Friday, April 29, 2011

Summer is almost here...!!!

Seriously, I'm jazzed! I know things are generally busy for creative types but, man, it has been *INSANE* this past year. I've had to pull back from my online time while working on stuff but after the first week of May, several of my bigger projects and stuff will be DONE. I have feelings of joy and accomplishment, and I am so looking forward to trolling the 'Net more in between my travels this summer. Maybe I'll actually--*gasp*--finish my website.

I'm also hoping to spend some quality time with the PS3 again. (Of course, now there's that whole fiasco with the PSNetwork hack-job that went down a couple of weeks ago. True privacy and safety on the internet is an impossible ideal--I guess the lesson is to be extremely careful with who gets your personal info and why.) But all that aside, I'm exciting to play some games! Top on the list are: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, with its sexy hero Ezio Auditore; Resident Evil 5, starring Chris Redfield's awesome guns (*WINK*); and Bioshock 2...which has no sexy hero, but is a beautiful (and scary) game which must be played. Obviously, none of these are the latest titles to hit the console, but I've been a tad out of the loop, 'kay? It's time for this gamer girl to get back in the saddle!

As soon as she, um, actually finishes everything she's supposed to first. (Oh, yeah, and maybe I should actually finish writing my books one of these days....)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All Aboard

I've had it.

I'm moving.

From now on, I'm living in Fictionworld. Specifically, Genre-Fiction World. Reality sucks. Even when it's not messy, when mean people aren't going blithely on without suffering any consequence for their hubris, it's boring. Who has to fill out all that paperwork—same stuff again, in detail—in fiction? (Unless it's a funny time loop thing). In Genre-Fiction World, however much it things suck for a while, the people I'm rooting for win. The meanies are snarkily handed what' s coming to them, and if it's well-written, the boring parts are all edited out. There's no sitting at traffic lights or waiting through commercials. It's story, all the time.

That's where I need to live. I realized that the two things I like best about my vocations are telling stories (as a writer, duh) and talking about stories as a teacher. It only makes sense to move into the storyworld full time. It'll be like living at Disney World, without so many kids. If Jasper FForde can send Tuesday Next into the Well of Lost Plots, why can't I go too?

In preparation for my move, I only asked for two things for my upcoming birthday: Sims Medieval (so I can create my own fiction kingdom) and a T-shirt with one of my favorite quotes about fiction on it. Ray Bradbury said, "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." C'mon. Read that again. And if you're not a writer stick the word fiction in there.

Apparently, the meanies are even out for what's in our heads, as if creating stories of people sharing their bodies and finding love was something bad to begin with, but those are the people who've got the problem separating fiction from reality. I'm sure you all saw this nonsense. As a fellow tenth-grade English teacher with twenty-five years of experience who also happens to write racy novels, I say to Judy May "Go, sister. To hell with those vicious dried-up shrews. I hope this epically unethical, so-not-news article lands you on every best seller list."

Is it any wonder it's more fun here in Fictionland? C'mon. Get packing! There's always room for more.

For those of you kind enough to leave some words about Peter on the last blog, I'm sorry I missed those comments. For some reason they didn't show up in my feed while I was on vacation. Peter is an irredeemable dick, but the sneaky arrogant bastard has his reasons and belief in what life should give him. He's never had to face the consequences, so why can't he keep getting away with it. He's been really interesting to write.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Struggling for Inspiration

I've been creatively uninspired for months now. Aside from one adapted short story, I've produced nothing of worth since last November. None of my usual tricks seem to be working to refresh the creative well, either. I blame the weather. No, seriously. So far this year, we have had a single day where the temperature topped 60F--and I wasn't even here to see it. Okay, I was coming home from a visit to one of my dearest friends who happens to live in NYC, and we did have a couple of reasonably sunny days while I was there, but it doesn't appear to have been enough. Funny thing is, I'm not a sunshiney person. I like the rain. I like the overcast skies. But, frankly, even I am fed up with them. I'd swear it's still winter here, except the crocuses are done blooming and the cherry trees are finishing up, too. Theoretically, that means it's spring.

::glances outside::

Yeah. Not so much.

Usually, a change of geography will jump start my creative brain. I figured I'd be all over my computer on the flight home, or at least once I got home. Again, not so much. So I must force myself back to the grind, which shouldn't be such a trial because I enjoy writing...when I'm actually writing.

If you have any tips or tricks that work for you, I'd love to hear them. I can't control the sun and my vacation has yielded nothing but happy memories and a few photographs. What do you find helps you out when you're stuck on the slow boat to meh?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

I've got a couple more days of a contest going on at my site! Check it out and enter. I'll have a winner by tomorrow or Tuesday.

