Hey There. Come Here Often?

[pulling out the Dory voice] Well, hi!

It’s uh… been a bit of time since I’ve posted here so I thought I’d check in, crack open a drink, and have a conversation with you all.

The last few months have been extremely hard for me, I’ll be honest. Some stuff happened that redefined the way I look at people I know in a serious way. There were police investigations (closed now) and the fallout will continue for years to come, but the initial whirlwind of holy shit has subsided. I’m relieved and disappointed, angry and fearful, determined and protective. It’s an exhausting mix of emotions, to be honest. All I have to say is thank god for Kate. She has always been and always will be my rock in stormy times. Things are looking up, at least somewhat. I’m trying to be a positive, immovable wall of reliability for those who need me. It’s difficult, and in quiet, solitary moments, I break more often than I’d care to admit, but those moments are becoming less frequent at least. Maybe we’ll all be okay with time and perspective.

Then of course there’s the election of our new Dark Lord POTUS and the fallout from that, which will also have ramifications for years. I stand in shocked disbelief on a daily basis since Lord Cheeto took office. But I also see the protests, the activism, the phone calls to representatives, the sheer rising up of our nation to keep the new PEEOTUS from sinking us all, and it gives me hope. I cling to the hope sometimes, because it feel like the only thing I have, this tiny little lifesaver ring in the face of racism, sexism, cronyism, nepotism, and discrimination. And also batshit crazy. Because Bannon is fucking insane and he’s Wormtongue, whispering his evil into the King’s ear.

But! I don’t want to get into all that political shit in this post. This is more of a hey, what’s up? thing. I’ve been working as a virtual assistant the last couple months, too. The book sales are still decent, but they don’t stretch the way they used to, so I picked up some extra work to even out the valleys and make it easier to save during the peaks. This is also the reason Kate and I have started a Patreon, so we can worry less about scraping together money for bills by doing side jobs and devote that time to the actual writing. It’s been a bit stressful, if I’m honest, but hopefully in the next few months, we’ll have a little more breathing room. Honestly, the Patreon is a lot more fun than I anticipated. I have lots of ideas for it, just need the time to execute.

I’m 42,000 words into Restraint (PE 4) and I’m predicting it’ll be around 100,000 words. This one is not quite as dark as the first three (quite possibly another reaction to the last few months. The darker real life gets, the fluffier I write. Maybe. If I could ever be classified as “fluffy,” which I think is a stretch. More like Addams family dark rather than Ted Bundy dark.) I’ve been having fun with the research for Restraint though. It’s set in Seattle, which is a city that’s always fascinated me. In fact, Kate and I have tentative plans to move there for a couple years when the kids are in college, and before we go to England. Assuming the US still exists by then.

I’ve also got the second Long Fall of Night queued up and ready to begin as soon as Restraint is released. Honestly, I need to write it before what I’ve had plotted for 2 years now comes to pass and I get accused of taking advantage of sick and twisted times. It’ll be quite the roller coaster, for sure.

After that, I have a few ideas. There’s a possible Reaping Havoc 3, a PE spinoff with a character from Restraint (plus another spinoff from Consent with a couple of those characters), and then the beginning of a futuristic slave epic I’ve been kicking around for months now, tentatively called Genesis Rising. That one, I cannot wait to sink my teeth into, but the plot is slow in coming, and I’m taking my time with it so as not to force anything. It’ll be a flop if I don’t do it right. I’m also considering whether or not to make it a menage. I haven’t written a poly relationship in a long time, and never for more than a scene in a work I’ve published. I miss the dynamics of it, and I would love to explore all the facets of it again. It’s such a beautiful kind of love.

I’ve also been knitting and listening to audiobooks. I’ve got intentions of getting audio production going for my backlist in 2017, but that depends on a lot of factors, so I can’t make promises at this point. I wish I could, because I want to hear Gavin come to life in a bad way, but patience is the name of this game.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Trying to keep my head above water and hold on tight in these changing, somewhat troubled times. I’d love to report Casa Rose-Aaron smells of roses and freshly printed money and is filled with the sounds of books being written at a lightning pace, but the reality is much more mundane and less exciting.

I do want to know what you all have been up to, even if it’s not glamorous or exciting, or even if you think it sounds like complaints. You know what? We’re all in this together and can share strengths. So come sit by me. Tell me a little bit about your worlds and what you hope happens in the next few months. I’ve missed you guys.

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Intermission

So it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I imagine a lot of people are still in family mode. The kids are breaking in their new shoes or figuring out their new electronics or draining the batteries on the new toys at record rates. The parents are probably looking around their houses and wondering how it takes so long to clean and only seconds to destroy again. Grandparents are likely watching their whole broods with pride in their eyes and reveling in spoiling those they love.

