Tuesday, February 17

Just in time for Mardi Gras!

Forget the p...pnz.....k....pynk..... great big fat donuts, how about a non-fat, steamy short story instead? I have a brand new story out from Rule 34 Books called The Wrong Bird. (Available on Amazon and Smashwords).

Seth is a straight, straight-laced college freshman who attends a Mardi Gras masquerade party and meets the wrong bird...but maybe a peacock is exactly what he needs...

Short Excerpt:

Seth Tyler surveyed the dimly lit living room, as the thumping beat of some techno song he’d never heard before reverberated through the floorboards. His gaze flickered from one pretentious, over-the-top costume to another. In one corner a steampunk version of the Mad Hatter and Alice chatted with Jack and Sally from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. In another, a couple wearing matching gold lame togas were making out, hot and heavy. A female version of Jack Sparrow sauntered out of the kitchen, nearly knocking over some guy in a long coat—Seth had no idea what he was supposed to be, but he was cute.
Not that Seth was into guys or anything.
Seth’s costume wasn’t subtle either, but as far as he could tell he was the only masquerade-goer wearing all white. Stretch velvet pants clung to his legs, while the wide sleeves of the poet shirt he’d borrowed from his sister Haley swished around his arms. A white leather vest he’d borrowed from his cousin Leanne kept his slim figure from being overwhelmed by the ruffles and lace. Haley and Leanne had come up with the idea of him wearing all white because he was so pale, but Seth had to admit he liked the way he looked. The finishing touch had been his idea: a white leather mask with a long clear acrylic horn that he’d bought at the Renaissance Festival last year.
Because what better way to score a few “maidens” than by coming as a unicorn?
He surveyed the room a second time, then made his way over to the hors d’oeuvres table where an array of finger foods were laid out. Haley had said her sorority was going all out for this year’s Mardi Gras masquerade party, which was a yearly tradition for the Alpha Chi.
So far, it was living up to everything Seth expected. He snagged a plastic wine flute of champagne and filled a little plastic plate with shrimp, mini-quiches, and caviar-topped crackers.
“Hungry?” said a low, sultry voice behind him.
Heat tinted Seth’s cheeks; there was a lot of food piled onto his plate. “I, um…er—” the half-formed excuse died on his lips when he turned and saw the woman standing behind him. She was tall. Statuesque. That was one of those words Haley used. She was an English major. Seth had never applied it to anyone in real life before, but it fit the tall red-head who stood there, a grin playing at the corners of her mouth.
She quirked an eyebrow at him. “Well?”
“I…yeah.” What else could he say? “Great costume.” God, could he have come up with anything more lame to describe the gorgeous blue corset and peacock feather skirt she was wearing? There were more feathers in her hair and her mask had a little bird-beak over the nose.
But she smiled. “Yours too.  Although I hope you don’t expect to find too many virgins around here.” 
He tried to laugh. Haley was around here somewhere. But he wasn’t like Mom and Dad; he wasn’t delusional. He just didn’t want to know about his sister’s sex life. “So ah, I’m Seth.” Lame. Lame, lame, lame.
She held out her hand. “Jean.”
Seth just barely stopped short of making a bigger fool of himself by suggesting that with a name like that, she should have come dressed as one of the X-Men. Instead he took the hand she offered and kissed it, because stuff like that always looked cool in movies.
The gesture earned him another smile. “Should I even ask if you’re old enough to be drinking that?” Jean inquired.
He shrugged. He was nineteen. But college was all about getting drunk and laid, right? “I just started here last fall,” he answered, without actually answering. “What about you?”
“Excited to be almost done?”
“If I were done, I might be. I’m going start right into my Master’s program next fall.”
“What’s your major?”
“Social work.”
“Wow, hot and smart.” Heat flushed his cheeks. “I mean…well, you are hot,” he confessed.
She chuckled. “And you’re sweet.”
Great. Sweet was not what he was going for. He excused himself before he made it any worse.

The female Jack Sparrow was named Ellie; she was a sophomore. She was cute and funny and probably a lot more accessible than Jean, but no matter how hard he tried Seth couldn’t get the peacock off his mind. So with his courage bolstered by a second glass of champagne and a couple of Jell-O shots, he made his way over to where Jean was talking to a woman who looked like the spirit of the Mardi Gras itself, dressed in purple, green, and gold lamé, and decked in beaded necklaces that she was handing out like candy. She draped several over Seth’s head before he even said hello.
“Hello again,” Jean greeted him with smile. She was sipping something pink and fizzy out of a plastic cocktail glass.
“Hi,” Seth replied. Okay, now what? “What’s that?” he asked, nodding at her glass.
Jean smirked. “A pink fuck.”


I want to say a super huge thank you to the staff of Rule 34 Books, especially my friend Dora for the awesome job they did on this--and especially to Dora for the prompt of "5000 words of party-themed smut"  :D 

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!

Monday, February 9


Oops... I got so caught up with...well, everything, that I totally forgot about the blog hop!

I need to collect my thoughts a little better before trying to come up with something...I'm writing my little fingers off trying to finish up a submission and...well... life! 

