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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Times They Keep Changing


I'm proofing a bookthat I wrote overa year and a half ago-- Crafting Category Romance: The Art and Science of Fiction Haiku--and one of the things that's apparent is that a lot has changed in Romancelandia since the book was written. 

The book is in proofing, like I said, so it can be announced in the fall IPG catalog (which is a big deal? So I've heard?) and there's not a lot I can do to change the content. There are different charts and such in the book--it's one of the reasons the galley was put off until so late, and this edit was mostly to look at the charts. (Thank God. This book. I swear. If I have to read it one more goddamned time I'm going to change the pen name to Penelope Toulouse and pretend I've never heard of her. Oi.)  

And I've asked myself several times as I've proofread, "Oh God--should I just scrap the whole project and run the fuck away? Can't change that, can't change that, don't want to--the hell!"

And then I look at what the book is actually doing.

It's giving people the best advice I have on how to write romance.

And boy, I love romance.

Right now, its romantic suspense or paranormal romance--but it doesn't matter which. I really love it. I love knowing that romance makes the personal connection between two people the most important thing in the world. It makes the individual striving--even against hopeless odds--worthwhile. 

It says the fate of the average person, what's important to them, what makes or breaks their world, is just as important as the fate of kings.

Right now, as our country threatens daily to spiral into fascism, romance might just be the most important thing in the world. The idea that individuals are more important than a government that holds them in contempt is the link that holds the Wall of Moms up in Portland. It's the reason the BLM protests continue, without violence, but with sheer, irrevocable awareness that the assault on Black individuals can't go on. The belief in romance is what makes us protect our children, to the point of sacrificing their education if it means not putting their lives at risk.

Believing that as individuals, our wants and needs matter, right down to who we love, is why we will never relinquish same-sex marriage to the bloodless antagonists that hold our government hostage. 

Believing that individuals matter is what holds doctors and nurses up on the front lines as the COVIDIOTS in Texas and Florida threaten to overwhelm the hospitals. 

Romance, literally, will save the world. 

So I can take a few bumps for relationships that have changed--the book itself is sound, and I'm proud of it. 

It's one in the morning as I type this, and my youngest and I suddenly remember that we'd forgotten to water the lawns, something Mate and I typically do around sunset. At their prompting, we went outside, me to the front, Squish to the back, to man the sprinklers.

It's July in California-- the air is blistering, frequently near 100 if not hotter, and after I walk the dogs, I feel no reason to go out again, particularly since the pools are closed. Today, when I took the dog in to get groomed, the tide of heat coming off the blacktop almost rolled me over.

But tonight, the air was cooler, and a breeze had blown up from the somewhere (delta, mountains, it could be either one). The wind held a hint of damp, as well as scorched grass, and the stars were clearly strewn on the black velvet sky. 

And I remembered the summer Mate and I got together, and every night we didn't work was a chance to drive off into the foothills in his Mustang and find secret places to do what young people do when their bodies are prime and the world is new. The future was so bright then--we were young, we were in love, what could hold us back?

A lot--you all know that. Shakespeare wasn't shitting around about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, was he? 

But in that moment on my front lawn, I was nineteen, a size 8, and my hair hung in a bright red rope to my waist. And I was in love with my everything.

Thirty-three years later, my everything is still here, and that smell of promise is still in the air.

So yes--things have changed. Things have changed since those stolen moments at the beginning of our romance, and they've changed since I first wrote this book.

But the core things--the things that make Mate and me us, the things that made this book worthwhile in the first place, are still true.

I'll cling to that in hope. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Venues and Vicissitudes

Okay-- so FaceBook, being the pile of garbage that it can be--has banned my blog as abusive. 

I don't know the qualifications of that--I mean, I've called the president some pretty nasty things here, but mostly, it's kids and dogs and knitting and books, so maybe it's something else. A troll, a hater--doesn't matter. FaceBook, where my blog gets a number of its hits, is a no go, but the blog itself streams to Amazon and GoodReads, so I don't want to close it down completely.

