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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Home again...

All told, it took me 27 hours to get home.

I left the hotel at 1:30 to catch a flight that was originally supposed to leave at 3:15 but had been pushed back to 4:15 and in the end didn't leave until 6 or so. By the time it got to Charlotte, my connecting flight was long gone. Can I just say that realizing I wasn't going to make it home last night was made worse somehow by realizing I had exhausted my two travel outfits, and I was going to have to wear a miniskirt, leggings, and a "Fuck This Imperialist Bullshit" Princess Leia T-shirt through three airports.  (Oddly enough, the T-shirt was a HUGE hit among the North Carolina TSA. Like three separate compliments and a whole host of smiles. Was sort of awesome.) 

Anyway, I got a hotel to sleep in--for four hours--and found myself on the shuttle at 4:20 this morning, riding grimly in the dark.

Into the silence one of the men thirty-ish young men, both wearing ball caps and scruff and looking grimly determined to get to New York-- said to his buddy, "Reed, how do you think the airline'll fuck us over today?"

Now, while some of my discomfort had been caused by a weather cell, a lot of it had been caused by the way the airline handled the weather cell, and I found myself giggling uncontrollably until we got to the terminal.

The two flights--to Dallas, then Sacramento-- weren't bad, but in the meantime, we'd had difficulty arranging childcare. Squish is still sick, and she was home, and my mom came to pick her up just when I was arriving in the airport. You don't ask my parents for favors lightly, so explaining to mom that was in town and I just needed her to leave the door open since I didn't have keys ended up with Squish staying home since I was getting there. 

I guess?

I don't know. She was alone when I got home (no big deal-- she's old enough to not burn the house down or go running naked into traffic by this time) but my parents haven't responded to my texts or phone calls since so I obviously managed to screw up arranging childcare through Chicken from 3000 miles away.

No matter--I'm here--and obviously exhausted and babbling--and the dogs are so incredibly needy.

And Dewey, the fucker, has been judging me all day.

Seems to think I should have brought him a souvenir.

Fuck him--he'll have swag to bat around and that's all he's getting.

And maybe I'll get me some sleep!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Coastal Magic

Hi all! Sorry so remiss about blogging-- was trying to catch up on work at Coastal Magic and, well, busy!

So, gonna do a mostly picture post... whee!!!

This first whack of photos was taken at West Bradenton, which is mostly an island, and is, as such, beautiful. There's also a picture of God Land (actually The Holy Land) which is a religious based theme park, featuring a life-sized Roman Coliseum where apparently reenactments of the crucifixion of Christ occur regularly. Yeah. 0.0  I had that same reaction.  It's outside of Orlando-- bring your wands for protection when you pass by.

This next thing is my hotel room, which, yes, I managed to take over and destroy in less than an hour. You're welcome.

These guys are the elevator repairmen, and they were wonderful. What makes them wonderful, you ask? Well, for one, they broke us out of the elevator when we were trapped in it, so, yeah. MY HEROES, y'all. B. They were really sweet when they did it--although giving them directions for which way to direct the screwdriver to unhook the latch from their side was unintentionally hilarious. C. They overlooked my offer of a blow job for getting us out in time for lunch. D. The guy on the left kissed his buddy's cheek when I asked to take a picture and the guy on the right just rolled his eyes and laughed.

So, see? Wonderful.

This is what was going on while I was gone. You may notice Squish looks a little flushed. Because she was sick. Because poor baby!  ZoomBoy is all better though-- he's just being lazy for the camera.

This whack of pictures is my notes for flash fiction, which, once again, went off very well. People laughed their asses off, so, you know, WIN! 

And yes-- that IS a rhinoceros with ass-less chaps. (Some smartass on twitter pointed out that ALL chaps are ass-less. So now we know.)

This is me. I, uh, later took down my hair because the frizz was tremendous.  By the way, people LOVED the wave crash shawl--I am humbled by how many people told me it was beautiful. Win!

This is Mary, and it's not the most flattering of pictures but she posed like this to mess with her PA and because I love her PA I said I'd show this picture to as many people as possible since it was already on Twitter. 

Also, she has a copy of Frog in manga and it's beautiful and hot and sexy and Webb of course will rip your heart wide open.


This appears to be what Dewey spent his time doing while I was gone.

Fucking cat.

This was my last panel of Sunday. I loved them. We talked about music and had a blast and they all waved for Mate. HI MATE!

This is the weather on my last day. Sunshine on my toes--quite literally. The water felt delicious and I'm so glad I took a half-an-hour and touched the sea.

And that's it! I'm not home--I sort of stalled out in Charlotte for the night, but I should get home around 12-ish tomorrow. *sigh* I want to see my children and my dogs.  

But as you can see, it was a lovely trip!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

About Guns

So... about that part in Bonfires, where the teacher talked the kid out of wielding the gun in the classroom?

You all may not know that was inspired by a true event at the school where I used to teach, long after I left. A friend of mine who uses the same dance teacher told me the story.

The teacher talked the kid down. He gave her the gun. Her voice shook and she said, "Honey, I don't know what to do with this. I've never held a gun before."

The kid said, "Just set it down. And come outside with me, please?"

The school board wasn't going to address the issue. They wanted to talk about something else, something hot button--I forget what--and they, like the school board in the story, tried to keep all the teachers who wanted to attend in the overflow room. A teacher used her speaking time to at least let the parents see that the TEACHERS were concerned.

