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.

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.

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!”

The Risk in a Read

As a young writer, say ten or eleven, I had dreams. Big dreams, that I’d write a book or fifty, would dominate the shelves at the biggest chain bookstores, would attend signings that were more like rock concerts (what can I say, I had just left behind my hair band days and was a little deluded about fame and that writers shared that kind of fame), and would pen the next ten blockbuster flicks people would rave over. I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to move people with my words.

The reality isn’t glamorous. It’s late nights where I’ve run my fingers through my hair so many times it could do a waltz on its own. Mornings where I literally stumble to the basement in my pajamas with a mug of coffee and don’t look up from my computer until late afternoon. Lunch, you say? Why no, it must have passed me by. Again.

I don’t have Hollywood knocking on my doors, and I don’t have shelves at Barnes & Noble prominently displaying my books. I haven’t heard from any book retailers interested in having me do a reading, and even if they did ask, I’d have to take some serious courage pills to be able to stand in front of strangers and do the reading/signing bit. I am not about to attend the movie premiere of any of my stories-turned-cinema, nor am I scouting for an agent to represent me in talks with a major backer out in L.A. Sad but true, I am living the dream, but now the dream is, “YAY! I can pay my bills with royalties! Hope there’s some left over for wine.”

So I’ve had to readjust some expectations. Justalittlebit.

One of them is the give and take between readers and authors. Every author wants five star reviews with a few one stars thrown in saying the book was well written but with this beloved character being killed off, the reader just couldn’t go on without them, they loved them that much. No author wants to read, “DNF chapter 1 because are you fucking kidding me?” (DNF = did not finish, for those who are new here.)

Let’s shift the expectations again.

Now, I will fully acknowledge I’ve been one lucky fucker since releasing Power Exchange three years ago. I know it’s flawed, and yet people seem to love Ben and Gavin enough to be forgiving of that other stupid thing Gavin does at the end that he really ends up regretting. I get email to this day about that book, telling me they didn’t understand BDSM until they read PE, that they appreciated the love story, and my favorite: that my writing moved them.

My writing moved them.

My writing moved them.

—record scratches and stutters with that itchy white noise—

I have moved people with my words.

Isn’t that one of the big ones I dreamt? Why yes, I believe it is.

People remember my stories weeks after they finish them. They’ve told me that themselves.

So, slowly but surely, I’m getting somewhere. OMG, I’m getting somewhere!

One of the things, however, I didn’t bank on, were the demands.

It is no secret the romance genre requires certain elements to qualify, and if you’d have asked me twenty years ago, when I was still dreaming of this life, if I’d be writing romance, I’d have laughed at you. No, thrillers are where my heart lies.

Except nope. As I grew up, my heart got squeezed by writing stories about people like me, in same-sex relationships, with problems other people have or if the problems are bigger, it’s not the gay characters who end up maimed or dead because that’s the only acceptable HEA.

So if I write what speaks to me, I’m told I fit in romance.

I call bullshit on that, but it’s a work in progress. While I always intended to write dramas or thrillers or mysteries or paranormal stories or horror, I read plenty of those where there was a love interest, too, and that didn’t automatically move them to romance. However, writing LGBT fiction with any kind of love story, it’s pretty much romance with a ton of identifying keywords so the right audience can find it in a search or bust.

Ugh, I hate being told I don’t fit somewhere I want to be.

It smacks of, “Kill the gay character or face the wrath of the readership who don’t sympathize with them.”

It reeks of, “The public isn’t ready for LGBT characters to have romantic interests that work out in a HEA. So don’t give them one.”

It’s heaving with, “People don’t want to read about two guys kissing or falling in love. Two women, sure, because that’s hot (and heh heh, can we watch/join in? Heh heh).”

So the last several years, m/m and the wider LGBT genre has SMASHED the thinking on that bullshit, and what do you know, acceptance for LGBT people as a whole is gaining ground. Are we writers of LGBT romance responsible for that? I’d like to think we have our slice of responsibility in that pie chart, sure.

