Friday, April 24, 2015

I picked a bad month to quit smoking...

Okay, no. I don't smoke. I never have. I don't even drink to excess anymore. Very often. But it's a wonder that I am not currently drinking like a fish and smoking like a chimney.


Remind me never to buy a house when I have a book due. Okay, granted, I always have a book due, but even so I should have arranged this better.


I am like a mad scientist's experiment on the effect of stress on rats. Or the small, pale, anxious-looking mammal of your choice.


I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE.


But I have to keep taking it and working while I take it, and because this isn't a funny enough story for future retellings, we here in the high desert are also experiencing windstorms so I have had a headache for about two weeks. Crazy-with-stress and headachy. Even the SO has been complaining of headaches for the last week, so it's not just me. Or maybe I am the common denominator. It's been known to happen.


This is the long way of admitting that this a placeholder post. I can't just drop off the face of the map because then the VA starts to get emails asking if I've died. I WISH.


Kidding. I'm a kidder.


A kidder with a headache. Which is the worst kind.


So everything is pretty much fine. The book is coming along, believe it or not. We're looking at somewhere between 60 - 70K (regardless of what Amazon says) and it's a lot of mystery and not so much romance because I basically want to kill someone.




We were supposed to close Monday, but every *&^^%%$$###@!ING time I think we're moving forward the bank comes back with yet another request for paperwork. Lately it's the same paperwork only formatted differently. Which is why I want to kill someone.





Anyway, while I have thought of many topics for posts, I find that I just do not have the energy. I barely have the focus for a normal conversation, yet alone the ability to think philosophically about such things as why people you have never met--and never will meet--think it is appropriate to share such personal, private information with an email address OR ask the person at the end of that email address for personal and private information.





Yeesh.






But a lot of us live online now, and we forget that we are still the minority. Most people are not living their lives in cyber space.





It does raise an interesting question though. If you were to unplug today, how much would it affect your life? In what ways would it change your life? Do you think you would be forced to forge better and more meaningful connections with people around you if you couldn't hop onto the intertubes to socialize? Does the internet enhance or distract from your ability to connect with people?





Are we engaging online to the detriment of our real life engagement?





Inquiring minds want to know.





I've read a few articles about "addiction to the internet." What do you think about that? If you were addicted to the internet, would you know?



















Friday, April 17, 2015

The problem with reality

I'm not in a particularly, er, fanciful mood right now. Which is a problem for writing fiction. Because so much fiction is simply improbable if not downright impossible. Especially when it comes to crimes stories. Delightful and enjoyable improbabilities, no question.

That said, I will not deny that some very amazing things happen in real life--things that you pretty much would not believe in fiction. I've been doing a lot of research on the FBI and holy guacamole. Things happen in real life that, were they to happen in a movie, you'd be screaming at your TV.

NOT that I have ever screamed at the TV.

Or at least if I did, I never expected an answer

But I guess it's true that real life is stranger than fiction.

Anyway, for the writer of fiction, it's all about balance. Because a lot of what has to happen in any real life investigation is simply boring and does not belong in storytelling. There are some things we must take for granted. For example, people on stakeout must find ways to relieve themselves. Unless something germane to the plot happens during the we-can-safely-assume behaviors, do we need to see this?

There will be some readers who yes, absolutely want and need to see this. But they are not the majority and their storytelling instincts are poor. Especially when they are wanabe writers themselves. ;-)

Because I am in a FILL OUT ALL FORMS CORRECTLY frame of mind, I've written several thrilling scenes that related to, yes, filling out forms, ordering subpenas, procuring warrants...

And this week I went back and ripped them all out again because, say what?! Real life so rarely makes for good fiction.

And it's even trickier when it comes to romance because I am not in a romantic state of mind. But then again, that might be the right approach for this book where the two protags are not in a romantic state of mind either. But life--and love--have a way of happening while you're busy making other plans.

Anyway, another completely unedited snippet from Winter Kill -- and then Special Agent Adam Darling must get back to filling out form 4506-t AGAIN. Oh wait. That's me, not Darling. I think Darling gets to shoot someone in this chapter.












“It was a mistake bringing in the feds,” Zeke said.

Rob grunted. He thought it was a mistake too, but it hadn’t been his call and it was too late now, so what was the point of bitching? He said, “Feebs.”

“What?”

“The FBI. They call them feebs now.”

“I don’t care if they call them fucking frankfurters.”

Rob grunted.

