Friday, September 30, 2011

Upcoming Appearances: New York Comic Con 2011

To all the True Believers in the NYC area, come check out New York Comic Con next month! The event is the East Coast's ultimate nod to the joys of geekdom and runs October 13- 16:

Look for me in Artists Alley, table N7, where I'll be selling prints and drawings of pretty boys and epic superheroes in their sexy glory. I'll also be showcasing work from my in-progress art book, Blue, coming soon from Dreamspinner Press.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

That Old Familiar Feeling

For some reason, either blogger or my computer will not let me paste my post here, so I invite you to follow the title link, since I can't even copy and paste the link in here. It willt take you to my live journal. I apologize for it being late due to this evil technology spell that has consumed my entire month of September.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I really enjoy collaborative writing, although I don't get to do it very often these days. Whether that collaboration means crafting a story from beginning to end with a co-author or trading it back and forth round-robin style without a communal clue as to where it's going, I like it. I started doing it back in grade school, in fact. Of course, then it took the form of "I wrote myself into a corner. Here. Write me out of it" along with the handing over of pencil-scribble-covered pages. Usually, it worked. Fresh eyes and a fresh imagination can always see something new. And I would naturally return the favour upon request. That's what partners are for. Writing is so often a solo gig, and sometimes it can get lonely. Sure, all those voices in your head can keep you hopping, but sometimes they clam up, and sometimes you need a break from those fictional people. Having a co-author to turn to, whether it's a means of getting you unstuck when you can't figure out how to get out of the mess you've gotten your characters into, or it's someone to bounce ideas around with until you collectively decide what happens next, can be an invaluable thing. I'm hoping I have the chance to do a bit of co-writing soon. It's going to take an alignment of the stars to make it happen, I fear, but I've got this really big magnet I've been dying to try out, so I'll see if I can't do something about that and the laws of physics be damned.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's nearly the end of the month, but there's still time to get in on Torquere Press' 8th Anniversary fun!

The Eight Ball will help celebrate our eighth anniversary here at Torquere Press! Join us for the celebration!

We're having a reader scavenger hunt with weekly gift basket prizes and a grand prize (this year, a brand-new 3G Kindle along with a CD of stories from each participating author), plus daily prizes of gift certificates to show our appreciation to you -- our readers! Check our blog, where we'll have a number of our authors visiting the whole month. We'll post excerpts, hang out to chat, and talk about our stories.

In addition to the grand prize of the Kindle, we're giving away gift baskets every week! Some are silly, some are smutty, and all are fun. The themed ones are: m/m, ménage, BDSM, and lesbian plus our authors have chipped in with extra goodies.

Here's how to play. Visit our contest page,, and start scavenging for the Eight Ball answers. Visit the author pages and find the graphic somewhere on their site. An online form is set up, and we'll randomly choose a winner for the Kindle from all of the correct entries. Plus, every day, readers will have the chance to win a Torquere gift certificate and a gift basket.

Help us celebrate our eighth anniversary and ask the Eight Ball your question… Like, will I win a prize from Torquere Press?

Thanks, and have fun playing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today's Forecast... hot and sexy. Actually, it's raining in my part of the world, so what better video to post?

Katrina Strauss

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Giveaway!

The Station
is now available in print! You can pick it up at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I'm giving away one print copy this week, so come on over to my website to enter the contest!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

And We're Back

(This post brought to you by The Eastern Shore Tea Company, Red Bull, Diet Coke, and Five Hour Energy Drinks)

Those of you who’ve been with me for a while know that I’m a teacher and that I tend to mark my “new year” by the academic calendar. For some reason, this year I was moved by the changing seasons to start all those resolution-type things in late spring. I think it was the prospect of my second summer off (since writing is starting to pay enough to cover those two months). Whatever it was, I decided that I wasn’t going to start taking better care of myself. I started doing yoga again, started getting massages, started eating better. Then over the summer, I weaned myself off caffeine. Nothing drastic, I still had a soda or an iced tea, or even a hot green or decaf cup, but no more industrial strength brew, three-cup mugs in the morning just so I could open my eyes.