Besides--I've kept a nice little stream of consciousness record of my family growing up, and I don't want to lose that. I still talk about them once a week or so, although most parents know that after a certain age, the hilarity happens less often, but more intensely.  I do like the idea that my kids' growing up is on journal here--for my sake, if for now one else's, so, leaving it to rot isn't such a great idea.

For the moment, I'm going to try a little bit of double-posting, both here and on my website, and see if that works. I'll watch my Ps and Qs and try not to compare British television cops to real American cops (I swear to God, that's the post that got me banned!) and let's see how it goes! Maybe it'll help me keep my website up-to-date, because God knows, that's not something I'm great at, even though it's really pretty easy to do. (I do pick and choose my favorite jobs. Writing and editing--yay! Blogging--yay! Promotion? Are you kidding me? Seriously?)

Anyway--I'm reluctant to let it slide. I just am. 

And a word about Squish's cat--

I seem to be in trouble for "spoiling" said cat. It appears as though I've given that cat a "wet food" habit, and I'm responsible for the creature not being the lithe, delicate young thing it was when it arrived here, six months ago. My response to that was A. He's the closest thing to a grandchild I'm likely to get so grandma's gonna go to town, and B. If I'm so responsible for his chubby little body, how come HE'S the one eating dog kibble after cleaning out the cat food bowl, hm?

It doesn't matter. In a world where you're locked in a house with your parents, with only your phone for company, Mom's the bad guy. 

But Grandma, on the other hand, is a HERO!

Here, kitty kitty kitty--Grandma's got some lunchmeat for ya!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Shortbread and Shadows is Now Out!

Shortbread and Shadows

by Amy Lane

I love paranormal romance and urban fantasy. (Yes, there's a difference--it's important, trust me.)

The first series I ever talked about on this blog was the Little Goddess series, and the second one was Bitter Moon--and I miss that touch of magic so much.

This book is paranormal romance--it's got a modern setting and just a dash of magic to make the world a little more mysterious than usual.

And to make love just a little less scary than it can be in real life.

There's a planned story arc here of four books--unlucky, I know, but I love every couple in the book, including Kate and Josh and Gabby and Chris, our two het couples. I've already finished book 2--Pentacles and Puppydogs, and I'm just... happy, with these books.

The real world right now is a big scary clusterfuck--I can't lie. And while I still believe that writing alternative universe fiction gives us the chance to say personal, telling things about human behavior--and I do that here, I promise--there is still that need to know that the world can somehow be set right again.

This series of books gives us that happy reassurance, and I'm not going to apologize for that. Escape for a couple of hours with the Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club--hopefully they'll cast a small spell on your heart for happiness we all deserve.


Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club: Book One

When a coven of hedge witches casts a spell for their hearts’ desires, the world turns upside down.

Bartholomew Baker is afraid to hope for his heart’s true desire—the gregarious woodworker who sells his wares next to Bartholomew at the local craft fairs—so he writes the spell for his baking business to thrive and allow him to quit his office job. He’d rather pour his energy into emotionally gratifying pastry! But the magic won’t allow him to lie, even to himself, and the spellcasting has unexpected consequences.

For two years Lachlan has been flirting with Bartholomew, but the shy baker with the beautiful gray eyes runs away whenever their conversation turns personal. He’s about to give up hope… and then Bartholomew rushes into a convention in the midst of a spellcasting disaster of epic proportions.

Suddenly everybody wants a taste of Bartholomew’s baked goods—and Bartholomew himself. Lachlan gladly jumps on for the ride, enduring rioting crowds and supernatural birds for a chance with Bartholomew. Can Bartholomew overcome the shyness that has kept him from giving his heart to Lachlan?

Following is a list of places to either buy the book or review it after you've read it--if you have the time or inclination, a few nice words are SO appreciated :-)

barnes and nobles
Dreamspinner Press

Monday, July 20, 2020

Home again!