From the observation deck at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport they watched in silence as Alaska Airlines Flight 477 touched down, skimmed the rain-blackened runway, and taxied slowly toward the terminal.

Rob straightened. “Come on.”

“There’s no hurry.” Zeke continued to gaze out the wet, streaked window.

The overhead speaker announced the flight’s arrival for anyone who wasn’t paying attention and offered information on collecting baggage to the passengers still sitting on the plane.

A few long minutes passed before the mobile stairway was lined up with the plane doors. The cabin door opened. At last the passengers began to disembark.

Rob’s stomach growled and he glanced at his watch. It was already twelve thirty and in this weather it would take about an hour to drive from Medford to the resort of Nearby. He sighed inwardly. It had been a long morning and it was going to be a long afternoon. Of that, he had zero doubt.

Zeke said suddenly, “Fucking Barbie and Ken!”

A woman carrying a briefcase exited the plane. The rainy breeze tousled her long, pale hair. She threw a comment over her shoulder to a man in an olive rain coat. The man replied and the woman laughed.

Rob smiled grimly because that time Zeke nailed it. Tall and blond and elegant in their His and Hers trench coats, these two looked more like they were auditioning for a hot new TV series than real law enforcement. But law enforcement they were. Real live FBI Special Agents come all the way from sunny Los Angeles to offer their wisdom and expertise.

Yep, it was pretty damned annoying.

“Come on,” he said again, and this time he meant it. Zeke heaved a heavy sigh but followed him downstairs to the Arrival Gate where Barbie and Ken were impatiently scanning the waiting crowd for their welcome committee.

The bystanders parted before Rob and Zeke. There was nothing like a sheriff’s badge to clear a path.
“Special Agents Gould and Darling?” Rob asked. Not that he had any doubt.

The man--Rob’s height, green eyes, short, wavy fair hair--said crisply, “I’m Darling. This is Agent Gould.”

“Deputies,” Gould said. She had a very pretty smile. No question who played Good Cop on that team.
“Special Agent What’dyousay?” Zeke asked.

Darling directed a look that should have left Zeke encased in ice, and Rob preserved his poker face with effort. 

“I’m Haskell. This is Deputy Lang,” Rob said. “How was your trip?”

“Long,” Darling said. “Shall we hit the road?”

“I could see getting that mixed up,” Zeke interrupted with his usual godawful timing.

Darling looked almost human as his green gaze met Rob’s. Gould’s pale brows drew together. “I’m sorry?”

Zeke opened his big mouth again. “I could see how someone might think you were the d--”

Rob spoke over him. “We’re parked in the lot across from the terminal.” He gave Zeke a helpful, hard nudge in the direction of the exit. Zeke winced and glared at him. “You have any luggage?” Rob asked the feds.

Gould held up her briefcase. Darling didn’t seem to hear the question, heading straight for the doors leading out to the rainy gray October day.

They piled into the Rural Patrol SUV, the FBI agents in the backseat and Zeke riding shotgun. Rob started the engine.

“How long a drive is it to the resort?” Darling asked.

“Not quite an hour. Maybe a little longer in the rain.”

“With you driving, definitely a little longer,” Zeke said.

Rob ignored him, pulling out of the parking lot and turning east.

“You really think our DB might be one of the Roadside Ripper’s vics?” Zeke asked, looking back at their passengers.

“That’s what we’re here to find out,” Gould said.

“What’s the body count now?” Zeke asked.

“We believe we have twenty-one confirmed kills.” Gould’s voice was pleasant. She might have been discussing the weather.

“I almost applied to the FBI,” Zeke said. “I didn’t want to have to wear a fucking tie all the time.”

Rob managed to swallow his snort. He glanced in the rearview mirror as he merged onto OR-62 West and briefly met Darling’s eyes. Darling’s mouth quirked in a sardonic not-quite-smile.

“Excuse my French,” Zeke added for Gould’s benefit.

Pas du tout,” Gould returned.

Zeke gave her his biggest, widest grin. She smiled back, But he was wasting his time there. Gould was so far out of his league she might have been from another planet.

 Again Rob’s gaze rose to the rearview and again he met Darling’s ironic regard. Darling did not blink, did not look away. 

Wasn’t green supposed to be the most rare eye color? Rob could believe it in Darling’s case. He’d never seen eyes quite that shade. Maybe Darling wore contacts.

