Thursday, September 30, 2010

So I know what I’m doing in April

Just got the word that I’ll be moderating a panel on crafting fight scenes in romance during the RT Booklovers Convention here in Los Angeles. It should be a blast.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

But Does She Know Dick About It?

Once again Maia has saved me from brain-lock about a blog post. (Thanks, Maia.) As I started to type a comment to her post on being outed, I realized my response was long enough to be a post all its own. Coming out—whether as a lesbian or as a writer of gay erotic romance—is a process that never ends. After all, it's not something tattooed on my forehead. (Though that might save a lot of time. I'd have to grow out my bangs, though. Hmmm.) There are always new people in my life, and while it's easy to slip a mention of my wife in casual conversation, saying "And oh yeah, I write steamy romances about gay guys" is a little more awkward to toss out there. Of the two, my identity as a writer evokes far more astonishment than my orientation. Couple them together and you have anything from confusion to the guffaws of my nurse practioner OB-GYN. I can still picture her bent over with laughter sputtering, "Really? Really? C'mon, no, really?"

When Custom Ride made its first appearance to my awesome critique group, no one was particularly astonished at my ability to squeeze so many sex scenes into a short story. After all, they'd been reading my work for a year, but what I heard was, "For a lesbian, you know an awful lot about dick." Three years later one of those same critique partners told me about her husband pausing in the middle of disposing of some old manuscript pages from her office. He had started reading one of mine, and confessed to enjoying a scene he said he could picture between a guy and a girl—until things went "too far." After his wife confirmed that yep, the writer was "the one who's gay" he asked, "How does she know so much about the cock and the balls?"

There have been many variations of that question in the past few years, and far from being offended, I love the opportunity to answer it. With a wink and a grin I'm proud to say, "I guess I just have one hell of an imagination."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


My dad loves to brag about his kids. It can be a challenge for him at times, I'm sure, as we are far from perfect. This doesn't stop him -- and is perhaps what encourages him -- to take every opportunity he has to talk up our achievements.

So here's the deal. We have relatives in the more conservative part of the state. My dad's sister and her kids and grandkids, to be precise. I don't see enough of them to know them well (my own damned fault) but when I do see them, I like them. One cousin, particularly, is supportive about my attempts at publication. Note I said "attempts." I haven't told them about my published books or about what genre(s) they are. Specifically because of what genres they are. This goes back to not knowing them as well as I should or would like. Would they be cool that I've written and published gay erotic romance? I don't know. … But I guess I'll find out because at a large family gathering the other week, my dad (I have to assume it was him.) told them I had these books out there. That's right. My dad outed me. Now, he may know something I don't. He grew up with his sister. He's seen this batch of relatives much more than I have over recent years. He may know that they'll be perfectly cool with it. I certainly hope he's right. In the meantime, I wait to see what the fallout is. If nothing else, I know he means well. He's just so proud of his "Number One Daughter."

So, have you ever had to deal with something like this? A well-meaning friend or family member who let the cat out of the bag when you'd been trying so diligently to keep it safe and happy in that bag? What happened? How did you deal with it? Apprehensive minds want to know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Puppy piles

I was sitting earlier trying to figure out what to blog about today (I'm such a pantser, it's pathedic sometimes - lol) when I realized it was that time of year again. Tory talked about football, I'm on the subject of baseball. I've been watching the NY Yankees since 1996 thanks to my husband...ok, and Derek Jeter too *wink*
But as October closes in the competition gets tight for playoff spots for the World Series. This is also the time I start yelling at the TV like the players can actually hear me *pfft*
This year it's rough. The Yankees and Tampa Rays are constantly switching as to who's going to win their division title. As of tonight, Rays is 1/2 game ahead of Yankees. You'd think that I'd root for the Rays since I've lived in FL for over 20 years, huh? Eh, I like them, just not as much as my Yankees. :) But I'm not too worried as it's looking like they'll both make it to the playoffs.
But really, that wasn't what brought my attention to write about baseball tonight. A commercial showed some past celebration images of previous division and World Series wins.
Have you ever noticed that there's a lot of "Puppy Piles" in baseball? I mean, the guys get soo touchy, happy when they win.

They can't seem to get there fast enough...

Or get high enough to be on top...

Oh, wait, can a puppy pile consist of two guys?

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing this *sigh* Especially live in a baseball stadium right there in front of you, because you know those tight pants really accent many of their behinds *wink*. But gotta say, I like the butt slapping too that the men do.
My question...why don't men do this more often outside of professional sports? lol Too bad they don't.
Everyone have a great week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm watching football today! Now, bear in mind that I am not a football "fan", per se. Not in the way that I'm a baseball fan. But I AM a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, seeing as how I originally hail from Pittsburgh, so this morning I'm heading to a local sports bar with my daddy to watch them Stillers play.

Do I have a jersey, you ask? Why, yes I do. It looks like this. I'm a huge fan of the pink, mostly because I love anything that can be girled up. I do have an original black and gold jersey too, but the pink is more me. (The same can be said for my Anaheim Angels jerseys. I have the traditional red one, but I also have a pink one that I wear more often.)

Do I talk about my pink bike jacket here? I wear full gear when I ride on the back of my husband's street bike, but it's more bearable in the heat when I know I'm wearing a pink and white jacket with a little rose on the sleeve.

Anyway, I'm of the opinion that anything that's specifically targeted at men (contact sports, pickup trucks, etc) can be girled up for women. I'm proud to say that I like those things when they're more feminine, although I recognize and respect the fact that not all women like the girled up version of stuff. And that's totally cool with me.

BUT, the interesting thing is that I do not enjoy even a hint of feminism when I write my leading men. No pink for them, no sir. Strong and silent and most of them own 4WD trucks. In black or dark blue.

I'll still be wearing my pink jersey to watch the game today, though.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I’ve come back from Russia

Yesterday, I returned from a business trip to Moscow. It was my first time in Russia. Now, you might find this ironic, considering how many Russian characters I have created.

Then, I’m using a Russian pseudonym. It used to be that German writers chose English pennames to pass for British or American – largely because the German reading public firmly believed that “German writers can’t write entertainment”. When I began writing gay romance in English, it was clear I needed a pseudonym. German is all but unpronouncable for most English speakers. I considered going with an English-sounding name. Then I thought, “hang on, there are plenty of those”... and my heart has been beating for the Russians ever since a childhood first terrified of the nuclear holocaust, then when relief when Gorbachev made the Russians “human”. Sting’s “The Russians love their children too.” As a child of the Cold War, I was always fascinated with the side whose story we in Western Germany were never told. While America was the “cool place”, Russia – or then the Soviet Union, was the mysterious place. I was way more intrigued by the one side that I didn’t understand.

But of course, I’m not Russian, and while I have Russian friends, all I knew up to now was theoretical. Triggered by that age-old fascination, I’ve read a lot about Russian history and culture. I have shelves and shelves of books about various subjects, and I know too much to romanticise Russians...too much.

What I want to say is, three days ago, I stood on Red Square – the place of military parades and of GUM, the Russian version of Harrod’s or Saks. I’ve walked past the highly polished block of copper-coloured atrocity that is Lenin’s tomb, and photographed the crazy coloured domes of St Basil. I’ve talked to Russians (bankers and other finance people) about their country. One guy walked me back to Tverskaya street, the massive, constantly gridlocked representation boulevard which makes Oxford/Regent Street look like Legoland – it’s so big and busy it’s mind-numbing. I’ve seen nothing like it – not Unter den Linden in Berlin, and not even the Champs Elysee in Paris. Moscow is its own category.

