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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Jackson and Ellery Defend A Friend of Mine

So, in celebration of Fish on a Bicycle going on pre-sale at DSP, I thought I'd give a little bit of love to my friend Rhae, who is currently having some trouble with contractors and needs some vengeance.

 *  *  *

Chaos and Cooking

Jackson had put the folder together the day before, and but he sat in on the meeting between Ellery and the defendant with no assumptions whatsoever.

"So, Ms. Camdyn--" Ellery began.

"Oh, honey. You can call me Rhae. It's so sweet of you to see me on such short notice." The woman who sat in their brand new law office with her bag of crocheting and a pretty little shawl around her shoulders did not look threatening.

"Well, yes, Rhae--you caught us as we're just beginning our practice. We've got a few cases under our belt--most of them successful--"

"Oh, I looked you up already. I know your record. That Sampson thing--what a doozy!"

Ellery looked at Jackson who shrugged. Well, "shrewd old bird" was IN CAPS in the top of the damned file for a reason.

"And I heard that your PI had some trouble--" she continued.

"All fine," Jackson lied. He told the truth to Ellery, that was enough.

"Um-hm."  Rhae Camdyn was a sweet, plumpish grandmotherly sort, with graying hair pulled up in a ponytail and bright eyes peering out from gray-framed glasses, but apparently she was computer savvy, and also savvy to the contracting laws of the state.

And according to the printout, she was one hell of a baker.

"So, Ms. Camdyn, you are charged with poisoning an entire construction crew with brownies," Ellery said, still not sure he'd read that right, then heard that right, then researched that right. "Is this true?"

"Is it true that I'm being charged with that? Oh yes, it most definitely is."

Ellery raised his eyebrows, and Jackson shrugged again. How many times did he need to put "shrewd old bird" in caps anyway?

"So, you're being charged with it--what I'm asking now is, did you do it?"

"Definitely not," Jackson interjected, raising one eyebrow. "The report is absolutely clear. Two labs verified it, Ellery. The brownies were homemade, they had two types of chocolate, and according to all the guys on the site, they were delicious. But they were not--repeat not--tampered with or poisoned. There was nothing in those brownies besides your standard ingredients."

Rhae Camdyn smiled an adorable little-old-lady smile and pulled out her crocheting project. "Except a whole lot of love," she said, starting to stitch what appeared to be a purple granny square.

"So the brownies were uncontaminated," Ellery clarified.

"Not a damned thing in them that me and those boys didn't bring in the first place," Ms. Camdyn reassured him, her hands flying with the wool and the hook.

"Then how do you explain what happened next?" Ellery continued doggedly.


Jackson had to hand it to her--she was good. He'd seen a lot of hardened criminals who would have murdered twice to sound as innocent as this woman.

"Yes," Ellery said. "Next. The entire group of contractors--including guys who claimed they weren't on the scene that day--had to be rushed to the hospital with cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. They all swore it was the brownies."

"But how could it be?" Rhae said, not dropping a stitch. "My brownies had nothing in them that me and those boys didn't bring to the table."

Jackson's eyes narrowed. It was the second time she'd said something like that--the third if you counted the police report.

"They were building your house, ma'am," Jackson said, and Ellery nodded because it was obvious he was out of steam trying to figure this one out.

"Well, that's what they said they were doing," Ms. Camdyn said tartly. "They claimed to be putting our pre-fab together, but those things should go up in a relatively short period of time, and those assholes have been mucking about it for weeks."

Jackson knew his eyes widened, but then, he'd talked to some of those guys. They'd gone on and on about the old lady whining at them when they'd been trying to text their girlfriends, and he'd thought they were assholes too.

"That must have been really inconvenient."

"Inconvenient?" she asked, and her sweet-little-old-lady gaze went hard. "We were living in a double-wide--do you know how many fur-babies we have?"

"Says here six?" Jackson asked, just to make sure. "Is that right?"

"I have no idea," she snapped. "But I have grown children and fur-babies and then that rain--"

"Yes, ma'am. Climate change is very destructive--"

"My office collapsed!" she snarled. "Because the prefab was supposed to be up by then! Inconvenient? Do you know I used to do that work? I would put in an honest days work for an honest day's pay, and those fools were telling me that I couldn't tell if they were slacking because I didn't know what they were supposed to be doing in the first place! My husband had to hold me back--we own a shotgun and I know how to use it!"

Ellery's eyes, which had narrowed suspiciously, were now very very wide, and he was looking at Jackson with the teeniest bit of anxiety. "Do you, uhm, happen to be armed now, ma'am?"

"No, young man, where do you think we live? Texas? There's no concealed carry law for a shotgun in California, and if there is, where am I supposed to conceal it? Use it as a cane?"

Jackson hid a smirk behind his hand.

"Uhm, no ma'am," Ellery said, having apparently just been schooled. "You seem very upset--and rightly so. I mean, I could probably make a case for letting you off if you did poison--"

"I didn't poison the brownies!" she said, with extreme emphasis.

"But you did poison the workers?" Jackson asked, just making sure.

"There was no poison involved," she said, her anger fading and her complacency returning as if by magic.

"Ma'am, we need to know. What exactly did you do to the contractors?"

She regarded them serenely from her purple project again. "I cursed them."