But thanks SO much for stopping by and if you've been with me for a while, thank you for hanging in there! 

Tuesday, January 20

Happy birthday....

As many of you may know, thanks to the wonder that is Facebook, my birthday was last Saturday. I went to a funeral. That's not actually quite as depressing as it sounds. It was sad, but with friends old and new, I was able to celebrate the life of one of the kindest, big-hearted, wonderful old curmudgeons I've ever known. He will always be in my heart, and in the hearts of so many other people whose lives he touched.

The first time I got back on FB after getting the call
that Kirk was gone, I saw this--this is SO him.  :)
It's an odd thing; we didn't see one another frequently. He was a bigger home body than me, and that, my friends is scary, but he was always there. Having him not there is...hard. It's hard on other people. On his partner, his friends (the ones who saw him more frequently than me.) It's hard on his four-footed children who don't have the capacity to understand why he's not there anymore. 

His passing has reminded me how important it is to tell the people we love that we love them (something I was able to say to Kirk, and for which I am grateful--grateful not only that I had the opportunity, but that I had the good sense to take it, something I haven't always done in the past). 

Although the last few weeks have taken a toll on my creativity (he happened to be ill with basically the same thing my character Dillon's former partner died of), I'm feeling the Muses start to move again and hope to spend the rest of the month finishing up Dillon and Andi. Thankfully, I have an awesome, understanding publisher. 

I'm also starting in on a new non-fiction project. Or rather, an old non-fiction project. Although it's completely unrelated to anything here, but I'm hoping some of you might be interested anyway. Last year at ConVocation (a large pan-Pagan conference here in SE Michigan), I taught a class that went over very well. Essentially, this is my take on the runes--and I'm hoping that a) I have something useful to add to the volume of knowledge we already have on the runes and that b) I'll be able to raise enough money to allow me to indulge in other creative ventures over the summer (as well as continuing to write steamy hot m/m romance, of course!)

I plan to keep on track with my New Year's "resolution" to write Derrik and Palo's story this year as well as at least two more. I'm planning to turn Dillon and Andi in on Feb. 15; they're nearly done, but I want some time to go back and hammer out a few last details before submitting it. (And of course I have that short story coming out in Feb, too!)

Monday, January 12

Tentacles and Chain

Super HUGE thanks to my friends who looked at the computer and sorted out the issues (at least for a temporary fix; a permanent will require a a system wipe and restore.)  But a word of caution as to the cause. A virus.
Sort of.
It's not the sort of issue you would ever expect--or at least it wasn't one I did.
See, apparently it all started with the free trial version of the McAfee anti-virus software; software I never even used (I have a different anti-virus program, I happen to like better.) 
But apparently, when I removed McAfee--or tried to--something in its programming code said "oh no you don't!" and it became this *thing* that could (and did) cause all kinds of problems, like freezing my system and even deleting files (there have been some missing files; I thought I was loosing my mind for a while, because I knew I'd saved!) 
A little research has yielded the simple answer that: it's happened before, it will happen again, the company says we can suck it if we don't like it. 
I have no advice on how to avoid the problem, since McAfee is installed as free trials on most computers, but I wanted to pass the word. As far as I'm concerned, that shit is toxic....

However, without further ado, the end of T&C (the last two chapters) 

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you've enjoyed! I *will* be seeing about getting this available as a free ebook...but given the computer issues, bear with me a little. It might take a month!

Chapter Twenty-Five

Trellen closed his eyes. He wouldn’t fight. He’d given his word. He would submit to the darkness.
Please forgive me. Please take me back. I made a mistake. I thought I wanted to be free when all I really wanted was you. Please. I belong to you. Only you. Always you. 
Strong tentacles encircled him, cradling his broken body. “Shhh, easy my sweet, I’ve got you.”
Trellen smiled into the darkness. “Master.”
“Don’t speak.”
He curled against the phantom body, the strength of a male that wasn’t there. Just in my imagination. My dreams. But even phantoms could be a comfort when the dream felt this real. “I’m sorry I left. Please say you’ll forgive me.”
“Shhh, there will be time enough for that later.”
Later. There wouldn’t be a later. Unless the dream continues after death. He smiled again and his heart swelled with joy. Perhaps death was merely a sleep from which he would never awaken. How marvelous it would be to stay like this forever, cradled in his embrace.
Contented—happy—Trellen let the darkness of sleep overtake him.