But it takes open minds of readers, who are willing to challenge themselves in reading a book they’ve never tried before. Or if they’ve tried m/m before, maybe they give a shifter book, or a BDSM book, or a paranormal book a shot when that’s been outside their comfort zone before. The point is, the open minds behind it are required for the growth and furthering of the genre, and indeed, the growth and furthering of ourselves as humans with compassion and honor.

After all, opening minds through books is sort of a writer’s job, right?

So when I see discussions about labels, what are “required warnings” on storylines, is cheating in a plot deserving of a trigger warning, that a book contains a non-HEA, or that there’s multiple pairings within the book, I get upset.

It smacks of, “Kill the gay character or face the wrath of the readership who don’t sympathize with them.”

It reeks of, “The public isn’t ready for LGBT characters to have romantic interests that work out in a HEA. So don’t give them one.”

It’s heaving with, “People don’t want to read about two guys kissing or falling in love. Two women, sure, because that’s hot (and heh heh, can we watch/join in? Heh heh).”

Readers have expectations for romance books, and I get that. We all stick to our favorite genre because we love the comfort it brings, the thrill it induces, that we can reasonably expect entertainment.

But no one changed history by being safe. I wrote a story years ago, about a high school English teacher trying to pass his love on to his students. In that story, he said, “Words have moved nations, romanticized generations, caused and ended wars, corrupted the pious, converted the damned. There’s nothing more powerful than words, except maybe the pen used to immortalize them.”

Nothing more powerful than words, except the pen used to immortalize them.

As proud of that statement as I am, I know it’s not entirely true. It should read, “There’s nothing more powerful than words, except the writer who created and had courage to publish them.”

I am not patting myself on the back, here. That statement stands true even if I’d never written a single word.

But we’re not going to move people to rethink anything by neatly peppering every book’s metadata with safe little warning labels. No one will ever be struck dumb by an idea, then. No one will ever step outside their box, then. No one will ever take a fucking risk then.

What’s my point?

It smacks of, “Kill them, stifle them, make them behave.”

It reeks of, “Stick to romance, because the mainstream readership isn’t ready for two men in love.”

It heaves with, “Write what you’re fucking told and sit down and shut up. Behave yourself, writer.”

Well, I don’t fucking behave without a good goddamned reason. And if I have a story to tell, I’m going to tell it, without the warnings*, because if you’re not ready to face what’s in the pages of a book, which holds power but dude, you’re reading it on your couch, well.

You’re not ready to be moved by the words I’m risking sharing with you.

*I warn about the following things only: abuse themes, rape themes, sensitive mental illness topics such as PTSD. That’s it. If you expect more from me on that, I’m not the writer for you.

Reviews: a Minefield

Yesterday, when I was contacted by Dr. Charley Ferrer concerning the Golden Flogger nomination, I had a moment of squee, for a reason other than the honor of Consent being nominated. I totally fangirled. Because Dr. Ferrer is the woman who wrote one of the first non-fiction books I read about BDSM, called BDSM: The Naked Truth. She is the reason (among a couple others) why Ben and Gavin were born. So in my thanks for her emailing me about the nomination, I also thanked her for writing the book, that I found it incredibly useful and straightforward and it answered so many questions I had as well as sparking my imagination.

She responded with gratitude and said, “If it’s not too much trouble, would you care to write a review on Amazon for it?”

And I paused, like I always do when the question of me writing reviews comes up.

Because I don’t write reviews.

Why?

Because I’m an author.

I know there are those who have gone before me have been accused of many things with regard to writing reviews, including propping up their fellow friend authors, sabotaging others if they wrote something negative, or abusing their “power” because their word carries a different kind of weight than the average reader.

So instead, I’ve limited myself to the occasional book rec if I truly love the story.

