Friday, July 29, 2011

Pimping post: Dark Edge of Honor

I've been wrapped up completely in a super-secret little project that is a lot of fun, too. And as it goes when you're having fun, time flies. It's already August, and I do wonder where the previous seven months went.

One of the things I did this year was edit/rewrite Rhianon Etzweiler's and mine "Dark Edge of Honor", which is our military gay sci-fi romance/thriller.

Here's the blurb:

Sergei Stolkov is a faithful officer, though his deepest desires go against the Doctrine. A captain with the invading Coalition forces, he believes that self-sacrifice is the most heroic act and his own needs are only valid if they serve the state.

Mike, an operative planted within Cirokko's rebels, has been ordered to seduce Sergei and pry from him the Coalition's military secrets. His mission is a success, but as he captures Sergei's heart, Mike is tempted by his own charade and falls in love.

When the hostile natives of the planet Cirokko make their move, all seems lost. Can Mike and Sergei survive when the Coalition's internal affairs division takes an interest in what happened in the dusty mountains of Zasidka Pass...?

It's a sizeable novel at 96k (and you can pre-order it here), and it presents a different version of one my favourite characters ever.

See, Vadim Krasnorada of the epic Special Forces series began as a paratrooper character named Sergei, back in 1995, when I wrote one of my first stories with explicit sex. Sergei burst onto the stage, scarred, messed up, clearly traumatized, and in that story I killed him in a restroom in Frankfurt, protecting a man who was most definitely not worth it.

The character has haunted me since then. I call him the "Sergei type", and he feels like somebody I know incredibly well. I used the character in many ways and incarnations. One of my print-published novels was about another "Sergei", in this case, however, he chose love and life rather than death. The main difference? This Sergei was less giving and more taking - but just as stoic as the first one.

One short story and one novel in, I still hadn't exorcised the "Sergei type". There was still stuff to talk about, still things he'd do and I found interesting. When the time came again that I needed a character to write something, I examined the character again and decided to use the "Sergei type" again - but this time, I'd make him a "golden boy", somebody special and admired (the other two Sergeis never were). I also made him very, very intelligent and pretty educated (the other Sergeis weren't - I'd assume one of them was almost illiterate).

That way, Vadim Krasnorada was born, probably one of my favourite characters. The rest is history - one million words of "Special Forces", all free here.

Yet, I *still* wasn't done. In "Special Forces", Vadim is about thirty, and he's already a tough bastard with combat experience and a lot of experienced that have hardened him against the world. He's also aware he's gay, and he's forcing other men to submit to him. He'd an institutionalised rapist when we meet him.

Yet, throughout the book, there's the hint of a different Vadim. One who's softer, more idealistic, who wants to believe in Communism and is all bright-eyed and idealistic. I do love writing idealists, and I do love the conflict between an ideology (any ideology - religion or political identity) and the individual. I can't stay away from exploring themes of honor, identity, duty, and I assume I'll do that for the rest of my creative life.

In short, there was no space to explore Vadim's younger years, his idealism and honor, his struggle with the political system he'd been born into. I wanted to explore those bits of the "Sergei type" - how do we mature and how do we become the people we are?

So, I teamed up with Rhianon Etzweiler (who was starting work on a military novel) and pitched her this idea. She welcomed me as a co-writer, and I brought the "Sergei type", now just "Sergei" - this time young, idealistic, very much still discovering who he is - while she brought Mike.

And this is how "Dark Edge of Honor" was born. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summertime status report

Whew, what a hot, harsh summer! It's times like this when I'm glad I'm a writer who works from the comfort of my air conditioned home.

So, what's cooking besides the pavement? I'm on the third draft of an M/F/M historical, so I don't have any new M/M to share. I do want to say that Derek and Blue are never far from my thoughts, and I have several ideas for the next Blue Ruin installment. I'm also pleased to report that in just the past three months, my 2008 release Sleight of Hand went from being one of my mid-range selling titles to my second highest seller. This signals a new trend for me in terms of sales figures, and I find that to be an encouraging sign!

I've also made some minor updates to my author site. Oh, and my eldest child starts college this fall. Where did the time go?

What's everyone else up to? Do share!

Katrina Strauss
Romance, erotica & a little yaoi, too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Hi guys! Just got back from visiting my bestie in the wilds of eastern Canada. It sure is gorgeous up there this time of year, heat and humidity aside. Everything is green.

