Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Panelist

Hello, and I hope you all had fantastic holidays, and are planning to enjoy ringing in the New Year! (I had been planning to ring it in on GMT with my kids -- that makes for a convenient after-dinner celebration -- and then turn in early, because we author/editors know how to get down and par-tay. But my circumstances have changed, so I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing, now. Anyone with ideas, post them in the comments!)

One of the delights the last week has brought me is the first tentative schedule for MarsCon and my panel assignments -- about which, I might add, I am extremely excited!

In the past, MarsCon has more or less limited the Adults Only programming to Saturday nights, due mostly to space restrictions, but they're in a new, bigger hotel this year, so there will be adult programming both nights! (And kid-friendly programming all three days, which is why MarsCon kicks ass.)

I'm not posting times and locations here because both of those things are still in flux (check out the latest schedule updates at http://www.marscon.net/home/programming/main-programming), but the panel assignments are not likely to change significantly in the next three weeks, so here's where you'll be able to find me, if you happen to be attending MarsCon:

Friday night:
  • Opening Ceremonies - Just as it says, the con's opening ceremonies. I don't think I'll be doing more there than standing up and waving when my name is called. (But I'm pretty sure the time for this is set -- it will be at 6PM.)
  • The Horror, the Horror: The Life of an Erotica Editor - This will be me and four other panelists talking about the seamy underside of erotica editing. I may, in fact, print out some samples of some of the really awful stuff I've had to try to make publishable.
  • An Alien inside Me: Erotica from alien points of view and orientations other than your own - Four panelists (including myself) talking about... well, just what the topic says. There's something compelling about putting yourself in someone else's brain... and having sex with someone else's body.
Saturday night:
  • Afraid of the Dark?: How far is too far for erotic genre romance? - More and more published erotica is skirting closer to subjects that are taboo -- and the sci-fi/horror/fantasy market is often at the forefront when it comes to characters who are in some way outside the mainstream, for good or ill. I and three other panelists will talk about those lines in the sand and the implications of crossing them. 
  • Iron Chef Erotica a la Carte - This is a pubic prompt-fic contest. Selected writers will be presented with a theme and given twenty minutes to write a story, after which they will read it aloud; the chosen judges will decide on the winner, who will go on to compete against the winners from several other small local cons at Balticon! Since I am unable to attend Balticon, I will judging rather than competing at this event.

Are any of you thinking of attending? If so, be sure to look me up, either at my panels or roaming the halls -- I might even get drunk brave enough to attend karaoke!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Interview'd!

Ah-ha, it finally happened! Check out my interview with Kristi, general manager of Torquere Press! (for you LJ folk, the link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmZO4KCWV6c)


(What an awesome freezeframe of my face YouTube picked for the thumbnail. Good thing I don't look dorky at all, there.)

Kristi and I talk about how I started out as a writer, and what I like to read, and we also discuss the weather, social media, coffee and tea, vacations and travel, shoes, movies and TV, and how I start my mornings.

And as a bonus, in the background behind me, you can see my kitchen and the one plant I've ever owned and not killed!

Slight Delay

Well, I was supposed to have been on a podcast interview with Torquere this past weekend, but we had to reschedule due to technical difficulties.

So this is kind of a placeholder entry; the interview should go live tomorrow, I think, and I'll link it when it does. It should be interesting, and hopefully fun!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trailer Park

On the off chance you hadn't heard already, I made a book trailer for Brainsss. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out (sorry, LJ folks; the Blogger/LJ crosspost strips out everything but text. But you can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRdQSbMJi_E):


There were some interesting challenges I had to get through to make this trailer.

First and foremost was deciding to do it at all. I really don't like the sound of my own voice that much, and I knew making a trailer like this was going to involve recording myself and then listening to the playback a whole bunch of times. I even thought about trying to find someone else to do the story summaries.

The next (and ongoing) challenge was learning the software. My laptop came with iMovie installed, but this was the first time I'd ever fired it up. (Yeah, seriously.) Though to be honest, this was a pretty minor challenge. I'm not a programmer any more, but a) I am not afraid of screwing around with software to see what it will do, and b) Apple generally makes a pretty tight product. I had some minor issues with figuring out how to do a couple of things, and I was minimally annoyed by a couple of limitations (which is why most really dedicated video bloggers use paid software, like Final Cut Pro). The biggest software challenge I had was when I was exporting the finished movie -- the number of options were enormous, and it took me a while to find a reasonable balance between resolution quality and file size. (My options ranged from a 6G HD-quality movie down to a barely-readable iPhone version for only 150K. The one I settled on is around 20M.)

Then I had to find the pictures. I couldn't just put up the book cover and leave it there the whole time if I was going to be reading all those individual story teasers -- I knew the thing would clock in at over two and a half minutes, and so the viewer would need something to look at. Zombie pictures were the obvious choice, but... well. There's a ton of zombie pictures on the web, but zombie pictures that are in the public domain, or else CC licensed for commercial use? Not so many. But I lucked out and found several that looked great, and in a few cases, were even particularly suited the stories I paired them with.

I was particularly pleased with the images that went with "W.O.L." (which includes a scene with a character getting his first look at a zombie through a thick window), "Delicious Caleb" (just for that tongue sticking out, really -- the zombie seems to be saying, "Mm, delicious!"), and "Two Guys..." (the image is not only silly enough to match the story's irreverent tone, but the main character has this thing about showers, so it was particularly appropriate).

The final challenge was in the music. I was originally going to let it slide without any music at all -- once again, there's this problem of finding something licensed for commercial use, and I'm not an audiophile, so I didn't relish the prospect of spending potential hours listening to public domain tracks so I could find one that would suit.

But then Lynn (yes, the same Lynn who wrote "W.O.L.") invited me to her Christmas party, which featured live music performed by one of Lynn's favorite musicians, Jonah Knight. (Yes, I am in that "groupie" picture.) Jonah writes creepy/horror/sci-fi/fantasy music. And between the two sets, I was chatting with him, and I said, "So I'm editing this book of zombie romance stories, and would you be willing to let me use "The Dead Crawl From the Earth, Alive" as my background music on the trailer, if I credit you?" and somewhat to my surprise, he said yes. So there you have it.

Though I can't take credit for the bit at the end, where I finish talking and the lyrics you hear are, "It seems you can't control the undead." It worked out almost perfectly like that, and I was so happy about it that I futzed with the timing (by no more than about half a second) to make it work out more precisely.

In the end, aside from still not liking the sound of my recorded voice, I'm really happy with the way the video turned out. Almost as happy as I am with the book, which should be released on January 2. Mark your calendars and plan to set aside some of your Christmas money!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Sinner's Star - Release!

It's another release day! My story, "The Sinner's Star", is out in the anthology Ink from Torquere Press!


The anthology is about guys with tattoos -- yummy! -- and my story in particular is about Dope, an ex-con who thought his best friend, Rat, had died as they were fleeing a crime scene... right up until Rat shows up on his doorstep with a new tattoo, a lot of scars, a .45... and a grudge.

I really like this story. I'd had the notion for it almost as soon as the call for it came out, but I couldn't get the characters to gel, couldn't get them to go where I needed them to go. So I shrugged it off and put it away and went on with life. I came back to it about a month after my husband and I separated, only a week before the call deadline, and apparently the spark I'd been missing was a little extra anger to put me in touch with Rat, because once I started, the whole thing came boiling out all at once.

I do believe I promised you some release-day excerpts, did I not? This is the opening, not much changed since the taste I posted back at the end of August:
The knock on his door was staccato and brief, the kind of knock that heralds only bad news. Still, Dope did not expect to open the door and find himself staring straight into the muzzle of a .45.

