Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Little Lost

You'll have to excuse me-- I just finished a novella, and I seem to be a little lost.

You see, I didn't realize I'd entered the dragon's cave.  I didn't.  I was just working.  Just doing my job.  Just striving for that 2-3k a day.  And then it was 4-5K, and then I was up until two in the morning, several days in a row.

And the foot hurt and I couldn't pull my head out, and I hadn't seen my kids even though they were right there next to me and…

I was a little lost.

But I finished the novella (my DSP Christmas offering, if they take it) and it was short and sweet and odd--because it also hurt--and I was torn between "Yes!  Yes!  This is exactly how it was supposed to be!"  and "I don't know, it sort of wrote itself, is it any good?  Do I need to go back and gut it?  Make it longer?  (It's 40K) Should it be a novel?  Should I strip it down?  Why can I not see it any way but how it is?"

And even though it's submitted, I'm a little lost.

My foot flared up, and I've spent two days at the pool, but I really can't do housework right now.  So I… what?  I sit?  Next to my husband?  And knit?  I could catch up on my correspondence (and there's a lot of it) but I'm not quite in this world yet, so I can't seem to put my thoughts in order.

Did I mention I'm a little lost?

I've got a picnic planned with the kids and their friends on Thursday-- yes.  An anchor.  I can plan that. Food, drink, dessert.  I can do that.  But I don't really need to make anything until Wednesday night/Thursday morning, so until then…

I mean, I should find myself by Thursday, right?

Tomorrow I should be able to do housework.  Maybe that will work.  Maybe if I excavate my desk and fold some clothes and make the kids go outside and play and take the dog for a walk, maybe I will know where I am.

The kids leave on Friday, going with my parents until Wednesday so Mate and I can go to San Francisco and he can run the half marathon.  I hope I find myself by then, or I will be lost in SF and he will be running for 13 miles and I will be doing my 5K wander to try to find him… will I be found then?

Will I find myself in San Francisco because I left my brain at my kitchen table?

That would be nice, because right now, I'm still with Adam and Finn, wandering in and out of their world and their dialog, wondering, "Did I do it right?  Have I tied up every knot?  What about John?  Is he okay?  Kee and Emm?  Yeah.  Walter and Nate?  Oh I hope so-- they're already on presale.  And… and… oh my God!  What about Mackey!  Should I start marketing for Mackey?  Should I?  Will I do enough?  Will I do too much?  Did I forget about marketing while I was caught in my writing haze?

Oh hell.

Where am I again?

I'm home.  It needs cleaning.  The kids need a lap and a cuddle.  Jurassic Park is on.  My correspondence can wait.  I have nothing to work on right now.  Work is done for the evening.

I'm sorry.  I was rambling.  You see, I'm a little lost.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Day At the Fair

*  Note to folks who read my blog on GoodReads.  The feed screws up the picture size and word ratio EVERY TIME.  I guarantee, this post will make MUCH MORE SENSE on my regular blog page.  Saying.


 We went to the State Fair today, because it was Zoomboy's day to dance.

Next week it will be Squish's day to dance, but Mate and I are going to San Francisco so he can run instead.  My parents will take her.  (Do we like Squish's socks?  Julianne gave her two socks that make one alpaca.  I adore them.  Mate seemed to think they were just eyeballs.


So today, we were going to the Fair.

Normally I loathe the State Fair, especially when I'm there escorting the kids alone.

It is loud.  It is hot.  It is sweaty.  It costs too much.  The kids want things we can't afford.  I don't like getting on the rides.  We never win the games.  By the time we get there, the animals are all gone, even the ones having babies.  Nobody wants to look at the art.

But today was different.

Today I was there by myself, and my foot hurt, and the Goddess responded by giving me a perfect day at the fair.

Today, the kids were old enough to ride the rides by themselves.  See Squish?  See her look skeptical?  Trust me, she was smiling at the end.

Today, nobody was on the midway, so it was easy for them to win something.  Even if Zoomboy won twice, it was pretty obvious he was giving the second one to Squish.

And that was all it took.  Four rides a piece, and four rounds of games, and I could say, "We are done, we have spent plenty of money in this concrete death trap of lies, let's go look at livestock!"

And they did!

After a stop in the giant human bubble pit, of course, because seriously-- what's a trip to the fair without being in one of the bubbles in the giant human bubble pit?  Sayin'.

But after that, there were… well, mammals.  Mammalling.

See the pregnant goats?  See them ignore me?  That is the hallmark of a mammal, mammalling.

 Even the kids do it.

(I COMMAND you all to forgive me for that terrible, terrible pun.)

See this cow?  She is due tomorrow.  Yeah, sure, it was only 94 degrees today, but I have to tell you, I remember being pregnant in July.

And August.

And September.

One of my clearest memories when I found out I was pregnant with Squish (in August) was the thought, "Oh holy Goddess, I shall NEVER be pregnant in the summertime AGAIN!

Well, the cows and the goats and the Jacob Sheep (as opposed to the Orson sheep or the Matthew sheep or the Gilbert sheep, I guess)  are pregnant now.  Or recuperating with babies.  And, in case you were wondering?  I think they loathe all living creatures forever right now.  Just saying.  Wasn't getting a lot of love in the nursery, you know what I mean.
However, this display in the children's craft section got a lot of love-- at least from my kids.