Either way…that was one very direct, very intense regard. In other circumstances, it might mean a couple of things. Even in these circumstances that look might mean a couple of things. Unlikely, but still…

Zeke asked, “How many of those twenty-one vics were in Oregon?”

“Seven,” Gould replied.

“But that doesn’t mean they were killed here.”

“True.”

“They might just have been unloaded here. He’s using the I-5 as his dumping ground, right?”

Darling was now directing his laser stare at the back of Zeke’s head. Rob would not have been surprised to see Zeke’s hair burst into flame, but then that was always a danger given how much hairspray Zeke used. Way more hairspray than straight guys generally went in for, in Rob’s opinion.

“That’s the current theory,” Gould said.

“How many members on your taskforce?” Zeke asked. “The whole West Coast is involved, right?”

“It’s one of the largest ever formed,” Gould answered. “Even we’re not sure of the exact number of team members.” 

Obviously not true, but more polite than what her partner was clearly tempted to tell Zeke.

“You guys okay?” Rob asked. “You hungry?”

“Yeah, I’m hungry,” Zeke said.

“We had a two-hour layover in Seattle,” Darling said. “We’ve eaten. And we’re on a tight schedule.”

Gould glanced at her partner. What she said was, “Gosh, it’s green here. We could use some of this rain in California.”

“We’ve never had a homicide in Nearby,” Zeke said with an edge to his tone. “I know it’s same old same old to you, but to us it’s a big deal.”

“We don’t know we’ve got a homicide now,” Rob said, with a warning look.

It was wasted, of course.

“Right,” Zeke said. “Maybe it was suicide. Maybe John Doe buried himself beneath that rock pile.”

Sunday afternoon, campers had discovered human remains buried in a shallow grave covered with rocks on a decommissioned logging road off of Route 140. Not exactly the Roadside Ripper’s stomping grounds, but for some reason Frankie--Sheriff Francesca McLellan--had decided to call in the feds just to be sure. Which just went to prove what a high profile case the Roadside Ripper was. High profile enough that even in their little corner of the woods, they’d heard about it.

But the chances that this unlucky John Doe was one of the Ripper’s? That seemed pretty farfetched to Rob.

 All the same, twenty-four hours later, FBI Barbie and Ken had shown up on their doorstep.





Friday, April 10, 2015

If it's Friday This Must Be...

I recently saw again the film If it's Tuesday This Must be Belgium.


If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Music and lyrics by Donovan P. Leitch (sung by J. P. Rags)

 If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium
 If it's Wednesday, this must be Rome
 If it's Thursday, this must be Montreux
 I feel I never wanna go home

 If this is London, why ain't it raining?
 The sun is shining on Saint Paul's Dome
 If this is real then I must be dreaming
 Can't wait to tell the folks back home
 Can't wait to tell the folks back home

 If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium
 If it's Wednesday, this must be Rome
 If it's Thursday, this must be Montreux
 I feel I never wanna go home


To my surprise, it had a completely different ending than the one I remembered. Personally I think my ending was better, but now that I am an adult and I know the "real" ending I probably won't be able to forget how the movie closed.


I also didn't realize Donovan wrote the theme song. I still love Donovan. My babysitter used to go to Donovan concerts and talk about Donovan. ;-) So I have a great, great fondness for Donovan.


Anyway, it's another Friday and I really don't have a lot to say. We are still in Underwriting Hell with the house, so no news there. I have a bunch of people asking stuff of me, and I have no energy to respond--let alone decide whether or not to accept, decline, tackle yet another project, do another interview...


I really had no idea how stressful this House Thing was going to be. And it's right in the middle of two of my biggest projects this year -- Winter Kill which is immediately followed by Jefferson Blythe, Esquire.


 The writing is the only thing I have energy for. It's always like this at a certain point in any given project, but I think I'm more aware of it right now because there are so many other crucial things I am cutting out. I can see very clearly right now how absolutely obsessive I am about work and writing. It produces good books but it's not an attractive personality trait.


But then I am not a "personality." I am a writer. I don't get paid enough to be a "personality."


One of the interesting things in writing is how the characters change through the course of the story. I had a rough idea of who Rob Haskell and Adam Darling were before I ever began Winter Kill.


Clever and ambitious, Special Agent Adam Darling (yeah, he's heard all the jokes before) was on the fast track to promotion and success until his mishandling of a high profile operation left one person dead and Adam "On the Beach."

