Thursday, December 29, 2011

I got nothing...

...but it looks like the hottie below's got something. My scheduled blog day sort of snuck up on me. A picture is worth a thousand words, so consider this my thousand-word contribution to Slash & Burn for the day:

Here's hoping everyone has a Happy New Year!

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Christmas! I am actually all alone today for several reasons. My husband is working, my family doesn't celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas, and we all got together last night for Christmas Eve/5th night of Hanukkah. There was much food, many presents, and a good time had by all.

Being Jewish on Christmas is a strange thing sometimes. We're usually invited to spend Christmas dinner with family friends, but they're not in town this year. I don't attend church today, obviously. If my husband were home, we'd hang out together and maybe go see a movie, but alas. Firemen don't get holidays off.

I'm okay with this, however! I have lots of gifts to sort through and put away and plenty of TV shows on the DVR. And the seasonal treats on the counter, ha. I hope you are having the least-stressful holiday possible today, folks. Take some time out to be good to yourself.

See you in 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Little Something Underneath the Tree

I want to put sparkling lights and ribbons on everything right now!

I'm so thrilled about the reception readers gave Eli and Quinn. Thanks so much. I really had fun with that story. I'm sure I'll be back to Baltimore soon. Jamie—for all his commitment phobic ways—is just waiting for me to come up with the right man to prove him wrong. And I'm thinking that Eli and Quinn might want to tell me how their spending this first holiday together—without the drama of the Laurents messing things up.

Mel and Bryce seemed to amuse people too. It was a lot of fun writing in first person—especially for a character as sarcastic as Mel. As much as I tried to crack Bryce's noggin, it didn't seem to work. I understood him, but couldn't make him talk to me—except through divas of disco.

So since everything is so bright and shiny, I want to leave you a few presents. These are three videos that have made my days brighter. I can't embed them, because I lack the skills, but I promise they're worth a click. Only number three is NSFW.

First up, this was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes. (And a plot bunny to nibble on my brain.) I spotted it at Towelroad, a great blog for gay news and media.

Then this might not be as coy and playful as when Kurt and Blaine sang it on Glee but I loved both their voices and the more grown-up vibe in their version.

Finally, if you haven't discovered Jonny McGovern, you're missing out on some fun. This is his latest song and video. Not only are the lyrics definitely NSFW, I warn you that the song can be an earworm. Yeah, go ahead and start singing "Dickmatized" while finishing up the shopping at K-mart. That should at least get you through some traffic.

I hope everyone's year is ending with light and love. And maybe I'll have a little piece of fic here for you when I'm back in two weeks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Upcoming Release

My latest is coming out on 28 December from Torquere Press so I thought I'd give you a little taste.

Rose & Thorn by Maia Strong
Bad luck, sabotage, or a curse? With the theater's future at stake, it will take all the magic Eamon, Jasper, and HJ can conjure to find out and put a stop to it.

Eamon Quinn is an actor with designs on a position with Rose & Thorn Theatrics. As a new university graduate, he's up to the acting challenge. He's not so sure he's up to facing life in the big city. That is, until he finds a friend in Jasper Davison. Jasper is intrigued by Eamon, sure that he's a fellow mountain-born soul, which is something Jasper's been missing in coastal Yanuk. When both men are hired by Rose & Thorn, the kindred spirits soon become lovers--and catch the eye of the company's head apprentice, HJ Greenhills.

Bad luck plagues the theater--accidents, injuries, and a sudden death--leading to rumors of a curse. Weaving sexual energy with Druid magic, Eamon and Jasper seek the truth behind the rumors. But confirming the curse is only the first hurdle. They need to figure out who cast it and how to end it before it causes more harm. Even together, the two men aren't strong enough. Druid magic works best in threes, and so they seek HJ's help to lift the curse. The three put their bodies and energies together to call up the magic they need to try and set things right.


Technically, the book is m/m/f, but here's an m/m excerpt. Hopefully it'll warm you up on a chilly winter day.

