Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Academic Pursuits Giveaway!

Free Book! For a limited time only!

I'm giving away a free copy of my novella, Academic Pursuits to a randomly chosen commenter to this post.

Academic Pursuits is a smutty romantic comedy, taking place at a fictional college campus that has absolutely no resemblance to my own old alma mater. It is published by Amber Allure.

The winner will be announced on Saturday, so make sure you post by 8 am PST the 4th, if you want a chance of winning.

To whet your appetite, here is the blurb and a previously not shown excerpt:

Jamie Brennan is putting “cad” back into academia!

The son of a well-to-do family and blessed with both dark good looks and buckets of confidence, Jamie lives for the chase. He has a well-deserved reputation around college as a seducer of straight frat boys. No man is off-limits to Jamie—he’s happy to help fellow gay students out of the closet, too. He even has lustful designs on his oblivious English professor, so it’s no surprise that his amorous pursuits often land him in sticky situations.

There's just one flaw in Jamie's perfect world—Roger Hunt. The hunky grad student, who dresses more like a lumberjack than the talented artist he is, gives Jamie hostile looks every time their paths cross. Jamie tries to ignore Roger, but they can't seem to stop running into each other, and Jamie's beginning to wonder if it’s more than chance that continues to steer them down the same halls...


“Don’t forget to drop off your paper by five on Monday,” Professor Woodford said, dismissing the class.

We all stood and began to file out. I pulled my jacket on—it covered the bulge in my crotch. Spending a whole hour in close physical proximity with so much Britishness had predictable results. I didn’t know what I was gonna do when the weather warmed up.

“Jamie, I’d like a moment of your time,” Woodford said.

I stood aside and waited for all the other students to shuffle out. I didn’t dare to look him in the eye ’til the heavy oak door slammed shut behind the last of them.

There was a moment of pregnant silence in the air. I waited for him to speak first.

“Jamie, you seemed distracted in class,” Woodford said. There was nothing unusual about his words, but his voice dropped a whole octave. It was downright sultry—that on top of the accent made more blood rush to my already aching cock.

I swallowed hard. My mouth went dry. “I was… My thoughts were elsewhere,” I admitted.

His eyelids went to sleepy half-mast and he leaned against the desk with all the languidness of a sleepy cat
“Tell me,” Woodford commanded.

Hesitantly, I began to speak. “I was thinking of you, Professor.”

“Go on.” His voice was rich and dark, like one of those molten lava cakes.

“I was thinking how hot you made me. I was imagining getting on my knees and worshipping you,” I said, emboldened.

His lips curled into a hungry smile. “Show me.”

Monday, January 30, 2012

Coming Soon: Tons of Books to Win

SJD Peterson is having a month of romance, complete with a plethora of books to be won. Check out the loot! 

More to come, stay tuned.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Release: Academic Pursuits

It's alive! I know it's silly, but I had hard time falling asleep last night, knowing Academic Pursuits is coming out today. With Tomfoolery debuting only a few days ago, it's a busy start for the year.

Talking about busy, there's an interview with yours truly on the blog of the one and only Jo Myles. If you hop over there, you can find out a few secrets of the creative process.

I'm also guest on the blog of the fabulous Sue Brown. There I get to prattle about another one of my pet theories. Fun stuff.

Academic Pursuits is available from Amber Allure for $3.25 on release week.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Free Shorts - Get Them While They Are Hot!

My short story, Tomfoolery went live today at Coffee and Porn. I will also publish it as a free download at the usual channels--assuming I don't screw it up—sometime in February.

Other authors whose stories went live today: V.J. Summers, Josephine Myles, Jaime Samms, and Lynn Flewelling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Free Fiction

Today on Coffee and Porn in the Morning: stories by Lara Brukz, Amy Lane, Lou Sylvre, Pender Mackie, and Talia Charmichael.

Authors from the last two days: Megan Slayer, Carter Quinn, J.P. Barnaby, S.A. Meade, R.J. Scott, Clare London, Jessica Freely, Ethan Stone, Silvia Violet, and K.C. Burn.

