, if so, what form do those ideas take? Why do only some people write the stories that occur to them? I mean, I understand why everyone wouldn’t choose to publish everything, but just the process of writing those stories out…there’s something satisfying about that, something that completes the thought.

And yet, once the story is written, it dies out of my brain. So in one sense, putting the dream or fantasy into a story form almost spoils it….

Hm.

Maybe spoils isn’t the right term.  But it changes it. I can’t read my stories and enjoy them in the same way that I enjoyed the initial idea or dream. Once it’s in story form it becomes technique and craft and stops being a dream or a fantasy or whatever story ideas are.

I can’t see my stories as others do. No writer can. Which is natural. But also weird.

Anyway, there are a lot of yellow jackets and bees in the yard right now -- they get very aggressive this time of year -- and as I was splashing around in the pool the other day, I suddenly remembered an essay I’d read years ago by Elizabeth Choi. It was about a woman (Choi) on a hiking trip with her boyfriend. She gets stung by a yellow jacket and discovers the hard way that she’s allergic. That experience changes her negative feelings about marriage and her antipathy toward commitment.

So I was thinking about bees and bee stings and wondering if I too might be allergic and not know it, and inevitably a story began to unfold in my mind starting with a first line.

“About last night,” I began awkwardly.

There I floated, staring up at the clouds moving across the sky, and I began to wonder what this particular situation would entail where one guy -- probably the “I” character -- gets stung by a bee, and how or why it would make a difference in his life and his relationship with….

With Grahaem.

Grahaem handed me the red plastic coffee cup. Steam rose from the fragrant liquid.
            “Yeah,” he said. No particular inflection, but I knew my worst fears were confirmed.

Worst fears about what?

Well, obviously I need to write an entirely different story from Choi’s essay. So the point of the story must change and the narrator can’t be the one who doesn’t want to be in a relationship. Which means Grahaem must be. Which means that “I” (what is this guy’s name?) does want the relationship.

Or does he?

Yeah, he does.

Okay. That’s sort of sad. Why doesn’t Grahaem want “I” when I is such a cute, funny, sweet guy? Why are they out camping -- which they must be if the steaming coffee is being served in red plastic cups -- if Grahaem doesn’t want “I”?

Oh. Because Grahaem does like “I” a lot but he’s already been in a relationship. The best relationship anyone could have. The perfect relationship. With…

Jase.

Who is dead.

Poor Grahaem.

He’s already had the best that love has to offer. How can poor “I” compete? Plus the pain of losing that ultimate perfect love is enough to make anyone terrified of risking it all again. And “I” (what is his name?) isn’t anything like Mr. Perfect AKA Jase.

And there it is. Not enough of a plot for a novella. Just a short story about a day that changes everything for Grahaem and…whatever the hell his name is. An awful day. A day where everything goes wrong that can possibly go wrong including anaphylactic shock. And yet, despite it all, everything turns out well. A perfectly awful day…a perfect day.

Perfect Day.

And that’s it. Away I go, spilling it out as fast as I can without stopping to correct or fill in the blanks because it’s crucial to get the bones down before it all starts to slip away.


I sipped the coffee and stared at the meadow the blue tent the fields of gold beyond that in the early morning mist looked like a golden lake in the distance.
            Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
            From the beginning -- practically the beginning -- from the first night I’d spent at Grahaem’s X apartment he’d said he didn’t want anything serious. Not looking for anything serious. Not looking for a relationship.
            It didn’t get much clearer than that.
            But the problem was Grahaem was everything I wanted.
            He was thirty seven and a geologist. Okay, geology wasn’t part of the dream man job description. In fact, I’d always pictured my dream man more GQ than Field and Stream, but Grahaem with his slow grin and gray eyes -- gray, not blue or green -- and that little touch of silver in the dark hair at temples and his wide shoulders and narrow hips and his confident straight stance like an old time explorer surveying the vistas -- with his easy laugh and his maps and compasses and soft flannel shirts.
            Short story long, I guess. I fell in love.
            Despite my best intentions. Despite his warnings.
            I fell in love.


  And that’s how a story begins.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

You Get What You Pay For

I happened upon a three star Amazon review for "The French Have a Word for It" wherein the reviewer stated:

I know it only cost $1.49, but it's only 631 locations (translation for the rest of us: 8,362 words -- or 20 pages) there are free sample downloads that length. So while Lanyon is a skilled writer, this is really just a snippet and I'm not going to buy anymore stories this length because they are too short to satisfy me. Colin is a young artist, Thomas is significantly older and used to be his body guard, and they bump into each other in Paris...