Jackson thought his eyeballs might dry out, and Ellery looked like he'd quit breathing.  Jackson recovered first. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but how did you--"

"Brownies were fine. I'm a high level druid, young man. I passed my wand thrice and uttered a 'receive as thou hast given' spell over them. It was a mild spell--I was thinking they'd get a little heartburn was all. I didn't realize they were such assholes that they'd all get karmic dysentery."

There was no air in the room. None. It had all been sucked out and Jackson could only gape like a fish. This time it was Ellery who recovered.

"You absolutely cannot say that on the stand."

"Wasn't planning to," she said, her hook never ceasing that rather hypnotic movement. "I only told you two nice young men because you were so insistent that it would hurt my case if you were surprised."

"Well we're definitely surprised," Jackson managed. "But, well, Ellery's right. There is absolutely no evidence to link you to the mysterious illness that took over the entire outfit. In fact, because some of the people who got sick weren't there, it points to a flaw in their own water supply, and we should probably use that as an alternative theory. I'm pretty sure we can get you off completely."

Rhae Camdyn's ingenuous smile didn't dim one iota. "Oh, I had a good feeling about you boys. Thank you so much. I absolutely must make you something for this office. I think one of Auntie Rhae's afghans would look lovely in the front, don't you?"

"We'd be delighted, ma'am," Jackson said, feeling as though the juggernaut of fate had somehow missed them but breezed a bit of wind through their hair. "Just, you know, don't bake for us."

Ms. Camdyn's laughter tinkled throughout the office, and she left shortly thereafter, leaving Jackson and Ellery to look at each other helplessly.

"A curse," Ellery said.

"That was new."

"There is absolutely nothing proving that is even possible--" Ellery began, but Jackson held up a hurried hand.

"Ellery, do you really want to test that woman? She's knitting us an afghan--for all we know it's got karmic wool or something and every time we tell a lie we'll be jumping like we've got a pin up our ass. Just take the win."


"Take the win," Jackson ground out. "Take the fucking win."

"Fine," Ellery muttered. "It doesn't look like we've got a choice. The DA dropped the case."


"Something about the entire office taking a nap after getting a batch of cupcakes."

Jackson expelled a breath. "Take. The. Win."

"I should have been a dentist,"  Ellery told him sincerely.

"Sure. And I should have been a history teacher. We both fucked up. Just this once, we're going to walk away."

"The afghan was purple, Jackson."

"It's for the office," he said diplomatically. "Jade likes purple--she's the one who has to look at it in the reception room. Take--"

"The win. Fine. Come here."

Jackson moved across the room. "Why?" he asked, although he figured he knew.

Ellery raised his face. "Kiss me."

Jackson smiled, but did it anyway. "Why?"

"Because that, at least, I know is real."

Monday, June 24, 2019

And... scene.

I know I'm getting stressed when I start pulling out ALL THE PATTERN BOOKS so I can start a new... name it. Pair of socks, scarf, sweater, what-have-you. The fact is, I've got one scarf and three shawls on the hooks/needles RIGHT NOW and a pair of socks that has a deadline but OMG I wanna... I wanna...

Well, frankly, I wanna do anything but go back to work or clean my house. (Because Goddess forbid my procrastination take any form that will benefit me OR my family... of course.)


So it's a short blog post tonight. Because I've got 3K to go before I sleep, and it's been the sort of day where everybody needs a second, you know?

Also there was stress knitting. With maths. Those of you who tuned in last night may have witnessed the horror that is me and maths. We shan't be reliving that, yes?

Anyway-- three things:

*  I was actually going to blog about logical fallacies. In the big Ravelry kerfuffle on Twitter, trolls came out full force with straw men, inverse logic, ad hominem, you name it, they committed an informal logic fallacy, and I wanted to clarify what those were, because obviously if any of our journalists cared about debate or the truth, they would be addressing these things in the news whenever Republicans committed them, but they don't, because they assume we're stupid. (We're not stupid.)

But as I was researching to refresh MY skills, I came upon this article, and I was a like, "Whoa--I don't need to do a blessed thing, this is amazing, and it has VIDEOS."

So here you go--I'll be chewing over this for a WEEK:

*  The kids spent all weekend at the pool. Seriously-- between the two of them they had three different pool parties, one of which both of them attended. So this morning when I was getting ready to go swim I asked them if they wanted to come and they were like, "God, no. Sunshine, water--I'm over it."

*  I woke up from my nap surprised because Mate was home--he usually doesn't get home until much later. He'd been going to take a workout class (offered at work) but it had been canceled so he did time on the treadmill and then just came home. Anyway, I was like, "Uh..." Because I'd planned to write for another hour. He was stung. I wasn't "Yay! Mate's home!" I was, "Uh, I'll just listen to my headphones and let you watch TV."

So I tried to explain--"I need to write 20K by the 30th. That's like, what? Friday? That's fourK a day!"

He was like, "The 30th is Sunday."

"Oh. Well then.  That's... well, it's still rough, but it's doable."

"You don't even know what day it is."

"It's Monday. And I just woke up from my nap."

If he keeps rolling his eyes like that at me, they're going to pop out some day.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Engineer Meet Dorkfish

I am working on a "shawl"-- a shawl that's 80 inches long and 13 inches deep, so, it's more like a scarf. I tell Mate, "I was thinking I would work an extra twenty-two rows so this shawl could have more depth but--"

Mate: So the shawl could have more what?