Beat Your Winter Blues Blog Tour - Stop 3

The tour is stopping at Andrew Gray's blog today. Stop by for a chance to win a $200.- gift certificate, and to learn, to where Josephine Myles, JL Merrow, Marie Sexton, J.P. Barnaby, Andrew Gray, Ellis Carrington, and yours truly like to escape during the winter months.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coffee, Porn, And A Free Story

It's the one year anniversary of Coffee and Porn in the Morning, the blog Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan started together. It generally features…ahem…inspirational pictures, articles, guest posts, giveaways. This week it's free short stories from a whole bunch of fabulous m/m authors. (Mine will come up on the 26th.) So go, get it while it's hot!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guest: Josephine Myles

I have the fabulous Jo Myles here today, stopping by on her whirlwind blog tour. Her latest novella, Tailor Made, is available from Amber Allure today.

Here is the blurb:

"College tart Felix McAvoy is used to causing a stir with his conceptual art pranks, but for his final show he's planning something even more outrageous. In a last ditch attempt to seduce his jaded tutor, Felix plans to wear the canvas in a subversive display. However, if he's going to do this right he'll need a tailor-made canvas suit. Fortunately, he knows just the tailor to turn to for the favour—and Felix isn't shy about offering favours of a very different kind in return.

First year fashion student Andrew Wheeler knows Felix by reputation only—and plans to keep things that way. Andrew's determined to save himself for the man of his dreams, and Felix couldn't be more different from his ideal Mr. Right. There's only one use Andrew will contemplate for Felix's body: a model for his end of year project. Trouble is, it's going to involve a lot of close contact with a nearly naked Felix, and Andrew's never had temptation quite so close at hand..."

On to the interview!

Jo, you have a wealth of stories under your belt, but Tailor Made is the first one taking place at a college campus (or "uni," as you crazy Brits like to call it). Why so?

That’s a direct result of the Amber Allure submissions call! I harked back to my own days on an art foundation course at an institution that idealized the conceptual Brit Art movement. Felix’s frustrations are very much based on my own irritation at having spent a year at art college in which no one so much as gave me the smallest hint at how to improve my painting and drawing.

The muse can be stubborn at times. Was it easy or hard to come up with the characters and story in this case?

Initially I wasn’t sure about answering this submissions call as writing about younger characters doesn’t generally appeal all that much to me. Not only do they not have much life experience, but there’s a certain mindset characteristic to young adults that I find frustrating: that idealistic, black and white thinking. You get older and you realize the world is made up of shades of grey instead.

Initially I thought I’d write something about a mature student having a relationship with his tutor, but my muse just didn’t want to bite. After a couple of months of nothing more coming, I thought I’d have to abandon the idea of writing a college story.

However, I then got to thinking about how I could use a character’s youth to my advantage when crafting a plot. It can be a challenge to write a credible virgin character in his late twenties, but it seemed quite plausible that a nineteen-year-old would still be idealistically holding out for his imaginary Mr. Right, and that a twenty-one year old would believe himself to be in love with his bastard of a tutor. Once I had those two elements in place, the rest of the story flowed quickly.

One of your protagonists, Felix, is…well, let's be honest, a bit of a slut. You have fondness for these type of characters. What is the attraction?

Umm, if I said it’s because I’m a slut at heart, would you hold it against me? ;D

What I like writing is the unapologetic sluts. They’re not putting it about because they’re psychologically damaged. They just happen to enjoy sex and meeting new people, and don’t see any reason why these two activities shouldn’t be combined! I suppose it’s partly a reaction to growing up being told that promiscuity was bad—something I’ve always instinctively disagreed with.

What I particularly enjoy about writing slutty characters, though, is getting to make them fall in love. Having them feel all those uncomfortable feelings and realizing that they now have to change their lifestyle is fun to work through in a story.

I don’t plan on having slutty characters in every story I write, but you can probably expect them to turn up in a fair few!

In general, what is your creative process? Where does the story start? Is it the characters, a plot idea, or maybe a song you heard on the radio?

I often have a vague plot premise first, but inspiration can come from so many different sources. Sometimes it’s a reaction to something I’ve read that I want to explore further. What I do know is I can’t start writing until I know a reasonable amount about the characters. Once I have their voices sorted out in my head, then the plot tends to follow. And then it heads off in a completely different direction when I start writing and the characters tell me there’s no way they’re doing that just because I’m telling them to, thank you very much. I’ve learnt to trust them now, even if it’s scary at times.