I knew that teacher-- we'd been friends.

I met somebody else from that district (someone I don't really consider a friend because she thinks my job is morally wrong) and she told me this teacher took an early retirement.

She just wasn't the same.

I actually have had to calm myself down all week and remind myself that while I've been gone from home, my kids haven't been in school. It's okay. They're safe. BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT AT SCHOOL.

If anybody out there thinks it's okay to arm teachers--or jokes that it's okay to arm teachers or likes to say that it's okay to arm teachers and that would solve all our problems...

If anybody out there thinks a law enforcement officer wants to run into a situation in which not only the hostile element is armed but the teachers are armed and the potentially freaked out students are armed and EVERYBODY IS FUCKING ARMED BECAUSE GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE IT'S JUST THE SOUND THEY MAKE...

If anybody out there thinks an AR-15 is just fine to have and ignores all of the returning veterans who say hey, it's a mod away from an M-4 and WHO THE FUCK NEEDS AN M-4 TO HUNT OR SHOOT SPORT...

If anybody out there conflates common sense gun control measures with OMG THE GOOBERMENT WANTS MY GUNS...

If anybody out there thinks the kids talking to congress are being snowflakes or "crisis actors" or some other bullshit meant to calm their frazzled nerves about going home to make sweet lurve to their firearms...

Fuck off.

Fuck all the way off.

Fuck off of my timeline.

Fuck off my feed.

I am terrified every day my children go to school. Every fucking day. So is 85% of America.

Your right to have a gun is NOT more important than OUR right to hope for our children's future.

It's not more important than our children's right to live.

Stop buying the bullshit.

And don't bother me with it.

I'm exhausted with it. 

Being scared every day will do that to you.

Hiding the Moon, Part 12

 So all-- I've got a post about Coastal tomorrow, I think, but I just finished this, so you're gonna get this right now.

This is the prologue to A Few Good Fish, which I just submitted, and it's also where I'm going to leave the Burton and Ernie story-- which is what I'm going to work on right now.

So, essentially, this is there the two stories meet, and it's from Ernie's POV, and if you've enjoyed this, please read Fish Out of Water and Red Fish, Dead Fish, which both got some honors from the Paranormal Romance Guild, (Thanks guys!) and also read Racing for the Sun. 

And, of course, the full work, Hiding the Moon which should be out shortly after A Few Good Fish. 

Thanks for following along everybody-- and hey--I think I need to write some fanfic next time. I, uh, was supposed to be writing a WHOLE OTHER BOOK right now!

Burton and Ernie in the Desert

Ernie James Caufield looked around the little non-town of Victoriana with a feeling of intense joy. The place was mostly a gas station with a fast food place on one side of the highway and a tiny garage with a house for the owners on the other. Desert surrounded it, and even in the encroaching fall the landscape was flat and unexciting with saguaro and creosote bushes for miles.

But for Ernie, this was the best place on earth.

“Really?” He turned toward Burton, body practically thrumming with excitement. “I’m staying here?”

Burton arched a suspicious eyebrow and said nothing.

“It is, right? I mean that house—it’s got an add on to it. Like, new. Even the siding is new. That’s your place, right?”

Burton frowned. “How would you know that?”

Ernie grinned, unrepentant. “I heard you talking to Ace. He’s nice. Your voice said so.”

Burton’s frown intensified. “You were supposed to be asleep.”

Ernie bit his lip shyly. He had been, until he’d heard Burton talking next to him. He didn’t need the gift to reckon Lee was uncomfortable with where their relationship had gone so quickly.

Well, not that Ernie wasn’t slutty as hell on any given day, but the thing that had bloomed between him and Lee was based solely on the fact that when they looked at each other and touched, the world stopped spinning, and that included Ernie’s ever questing, witchy trouble-magnet of a brain.

Ernie didn’t need to be slutty anymore. He’d found the safety he’d been looking for his entire life.

“Safety” just didn’t know it yet.

“I was mostly asleep,” Ernie soothed. “You like Ace.”

Burton let out a sigh. “Yeah. Ace is good people. Not educated, mind you, so—”

“He’s smart though,” Ernie said sunnily. Yeah, he’d read that much from the voice on the other end of the phone. That and the fact that Burton was scary smart, and he’d never be able to tolerate someone not scary smart like he was. But he was also—whether he knew it or not—intuitive, in the same way Ernie was intuitive, but not nearly as powerful.

Burton could see through what people were supposed to be and right into what they were. He’d watched Ernie for days when he should have just done his job and shot. Ernie was still walking around converting oxygen because Burton had seen there was more to Ernie than a brainless party boy who liked to make donuts.

“Yeah, he’s smart.” Burton let out a sigh. “Look kid—”

“You know my name.” Ernie knew all the tricks to making somebody not important. Calling him “kid” was just one, just like Ernie had called Burton "Cruller" in those first hours because... God. Look at him. Wasn't like he wasn't going to have an impact as it was.

“Ernie…” And it came out like a plea, just like it had in the hotel room they’d shared—in the bed they’d shared not hours ago.

“Yeah Lee?” Ernie said sweetly.