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell may seem laid-back, but he's a tough and efficient cop -- and he's none too thrilled to see feebs on his turf -- even when one of the agents is smart, handsome, and probably gay.


This is what I knew going in. And let me say now that I groan when writers talk about their "muse taking over" and side characters "clamoring to tell their own story." I know given the pressure to be out here being social we all spill a lot of inanities, but... But it is true that the storytelling process is an organic one. Characters and plot do change through the process of writing the story. Dialog evolves and as it evolves new angles appear and pretty soon the characters are off and running. And not always in anticipated directions.


Honestly, that's part of the fun of writing.


Two things I didn't initially anticipate was that Rob might be so laid back he failed to follow through on an investigation, and that lapse might have repercussions. Also, he turns out to be a lot more charming and a lot more of a player than I imagined. But it fits and it works, and those are always the exciting discoveries of storytelling. Those are the ah ha! moments.


And Adam...I initially thought Adam would be a lot more to blame for his own problems. But as the story evolves I see that while Adam was ambitious and he's paid a price in his personal life, professionally he is more a victim of circumstance. To me, that's actually more interesting. And it gives Adam a needed vulnerability.


There was another surprise there too--one that links back to the All's Fair series and one that links ahead to a series out on proposal that I haven't really talked about. I love these little surprises and it seems like readers do too, so I won't ruin them by talking too much about them now.


Anyway, that's where I am this fine April morning. And where are you?





Friday, April 3, 2015

Vernal Equinox

The scent of hyacinths, like a pale mist, lies
   between me and my book;
And the South Wind, washing through the room,
Makes the candles quiver.
My nerves sting at a spatter of rain on the shutter,
And I am uneasy with the thrusting of green shoots        
Outside, in the night.

Why are you not here to overpower me with your
   tense and urgent love?





Amy Lowell, 1874 - 1925

Friday, March 27, 2015

Author! Author! JL Merrow

Good morning! Today we have a special treat. I turned my magnifying glass on JL Merrow who -- if you don't already know this -- writes amusing M/M mysteries. I know we have a lot of devoted mystery and romantic suspense readers here, so how's about a warm round of applause for the Divine Ms. M.?

*** 



Josh, thanks so much for having me here! I’m delighted to be here today as part of the Heat Trap blog tour. JL


JL - Your sig line reads Award-winning gay romance with a dash of humour. And no tea.AND NO TEA??!! Are you sure you're English? Are you POSITIVE?

OTHER JL - *climbs on soapbox* Look, let me get one thing straight. The English=tea drinker thing is a total myth, perpetuated by BBC exports such as Midsomer Murders and Downton Abbey...

*climbs off soapbox; cries*

Okay, okay, I admit it. The British Isles are awash with infusions of Camellia sinensis. It’s just me who’s immune to its tannin-laced allure. What can I say? I just don’t like the stuff. Never have. Oh, I tried to like it, when I was younger. I tried for years. I didn’t come out as a non tea drinker until well into my teens. I just smiled, and choked the vile stuff down, because that’s what you do, isn’t it? It’s a social convention.

Even in adulthood, long after I’d given myself over to the blissful joys of the coffee bean, I’d occasionally find myself keeping quiet about my unusual tastes and just drinking the stuff down. It’s one thing proudly telling your contemporaries you never touch the stuff. But elderly relatives? They’re from a different world. They wouldn’t understand.

God rest you, Auntie Margaret, with your buttered tea loaf and your ever-full teapot. I hope you can look down on me now, as I fill my cafetière with rich, sensuously aromatic coffee grinds, and not condemn.



JL - The protagonist of your Plumber's Mate series is Tom Paretski (a little nod to Sara there?) and he is indeed a plumber. A psychic plumber with a talent for finding things, but a plumber all the same. What made you choose that particular highly unglamorous profession for Tom?

Ms Merrow - Well, there was this rather good-looking young man who came to fix my bath taps one day... *g*.

Actually, in all seriousness, Tom is the one of my characters who has been evolving the longest. I had the idea for a plumber with a minor psychic talent (less of a medium; more of a small, as the late, great Sir Pterry Pratchett would have said) many years ago—way before I was ever published. I remember one night in Budapest, sketching out ideas on a bar napkin. (This may sound pretentious, but is actually true. And pretentious.) All of which I promptly put on hold for years after, until I was a bit more confident with this writing gig.

But you know what? I like unglamorous professions for my protagonists. It’s fun. There are so many big, butch heroes out there with big, butch professions. I like writing about guys who don’t have all that going for them, but are sexy nonetheless. Witness my rat catcher in Caught! who was born out of a Yahoo group discussion on least sexy professions.

