Monday, December 30, 2013

December by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday! It's the end of the month so it's time for my monthly writing recap blog post.

·     In Another Life, my short holiday novella, was released December 1st
·     Mary Calmes and I did the first round of edits on Control.
·     Dreamspinner Press will be publishing Perfect Imperfections, my standalone novel, in May.
·     I finished the editing process of Walk with Me – the last Home book.
  ·     Speaking of the Home series, all the books in that series except Home Again are available in paperback but on January 10th, Home Again will be released in paperback and the paperback will also include A Shot at Forgiveness. Anyone who buys the paperback gets the ebook version of both stories for free. You can preorder here.  
 ·     I’m in the process of writing the next Mates book. The day job rudely disrupted me, but I’m back in the game, baby. Ehm. I’m not actually cool enough to get away with saying that, so let’s pretend I didn’t.

Have a great week.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Hound Dog and Bean! For Lovers of Animals and Coffee!

Hello Constant Reader! 

I am pleased to announced the scheduled release of "Hound Dog and Bean." 

Boy, oh boy, am I proud of this book!  Proud and can be! 

Here is the blurb: 

There's been little love in H.D. "Hound Dog" Fisher's life since the death of his beloved mom when he was a boy. Bounced around the foster care system, he ran away as soon as he could… and took the foster dog with him. As far as he's concerned, only dogs have no ulterior motive, never hold a grudge, and offer unconditional love. Now he helps run a no-kill shelter and leaves relationships where they belong: in the back room.  

"Bean" Alexander settled in Kansas City to open his coffee shop after years of traveling. He never expected to open his heart too. When a man with a grudge takes a swing at H.D. while in line at Bean's shop, Bean jumps to intervene.  

So taking a hit for H.D. gets Bean noticed, and H.D. feels obligated to pay a debt. But then the unexpected happens. A series of misadventures causes H.D. to open up—but falling in love makes him turn tail and run. 

Trust is a tough road to travel. Will good friends, a dog named Sarah Jane, and a bit of folk magic be enough to bring Hound Dog and Bean a happy ending?

"Hound Dog and Bean" was inspired by two things. First, my love of animals and especially a teeny tiny furry little girl who lives with me. I got her at Gay Pride in Kansas City six years ago and she is a light in my heart and my life. It is obvious that she was severally abused for it was two years before I could reach down to pat her head and she didn't flinch! She is a dachshund and Yorkshire terrier mix and weighs only ten pounds. How could anyone abuse her? They could have easily killed her! How can anyone hurt any animal, especially one so sweet and full of love and life and who is so defenseless?

For that reason, through December 31st and midnight (EST) all proceeds to preorders on this book go to the ASPCA. It is some small way for me to say thanks for all they do, and for rescuing and saving my sweet Sarah Jane until the day she came into my life and my heart.

The second thing that inspired this book is coffee.


I working a grueling and exhausting Evil Day Job for a company that treats its employees like Hebrew slaves. I work 12-hour shifts and the hardest work I've ever done in my life. The benefits are few and far between. What does this have to do with the price of coffee beans in Guatamala? 

Well, I quickly found I had to do something to even get up in the mornings and it looked like coffee was the way to go. I didn't care for it much and could barely get it down--had to add lots of sweetener and creamer. I was talking about it once in my live journal (remember Live Journal??) and a friend commented that the reason I didn't like coffee was that I wasn't drinking good coffee. 

"What's the difference?" I asked. 

She explained a lot over the coming days, but mostly let me know that I should be drinking coffee made from Arabica beans and should get my coffee from a local roaster if possible, something roasted in the last few days if possible and told me how to do it. 

So I thought, what the hell, and gave it a try. And OMG!!!  Viva la difference! 

I started getting my coffee from an amazing place a few miles from my house called The Roasterie.  This changed my coffee drinking life.

Then I found a place a mile from my house called Oddly Correct!  And that was it!  They prepare cups of coffee by the cup!  It takes longer but you are drinking coffee that was roasted sometimes that day or the day before. You are drinking coffee made from beans from small farmers or cooperatives and you are supporting small families who's farms might be no bigger than your own backyard, and together will all their local neighbors, the beans go from some third-world country to your cup.


See?  This is a barista from Oddly Correct make one cup of coffee! It takes a little longer but oh my God! is there a difference!

All this came together. I wanted to write a book about no-kill animal shelters and I wanted to write a book about a small Third Wave coffee shop. And I realized the two books could and should be ONE book!

And so came "Hound Dog and Bean."

I hope you will check it out. And remember, all proceeds through the end of 2013 go to the ASPCA!

Love and light to you all in this coming New Year!  And may 2014 be the best in your entire life!
And remember this too!
Leap and the net will appear!
BG Thomas

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mary Calmes Is Great by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday. The title of this blog post is really just stating a fact so there's not much more to say about it except ... Mary has a great novella coming out on 12/25 and you don't want to miss it. 

I loved this story. It's not long so you'll have time to squeeze it in among the holiday rush. The novella is called Where You Lead, which is a great title because where Mary leads I will follow. Plus, Mary did a fun interview at Sid Love. Check it out and leave a comment for a chance to win her book. 