But am I not a reader first? I fell in love with reading when I was four and crawled behind my dad’s recliner for some privacy, cracked a book, and went to town with it. My mother didn’t believe me when she found me and I answered her, “What are you doing?” question with a self-important, “Reading,” in a tone full of duh.

Look, I get the politics of it all. I understand a review I write can be mistaken for endorsement and not entirely genuine. But I’d like to think I could pen a review with enough reasons behind my rating to make anyone who stops to read it realize I was honest.

The truth is, I miss being able to debate books I did or didn’t like with people on social media. Yeah, I have a couple friends I trust where I can discuss things privately, but sometimes, if I love love love a book, I want to shout about it.

The last time I did that on my blog was back in 2012 after I read King Perry by Edmond Manning. I’d just published Power Exchange, and oh, my naïve heart was in love. Then I saw that this reviewing thing could lead to drama, and if anyone here has read even a tiny little bit of the archive of this blog (even this new one, with only 30 something posts as of now) you’ll know I am an anxiety sufferer, and drama is not something I seek out.

So I’ve stifled it. And even if it was a self-imposed clamping down of my opinion, I don’t want to stifle it anymore.

That’s not to say I’m going on a reviewing rampage, but if I’m moved to take the time and write a review, regardless of who wrote it, I will.

But to expand this a little bit, I’ve seen where others have cringed when an author gives a so-so opinion of another’s book. There are whispers, “They shouldn’t be saying that.” Depending on the loyalty of the second author’s fanbase, there could be retaliation. Bystanders whisper behind their hands, “That’s going to blow up in their face.”

Here’s my opinion on that: if an author thinks a book wasn’t up to snuff, and says so in a way that is constructively critical, does not say anything about the author as a person, and is not argumentative, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to without fear of a bunch of people raining vitriol on their heads.

I do not condone going after an author in any kind of personal way, whether they’re the reviewer or the reviewee.

Here are the things I consider an unreasonable review:

  • If you haven’t read, or attempted to read, the book, and give it either glowing or scathing ratings based off the opinion of something besides the book, i.e. the author, a friend’s opinion of the author, etc.
  • If a review contains spoilers and people who use reviews aren’t appropriately warned it does. GoodReads has a spoiler tag for a reason.
  • If the review contains anything about the author as a person. It is not okay to speculate on the author’s life based on the book they’ve written. Just keep it about the book and the book alone.

That’s it.

If you want to say you hate everything this author has ever written because it reads like it was penned by a kindergartner, go for it. If you want to say you’re the Annie Wilkes #1 fan of an author, do that, too. If you want to speculate about where a series might go (although that might be more fun in a discussion forum than on a plain ol’ review), please. If you have a reason for dissing a book’s every stinking page, do it.

Am I going to like it when someone says they hate something I’ve written and will never buy another book of mine again? No, that’ll kinda hurt. But I do not begrudge the reviewer their right to say so.

A few people have stated clearly they won’t read anything more I write after they read Consent. I’m sad to see them go, but I am never, ever going to say they don’t have the right to give that opinion. It’s not realistic to hope for 5 stars across the board. I want to make people feel with my books. Sad, disgusted, hopeful, tearful, awed, appalled, whatever the emotion. I like coaxing them all. If that means my books are not someone’s “comfort” read, then that’s entirely okay with me.

What else makes me sad is feeling like my opinion isn’t valid because of my vocation. Because I might taint something. Because my words are loaded.

Yeah, I know my words are loaded. But is that reason enough that I get no say at all? That’d be like me telling a reader they can’t give an opinion on a medical book if they’re a doctor. Or review a detective story because they’re a detective.

Or it’s like telling an author they can’t write about London if they’ve never been there. And I’m sure any number of you can see where this argument could lead, should I want to dredge up unnecessary drama. Nope. Not going there.

So the point of all this, regarding reviews, is, in my opinion, say what you think about the book. About the series. Please, if you feel strongly, speak.

But I have a voice, too. And I’m judicious enough to use it without abusing it.

So I wrote a review on BDSM: The Naked Truth. It’s nearly three-years overdue.

