Thursday, 31 May 2012

Cruce de Caminos Round-Up and FAQ!

What an awesome couple of weeks it's been! "Cruce de Caminos" came out May 21st from Riptide Publishing, and we've been all over the web since, talking about the themes of the story, our writing process, and even a bit about our personal lives. It's been amazing reading all the reviews, talking shop on twitter with readers, and just seeing our story go out into the world for good or for ill.

That's the thing about writing. A lot like a child, you put a lot into your writing, trying to shape it a certain way, but ultimately your contribution only goes so far. The reader brings his or her experiences, pre-occupations, knowledge, and plain old tastes into the equation as well, creating something completely new that nobody can really predict. Literature is a dialogue, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm honoured to know people are reading something I wrote, really reading it, for pleasure or otherwise, and responding to it and discussing it and even "tearing it a new one", as they say.

To round up this experience, Violetta's written a post thanking Riptide and our readers for taking a chance on this weird little misfit of a story, and also linking and summing up our various blog tour stops. Please check it out, and if you haven't yet, visit one or two (or all!) of our guest posts and leave us a comment to be entered to win some great CdC swag and prizes.

For my own round-up, I thought I'd do a little "Cruce de Caminos" FAQ. So here goes!

Will we be seeing Ángel again?
By far my most asked question! Short answer? Yes, absolutely! Ángel is an odd sort of character, in that his existence for this story is very much a matter of suiting the plot, but on the other hand he's sort of taken on a life of his own, as well. So where will you be seeing him? Well, Violetta and I's paranormal/UF books all take place in the same universe, so if it's a paranormal by us, there's definitely a chance of Ángel showing up. We don't want to gratuitously shoehorn him into places he doesn't belong, however, but we did find a place for him to have a little cameo in one of our summer novel-length releases. 
As for him showing up in his own story? Entirely possible, but not currently in the works. We'd love to explore Ángel's character (he's as much a mystery to us as he is to all of you!) and the religion and mythology of Santeria further, so when we have a story worth writing, you know we'll be there with bells on.  
Is Ángel in The Druid Stone? No. By the time that story picks up, Sean has moved on from that time of his life, and that includes his relationship with Ángel. And anyway, he's got a new man to contend with who takes up alllllll his time and attention. Will Ángel and Sean cross paths again in the future? Well! ;) 
What/who was Ángel?
We purposefully didn't tie this up in a neat little bow, since we felt like having Ángel explaining who he was and what he was about would kind of spoil the experience of the story. Also, I don't think Sean was really in a position to hear a straight forward explanation, do you? Cristina was right about Papa Legba, but what does that mean for Ángel the human escort? We'll all have to wait and find out! 
How does "Cruce de Caminos" fit in with The Druid Stone?
They're both stories about Sean O'Hara.  
I've heard CdC called a prequel or an introduction, but I don't think that's necessarily true, or at least that's not how we intended things. The two stories do take place in the same universe (but so do Hawaiian Gothic, Salting the Earth, and The Saturnalia Effect!), and one takes place after the other, but thematically and tonally they are very different beasts. Violetta and I wrote "Cruce de Caminos" with the intention of exploring Sean's backstory, yes, but we wanted to write something that 1. Stood alone if people didn't go on to read The Druid Stone. 2. Wasn't required reading for The Druid Stone. For readers of The Druid Stone, reading "Cruce de Caminos" is going to be enriching and enlightening, certainly, but the two stories are very different experiences. 
Cruce de Caminos was really meant to be an atmospheric psychological horror short story. The Druid Stone is a romance novel in an epic urban fantasy wrapping. If you're an anime fan, you can think of them in terms of Rurouni Kenshin and how the OVA about the Meiji Restoration fits in with the TV series: same character, same timeline, but still wildly different. (Seriously, click those two links, even if you aren't an anime fan! You don't need to be familiar with the show to understand what I mean by this reference.) 
So if you didn't like "Cruce de Caminos", you may well like The Druid Stone, if you're willing to give it a chance. If you loved "Cruce de Caminos" you may not like The Druid Stone (or you might love it even more!). It depends on what exactly you like or dislike about it, and how comfortable you are moving from genre to genre. We hope you like both, and that readers of The Druid Stone will pick up "Cruce de Caminos" because they want more insight into Sean's character, but if it doesn't happen, that's okay too! 
How was it working with Riptide?
I can't say enough good things. For one, they read this story, acknowledged it was a strange beast and would be hard to market, but decided to acquire it anyway, because they believed in it and thought it was worth putting out, even if they didn't make their investment back. (Although we sure hope they do!) Editing quality was thorough but also respectful of our artistic vision (always an awesome balance), communication was prompt, we had tons of support on the marketing front, we love our cover... Yep, it's been an awesome. If you're an author and one of their open calls speaks to you, I'd absolutely suggest subbing something. You won't regret it!  
What are you working on now? What's coming out next?
Working on now: a historical, actually, with no paranormal elements whatsoever! It's all about a gladiator in 26BC Rome, who's purchased to train a troupe of gladiatrices and winds up in the middle of a fraternal feud. It's like a well-researched Spartacus with even more gay sex. 
Coming out next: we have a short story in Storm Moon Press's non-con anthology, Like It or Not called "Salting the Earth", all about a young Irishman who makes a bad bargain with the sidhe. That's out tomorrow! Also, on June 12th, we have our first novel-length work coming out: a paranormal romance and tropical ghost story called Hawaiian Gothic, which is being released by Loose Id.

