Saturday, December 6, 2014

Giving Thanks

It's a little late for an actual Thanksgiving post, but since I asked everyone what they were thankful for this year, I thought I'd go ahead and post what I'm thankful for too. I guess what I'm most thankful for is that my list is so long. For the sake of this post, I'll try to trim a little.

Always, I'm grateful for my kids. They're hilarious, kind, and generous. They amaze me every day.Their friends are pretty great and I'm thankful for them too.

I'm thankful for my family and my friends who warm my heart and keep me going when things seem rough.

I'm grateful for the wonderful people I've met this year--other writers who inspire me and are incredibly kind, readers who make my day when they drop me a message or leave a comment somewhere, everyone I've ever had an exchange with at DSP, and the folks I've made friends with along the way this year. I've been truly blessed.

And, yes, I'm grateful for BOOKS. I have so many, but I keep buying more. It really does feel like an addiction, but it's a healthy one, so I'm okay with that.

This one may seem silly, but when I was driving home last night, I realized how thankful I am for all the people in the neighborhoods putting up holiday lights. It really cheers me to drive by and see them twinkling so merrily. It feels like a little gift from a total stranger and it's one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.

So, okay, I kept it short for the blog, but I hope everyone out there has things to be thankful for--big and small.

One last note! Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the giveaway post! It was a joy reading your responses. Congrats to Vicki, Kezia, and Sula who won an audio download of A Simple Romance. When my lovely assistant (see: my lovely sister) was pulling the names from an actual hat, two stuck together, so I decided the universe was telling me I needed to give three away. Winners have been notified via email. :)

Happy Holidays, everyone! Or, ya know, Happy Festivus if you prefer!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ben and Gavin

So I’m getting this posted months after my original deadline, but, uh, just under the most recent one, so that counts for something, right?

Originally it was supposed to be a smutty little flashfic, but, good lord they ran away from me.

Anyway! I just wanted to say thanks to all the amazing readers who’ve enjoyed The Last Thing He Needs. I’ve met so many awesome people in the last few months, and I’m incredibly grateful for each one.

One quick reminder! If you haven’t checked out the giveaway post for A Simple Romance audio edition, there’s still time! I’ve gotten a couple of comments and PMs, so, ya know, the more the merrier. :)

Things to keep in mind when reading this:
It’s not edited. You’ll understand why I love editors because, dude. I need them. Also, this isn’t a proper short story, it’s really just a backstory for Ben and Gavin. 18+ only, please! There’s only one smutty scene, but it’s definitely adult reading, IMO.

Title: The Best Parts
Characters: Ben and Gavin (Ben was briefly introduced in The Last Thing He Needs)
Word Count: 11K+

[Edit: I was in such a rush yesterday, I didn't realize my lovely cover didn't show up in the post! *shakes fist* Let's try that again. Cover by my awesome friend Nico Jaye]


Friday, November 21, 2014

How about a giveaway?

Okay, I'm super excited about A Simple Romance being released on audio! I realized the other day that I've never actually done a giveaway on my blog, so, maybe it's time to fix that?

Since Thanksgiving is less than a week away here in the U.S., all you have to do is leave a comment telling me what you're thankful for this year and I'll put your name in the hat for the audio edition of A Simple Romance. I'll pick two winners on December 5th. :D

And, be on the lookout next weekend for a little something from Ben and Gavin!

Edit: In case you don't want to leave your email on the public blog, you can also PM me on Facebook or Goodreads!  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sex Positivity Blog Hop

When Grace R. Duncan came up with this idea, the response was probably overwhelming. What a great idea. Dedicating an an entire blog hop to sex-positive ideas? Sign me up!

I’ll be honest here: I like sex. No, I love sex. I love reading sex, watching sex, having sex, and I love talking about it. Sex is right up there in my top five favorite things in life. Next to coffee, rainy days, books, and family. You’d think that would make picking a topic easy, but not for me. Too many choices! It’s all good! Porn? Love it! Erotica? Yes, please! Masturbation? That’s the closest I get to playing sports.