Dope had stared down more than a few barrels in his life -- he'd come up hard, and things had only served to make him harder over the years -- but it wasn't the kind of thing a man ever got used to. At best, he'd learned to hide the reaction, the way his stomach flopped and his balls curled up tight and his throat suddenly went dry. Dope's outward reaction was pretty good by now. His jaw clenched and he rocked back on his heels, but he managed to avoid actually taking a step.

One thing he'd learned, last time he'd been in the joint, was that it was a mistake to look at the killing end of a weapon pointed at you. You had to look at the man holding it. Look him in the eyes. Sometimes, if you were a big, mean-looking sonuvabitch, like Dope was, if you looked hard enough, it would make them back down. And if not... Well, it showed in their eyes first, before they attacked.

Dope didn't figure any warning would be fast enough to matter when the weapon was a gun instead of a prison shiv, but he looked up anyway, let his gaze follow that cold steel barrel to the hand holding it, along the arm, up the neck to the face. The face had a lot of scars, especially on the left side, which was so pitted and seamed as to be grotesque. But it was the eyes Dope was looking for. These eyes were chocolate brown under the narrowed lids, cold as ice, pitiless as a crack whore on her last fix, and... familiar.

And another one, since you'd probably already read that back in August:

Rat smiled thinly. "You like my ink, Dope? Tats don't set well on scars, but my guy was one of the best." His free hand lifted, his thumb absently brushing over the design.

"God, Rat." Dope's throat was thick. "What the fuck did you do to earn a Sinner's Star?" A Sinner wasn't anyone you wanted to cross, if you were inside. Even the guards gave the Sinners a wide berth. Most of them were lifers, or the kind of repeat offenders who might leave, but you knew they'd be back inside of six months.

"None of your damn business, Dope," Rat snapped.

Amazon and B&N aren't showing the listing yet, but I'll update my assorted links when it shows up. In the meantime, the ebook is available at both Torquere's site and on All Romance Ebooks, and probably some other distributors quicker on their feet than Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And in a few weeks, it'll be available in print as well, from Amazon. I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Notes

I'm back! I took last week off for Thanksgiving, and quite a good holiday it was for me, despite some peculiar car trouble and then my house's heater giving up the ghost.

Nothing particularly exciting is happening today, so I thought I'd just drop a few little notes for you.

To start with: Next week will be the release of Ink from Torquere Press, including my story, "The Sinner's Star".

If I could write a blurb for "Sinner's Star", it would go something like this:
Five years ago, Dope's best friend, Rat, died as they were fleeing the scene of a crime they'd helped commit -- or so he thought. But now Rat's turned up on Dope's doorstep with a new tattoo, a .45, and a grudge... against Dope!
Tune in next week for the official release and some excerpts from the story!

***

Next up: If you recall, the amazing Kristina Wright had set up a blog for Duty and Desire; my interview is live now, so check it out: http://dutyanddesire.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/interview-elizabeth-brooks/

***

And finally: You guys, Brainsss is starting to pull together, and I couldn't be more excited if I'd written all these stories myself! They're so good. I seriously can't wait!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bloglink and Begging

Hey there! In celebration of the official release of Duty and Desire, the editor -- the lovely and talented Kristina Wright -- has put together a blog for it! She'll be posting interviews with the authors throughout the month, links of interest, and running specials and contests! (Right now: buy Duty and Desire and get another of Kristina's books for free!)

Check it out at http://dutyanddesire.wordpress.com/ !

And now for the begging...

I am one stupidly busy person. I have a full-time Day Job. I have two kids. I am a part-time editor for two different publishers (and my part-time editing for Torquere is becoming a much bigger part of my time as I step into the Sips editor role). I'm a writer. And I try, every so often, to have a social life.

It's not easy balancing all those things. Every one of them has suffered at one point or another, and every day, I have to make some hard decisions about how to rank those priorities, and I don't always make the right decision.

This is where I need your help -- and it won't even take that much out of you, I promise! Ready? Here it is:

Have you read something I've written? Please go and rate it. Rate it at Amazon or at Goodreads or wherever you bought it. A review with words would be even better, but that takes time and I get that's a lot to ask, after you've already gifted me with the time it took to read my story. But please, please, please post the simple star rating.

Be honest about it -- that's important. If you didn't like the story that much, go ahead and give it a lower rating. Give it the rating you think it deserves; I promise I won't be offended, and it will still help me. Seriously. The way ratings systems work, bad reviews are better than no reviews.

And as a bonus, as reviews and ratings roll in, I get a better feel for what my readers like, which helps me weigh and juggle those constantly-shifting priorities.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Duty and Desire: Release

Officially, Duty and Desire isn't released until next week, on the 13th, but the print version is already available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and the Kindle/Nook versions are available for pre-order, so I figure I might as well jump up and show it off!

It's got a fantastic lineup of authors (including Lynn!) and it's been reviewed by freaking Publishers Weekly, who said:
...18 red-hot tales of men and women in uniform that range from WWII-era Russia to modern-day Afghanistan. While celebrating the valor, not to mention hotness, of those who serve their country, this anthology commendably covers darker issues, including post-traumatic stress syndrome and serious injuries, and love of all kinds, both straight and gay. ... This touching and realistic lineup is highly recommended.
How awesome is that, I ask you?!

So in celebration, how about a little excerpt from my story, "Dead On Her Feet"?
Jamie kept her eyes closed, even though the plane was descending and she couldn't sleep. Tired wasn't the word. Exhausted wasn't even the word. Dead on her feet came somewhere close. Non-essential travel, like finally coming home after two years in the God-forsaken desert, was slow. And frustrating. She'd caught a supply truck from her unit's camp that ran three hours into the city base, and then waited around for most of a day for a military transport plane that had room for her, which had flown eight hours to Germany. Then it was a bus to take her to the commercial airport in Munich, where not a single ticketing agent could be found who spoke English. She'd made do, though -- a soldier made do, even in some crazy backwater where a shovel-dug latrine was a luxury and female soldiers couldn't leave base without escort and even the kids you were there to help hated you for the uniform on your back.

But this was Germany, which was friendly and civilized and the only thing in the way was words. That was easy, even allowing for her being tired and discombobulated from travel already. She'd pulled out her Blackberry and loaded up an atlas and pointed and zoomed and pointed and zoomed until she'd finally made the crisply-dressed, ultra-polite young man understand her destination. Then it was commercial transport all the way, with its much more comfortable seats but its annoying security protocols (didn't they understand how goddamn hard it was to get in and out of combat boots?) and its annoyed civilians. Munich to London, London to New York, in and out of customs and security, retrieving and then re-checking her duffel every time she went through customs in a new country...

Thirty-four hours on the move, now, and counting, dead on her feet, but this was the last flight, and her ears were popping with the descent. Maybe another hour, now, and then she'd step out of the Atlanta airport into the lush thick humidity of proper Southern air, maybe even one of those summertime afternoon deluges and she would stand there and just let the rain soak her right to the skin. And then she'd take a bus a couple of hours down into Georgia, to a tiny little town that no one had ever heard of who hadn't been born there, and then it was only a couple of miles from the bus depot to Casey's mama's house. To Casey.

Eyes still closed, Jamie's hand stole up to her shirt pocket where she kept the most important things: her passport, and the receipts for all those planes and busses, and her ID cards, and the cash she'd drawn to pay for food... and the picture of her and Casey at his sister's wedding two years back. She'd looked ridiculous in that bridesmaid's dress with her fresh-from-basic close-cropped hair and those mannish muscles on her bare shoulders, but Casey had looked so very, very fine in that tux, and he'd pulled her close while they danced and told her she was the most beautiful woman there, and they'd snuck off down to the basement and almost not made it back in time to see the cake cut, and luckily the tux jacket had covered where she'd got lipstick on his cummerbund.