Hope there are chocolate bunnies in your future. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Fear of the Writer

We tend to not talk about fear. Whenever writers talk about fear, it's often the fear of bad reviews and rejection of the manuscript. While those fears can be quite nasty (I still hate getting rejected, and getting several one-star reviews in a day really makes me want to go back to bed), I haven't met one writer whose fear or reviews or rejection actually kept them from writing.

Those fears happen *after* the fact. The crime is committed, the book/story is written. It's Luther's "Here I stand, I got no choice" (one of the great Acts of Defiance in history - "Fuck you, Pope!" - but hey, it helps having some kings and dukes and counts on your side while you do that...)

However, writers tackle other fears *before* the fact, too.

Bear with me, while I move back to what triggered that thought.

I read (ok, started reading) an interesting book on writing (if you could see my study - I have a bookcase full of them), which has an exercise that knocked my socks off. It's "The 90-Day Novel" by Allan Watt (self-published via Kindle).

One of the first exercises was "Write down your fears about the novel" (we're still in the "why don't you just write the book" chapter).

Next exercise: "Now write the one fear that you *haven't* admitted to in the last exercise" (paraphrasing here).

Then came the cracker. "How does your fear relate to the fear of your main character in that book?"

My socks were blown clean off. There's one book I keep pushing in front of myself, namely my WWII novel, which I started in late 2009. In the meantime, I've written half a dozen novels, so it's clearly not writer's block.

Examining my fear and comparing it to the fear of my main characters, I worked out they are identical.

Both characters, but mainly Richard, have that deep, gnawing fear of not being "good enough" or "worthy". David struggles with getting the whole Jewishness and Americanness together in his mind (basically denying one and being denied the second for his troubles), whereas Richard has the towering spectre of his father, his social class' duties/obligations and the fact that he grew up too fast and has too much responsibility while living in a culture where he has to be a certain way or risk imprisonment and death.

Fear of inadequacy. Of being unable to process things as they should be processed. Being unable to do things as they "should be done".

It's a small thought, really, and it's amusing that a paragraph in a writing book got me there, but it's a valuable insight for me.

Now that I know what I'm up against, I can fight it. While the characters face their fears, I might be able to get that book written.

And on a totally unrelated note, happy Easter for those who celebrate it. In my case, Easter means chocolate eggs and lots of sleeping and a fair amount of writing. But that's great. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April showers bring M/M ficlets

Good morning! I'd say that I hope everyone's having a lovely spring day, except I can't tell what season Mother Nature's decided on lately.

But who wants to talk about the weather? Here's a springtime flash fic I scribbled down a few months ago after watching a kiss-in clip on YouTube while I was holed up for winter. I think it would work as an opening to a book, but don't quote me on that since I have a few too many pots simmering on the stove at the moment. I thought I'd share here, typos and all. Enjoy!


Perry followed his cousin and her girlfriend toward the fountain. “What gives?” he asked.

Cherise dropped Emma’s hand long enough to rummage in her pocket and toss a few pennies into the water. “Waiting on the bat signal.”

Perry squinted up at the blue April sky in jest. “Really? What for?” From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a cute guy with curly hair through the spray of water. They guy had been hovering in their vicinity for the past several minutes, and Perry was working up the nerve to approach him.

Cherise’s cell phone chimed. She whipped it out of her pocket and peered at the LCD screen. “Kiss-in’s about to start.”

Perry stared at his cousin. “What?”

“Follow us,” she said over her shoulder as she bolted off with a laughing Emma in tow.

A kiss-in? Perry managed to match the girls’ pace as they sprinted across the town square. A small crowd was congregating at the base of the courthouse steps. Perry immediately noted several same-sex pairings, while more than one wrist boasted an assortment of rainbow bracelets.

Cherise beamed at him as she gripped Emma’s hand. “Surprise!”

Perry lifted a brow. “Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because I thought you’d wuss out.”

I might have, he thought, but he wasn’t as much of an activist as his cousin. “I don’t have anyone to kiss.”

“There’s other people here without a partner,” Emma chimed in. “You’ll find someone.”

“I don’t want to share spit with some random person!”

“You just have to touch lips. It’s not like you have to tongue each other.”

A screech of feedback sounded, calling the crowd’s attention to the top of the steps. A girl stood with a microphone. “Good afternoon, friends and allies! Spring is in the air, and so is love! Last time I checked, love didn't discriminate. Are you ready to show your pride?”

The crowd cheered in response, fists raised in the air.

“All right, everyone, pucker up, and on the count of three, kiss your partner of choice for the next thirty seconds. One!”

Cherise and Emma turned to face each other. Bewildered, Perry stepped a few feet away and looked around. There was that guy again, the cute one who’d been following them. And he’s coming straight for me…


“Hi, I’m Seth,” the stranger said. Up close, his eyes were brown and shining with mischief. He grabbed Perry by the arms.