Me, I’m kind of in planning mode for the food we make on New Year’s Eve. Since I was a little kid, New Years meant a table full of finger foods and movies, and then we’d drag ourselves sleepily off the couch, pat ourselves on the back for (barely) making it to midnight, have a glass of fizzy non-alcoholic grape juice, and take ourselves off to bed.

As I got older, the food was the one thing that stuck. We never went bar hopping (the door covers were outrageous, as were the crowds) so a friend would sacrifice their house and we’d fill it with people, booze, and food. Some years there was drunken snow sledding at 1 am, some years there was dancing in the living room, and some years, New Years Day was warm enough for a pickup basketball game in the driveway once we weren’t too hungover to move.

These days, it’s much tamer. There’s still no way I could brave crowds in a public place New Year’s, and it’s Kate’s birthday, so I try to make it more about her than about rolling over another year (although this year, I may go streaking through the neighborhood and whooping for joy at seeing the ass end of 2016, because Jesus it’s been a shit year). So our New Year’s Eve will consist of more finger foods than we can possibly eat, a rendition of Happy Birthday, some gifts, and at midnight, champagne for the adults and sparkling grape juice for the kids before we ship them off to bed and hope the next year beats the pants off this one in terms of good stuff. Lord we all need a good year.

I wish everyone a happy and safe New Year’s Eve and all the blessings to come in the new year. If you’re the resolution type, I wish you the fortitude to succeed.

My resolution: get more books out. Two in a year is pathetic. I want to double that.


Many of you already know, but voting is going on for the M/M Romance Group Goodreads Member’s Choice Awards. Click this link to vote, if you’re a member of the group.

A huge thank you to those who nominated me for the following 5 categories!

Best Hurt/Comfort: Defenseless
Best Paranormal: Reaping Fate
Best Established Couple: Mitch and Nate (Reaping Havoc series)
All Time Favorite Romance: Reaping Fate
All Time Favorite Author

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Get voting! Polls close December 31.

Restraint (Power Exchange Book 4) or How This Disastrous Election Won’t Stop Me

I think I’m done reeling from the election results. I might have my balance back. Now, I’m rolling up my sleeves and ready to fight. I’m ready to take on those who want to see immigrants and Muslims and People of Color and LGBTQ people shuffled out of their country, into dark corners, or into some other kind of oblivion. President Trump is the dying gasp of a white patriarchy who can’t handle otherness, and while it may feel like a hurricane force wind right now, I’ve got lungs, too, and I plan to scream back. I will be like Lieutenant Dan, on the mast of a small ship riding stormy waves, screaming into the wind and the rain, “Is that all you got! Come on! Bring it!”

I will not go quietly into the closet/dark corners/oblivion like apparently half the voters in this country would like me and other marginalized groups to do. Nope. This is MY country, too and I absolutely refuse to be a doormat because these people have deemed my differences are not differences they can tolerate.

So much for America the melting pot.

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a 4th Power Exchange (this series has taught me to never say never. It keeps coming back so much I might as well make that the tagline). Ben of all people has been whispering to me, saying, “Hey, I have a story, too. Maybe I’m ready to let you tell it.” It has some legs, so I’ve tinkered out a plot and in the last couple weeks have gotten the first scene down amid a wedding, some serious personal strife that knocked me over like Hulk punching Thor, and this ugly, UGLY election. I cannot promise when Restraint will be released other than to say 2017. But it’s my foremost project, and is the one getting my attention. It may not go as fast as Consent did (4 months to write) or it may. The point is that I’m writing it and in the wake of heartbreaking, devastating news, I wanted to share with my people that maybe we still have things to look forward to. I know I still have a voice, and I plan to use it. I’m going to be getting louder. This is my way of saying I will not sit down, I will not shut up, and in fact, I will write about the love of people like me until I take my literal dying gasp. I will never quit.

So, as a promise to you all, I give you the first scene from Restraint, Power Exchange Book 4. I hope you like it and are excited Ben and Gavin have more to say. Click through to read on.

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What’s Up?

So wow, the last month or so has been kind of nuts, hasn’t it? I don’t know about you, but busy doesn’t begin to describe it.

In the last several weeks, Kate moved to America to be with me, I finished a book, we got married, and I released the book. I won’t bore you with details about paperwork and editing and driver’s licenses and book covers and bank accounts and all that jazz, but let’s just say holy shit. There’s a lot going on up in here.

Reaping Havoc

Because of this, I’ve been hit and miss around social media, and while I’m trying, it’s not liable to get better for a little while. I’m in the midst of planning what to write next, and with the holidays coming up, I know we all get a little hectic.