Me: You know, depth?

Mate: Is it in three dimensions?

Me: It's eighty inches wide--

Mate: So it's thirteen inches long?

Me: But it's down your back-- that's depth.

Mate: I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this. Depth is... a box. Are you knitting a box?

Me: I'm knitting a shawl-- see? It's got width--

Mate: Length.

Me: No, its width. You know. Wingspan. *I flap my arms*

Mate *loses shit*: Wingspan!

Me: Yes! Wingspan! Anyway, it's got wingspan, and depth!

Mate: I'm an engineer! You calculate length and width and get area.

Me: I know this.

Mate: If you add depth, you get volume.

Me: This shawl has very little volume.

Mate: You're killing me here!

Me: You're missing the point!

Mate: You don't have enough "depth" to your shawl?

Me: I don't have enough YARN to give it depth.

Mate: Yeah, you're right--I'm completely missing the point.

Me: It doesn't have enough depth.

Mate: Math... *flails* You can't just re-knit math!

Me: *huffs*  Well *I* can.

Mate: *loses more shit*  Sure. You can give a shawl depth.

Me: Just not this shawl.

Mate: Because you don't have enough yarn.

Me: Nevermind.

--- And this blog was in celebration of Ravelry. Thanks guys, for making your site a no hate zone, and not pretending you can do nothing about it. Free speech is NOT the right to bully, and we need more people to make that policy. You're the greatest.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

En Masse

So, with one thing or another, this question has come up, and I thought I'd answer it here so I could refer people back to it.

Some of you may know that Bonfires and Crocus aren't just available in trade paperback-- the large-sized, limited batch paperbacks that are traditional for independent publishers. They were made available in mass market paperback as well-- the preferred format of grocery stores, Target, Wall-Mart and just about any convenience store out there--and that was super exciting for me.  

Also exciting is the fact that Beneath the Stain will be released in mass market paperback, as will Paint it Black, the sequel, when it comes out on August 13th. 

Woohoo! Mass market paperback! Sweet!

I mean I'm excited--but much of the gay romance community is non-plussed. The majority of us read on an electronic device--our computer, our phone, our kindle. Most of us only buy the paperback copy of books we really love. Like, REALLY love. 

Why is mass market paperback something a publisher would invest in--much less risk capitol for? What's the big deal with mass market?

Discovery-- 90% of discovery STILL happens in a bookstore or library, and since bookstores are more likely to buy the mass markets (and so, for that matter, are libraries on a budget) people are more able to discover a new author to buy if we're available in that format.

Volume sales-- mass market paperbacks sell en masse-- more books in people's hands = more return customers.

Accessibility-- I know it's hard to believe because we're communicating on a computer and so much of of this community's communication via electronic means but the majority of book readers are still the old-fashioned kind. Why not tap that market? With the lower price and smaller size, this format gives more people the opportunity to own books they didn't used to be able to buy.

Mainstream sensibility-- Just a romance novel here, nothing to see folks. Well, yes, a whole ten years ago people called this porn, but it can't be if it's in this format that all the other books are in, right? Seriously--if I'd given a kid a mass market paperback of Keeping Promise Rock ten years ago, nobody would have thought twice about it. There is something about a pulpy mass market paperback that just screams "absolutely average"--and why shouldn't this genre be available in a readily reproducible, easily accessible format. Love is love, right?

Stability-- We have learned not to put all our eggs in one basket--remember ARe? They went out of business and a lot of us lost money. Amazon LOOKS like a juggernaut that cannot die--but that's dangerous too. They have some of their authors over a barrel--and they're a company that is well known for making its fortune on the backs of the VENDOR and not the CUSTOMER. If Kindle Unlimited goes out of business or changes their terms even a little, a whole lot of people are going to be hurting. A company would go into mass market--and go to considerable trouble to do so--because this format has sold well and consistently for a long time, in places OTHER than Amazon. Having books available in this format protects us from being completely dependent on one format and one distributor, because we've all seen that end badly. 

Marketability--putting a book into someone's hand is one of the surest ways of getting them to buy it. I've seen it at conventions on the vendor floor repeatedly. It's easier to put a book in someone's hand when it's cost-effective and accessible. These books are easier to market--they're easier to give away, they're easier to sell. More vendors sell them at conventions than deal in the trade paperbacks. They're just easier--and people buy easy. We want to make it easy for them to buy US.

ETA--I almost forgot AFFORDABILITY-- for those who love paperbacks as opposed to electronic formats--or who are buying from an international market--the mass market paperback is much less expensive!

I'm sure there are more reasons-- these are just the ones that sank into my thick, rather market resistant skull. But this IS a big deal--for my company, for my genre, for the writers who have books out in this format. What does it mean for you?

Well, not much if you're a faithful consumer of the electronic format the day it comes out. But it does mean that your friend who goes, "Oh, I don't have an e-reader" is fair game. "Oh, really? Here's a paperback. Portable right?"  It means someone who still dismisses e-books on general principle has no leg to stand on. It means you can put our books in your friend's hands with less expense and more ease. 

It means there's one more way to read your favorite writers--and that's got to be a good thing. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pictures from the City

 So today we got home and I took the kids to dance so both Mate and I could get a nap.

Today we worried about whether the garbage would get collected and when the dogs had vets appointments and whether the laundry would get done.

There was dishes to do and word counts to reach and oh my God the house is still a disaster.