It's Intel (where Mate works) made out of Legos.  Seriously.  Check it out.  I looked at it, said, "Oh, hey-- your dad works at that building right there.  (Third from the right.  No lie.)  So this was charming, and the kids thought it was timely.  Go us.  Mate didn't get there until right before Zoomboy danced.  We asked him if he wanted to see it, but he was not particularly impressed.  Said he saw it every day.  Go figure.

But at last…

Zoomoby finally got to dance.  He is the turquoise shirt in the middle, dancing to "Fly", but I have to tell you, his best moment was not captured well on film.  It was when I taped him dancing in a toga to "Go the Distance" and realized that underneath the toga he was wearing gym shorts and tube socks.  Mate and I looked at each other and said, "Now that's classy!" because hey!  The footies I'd put in his backpack got nothing on his father's tube socks scrunched down his leg.

But he danced, and it was awesome, and after that, we went to eat. I ate fried catfish for dinner.  It's something I ate in New Orleans, and no, nothing beats it in NOLA, but hey.  I was having withdrawals, because it was nummy.

But afterwards, we went into the Undersea expo--
see?  It's right by the twin bears, and Zoomboy had to pose, for hambone reasons.

Anyway, so we ate, went to see the display, watched the kids salute an eagle, checked out the frisky otters (sounds like a ska band, doesn't it-- Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Frisky Otters!) and then went to eat funnel cake, for my arteries are still not clogged from catfish reasons.

 And after the funnel cake, there was a display where you dug in a sand pit and PG&E flashed red lights and a siren at you.  Zoomboy thought this right here was worth the price of admission, and his father and I thought that was high comedy.

But you can see that it's getting to be twilight by now and although we didn't see everything at the fair, well, the kids are going next week with grandma and grandpa, so we didn't feel bad.  We'd been there for seven hours, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were playing in the background, and we took one monorail ride in the lowering twilight, walked through the midway, checked out the new soccer stadium, and called it a day.

It was, in fact, a very good day.

And perhaps, now that there are no more diapers, and no more emergency trips to the potty, and no more of me having to ride the rides, and no more strollers or carrying kids, or crying, or those other things that happen when you drag young children to the fair to dance in the elventy-twelve degree weather…

Perhaps, the fair can stop being a source of anxiety to me.

Because today we went to the fair, and we had an awful lot of fun.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Chariot and the Devil

 People ask me this question a lot: How do you become successful?  How do you make a living writing?  I've always wanted to do that.  How do you do that?  Is it worth it?

My standard answer is: I'm lucky.  I've been fortunate to have good fans.  And yes, it's worth it, all of the sacrifices are worth it to be here, making a living doing the thing I love most.

That's the truth--especially the first two sentences.  That last one is also true--at the same time it is the most appalling lie.

I love writing.  I love the way it makes me feel, I love the way people respond to it.  My entire life has always been about the story, and being a writer is being the story.  And that's amazing.  I'm not kidding--it's like sex, and the porn tape of the most amazing sex you would ever be privileged to witness or have is on a continuous loop through your brain, except it's not just sex, so it doesn't get boring, nobody gets pregnant, and there is no chafing.  Oh, and the people having the sex look way better than I do, so that's a major plus.

But at the same time writing is an amazing, primal ride, it's also the curse.  In fact, it's almost exactly like the Chariot and the Devil.

Now I've talked about reading tarot cards before, and how amazing it is when what seems to be a simple story, told in the symbols on the cards, turns out to be somebody else's life spelled out in careless runes.  I am continually surprised at the writers I know who either read tarot actively now, have read it in the past, or are constantly captivated by the people they know who do read.  To me, it's only a natural progression-- writers tell stories.  The symbols in the tarot cards tell stories, and the writers interpret them.  Very often they use the context of the symbols-- the person who is getting the reading-- to interpret that story, and thus the reading becomes personal, becomes real, becomes true.  I've forgotten a whole lot about my teaching credential work (because hey! 23 years ago!) but I do remember endless discussion about the interpretation of words and symbols, and the heartbeat of literature as defined by a pre-awareness, a present awareness, a conflict, a climax, a resolution, and a suggestion of the future.  Most tarot readings follow this same structure-- for people who read or write a lot, interpreting the structure is practically instinct. 
And the symbols themselves are also instinctual.  They are elementals, parts of our world, parts of our psyches, parts of ourselves. 

Thus it is with the Chariot and the Devil.  

The Chariot is the card of journeys, of forces that bear us from our intended path, the card of the warrior who is cut off from any influence but the road under his feet and the control of the opposing powers at his command.  The Chariot is the card of being swept away, of doing battle with the elements, of being taken away from our homes and our comfort by mighty things beyond our power to control.  Sometimes you can bear your cart back on the intended path, and sometimes you have no choice but to hang on for the ride.

The Devil, too, is a card of primal forces.  He usually holds humans in bondage--he is the power, the addiction, the surge of things that we can either break free of or draw strength from--but even his strength is an addiction that will either kill us with the surrender of our own egos or that we will expend more strength fighting to break free. 

Writers know these cards really really well.  

Sometimes when we sit down to write, we are swept away by the Chariot, and the feeling is… exhilarating.  We are in control!  We are bearing that clattering cart on a journey, and the wind and the sea and the earth are sweeping under our feet, and we wield our sword and we are gods!!! 

That's writing.  That's the journey.  That's what we do when we take living, breathing human beings from Point A to Point B.

It's incredibly addictive.

It holds us in thrall.