And as along as we're talking about Mary, have you read Old Loyalty, New Love? If not, I recommend it. It's a wonderful book with characters I adore.


p.s. I want to share a small review blog I enjoy with you. Check out Kindle Romance Reviews here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

News! I Am Pleased to Announce...

Hello All!

I am very pleased to announce that my Christmas story, "Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf" is doing very well on Amazon!  It has been as high as #20 on all the gay and gay and lesbian lists!  Hurray!  *throws confetti*

So far it has been getting terrific reviews everywhere!  I am so happy as this story means a lot to me!  Everywhere from Joyfully Jay to Amazon to Good Reads and right on through!  Four and Five star reviews everywhere!
Here is the blurb:
Kit Jefferies, a part-time department store Christmas elf, is an artist who loves life and his family. Unfortunately, his car dies at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere as he is heading home for Christmas. Enter Nick St. George.
 Nick is a very unhappy man—he's achieved his professional goals only to find the rest of his life bleak and empty. Deciding there was only one way to make everything right, he is on his way to San Francisco on a dark mission, and even the horrible sleet storm that blocked his path won't deter him. That's when he found Kit.
 At first, Nick is pretty sure rescuing Kit was a big mistake. Kit's personality is just too, well, effervescent. But as the miles go by, Kit begins to bring light to his dark heart. It might even be bright enough to illuminate a Christmas miracle.
One thing that makes me exubarant is that Paul Richmond did the cover. Not only that, but he graciously modeled for the cover with his dashingly handsome husband!

In other news, on Thursday night I signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for my fifth novel, "Seasons of Love; Spring Affair." It was a heck of an accomplishment. Never worked so hard on a story ever and it came in at just under a 100 thousand words!  The story just kept going. I even hacked a few scenes out!  I love this story and it means the world to me!  It will be available in April.
BUT!  And this is VERY exciting to me, yesterday I got the first pencil drawing for my book to be released next month, "Hound Dog & Bean." You are going to LOVE this story! And there is going to be something special in the wind!  Some of the proceeds will be going to the ASPCA! This story is so deeply close to me and everyone who has read it tells me it is the best thing I've ever written!  AND it has as a co-star, the LIGHT of my life, little Miss Sarah Jane Thomas-Rossberg!

She will even be on the cover of the book!  Next week I will show you the cover!

Also, over the next couple days, a bunch of my stories from DSP are on sale!  A good sale too!  Check them out right here!:

Well, I won't get so say "Happy Holidays" until they are over, all of them except New Years!  So I will say it now!  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  No matter what your path!

And remember!  Leap!  And the net will appear!
BG Thomas

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

But Wait, There's More! by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday, y'all. (I know it isn't Monday but the day job has been kicking my butt six ways to Sunday so I got delayed and because this isn't a dollar short, I vote we pretend it isn't a day late.)

Okay, so another problem with the butt-kicking day job is that my brain is too fried to think of a good blog post (e.g. my tweets regarding multi-penied aliens - I smell a series!). But glitter glue ejaculate aside, I have great news. All the books in my Home series are available in paperback (as well as ebook), except Home Again ... until now!

Home Again will be released in paperback on January 10th and it's available for preorder now. But wait, there's more - the paperback will also include A Shot at Forgiveness.

What? Two stories in one book?

Yes, it's true.

Is there anything else?

I'm glad you asked because, yes. Yes, there is. Anyone who buys the paperback gets the ebook version of Home Again for free.

Holy smokes! That has to be it. Is that it? OMG, that's not it? There's MORE?

Uh-huh. Not only does the paperback come with both Home Again and A Shot at Forgiveness AND the e-book of Home Again, but for a not-limited time, it also comes with an ebook of A Shot at Forgiveness.

That's right - one paperback purchase gets two stories in paperback and two ebooks. Dreamspinner is Amaaaazing!

Okay. I'm so far beyond tired that I wrote that blog post. Please forgive me. I'm going to go back to work now. Good night and good luck (to me). ;)


Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Few Things From the Week

A few random items from the week in review, by Ellis Carrington:
  • A fellow author, Eric Arvin,  is in the hospital. About to have, I am told, surgery on his brain stem. This is wicked scary, and he and his fiance, as I understand it, are far enough from home that his extended hospital stay (and I would imagine the associated bills) are going to be difficult. So a fundraiser has been started to help Eric and TJ with expenses, and if you'd like to help out you can contribute, here. (your donation can be kept anonymous, if you want)
  • Every day I crush a little harder on Hugh Howey. I confess I was once so down on self-pubbing. Then I published, both with a publisher and without, and compared results. There is still such an interesting stigma attached to doing so because as he points out we see "the slush pile" in self-publishing. The stuff that no publisher would have accepted goes up for sale without editing or attention to cover art, alongside some stuff that'll really blow your mind. His response to Digital Book World's survey about author income is very interesting and inspiring.
  • I have "Holly Jolly Christmas" stuck in my head. You're welcome.
  • Yes, Sir is back on Barnes and Noble. Not sure why it disappeared, but it has returned. It can also (still) be found for the bite-sized price of .99 at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and ARe.
  • The paperback version of Stripped Clean is currently 11% off on both Amazon and B&N - it's a vendor discount, so I'm not sure for how long they will be marked down, but I appreciate both Amazon and B&N putting it on sale. Also, if you get the paperback on Amazon, you can get the ebook for .99 instead of the usual 3.99.
  • I'm currently working on a) A nap b) the sequel for Stripped Clean and c) A collaboration with Riley Hart called Out of Bounds. You'll notice the nap was first. Priorities. :)
  • An adorable YouTube video of kitten pictures, here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Merchandise by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday! 