In the end, I finally landed on a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: being a sex positive parent. It’s a hard one (sorry) to tackle, because like most parents, the idea of my kids actually having sex one day genuinely squicks me out. I’ve had conversations with my kids that have made me want to bleach my brain. But they’d never know that.

I think the first pivotal moment of how I would handle their sexuality came when (I’ve promised my kids I wouldn’t use their real names on my public blogs and such, so we’re going to go with the Borg naming system here) my oldest daughter, One of Four, was maybe three years old. I walked down the hall to check on the kiddos and found her in her room, on her bed, stark naked and drawing all over herself. Now, drawing on herself was nothing new. She did that all the time. This time, however, there was a rainbow line of ink from one leg, all the way up and then down the other leg. With lots of extra doodles around her bits. Hrm.

I wanted to tell her no, don’t do that, get in the bath. I cringed and clenched my jaw, felt the embarrassment and general ickieness of seeing her doing that… and then, in the flash of a second, a memory sprang to mind. I’m a little girl, around 5 years old. I’ve just gotten out of the bath and I’m sitting on the floor checking out my body. It’s not a sexual thing, it’s curiosity. There are places I can’t see unless I bend a certain way and, hey, what the heck is going on down there? I do a gymnastic-gold-worthy spread and shift around until I can get a good, upside down look. This is the exact moment my mother walks in and—horrified—yells, “Stop that! That’s nasty!” Seriously? There are parts of my own body that are nasty? I had no idea. Enter the shame. Shame that clings for years.

My daughter noticed me standing there and looked up. Her eyes were wide, like she knew she’d been caught doing something she shouldn’t do. My God, had I already instilled a sense of shame in her about her body? I hoped not. I told her, “Even though those pens are non-toxic and kid-safe, the ink might not be okay for your skin down there. Please take a quick bath to wash it off. And, remember, you need privacy when you touch yourself or look at yourself down there, so please close the door next time.”

A look of relief flitted across her face, then she shrugged and said, “Okay, Mommy.” and got in the bath. That was it.

This is the same kid, who, not even a year later, asked me how babies are made. I told her in the kid-friendliest terms I could think of because I had always said if they were old enough to ask a question, they were old enough to get an honest answer. I told her about boys having sperm and girls having eggs. I told her the sperm fertilizes the eggs and the woman gets pregnant. God, she is a smart little thing and she saw the huge, gaping hole in my story. “How does the sperm get to the egg?” Oh, God. I told her in the vaguest terms possible. “But… how does the sperm get out of the boy?” COME ON. When we closed that conversation, I ended with, “Just remember, that’s something for grownup people, not little kids.”

Her question: “Not even for practice?” >__<

Anyway. My oldest daughter was the one who, early on, instilled the… necessity for sex-positivity in me. I didn’t want her thinking it was dirty or bad or wrong. I wanted her to know that there are some things that are appropriate for kids (exploring your body safely, being curious, asking questions) and the rest is okay when you’re older. Much older, please.

Over the years, sex-positivity has been my fallback, my go-to when dealing with these kids. I was grateful for that attitude when I found my (at the time) 13 year old son sexting (in a tween sort of way) with a girl who wasn’t his girlfriend. And when my 16 year old daughter (yes, the same one who asked me about practicing making babies) asked me questions about masturbation and told me some stuff that made me wish for the MIB memory eraser thing. I was even more grateful for it when my youngest—only 11 at the time—told me she’s a lesbian. My answer? “I’m so glad you told me.” I hugged her tight, kissed the top of her head, and that was it. Her sexuality was a non-issue. She could’ve told me she’s a boy and wants to look into surgery options for when she’s older, or pretty much anything else and my response would’ve been the same. My kids know that about me.

When puberty started to rear its ugly head around our house, I had a talk with the kiddos. They’re all pretty close in age, so I gathered them around me and told them that it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. They could ask me anything, tell me anything, and I would listen, answer questions, and help them find information if I didn’t already know. I told them that they couldn’t shock me. That was a lie, but I wanted it to be true. I told them that if I hadn’t done it, seen it, or heard of it, I probably knew someone who has or who could put me in touch with someone who has. Then I showed them all how to put a condom on a cucumber.