When the guy walked me to Tverskaya, we walked past an official building, I think a Ministry of some sort. In front stood two Russian military/paramilitary types looking bland and bored and wielding big automatic weapons (machine pistols? I didn’t look that closely). The guy next to me walked a little faster, noticed my interest in the building and said “never attract their attention. They are thugs. If you look Russian, you’ll pass... if you look like something else, you’re automatically a target.”

I knew that. It’s even in “First Blood”, the book Barbara Sheridan and I wrote and which was released today by Dreamspinner. There’s a passage where one Russian calls the police corrupt and “thugs”.

I knew all that, because I’ve done my research, and spoken to Russians, but up until this man’s cautious sneer when he talked about them, it has never really sunk in. What it means to live in a society that is afraid of its police and that keeps its head down, glad they fit in, glad that they look Russian, rather than, say, Chechen or Chinese, or whatever. Despite all my research, I was ridiculously naive.

There are many things I could talk about – the violent clash of pre- and post-Soviet architecture, which is a brutality and coarseness on the mind that makes you reel. The permanent Moscow gridlock that lasts from morning until late in the night. The fact that there are never enough taxi drivers and that you can just flag down a private car, negotiate a price and destination, and get taken to your destination by a total stranger. While I was in Moscow, the “thug police” abducted a gay activist, kept him somewhere for two days, and then released him outside the city.

As the Moscow Times wrote, rather laconically, “He then went home by bus”.

If anything, I admire how the Russians are dealing with adversity. There is a fundamental irony and jadedness behind it all – like the other option would be to cry over it, but clearly, that country has cried so much it has no tears left.

So, from this, two things. One – I really, viscerally understand what I only rationally understood before. And second – I was damn glad when I saw a British policeman that I don’t have to “fit in”, that I’m living in a country where I don’t have to be afraid, where I don’t have to keep my head down.

When I told my partner this, he laughed. “Yeah, but you’re not black and poor.”

Point taken.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sonoran Heat now available in print!

My latest novel, Sonoran Heat, is now available in trade paperback! This is my first M/M story to come out in print, and I'm very excited.

Order it today from Amazon here:

Oh, and Happy Autumn, everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pimp a Friend!

This is a crossover from my Livejournal! I'm working on a WIP and some new ideas which means that I'm absolutely boring right now, sorry darlings. So I share with you some of my most recent happy!

My friend Dee's working hard on my site and the new design is so pretty. *snuggles site* I think I love it again. And, it's no longer being hosted by Yahoo! Leaps and bounds of better service and less headache. Furthermore, I don't have to fight with it to do pretty things!

I love having graphic designer buddies! *squishes Dee*

Wee! Which brings me to the next order of business, is anyone interested in having their site revamped? Or creating say...a trailer? Promo ads? I totally want to pimp her. She's good, really good. You can find samples of Dee's work (including my in progress site!) on her company site, Laideebug Digital.

In all seriousness, she's an excellent designer and very hands-on, always available for questions. She's also patient with theme changes and great with suggestions - from you or giving them - and from what I've seen in terms of pricing, she's pretty affordable.

If you go, tell her Zoe says hi!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Station

Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster secretly watched stable master Patrick Callahan *mastering* the groundskeeper, he's longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death, Colin speaks up in his defense, announcing that he, too, is guilty of “the love that dare not speak its name.” Soon they're both condemned as criminals and shipped off to the faraway prison colony of Australia.

Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale and is determined that no one will scale the wall he's built around his heart. Yet he's inexorably drawn to spirited Colin despite his best efforts to keep him at bay. As their journey extends from the cramped and miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must build new lives for themselves. Can they tame each other and find happiness together in this strange new land?

I wanted to share the cover and blurb for my new novel, which is being released by Loose Id on October 5 as part of Loose Id's celebration for Coming Out Day 2010. This is my second historical (the first being Voyageurs) and I loved writing it. Historicals are a new challenge for me and working on this book was very rewarding. I hope readers enjoy it as well!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pride in the Park

Yesterday was the annual Pride in the Park festival, which is held n Elmwood Park here in Roanoke, Virginia. I shared a booth with JM Snyder, Vincent Diamond, Beth Wylde, and Marguerite Labbe. It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky and weather in the low-to-mid nineties. A ton of people came out for the celebration and a good time was had by all.

I met a bunch of very sweet people, sold some books, and handed out a ton of promo. Actually, I ran completely out of goody bags by noon. I'm going to have to make some more before Durham Pride this upcoming weekend or I won't have anything to hand out to anyone else. :D

Pictures of the event are below, although I didn't think to take very many. I'm missing pictures of myself and Vincent Diamond. :(

Click on the photo to see the full version.


Pride schedule


Vendor Row #1


Vendor Row #2


JM Snyder and Marguerite Labbe


Beth Wylde

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Movie Night With Ally

So the hubby and the boy-child are watching some movie or other. Something with Nicholas Cage as an arms dealer. I don't know the name of it. It doesn't matter. In one scene, some dude from Liberia gave N.C.'s character a ginormous diamond, I guess as pre-payment for illegal arms. And it BUGGED me, because I'm thinking, what in the nine hells are you gonna do with a diamond the size of your testicle? I mean, seriously, wtf? You can't exactly walk into a bank and cash it in. Hubby says, what about a diamond merchant? Well, yeah, maybe. But wouldn't even a diamond merchant be suspicious if a guy strolls in with a diamond that size and wants to trade it in for cash? Call me cynical, but I'm thinking maybe yes.

This drives my family crazy. The way I pick at movies, that is. But man, those little things just drive me nuts. Of course the big things drive me nuts too -- like the bullets that somehow shoot around corners in that damn Angelina Jolie movie, OMGWTF -- but yeah. The small things make me batshit. And anyone lucky enough to share movie night with me gets to hear ALL about it.

So what's your favorite wtf moment in a movie? What drives you around the bend? What makes you want to throw things at the screen/TV/laptop? Share!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Forsake Not

I'm working away like mad on the currently due (end of the month - eeek!) wip called Impressed. This is slated to be a part of MLR Press's anthology for 2010 based around the United States Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

I have to admit, the military and military service is a subject close to my heart. I have a son in the US Army and he's based in Germany right now, just back from a tour in Iraq. My uncle was career Air Force. I have strong feelings about those who serve in our military and that they don't get nearly what they deserve in many areas.

I thought you might enjoy a snippet of the WIP.


(c) 2010 by Maura Anderson

Leo watched the roiling grey clouds move overhead and clenched his hands on the steering wheel of the small rental car, savoring the ache of his bruised and torn knuckles. His world, or what was left of it, seemed poised to tumble down around his head but he couldn’t find it in him to regret beating the crap out of Barker. The bigoted asshole deserved it, or worse, for what he’d said about Terry.


Nausea rose in his throat and he fought it back. He would not puke in the parking lot at Arlington, dammit. He’d come here to pay his respects and he would do his goddamned duty and do it right. It was the least he could do for his fellow soldier, his fireteam mate, his best friend — the man who’d given his life for those of the rest of the squad. After two tours in Iraq, less than three months before they were done with this tour, and all Hell cut loose in a rain of blood, shrapnel and shards of bone during what should have been a routine op.