“Perry,” he managed to reply, noting cute had just turned to gorgeous. He’d always been a sucker for taller men. And brown eyes. And curly hair.


Their lips touched. Perry gasped, taken aback by the flood of sensation that rushed through his body. As his lips parted, ever so slightly, Seth’s tongue met his.

The spark of shock fired Perry’s senses. What the hell, he thought. Losing himself in the rush of the moment, he widened his mouth and kissed his random new acquaintance back. Fuck the haters. Fuck what anyone thought of the fact that he was gay and kissing a gorgeous and apparently very willing person of the same sex.

Seth let out a muffled groan. He wrapped his arms around Perry’s back and pressed their bodies tight.

“Time’s up!” the group leader announced.

Seth broke the kiss. He stared down, lips swollen and glistening, eyes sparkling with an impish gleam. “Thank you, Perry. You have a nice day.”

And then he was off, quite literally disappearing into the crowd. Perry watched mutely, lips tingling, pulse roaring in his ears. Any sense of the social statement he’d just made had admittedly been lost; all Perry knew was that his stomach was fluttering and his knees were about to buckle.

Emma came up beside him. “Wow! He was hot!”

“Yeah,” Perry muttered.

“Did you catch a name?”

Perry nodded. “Seth.”

“That’s it?” Emma said, her tone teasing. “No last name? Phone number? Blood type?”

Cherise appeared, phone in hand. “I snapped a pic of you two over Emma’s shoulder. Maybe we can post it online and track your mystery kisser down!”

“I think I need to sit down,” Perry said, still trembling, the taste of a gorgeous stranger named Seth on his mouth.

-- Copyright 2011 by Katrina Strauss


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The End of an Era

When ABC announced it was cancelling All My Children and One Life to Life last week, I was saddened. Although I don't watch either show now, I grew up with them and watched them on and off over the years. As a pre-teen, I bought Soap Opera Digest with my allowance every two weeks, and was always excited to bike to the corner store on Tuesdays when the magazines arrived. My lifelong love of romance comes in large part from the influence of soaps.

Even when I wasn't watching them, there was something reassuring about soaps still being on, featuring the same families and in some cases the same characters and actors I remember from the '80s and '90s. I did watch the last few years of As the World Turns, and despite issues with the writing quality, I do miss it.

Clearly lifestyles have changed since the heydey of soaps, and many more people -- especially women -- work out of the home. But I feel that there are still audiences for soaps. Look at the popularity of telenovelas and soaps worldwide. The networks just need to find a better way to deliver them to us here in North America. Four soaps remain, but for how much longer?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Journey

It’s been almost a week since Detour released. For me it had been especially emotional since a little over a year ago I almost wasn’t here to see my book get published.

For a good while I’d toyed with the idea of writing in the m/m genre. I’ve read many great books and wondered if I to could write a book. I did start writing Detour but circumstances and other life things got in the way and I didn’t finish it. At least until after a very trying year which I almost didn’t make it through. I was at death’s door and furious at myself that I hadn’t pursed my dream of writing in the genre I love to read. I vowed then that if I made it I would live life to the fullest and stop putting it off and finish Detour and seriously purse writing in this genre I love reading.

This determination to survive to see more of life and write Detour fueled my recovery. Once I was able to sit for more than a few minutes without pain I set out to do what I promised myself. After everything I picked up Detour to continue. It was a journey for me. It was my way of reaffirming that I was here and that I would embrace every moment of life.

With each word of Detour I got such joy that I was finally doing what I had put off for so long. When I finally finished Detour I cried. Cried tears for completing this journey. Tears of happiness that I finally did it. Cried that no matter what anyone said or even if it didn’t get published I knew that I had actually done as I set out to do all those years ago. Finished Detour. After reading then self-editing and more editing I submitted the book and then went on to write the next. Detour was only the first I wanted to write. After receiving the offer for a contract from Dreamspinner Press to publish Detour I cried again. Detour would be published. Each step to publication was another in the journey, which culminated in the release of Detour last week.

Since the release I have had lots of wonderful emails and comments about the book. I treasure each - even those who didn’t enjoy the book. Each one is part of the journey. My journey is not that uncommon to many others. Many who are or were sicker than I. Some who are no longer here with us anymore. I am one of the lucky ones who can breath deep from the well of life. I am blessed with so many possibilities.

This is just the start of my journey that I plan to continue taking with hopefully lots of more books and living life. *raising a glass in a toast to life.* Life is a precious thing that none of us should ever take for granted. Make sure you go out today and do something you’ve always wanted to do. I’m going to do the same today.

Before I go I leave you with this song which words brought back memories that made me get a teary eyed smile. .

Talia Carmichael
Fill Your Cravings


Detour - An unexpected detour leads a straight-laced professor on a journey with a sexy cop that may change his life forever. Can Robert and Miguel steer a course through the detours life throws their way?