Clad in only undertunic and drawers, he padded softly to the brazier. The scent of maple syrup and cinnamon had begun to permeate the air of the closed-up room, making it smell sweetly delectable. His cock grew semi-hard as he inhaled the sweet aroma; he'd always been a sucker for all kinds of sweet sensations.

Jasper carefully dipped his little finger into the cauldron and licked the drizzle of syrup from it. It was warm enough and utterly delicious. He was ready to wake his sleeping lover.

Eamon lay on his side, face half buried in the pillow. The bed was narrow, but not so narrow that the two of them couldn't manage what Jasper intended. Jasper smiled, thinking ahead, and his cock grew fully hard. He crouched by the head of the bed and pushed dark brown hair from Eamon's flushed cheek.

"Wake up, boyo," he murmured. "It's time for that dessert I promised you."

Eamon mumbled something as he had before and batted a hand out around his face as if swatting at a pestering fly. Jasper's smile widened. He'd found Eamon sexy, funny, talented, and smart. This simple, sleepy gesture made him endearing, too.

"Come on, sleepyhead," he tried again, a little louder this time. As he spoke, he trailed one hand down Eamon's bare arm, across his belly, and along the waistband of his breeches. The combination of words and actions finally roused a waking response.

Eamon opened one eye, took a moment to focus, and smiled. "I am so glad it's you," he said softly.

"Oh yeah?"

"Mm-hmm. Of all the possibilities, you're by far the best one."

Jasper grinned. "Thank you."

Eamon inhaled deeply. "What's that smell I smell? It's... mmm." He let the breath out in a sigh.

"Dessert. It's ready for you if you're ready for it." Jasper rose and took a step back in one fluid motion.

Eamon pushed himself up into a sitting position. He blinked drowsily and focused on Jasper once more. "I see you're ready." He looked pointedly at where Jasper's drawers were tented out.

"Very." Jasper grinned.

"So what's for dessert?"


"Oh?" He raised an eyebrow, making Jasper think of the arch mother figure he'd played while they were singing earlier that night.

"And me."


"And something both sweet and hot. Do you have a towel I could borrow?"

"Huh? Sure." Taken by surprise by the change of subject, Eamon immediately dropped the expression he had adopted and pointed to the foot of the bed. "Hanging on the rails, there's one."

Jasper took it and used it to safely move the little cauldron from the brazier to the table.

"So what is it?" Eamon asked again. He rose and steadied himself with the bedpost before taking the few steps to where Jasper was carefully stirring the concoction with a wooden spoon. Jasper ran his index finger along the back of the coated spoon, testing again for temperature and deeming it ideal. He repeated the gesture and held up his finger, offering it to Eamon.


Smiling with a double hunger, Eamon took the offered finger in his mouth and sucked the sweet liquid from it. "Mmm! Maple!" He licked his lips.

"Spiced with cinnamon and cloves. I recommend you finish undressing," advised Jasper. "This stuff sticks. You have paid for laundry service, I trust." He smiled mischievously.

"It's included in the price of the room."

"That's good. Now, about those breeches?" He looked down at the clothing in question and back up into Eamon's eyes -- dove gray in the lamplight.

Eamon hurried to undo his flies and nearly fell trying to get out of his pants too quickly. Jasper laughed and steadied him. "Don't hurt yourself. That would take all the fun out of this."

"Not if you kissed it and made it better," Eamon responded.

Jasper laughed again. "You're quick on your feet."

"But hopefully not in bed." Eamon grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.

"That, too, would take all the fun out of this," joked Jasper.

Finally, Eamon managed to get his breeches and drawers off, leaving them in a pile on the floor. Jasper shook his head and ignored the clutter in favor of the nearly perfect naked man standing before him.

He looked Eamon over with a keen eye, taking in details he'd glossed over at their first coupling and in their rushed bath this morning.

Eamon was slim, but his shoulders were broad and square. He had the suppleness and flexibility of the fighter and dancer that he was. His arms didn't bulge with muscles, but instead were smoothly sculpted by hard work and training -- sinewy and strong, the kind of muscles that only fully showed themselves when they were being used.

