Quick pointer: The Horror of Yes

Bump in the Night is out this week! And there’s a blog tour on! I’m up today, and you can find me over at Sid Love, posting about the horror of a well-placed “yes.” I knew this would have to be my discussion topic pretty much as soon as we got the heads-up to start making plans for a post. I love it so much when characters enthusiastically embrace things that aren’t good for them. >3

In one of those entertaining cases of authorial blind spot, I’ve seen a few reviews now that compare “Resurrection Man” to Frankenstein — one of them even goes so far as to call it “loosely based” on the novel. And now that they point it out I can see it? But I swear it never even crossed my mind while I was writing. Somehow Frankenstein’s monster has never been one of the classic horrors on my radar. But maybe this is a sign that I should fix that.

Tis the season, after all.

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taking flight

So today is release day for my short Falling into Her Arms (publisher’s website is NSFW), a science-fantasy angel/demon f/f short story. I wrote it in the spring of 2012, and submitted it that June, and then a whole host of other exciting things happened in my writing life, and by now it almost feels like I’m peering back at someone else’s life.

But the impulses that led me to write it are still there; I want there to be more f/f stories that grab the totally self-indulgent, extravagant tropes m/m gets to play with. I want there to be epic love stories against the backdrop of imperial struggles or galactic warfare. I want tempting devils and hard-bitten mercenaries and mysterious drifters. I want them rough and tender and romantic and kinky and adventurous and beautiful. I want them fearless in their desires and certain of who they are. I want casts of women I can fall for. I want to put my word count where my mouth is.

This story barely makes a dent in all the things I want, but it’s a start.

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the dead among us

Someone on my route to work put up their Halloween decorations this weekend — something to make me smile as I trudged through the rain to the bus stop at 7:30 on a Monday. I’ve always loved Halloween. A bit of it is the costumes, but a lot of it is the upending of our usual approach to death and monstrousness. It’s the goth in me, or possibly even further back, the morbid little weirdo who decided that being a vampire would be a great life aspiration. There’s something fascinating about all of our stories about how to make death less permanent.

For most of the year, those stories and those monsters are shoved off into a dark genre corner, where most people don’t pay attention to them. They’re a niche interest, for people who wear too much black and think skulls make cool drinking vessels and who probably ought to be avoided on the street. Then October comes, and ghoulishness is everywhere. “Ordinary” people hang paper skeletons in their windows and drape the trees in their front yards with tomb-thick cobwebs. Ghosts and ghouls peddle things in the supermarket. The morbid becomes a source of play, with mock graves for Abby Normal and L.B. Bach planted in neatly mown lawns. For a few short weeks, being fascinated with the dead-but-not-gone isn’t abnormal at all.

So it’s doubly delightful this year that I have a story coming out in October that takes advantage of the opportunity. “Resurrection Man,” my contribution to Bump in the Night, is a story about a man with no fear of the dead — no fear and in one case an absolute (undying?) devotion. There’s horror in Josef’s story, definitely, but there’s delight, too. He’s doing the thing that our Halloween rituals reach for — taming death, making its barrier permeable, besting its last word.

These shivers aren’t from horror. They’re from thrills.

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drive-by update before GRNW

Conference starts in four hours. I am in my pajamas with a cat pinning my good arm, wondering what the hell I’m going to wear. I still need to trim down my reading selection to actually fit the length limit. I haven’t reviewed the notes for the diversity panel nearly as thoroughly as I should. Panic is waiting around for me to get to it.

Tonight, though, I will be reading porn aloud in a room full of inebriated people. This is the best profession.

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Bump in the Night now up for preorder!

BumpInTheNight_500x750 Check it out, my Halloween offering this year is available now! Bump in the Night is a collection of six gay erotic horror stories, including my piece “Resurrection Man,” which is a story about what happens when a necromancer is in love with a man who had a terminal illness. (Spoilers, what happens is sexy and also Not Quite Right.) I am delighted to be part of this anthology, and to have the chance to continue to work with Riptide. The antho releases on October 14 — preorder direct from Riptide for 15% off ebook or paperback!

I feel so ridiculously lucky to have found Riptide and found Rachel, my editor there. For an author, having an editor you really *click* with, someone who gets what you’re trying to do and knows how to push you toward it, is an utter godsend. Since “Resurrection Man” I’ve sent Rachel two longer pieces and gotten one acceptance and one revise/resubmit. And you know? I’m at least as grateful for the R&R. The accepted novel was something I’d put a lot of work into over multiple passes and revision and agonizing, and I really wanted to be able to get it an audience. The R&R novelette was fun, but much sloppier, honestly; much more rushed. I sent it out because I wanted to get something in front of people *sooner*, rather than because it was ready. And I think it probably still could have gotten published in some places. But it wasn’t my best work, and getting called on that was good for me. It’ll make me hold myself to a higher standard, and it’ll help me trust my editor’s judgment on future works, too: she knows when I could be doing better than I am, and she won’t let me get away with half-assing it.

I can’t wait to have more concrete news about the novel. I feel so good about writing this year.