Buy here

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who's Stirring Up More Trouble?

I am! I just got the cover art from MLR Press for All Stirred Up, the second half of the stirring stories. The first book, Stirring Up Trouble, featured Toby and Evan, Chefs who manage to cook up the perfect recipe for love.

The second book features Evan's twin brother Brendan as he reels from PTSD, only to find the proposed cure -- in the form of psychiatrist Dr. Dirk Melovitch, MD and a stay in an upscale rehab center -- might be worse than the disease.

Here's a little snippet for the curious!

After Keith opened the door to his lush private office and Evan frog-marched him inside, Brendan had only a second to wink at Debbie, Keith’s administrative assistant, before Keith closed the door and the three were alone.
“Fuck almighty, you two look like Dorian Grey and his picture.” Keith motioned for them to sit and rounded his desk. “I’ll cut to the chase, seeing as we all want what’s best for you, Brendan, and the company.” He fumbled around, neatening an already pristine stack of papers. “We’d like you to take some time off. We have a place in mind that will provide you with the help you need—”
“And who is it that says I need help?”
Keith ignored him. “And we’ve retained the services of a specialist in the field—you can think of him as your id’s personal trainer—to help you get a handle on coping with your PTSD and the behaviors related to that. A failure to comply will be met with vigorous unpleasantness.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Failure to comply—”
“I heard what you said, what the hell does that mean, vigorous unpleasantness?” Brendan glanced at his twin, who looked equally blank.
“What that means is you’ll be removed as CEO, and the board of directors will float you gently to earth in a golden parachute tied to a non-voting emeritus chair. What that means is you will effectively lose control of a corporation you and your brother built from the ground up.”
“You can’t do that. Not without Evan on board.”
Evan shook his head. “Of course he can’t under normal circumstances, and for the record he does not have me on board. But if they’re united and they prove you’re unfit to vote, they can make serious trouble. This is a sucktastic economy, and everyone’s paranoid about the bottom line. You can’t afford to take them all on.”
“I don’t want to go, damn it. Shouldn’t I be allowed to choose whether I go to rehab or not?”
Keith’s words were harsh. “Not this time, no. You aren’t using your head. You need this. Just do everyone a favor and take care of this before it eats you alive.”
Evan stood there, staring him down.“He’s right.”
“Et tu, you big weenie?” Brendan shoved his hands in his pockets. “I’m just supposed to take one for the team?”
“Jeez, Bren.” Evan sighed. “You took one for the team when you saved our mother’s life. Now take care of yourself. Nobody here thinks less of you. I’d be a wreck if I’d been through something like that—”
Brendan sat in one of the chairs and put his head in his hands. Was Keith’s office always so fucking bright? “Can we please just not talk about it?”
“If you’ll agree to go…” Keith’s voice trailed off but still held the threat of severance.
“I’ll go, if only it will get you off my back.”
“You won’t regret this, Bren.” Evan sounded so relieved.
“I already regret this. When and where?”
“Debbie has your itinerary. We’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to see that it’s painless. Your specialist will meet you tomorrowto take you through the whole procedure, flights, car rentals, check-in at the facility. All private, all first class.”
“Like an episode of Intervention only without the time-delay, so I can personally tell you what a bullshit, asshat, motherfucking—”
Evan gripped him by his shoulders, “Shut up, Bren.”
Brendan dissolved into tears again, damn it. “Shit.” He whispered so only Evan could hear him. “I’m not keeping it together too well, am I? I’m a mess.”
“It’s all right.” Evan rubbed a circle in the space between his brother’s shoulder blades with the heel of his hand. “It’s going to be okay. You’ll see.”
“I don’t even fucking use, Evan, you know that. A couple of drinks at night. You know that, right?” Rehab. Now he’d have to bear the label, like he was Amy Winehouse.
“I know. What you have is something else, okay? It’s not your fault, but that doesn’t mean you can let it go untreated. It’s not getting better. You’re not going to get better without help.”
Brendan nodded.
“Promise me you’ll at least give it a try?”
“I promise.” He laughed weakly and pushed away. He stood straighter and put his hands in his pockets. “A few weeks vacation on the company dime? Hell yes. Fire up the margaritas and bring on the shrinks. I don’t suppose you’re sending me to the Virgin Islands? I could use some virgins.”
Keith frowned and looked away.
“Gallows humor, Keith, I’ll get my itinerary from Debbie and go home to pack.”
“Your flight leaves at 9:30 in the morning.”
“I think I’ll stay at the Benjamin tonight and let the maid service scour my loft. They haven’t been there for a while, and things have gotten out of control.”
“Do you want to meet your doctor before you go?”
“Hell no.” Brendan wanted to sweep regally from the room, but his mother was the queen of exit lines—not him. “Have him pick me up at the hotel at six a.m. Tell him I’ll be in the lobby wearing a tinfoil hat.”
“Fine.” Keith’s dismissal was just what Evan needed to usher Brendan from the room.
“As for you, Ev, the least you could do is buy me lunch in that ridiculous pumpkin restaurant of yours.”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Reading: Ooku

If you did your civic duty early and have already filed your taxes, you might have a little free time this weekend. In which case, I highly recommend you check out Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga, the same manga creator who brought us Gerard and Jacques. Ooku is lush and beautifully drawn, and while its not yaoi/BL per say, the book features plenty of lovely men.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bad, Bad, Bad Man

Let's just pretend I have skills and there's a crude image of a penis here to convey the word giant dick, okay?