So it was a lovely vacation. It wasn't as busy as we usually are--and while the kids were sort of sad about that, I was thrilled. We drove to a couple of state parks-- Makerricher (sp), Russian Gulch, Glass Beach--and took the dogs on long walks, and even played in the sand for a little. 
We rented a TINY HOUSE for four days--right off Noyo Harbor--as in, Squish took a video of a seal frolicking in the harbor from the back deck, and we could see water under the boards beneath the porch stairs. It was so small, the top loft was only about 4ft high--ZB sat up on a short-legged bed and had to be careful he didn't bang his head on the ceiling. The stairs were narrow, which was good because there was less room for him to hurt himself as he fell downtime, probably flailing as he went.

That was okay--it was bigger and more fun than a hotel room (and cuter too) and we got to keep the dogs. We also didn't eat out much because it had a tiny kitchen too! Wheee!
Mendocino is VERY big on masks--and most of the visitors respected that. When we were walking on the board paths that wind through Makerricher (sp) every family we ran into had their masks on--and so did we. I'm sure they have their own COVID spreaders--but for the most part, they're so isolated, and big hospitals are far away. They need to keep healthy and be good to each other, so they take their parts as good neighbors seriously.

Coming home was a comedy of errors though.
At first, we were going to stop and visit my friend, Karen. It turns out, Karen lives off the road from Cabin in the Woods, and the kids and I were wetting our pants. Then, it turns out, I had the wrong house number, and who wants to guess on the odds of calling or texting anyone with a cell phone when you're trying to find the Cabin in the Woods. Anyway-- we had to abort mission. The kids were legit asking us if we were planning to hide their bodies up there and I was getting car sick.

So was ZoomBoy. 

So... about being car sick. And needing a bathroom on the road from Mendocino to what was GOING TO BE San Francisco. 

A. There are very few bathrooms.

B. If you find a bathroom, you might need your own toilet paper. 

C. If you find out you need your own toilet paper at the wrong time, remember, CELL PHONES DON'T WORK so you may have to holler to a random stranger in the next portajohn to please get your husband in the Honda Odyssey and have him bring the toilet paper.
D. If you don't find a bathroom (and ZoomBoy couldn't wait) you might still need toilet paper.

E. If you happened to buy extra toilet paper because the tiny house you rented didn't have enough rolls, you may perhaps feel as if serendipity is on your side.

F. Your son may also still be trying to write a comedy routine about "does a boy shit in the woods?"

And now you know.

Anyway-- we were winding around the road and it was hot and we weren't seeing signs of civilization and Mate made an abrupt tactical decision and decided to take Mountain View Road to Williams, instead of driving all the way down to San Francisco.
Now, I mentioned this to my friend--after we had bailed from trying to drive by and wave at her because her road is terrifying, and se said, "You think my road is bad, there's a road called Mountain View that's TRULY terrifying."


It was like we were eternally stuck on Bob's Bogus Road-- between the aborted trip to the Cabin in the Woods to Mountain View "let's just drop the car off a side of a cliff because the road's not really there" Road, I have never--repeat NEVER--been so glad to see Hwy 5 in my life. So WHAT if it's straight as a ruler. So WHAT if there's a thousand semis on it. You know what? I'm not gonna upchuck on that road, and there is ALWAYS A FUCKING ROAD when you expect a FUCKING ROAD.

*pants a little* 

So, uhm, that was fun.

We got home. 

We slept pretty much all of Saturday. Someone asked me for a chat, and honestly, I couldn't even brain words. Mate and I stared into space--we didn't even do laundry. Apparently Bob's Bogus Roads suck your soul out your eyeballs through a straw--and now you know.

But other than the trip home, the rest of it was AWESOME. And even the trip home was an adventure. And given that, while we were gone, we had to deal with the news that the kids won't be returning to school in August except for distance learning (and that really sucks for both my kids, although we're super happy not to be sending them to their deaths like Betsy Devos wants us to) it seems like a vacation--even a tiny one--was well worth the price.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Lessons from Television

So, Mate and I have been watching our share of TV and we've developed a taste for British crime drama. Oh yes--Midsummer Murders, DCI Banks, Scott & Bailey, Bletchley Girls, Unforgotten-- our addiction runs deep, I can tell you. 