I've talked about the dragon before, and how it rides me or I ride it, but it's always about the ride.  I've bemoaned my house, and my mourned time with kids, and wondered, constantly wondered, if I am doing right by myself, and my family, by jumping on that Chariot every goddamned time it beckons.  Can I break this addiction?  This primal force thundering through my veins?  Is the ego-death of becoming other people worth it, every time a character haunts me through sleep, through cleaning the house, through moth infestations and chores I don't do and chores I should make the kids do, and mementos of my children's childhood-- 

It's one thing to say, "Yes, mommy is working!" but Mommy lives to work, she thrives on work, and breaking apart the ego to the parts that have died in work and that must survive to raise children and run a house is difficult, it's exhausting, it's like breaking an addiction or fighting a battle that rages continuously.  

I'm writing.  Get up and clean the kitchen.  I'm writing.  Get up and take the kids for a walk.  I'm writing.  Feed the goddamned dog.  I'M WRITING. TALK TO YOUR HUSBAND! I'M WRITING. ENGAGE, GODDAMMIT, ENGAGE!

 I'm writing.
If I don't learn how to stop, it may one day be the only human contact I can manage.  The Chariot may have borne me from all those I love, from all that is human, and the Devil may have me in thrall forever.

Melodramatic, of course.  A life and death struggle from a fat woman at her computer at the kitchen table, in a room filled with moths and office furniture, but meant to prepare food.
But it feels real inside my head. 

I'm taking the kids for a walk.  So I'm not writing.  We're going swimming tomorrow.  So I'm not writing.  I'm cooking dinner instead of having Mate stop for takeout.  So I'm not writing.  I'm watching television and knitting with the family.  SO I'M NOT WRITING I'M NOT WRITING I'M NOT WRITING.  

I'm not writing.  I'm practicing ego resuscitation. I'm remembering the things that make me human.

So I can take those things and use them to control that Chariot, enslaved to the primal forces of the most insidious devil mankind has ever battled. 

The Devil of creativity, the entropy that creates apathy, the thing that drags us away from our families and our loves, from our pride and our homes…

And creates homes and families and loves and prides that we will never have.

So is it worth it?

Well I say it is.

I believe it is.

But I'm the warrior on the Chariot, I'm the ego in thrall to the Devil.  
I clearly believe what I'm saying-- but ask yourself.  

You know who I am.  You know what my cards are.  Am I trustworthy?  Can you control those cards? If you can, jump on the Chariot, and strike up the conversation with Old Nick.

You too can be part of the ride.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Underutilized House Elves

It was a quick three weeks--and, oddly picture-less ones at that!--but Chicken has gone back to San Diego, leaving the house quiet and the younger kids strangely inclined not to quarrel.

In fact, the entire family seems to have fallen into the July slump-- you know that slump, it's the one in which Calvin and Hobbes wander around and do nothing and we envy them?

Yeah.  That's where my kids are right now.  They can play video games, play in their rooms, read, or wander around the backyard for hours--and yes, they can get into trouble.  Over the Fourth, Zoomboy developed a game of bowling plastic cups with a soccer ball that kept him busy for days.  He has started going through his old joke books and coming up with even older jokes, and his sister is reading all of the books he told her about in the last year.  They need even MOAR stuff to do, and I'm afraid I really only offer stuff to do every so often--but then, self-reliance is a good thing.

So is Netflix, wherein the little kids have now become intimately acquainted with Malcolm in the Middle this summer, God help us all.  The entire family has enjoyed this one-- we SO identify with that show, being as we are not good people, at all, even when we mean to be.

Mate took everybody to Sun Splash on Thursday, and for a whole five minutes I was lost in a conundrum: go to the loud, hot swim park surrounded by rides that would probably hurt me to ride, or stay home and actually get some work done without the distraction of kids, in a house so quiet I can actually listen to music.

I picked B-- and I sort of sublimated the guilt in all of that glorious quiet.  *happy sigh*  Ah…

And today, Mate and Chicken watched a very sad animated feature-- The Illusionist and proceeded to break each other.  Chicken broke because the film was frickin' sad, and Mate broke because he didn't know how to fix Chicken.  I got home from taking the little kids to gymnastics and picked up the aftermath, and it wasn't until I looked up the plot of this movie that I realized what happened.

Because the plot synopsis made me cry.

No lies.  The plot synopsis.  I was a mess.

Anyway, that was the note on which we shoved Chicken out of the car and into the airport, and that sort of sucks, because as a whole, I think she had a very nice visit.

On Tuesday, for example, we went to Candy Heaven-- I may have mentioned this place back in March-- so I could ask Darren, the proprietor, if I could use his store in my upcoming Christmas novella, and even use him!  I didn't get a chance to talk to him, which is too bad because he's delightful, but his office assistant passed on the request, and I got a big enthusiastic YES!

Of course now I'm a little nervous-- I'm going to be taking liberties of course, because it's fiction, but now I REALLY want him to like it!

Of course, the kids really enjoyed the trip-- I bought them fun stuff, and we got candy and stopped by the fortune telling store and got bookmarks that corresponded with our birth dates and I got a new deck of cards and Chicken got a big purple puppet she called Steve, after the cat, because the puppet looked just a tad bit dumb and like it, too, would fall of couches if given half a chance.

So, between that, trips to my parents for the FIFTH of July, the occasional trip to the pool, and obviously some big things going down work wise, I think we've been busy enough.  (Although I just asked the kids to go out and do a chore-- the blowback I'm getting would make you think they picked tobacco in 100 degree heat and 90% humidity-- I SWEAR they are underutilized as house elves, really!)