But for three nights and three days, we got to pretend there was only the two of us.

We went to the wharf like we had when we were kids, and remembered the first time we'd parked there and bought so much candy at one of the candy by the barrel places that we almost couldn't afford our car's parking. We remembered that there used to be a puppet store, and we used to buy the kids a puppet every time we went. We bought the kids candy and took pictures of bags marked "poo" which we went to the kids giggling, because we're THAT family.

We remembered how every time one of us went driving in the city, somebody managed to go the wrong way down a one-way road.

We remembered that the first time one of us had driven there and the other had hidden their eyes had been when we'd gone to see the Journey concert, way back in December of 86.

And that Squish had been conceived in the hotel with the flat top, in the weird little corner room, when we could only afford one night and one meal, and tickets to a bizarre play about a guy who fucked a goat.

We took Lyfts and I talked to every driver to learn their story, while Mate listened and asked discerning questions and generally laughed at me, because I like to talk.

We went to the Academy of Sciences and marveled at dinosaur bones and creepy snakes that moved super slow and albino alligators and a planetarium that gave us a chance to nap. And a sod roof that was super smart and looked pretty as well.

We went to a restaurant with one of the best views in San Francisco and talked to a waiter who grew up in our hometown and even went to the same high school that three of our children went to, because the world is just that small.

 We went to Hamilton and talked about it for hours. (And then I forgot to get Chicken her merchandise which was supposed to be her reward for watching the kids and I will regret that for the rest of my life. She was so disappointed. I'm still sad.)


With that one exception, it was an amazing trip.

Good food, good view, good times.

The best company in the world.

My best friend.

My husband for thirty years.

My Mate.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Got a Call from an Old Friend...

Actually this story ends better than that song, so I"ll stop right there. (Song was "My Life" by Billy Joel. Good tune!)

Anyway--in the spring of '82, our school got two bomb threats that resulted in all the students stuck outside in the football stadiums for two and three hours at a time. I would have been bored shitless, but I started to converse with Diana--and she was the only person in my entire grade who had read The Lord of the Rings and Dragon Riders of Pern and we didn't stop talking for the entire fire drill. Pretty soon we were sharing lockers and taking the same classes and we've been friends ever since.

Now, reading material aside, we seem to be pretty much the opposite in anyway--right down to she's short and blond and I'm tall and redheaded, she's from a fairly brainy, conservative family, while my family is a little more blue collar. I mean, her parents had our loathsome German teacher to their house for dinner! It's like they were aliens!

Except they weren't.

They were totally nice people, and getting to spend the day with my friend today felt like we'd never stopped talking.

I mean, for six hours, seriously, we never stopped talking.

I dropped her off and felt bad--I wanted to get back together and maybe talk some more!

And it's funny--because we met 37 years ago. Like, an ENTIRE ADULT ago, and we both had adult children of our own now, and we'd both had loss and uncertainty and sadness and pain and joy. We've kept up sporadically, but our last visit was ten years ago. It wasn't like that time and growth HADN'T happened--it was just like now we had a chance to talk about it--like we'd been WAITING to talk about it.

Like seeing the other person grow from who they were as an awkward high school and college student to a grown-assed adult was just exactly the way we were meant to see each other.

And we were still chatty as school girls.

Anyway-- she walked the dogs with me, took ZoomBoy to the dentist, had lunch at my favorite cafe, and then came with me to the yarn store for a shawl pin. It was a busy happy day with a friend I've never grown apart from--I just hadn't seen in quite a while.

We need to make it not another ten years. One of the things that we've learned in the last thirty-seven is that life is really fuckin' short. Too short to not see good friends for that long a stretch a time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sh... It's blocking

I'm going to be honest here.

I'm a horrible knitter.

All the strengths I have in crochet-- stitch regularity, gauge precision, pattern awareness, structural awareness--completely desert me when I go from one hook to two sticks.

I can't even explain it.

And the thing is, I love the knitting process so much!

Crochet is big movements and elbows, and knitting is just tiny hands.

So the sweaters I crochet are better designed than this.

The colors are better situated. The construction makes so much more sense.

They're not nearly as drapey.

The gauge is consistent--no huge stitches. No purple section that's a mirror to the orange section but took nearly half-again as much yarn.

But I loved making this. And I love how delicate it is. How soft. When it's wrapped around my shoulders, I feel--against all odds, considering the circus-Halloween colors--elegant.

So sh... we won't tell the shawl that it's genetically unsound. Let it think it's beautiful.

Monday, June 10, 2019

So, Amy, what are you working on now?

Oh my God--it's like I'm finally coming up for air.

I've been telling people that I wrote an amazing number of words in six months-- 450,000. I sort of made up for that by taking an entire two months to write Fall Through Spring, and now I'm super under the gun writing Silent Heart. 

But, back to the beginning. String Boys has done great--better than I could have hoped, and I'd like to thank ALL the people who reviewed it in ALL the places as part of that. You really made a difference and I appreciate it so much. But now that it's out, people want to know what comes next.

So I'll start with what's got a solid due date (and, in some cases, a cover) and move on to what's been turned in, and then talk about what I'm working on and scheduled to work on next. If it's not coming soon, I'll talk about if it's coming at all (usually it's just in a refractory period) and tell you what the hold up is.

Are we ready?

Let's go!