(And, you know, that young man with the taps was rather good looking.)



JL - So tell us about the new book HEAT TRAP. This is the third one in the series, so that's usually a turning point. Is that the case here?


MM - Ooh, I did not know that. No, seriously, I didn’t. And yet... Tom will be at a very different place in his life, in some ways, in book 4.  And no, I’m not telling you in what ways. No spoilers! ;)

Heat Trap has Tom and Phil coming to the aid of a recurring character in the books, Harry Shire, the landlady of the Devil’s Dyke pub—or rather, to the aid of her newest barmaid, Marianne, who’s being stalked by her ex. It’s set during a rare British heatwave, so fuses are short and tempers frayed all round...


JL - Do you have any food allergies? Do you have a funny food allergy story to share? Here on this blog We love stories about people who blow up like balloons, turn purple and start to choke. Do you have a story like that? ;-D

MM - I am boringly unallergic. But avocado makes me sick as a dog—will that do? ;) Also bananas. And some strange cheese in Slovenia, that wasn’t cheese at all but made from pig fat *shudders at the memory*. 

And for an island-born writer with the name Merrow, I’m ridiculously reluctant to eat fish.

*thinks about it*

 Or perhaps it all makes perfect sense, now... ;)


JL - What's your writing schedule like? Do you write full-time?

MM - I do. Which, to the non-writer, probably conjures up images of the author sitting down at the keyboard at 9am and tapping away solidly until clocking off at 5pm (with appropriate breaks for the consumption of food and vast quantities of caffeine etc.)  Unfortunately, my muse is a total slacker about afternoons. So the creative stuff tends to resume in the evening, slotted uneasily around helping offspring with German homework, explaining that yes, I studied chemistry in my first year at university but no, I can’t remember any of it, and occasionally, even getting to sit down and watch the telly.



JL - Do you believe in ghosts?

MM - I’ve never seen one. But there a lot of people out there who believe they have, so who am I to judge?


JL - Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid? I always ask this question but in your case it might be irrelevant because you've written in so many different genres. Do you have a favorite?

MM - Yea, verily, I am a jack of all trades... I do like to dabble in different genres, it’s true. Hmm. I’m not sure there’s anything I’d like to try which I haven’t. As for favourites... Well, it’s probably the light-hearted contemporary stuff. But I’ve just finished a historical, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing for a change.

One genre you are unlikely to ever see me try is epic fantasy. I used to read scads of it in my youth, but writing it? I cannot be doing with all that world-building. WAY too much like hard work.


JL - writers are notoriously unhealthy. What is one healthy thing you do on a regular basis?

MM - I go to the gym three times a week. To which people often say, “You must be really fit.” And I reply, “You would think so, wouldn’t you?” Sadly, all my time on the rowing machine is largely negated by days spent sitting staring at the computer screen exercising only my fingers (on the keyboard, good heavens, what on earth were you thinking?) and by a wicked red wine and cheese habit. But on the plus side, I get a lot of writing ideas in the gym. You may suspect this is due to the number of young, fit bodies one tends to see there. I couldn’t possibly comment. ;)

JL - I notice a lot of my British writing friends are beginning to sound a wee bit militant about the "Americanization" of their work through publishers here in the States. What's that about? Why do you feel it's so important to retain that British feel and tone? Think of how these publishers are saving you from all those reviews that cite "misspellings" in your work!  ;-D

MM - Heh, I’m not as militant as some—to be shamefully honest, I can never even remember if it’s supposed to be whiskey or whisky, and I’m more-or-less blind to missed-out “u’s”. But I do draw the line at having British characters say “ass” or “gotten”—IF, that is, they’re out of their teens. It’s amazing how Americanised teen language has become over the last ten years or so. Chiefly, it’s amazing it’s taken so long, given how much American TV we watch over here!

What it comes down to is being true to the character. If you’re not true to the character, then the reader who can spot that will be pulled out of the story. Who wants that?  And let’s face it, we Brits can cope with Americans saying “ass” and even “fanny” when they mean bum (although the second one makes us squirm a bit). I think it’s rather disrespectful to American readers to assume they need protecting from the odd arse.


JL  - What do you love most about writing? What do you find most challenging?

MM -

(a)   Writing.
(b)  Writing.