I'm off to write smut while standing in lines at Walt Disney World again. This year, I think I'll take Tori's Happy World along with me to make it even more subversively fun.

While I'm there, I'll be working on Bad Boyfriend, which is a spin off from Bad Company. I've written characters who are antagonists before but this time I've created a monster. Based on word from beta readers and critique partners alike Peter is a major dick. In fact, I can't decide what his worst behavior is yet. He has his reasons—narcissistic, selfish, dickish reasons—but I don't think I've ever written anyone like him before. I suppose I'll have to engineer some comeuppance for him by the end, but when I started the story, I actually thought he might be redeemable. Redeemable enough for his own HEA in another book. Let me make it clear. That is off the table, Peter. After the crap you've pulled, you'll be lucky if people don't start hoping you die in a grisly industrial accident.

So you can have a little idea of what I'm talking about, here's a bit of Peter in action.


When Quinn straightened from brushing his teeth, the face in the mirror scared the shit out of him. Christ. I'm my grandfather.

It had been cold in the kitchen while he sat at the table, surfed the internet, and pretended not to listen for Peter's car in the driveway—or for any breaking news involving fires—so he'd thrown on a sweater Peter's mom had given him for Christmas. And now with the off-brand matching luggage set under his eyes, the gray at his temples and the old man brown wool, he looked like his grandfather. After his heart-attack.

No wonder he and Peter hadn't had sex in….

Hell, Peter it's been three and a half months.

Did you fill out some kind of survey? I've worked eight days straight and I'm thirty-six fucking years old. Do you mind if I pass out now?

Yeah, I remember how fucking old you are. Especially since your birthday was the last time I got laid.

So watch porn. You're always on the damned computer anyway.

…add two more weeks to that conversation and it added up to four months. Quinn was starting to wonder if he'd forget how to do it. Maybe he couldn't blame Peter just dropping off to sleep when he came home and found dead grandpa in their bed. Ten years as a fireman's partner could leave anyone with gray hair and worry lines.

He'd thought about an affair—about Peter having an affair—but the checks Peter was bringing home meant he was telling the truth about working all the overtime. And Peter was in such a panic that anyone would find out he was gay that he'd be afraid to go near another man.

Peter's truck growled into the driveway and Quinn dropped his toothbrush in the holder. He was too short on time for a dye job, but at least he could ditch the grandpa sweater.

He traded his sweats and saggy boxers for a close-fitting pair of black briefs and shivered his way under the covers.

He thought about trying to pose, but Peter had always been able to see through Quinn, so he just propped himself up against the pillows and hoped it didn't look like he was in a coffin. Hubert's tags chimed in warning, giving Quinn time for the futile hope that the big St. Bernard mix wouldn't shake his shaggy head and send drool around the room.

Hubert yawned and then Quinn was wiping his cheek from the spray as Hubert shook off sleep and climbed out of his bed, stalking stiff-legged out to meet Peter in the hall.

Peter's keys hit the kitchen table and Hubert's tags jangled as Peter rubbed his head and neck. "How's my old man?"

Hubert whined and after a satisfied sounding yawn, made his slow way back to bed.

Peter slammed around in the kitchen for a few more minutes, leaving Quinn to wonder if this was a beer or orange juice before bed kind of night. Beer meant on the couch for TV, ignoring the bedroom, orange juice meant he might come to bed in a few minutes. Quinn heard him in the hall.

"Hey. You're still up."

Something was different about the man Quinn had lived with for ten years, like he'd shrugged off something that had been hanging on him for weeks—months—maybe this whole past year. It was in the broad shoulders, the steady hazel eyes, the way he stood straight in the door of the bedroom and offered Quinn the first smile he'd seen in who knew how long.

"You're home early."

"Lupi's back from his suspension. We can finally stop covering for his ass."

"Shit. I was counting on those big paychecks so I could run off to Vegas."

"Yeah. Right. Like I can see you dropping something bigger than a nickel in a slot machine." Peter pulled off his shirt, reaching over his head, arms crossed dragging the material up from behind. Something about the familiarity of that quirk eased the ache Quinn had been wearing under his scalp for so long he didn't notice it until it was gone.