So that's it for my FAQ! Any other burning questions? Drop me a comment!


We have 2 "Cruce de Caminos"-related giveaways going on now.

First of all, we have our blog tour giveaway, which is pretty straight forward! Leave a comment on any of our blog tour posts for a chance to win some CdC and New Orleans swag, as well as a copy of "Cruce de Caminos" on ebook. You have until midnight, June 5th, to enter, and we'll announce three lucky winners on June 6th. 

If you've read "Cruce de Caminos", you can also try your hand at my pop quiz. All you have to do is send me an email with the answers to the quiz questions by July 1st, and two lucky winners with passing scores will win an ebook copy of The Druid Stone. 

Bonne chance, and thank you as always for reading!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Release Day! Cruce de Caminos is now out!

The day is finally here! That's right, "Cruce de Caminos" is now officially for sale at your favourite e-tailers:
Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks
Riptide Publishing (Direct from publisher)

It's also the first day of our blog tour. Stop by Words of Wisdom... from The Scarf Princess today to check out a post by Violetta Vane all about the importance of New Orleans as a historic city: Need, Folded in a Donut, and leave us a comment to be entered in our swag giveaway. You can also check out Jody's fantastic 4-star review of the story here.

Tomorrow, we'll be at Joyfully Jay talking about sex work and sexual orientation, one of the core themes in "Cruce de Caminos". We'll be stopping at a different blog every day this week with more chances to win our New Orleans prize pack, so check Riptide's website for the full schedule.

Already read the story and want to try your hand at winning a free e-copy of the continuation of Sean's story, our epic urban fantasy The Druid Stone coming out this August from Carina? Click here to try your hand at our CdC quiz.

And on a more personal note, my husband's car was stolen early this morning, so your well-wishes and thoughts toward its safe (and hopefully not too expensive) retrieval would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Cruce de Caminos now available from Riptide!

The official release date for "Cruce de Caminos" is still the 21st, which is when you'll be able to buy it on Amazon, ARe, and other online retailers. But if you buy it direct from the publisher, you can get it right now!!!

And even more awesome, if you buy it now (or any time before the 21st) it still counts as a pre-order, which means you're automatically entered in Riptide's Free Books for a Year draw! And may I suggest buying the whole collection? You get all four Rentboy stories for 20% off the full price, which is a pretty rad deal.