Crazy Busy Life and An Excerpt

This place got quiet. *blows dust off* I know, I know, but I’ll tell you why. I couldn’t talk about my plans over the holidays because one of them, the biggest one, was a secret.

See, Kate’s family wanted to surprise her for her 30th birthday. So they talked to me without Kate knowing, and behind the scenes, we arranged a trip for me to visit. So after I spent a week plus with my parents over Christmas and New Year’s, I came home for two days, did a flurry of errands, and jumped on another plane to the motherland.

About a day later, after long layovers, and time changes and such, I followed her sister into her house and gave her stunned face a kiss. Even two days later, she still looked at me and crowed, “You’re here!”

Her parents rented us a flat near one of her good friends, and we spent the week eating out, having wicked cool drinks, playing in London, going to the clubs of our people, starting new books, and making business deals.

Yeah, we never stop working, even when we’ve had a few drinks and the bouncer of a club starts talking to us about his true work, which lo and behold, I might have a very specific use for. When that’s a little more fleshed out, I’ll spill those beans.

In the meantime, yes, Kate and I started a book on which we’ve been plotting for a little over six months now, and let me tell you, the conversation about it had us both excited and possibly freaking out a cab driver.

As a reward for your patience, I give you a scene flash from my next release, hopefully out sometime in March, titled Anatomy of Perception. This is first person from the MC’s point of view, a scene flash when Dane sees Craig for the first time. Hope you like.

————

I didn’t stop to watch the hot street artist because I thought he would change my life. I was simply fascinated by his quick hands, his obvious skill, and the swell of his ass. He had a really nice one, in paint-splattered jeans that hugged him well, and a t-shirt with a pug on it. The fall air was warm enough to not need a jacket, and when I wasn’t staring at his delectable backside, I strangely found myself drawn to his forearms. They flexed with each fluid movement of his brush hand while he quickly painted a profile portrait of a woman who stood closer to him than the rest of the crowd. She watched him work, and every few seconds, exclaimed at how wonderful he was.

I agree, I thought, taking another long look at his ass, for once not caring who saw me looking. That was the beautiful thing about New York City: no one noticed me, so they didn’t have a reason to give a damn if I liked guys. I could easily hide in plain sight, checking guys out to my heart’s content—with some care. If the guy being checked out noticed and was a dick, I could get my ass kicked. But in the four years since leaving home, I’d perfected the discreet eye-fuck. Less risky that way.

I had to keep moving, though. I was going to be late for class. I’d worked way too hard to get where I was to chance being late, and failure was not an option. I couldn’t go back home. I wasn’t teacher material, and I didn’t bother to look into what else my biology degree might allow me to do. It was MD or nothing.

Apparently, my feet didn’t get the memo. I stood there as the artist finished, signing the painting with a flourish as a smattering of applause rippled through the crowd. The woman eagerly paid and took her portrait with her, staring at it as she walked and forcing other sidewalk patrons out of her path. A few bills landed in an open, battered portfolio case at the foot of the guy’s easel, and I found myself wishing I had even a dollar to spare. But I didn’t. I watched my pennies religiously. There was no way I’d let myself be too broke to pay my third of the rent.

The artist scanned the dispersing crowd for his next mark, and I quickly looked away when his eyes landed on me. I really had to go anyway. I moved, trying to escape.

“Hey, hold up.”

A hand on my elbow slowed me and I turned to face the warmest brown eyes I’d ever seen.

“Let me paint you.”

I shook my head. “I can’t. I have class and I’m already late.” At least it was true. Lack of money wasn’t my only excuse.

“If you’re already late, you should skip and let me paint you. I didn’t know eyes that color existed outside a computer. Are those contacts?”

I rolled the eyes in question, but something about his ease while talking to strangers kept me from walking off. I got compliments on my eyes all the time. They were such a light blue they were almost silver. Many a girl had used my eye color as a platform for flirting, not realizing I was and always would be immune to their feminine charms. But the guy before me, he was right up my alley. So, while I rolled my eyes at his obvious line, I also smiled regretfully.