“I need to go away—you understand—”

“Under cover.” Ernie wasn’t stupid either. “The guy who put the hit out on me—he’s bad news—”

“And he’s legit. Like, a real guy in the real military and he wanted you dead. I need to find a way to work for him so I know why. This isn’t… the hit out on you should never have happened—”

“You’re not just saving me,” Ernie said. “You’re saving anybody who carried out orders in good faith.”

Burton started a grimace, but it came out a look of complete tenderness. “You’re so… so very wise.” Like he couldn’t help himself, he reached out and cupped Ernie’s cheek. “God… so pretty.” For a moment his muscles tensed, like he was going to pull his hand back, but Ernie licked his lips, on purpose, knowing it would make him look soft and vulnerable, and wanting Burton to kiss him at least one more time before he fled.

Burton didn’t disappoint him. He leaned forward, claiming Ernie’s mouth with his own, and Ernie opened for him, as soft and as giving as he knew how to be.

He knew a lot. He was a sexual genius, mostly, and it took Burton a whole thirty seconds before he was groaning into Ernie’s mouth and trying to haul him across the center island of the SUV they were sitting in.

Ernie would have gone. Ernie would have shucked his jeans and sat on Burton’s cock if that’s what it would take to get Burton to commit, but the damned SUV was too small and Burton smacked his elbow on the steering wheel in mid-Ernie-maul-maneuver.

“Ouch!” He jerked back, letting Ernie go and looking damned embarrassed. “Dammit. Why can’t I… it’s weird what you do to me, kid.”

“Ernie,” Ernie whispered throatily. “Don’t go. Stay here. We can have all the sex you want until it doesn’t seem so strange anymore that you want me. You can quit being an assassin super black-ops guy and be my guy. Nobody will even know our names.”

He pulled in a quick breath, surprised at himself. That’s not what he’d intended to come out of his mouth at all, even a little.

Burton was looking torn as a man could get. “Ernie… I… even if I come back I might not be the guy for—”

Ernie pulled away and opened his door. “Let’s go meet Ace and Sonny,” he said, not wanting to hear it. At least when Burton was talking to his friend, Ernie wouldn’t have to hear him lie—not to himself and not to Ernie. “Will you at least be able to come visit over holidays?” he asked after he’d slid out.

Burton stopped and grabbed the duffel of clothes they’d bought Ernie on their way from Albuquerque. They’d had to leave Ernie’s little apartment, with his cats and everything, without stopping to even get clothes. Burton had called the super and made arrangements for the cats—even the strays that would just show up unbidden—and Ernie didn’t even want to know what a colossal pain in the ass tying up that loose end had been.

But Burton had done it for him. It wasn’t even part of his job, just like being Ernie’s savior wasn’t part of his job, and Ernie didn’t want to think of the prices Lee Burton had paid for stepping out of himself in order to successfully not kill Ernie James Caulfield’s scrawny psychic ass.

But he had. And he seemed to be willing to pay any price needed to keep Ernie as happy as possible considering he was a target or a dead man or worse.

Ernie was going to just keep on hoping the man would recognize that what they shared in the hotel room on the way here didn’t happen every time two men met, fell into each other’s eyes, and touched each other’s bare skin.

“No,” Burton said, sighing. “No, I won’t see you for Thanksgiving. Do you have the phone I bought you?”

Ernie nodded. “Yeah.” Clean, untraceable. It had been preloaded with Ace’s number, Sonny’s number, and Burton’s number.

The end.

“I’ll text you when I can.”

Ernie brightened. “I’ll text you when you can’t.”

Lee clapped his hands over his eyes. “Kid—”



“Don’t worry. Once you start thinking about me, I’ll fill in the gaps in the conversation just fine.” That wasn’t really how the gift worked, except Ernie was pretty sure he’d be just as connected to Burton from however far away as he was now.

“That, uh, actually makes me a little itchy…” Burton said, slamming his door in a fit of what was probably pique.

Ernie smiled, so relieved he couldn’t even let Burton piss on his parade. “It shouldn’t. You just have to tell the truth. To yourself. Especially to yourself.”

Burton’s low moan reassured Ernie to no end. It meant the man believed him. Took him seriously. Would work hard to be as truthful as possible.

Ernie already knew what Burton felt for him. He could wait until Burton figured it out in his own head.

Ace was exactly what Ernie expected except way better looking, but Sonny was not.

For one thing, Burton had figured Sonny to be spelled with a “u” and Sonny to be a she, which just went to show you that sometimes the gift was a reliable way to get information and sometimes it was a big fat nuisance that overloaded Ernie’s synapses and made him absolute garbage at dealing with the rest of the human race like a sane person.

Ace was a solid guy with a chest like a brick wall and arms built like pistons—he had hazel brown eyes and a mouth that could be cruel, Ernie supposed but when he shook Ace’s hand all he felt was decent guy trying to live a decent life.

There was a current of darkness, but everybody had that. This guy had just negotiated his current and decided how it flowed was all.

Sonny was much smaller, muscular too but in the whip thin way of someone who was all activity and nerves and not so much effort. He had blond hair—almost pretty—and a fox-pointed, but narrow face.

His darkness was like a box, and Sonny would rabbit into his box and bound out even as they were talking. The three-billionth time Sonny rabbited into the dark box in his soul, Ernie let out a rough sigh and grabbed his arm.

