Tuesday, November 3

NaNoWriMo 2015

Yep, it's official, I'm doing NaNo this year, hoping a little "forced deadline" (and a fun little PWP story) will help jar the clogged creativity loose (just in case y'all hadn't noticed a distinct lack of activity! Yikes, it's been bad. But I had a lot of fun when I was writing Tentacles and Chain, so maybe--hopefully--writing something else that's not really plot heavy, just sexy fun, will turn out to be what I need right now.)
The last couple of months have simply been draining, emotionally and mentally. Going back to work has both helped (money is good!) and hindered (except when it's not so good.) Ironically, I actually end up getting more writing done on days when I have to go in--having that external pressure seems to kick things into gear for me.
But....the wonderful Sarah Madison posted this on her Facebook page, and I think I'm going to try employing some of this writing strategies, not just this month, but every month and see if I can't get things back into gear, because there is something supremely frustrating about having three almost-done books, but nothing actually complete.
So...what is my NaNo novel about? It's a story I've had kicking around for a while, about bird-shifters. One is a white raven, the other a black swan. Sadly, I lack the photoshop skills to tweak this guy, but other than not having the white-blond hair and odd eyes (one green, the other blue) *this* guy is the perfect Ollie (my lost little white raven who was essentially sold by his parents to a rat-shifter pimp when he was 13 and has been turning tricks on the street since he was too young to legally write about.)

from 123 RF; ID # 20572817
And this guy is the picture perfect Lawrence "Kit" Vescovi, a black swan who owns/operates a horse ranch in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
from 123 RF; ID #33322071
Kit has a soft spot for lost souls, but the only way to rescue Ollie is to buy his contract, which in effect makes Ollie his, body and soul, to do with as he pleases. He doesn't intend to use Ollie, but it's hard to resist the beautiful young man's charms, especially when Ollie shares some of Kit's more...exotic sexual interests... (hint: BDSM ahead!)

All I need to do *now* is come up with a working title....and of course finish the darned thing!