Jasper liked that, liked his men lithe and lean, but not too lean. Eamon could use a little bulking up, in his opinion. He was too much like a starving student, which was so far from the truth as to be almost laughable. Jasper had seen the man eat, and he was very good at it. It was part of why Jasper had thought of tonight's dessert. But first, it was Jasper's turn to dine.


God jul fra Norge! Have a safe and happy holiday season, and I'll see you in 2012!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Errands

Watching the news this morning I’m glad I went out Friday to do errands so I could avoid the last week Holiday preparations craziness. Whew. It was a busy day but I got everything on my list done. Now I’m doing more baking, wrapping the last of my gifts and listening to Christmas music. :)

After I am done my plan after is spend the rest most of the day there under the covers. I’m going to read, sleep, read then sleep again.

Happy Holidays! I wish you lots of great memories of past, present and future holidays seasons.

Talia Carmichael
Fill Your Cravings


Buy Sparks here

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sometimes beauty's enough

You guys/gals tend to know me more for the long, somewhat philosophical entries here. I could write one of those, and I'm still considering posting about the appalling behaviour of certain moderators and (few) members of a certain m/m-focused book group during the month of November and ongoing. But, know what? You can't cure bigots. And while I'd love to denounce that kind of shit, I'm not going to waste my creative breath (little as I have at the moment) on assholes/bigots/transphobes.

I've been creatively blocked for around 4-6 weeks, thanks to, in a large part, the hounding and persecution that went on in November. You might have noticed that I didn't write my posts here during that time. I was just blogged out and way, way too angry to post anything, whether philosophical or other.

But all things have a positive side, such as the "Embrace the Rainbow" campaign started by Kris, and the distinct sense that the trans* writers in our genre have wrestled some more respect from it all. I'm pretty sure that the next wankfest will happen, but not yet. Me, I'm retrenching, regrouping, and getting my Muse back on track. Those assholes can't keep me from writing, at least not permanently.

Whatever I'll be writing - whether mainstream or not, or both - the best way for me to get my Muse going is music.

So, I'm presenting to you TVXQ! (Suggested by Barbara Sheridan, most likely...) Enjoy. Sometimes, beauty is enough to get stuff rolling.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Free book giveaway, and a holiday read

Sonoran Heat earned an honorable mention in this year's Rainbow Awards. I'm celebrating by giving away three digital copies of the honored title, with one of the winners also receiving an autographed print copy! Simply enter by commenting at my author blog here before Midnight EST tonight, December 15th. I will draw three names and announce the winners at my blog tomorrow on Friday, December 16 at Noon EST. Good luck!

While I'm here, if you're looking for a good holiday read, might I recommend....

With a birthday near Christmas, Ryan’s learned to compromise. He loves a straight friend who won’t reciprocate his feelings, and holds a boring job to afford college. At the end of the week, he vents his frustrations through his webcast Alone Time with Ryan. He’s careful not to name names - particularly since each webisode ends with a mock masturbation session.

Greg seeks a fresh start in a new home, but wasn't counting on the holidays being lonely. When gorgeous, young Ryan shows up on Greg’s doorstep, it's a warm ray of light on a cold winter’s day. Greg's attracted, and tempted, but as youth director at the local recreation center, he must conduct his private life carefully. Seducing a college student seven years his junior isn’t the wisest choice, no matter how hot Greg's fantasies are growing by the day - or night.

When Ryan's ode to December birthdays goes viral, his show becomes an overnight sensation, but with exposure comes consequence, and Ryan’s Sagittarian wits won’t get him out of this one. When he turns to Greg in a moment of need, both men must face the consequence of their passion, making for one steamy winter.