I’d been having trouble sleeping, and I thought it would help. It didn’t. I didn’t make the connection at the time, but my writing brain went off line as well. During August I told myself “You just need to refill the well.” Then I said, “You just need a story you’re excited about.” But despite plenty of ideas, there was nothing but cold dead silence from whatever takes those ideas into workable stories, and worse that same silence from the so noisy imaginary people who yammer in my ear until I get the words down. I hope I never have to live with an atrophied or amputated part, but I think I might know a bit of what that feels like.

Then I got a nice idea, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I was going to tell the story of one of Aaron’s twin brothers from Collision Course. I had the other hero, finally, and an opening scene. Then nothing again.

Where the hell did all my words go?

I missed blog dates. I hated going on Twitter. I didn’t email my friends.

I had motivation. I had desire. I had an open file and hands on the keyboard. But nothing was hooked up in my brain. I tried everything I knew to work unsticking me before. I asked friends for help. I switched writing locations. I switched from keyboard to notebook to notecards. Nothing. And I was still having trouble falling or staying asleep.

I can’t ever remember a time when it was so quiet in my head. I was scared and miserable. I’ve been stuck, I’ve been so busy that life temporarily drowns out the story flow, but never experienced over a month of silence. Not ever in my life. Finally I said, "I’ve got to get something together for critique and I’m going to have a venti macchiato and I’m going to write."

Halfway through those four shots of espresso, like someone flipped a switch, it was back.

I’m not claiming the words came through me like fire or that it was suddenly easy, but the words were there again, praise the muses. After that, the ideas, the voices started rolling—and I picked up a few of my favorite little addiction enablers at the store.

Now the skeptical part of my brain is telling me that’s a nice rationalization to restart a bad habit, but the relief is too great to listen to it. Hey, if oiling those neural pathways with a few grams of a nice legal substance is what it takes, I’m all for it. I’m just glad it came back—and for a cheap-as-addictions-go cost.

Now excuse me. Dylan’s hero wants a word with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Getting to "The End"

One of the hardest parts of writing, for me, is finishing a book. It's not so bad with short stories, but novels and novellas? That's another story (so to speak). Starting a story, staring at a blank screen and wondering what to write, is not my problem. Getting through the middle to the climax of a book can be challenging, but is rarely insurmountable. Finishing a manuscript, writing that wrap-up that comes after you've had so much fun writing the climax, which is (let's be honest) the fun part, is the tough bit for me. Sure there are things that need to be tied up, sorted out, and whatnot, but *sigh* I was having so much fun before. The only thing that keeps me pressing forward in that moment where I just want to revert to my lazy nature and say in the words of Maxine the Scottish Tart "Och, I can't be bothered" is knowing that once it's done, I can walk away for a while and do my superiority dance. It looks something like this [dancing] I finished! I finished! I finished! [/dancing] That's what I was doing late last week when I completed the first draft of last year's NaNoWriMo novel. (Don't judge me. It's not November yet. ;-P ) I know I still need to do serious work on the last chapter before I even go back to the beginning to edit it into draft #2, but IT'S DONE, and this makes me happy.

How about you? Whether you write professionally, or you write fanfic on LiveJournal, or you write for yourself and don't share it with anyone else, what's the toughest part of the writing process for you?

Hey! I almost forgot! Thank you to those who've "Liked" my Facebook Page, Maia Strong, Author. If you haven't yet, please pop over, take a look, and if you like it, "Like" it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Thanks to Netflix, I've been playing catchup on various series. I wasn't sure what I'd think at first of BBC series Sherlock, a contemporary high-tech take on Sir Arthur's beloved characters. I thought, "Surely no one can top Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in the original Victorian setting!" I gave this updated version a chance, however, and what can I say?