One by one, he forced his fingers to uncurl and release from the steering wheel. He wiped his sweaty palms on the stiff denim of his new jeans and took a few deep breaths to steady himself before he cracked the car door open. The heat of the mid-summer Virginia day rushed into the car, quickly overwhelming the chill of the air-conditioned interior. The humidity made it a lot harder to breathe than the dry heat of the Middle East, even though it was actually cooler here. He was glad he’d decided not to wear his Class A’s or a suit. Just the long-sleeve dress shirt would be hot enough.

The smells were different, too. Gone were the rancid smells of the desert, the base, the machinery, the local livestock and even his fellow infantrymen. Instead his lungs filled with the scent of new-mown grass and the tang of the nearby river.

Leo climbed out of the car and quietly shut the door behind him. It seemed disrespectful to slam the car door in this place. The car locked and double-checked, he threw his shoulders back and began the long walk to talk to Terry.

The ingrained walking cadence mindlessly carried him forward and allowed him far too much time to think. To remember. He passed other people but carefully avoided looking at them. What could he say? What would they say? He couldn’t deal with other people right now - hell, he wasn’t sure he could deal with himself right now.

The weight of those he walked among almost overwhelmed him. The true meaning of freedom and its cost exposed through the acres and acres of graves that stretched over the grounds of Arlington. Each one paid a heavy price - some by choice, some not. What would they think of what he’d done? Of what he was? Of the lies he’d told to be allowed to continue his service to the country he loved?

All too quickly, he reached the round brass marker of Section 60. He stepped carefully between the ranks of the graves, treading as lightly as he could among the fallen, taking care to not tread on the ground they’d earned all rights to. In the next to last row, he spotted the name he sought.

“Terrence Ray Olson.” His whisper was the last straw and he fell to his knees in the soft grass next to the grave. The white marble marker made it so final. His gut churned again at the memory of the last time he saw Terry, bloody and torn apart by the IED he’d thrown himself on top of. Leo’d rushed to Terry’s aid but when he’d flipped him over to start field first aid, his friend’s head nearly fell off. The explosion had almost decapitated him. He’d been dead before Leo or anyone could help him.

Bitter bile filled his mouth as he fought back the renewed urge to puke.

“I’m sorry, Terry.” His voice strengthened a bit. “You saved us all and I couldn’t do a damned thing for you.”

He rubbed his hands on his legs again. He kept feeling the blood coating them, no matter how long it had been or how often he’d scrubbed them.

The tombstone was gleamingly new, stark white with precise black letters spelling out Terry’s information, including the medals he’d been posthumously awarded. So few words to encapsulate a life. Part of a life, anyway. The part the military recognized. A few small items sat atop the marble stone but he didn’t give them much more than a passing glance.

“I made a big mistake, man, and I think I’m in deep shit now.”

He settled down cross-legged in the grass by Terry and bowed his head to speak quietly to where he imagined Terry might hear him. “Barker is such a fucker. He got assigned to our fireteam, on entry, after you were… killed. Shithead couldn’t see a haji if he was wearing neon robes and dancing in the middle of the road waving an AK-47.”

He plucked a few blades of longish grass near his knee and tore them slowly to bits. The scabs on his knuckles pulled with the motion. “He can’t even do his damned job. Instead he spends all his time hating on everyone else. I kept trying to just do what I’ve always done — stick to doing my job and ignore Barker whenever I can. The man would make a much better FOBBIT. At least there he wouldn’t be as much of a liability.”

Leo tossed the shredded grass to the side and plucked some more. “He keeps going on about fags and queers. On and on and on. When we got home, I went out for a drink with the squad before we all went on R&R and someone told him you were gay. I don’t know who, though. When he started talking about how you deserved to die for being a fag, I lost it.”

He caught himself picking at the scabs on his knuckles and forced himself to stop. He didn’t need some sort of infection on top of everything else.

“I jumped him, Terry. Went right over two other guys and started swinging. I don’t remember a lot about the fight itself, just that Barker fights like a fucking girl. Star and Helling pulled me off him and I remember asking him how it felt to have the crap beat out of him by a fucking fag.” Leo sighed and shook his head. How stupid could he be? His entire career in exchange for a brief moment of vengeance?

“There’s no way he won’t report it, Terry. No way in Hell.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fluff 'n' Stuff

Another weekend is upon us, and I'm looking forward to getting some writing done for a change. I have two m/m works-in-progress at the moment, and my loyal beta reader has had a chance to take a look at both manuscripts. When I received her feedback last week or so, she had some interesting things to say--particularly about the overall tone of each story. One is clearly more lighthearted and, dare I say it, fluffy, while the other novella I'm working on is turning out to be a lot more serious and drama-oriented, and my beta reader feels that the drama-angle is too overplayed in male/male romance.

I personally don't feel that way, but admittedly, I haven't been reading as many m/m novels as I was a year or two ago (and only because I haven't had much time to indulge). I'm curious to see if my beta-reader's sentiments are shared by others, and if so, why? Are too many stories relying on the same plot devices over and over again? Or are readers wanting a break from drama-llama plotlines because we've all got enough wangst to deal with every day? Inquiring minds want to know!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's All Relative

Time. I don’t think there is anything more subjective than the passage of time. How long is a year when it’s half your life? How long is a year when it’s a hundredth of your life? (My brain goes to some seriously weird places when when I'm working out backstory for a new book.)

This summer, I had ten weeks to experience life as a full-time writer. For once I was free of the arbitrary constraints of a clock. I didn’t care what day of the week it was. I didn’t care what time it was. I’ve never felt particularly diurnal. I seem to be happiest when I sleep in three to four hour blocks as needed. I was absolutely free of schedules. It was heaven.

In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the eternally brilliant Douglas Adams describes the planet of Ursa Minor Beta as not only having a topography of almost entirely subtropical coastline, but also, “By an equally suspicious freak of temporal relastics, it is nearly always Saturday afternoon just before the beach bars close.” Adams understood the fantasy of a perfect place is more than about where you are, but having unlimited time to enjoy it.

Time squirted through my hands this summer like pure glycerine, and I expect I’ll get more writing accomplished on the drudgery of my diurnal schedule—despite the interruption of my day job—but for ten astonishingly short weeks, I was as free of time’s hold on me as is my hold on it.

What does your chronometer tell you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I want my M/M TV.

I admit it. I got hooked on a couple of soaps. Solely for the m/m storylines on them, naturally, but still. I got hooked. Only now, one has ended - permanently and so badly that I won't actually watch the end of the story - and the other has concluded its primary, long story arc and is going into the background for a while. So I' a loss. It's not that I must have my soaps. I have lived quite happily without for most years of my life. But I do and will miss that instant gratification that comes from 10 minutes or so nearly every weekday when I got to watch them online. So I'm asking for your help, O Knowledgeable S&B Readers: Where can I go to get my m/m TV fix? Yes, yes, I know we usually talk about books here, and I'm happy for those recommendations, too. But I am an instant gratification junkie. I am a child of the '70s. I need my telly. Help a girl out?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Sunday once again, my friends! For me, it marks the beginning of what could prove to be a troublesome week. Last weekend, I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon and managed to give myself a nice knee injury in the process. (But I have a pretty finisher's medal to show for it.) I've been down for the count all week and had to maneuver on the MOST ANNOYING crutches in the world, but at least I didn't have to work, right? That changes tomorrow. :( I've missed a week and need to go back. What's doubly frustrating is that I don't have the type of job that allows me to sit at a desk, so it's a mystery to both of us what's going to happen tomorrow.