Today I have something new to share. Readers asked me to create merchandise (coffee mugs, shirts, etc.) with some things from my books. In response (and with help from Rhys Ford and Kelly Shorten), I set up a Cafe Press shop and put up a couple of covers and quotes suggested by readers. 

You can find it here.

Let me know if there are other quotes you want to see on merchandise and I'll add them. Or if you have other ideas/suggestions, I'm always happy for advice. Thanks!

Cardeno C.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Release - In Another Life

In Another Life, my short novella, is now available so I thought I'd try to blog a little bit about my inspiration for this story. Blogging is challenging for me in any event. Blogging about this particular topic is even harder so I hope you'll forgive me if I don't do it as well as I wish I could.

First, most of my books have song inspirations and this one is no different. When I heard Katy Perry's The One That Got Away (and especially when I saw the video), I sat and cried. Still get tears in my eyes when I hear the song. So, of course, I had to write a book giving that concept a happy ending. It's one of my favorite things about being a writer - getting to rewrite things so they turn out hopeful and uplifting.

My other inspiration for this book, unfortunately, can't be rewritten with a happy ending. There is no holiday miracle that can turn around certain decisions we make. 

For many of us, our teenage years had some amount of stress, pain, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. They call it teenage angst for a reason, right? I haven't been a teenager in a long time, but I still remember those feelings. And I remember how hard it was to truly understand that they wouldn't last forever, that someday in the not-too-distant future, I'd get to make my own choices about who I spent time with, where I lived, etc.

We joke sometimes about how being an adult is overrated, about how much easier things are for kids - no job, no mortgage, no responsibilities. But honestly, I'd rather be where I am now. Especially in today's world of social media and camera phones. I am thankful, SO thankful, that my stupidest moments during those years weren't caught on camera and posted on the internet where they'll live forever and I ache for the teenagers of today who aren't so lucky.

I'm probably rattling on here, but my point is that being a teenager is hard. It is. I remember. It's hard because of hormones. It's hard because we don't have as much control over our lives as we think we should have and want to have. It's hard because we're getting to know who we are and we're not sure we like that person yet. It's hard because of other teenagers. But most of all, it's hard because teenagers, no matter how mature, lack the one thing only time can give us - perspective.

The first time we experience heartache, whatever the cause, it feels like the abyss, like we'll never be able to climb out, like we'll never get over it, like nothing will ever be right again. But then we do climb out and we do move on and we do experience wonderful things again. So the next time we fall, well, it still hurts, but getting past it is a smidge easier because at least we know that we can because we know that we have. And with every failure, we get better at that, better at knowing we can not only move past our sorrows, but maybe even grow from them, learn from them, become better because of them. That is perspective.

But to gain that perspective, we have to survive that first wave of sadness, insecurity, and heartache. We have to find the strength within ourselves to hang on long enough to come out on the other side and see that we made it. It sucked, but we made it.

Every time I read about a teenager who has ended life too early, I hurt for the future that might have been if only that person could have had the thing that helps all of us old(er) folks get through the day - perspective. And so, I wrote a story. A short little story. It's about holidays. It's about romance. It's about love. But mostly, it's about perspective.


At age 18, Shiloh Raben is tired. He no longer has the energy to deal with mean classmates, inner doubt, and fear of familial rejection, so he takes a razor to his wrist. When he wakes up in the hospital, Shiloh meets Travis Kahn, the EMT who saved him and didn't leave his side.

Travis is handsome, smart, and funny - the type of guy Shiloh would never be brave enough to approach. But his near-death experience has an unusual side effect: the life that flashed before his eyes wasn't the one he had already lived, but rather the one he could live. With visions of a future by Travis's side, will Shiloh find the strength to confront his fears and build a life worth fighting for?



Monday, November 25, 2013

November by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday! It's the end of the month so it's time for my monthly writing recap blog post. 

  • More Than Anything was released November 4th.
  • I did two rounds of edits for Walk with Me – the last Home book.
  • In Another Life, my short holiday novella, finished production and will be released December 1st.
  • Mary Calmes and I got a contract for our co-written shifter book, Control. Woot! Here's our description of it:
    Vy Aleknos is the leader of a hawk shifter flock. Openly gay since he was a teen, Vy was proud and self-assured on the outside, while secretly worrying he’d be forced to live life alone because two males can’t be mates. When bear shifter Robert Cimino appears in Vy’s small town, Vy realizes his concerns were unfounded — he has a male mate, and a sexy, dominant one to boot.

    Robert is a bear shifter who refuses to shift. Immediately attracted to Vy, he deviates from his normal pattern and seeks more than a one off with the powerful, bristly hawk. But when Vy realizes Robert isn’t aware they’re mates, he’s devastated and pulls away. Can Robert convince Vy to give their relationship as humans a chance or is it better to move on from a man so deeply ruled by his animal instincts?