The amazing thing about having that kind of attitude is… they talk to me. They tell me things. They listen to me. And, honestly, they teach me things. My oldest daughter schooled me about asexuality. I had a hell of a time wrapping my head around it—I love sex, remember? But she told me that she had expected better of me when I said, “That’s not even a real thing.” Shame on me! And good for her for calling me out on it and then educating me. That moment in time showed my daughter that I still have things to learn and it showed me that I still have attitudes that need to be adjusted sometimes, which I hadn’t realized until then. The whole conversation is precious to me because I got to see firsthand the kind of person my daughter is. She is bright, she is open-minded, and she is not afraid to tell people what’s what.

I got the same experience just a few nights ago when my mother was watching something on TV and someone said something about “all the genders” and my mother reacted the way most baby-boomers probably do. “There are two! What does he mean, all the genders?”

My youngest daughter—now 12—said, “Um, excuse you? There are two sexes, there are many genders.” I don’t think my kids would have the courage or even the knowledge to stand up and teach us these things if they hadn’t been given the tools and the freedom from an early age.

Two of my kids are now older than I was when I started having sex. That’s enough to add a few gray hairs to my head, but it’s reality. Kids have sex.

For a parent, it sucks. Sex is one more thing to worry about. When they were little, I worried about them falling and cracking their head open, eating dish soap, getting sick. I worried about predators and bullies (That fear never goes away, btw. They’ll be in their 40s and I’ll still make myself ill worrying about other people doing them harm.) and I worry about whether or not I’ve completely fucked them up. But worrying about them having sex? That’s a tough one. I don’t want to think about it. But… I want them to have full and happy lives. I want them to find partners who will treat them with respect, love them, support them. I want them to—above all—be safe.

And safety, when it comes to sex, means condoms. It means honesty. It means knowing yourself and letting your partner(s) know you. How do you teach a kid that? My best guess, my only answer, is to raise them to be comfortable in their own skin. To not take shit from anyone. To be honest with themselves and others. To communicate. To laugh. To have fun. And to always remember the golden rule: Don’t be an asshole.

That’s what I hope they take away from all those awkward conversations and all those squicky moments of terror. I hope they remember that they have the right to express themselves in whatever way they see fit. I hope they remember to let others do the same. I hope they remember that it’s okay to have their own boundaries and that it’s okay to firmly say no. But, that it’s okay to say yes, too. If that’s what they want. If it’s within the legal limits. If it’s within their comfort zone. I hope they remember that their rights—sexual and otherwise—begin and end with themselves. I think they get that. I think they understand, feel it deep in their bones. I think they own who they are and what they want. And I hope they surround themselves with people who do the same.

Bottom line: I believe having a sex-positive attitude when raising your kids spills over into every aspect of their lives. Why? I think being sex-positive means—in part, at least—allowing yourself to be who you are and allowing others to be who they are.

Meet the younglings:

One of Four; 16 years old: My oldest daughter is questioning her sexuality. She’s learning who she is and what she wants. She’s changing her mind every day. I’m letting her do what she needs to do. She’ll figure it out one of these days, and there’s no rush. She is an artist and a writer and she is a force of good in this world.

Two of Four; 15 years old: My oldest son is a gamer. He’s also a feminist. He is often the only person speaking up against a very loud crowd of online—and sometimes IRL—assholes who are spewing hate toward women or the LGBT community. I’ve seen him in action and it is brilliant, beautiful. He’s already a better man than a lot of adult guys.

Three of Four; 13 years old: My youngest son is autistic. Sexuality hasn’t come into his world yet. The most I’ve had to deal with is “It’s okay to touch yourself, but you need to go to your room.” I’ll deal with the rest as it comes up, just like I’ve done with the others. His journey will be unique and I’ll probably have to learn even more than I have already. And that’s okay. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He is our gift, our golden boy. My other kids are already fighting over who “gets him” when I die. We have a strange family.

Four of Four; 12 years old: My youngest daughter is a proud, happy lesbian who has (thankfully) been loved and respected by everyone she’s come out to so far. From her best friend’s Muslim family, to her Christian teacher, to her own diverse family, she has been welcomed just as she is. Like her sister, she is an artist, she is a firebrand, and she is the first person who will say “You are beautiful” to literally anyone because she thinks we all need to hear it more often.