There is nothing wrong with the writing or the ideas here, it's just too short to build any meaning for me.

Now, not everyone loves short stories. I do get that. But where did the idea that all short fiction should be free come from?

You don’t get this attitude from those readers still buying print books. But maybe that’s because they’re under the (false) impression that the bulk of a book’s price has to do with the physical end product?

I have to admit that review -- those comments -- floored me. Are a lot of ebook readers this far out of touch with publishing reality? Are they honestly this spoiled? Or is it simply that because so many readers in this genre come from a fan fiction background where all the stories are free, they don’t grasp the fact that writing is a skill and a trade like any other, and the practitioners of that trade need to earn a living?

If skilled writers can’t earn a living, then you won’t have skilled writers penning your stories. You’ll have fiction from people who have trouble giving their stuff away. Oh yes! On another Amazon forum they’re debating that very thing. Debating whether Amazon ought to charge authors upload fees (one person suggested $500 - 1000. ) as means of weeding out all the dreck that is currently showing up at low, low prices and apparently making it too hard to find good stories.

Yeesh.

Come to think of it, maybe the bigger concern here is we might have a generation growing up that can’t tell the difference between a snippet and a short story. There is a difference. It has to do with plot and point. I think most readers get that, right? Please tell me this woman is the exception and not the rule of our new book buying paradigm because there are writers who specialize in short fiction. They make a living at short fiction. The short story is a perfectly valid art form, and while print markets for individual stories are dwindling, the market for anthologies is growing. Magazines like Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen still pay around 5 - 8 cents a word.

I happen to love writing short stories, but not so much that I would write them for free.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Thankless Task

I’ve been relaxing between projects by watching old movies. A Woman Possessed got me thinking how sometimes the kind of story you want to tell necessitates the kind of characters you write.

Admittedly, most of my stories are character driven, but once in a while I’ve chosen to write a certain dynamic that necessitates one character being just not as likable as my usual cast members. A Vintage Affair, for example. Or Icecapade. Or the yet to be released Lone Star where part of the plot really depends on the protagonist’s hot temper and tendency to fly off the handle. Not qualities I particularly admire, but interesting to explore (for me) in this context.

In A Woman Possessed, one of those 1950s English domestic dramas, a young doctor brings his new fiancée home to meet his neurotically possessive mother. The fiancée suffers from a heart ailment and darling Mummy is tempted to rid herself of her rival by aggravating the girl’s condition. It’s old school and uber-dramatic, of course, but it’s notable for the fact that there’s a great deal of everyone saying all the stuff you always wish characters would say in these situations but so rarely do. They talk. And they do ultimately work the situation out, although the ending sent the wrong message, I think.

Anyway, as far as characters, the American fiancée comes off the best in that she’s spunky, frank, and gracious in the face of the cold and possibly murderous reception she gets. She’s an orphan and she’s been very ill--is still having heart attacks--so her reluctance to walk away from this relationship is psychologically sound. The mother, doesn’t come off too badly because it’s her job to be borderline nutso. She’s elegant and charming and totally convincing, and as unreasonable as her wishes are, we sort of understand where she’s coming from. The least likable character is the son. His role requires a staggering lack of sensitivity to both his fragile fiancée (especially startling since he’s also her doctor) and his mother who he’s sort of avoided for the past two years he trained to be a doctor because of mama’s general over-bearingness.

The problem is, in order to get the dynamic of this story, he has to be dense as a block of cement. If he reacts like a normal bloke we won’t get this awwwwkward situation of the three of them living on top of each other with the tension mounting as the poor fiancée attempts to assert herself and the mother and household servants watching her for weakness like hungry birds of prey.

The only way to avoid the son being a jerk is to tell a totally different story. But suppose the writer doesn’t want to tell a different story? Suppose the writer simply wants to explore this dynamic and this situation and this plot?

This is the dilemma we sometimes face as writers. Readers of literary fiction tend to be a little more flexible on the issue of liability in main characters. In romance, many readers have a difficult time accepting a genuinely flawed hero.  Jerks are easier to love in real life than fiction!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cyber Launch Party for Come Unto These Yellow Sands

Thank you to the Fanyons for organizing a countdown to the release of Come Unto These Yellow Sands.