“I’m not here to take him away from you,” Ernie said, exasperated. “As if anybody could. Now calm down, you’re making Burton jumpy.”

Sonny gave a long, slow blink with his enormous blue-gray eyes and some of the rabbit jumped out of him. “Yeah. Sure.” He retreated behind Ace then, touching him at the shoulder, then scooped up the tiny dog yapping at his feet. The dog shut up and Ernie had a chance to look around their little house.

And it was little. The little kitchen opened up into a little dining room with a small table, which in turn opened up into a little living room. There were three doors, one on each open side. The bathroom—obviously, since Ernie could see it, a bedroom, probably Sonny and Ace’s, and a newly pained porthole to what was obviously Burton’s personal space.

“Thank you, Ace and Sonny, for letting me stay here,” Ernie said with a yawn. He wasn’t usually awake in the day. “I’ll get up and you can show me how to earn my keep, okay? But I have to nap and say goodbye to Burton.”

With that he grabbed Burton’s hand and dragged him away from their surprised host and through the door to Burton’s space.

Ernie looked around carefully once they were there, biting his lip.

“He made this for you,” he said, awe apparent. “Like… like he loves you. Like a friend—cause he’s romantically attached to Sonny which must be hard because Sonny’s not easy, but look.”

Burton looked around, saw what Ernie did. The simplicity of the room and the small serviceable attached bathroom, the nice queen-sized bed with the good mattress and a serviceable, high-quality quilt in a warm tan that matched the curtains, the wood paneling that matched the dresser. Ernie moved toward it and picked up a piece of driftwood sanded into a ball until it gleamed. There were a couple of other doo-dads there—a glass boat from San Diego, a snow globe from Tahoe, a small picture at the Chandelier Tree.

“Ace and Sonny,” Burton said quietly. “They go on vacations now and then, and they bring back things. Something for Alba their receptionist at the garage, something for Jai, their employee, something for Kat, a girl Ace sort of adopted who’s living with Ace’s parents, and something for me. Every time.”

“It makes them really happy to bring stuff home for you guys,” Ernie said easily. “It’s… nice. You brought me to a nice place. This is your…” He looked around, feeling a sort of peace here.

“Haven,” Burton said softly.

“Church,” Ernie said, naming it for what it was. “When you go out and do the things you have to, you’re thinking about Ace and Sonny, and protecting them.”

Burton shrugged. “Somebody’s got to.”

Ernie nodded. “So now you’re protecting me here too.”

“Somebody’s got to,” Burton rasped, and Ernie heard the need.

He turned and rushed into Burton’s arms, holding him tight. “Be careful,” he begged softly. “Come back. Become a part of this, of these people you love. They’re here for you.”

“I’m a—”

“A man.” Ernie tilted his face up and took Burton’s kiss like it was a given. Ernie knew it wasn’t. But he’d lost himself already. Burton was going to do dangerous things to try to bring the people behind Ernie’s contract to justice, but afterwards, Ernie was going to hope for Burton by his side.

Burton ripped away from the kiss like he was gulping air.



“Ernie…” His voice ached with tenderness. “You and me, we’re not over.”

Ernie smiled. “At last, he sees.”

Burton laughed gruffly. “Okay—I’ve got to—”

And then, dammit, the goddamned shining hit Ernie right in the brain. “You’ve got to protect them too,” he said, his voice remote.

“Ace and Sonny?”

“They’re far away, and they’re tied into this and…” Ernie sighed. “Broken. One of them is broken. Tiny little pieces, a shattered fish in a bowl of refracted light. A shark who loves him. And they’re coming. You’ll know them. You’ll protect them. They’ll need you.”

Burton blinked. “I, uh…”

Oh, Goddammit. Ernie liked these people, the tough, battered one and the slick one in the suit. He couldn’t see their faces, but he could feel their decency, even through the shining. He rose to his tiptoes and kissed Burton’s cheek. “Come back to me,” he said simply.

Because that’s what you did when you loved a force of nature. You let him go be a force for good.

Burton left and Ernie fell onto the bed dispiritedly. He was crying, because his heart was on his sleeve, would always be on his sleeve had never not been on his sleeve.

He knew the door opened, and the small dog bounded on the bed and licked his face, but it wasn’t until he felt the tentative hand in his hair that he realized he might have, for once, truly landed someplace that would feel like home.

“Don’t mind Duke,” Sonny Daye said, voice matter of fact. “He knows you’re sad. I’m just gonna leave him here to keep you company while me and Ace go open the garage. You feel free to eat what you wanna—we’ll go shopping for you later, and Ace says that’s fine if you help with paperwork and stuff and—”

Ernie rolled over and grabbed Sonny’s hand. “Sonny Daye?”


“We’re friends already. Don’t worry about making me happy. Burton wouldn’t have brought me here if it wasn’t a good place. I’m comfortable. I get up around six or seven. Want me to make dinner?”

Sonny smiled a little. “That would be kind.”

“Okay then. Don’t worry. I’ll get along here just fine.”

Sonny stood and left and Ernie yawned and sank back down into the bed. In his pocket, his phone buzzed.

Was damned hard leaving you, kid. Be good until I get back.

Yeah. Until the fish and the shark got here, it was gonna be okay.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Few Good Fish

I just wanted to say...