I'm having some tattoo angst these days. Mainly, I want a new one, and my preferred artist is unavailable. I'm quite reluctant to go to someone else for it, which I realize directly results in the creation of my own angst, but there you go. I want THIS PERSON and no one else will do.

So instead of getting my own ink, I spent hours looking at other people's. Do you like a man with tattoos? Some of my characters have them, but they usually tend to be small and not in a readily visible area. I do like a well-done sleeve on a guy, though. Check these pictures out and see what I've been drooling over.

That almost cured my tattoo angst. (Almost.) Happy Sunday, everybody.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spin Out is available

Spin Out
a Deputy Joe Novel

The sequel to Hard Fall is out.  Right now it's available through MLR Press Direct in eBook.  I'll post links for Amazon and other distributors as they go live.

AuthorJames Buchanan
ISBN#978-1-60820-366-6 (print) $14.99
978-1-60820-393-2 (ebook) $8.99
Release DateJuly 2011
Cover ArtistWinterheart Designs
Paperback:284 pages, 95,000 words

Available At:MlrBooks (ebook)

Right guy. Wrong time.

Deputy Joe Peterson understood the risks when he got involved with ex-con Kabe Varghese. He didn't, however, see fit to warn Kabe. Now, in the middle of searching for the killer of a local boy, he has to contend with his career and his relationship spinning out of control. Solving the case may be easier than repairing broken trust.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Random Updates

Remember back in June when I mentioned I'd indulged in some fanfic at the request of a friend? Well, the fic is posted now over on my blog. It's Holmesian Victorian closet smut. (Yes you read that right.) If you're curious, you can find it here or on my sorely neglected LiveJournal.

I've set up a FaceBook page! Maia Strong, Author. Please check it out and if you like it, "Like" it! (Really hoping that link works.)

Finally (and FINALLY) I sold my m/m/f fantasy novel! I don't have the contract in-hand yet, but they offered, and I accepted. More details to follow once it's all signed an official.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

If you've been waiting for Sonoran Heat to hit Fictionwise, wait no longer! Find it at Fictionwise here:

While I'm at it, you can also find Sonoran Heat in e-book at Kindle, Amber Allure, and All Romance. It's also available in trade paperback from Amazon. What better poolside read than a hot desert romance?

Katrina Strauss
Romance, erotica, and a little yaoi, too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Band of Lovers, er, Brothers

I recently watched the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers and I'm rather disappointed in myself that it took me 10 whole years to watch this show. So, SO good. Obviously heartbreaking at times, but also a beautiful testament to the power and bond of friendship. I thought it was amazing.

This is one of those shows that gives you thinky thoughts, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head. If you're like me, this is also the kind of show that gives you slashy thoughts. Oh my goodness, Damian Lewis and Ron Livingston were just incredible. Winters and Nixon were so in love.

Even if you haven't seen BoB, I totally recommend this gorgeous vid of Damian and Ron making eyes at each other:

*draws hearts around them*

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's Been an Unproductive Week :)

Wow - I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last update here but when I look at what's happened in my world just since July 1st, maybe I can.

Things were already a bit hectic with getting ready for a potluck + fireworks with friends but I'd gone out with Jo (my Keeper) to IKEA on the 2nd only to get a call while we were shopping that just about floored me.

My husband leads off with "Hon, I just got off the phone with Dad and they're at Harborview...."

Now Dad is his father (mine is dead) and Harborview is Seattles Level 1 trauma (adult and pediatric center). My heart fell to the floor because I instantly thought something had happened to his mother. She's the heart of his family and it would be horrible.

No - it was, in a way, worse. My 12 year old nephew had been involved in an accident on a farm runabout he and two friends were playing on. On the afternoon of July 1st, the runabout had flipped and he'd been pinned under the rollbar. 911 was called and he was taken asap to the local ER who thought he had maybe some cracked ribs but decided to do an MRI anyway.

Damned good thing they did.

He actually had 2 cracked vertebrae, huge amounts of internal bleeding, a collapsed lung, liver and kidney damage. They couldn't even promise his parents he would make it through the first emergency surgery but they had to stop the bleeding and wanted to transport him to Harborview.