In fact, it's a lot more than a simple countdown; it's a cyber launch party with real prizes and games and...well, I'm astonished and moved at the effort they've gone to for this.

 Anyway, the book releases June 14th from Samhain Publishing. It can be preordered through Amazon, etc.

It's definitely a different kind of story for me. In fact, it's a little nod to those readers who claim they love my stuff but wish I would write something besides mysteries. So here's a mystery from the perspective of someone who doesn't give a damn about mysteries and has no desire to solve one, but finds himself in the middle of one nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm currently in the midst of unpacking and catching up on email and all the other stuff that piles up no matter what else is going on in your life. More on that later -- meanwhile, have fun and don't forget to "like" my Fan Page if you're so inclined.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The New and Improved Schedule

Well, whether you consider this an improved schedule or not is probably a matter of opinion. I don't even know if I consider it improved, I just know I needed to give myself a little more breathing room.

So without further fuss, here's what's lined up for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Rough Magic now available

First in a new and exclusive series from Loose Id Publishing.

ISBN:     978-1-61118-402-0
Genre:    LGBT 1930's Suspense
Length:   Short Novel
Price:    $5.00 Info

BLURB:
Wealthy San Francisco playboy Brett Sheridan thinks he knows the score when he hires tough guy private eye Neil Patrick Rafferty to find a priceless stolen folio of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Brett’s convinced his partner-in-crime sister is behind the theft -- a theft that’s liable to bring more scandal to their eccentric family, and cost Brett his marriage to society heiress Juliet Lennox. What Brett doesn’t count on is the instant and powerful attraction that flares between him and Rafferty.
Once before, Brett took a chance on loving a man, only to find himself betrayed and broken. This time around there’s too much at risk.
But as the Bard himself would say, Journey’s end in lovers meeting.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moving Target: Who are Book Reviews Really For?

I did my column for Jessewave this week, and the topic was the new -- and not always healthy -- changing relationship between reviewers and authors.

Now the purpose of the column was not to hurt anyone's feelings -- these columns are never intended to hurt feelings, but merely to introduce a topic of discussion that I think needs...discussing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Snowball in Hell re-release

Yesterday saw the re-release Snowball in Hell. Snowball is a noirish novella set around Christmas time in 1943. It's one of my personal favorites as far as my work goes, and I'm delighted to see it get a second lease on life with Carina Press not least, because this enables me to write the series I was longing to write for these two.

Look for more Doyle and Spain stories starting in 2012.

To celebrate, I'm blogging in a couple of places, and giving some cool stuff away in contests. The first place to stop and help me celebrate is over at Not The Usual Suspects. We're playing match the author to the first line of a classic piece of crime fiction.

And the second stop is over at the Carina Press blog. The game there is simply name two romantic pairings from my stories EXCLUDING Jake and Adrien, Chris and JX, and Elliot and Tucker. (Well, and it can't include Matt and Nathan either, for obvious reasons!

And if you've already bought the book, thanks so much!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Snowball in Hell now available

A quick note to let you know that Snowball in Hell, my WW2 norish mystery romance is now available through Carina Press. Also through Amazon's Kindle, B&N Nook, and over at All Romance Ebooks.

It's 1943 and the world is at war. Journalist Nathan Doyle has just returned home from North Africa--still recovering from wounds received in the Western Desert Campaign--when he's asked to cover the murder of a society blackmailer.

Lt. Matthew Spain of the LAPD homicide squad hates the holidays since the death of his beloved wife a few months earlier, and this year isn’t looking much cheerier what with the threat of attack by the Japanese and a high-profile homicide investigation. Matt likes Nathan; maybe too much.

If only he didn’t suspect that Nathan had every reason to commit murder.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Yabba Dabba Do Dah Contest

So to my great surprise I'm in one of the final rounds over at Dear Author -- the Elite Eight. I'm the last m/m author and one of the last ebook authors, I believe, and I'm up against a Berkley Sensation author (NOT that there's anything wrong with that) who has been campaigning tirelessly to win what is apparently the biggest deal of her young life. ;-D

I would offer you my first born child if I had one, but...I don't. And anyway, the truth is, I'd be making all kinds of stipulations that you send him to college and make sure he gets proper religious upbringing and exposure to plenty of cultural variety and vitamin D...anyway, much, MUCH easier all around if I just say, I have nothing to bribe you with, but if you would like to offer a vote of support for ebooks and m/m fiction, it would be nice to at least make a respectable showing.