So, in closing, be yourself, allow others to be themselves, and—because Four of Four is right—remember that you are beautiful.

I hope you all have a great weekend and be sure to check out the other stops on the blog hop!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

So, uh, Ben and Gavin still aren't ready. Round one of beta is done, at least! But, I don't know. I think it needs another scene. It will be posted eventually, though. I swear. Before the end of the year. Really. Maybe even before the end of November if I'm a very good girl. 
Before I forget, my awesome friend Nico Jaye  released a historical short M/M romance this week. I just bought my copy this morning so I haven't finished it yet, but I had a chance to see a bit of it when it was still a WIP. Nico is a cruel tease. I loved what I've read so far and I adore historicals, so, yeah, check it out! It's available on Amazon and pretty much everywhere else. :D

Anyway. Here's a little flashfic for Tommy and Bobby. I've only read it over once and didn't give it to any beta readers, so ignore any typos or, ya know, anything else that stands out as especially wrong. >_>

“Tell me again why this is so goddamn important to you.” Tommy tugged at his collar. He knew he was scowling, but he figured Bobby was lucky he hadn’t throttled him yet so the guy could put up with a few irritated looks.

Bobby was clearly trying to cover a smirk as he said, “Tell me again why you hate Halloween so much.”

With a shake to his head that made his wings flap behind him, Tommy told him, “First off, spending money on a costume is stupid. Especially for the twins, who are gonna outgrow ‘em before they can even wear the damn things again. Second off, the kids are gonna be jacked up on sugar for a week. Third off…” He didn’t bother with a verbal response. Instead Tommy made a wide gesture with his hands, up and down his body so Bobby could take in the full effect of his outfit for the night. A black leotard, for starters, topped off with a set of giant purple butterfly wings. And, most importantly, glitter from head to toe.

Thankfully, all the other kids were off at school dances and Halloween parties, so only the twins could see him in his humiliation.

Zoe looked up at him from the stroller and grinned. She was dressed up like a flower and Max was a bumblebee. Tommy hated to admit it, but they were pretty damn cute like that. Max was busy pulling at the antennae bobbing on the top of his head and didn’t so much as glance at Tommy.

Leaning close to Bobby, Tommy hissed, “And, I find it pretty fucking hard to believe that you were gonna wear this getup. I find it harder to believe that you promised Zoe. And, harder still to believe that you got called in suddenly. I call bullshit on the whole thing.”

Some strange mix of amusement and guilt mingled on Bobby’s face. Tommy had nailed it and they both knew it. “Let’s just say Colleen owes me fifty bucks now.”

“Unbelievable!” Tommy groaned and tossed his head back. “Fifty bucks? This was only worth fifty bucks to you?”

Bobby laughed and wrapped an arm around Tommy’s shoulder. “She’s saving up for a car. Besides, just knowing I could get you to do it was reward enough for me.”

“If you wanna keep your hand, you better get it off me, Copper.”

Zoe looked up at them again just as Bobby let out a bark of laughter. Kids in all kinds of costumes raced past them and the twins were eager to get moving. “Let’s go!” Zoe said in her little two-year-old munchkin voice.

“We’re goin’, keep your petals on.”

She giggled for him and kicked her feet. Max finally managed to tug the antennae off his head.

Tommy leaned in again and whispered to Bobby, “When you get home, your ass is mine.”

“My ass is always yours, and you know it.” Bobby grinned at him as he shifted closer for a quick kiss.

They were standing at the end of Judy’s driveway, out in the open for all the neighbors to see, but Tommy was past caring about that kind of shit. If they didn’t like it, they shouldn’t look.

“Yeah, well, don’t you forget it.” With one more quick kiss, Tommy added, “Be safe tonight.”

As Bobby pulled back he said, “I want a picture of you three.”

“Over my dead body.”

Bobby laughed again and turned up the driveway. He only had a half hour to get ready for his shift. The bastard.

“Trick-or-treat, Tommy!” Max said, waving his antennae at him.

“Trick-or-treat, kiddo.” Tommy unlatched the break and started to move the stroller down the street. “The things I do for you people.”