They removed his spleen and he was airlifted to Harborview the very early morning of the 2nd. He ended up having another surgery Sunday morning to remove surgical packing, add in a bunch more drains, etc. It wasn't until after this surgery that he started to improve.

He stayed in the pediatric ICU until Wednesday, when he was able to be moved to lesser care. I don't think he's in a regular room still but is back to eating on his own and sitting up, etc. I'm trying hard to not drive my husband's family crazy with requests for updates (I'm making him call for one today!).

So, as you may guess, not a lot of writing has gone on due to playing family support.

I'm actively working on Deepest Night today though. I'd like to get it done and to my editor for holiday release though. As usual, it wants to be longer than I thought. Is it tending toward "sweet" romances that makes me want more background, more emotion, more insight? I may never know but I can't seem to change from my own style to a more gritty, more casual sex, story.

Anyway, writing is now happening again!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Zoinks...! Less than two weeks before Comic Con!

I've been in crunch mode for the past few weeks--rather, in a crunchier mode than usual!--when it hit me today: there is less than two weeks before Comic Con. Eeeeee! I'm excited as hell to be there this year since there's been a lot of cool stuff happening in the industry, and there are tons of cool panels I can't wait to check out. I'll also have a table in Artists' Alley, so if anyone else is attending the con, I hope you'll drop by. Click here the map and artist listing:

Getting into the spirit of things, I've been updating my DA page with recent illustrations and stuff. Even when I'm drawing comic book guys, I can't resist the urge to make 'em pretty. :o)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cover Art!

Book 2 of the Deputy Joe Novels, coming this August!

Right guy.
Wrong time.

Deputy Joe Peterson understood the risks when he got involved with ex-con Kabe Varghese.  He didn’t, however, see fit to warn Kabe. Now, in the middle of searching for the killer of a local boy, he has to contend with his career and his relationship spinning out of control.  Solving the case may be easier than repairing broken trust.

Love the cover, well and I adore Joe & Kabe....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dream Come True

I've seen a lot of blogs roll by recapping RWA National (the romance writing conference that was held in New York last week), and if I had something else to say, I guess I'd pretty much have a scoop (Can I use that word for a blog? Do people still use that word?) So yeah, I could talk about something else, but then I'd miss the chance to say how absolutely awesome it was meeting readers there.

You see, I've been writing for…a few decades, but only in the last few years have complete strangers been willing to read my work. And not only that, they pay to do it. Then they show up and talk to me about it, which has got to be one of the coolest things going. Because these readers, these actual people, they've met my imaginary friends, the characters that live in my head. And they even want to talk about them. They have opinions about them. Have you ever been dying to introduce one friend to another, just knowing they'll hit it off? And then when they do, you get this incredibly happy gloat going on. Not in a mean way but in a sunny, warm, peace-love-and-harmony kind of way. Or maybe you've finally convinced your friend to watch the TV show that you're in love with, and she falls for those characters, too and now you sit around and talk about them. Yeah, it's kind of like that. Only a hundred times better. Because something that was only real to you is suddenly real in a whole other way. And it's absolute magic.

So to everyone who's stopped by to talk to me about my books or emailed or tweeted, thank you so much. This is even more fun than making sure no one accidentally closed the door on my pet dragon's tail or making sure Touché Turtle had a place to sit at the dinner table.

Readers: you truly make my dreams come true.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer at last!

I hope everyone celebrating Canada Day and/or Independence Day had a safe and fun weekend! I, for one, had a blast attending two weddings in two states over the course of this holiday weekend. Only one of the weddings came with fireworks, but the other had dramatic readings from the works of Modern English and Cyndi Lauper, so I'd say they both had a lot going for them. ;) It had been a long time since I'd watched a live fireworks show (instead of on HD telly from the comfort of my sofa). It was just as cool as I remembered--and not in that chilly, I-need-a-sweater-and-hot-chocolate cool way that it often is around here.

