Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some gave all

Hello, Slashers! Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which usually means barbecues and a day off work. Since I have Monday off and am, in fact, attending a barbecue, that's exactly what it means for me. :D Well, and the fact that I am indebted to the military men and women who gave their lives for my freedom. I hope everyone remembers that while drinking their beer and scarfing their burgers.

My life has recently been pleasantly disrupted by the arrival of two kittens. I lost my 15 year old kitty two years ago, and his 17 year old sister just passed this January. I was a cat person without a cat for the first time in nearly two decades. Then, four weeks ago, Johnny Ringo and Calamity Jane were at an adoption fair and I fell in love. Their names used to be something like Broadway and Lotus and I was like huh? How do shelters come up with these names? These two are clearly meant to be named Ringo and Calamity.

So I have kittens, and although I try as hard as I can, I can't read their thoughts like my friend Alex Myers can in Keeping Karma and Teaching Topaz. Man, if there ever was a talent I wished to have, it would be that one. If you don't know Alex, Dylan, or Karma, go check them out. Cute boys and cute animals.

Have a lovely holiday weekend if you're stateside, and a lovely non-holiday if you're not. Remember those who gave their lives while serving.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Greetings from Chicago

I'm here in the windy city for the conference on Alternative Sexuality. I, and several other authors, will be discussing the mainstreaming of BDSM in romance and the positive and negative issues that go along with that.

Tres amusing, no?

I like to do these academic panels from time to time. It's interesting to see what the rest of the world thinks of what we do. Generally, no matter what the academic audience, they tend to be engaged and positive about the panels. My guess is that they're a welcome break from the standard stock -- I know as an attorney, when there are either role play or visits from the bench with war stories (anything outside of here's the five things you need to know about this minute area of law you will never put to practical use panels) are always far more entertaining and thought provoking.

Tonight I'm going to a reading by several of the Lambda finalists.

Of course the side benefit of being in Chicago right now: International Mr. Leather is happening this weekend. Tight butts, chaps, boots. God the eye candy.  A couple of us will be heading there on Sat. to see the sights and engage our kink.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Tense Situation

I'm having a strange time with my latest manuscript. Some of you might remember Rhys and Isaac from my m/m/f short story Play Music, Play Magic that came out a while back in the anthology I Put a Spell on You. Well, I've been wondering about the boys' origin story since I wrote that, and now I'm starting to drag it out of them. (They're both a bit closed-mouthed on the  matter, and as I'm writing I'm finding out why. *eep!*) Here's the weird part: they're both talking to me in first person. Okay, that's only half of the weird. The other half, and if you'll pardon the mathematical impossibility, the bigger half, is that they're both telling me their story in present tense. WTF, right? I mean, this is a trend I've noticed lately in the YA books I've read. There's a delightful immediacy to first person, present tense that I think maybe appeals to the modern young adult reader. But for erotic romance it seems a little, well, bizarre. Am I simply old-fashioned and out of touch? Do readers dig that sort of thing? Do they even care what tense a book is written in? Does it all depend? I'd love to hear what you think, because it's tripping me out, frankly, but at the same time I don't want to get to the end and then have to edit it all over into past tense.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Book: The Chimera Affair

When young Sebastian Brambani meets a sexy and exciting older man, he’s easily seduced. But for spy Kyle Grant, it’s all business—Sebastian is simply a pawn in Kyle’s mission to acquire a dangerous chemical weapon from Sebastian’s criminal father. Kyle’s life is his work for a shadowy international agency protecting the world from evil, and he can’t worry about what will happen to Sebastian when the job is done.

Sebastian’s unwitting role in Kyle’s plan is the last straw for his ruthless father, who has been embarrassed by his gay son for the last time. But when Kyle discovers Sebastian could be the key to finding the deadly Chimera, he rescues him from a hired hitman and fights to keep him alive. Can a hardened spy and na├»ve college student take down a criminal kingpin, stay one step ahead of the killers on their trail—and fight the scorching attraction between them?

Read an Excerpt

As he stepped out of the car, Sebastian hugged his arms to his body tightly, shivering in the cold as the wet snow fell. He hurried toward the porch, but Kyle yanked him back. “Don’t move.”