And so, after season 3 of Unforgotten, as we're thinking of reopening Midsummer Murders again at Season 8, we have realized a couple of things, and I thought I'd share.

*  The Brits treasure a good administrator and proper procedure, and if you think that makes for aboring cop show, then you've never experience the bone deep satisfaction of seeing a polite, petite, middle-aged woman nail a suspect to the wall with no more then the exquisite strength of having done her fucking job and done it well. Hoo boy! *fans self*  Having seen American police procedure splashed up on social media these days, I'm telling you, it's pure competence porn.

*  America and Great Britain are two countries separated by the same language. And it's more than saying, "go for a kip" instead of "taking a nap" or, "I didn't come to the cops cause there's gear all over," instead of, "I'm a drug dealer for fuck's sake, no I'm not going to report a missing girl!" There is a delightful playfulness with language and understatement, and while most of us have been in love with it since reading Pride and Prejudice, having it flung at you at warp speed is so much fun. Also, thank God for subtitles, or I'd be completely lost. 

* Along with that good administrator stuff, the Brits are also (apparently) much better at taking care of their citizens in law enforcement. Of course, IRL I'd need to see some statistics, but there is such an expectation of, "If you don't go see a counselor after a trauma, they'd bloody well come to you and make sure you're okay or we didn't do our jobs!" A person's personal life does matter to the higher ups in these dramas. In American dramas, we're always surprised when the Lieutenant actually gives a shit. "Aw, that's what makes her such a good person! She cares in spite of pressure for results!"  In British crime dramas, not having her people go off the deep end is part of the DCI's job. And that's not just, "Pull your shit together or we'll take you off the case!" It's, "Here, let me sit and see where your life is falling apart and if we can fix it. You're not expendable, but if you need to leave we understand." And yes--again, television vs. real life, but television presents sort of an expectation, and in shows like Law & Order, there is no expectation of care. In British crime dramas there is--and that's a cultural difference, and it's important.

* There is also an expectation of respect towards suspects. The officers are pleasant and professional right up until they say, "At this point, we're going to CPS (the DA in American crime shows) with what we have to prosecute you. Do you have anything that will mitigate these charges?" People are asked to come in, people are interviewed with their lawyer, and they're never railroaded or threatened--they're simply caught in a lie and prosecuted. It's... it's actual detective work and not brutality. I'm sort of amazed.

* And while yes, they are respectful, Mate and I have also noticed that if a British DC or DCI ever comes up to you and says, "We just need five minutes of your time," you had better block out an entire day and call a lawyer.

* And this, I think is really important-- there is a  "syndicate" approach to the crimes. People sitting in the same room, being assigned tasks and being asked for their opinions appears to be standard operating procedure. There is a much more communal atmosphere in these shows--and yes, TELEVISION, I get that, but there is, again, the expectation that a syndicate is a functioning family and not a dysfunctional bunch of splinter groups who sometimes communicate. It might be the sets--but I also think the "American cowboy" approach to law enforcement is just not as romanticized as it is here.

* And finally, Mate and I have made the following observation--and this comes from watching a lot of the "Cold Case" shows-- Unforgotten being our most recent. We've discovered that our middle age isn't such a bad thing. Apparently, comfortable middle age is a lot more comfy when you haven't left the bodies of your enemies rotting somewhere in a shallow grave. 

 there you go--lessons from British crime shows. I'm sure (!) I'll have a lot of British residents popping up to tell me that television isn't real life, and that the police are probably beastly there too--but like I said: they expect their coppers to do better. 

I wish we did too!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Kermit Flail July!