Light, soft and golden.
It pierced Trellen’s eyelids as surely as the spear had pierced his tail. He stirred. He didn’t want to wake up. But there was no pain, so surely he must still be asleep.
Or dead.
But if he was dead, would he be able to form thoughts?
So a dream then. And he always dreamed of his Master. Trellen called out for him.
“Here, sweet.”
He opened his eyes, surprised to find the light still there. He never dreamed of light, only darkness. The soft touch of a hand on his shoulder drew his attention and he turned his head. There, surrounded by dozens of golden glow orbs sat…. Master? But who else could it be?
The skin above his tentacles lightened from black to pale blue-gray. He had strong, broad shoulders, just like Trellen had always imagined, and long fine hair. It wasn’t black like his tentacles though, but rather the same red-orange color as the setting sun. And his face…Trellen’s chest surged with strange emotions. Master’s eyes were large and such dark a shade of blue, they looked nearly black. His nose was long and fine, his cheekbones delicate—beautiful—and his lips were full and soft. How could this incredible creature be the monster of his childhood nightmares?
“Trellen?” His voice—Master’s voice—was filled concern.
 Trellen smiled. “Is this what death is for everyone?”
“No sweet. You’re not dead.”
“I must be. How else could I be here?” He knew the chamber. Even if he’d never seen it before, he knew where every shell was placed, where every trinket lay. He was home.
Master chuckled, a soft familiar rumble. He brushed a few strands of hair out of Trellen’s face. “It was close. You’ve lost a lot of blood. If I hadn’t found you….” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. You’re safe. You’re here.”
Trellen nodded. But the heaviness was beginning to weigh in on him once more as darkness clouded his vision.
He wasn’t ready to leave, not yet. Not ever. But please not yet. He needed just a little longer. “I’m sorry,” he rasped. “I made a mistake. I just…I never should have left.” What if death was some strange transitory thing, like the open sea, ever changing? Perhaps the next time he woke it would be somewhere else and he would never see his Master again. “Please forgive me.”
Strong tentacles encircled him and Trellen stilled. “Shhh. Rest. We’ll speak of it later.”
“What if there is no later?”
“Then I forgive you.” And he leaned in and pressed a soft, sweet kiss to Trellen’s mouth.
Trellen opened for him and let sleep come.

He woke again, drowning in pain. The chamber about him was bathed in soft golden light, as it had been in the dream….
The dream.
But that was impossible. Despair bubbled up to replace physical pain with something far more acute as then the memory of the last two weeks came rushing back. His pathetic little island. His decision to return.
Getting lost.
The Men.          
The spear.
My tail. Kaia, no, please.
Trellen struggled to sit up because he needed to see how bad it was, but he found he could barely move. The harder he tried, the more it hurt.
“Lie still.”
He started at the sound of a familiar voice. Master.
“How?” He craned his neck, unable to believe…. But there he was, and just as beautiful as in the dream, all but for the lines of worry etched deeply across his forehead. “You’re not a monster,” Trellen blurted out.
Master laughed, but the sound lacked its usual warmth. “How very kind of you to say.”
“But…?” Why did you hide your face from me if you’re not a monster?
Master ignored the half voiced question moved to sit on the edge of the bed. “How are you feeling?”
“I can’t move my tail.” And that terrified him more than waking up blind and in the dark in that tiny cell Master had first put him in. He tried to sit up again, but it was useless. “Please—”
“Shhh. Be still,” Master repeated, stroking his cheek with a cool hand “You’re all right. You’re safe.”
“How did you find me?”
Master gave a wan smile. “The scent of your blood in the water. I’d been nearly ready to give up ever finding you.” His tone was thick with emotion. Pain? Grief? Trellen had no idea, but it hurt his heart to hear it. He reached up and Master took his hand. He caressed Trellen’s fingers. “I truly thought…but it doesn’t matter. You should eat.” He used a tentacle to bring a large shell piled high with muscles and shrimp to within Trellen’s reach. 
Trellen shook his head. He was hungry, but, “My tail.  Please. The spear went straight through it and—” And he could feel pain but nothing else.
“It will heal, I promise, but you must lie still or you’ll damage yourself further.”
Trellen looked up at him. If this was a trick, another trap…. “Please.” Please don’t lie to me. “I need to see it. I….” I need to know it’s still there. He’d heard before of “ghost pain,” of someone losing an arm but still feeling its presence. “Please?”
“I’ll help you sit.” 