Peter was back. And they were going to be okay. The weirdness was gone, just one of those bumps in the long, long road.

"Hey, I can spend someone else's money no problem. And it's not like you'd even notice I was gone." He said it lightly, but Peter looked up from where he was folding his pants across a chair, lips twisted in a grimace.

"Sorry." Quinn said quickly.

Peter stared at him until Quinn wondered if they were back to the land of weird. Then Peter's face relaxed, like he'd made up his mind not to get all pissed off again. "Not tonight, okay?"

Quinn's throat went dry. "Got something else in mind?"

For a big guy, Peter could move fast and quietly—maybe he snuck up on fires. He had a hand on Quinn's ankle, yanking him toward the edge of the bed. "Yeah. Get your slut panties off so I can suck your cock."

(Ahem. Sex ensues.)

Quinn was on his second cup of coffee, Hubert keeping his feet warm under the kitchen table when Peter came in with a cardboard box in his hands, wearing sweats and a purposeful expression.

"Jesus." Peter jumped. "I thought you'd be at work."

"It's winter break. We have the week off."

"Right. I forgot." Peter slid the box onto a counter.

Quinn gestured at the box with his coffee cup. "Early spring cleaning?"

"Not really. Shit. I can't believe I forgot about winter break."

"It's okay. I figured you'd be working. I didn't have plans." The last time they'd had vacation time together had been…three years ago.

"Quinn." Peter sat down clutching at the table like it was the only thing keeping him upright.

The coffee was barely warm, but the sip Quinn had just taken burned all the way down his throat. Tension strung rusty wire through his neck, under his scalp, warning prickles erupting on the skin.


Peter's face got still and calm. Did he use that face when he was keeping people from running back into a burning building after someone they loved? Quinn had a sudden premonition that he was about to know what that desperation felt like.

"I've been dealing with some stuff."

"I noticed." A preliminary skirmish, no casualties.

"I've been with other people. Not a lot. Just sometimes."

"Okay." Quinn managed to keep that word even, despite the flare of panic. Christ, how many? Were you safe? When the hell did you manage that in your double shifts?

"Do you remember the Christmas party? When I asked you to come get me?"

Cops and firemen and paramedics drinking. Together. God help the innocent bystanders. "Yeah, some guy met me in the bar and told me they were going to get you home later."

"Yeah. That was one of those times. And..."

So it was possible for one breath to last a lifetime.

Peter couldn't even look at him. "She's pregnant," he finished.

Quinn knew there weren't too many different ways to interpret that, but he heard himself stupidly ask, "What do you mean?"

"I mean, I had sex with a woman eight weeks ago and she's pregnant. And before you ask, yes it's mine and no I wasn't too drunk to know what I was doing. She's going to keep it and—that's what I want. We're going to get married."

Married. Quinn heard himself repeat the word but it sounded far away.

"This—" Peter made a vague gesture that was supposed to cover ten years of sharing an apartment, a home, a dog, a life together. "It's never been all I wanted."

"We could—" But Quinn stopped himself before he finished it. We could do it together? The three of them? Did he even want to suggest it?

Peter shook his head. "I'm going to marry her. She's—it wasn't something she was expecting either, but I need to do this."

"And the fact that you also need a dick up your ass or down your throat when you want to really get off? Is that something she can expect?"

"I don't—I'm not gay, Quinn."

"You've been faking it pretty good for ten years. And it's not like I made a pass at you at your brother's birthday party all those years ago."

"You're the only guy I've ever fucked. And I was married before."
"Yeah, to Stacy, I remember. All two months of your marriage. After you jerked me off at your brother's party."

"You knew what you were getting into."

"And I'm to blame for not saying to hell with your closeted ass?"

"No one's to blame." Peter looked down.

"Yes, someone is: you."

Peter pushed away from the table. "I never made you any promises."

"Living together for ten years is a fucking promise, Peter."

"You were still on active duty for four of it." Face implacable, Peter leaned back against the counter with his arms across his chest.

Quinn itched to get that look off his lover's face. "I'm confused. That wasn't you begging me to come in your ass last night?"

Peter's gaze was steady, like Quinn was the irrational one in this conversation. Not irrational, just clueless. Months of Peter pushing him away, spending all his time at work, coming home last night acting like he'd finally figured something out. Leave out the sex and it almost made sense.

When Quinn didn't get an answer, he said, "Then what was last night about?"

"I wanted to give you a nice good-bye." Peter turned away and opened a cabinet. "I'm just going to take the stuff my mom gave me."

Gave us, Quinn wanted to point out, but he stared at the box on the counter as another horrible realization pierced his brain. "So when I came home from work, you were going to be packed and gone?" Did his voice break? Did he care?

"Yeah, but I was going to talk to you."