"Ryan and Greg are two regular guys looking for someone to love. Katrina created two memorable characters out of these 'ordinary' men by weaving in small details and nuances that made them unique and added layers to their personalities. Burn some cinnamon candles, prepare some luscious hot cocoa and sit down to enjoy this wonderful M/M treat." -- 4.5 Stars from Boylove Addict

"Some of my favorite parts were the tongue in cheek intros to several chapters. After all, who doesn't love a good innuendo? If you're looking for a little holiday cheer, Sagittarius Blues is a choice you won't regret." -- 4 Stars from The Romance Reviews


Get in the holiday spirit with Sagittarius Blues today!

Read an excerpt:

Buy the E-book: Loose Id, Kindle, Nook, Fictionwise, All Romance

Happy holidays, everyone!

~ Katrina Strauss

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Make the Yuletide Gay!

Just a reminder that Make the Yuletide Gay is in full swing at! Come on over for holiday reads, recipes and giveaways. Happy holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where in the world...

has Marty been?? I've often wondered myself. Looking at the calendar today I realized that the year was just about over *gasp* It seems the saying: "the older you get, the fast time goes by" is soooo true.

I sincerly apologize for my absence. This year I ventured back into the world of the working and it was quite overwhelming when it included dealing with my family and the other commitments that I had. There was also moving and some issues that were beyond my control and it was so hard to get caught up again. Put all together, life also made me put my writing on hold/backburner. Talk about going crazy! It's no wonder I've been so moody for months now *sigh* Anywhoo...times have changed. Though I'm still in the working world, it's part-time and a lot more flexable. I've still got some family issues to deal with, but my goal is to start writing again come the beginning of the year! Whoo-hoo! New Year resolution, anyone?

Some news... unfortunately my Unexpected Holiday series is no longer for sale. They are up for rewrites and expansion before they go back on the market though.  However, A Gift Worth Sharing is still available, so make sure you check it out.

Ok, so no more poofs for me. Motivation is stirring and I'm soooo ready to get back to work. :)

Everyone have a wonderful and safe Christmas!!!!

Argh. My email reminders for my blog day don't seem to be working, so I've missed a few over the past couple of months. And since right now we're in full swing with the holidays, my brain is even more scattered than usual.

Let me give you this as a peace offering. I've started working on a short story for my publisher that looks into the life of a young tattoo apprentice. When he's finally allowed to do his first real tattoo, it's more erotic than he ever thought it would be.


It was a beautiful picture. It would be tricky and challenging and Cade wasn’t sure if he had the ability to do true justice to it, especially his first time, but the artist in him simply could not turn down the opportunity. Cade knew that this needed to be his first real tattoo. “Where do you want it?” he asked. Maybe it was somewhere innocuous, like on Kip’s forearm.

“On my chest. The opposite side of the one I got last time.”

His chest. That meant Kip would have to take his shirt off and sit there, and Cade would have to touch him. The thought was terrifying and exhilarating.

“All right,” Cade finally said, looking up at Kip. “Have a seat on the couch behind you and give me twenty minutes to draw it up.”

“Thanks.” Kip nodded. “I’m sure you’ll do it justice.” He sat on the leather couch and smiled confidently at Cade.

Cade felt something stirring, but he was unsure if it was something complicated like gratitude for Kip’s trust, or something simple like pure lust. He decided it was both, and neither feeling had any place in the job he was about to do. He needed to concentrate.

Nearly a half hour later, Cade had a decent replica of Kip’s picture. He’d shown it to Graham for approval.

“Looks good, Cade. Look at it like a grid, not as a picture. You’ll be fine.” Graham smiled and went back to texting Jessica. Cade felt a tiny frisson of fear that Graham didn’t seem interested in sitting over Cade’s shoulder to watch him work, but that fear was soon outweighed by relief. One thing Cade didn’t need was the extra pressure.

Cade called Kip over and pointed to the chair that all of Graham’s clients sat in. “Go ahead and take your shirt off,” Cade said, and was pleased to hear that his voice sounded normal. Kip was even more attractive at close range, and Cade sent up a silent prayer that his body wouldn’t betray him. His dick was already twitching.

Kip did as he was asked and Cade’s mind registered that the man must have been in the sun at some point. Kip’s chest was a smooth brown color with a dusting of golden hair.