She didn't take it out, not here on the plane where everyone around her would be able to see her face, but she didn't need to. She'd looked at it so many times back in her sweltering bunk back at camp that she had it memorized. It was the image she called up in her mind's eye when she was trying to ignore hostile allies and murderous opponents, drinking two gallons of water a day just to keep her sweat glands from going into revolt, her teeth crunching on the nasty grey dust as she got into it yet again with those clowns from HQ who couldn't comprehend why shit kept breaking and she began to wonder if "back home" had ever even existed or if it had all been some kind of elaborate mirage or heatstroke hallucination.

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't the best story in the bunch -- it's a light, sweet aperitif or sorbet of a story; the other stories have more meat and spice and kick to them. Still, I quite like it. I like its rhythm, I like the way I managed to capture the way she's so tired she's babbling even in her head, and I like the little sparkles of humor and frustration that make it feel real to me.

And the other stories, with their meat and spice and kick, are even better. Go check it out!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Day

Happy Hallowe'en, my dears!

Check out this gorgeous, perfect Hallowe'en moon that was waiting for me when I got up this morning:

What shall we do to celebrate the day? How about another excerpt from my spookiest story, "Succubus, Inc."?
Lucy turns one final sheet. "And sign here, and date... Thank you, Mr. Field." Lucy takes the pen from Field's unresisting fingers and schools her expression to hide her sense of triumph as she adds her own signature to the page. "Now then, let's get started." She takes his hand and draws him toward the bedroom.

He follows, but now that he has signed, his feet drag. "I don't recall a no-harm clause," he hedges.

Lucy laughs. "Well, you have been a very naughty boy," she says. "Don't you think you deserve a little punishment?"

"I... I guess so."

"That's one," Lucy warns. "You will address me as Ms. Morgenstern, or Mistress. Do you understand?"

Field's expression is uncertain, but his eyes are dilated and Lucy can see the bulge of his cock pressing against his pants. "Yes, ma'am."

"Mistress. Not ma'am. That's two."

"Mistress!" Field corrects himself quickly.

Lucy smiles and positions him at the foot of the enormous bed. "Better. But for speaking without permission, that's three."

Field opens his mouth to protest, but realizes the trap and closes it again quickly.

"Clever boy," Lucy purrs. "Now take off your clothes."

Oh, Mr. Field, just what have you gotten yourself into?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Doctor Tentacle's Release


Carter Jenkins has been with the cult hit show, Power Man, for eight seasons now, amassing a small but dedicated following as Power Man's nefarious (if slightly campy) mad scientist nemesis, Doctor Tentacle. On screen, Doctor Tentacle and the hunky Power Man sizzle with an undercurrent of sexual tension, but when the cameras stop rolling, it's the quiet, geeky intern/gopher, David, that Carter wouldn't mind getting his tentacles on. There's something about David that's captured Carter's attention like no one else ever has -- is it simple chemistry, or is Carter about to encounter a real mad scientist?

***

That's what my blurb would be for "Doctor Tentacle and the Pheromone Incident" if there was space for it on the back of Weird Science, an anthology of mad scientist m/m romances from Torquere Press released today! Not only am I in the anthology, but "Doctor Tentacle" is the very first story in the book!

In celebration, let's have a nice big excerpt, shall we?

Sploosh! Power Man, strength sapped by the venom of the guardian giant squid, leapt through the moon pool to land on the decking.

Doctor Tentacle, ready for the appearance of his nemesis, triggered the release of a net. "Power Man! So nice of you to stop by!"

"Doctor Tentacle! I should have known you were behind this nefarious scheme." Power Man fought to free himself of the netting's tangles, but the more he struggled, the more it tightened. "You can tie me up as tight as you like," Power Man said, "but it won't do you any good."

"We'll see about that, Power Man," sneered the evil scientist. "You may feel differently after a few rounds with my Tentacles of Terror!"

"Two can play at that game, Doctor. Set one foot outside this cozy little bubble of yours, and you'll find yourself dancing with my Power Eel!"

"Cut! And scene!" yelled Joey. "Don't go too far!" He immediately hunched into conference with the camera crew, reviewing the scene to make sure they'd caught all the angles they needed.

Carter Jenkins, a.k.a. Doctor Tentacle, dropped his leering pose and offered a hand to help Lance Day, a.k.a. Power Man, up from the floor. "I must be twelve," Carter chuckled. "That 'Power Eel' line gets me every time."

Lance smirked. "Good thing you don't have to say the line. There's no way you'd be able to avoid camping it up even more."

"Too true," Carter sniggered. "God, I'm starving. How many more takes do you think --" He broke off to watch David, the new intern/gopher/researcher, dance nimbly over the cables and props strewn on the floor to offer the actors their water bottles. David was almost as hot as Lance, though in a wiry, geeky way, in contrast to Lance's all-American square jaw and sculpted muscles. And Carter was pretty sure that, unlike Carter's co-star, David wasn't straight. Carter smiled gratefully and squirted a long stream into his mouth, careful to avoid mussing his makeup, while David waited to take the bottles back.

Carter sighed -- it was hot, under all the lights and makeup -- and then drew another deep breath in surprise, because David smelled amazing. Carter didn't usually care for cologne; he had even talked Lance into using unscented deodorant whenever the script called for Power Man to have Doctor Tentacle in a headlock. But whatever David was wearing was going straight from Carter's nose to his groin, bypassing his brain completely. He'd always thought David's tousled student look was sexy, but suddenly he wanted nothing more than to shove the younger man into a dark corner -- or better yet, a well-lit bedroom -- and devour him. Holy fuck, Carter thought, and, Down, boy, we're still shooting. Then, with wry humor, Well, you wanted to add more sexual tension to your performance.

Joey was coming back from his conference with the camera crew. Carter handed the water bottle back to David as he tried to shake off the sexual daze and regain his focus. But his eyes met David's as he was mumbling his thanks and, Oh, shit, I am so fucked. Was he imagining the echoed desire he saw in David's warm brown gaze? Carter took another slow breath, luxuriating in David's scent.

Weird Science is available direct from Torquere and All Romance, and it should eventually show up on Amazon and the other usual distributors as well. It will also be available in print from Amazon, if you prefer physical books.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cool Stuff

Today, apparently, was the day of extremely cool stuff happening to me as a writer and editor.

The first thing that happened was that I logged into Facebook and saw a post from the editor of the forthcoming Duty and Desire, which includes my short story, "Dead on Her Feet" (not to mention Lynn's "Snake Dance"), noting that freaking Publishers Weekly had a review of the anthology -- which is awesome -- and that they called it "highly recommended" -- which is beyond awesome. It might only have been awesomer (shut up, spellcheck, I'm a writer; I'm allowed to make up words) if one of the mentioned stories had been mine, but I'll be honest: my story in this anthology serves as more of an aperitif or a sorbet to cleanse the palate between meatier selections than as a featured course in its own right. Don't get me wrong, "Dead on Her Feet" is a very sweet little story and I quite like both the writing and the characters, but it doesn't contain a whole lot of punch.

Then I did some more work on editing the stories for the zombie anthology I'm editing, He Loves Me For My Brainsss. Which only served to remind me how frakking amazing and talented the authors are in this book. Seriously, I'm editing my little heart out, but mostly what I'm telling my authors is that they need to go to family therapy with commas and semicolons, which is honestly a ridiculously minimal problem to be having at the initial editing round. These stories are fun or funny or touching, the characters bicker and snipe and love each other deeply (sometimes all at the same time), the plots are witty and engaging and even surprising. And the authors themselves are remarkably responsive; I don't think I've yet written one of them and not at least gotten an acknowledging email back within a couple of hours. Tops. It's possible that this is going to spoil me for all future anthologies.

