Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thank Starbucks

for their stand on gay marriage, for standing up to the race baiters at NOM.  You can sign the thank you card here.

you can read about how this all started here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Local Flavor

I was feeling the need to go back to Baltimore, fictionally, and fortunately I live close enough to that charming city to drive down for a weekend so I could get more of a feel for it in person.

Google maps are awesome, but there's nothing like actually driving on the same street as your characters might or seeing the textures and colors of buildings, the kinds of trees, and the patterns of light, of breathing in the smells and learning some of the sounds. I'm not an overly descriptive writer (mostly because as a reader I tend to skip those parts in favor of dialogue, plot angst and all right, smut) so I know I'll probably never use everything I soak up in person. I'm fortunate in that every story I've written I've been to the place or have a reader or friend I can call on to make sure I'm not messing things up. Errr, except Regency England. Never been there, okay? Don't know anyone personally who has, either.

Since I'm feeling the need to return fictionally to Baltimore, and I only live a few hours away by car, I took myself down to that charming city for a weekend to fill my head with some more details and local tastes. It doesn't get much more local in taste than these. Berger's cookies. Nate hoarded them and sublimated with them in Bad Company. I'm sure Eli and Quinn have tasted them too. Would you freaking look at the fudgy frosting on these things? They have to make it into another book.

Another thing about acquiring local flavor is the chance to meet local readers. @jmc_bks on Twitter was kind enough to steer me in some directions, and to also first alert me to the wonder that is these Berger cookies and tell me where an addict could find some more. Apparently, there is a grocery store called Harris Teeter. I guess it's no less silly than shopping at a WaWa. Knowing those local names and flavors are the kind of details a writer needs to make the setting come alive for the reader.

Excuse me, but the rest of that Berger cookie is calling my name.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Boys and their arguments

I recently wrote a book with the fabulously talented Chris Owen, titled By the Numbers. I love this book -- firemen! puppies! sexy computer geeks! -- but the one thing I noticed throughout was that our two heroes got along REALLY well. Like, arguments were non-existent. Even when we tried to make them fight, they resisted. Readers picked up on that, but the response to it was pretty favorable overall and I got emails stating how nice it was to read a book where it was apparent the two leads really liked each other.

Cut to the sequel, which is being worked on now. (Yay!) Man alive, you want to talk about conflict? We got conflict. Trey and Deuce have a specific issue in their lives that's causing some problems. Oh, they're working on it like the mature adults they are, but I can't wait to see how this is going to turn out.

They still like each other, though. Promise.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sleight of Hand is now my bestselling title!

In recent months, Sleight of Hand had gone from languishing midlister to my next best selling title behind Blue Ruin 1: Some Kind of Stranger. Well, I'm here to announce that as of March, Sleight of Hand has officially taken the number one spot.

What can I say? It's nice to see Sleight of Hand getting some love. The gorgeous Anne Cain cover has always been popular and even won an award, but the story itself has, at times, lingered in the shadows. It's like everyone wanted to pet the pretty, but didn't want to bring it home and feed it. The lesson to be learned here? The publishing journey remains as unpredictable as always.

Thank you to those of you who've faithfully supported this story from the beginning and helped spread the word. If you haven't given Sleight of Hand a chance yet and want to bring home the pretty, you can find it at the following venues. It's labeled and priced as a short story but only 200 words shy of having made novella length:

Google Books
Books on Board
All Romance

Katrina Strauss
Dark romance for daring readers

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Paper or Plastic Electronic?

The other day, a friend was saying that she couldn't remember the last time she'd purchased a book in print. She and her Kindle are never apart, and if a book isn't available electronically, she probably won't read it.

It made me think about the last time I'd bought a paper book, and I really couldn't remember. I've bought dozens of books in the past year -- all electronic. I have a trusty Kobo that I read from every day and is just so handy in so many ways. I still have a bookshelf with beloved tomes that I don't see myself ever getting rid of, but I'm not sure what would make me start buying paperbacks or hardbacks again.