You needn't register or anything, you just click and vote and the website registers you as having voted. And as I am currently getting my butt kicked...well, a kick in the butt for me is a kick in the butt for m/m and ebooks, and that's a shame.

So here's the place to go and vote. And if you can find those three seconds in your heart of hearts, I thank you. And my first born child, somewhere unrealized in the stars, also thanks you.

Book Trailer for Snowball in Hell

I think authors are as bewildered as anyone else as far as what works for promotion and what doesn't. I don't know that book trailers sell books, but they're relaxing to work on. What's not to enjoy about matching pictures to music and mulling over the important elements of your story?

Anyway, I worked on three trailers yesterday, and this one is the only one that seemed acceptable to me. (The SO looked at it and said, the music should have been the music of the era, but I really like the juxtaposition here -- and the soundclip, a bit of a song, by Muse, is absolutely perfect for Nathan's state of mind.)

Anyway. Voila.

video
Not sure if this will show up on LJ or not, so you might have to pop over to Blogger to view...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Notes on GhosTV

I've been trying to read more. For a while there I was only writing or doing manuscript evaluations, and that's not exactly refilling the creative well. I mean, we generally decide we want to be writers based on our love of reading. And yet reading is one of the first things that gets crossed off the list once one becomes a successful writer and has less and less free time.

So we've started a monthly reading challenge over at my Goodreads group. First up, it's Rowan Speedwell's Finding Zach. I read that today -- I was supposed to be writing, working on Mummy Dearest, which has a bit of fleshing in to do, but...that's kind of the cool thing about this new schedule. A work day can be anything from all the promo blogs I have due for next months' releases, or it could be working on a book trailer, or it could be writing. It just depends because all these things need to happen this month.

Anyway, I read Finding Zach and now I'm reading GhosTV, which is the latest in Jordan's PsyCop series.

To start with, I love the little graphic on the contents page. But that's neither here nor there.
Story begins deep in POV, clean, tight writing and...we're in. I'm hooked. Jordan knows how to write and she knows how to tell a story. Not always the same thing, but when those two synchronize, it's such a pleasure to be a reader.

I've been thinking a lot about dialog lately and how many m/m writers settle for cliches instead of genuine, interesting dialog that establishes character or moves the plot along or simply amuses and entertains. It's got to be one of the hardest things to do well. I hear so many writers talking about how they love writing dialog and then they offer some bits of their own as proof and usually the dialog is just...not very good. The fact is, most writers aren't very good at dialog. Most writers write place-keeping dialog and that's pretty much it. Truly good dialog is so easy to take for granted. It's one of those things you only notice by its absence. Anyway, Jordan does dialog very well. All the dialog. Not just the dialog between Vic and Jacob, but the dialog between all the characters. It's not filler. It's not cliche or someone's painful idea of how men talk to each other (apparently forgetting years of listening to men -- and other people -- talking to each other).

I think the key is to allow characters to have interesting conversations about stuff other than Our Relationship. And of course that's one of the big advantages of writing mystery or crime or adventure. It gives the characters something interesting to talk about.
 
And Jordan has plot. I do so dearly love it when someone can write an actual plot that has more than two guys waltzing around each other.

She's funny when she intends to be, and her sex scenes are hot, and...it's just a relief to read her work.
And this is only page 16. :-D

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Currency of Democracy

Information is the currency of democracy.
Thomas Jefferson


Last weekend there was a message on one of the discussion lists I belong to directing us all to a post regarding the Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights -- with the addendum to take our blood pressure medicine. I read the post, and frankly -- although if this surprises you, you don’t know me very well -- I agreed with nearly every point in it. Libraries and librarians are not the enemy, Mssrs. Macmillan and S&S. Far from it. Libraries are a good and valuable thing, both for readers and for writers. I support my local libraries in every way I know -- with monetary donations, with free books, and with my time.

Let me say this again. Libraries and librarians are not the enemy. And the fact that I need to say this indicates to me how truly confused matters have become in the publishing world. Blame it on technology.

The reason I’m not linking to that Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights post, and that I can’t actively get behind it and support it, all comes down to one small, but I think crucial, passage. It was an afterthought for the author (a librarian --  clearly a thoughtful and conscientious fellow), but it’s kind of an important one for me as someone who makes a living writing fiction.