Uh oh. That meant Cade would have to shave him.


This should be out sometime in the first part of 2012, so stay tuned! Happy Holidays, y'all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rainbow Award Winner!

I'm excited to share the news that the cover art for "Visible Friend" scored a 1st place Rainbow Award over at Elisa Roelle's LGBT review blog. Check it out! I'm really proud of this cover and how well its been received. It was potentially risky since the iconic element in romance covers is a slice or two of beefcake, but when I read KZ's vision for the cover with the hand, needle, and blossoms, I couldn't get the image out of my head. It's great to hear that others are appreciating the conceptual look too!

I'm pretty lucky over at Dreamspinner Press. Everyone is great to work with, and authors (and management!) let me have a *huge* measure of creative freedom that any artist worth her salt would treasure. And I get to work in a range of styles! Check out this more manga-ish cover I just finished up for next month's "Fire Play".

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where has James Been?

The simple answer is: Working. The EDJ is about a 60mile commute each way -- about an hour drive with good traffic. On days like today, two hours home and it was the last freaking stretch. Two five car pileups with all the attendant cops and fire trucks but no ambulances and then one three car with two ambulances in attendance. That makes for long days. And because I no longer work for myself I don't have the same unfettered access to the web as I used to (they don't monitor, thank god, but it's their time).


Rest assured. I am hard at work on the third Deputy Joe book. Since most of book four is "in the can," you'll have your Joe/Kabe fixes soon enough.

Here's a little bit of the work in progress:

Kabe thundered down the stairs tugging a white t-shirt over his head. A running man, sketched in rainbow scribbles, and the slogan be yourself graced the front. That probably would go over the heads of most folks around here. His jeans sat a little lower than they ought, but, for once, didn’t look painted on. He vaulted over the back of the couch and landed with his butt in the seat. As he reached for his hiking shoes, Kabe asked, “Where you going?”
“Huh?” I pushed away from the breakfast island and hooked my thumbs in my back pockets.
Grinning, Kabe shook his head and pointed at me. “You’re pretty dressed up for just heading to the gas station.”
I looked down at what I had on, plain white, western-cut shirt, dark blue jeans and my nice boots…I guessed he was right. “Oh, yeah,” I shrugged, “folks get in about half past three today.”
Kabe smacked his forehead with the butt of his palm. “That’s right, you told me.” He grabbed his phone off the coffee table. “But it’s barely ten.”
“Yeah, well,” I started ticking off all I had to do that morning, “Jen Cummings is gonna drop off my folks car at their place. Lacy’s stopping on her way in to pick up things from the market in Cedar, but there’s a few things momma’s gonna want from the little place here.” Their cupboards were all empty, even to the point of not having stores put by for end times. I’d fix that next time I went down to the superstore.
Heaved up a sigh and kept going, “Gotta do the walk through with the real estate gal and make sure everything’s squared away in their house from the vacation rental these past two years.” We’d been lucky and thier house hadn’t sat empty much. It weren’t on the lake or anything special location wise. But, it was one of what they called the pioneer heritage house…built back in the 1800’s and I guess that had draw. “I’m gonna get the keys back for all of it before I head down into Salt Lake to pick up my folks. You know, so I can be their pack mule for them.”
“Okay.” Kabe stood up, finished stomping into his shoes and came over towards me. “Let’s go.” He leaned in to hook his thumbs in with mine.
I had a lot of work to do and I knew he might look all rested, but he had to be bone weary. “You don’t have to come with me.” Wilderness fire crew work meant eighteen hour days and sleeping on the ground under your truck. If you were lucky someone arranged for mystery meat sandwiches…otherwise crackers and tuna eaten out of the can. After a week of that, I bet he needed a month to get back to feeling at all human.
“Yeah,” he grinned up at me with one of his soul shattering smiles, “I think I kinda do.”
Pulling his thumb outta my left pocket, he ran his hand up my arm. A little squeeze at my bicep punctuated his next statement, “Because you’re going to have to tell your parents.” That dropped a rock on my head. “About you and about me. And if I don’t go with you, you’ll chicken out.”
I tried to push him off – with my words, not my hands. “You’re on something…it don’t have to be right then.” Otherwise, I kinda liked having him pressed up against me like this.
“Yeah it does.” Kabe thumped his index finger against my chest. “‘Cause if you don’t tell them, they’re going to come home, run into the next door neighbor who’s going to be all up in their face with, ‘Oh my God, how are you handling your son being GAYYYYY!’”
“It ain’t gonna happen like that.” I might have been protesting, but in my heart I knew he was likely right.
He snorted. “If you’re lucky it’ll happen like that because the other option is that asshole, Pete Sampris, is going to take his uptight ass over to their place and have a counseling session as their fucking bishop about it all.” Both of us shuddered at that thought. “So who’s mouth do you want them hearing it from?”
Just the mention of Pete’s name was enough to tie my stomach in knots. “Get in the truck.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You're Spending the Holidays Where?