Well, I hope you all had a safe holiday--I have to admit, I've been somewhat of a crabby pants about all of the personal fireworks in our area. *shakes old woman fist at the sky* YOU DAMNED KIDS ARE SCARING MY DOGS!  I also have to apologize for missing June's Kermit Flail--in full confession, here, I seriously was cruising by on COVID time--I just spaced that there's a thing I do at the beginning of the month!

I mean, let's face it--this year has been WEIRD--and scary, and we all need some fluffy escapism, particularly those of us who are staying close to home! I mean, we're going to the beach--but it's the empty one up north, where mostly we just want to walk our dogs and sit at the harbor looking out at the sunset--and reading. Reading really is the one thing that can take us away from all of this.

And if you're looking for escapist reads--boy, this Kermit Flail lineup has SOME OF THE BEST! 

Let's see what's coming out!

The first book on my roster is an anthology from some amazing authors--it was submitted to me by R.L. Merrill who's AWESOME--but it also features Riley Hart and Xio Axelrod and generally, it's not to be missed. All proceeds go to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute--and that's a lovely cause too. 

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Love Is All Volume 3

Seven bestselling and award-winning authors bring you brand new stories celebrating love is love! All proceeds from the sale of the anthology will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which protects and defends the rights of Black Transgender people.

Custard and Kisses by Sophia Soames
Falling Faster by Susan Scott Shelley
Pole Kisses by Wendy Gold
Hands Off by Connor Peterson
I Want, More by R.L. Merrill
The Start of Something New by Megan Hart
To Build a Home by Xio Axelrod

Buy Here

This next book is by the bright and sparkly Tara Lain, bless her--she's the queen of happy escapism and HEA, and this book looks adorable! Small dog books are something of a favorite of mine--go figure!

Prancing of a Papillon 

by Tara Lain 

Opposites attracting, billionaires getting kidnapped, a Papillon who’s smarter than you are, and near-death at a dog show….

Jericho Jones is giving up on social life. What social life? Six-foot-five and packed with muscles he barely earned, Jericho looks like an alpha top, when he’s actually a gentle bottom who teaches first grade and lives with his hypochondriac mother. When Jericho’s friends, Finn and Em, suggest he accompany Finn to a dog show as the handler for their Papillon, Batshit, he decides, while he might be the world’s least likely Papillon prancer, he’d be grateful for a new experience and a few days away from Mama.

Jericho’s prepared to take dog handling seriously, but he’s not prepared for the pure lust he feels for wealthy dog owner, Brees Apollonia, a guy totally out of Jericho’s league. But Brees’s family issues make Jericho’s look tame – his father wants to marry him to the daughter of a prospective business partner. When Brees starts being followed by unknown guys, he thinks his father’s trying to scare him and uses it as an excuse to be “protected” by big, hunky Jericho. But pretend gets way out of control, and suddenly the only thing between Brees and possible death is a smart dog with big ears, three intrepid women, and gentle wimp, Jericho Jones.

Buy Here

And we really are in luck--besides the fluffy and adorable Tara Lain, we have the happy and sparkly E.J. Russell! (As her tag line proclaims, "Reality optional!")  This looks like the Tempest, but so very very happy and gay--escapism doesn't get any better than E.J. Russell!

Duking It Out (Royal Powers Book 1)

By E.J. Russell

Royal dukes from rival countries, shipwrecked on a deserted island. The grudge match of the century—or a love story of super-heroic proportions?

Sander Fiala, Duke of Roses, is fourth in line to the South Abarran throne, even though his rogue power earned him the nickname “The Monster of Roses” and got him banished from the Castle. But right before he’s about to set off on his annual birthday sailing trip, the Queen asks him to meet with the notoriously volatile North Abarran Duke of Arles.

Tarik Jaso, Duke of Arles, expects the worst from people because—let’s face it—people are the worst. His superpower bombards him with any and all electronic transmissions, which…yeah, people suck. So when he’s attacked and wakes up in the cabin of a stranded boat, he knows he’s royally screwed. Because the man looming over him—the man he’d gone toe-to-toe with right before the attack—is the infamous Monster of Roses.