Sebastian stayed put as Kyle circled the cabin, keen eyes searching. When he disappeared around the back, Sebastian peered at the thick forest surrounding them. His leather shoes weren’t meant for running—let alone running in the Alps. Besides, Kyle had proven he was faster.

A moment later Kyle reappeared. He dropped down and examined under the porch, shining a small but powerful flashlight into the murk. When he seemed satisfied, he climbed the creaky wooden stairs and landed a powerful kick to the front door. After another, it splintered and gave way.

Inside, it hadn’t changed much from Sebastian’s dim childhood memories. The utilitarian, wooden furniture was a marked difference from the opulence Arrigo usually favored. The cabin was a snapshot in time, with an ancient wood-burning stove and no electricity. Kyle lit the lantern sitting on the solid old table and began searching.

Sebastian watched as he methodically explored the room. There was no bedroom, and the bathroom was an outhouse. A double bed sat against the wall in one corner, and when Sebastian sat on it, the springs creaked.

It seemed as if Kyle forgot he was even there as he hunted, and Sebastian wondered if the keys were still in the sedan. Doubtful, and even if they were, he didn’t think he’d be fast enough to get to the car before Kyle caught him. He thought again of Kyle’s hard, strong body pressing him down into the ground. How his mouth had tasted the night before. The jolt of excitement and pleasure when he’d pushed his finger inside Sebastian.

Abruptly he stood and began pacing. Kyle’s attention was now on the wood box beside the stove, where a few pieces of chopped wood remained inside. Sebastian couldn’t imagine his father would have hidden a chemical weapon in there and was about to say as much when Kyle pulled firmly on the box and it slid out, revealing an old metal safe about three feet high.

Sitting back on his heels, Kyle inspected it. He leaned in closely, turning the knob this way and that.

“Can you crack it?” Sebastian asked. The sooner they got the powder, the sooner he could…what? What exactly was he going to do? Kyle had promised to help him, but, realistically, Sebastian knew Kyle was just as likely to put a bullet in his brain the minute he had what he wanted.

“Of course. It’ll take some time. The older safes are actually harder. Fingerprint scanners and other modern gizmos make it much easier.”

“How?” A deeply unpleasant thought occurred. “Do you…cut people’s fingers off?”

At this Kyle smirked. “Only when I have to.”

“That’s really comforting.”

“Most people don’t wipe off the fingerprint scanner. You just need to lift the print from the scanner itself, and you’re in.”

“Good to know.” Sebastian peered out the small front window. The wind had begun howling, and the pane shook slightly. Outside, visibility was poor and getting worse as night settled in. Fantastic.

“Get my bag from the car. Backseat.” Kyle glanced over his shoulder. “I have the keys, so don’t even think about it.”

“If you have the keys, how am I supposed to get in?”

Kyle raised an eyebrow as he pulled the keys from his pocket and pressed a button. Sebastian could hear the faint chirp as the car unlocked. “Hurry up.”

Yes, sir,” Sebastian muttered under his breath.

Outside he gasped at how much colder it was now that night had fallen. Slipping in the wet snow and mud, he rushed to the car and flung open the back door. A brown duffel bag sat on the seat as promised. Sebastian grabbed it and hurried back to the cabin.

He dropped the bag by Kyle and eyed the stove. “Can we start a fire?”

“No. This won’t take long.”

Sebastian wrapped his arms around himself and grumbled as he resumed pacing. “At least you have a jacket.”

Apparently ignoring him, Kyle pulled out a leather case from his duffel. He unzipped it and removed some kind of metal tool. “Any guesses as to what the combination might be?”

“How many numbers are there?”

“With this make and model, should be five.”

Sebastian pondered. Should he really try to help Kyle break into the safe? Perhaps if his father’s men showed up, he could reason with them. He thought of the cold, dark eyes of the man in the garage and sighed. Just get this over with. “Try fifty-two, sixteen, thirty-eight, seven, twenty-five.”

Kyle turned the dial, alternating left and right. He turned the handle, but the safe remained locked. “Nope. Try again.”