"Why bother? I'm sure a note would have covered it."

"Don't get—"

Quinn shoved the table away and stalked over to box Peter against the counter. "Dear Quinn, The last ten years were a mistake. I'm straight. Except when we fuck. Later, Peter."

Peter shoved Quinn away.

"You don't have to marry her to be the kid's dad." Quinn wanted to pin the son of a bitch against the counter again, but he was afraid that would lead to one of them taking a swing.

"Yes, I do. He deserves better than that."

"Than what? A father who's so ashamed of himself he wraps himself in a lie?"

"It's not a lie." Peter's face flushed. "My dick got hard. I came. You're the one who's having trouble with the facts."

"And what facts are you going to share with her? Are you going to tell her who's been getting your dick hard for the past ten years?"

"No. She doesn't have anything to do with that. I'm not asking her what she's been doing either."

"Maybe I owe her a warning. I hate to think of her waking up to this same shit ten years from now—with a kid to think about too. Don't worry. I'll be sure to explain how not gay our relationship was."

There it was. An honest emotion on Peter's face. But it wasn't love or sorrow. It was fear. "Don't. Please, Quinn, don't. I know—I know I'm hurting you but don't do that to me. You can't tell anyone."

"You know how I love it when you beg." The words felt like he was swallowing dirt, clumps falling cold and dry into his stomach.


"I'm not going to say anything. Ten years is a hard habit to break."

"Thank you." Peter went back to taking dishes out of the cabinet.

"But I gotta say, if you're trying to pass, you might want to try harder. I don't think many straight guys pack their stoneware before they walk out."

"I moved some clothes last week."

Last week."Where?"

"I know we've got another month on the lease, but I found a place that will take dogs."

Quinn couldn't even make his mouth form a word. His body snapped at attention, braced for whatever abuse was coming his way as the commandant looked for some kind of weakness in his eyes. He must have made some kind of sound, because Peter turned around.

"He's my dog."

Quinn knew that. And he could remember dress whites covered in dog hair, chewed shoes and endless drool. But he was the one who fed him and took him to the vet when Peter was working.

Quinn started for Peter. Maybe to punch him, maybe to kiss him, one argument no better than the other, but after the first step the floor turned to quicksand. What had ever happened in his life to make Quinn think that this was safe, that this would last? He fucking knew better than that.

His hands closed on the box instead of Peter. The box made a satisfying crunch as it hit the wall, and Quinn stepped over the pieces as he left.

(And that may be the least of Peter's sins so far.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hawaii 5-O Pics

Because I really have nothing intelligent to say today, I give you happy Steve/Danny picspam. Please enjoy.

And a sweet "I <3 you" gif (You might have to click on it to make it play.):

And how I  imagine Steve feels when he thinks about Danny's "I <3 you" signing:

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ooh la-la Monday

I think we could all use some inspiration today.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New release and contest!

A couple of years ago, I wrote Tabula Rasa. It was the story of Teagan and Cash, two rodeo cowboys who were a pair of team ropers. It ended up being a finalist in the EPPIES that year, which was a nice surprise, because I really loved that story.

In any case, Teagan and Cash came back for a quick visit a couple of months ago and asked for a short story. I complied. Their new story is called Priorities and is available HERE at Torquere Books for the low price of $1.99.

After you read it, you have time to pop over to my site and enter the contest I'm running. Just answer one question about the book, email me, and you're entered. Today is the last day, so don't wait!

Get your copy of Priorities today!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The wonders of research (or: the boxer)

Right, everybody, sorry I've been remiss in my updating here. Every time my slot came up, there was something serious in the way. Like a complete edit of my upcoming novel. Two weeks ago, I got my eyes lasered and didn't really want to update the blog with "OMG I'M SCARED!"

But my eyes are pretty much healed now (no more shortsightedness from this author – and I'll spare you the details, but LASIK is a gift from the gods), and I have sent off all the revisions I have to do in the foreseeable future. I'm in the right frame of mind to talk.

So, let's talk. I'm currently working on a story about boxing. (Sorry, I'm always talking about books that I'm working on, so you can't really buy them yet… I haven't even quite decided where to send it…but I hope that when we talk next time in two weeks, it'll be done and I'll be editing it).

Now, my partner's been boxing for two years. I watched him fight (and lose) in a "white collar boxing charity" event, and I never really thought much about it all. He's also running half-marathons, and I'm not really getting into that, either. As far as I'm concerned, I welcome his boxing because that means he's out of the house three times a week and that means I can write without interruptions. Writers are selfish like that.

But I did begin to feed him articles on boxers, or the random trivia I came across. I did watch David Haye fight, and Calzaghe, because, yeah, it was on on the telly and it is strangely fascinating. Above all, I was starting to give him books on boxing as presents (my book buying habit and his interest caused that). I started to leaf through the books. Read some quotes. Started asking questions.