But now, after all of that I'm the one feeling lost.

Mackey, Bells, and Black John consumed a good portion of my active mind for nearly six months.  And while I'm working on some short projects-- some light, happy things to balance out all of the difficult, painful drama, I find my mind adrift.  Mackey is safe and sound and happy and edited.  Nate and Walter are gone, packaged, ready to be released, and John doesn't get edited for another two months (although I went and gave him an extra editing pass just for good measure.)

I finished a novella for a cookbook anthology (which made me really happy to write) and I'm working on a Christmas novella, but these things are sweet, kind projects, that don't require nearly the mental defenses I've been using for Mackey, John, and Bells.

What do I think of now?

My family, of course (and I think they bear some thinking about-- I do not like the fight I just had to put up to get a simple chore done) and maybe some housework-- I mean, there's things I have to do, things I've let slide--and now I have to remember to climb up that slide again and do those things-- these other projects aren't calling me anymore.

It's enough to make a mom want to go into the woods with her best stuffed friend and meditate.

Or maybe drag her offspring with her.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Beneath the Stain and Throwing in the Towel

Okay-- not throwing in the towel for the whole writing gig.  For one thing, I'm sort of virtually unemployable for anything else-- it seems I have deeply ingrained authority issues and an inability to keep my mouth shut.  So sad-- I was seriously considering that career in politics.

But no-- throwing in the "I've got to do it all myself" towel.  But I'll get to that.

First-- do you like the cover?  Do you LOVE THAT COVER?  I love that cover.  I'm totally in love with that cover, right down to and including the tattoo, which you may recall seeing a few weeks ago.  (Also the "Bleeding Cowboy" font-- the real name-- I could just DIE!)  Anyway, the Anne Cain cover is beauteous, and Mackey even looks scrawny and more like a xylophone than a six-pack, and I've sorta got a thing for scrawny guys.  (You all may have noticed Mate is a great deal slimmer than I am… well, it's a thing.)

And about that cover… you may notice the "Part 1" not once but TWICE on that cover. 

See, uhm, this book is coming out two ways.  

Way one-- in serial form, seven parts, one part a week, with the release dates as follows:

1 - Aug 29
2 - Sept 5
3 - Sept 12
4 - Sept 19
5 - Sept 26
6 - Oct 3
7 - Oct 10
Full release Oct 17 at GRL

Way two-- and the one that's coming out on October 17th at GRL-- is the complete book, both paperback (thus they can be purchased at GRL) and e-book.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "So, if we can get the full book on October 17th, why is it I should order the serial and read it in pieces?"

Well, a couple of reasons. 

 The first is the obvious; that the soap opera feel of the book is given a little bit of a boost the being released in pieces.  Each piece is between 15-25K long, so sort of a short novella length, and we tried to break up the book in such a way that you both got one question answered and then another one asked.  We're going to try to open a special page on FB so you can discuss the novellas, with spoilers, and speculate talk about what an asshole Mackey is and all of that other fun stuff.

The other reason is that, available in the serial form and IN NO OTHER FORMAT, are what we have started calling "DVD Extras".  (In fact, I think they're called that IN THE BOOK.)  And I love this feature.  See, you know how people are always saying, "I'd like this person's story!" or, "Even though that's a het pairing, I'd like to see more!"  Well, when I wrote the book, I was conscious that it was going long.  In fact, we broke it up into sections because it was nearly 170K long, and DSP usually draws the cut-off line at 140K.  So I kept the story arc short and tight-- some of my tightest writing ever--and it definitely worked.  But that didn't mean that I didn't want to write the other character's backstories, either. 

So this way, I got to do that.  The DVD extras--and there are seven in all--are brief forays into the lives of the characters whom we don't get to see offscreen.  Mackey's brothers, his best friend, and Trav's best friend and boss, all get some screen time in these segments, and I think you'll like what they bring to the table.  Even the guy you're going to hate (for the first 125K or so) gets a moment of sympathy--and you'll be glad to know what's going on in his life, even if you're conflicted.  So the serial starts coming out sooner, and that's a plus, but even beyond that, there's a reason to read it.  The extras came to nearly 20K (so like a whole other novella)and while they don't tell you anything necessary to know for the plot, they sure do get you invested in the side characters--and I think you'll really like them.

So that's Beneath the Stain-- and believe me, I'll have buy links the minute they go up!

And that's the other thing.

See, I have, in the past, done most of my promo by myself-- with some help from friends, of course (Rhys Ford's help with Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair was invaluable, as is Mary Calmes's every time she posts a buy link--and pretty much every interview I've ever given has been solicited by someone else.  Folks, I love you--thank you for your help!) But the idea of promo-ing this-- complete with contests and swag and a blot tour and getting people to promise not to give spoilers and…

Well, Mate came home and the other day and said, "What'd I do?"


"Okay, there is a funky black cloud everywhere-- what happened?"


It took me hours to unfreeze my face and stop my hamster wheel from going around--and in the meantime, well, writing deadlines, editing deadlines, being kind to my children…


So I e-mailed a promoter and asked for a price point.  And if she can't do it, I'll find a price I can live with.  Because I give.  I know what needs to be done--and Glory, I don't mind doing it--but it seems my little juggernaut has gotten bigger than even I can pull back.  The sled is overbalancing and threatening to slide of the mountain, and I. Need. Help.

So yes--for Mackey, I have to throw in the towel and get some help doing promotions.