Chapter Twenty-Six

Trellen braced himself—but his tail was still there. He let out the breath he was barely aware he’d been holding and sagged against Master’s incredible strength. He hadn’t been able to move because his tail was bound up with strange leaves. “What…what are those?”
“We call the plant mysonara. It grows on the island I took you to before.”
“Land plants? How…?”
“They will help you heal. That is all that matters.”
Trellen gave a shaky nod, but couldn’t make himself believe it would really be all right. “Why did you come for me?”
“Because I…. Because I treasure you above all other things, my sweet. Here.” He handed Trellen a piece of meat from the shell. “This is toola. You liked it.”
Without thinking, Trellen leaned in and took the morsel into his mouth. It was the sweet, tender muscle Master had brought him many times, but that he’d never had before coming here. “What is it?”
“A tuberous creature that lives far below even this depth.”
He nodded and ate another piece, this time picking it up for himself. Then he ate some sea urchin, and then a couple of sagren leaves. Trellen hadn’t even realized how hungry he was until now, but before he knew it, the shell was empty and his body began to feel heavy again, weary.
Master took the shell and flashed a knowing smile. He brushed his hand over Trellen’s hair. “You should sleep.”
“You…you said you forgave me…?” He turned it into a question because he couldn’t be sure Master had forgiven him in reality or if it had only been part of a dream.
Master smiled—but it didn’t reach his eyes and that made knives dig into Trellen’s gut. “And I have, my sweet.” Why did he seem so sad?
“Then will you lie with me? Please?”
His smile warmed. “If you wish me to.”
“More than anything.”
Some of the sadness faded from his gaze and he eased himself into the bed next to Trellen. When Master rolled onto his side and gathered Trellen into his arms, encircling his tail gently with his tentacles, Trellen smiled. He snuggled in close. At last, he was safe.
He was home.
Master stroked his hair. “I truly thought I had lost you,” he confided softly. “And I do forgive you, but will you tell me why you left?”
Trellen opened his eyes once more and met his Master’s gaze. “I….Before, you asked me what I was afraid of but I wouldn’t tell you.” He swallowed past a lump in his throat and ignored the tightening of his gut. “I feared never being able to swim in the Blue waters again. I was afraid to tell you because…because I was afraid you would use it against me. I didn’t want you to have that kind of advantage over me.”
“Do you truly mistrust me so much?”
“Not anymore.” He laid his head against his Master’s chest and listened to the soft, steady beating of his heart. “I kept telling myself you were a monster and you kept proving me wrong, but I didn’t know how to accept the truth that was right in front of me. I do need the Blue. I need the sun. Only I need this, too.” And he didn’t know how to make that work.
Not that it matters. By coming back, by begging his forgiveness, I’m accepting the role of slave once more. He would do whatever his Master told him to do and pray that when Master said he forgave Trellen, he really meant it. Pray he won’t use my escape against me.
Master was quiet for a long while, stroking Trellen’s hair while he held him close. Finally, he spoke. “If I promised that you could go to the Blue anytime you desired, that you could see the sun whenever you wanted, would you promise not to leave me again?”
Trellen looked up, startled. “Why would you trust me after I left you the way I did?”
“Because you have never lied to me, my sweet.”
“I fled.”
“You promised only to submit to my will. My pleasures. You kept that promise admirably. Honorably. So if you promise me now that you will never leave me like that again, I will believe you and happily let you go to the Blue any time you wish.”
Trellen bit his lip. “Would…would you come to the Blue with me?” he asked. Master had said the sea called to his soul, too. Is it too much to hope that I can have both him and the Blue? “Nothing made me happier than when you took me to that island. I’d like to swim with you. Sit in the sun with you.”
Master slid his tentacles around Trellen’s body slowly, sensually, almost as if he was trying to re-acquaint himself with every curve and muscle, with every inch of skin. When he spoke again, his voice was barely a whisper. “Anything you need, whatever you want, all you ever have to do is tell me, and if it is within my power, I will give it to you, Trellen. If you are able to believe my word, you have it.”
There was something foreboding in his tone, something sad, but with sleep weighing heavily on him, Trellen had a hard time wrapping his mind around what it could be. Did…Master couldn’t fear he would ask for his freedom—could he? Trellen shook his head. It didn’t matter. He would never ask for that. “I believe you. You haven’t lied to me either. Except for this,” he added with a little smile.
Master frowned. “This?”
“You said I would not see your face until I told you what I feared. You lied.”
A ghost of a smile played at the corners of his mouth. “I hope you will forgive me if I thought that under the circumstances, light might be welcome.”
“It is.” But before he could sleep, there was still something he needed to know. I only hope I don’t regret asking. “What will happen to me when you’ve tired of me?”
Master’s smile vanished and deep lines creased his brow once more. “Tired of you?”
“The…the games we play can only entertain you for so long. When I become boring, will you cast me out into the Blue to find another Master?” Because he knew he needed this. He needed to be owned, cared for. Treasured. He needed both the pleasure and the pain his Master gave him.
“What makes you think I will tire of you?”
“Won’t you?”
“No. And the thought of you with another burns my heart, Trellen. My sweet Pretty.” He pressed a fervid kiss to Trellen’s lips and Trellen opened to him at once. The familiar invasion was welcome—relished. Master broke the kiss all too soon. He cupped Trellen’s face in both hands and held him so they were looking one another squarely in the eye. “You said before that you were mine. Only mine. Always mine. If that is still true, then I promise you, I will never cast you aside or let you go.” His tone held a fierceness that Trellen had never heard before. It made his heart swell up so much, he thought it might explode right out of his chest.
He cupped his hands over top of his Master’s. “I’m yours. Only yours. Always yours.”
“Good. Now sleep.” And he wrapped his arms snugly around Trellen’s shoulders and held him tight.
Trellen closed his eyes, but he found there was still one more question burning in his mind.  “Will you tell me your name?” he asked softly without looking up. “Your real name?”
He chuckled; it was a soft, sweet rumble in Trellen’s ear. “Of course, my sweet. It is Nghara.”
It was a good name.
He pressed a kiss to Nghara’s chest, and was content at last to allow slumber to claim him, secure in the knowledge that when he woke up, he would be right where he belonged: Home

Saturday, January 10

Tentacles and Chain--we have a technical problem

Okay guys, here' the skivvy: if you've been following the tale of my computer woes on Facebook, you know that Word is f*cking up my machine (causing freezes.)