What about you? Have you made the switch to ebooks, or are you still a paper devotee?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Making it Real

When I write I have to get really deep into my characters. Live as they have. I know their history every moment they have been through and all the bad, good and in between experiences. It can be an emotional roller coater. When I am in a certain characters head I’m living their life and seeing it as if it is my own. Then I switch to another and go through the same.

What I put on the page isn’t half what they experience but I have to know them well enough to know what shapes them and will make them react or do certain things. I become very intimate…a voyeur to their lives and lay it on the page with each word and emotion. It is exhilarating and consuming. And I love it making it all very real.

Talia Carmichael
Fill Your Cravings


Buy Sparks here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We'll miss you....

Author William Neal passed away suddenly this week.  Keep his family and his partner in your thoughts. One of the driving forces of the Gay Romance Lit Retreat, he will be missed in the gay romance community.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In the Eye

Man, I finally made it here. On the right day and everything. Sorry about that guys. I hope you'll think the book I just turned it is worth my missing some blog dates.

I got this really interesting letter from a reader. She asked me about "plain Jane" heroes. I thought about that for awhile, about whether any of my heroes were or ordinary looking whether they all looked like models in my head. The first one who popped to mind was Nate from Bad Company. Nate wears glasses, he worries about love handles. Then I realized that aside from Joey and Aaron in Collision Course, who admittedly get hit on by random "others" with some frequency, maybe none of my heroes are dazzling to the eyes—except to the eyes of the man who falls for them.

As children, most of us think our parents are beautiful. Even after we're exposed to the media and taught what is considered beautiful, most little kids think their mom is the prettiest. If you asked me what I'd change about my wife's appearance, I can tell you "Nothing." Because when I look at her eyes, my stomach flips over. Damn, and I thought the girl of my dreams would have blue eyes, not brown. Still. There she is.

I'm pretty sure it's the same for my characters. The reason why Quinn is so attracted to Eli? Noah to Cameron? Shane to Kim? For no other reason than the man himself. Something about him clicks. You can show me dozens of pictures of people and I'm sure we could all be able to agree on some standard of attractiveness. But put those people in motion, imbue the still faces with personalities, and everything changes. It's no longer about hair or eyes or the symmetry of the features, but the essence of the person, and what captivates us is as unique as the pattern of freckles on a loved one's nose.

My characters may be able to tell you about the guy's sexy mouth or ass, his broad shoulders or beautiful eyes, but if the object of their desire were so objectively hot, why isn't there a line a mile long of guys longing to date him? Why isn't the guy in the modeling business? Maybe sexiness is just as hard to define as obscenity. We know it when we see it. Or touch it. Smell it. Taste it. Oh man, I think the new book feels a sex scene coming on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What makes you stop reading?

This question occurred to me yesterday evening when I closed a book about 200 pages (not quite half way) in and said, "I'm done." This morning, I decided I would skim ahead a little to see if what irritated me enough to stop reading the book would be swiftly rectified and the plot advanced in a non-irritating direction, but yesterday I was ready to put it down and never pick it up again. I realized, too, that what pissed me off so much this time was the same thing that had pissed me off a while back in another book that I put down and have never picked up since: a broken promise. I don't mean something trivial like "I know I promised to leave you the last piece of cheesecake, but I ate it anyway". I mean a heavy-duty promise that is part of the foundation of the story being told. In the previous case, it was a promise one MC made to himself. He did that, and I said, "You suck. You're an idiot. Why should I read about you any more? I'm done." (Of course, I didn't like the other MC anyway, so it was that much easier to walk away.) In this case, it was a promise between the two MCs, and one is trying to be noble and clever and protective by breaking it. Stupid and intolerable, IMO. I had no idea broken promises bugged me so much, but there does seem to be a pattern emerging, doesn't there.

So I'm curious. When a book is well-written and the genre/subject is one you generally enjoy, what makes you stop and put a book down and say, "I'm not reading you any more."? Or do you soldier through, trusting that the author will correct the issue?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Ravens Crossing

Hi, I am Andi Lea, a gender studies scholar, LGBTQ activist, and an author of LGBTQ fiction. Many thanks to Amanda Young for giving me this opportunity to share a project I am collaborating on with fellow authors West Thornhill and Amanda Corlies.