Friday, August 28

I give up

No, not really   ;-)  Read on. 
First, apologies for not getting to "Calling Bullshit" pt. two. That will come out in a day or two, but I've had something needling around my brain for a while--but this has been a very rough summer for me with the heat and the mosquitoes, so I haven't quite felt like writing, much less blogging, for a while. (For those who don't know, this year, I developed the most obnoxious sensitivity to mosquito bites. I've always been a little sensitive, and of course the little blood suckers LOVE me, but this year has been really bad. Not life-threatening bad, but still pretty dang bad, especially since they seem to keep finding their way inside the house. Finally, armed with military-grade bug spray, nettle tea--a natural anti-histamine that doesn't leave me feeling like a zombie--and the most amazing stuff in the world for post-bite treatment, I feel like a human again.)
Okay, so what is it I'm giving up on?
My weight.
Well, sort of.
What I'm really doing, after a month of serious "hard dieting" (no cheese, no butter, an average of 1500 calories a day), the scale *still* wouldn't budge off of 170. I didn't exercise as much as I would have liked (mostly owing to being doped up on drug store anti-histamines), but even if I did nothing but sleep all day (which is all I did do for a couple of really bad days), my body should still burn about 1700 calories just going about the business of living. Add in trips up and down the stairs to the privy...and well, that's at least a hundred calories burned as exercise! When I finally felt better, I spent some time in the garden, went walking, and generally tried to enjoy the outside as much as the heat would allow.
But nope. Not a pound came off.
But you know what? I went shopping for clothes this week for a job interview (I didn't get the job) and I bought, for the first time in 20+ years, jeans. Okay, they're super stretchy and honestly fit more like leggings, but there is denim in there. I bought a denim-looking pair that I love and a black pair that I'm luke warm on, but here's the thing. Size 16. And maybe if they weren't so stretchy, they'd be 18, but still. When I went up to the rack (a different rack, I started out looking at trousers), I reached for my usual 22 wide and short. A quick look at them against my body confirmed that no, these were going to be too big. Okay 20's. Well, maybe better look at the 18.
In the fitting room, I discovered two things. The 18's were still a little roomy and the pants made me look frumpy and dumpy. Even though I was getting these for a job (that I didn't have, so I didn't want to spend *too* much), I still wanted to like them. So I bit the bullet and tried on the jeans. And I gotta say, I think I look good in them! (I actually like the denimy pair better than the black pair and may go back for a couple more).
Of course in a perfect world, I'd still love to be 130lbs (although at least one friend looked at me askance when I said that and said "I think that's still too heavy" in a hushed and horrified sort of tone). But in the real world, I am 170lbs. I'm eating  lots of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, 100 or so grams of good protein daily, 25+ grams of fiber  appropriate portions of whole grains. I try to keep my sugar to 100 grams or less (yes, that's high, no will not give up sugar in my coffee or honey in my tea.) Fat makes up 25% to 30% of my daily intake--and I'm still only eating an average of 1900 calories a day, even on days when I splurge a little.
But I'm no longer avoiding things I love. Like cheese. Moderation is important, but avoidance just leads to a grumpy me.
So I give up.
I give up on buying into this notion that a woman can't be curvy and beautiful.
I give up the guilt over my weight, guilt that has built up over the years starting with family members who would whisper behind one another's back, "have you seen _____? She's sure gained some weight, hasn't she?" (And funny that it was always she and never he.)
I give up the notion that "fat girls" can't wear this or that. Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was told by my hair stylist (not the wonderful young man I've been seeing for the last year and a half) that "heavier girls really don't look good in short hair, here, let me do something like this for you instead...."  And "this" was perfectly cute, but it wasn't what I went in wanting. (And when I told that story to my current stylist, he was suitably gobsmacked that a stylist would say that to a client. There are certainly some things my hair *won't* do--that's just genetics, but I could have hair down to my ankles and I still wouldn't look like a Victoria Secrets model!)
I didn't get my bikini this year, but that was mostly due to not getting out to the stores in time to go shopping for one. The ones I found online were either ugly as sin or didn't look like they would make *anyone* feel good about themselves--or had so many straps they hardly looked practical. So maybe next year.
In the meantime, I'm going to keep eating well and getting in more exercise because I enjoy it. I'm going to be me and I'm going to be happy, which I think are far healthier goals than "skinny" any day of the week.
It really gets across the idea that "flattering" is almost painfully subjective--and I will never, EVER let anyone else dress me. Nearly all the personal shoppers made this beautiful young woman look frumpy and dumpy and at least 15 years older. 
Find your style. Be yourself.
Love yourself.

Saturday, August 8

Calling Bull Shit

On myself.
Let me explain:
This week, two things came to my attention, the first a book, the second a movie. Both have received quite a bit of backlash and my reaction to that backlash is potentially hypocritical, so before anyone else calls bullshit on me, let me call it on myself.
Unless you've been living under the same rock I do most of the time, you've heard about Kate Breslin's double RITA nominations for her debut novel, For Such a Time. (Just in case you're really living under a rock, a RITA is to the romance world what an Oscar or an Emmy is to the movie world. I'm not sure I aspire to one myself--I'm pretty aware that I usually write books that are niches within a niche market, but I would dearly love to see one of my fellow M/M authors win one for "the team"). 
(For the record, I'm not condemning anyone for "living under a rock"; sometimes mainstream media is flipping depressing! I swear as soon as we've got it better sorted out, I really am going to build a blanket fort in my office.)
But (as usual), I digress.
Earlier in the week Ms. Breslin's book crossed my radar, thanks to something a friend posted on their Facebook. The "something" was a link a post on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which does a good job of breaking down (and raking over the coals) the plot of For Such a Time as well as outlining why some people might maybe just be a wee bit offended
Okay, a lot offended.