Okay, that’s not terribly helpful. Hmm. What comes most easily to me, without a doubt, is dialogue. Raymond Chandler famously said, “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” When I’m in doubt as to where to go in a story, I get a couple of characters to walk through the door and have a bit of a natter.

What doesn’t come so easily is plotting. Which, obviously, is why I started writing mysteries...


JL - When it comes to friends and family are you better at giving or receiving advice?

MM - Oh, giving, yes indeedy. Nuff said.


JL - What are you working on next?

MM - I’m currently working on Book #3 of The Shamwell Tales, which has the snappy yet evocative working title of Shamwell 3. It features, as one of the main couple, a side character from Shamwell #2, otherwise known as Played! (due out June 2015)  After that, I’ll be working on a leap year themed novel, due out by a staggering coincidence (not) on 29th February 2016. After that... Well, I would say it’ll be Plumber’s Mate #4, but a couple of the characters in Shamwell 3 are showing increasing signs of demanding their own story, so who knows...?

***

 Giveaway: I’m offering a free ebook from my backlist (including Heat Trap) to a randomly chosen commenter on this post.
 
And there’s a grand prize of a signed paperback copy of book #2 in my Plumber’s Mate series, the EPIC award finalist Relief Valve, plus a pair of rainbow-coloured merino wool blend wrist-warmers, hand-knitted by the author, for one lucky commenter on the tour.
I’m happy to ship internationally, and the more blog posts you comment on, the more chances you get!

Please remember to leave an email addy in your comment so I can get in touch with you if you win.

I’ll be making the draws around teatime on Wednesday 1st April, GMT (no joke!)

Good luck! :D




***


JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. 

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.

JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow

***
The wrong secret could flush their love down the drain
It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.
Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.
With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.
The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.
Warning: Contains British slang, a very un-British heat wave, and a plumber with a psychic gift who may not be as British as he thinks he is.
Available in ebook and paperback:   Samhain |   Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | ARe


Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring! Five Things I Love

Happy First Day of Spring!

As a lot of you probably know by now, we put an offer in on a house and this time someone took us seriously! So we're in escrow. We close on the 27th of April -- which is right about when I'll be wrapping up work on Winter Kill. So it's kind of an action-packed spring.

I'm still a little in shock.

But anyway, it's a good shock. I'm thrilled about the house -- and terrified that something will go wrong and we won't get it. I don't think I will really believe in it until we're unlocking the door for the first time and walking across our threshold.

It's been a while since we've shared one of our Five Things We Love and I thought the first day of spring might be the perfect time.

1 - Tacos.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN'T CHOOSE TACOS AGAIN? Okay, This is not intended to be an advertisement, but we subscribe to Blue Apron and I'm really having a lot of fun cooking right now. I'm putting BA on hold for the next few weeks while we get through escrow, so I will miss the enticing boxes of produce and packets that show up every Thursday evening. The next time I cook -- really cook -- we'll (cross my fingers) be in our new kitchen in our new house.

2 -  Vintage home decorating books. Wow. Whole chapters devoted to Where to Place Your TV.

3 - Sinking deep into a new project. Losing myself in that world of my imagination. Writing is such a weird thing. It's like intense daydreaming, only all the while your brain is observing and trying to translate the experience into precise and evocative words. It's a peculiar exercise of creativity and intellect. Keeping that perfect -- articulate--  balance of emotional involvement and dispassionate observation...I think that's what makes writing so different from the other arts.

4 - The way the air changes with the seasons.

Spring feels warm and young. It is fragrant with flowers and grass and sunshine. Autumn and Spring. Those are the two big changes here. Those are the ones you really feel in your chest.

5 - Change.

I hate change. But I love to force myself off the diving board anyway. I love the cold blue splashing
shock of it. And then how stronger and better you feel after you've been swimming in that change for a while. And how quickly change becomes the new normal.

So what do YOU love this Spring? What is spring bringing you this year?

Friday, March 13, 2015

NEW RELEASES - WIZARD'S MOON & WEDDING FAVORS

Two new releases last week. Both of them short stories (I know! How very dare I!) :-D Wedding Favors is the sequel to Perfect Day, and I've talked a bit about it. It's just a very sweet, very simple little story about what happens when you fail to communicate.

What I always find interesting is how often we think we *are* communicating. Because most of us do try in our relationships with friends and family to talk, to share, to express. Sometimes the problem is we're not saying as much as we think we are. Sometimes we aren't listening. Listening is a big, big part of the communication equation. And part of the trick is to listen to what people are not saying.

