Friday, January 29, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

M/M Romance Challenge - My So-Called Reviews, part one

Okay.  So I'm doing this Challenge thing.  Anesthezea at I Heart Paperbacks set it up: The M/M Romance Challenge.  And part of this requires one to post reviews of the books one reads.  Why do I do this to myself?  As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm of the "I don't know why I like it I just do" school of reviewing.  And while I don't want to dwell in the land of summaries, I find I am sort of obsessively compelled to do that.

Oh, who really gives a crap?  Here are a few books I've read, along with a few scattered notes about them:

A Matter of Time I - IV, by Mary Calmes, Club Lighthouse Publishing (Contemporary romance action-adventure mystery)

These 4 books are really one very long story.  Jory is a gorgeous twinkish guy who works for Dane, a gorgeous and renowned architect.  He witnesses a murder but won't go into protective custody.  He's trailed by Detective Sam Kage.  We read about Jory's adventures, falling in love with Sam, who seems to be straight but falls in love with Jory.  They have a lot of Stress and walking away and coming together.  Jory gets shot at some.  He gets kidnapped, saved, shot. Sam leaves for 3 years to go undercover, and when he returns Jory has to come to terms with his feelings and fears.  The sex is hot, with Jory loving how dominant Sam gets and Sam knowing it. Jory gets kidnapped again. Somebody gets killed. Sam gets hurt in an explosion.  Jory goes on a quest to figure out the killer... But everyone lives happily ever after.  Yes, it’s melodrama on a grand scale but I enjoyed it.  Except when I was grinding my teeth over the editing, especially the punctuation. Jory is the first person narrator, and I liked that because he was a little unreliable.  He was particularly entertaining in the fourth book, where he just matter-of-factly goes off on his own to catch the killer and has everyone on the other end of the phone completely aggravated.

Draegon Lords 3: Fires of Ballian, by M.L. Rhodes, Amber Allure (Fantasy)

Kieran has been kidnapped by "Death" (see book 2).  Gaige is left to be the lord of the draegons, and has to learn to believe in his magic powers, which are really getting to be strong.  He orchestrates the move from the camp to Kellesborne.  His visions help him learn things but take a physical toll, and he is helped by his grandmother in his search for Keiran. Gaige and his group discover that Byram is using other beings to help his armies and decimate and overtake towns.  Lots of movement, adventure.  Still, I felt this was not as engaging as the first 2 books - maybe because the two men are separated through most of it.  It’s clearly a lead-in to the next installment.


Precious Jade, by Fyn Alexander, Loose Id (Historical - Victorian, BDSM)

Jade grew up in the theater, with his performing mother.  She sends him off to find a real job at age 18.  He ends up as secretary to a man, Marcus, who turns out to be a Dom. Jade becomes his slave, and is introduced to the BDSM world,  but a stupid mistake causes Master to send him packing. A few weeks later, Jade is working at the Royal Pavilion and Master is a guest.  Jade discovers that several members of Parliament want to get Marcus ousted from his position and so works to prevent that. Told in first person, Jade's voice. He is an amusingly dramatic self-professed "nancy boy."  My take on this is that the story is being told tongue-in-cheek. 

Saying I Do (Quinn Security Series), by Cameron Dane, Loose Id (Contemporary romance action-adventure)

A sequal to Finding Home. Adam asks Rhone to marry him.  They go to a Vermont resort. They get themselves involved in a business-marriage between the resort owner's daughter and her male friend. They also get involved in a possible abuse case where two hotel workers are involved. There may be a little more than necessary going on with the two subplots, but I think it was done at least partly to show you can take the boys out of the office but you can’t take the detecting out of the boys. Lots of hot, steamy, Cameron Dane style sex, which is probably why I liked it.

 Family Unit, by Z. A. Maxfield, Loose Id (Contemporary romance)

Richard is raising his grandson, Nick.  Logan is a retired marine come to live in the house his dead lover left him.  The men are attracted and do the push me pull you thing to get to the love.  Richard keeps saying/thinking that Nick is his first priority, yet never hesitates to jump in the sack with Logan in the middle of the day. There is some anxiety-drama near the end of the book involving Nick and his estranged mother and her new boyfriend.  I liked the men; the boy seemed a little old for his years, but he’s had some tough breaks. ZAM is a good storyteller.  My complaint:  The 'age' thing.  They are 45, maybe 50 years old, but such a big deal is made of this that you’d think they’re 70.  That may just be perspective, depending on the age of the reader, though. Just sayin’.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lovely Review from Jenre

Jenre at Well Read reviewed Ice Cream on the Side. She had some lovely things to say about it. Go and read it. 