*NONE* of my copies of Tentacles and Chain are accessible. Six hard restarts later, I'm throwing in the towel. (Every time I try to open up *any* of the copies of T&C, Word freezes up my entire machine making my only option a hard restart. I even tried uploading it to Dropbox and downloading it from there, only to have everything freeze up when I tried to open the downloaded copy.)

The good news is that I do have a physical copy, so I can and will re-type the last chapter--the previous chapters are all archived here (thank the gods). But that's not going to happen today. Hopefully by next weekend. (Today, I'm thinking a book and nice cup of tea. Preferably spiked.)

Several really awesome computer people have given me a number of great ideas to try--unfortunately, I lack the computer skills to open up my laptop and try them and I seriously don't have the money to take it in (even though the machine is less than 2 years old, Best Buy, is...hmmmm....less than helpful? That's where we got it. They want $200 to back up the data and another $300 to buy a "repair plan" which is the only way they'll be able to fix it--and no, the fact that it's practically brand new doesn't help. Computers are "out of date" within the first year, they tell me. Sorry, this girl can't afford a new laptop every 12 months.) I'm told, by my awesome computer-y friends that is really a great machine and if what they think is the problem really is the problem, it's just one of those stupid hardware issues that can happen to any computer (loose ram thingy), but at the moment, I'm a little frustrated. It's a $700 computer; I expected better.  

At any rate, today it's tea and reading, tomorrow it's dinner with friends, next week, I'll try to type in the last chapter of T&C and have it up as soon as it's done.

Thanks for reading and I promise not to take too long on the last chapter.

Thursday, January 1

Looking back, looking forward

It's been a rough year. Not just for me, but since my life is the one I know the most intimately--the one I have to live--mine is the one I feel the most acutely. That doesn't mean I think my problems are bigger than anyone else's. In point of fact, I know they're not. I have some very near and dear friends going through something that makes me feel like a selfish git for whining. 

But here goes, anyway:

This time last year, my husband and I were facing the very real prospect of being...well, not homeless, we knew we'd figure something out, but certainly there was the possibility that whatever we figured out, it could mean giving up a lot of things. The "things" were okay--I have more stuff than I need and I know it--but the (very real at the time) prospect of giving up our dog (because he's 40lbs and that's apparently "big" by most standards) was something neither of us could fathom. We knew we could return him to the rescue where we got him--we'd signed an agreement to that effect--but..no. Just no. He's a member of the family, same as the cats. The thought of losing any of them, like that especially, was heartbreaking. 

Ultimately, we bought a wonderful old house in Detroit and I had grandly optimistic ideas that by this time *this* year the walls would be up and painted and it would be my dream home.

Yeah. Cut to Dec. 31, 2014 and there's still a butt-ton of work to be done...but I love my house! 

But. There's always a but.

Financially, we were supposed to be better off after we walked away from our place in the suburbs. But the process of moving was more expensive than I planned for, so long story short, if I don't sell this book I've been working on for, oh, the last two years (to be fair, I've worked on it on and off, along with other projects) we won't be able to pay the taxes. (On the upside, our tax bill went from $7000 a year to about $900, which is something I can actually cover by selling a couple of books!)

Between all of that, plus some stuff that's too personal (to other people, but still, it affects my life because I love them dearly) to write about here, I haven't put out a new book in over a year. I haven't even finished a book in over a year (except for Tentacles and Chain  :)  )  

And I totally get it Writing is a job. You have to treat it like a job. But it's not like waiting tables or working retail or even working in a library. While there are set tasks to accomplish every day when you're an author, they're tasks that require the brain to be fully functional, not-stressed-out, and yes, there needs to be a certain amount of creativity flowing, even if it's merely a slow drip. Stress causes that drip to stop cold. 

Besides Life Stuff, this last year saw stress in the publishing world. Silver went and did whatever the hell happened last year (or year before?) and then in 2014, Ellora's Cave followed suit. I didn't have titles out with either publisher, but shit like that rocks a person's confidence in the market (although for the record, my publisher, Dreamspinner is freaking awesome. We get total transparency and the company follows a great business model and is headed up by an amazing woman.)  

Still, though, when the poop hit the fan with EC, I was gobsmacked. They were a big company. Popular. Successful...or so I thought. Seeing them go under (or whatever the hell happened, seeing as their website is still active) was a bit of a blow to my already fragile psyche for a number of reasons.

On the heels of that, there's this Kindle Unlimited nonsense that has a lot of people running and screaming that the sky is falling. Not to belittle their fears--some independent authors are suffering. Badly. KU is NOT good for authors. Unlike with Scribd, authors don't get a regular royalty, they have to split the pool of funds with every other author in the (growing) pool (growing because Amazon is making it painful for indies not to participate in the KU program).

The whole thing reinforces something that's been coming to a head for the last few years--you know, after I finally wrote and published my first book. It goes sort of like this:

In the beginning, when epublishing became easier (thanks to evolving technology), people made money. Lots of money. People were quitting their day jobs and sending their kids to college on their royalty checks. A lot of those people were indie (self) published, but a fair number were published authors too. Everybody was happy. 

Then more people started doing writing books because hey, it's easy! (Well, the technology part of it, anyway.) 

The pond became bigger. 