  • I submitted a freestanding novel called Perfect Imperfections. I’ll let you know when I hear back. Here’s my description of it:

Jeremy Jameson is Hollywood royalty. The son of an Oscar-winning actress and a world-famous rock star, he’s lived a sheltered life with music as his sole focus and only friend. Before embarking on yet another international rock tour, he wanders into a bar in what he considers the middle-of-nowhere and meets a man who wins him over with his friendly smile and easy-going nature.

Reg Moore is an accountant slash bartender slash adventure-seeker. He has fun talking and drinking with The Jeremy Jameson and can’t say no when the supposedly straight rock star makes him a once in a lifetime offer: keep him company on his world tour by playing the part of his boyfriend. 

Listening to music, traveling the world, and jumping off cliffs is fun. Falling in love is even better. But to stay with Jeremy after the stage lights dim, Reg will need to help him realize there’s nothing pretend about their relationship.

  • I’m in the process of writing the next Mates book. My working title is In Your Eyes.
  • Thanksgivukkah is this week (combo of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving) so I’ve been gathering fun recipes. I know that’s not a writing recap thing but it’s fun so I wanted to share.

Have a terrific week and a wonderful Thanksgiving for those who celebrate.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Straight Guys...

We female writers of gay romance spend a lot of time studying how men show affection. For obvious reasons, this would mostly be gay men. Today, I stumbled an amusing window into the affections of straight guys. Gave me a laugh:

 In other news, Stripped Clean is out in paperback! If you'd like to win a copy, you can do so here for the next four days (until 4/22). Or you can buy it here. I hope you enjoy.

Happy Sunday!
Love, Ellis

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day and Thank You by Cardeno C.

 To all our military heroes, thank you and happy Veterans Day.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Wedding Anniversary -- Eight Years!

So R and I married nine years ago this past Tuesday we met thirteen years ago this past weekend.
Wow. WOW! It doesn't even seem possible and suddenly I am crying.
So lucky. He was and is my Knight in Shining Armour. He rode right up and rescued me.
We are celebrating by going to the convention this weekend where we met.
Not always easy, but is anything? Esp the things that are really worth it? I love you, R! With all my heart!
Without your love, how could I write romance?


Monday, November 4, 2013

Release Day - More Than Everything by Cardeno C.

More Than Everything, my newest novel was released today. I'm always nervous/anxious on release days, but also excited to share my work.

This book in particular has been a long time coming. I first had the idea for it when I was writing Where He Ends and I Begin but it's an unusual concept so I needed to live with it in my head for a few years before I was ready to get the characters and their story down on paper. 

Writing a book about three main characters instead of two is new for me and I've heard from some people that they're a bit nervous about reading it, so I want to let you know that this book is much like my others as far as tone and relationship. It's a childhood friends to lovers story and a new love story and a reunited love story, all mixed into one. 

Here's what one reviewer had to say about More Than Everything(thanks, Jackie at The Novel Approach!):

Cardeno took a concept that should never have worked and not only made it work, but made it work well. ... There are some very touching moments that we can all remember from our youth ... some will pull on your heart strings; some will make you so ANGRY you want to scream; and some will make you laugh so loudly you will disturb anyone within a mile radius of you while you are reading them. But what they all do is tell the love story these three men share over two decades. They all end up going their own way, but fate has a way of making decisions for us that we would never have expected. This isn’t the average M/M/M story. In my opinion, this is a very unique take on the concept and it just works. ... I think this is one of Cardeno C.’s best works, and I have never laughed as hard as I did while reading the scene about the lentils. That was just brilliant! If you have liked Cardeno’s work in the past, I think you will love this one. I know I did.

Here is the blurb:

As a teenager, Charlie "Chase" Rhodes meets Scott Boone and falls head over heels in love with the popular, athletic boy next door. Charlie thinks he's living the dream when Scott says he feels the same way. But his dreams are dashed when Scott moves unexpectedly and doesn't return. 

Years later, Charlie meets brash and confident Adan Navarro, who claims all he wants is a round between the sheets. When they’re still together after eight months, Charlie is convinced Adan returns his love. But then the time comes to be open about their relationship, and Adan walks away instead. 

Time heals all wounds but when Charlie runs into Scott and Adan and realizes the only two men he's ever loved are now in love with each other, his heart breaks all over again. Scott and Adan tell Charlie they want him back, but Charlie doesn't know if he can trust two people who have hurt him so deeply. And even if he can, why would Scott and Adan want Charlie when they already have everything with each other?

You can get the ebook here and the paperback here (first 20ish copies are autographed). I hope you enjoy it.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Because Wedding Videos Equal Romance

Romance comes in a bazillion forms, but there's not much that embodies the word with more certainty than a wedding video. If you know me at all, you know I adore watching these little snippets of what is for many, the happiest day in two peoples' lives. So this Sunday, I thought I'd share Jordan and Devon. No, I don't know them, but they sure seem to be having a beautiful day. I hope you enjoy.

Happy Sunday,
Love, Ellis

Monday, October 28, 2013

October by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday! It's the end of the month so it's time for my monthly writing recap blog post. Before I get to it though, I want to go off topic for a second to say that I love Fall. The weather has been gorgeous and it's wonderful to be able to enjoy outdoor stuff, including walks with my puppy (who, by the way, prefers being carried). Okay, on with the writing recap!

  • I did the galley proof for More Than Anything (release date is November 4th so my stomach officially hurts).