“I don’t know. Maybe a different combination of those numbers. They’re all to do with my nonna. This is her place, so he would probably have been thinking of her when he set the combination. Or he was thinking of something else entirely. I don’t know.”

Kyle tried a few more iterations of the numbers before reaching for another tool. He worked silently, head close to the metal door of the safe as he listened with something that looked like a modified stethoscope. After ten minutes of pacing, Sebastian felt like he had to break the unnerving quiet.

“So, how do I know you’re really a spy and not just some mercenary?”

“I’m really a spy,” Kyle said as he turned the dial on the safe.

Sebastian studied him. Kyle seemed like he was telling the truth, but then so had Steven. “You got lucky with the guard monitoring the cameras. Father said he was watching football. If he’d been doing his job, they would have caught you.”

“It wasn’t luck. The man’s a huge AC Milan fan. Our contact made sure he was working the cameras that night. And I’m fast. It might have been closer, but they wouldn’t have caught me.”

A spy would have contacts who could arrange things like that, wouldn’t he? At least that’s how it worked in Bond films. “You’re awfully sure of yourself.” Sebastian shivered. “It’s freezing. Hurry up.”

“Well, shut up and let me concentrate. I only have one number left.”

“They’re always a lot faster in the movies.” Sebastian stalked over to the stove and opened the door. As he tossed a log inside, Kyle was suddenly there, whipping him around, fingers digging into Sebastian’s arm.

He towered over Sebastian. “I said no fire. I’m in charge, remember?”

Vaffanculo. Fuck you.” Sebastian tugged his arm free. He knew he was being childish, but he couldn’t stop himself. “I don’t take orders from you.”

“Yes, you do. Now get a blanket, sit down, and shut up.”

Sebastian stood his ground, toe-to-toe with Kyle. “No. Maybe I’ll take my chances with my father and his men after all. Anything would be better than being with you.”

Kyle’s jaw clenched and his nostrils flared. “Sit. Down.”

“Fuck. You.” All the anger and fear and tension of the day boiled over, and Sebastian shoved against Kyle’s chest.

A moment later he was tumbling backward, landing on the squeaky bed with Kyle on top of him. Kyle stared down, his gaze dangerous, Sebastian’s wrists in his hands. “Are you done?”

They were both breathing heavily, and as Sebastian struggled to free himself, he only succeeded in rubbing against Kyle. “Go to hell.” As punctuation he spit into Kyle’s face, his saliva spraying Kyle’s cheek.

For a long moment, Kyle was completely still, and a fresh, icy tendril of fear uncoiled in Sebastian’s gut. Too far. Then Kyle dove at him, tongue driving inside as Sebastian gasped. His body responded immediately as Kyle mastered his mouth, leaving him breathless.

Suddenly Kyle tore away and rolled off the bed, shoving Sebastian to the floor. Sebastian kicked and punched at him. “Get off me!”

Kyle ignored him as he lunged at the table, dousing the lantern and plunging the cabin into darkness as the first bullets shattered the window.

Read more in The Chimera Affair!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Go Ask Alice

One of the things people who vote for such homophobic amendments as the one that passed in NC often say they're doing it "for the children." I'm here to tell you, it does affect them, but probably not the way those bigots are hoping it will.

My young nieces and nephew were traveling with my parents when a break up song played on the radio and the girls sang along. Zach, six, demanded to know what the song was about.

"It's about a girl who broke up with her boyfriend and she misses him and wants him back," explained his grandmother.

With a dreamy sigh, Ellie, four, said, "I miss my girlfriend." Zach, always pedantic said, "No, no. You're a girl. You can't have a girlfriend. You have to have a boyfriend."

The oldest at eight, Alice said with long-suffering wisdom, "Well, in New York, she can have a girlfriend, but not in Virginia."

Even three years ago, Alice was already a veteran of the culture wars. When she heard about the plans in her state of Virginia (She may have been a tender six at the time. We don't know how she finds this stuff out, but we suspect she surfed the web in the wee hours of the morning.) to strip her aunts of every form of attachment to each other we'd created, health care proxy, life insurance, etc., she was devastated at the thought that her aunts would be "illegal" in her home state. Not only would we be unable to visit her, she reasoned, but we would be taking a huge risk just driving through on our way to someplace else. Poor kid, this really plagued her. The worries kept her up at night. Oh yes, "think of the children."