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weeding the psychological garden

Well. Since we last spoke, I’ve done a few exciting things — I got a new job (which pays better and appears more stable than the one I lost in November), I signed a contract with Riptide for my first novel (!!!!!!), I released a free fantasy short through the M/M Romance group’s Love Has No Boundaries event, and I weathered the rest of radish season only to stumble headlong into zucchini season even more direly unprepared. (My gardening life has involved a lot of googling: “sunflower foliage image” and “when to harvest potatoes” and most recently “zucchini recipes,” “more zucchini recipes,” and “recipes to use up a LOT of zucchini.”)

There’s something really comforting and pleasant about working in the garden, though; my mother has been a gardener since before I was born, and I think I’ve inherited this temperament from her. Sitting out in the dirt and pulling weeds is a good time for contemplation, for meditating on scary things. Like writing.

Before Rachel read my book I kept thinking, “what if she doesn’t like it?” Now that she has read it and liked it, all I can think is, “What if I can’t ever do that again?” What if I can’t sustain a story that size? What if I can’t come up with a plot? What if, what if, all these nasty weedy little ideas that take root without permission and grow wildly as soon as my back is turned. Possibly the ugliest one, hiding under other foliage and setting down nasty deep roots: What if I could only write that book because of my partner’s help and encouragement, and without her I’m missing something crucial?

Putting that one into words means I have to actually look at it, and maybe start trying to dig it out so I can burn it. Yes, she helped a lot with the first draft. Yes, she was the person I talked to when I got stuck. Yes, her enthusiasm fueled the writing efforts. But getting that help doesn’t mean I’m incapable of writing on my own. And needing it doesn’t mean I’ve failed as a writer; Acknowledgements sections wouldn’t thank first readers and writers’ groups so often if that weren’t a really useful thing for a writer to have. Creating in a vacuum is not actually standard practice.

Drake and Gabriel’s story is, among other things, about finding faith in unlikely places. I think it’s time I tried to find some of my own. I’ll just have to keep digging.


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a sudden bounty

Internet, I have a garden problem.

Okay, I actually have several garden problems, things like “will my tomatoes survive being transplanted outside?” and “ow, the spines on those leaves really are a skin irritant, aren’t they?” but I have one garden problem that’s exciting.


photo(5) I pulled these guys out today and there are at least two or three times as many still in the dirt in various stages of readiness. And the question is, now what? I failed somehow to lay in a steady supply of radish recipes at planting time, and one can only thinly slice so many of the little monsters into salads. Anyone have suggestions for how I might tame the beasts?


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Release day: “A Fighting Chance”

400x600_72DPI_AFightingChance_LG Available now! A short story released as part of Dreamspinner’s 2013 Daily Dose collection, Make a Play: No Losers in the Game of Love. “A Fighting Chance” is about wresting a happy ending out of a dystopian sci fi culture:

Luis Delgado, a boxer, and Davey Taylor, an artist, live in a future when Earth is home to the destitute and the only chance for a better life is found among the colonies that orbit the once-great planet. Davey has the opportunity to make a name for himself with an art sponsorship on the Luna Minor colony, but he needs to get there first. Luis may have the answer, but it means choosing between his career and his future together with Davey.

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WOULD it smell as sweet?

A quick note before I get to whining — the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up that I’ll be attending in September is now open for registration! There are quite a few fabulous authors on the list and it looks like it’s going to be a fun, low-key event, so if you’re in Seattle or close enough to make the trip check it out!

And now the fussing part: why does it never get easier to name characters? You’d think it would get easier with practice, like any reasonable sort of skill. But no. Here I am staring at an outline and trying to figure out the second main character’s name. It needs to fit the culture he belongs to, it needs to sound plausible in conjunction with the other guy’s name, because it’s for a romance audience it needs to sound like it belongs to a hot dude, and yet ideally it won’t be one of those names that gets used constantly in the genre….

I wonder how long I can get away with just using a placeholder.

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a treasure trove of… more work!

Whew. My Love Has No Boundaries story made it in on the deadline, complete with an illustration by the lovely and charming Rachel Roach for the cover. I’m looking forward to sharing!

And in the meantime, I’m pondering the merits of a self-published collection. People who’ve known me since before I had the courage to start subbing to publishers will remember the Bijou, a big sprawling collection of erotic short stories about slave boys working in an extremely fancy whorehouse. (Expensive boy whores are a perennial weakness of mine.) I’ve been sorting through them lately and — well, wincing at how rough they feel now, and how little made it into the stories beyond all the sexy bits. But also remembering how much I love those boys and their romances and their determination to find their way to happy endings. (Also, blindsided by how badly I want the madam and her charming libertine patron to get together.) So it’s extremely tempting to pull those character arcs together and try to make a few somethings out of this, but dang is that going to take time and energy. The most complete arc right now is just shy of 40k words, nearly a third of the total; it’s pretty obvious they were the pairing of my heart, in all their dysfunctional D/s adoration. Then there are… four other arcs that are shorter but follow distinct characters/groups, plus a fifth one that would probably just get booted off most retailers’ sites because it’s so heavy on the twincest, plus another 30k or so of stories that don’t fit neatly into any of the bits above.

Probably I need to write some things down on actual physical bits of paper so I can spread them out and rearrange them and figure out what crucial bits of a satisfying narrative arc each group is missing. Possibly I need to do this while somebody stands over me with a taser to keep me on task. I should start looking for volunteers.

…In between continuing to job hunt and trying to teach myself programming, obviously. Isn’t there a witty saying somewhere about being under pressure and creating great things? I hope so.


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