  • I finished writing my novel with Mary Calmes (*obligatory swoon over Ms. Mary*) and submitted it. I'll let you know when we hear back on the submission. Fingers crossed.

  • I did the galley proof for In Another Life, my short novella being released December 1st. 

  • And I have the final cover for In Another Life. 

  • I've been hard at work on my next novel. This one is a standalone about a rock star and his pretend boyfriend who turns out not to be so pretend after all.

Have a terrific week and a fun Halloween.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Flash Fiction Sunday - On the Run

Haven't done Flash Fiction Sunday in awhile. Felt like time to bring it back. I hope you enjoy. Happy Sunday, Love, Ellis

Mac Abernathy rolled over, groaning at the light stabbing through his lids. Aches assaulted his hips and back, his head throbbed in time to the curious pound of his pulse.

His first inclination was to go back to sleep until the pain left him alone, but a tentative exploration of the surface on which he slept turned up more confusion. Was that...dirt?


His fingers met flannel over warm, hard muscle. The expanse of hard chest rose and fell under his palm and then the night before came rushing back.

Shots after the bar closed. Sweaty skin on skin after that, out in the alley, against Mac's car.

With Joe.


The body under Mac's hand rolled and shifted. A groaning noise vibrated against his arm. Mac forced his eyes open in time to see Joe closing the small gap between them, one arm reaching out to pull Mac close.


"Hmm." Joe's eyes stayed closed and he threw one leg over Mac's.

"C'mon buddy, wake the fuck up."

"Buddy?" Joe smacked his lips and opened his eyes. "That’s what you’re calling me after last night?"

Yeah. Hell of a way to start the morning, but they might as well rip off the scab. "Listen, man. It's been a long time. Last night was fun but I don't think hooking up again years after one keg party fuck session means we're supposed to go steady." The words scalded Mac's tongue as they left his mouth. 

Joe opened his eyes then and their arctic chill hit Mac full-blast. His old friend pushed away from the dirt floor and stretched, walking to the side door. Joe pushed the door open to reveal trees to one side and a field of cows—cows?—and braced his hands in the doorway for a stretch. Sunlight glinted on a silvery band around his finger. “I suppose you’re right,” he tossed back over his shoulder. 

"Jesus," Mac said. "You're married?" He struggled to sit up, stand up, even though his head screamed in severe protest. He looked around the unfamiliar building and the landscape beyond. Nothing in the barn-like structure except some crates and pallets. "And where the fuck are we?"

Joe laughed. "Yeah, I'm married." He ambled back over to where Mac stood with his hands in his pockets, and Mac followed the hug of Joe's jeans on his body in spite of himself. "So are you." Joe gave what seemed to be a pointed glance at Mac's hand, and he pulled his mitts from his pocket.

Sweat broke out on the back of Mac's neck. "You're fucking kidding me." Mac’s lucky black gold zodiac band had been moved to his ring finger and jammed on tight.

Joe's blue-eyed stare, his breath, his heat, pressed into Mac's comfort zone. "You really don't remember last night, do you?"

Mac's ticker tried to make a panicked suicide leap out of his chest. "We didn't get married." That wasn't possible. He closed his eyes and fought through the haze in his brain. "You didn't show up until almost closing."

"No." Joe gave a wry half-grin. "You agreed to pretend for me." His brought his hands to either side of Mac's face. "You saved my fucking life. You have no idea."

"Pretend." Mac did remember. Doing shots of vodka with some tall British guy after last call, keeping an iron grip around Joe's shoulders until the man agreed to leave. "That dude who followed you into the bar. I said you were mine so he'd leave you alone." He squinted at Joe, and almost didn't realize he'd hooked his finger in the loop of Joe's pants. "Why did you come to me?"

Joe shrugged. "I needed a ride and a quick cover story. I thought you'd help. I'm sorry for springing that shit on you like I did I just—I was back in town for the first time in years and your old neighbor told me where you worked. That night, you know? The party? You never forget your first. Meant something to me, even if it didn't to you. You felt like someone I could trust. I never forgot." He took a step back and licked his lips. "I guess I just hoped you'd be able to help out. And you did. Thanks." He pulled keys from his pocket. "You can head home now. I'll be fine."

"Wait. What are we doing out in this fucking cow field?" And why didn't he want to leave? He'd been the one to jump on the whole "it's been real and it's been fun" business, and now that Joe was saying they could go their separate ways that didn't sit right. He coughed. "And what was with that guy?"

The more the clouds cleared in his memory, the more clearly Mac could see an image in his head of Joe walking into Cebu's the night before with the look of a man who had something real to fear bearing down on him. The guy who'd come in right after, burning with possession and disingenuous charm? Dressed all wrong for Smythe’s little townie bar, that guy had reeked of money and power, and a little too much psychopath for Mac’s comfort. Joe didn't strike Mac as helpless, but Joe had come and asked him to do something.

Didn’t seem right to turn and walk away.

"This land belongs to my family. I needed to retrieve something."

"Get what you came for?"

Joe pulled a small, bronze key from his back and added it to the key ring in his hand. "Good to go." He smiled at Mac. "Thank you for everything. Really."

Mac rubbed his aching skull. "Doesn't seem like I was much help." He'd worked security at Cebu for so long, he'd stopped drinking much. For a big guy, he didn't hold his liquor so well.