Addiction drives Sean O'Hara to a critical crossroads. Will he make the right decision, or will the floodwaters bound for New Orleans sweep him away? 
Street kid Sean O’Hara never had it easy, but New Orleans has driven him to his knees. His girlfriend’s broken up with him for a sugar daddy, a gun-toting pimp has robbed him of everything but the clothes on his back, and he’s down to his last two OxyContin. Sean’s no seasoned streetwalker, but he’s not above it either, not when he’s already itching for his next fix. 
A familiar-seeming stranger named Ángel may be his ticket to some quick cash, but only if Sean’s willing to help him indulge a high-class john’s weird fetish for the night. As Ángel tells him, in this city and this business, you have to get a little weird to survive. 
When night falls on the French Quarter, Sean realizes Ángel and the john want more from him than he was expecting to give. What once seemed merely strange soon crosses the line into supernatural and sinister. And Ángel, the man Sean had viewed as a partner and protector, might also be his otherworldly judge and executioner.
Buy it now!
Add it on Goodreads

Guest Post with Anna Mayle

Today is an exciting first for my blog. I've got a guest poster! Please welcome the lovely Anna Mayle, who loves evil nasty fairies as much as I do and is thus a True Kindred Spirit. She's here to talk about her new book Daybreak for a Stolen Child, out now from Resplendence Publishing!

So take it away, Anna!

Sum up your story in five words.
Can Fae learn to love? 

What is the story about?
Daniel and Leinad met in “Bedtime Stories for a Stolen Child”, the book that started this series. This is their conclusion.

Leinad can’t control the gifts the Fae gave him.

Daniel can’t control the Fae inside of him.

As memories start to creep forth and the Fae who once became Daniel begins to awaken, Leinad has to choose between being there for the man he’s come to love or claiming his freedom from the monster that man is becoming. He can’t have both.

What inspired you to write it?
The first book had a blatantly HFN (happy for now) ending. When I first submitted it, the reader was left knowing that there was a high chance either Daniel or Leinad wouldn’t survive the relationship. Before publication I changed it a little, but not enough to erase that doubt. Several readers mentioned they wanted to know what happened. My first editor, a great lady and friend, was apparently also a fan. During a random phone call I mentioned that I might do a sequel she got very excited, as we talked the idea was built up more and more until I was all fired up to write three more Fae books, the finale to be Daybreak for a Stolen Child. When we said goodbye I was left staring at the phone and wondering when my muse had taken over my mouth, because honestly I wasn’t sure how to write a sequel to something I considered over and done with. Luckily I had two books in between to work it out.

In your opinion, what makes a good fantasy story?
There are two big musts in fantasy for me.

Character connectedness is the first. Fantasy can get too otherworldly (or in the case of romance novels, degrade into nothing but porn) very easily. I’ve always noted that the best fantasy book I’ve read are full of in depth character connections, whether to the past, each other, their country or an ideal, the characters are sparking with those precious links to their world and giving us something to relate with them about, no matter how strange the world around them gets.

The other big issue for me is originality. There are so many fantasy books out there now that they all start to blend together sometimes. A writer has to stray from the black and white of common lore to make a real impression. Sometimes authors have gone too far and changed so much that I spend the whole read glaring at the pages in annoyance. I made some changes to the classic Fae tales myself, in my own books. Hopefully readers aren’t glaring at my work over them, but it is a fine line to walk, and you can never be sure what one point or issue will be the one readers cling to as solid and unchanging (for example, the people up in arms about sparkly vampires), so who knows.

Who is your favourite character in the story?
Ooh. Tough one…

I think Daniel this time. He’s so very human, trying to deal with Leinad’s strangeness in human terms, and he tries so hard, but in the end he isn’t human and he knows it, deep down. His Fae self on the other hand is very cool, and detached, but for the occasional glimmer of something deeper. He’s a complex character with his moments of dry humour and stark viciousness, a monster and a man. I enjoy those kinds of characters.  

What can we -- the readers -- expect? Do you go in for the Happily Ever After?
I like Happily Ever After, but I also like making the characters work for it. Hard.

Also sometimes, my idea of happily ever after is a little skewed. Take Lullaby for a Stolen Child. That ending was a happy one for me. I’ll admit one of the hardest parts of writing romance, for me, is finding a happy ending that is suitable for romance readers. Generally I like the grey area of ‘what-might-happen’. I do pay attention to reader reviews though, and like with Bedtime Story, when they ask to know what happened, I try to accommodate them as best I can. 