And finally, while I was working on that, I got an email inviting me to come to MarsCon in January. When the email notification popped up in the corner of my screen, I nearly ignored it. I saw "MarsCon" in the title and figured I'd gotten on the email list -- I've been going to this con for several years in a row -- and I assumed this was an email to remind me to register. But that little "new mail" icon burns at my soul and I can't leave it alone for long, so I went to open it, just to clear the notification icon... and it wasn't a mass mailing. It was an email inviting me to come to MarsCon as a guest, to participate in some of the late-night, adults-only panels. Last year, I attended a few late-night discussion panels as part of the audience, and I had a blast. The late hour (and age-restricted attendance) lent itself to some spicy, intimate, downright fun discussions. And this year, they want me to sit on the other side of the table? Holy eff, yes. I waited long enough to be sure that my kids would be safely stashed somewhere (the Almost-Ex agreed to swap custody weekends with me) before I sent back my barely-suppressed squee of agreement and made my hotel reservations.

(Funny but true: as the crow flies, it's less than a mile from my house to the convention hotel. But because of the wonky way the streets are laid out here, it's more like a five-mile drive. It's still very close by, and it seems ridiculous to get a hotel room when it's that close... but the last couple of years have taught me that if I have to get in the car to go somewhere I can change clothes or drop off my purchases, then it's not close enough. Especially if I'm going to be helping to moderate the late-night panels, I want to be able to just stagger back to my room and collapse rather than have to go out into the cold and drive home afterward.)

Add to that my continuing excitement over Seductress' release last week, and my anticipation for the release of Weird Science in two days (stay tuned for the usual Wednesday post, which will feature buy links and some celebratory excerpts!), and today was just a very, extremely fantastic day to be a writer/editor.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall For A Seductress

Yesterday was the official release for Seductress: Erotic Tales of Immortal Desire, available in both print and Kindle formats from Amazon.Com and other resellers. The print book is up at Barnes and Noble, but they don't have a listing for it on the Nook yet. I assume that will happen eventually.


The book contains my story, "Succubus, Inc.", about Lucy, CEO of a highly successful adult entertainment service, and Richard Field, a client who's fallen behind on his payments. In celebration of the release, here's an excerpt:

"But... what do you expect me to do? I just told you, there's nothing left!" Field's anger has drained in the face of his sudden hopelessness.

Lucy lets the moment stretch, wanting Field to absorb every nuance of his damnation. She flips slowly through his file without actually reading it, watching him sidelong as the quiet rustle of the turning pages urges him to despair. Finally, when she can see he is verging on true desperation, she says, "Because you have been such an exemplary client in the past, Mr. Field, we are prepared to offer certain... nonmonetary payment options."

Field looks up, wary. "What kind of options?"

Lucy smiles. "Employment, of a sort. Jasmine, please take Mr. Field to the Executive Suite while I put the release package together for him to sign."

"Of course, Ms. Morgenstern."

"What kind of release package?" Field is struggling to stand again.

Lucy comes smoothly to her feet. In her heels, she is taller than him by an inch or so, and Field shrinks into himself a little, unconsciously, as he looks up at her. "It's all very standard," she assures him. "Succubus has a highly successful video line of 'real-life' encounters. Go on with Jasmine, and when I join you shortly, we can go over it in as much detail as you like."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Got My Hands On A Hard Co-

-py. Hard Copy. Where did you think that title was going? (I hope it was somewhere naughty.)

I got a package (heh) in the mail yesterday containing my two contributor copies of Seductress. That makes it the second time I've actually held a volume in my hands and seen my name in honest-to-gosh print! (And two more yet to come before the year is out!)



Oh, my goodness, this is a pretty book. And while the official release date isn't until next week, it looks like the print paperback is available now -- and is only one dollar more than the Kindle or Nook versions, in any case.

And for those of you who are following me here because you're loyal friends, but not really into the "gay romance" thing -- Seductress has no m/m stories in it (though I think there's one or two f/f), and leans far more on the "erotica" than the "romance" part of the genre. In fact, many of its stories (including my own "Succubus, Inc") are closer to erotic horror than erotic romance.

If you're intrigued, but not sure, come back next week -- I'll be posting some choice snippets from the story in celebration of the official release.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stepping Out

I don't know how much of this is meant to be kept under wraps, so I'm erring on the side of caution. I'm sorry if this ends up being confusing or vague; I'll fill in the blanks when I'm sure I can.

I got an email yesterday from one of the publishers that I'm working with, offering me what is, in essence, a pretty significant promotion as an editor. It would mean more responsibility and more work -- lots more work.

Just reading the offer dropped me onto that trembling line between euphoria and terror. It's a feeling I've had before, a sign that something wonderful is within my grasp, if only I can be brave enough to reach for it, and strong enough to hold it. I feel like a young bird, balanced on the edge of the nest, dreaming of flight but uncertain of my wings.

But as I was reminded, in talking to my friends, sometimes you can't let the cost of failure rule you. Sometimes, you have to just let go, and trust in yourself.
I accepted the offer. I stepped over the edge.

Just now, in the time before the full weight of the responsibility is handed over, I feel a little like I'm falling. But I refuse to look down, because I am trusting my wings to unfurl before I land.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Uh-oh

Oh, man, it's Wednesday again, and I don't have a thing to report.

The problem, I think, is that I've been fighting this extremely nasty cough for several weeks now. Coming up on a month, for petesake. I've been to the doctor three times, even, so it's not like I'm just being stubborn. This cough just does not want to let me go.

You know what's extremely unsexy? Coughing a lot. It's exhausting. My head hurts from the pressure buildup. My stomach aches from clenching those muscles. My throat is sore -- not from true symptoms, but from the constant abuse of the cough. And whether it's the illness or the Special Happy Fun cough syrup I've been taking, I'm exhausted all the time. I went home early from work two days last week, and all I did was go home and go to bed until nearly dinnertime -- then got up, ate, and went back to bed. I have no energy left over for anything like a sex drive.

And if I'm feeling unsexy myself, I certainly don't have the drive to motivate anyone else's sex life.

But never fear! I will come through with some entertainment... I send you onward to fellow author Rowan McBride's tumblr, where she posts all kinds of stuff. Lots of it is incredibly hot pictures, but lots of it is just downright interesting, wonderful, and fun. I mean seriously fun, check this one out:


Go ye forth, and check it out: rowanmcbride.tumblr.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Four Things Make a Post

I got the cover art for the Weird Science anthology, coming out next month! Check it out!


Is that not cool? And it's pretty much exactly what I envisioned as the "show" set for my story, "Doctor Tentacle and the Pheromone Incident", which is about a man who plays a mad scientist on a TV show, and the show's gopher/intern, who just might be a real mad scientist in his spare time... It was a fun story to write, and I can't wait to see it in print!

***

I know I promised you pictures from the Roanoke Pride Festival, but... we didn't get there until late in the day, and either half the vendors had already left because of the rain, or else it was much lamer than last year. And to make matters worse, the friend I was with had an asthma attack from all the cigarette smoke in the air. So we only stayed for about an hour, and no, I didn't spot Jesse.

I did kiss a queer, though. I made some quip to my friend about putting onions on my cheeseburger "because it's not like I'm going to kiss anyone today, anyway," and the sweet, 60-ish man running the burger stand said, "Don't be too sure of that!" and leaned over the counter and puckered up.

***

And in further news, I've signed on as a part-time editor with JMS Books. I'm excited for this -- I've met JM a couple of times in person, and she's fantastic, and it's also great to be expanding that part of my resume.

***

And finally, the contest! My winner is umchic on LiveJournal -- drop me an email at liz (dot) brooks (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send you a copy of Assumption of Desire!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Contest?! A Contest!

Last year, I went to the Roanoke Pride festival to help out with a vendor table. I had a fantastic time, and it even spawned my story, Assumption of Desire. So this year, I'm going back!

Only this time, I'm not going as a vendor -- I'll be with a friend and her aunt. (I should print out a copy of Assumption to take with me, just in case I run into the "real" Jesse who inspired the story.)

