Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whew, thank goodness for reminder emails, otherwise I would have forgotten for the second week in a row that it was my blog day. And since I just returned from a trip yesterday, I really wouldn't have remembered.

See, I just came back from Las Vegas. AKA Lost Wages, Sin City, Glitter Gulch, whatever. I did not win money, but I did make a nice deposit and they promised to hold onto it for me for next time. Ahahahaha.

I also saw a show! There is a lot of quality entertainment in Vegas. I didn't see any of it. No, the show I chose to spend my money on (along with a LOT of other women) was.... wait for it.... Thunder From Down Under. It was quite enjoyable, in the shallow, purely physical appearance sense of entertainment. I will not pretend I didn't like it. Would I see it again? Well... like I said, there are a lot of quality shows in that city. I heard there's a Chippendales somewhere.

In any case, I knew there were edits waiting for me in my inbox when I got back home, and the City of Sin did inspire me to get my writing groove on. What better place to get plot bunnies than when you're surrounded by adult entertainment on every corner? Let's see if some of the things I witnessed will translate well to paper. Happy Sunday, y'all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My mind has been taken over by editing

I've done very little in the last few weeks but editing. There are really several stages in the creative process. There's the initial idea ("Wow, I have an IDEA!"), immediately followed by doubts ("I don't really know how to write this – there's too much research involved – I have too much work on my plate"), then comes the writing itself, which again has several stages of enthusiasm and fear. Then you edit and submit the text. Then the text comes back.

And if anybody thought that by then – with a contract in pocket – things would be easy, they are dead wrong. The real work is to get the manuscript from 90-95% good to 100%. Personally, I think that's 50% of the work with very little of the fun. There's no fun in editing, just relief it's over and I solved a problem.

My writing life has also slowed down considerably. Last year I had 10 releases. This year, two are firmly planned and another one is very likely. I expect to finish two more projects (mainly big rewrites of stuff that's done), but that's it.

But the truth is, I'm no good at short stories. Even my novellas come out at the long end, and most projects I started as novellas have turned into novels. So, yeah, the two books coming out this year are the gay sici-fi novel "Father of All Things" (title might yet change) with Carina Press in August, co-written with Rhianon Etzweiler, and the gay fantasy novel "Scorpion", which should be out from Dreamspinner in May.

So, currently I'm doing the last edit on "Father of all Things" (at this stage, it's only details, after a fairly comprehensive re-write in January/early February), and the edits for "Scorpion" will hit my desk in the next few weeks.

I've been editing so much all I really want to do at this stage is writing. There are plenty of ideas, three books that want to be written urgently, but edits come first.

The good news is – next time I'm posting here (in two weeks), I'll have a sneak preview of edited text from one of the releases.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Website!

I'm delighted to say that I have a new website. Along with info on my books, I'll be blogging there regularly. The goal was to make the site simple yet attractive, and -- most importantly -- easy to navigate and read. I welcome any feedback on it.

My first blog post is about euphemisms for semen. Would love to hear your opinions! :D

Monday, February 21, 2011

Win an autographed copy of Pyromancer!

Hi guys! I thought I'd use my scheduled day here at Slash & Burn this week to run a contest. I'm offering up one autographed copy of Pyromancer, as well as a goody bag full of promotional items.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog post. I'll choose a winner at random two weeks from today, on March 7th, and make an announcement here on the blog.

Good luck to those of you who enter!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sweet in Romance

I'm categorized as a "sweet" romance author, in case any of you didn't already know (or guess) this. It may surprise some of you that I am constantly told that my stories are too nice, they don't encompass the misery it is to be gay, and they are unrealistic. Make no mistake about it, I know I want my characters to have happy endings and I am fully aware (and intimately acquainted) with the fact this does not fully reflect real life.

But in the worlds I create and with people that only really exist in my head, I have a way to ensure that things do work out okay in the end. I like my characters to find love, no matter their orientation, race or species. I want them to end up happy. In the case of gay romance, I want them to not have to hide or cover for their sexuality or somehow feel less than the people they are.