But it will be worth it.  Because…

Because a year and a half ago, Mate and I went and saw Muse concert, and this story unspooled in the back of my head, perfect and beautiful, from beginning to end, with all the stops in between.

A year ago, I went to the Electric Christmas festival at Arco, and Cage the Elephant played, and Mackey strutted through my brain, fully formed, flaws, perfection, beauty, genius, fury, and glory, all of him.  And I had the story ready.  Everything was all there.  And I needed to write it.  


In my head, it was perfect. 

A week after that concert, I sat down at my computer and IM'd with Mary Calmes until 4 in the morning, her time, and I outlined everything.  As cleanly and concisely as a college thesis.  I knew what this story was going to be.

On paper, it is the best I can do.

Now, I'm sure someone is going to read it and say something stupid like, "If she was a better writer, she'd make it shorter."  (For the record, I did that with The Bells of Times Square. This is a different animal-- it's like comparing an ocelot to a tiger.)

Or (my personal favorite, because for every reviewer who's said "My absolute favorite by Amy Lane!" there's been someone who has said this): Not Amy Lane's best.

I would beg to differ.  Love me or hate me, love my guys or loathe them, this book is everything I've ever wanted to write.  Like the rock star Mackey Sanders is, he needs to be sung, lauded, and paraded in front of the freaking stars.  

This is my best work.  I want as many eyes on this as I can get.  

Mackey deserves it.  

So, uhm, *blush*  buy links as soon as possible.  Heads up on promos in the same time.  In the meanwhile, remember that cover.  It's beautiful.  I love it.  Holy Goddess, Merciful God, let people not think it sucks--I swear to you all, it's gonna be good. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

*kermit flail* Monday-- July!

Yup-- it's *kermit flail* Monday again, and I've got some FANTASTIC stuff for you all-- and don't forget to scroll all the way down, okay?  I sorta got a cover reveal and a pre-buy of my own to pimp (*aherm*  Look above, it'll give you a hint!)  and I'm UBER FRICKIN' EXCITED.  So, that being pimped, I'm gonna just scoot right on into the debuts!

After that, I'm going to start with a pleasant surprise!

When I send out a "Helllooooo…" For *kermit flail* Monday, I'm always reminded that writers are my favorite people.  Case in point, Angel Martinez, who is kind, funny, and forgave me for being a little loopy the first time we met, and who jumped up and down and waved the minute I sent this out.  Angel Martinez is actually re releasing these books, but after reading the blurbs, I'm thinking that they need to be HUGE this time around.  Cause… yanno… I've got a not-so-hidden weakness for the Fae :-)  Everybody give a huge welcome and a round of applause to ANGEL MARTINEZ!  YAYAYAYAYAYAY!

Diego: Endangered Fae 2

After defeating an evil wendigo, a man and his pooka lover deserve a little quiet. Unfortunately, Diego and Finn's hard-won peace is disturbed when Diego, in a jealous rage, unwittingly rips a hole in the impenetrable Veil to the Otherworld.

Separated, stuck on the other side of the Veil where Finn has to face old conflicts and Diego is the only human in a land of fae, the two of them navigate rocky waters between huge egos and ancient feuds. Worse still, some of the fae are dying of a mysterious illness and everyone believes Diego is the key to a cure. Things can't possibly get any worse, can they? Oh, yes---they can when the US government gets involved. 

Diego: Endangered Fae 2 released last month

Semper Fae: Endangered Fae 3

Zack thought he had a strange job before---Marine medic in a secret government base was odd, but personal assistant to a sidhe prince is downright bizarre and damn dangerous.

Zack thought he had a strange job before. Working as a Marine medic in a secret government installation was odd, but working as a human liaison to the /fae/ and as the personal assistant to a sidhe prince is downright bizarre. Throw in the fact that he's pretty damn sure he's fallen in love with his boss, and things are close to unmanageable.

Of course, around the fae, one never says 'things can't possibly get any worse.' Unexplained events plague the human world. Strange sightings, spontaneous magical explosions, and odd bends in reality crop up. When Finn falls ill and a monstrous creature attacks Zack, things quickly slide into disaster. Lycanthropy, loose-cannon mages, and Lugh conspire to make a hellish mess of things---but the real peril begins when Diego loses an important piece of his mind.

Semper Fae: Endangered Fae 3 comes out this Friday (7/11)

Now, I've got sort of a soft spot for this next one---- Ashlyn Kane sent me the juicy bits as she was working on it, and, well, can we say extremely juicy.  And fun.  Ashlyn is great at banter and give and take and back and forth, and she and Morgan did an outstanding job on this story.  Everybody give it up for Hard Feelings-- YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!

Hard Feelings

Buy at DSP


Rylan Williams hates conferences: too many people, not enough routine, and way too much interaction with strangers. When he gets stuck in a broken elevator with Miller Jones, the kid who fell asleep in his lecture, he figures things can’t get worse. Then Rylan realizes he’s the same guy he just spent an hour perving over from afar.

Rylan wants to await rescue in silence, but Miller insists on conversation, or at least banter. But just because they don’t get along doesn’t mean they don’t have chemistry, and Rylan breaks all his rules about intimacy for a one-time-only conference hookup. He’ll probably never see Miller again anyway. So of course, two months later Miller shows up at Rylan’s office, having just been hired to work on a new computer program—with Rylan.

And Rylan thought being stuck in an elevator with him was bad.

Soon Rylan and Miller learn that they get along best when they take out their frustrations in the bedroom. Their arrangement goes against everything Rylan believes in, but the rules are simple: Don’t stay overnight. Don’t tell anyone. And don’t fall in love.