Hey, here we are. I promised visits from my fellow authors in the Carina Men Under the Mistletoe Anthology today, and they delivered. I decided I wanted them to talk about setting, because for me the setting was the most important part of my story, after the characters, of course. I'll tell you why at the end.

First, from Josh Lanyon, author of Lone Star. First is where Josh usually is in my TBR pile. I love the title. I'm sure Josh would agree with me that if we could just figure out how to write gay vampire/shifter cowboys, we'd be set for life.

I’m not exactly sure why I ended up writing a story set in Texas. I’ve always wanted to write a cowboy romance, but I knew from the start that Lone Star wasn’t it. I guess partly it has to do with that great big emptiness that’s the Lone Star State. I think the best holiday stories address that loneliness, that emptiness we all feel sometimes -- a feeling that’s worse around the holidays. So I decided to write a homecoming holiday story. A story that begins with a chilly arrival -- a star falling out of the heavens -- and which gradually warms up with life and love and a little holiday magic.

The house hadn’t changed much.

Mitch’s footsteps sounded too loud as he walked slowly through the dusty rooms that still smelled of pipe tobacco and, more vaguely, horse liniment. But then it had never been a noisy place. Sometimes he and his old man had gone days without exchanging more than a word or two.

The steamer trunk, draped with a red and black Indian blanket, still sat in the front hall. In the dining room was the heavy old furniture that had once belonged to Mitch’s great-grandmother, including the squat china cabinet full of fragile teacups and saucers that hadn’t been touched in all the years Mitch had lived in that house.

In his father’s room the photograph of Mitch’s mother still perched on the bedside table next to the smaller framed photo of his parents’ wedding. Mitch stared at the neatly made bed with the handmade patchwork quilt. It looked so ordinary it was unsettling. He half expected Dane Evans to walk in and ask him what the hell he was doing in there. Maybe that was why funerals were a good idea.

Ava March's story is setting in a time period I love (and would love to come back to in my own writing): Regency England. I love a pre-Dickens Christmas setting.

In the beginning of My True Love Gave to Me, Alexander and Thomas have recently come from Oxford to spend the holiday season in London, attending social functions and family dinners. Setting plays a significant role in the book and not only because it takes place during the holiday season. During the Regency era, love between men was not just frowned upon but against the law. For Alexander and Thomas to even hold hands, they needed to be very careful about their surroundings.

Reluctantly, he shifted off Thomas’s lap, though he did not move back to the opposite bench. After repairing his clothes and pocketing his gloves from the floorboards, he gave the driver the order to return to Mayfair, to Charles Street, to Thomas’s parents’ house. The scent of sex hung in the air, much too heavy for his father to mistake it for anything but. So he opened the window a bit but left the shade drawn, not willing to lose the intimacy of darkness quite yet.

He settled against Thomas’s side and placed a hand over Thomas’s resting on his thigh. Thomas turned his hand over, gloved fingers sliding between his own bare ones. Such a simple luxury to be able to hold his hand, yet a luxury nonetheless.