Anyway, to distract myself this week I've been reading all sorts of things. One of my favorite authors, Chris Owen, had two new releases this week. The fifth and final Deviations novel (co-written with Jodi Payne) was an excellent read, as was Turn the Other Cheek. Mm, firemen.

So if you have a few spare hours on hand like I did, check them out! They went a long way in making me feel better.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The reader is you

Hi, I’m Aleksandr Voinov and I’m the new guy on the team. Great to be here. I was brainstorming about what I want to blog about, and I could have told you about the book I just finished, or the one that I’m now continuing to write (world financial markets and scandals permitting). That one is a WWII romance set in Germany, and it’s pretty interesting – there’s a lot of great stuff in there, Spitfires, evil bankers, and acts of heroism… but as I said, I’m not talking about that today.

Today, I’m talking about you. And me. It’s sometimes strange to think that we’ll never meet – we meet by accident, but unless you email me, I don’t know you exist. Unless you see my book and read it, you don’t know I exist.

But we are having an exchange – we do, you hear my words in your brain, and ideally I’ll put some stories, images and characters in your head that will help you shorten that commute, that doctor’s visit, or take your mind off worries as you read in bed, maybe listening to a thunderstorm. If you respond to that is totally your choice, so you can leave a comment here or at my usual blog or send me an email or talk to me in a forum. Right now, you might curl up on the sofa in the conservatory, or read stuff on the beach. You might be 16, 60, male, female, you might be rich, poor, fortunate, unfortunate, healthy or dying.

Me, when you read this, I might already be dead. I might have given up writing, or maybe my agent has finally convinced me to write something that can make me (and him) good money. I don’t know, and at this point we both can’t know.

The fact that we meet here is nothing short of a miracle. Six-odd billion people on the planet, hundreds of millions of webpages, and we meet here. How was your day? Have you heard of me before? Will you send me an email or comment on this? (You’re welcome to, provided I’m still around…).

I think what I’m saying is that meeting is a miracle. Meeting online, two strangers that both love a good story is nothing short of astonishing. In the vast world of rushing electrons, here we are. Wow.

When I meet people – online or in business – I try to make the most of it, because meeting is so accidental and random. I try and tell a cracking good story to readers, or, in business, really listen to the people I’m interviewing. Taking their position before I go back to “neutral” – as neutral as the press ever gets, anyway.

But it goes both ways – we can’t know where we’ll end up from here. Many people that got in touch over one of my stories are now friends – we hang out on Facebook or Goodreads and joke and play, because ultimately, this writing gig is not about selling you a book or selling myself.

We’re two strangers meeting who both love a good story, and that’s really it. Let’s make the most of it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sonoran Heat - hot desert romance available now!

For those of you who, unlike me, got out of the house and offline this past Labor Day weekend, my May/December desert romance Sonoran Heat debuted at Amber Allure!



Newly single, Tony finds a fresh start with 21-year-old Josh, but worries chasing a man half his age will lead to heartache. It’s hard to resist when Josh intrigues Tony on an intellectual level -- and fires the landscaper's libido hotter than the Arizona desert they call home.

Digital art student by day, Josh waits tables at night, but his true dream is to paint. When he falls for Tony, he starts to rethink his goals and how the sexy older man might fit into them. But Tony’s recovering from a failed relationship, one that lasted nearly as long as Josh has been alive, and Josh must prove that in spite of age and inexperience, his feelings are sincere.

As the desert nights heat up, Tony and Josh explore possibilities both in and out of the bedroom, but when each man faces a difficult choice, they must decide on the future. Whether that future is together, or separate, is a matter of reason versus the heart.


Excerpt (Copyright 2010 Katrina Strauss)

Josh passed Tony a tall cup of iced coffee. As their fingers brushed, Tony felt another charge of electricity, and Josh’s cheeks flushed darker. Feeling his own face go warm, Tony took a sip of his drink. He glanced around the lobby. The crowd was starting to thin as the art opening drew to a close. “Good turnout,” he said.

Josh looked around with him. “Yeah, more people came than I expected.”

“Looked like you got interviewed earlier.”

Josh nodded. “One of my teachers arranged it with New Times without warning me. I was totally unprepared. I hope I sounded coherent.”

“I’m sure you did fine.” Tony knew Phoenix’s alternative newspaper well; once upon a time, New Times had served as guide to the city’s underground gay scene. “It should make for some good exposure.”

“I hope so.” Josh’s face softened. “I appreciate you coming.”

“I wanted to see you again,” Tony admitted.

“That’s why I invited you.” Josh darted his tongue between his lips as he held Tony’s gaze. The combination of shy and confident proved charming and seductive at once.

“I guess you’re celebrating later with friends?” Tony said, testing the waters, seeing if Josh had plans that night.

“No. I’m bringing home leftover hors d’oeuvres and watching The Twilight Zone marathon until I crash. I work the night shift tomorrow, so I’ve got to readjust my schedule.”

“Maybe I could talk you into dinner instead of cheese and crackers.”

There, he’d done it. Tony wondered if the pause on Josh’s end was deliberate or smacked of surprise. “Dinner sounds good,” Josh finally offered. “No Mama Irene’s, though. I eat there too much.”

Tony chuckled. “Understood.” His laughter faded, and he took a deep breath. He knew his next suggestion might be premature, but chances were meant to be taken. “Do you like Italian?”

“I love Italian.” Josh smiled.

“Good to know. My great-grandmother was Italian.” Tony cringed as his lame attempt at flirtation slipped from his lips.

“I thought I liked you for some reason.” Josh’s sly grin quickly put Tony at ease. The artist sidled up closer. His arm brushed Tony’s, and the heat between them burned a little hotter. “Where do you have in mind?”

Tony lowered his voice and leaned in. His lips hovered near Josh’s ear. “Some place quiet, not too far from here. We can dine alfresco and watch the sunset over the mountains.”

“Sounds nice,” Josh murmured. “Kind of…expensive.”

“Not really,” Tony said, drawn in by how gorgeous Josh’s eyes were up close, by how clean and fresh his hair smelled. “My place. I’ll cook.”

Josh wet his lips with another flick of the tongue. It was all Tony could do not to kiss the other man right then and there.

“Sure,” Josh said. “If you can wait a few minutes for me to pack up the food, I’ll follow you. Let me tell my roommate Eddie.”

“Tell me what?” a voice chimed in. An attractive Latino with auburn-streaked hair materialized beside Josh. He slung an arm over Josh’s shoulder and gave Tony an appraising glance.

Josh’s roommate, Tony presumed, and a protective one from the looks of it. He extended a hand in greeting. “You must be Eddie.”

Eddie returned the gesture. A playful smirk curled the corners of his lips. “You must be Tony. Josh was right. You are hot.”

Josh looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock. “Excuse me,” he said, steering Eddie away. They spoke in murmurs as they convened in a corner.

So Tony’s name had come up in conversation, and favorably so, a fact that boosted his confidence and left him hopeful for things to come. He also noted with interest that Josh was daring enough to chance dinner at a new acquaintance’s house, but safe enough to drive his own car and let someone know where he’d be. Tony’s respect for Josh was growing by the second.

But even as his respect grew, Tony’s eyes strayed to Josh’s ass, down his thighs to his bare calves, then back up again. He couldn’t help but wonder what their impromptu dinner date might lead to. He’d be lying if he didn’t say the prospect of bedding such an attractive young man excited him beyond measure.