And… OMG-- I've spent my lazy weekend reading people who's books I love, just FOR ME, ME, NOBODY BUT ME!!!  This here's one of them.  I'm midway through, it ROCKS SO HARD and if you haven't read the first two (Sinner's Gin, and Whiskey and Wry) then I totally suggest you do.  Rhys is a friend of mine, and she writes giant skywriting circles around me and I ADORE HER.  So that being said, man, dive right in to Tequila Mocking Bird!  YAYAYAYAY!!!!! 

Tequila Mockingbird
Sequel to Whiskey and Wry
Sinners Series: Book Three 

Buy at DSP
Lieutenant Connor Morgan of SFPD’s SWAT division wasn’t looking for love. Especially not in a man. His life plan didn’t include one Forest Ackerman, a brown-eyed, blond drummer who’s as sexy as he is trouble. His family depends on him to be like his father, a solid pillar of strength who’ll one day lead the Morgan clan.

No, Connor has everything worked out—a career in law enforcement, a nice house, and a family. Instead, he finds a murdered man while on a drug raid and loses his heart comforting the man’s adopted son. It wasn’t like he’d never thought about men — it’s just loving one doesn’t fit into his plans.

Forest Ackerman certainly doesn’t need to be lusting after a straight cop, even if Connor Morgan is everywhere he looks, especially after Frank’s death. He’s just talked himself out of lusting for the brawny cop when his coffee shop becomes a war zone and Connor Morgan steps in to save him.

Whoever killed his father seems intent on Forest joining him in the afterlife. As the killer moves closer to achieving his goal, Forest tangles with Connor Morgan and is left wondering what he’ll lose first—his life or his heart.

And ZOMG! This book was so frickin' good.  I mean… *kermit flails* So frickin' good!  *moar flails*  *no words*  JUST BUY IT PEOPLE!!!  *pants*  Dudes.  Just… just buy it.  It's all I gots for you.  Because, you know.  It's Mary frickin' Calmes.

All Kinds of Tied Down

by Mary Calmes

Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they've gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more. 

As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn't working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn't work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn't being tied down at all.

Okay, folks- -so, I've got a release in August-- a pretty big one-- but that's going to get it's whole own post as soon as it goes up on the coming soon page.  I mean… it's huge, it's going to be released as seven novellas and… GINORMAL.  So I didn't want to do a cover reveal on this page.  Or a blurb or anything.  Still cooking.  Not quite ready.
  But Riptide does a longer lead-in, and you all heard me talking about my really sad story with the Titanic ending-- and this here is it.  I love this quiet story.  It's probably not the idea of WWII adventure that other people will write, but I wanted a romance, and a thoughtful ending, and a little bit of hope.  

So, that being said, I'm giving you The Bells of Times Square-- the cover is by Reese Dante, and it's gorgeous, and I really hope you enjoy.  (It's out in December.  I'm writing a fluffy Christmas novella to sort of take the melancholy away-- I'll let you know when that's finished too!)

So here we go-- a little bit of quiet reverence for... 

The Bells of Times Square.

Every New Year’s Eve since 1946, Nate Meyer has ventured alone to Times Square to listen for the ghostly church bells he and his long-lost wartime lover vowed to hear together. This year, however, his grandson Blaine is pushing Nate through the Manhattan streets, revealing his secrets to his silent, stroke-stricken grandfather.
When Blaine introduces his boyfriend to his beloved grandfather, he has no idea that Nate holds a similar secret. As they endure the chilly death of the old year, Nate is drawn back in memory to a much earlier time . . . and to Walter.
Long before, in a peace carefully crafted in the heart of wartime tumult, Nate and Walter forged a loving home in the midst of violence and chaos. But nothing in war is permanent, and now all Nate has is memories of a man his family never knew existed. And a hope that he’ll finally hear the church bells that will unite everybody—including the lovers who hid the best and most sacred parts of their hearts.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Isn't she looooooveeeeelllleeeeeeee….?

Well, not the 4th, not yet, but it's plenty later than I'd planned to blog.  And in the meantime, I have written this here about the Grinch at Love Bytes! and this right here about subtext at Amy's Lane.

I have also finished a story called Food for Thought which will be released next April, as part of an anthology with four other fantastic and amazing writers, whose stories I'm sure will leave mine in the dust.  The thread that ties the antho together is a mysterious cookbook that's been added to over the generations, and I had so much fun with this.  I guess 360K of angst, pain and slityerwrist emotional ouchies really does make some happy mandatory!

Oh-- and did you see the bag?  Did you see the ultra-magnificent-made-me-cry-and-get-all-quiet bag?  Christy Duke, who has been a staunch supporter and an amazing, fun, interactive reader, had her MIL make me the best carpet bag in the world.  You can't have it.  NOBODY BUT ME CAN HAVE IT!  *growls fiercely and protectively over my beautiful bag*

*smishes Christy*  Oh honey-- you wrought just ever so well… *gets verklempt*


I'm in editing for Beneath the Stain, which will be released in seven parts, starting in August.  I know, I know-- you're thinking, "Oh my God, a serial?  Why should I buy the serial when the whole thing will eventually become available?"