“I’m sorry. I really can’t. Maybe I’ll see you around though.”

“Me or my ass?” he asked, dropping his volume and giving me a wink. So he’d seen me checking out the goods.

Heat surged into my cheeks, but instead of stammering and running away, I gave him a very obvious and thorough once-over.

“Both.” It was the best parting line I’d ever had, so I took advantage, chuckling as I walked away.

“Wait!” he called. “What’s your name? How do I find you again?”

I waved over my shoulder, mortification creeping in. Had I really flirted so openly with a guy I wasn’t positive was also gay? In public? Jesus. I had never done that before. I only ever involved with guys at gay clubs who wouldn’t be there for any other reason.

“Please?” he yelled after me. I ignored him as I descended into the bowels of the subway system. Nice ass or not, at that point, I hoped I’d never see him again. How could I have been so dumb?

Safely on the train speeding me the last several blocks to my class, I allowed myself a grin, which was swallowed by a grimace. Random art wasn’t the only thing I couldn’t afford. Calling attention to myself was another. Distractions could also cost me way more than money. I needed to keep my focus on my goal, not get sidetracked by tanned forearms and dimples beneath molten brown eyes. I tried to put him out of my head and think about the lymph system, recalling the salient points of my reading homework from the night before. I had thought that would be my one and only encounter with the hot, charming street artist.

I was wrong.

Quick Update and a Tease

The holidays are a busy time of the year for everyone, so this will be fast (I hope. I’m a wordy mothahfuckah). The voting has begun over on the M/M Romance Group Member’s Choice Awards on GoodReads. If you haven’t gotten a chance, here’s the linkFrom what I understand, you have to have been a member before November this year to be able to vote in the polls. Lots and lots of good authors and books in those lists. It’s very, very difficult to pick.

So, there’s some travel coming up for me, and I predict being pretty scarce (though I will try not to be). I’m working hard at the moment, though life seems to be getting me in the teeth lately. The paperwork to bring Kate to my side permanently hit a snafu (because people keep mistaking me for an adult, which duh, no) and I am seriously missing her, especially through the holidays. Forget the car trouble, the medical bills, the fucking up my back (again! JEEZ) and Amazon paying royalties late (first time in the three years I’ve been doing this, and their timing couldn’t have sucked more). That is just annoying. Her absence is what hurts late at night, when the house is dark, the glow of other people’s Christmas lights slat through the blinds in painfully cheerful blinking patterns, and the only heartbeat I hear is mine. If I’m cold, I have furbabies to snuggle with, but they have paws that have sharp things on the end. They’re not Kate’s soft embrace, or her warmth, and while I’m an open kind of girl, Kate doesn’t tend to lick me on the face. Furbabies aren’t the same.

I have also been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, on top of the asthma, and wow, this year can go fuck itself gently with a chainsaw. I know a couple other people whose hands would fly into the air if I asked who else thinks 2014 can suck a live wire. So if you’re having a difficult time of things? You’re not alone. But hang in there. There is good out there. Like this:

I promised to donate a portion of sales of my last release, Consent, to Lost n Found Youth in Atlanta, GA, a shelter and homeless youth center for LGBT kids, and because of the generosity and awesomeness of my readers, we’re getting close to $1,500 on that check. I’m extending the period of sales for the donation tally until December 10th to coincide with a giveaway that will run beginning December 4th for a week. Keep an eye out for the link on Thursday.

To thank you all for your general awesomeness and to say happy holidays, I’m giving you an early Christmas gift, albeit a rough draft of one. Someone in Ben and Gavin’s world has been whispering in my ear, and while this is not another Power Exchange book, I’ve begun a story in which Ben and Gavin play a part, albeit a small one. You all remember McKnight, right? The pimp from Consent?

McKnight needed his own book.

Merry Christmas!

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