Joe turned again. "You were there when it mattered. You made Stephan think I'd moved on, and it was what he needed to see to leave. I hope." He blew out a breath, hardening his jaw and buttoning his flannel the rest of the way. "We should go. You need to get home, and we need to be gone in case Stephan tries to look for me here. The land is in my brother in law's name but you never know."

Mac nodded. He was supposed to show up at work again that night. Logic told him the smartest thing was to return to his life and let Joe handle his own. The man had grown up. Quick-witted and solid, only the wire rim glasses and the blue eyes lingered to remind Mac of the shy freshman kid he'd let fuck him at that jocks and nerds party. Still. "What are your plans from here? Is this guy gonna come after you again?"

"He’s not great with banking but he's gonna be pissed when he notices what I took. But now that I have that key, I can get money and a car. I can get a gun. Hopefully it won't come to that, but I'll be ready if it does."

Mac tensed. "Is the money stolen?" Worry burned his insides. Last thing they needed was cops bearing down on them on top of some psycho.

"No. Yes. Not exactly." Joe rolled his eyes. "Stephan will try to say so. The money is mine. He took it from me. I took it back."

Hell. What a fucked-up situation. Static crackled in Mac's head. Maybe it was the resolute expression on the man's face or just the way the sun kissed his blond hair. Maybe the memory of the man's hot skin sliding over his the night before.... 

One step after another Mac drew closer to Joe and couldn't quite say why. Distance was the thing here, but he couldn't make himself maintain the buffer. "Maybe I could stick around. Go with you. I haven't taken time off work in forever. You could use the company right?"

Joe blinked and met Mac's stare. "You think I need protection." He smiled. "What you did last night was great. I needed someone to drive, and you helped me get away from Stephan without calling attention." A blush flared on his pale cheeks. "I won't say I didn't dig the rest, too. It was...comforting." A dry chuckle. "And hot."

Mac swallowed. "But?"

"But I can take care of myself. You don't need to be my guard dog. As much as I appreciate it."

Mac hooked one arm around Joe's neck. "Maybe I want to stay with you because I want to stay with you." He pulled in for a kiss, quick and hard with a quick meeting of tongues. "Maybe now that I'm sober I'm hungry for you to fuck me again."

A cough. A chuckle. "Mac. I don't know what's going to happen. Where I'll land. When I'll be able to come back."

"Look, the owner of Cebu and I go way back. He'll give me the time. I wanna know you're okay. More than that, I wanna know you better. I want...." He took a deep breath, nearly tasting the damp earth and the lingering hints of Joe's cologne. "I want to really know you. You're not the only one who remembered that party. Cheap beer? Ditching our friends and finding that little room in the basement? It mattered to me, too."

Joe inhaled and looked toward the door. He turned back and Mac met him halfway with a quick kiss. "You're sure?"

"I'm sure."

"Let's go."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Good Time to Laugh, or Why I Write Funny Stuff in Dark Places by Lou Sylvre

Hi, I’m Lou Sylvre, and I’m celebrating the recent release of  book four in the Vasquez and James suspense/romance series from Dreamspinner Press. I’ve posted a lot of blogs recently, mostly pretty light in nature. In the Vasquez and James books, I write about some nasty, scary, serious stuff.

Villains: kidnappers, rapists, torturers, and in Saving Sonny James, a narcissistic killer who is trying to steal Luki’s beloved husband, Sonny—or else steal Sonny’s life.

Illnesses: in Delsyn’s Blues, Von Willebrand’s—a clotting disorder like hemophilia; in Yes, lung cancer; in Saving Sonny James PTSD and it’s almost ubiquitous concomitant, depression. All of these—the mental no less than the physical—are vicious, deadly things. Yet my characters love. They talk of banal things at dangerous moments. They laugh. I have taken a bit of flak for this. (No really!)

But, to begin, as a writer, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking ahead about what my characters say or why they say it. If Luki teases, it comes out of his nature and the nature of the moment. To be honest, though, perhaps it’s my nature. Linda Ellerbee—a woman who like so many others has suffered life threatening illness and who knows what other terrifying monsters in life, said: “A good time to laugh is anytime you can.”Abraham Lincoln said: With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”

Yes! These quotes seem to me to strike the nail square on its head. There’s never a wrong time to laugh, and laughter becomes more necessary as pressures grow heavier. But I wasn't sure I could answer the question why. Why does laughing help when you're scared, or angry, or sad? Then I found this quote from Clarence Darrow (of all people): “If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.” Intense anger, fear, panic, despair, grief—these emotions are necessary, but especially in the extreme they can cripple our ability to solve the problem, to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, or to get ourselves and our loved ones away to safety.

So, yeah. I tend to have comic relief or at least a lighthearted break in the midst of pain, grief, and even terror. And the ability to laugh is something I admire most about Luki and Sonny and some of the other characters that appear in Vasquez and James. (Okay, I admit it; I admire my characters…) I think probably how it actually works for each and every person is likely unique, as is everything else about us. I want to share a few moments from the lives of the Vasquez-James men, hoping to show you how I think it works for them—a couple of brief passages from earlier books, and then a slightly longer one from Saving Sonny James, just released a week ago.