Tarik is positive the Monster is behind his kidnapping. Sander is sure the whole thing is Tarik’s fault. As they work toward rescue, Tarik realizes that the disturbingly hot Sander is no monster, and Sander discovers that Tarik’s temper masks a caring soul wrapped in a cantankerous (though undeniably sexy) body.

For their burgeoning connection to endure, they’ll have to duke it out with political factions, dark conspiracies, and centuries of traditions that keep them on opposite sides of the border.

But first? They have to get off this damn island.

Duking It Out is a 46,000-word M/M enemies to lovers, opposites attract, superhero rom-com, featuring Only One Bed, a grumpy duke who should know better than to jump to conclusions, a self-doubting duke who’s good with his hands (heh), gossipy seagulls, competent assistants, a guaranteed HEA, and (unfortunately) capes.


And while you're escaping, how about a free escape?  Next up we have a celebrity chef--this is a re-titled, re-covered book from L.E. Franks--but it's free on Kindle Unlimited right now, and very much worth the taste!

Tasty AF

by LE Franks

Don’t you just hate it when you accidentally out your celebrity boyfriend to a NY Times gossip columnist? So does culinary genius, Christian De Guisse.

After one teensy mistake, instead of searing the perfect steak or seasoning a mouth-watering sauce, Christian is on a plane out of town. The lure of redemption has Chris fleeing to the Pacific Northwest with the promise of a possible career-saving job. But if the decrepit Portland restaurant he’s been hired to redeem fails, then so will he. Being ridiculed as the washed-up boy toy of a celebrity chef would be a fate worse than death.

Andy doesn’t have good taste. In fact, he doesn’t taste anything at all. While making an arrest, Andy manages to collar the most mouthwatering of men. He’s irresistibly drawn to the appetizing chef. But Christian finds Andy’s liberal use of ketchup hard to swallow, and until Andy can clear him of any lingering suspicion, Christian will remain forbidden fruit.

Christian feels as if he’s jumped from the frying pan into the fire. His tasty morsel of a cop isn’t falling for his cooking charms, and the well-below 5-star establishment he’s trying to save is more mess than Michelin. Will the sour taste of Andy’s rejection be what finally destroys Christian’s hope for a new life?

Please note: This edition features a new cover with no additional content, so no need to purchase if you’ve already read Christian and Andy’s story! If this is your first time meeting them you’ll find Tasty AF is a slow burn, opposites attract romance, that features a disgraced gourmet chef and the impatient cop who hungers for him. Previous edition Can This Be Real was published by another publisher in 2014.

Handsome shy alpha males? Yes please--I'll jump right on that ship and sail away.  SQUEEEEE!!! (Handsome and shy is my candy!)

Alpha Protect

by Sue Brown

What kind of courage does it take to travel two thousand miles just to say hello to a man who doesn’t know you exist? At thirty years old and never been kissed, Walker is about to find out.

After a rocky start to his life in the agency, newly trained operative Walker takes the biggest chance of his life before his first mission. He returns to J.T.’s Bar to bare his virgin soul to a handsome former operative he’s only seen once.

Since Mark left the agency, he’s spent years nursing an unrequited crush on a former co-worker. He’s left with the realization he’s facing middle-age alone. Except here’s this shy, huge man from the agency waiting to talk to him in J.T.’s Bar.

The last thing they need to hear is someone is killing Mark’s former team. Against his wishes, the agency insists Mark goes into hiding and Walker is assigned the task of getting him to a safe house. Can a rookie operative like Walker protect Mark long enough to get him to safety—and eventually into his arms?

If you like action and adventure gay romance with shy hot guys and loving that can heal all broken hearts, you’ll love Alpha Protect.

And while we're escaping into books, how about a trip to  Pooch Planet! I mean... pooch planet!!! CHIWEENIE SHIFTERS!! How much more delicious can out of town get?

Pooch Planet

by M.M.  Wilde 

What’s a pooch to do when he falls in love with a gargoyle?