Impatient lust sated, and confident in the knowledge he would have Thomas in his arms by dusk tomorrow, he soaked up the unprecedented opportunity to simply be with the man he loved. To rest his head against Thomas’s shoulder and to have his hand in his own without the threat of discovery breathing harsh and heavy down their necks.

There were no words between them. The silence companionable and perfect. The chill evening breeze rustled the shade, letting in glimpses of the golden light from the streetlamps as the carriage wound its way back to Mayfair.

Here are a few thoughts on setting from Harper Fox whose prose leaves me breathless. Sometimes I read one of her sentences and think, "Wow. I should just give up writing because I'm never going to be able to come up with something like that."

I’ll let you in on a secret – Winter Knights started life under a different title, Hallow Hill. I thought about the setting for this one before anything else, and in a way it was going to be – and in a way still is – the star of the show. It’s the first book I’ve ever written set in the place where I live, somewhere I can walk to from my front door. It’s steeped in mystery, bleakly beautiful, and once I got the concept of a cavern beneath the hill I was up and running. It seemed such potent symbol for Gavin’s condition – functional on the outside, hollow underneath, but within that hollow space, enormous potential for magic to happen. It could have gone either way – an empty cavern, or rescue and healing – the hallowed/hollow hill. Here’s a couple of excerpts from my Winter Knights backdrops to give you the flavour...

The climb would be easy. I was almost disappointed. The few inches of snow that had fallen hadn’t concealed the footpath leading up from the road onto the moors. In fact it was clearer than usual, in the cloud-bronze light of the moon. She was high near the zenith, competing with snowflakes and stars for the night sky. Briefly I looked up and tried to meet her weary, ancient gaze. What are we up to now, then, Gavin?

Ma’am, I’m sure I’ve no idea.

No. That wasn’t true. I was off to investigate the possible scene of a relevant local myth. I could see Sewingshields lifting its stupendous hill-flank under the snow. The crags, sharp sheer granite cliffs, were on the far side. This was sill-and-fault country, where intruded bands of igneous rock turned the landscape to a frozen wave-troughed ocean as the sandstone around them eroded away.


I knew the roads around here well, but I’d never seen this one. There wasn’t anything strange about it. The valley still stretched out to the south, rocking gently with the Rover’s movement. To the north, if I could be bothered to lift my head, I would see the line of the Wall, the great whinstone plates of the dragon’s crest. We were heading deep into the hills, the road narrowing down to a single track so tight the bare thorn branches tapped and scraped against the windows. I supposed there were lots of far-flung villages I’d never discovered on my travels.

This one was called Drift. I only caught a glimpse of the sign as we passed. Art was driving slowly, feeling out the crunch and slither of ice, hands steady on the wheel, but a mist had gathered. I hadn’t noticed it start. One second the air had been clear, the next we were passing through silver-grey rags, a cobweb that seemed to have woven itself out of starlight. Drift, I thought, after the sign had appeared in the headlights and vanished. Not a bad idea. I closed my eyes.

That brings me to my story, The Christmas Proposition. Now don't get all maudlin on me, but I came up with the idea for the story because I had to travel back to a small town in Pennsylvania for my grandmother's funeral. The town had been radically changed by the hydrofracking industry—including a well right next to our car in the hotel parking lot. I couldn't believe how it had changed since she'd left, since it had always seemed like the land time forgot. I saw some rowdy gas workers at a restaurant (in fact, my wife and I could have been those tired out-of-towners Mel waits on at Skippers) and the plot bunny sank his teeth in and raced away with a story.

The town in the story is fictional. I couldn't find an Epiphany on the map, but I think my grandmother would have loved it—and the reflection of the town where she spent thirty years of her life. She loved my books—though she skipped those scenes, as she told me. (I sincerely hope so.)

Mel, my narrator, has a love/hate relationship with his small town for a variety of reasons. He's deeply rooted and yet longing to leave.