And just because I'm excited to be going back to this fun festival, let's have a contest! Leave me a comment here or on my Facebook page, and next week, when I'm back from the festival to post pictures, I'll draw a name to receive a copy of Assumption -- which is, in my opinion, probably the single hottest thing I've ever written. (Or, if you already have that, one of my other books.)

Square deal? Yeah. And if you happen to be going, keep an eye out for me. I wonder if I can get a "Fruit Fly" shirt made up before Sunday...?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Starring

Whoops, the Monday holiday slipped me up, and I almost forgot it was Wednesday! But not quite.

Last week, I'd been bitten hard by a story -- did it stick? It did, mostly. I had one night where I just wasn't feeling it, but the next night I rallied and managed to finish the story. Sent it off to Lynn for the quickest beta-read ever (but she still managed to ask why X had happened, and I'd explained that all in my head but somehow forgotten to move it to the actual story, so a million hugs to Lynn, the best beta reader EVAR), fixed the hole, and then shipped it off for submission.

It's called "The Sinner's Star". Here's the quick-and-dirty blurb more or less as I pitched it to the anthology editor: Five years ago, Dope's best friend, Rat, died as they were fleeing the scene of a crime they'd helped commit... or so he thought. But now Rat's turned up on Dope's doorstep with a .45 and a prison tat on his face -- and Dope's not sure which one he finds more frightening.

How'd you like another little taste? The first one was in last week's post, if you missed it. (Do recall these are both unedited; the final result, if they take the story, may be somewhat different.)

"Girls are fine. Fun. But there's no meaning. I've never fucked a woman and then wanted to do her again."

Rat moved, finally, straightening his spine and lifting his chin, though he still didn't turn to look at Dope. "And with men?" he asked, his voice so soft Dope had to strain to hear the words. "You ever keep a man around, after you've gone to bed with him?"

"Yeah," Dope said. "Yeah, sometimes. Had a few partners, the last year or so. Last one stuck around for almost six months."

Rat stiffened, and Dope knew he'd said the wrong thing, though fuck if he knew why. Rat jerked the door open before Dope could stop him. "Fuck you, Dope," he spat. "Just... fuck you!" He stalked down the dim hall.

Dope never did know when to keep his big damn mouth shut. He leaned out the doorway. "Wish you would!" he called. Rat might have twitched, but he didn't turn around. Dope had lost Rat, he realized suddenly, for the second time. Really lost him. And this time, he didn't even know why.

Sounds like true love to me... ;-)

And don't forget! This is Torquere's anniversary month, and they have a whole snootful of prizes to give away! Books and gift certificates and silly gift packages, all donated by Torquere authors (including me -- check out the complete list at http://www.torquerepress.com/anniversary/). Their grand prize, at the end of the month, is going to be a Kindle Fire, for petesake! And all you have to do to enter (...did anyone else just hear the strains of "Alice's Restaurant" start up there? And all ya gotta do to join... No? Just me? Ah, well.) ...All you have to do to enter is click on over to that page and enter your name, your email, and my name as referrer! No, really!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Torquere Anniversary Celebration!


Torquere Press is nine years old this month, and they want to give you presents to celebrate! And holy cow, what presents! They've got books. They've got gift certificates. They've got gift baskets filled with fun stuff. They've got a freaking Kindle Fire!

And all you have to do is go to this page and enter your name and email address on the form! (And my name. There's a prize for referring authors, too, so pretty please enter my name.) That's it! No blog hops, no scavenger hunts. So you have no excuse not to participate -- head on over there and enter!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting Excited

This post is going up a bit late today, because I had a doctor's appointment this morning to make sure my lady-parts are all still healthy and functional.

That's supposed to be an annual checkup, and I've been good about it since my first one at age 16, but it sort of fell through the cracks in the last couple of years. But I figured if I was going to be thinking about dating again, I should make sure my parts were still in good working order, and that my IUD was still in place and all. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say-no-more.

It's been a fun week for me, with regard to writing. My story, "Squrk Squee", that I'd submitted to a collection of ultra-shorts, was rejected, but the editor asked if she couldn't hold on to it for use in another anthology she was pitching about sex on the job. It's still an ultra-short, though; I don't know if she's going to want me to flesh it out for the new antho, or what. We'll see, I guess. But it was nice to know that it was pushed out for considerations of space and prior commitments, not because she didn't like it.

Then on Thursday, I got a box with my author's print copy of Masks Off! That was exciting -- it's the first time I've actually seen my name in print! I spent pretty much the whole day Friday fondling the book, re-reading the back cover and then flipping to the start of my story to see my name there.

And Sunday night, I decided I'd see if I could get anything done on one of the several submission calls I've got in my "maybe" folder. I'd started a story a while back for Torquere's "Ink" call, but the story had gotten bogged down in its own details before it even reached the 1000-word mark; it was all telling rather than showing, and I was having trouble figuring out how to resurrect it. So instead, I decided to just start it over.

Before I went to bed that night, I was at 1200 words. Monday night, despite starting late because I had the kids, I wrote another 1400 words. And last night, I did another 1200. All that's left to do is the sex scene and the denouement. And a very quick edit, because it's due to Submissions by Saturday.

Want a taste? Of course you do...
The knock on his door was staccato and brief, the kind of knock that heralds only bad news. Still, Dope did not expect to open the door and find himself staring straight into the muzzle of a .45.

Dope had stared down more than a few barrels in his life -- he'd come up hard, and things had only served to make him harder over the last years -- but it wasn't the kind of thing a man ever got used to. At best, he learned to hide the reaction, the way his stomach flopped and his balls curled up tight and his throat suddenly went dry. Dope's reaction was pretty good by now. His jaw clenched and he rocked back on his heels, but he managed to avoid actually taking a step.

One thing he'd learned, last time he'd been in the joint, had been that it was a mistake to look at the killing end of a weapon pointed at you. You had to look at the man holding it. Look him in the eyes. Sometimes, if you were a big, mean-looking sonuvabitch, like Dope was, if you looked hard enough, it would make them back down. And if not... Well, it always showed in their eyes first, anyway, before they attacked.

Dope didn't figure any warning would be fast enough to matter, when the weapon was a gun instead of a prison shiv, but he looked up anyway, let his gaze follow that cold steel barrel to the hand holding it, along the arm, up the neck to the face. The face had a lot of scars, especially on the left side, which was so pitted and seamed as to be grotesque. But it was the eyes Dope looked for, eyes that were chocolate brown under the narrowed lids, cold as ice, pitiless as a crack whore on her last fix, and... familiar.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Valid

I swear, I tried to post while I was on vacation. I did! Because as we were waiting to board our flight, this guy struck up a conversation with me. This incredibly hot guy. Who seemed completely charmed by my kids. Who kept glancing at my cleavage.

I told you all about it, I swear -- I wrote for like forty-five minutes while my kids were painting t-shirts or something, and then when I hit the Publish button... it turned out that the flaky resort wifi had dumped me, and Blogger had failed to save even a single word of the post. So it's gone, and after that I didn't really have the heart to try again. But I'm back! And hopefully ready to start writing again. We'll see how it goes.

***

But let me tell you what happened yesterday! Yesterday, while I was going through my vacation photos and posting them on Flickr, the doorbell rang.

By the time I got to the door, the delivery guy was gone, but waiting for me... was my print copy of Masks Off! I got to hold an actual print, dead-tree book in my hot little hands that has my name in it! And words that I wrote! I don't know that it makes me any more of a "real" author than the e-books I've already published, but it feels like some kind of validation.

***

So I was talking to my therapist yesterday, and I said something disparaging about the Day Job, and she frowned and checked her notes and said, "Oh! Right! For some reason, I had it in my head that you were a full-time writer!"

That was pretty cool, too.

I'm going out dancing with friends tonight; maybe I'll take along a few of my "author" cards and introduce myself as an erotic romance writer/editor. It's definitely a better conversation starter than "QA manager".