Now it's an ocean and leviathans like Amazon are in charge of that ocean--and let's face it, Amazon is only looking out for its interests, not ours (mine, yours, anyone's.) I don't blame them for wanting to make money, but their business model is not author-friendly. That's why there are people who were making lots of money who are running around panicking because for them, the sky is falling. 

It's scary. And it's easy to fall into the trap of "shit, I missed the boat, I'm never going to make enough money to survive on my writing alone."

But negative thinking only leads to stress which makes that trickle of creativity that I'd been struggling with all last year (and especially in the last couple of months, as I've blown deadline after deadline--which is also stressful) to dry up even more. I'm not blaming anybody, I'm simply trying to move forward into 2015 with a clearer idea of where I went wrong in 2014. 

The "heyday" of epublishing is probably over. The market isn't dead; people are reading. Romance is never going to lose its appeal 

M/M is getting more popular every day.

But that means more authors. 

From the author's perspective, the market is glutted. Some of that is because wonderful, awesome people have realized "I can do that too!" and are writing because it brings them joy. That brings me joy (more books to read!) 

Some people are doing it to jump on the bandwagon and make a few bucks. (Newsflash: you'll still make more writing het). 

I will never see a $30,000 year. I won't send my kid to college on what I earn writing. (Perhaps in part because I refuse to write about billionaire dinosaurs turning their male secretaries gay*). I write at the pace I write. That's slow. It's painful. I don't write about happy, fluffy subjects. (Or pterodactyls abducting young virgins to have sex with them**.)  I could...well, maybe not the dino- and crypto-porn. If I wanted to make more money, I could churn out 60K books filled with happy fluff that would probably make a lot of readers very happy. There's a reason it sells so well. (And some of it is very well written happy fluff. I'm not knocking it, I just don't have those stories in me.)

*I'm serious. Look it up on Amazon.
**I'm really serious. Look it up on Amazon.

I'm all about angsty, long winded, tortured souls; characters who have been through hell and back (whether that hell reaches the page or not) and survived. I write about tattered edges and hard topics. 

My current WIP (almost, almost, almost done!!) is about a man who lost his partner to cancer two years ago and has been chugging along, churning his wheels, but not really living ever since. One night, he meets an 18 year old with pink hair and painted nails who is totally unlike anyone he's ever met before. What he doesn't know is that Andi is a prostitute. Not a high end rent boy, but street level sex worker. His life isn't "Pretty Woman" either. Drugs, alcohol, rape...that's what really happens on the street. He's not looking for Prince Charming, he just wants to get fucked by a guy he chooses for a change. 

Of course there is a happy ending. But it's been a hard write. The fact that I inadvertently ended up writing about something close to home (the cancer part, not the street level sex part) has made it harder. There were days when I didn't want to look at it and other days when I thought "I never want to write about anything bad again" because it was while I was working on Pasha and Daniel that I discovered a guy I'd known in high school (and been very close to at one time) was HIV+.  There was this weird fear that in writing about it....yeah, silly. I know. But the brain does funny things, sometimes  ;-)  

So what does all of this boil down to?

Simply this: here are my goals for the coming year. I hope they're realistic:

  1. Stay off the INTERNET! Okay, not really. But stop listening to the people whose skies are falling and concentrate on my own roof--and my own books. It's a dangerous trap to compare one's own earnings with another author's anyway. I am who I am and I write the books that I write. I hope if you're reading this blog, you like them! 
  2. My next project is Bound: Damaged Goods (which is about a third written already)
  3. After that, I have a couple of irons in the fire warming up: 
    1. An untitled novel with an African American piano student (classical music) who has to find a different career--and adjust his attitude--after an accident leaves him without the use of his right hand (of course he can still play, there are some awesome people out there--but like I said, he needs to adjust his attitude, too)
    2. Robin Hood set in the Olde West (thanks to a plot bunny from B. Snow) -OR- Mark and Brett's story (you may have met them in Hanging by the Moment, if you read it)  -OR- both? 
  4. There a couple of upcoming anthologies I'd like to try and submit to...if I can find the time and inspiration
  5. In my personal life, I have a house to fix up, a garden I want to plant (maybe, we might put that off a year), a Family Reunion to cook for in May, and some (lots of!) books I'd like to read.
And, in theory, once I'm back in the swing of it, I'll have things like beta reading for other authors and edits to look forward to as well as promote, promote, promote! (Which means, yes, I will get another newsletter out soon.) 

Saturday, December 27

Tentacles and Chain (Ch. 24)

I hope everyone had a merry, happy, bright and beautiful holiday!