Why? I think it's a reaction to the fact there seems to be so little happiness in the real world and so little acceptance of each others as just people. Maybe in my little way, I try to make the fact someone is gay not all that important in the vast scheme of things - because, to me, it just isn't that important!

I grew up in a very liberal household in a very culturally, sexually and otherwise diverse community with lots of exposure to many types of people from a very young age. I am constantly blessed by that. I strongly believe it's a large part of my outlook and acceptance/celebration of the differences of others.

But there is a lot of hatred and hurt in the world. You can read the news every day to hear about it and witness it on the street constantly. I don't find it something I like to write about most of the time, at least not in anything other than something one of my characters has endured and overcome.

There are some fabulous gay romance authors out there who write far grittier and much less "sweet" romance than I do and I do read and enjoy it on occasion. But many times I read for an escape from the world and I like that to be a pleasant escape that makes me smile and go "awwwww" at the end.

So if you ever wondered why I tend much more toward the sweet side of gay romance, now you know.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Similar

I always worry when I get an email from a reader telling me they've just discovered me and are devouring my backlist. Not because I don't like hearing from readers. It's like crack. I can't get enough and an email from a reader always makes my day. And I'm certainly not complaining about picking up some backlist sales because this writing career thing is also awesome. (I'm going to get a monthly check just for making stuff up and writing it down? Whoo-hoo!) What worries me is that the reader is going to put down the third or fifth or tenth book (figuratively if they're reading on a desktop, of course) and say, "Huh. Déjà vu."

I know that writers have themes that they like to explore. Sibling-parental issues, redemption, and reunions (guilty!) are just as common to genre fiction as secret babies and marriages of convenience are to series romance. I hope that all of my characters have a unique way of responding to the crap I throw at them. But hey, I worry, because if I didn't worry about that, I'd probably have to deal with worrying over something else that I'd rather not think about.

Take what happened to me last week. I was all set to start work on the next Fragments book, when another character started screaming in my head. I'd just turned in Bad Company and I knew from the minute Eli Wright popped up as a secondary character that he would be demanding his own book sooner rather than later. I had an idea for him (or an idea of how I could seriously mess with him) and I planned to get to that ASAP, but I didn't expect the guy I had planned for him to get so damned loud. He came to life and started spewing back story and issues so fast I couldn't have kept up if I had five secretaries taking shorthand.

What does this noisy guy have to do with my worries over rehashing the same theme? Well, Bad Company, which I love more than my favorite brownies and my favorite cookies together on a plate, is about sexuality being a bit more fluid than the characters expect. And what does the new man in my life have to tell me? That a lover's fluid sexuality just bit him in the ass. And not in the fun way. Even the title my brain gave me, Bad Boyfriend, just goes to show that my muse is determined to explore the B-side of the same issue. Now if I can just have the guts to not pull punches—to write on through no matter how painfully raw the feelings get in this—I should have one hell of a book to tell you about by the time you meet Eli in Bad Company. In the meantime, I hope you find things just as different or as familiar as you like them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

I was thinking about how I should probably post something about romance and Valentine's Day since yesterday was the 14th. But here's the thing, I don't like Valentine's Day. It's not that I eschew the day and wear black to make a statement (anymore). It's just that I follow something akin to my mother's philosophy. Every year she says, and has said for as long as I can remember, "Don't be nice to me because it's Mother's Day. Be nice to me every day." That's how I feel about Valentine's Day. Don't say "I love you" to the one you love because it's Valentine's Day. Say it to that person every day. Valentine's, IMO, is like some magical free pass that lets people off the hook for not being thoughtful or romantic the other 364 days of the year. To this I cry, "Bullshit!" You don't need flowers and chocolates every day, but you do deserve an expression of affection every day. Whether it's an unexpected trip to the movies or just the person who doesn't usually do the laundry doing the laundry. Hell, it could be something as simple as remembering to put the toilet seat down. You know what I'm saying? It's the little expressions of love that mean the most and one day a year of hearts and flowers doesn't cut it.