Pet hates in the fantasy genre? (Books, film, etc)
Blatant disregard for history, not little anachronisms but big black holes of WTF placed in the middle of a story. Plots revolving around nothing but sex for sex sake. Great series that slowly degrade until the last book seems like they just stopped trying and threw in random plot device B to wrap things up. These are a few of my least favourite things.

If Hollywood came knocking, would you let your story be made into a film? What would be your specific demands? (Director, cast, setting, etc)
Definitely, I would want to be a part of it and have a decent amount of veto power if need be. Colorado or Michigan’s UP would be the first places to film it that come to mind. As for director and cast…I wouldn’t insist upon it, but I would love Leonard Nimoy involved in the creative process. He is a true renaissance man and a softly sung genius outside of the Star Trek scene. Beyond that…I don’t know who I would cast for the actual roles. My biggest must would be no overdone and obvious CGI, and no CGI people. I prefer movies that stick with make-up and physical effects and CGI people never look quite right to me. They move just that bit oddly.   

Would you use CGI or real 3D models/actors? What would your film budget be? (Modest, astronomical?)
Hahaha, I didn’t read these questions before I started answering them, so the answer to the CGI question is already taken care of. I think that my story could be done with a modest budget honestly. Some simple camera tricks and a good setting is all it would really need.

What's next in store for you?
I was working on a Prequel to my contemporary crime novel “In The Shadow of a Hero” but my editor recently told me it won’t be accepted since the main characters are two men who are dead when the published book begins. It was a little known rule in the company and my idea slipped through the cracks somehow. I’ll still finish it in time, offer it as a free read.

Until then I have a ghost story I’m working on about a young musician who is very down on his luck. He finds a journal in a used book store, hand penned by a soldier in WWII. As he reads he starts to dream about the war, things he shouldn’t know let alone remember so vividly. There is a soldier in most of his dreams, a handsome dream man to help the musician forget the bad in his own life, but the more he reads, the more real the soldier becomes, and soon…it may be too late to simply close the book.  

I’m hoping to have it done by Halloween. ^_^ it seems fitting. 

About Daybreak for a Stolen Child
Nearly a year since the nightmare at the cabin. Life for Daniel and Leinad hasn't gotten easier, but at least there is something to say for familiarity. They fight, they threaten, but they love each other and in the end, that should be enough. 
It isn't. 
When the shadows start stealing closer, and the past begins catching up to them, how long will the two lovers have before the Fae in Daniel emerges, and before Leinad has to face his own demons once again? Until the harsh light of reality engulfs the fragile world they've built for themselves? 
How long will it be until daybreak?
Learn more about Anna Mayle and her books here. The entire Stolen Child series is available for purchase here (just click the cover images on the right hand side of the screen).

Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us, Anna! Stay tuned after the jump for a sexy NC-17 excerpt from Daybreak for a Stolen Child!

Three Days to Cruce de Caminos!

His hands were the worst; he thought the bones would pop right out of his fingers. 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Four days 'til Cruce de Caminos!

He was a trespasser in another world and the other world was watching. 

In other news...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Five Days to Cruce de Caminos!

Today's quote is a dirty one!

Well, I’ll help catch you up on what you missed: you need to shut your mouth unless you’re sucking cock.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Newbie Authors: Do your damn homework!

So there's this Publishers Behaving Badly, uh, thing going around the twitter-verse today, all about an author who had her story "enhanced" behind her back by an unsavoury, unprofessional publisher. The general opinion is, of course, "Poor author!" from fellow writers and "Oh God I would never do this!" from horrified (legit) publishers.

Me, even though I can agree that the so-called publisher absolutely deserves the bad press, I'm having a hard time mustering up much pity for the author, who probably could have saved herself a lot of heartache by doing even the slightest bit of reading on the publishing business and What Authors Do. Although some of my ire could be because she ended her post exposing this mess with a nasty extended rape joke, which automatically turns me into Feminist The Destructor. (I use my Bra of Burning whip for +6 damage!)