Summer officially started on 21 June, but here it doesn't really start until 5 July. And start it has at last! We had a gorgeous day yesterday and another one is following it today. It's sparking my creativity and my little brain is churning with ideas of summery, outdoor places and scenarios in which I can put any number of characters. A chance meeting rekindles an old flame at a small-town Pride Parade? (I missed the parade again this year. Sadsauce.) The classic enemies-to-lovers scenario at a barbecue competition showdown? (I might watch too much Food Network.) A hush-hush, behind-the-scenes romance between outdoor-theatre performers? (I might also be a total theatre nerd.) Heck, I'm even picturing a rom-com between single gay dads meeting at the local community wading pool and playground--and that is so not my usual stamping ground. So many ideas, so much sunscreen and bug spray! I think I better slap on a little of both and start digging in. ... Oo! Newly-single man with no clue what to do with the yard he's suddenly stuck with seeks sexy landscape gardener to... [fill in the blank]. I think I know what I'm doing with my summer day! :D

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Movie Recommendation

This was an adorable comedy about a meddling mother who finds out her only son is gay and sets out to find him a good man. I really liked it and thought I would mention the movie here in case anyone else is in the mood for a lighthearted comedy about love and acceptance. Of course, the good looking men and crazy drag queens wouldn't have anything to do with why I enjoyed the movie. Not at all. :D

You can buy this one on DVD over at Amazon and probably anywhere else movies are sold.

As an added bonus, Keith Hartman (the writer and director of You Should Meet My Son) has written a couple of books. You can check those out on his website:

Triplesex has been rereleased!


Caleb has worked hard to get where he’s at in life. Recently offered tenure at the college where he works, Caleb has let his personal life slide in favor of impressing the powers that be. Now that a much-needed summer vacation is finally at hand, Caleb fears his long hours may have been detrimental to his long-time partner’s happiness.

An appreciative eye for the male form is perfectly natural, but Zaki’s preoccupation with other men is cause for concern. Even though Caleb trusts his lover, he’s suspicious of Zaki’s motives. While Caleb isn’t above a little recreational sex by mutual consent, he wouldn’t be able to forgive Zaki for screwing around behind his back. His only hope is to turn back the tide of discontent before it’s too late.

You can find buy links and read an excerpt here:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July: I Disbelieve

July? Really? I disbelieve.

Okay, so if it IS July, then that means the year is half over. I’m not a big fan of setting out year-long goals because 365 days is just too many chances to mess up. I’ve been known to set monthly goals and, on occasion, quarterly goals, but longer than that, and something pretty and sparkly comes up to distract me.

Still, despite my aversion to yearly goals, I couldn’t help but look back on the past six months to see how I’ve done. I’ll admit, I’m not impressed, but hopefully that’ll inspire me to get my butt in gear for the second half of the year. (Or, at least the third quarter.)

In the first half of the year, I started the sequel to Man Whore. I managed about 24k words before I set it aside in what I now admit might’ve been in a fit of petulance over a couple of reader reviews complaining about the character's sluttiness in Man Whore. I thought I’d left plenty of warning about his demeanor in the title, and the blurb…

No, I won’t go into that publicly. No further anyway.

I’ve recently reread that partial manuscript, so I expect I’ll be able to sink back into Adam and Morgan’s world soon. I hope to have the next story finished by the end of the year, and it will take Adam’s secret to the next level as he learns more about why the demons were after him in Man Whore.

What else? Well, I’ve seen two stories through edits and publication – one a short story, Bound By Love, and the other Man Whore. I’ve started the prequel to Bound, and I’m toying with the three follow up stories to cover the three years Bel owes to his demon father, but those are not officially on this year’s schedule. If I’m lucky, the first year of demon debt will be around Valentine’s Day, just as the first story was, but I make no promises.

Speaking of editing, I’ve learned the rumors about Loose Id “editing the crap” out of their stories is true. I think I’ve put as much time into editing Make You Sweat (formerly known as Summer Lust) as I did writing and revising it before the contract. (Okay, okay, slight exaggeration, but I definitely put a lot of time into this project.) The line editor has it now, so I expect an official release date soon and, more importantly, a release from deadlines for it, so I can obsess about something else.

Finally, new Works-in-Progress have been slow in this first half of the year. I wrote a cowboy novella, and still need to finish writing the final consummation scene. It’ll need some minor fleshing out later, but it will likely be one of my 2011 revision projects for the second half of the year. The other one to be revised is a story about a punk rocker and an introvert. I set that one aside to promote Man Whore’s release, and haven’t had the time to start the editing process since. Or, as is more likely, I haven’t made the time.