Okay-- starting with Warm Heart which is my next Dreamspun Desire, and is out on July 16. This is the first of three books, and they're sort of action packed and have simpler casts than I usually write, but hopefully memorable casts as well.

Warm Heart
Search and Rescue: Book One

Survive the adventure. Live to love.

Following a family emergency, snowboarder Tevyn Moore and financier Mallory Armstrong leave Donner Pass in a blizzard… and barely survive the helicopter crash that follows. Stranded with few supplies and no shelter, Tevyn and Mallory—and their injured pilot—are forced to rely on each other.

The mountain leaves no room for evasion, and Tevyn and Mal must confront the feelings that have been brewing between them for the past five years. Mallory has seen Tevyn through injury and victory. Can Tevyn see that Mallory’s love is real?

Mallory’s job is risk assessment. Tevyn’s job is full-on risk. But to stay alive, Mallory needs to take some gambles and Tevyn needs to have faith in someone besides himself. Can the bond they discover on the mountain see them to rescue and beyond?

So, looks fun, right? I hope so, because it was a blast to write!

Anyway, after Warm Heart is the long awaited sequel to Beneath the Stain. It's titled Paint it Black.   This book will be released with Beneath the Stain in MASS MARKET PAPERBACK on August 13th.

Paint it Black

Everybody thinks Mackey Sanders and Outbreak Monkey is the last coming of Rock’n’Roll Jesus, but Cheever Sanders can't wait to get out of his home town and make a name for himself where nobody expects him to fill his famous brothers’ shoes. He’s tired of living in their shadow.

Blake Manning knows the feeling. He's been Outbreak Monkey's second lead guitarist for ten years. He’s come to terms with the fact that he’ll never be Grant Adams, the guy he replaced, and that Kell Sanders will never love him like Mackey loved Grant. He got this gig on luck and love, not talent. So watching Cheever blow through Outbreak Monkey's hard-earned money in an epic stretch of partying pisses him off.

Blake shows up at Cheever's nonstop orgy to enforce some rules, but instead of a jaded punk, he finds a lost boy as talented at painting as Mackey is at song-making, and terrified to let anybody see the real him. It’s something he and Blake have in common.

Both men have to make peace with being second banana in the public eye. Can they find the magic of coming absolute first with each other?

Now, if you haven't read the Beneath the Stain extras, go to Prolific Works and pick up your copy-- they'll give you some insight to the characters, and they came out when Beneath the Stain did, and that will help. If you haven't, and don't plan to, don't worry. This book was meant to stand alone. As for the plot? Well, uh, sex, drugs, and rock n roll--I mean, what else?

I will say one other thing about this book? Cheever was surprisingly alpha--and Blake was amazingly vulnerable. Neither of these things were how I expected this book to go.

Now, after Paint it Black, we have the the next Fish book--Fish on a Bicycle--which, a little bit like Fish 3 has some crossover elements. 

Before everybody starts running around going, "Oh my God! What do I have to read next in anticipation," don't worry. 

A. I had some very serious editorial help shaping this one up so it could be read independently. Will it help to have read the other books first? Yes. Of course. But is it necessary? I think these last two years I've been working super hard on how to make books standalone. Hiding the Moon was a training exercise for this one, and I think I did a good job. 

B. If you're still worried about whether or not you should read the crossover books, and you've been an Amy Lane fan for any length of time, I wouldn't worry. I think the crossover characters will be really super familiar. 

Just saying.
Now, after Fish on a Bicycle, which is in editing and should be out in October, we have another long awaited sequel, and one that will come with a makeover for the whole three book series. 

Yes, I said three books. 

I know that with titles like Winter Ball and Summer Lessons, you sort of expect a fourth, but the fact was, Dane and Carpenter were really the only other characters any of us were interested in by the end of Summer Lessons, and I just didn't want to force things. So expect Fall Through Spring in December, and while it's not Christmas themed, it's snarky and hopefully charming, in spite of the fact that Dane and Carpenter had some serious issues to work through. I tried (oh my God did I try) to keep the tone of "it's all gonna be okay" even throughout the books. We know they go to some dark places--I mean, we saw Dane's nervous breakdown in Summer Lessons, right? But this is through their POV, and I hope that alone makes it worth it. 

Oh! I almost forgot. If you've wondered about these books and thought, "Mmmm... but the covers..."  Don't worry. The entire series is being recovered. I SERIOUSLY can't wait.

So that's what's in the pot. How about what I'm working on now.

Now--RIGHT now--I'm working on the sequel to Warm Heart, titled Silent Heart. It's Damien's and Preston's story, and six months after that, you'll see Glen and Cash's. I love this series. I'm such a sucker for action/adventure--writing it is more fun than I can say.

And what comes next depends on when I finish.

It was GOING to be Nesting, which is the sequel to Homebird, but I'm running up against a super tight deadline, and Nesting might have to be pushed back to make way for the first Flophouse book, which is either Henry's book or Jason Constance's book (remember him from the Fish vignettes and Hiding the Moon?)  The Flophouse books will be set in the Johnnies world, but they're going to be shorter, tighter stories, with more of the focus on romance and less on the angst and pain. See-- growing up as a writer can hopefully make for some super awesome reads, I hope!