But this post isn't about her. Rather, it's about a certain subset of author-hopefuls that we've all probably had a run in with. And to them I say,

Newbie authors, do your damn homework. (It's for your own good!)

I'm a new author myself. This time last year, Violetta Vane and I were just discussing the possibility of writing an M/M novel together, reading genre favourites and checking out publishers and coming up with a plan to write a novel we could be proud of and that would also satisfy reader expectations. In the time since, I've definitely made some mistakes. I've sold things to houses where they weren't a good fit, I've given away freebies that I should have charged for, I've charged for things that should have been freebies, and I've committed a few genre snafus.

But let me tell you a little something about a weird phenomenon I've been a part of. Last December, shortly after hearing back from Carina, I announced on my personal Facebook that I was going to be published. I didn't say when or what or even who my author persona was--I live in a small town and I'm technically a teacher and I'm also closeted about the fact that I'm bisexual and basically having any of this get out around town could be damaging to not only my career and reputation, but possibly my physical safety--but I did say, vaguely, that I was now an author of romance novels. Because hey, I was really proud of myself and wanted to share my happiness with friends and family. Nothing wrong with that!

Well, in the intervening months, a pattern began to develop. Someone I only rarely spoke with would send me a private message on my FB account saying "Congrats!" and asking (sort of) about my books. You know, the definition of "ask" where you get the distinct sense the asker doesn't give two shits about your answers and you're tempted to just start saying things like "Green! A pancake! Two tickets to The Avengers, please!" And then three or four messages into this "conversation", the other shoe would drop:

"Do you know a good agent? I'd compare my books to Stephen King's."
(I write romance, why would I know horror agents? Also, the Stephen King thing? Don't do that. Just... don't.) 
"I'm thinking of writing a book, can you get me published?"
(I'm not a publisher. And even if I was, you'd have to query me a hell of a lot better than that.) 
"Hey I want to make some extra money, how do I write ebooks?"
(The same way you write normal books: put in a ton of effort for small to middling returns. Unless you're EL James, I guess.) 
"How do you write romance novels? They're so shitty and formulaic. I could totally write porn for dumb housewives!"
(Fuck you.)

And since these people are my friends, I take my time writing them thoughtful answers in return and sharing my (uh, limited) wisdom. But sometimes I just want to shout JUST FUCKING GOOGLE IT. It seems to me that so many people want the prestige of writing: the antique typewriter and coffee "lifestyle", the cred of appearing intellectual and artistic, the dizzying high of seeing your name on the spine of a book... I get that. But these same people don't seem to care or acknowledge that writing is a job, and that means it comes with boring, tedious work, including research.

Work like:

  • Maintaining multiple social media accounts, even on platforms you despise (FUCK YOU YAHOO GROUPS)
  • Editing the same passage multiple times to fix minor (but critical) sentence-level errors until your own words start to look like some incomprehensible dialect of Klingon
  • Filing paperwork with the IRS
  • Researching publishers
  • Trying to wrap your head around jargon-heavy contract language
  • Tailoring queries, checking and double-checking you're sending the right thing to the right person at the right time
  • Reading a LOT within the genre, even stuff that's terrible or that you don't personally enjoy, because you need to understand the shape of who's writing and reading what (okay this one is often pretty awesome because reading is the BEST)
  • etc. etc. etc.  

I once told one of my hapless questioners that she should have a look at the Absolute Write Water Cooler (an absolutely invaluable resource for newbie and seasoned writers alike) and got a curt-borderline-nasty reply.

Because that's the difference between a writer and a wannabe. One thinks an idea and an inclination magically makes a bestselling book, and the other is willing to do all the butt-busting work in between.

Six days to "Cruce de Caminos"

Happy Tuesday! In case you missed it yesterday, I'm spending the week leading up to the release of "Cruce de Caminos" posting one-line teasers. Check out today's, and then stop by Riptide's website to read the full excerpt.

But he wasn’t taken, and whatever way he swung didn’t matter when someone else was pushing the swing.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Countdown to "Cruce de Caminos"!