His wings flapped with every step.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fabulous 5 Blog Hop

Okay, I know I'm well past my own deadline on Ben and Gavin's first time, but that doesn't surprise anyone who knows me! Since I'm so late for *that* post, maybe I should get off my butt and post my answers to the Fabulous 5 Blog Hop!

I was tagged by the amazing Piper Vaughn.

What am I working on?

Ha! That kind of depends on the day? I have several (too many?) projects going, so, have a list!

Ben and Gavin’s (untitled) first time is almost ready for beta. What was supposed to be a little 2K erotic scene to get me writing again turned into a short story because letting those two talk to me was A Bad Idea.

Irrevocable (working title) is Monty’s story. A lot of readers loved to hate him and, well, I wanted to slap him too, but he’s not such a bad guy once you get to know him. Skip liked him well enough to throw away several years on him. And, I really like watching his new love (yes, love!) interest rake his ass over the coals on a regular basis.

Breakthrough is a short story about an older man who finds love in an unexpected place. I’ve been polishing that one for a while now and it’s nearly ready for a second round of beta.

Between Now and Never is a novella dealing with life in the closet, suicide, and second chances. The angst in that one pretty much guts me, so it’s slow going for now.

I’ve got a few others on the backburner, but those are the ones I’m hoping to finish by the end of this year. Which means I'll be lucky to get them finished before the end of 2015. >_<

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

This is kind of a cheat answer, because it applies to all the authors I’ve read in the M/M Romance genre, but I think (hope?) my characters feel real and unique to readers and my dialogue seems natural. I think we all take parts of our real life, or people we know or have met, and weave bits and pieces of them into our stories, so each story and each character is as different as the author writing them. It’s really one of the most beautiful things about writing, or any art form for that matter. Give ten authors the same prompt and you’re going to get back ten very different stories. Shifters, BDSM, fluffy romance, full on erotica, mystery, time travel… and every character would be different. That’s amazing, isn’t it?

Why do I write what I do?

My first thought is simply “because I love it” but I love high fantasy novels and mysteries too. I couldn’t write one worth reading.  I guess I write what I do because those are the characters who speak to me. They pop into my head and tell me their stories and I write them down. I’ve written a couple of (unpublished) het stories too, but M/M Romance is simply where my heart is.

How does my writing process work?

Lol, when it’s working, it usually goes something like this: I hear a song or see someone on the street corner or have a dream and I start to see their story play in my head like a movie. I write down the scene, then the characters start talking. I pound out 10K or so and then read it back and maybe don’t hate it. Then I keep writing a few more days, get to the halfway point, start making notes on what I’ve written and maybe a few points of what I think is going to happen—because my first synopsis to a Dreamspinner nearly killed me. Seriously, I had A Simple Romance FINISHED for over a year before I sent it in because of the synopsis—then I usually take a break from it for a while. I come back to it, look at my notes and read what I already have, then I write some more. I almost never have a plan and pretty much everything you read is spontaneously written in fits and starts. When I finish, I’ll send it off to beta, then pick at it for a while. This is why it takes me roughly two years from spark of idea to sending it in with a query. I’m trying to get better and really focus on one project at a time, trying to get to a point where I can maybe send in a manuscript every 3-4 months, but, uh, that goal is probably a long way off.

The free reads I’ve done for Don’t Read in the Closet are a little different. I get two months for those. Nothing more. Two months. Which is why they’re usually very short. The first time I signed up for that event, I ended up getting horribly sick and then having to do a bunch of stuff for my best friend’s wedding. I wrote Pillow Talk in roughly four days. Maybe I just really need do-or-die deadlines?

Who’s next on the blog hop?

Kade Boehme, Hank Edwards, and RJ Scott! There were supposed to be five, but, uh, those three are fabulous enough to make up for the other two. >_>

Also, I was going to tag the wonderful Nico Jaye, but Piper got to her first. You can check out her answers here. :D

Monday, August 18, 2014

Context. And, perspective…

I could have titled this entry a lot of different things. Why I Shouldn’t Be Allowed Online Alone or Alienating Writers, Readers, and the WORLD in 140 Characters or LESS! Both spring to mind. But in the end, it really is about context. And, how I handle it (or anything else) is really about perspective.