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Release Day: Masks Off!

It's release day for Masks Off! from Torquere Press, which includes my short story, "What You Are"! Damn, but I love that cover!


I had to write an ultra-short blurb for my story to include with the book blurb, but if it were a standalone story, here's how its blurb would read:

Cory has been hiding in a double closet since he was fourteen years old -- both as a gay, and as a shifter, going to great lengths to avoid being outdoors when the moonlight might touch him, and to pretend his longing for Leon, with whom he shares a slow elevator several days a week, is one-sided. But one night at a masquerade ball changes all that when a devastatingly appealing man in a leopard mask sweeps Cory off his feet, then knocks the world out from under him with a single whisper: I know what you are.

It's currently available at the Torquere bookstore, and should be up by the end of the day at the usual distributors (Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, etc.). It will also (soon) be available in print! I'll update links as they become available! Pass the word and check it out!

Update: It's gone live at AllRomanceEBooks! (9:00am)

Update: And it's finally gone live at Amazon.Com. (9:30pm)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Speaking Of...

Missed a week. Sorry about that -- bad writer!

The last month has been really hard on my writing; the sum-up is that my husband and I are separating. It's a relatively amicable split, but there was some drama that led up to the decision, and a lot of planning and coordination and logistics (and maybe a little more drama) afterward, none of which has left me in the mood to think about romance and sex. (And just to complicate matters, the Day Job has been completely insane, my car broke down, and then my son turned up sick.)

I'm hoping, once he starts to get settled into his new apartment (i.e., acquires a minimum of furniture) and we all start to figure out our new routines, that I'll be able to plan writing time for myself again. Soon, hopefully; I have four different Calls for Submissions in my folder waiting pathetically for me to do something with them before their deadlines pass.

***

Speaking of Calls for Submission -- I've proposed (and will be editing) a new anthology for Torquere! Check it out:

Zombie stories are hot right now... and here at Torquere Press we think they could be even hotter! Get your delicious brains churning, and give us your unique, zombie-themed love stories! Is your hero a zombie-slayer -- or is he in love with one? Maybe your hero is desperately searching for a cure to save an infected loved one. Maybe he's the one making the zombies in the first place. Maybe he's even a zombie himself!

These are the stories we want to showcase in He Loves Me for My Brainsss, a new anthology of sexy, romantic m/m stories about men finding love in the face of a zombie crisis. All settings and heat ratings are welcome, but we're looking for strong characters in fully realized, happy-ending stories with a little more zing to them than the "survivors meet and fall in love" stock standard. Note: While it is true that the undead can be sexy, and it is also true that part of the fun of zombies is their gross-out factor, we ask that you avoid combining these two elements directly, in order to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Any word count from 5000 words and up is welcome, no stories shorter than the minimum please. Stories should be sent to submission@torquerepress.com with Brainsss Anthology in the subject line. Deadline for submission is October 1, 2012 for a projected January 2013 publication. Stories will be contracted for first time print and electronic rights, and payment will be $50.00 US plus contributor copies. Please see our general submission guidelines for how to format your submission.

That call, along with Torquere's other open calls, is posted on their Special Calls page, and the general submission guidelines are here. I'm feeling pretty squee about it -- I hope it gets some good submissions! Surely you want to submit a story!

***

And speaking of anthologies, Masks Off! will be released next week! Shall we have a contest to celebrate? Post a comment here or on my Facebook page between now and next Wednesday, and I'll... think of something nice for you. Not sure exactly what, yet. Let's see how many folks enter. ;-)


I'm totally excited -- this will be my first "real" print publication! (Though the two Cleis collections coming out this fall were written and accepted before this one, but Cleis has a slower publication timeline.) I shall have to create a vanity shelf!

***

And speaking of the Cleis books, I went up to my local Books-a-Million on Saturday and finally met Kristina Wright face-to-face! She's the editor for Duty and Desire, in which I have a story and which will be coming out... either September or November, depending on whose information is correct. She's also been the editor for several of the books that Lynn has contributed to, so I was already predisposed to like her before I got there. But it turns out I'd have loved her anyway -- she was fantastic.

As were, I should add, the BaM employees who hung around chatting with us. The store manager was pushing for us to host a release party for Duty and Desire at his store, including Kristina and me and Lynn and maybe another couple of semi-local authors. It could happen; I'll let you know if it does!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Duty and Desire Cover!

Whoops, the cover I posted before for Duty and Desire has been changed. I can't complain, though -- much as I liked the other cover, I like this one even better!


Isn't that just delicious? Still no actual relation to my story, which is about a female soldier, but the punching bag and taped hands give it the same vibe as the introduction to Captain America in The Avengers, which I'm mildly obsessed with, so I heartily approve.

(This might be where I sheepishly confess one of the reasons I haven't written in way too long is that some nontrivial portion of my writing brain is fixated on a story about the Cap that is so horrifyingly Mary Sue that it must not be allowed to ever see the light of day. And yet...)

Yum.

Ahem. I was talking about Duty and Desire. Right. Anyway, the Table of Contents has been updated slightly, too, so take a gander and tell me a few of these story titles don't make you curious!

Introduction: Beyond the Uniform
The Long Ride Home - Delilah Devlin
Night Witch - Connie Wilkins
Shattered - Shanna Germain
The Grunt and the Ditty Bop - Craig J. Sorensen
Fighting for Fresno - Ericka Hiatt
Homecoming - Kelly Maher
Passing Out Passion - Lucy Felthouse
Against the Wall - Catherine Paulssen
The Thunder of War - Anya Richards
Sergeant Rae - Sacchi Green
Dead on Her Feet - Elizabeth L. Brooks
Out of Time - J.K. Coi
Done - Charlotte Stein
Wilco - Christine d’Abo
Christmas Presents - Mercy Loomis
Snake Dance - Lynn Townsend
Home - Michelle Augello-Page
For Better or Worse - Kristina Wright

And -- as if that wasn't enough -- Kristina, the editor, says that while Amazon is still listing this as being released in November, she thinks it will actually come out in September. I'll let you know as soon as I have something concrete!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Masks Off! Cover

Whoo-hoo! I just got the cover for Masks Off! and it's a beaut!


Is that not squee-worthy?

Masks Off! combines shapeshifters and masquerades, and features my short, "What You Are". It will be available in e-book form from Torquere Press on August 1, and in print form (squee!) shortly thereafter! Links will be posted as I have them!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Covered and Reviewed!


Item the first! Amazon has both of the Cleis Press anthologies available for pre-order, and pictures over the covers, so check them out! Seductress (the collection of succubus stories) is due out October 16 (just in time for Hallowe'en!) and Duty and Desire (military theme) will be released on November 13 (right after Veteran's Day). And holy cow, but check out those covers!

***

Item the second! Top 2 Bottom Reviews has been featuring Torquere Press authors all month, and today happens to be my day! There's a long interview with me right at the top of their page today.

And even better still, they reviewed Safe Harbor to go with the interview, and not only did they like it, they loved it, giving it a five-kiss rating! I'm completely thrilled -- I love all my bookish children, but Safe Harbor holds a special place in my heart, and I don't think it gets nearly enough love -- but check out these quotes from the review:

I picked up this book thinking I would read a few chapters tonight and finish it later, not realizing I would become immediately caught up in the interesting lives of her characters, and not be able to put the book down until I finished it hours later.

Both Rafe and Tyver are very well-written characters that I found myself liking immediately. ...Watching both of them grow from boys to men was very enjoyable for me and I adored how deep the love and friendship they had for each other.

I can only bounce with excitement! Go check out the interview, and if you haven't read it yet, please consider giving Safe Harbor a chance -- and if you have read it, please take a minute to rate it -- at Goodreads, at Amazon.Com, or wherever you bought it -- to help convince others to give it a try!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meme'd!