Of course, there have been some great rebuttals, too. And certainly, the cry of censorship is one we should all heed. Censorship is never a good thing.


Here's my take on it.

I don't think it's censorship to ask "who thought setting a romance between a Nazi war criminal (because that's what a camp commander is) and one of his prisoners was a Good Idea?!"  Who thought it was a Good Idea to have a woman whose freedom and possibly life are in genuine peril because of her deeply held religious beliefs (not an accidental turn of phrase) in the end be saved by in the end converting to a different religion? (Namely the religion of the author).

Obviously Ms. Breslin and her publishers. And the thousands of people who loved the book.

I also don't think it's censorship for someone to say, "I don't think this thing should have been nominated for a RITA because....." And honestly, I'm not certain how I feel about this particular book's inclusion in the nominations. What I do think is that the author and publisher have an awful lot of hubris for brining this thing to life in the first place. (Please read that carefully; I'm not saying it should be banned, I'm just wondering about the minds that dreampt it up). I don't honestly think it makes a lick of difference what group of people we're talking about or what religion anybody converts to in the end. It's still hubris.

I'm also more than a little queasy about this idea of falling in love with a man who is responsible for killing tens of thousands of people in some of the most horrific ways imaginable. I have no trouble figuring out why concentration camp survivors and their families might take umbrage to that particular plot point. (And frankly, I'm hard pressed to think of any rational, compassionate human being who wouldn't be not only offended, but outraged by the atrocities of Nazi Germany).

Does that mean I don't think it should have been written...on a human level, yes. I don't understand the mind that thought this was a Good Idea. Do I think that my morals and ideals should reign supreme? Hell no. Just don't ask me to condone the book or its central premise. If I happened to actually have a job in field (i.e. library science) would I allow it on my shelves? You bet your ass I would. Once it's written, the horse is out of the barn and the world has the right to free access to it.

And maybe the bottom line is that I don't understand how inspirational novels are supposed to work, because I thought an inspirational novel was a book in which a character without religion finds solace in one faith or another, or someone struggling with their faith finds renewed vigor in it after some trial or because they meet someone who is a shining example of that faith. I didn't think it was about someone who already has faith abandoning it in favor of some other religion (namely that of the author).

I did mention hubris, right?

So at the beginning, I mentioned there were two things that crossed my radar this week and my reactions to those things were very different. The second one is the film Stonewall, which is catching flack before it's even hit the theatres.

I'll be back on Tuesday to report on my feelings about that....

Tuesday, August 4

Must-Read Books

Recently, a friend shared a link on Facebook, entitled 200 Books Everyone Should Read. I'm not writing this to specifically knock that list. I've seen lots of lists of X-number of Books Everyone Should Read. Sometimes it's Science Fiction books; sometimes it's Classics. Sometimes it's a list of female authors or authors of color. Those interest me slightly more, because if nothing else, we should all make a point of being aware of female authors and authors of color, because neither demographic gets a lot of press.
But back to the 200 Books Everyone should read.
Who says? Why should anyone who isn't interested the topic, the characters, or the time period slog through 400,000 words just because someone, somewhere decided that "everyone" should read Gone With the Wind? Why should anyone who isn't interested in child-wizards read Harry Potter? How did those two books end up on the same must-read list, anyway? What do these books have in common with each other and the other 198 books on the list? (Because this list in particular casts a pretty wide "must-read" net).
My time is precious. So is yours. Read the books that speak to your soul, that take you somewhere magical. Broaden your horizons, yes--pick up something you might not have picked up otherwise because it's a freebie on Amazon (a classic whose copyright has expired) or go to a different section of the library.
Heck, just go to the library. Poke around. See what's out there that you might have missed by staying in your comfort zone.
Read a book you wouldn't normally pick up because you want to study the writer's style, learn something from the way they present their craft, or learn something new.
But don't rush out and buy War and Peace because someone said you should or because it's some kind of competition.