Chapter Twenty-Four

Six days later, Trellen was almost ready to give up. He was sure he’d stayed on course—but how much attention had been paying to the sea’s currents and smells when he fled his Master’s home? He’d simply been escaping, swimming east because it was the direction he chose at random. If he’d passed any rock formations close enough to the surface to see, he hadn’t noticed them. And it’s just as likely I didn’t pass any. The Blue was deeper and far more vast than he’d ever imagined. For six days, he’d swum without seeing anything but water and sky, and far below the Blue, the intimidating darkness of the Below. He tried not to think of how far down it went or what might be lurking in the dark.
Determination gave way to desperation and finally despair. Not only hadn’t he found his way home, he hadn’t found anywhere to rest or refill his empty net. Weary to the core with hunger gnawing at his gut, Trellen wanted nothing more than to find sanctuary from the waves and a few crustaceans or even a bit of sea grass to fill his belly.
Goddess, how does anyone survive this alone? Lucien…. Trellen swallowed back the lump in his throat. Lucien was clever. He was older by two full turnings. He was as strong as he was beautiful. Surely if anyone could survive the open sea, it was him. Trellen had to believe he was alive.
Only I’m not him and if I don’t find shelter soon, I won’t survive. Trellen dove beneath the surface and flipped, then swam back up fast to breach the waves and balance for as long as he could, standing on his tail out of the water. There was nothing in the distance except the bleak horizon.
Disheartened, he continued on. Because the only other thing to do is stay here and wait to die. He’d spotted white-tipped dorsal fins a few days back. So far the sharks were staying away. But if I allow myself to get too weak, I’ll become easy prey.
Another day passed before he saw a rock formation in the distance. Or a leviathan. It was too far away to tell for sure. If it was an island, he was saved, but if it were Men…. He shuddered. The only way to find out was to get closer.
It took until nightfall for Trellen to reach the island—though he became convinced long before he got to the shore that it must be an island, and a large one at that. The rocky outcropping he’d seen in the distance soared high into the sky, leagues above the dense green jungle. The larger the island, the more likely it is to be inhabited. But a quick scan of the beach gave no indication that there were Men nearby.
Hunger took over and Trellen dug through the sand for clams and urchins, and stuffed himself silly on every tender morsel he could find. When he was sated, he sought refuge under a large rocky overhang. Within minutes of curling up on the sand, he was sound asleep under the cool waters, safe from predators and full for the first time in days. His sleep should have been contented, but it wasn’t. He dreamed of his Master’s voice, his touch, a scorching kiss, and tender words.
Trellen reached out and Master clasped his hand. “I’m so sorry I left you. Please forgive me. Please say you’ll take me back.
Strong tentacles encircled him and held him close. “Shhhh, my sweet Pretty.” He carded his fingers through Trellen’s hair. “Of course I forgive you. All that matters is that you come back to me.”  
Sobbing with relief—joy—Trellen clung to him. It seemed so real, he was certain he felt his Master moving nearby.
The water rippled. Splashed.
Trellen snapped his eyes open and his heart began to pound. Something was moving in the water nearby. The smell was strange…pungent.
He uncurled himself and, staying as low to the sand as he could, peered out into the sunlit tidal pool only to discovered that the water had receded from the shore last night. There were only a few feet of crystal clear sea between him and the Above—between him and the beach. He’d been so tired last night, he hadn’t thought to account for the tide when he chose his shelter.
Another splash. Laughter.
Two dark skinned legs waded through the water, coming closer.
Trellen’s heart hammered harder in his chest.
There were more strange words. Another pair of legs—then another and another.
Blessed Kaia…. How long before they saw him? There was nowhere to hide; his only chance was the open sea beyond the lagoon.
With a flip of his tail, Trellen erupted from his hiding spot, leaving a cloud of sand in his wake. Behind him, there was a shout—then sharp pain lanced through his tail. He screamed. Instinct causing him to thrash, but that only made it worse. Red clouded his vision and Trellen screamed again as fiery pain tore through him.
Fumbling and desperate to make the pain stop, he reached down to try and free himself from whatever wicked thing had pierced his tail. A spear, and it had torn straight through his scale and muscles.
The splashing grew closer, voices louder. Trellen yanked at the spear and shrieked again as the barbed tip cut into his flesh once more. Behind him, the Men were closing in, running, shouting strange words, splashing through the blood-tinged water.
His blood.
He couldn’t die this way.
Trellen gave up on freeing himself from the spear. His only hope was to ignore the pain and swim as fast as he could for the open sea. And pray no sharks catch the scent of my blood.
With his heart pounding in his ears, he launched himself toward the deeper water. Another spear hit the waves just to his left—another to his right. Despite the tearing, searing pain in his tail, Trellen kept swimming.
At length, the shouts and splashes grew more faint, but Trellen didn’t dare stop, even though each frenzied thrust of his tail caused the spear to bite into his flesh anew. He gulped in great mouthfuls of water, pushing them through his gills until at last, his whole body ached with the effort and he had no choice but to stop. Surfacing, he saw that the island had become but a speck in the distance. There was no sign of pursuit.
And he was so cold.
He felt like he was sinking….
He was sinking, right into a red cloud of his own blood.
Darkness clouded his vision and he sank into the cold waters of the Below.