A. The title of the third Fish Book will be A Few Good Fish

B. The book is done. (Okay, I'm adding a prologue tomorrow, but for argument's sake I could just send it in now and say it will all come out in editing.) This is important because I MADE MY DEADLINE. *cheers*

C. I also posted ALL THE THINGS to Florida. There were more things than I thought. Dammit, I always overswag.

D. Tomorrow night I'm going out with my sweetie, Saturday night I'm packing, and Sunday night I'll be in the air, so you probably won't see this space until Monday.

E. Everybody have a good weekend. I'm gonna go to bed on time.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The mani-pedi-waffle-debacle

I have to admit--I'm a little unfocused. I get this way before every convention, especially when there's swag and traveling involved.  Planning an itinerary, stuff to ship, a schedule--my brain becomes the mother of all train wrecks, and I've done it enough times on the blog for you guys to know it's for real.

But I'm not the only one who has the mental train wreck.

Chicken has them occasionally too.

So the following is the great mani-pedi-waffle debacle of the spring of 2018:

We are driving to the mani-pedi place for a drop in--they're often busy, so we figure we have enough time to make an appointment for later if they can't take us now.

On the way there:

Chicken: Oh crap. I was going to do my laundry!

Me: You can do it when we're done here.

Chicken: But I left it at my apartment.

Me: Okay--I'll swing by and you can get it on the way home.

Chicken: Deal.

The place could take us in an hour and a half. Great! Time to get her laundry, bring it back to my house, start it, and then go get nails done. We were PRODUCTIVE!

Halfway to the apartment Chicken goes, "Oh shit."

Me: What?

Chicken: I left my keys at your house!

Me: ...

Chicken: I'm so sorry.

Me: ...

Chicken: What should we do now?

Me: ...

See--trainwreck. I was without plan. I was without words even. After almost going straight when I should have turned left to get to her apartment, I shoved myself into the left hand turn lane and tried hard to think.

Chicken: Where are we going?

Me: We're gonna get a waffle.

Chicken: .... ?

Me: The waffle place. Volkswaffle. It's right here. I'll get us some waffles. We can plan.

Chicken:  Yeah. Sure.

The guys at Volkswaffle loves to talk but he's really the most boring man on the planet. I mean, I LOVE him-- he's sweet, he loves his job, loves his business, and that's really awesome but he was talking and my brain slowly began to turn wheels.  By the time we had our waffles (A cinnamon purist, no whipped cream, thank you) I knew where I was going.

Chicken: OKay-- that's good. I can deal with that. That's a plan.

Me: So, uh, does this mean anything is possible with waffles?

Chicken: Sure. We'll roll with that. As long as I get my toes done, it's all good with waffles.

We got our mani-pedis, so now I can get on the airplane with the confidence of having cute toes, and Chicken looks spiffy too--but neither of us can focus for shit.

I'm hoping it'll be better when I get home--but she's in charge of the kids for a full day before that, so here's hoping we both recover, yeah?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Kermit Flail February, Cover Reveal, and Update on Things to Come


 sorry I was late on the Kermit Flail, but I think it's totally worth it. I hope you all don't mind--I'm foregoing the little Kermit Flail bit on YouTube so the first cover on the flail can get all the visibility when its posted online--just an experiment, right?

Anyway-- I've got plenty of good news--Bobby Green is out, I've got a cover reveal if you scroll all the way down, and hey, most of the stops on the blog tour are posted!  But I also have some really awesome people on the Flail this month--and since last month was sort of a big mess (so big that it spilled into this month, actually) I was just so excited to connect with some awesome people for this post!

First of all we have the very lovely and always entertaining E.J. Russell-- I adored her series about the fey and this looks just as fun (and a little creepy which is always wonderful) and I'm so glad to have her back on my blog!

Our second offer is het--but a very special writer!  My introduction to online life was the amazon forums--and sometimes they were horrible pits of toxic despair... and sometimes they were wonderful. One of my favorite forums was "KTT"-- Kill That Thread. The purpose was to talk about nothing at all until we hit 10000 post and had to start again. I think I jumped on board KTT6 or so, and got caught up in other online pursuits around 11!  But I met some wonderful people there--my darling and beloved Grammy was one of them, and so was Samaya Young. 

Most of us on KTT were writers--independent writers--and we shared information about our experiences and what worked and what didn't and how to fix our writing so it worked better. We read each other's arcs and hoped a whole lot for the bunch of us.  To have Samaya send me her book info from an Entangled Publishing release is something of a triumph--I'm so very glad to host her here with Girl in the Mist.

And my third offering is from an old friend--and a very good one. Elisabeth Staab was one of my first roommates. You know, "Hey, you're going to a con, do you want to room with my friend here, it's cheaper, you might not kill each other, what do you think?" Well, I thought it was awesome--and we have roomed together on several occasions after that. We exchange funny texts and knitting advice (including the ever unhelpful, "Hey! Michael's has a sale!") and generally whenever I see her name on my phone I light up! She has taken to writing New Adult and this next one looks... mmm... the cop and the bad boy, and I love them. 

So let's hear it for old and new friends, and good books and sharing them!!!!  I know we're missing Kermit a little, but I still think we've got a lot to flail!


The Artist’s Touch
by E.J. Russell
(Art Medium #1)

Two men haunted by more than the past.

Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.
Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.
As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.
Publisher’s note: This is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint of Northern Light.

Girl in the Mist

by S.T. Young

Infamous for infiltration and becoming her undercover identities, Nina Hernandez disappeared without a trace. Three years later, Naval Intelligence agent Rory O’Donnell finds her in a tortuous mental hospital. He's unsure if it's really Nina, or if she's undercover and faking it. Either way, he's pretty sure something sinister is going on...

Rory springs Nina, and together they elude their determined pursuers. He needs to get her to safety...all while keeping his hands off the beautiful, mysterious youngwoman. As he works to convince her to trust him and share her darkest secrets, he wonders if he can trust her not to betray his...

Between her mercurial changes, sexy come-ons, and her exasperating independence, a protection assignment has never been so hard. On a dangerous trek across the country as they tumble from one danger into the next, Rory finds that resisting Nina might just be his toughest task yet.

Don't know which links you want so I did a few of the mains, and a link to Goodreads, you can just pick and choose the ones you find most suited.

Don't Let Go

by Elisabeth Staab

Left behind by everyone he’s ever loved, Alonzo Grover lives as if there’s no future. The discovery of a letter from his deceased boyfriend breaks him out of his rut and spurs him to right an old wrong, but the local stick-in-the-mud sheriff’s lieutenant seems determined to ruin all his plans.

Lieutenant Sebastian Haas despises tangling with his small town’s most promiscuous party kid. Alonzo’s youth and recklessness drive him crazy in more ways than one… As does the uncomfortable secret they share. But when Haas’s estranged family arrives in town to throw a wedding he wants no part of, he ends up jumping into Alonzo’s car to avoid everyone.
Together, they wind up on an unexpected road trip. When they hit one setback after another, it looks like they might kill each other before they make it back home. Unless they find something better to do than fight. 

Bobby Green

by Amy Lane 

Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.

As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.

Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.

But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?

Bobby Green Book Tour


SO-- Crocus is coming out in April in Mass Market paperback, and that's pretty cool! But Bonfires, the first book in the series is coming out in MMP as well--and that's ALSO really cool. To celebrate, DSP didn't just give me a cover for Crocus, they went back and retooled the cover for Bonfires, so they'd match. Now, on the one hand, I sort of loved the idea of the the title being written in embers, like it was on the first cover. 

But on the other hand, they're just so damned pretty, and they match, and DID I MENTION THE PRETTY? That I don't care.

So here you go-- the new covers to celebrate the release of Crocus in April. So watch this space, hey?

Hiding the Moon, Part 11

I am actually finishing up  Fish Out of Water 3 (Road Fish) and I'm doing Avengers Swag Assemble too. (AKA, Amy's little sweatshop.)  So, pretty busy weekend for a woman who didn't go anywhere--but Burton and Ernie are about in the place where I'm wrapping them up and dropping them off at the beginning of Fish. Then I'm writing the whole novella and releasing it right after Fish in the fall.

So that's actually sort of cool.

But in the meantime, let's see what they're up to now...

Hiding the Moon, Part 11

Burton cleaned up the last of the Chinese food at around two in the morning. Ernie helped him--well, helped by licking some of it off his chest--and then they ended up in bed again, and this time when Burton fell back against the rumpled sheets, he felt well and truly done.

He couldn't remember the last time he'd fucked himself out like that--but he obviously had been missing something in the meantime.

"What are you thinking?" Ernie asked, snuggling in against his chest. "I'm thinking I wish I'd charged my phone--I need to read something right now. It's reading time, if I'm not out at the club, you know?"

"Mmm..." Burton's phone had a reading app. "What do you like?"

Ernie's chuckle was so wicked. "Action adventure and spy stuff."

Burton pulled it up for him and paused, phone in mid air.

"You want the rest of my story," Ernie said softly.

"Please. I need to know what I'm dealing with here."

Ernie chuffed out air. "Whatever I was supposed to be doing, I failed. I mean, you'd think a ranking officer would understand, right?"

"What didn't they get?"

"That good and bad are subjective!"

Burton blinked. "That's pretty fucking obvious, actually."

"Right? But they would ask me to talk to a guy and tell them if he was good or bad. I asked them what sort of criteria they wanted--because I'm not a moron! And they said, 'Just good or bad, son.'  So, well, I'd tell them. Exec;t... I guess I thought 'good' was someone who wouldn't kill without cause."

Burton took a quick breath. "That's my general definition too. Someone who's not cruel. Someone who's kind to all people not just special friends." He didn't mention racism--he didn't have to, he figured, because Ernie patted his chest unhappily, like he was apologizing for something.

Hell, wasn't Ernie's fault.

And this other thing didn't seem to be either.

"That's what I thought," Ernie said, voice dropping. "But they wanted someone who would... you know. Follow rules. Regardless. So, like..."

Burton's heart turned cold and pumped ice through all his veins. "So like, someone who would look at a picture of a clueless club kid who fed every stray cat in town and take him out without asking why."

Ernie shrugged. "And I could have told them that--but they kept saying they wanted someone who could be molded into the perfect soldier. Eventually, every man I shook hands with gave me a sweat-screaming, wet the bed nightmare. One day they just... just took me to Albuquerque. I have no idea even why that city, although it wasn't so bad, really."