Do you ever get writer's block? How do you deal with it?

I’ve never had severe writer’s block, but I certainly get days where the words come so slowly it’s like typing through treacle. Sometimes I give up and go and do something completely different, and sometimes I power on through until things start picking up again.

Working on a couple of different projects at any one time is a strategy that works for me. If one’s not flowing, the other usually is so I don’t end up feeling guilty and unproductive.

One last question. Inquiring minds must know: Do Brits really drink as much tea as PBS would make us believe? How many times a day do you break for "a cuppa?"

There are a few weird Brits who insist they don’t drink any tea (JL Merrow, for example), but the rest of us do tend to guzzle it pretty much constantly. I’ve had five cups so far this morning, and I’m contemplating making another right now…

Thanks, Jo.

And now an excerpt:

“I’ll need to tie pieces of string around your waist and neck,” Andrew said.
“Getting into bondage already, are we? I dunno, you Catholics are always a bit kinky, aren’t you?”
“Shut up. It’s to get accurate measurements.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say.”
But Felix kept quiet as Andrew tied the length of string around his neck. The second one was harder to tie, though, as Andrew’s hands were so close to Felix’s crotch. He could see the bulge of Felix’s cock, scant inches from his hands. His fingers kept brushing against those taut abs and he couldn’t seem to make his hands cooperate.
“Here, let me help.”
Felix’s long fingers were deft, fast, and Andrew couldn’t help but wonder what they’d feel like on his own body. Why did the more experienced, promiscuous men always have to be so bloody tempting? Would it be too much to ask for a nice, safe, virginal man to drop out of the sky and onto Andrew’s lap? Instead, he had here the male equivalent of the Whore of Babylon.
“Well, you gonna get going on those measurements or are you gonna stare at my dick all day?”
“Jesus Christ. I was staring at your hands.”
“Yeah, well now you can stare at both,” Felix said, cupping his groin through the fabric of his jockstrap. He pulled it tight and Andrew could see the outline of a thick cock straining at the cotton, and what looked like a heavy pair of balls below. Felix’s body hair was dark, and Andrew could just imagine how it would curl in a thick bush around his dick.
Was it wrong that his mouth was watering right now? “Turn around,” he ordered. “I need to measure your back.”
But that was worse. Felix’s crown jewels might be out of the way, but now Andrew had a perfect view of two muscular buttocks. The V of the white straps drew Andrew’s gaze down the dark cleft. He had to swallow back a sound that threatened to erupt. Needy and turned-on. It was a bloody good thing Felix was facing away from him so he couldn’t see the pronounced bulge in Andrew’s jeans. He adjusted himself, then looked up to discover Felix watching him in the mirror.
Felix leered and winked, and Andrew was mortified to feel a blush creeping up his neck. He lost himself in his tape measure instead, taking a measurement from the neck string down to Felix’s waist, and then around his waist, his hips, all the time trying his best to ignore that naked arse Felix had all but offered up to him. In fact, come to think of it, he had offered it, hadn’t he?
Andrew groaned as he sank to his knees. “I need an inside leg measurement. You’ll have to spread them a little. No, not like that!” He shut his eyes tight, trying to will away that glimpse he’d just had between those buttocks as Felix had pulled his cheeks apart.
“Sorry, force of habit when a guy tells me to spread ’em,” Felix said, sounding excessively pleased with himself.
“Turn around, please,” Andrew said, his eyes still clamped shut. He was dimly aware of motion beside him, and eventually risked a quick peek.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God,” Andrew muttered under his breath. There was a clear damp patch at the front of Felix’s jockstrap, right where the tip of his erection was tenting the cotton. He could smell the arousal, Felix’s musk tickling his nostrils and heating his body. To take his mind off it, he pressed the metal tip of the measuring tape into the hot skin of Felix’s inner thigh.
“Ooh, that’s cold!”
Felix’s legs clamped tight, trapping Andrew’s hand in a humid embrace. Oh Christ, that was Felix’s balls pressing against his thumb. If Andrew moved his hand, he’d be giving them a massage.
Andrew’s thumb twitched.
“Mmm, does this mean we’ve finished with the foreplay?” Felix teased...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Those Sexy Bloodsuckers

"Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire." (The Fearless Vampire Killers)

Vampires. People love them or hate them. I'm on the fence. I can't stand the stand the whole angsty teen vampire fad, but I'm fan of True Blood. Okay, the show's getting crackier every season, but you have to admire it for its sheer sexiness—and not just the hetero kind. Executive producer, Alan Ball being a gay man certainly helps. His previous show, Six Feet Under had the some of most complex and interesting gay characters on American television.

“F**k all y'all, devil zombies! Turning this town into an orgy from hell!” (True Blood)

In the m/m genre too, vampires are everywhere, so much so the danger of oversaturation looms. I have mixed feelings about it. The more talented authors can make it work, but there are plenty of mediocre vamp stories out there. What bothers me most is the ubiquitous emotional melodrama. The genre's staple emotionalism seems to get standardized—as if vampires were doomed to brood.

"And you happened to have six very sharp and pointy wooden sticks on you. Or were you just happy to see me?" (I wrote that.)

So naturally, I'm currently working on a vampire novella trilogy. I just had the urge to create a different breed of bloodsuckers. My original concept was to do it in the style of classic screwball comedies. It hasn't shaped up exactly like that, but elements of it are there. There's tension, smut, suspense, and a big dose of humor. I'm at the end stretch of the second story, with a lot of plotty stuff to resolve. I'm starting to feel good about it. The first one turned out quite to my liking. I hope I haven't just jinxed myself, because I have one more to write. I have an inkling that the third story might have one of my characters dressed up in a steampunk costume—for the sake of the plot, of course.

Anyway, It's vampire week on Brief Encounters. Head over and check out what it's all about.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beat Your Winter Blues Blog Tour - Stop 2

Today The Blog Tour stops at Jo Myles' blog where talk about their favorite wintertime activities. Mine doesn't involve snow. So stop by and take a chance at winning the $200 grand prize. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Attack of the One-star Bandit

I'm not complaining--some things are inevitable. You walk through a dog park, you'll step in poop. You have your books on Goodreads, sooner or later you'll get hit by a One-Star Bandit. It still can be a shock, especially when your book is still in the editing phase, and not even a single advance copy has been sent out, nobody besides your betas and publisher have read it. Then you check out the person, and it's someone with their profile set to private, and over five hundred ratings to their name at one and a half stars average. Bingo! You got hit by a crusader.

This person clearly has not read your book, or likely any of that five hundred, but they have an agenda, and you are in its path. You start to wonder what it is. Is it about the genre—the person fighting a microscopic moral crusade one rating at a time? Is it something more exciting? Perhaps a frustrated writer down-rating all the books of a publisher guilty of rejecting her/his manuscript? How much time a day this person spends tracking new releases to strike? Does (s)he get an emotional satisfaction out of it?

So many mysteries, so few answers.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Breaking My Own Rules…

…but it doesn't count, because it's not about writing, not mine at any rate.

Over at Jessewave JL Merrow got a nice 4.5 star review on her novella, A Calling for Pleasure. It's a title she got back from the publisher and decided to re-self-publish, and asked me if I could help with the cover design. We kept the font from the original and changed everything else.

To my surprise and delight, the cover got a brief mention at the end of the review: "The cover artist, Lou Harper, has a sly sense of humor. Giggle: look closely."

Can you spot what she meant?

My novel, Lost Stop is scheduled to be published in June by Samhain Press. It feels like a million years away, however I got an official blurb already. I'm so glad publishers take charge of it--like so many writers, I suck at blurb and synopsis writing. Behold:

Sam Mayne’s life is as dull as the dishwater in his small-town Montana diner, and that’s just how he wants it. Quiet, uneventful, safe from his shadowy past. The breezy young drifter who answers his help-wanted ad makes him uneasy in ways he dare not examine too closely. Except he can’t help but be pulled in by Jay Colby’s spunky attitude, endless stories, and undeniable sex appeal.

