*snicker* Yup. That is REALLY the name.
The Winter Mating Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters is out today on Dreamspinner's site (soon to be followed, I think, by amazon.com, Allromanceebooks.com, and all of the usual suspects.)
This is my third Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar work-- the first one was If I Must, a story about two roommates and their cat, Manky Bastard, and I was surprised (stunned! shocked! flabbergasted!) by how many people wanted to read something light and sweet and fun for the holidays. In keeping with this, I made last year's story (Christmas With Danny Fit) sweet too. Danny Fit had a few moments of melancholy, of sadness, though, as did If I Must--and as much as I loved those moments, I REALLY wanted to do something light for this year. So MUCH of my work this year has been painful, dark, angsty--I wanted something that would make people laugh, and laugh hard, and feel like falling in love didn't have to hurt quite so bad.
I think I succeeded with Fur-Bearing Critters. Rance Crawford is a fun guy--he's grumpy, and says some of THE most inappropriate things at VERY appropriate times. He's awkward and more than a little shy, and dislikes having his routine boggled.
But he very much likes Ben McCutcheon. The problem is, Rance and Ben are (as far as Rance knows) the ONLY mating pair of their sort in the entire town. Rance would like it--REALLY like it--if Ben realized that this was NOT the only reason for Rance to come sniffing around Ben's little acre. Rance likes Ben SPECIFICALLY, and not just as a critter emitting the right smells and sporting the right equipment. The way Rance goes about to show Ben that he is specifically enchanting would do a knitter proud.
This story comes with a free pattern at the end--it's something most of us could figure out how to make, really, but it's fun, and, honestly, I hope people like it because I think it scared the mail-lady when I was taking the thing's picture. (It had to be done outside in the sun or my camera would have screwed it up, and I had it up on my car, and... well, you sorta gotta see the item to know why the mail lady now avoids me.) It's fun, writing patterns, but I have the feeling I suck at it, so let's see how many angry knitters e-mail me because the scrot sac of the free cock-cozy pattern seems a little dodgy.
My one hope (and since I've released a lot of light stuff in the wake of a lot of DARK stuff, this is a worry with a lot of my stuff lately) is that people see the heart in this one, along with the humor. Thinking you're the only half of a mating pair is about the loneliest way for a critter to be. His wistfulness when he sees Ben and thinks he's pretty--that's a lot of longing for one guy and a lot of alpacas. I hope that's appealing too.