My primary concern is less about re-selling and more in regard to people being given control over their own reading content. While I’m hesitant to engage in what may be construed as hyperbole, I appeal to you to consider the emotional connections to your own personal libraries and the importance of every book that you have selected to be a part of it. I would implore authors to consider how they would consider outside removals or modifications on your own book collections. Ownership matters, quite frankly, and it is an expression of intellectual pride.

Now the blogger is looking at this as a librarian. That’s not a criticism, he’s not a pirate and it probably hasn’t occurred to him that there’s serious money to be made in illegal third party reselling -- and that it comes at the expense of the author. What I did detect -- what I frequently detect in these discussions -- is a kind of impatience with authors who have problems with being pirated. In fact, the post that I responded to was an additional post directed at writers spelling out for them (in a somewhat chiding tone) why wholesale sharing of their work was actually a great idea.

I think the jury is still out on whether wholesale sharing -- viral sharing -- is a good thing or not. Viral sharing that doesn’t eventually lead to book sales is not a good thing for authors who need to make a living at their writing. The whole argument in favor of allowing libraries and readers to share is supposed to be that it will bring new readers to an author. But if those readers are not -- at some point -- paying for the work, then it doesn’t actually do the author any good.

You see, while authors do write for themselves and for the pleasure of writing, part of the decision to publish -- to put ourselves through the hell of the publishing process -- is to make money at writing. Otherwise we would be content writing for ourselves and a handful of friends. If we are merely writing for the love of writing, there is no need to share our work with the rest of the world. None. I mean, I’ve got as much ego as the next artist, and I love to hear from readers, but I also need to pay the mortgage.

I’ve actually seen discussion threads on torrent sites where irate pirates say things like (apparently with no sense of irony) if authors are just in it for the money, fuck ‘em! There are plenty of other good authors and good books out there.

Yes! Please. Please shower your attention on other good authors and other good books.  Because if all the sharing ultimately leads to more sharing…in the not-so-distant-end, the only people writing books will be amateurs and the independently wealthy.

That’s the part that gets to me. I’m not seeing any long term consideration of what unlimited mass sharing might mean for authors. In fact, it feels like I’m being told to shut up and get back to work. But if it affects authors…hello! It affects readers. Whether you choose to believe it or not, authors are the integral piece of this puzzle. You remove authors from the equation, and all your other concerns become moot.

For a long time I bought into the idea that ebook pirating wasn’t really a problem. And it is true that a large percentage of downloaded books are never read, the goal is simply to share and acquire. But I’ve also seen threads where readers are bewailing the fact that my work has been removed from various torrent sites. As in…my life is over, what will I do now that I can’t get Josh’s books?

No, I’m not kidding. The fact that my books are for sale everywhere was apparently not even a consideration. PAY FOR BOOKS????? Why not just advocate child labor in third world countries and killing baby seals?

I’ve seen my work -- my entire body of work -- carefully scanned and collected in a digital file and sold on different sites. Sold. As in offered multiple times on mirror sites.

I’ve seen and heard people boasting that they never pay for books. Never.

(And that fills them with pride…why?  Since when is stealing from artists a noble act?)

I’m not blaming libraries for any of this, my point is simply that authors have legitimate worries and that those worries need to be addressed, not dismissed as the fantasies of over-inflated egos or paranoid delusions of the misinformed. Just as libraries are not the problem, neither are authors. I think authors and libraries are on the same side, even if they don’t always realize it. But technology has changed a lot of the rules we used to play by, and it’s going to take some rethinking -- and a little imagination -- on everyone’s part to get what we all need to survive in this brave new world.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