On Pooch Planet, Chiweenie shifter Benji has been tasked with helping to guard Small Breed Village. A murderous beast has invaded the local forest, and for the first time in the dog shifter realm, they’re in fear for their lives from a mysterious killer. Benji is feisty and tough, but he’s also on the verge of his first heat. Talk about bad timing!

Gargoyle Antoine heads the military police division of the G-Force Federation. He’s been tracking a vicious alien from Hades Galaxy that’s been terrorizing several worlds under the protection of the Federation. If the fearsome predator eats its way through the inhabitants of Pooch Planet before Antoine can save them, he will have failed as both a guardian and gargoyle.

When Antoine lands on the remote world, he meets an adorable little shifter who captivates him. Even though he’s been promised a gargoyle mate he’s never met back on Old Earth, something about Benji calls to Antoine’s stone heart. Antoine finds himself in quite the predicament—one he never could’ve anticipated when he accepted his mission.

But the evil that has invaded Pooch Planet might make the decision for him if he can’t rescue his sweet Chiweenie…

Author’s Note: Pooch Planet is Book Four in the multi-author G-Force Federation mpreg, sci-fi series. Each book in the series can be read in any order. Join the G-Force Federation gargoyle warriors as they embark on their mission to protect and serve the Federation and possibly find their fated mates. If you like adorable shifters, hunky gargoyles and sci-fi action with lots of fluffy feels, then take a trip to Pooch Planet!

And if we're talking about summer escapes, who does them better than our talented Irish Lass, Kate McMurray, who is giving us a taste of the Olympics we DIDN'T get during the summer in her new book, Stick the Landing.

Stick the Landing

by Kate McMurray

Stick the Landing (Elite Athletes Book 2)
Jake Mirakovitch might be the best gymnast in the world, but there’s one big problem: he chokes in international competition. The least successful of a family of world-class gymnasts, he has struggled to shake off nerves in the past. This time he’s determined to bring home the gold no matter what.

Retired figure skater Topher Caldwell wants a job as a commentator for the American network that covers the Olympics, and at the Summer Olympics in Madrid, he has a chance to prove himself with a few live features. He can’t afford to stumble.

Olympic victories eluded Topher, so he knows about tripping when it really counts. When he interviews Jake, the two bond over the weight of all that pressure. The flamboyant reporter attracts the kind of attention Jake—stuck in a glass closet—doesn’t want, but Jake can’t stay away. Topher doesn’t want to jeopardize his potential new job, and fooling around with a high-profile athlete seems like a surefire way to do just that. Yet Topher can’t stay away either…

Buy Here 

This next one wasn't a submission (as most of my Flails are!) but a plea from Barbie Pomales, who works so very hard for me jand I adore her. She said, "PLEASE Flail this--it's amazing!" And, well, I'll do anything for Barbie--so this one's Barbie's Rec--and she's so passionate about it, I might make Barbie's Rec a Flail thing!

It's a Steal

by Arden O'Keefe

Edric Wilcher has realized growing up that there are simply two things in this world he can never imagine his life without—music and coffee. This is the reason why he chooses the life of a famous rock star—at least, famous in his own small town, and then, goes ahead and opens up Rockstar’s Hideout Café. Every morning he serves his regulars and has a nice, long chat with them before they go back to their daily routine. His charms work wonders on them. Thanks to the good genes bestowed upon him, he doesn’t look half bad. So, it strikes him as odd that this new customer who walks in that morning carrying a heap of books doesn’t seem to even spare him a second glance.

“Coffee” is what he orders and Ed goes out of his way to make him feel special. But the redheaded nerd—okay, a cute nerd, probably cutest he’s seen in his life—just leaves with his books, leaving even the muffin-on-the-house completely untouched. The mystery surrounding this guy gets the best of Ed and when he finds a book left behind by this customer, he can’t help follow the trail to see him just one more time. Even if it is to get a name.