I like Jen's review style.  She is very thoughtful, that is, you can tell she's given a lot of thought to what she's saying.  She always supplies the reasoning behind her opinions, which I think is very helpful for the reader.  She is fair and thorough and I'm not just saying this to suck up 'cause she's already reviewed my book!

I don't think I'd make a very good reviewer.  I rely too much on my intuitive nature, which leads me to say things like "I liked it.  I don't know why, I just did!" Still, I think I'm supposed to review the books I read for the m/m romance challenge, so I'll putter along with something - short and sweet - soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting Published (my story)

I’ve seen in a couple of places now people asking about the process of getting published. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, so I’ll tell you how it went for me, but in a nutshell sort of way.  If you want to conclude at any point that “nutshell” is appropriate because I belong in one, please, be my guest.

I guess I started reading m/m in the fall of 2006.  Kind of stumbled upon it and wow - I was hooked immediately.  Something about the dynamics of two men in a relationship really spoke to me as a reader, and I devoured a lot of books. I experienced the wonderful spectrum of quality that exists in these books.  Periodically I’d say to myself, “Hey, I could do better than this.” (Then I’d read something by Josh Lanyon, or Jordan Castillo Price, or JL Langley, and I’d say, “Nah. It’s not that easy. I’ll just keep reading.”)  (There must be some mystery associated with “J” names.)

Then in late 2008 I stumbled across a contest a publisher was having. I literally wrote the book in a month’s time (my own private nanowrimo). Every entry was supposed to get editorial feedback, which I thought was great, since I didn’t have any beta readers or critique partners and lord knew I couldn’t ask my real life friends to review because holy crap the book has man on man sex in it!  I just looked at it as a chance to see if I really could write something others might want to read.

Well, I never heard back from the publisher, except for the automated we-got-your-document response.  So I wallowed in bitterness and anger for a while, then segued into self-pity and finally acceptance that I probably suck as a writer.  A few months later, don’t know what possessed me, but I opened up the story file and re-read my book and thought, “This needs a lotta work.  But it isn’t too awful.”  So I revised.  And sent the synopsis and three chapters to one of my favorite publishers, Loose Id.

Lo and behold!  They wanted to see the whole dang thing! And after they read it, well, wonder of wonders, they wanted to publish it.  And la, ta da! (I got the acceptance e-mail while on a cruise ship off the coast of England.  Never was I so happy to have hauled my laptop everywhere.)

After Loose Id accepted the manuscript, and I signed and returned the contract, the editor I was working with had the unenviable job of telling me all the stuff I did wrong.  She also told me some of the stuff I did right, which is really important because my fragile ego might not otherwise have survived.

I’ve learned way more than I ever expected to about the editing process and my own writing.  For example, I had no idea that my characters were excited about everything - it’s amazing to see so many exclamation marks deleted from one document! I learned that when your editor says “add a few lines here” she doesn’t mean five pages.  I found out that after you read your own story five or so times you get really sick of it, but after you read it eight or ten times you really see where you should have done about 75% of it differently.  There was other important stuff, but let’s not kill ourselves with details.

All of this goes on electronically by the way.  In word documents, tracking changes and such. 

There is a copy editor who goes over the manuscript.  She’s the one who confirms or fixes the manuscript for house style, spelling and grammar errors that have slipped, and continuity. And then a production editor reviews it. I liked this part because she commented with little notes when she particularly liked something or thought it was funny.  Still, it was at this point that I had moments where I thought I should yank out pages and rewrite them.  Of course, that was not possible.  I didn’t even tell anybody that.  But I thought it. Gah!

Loose Id sends its authors forms to fill out for information for promo and blurbs and cover design, so how well you complete those is important. Somewhere along the way I got a look at a rough draft of the cover.  I almost squee’d myself to death because it was done by P.L. Nunn.  She has done some of my favorite covers - I confess I often buy books because her art graces the cover.  Then the final version of the cover arrived, and I was told I could use it, show it off, etc.

That’s when I started my blog - so I had someplace I could put that pretty picture!  Well, I also needed to create an online presence.  The e-pubs don’t have the budget to do much in the way of fancy marketing, etc., so authors really have to get in there and do that.  Some are great at it, some don’t even have a blog or website or contact info.  Some are in-between.  It’s difficult for the introverts in the group!