WiP - This Rough Magic

It was always a dame, wasn’t it? In the dime novels, it was always a dame.
A smart and sassy society dame smelling of gardenias, with a fox stole thrown over her bony shoulders, and a mouth that would make a French maid blink. In real life, the dames Rafferty met were of a different breed. They wore Vogue Pattern #7313 and lines of worry in their tired faces. They came to him in the hope that he could locate a missing son or daughter -- or straying husband.
There had been one society dame. Rafferty had helped her get back some letters, and her marriage to a Texas oil tycoon had gone right ahead as scheduled. Every now and then she threw some business his way. He could only think that Mrs. Charles Constable was somehow to blame for the very handsome and very nervous young man currently perched on the uncomfortable chair in front of Rafferty’s desk.
The chair squeaked as Brett Sheridan, of the Nob Hill Sheridans, gave another of those infinitesimal shifts like a bird on a cracking tree limb. Sheridan’s eyes--wide and green as the water in San Francisco Bay--met Rafferty’s and flicked away.
Yes, a very handsome young man. From that raven’s wing of soft dark hair that kept falling in his wide, long-lashed eyes, to the obstinate jut of his chiseled chin.
Not so young, but not so old either. Twenty six? Twenty seven maybe? Sheltered, most certainly. The Brett Sheridans of the world were always sheltered. Right up to the moment the world decided to puncture their bicycle tires. Still, a nice ride while it lasted.
Rafferty said, “And you think your sister took this, what d’you call it, folio?”
Sheridan had a nice voice too. Low and a little husky, not too affected though he’d obviously spent time at a fancy New England boarding school. “Not Kitty. The thug she’s running around with.”
“Harry Sader.”
“Right. Do you know him?”
Rafferty’s mouth quirked. He reined himself in ruthlessly. “Despite how it looks, I’m not on nodding acquaintance with every bum in town.”
“No. Quite.” Sheridan’s color rose. Rafferty tried to recall what the story was on him. There was some story. That much he did remember. “I just thought that in your line of work you might have crossed paths before.”
“I’ve heard of him. He runs with Kip Mullen’s gang.” He could have told Sheridan a story or two about those boys that would have curled his hair, but scaring the client was rarely good business. “Explain to me again what this folio is?”
“It’s a book or a pamphlet. In this case it’s a book of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.” Sheridan bit his lip rather boyishly. “I suppose, technically, it’s a quarto, but I admit I don’t fully understand the difference. The only thing I know for certain is it’s the earliest printed version of the play. It was printed in the sixteenth century, nearly a decade before the First Folio.”
Rafferty opened his mouth and then closed it. It probably didn’t matter, right?
“And this folio that is or isn’t the first folio is worth a bundle?”
“It’s not the First Folio. That was printed in 1623. It contains thirty six of Shakespeare’s plays, nineteen of which previously appeared in separate, individual editions. All the separate editions are quartos except for one octavo. But Mr. Lennox refers to it as a folio. The Tempest, that is.”
Rafferty could feel his eyes starting to spin. He resisted the temptation to hang onto his desk.  “This thing is worth a bundle?”
“It’s priceless.”
“Sure, but I bet the insurance company tagged it with a dollar amount.”
“Mr. Lennox is very wealthy. The insurance money means nothing to him. He wants the folio back.”
“The quarto.”
“Correct. He wants it back at any cost.”
“Ah. He’d pay a king’s ransom?”
Sheridan nodded unhappily.
“And the last time anyone saw the-folio-that’s-really-a-quarto was the night of your engagement party?”
“Last night. Correct. Mr. Lennox hosted a garden party for us -- Juliet and me -- at his home in Pacific Heights.”
“And you immediately jumped to the conclusion that your sister’s beau was responsible?”
“There isn’t anyone else likely.”
Rafferty dropped his pencil and pushed back in his chair. “That so? All swell society folk with arm-long pedigrees, were they?”
There was that delicate wash of color again. Not exactly what you expected from hale and healthy young Harvard bucks. Not unless they were given to unwholesome activities like painting watercolors or writing feverish poetry. Or worse. Rafferty was pretty sure worse was the not the rumor he’d heard. He’d likely have remembered that.
“No. That is… Yes.”
“Which is it? No or yes?”
 “It wasn’t my immediate thought, no,” Sheridan said stiffly. “But Kitty was acting so…so oddly. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized what must have happened. Sader took the folio and Kitty knows about it.”
“You mean she was his accomplice?”
Sheridan’s mouth thinned down to a line. His jaw lived up to the promise of that obstinate chin. “Maybe.”
“And you want me to find this folio and return it to its proper owner, your fiancée’s father?”
“Yes. That’s part of it. Mr. Lennox has given the culprit seven days to return the folio. After that, he’s going to the police.”
“Why the stall? Why didn’t he ring for the cops last night?”
“Because--because it’s obvious to everyone that the crime was what you’d call an inside job.”
“Well, that’s one thing I might call it.”
“Perpetrated by one of the Lennox’s guests. Lennox is trying to save…someone from social ruin.”
“Not to mention prison.”
Sheridan paled. “Yes.”
“Okay. Seven days to find this book or whatever it is and return it to old man Lennox. What’s the rest of it?”
“I want you to convince Sader to keep his mouth shut about Kitty’s involvement--if any--and to get him to agree to stay away from her.”
“That’s a tall order. Doesn’t Kitty have a say in all this?”
Sheridan’s throat moved as he swallowed. “No.”
“And how am I supposed to convince Sir Lancelot to give up the Lady of the Loot?”
Sheridan’s chin lifted. He said unconscious arrogance, “I understood from Pat that you’re reasonably inventive.”
“Pat?”
“Pat Constable. She’s the one who referred me to you. You to me. Anyway, I should think that the threat of jail would be sufficient to steer Sader away from Kitty.”
Rafferty’s brows rose. “You want me to blackmail him?”
“I don’t want to know anything about it. I just want Kitty out of his clutches.”
Rafferty managed not to laugh. The Brett Sheridans of the world did not like to be laughed at, even when they were talking what they would probably refer to as poppycock. Rafferty would have referred to it as something else, but not in polite company, and this company was about as polite as it got. Requests for blackmail and intimidation not withstanding.
“All right,” he said.
Sheridan’s eyes widened. “You’ll do it?”
“Wasn’t that the idea?”
“Yes. I just wasn’t sure--didn’t think it would be this simple.”
“Yeah, well, it sounds straightforward enough. Right up my alley.” Rafferty tried to look suitably disreputable. He didn’t have to try hard these days.  
“There’s a time element to all this--”
“Seven days. I didn’t miss it. And it’ll cost you more.” Rafferty named a figure that should have made the sensitive Mr. Sheridan blanch. He didn’t bat an eye as he reached inside his Scotch wool topcoat and withdrew a leather wallet. He counted out the crisp notes.
“You always carry this much cash?” Rafferty inquired taking the bills, folding them, and tucking them in the breast pocket of his suit.
“Pat told me you weren’t cheap.”
Rafferty snorted. “I’ve been called many things, but never cheap.”
Sheridan’s lashes flicked up and he gave Rafferty a long, direct look. So direct a look, in fact, that Rafferty wasn’t quite sure he was reading it correctly.
“What will your first move be?”
Rafferty blinked. “Huh?”
“How will you proceed with the case?”
“Are you sure you want to know? It’ll probably be necessary to, er, bend the rules a little….”
Sheridan drew back as though from a flame. “No. You’re quite right. It’s better if I don’t know. But you’ll…keep me posted on your progress? There’s so little time.”
Rafferty rose from behind his desk, and Sheridan rose too, automatically. “The minute I find anything out, you’ll be the first to know.”
“Right. Of course,” Sheridan said doubtfully. “Thank you.”
“No, no,” Rafferty replied urbanely. He was starting to enjoy himself. “Thank you.