As fans of adult male/male and LBGTQ romance it’s not too hard to find something to read. A little internet browsing and some research will net quite a big catch. So, where do our teens and young adults go to find LGBTQ fiction? We’ve all read about authors who have had to make changes to their young adult LGBTQ couples to fit a mainstream audience. We’ve all been dismayed at the lack of HEA’s and HFN’s for those young adult characters. And, no doubt, we all agree it’s frustrating.

The audience is out there, seeking any nugget of young adult LGBTQ fiction available. Those nuggets are few and far between, and often relegated to secondary characters who never achieve a happily anything. All too often, mainstream stories are heavy with issues and lack the romantic escapism that the adult genres offer.

Several independent authors and small publishers are doing what they can to fill that young adult LGBTQ romance niche. As the parent of a queer young adult, my experience in helping locate those books has required patience and a great deal of searching. In the last two years or so, finding those books has become less of a challenge, and I am relieved. Finally, my young adult is finding HEA’s and HFN’s, but there is room for more, a lot more.

Last year, a group of collaborators worked for many months to develop a continuing online serial, focused on LGBTQIA couples. Born from those early discussions is the free web series, The Ravens Crossing. Months of planning, story development, website building, and volunteer hours have brought this project to the internet. There is a solid cast of main characters and a supporting cast of secondary characters. The Ravens Crossing is set in a fictional neighborhood in Iowa City, IA. Placement of the fictional suburb was crucial to the overall mission of promoting a positive, diverse community.

The Ravens Crossing (TRC) has partnered with YA LGBT Books at Goodreads, offering behind the scenes peeks of the series and exclusive members only content. The Ravens Crossing is also a supporter of The Make it Safe Project which provides YA LGBTQ books to school libraries and community centers who do not have the funds or support for purchasing YA LGBTQ literature.

TRC launched in February 2012 and is reaching out to the LGBT community to raise awareness and help spread the word about YA fiction that is diverse and accepting. Everyone working on the project donates their time and effort. We have a variety of ages involved in the project, from high school kids to concerned adults, and parents.

Currently, new stories post six days a week, Monday through Saturday. The stories are written flash fiction style of 1,000 words or less. Each story line can stand alone and also works within the overall continuity of TRC universe. The first season of TRC runs through July 7, 2012. On Sundays we post teasers, upcoming events, and eventually we would like to interview/profile other YA LGBTQ authors. We have several related projects in development as the site continues to grow and gain an audience. We will also be offering college internships in the fall of 2012 to students who are interested in gaining experience in social justice, gender studies, website development, marketing, or editing.

We are reaching out to our peers to spread the word among their own communities. If you or someone you know might be interested in getting involved, please contact us at theravenscrossing dot gmail dot com. Or use our contact form on The Ravens Crossing website. We are looking for feedback, YA LGBTQ authors to interview, and news of interest to the YA LGBTQ community. And we are more than happy to answer any questions or address any concerns.

Visit TRC and learn more:

First Time Here?

Week 1 Stories

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just One More Thing

My brain is fried. Late last night, I finished a heavy dose of revisions for my next Loose Id release. I love the changes, and I’m excited about getting this story ready for public consumption. However, despite the deadline, last night I spent a good hour completely sidetracked by a random strike of inspiration.

Story ideas come from so many different places. Sometimes it’s a song, other times it’s one line of dialogue that blooms into a character with a story to tell. Occasionally, it’ll be a scene in a movie, or a TV character that begs to have a different tale told.

Last night, despite my focus on those revisions, Columbo inspired a new idea.

Oh yes, Columbo. The rumpled raincoat didn’t do it. The unruly head of hair didn’t do it. It was his tenacity. To get the case solved, he went along with the murderess’s playful flirting until he figured out her motivation. The story Columbo inspired does not include the stunning Faye Dunaway or the rumpled raincoat. I may have to let my detective smoke cigars, however, as a tribute to the late, great Peter Falk.

Inspiration is rarely convenient, but when it hits I give the horse his head. It’ll be a fun story to write, and I’ll have an excuse to subject my significant other to repeated viewings of Columbo during the drafting stage.


Just one more thing…

Phto credit:

Thanks for reading, and have a great March!

Pia Veleno
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