Earlier today, while I was sitting in my car waiting for one of my kids, I was messaging a friend on Twitter. We were talking about a lot of things, but one of the main topics (of this conversation and maaaaany others) was how neurotic and basically crazy I am. That ALL writers are. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t WRITE. Who would volunteer to have a bunch of characters stomping through their head all day and night, waking them from deep sleep or making them pull over on the side of the road to make notes? Poking our brains at two in the morning. “Did you put that notepad next to your bed? NO? That was foolish. Boot up the laptop. Might as well put some coffee on, because it’s going to be THAT night! You’re welcome! :D”  You’d have to be a little crazy to love that. And, I do. I think most writers do. And, not just writers. I’m that kind of reader too. I stay up late, skip meals, ignore phone calls just so I can READ. We don’t just want to enjoy the books we read, we want to LOVE THEM. We want to be absorbed, we want to laugh and cry and feel all the joy and wonder that comes from walking in some character’s shoes for a while. Readers are just like writers in that respect. We are wonderful, gloriously crazy creatures. We are obsessive. We are dedicated. And we are eccentric. We love what we love, we hate what hate—or, better! We sometimes love what we hate, too—and we love to tell the world about it.

SO, anyway… When my friend, a fellow author, was worried that she was coming off as crazy and obsessed with someone in the publishing world she was working with, I told her that her questions/concerns weren’t too crazy and that she should see some of the authors on the message boards because they’re… eccentric. Now, I’m paraphrasing because I have NO IDEA the exact wording. Why? Because I realized SECONDS later that I didn’t send that as a PM, noooooo. NO. That was public! Because I’m just that awesome. Now, if our entire conversation had been public—with or without my realizing it—I wouldn’t have worried a BIT. Everything we talked about was true, a little self-deprecating, a little funny to anyone who’s been there, and—here’s the important part—in context, it was all positive. She was stressed and I made a flippant joke to make her feel better.

Once I realized what I’d done, with my heart pounding so hard it vibrated my seat, I managed to delete the tweet. Despite my shaking hands and the bile rising in my throat.

Context is a big deal. HUGE. It’s a make-or-break thing. 140 characters might not seem like much, but with a little context—or lack thereof, in this case—they can be pretty damning.

But that leads me to perspective. As I was sitting in my car, wishing I had an emergency Xanax rolling around, I was talking to a different friend. She listened and gave all the appropriate “oh nooooo” responses. Then I clicked on a link about something in the news. (Aside: Just me or is the world particularly shitty lately?) Then perspective sank in. I’d messed up—publically, no less—in a pretty bad way, one that could come off as a little dickish. But… I’m not being shot at. I’m not being bombed. I’m not in danger because of my orientation or the color of my skin. My children are fed and healthy and safe. They’re not dead in a street, or a desert, or the trunk of someone’s car. When I look at my life, everything I have to be thankful for, everything I wish I could change about the world, all the hurt and pain... I’ve got it pretty good.

I may be the online version of a klutz who stumbles headlong into a wall while simultaneously flipping a bowl of boiling soup into someone’s crotch, but I’m doing pretty good otherwise. Sorry if you got splashed with my soup fumble, though.

…I guess that’s not the best example. Hot soup to the crotch doesn’t really improve with context.


So, I will forge ahead and stop sweating over every typo or, ya know, public-instead-of-private message, and keep trying to get it right with social media. God help me.

NOW, to keep this blog from becoming the place where I list my sins and mortifying moments, here’s a (very!) little teaser for something I’ve been picking at. I hope to finish it and post it this month.  I also hope you’ll be distracted enough by it not to realize what a blundering ass I am. Or at the very least, forgive me for being a blundering ass. >_<

The club was jumping, hot and loud—just the way Gavin liked it. He’d been dancing with one of his friends all night, hoping that Ben would take his invitation and meet him there. It was his eighteenth birthday after all, and Ben had been keeping him at arms-length for an entire year. Ever since they met. But tonight? Gavin was finally legal and he knew how he wanted to celebrate.