After Flophouse 1, I'm going to do a standalone titled Slow Pitch, and after that, I'm starting a series called The Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club. It will be in the Dreamspun Beyond line, and, again, so looking forward to short and fun and sweet! And sometime in the next year, I'm starting a series based on grifters, that is really turning my key.

But... but... (I can hear you all thinking it!)  But... but... what about... what about my favorite...

Okay-- there are a couple of sequels that are being put off for a while, due to lack of sales or lack of general interest. There's a push at DSP for things that can be put on the IPG catalog and that's usually the first of series or standalone books, and in this business you can either adapt or die.  

This doesn't mean I won't finish the series. It just means that I'll have to lengthen the timeline a little. I mean, I LOVE the Familiar series, but Angels and Demons ain't selling, which is a shame. I really want to see Larx and Aaron get married--but I may need to wait a little while before I get to write that book. I'm going to be doing more standalone volumes, shorter books, trilogies instead of sagas. It's taking a change in the way I think of plotting and a change in the way I write--and change is always hard. If you grow disheartened, though, remember. 

I wrote Rampant in 2010 and people waited seven years for Quickening. It may take a while, but I really do finish what I start. And in the meantime, I put out some damned good fiction based in other worlds.

So that's the state of Amy-- I hope I'm writing to your flavor, because it's quite a recipe!


Some Suggestions for "having a table"

So, I am possibly the most socially awkward person on the planet, and I am more likely to offend people than not. Every lesson I know about etiquette and how to comport yourself in public I've learned from friends of mine who were civilized when I met them and I owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. Just so I'm clear about this--if I'm putting suggestions out into the stratosphere about manners, it's because I have learned hard and embarrassing lessons of my own and I want other people to not have to do the same.

That being said, some things have occurred to me about public comportment when you're at a booth or on social media that I thought I'd pass along, because, like I said, I've violated these at one time or another and regret it deeply.

In the end, nobody wants to be an asshole, right?

So some ideas if you're in a booth or presenting your work to other people:

*  Just like with reviews, not every book is for every person. If you are with a group of people who have a wide appeal, try to find out what your customer's favorite flavor is--and then sell it, even if it's not your book.

*  There are some events that are not for you--and you'll end up there anyway. Don't stop smiling and engaging customers and being positive with your peers. Even if you don't sell a single book of your own, you are building a public bridge that you might want to cross at another time.

*  If you are in a group situation, remember your group goals. If you're selling books for your publisher, and they have a promotion, even if this person wants nothing to do with your books, be sure to mention the publisher's promotion to them, because they might be interested in that. When your publisher is doing well, they have more money to help you promote, and you do well--even if it's not at this event.

* Some people really appreciate the all-in, high energy approach. Some people just want to browse without you talking in their ear. Take a look at your person and know when to step back. Sometimes gentle silence is just as important to letting someone choose you as active chatter can be.

*  If you are in a group situation, try not to take up more than your share of the table--this is only courtesy. You all put in for the booth and you all should get the benefits.

*  Also, in a group situation, even if your own personal promotion is fantastic, try leave room for your fellow booth-dwellers to engage other customers. That's only polite.

*  If someone else sponsored the booth--a publisher, a writer's collective, a friend who had more money than you did at the time--show your sponsor a little love.  Yarn! Magazine and Dreamspinner Press both helped to sponsor an event I was just in at BookLover's con--you can bet I didn't shut up about both the magazine--they sent a sample from Australia--and the book bags, which were awesome--because I was grateful. Generosity isn't necessary--it really reflects well on you if you show public gratitude when some comes your way.

* Celebrate everybody's sales. Not just yours. Again--some events just weren't for you, but it's not your buddy's fault or your co-worker's fault that they got lucky this time. Give them the win with a free heart. It will be your day eventually. Also, if you are having a sort of crap day in sales, celebrating other people will help you feel better--it's totally true.

*  If you're leaving for a break, clean up your stuff. I know this sounds like, "Derp," but sometimes we get so caught up in the overload that we tend to just leave. This is counterproductive on so many levels. For one, your stuff might be mistaken for swag if you haven't clearly labeled it and put it somewhere. For another, leaving your stuff strewn over the table makes the table look sort of crappy, and that reflects badly on the people who are still there, and that's not fair. And finally, unless it's your house and you can leave crap wherever you want (and I do!) it's just sort of rude.

* Don't snipe other people's customers. If someone at your table--or even the table next to you--is talking to someone, don't grab the customer's attention and holler, "Hey! What you're looking for is right here!" That's flat out uncool-- and it's also abrasive. Odds are good you'll lose the customer for both of you because you've made that person uncomfortable.

*  DO make eye-contact with passersby and see if they're interested. Develop a quick pitch--"Hey, do you like romance?" or "C'mon--isn't this cover awesome? You can admit it!" Smile, be playful, engage--but don't make it all about you. It's about the customer and what they want.

* If what your customer wants isn't at your booth, but you know where they might find it? Give them directions. That customer might not want what you're selling NOW, but they might the next day of the con, and now they remember that you were kind and helpful. That's a powerful thing.

* If you're scheduled to set up or break down, make those times. If you're NOT scheduled, but you happen to be there, by all means offer your help. A group endeavor depends on a GROUP--if you're part of that group, pitch in.

* And if they don't want what you're selling--don't be hurt, and DON'T be a jerk. Human engagement is your goal. Put a bookmark or a piece of swag or a pen in their hands and make them feel like they were glad to have met you. Even if they never come back for what you're selling, you've made your booth a happy place, and that's attractive to people who DO want the exact thing you're trying to put into the world.