"Maybe they thought the same thing you would," Burton said thoughtfully. "Maybe they thought it would be a place where not too many voices were in your head."

"Well they were fuckin' wrong," Ernie said unhappily. "They gave me money for my education, a year's worth of cash in the bank and an honorable discharge. I... I have no idea what happened next, but... but I'm telling you, some of the men I had to assess..." He shuddered.

"Any names stick out?" Burton had seen a lot of good men in the military. But he'd seen the few bad apples, too. The ones who came to the states and beat up their wives and made the news with a lot of blood on their hands. They weren't his job--weren't his business--but sometimes he really wished they were.

"This one guy..." Ernie sighed. "Had red hair and this ugly knife scar across his face--"

Burton sucked in his breath. "Galway," he muttered.

"Yeah. Him. Anyway--he liked hurting people. And when I told my CO that, he promoted the guy. Another guy named Owens who... God, the inside of his head was like a dirty toilet. And a bunch more."

Oh hell.

"Ernie," Burton said, his voice dropping to a dangerous quiet.


"I'm going to call some friends in the morning. Some people who will take you in, and not ask questions, and be kind to you. But I need you to do me a favor."

"Why can't I stay with you?"

Burton remembered Jason's warning that he was on his own. "Because I"m about to find out how to join this unit. You wouldn't happen to remember your CO's name, would you?"

"Commander Karl Lacey," Ernie said promptly. "But you're... what? What branch are you?"

"Multi jurisdictional covert operations." Burton kept his voice bland, and Ernie rolled his eyes.

"Black ops. I'm not stupid."

"You are if you mention me to anybody but my friends in So-Cal."

Ernie sighed. "You're going to... what? Infiltrate the enemy? Can you do that?"

Burton shrugged, feeling sleep pull at him. "It's my job," he said, yawning.

"Here. Give me your phone--"

"Only that app," Burton said, unworried. Yeah, his phone could be a scary place--if he hadn't locked everything down but the entertainment apps.

Ernie snorted. "I'm not stupid. I don't want you to have to kill me for real."

"For real?"

Ernie snuggled back into his arms. "Didn't you tell your handler I was dead?"

"I said I walked away--"

"But he assumed. No, that's fine. I can be dead.  As long as I can read this book on your phone and maybe play Two Dots."

"All the scary stuff is locked," Burton said with a yawn.

"Yeah. I know. But I'm not going to tempt fate." Ernie smiled, so sweetly Burton's heart about broke. "I mean, we've had this night. How much better can my life get?"

He started reading then, and Lee Burton, who trusted nobody, yawned and fell asleep with Ernie on his chest.

He woke up a few hours later, and Ernie was right where Lee had left him, phone off and shoved under the pillow. His mouth was parted just a little and he was snoring softly.

Burton paused and stroked his hair from his face. "Okay my boy, I'm going to find a place for you to be safe for a while. If I'm any sort of person at all, I'll find you a home before this is over, just so you know."

"You're my home," Ernie mumbled. "Two more hours, Burton. T hen we'll be on the run."

Burton didn't say anything, thinking about how this kid needed some peace and Burton was the last person to give him that. Thinking about how he was going to just leave the kid with strangers and run back into an operation where he might not talk to anybody for months.

Thinking about how this kid deserved so much more than just a wonderful night and a promise that Burton might not be able to keep.

He figured he'd keep his promises to himself then, and maybe wouldn't voice any of them until he knew for sure what he could make come true.

With a sigh, he set his alarm for two more hours, but before he fell back asleep, he texted, Ace, I need a huge assed favor. Hear me out before you say yes.

When he woke up, he saw the message almost immediately.


And that's why he'd trust Ernie with Ace Atchison, he thought giving thanks for his few good deeds. Because Ace had so much faith in him, that he'd die before he let Burton down.

Burton felt the same about Ace.

And now he felt the same about Ernie.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Hiding the Moon: Part 10


Okay-- so just a reminder, the Johnnies books are on sale at Amazon, Kobo, and DSP until February 14th, and Bobby Green is out!  So far people are really loving Bobby and Reg--and I'm grateful!

Also--if you have something for Kermit Flail, don't forget to send it in--I can always use more Kermit Flail! (I know, it'll be a week late... January was SO FAST!)

I'll have a cover reveal for Crocus at the next Kermit Flail- stay tuned! (It's really beautiful, and the Bonfires cover has been retooled so they both match completely :-)

And other than that, onto a short chapter of Burton and Ernie...

* * *

Burton fell asleep for an hour, safer in Ernie's arms than he'd felt since he'd joined the Marines.

He awoke with a jerk, Ernie's head snuggled against his chest, and he had to smile when Ernie patted him, like a kid.

"You're awake," Burton grumbled.

"I'm always awake at this time," Ernie said.

Burton shoved himself up on the bed, bare chested, and Ernie rested his cheek against his midriff, fingers walking across his muscle groups just firmly enough not to tickle.

"Why is that?"

"World's too loud in the day," Ernie said. "Too many people, so close by." He shuddered. "Albuquerque isn't a big city, either. But too big. About 5000 people is perfect. Just open stretches of desert feels weird--it's like being in a sensory deprivation tank. But that many-- there's enough white noise to sleep."