            Gee.” Linda’s tone was wistful. “He even smells beautiful.”
“That’s Lenthéric aftershave, sugar.” Rafferty turned from the grimy window as Brett Sheridan’s tan V-8 convertible sedan sped away down
California Street
. “He fills the suit out all right, but if he’s got the brains of a Pekingese I’ll eat my hat.”
Linda laughed. She was a blonde bit of a girl, barely five feet in her socks. Not that Rafferty had seen her in her socks--or anything but those prim little numbers she wore on the Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays she manned his front office. He’d met her--rescued her, if you took her word for it--the morning she’d escaped with hours-old Baby William from the Drake Home for Unwed Mothers.
“Do we have a case?”
Rafferty reached into his pocket and showed her the wad of bank notes.
Linda gasped. “Who do you have to kill?”
            “This is honest dough for honest labor. I may have to rough Harry Sader up a little.”
Linda’s big brown eyes went saucer-like. “Harry Sader?”
“He’s managed to get his claws into Little Lord Fauntleroy’s big sister. I’m going to encourage him to let go--among other things.”
“What other things?”
“Our client thinks Harry stole a book.”
“I didn’t know Harry could read.”
“I guess it’s a very valuable book, and it would keep Harry in gin and greyhounds for the foreseeable future.”
“Harry Sader is trouble.”
Rafferty flashed her a grin. “Trouble is my business.” He reached for his hat.
* * * * *