Dean Harrett has somehow misplaced the one thing that was supposed to help him out of his current problems—and that thing is not a cheesy, romance novel. What matters to him the most is what he’s kept in the book—the perfect plan that can make or break his future. And that book has gone now. Only if he can remember where he’s last seen that book…

Of course! The café, where that annoying barista just wouldn’t leave him alone so he had to leave.

But now Dean has to get back there and look for himself before anyone can lay their hands on it. He doesn’t even want to think about the worst-case scenario of someone finding out what he is up to. But this only means he will have to face the annoying, but handsome barista again. Ugh!

And Amy's New Release...

Okay-- I admit it. I miss paranormal. This book is the first of a new urban fantasy series--light and sweet with a cup of magic, a pinch of sexy sweetness, and just a soupçon of darkness for spice-- The Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club is about what happens when a spell for your hearts desire goes terribly terribly wrong...

Welcome to the first book--

Shortbread and Shadows

by Amy Lane

When a coven of hedge witches casts a spell for their hearts’ desires, the world turns upside down.

Bartholomew Baker is afraid to hope for his heart’s true desire—the gregarious woodworker who sells his wares next to Bartholomew at the local craft fairs—so he writes the spell for his baking business to thrive and allow him to quit his office job. He’d rather pour his energy into emotionally gratifying pastry! But the magic won’t allow him to lie, even to himself, and the spellcasting has unexpected consequences.

For two years Lachlan has been flirting with Bartholomew, but the shy baker with the beautiful gray eyes runs away whenever their conversation turns personal. He’s about to give up hope… and then Bartholomew rushes into a convention in the midst of a spellcasting disaster of epic proportions.

Suddenly everybody wants a taste of Bartholomew’s baked goods—and Bartholomew himself. Lachlan gladly jumps on for the ride, enduring rioting crowds and supernatural birds for a chance with Bartholomew. Can Bartholomew overcome the shyness that has kept him from giving his heart to Lachlan?

So there you go--I know most of us are stuck close to home--or stuck close to a summer rental--for this year, but I hope you enjoy these options to escape into fantasy, even if it's just for the span of a book. 


Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Twitter Thread on World Building

Sorry about the formatting--I actually did this as a thread on Twitter, and then sort of liked it, so I put it here so I could look it up if I needed it. You're welcome to it.

I'm going to make an observation here about world building when you're writing urban fantasy. Not every detail about the world needs to be dropped immediately, no matter how much people may insist you do just that.

 Think about it like Indiana Jones and snakes. We know in thefirst ten minutes of the first film that Indiana Jones doesn't like snakes. We know it will come back to bite us in the ass--more than once. But it takes us two whole movies (even if none of us watch the super racist second one) before we realize WHY Indiana doesn't like snakes.

World building in an alternative universe NEEDS to be like that sometimes. It NEEDS to be a little mysterious. There NEED to be little nagging questions, because we are VISITORS TO ANOTHER WORLD.

 If aliens showed up on our doorstep they wouldn't know about coffee. They'd either A. Ask us questions the first time they saw us drink it or B. Focus on something else, like why law enforcement was beating up on other humans or why we hadn't taken steps to get rid of the life threatening virus in the air. Which one of these things is more important to the story? Coffee would get put on the back burner, and it could be used for comic effect, or a character moment or an illustration of the balance between self-preservation and self-destruction in humans--whatever. But coffee doesn't need to be explained RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. 

Good world building is layered into the story--if it's mentioned eventually it will be addressed eventually. If it's not, maybe there's a logical explanation layered in with the rules of the world. But it's not all dumped in at the beginning, and if explaining coffee at the start interrupts the narrative flow, then leave it.

 Sort of like Anne McCaffrey did with klah in the Dragonriders and Dragonsingers of Pern--eventually, she wrote a book that explained klah. Until then, we all figured out it was coffee. Because she knew readers were smart like that. So trust your world building. Trust your layering. Know that a question answered later is better than an infodump that loses attention RIGHT NOW. World building is a tricky business--if you don't have faith in your readers sense of wonder, you've destroyed your prose
before you've begun.

Or at least that's how I see it.