Fresh off yet another romantic disaster, Jay doesn’t understand his attraction to the taciturn line cook, but there’s no fighting the chemistry that lands them in bed together. Where Sam’s subtly dominant streak takes command, and Jay delights in discovering the pleasures of his submissive side.

Safe in the assumption their relationship is temporary, neither lover holds back when the heat is on. Until Sam’s deadly past catches up with them with a vengeance, forcing him to drop the life he’s built, pick up his lover, and run. As danger cuts closer to the bone, Sam and Jay are forced to face the truth. About themselves, about the depth of their love—and the newly forged bonds that are about to be tested to the limit.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Tricky Business of Reviews

Winter Warmers have received a good number of favorable reviews. I'm truly stoked about it, but it also brings me to the dilemma of how to react to them. It's a potential minefield.

Back when reviews of my first novella appeared on Goodreads, I innocently clicked on the "like" buttons. I thought of it as a gesture of gratitude. Little did I know some reviewers saw it as the author trying to schmooze in hopes of future favorable treatment, while other GR members thought I was shamelessly self-promoting. Duh!

Later on I got to see this issue from the point of view of reviewers and readers, and learned a few things. Obviously, reviewers' main concern is to remain impartial and professional—something much harder to do when you get chummy with authors.

I also discovered readers freak out when a writer butts into their discussion of his or her books, even when said author is being pleasant. I can understand it: it must feel like being stalked. Considering the recurrent author meltdowns over bad reviews, it's even more understandable.

Sure, bad reviews sting, but it comes with the territory. If you can't take them, you best ignore reviews altogether. Authors going after the reviewer only serve to make those authors look like juvenile prats.

Many authors post about good reviews on their blogs. I haven't been able to bring myself to it. It feels like patting myself on the back in public.

So I'm left with one choice: not to respond to reviews at all. Naturally, I've already broken this rule when I posted about May-December relationships, but at least it wasn't about my like or dislike of the review, but my desire to explore the subject it brought up.

I still wonder if some reviewers end up thinking of me as  a snob for not thanking them, but I can't help it. Anyway, reviews are for the readers, not the authors.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beat Your Winter Blues Blog Tour - Stop 1

January-April 2012

The Beat Your Winter Blues Blog Tour have started today, Sixteen authors will do their best to make your winter brighter in January, February, March, and April. (Unless you’re south of the equator, and then we’ll just be jealous of your summer.) Every Wednesday will be a new stop on the tour (see schedule below). Be sure to leave a comment at each stop for up to sixteen chances at the grand prize: a $200 USD gift certificate to the e-retailer of your choice. Also keep an eye out for links to individual authors’ sites on their release dates for a chance to win some free books. Today's post is on Coffee and Porn in the Morning. Hop on over!
Future schedule:

 January 18: Favorite Wintertime Activities (hosted by JosephineMyles)
January 25: Join us for a January getaway (hosted by AndrewGrey)
February 1: Winter in My Backyard (hosted by LouHarper)
February 8: “If I could get away right now, I’d go to…” (hosted by EllisCarrington)
February 15: Valentine’s Day (hosted by J.L. Merrow)
February 22: Authors by the Fireside (hosted by KateMcMurray)
February 29: Join us for a February getaway (hosted by Z.A. Maxfield)
March 7: Things to Do in a Blizzard (hosted by S.A. Meade)
March 14: St. Patrick’s Day (hosted by ClareLondon)
March 21: Spring Break (hosted by BlaineArden)
March 28: Join us for a March Getaway (hosted by TalesfromtheWritingCave)
April 4: Favorite Winter Movies (hosted by StumblingOverChaos)
April 11: Signs of Spring (hosted by J.P. Barnaby)
April 18: Join us for an April Getaway (hosted by MarieSexton)
April 25: Farewell (hosted by JoyfullyJay)
April 30: Grand Prize Announcement (hosted by Heidi Cullinan)

Every week we’ll also let you know what books are recently released and about to be released, complete with links to giveaways. This week is full of them!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Flash of Slash

It's Slash Month on Chicks and Dicks. Yesterday I posted my personal account of how I got drawn into reading and eventually writing slash fanfiction, and how it lead me to m/m. Today Jo Myles is giving advice to those who contemplate making the same jump.