There was still about an hour of daylight, but I stuffed a flashlight in my jacket pocket as I walked to the base of the mountain. We always kept a few unpruned trees up here for the customers who liked their trees with “character.” I pulled some dead weeds from around their trunks as I walked, heading up toward the edge of our property, marked by a low crumbling rock wall. I didn’t know how old it was, only that the valley and mountains were littered with walls like this one. Stones, the most consistent harvest for a Pennsylvania mountain farmer. The wall started near a stream that cut along another edge of our property before meeting up with the Cross Creek that gave our road its name.

There was a little ground cover of snow from the other day. I dusted off the wall and sat down, chucking tiny pine cones and twigs into the stream. It had always fascinated me since Da told me that some of this water would eventually make it all the way out to the ocean and around the world. It was hard to imagine, since the stream stayed pretty much the same. Even when it was swollen in the spring or down to a trickle in a dry summer, there were the same mossy rocks. But I always liked to think of my pine cones being carried all the way out to an ocean I’d never seen. Imagined myself small enough to ride there with one.

Men Under the Mistletoe is available anywhere you usually get your ebooks.

And Bad Boyfriend, where fun sexy things happen to guys in Baltimore is also now for sale.

See you in two weeks.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quickies, 12/6

But not the kind you're thinking of. ;-)

In the tradition of Skepchick (One of the best blogs out there, IMO.), I offer quick notes with links to things I've found recently that make me happy.

I hope everyone finds a smile somewhere in this quickies list!

Make the Yuletide Gay!

If you’re like me, you’re eager to read holiday-themed romances this time of year. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, I love them all. So I thought I’d bring the holiday stories to me! Make the Yuletide Gay is a holiday extravaganza featuring giveaways, holiday recipes and plenty of hot man-on-man action.

For the next few weeks, a variety of authors will be guest blogging at my website, so visit often for festive reading suggestions, contests and more. I'm starting things off with a giveaway of my Hanukkah book, Eight Nights.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December. Already?

When I got an email reminder that it was my day to post, I first whispered a quick thank you to automatic reminders, and then I skimmed through my Slash & Burn posts for the year, looking for inspiration. At first, it was my intention to share my attempts at creating cover art for a freebie I wrote for the M/M Romance group, but then I noticed the post I wrote back in July. It summarized what I’d accomplished in the first half of the year, and a couple of WiPs I’d hoped to finish before year end.

Oops. Those WiPs are still in the To Do pile.

Shortly after I wrote that post last summer, I broke my foot. It still aches if I do too much, but I’m finally, a little bit, getting back into running. Yes, they really do go hand in hand. I tried to force the writing, but even with nothing better to do with my foot propped up for weeks, I simply couldn’t focus. While I did manage to keep up with my obligations on the weekly installments for my freebie story, actual productiveness towards any publishing goals… well, let’s just leave it at nonexistent.

I’m ready to resume now. I have been for a while now, but with the increase in physical activity in November, I can keep my mind focused while sitting still too. After I post this, I’m dragging the Hubby out for a hike/walk despite the 37 degree morning. We’re getting ready to try snowshoeing as soon as the snow hits. I refuse to give in to the annual winter urge to hibernate. I’ve already had my writing break. Granted, it was unscheduled and certainly not anticipated, but I refuse to take another so soon. Hopefully, when I post here on the first Sunday of January, I’ll be sharing download links that make that freebie on Goodreads available to anyone and, with some luck and dedication, an announcement on one of those WiPs being in the hands of an acquisition team.

I promise to try my hardest, dear Readers. I can’t let winter win again this year.

Pia Veleno

PS Bound By Love is now available in audio format, and Fallen will be on the first day of the new year. Both are available to order through Silver Publishing by clicking HERE.

PSS Have a great holiday season, and may Santa bring you big, uh, packages to unwrap. ;-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Nook Listings

Two more of my M/M titles were added to Nook in recent weeks. They're both currently marked 17 percent off, making them $4.97 each. One of them also happens to be a Christmas story, so perhaps it would make a nice stocking stuffer for a fellow M/M enabler this holiday season.

Get in the holiday spirit with Sagittarius Blues:

Or warm up with the hot tent action in Off the Beaten Path:

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