Eddie’s voice rose as he glimpsed over his shoulder and cast Tony a pointed look. “Brianna and I will clean up. Get the hell out of here and have some fun for a change.” He gave Josh a nudge.

As his date for the evening approached, Tony downed the last of his drink. The ice had melted, the coffee gone as warm as the air simmering around him.


Sonoran Heat, available now! Get it while it's hot at:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


It seems like it's been forever since I've posted. Which is probably true (thank you for not beating me up about it) but I have to admit, life's been so calm and normal that I haven't had anything to share! I'm sorry. Next time, I'll just give y'all pictures to ogle instead of abandoning you. I promise.

Next time! This time, I come bearing excerpt! YAY! Which seems to be the trend for the last two posts as well so I'm on the right track. The story chunk I'm sharing is the last of a mini series very dear to my heart. The first story of my Asher series is also the first story I ever published. That was three years ago when I was 18! I love saying that. I got to achieve a life goal at 18. How many people can really say that? Also, the title makes me giggle at myself because I can still see my 18 year old self, wide-eyed that the story was even read let alone accepted and thinking there would be no others.

Asher and the Elevator Romp. Can you tell I was thinking one shot? Either way, the characters, particularly Asher, gained a lot of love, bringing up the second story, Asher and the Threesome (subtle, I so am it), followed swiftly by a third, Promise. Promise is a free story but my site is down for redesign and maintenance so unfortunately, I can't link to it right now but you can still read on and come back for it later :) But after Promise came Unreal, which is in the process of being re-released and that's when I realized that I had made a real series here, even if it was a miniature version.

Bear in mind that right up until this last story, all the others had been short shorts. Then came No Man's Land (my title - it could change!). It's to date the longest thing I've written, which for me, is a fantastic accomplishment. It's a lovely-sized novella full of angst and drama and relationship. Wee! So, here it is, the end of my little series that could. Thanks for all the love, folks. The boys and I appreciate it :)

This is an unedited piece - forgive me for errors!

All the booze in my belly roiled into one big ball and shot up. I moaned and started sliding off the couch.

Hector swore, moving toward me but Derek was somehow there first, gathering me up in familiar arms. I snuggled against him out of habit then almost hit him when he ruined it by speaking. “C'mon, princess, don't puke here or you're cleaning it up.”

F-F-Fuck...” I tried to cuss at him but my throat was clogging up with something disgusting and I moaned instead. The room became a blur as Derek ran for the bathroom. My bedroom flashed before me, pitch black save for a gray-blue gleam of moon and snow and city light from the window. Then my bathroom lit up and there, oh there, was the toilet.

Derek set me down and I shoved the lid up just in time. My stomach cramped; I heaved so hard. Squeezing my eyes shut, I gagged until there was no way anything could still be in my stomach....and then I kept gagging. When my body finally stopped trying to turn inside out, I fell backwards onto my butt and Derek flushed the toilet, slapping the lid down as well.

I closed my eyes and leaned my head back until I nudged something solid but kinda bumpy. I peeked, noted the shower door and closed my eyes again before speaking. “'Kay. Maybe I'm a li'l drunker than I thought.”

Ya think?” The whip of sarcasm stung but I was too out of it to care.

Where's Hector?”

Left. Probably to hold his own drunk lover over the toilet,” Derek grunted and his voice was a lot closer than it had been. I cracked my heavy eyelids and found Derek crouching in front of me, frowning hard.

I sighed. I wasn't up to another fight. Not with the nastiness on my tongue. “Please, yell later. Help me brush my teeth?”

I'm not going to yell,” Derek protested but he helped me to my feet. I think we both held back a flinch at the sight of only two toothbrushes in the holder. He got my brush all gelled up since my hands were shaky and it was all I could do to stay upright.

Yesh, oo ar',” I mumbled as I brushed. I spit. “You look ready to bust a nut and not in the good way.” I shoved the brush back in to start the whole process over again.

Standing beside me, clearly ready to catch me if I somehow managed to fuck something this simple up, Derek crossed his arms defensively. “You were only supposed to get your hair taken care of and maybe shoot the shit, not get fucked-up wasted.”

I spat for the last time, put the brush back and cupped my fingers beneath the water. “One, body started hurting and I forgot my pills so I had to do something. Two, I haven't seen Philip in awhile so we got carried away.” I drank some of the water then swished the rest in my mouth before spitting again. Feeling refreshed and actually kinda sober, I shut the water off and turned to grab my towel from the rack. My foot slipped as I moved and Derek grabbed the back of my shirt, saving me from face-planting on the floor.

Okay, yeah, only kinda sober.

Is there a three?” Derek kept hold of me and in resignation, I dried my wet hands on my jeans.

Do you think there is?”

It's never just two reasons.”

No, it never was. I tipped my head forward and sighed. “And three, I'm really, really tired of being mad.”

He reeled me back until my back lined up against his front. Perfect. I'd forgotten how perfectly we fit. “So don't be mad.” Derek nipped my ear and I shuddered on contact. “I'm not mad.”

You were.”

Not anymore.” His tongue dipped into the curve of my ear then slid along the rim, I arched into his touch, startled at the sudden shift in action. But my dick didn't care. It swelled up fast enough to make my wobbly brain even dizzier.

I swallowed, my newly-cleaned mouth going dry. “D-Derek?”

His mouth went from my ear to my neck, his teeth threatening to do more than just graze. I went onto my toes and moaned. “I miss you, Ash.”

Bedroom please,” I whispered, unwilling to argue with whatever change had hit him. If this was an alien in my boyfriend's body, at least it'd still be his dick. Drunk logic, oh yes, it was the best kind.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010


It's been a loooong time coming, but Shenandoah, book 2 in my futuristic sci-fi flavored Mother Earth series (which kicked off with the short story Dragon's Kiss), is finally here. Yay! I'm excited :D Read on for the blurb and the first chapter. Rated R for violence, blood & guts (a bit), nudity and hawt man-kissing :) Enjoy!

© Copyright 2010 Ally Blue

The weakness he fears could be his lover’s only hope.

(Mother Earth, book 2)

Bear has never regretted leaving his old life behind for his exotically beautiful lover, Dragon. Following his heart, though, has left them in need of a home. There’s only one place he can think of where they can be together and be happy. Shenandoah. A place of myth—until he encounters signs that it’s a real place that lies somewhere to the north.

Dragon doesn’t share his lover’s faith that it even exists, much less that it will live up to Bear’s high expectations. Yet they are Brothers now, bound by love and so much more. No hardship will keep Dragon from Bear’s side. Even if it means nothing but disappointment waits at the end of their journey.

Danger lurks in the wilderness, the ruined cities of the lost Old World, and especially within themselves. As Bear’s quest for a new home becomes a spirit journey of mystical power, Dragon doubts his own strength—an unbearable shame he tries to hide deep within. But when a chance encounter turns into a fight for survival, Bear’s life depends on Dragon’s ability to put his doubts aside…and dare to hope.

(Warning: This book contains knife fights, cannibals, mysterious ruins, and dirty sex between warrior men)

[click here to buy the book!]

Dragon’s knife opened the last grime-crusted belly from groin to rib cage. The fevered light died in the big man’s eyes and he crumpled to the ground in a puddle of his own bloody intestines.

Bear eyed the five motionless bodies strewn among the weeds. “That’s the last one, for now.”

“You think there’s more?”