Now, ironically, the novella I have coming out soon, Compass Hearts, was originally written for a Valentine-themed anthology. It wasn't accepted for that, which is good in the long run. It's hard to write something Valentiney when your universe doesn't have Valentine's Day. If you want to learn more about Compass Hearts, then make sure to join me on Coffee Time Romance's Erotic E-loop Yahoo Group. Follow the link to sign up if you aren't already a member of the group. I'll be chatting on Friday 25 February from 10-12 PST (1-3 EST). There will be excerpts of all my books and there will be prizes. So come join me for a bit of Caffeinated Fantasy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Hello all. *wave* I hope everyone is having a nice/romantic/sweet Valentine's Day. I know I have my sweetie doting on me...but then, he does that every day of the year. Yeah, I'm spoiled ;)
I've been MIA the past couple of posting days and I apologize as it wasn't intentional. First, earlier in January, I had surgery. Though the healing/recovery has been awesome and faster than most anticipated, it kind of knocked me off schedule. Speaking of schedules, I've had to completely restructure mine since obtaining a part time job (it kind of fell into my lap and didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth). I'm struggling how to balance work, housework, family, and writing. Unfortunately my writing has suffered the most...housework is next. It's a slow progress, but I'm starting to get a schedule down, along with getting my teens started in their "training" in laundry and dishes and such. ^-^ After over 5 years of not having an outside the house job, I'd forgotten how much I actually do when I do stay home without the kids and husband around. lol
Anyway, I am working on another Fallen Angels novel and would like to see it completed in the near future. This one is centered on Caesar and I hope to have a snippet from it next time I  have to post.
In the meanwhile, I'll post an excerpt from Fallen Angels  - available at Loose Id

 “Are you sure this is the way?” I asked as we rounded another corner.
“Age is affecting your memory, brother,” Toni whispered as I followed her through the dark corridors. These hidden paths wound through Lucifer’s mansion, connecting nearly every room. It had been many years since I’d wandered them.
“I’m not a voyeur…unlike someone else I know.”
Toni chuckled softly. “I’m nosy. Not a voyeur. Besides, how else would I know the things I know?”
“Things that’ll get you killed if Lucifer knew you knew,” I scolded.
She merely shrugged as if it were no big deal. Was the danger of her knowledge that oblivious to her? Or maybe she really didn’t care.
“Just get me to Adam’s room.” My old room. But I refused to think about my own time spent there.
“It’s at the end of this hall. Come on, impatient one.”
Within minutes, the wall slid and created an opening into the room Lucifer had Adam in. He lay in the bed, and when the door opened, he jerked up, looking around.
“Stay there,” I said so he wouldn’t get up. I was aware of the camera watching him, but also that it was mounted above where I stood so it couldn’t detect my presence. “Lie back down and act as if I’m not here.”
My chest tightened, wanting so badly to take him in my arms. To smell his scent upon me. To taste him. It had been hellish sitting across from him at dinner, unable to speak freely or even reach out to him.
“What are you doing here?” Adam turned onto his side so the camera wouldn’t be aware of him speaking.
“I came to see if you were all right. I needed to see you before…” Before Lucifer came and spent the night with Adam, and I stole the information Adam needed to incriminate the man who’d save me and my sister. However, I couldn’t say the words. It hurt to even think about Adam with someone else.
“No worries.” His voice, void of emotion, made me feel like such an ass for letting him go through this. “Did you know about these hidden passages before now?”
My eyes lowered. I hadn’t realized until after Toni and I got back from our walk that Lucifer had locked Adam away while he took care of business. I couldn’t risk coming to him before. He must understand that, but there was no time to tell him now.
“Will these help us get out of here?”
“Yeah. I’ll come and get you as soon as I’ve got what we need. Oh, meanwhile, you might want to wear whatever clothes he wants you to wear.” I tilted my head toward the pile of clothing at the foot of the bed.
Adam sighed and nodded. “Don’t take too long. This place is too rich for my small-town blood.” He fingered the top sheet material. “Probably too kinky, too.”
I laughed, thinking he looked good lying in such luxury. “Just so you know, there is no sound recording in here. Only in the dining hall and Lucifer’s private rooms.”
“The reason for your visit.”
“Yeah. Well…” Why hadn’t I told him about the surveillance before we got here?
Adam turned over. “Go. I don’t want him catching you here.”
I nodded and took a step back. “Adam…”
I heard him sigh. “You too.”
Reluctantly, I stepped back into the passage, and the door closed.
“Shut up,” I growled and stalked away from Adam’s room.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Silver Wings, Now Available!