It isn't.
I read eight of the books on that list; most were assignments for school. Of the eight books I read, I only have fond memories of two.
There have been other books that profoundly affected my life and my worldview that aren't on that list, or other lists like it. (I was genuinely surprised not to find Anne McCaffery on the list of "must-reed" female science fiction authors.)  Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones, the Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishiop. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip. These are stories that more than entertained, but affected me. They aren't the only ones, but they're the ones that spring easily to mind. They're books I remember, books I cherish. Books I periodically revisit.
I'm never going to voluntarily pick up Dickens ever again.
What about you? What are your personal "must-reads" -- the books you loved and have shared with your friends, because "everyone has to read this!" ?

Wednesday, July 22

The best laid plans....

So here I am again.

Another huge gap between posts.

Another "honest, I meant to do better than this."
At this point all of my reasons feel like excuses even though at least a few of them *are* reasons.
And would you believe, I'd honestly planned to post from RainbowCon, which happened last weekend in Tampa, FL?
I had great intentions.
But I'm learning things about intentions and expectations (the ones I place on myself more so than the ones placed on us by the World). The more I "intend" to do, the less I actually get done. When I'm simply working at my own pace, relaxing, but making an effort, Stuff seems to happen.
I came home from Rainbow feeling...not exactly energized (introvert here; I had fun and loved meeting people, but being "on" like that is a little draining, even if I'm loving it in the moment), but...eager. Eager to get my butt back into gear and get these books finished. Eager to reconnect with you guys. Eager to say "hey, I'm alive, really!"
Eager to say "Thank You" for still being here.
I know the only reason these books aren't finished is because I haven't finished them. It's really just that simple. I know I sometimes let myself get distracted. Facebook. The Sims (3). TV. Books. And Life has been a bit nut-ball. But those are excuses. I also know that I let myself get caught up in fear. The fear that I'll never make a living at this. Well, hello, unless I actually get writing, I won't. Duh, huh? But it's easy to feel like you missed the boat on publishing, on romance, on anything.
On everything.
But you know what? There will always be another boat. The industry is ever-changing and the model that worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. The rules of the game are being written and re-written and I may never be playing the most current version, but I'm eager to keep going, not because I think I'm going to make "a living" at this, but because this--writing, telling stories--makes me happy. I truly hope reading my stories makes other people happy too, but at the end of the day, artists do what we do because there's a passion driving us forward, forcing us to create. Getting bogged down in sales and marketing and what other people are doing is the surest way to kill the passion.
It's time to take it back. To stop worrying and just write.

Tuesday, April 21

LGBTQ Push Back Fundraiser

Yes, I'm really back (see my post from a couple of days ago for sheepish apology).

One of the things that I've allowed to get to me the last few months has been all the shit going down around the country concerning this idea that the freedom to practice "your" religion (you know, "your" as in a general sense, not you, Kind Person reading my blog) somehow means "you" (ditto) get to tell other people how they can live their lives.

The best analogy I ever read on this issue goes something like this:

A woman goes into a posh restaurant, sits down, and orders a salad, skip the dressing, just a wedge of lemon, please. A few moments later, another woman comes in and sits in the table across from her. The woman orders only a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

Salad lady stews in her ire as both her plate of lettuce and the other woman's cake are brought out at the same time. She takes a bite. The other woman tucks in as well.

No longer able to contain her rage, the salad lady stands up and yanks the plate of cake away from the other woman--a complete and total stranger, by the way--and cries out:

"You can't eat that in front of me! I'm on a diet! I HAVE to lose fifty pounds!" She levels an evil glare at the woman she's "saved" from the cake. "Do you have any idea how many calories there are in this? You should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking about cake! Sitting here, gleefully killing yourself with all those calories--why you're not only hurting yourself, but you're hurting everyone! Do you really want little children thinking it's okay to eat cake for lunch? What's with you and your cake-agenda, anyway? Why can't we dieters be allowed to sit here and eat our salads in peace? Somebody get me the manager! Cake should be taken off the menu so that those of us who can't eat cake don't have watch anyone eating cake!"