“I know there are. Several times this number, most likely. They always move in groups.” Large groups, generally, to counter the strength of the Packs that protected every tribe. Lifting his arm, Bear mopped sweat from his brow with a relatively clean patch of sleeve. “They scatter during the evening, capture who they can, then gather at some prearranged spot after dark for their fun. I think we were supposed to be part of the night’s entertainment.”

A muscle twitched in Dragon’s jaw. He crouched to clean his gory knife on the back of the dead man’s shirt. “The light’ll be gone in another hour or so. We should find a safe place to spend the night.”

Squatting beside the nearest corpse, Bear wiped the blood off his stone blade as best he could using the man’s pants. The vest the dead man wore looked suspiciously like cured human skin, which did nothing to make Bear feel better about the area where he and Dragon now found themselves. He scanned the silent ruins looming like jagged black teeth against the red-orange of the sunset sky. “There’s no safe place in this part of Char.”

Dragon stood, raking a stray lock of his waist-length braid out of his eyes. “Then we need to find the most secure spot we can.” He looked down at his blood-splattered clothes with a frown. “And we need to bathe, if we can find water. We’ll draw every animal and nightfeeder for miles around if we don’t.”

“Yeah.” Keeping his knife in a loose grip, Bear studied the pattern of crumbling buildings around him. It had been two years since he’d last walked through this section of Char, on the patrol where his Pack had lost Rabbit, but the area ought not to have changed much. “There used to be a cistern nearby where water collected when it rained. We can bathe there.”

“It ought to be full after the storm we had last night.” Something scuttled through the vines climbing the metal skeleton of what had once been a building a stone’s throw away. Dragon tensed, knife whipping up. He relaxed when a rat emerged and raced off into the lengthening shadows. “Can you find it again?”

“I think so. There’s several pretty intact buildings near it where we can spend the night and be as safe as it’s possible to be around here.” Bear eyed the sky. “Which is good, because we’re running out of time.”

Dragon glanced up. His expression didn’t change, but Bear saw the apprehension behind the hardness in his eyes. They’d known each other less than three days, but Bear could already read Dragon better than he’d ever been able to read any of his Pack Brothers, with the possible exception of Lynx. If he tried hard enough, he sometimes felt like he could look straight into Dragon’s mind. And he knew Dragon saw him just as clearly.

The knowledge left him feeling exposed in a way he never had before, a way he couldn’t quite explain even to himself. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and he wouldn’t have traded that feeling for all the wine in the Carwin Tribe Council’s stores.

A quick sniff of the air told Bear the only creatures close by right now were rats, squirrels and a couple of wild cats crouching in the ruins. Throwing caution momentarily to the winds, he strode forward, curled a hand around the back of Dragon’s neck and kissed him hard. Dragon grunted in surprise, but his mouth opened anyway to let Bear’s tongue in. The hand not clutching his knife grabbed Bear’s ass in a bruising grip.

Electricity jolted up Bear’s spine. In spite of the constant danger he and Dragon now faced—danger he knew wouldn’t let up until they were well clear of Char—he didn’t regret leaving the Carwin Tribe and his Pack for Dragon. His heart and his gut told him he’d made the right decision.

“We’ll be okay,” Bear murmured when the kiss broke. “Come on.”

The corners of Dragon’s mouth quirked upward. He slipped out of Bear’s embrace and they moved through the weeds together, Bear scanning for landmarks while Dragon kept an eye out for any signs of people. Carwin Tribe members never strayed this far from their walled city, not even the Pack unless they were on a special patrol. Therefore, any human beings other than the two of them were enemies.

Like the five men lying dead in the dirt behind them. Bear had encountered their type before. Bloodthirsty butchers who’d slice a man open just for the pleasure of watching him die, then skin him and clothe themselves in his flesh. String his teeth together for a necklace.

Bear preferred the nightfeeders. At least they only killed for food.

Not that these nomadic bands were above a little cannibalism. The bodies and bones they left behind showed tooth marks often as not.

The glint of light on water caught the corner of Bear’s eye. He swiveled toward the gap in the buildings to his right at the same time as Dragon. “There. I see it.”

Dragon nodded. “You smell anything?”

Bear sniffed the air. Greenery, damp earth, animal dung, charred wood. People had been here, but not in the last day or two. “Nothing to worry about. I’ll go first. You watch my back.”

They moved through the narrow space together, knives at the ready. The remnants of last night’s rain pattered from the vines overhead onto Bear’s shoulders. After the day’s oppressive, muggy heat, the cool drizzle felt good.

A few seconds later they emerged from the shadows into a wide clearing surrounded by some of the tallest, best preserved structures in the ancient city. Not a breath of breeze stirred the soupy air. In the middle of the clearing, ringed by a tangle of wildflowers, tall grasses and young trees, sat a large, rectangular stone cistern full to its knee-high brim with water. The sunset reflected dazzling orange off the flat liquid expanse. Bear squinted against the glare.

“What’s that thing in the middle?” Dragon asked as they approached the cistern. “It looks like a plant, but it isn’t, is it?”

Bear eyed the piece of stone rising from the center of the water like an enormous petrified blossom. “No, it’s not a plant.” When they reached the edge of the cistern, he motioned to Dragon to skirt the perimeter in one direction while he did the same the other way. “It’s part of the cistern. Made by the people of Char, before the Change. Other than that, I don’t know. Nobody does.”

Dragon turned away and began his circuit of the reservoir without another word, but not before Bear caught the spark of excitement in his eyes.

Bear waited until he’d put his back to Dragon to let the threatening grin tug up the corners of his mouth. He knew exactly what Dragon was thinking, because he was thinking the same thing. Knowing someone besides himself who could be catapulted into old-world daydreams by a mysterious hunk of stone gave him a strange, warm sensation in the pit of his stomach. He liked it.

They met on the far side. Rising on tiptoe, Dragon kissed the corner of Bear’s mouth. “Everything still smell clear?”

Bear nodded. “No nightfeeders hiding nearby. No nomads, either. They’ll be here, though, eventually.”

Dragon’s gaze darted sideways toward the blackened, stone-ringed circle in the grass a few paces away. “Theirs?”

“There’s no way to tell for sure, but I think so. Carwin Tribe Pack doesn’t camp in the open inside Char, and nightfeeders don’t build fires.”

“Maybe we should find another place to hole up for the night.”

“There isn’t anyplace as secure as the buildings in this area. Besides, we don’t really have time to hunt for another spot.”

Dragon’s brow creased with a frown, but he nodded. “You’re right. We’ll just have to hope they won’t sniff us out.”

“We’ll make sure they don’t.” Bear wormed his knife-free hand into the back of Dragon’s pants, one finger sliding into the sweat-slick crease between his buttocks. “What about you? Did you see anything?” He’d learned the previous night—their first night in the Char ruins—that Dragon possessed incredibly keen vision. In fact, his night vision was nearly as good as Lynx’s, and Bear had never known anyone who could see in the dark as well as his former Pack Brother.

Dragon shook his head. “I looked in between all the buildings. Nothing.” He hissed and clutched at Bear’s shoulder when Bear’s finger pressed against his hole. “Great Mother, Bear. Here? Really?”

“No.” Regretfully, Bear pulled his hand out of Dragon’s pants. “But I wish we could. I want you.”

Dragon peered up at Bear with a heat that turned his simmering desire into a sharp, aching need. Unable to help himself, he fisted his hand in Dragon’s hair and took a deep, rough kiss. Even as their tongues curled around each other and Dragon moaned into his mouth, Bear’s senses remained on high alert, and Dragon’s body twitched in his grip, ready to jump at the slightest sign of danger.