So I now have a published book.  I’m pretty darned pleased about that.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Handcuffed Hottie in a Hood, part deux

Here is part 2 to the Red and Wolfie story.  See the previous post for part uno.

Red tugged at the cuffs then looked up into Wolfie’s eyes.  Wolfie was a good six inches taller, and he liked that Red had to bend back a little. 

“Why did you handcuff me?” Red asked.  He tugged at little at his bonds.

“Because I like you that way,” Wolfie said.  He leaned in even closer and brushed his rough cheek against Red’s smooth one.  He felt Red tremble at his touch.

“Are you…are you going to hurt me?” Red whispered.

Wolfie nuzzled at Red’s ear.  “Do you want me to hurt you?” He licked at the soft spot just behind the ear, and nibbled a little on the lobe.

Red shivered again. “No?” Wolfie’s lips continued their assault on Red’s neck, little bites leaving a trail of sensation in their wake.  “I mean…no.  I don’t want to be hurt.” 

“Okay,” Wolfie said.  He went back to kissing Red.  He found the taste of those full lips was like sweet berries and he couldn’t get quite enough.   As he kissed, Wolfie unzipped the hoodie Red wore and pushed it off his shoulders.  It gathered at Red’s wrists, adding another layer to his bindings.  Wolfie pressed his lips against Red’s temple, and sniffed at his hair, which smelled a bit like honey and clover.   Then he trailed more kisses down Red’s neck, on his shoulders and then his collar bones.

“You have very soft lips,” Red murmured.

“The better to kiss you with, baby.” Wolfie smiled against Red’s sweet, smooth skin.   He found a pert nipple and sucked gently.

“Oh. Oh.” Red squirmed.  He looked down at what Wolfie was doing.  Wolfie looked up at him from under his long, long lashes and smiled as he licked.  Red closed his eyes and the tip of his pink tongue peeked out to wet his lips.  Wolfie worked his way back up to Red’s neck.  He licked and sucked all along Red’s jaw, while his slightly calloused fingers tugged at Red’s increasingly sensitive nipples. 

“Oh, your fingers are strong!” Red gasped a little.

“The better to twist these tender nubs,” Wolfie said as he did just that.

Red moaned and wriggled and rose up on his toes. Wolfie pressed in harder, keeping Red up against the wall of the gazebo with his long legs bracketing Red’s and his pelvis grinding against Red’s hips.   He continued to pull and twist and rub those rosy nipples, and he bit somewhat harder on the skin of Red’s neck.  Red liked that; he tilted his head to the side to make room.  Wolfie bit and sucked and bit again, knowing a lovely dark mark would come up there.   He leaned back a little to look at it, and gave a satisfied smile.

“Your teeth are very sharp,” Red said.  He blinked slowly.

Wolfie’s smile broadened.  “That’s so I can mark your beautiful skin.”  He kissed the bruised spot, then he ground his hips against Red’s, rubbing in a circular motion.  Red’s cock had grown hard, as had his own, and it was such sweet torment to pulse them together with clothing between.   Red’s breathing had become ragged. He pushed back against Wolfie.

“You want more, don’t you?” Wolfie whispered in Red’s ear. 

“Ungh,” Red said.

“What was that?  I didn’t quite hear you.”  He ran his hands up and down Red’s sides, around to his back and front again.

“Yes…More.” Red sighed.

“What do you say?” Wolfie grinned.

“Please.” Red tugged at his restraints.  “I want more, please.”

“Heh,” Wolfie said.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Handcuffed Hottie in a Hood

This is a response to a post (well, comments, actually) on Tam's blog.  (Sorry, I couldn't find just the right photo for Wolfie).

Once upon a time a beautiful young man strolled along the walk by the river through the woods.  Despite the bright sun that warmed the day, he wore a red hooded jacket, and kept the hood up, as that was the fashion for beautiful young men in those days.  He also wore pants that threatened to fall right off his hips; they certainly did expose the waistband of his red boxer shorts.

Well, Red was on his way to his grandmother’s house, sent there by his mother to bring a treat to the ailing old woman: Pepe’s burritos from Joe’s diner.  The half-dozen burritos nestled in one Gladware container hidden under the folds of a towel in the canvas bag Red carried.  Red’s mom didn’t want to worry about getting one of her good dishes back from Grandma, who tended to throw things away rather than wash them.

Red stopped along the way to feed the ducks with stale bread he brought along for that purpose, and to buy a sundae cone from the Good Humor man, and to watch the university students practice rowing on the river.