So, if you look at that picture above, with Jeff Adams, myself, and Mike Lopez, you'll see that Mike is wearing a SpongeBob costume with a rainbow flag.

Mike didn't have to wear this costume, but he wanted to have fun, and he went out in front of that booth and engaged people and he sold every author sitting behind the table.

And people saw his books of poetry there and they went flying off, because such a fun, awesome guy talked to them, and they loved him.

Very often, professional success comes down to karma. This guy has the best karma in the world--and he worked hard to spread that around.

So there you go-- these are some of the lessons I've learned over the last few years of being on a vendor floor or at a booth or a signing. The main takeaway here is to be as generous as you can--and you will always be happy with what you get in return.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Randy Beaman Story

So I was in the mood for a Randy Beaman story, and I figured I'd borrow one from YouTube for those of you who are new to the oeuvre.

So here goes--here's my Randy Beaman story.

So this one time when I was teaching my AP English kids were taking the AP test and this dumb administrator almost botched everybody's grade.  First he was late, and then he was rude and then he wandered around the classroom while the kids were TAKING THE TEST and the kids came and complained to me and I fired off an email to the entire fucking free world about this dumb administrator and I called him by name.

And my principal was like, "eeeeeee..." and my department head was like, "eeeeeeeeee..." and I was like, "BUT THE KIDS!" and they were all like "eeeeeee...." and then nothing happened and I was like, "YES! I DID THE RIGHT THING!"

Except two years later I was trying to get a part time contract because I was pregnant with three kids then and I waddled into a district meeting with my three kids behind me going, "Hey, why you no give me part time. All these OTHER people ask for part time but why there no part time in contract for ME cause this is stupid and mean!"

And the person who didn't give me part time was the administrator's WIFE who also worked there and hated my guts now.

And they also both worked to get me booted from the AP program and our scores went promptly down the drain because I'd paid for my own education for AP because the other male teachers said I was too stupid because I was the nice teacher and it was hard to explain that being the nice teacher didn't make my class dumb it just wasn't boring. So the entire school was shorted a decent AP program because people don't like being screamed at by random employees.

So that's how me screaming at the top of my lungs in a situation I knew nothing about not only fucked me it fucked my children and it fucked the students and now I don't do that anymore.

Okay, bye.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Dinner With Friends

Okay--I admit, I'm a little sleepy. My friend Karen and her husband Martin were in town, and we met for dinner, and you know something?

This is not something I do often.

I was thinking about it.

I know maybe one married couple that Mate and I will meet--every other couple I know is out of town.  That's probably because all my friends are people I know across the country, and many of his friends no longer work where he does, but on the one hand, it's sort of sad.

On the other hand, that made tonight especially awesome--but it made me particularly tired.

Mate and I are back on the exercise saddle too--and for me, it couldn't have come at a better time. There's nothing more awesome than a swim around noon on a day that's about to get SUPER DOOPER hot. Also-- my Monday instructor is now doing aqua-Zumba. It's A-MA-ZING.

The kids are gearing up for the end of school. We have five days left, and I, for one, am REALLY excited. I th ink one of the most exciting things is that this year, dance recital isn't until August. So this year we get to have a lovely rest period before the madness of dance. And I'm looking forward to it.

So, not much doing. For Sacramento peeps, there's a reading on Thursday night at Time Tested Books in downtown. There's going to be some great writers there--me, Kim Fielding, J. Scott Coatsworth, Jeff Adams, Liz Pharaim, Stephanie Lake--come join us if you're in the area. I'm reading from String Boys and it should be awesome!


Sac Pride--I'll be at the QSWAF booth on Sunday! Come see!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Kermit Flail June Edition!!!


I'll admit it--first I'm excited because String Boys is out. And, seriously, YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA!!!!!!  I've been so excited about folks getting a look at this book--I've also been really nervous so I've kept it kind of close to my heart, which, honestly, is a shitty way to market a book. Anyway-- it's out! I'm excited! And so far, it seems to be running people through an emotional cheese grater, and I guess some of you like that? I mean, you know, if that's what you want...

Anyway-- so THAT's exciting!

Also exciting is the number and scope of folks who sort of sought me out this go-round. I mean, I've got one solid case of "Hey! This is a new release! I must have it!"  (I'm looking at YOU Jeff Adams!) but other than that, I got all of these entries like manna from heaven, and, well, considering how VERY unambitious I've been this last week (ugh--finally getting better enough to sleep--so I've been doing a lot of that...) I'm very pleased.

So come see what we have to offer this time round--it's some very exciting stuff! And what a perfect way to kick off your summer, right? 


We're starting with Jay Hogan's Crossing the Touchline, which, hey, rugby players--says it all, right? Rough, tumble, sexy-- come see!

Crossing the Touchline 
by Jay Hogan

What if you’ve worked your whole life for a dream, to play rugby for the most successful sports team on the planet, the New Zealand All Blacks?

What if that dream is so close you can smell it?
What if you meet someone?
What if you fall in love?
What if your dream will cost the man who’s stolen your heart?
And what if the dream changes?

Reuben Taylor has a choice to make.
Cameron Wano is that choice.

-Part of the Auckland Med. series that includes ‘First Impressions’
Can be read as a standalone.