So that's Wedding Favors. And you can purchase it all the usual places including Kobo and Barnes&Noble and All Romance Ebooks.

And then we have Wizard's Moon.

The kid on the cover looks distractingly like my nephew, but that's another thought for another day. Cover art. And how much better a book does if you put an attractive human figure on the cover.

Anyway. Wizard's Moon is one of those long lost stories. Readers are always asking what I've got in those dusty back file drawers, and a lot of what I've got are short stories or half-written (abandoned) experiments.

Wizard's Moon was my first real attempt at writing fantasy, and my taste back then was very old school. Castles and dragons and elves and magick. I actually found the idea of spec fiction set in a contemporary setting troubling.

But our tastes and our interests change. Which is probably the understatement of the year.

Anyway, here's a wee snippet of Wizard's Moon (again available at all the usual places Kobo, B&N, All Romance Ebooks, etc.



That day was little different than the first. The wild flowers and crimson and gold-clad trees gave way to somber pine as they climbed higher into the purple mountains. The air blowing down from the snowy peaks above them was sharper still and Faro could feel it stabbing in his lungs.

On this day Jaxom spoke briefly of himself and his home in the North Country. He seemed to be reminding himself of these things rather than instructing Faro. Faro imagined a small but comfortable holding, self-contained and isolate. Jaxom was unmarried and without heir; devoting himself to his estates since his return to civilian life. Faro wondered where someone like himself would fit in. He also began to wonder why, when Jaxom’s holdings lay north, did they travel east?

He would have liked to ask questions, but Jaxom’s manner did not encourage. So he listened carefully. He chuckled when Jaxom made some dry comment and tried to meet Jaxom’s restless gaze often. In his years at Quix’s establishment he had discovered that most men desired to be listened to as much as they desired a good fuck. Jaxom Re was an educated man, a man of refinement. It might be that he was one of those who prized companionship as highly as sex. No one had ever desired such a thing from Faro before, but he began to hope it was true now.

He wondered too if perhaps for all his age and experience, Jaxom Re had never taken a boy to bed. This kind of restraint was unnatural, surely? Were that true, it left the thing in his own hands. He would have to watch for an opening. It wouldn’t be wise to let matters continue undefined for too long. He knew that he must make himself as near indispensable to Jaxom Re as he had been to Quix; though it had not saved him from being sold, his position at Quix’s had been secure for years and relatively comfortable. Jaxom had visited a whoremaster; he must have need of a whore’s services.

Faro was out of practice, and unwashed, unkempt, exhausted, after the past two days, he must look like a vagabond; even so it was best not to put the thing off for too long. Better to consolidate his position before they reached Jaxom’s holdings. He was surprised at his own diffidence in the matter.

As on the day previous they rode until Faro was sure he could ride no further, then Jaxom made camp.

“If you will tell me what to do, my lord—”

“Stay out from underfoot.” Catching Faro’s expression, Jaxom said more kindly, “Rest, boy. You look half-dead.”

This seemed beyond consideration. It made Faro uneasy in some ill-defined way. He ignored Jaxom’s order and wandered around the clearing, stiffly picking up twigs for the fire. He felt as though he were a hundred years old.

“Thank you,” Jaxom said when Faro delivered his bundle of sticks. “You’ve a helpful disposition. I suppose I see why your—why Master Quix was sorry to let you go.”

“He’ll be more sorry yet,” Faro retorted bitterly. “I’ve kept his accounts for these past three years. No one in that house has the least notion of record-keeping.” This had been on his mind all afternoon. Part of him was aggravated that all his hard work would soon be undone, part of him was vindictively pleased at the thought of the inevitable chaos.

Jaxom said slowly, “So it was true then, what Quix said about not—your not servicing the customers?”

Faro stared at the fire licking up to reach the stick Jaxom tossed at it. “I served Quix. In whichever way he chose.” Glancing up, he caught Jaxom’s tawny gaze. “Perhaps you think I should have run away?”

“It’s not my affair.”

“I did run away. Twice. The second time…convinced me not to try again.”

Silence but for the crackling fire.

“Your hide’s not scarred. You look well fed.”

Faro tried to smile. “There are other ways of hurting. Ways that don’t leave you ugly.” He offered a smile. “I don’t stand pain well.”

For an instant something darkened Jaxom’s eye. Something that prickled the hair on the nape of Faro’s neck.