From book one, Loving Luki Vasquez, this is one of my favorite bits in any of the books. The two men have just had a night of incredible lovemaking, followed by a horrible confrontation, and then it just went quiet. Sonny tells Luki:

 “Just go, Luki. This is my house and I want you out of it.”
Luki whispered, “Sonny.”
“Open the windows on your way out,” Sonny said. This place smells like you.”
“Sonny,” Luki said, and silently he begged. Look at me, please. See me.
But Sonny didn't look at him, just walked out and let the screen door slam behind him. Luki stared after him, numb…
Until he saw Sonny drive past the door and the kitchen window in a teeny Honda Civic that must have been the first one ever made, white paint splotched with rust, two little mirrors mounted near the front of the fenders. The car sat so low that Luki could see inside, how long-legged Sonny had to drive with his knees on either side of the steering wheel, which might explain why he was having such a hard time shifting. The little car putted away with Sonny looking like he would burst its seams, and Luki couldn't help himself.
He laughed. He laughed hard, uncontrollably, from somewhere deep in his gut. He laughed like he never had—at least that he remembered. He laughed like his life depended on it, and maybe it did.
And this one from Delsyn’s Blues. Sonny is trying to cope with his grief over losing his nephew Delsyn, and trying to explain his actions:

“Luki, it was like… it hurt, but the pain was all I had of him to ward the end. Stupid, I know, but I couldn't share it.” He didn't know what else to say, so after a moment’s silence, he added, “But I love you. And will you watch Delsyn’s DVD with me? Want some Rocky Road?”
Luki sent him an almost-smile, nodded. “Sure. But hamburgers first. I’ll make ‘em. You have to have something solid in your stomach before the shortbread.”
“You and your hamburgers,” Sonny said. “And I didn't say anything about shortbread.”
“I need hamburgers to keep my strength up. You've got crumbs in your beard.”
“I don’t have a beard.”
“I know, but if you did, there would be shortbread crumbs in it.”
And here’s the excerpt from the new Dreamspinner Press release, book four of the suspense series, Saving Sonny James. Sonny is here trying to convince Luki to go to Paris with him, but Luki is stuck deep in the hell of PTSD, and he refuses. Sonny uses his own brand of humor, but when Luki can’t make Sonny understand, he makes him laugh.

“WHY not, Luki?” Sonny had sent Harold on his way quickly and come upstairs while Luki was still finishing his shower. Luki, groggy again after standing a long time with hot drops pelting his skin, sat on the stool afterward, and Sonny dried his hair with a fluffy towel. The two of them barely fit in Margie’s tiny, feminine, neat little bathroom at the same time, but that didn't prevent Sonny from attacking Luki’s head with real vigor. At the same time, he was trying to convince Luki to fly to France with him and Harold. “I’ll make sure you get first class, and I’ll have them tow a giant brick of sugar under the plane so the flight attendant can swoop down and pick up a ton of granules whenever you want coffee.” He felt gratified when Luki laughed—never easy to make that happen, and especially not lately.

“I guess I never told you,” Luki said, and then he pulled Sonny down for a kiss. “But since I met you, sometimes I don’t add the sugar.”

“See! I’m good for you. I've convinced you to fix that bad health habit.”

“Not exactly. Besides my sugar is probably not as bad for me as that flavored chemical creamer is for you! No, the reason I forget the sugar is because everything already tastes sweet when I’m with you.” Anyone else would have probably punctuated that with a cheesy grin, Sonny thought, but Luki just bobbed his eyebrows and it had the same effect. Sonny laughed, hard, which finally resulted in a slow smile from his husband. Luki said, “I love that, you know. When you laugh really hard like that? You sound like Woody Woodpecker.”

With a supreme effort Sonny stopped laughing, or at least almost, put his hands on his hips, and said, “I do not!”

“No really, you do babe. If I can figure out how, I’ll record it on my phone so you can hear yourself.”

Luki kept an almost completely straight face, but Sonny could see the gleam of fun—joy, maybe—in his eyes, and it was like clean water and fresh air, reprieve. Perhaps unfortunately, the feeling overwhelmed him. And tears stung his eyes, though none fell, and his lip twitched, and the whole damn good mood was broken. How could he explain that he was falling apart because he felt so good? “I’m sorry….”

Luki stood up and wrapped his big, strong arms around Sonny, and then pulled him tight against his chest, stroking his back, kissing his hair. “No, baby. I’m sorry. For how I've…. What I've become.”

“I love you, Luki—no matter what. And… just now, you were like you are… usually… with me.”

“Yeah,” Luki said. “Today’s a good day. I haven’t had many lately. They've just been getting worse and worse, and yesterday… I was so scared, baby. How can I make you understand? I’d never want to hurt you, and I didn't have any way to control it! Shit, I didn't even know I was doing it.” He shook his head, punished his lip with his teeth, then very quietly added, “I couldn't stay there, sweetie. If it happened again, if I ever hurt you, that would be worse than dying, worse than anything.”

Sonny felt a surge of anger. He growled, “But if you did die, Luki! Like at that fucking place! Like when that man…. That green-eyed guard you can’t seem to stop worrying over was going to fucking shoot you dead! If you’d died then, Luki….” By now Sonny’s rage had turned into sobs, and he just that moment realized how badly the whole situation was fucking with his own head. “I wouldn't have wanted to live, either. Fuck… Luki. You didn't do anything wrong. Can’t you just… I don’t know.” His flame had spluttered out, and now he sat down on the edge of the bathtub feeling defeated.