Well, because in this case, I've written a DVD Extra for each installment of the story, and I'm really sort of proud of this.  See, because the story was so long, I cut, pared, and shaved everything down to it's barest, and I really started to lurve the rest of the cast of the story.  So the DVD Extras are devoted to the "extras."  While the main story is told from the POV of the two MC's, each section has between 2-3K devoted to the other characters.  I've put some thought into this, and I really hope you like it, and I really hope it makes it worth it to buy the serial, because I'm seriously doing the pee-pee dance, I want people to read this so bad.  So hang in there-- I'll have a cover reveal shortly, and a release date and buy links and all sorts of things.  I'm thinking about having a weekly contest somewhere, because I'm having fun picking out swag for this, and… well…

It's going to be nearly 190K when I'm done with the extras.  I really want you guys to be as excited about it as I am.

And speaking of new swag and fun stuff going on…

Did you notice my dragon?  Up there at the top of the page?

See, I mentioned to Rhys Ford that I wanted to update my dragon.  Chicken refused to do it-- she kept saying she wanted a full-on professional to do that, and since her emphasis in animation is going to be storytelling, she didn't feel up to it.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I adored my other dragon… but I sort of felt that I'd grown, and my writing had grown, and my business of writing had grown, and I wanted a logo to reflect that.

And Rhys… oh God.  She loves me.  You know how I know she loves me?  That dragon has my eyes.

So meet my new Angst & Pain dragon.  Isn't she lovely?

And now…

Well, we're going to do a movie tomorrow, and fireworks--much against my own inclination.  I'm not fond of them anyway, and it's so dry here in California, but the little kids really wanted them, and Mate, who has been working his ass off has sort of grown to like the fireworks bonding time with his kids.  But movie, fireworks, maybe pizza, or, you know, I'll go shopping and come up with a better idea.  Cause, see, tomorrow isn't the big deal for us.  Now Saturday, when my stepmom is having the families over for a big picnic?

That's a big deal.

But right now?  Well, I've been writing around 7K a day and editing and Mate has been gone most nights so I've been doing it with kids in the house and taking them to the pool and going shopping with them and you know what?

I need a nap or I'm going to start knitting a gun too.  And then I'm going to shoot yarn bullets at the sky.  That's way too much work-- it's really probably a better idea if I go join the dog.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Crapmansion Ponderings

*  Nothing is more likely to convince me that we're living through the end times than listening as Mate watches The Soup.

*  It's so much easier to let my hair go naturally gray when I don't see anyone but my family, who already knows I'm old.  (I'm buying hair dye tomorrow.  SWEAR.)

*  If I've heard a book/movie/restaurant/TV show pimped ad nauseum, it usually has to be the second coming of the fifth peen to impress me.  (This book/movie/restaurant/ TV show did NOT impress me.)

* After spending the last six months writing 350K of raw, ripping, angst and pain, in full length technicolor band-aid colors, switching it up to a short, light-hearted novella is a real mindfuck.  I find that some of my previous angst/pain has seeped in.  Sorry!  So sorry!  I'll try to clean up that ooze by my Christmas novella.

*  Some visual cues are subjectives.  My sweet little reminder of the fragility of life and lost innocence can be someone else's serial killer mask from A Cabin in the Woods.  (This is important to remember when you're trying to sell books and picking out a cover.)

*  Chicken's cat is the sweetest little avian serial killer in the world.  As long as she's here.

*  Mate really is a superhero.  Especially when it's his turn to teach Chicken to drive.

*  The sun that the children run around for exercise in the pool in is the flaming orb that sucks the ever-loving life out of me.

*  Family television time would be a great time for me to knit.  If there was anywhere in the living room left for me to perch.  And if I liked whatever Mate was watching.  (Hint: True Lies is a really irritating monument to James Cameron on his third divorce.)

*  The words "yarn sale" still have the power to make my heart beat faster and my palms sweat and money just FLY the hell out of my wallet.  It's nice to know the magic is still there.

*  I keep trying to remake my image, but people STILL won't let me hire the supermodel with the uber-intellectual glasses.  But GUYS, she'd be such a better me than I am!

*  Seriously-- I'm thinking about updating my dragon and my sales banners and my swag.  I want crisp!  I want clean!  I want solid identity points!  I want… *sob*  Someone with more experience than I have…

*  I'm also thinking about how to market Beneath the Stain. It's hard to think about that stuff.  My wheels turn REALLY slowly.

*  And speaking of wheels… and things I know little about… believe it or not, the story I'm working on right now is part of an anthology about a cookbook.  Amber Kell, Marie Sexton, Mary Calmes, and RJ Scott are part of it, and I'm really excited about this idea!  The, uhm, bad news is that cooking is not necessarily my strong suit.  Beet porridge is going to figure large.  I don't expect anybody to make it… but then, I didn't expect anyone to knit the Stanley Scarf, either.

*  And somebody is knitting the Chain Mail Scarf from Blackbird!  I'm so excited to hear that!  WHEEEE!!!

*  The family has lived in each other's back pockets for two weeks.  Things are getting dire.  We'd cut each other for the last Oreo-- I shit you not!

*  Speaking of which… Peanut Butter Cup Oreos.  Should be outlawed.

*  Pulling a T-shirt out of the clean laundry pile that you've been wanting to wear for a MONTH?  Is like winning the lottery.  I'm telling you, it's the simple things.

*  The little kids have learned how to knit using looms.  They are SO EXCITED.  Today, they asked me if they were knitting with alpaca fur.  I told them that EVEN BETTER, they are knitting with DEAD DINOSAURS.  It's BETTER than alpaca and sheep fur, because it's TOUGHER and less fragile.  Which is why we keep it in the garage instead of the house like the other, more delicate yarn.  Weren't they LUCKY to be knitting with the dead dinosaurs?  (Stop laughing!  They totally bought it!  And it's sort of the truth.  Shhhh….)