He was leaning on the rail, enjoying his ice cream, when a man appeared next to him.  They nodded at each other.

“Nice day,” said the man.  He wore a shirt that must’ve been a size too small, because every line of every muscle showed.  He hadn’t shaved for a day or two, maybe.

“Um-humm,” said Red, licking the cone and giving the man a once-over.  Red really liked his eyes. And arms. And his slightly shaggy hair.

“I’m Joe.  Joe Wolferman.” The man turned toward Red. “But my friends call me Wolfie.”  He sniffed appreciatively at the bag Red carried.  “What’s that you’ve got there?”

“Burritos.  For my sick Grandma,” Red said.  He had reached the last bit of the ice cream cone, and some of sweet stuff dripped out the bottom.   He tilted his head back to suck out the last of it. 

Wolfie watched with interest as the young man’s adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed.  When Red felt those eyes hot upon him, he stopped sucking and stuffed the end of the cone in his mouth.  Sheepishly he chewed and swallowed the last of it.

“Good?” Wolfie asked, with one eyebrow raised.  Red nodded.  “Then I have something you might like.”

“What’s that?” asked Red.

“Come along and I’ll show you.”  Wolfie held out his hand, and after a moment’s hesitation Red put his hand in Wolfie’s.  Wolfie grinned, showing his remarkably white teeth.  “Let’s go over here. There’s a trail.” Wolfie led him along the garden path, into the woods, where a little gazebo stood in a clearing.

They entered the gazebo.  Wolfie took the bag of burritos from Red and set it down gently by the door. 

Red looked around the small space, and up at the rafters.  “This is…nice.”

“It is.  It’s the perfect place.” Wolfie advanced on Red. “Do you like to play games?”

Red backed up until his back hit the wall.  “What kind of games?”

“You know.  Games.” Wolfie bent down and kissed Red, just like that.  Red gasped at the pressure of Wolfie’s lips against his, and in that second Wolfie’s tongue jutted in and twisted around Red’s.  Red gave himself over to the kiss.  Wolfie’s hands stroked his arms.  Red became lost in the sensation of this beautiful man kissing him, rubbing him.  So much so that he didn’t notice the handcuffs on his wrists until he tried to bring his arms up around Wolfie’s neck.

“What…?” Red wondered.

Wolfie looked quite smug. “Heh,” he said.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ice Festival

So here's an ice sculpture from a not-too-distant ice festival.  Sadly, all of the exhibits were G-rated.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Interview and Guest blogging

I do believe that tomorrow (Jan 15) I will be interviewed at Monica Kaye's blog.  Stop by and say hello!

 And on Monday (Jan 18) I am making an appearance at Clare London's blog.  This is her birthday month and she's having guests write posts all month long.  Be sure to visit!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My next story, heaven help me

If you've been following Kris's blog (see previous post), you'll know that the selections have been made.  Her readers voted on and chose the following elements to be included in a short story that I will write:

Setting: A stuck elevator
Background on protagonists: One of them sings when he gets nervous
Another miscellaneous character: An inebriated priest/minister/whatever
Conflict: They had a one-night stand that one of them can't remember
Object to be mentioned in the story somewhere: An ice sculpture

Yes. Well.  Oh, and this is to be done so she can post it for Valentine's Day.

I'm going to have a drink now.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Choosing your own m/m story...

I've been hornswoggled invited to write a "choose your own m/m story" over at Kris's.

Other authors have done this and come out relatively unscathed, so maybe I will, too. 

In any event, if you haven't stopped over there to vote on the story elements, please do so.  You have until Wednesday (or Tuesday if you don't live in Australia or thereabouts).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snow and goodbyes

So we have a little snow.  More is predicted.  It's lovely but I wish it had been here at Christmas!
Boy went back to school today and it is always so hard to see him off after he's been home for any length of time.   I cry like an idiot and wave good-bye till his car is out of sight.  Then I'm weepy the rest of the day.  My husb is pretty good with the "there, there" and we'll go out to dinner where he'll be silly and distract me.

I tried to figure out why I get so emotional when boy leaves.  I remember my mom doing the same thing when I was in college, and later.  And never really understanding it.  And - la! - here I am.  I think it centers mostly on the passage of time.  My baby is grown up, making that transition to "real life."  It's a reminder of my own mortality, as each time he leaves it creates a snapshot in my head and in the progression of those moments I get older and of course I project that into the future because I'm maudlin that way...  And I think it's also a grieving process:  Wishing that I was that young again; missing the days of his childhood; time gone by...