Alice told her mom she wanted to work against the passage of the law, against the amendment to "make her aunts illegal." She went to meetings. None of this was created or encouraged by the adults in her world. She just couldn't handle the idea that people would be so mean. Despite the efforts of other fair-minded people, Virginia continues to be well, not so much for lovers outside the margins of approved, church sanctioned reproductive ones.

Now at eleven, Alice understands that while the states might seek to limit the rights of her aunts and other loving committed couples, the tide is turning. She worries about our rights, but not that we are "illegal." In fact, the spark of activism, I'm sad to say, seems to have been smothered under cynicism. She now prefers to get her news from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. If the people so intent on "protecting children" would talk to Alice, maybe they'd see that all their hatred and fear is doing is creating a generation that will mock their pathetic bigotry with a well-timed eye-roll and a "Seriously?"

The only thing they really want to save is their tiny narrow view of the world. Go ask Alice to explain it to you, haters.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Introducing Madison Aubrielle

As many of you probably know, I've been a little busy the last few months. Being pregnant has been a huge blessing and a bit of a hindrance when it came to keeping up with all my online responsibilities. However, that is now a thing of the past. I'm thrilled to share that my little girl, Madison Aubrielle, was born on April 24th. She weighed 9.96 pounds and was 21.5 inches long. It kind of blows my mind that she'll be two weeks old tomorrow. 

Here's a couple of photos for you guys!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hounded By Love

Oh, how exciting, Keira and I share a release date with Loose Id! Valerie did a great job on the cover art for The Chimera Affair, and that title definitely has my interest. Congrats, Keira!

My newest release, Hounded By Love, is also set to come out on May 15th. Enjoy an excerpt below the April Martinez cover art.