Woo hoo! Silver Wings is finally here! Here's the official release info.

Silver Wings: Homoerotic Steampunk Adventures
Edited by Leigh Ellwood
Stories by Mahalia Levey, JT Whitehall, Cari Z., and Ross Baxter

Phaze Books, $4.99, eBook (may be read on Kindle, Nook, Sony and Kobo readers)

Click here to buy!

Wayward cowboys with mechanical toys, an enterprising post-Civil War pleasure seeker, lovers conflicted in flight, and a lonely inventor whose salvation washes up on the shore of Penzance ... these stories of passion in the time of steam are guaranteed to set fire to your sense.

Silver Wings, an anthology of M/M and bi-male steampunk, features works by Cari Z., Mahalia Levey, Ross Baxter and JT Whitehall, edited by Phaze bestseller Leigh Ellwood.

Read an Excerpt

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gay literature picks up in India

I found this recent news story both interesting and inspiring!

With more authors choosing homosexual themes for their work, a same-sex story no longer remains taboo for Indian writers. Earlier, novels on same-sex relationships were rare in Indian writing in English. But in the past couple of years, this scenario is undergoing a change.

Read the full article here:

Progress is always an awesome thing on all sides of the pond.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Question of Age

This is something I've been pondering while working on a new book and I'd love some opinions. As long as a character is 18, are you okay with reading about him in sexual situations? Or is that still too young? What's your threshold? 18? 19? 20? Older?

And does it change when the story is historical rather than contemporary? Is having a 17-year-old hero okay in a historical depending on the mores of the time period? Does the age of the other half of the pair come into play? Say, two 19-year-olds is okay, but a 19-year-old with a 30-year-old makes you uncomfortable?

Does the plot matter? Would a BDSM story with an 18-year-old be off-putting while a sweet, traditional romance be fine?

Or does age not matter at all as long as it's a compelling, well-written romance?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Day Giveaway

There are only seven more days to enter my Valentine's Day contest. This year I'm giving away Doc Johnson's Love and Lust kit. Visit my blog for more details.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Me and Phil

So it's February 2--if I can get this under the wire, which I doubt--and according to a variety of cultural and religious calendars it's time to be anticipating spring. I didn't bother to check on Puxatawny Phil today, because I figured with the ice and snow piling up outside my window I already knew the answer. Imbolc isn't inspiring me to do anything this year but rediscover the joys of hibernation, so if you've been looking for me on Twitter or just about anywhere else, it's been too cozy in the cave to even stir my e-self.

I do have one thing to anticipate--and it seems so very far away--but I turned in my edits on Bad Company and I'm really excited about sharing that with the world in June. But from where I'm sitting under these drifts with regular temperatures in the single digits, June feels equidistant with Mars and just as reachable. Maybe I can melt the snow while I'm working on the next Fragments book--that is if all four of the guys could stop with their individual agendas long enough to have sex.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Come chat with me!

Check it out. I've scheduled a chat with Coffee Time Romance & More. It won't actually be the on the forum, however, as it's bound to involve sexy excerpts. Instead, it will be on their Erotic E-loop Yahoo Group. If you aren't a member of that group yet, follow the link to sign up. Then, come chat with me--and be entered to win spiffy prizes--on Friday 25 February from 10-12 PST (1-3 EST). I might even have excerpts from my latest novella, Compass Hearts, by then, too. We're coming up on editing time, so I hope to have a clean (so to speak ;->) excerpt or two for you by the 25th.

And since I mention it, here's a little reminder what Compass Hearts is about: college boys; magic; erotic art; cold toes; and steamy sex.
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