After a few searing seconds, Dragon pushed him away. “Let’s get clean and find a good spot to spend the night. Then I’ll suck your cock until you forget your own name.”

Bear’s prick, already half-hard, jerked and swelled. He grinned. Dragon grinned back, gray eyes glittering, and Bear laughed out loud. “I’ll get the soap.”

* * * * *

Later, in the deepest part of the night, Dragon sat staring past their small fire into the yawning blackness while Bear slept. Dragon had only managed a couple of restless hours before the noises woke him. The sounds wound their way in from outside, along the clogged passageways he and Bear had navigated after their bath, down the steps, through the remains of the thick metal door and past the detritus of the centuries to the corner of the huge, high-ceilinged room they’d picked as their hiding place for the night. Yells, whoops, coarse laughter, songs with words Dragon was glad he couldn’t make out.

When the screams started, he’d stopped trying to sleep through it and taken his turn at watch early. With food and water plentiful as they’d been so far, he could stay awake two days at a stretch easily enough. He’d sleep when they got free of this Mother-forsaken city.

He turned to study Bear, who lay curled naked on top of a thick blanket—they’d hung their wet clothes over a hunk of rusted metal near the fire to dry—with one arm folded beneath his head and his other hand curled around the handle of his knife. His face, hard and dangerous when waking, softened in sleep to the point where Dragon had to resist the urge to stroke his cheek. Though no one would ever mistake Bear for anything but a warrior, he looked young and almost sweet with his features slack and eyes closed.

Great Mother, those eyes. Dragon had never seen anything quite like them—amber-gold, with a gaze sharper than the best-honed blade. Sharp enough to cut a man to the bone.

Or make him come without being touched. Dragon smiled, remembering how a single heated look from Bear had him spilling his seed on the forest floor without a hand being laid on him not so long ago. And that look was definitely what had sent him over the edge. Not the big, muscular body, or the strong hands gripping Lynx’s hips while they fucked, or even the cock so long and thick it was just this side of scary. No, the thing that did it for Dragon was those eyes that pierced him straight to his core.

After a lifetime of the twisted games it took to stay alive in the Ashe Tribe, honesty had become his greatest aphrodisiac. Bear radiated honesty like heat from a wildfire.

Something shuffled through the debris in the darkness on the far side of the room. A small, stealthy sound, barely audible through the muffled shrieks from outside. It came from the corner opposite the room’s only exit. Dragon rose to his feet, every nerve on edge. He and Bear had made sure the room was empty and the door barricaded before settling in for the night, but complacency never got you anything but killed.

He picked up the makeshift torch Bear had prepared earlier in case they needed it and lit it in the flames. Moving with a silence born of long practice, he skirted the fire and paced toward the source of the noise, among the cluster of rusted, half-collapsed metal shelves against the far wall. He darted a glance around the periphery of the torchlight as he went. Nothing stirred in the stillness. Behind him, Bear’s breathing remained deep and even.

That, more than anything else, eased some of the tension from Dragon’s shoulders. Char and the surrounding area were Bear’s territory. He’d been here with his Pack often enough to know its dangers well. If the noise Dragon had heard belonged to anything more threatening than a small animal, the sound and smell of it should have woken Bear instantly.

When he reached the edge of the shelves, Dragon heard the sound again. It was clearer this time—the soft skitter of tiny feet on a surface mired in centuries of decay. Keeping his knife at the ready, Dragon leaned around one of the more solid old shelves and peered into the narrow space between it and its neighbor. The firelight caught the frantic kick of pale little paws and the whip of a tail as a blur of dark fur bolted through a crack in the wall.

Dragon let out a near-silent laugh. A rat. Just a rat, scavenging for food. A few hours ago he would’ve wondered what self-respecting rat would look for food here, of all places, but no longer. The remains of campfires dotted the floor of this room and several others in this building. The newest was no more than ten or twelve days old. Evidently a lot of travelers used this place, though he and Bear had both been baffled as to who those travelers might be. Bear swore his Pack had only ever made camp in this building a few times, and not recently.

With no need to stay here, Dragon pivoted to go back to the fire. A pattern of black lines caught the tail of his eye from between the sagging metal racks. Curious, he walked around the corner of the last shelf and thrust the torch forward. Cobwebs draped the space between the shelf and the wall. A large black spider scurried up a piece of metal and out of sight into the shadows. Under the dust and dangling silk threads, the torchlight revealed crooked words scrawled in what looked like charcoal across a fair chunk of the wall.

Writing. Oh, Mother.

Dragon’s pulse picked up. In the Ashe Tribe, only the tribal Mother and the council were allowed to read and write. Anyone else caught doing so got thirty lashes for their trouble. Dragon had almost got caught once himself, sneaking his single, precious book out of the Pack camp and into the forest to read in rare and blessed privacy. He’d hidden the book in its old spot beneath the cupboard in his parents’ house that night. He hadn’t held a book or seen a single written word since.

Heart pounding, Dragon paced closer. He swept the cobwebs out of the way and brushed the film of dust from the stone wall. His eyes watered as he traced the words with his fingertips, sounding them out in his head one by one. Scowling, he scrubbed the moisture from his cheeks. Damn dust.

Outside, a woman’s wail cut off with an abruptness that spoke of a swiftly slit throat. An ominous silence descended. Dragon glanced in the direction of the door just in time to see Bear round the end of the shelves.

“That was the last one,” Bear said unnecessarily. “They’ll settle down and be quiet now, most likely. I’ll take watch, if you want, so you can get some sleep.” He frowned at the wall. “Is that writing?”

“Yes.” Dragon turned his attention back to the smudged and untidy markings. “I’ll stay on watch. I don’t think I could sleep anyway. The more quiet they are up there, the more I’d lie awake waiting for them to come looking for some other way to entertain themselves. We’re good, but we can’t fight off all of them at once. There’s too many.”

Bear shuffled over, wrapped an arm around Dragon’s waist from behind and squeezed. “They’re done for the night. They’ll butcher the bodies for whatever food they want and leave the rest for the scavengers.” Ducking his head, he planted a kiss behind Dragon’s ear. “Come back to the fire. Sleep for a while. I’ll keep watch.”

The warmth of Bear’s body and the low rumble of his voice made Dragon want things other than sleep. But he couldn’t ignore the tale scribbled in charcoal on this ancient wall. It might’ve started with a dream—probably had—but that didn’t change the fact that it had apparently ended with the same journey he and Bear had set for themselves. Ignoring it would be stupid, if only because of the possibility that they might be following the trail of one of Bear’s tribe-mates.

Dragon tilted his head sideways, baring his neck for Bear’s wandering kisses. “The night before last you told me you can’t read, but your Brother Rabbit could. Are the Carwin Tribe members allowed to read and write, then? Or is it just the Pack?”

“No, anyone can. Most people just don’t see the need.” Bear nipped at the spot where Dragon’s neck joined his shoulder, tearing a soft sound from him. “Mmmm. Come back to the fire, and let’s fuck. I bet you’ll sleep after that.”

Dragon’s knees nearly buckled when Bear’s hand slipped between his naked thighs to cup his balls. “So. Oh. Are there many in Carwin like Rabbit?” He leaned back against Bear’s big, solid body, legs planted apart, and rocked his swelling groin against Bear’s palm. Great Mother, it felt good.