But it’s the what’s up next bit I want to talk to you all about. Remember this post about what a dick my muse is? Well, it appears I’mma hafta cutabitch and take away his ecstasy, because he’s still not playing ball. He apparently luuuurves Nate and Mitch, because now, there’s a sequel to Reaping Havoc banging around in my head and oh my god I can hardly wait to start it!

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So here’s what’s up with The Long Fall of Night series.

I have every intention of finishing it, but because of the depths of detail required for the next installment, I cannot focus enough on it right now with everything else going on (more gov’t paperwork, traveling for the holidays, life/health insurance, car stuff, you name it we’re doing it) to do the book justice. I absolutely refuse to phone it in on any story I write just to keep to a schedule. That makes me miserable, makes the story suck, and readers can totally see it in the writing. I know there are those of you who are waiting for The Dark Before Dawn (LFoN 2), and it’s at the top of the pile. However, this may be one of those books (or series) I have to work on at the same time as working on something else, because it’s intense to write, intense to research, and it’s slow. I can’t do slow and still keep up with reader expectations.

So my intentions are these: I will continue with the Reaping Havoc world while the muse (that fucking dickhead) is moved by it, work on The Long Fall of Night series with slow and steady determination so as to get the next installment out sometime in 2016, and book 3 out the following year, all while keeping readers on the edge of your seats with new releases every three or so months. I have plans. There’s more Mitch and Nate, the Power Exchange spinoff, the rock star story, the co-written one with Kate (possibly, if her schedule meshes), a ménage, an assassin story, another paranormal world to build regarding ghosts that might fit into the Reaping Havoc world but it might not… Oh, the list goes on.

I promise you, my favorite ever readers, there will be no lack of new work coming from me. It’s just not in the order I planned. Viva la variété!

A Piece of Me

I’m over at Diverse Reader today talking about my feelings from before the UK Meet, and sharing something I’ve held close to the vest since the beginning of my career. Take a peek and drop a comment. Come say hello, maybe make a face with me.

Interview (the Last Step)

Kate​ is in Scotland with her family on holiday but has received word that her interview with the US consulate in London is scheduled for September 3rd.

This is the last hurdle in our application for a fiancée visa for her to come to the US so we can marry. This is where they talk with her to verify our intentions and that we’re honest, really a couple, and won’t be a burden on anyone. The forums she’s been reading up on say they pretty much know if they’re granting approval or not by the time the interview rolls around, and that approval comes swiftly, if not the day of the interview, then within the week. For us specifically, they’ve requested no further documentation, and they’ve not had further questions on existing documentation. We have no reason to think there’ll be a negative decision.

This is it, folks. Now, I’m pretty sure Kate’s going to knock this out of the park, even if she’s nervous (she handles this stuff like a champ). I’m the one that’s a fucking basket case (mainly because all of this is out of my hands and I can only sit here and watch). There’s so much riding on this, not the least of which is our future together, and lemme tell you, this is where I would usually curse my jump-in-with-both-feet attitude.

When I first told Kate I had bigger feelings for her almost three years ago, she thought I was a guy (long story for the new peeps, and those who’ve been around awhile, you know already), there was a damned ocean separating us, same-sex marriage was not federally recognized with DOMA still in place, and most states did not recognize ssm. I think 8 states had equal marriage laws. In the last three years, it seems the obstacles in our path have simply gotten out of our way, with DOMA falling in June 2013, then the state I live in passing marriage equality in late 2013, and finally, SCOTUS declaring it this year in all states. I know at the heart of it all are couples who fought for all of us to be able to love equally, and I am forever grateful to them. My point is that so much was against us from the beginning, and now, we’re 24 days away from the last step. One more thing, and then that ocean can stop being between us.

I can’t find it in myself to curse my leap-without-looking mentality about this. After having toed the line for the first basically 30 years of my life, I refuse to do anything but live out loud, love as hard as I can, and go after the life I want to have. I’m fucking beside myself with the shakes, because I need her like air, and this is it. We have no reason to doubt the visa will be approved, but this is that moment. The one where the music crescendoes and the characters, who’ve been moving around the game board to get into position, do their thing to get their moment of victory. Yeah, that sounds hyperbolic, but in this case it’s not.

A yes means she comes back with me when I fly home from the UK Meet next month. A yes means we get married in October, before the paperwork has time to expire. A yes means I never have to say goodbye to her in an airport again with the stretch of months and an ocean to conquer before we are together again.

Yes means our Happily Ever After.

In 24 days.

Nerves Ahoy

I was on the phone with a dear friend yesterday and the subject of the various romance cons came up. He asked me how long it was until I fly to England to participate in the UK Meet. I was shocked to realize it’s a mere six weeks away.

What’s more shocking is I’m less afraid than I expected to be at this point in time. I’m honest-to-god looking forward to it.