BA Tortuga tagged me on the Lucky Seven meme!

Rules: Go to page 7 or 77 of your latest work. Read down to the seventh line and then online the next seven lines or sentences. Then head off and tag seven more writers.

I'm not sure if "latest work" means latest published, or current work-in-progress. So, with typical floppiness, I offer both!

From my latest publication, Assumption of Desire:

...karaoke night. No fewer than six tables had been pushed together in one corner, and they'd been liberally festooned with streamers and balloons. Half the balloons were long and phallic, though a few over the women's chairs had been cleverly twisted into yoni. Holding court over one end of the tables, fully decked out in sequins and feathers and glitter was -- of course -- Jesse.

Ah, Jesse, you scamp.

And from my latest WIP, working title "Taming the Dragon":

...who would want his daughters married to a man who might not give them sons?

It was a life of luxury and leisure, but it did little to calm the seething anger that haunted Zhan's breast. As he laid each night in the fine cotton and silk sheets of the wide bed, Wen Fai curled on his pallet nearby, Zhan could summon no sense of gratitude for his absent host, nor forgiveness for his father's betrayal.

***

One morning, as Zhan was studying a triad of short poems in praise of the Emperor's third wife, his contemplation of the subtle rhythm of the syllables was interrupted by a loud...

I note that my writing software has much wider margins than my published pieces, heh.

And finally, to tag onward! I choose: Lynn Townsend, JM Cartwright, Rowan McBride, and Chris Owen. And just because there's no reason to stay in-genre, I tag my favorite sci-fi/fantasy duo, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. And because it's good sometimes to reach for the unreachable stars, and also because, well, why not?... Neil Gaiman.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Flash Fic: Window Washer

I haven't been writing lately. Bad, bad writer. I need to get back into it, I know, but I've been having a case of blahs.

So, having no news to report, I thought I'd do a flash fic. Obviously, I can't call for prompts, because there isn't time. So I'm grabbing some random words to use. Words are: injustice, skyscraper, and sprayer.

***

Anthony stuffed his scraper back into its pocket on his toolbelt -- how the fuck did someone get gum stuck to the outside of a forty-third story window, anyway? -- and picked up the squeegee again. This time, the rubber slid effortlessly across the glass.

It wasn't fair, he thought for approximately the two hundredth time that day. He wasn't supposed to be here. He was supposed to be back at school, starting his graduate degree, not in a dolly on the side of a skyscraper staring wistfully at the executive boardrooms and offices he'd been planning to occupy himself.

Sure, this job wasn't forever. He'd be able to go back to school next year, or the year after. But the business world was cutthroat: a year or two-year break from school without a really good, resume-building excuse (like a stint in the Peace Corps, say, or an internship with a really high-power firm) could be enough to make or break him. A break from school to take care of an ailing grandmother? It would interview well enough -- but only if he could get to the interview. And he'd have to be careful about even that, not to let those shadow-interviewers of the future see that it wasn't just an act of familial devotion but one of necessity, because there was no way Anthony's family could afford any outside help.

Of course Anthony loved Nana. He'd agreed willingly to put off the rest of his schooling to help take care of her when the doctor had said she was probably in her final year... but in these moments, when he was alone in the sky, he needed to vent about the sheer injustice of it all.

Anthony sighed. He wiped the squeegee and dropped it back into its bucket. He tugged on his harness to check that it was secure, pulled his gloves snug, and carefully lowered his suspension rig another twelve feet to the forty-second floor. This window didn't have any unusual debris on it -- he really did want to know where that gum had come from -- so he used the sprayer to mist the window with cleaning solution.

This one was an executive office. Heavy oak desk, leather chair, the works. On the side of the room was practically an entire gym's worth of equipment: a treadmill and a bike and a nice bench with a complete set of weights. There was a man on the treadmill, apparently reading a report as he jogged. Anthony grinned, then stopped working altogether, because the man was gorgeous. No more than thirty, with wavy blond hair, chiseled features, and ripped body -- he obviously used all that workout gear on a regular basis. Anthony watched the muscles of the man's legs ripple as he ran, trying not to salivate.

The treadmill slowed, and Anthony started out of his lust-induced haze. Oh shit, the guy had noticed him. Anthony jerked his gaze up to the executive's face and gave him a grin that he hoped wasn't too guilty or sheepish, and waved with the hand not holding a squeegee.

The man grabbed a towel and mopped his face, dropped the report he'd been reading on his desk, and walked over to the window. Anthony blinked. In his experience -- and he'd been washing windows for his dad's company since he was sixteen -- the people inside the buildings rare even noticed him, and even when they did, they never did more than wave. But this guy -- shit, he was even hotter up close -- was standing right up on the floor-to-ceiling window, right up in Anthony's face. If it wasn't for the glass between them, Anthony could have kissed him.

Shit, don't think about kissing! Anthony couldn't control his blush, but hoped the guy wouldn't notice. Maybe he hadn't. Their eyes locked. Anthony wondered if he was crazy for thinking something was passing between them.

The man turned away, and Anthony let out a breath he just now realized he'd been holding. He drew another, and yet another, trying to get a grip on himself, to forget about that electric gaze. The man was bending over his desk, scrawling something on a piece of paper without bothering to sit down. Anthony tried not to look at the way his workout shorts defined his ass. He swallowed, hard, and tried to ignore the way the harness suddenly seemed tighter through his crotch.

Harness. Work. Right. Anthony lifted the squeegee and scraped a line of cleaner from the window, trying to look at the glass and not the man beyond it.

Another line.

Anthony jerked in surprise, and the man smiled. He ran a hand through his hair and then pressed his hand to the window. He looked at Anthony, another charged expression.

Anthony's heart pounded as hard as it had the first time he'd lowered himself over the side of a building. Slowly, hoping he wasn't about to do something irrevocably dumb, he pulled off his glove and put his own hand to the glass, matching the other's.

The man's smile widened, and then he held up the piece of paper that had been in his other hand: The inside needs cleaning, too, and I think you're the man for the job. Come see me when you're done out there. Ofc 4228. He lowered his hand, leaving a smudged handprint.

Anthony looked back up to the man's face, met his eyes. Anthony smiled, and nodded once.

Things were looking up.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Duty and Desire Cover

So apparently Kristina Wright, the editor for the Duty and Desire anthology (wherein resides my story "Dead on Her Feet"), is at BookExpo America in New York this week. BEA is an event that a librarian friend of mine attends every year, and that one of these years I'm going to find a way to attend.

Kristina has been posting pictures and updates on her Facebook, and yesterday morning, she put up this shot of the Cleis Press/Viva Editions booth:


Why, what's that, with the very hot guy in the camo giving us a come-hither look? Why, it's the cover for Duty and Desire!

It's my first glimpse of the cover art, and I must say, it's pretty awesome. I can't wait to hold it in my hands! I expect I'll eventually get a better image to post, but in the meantime... squee!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pulp Romance

A fantastic ultra-short (110 words, to order) by Maria Dahvana Headley, which came to my attention via Neil Gaiman's Tumblr:

He saw her across a crowded shelf.

Her deckle-edge was seductively deep, her endpapers velvety. She was a first edition, probably autographed. Any man would want to write his name in a book like her.

She noticed him perusing her pages, and blushed. He had a hard spine, and a crisp dust jacket. His eyes were capitalized, and in an obscure font designed in Amsterdam in 1768. She caught herself glancing at his flyleaf, and looked away, mortified.

They were in the YA section, and she was acting like a common galley.

"Can I have your ISBN?" he whispered. He could nearly see her addendum.

"Yes," she cooed, helpless. "Yes."

BWAH. LOVE IT.

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Honor


In honor of Memorial Day, I've posted an excerpt from the upcoming "Dead On Her Feet" over on my personal blog. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snip'd!