So we have two main characters named "Theo" going down this time, and I thought that warranted a mention. The first is Melanie Jayne's Theo, from her award nominated werewolf series which looks spooky and gothic and nom!

Feel Me

by Melanie Jayne

Sometimes, Goodbye is the Only Way

Raider Black, Leader of the Novus Pack, will do anything for his people. His word is his bond no matter the sacrifice. Novus has always come first.

Theodora Morrissey is a gift from The Goddess to the Lycan world. It doesn’t take someone with her psychic abilities to see that her future is in jeopardy.

When Theo is discovered bloodied, beaten, violated, and broken, Black must find a way for her to be healed or his dream for their future will be destroyed.

Our second Theo belongs to Jeff Adams, with his amazing YA Codename: Winger series--and this is the last book in the series itself! I heard Jeff give a reading from this, and it's A-MAZ-ING! If you haven't read the first three, take advantage of the offer below to get the first one for .99-- this one is on my TBR and it looks FABULOUS. 

Codename: Winger: Book Four

by Jeff Adams
For teenage secret agent Theo Reese, summer brought one surprise after another, and now that he’s back at school, the shocks keep coming. The unthinkable has happened—enemies have breached Tactical Operational Support, forcing Theo and his parents to instigate the protocols they’ve put in place in case of a worst-case scenario.

As Theo goes on the run and tries to stay ahead of those pursuing them, he realizes the TOS network is down… and he’s on his own. He soon discovers the renegade organization Blackbird is responsible.

Theo's been targeted by an old nemesis, who will do whatever it takes to force his hand and obtain his help in taking global control of the internet.

Theo must prevent the internet hijacking, and while he finds allies, they’re in the last place he expects….

Buy at Amazon

For anyone looking to start the "Codename: Winger" series, "Tracker Hacker," the first book, is on sale to celebrate Pride Month. The ebook is 99 cents at all retailers. Buy Here 

Lissa Kasey's Range of Emotions looks heart wrenching and wonderful. Lissa has such a vibrant presence online--her book looks like it captures that. 

Range of Emotions

by Lissa Kasey

Nate Granger is losing everything to mental illness; his job, his home, and even his sanity. All he has left are his three ancient cats and a best friend who lives across the country. Faced with the choice of trying to piece the tattered remains of his life back together or move in with the man he’s always dreamt could be his and start over, Nate is too afraid of losing Jamie to decide.

After Jameson “Jamie” McKendal lost his wife to cancer, he buried his grief in online video games, which is where he met Nate. Now he specializes in rescues, both as a park ranger, and as an animal rehabilitation specialist. He knows a skittish animal when he sees one, and Nate’s been in need of rescue for a while. A decade of friendship has Jamie thinking he might want more, but he has to help Nate heal first.

Can Jamie convince Nate that his worth lies in who he is and not what he can do for others? Does Nate even dare to hope for a chance to find love in the aftermath of his chaotic life?

C. Jane Elliot's The Player's Protege takes one of my favorite tropes--the Sexual Butterfly-- and uses it to turn the tables on the player himself. How delicious! 

The Player's Protege 

by C.Jane Elliott

When his friends bet cynical Jerry that he can’t turn sweet Arlo into a player, Jerry might win the bet but lose his heart.

College senior Jerry Helstrom survived a gay childhood in Texas by being fierce and fabulous. At school he gained a reputation as a player and kept his heart so guarded that he’s forgotten he has one.  When his friends bet him he can’t help innocent Arlo Barnes, Jerry takes on the challenge and quickly finds himself drawn to his sexy mentee.

Arlo wants to make up for lost time. He’s been dumped by his only boyfriend and needs help getting himself out there. Enter Jerry Helstrom, player extraordinaire and happy to provide Arlo with some hands-on sex coaching. Jerry encourages Arlo to ask for what he wants in sex and in life, something Arlo struggles with despite his martial-arts black belt. The struggle deepens when Arlo discovers that what—or who—he truly wants is the seemingly unattainable Jerry Helstrom. 

Jerry can teach Arlo to play the field, but can Arlo teach Jerry to play for keeps?

Buy at DSP

And String Boys--a coming of age story, this starts with three boys playing violins in a drafty cafeteria and takes us across years and miles in a journey that will break our hearts--and hopefully put them back together again. Come see my boys play--

String Boys 

by Amy Lane

Seth Arnold learned at an early age that two things in life could make his soul soar—his violin and Kelly Cruz. In Seth’s uncertain childhood, the kindness of the Cruz family, especially Kelly and his brother, Matty, gave Seth the stability to make his violin sing with the purest sound and opened a world of possibility beyond his home in Sacramento.

Kelly Cruz has loved Seth forever, but he knows Seth’s talents shouldn’t be hidden, not when the world is waiting. Encouraging Seth to follow his music might break Kelly’s heart, but he is determined to see the violin set Seth’s soul free. When their world is devastated by a violent sexual assault and Matty’s prejudices turn him from a brother to an enemy, Seth and Kelly’s future becomes uncertain.

Seth can’t come home and Kelly can’t leave, but they are held together by a love that they clutch with both hands.

Seth and Kelly are young and the world is wide—the only thing they know for certain is they’ll follow their heartstrings to each other’s arms whenever time and fate allow. And pray that one day they can follow that string to forever… before it slices their hearts in two.