Oh, sigh, enough with the whining, eh?  I make it sound as if it's all about me.  Maybe I just love the kid and will miss having him at home!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jazz and Riley 3 (Cat Pee)

Here's another peek into the lives of Jazz and Riley....

“What the freakin’ fuck is that smell?” Jazz stood in the doorway of the guest room, stopped by the pungent odor of…something.

Riley stopped on his way to their bedroom, laundry basket in hand. He sniffed. “Oh my god!” The basket landed with a thud and he pushed past the bigger man.  He crouched as he neared the bed, nostrils flaring like a hound dog’s.  “It’s cat pee!” he yelled. He pointed at the comforter, and whipped his head back and forth between it and Jazz.  “Cat pee! Cat pee!  On the bed!”

Jazz paced the few steps over to get a looksee.  “Oh. That explains it.”

Riley’s eyes just about popped out of his head. “Oh? Oh?  That’s all you can say?”

“Well, no, I suppose I could jump around and shout ‘cat pee, cat pee’ for a while.  Would that make it any better?”


They both just stared at the puddle on the comforter, which seemed to have a finish the liquid didn’t penetrate.  Jazz could see Riley out of the corner of his eye, and waited until the other man’s breathing returned to normal.  “So who did it, do you think?”

Riley shook his head.  “Not sure. My guess is Bangers.”

“You don’t think Mash could’ve done it?” 

“It could be her, but usually it’s the boy cats that pee where they shouldn’t.”  Riley sighed. “While I clean this up, could you check around for any other deposits?”

“Sure. You think there’ll be more?”  Jazz followed Riley out of the room.  They both stopped when they saw the suspects studying them from the middle of the hallway.

“Aha!” Riley leaned toward the cats.  “Which of you is the culprit?” As was typical, neither Bangers nor Mash answered.  They just blinked. Riley shrugged. “Who knows?” He headed toward the bathroom for cleaning supplies.  “I think one of us would have noticed, but I’ll feel better if we check.”

Jazz wondered through the house, sniffing bedding and cushions, checking the corners and behind the drapes.  Mash followed him, as if to supervise this curious activity.  Jazz spoke to her as he searched.  “You probably think this is funny, huh?  Well, I say you’re both a couple of ingrates. One of you is the perp, and one’s the accomplice.  And that’s a fine thank you for dragging your butts out of the shelter.”  He stopped to look at the little orange and white cat.  In the same second, Mash decided that her toes needed a tongue bath, thereby removing her attention from Jazz and anything he happened to be doing.

It didn’t take long for Jazz to be satisfied that there was just the one occurrence.  He found Riley in the laundry room. “All clear,” he announced.  Bangers appeared from wherever and jumped up on the dryer to watch.

“Good.” Riley stuffed the comforter in the washer.  “I don’t know if this is going to work, but I have to try.” He poured in the detergent and started the machine.  He scratched Bangers behind the ears. “Look at this extra work you guys are making for me.”

Jazz nearly bit a hole in his tongue to keep from saying anything about the life expectancy of cats who pee where they shouldn’t.  He knew how much Riley loved the furballs.  He liked them, too, but Jazz wasn’t sure about this.  He had figured cats were pretty self-sufficient, which was the main reason he agreed to adopting them. He was damn sure not going to spend the next fifteen years - or however long cats lived - smelling and cleaning cat pee.

Jazz must’ve been thinking on the loud side, because Riley turned to him and said, “We will figure this out, so don’t get your undies in a bunch just yet.”

“What? I didn’t…” Jazz sputtered.

“I can hear the hamsters running on the wheels, Jazz.”  Riley patted Jazz on the chest as he walked by.  “I’m gonna go online and do some research.”   Bangers landed with a thud and followed him.
The rest of the evening proved uneventful.  They watched the college bowl games and ate leftover lasagna.  Made out on the couch.  Jazz chased Riley upstairs and fucked him senseless.  They settled under the covers, and soon thereafter felt the tread of cat feet as Bangers and Mash searched for the perfect spots.  All seemed calm and peaceful, right up until Jazz felt warm wetness spreading across his ankles.

“What the freakin’ fuck…? Jazz looked toward his feet as Riley struggled to lean up. His black fur blended with the shadows, so it was easy to tell that it was Bangers leaving a calling card.

“Dammit!” Riley moaned.

“Cat pee,” Jazz shouted, as he threw the covers off and hopped out of bed. “Cat pee!”