Burton grunted. His family called it witchiness. His father held to this day this his great Aunt Gertie could read a person's palm like reading their job resume and family history all rolled into one. He didn't necessarily have a problem believing in Ernie's gifts--or believing that Ernie needed to be gentle with himself to sustain them.

But he couldn't figure out how it had earned the kid a bevy of his own personal assassins, either.

"You basically read people," Burton said, thinking. "Good intentions, bad intentions--whether they mean harm to you or others or not. Who knows about this?"

"The Navy," Ernie said guilelessly.

Burton knew his eyes grew really large.

"And that happened because..."

"My parents died," Ernie said, his voice dropping. "I was... I was seventeen. And... I mean they did all the right stuff with a will and everything, but... I was so close, you know? They didn't figure on going out together, and they didn't appoint a guardian or whatever."

Burton started rubbing gentle circles on his back, just like he would if Ernie was a girl in distress. Ernie's entire body went slack against his, and their nakedness became important. They were skin to skin, and Burton had become the chief comforter.

This was... a big deal. This was how people became close.

"So, you went into the foster care system." That was logical, right?

"Yes. My first family wasn't..." Ernie shuddered. "I was so sad, and when the older brother tried to comfort me... it was easy at first, to let him touch me. And then... then there he was, hands everywhere, and my own... grief I guess, rolled away, and it was like being touched by a greasy octopus all over my body. So I started to scream and the whole world showed up and it was a big fucking mess."

"Oh baby..."

"Mm." Ernie was so boneless. Like a light-boned cat, or a really sleepy small dog.   "But I went back into the system, and the next family... the social worker walked me to the front door, Mom answered, and I said, 'She's glad I'm here. She needs more money for her coke dealer.'"

Burton let out a chuff of air. "Well called."

"Yeah. Well. I was taken to a sort of holding place, an orphanage of sorts, and that was all kinds of bad. I'd stay awake all night, terrified, because I could feel all the bad--and so much of it wasn't the kids' fault, but it was there. And finally, the week before I turned eighteen, a guy in a uniform showed up and said, 'We have a special ROTC program just for kids who need scholarships.'"

Burton stared. "That's convenient. And unlikely. And--"

"And I slept in barracks for a year. I mean, I ate, had PT, didn't have to sleep near too many people. But... I was, you know. All alone."

"What did you do there?"

Ernie shuddered. "Do I have to talk about that? It..." His voice dropped. "I"m hungry. Can we eat? I don't want to talk about that anymore. We had donuts hours ago. Can we have dinner now?"

Burton took a deep breath. He was pretty good at interrogation--had done it a number of times on the job, and overseas. But Ernie felt warm and sweet--they were naked together. They were close. Pushing him, now, felt like a violation.

And this kid had been violated plenty.

"Yeah, kid. Sure. Pick something out of the takeout menu. We'll order in."

Ernie's smile at him was transparent--he'd played Burton like a violin. But he was also grateful, because burton had allowed himself to be played.

"Can we hear stories about you now?" he asked, all but batting his eyes.

"Don't you know everything?" This was important, actually. How far did the gift extend?

"I know... I know good intentions or bad intentions. I get bursts of specifics, of speech, of pictures, but that's not consistent. When I think hard, I can scan the people around me for what they think about me, or about the people I'm with. It's... difficult. If, say, a group of people were to walk into the hotel looking for us specifically, it would wake me up like a smack to the face."

Burton stared at him. "That's happened to you before?"

Ernie nodded. "Oh yeah. It's sort of how I left the military. But I'm hungry. Let me get food first. I swear. I'll tell the rest."

Burton wasn't sure what made him cup Ernie's cheek. "My father's name is Roger. My mom is Anita. I have two little brothers, Eddie's a business major, and John can play the violin like a dream. I was engaged to my high school sweetheart all the way through two tours with the Marines, but I broke up with her when I joined black ops, because it didn't seem fair to be in a relationship with someone when I was going to be a ghost in her life. And I love Chinese food. Good Chinese food. If your gift can help me tell the good stuff from the weakshit tempura chicken in red sugar glaze, I'll be forever grateful."

Ernie's eyes grew big and limpid. "My parents were Glen and Sharon. They... they used to tuck me in every night, even when I was seventeen. They were my... my scale, for good. If someone had a heart like my mother or father, they were good. When... when I was suddenly in a world with people not like that..." He bit his lip.

"You were helpless," Burton whispered.

Ernie nodded. "I... I had to work really hard to find... to find a life that wouldn't make me insane."

"I'm so sorry I ripped that away from you."

And this next smile--shaky, hurt, and glorious. "I'm not. I might never have known what sex was for. It was beautiful. But I will miss my cats."

Gently, Burton placed a kiss on his forehead. "I"m sure there's somewhere else, somewhere small, where you can feed every cat for miles."

"You understand."

"I'll do what I can for you, Ernie."

"Chinese food." But Ernie didn't move. He just stayed there, looking at Burton like he held the secret of peace in a painful world.

Burton leaned down and claimed his mouth, and drank in his trust like wine. He'd make it happen. He'd save this boy. Maybe not for himself--who lived a life where that was possible? Where you worked as an assassin but had this much sweetness in his home, his bed?

But Burton would save him. It was his mission now. It was why he took the job in the first place.

Ernie's taste flooded him and Burton groaned, falling into the kiss in ernest.

Of course it was.