*  And Zoomboy is doing laundry now.  "Mom!  What are we doing today?"  "Uhm, I dunno.  Laundry?"  "AWESOME!  I'll go get a load!"  I am… well grateful, actually.  I am also not expecting this to last.  But I'll be doing it a lot until it goes away.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A little o' this, a little o' that, a little o' @#$%!

Mostly just chilling with Chicken and chewing the fat…

Seriously-- fun stuff going, but nothing earth shattering.

Does Johnnie look thrilled?  He should!  Rhys Ford gave my Boobie Hamster a shout-out at The Novel Approach, while pimping Tequila Mockingbird-- a book I personally can't wait to read, btw.  (I shall pimp it on July 6th's *kermit flail* Monday-- which reminds me, peeps, if you have a new release, hit me!)

This is exciting to me, as is the release of Behind the Curtain  on audio!  Speaking of audiobooks, I'm getting sort of a collection going, don't I?  The first three books of Promises, the Talker novellas, the first three Johnnies novellas-- Going Up, The Locker Room, A Solid Core of Alpha, Clear Water,… I'm sort of excited about how big the audio program is getting!

And in other news?  Well, I finished Black John.  Oh my God-- can I just say, I'm working on a short novella right now, something cute, and sweet, and fun, and adorable, and all the angst I've been writing is leeching into my happy happy!  I"m hoping it's all gone by the time I get to the Christmas novella, cause I'm sayin'… I need some happy in my head!


I've been thinking about a random comment somebody made-- which is dangerous.  It's something I haven't been able to get out of my mind, because it's one of my favorite subjects, and that means I've blogged about it before.

But I don't remember when.

It's about swearing.

I've written an Amy's Lane on the difference between porn and romance, and I've written one on how you can build a world based on what you say when you stub your toe,  but I don't remember if I've written any Amy's Lane columns on why I like to swear.  And why it doesn't mean you're stupid.

The thing is, like anything else in our language, swearing has an origin and a purpose.  Being able to manipulate swear words is just as important as being able to manipulate multi-syllabic latinate words--in fact, since the latinate words tend to obscure emotional punch, and a well-placed swear word can double it, it's wise not to underestimate the impact of a well-chosen blasphemy.

And the cool thing about swear words is that they're versatile.  I once grabbed the attention of a really recalcitrant freshman class by getting them to dissect the sentence "Fuck the fucking fucker who fucking fucked me."

It's sort of enlightening:

"Fuck (verb present tense) the fucking (adjective) fucker (noun) who fucking (adverb) fucked (verb past tense) me."

So, if you need to really nail a moment with something that shocks, something that surprises, something that can titillate, something that implies obscenity, something that implies violence, something that can fit in any part of a sentence you want to emphasize…

Well, it's a possibility.

It's not the only possibility-- and it's always wise to think about cutting down on something, especially if you're using it for effect.

But here's the thing.  In the past, swear words have implied a certain decadence, a lack of morality or decency.  Girls didn't swear-- girls were too good to swear.  Gentlemen didn't swear-- unless really put to the test by their uppity women.  But the pushing of the sexual envelope has also pushed the language envelope, and why not?  Most of our best, most verboten swearwords are closely linked to our absolute terror of human sexuality-- in particular, the empowerment of female sexuality.

Erotic romance did it first--used the "big bad words" to make a sex scene hotter, and that opened the door. M/M romance (and NO, gay romance is NOT ALWAYS erotic romance!) has taken that freedom to use the "big bad" words and do something even more courageous than make us hot.

They've made it real.

Kurt Vonnegut once published a letter he'd written to a school district who burned his work.  (I love this letter-- I base a lot of my blogging technique on the flawless showing-not-telling displayed within.) In this letter he defends a sentence in Slaughterhouse Five by saying, "A soldier swears.  Soldiers use coarse language." (I paraphrased.)  And I grew up with people swearing around me-- I loved those forbidden words.  The minute I was old enough, I embraced them-- those words gave me power over the male dominated conversations I was frequently privy too. To me, the world in which men and woman both swore was a world of verbal and social equality, and when I started writing the Little Goddess books, I embraced the holy fuck out of that.  When I wrote The Bitter Moon saga, I created an entire world, social class, prejudice, religion, belief system, family tradition, and mood, based purely on blasphemies--most of which can be freely repeated in any setting.  ("Triane's purple tits" is, perhaps, the one exception.)

When I switched to strictly M/M, I created characters who spoke the way the men around me swore.  Walking into my school staff room was an experience in swear-word submersion.  The one way I kept my head above water when I was there was swearing as well as or better than the men in the room.  I knew I was done with that bullshit when I didn't feel like swearing in that room anymore.

So I know how powerful swearwords can be-- and I am a firm believer in using them.

George Carlin once spoke about his childhood, and he talked about the nun who singled him out because he swore like a sailor fucking a trucker.  She understood that the ability to manipulate profanity to create humor required a specific, important type of intelligence, and, he freely admitted, she was one of the reasons he made it out of school.

So, no.  I can't be shamed by people who don't like my language.  I don't foresee ever a time when I don't look at a swearword for it's potential to create emotion and power in a situation.  I have taught my children the value of time and place, but I have never taught them that swear words are evil, or that they diminish their people-hood in any way.

Even our blasphemies define who we are; denying that part of us fucks us up by definition.