“Mother Rose. Most of the council. A few others.” Taking his hand out from between Dragon’s legs, Bear cupped his chin, tipped his head back and peered into his eyes. “Why are you asking all these questions? Is it because of that writing on the wall?”

Dragon nodded. “I was trying to figure out who might’ve put it there. And when. I thought someone from Carwin would be the most likely.”

“Probably. Although no one comes into Char but Pack, and we only ever patrolled this area a few times.” Bear cast a thoughtful glance at the wall. “I don’t think it could’ve been here more than a few weeks. The charcoal wouldn’t’ve lasted much longer than that. What does it say?”

Resting his free hand over Bear’s where it laid on his belly, Dragon read the words aloud. “las nite, The Grate Mother taked my speret on a jurny. we flied over char, way up over the beldins, then over the river an th big grass, an up in the mowtin far off, to an vally hided away. She say its name like Shenandoah, i rite the leters jus like it how She tell me. it wuz so buteful, an all th peepls wuz so happy. im goin ther just lik how The Mother show me. if you is redden this, you go to. north, at the mowtin. ever body ar hapy at Shenandoah.”

In the quiet following the end of the strange passage, Dragon heard Bear’s breath quicken. The arm around Dragon’s waist cinched tighter. He twisted to look up at Bear. The sudden light in his eyes told Dragon his suspicions had been right.

He clutched Bear’s wrist. “Bear?”

“The Great Mother took my Brother Raccoon on a spirit journey once, during a drought. Our main spring had dried up. The next day, he followed Her directions and led us straight to a new water source.”

“So you think this story is real?”

Bear’s eyebrows went up. “Don’t you?”

Dragon didn’t answer. He’d known too many people who’d used supposed “spirit journeys” to talk their way out of tight spots.

He shifted in Bear’s embrace. “What about Shenandoah? What do you think it is?” He thought he knew, but he wanted to hear it anyway.

“That’s the tribe I was telling you about. The northern tribe where anyone who wants to join is welcome, and the only law is that you can’t harm another person.” A tremor ran through the big body pressed against Dragon’s back. “That’s where we’re going. Shenandoah. And now we know how to get there.”

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Excerpt: Impressed by Maura Anderson

This is a new gay erotic steampunk romance (whew) short that's been accepted into an anthology being planned for Sizzer Editions - an arm of Renaissance eBooks. I don't have a release date or title yet but I figured I'd tease you a bit with a quick look into this world.

(c) 2010 Maura Anderson

Cage stepped out of the boarding house he’d taken a room in, one of the less disreputable ones in this section of Honolulu, and carefully blended into the stream of bodies flowing down the worn wooden pedestrianway. A frisson of excitement—or tredipation, perhaps—heated his belly. Six long years since he’d last visited Honolulu port but the smells and sounds brought back the events of his last visit as if it were yesterday. The memory of the most intense pair of peridot-green eyes he’d ever seen sent a pang of loneliness through him. Harland’s eyes.

He could do nothing about the British airship captain and the fact their loyalties were at odds, even if their bodies were in exact agreement. Pining for him did no good, though he’d tried for a while, but it was time to put aside his obsession with the other man and move on with his life. To help that cause along, he’d made sure he had time to look for some temporary companionship during this lay up. He needed someone to take the edge of the loneliness that seemed to envelope him like a cloak these days, even if only for a few hours.

Eyes squinting against the bright afternoon sun, even under the unfashionably wide brim of his palm fiber hat, Cage pressed himself against the railing of the narrow pedestrianway to dodge a weaving pair of men making their way down the street past him. Despite the thick miasma of wood and coal smoke, not to mention the faint, sweet tang of opium, he could tell the two had not even taken the time to bathe before seeking out the seedier areas of the airship port and each other.

If their frequent pauses to grope each other and exchange clumsy, wet kisses were anything to do by, the two men didn’t seem to be at all bothered by either their own odor or the amusement of a few of the more interested onlookers. They disappeared into the doorway of the by-the-hour boarding house several doors back. The scarred wooden door swung out and then quickly back shut again after admitting the two men.

A breeze would have been welcome to clear away the remaining musk of their sweaty uniforms. Wool wasn’t the best choice in the tropics at the most temperate of times and today was far from temperate. The few natives foolish enough to be out in the thick heat of day were dressed in loose linen for comfort in the summer heat.

Unfortunately, Cage was not free to go as simply dressed as the natives. Even out of uniform, there were regulations that must be obeyed.

Cage eased back into the press of traffic on the pedestrianway. A strong shove pinned him back against the pitted brass railing, the impact almost but not quite disguised the feel of fingers easing into the pocket of his civilian overcoat. A quick grab gained him possession of the thin wrist of a Hawaiian urchin attempting to pick his pocket. Unrepentant, if not overly skilled, the small boy twisted out of his grip and disappeared into the crowd, bare feet silent on the boards of the pedestrianway. He would likely seek out a more lucrative—and less aware—victim, since Cage’s pockets were already empty before the pickpocket struck. Only a fool kept his papers or money anywhere accessible in this port.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Confessions of an artistic nature...

It's no secret that I've been neglecting my writing for too long, but I can't help it. I've got the art bug, so whenever I'm not working on an illustration or design project (which feels like, oh, I don't know...ALWAYS *g*), I take some time out to pick up my pastels or watercolors. For fairly obvious reasons (hey, this is why I'm part of the blog roll for S&B!), I enjoy working with male subjects for my drawings and paintings, and every once in a while I splurge on hiring a model to pose for a three hour session. There's something very satisfying about carefully observing the subject (purely for artistic purposes, so get those dirty thoughts out of your minds!) and recording those observations with marks on paper. To make something out of nothing and infuse with a part of ourselves is the core of what makes art such a universally enjoyable medium, and I absolutely love it.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend! Stay safe, enjoy your friends & family, and do something creative while you're at it. :D Me? I've got a date with my easel.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


It's the annual haul the family to Utah road trip again. Two things I like most about the whole experience is 1) no cell phone reception-- so, no really, you can't get hold of me and 2) Cowboys. Working cowboys. Guys with nasal twangs and bowed legs. Faded jean, broken in boots and eyes crinkled by the sun.

Plus, this year we should fit right in...we're taking the BAT (Big Ass Truck).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Despite the fact that this blog is coming to you from Ocean City, MD, and the hurricane’s-on-its-way surf gave me as Noah would say “A hell of a sand facial” as I tried to drag myself out of the ocean, it’s not that kind of cry for help. And it’s not a cry for help in the eye of a storm, since we have decided to bug out before Hurricane Earl can drop a tree on our cute little camper. I need a different kind of help. (My critique group would tell you I need a lot of help, but that’s a different blog.)

If any of you happened to see the loose bunny I blogged about last time, I can tell you he’s now on a leash. He has a name and a plot, an interesting backstory and a hero (who is also picky about his name). Okay, Connor, we can call him a friend if that makes you feel better. What these guys need is a setting.

I need something urbanish, large enough to support an indie arts and entertainment weekly and a national manufacturing company, but I don’t want to go with a major metropolis. I am open to all suggestions, particularly if anyone is going to give me a virtual tour. The U.S. East Coast is nice, since I know what it looks like from top to bottom. While I love hanging out north of the border, I think the plot needs to be in the U.S. Feel free to jump in with your suggestions, and if I don’t get back to you, it’s because I’m driving away from Hurricane Earl. Safe wishes to everyone in the hurricane’s path. Right now, I’ve got to get a beach full of sand out of my hair.
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