He half expected Luki to be pissed that he’d spoken to him—yelled at him—like that. Amazingly, Luki’s humor resurfaced instead, and he sat on Sonny’s knee. He whispered into his ear, “And for Christmas, Santa—or sooner, if you can make the extra trip south—I’d like to get my big-boy badass pants back.”
I believe that if we’re going to take characters into dark places, we need to give them the best survival tools, laughter included. (And then, also, it just makes reading (and writing) more fun.)

Thanks to Cardeno C for offering me this guest spot on CafĂ© Risque. And thanks to all who stopped into read. There’s the blurb here for Saving Sonny James, and the cover, and here’s the link at the Dreamspinner Store: .


Luki Vasquez and his still newlywed husband are back home after pulling off a harrowing desert rescue of their teenage nephew Jackie. But the events of the last couple of years have begun to catch up with Luki—loving Sonny James and letting Sonny love him back has left gaps in his emotional armor. In the gunfight that secured Jackie’s rescue, Luki’s bullet killed a young guard, an innocent boy in Luki’s mind. In the grip of PTSD, memories, flashbacks, and nightmares consume him, and he falls into deep, almost vegetative depression.

Sonny devotes his days to helping Luki, putting his own career on hold, even passing up a European tour of galleries and schools—an opportunity that might never come again. But when Luki’s parasomnia turns his nightmares into real-world terror, it breaks the gridlock. Sonny realizes what he’s doing isn’t working, and he says yes to Europe. Enter Harold Breslin, a dangerously intelligent artist’s promoter and embezzler whose obsessive desire for Sonny is exceeded only by his narcissism. When Harold’s plan for Sonny turns poisonous, Luki must break free of PTSD and get to France fit and ready in time to save his husband’s life.

Friday, October 25, 2013

GayRomLit 2013 Report

OMGosh!  OMGosh!  OMGosh!  OMGosh!  OMGosh! 

What a wonderful, wonderful event!

From beginning to end it was simply If you weren't there, please attend in the future. You will not regret it!

My first session was on Romantic Comedy with Ethan Day and Zam Maxfield and it was terrific! They are comedic geniuses and I learned a LOT and was thrilled to realize I did a whole lot right with my first novel "All Alone in a Sea of Romance." Next was "Romance and the City: Developing Setting" with Kate McMurray. WOW! Awesome class! AWESOME! Then I took a nap!
So the next class I took was on marketing and it was led by Jay aka Joyfully Jayand Lori Bell. Those are two SMART women! Then "Who Are You? Take Control of Your Author Brand" led by Tara Laing & Ariel Tachna. I learned so much! Thank you ladies! Finally there was the amazing Amy Lane and her talk on "Characters in Five Dimensions." All I could think about was how incredible it must have been to be a student in one of her classes when she was a teacher. I know she changed lives. For the good.


Dinner was at the Melting Pot. I've never been. And to get to go with Ariel,Anne Regan, Nessa Warin and Shannon C. Shell was so nice. And the food! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!


Then it was off to Club Bliss to see naked dancing boys.  You know I HATED that!
The next day Poppy Dennison let me eat her beaver right before we went to lunch!
A whole bunch of the Dreamspinner Press writers went to a place called the West Egg for lunch today. Lex organised it and it was fun. Sat with Rick R. Reed and Lily Velden and JoAnn Fox and had a wonderful time! New friends!! I had fried green tomato BLT w/ pimento cheese spread, a side of real Southern garlicky grits along with a cocktail called a Pimm's Cup (gin-based with ginger beer, fruit juices, and spices). Just loverly!

Opening ceremonies was very nice. The food was pretty good too, and plentiful as well. Bruschetta, some kind of pork on a stick (very good) and chicken on a stick (quite good), veggies on a stick and more. And next year GayRomLit is in Chicago!

Got to spend some time with the loverly Elisa of Elisa Reviews and the wondrous head of the Rainbow Awards. She looked elegant in her gown!
And then I was off to the event with the hot Charlie Harding hosting!  (don't worry, I got permission from my husband for the kiss!)
The next day was full with panels and author talks and readings. Great fun. Then that night was the big dress up night with the Dreamspiner Press hosted Once Enchanted Evening. Incredible!!!
This is the Dreamspinner crew, Shannon C. Shell, Andrew Grey, Nessa Warin, Ariel Tachna, Anne Regan and me! 

Here I am with my good friend Rick R Reed!  (the R stands for Romance!)


And I didn't even mention that paint-the-porn-star event hosted by JP Barnaby or the amazing dinner earlier in the evening.

The next night included Mary Macs, a place with authentic Southern cooking!  WOW! I had chicken fried chicken, tomato pie, collard greens, mashed potatoes, and peace cobbler! OMGosh!

And there is so much I am not even telling you about!

One of the most powerful things was meeting the readers and finding out how our stories and words effect people. It is incredibly moving and gratifying and humbling as well.

Needless to say I will be going to GRL for years to come!


Me and JP Barnaby
Guess who this is?  It is Heidi Cullinan!

My good friend Mary Calmes with her very handsome husband!
Zahra Owens!  I just love her!