Love it. Absolutely love it. The show is highly stylized in terms of production and cinematography, with fast-paced action, brainy deductions, and gadgets galore. Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman breathe new life into their roles, helping Holmes and Watson fit perfectly in a modern London setting. Best of all, the scriptwriters throw a bone to Holmes/Watson fans by totally playing up the gay innuendo.

Season one consists of three 90-minute episodes. Season two is in the works. I can't wait!

Katrina Strauss

Sunday, September 4, 2011

No Butt About Him

I haven’t been writing much. Remember that blog post about the balance of writing and running? Well, I broke my foot, so no running. And, not much writing. It’s okay though. I’ve been listening to the doc, staying off my feet, and catching up on some long overdue reading. This week I’ve started to hobble around on my own. I’ll be running (and writing) again soon.

As I become semi-mobile again, the Muse deigns to return and visit for short periods of time. Last night, for example, the Hubby and I drove out to a new pizza place. New locations are great for inspiration to start, but throw in a bartender who knows how to make a kick ass margarita, and I was making up stories about every person within my sight.

At one point, I was checking out a male server as he took orders from a table of six young women. His skinny jeans and Ricky Martin faux-hawk immediately threw him into a story. I’ve been toying with a server character, but this guy wasn’t him. I silently created a couple of random ideas around a pizza guy before he walked away, leaving me with just the girls to study. Bored, I returned my attention to my Hubby who shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“What?” I said.

He did it again. The smirk. The eye roll. The I-can’t-believe-you’re-doing-that-now head shake.

“What?” I repeated, feigning innocence, though my amused grin gave me away.

I looked around the small restaurant. The two guys who’d been at the bar side-by-side had been joined by two women while the server distracted me. Darn. I glared at the Hubby and said, “He had no butt anyway. Boring.” I rolled my eyes, making sure it was a bigger, flashier eye roll than his.

Shortly after that exchange, our server brought me another margarita, and Don Julio made sure I forgot about the server with no butt for a while.

Pia Veleno

Now I’m off to read for a while. If you need some sweet summer-fun reading, Make You Sweat hit the top of the publisher’s bestseller list its first week out.

Now available only from Loose, click HERE.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

That Old Familiar Feeling

This post should be coming to you from my beach vacation, but Irene had other plans. I've been determined to stick to my plans to do some reading and refill the well, so to speak. But since I'm home, today my eyes wandered over to my keeper shelf. Not just the keeper bookcase, but the shelf—actually part of my bed's headboard that has a few of the books that I go back to because I love them and I'm also trying to figure out how the hell the author did that.

One thing these special-shelf books have in common is that they aren't romance. I love romance, but the thing I love best about these books wouldn't work in something sticking to reader expectations for romance—unless it was a multi-book series and you were going to keep the couple apart for a book at least. The thing that makes these books so special is that either a quarter or a halfway through them, the main character loses everything. Not just a plot thing, or a relationship thing, but their very core of existence. For most, suicide would be a step up but they can't even reach that. This isn't a black moment thing, it goes deeper and every time I reread the books, I feel that awful, amazing twist in my gut. Actually, I think the first time I got to p. 70 of Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, I gave some consideration to throwing up so hard was the gut punch she delivered to the character.

I do like to torture my characters. I like my stories to be emotional, but to be as cruel as some of these authors are, to rip out the very foundation of the character's existence and still ride through another two hundred pages to a satisfactory ending—if not an HEA—is something I shake at the idea of doing to my own imaginary friends. I'm not exactly sure that they wouldn't run off and leave me spluttering, unable to tell the rest of the story.

One of those books, The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley, is about a male/male relationship and is finally available for Kindle and probably other digital formats. If you haven't already had the pleasure (and I know I've mentioned the book here at least once a year) I recommend that you take that exquisitely painful plunge and then tell me if you like having your guts ripped out like I do. I just like to have it done by authors who I know will put them back in and seal me back up by the end. Any recs?

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