It might seem silly and even a little bit trivial, but really, how much more different is it to say "I think same sex marriage is wrong, therefor no one can marry someone of the same gender?"

But it's happening.

And some days, it's easy to get wrapped up in all the ugly and forget the beautiful. Those are days the Muses don't sing. Those are the days when minutes turn into hours of browsing through Facebook and reading articles on one injustice after another--the days when I wonder if I really want grandchildren or maybe my daughter is right to not want kids of her own, because with the way things are going, I don't know if it's right to bring anyone else into it. Seriously. What is this country going to look like in ten or twenty or forty years?

Anyone else read Handmaid's Tale? I've never really been the doom and gloom type, but lately, it's getting harder and harder to keep a positive outlook.

But then something good happens to pull me up out of my funk. Sometimes it's big, but usually it's small. It's something as simple as hearing someone say "Hey, that thing, yeah, it sucked, but here's something we can do about it!" Those people, those simple little actions remind me how vital it is to keep fighting. To never, EVER give up. Because giving up is exactly what those other guys are counting on. They want us to crawl back into the closet, to sit down, shut up, and accept what they think our role should be.

The answer is "no."

And really, I know they're saying and doing the things they're saying and doing because they're scared. Their secure little white-picket-fence-world is changing and they don't know how to adapt to those changes.

I'm sorry that's so scary, but the time has come to change. To stand up.

To push back.

A number of truly awesome LGBTQ authors have banded together to offer up prizes for anyone willing to chip in a few dollars to LGBTQ charity. For more information, click on the link below!

Friday, April 17


*pokes head out*  

Anybody still here?

*sheepish look*

Yeah. It's been too long. 
I mean way too long.
I mean much longer than my previous vanishing acts.

Part of that is the longer I stayed away, the harder it was to come back, so there was this viscous circle thing going on in my head as I decided, "okay, I'll come back for THIS" and this passed and then "okay, Spring Equinox is a good time" and well, that was was last month.

And now I just looked and saw how many awesome comments there were on posts that I never even looked at.


I hope a few of you are still here. I promise to work really, really hard and do better. I'll even put out a news letter before I head out of town, early next month.

Okay, so here's the (more or less) excuse-free skinny:
For reasons I don't fully understand, Winter gets to me. I know. That seasonal thing, right? I'm sure that's part of it. But this year I didn't feel so much depressed as overwhelmed. It was just...life. 

And death. And I know, that was way back in January, because I blogged about it. But sometimes the mourning process is weird. 

There's been some additional *stuff* as well, most of which doesn't even begin to bear going into at right this very moment, but the short version is that I let it get to me more than I should have. Some of it is personal stuff, some is political world stuff. 

And let's be honest. I'm the queen of procrastination!  

So here's the short version of what's going on NOW:

I'm at about the 80K point of the billionth revision of Dillon and Andi. The first half or so of that is in the hands of a beta reader. 

Because I needed a bit of a break (and because I was up to submit to my critique group and didn't want one more opinion on Dillon and Andi), I started something new. I just tipped past the 30K mark last night. 

I'm hoping to have that finished AND he completed manuscript for Dillon and Andi in two beta readers' hands before I head out of town for the huge Family Reunion** over Mothers' Day weekend. And my newsletter out. 

**Family Reunion is not so secret code for big Gardnerian Shindig      ;-)
Not only won't have Internet access, but I'm running the kitchen (with my 
awesome husband) and cooking for a little over  30  people.  Which really 
isn't as impressive as it sounds. Hubby routinely cooks 2000 meals per day,
all to order, at his job. 

I also solemnly promise to go back to regular blogging. I definitely have some things to say.  :)  

Wow. I guess that really wasn't so painful. Okay, time to hit the big orange button and get back to work! 

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!