First things first! Congratulations to Lynn for her release today of Blister Effect! Steampunk and werewolves -- she's pushing all the buttons! You should totally go enter her contest; it's got awesome stuff in it!

The Day Job is having a slow week, and my vacation balance is fairly comfortable, so I took some extra days off. I spent about half of yesterday at Panera writing and shipping the hot guys sitting next to me. (The one guy was wearing a rainbow bracelet and a pink ear stud; I don't think it was an entirely outrageous notion on my part.)

Which means that you get a snippet today!

Tae Chen was not present in the dining hall for the mid-day meal, Zhan noted with something like relief. He spent the meal chatting with several others, but lost the thread of conversation several times, victim to the distraction of his own thoughts and his hyperawareness of Wen Fai hovering nearby ostensibly awaiting his command, but also listening to every word and absorbing impressions of Zhan and the other heirs. What would be in that report? That Ma Jin was likable and easygoing, but not overburdened with intelligence? That Deng Sen's grasp of military tactics was formidable but that even the simplest political maneuverings escaped him?

That Li Zhan had pretensions of nobility, but was too easily distracted?

He stood abruptly, interrupting the conversation. "Excuse me," he said. "I am fatigued; I believe I will retire." He left the hall, aware of more than one set of eyes following him. He wondered how many of the others had heard about the incident with Tae Chen, and how they had interpreted it.

"Master?" Zhan looked up, startled to note he was already back in his apartments. Wen Fai knelt before him, his hands wringing together in distress. "Are you unwell, master? Shall this one fetch the physician?"

It's moving slowly -- I know where I want it to go, but I'm having trouble with focus. Alas, experience tells me that the best way to help my focus is to write more often. The more I do it, the tighter my focus gets -- and it fades away far too quickly when I let that discipline slack. It hardly seems fair.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wrote!

It feels more like a victory than it should, that I wrote a little Monday night, and again for a couple of hours yesterday.

I didn't burn up any words-per-hour records, but I made some steady progress on a story that's been lying fallow for the better part of year now. I had a notion Monday evening in the shower for a way to revamp the story to make it flow a little better, and now I'm working on implementing that change. I've only written about a thousand new words, but I like the direction the story is taking.

The problem had been that my POV character, Zhan, is a man consumed with anger and resentment. I'd started it out as a light BDSM story, in fact, on the assumption that he would use that to work out some of his anger. But it wasn't working. He does like to be in control, but he's so very rigidly in control of himself that he wasn't releasing anything.

So I'd put the story on hiatus. It popped back up on Monday (in the shower, as I said, which is apparently where I do about 75% of my plot work) and I realized that there's a sort of game of let's-pretend going on that is preventing Zhan from taking the situation seriously. So either he needs to be fully deceived, or I need to strip it out and rework the approach.

Zhan waited while Wen Fai helped him out of his outer robe and hung it to air. He knelt on a cushion and allowed the slave to bring him a cup of wine, well-watered. Then, as Wen Fai was about to retreat to the discreet corner from which he customarily awaited Zhan's commands, Zhan stopped him. "Come here," Zhan said. He gestured to the cushion across from him. "Sit."

A certain satisfaction filled him as he saw Wen Fai hesitate. "I do not care to repeat myself," Zhan said quietly. Wen Fai bit his lip, but knelt where Zhan had indicated. "You may speak freely, for the moment," Zhan continued. "I wish for us to... converse."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Editorial

I read an article yesterday about why writers should cooperate with their editors as much as possible. It made a lot of excellent points, some of which were even new to me.

But it was hard to get on board with the post, even though I agreed with all its points. Even though I am an editor. Why?

Because the post... was in desperate need of an edit.

There were typos and misspelled words. There were sentences that were broken -- had obviously been written and then re-written another way but with remnants of the original structure left behind. There were a couple of paragraphs that were wildly misplaced, and one that should have been removed entirely.

I'm still trying to figure out if the author did that on purpose to illustrate his point.

***

I had a plot bunny crawl out of the ground and bite me on the ankles this morning. It's a YA/self-discovery sort of thing, though, which I haven't done before, so I don't know if it will go anywhere.

I need to get something off the ground, though, because my list of "out" submissions is down to just one.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marked

I mentioned this last week, but the Backlist Strikes Back event at EM Lynley's blog is nearly over, so this would be a perfect time for you to go take a look and browse at the entire collection of authors' favorite backlisted books -- I know I've found several to add to my reading list!

***

I spent a big chunk of last night working on a graphic for promotional materials. I bought a LivingSocial voucher a couple of months ago for discounted stuff from Vistaprint, which is where I've had most of my promotional materials printed in the past.

Vistaprint lets you upload your own pictures to use, but they charge for each picture you use, so it makes sense to get all your disparate elements laid out separately, build it into a single image, and then upload that.

I've got business cards and I've done some note cards for individual books, but my current plan is to make some bookmarks. Alas, that's the one item Vistaprint doesn't actually offer; I'm having to order rack cards and plan my graphics to be doubled so I can cut them in half down the middle.

This is the current design (click to embiggen). I'm still trying to decide what changes I want to make -- bigger name? More color to the text? Different background image?



And what (if anything) do I put on the back? Not enough space for blurbs. A couple of good review quotes? More links? Author bio? A sexy B&W image?

What catches your eye on promotional cards and bookmarks and the like? And what, if anything, makes you actually consider checking out the product?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Masks Off! / The Backlist Strikes Back!

Several things to report today. First, I got news over the weekend that my story, "What You Are" was accepted for inclusion in Torquere's Masks Off! anthology (coming out in August, I believe) -- it's a collection of stories about shapeshifters (e.g., werewolves) and masquerades. *obligatory acceptance squee!*

"What You Are" is about Cory, a man living in two closets, equally afraid of being outed as a gay and as a werewolf. He sees a charity masquerade ball as his chance to let at least part of himself free -- but then the leopard with the sexy voice tells him, "I know what you are," and Cory is forced to flee, yet again.

I'll be sure to let you know when I have more details!

And in other news...


The brilliant EM Lynley is hosting a tour all this week called The Backlist Strikes Back! It's a collection of LGBT romance titles that have been out for a while and, perhaps, not gotten all the love they should. My Safe Harbor is featured today, but there will be other authors for the next whole week, so definitely remember to check it out as the week progresses! I've already seen several books to add to my TBR list, and I bet you will, too.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Assumption of Desire Reviews!

I'm starting to see official review sites posting reviews for Assumption, so I figured it was time to put up a post collecting some of them!

Jenre at Brief Encounters says, "This short contained lots of things I adore in a story. ...I was hooked by page one. ...There was lots more to enjoy such as the way the men switch roles in the bedroom – shown in a couple of well written and very hot sex scenes – and a general sense of fun and charm in the story itself. I smiled a number of times as I was reading and the book left me with a good feeling, which is always a bonus." (rated B+)

From Lucy at Hearts On Fire: "The story is sweet and flows well. There are a lot of pages of sex for such a short story, but as they aren’t right in a row, it’s a minor quibble. Jesse is a great character, because he is so much more than his outward appearance would suggest. Craig having to come to terms with what he wants is an interesting. His eyes open rarely slowly, but some of it is off page, happening in the three years they haven’t seen each other. It’s a quick, light, funny story with very likeable characters and a miscommunication that could actually occur. A very enjoyable read." (rated 4/5)

Mrs Condit at Mrs. Condit's Reviews says, "Assumption of Desire is a great story about making assumptions based on appearance and assumptions that things will never change. ...Craig has a lot of internal dialog to run through before he can become the man he wants to be, and Jesse has a lot of forgiving to do when Craig is disrespectful of the man Jesse has already become. This is a sweet, easy read with a lesson to teach. I liked the way Ms Brooks made four years fit into a short story without sacrificing any of the plot." (rated 4/5)