It’s no secret I have anxiety, which manifests in many ways but never more quickly and more ferociously than in social settings. The very day I signed up for the con, I went to take my ruffians trick-or-treating, thinking it would be the usual family affair it had been in years past, only to unknowingly walk into a costume party with a potluck dinner, for which I wore no costume, nor did I have a dish to contribute. After taking the kids to get their candy on, I got out as soon as I could so no one could see me hyperventilating and near tears, almost too panicked to drive.

I had no idea what I was walking into that night, so it blindsided me, and while I knew everyone at the party, I stood out like a sore thumb without a costume. (Not to mention the small fact that it was among a group of people who were related to my ex, so while we’re amicable, it was still incredibly awkward with people I hadn’t seen in a long time.) I didn’t feel it fair to partake in the food everyone brought when I brought nothing, and so at 9 at night, I drove through a Sonic drive through for a giant ass strawberry limeade (my comfort drink) and a late dinner I could barely stomach. It was hours until I felt reasonable again, and stopped berating myself for being so woefully unprepared.

Why can’t I function normally around people I know?

Why was it so hard to talk to people who told me more than once it was good to see me again?

Why can’t I be like everyone else?

The answer is simple: I have social anxiety.

So what the fuck am I doing going to a con??

Two things in particular trigger my social anxiety: hugs and the possibility of my face being put online.

If someone comes at me with their arms out, suddenly, my heart is in my throat. I know I’m not being threatened, but it feels that way. Several things flit through my mind. 1.) I’m short, so most hugs put me at chest level to others. Women, I’m faceplanted in their boobs. Men, I’m nose-to-armpit. Unless I crane my neck awkwardly, it’s uncomfortable, and I FAIL AT HUGGING. 2.) I can’t breathe. Whether that’s physical or psychological, I don’t know. I have only been diagnosed with asthma in the last year, but who knows how long I’ve had it? 3.) I’m always worried I smell, or that I’m not in my best shape and someone will feel that and judge me. All of these (plus more if my brain is being particularly cruel) make me shaky and nervous, which intensifies the stupidity I feel. There are definitely wrong ways to give a hug. I suck at hugs.

My friend on the phone gives the best hugs ever. Why? Because I feel safe when he hugs me. How would I find that level of safety with someone I’ve just met, or have only talked to online? It’s a question I can’t answer. Which is why hugs scare me. Literally scare me.

My photo being put online is becoming less of a trigger, but still a concern. I see people happily put themselves out there, and even though I like being able to put a face with a name myself, the thought of doing so with my mug makes me freak. Anybody can see it. Set aside my self-criticism, I can’t control who sees me if my face is online. Given my active imagination, I spiral into worry about predators trolling the internets for their next victim and well… I know it’s stupid. But anxiety is not logical.

I am proud to say, however, that in the months since I signed up that Halloween for the UK Meet, I’ve managed tricks to ratchet down the irrational fears. It helps the UK Meet organizers are conscientious of these things, and I will wear a lanyard color coded to let people know without asking whether or not taking my picture is okay (I haven’t decided if I’m going to brave this one yet). And there are badges that can be worn to let people know if it’s okay to hug the wearer. Two awkward conversations handled smoothly with non-verbal cues, and I tell you what, I can actually relax that these things don’t rest on my shoulders. I have also gone over and over with Kate ways to extricate myself from awkward situations should they arise. Having a contingency plan for every scenario makes me feel more in control.

My friend on the phone told me the story of his first romance con as a writer, and he said when he first arrived, he was literally mobbed by people wanting to talk to him. It took him half an hour to reach the registration desk. He’s not as severe as me with anxiety, but even he barely managed to keep from walking out and never looking back.

We had a good laugh. And I realized, as I was talking about the round-table discussion I’m leading with Kate, and how I’m looking forward to the gala dinner and the people I have on my list that I absolutely must say hello to, that I’m not scared right now, six weeks out. My heart isn’t beating hard at the thought. My eyes are dry. My hands are steady.

Could that change in the coming weeks? Sure. But the best part is, I really, honestly think I can do this. If someone asked me last year if I’d really make it, I’d have said the chance was iffy. It’s not the flight, being in another country, or even speaking to a crowd (strangely, I only get as nervous as the average person when giving a speech, go figure) that gets to me. It was knowing my specific triggers not only were possible, but probable, just because that’s what people do at cons. They hug their friends and favorite authors and take pictures with them. The fact that those things are already handled, significantly reducing my chances of panicking, is really giving me some hope. Maybe even enough confidence to challenge one of the triggers. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to put up a photo of me with one or two of my favorite authors, who I’m dying to meet, and say, “Look! I have proof that I met x                            and they are awesome!”