Lastly, in this quarter/year, I hope to finish a manuscript on a transgender character. I’ve found a few already written, but there aren’t nearly enough trans stories out there. Sure, plenty of memoirs and non-fiction type reads, but for romance, I’d like to see more. I have two trans stories started, and am undecided on which to write first. One is a pre-op FtM, and the other is an MtF on hormones, but not yet entertaining the thought of full reassignment. Both pose interesting character dynamics and a significant amount of research to distract me from actually writing down words. Still, I’m looking forward to learning more about both characters as I write them.

Will any of it get done in the second half of the year? Yes, some, but I won’t torture myself with promises. If I forced a schedule in the first six months, I wouldn’t have written a ghost story currently out for query in a Halloween anthology. It was a fun story to write, the ghost leading the way to new discoveries and changing little things until, by the end, I had to go back and rewrite the first three chapters to fit the ghost’s desired resolution. I’d like to see the Man Whore sequel done, and the Bound prequel, plus one of the revisions and one of the trans characters, but don’t quote me on that, because I’ll deny it come January first.

What have you accomplished so far this year? What would you like to do in the second half, dear Readers?

Pia Veleno

Friday, July 1, 2011

Creativity is like a Large Hadron Collider

I normally don't start a blog post with advertising - and I'm really actually not, because this post does have a point.

Today marks the release of Rachel Haimowitz' "Where He Belongs", a most excellent collection of short stories and vignettes related to her surprise smash hit "Anchored: Belonging".

Now, it's no secret that Rachel and me have been collaborating, and we're currently embarking on a big old adventure I hope to be able to talk about very soon, but for the moment, Rachel's a writer I greatly admire. Also, she links to some extremely hot stuff on her Twitter account, so by all means follow her.

But the real point is - I'm talking about how ideas happen. Sometimes I don't know, but I have an example where I do know. My ideas tend to happen when two (or sometimes three) things collide that weren't touching before.

In a way, creativity is like the Large Hadron Collider, that enormous man-made machine that spins particles around, accelerating them very fast, then smashing them into each other and then looks what happens (they are looking for new particles/waves and try to work out how the universe happens... fascinating stuff).

Creativity is the same (although we usually don't care much about the Birth of the real Universe - internal universes are plenty for us writers to content with).

One of those particles was Rachel Haimowitz' "Belonging" world - featured in both "Anchored" and "Where He Belongs". That world, which is built around the idea that our modern world still has slavery (it was never abolished) grabbed me by the collar a few months ago and never let me go. Her take on slavery in our current day world just struck a nerve, a big flaring nerve of "wow, that's awesome".

The Muse pounced on that world with utter glee - and within a few days, I knew I wanted to write something about slave fighters in that world.

That's the particle my brain brought to it. "Awesome stuff - what does this mean for warriors/fighters/soldiers?" is my usual response to almost anything.

At this stage, the first spark of idea could have turned into anything - cage fighters, or soldiers, or something like that, but the idea was looking for a shape for a while, and that is the part of the process that just has to happen. Inspiration, if you will.

The third particle was missing.

Well, my partner brought that one to the table. He's been boxing for two years (resulting in some very nice changes...). Now, you might or might not be aware, but tomorrow is the fight of David Haye "Haymaker" versus Wladimir Klitschko. It's a much anticipated heavyweight title fight, and it's been trying to happen for a year or so.

So my partner was telling me all about Haye and Klischko, and the third particle appeared and smashed into the others.

Yes, I'd write about slave boxers. Brooklyn Marshall was born, first as a bundle of resentment and anger, then as a London boxer (boxing in a very similar stable to the one my partner trains in - which incidentally was the place where David Haye started his career), then eventually as an angry, desperate, but ultimately unbroken man in a situation where he has to fight for his freedom, life, and dignity. Part gladiator, part criminal, part good man fallen on bad times.

I refined the basic idea with research and my partner thankfully indulged me with questions like "what hurts more - a punch to the kidney or the face?" and stuff like diet, training regime, preparation, attitude. It all came together. I can still see all the componwents, but in the end, "Counterpunch", the novel set in Rachel Haimowitz' "Belonging" world, became totally its own thing.

And now that it's all written and sold and we're in the last stages of the book design (cover and everything) - now the long-anticipated fight between Haye and Klischko will actually happen (it was postponed a few times). And I'll be sitting on the couch tomorrow with friends and cheer them on.

Klischko seems like the nicer guy, but Haye is by far the more exciting boxer, but whoever wins, they helped me make that novel, just one of those things that went into making something new.
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