Chapter One Excerpt

The music pulsed through the Hound’s veins as hundreds of hands reached up in the air, some waving back and forth, others pumping fists, all over heads nodding to the beat with lips either chanting lyrics or screaming, squealing, and hooting satisfaction and encouragement. The Hound wailed into the microphone one last time as the music crashed to a close around him. The stage lights, on cue, swung from him and the band to bathe the crowd in long strokes of disorienting light and darkness. Warm, sweaty bodies surged against the stage with adulating expressions on upturned, pretty faces.
The Hound crouched at the edge of the stage, shaking hands and blowing kisses. Adrenaline raced through his system. He flew on its high, and, as with every performance, he felt like he’d never touch down again. Behind him, his band toyed with instruments, chords shooting out of huge black speakers to dive and swoop over the crowd, combating their own noise while punctuating applause and teasing the senses. They waited for him, the other musicians. The band called themselves Hecate’s Hounds, but he was the Hound, their hound, the face, the voice, and the irresistible magnet for the screaming fans. And the Hound loved every minute of it.
He squeezed a hand and drew a beautiful redheaded woman closer. He leaned in, staring into her bright green eyes, but only after taking a long stare deep into her damp, plump cleavage. “Party with me,” he said with a husky, show-worn voice.
His proposition rang out over the speakers. The crowd approved. Screams rose, crested, and waved away as the audience shouted themselves hoarse. The redhead nodded, and the Hound kissed her hand, letting his gaze fall over her breasts once more before he backed away.
He lifted the microphone to his lips and shouted, “Thank you!” He raised a hand. “What a great crowd of sexy, sexy people!” They answered louder than before. “Hush…” He paused. They simmered but didn’t quiet. “Hush,” he whispered again. They cheered and screeched, but the Hound didn’t really want the silence he requested. The celebration of joy undulating through the audience buoyed his mood like a drug. They were his addiction. He smiled. They squealed. He lifted a hand. They shouted. He shook his head and opened his mouth, prepared to speak over the noise, because he’d never expect them to wait quietly for him to continue. “Because you’ve been so wonderful.” He paused, flashing a wide, wicked grin. “We have one more song. Just. For. You!”
The band blasted into a high-energy song with a quick, deep bass beat and a hypnotizing rhythm. The Hound forgot about the redhead and did the one thing he could always rely on to set his soul ablaze. He sang.
* * * *
The long hallway between the drop-off behind the stage and the dressing room had been built with a low ceiling and close walls, made narrower with fans packed in along both sides, all waiting and hoping to be picked by the band to attend their aftershow party. Hecate’s Hounds had a reputation, and they rarely failed to live up to the rumors.
Sebastian Korba, Bas to his friends and the Hound to his fans, led the procession through the throng. He paused in front of a short young woman in a lime-green minidress and black boots sporting buckles that matched the thick black dog collar around her neck. Her bleached-blonde hair, piled high on her head, trickled down in skinny tresses to frame her flushed face. Her wide-eyed gaze openly ravished Bas as he paused in front of her. He raised a hand and brushed his thumb down her cheek and along her full pink lips. “Wanna party?” he asked in a deep, gravelly stage whisper.
She bit her lower lip, her excitement leaking through in a soft, muffled squeal. She nodded her head vehemently. “Oh yes,” she said. She turned her head to grin at her friend, who managed to look both happy and disappointed.
Bas held out a hand. The blonde took it and asked, “Can I bring Callie?”
Bas glanced back at his band. Each member, including Phee, the one woman in the band, stood by chatting with fans and choosing companions for the evening. Phee had her hand on the thin chest of a pretty young man with heavy eyeliner and blackened lips. Another lovely choice. Bas wondered how he’d walked right past the guy, who was usually his type when he ached for a sexy mouth to relieve his postshow adrenaline rush.
“Who’s Callie?” Bas asked, trying to remember if he’d met a Callie recently. The guy was cute, but Phee had her bright pink claws in him now, and Bas found he didn’t much care that she did.
“My friend, silly.” Bas looked at the blonde smiling up at him and realized he didn’t know her name. He couldn’t remember the last girl either. Or that hot androgynous guy in riot boots and mesh sleeves who’d blown his mind blowing his—
The girl shook his arm, snapping him out of that nameless memory. “So…you, me, and Callie?” She lifted her hand, her fingers intertwined with her friend’s. Both girls wore black leather bands around their wrists, and black stringy bracelets slid over them as they moved. A package deal. A common fantasy of his, and yet his high from the stage faded as he contemplated the two girls before him.
Bas snorted and dropped her hand. “Never mind,” he said and started toward the dressing room door.
“Okay,” she shouted after him. “Just me.” He barely heard her words as they sank past the jumbled memories of faces, all blending together into sweat and sex. “Hey, what the heck! Aren’t you the dog?”
“The Hound,” he muttered under his breath. He slammed the dressing room door hard enough for the sound to reverberate through the small space despite the cacophony of screams, shouted words, and offers of endless pleasures just outside. He stalked into the middle of the room, looking for something to hit, throw, or otherwise vent his frustration on. The only thing within reach was Daisy, her tail curled around her legs as she watched him with her soft dark eyes. He would never hurt her.
“Don’t give me that look,” he told her, and turned his back to his best friend. Hound eyes could appear so full of pity, and Bas certainly felt pitiful tonight. He hadn’t started out to become the dog his nickname implied. It was, after all, just a nickname, and only because of the band’s name. Yet he’d never complained about the attention, the infatuation, the obsession. He’d reveled in it. The scantily clad women, the pretty young men, the constant drinking, fucking, and singing had all come together so well. Too well. Yet now Bas sneered at nothing and no one, disgusted with the thoughts barking for attention in his mind; being nothing but a dog meant nothing.
He flopped down beside Daisy and aimlessly stroked her long, soft ears. “If I have to be a dog, I’d rather be you, girl.” Daisy yawned and stretched before settling down with her head resting on his thigh. He smiled and cooed softly to her. “You’re loyal and loving…nothing like me. Why do they call male sluts dogs anyway?” 

* * * *
Hounded By Love will be released by Loose Id on May 15th. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Cover!

And a new book to go along with it, of course. Introducing The Chimera Affair, a contemporary spy romance being released May 15. I'll be back then to tell you more about it, but here's a little something to whet your appetite in the meantime:

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