Gradually, I worked out I have a character who's a boxer. It took a long while to get Brooklyn to talk. Like many of my characters, Brooklyn's not really a talker. He's just there, more a presence than a voice. I knew he was disgraced, and I knew he lived in Rachel Haimowitz' "Belonging" world, which is basically our world, but slavery was never abolished. See, Brooklyn's a slave. And a boxer, and on the way to become the slave world heavyweight champion.

Thankfully, Rachel was so kind to allow me to play in her sandbox. I'll likely end up writing more there, because slavery is a fascinating topic, especially if we're looking at slaves who fight very very hard to be free again.

But even more, during the research for the boxer story, I learnt a fair amount about both boxers and the sport, read some fascinating accounts of fights, and realized it's really not just about overpaid guys hitting each other in front of the camera.

As my partner says, "just about anything is fascinating if seen in enough detail." That really sums it all up. You can look at the most mundane things, stuff you'd thought was boring, but if you really, really look at it and look at it long enough with an open mind, suddenly you get stories. Thousands of them. Little pieces will all swirl around and then suddenly settle, creating a completely new picture.

Sometimes, you get myths shattered. Of course I knew about Muhammad Ali, but I didn't know about what he did to Ernie Tyrell.

It's worth checking out, it's a fascinating story. Go. Have a look. Wikipedia is a good start.

Enjoy your find. We can talk about it when you come back. I'll be here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Visual Stimulation

As a writer, I often turn to the visual arts for inspiration. I'm not sure what models Tyler Kenyon and Kyle Ledeboer are meant to convey here, but my brain thinks there are a few stories waiting to be told:

I wonder -- what's going on in this picture? Intense fitness training? A playful game of truth or dare? Could either scenario lead to something more? Add some bondage elements and you'll get a rough idea of how my Muse works. What do you think is going on in this picture?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Responding to reviews

I'm discussing whether authors should reply to reviews over at my website, inspired by an author who replied to criticism of her book in an amazingly ill-advised manner last week. Is it ever a good idea for authors to respond to criticism? And should reviewers mention poor grammar and typos? (I say no and yes, respectively.) Would love to know what you think.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Precious Ache & Furtive Liaison get re-released!

I have brand new covers for Furtive Liaison and Precious Ache, both of which have been re-released by yours truly in the last couple of weeks.

precious-ache.jpg furtive-liaison-2x3.jpg

Author of the month!

I'm thrilled to announce that I'm author of the month over at Queer Magazine Online. Pop over & check out the interview they did with me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Was Wrong

I was wrong.

I’m not afraid to admit it. I was.

I said there was no way in hell that you’d catch me with an e-reader. I said I would never give up my physical books with paper and ink and colorful cover art. I said it. And I was wrong.

How’d it happen? How’d I go from NEVER to Can’t Leave The House Without It?

It started when I won a PDF copy of Andrew Wolter’s novel, Nightfall. I sat on it for months, maybe even over a year, because no matter how I tried, I couldn’t read fiction on a computer monitor. Heck, I don’t even read many blogs because the glare of a monitor inspires low-level migraines when doing anything more than skimming emails and tweets. I save that pain for reading manuscripts and edits, so sadly, Nightfall wasn’t being read more than a page at a time.

This was around the same time that I was discovering the wonderful world of M/M romance. I had been buying paperbacks of Price’s PsyCop series and Mykles' Heaven Sent boys, but some of the great M/M stories out there weren’t in paperback or, as you probably know, they were priced noticeably higher than the mass market books and releasing well after the e-book versions. So, after I managed to win a couple of more e-books, I started to cave. (No, please don’t ask why I was entering contests for e-books in the first place. I don’t have a good answer. The book sounded good, after that, I just couldn’t say.)

Long story short, I studied the Kindle, and other readers, for months – MONTHS – before finally breaking down and buying one. My first download was a book part way through a paranormal series by the lovely Ally Blue. From there, I fell in love. Oh, I already adored Ally’s characters. I meant I fell in love with my Kindle, and I never looked back. There are still paperbacks sitting on the shelf unread because I can tuck the Kindle in my messenger bag and read M/M at work discreetly. (Plus it has a copy of Alice in Wonderland, so when people ask to see it, I can switch from a hot and heavy threeway to something more office friendly for a demonstration.)

I’ll get to those paperbacks eventually, and I’ll still buy horror paperbacks to grip the pages white-knuckeld (until I decide I’m wrong about that too). I must say, however, I’m glad I was wrong, because it tickles me pink to put my very own books on my Kindle. I can stare at them and convince myself it’s not just a dream without looking like a narcissistic maniac to passersby. I’m crazy, after all, just not that kind of crazy.

Have a great April, dear Readers!

Pia Veleno
Related Posts with Thumbnails