Saturday, December 13

Tentacles and Chain (ch. 23)

Sorry I've been so quiet lately (and haven't gotten a newsletter out in the last couple of months)--things have been bat-poop crazy. Hopefully that will settle down this week and life will go back to what passes for "normal" around here :)

Chapter Twenty-Three

It took three more days of fear and uneasy sleep before Trellen finally found shelter in the form of a tiny island. It was barren, little more than sand and rocks rising a few feet above the water, but the shallows around it would provide a temporary haven where he could finally rest and refill his empty net. Exhaustion claimed him the instant he reached the shallows—but Trellen’s dreams continued to be filled with nightmare images of sharks and Men and monsters with tentacles.
“Do you really still fear me so much?”
“Master?” Shadows danced around Trellen, taunting him, forever out of reach. He swam toward one, only to have it retreat into the distance; he turned and swam after another, but it too vanished. He turned and tried for a third and it slipped out of his grasp. “Please, where are you? Don’t leave me alone.”
“You’re the one who left, sweet.”
Pain stabbed at his heart. “I had to! You robbed me of my freedom. What was I supposed to do? Remain your slave forever?” Forever. Could he have had forever?
A hand caressed his cheek. Trellen melted into the familiar touch.
“If I had not taken you, would you have given me a chance to seduce you honestly? Would you have allowed me to love you?”
Trellen woke, shaking and cold. Above the waves, night had fallen and when he breached the surface, he saw a storm brewing on the horizon. He ate the last clam in his net and went searching for more before it hit.
His little island didn’t provide enough for much of a meal, but he was able to scrounge a few crustaceans out of the sand and find a better shelter under a narrow rock ledge before the sea swelled and rains came crashing down on him. He cowered there in the dark, pressed back against the hard rock, while above the waves thunder crashed and lightning seared across the angry sky. All he could do was wait it out and pray the rising waves didn’t sweep him back out to sea.

Strong tentacles held him close—secure—as long smooth fingers ghosted over Trellen’s chest and stomach, making him shudder. “So good,” he murmured.
Master’s chuckle was a warm rumble in his ear. “Not half as good as it’s going to be in a few moments, my sweet. I promised I would make it up to you when I got back.” He pinched Trellen’s nipple so hard that Trellen gasped—but his cock responded, surging to life. Master grasped hold of it and Trellen bucked his hips.  
“Please. Please say I can come.”
“So soon?” Master teased.
His whole body ached with need. “Please, it’s been so long.”
“I know, my sweet.” Unexpected sorrow filled Master’s voice and he pressed a soft kiss to Trellen’s temple. “I am sorry I left you. I would have brought you with me if I could. Please believe that.”
Pain swelled in Trellen’s chest at the heart-felt words. “I miss you. Freedom isn’t what I thought it would be.”
“I miss you too, sweet. So very much.”
“Please fuck me.”
Master smiled and eased himself into place.  
But then wakefulness began to stake its claim. Trellen struggled against it, wanting to remain within the dream for as long as he could, because there, he was happy.  
Please don’t go. Not yet. I’m not ready. Please. Master…. Trellen reached out, but Master was already gone. Come back.
He opened his eyes to find sun shining down through clear blue waves.
Trellen breached the surface and crawled out onto his little island. He hugged his tail to his chest, and gazed down at the ring Master had put on his finger. It sparkled bright blue in the sunlight. Trellen squeezed his eyes shut. Every time he dreamed, it was always the same. He felt his Master’s hands, his cock. He heard the sweet words and for a moment, Trellen was happy again. He was safe.
But then sleep left him and he was alone in the shallows of his tiny island, aching for his Master’s touch. The first few times he’d woken like that, he’d tried to satisfy himself, pumping his cock until he came, imagining Master’s mouth, his hand. His body. But no matter what images Trellen painted for himself in his mind, his orgasm felt empty. So now he masturbated only so his cock would ease back into its slit. There was no pleasure in it, no joy; it was merely a necessary chore, like foraging for food.
Was it too late to go back? Over a week had passed since he left the safe haven of Master’s home. Surely Master had returned by now and found him gone. What must he think?
Or does he even care? After all, Trellen had been nothing more than a play thing. A slave.
“I hope I please you as much as you please me.” Master’s soft, tender words echoed through his head.
“You do,” Trellen told the empty air. “I only wish I’d said it when I had the chance.”
He gazed out over the open sea. For so long, this was all he’d dreamed of. Freedom from the colony, from feeling like he would never fit in. Freedom from expectations of the Elders.
Freedom from the monster who enslaved me.
But was he truly a monster if all he did was show Trellen his own true self? Trellen didn’t know. He only knew how much he regretted leaving.
Would Master take him back if he returned now? Trellen had broken his promise. I said I would obey and instead, I fled.
Could he even find his way back if he tried? Was it worth the risk? His little island didn’t offer much—muscles and crustaceans were scarce and there were no kelp beds nearby, only clumps of tough, floating sea grass—but it was safer here than the open water.
He clenched his fists in anger at his own cowardice.  
Is this what I wanted to leave the colony for? To cling to a dismal little rock in the middle of the sea? Trellen had dreamed of adventure and exploration. He’d dreamed of meeting someone who would accept him.
And I did.
With Master’s guidance, he had discovered a great many things about himself, truths that as much as he willed it, he couldn’t un-learn. I need his touch. His kiss. Goddess help me, I even need his chains.
Trellen scoured the shallows for what food he could find and set off, praying that if She hadn’t abandoned him, Kaia would guide his way home.