Well, it's May 14th. That means in one week, "Cruce de Caminos" will be set out into the wild by the mad geniuses at Riptide Publishing! Just five days if you pre-order from the publisher! I'm so anxious I don't have fingernails left, and since I hear that a trouble shared is a trouble halved, I've decided to set my sights on making you all as antsy for this release as I am.

So here's how it's gonna go down. Every day for the next 5 days I'm going to post a one line teaser from the story. Now, if you visit Riptide's website, they've already got an excerpt up, but this here goes above and beyond. Also, I'm not giving you any context, because I'm evil like that.

So here's today's line:
It was different, actually planning it (huh, premeditated prostitution—prostitution in the first degree?), as opposed to stumbling into it like earlier. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Freebie Story Update!

First things first, you might remember Harm Reduction, our Valentine's freebie from earlier this year, which we wrote based on reader prompts. (And if you don't remember it, go read it, it's FREEEEE!)

Well, yesterday it got a mention on Dear Author ! Here's what reviewer Sunita had to say:
The sense of time and place in this short story is amazingly authentic, and the writing is very good. I badly wanted the story to be longer, because I didn’t want to let these characters go. No stereotypes, no trope abuse, just a moving, compelling slice of life.
She gave it an A- and dubbed it recommended! AWESOME!!!

And since people have been asking ever since it was first published, and Sunita mentioned it again yesterday... Yes, we are writing a follow-up to "Harm Reduction". It's early days, yet, but what I can tell you is that plans are for a novella or possibly novel-length work, told from Linley's point of view, and for the story to explore a bit of how Linley first became a hustler, his brief time with Julio and the twenty intervening years, and of course, their HEA in the present. So you know, a nice big meaty romantic story.

In the meantime, I can finally give you some more info about the story we wrote for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's Love is Always Write anthology! It's called "The War at the End of the World", and it's a paranormal historical with a very unconventional romantic pairing.

After its mystery release date within the Goodreads group, Storm Moon Press is releasing it as a freebie through their website and on ARe. Here's the cover and blurb:

September, 1941.

War correspondent Joseph Byrne has been cheating death all his life, ever since he spent two years in an iron lung as a boy diagnosed with polio. In the years since, the Fetch, a strange being charged by Death with collecting Joseph and transporting him into the unknown, has been condemned to watch and wait.

Now, with Joseph working in a Finland caught in a tug of war between Nazi and Soviet forces, it seems a foregone conclusion that the Fetch's sentence is at its end and Death will have Joseph for her own at last. Joseph, an openly Jewish American, has no doubt where his allegiance lies, no matter the danger. But after all these years at Joseph's side, watching him overcome adversity to grow into a brave and principled young man, the Fetch has come to realize that there are forces stronger and so much sweeter than even the purpose you were made for.

Alright folks, that's it for me for today. But tune in next week for our big release of Cruce de Caminos and to find all the info on our blog tour!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Pop Quiz: Cruce de Caminos Giveaway

Read our short story “Cruce de Caminos”, out May 21st from Riptide Publishing? Wondering if Sean gets sober? Mad at us for not giving the poor guy his much-deserved HEA? Curious about what other mythologies we’ve got up our sleeve? Want more?

The Druid Stone is an epic-length urban fantasy with M/M romantic elements and a HEA (we promise!), and it comes out from Carina on August 6th, 2012.

Sean never asked to be an O'Hara, and he didn't ask to be cursed by one either.  
After inheriting a hexed druid stone from his great-grandfather, Sean starts reliving another man's torture and death... every single night. And only one person can help.  
Cormac Kelly runs a paranormal investigation business and doesn’t have time to deal with misinformed tourists like Sean.  But Sean has real magic in his pocket, and even though Cormac is a descendant of legendary druids, he soon finds himself out of his depth…and not because Sean's the first man he's felt anything for in a long time.  
The pair develop an unexpected and intensely sexual bond, but are threatened at every turn when Sean's case attracts the unwelcome attention of the mad sidhe lords of ancient Ireland. When Sean and Cormac are thrust backward in time to Ireland's violent history—and their own dark pasts—they must work together to escape the curse and save their fragile relationship.
If you’ve read “Cruce de Caminos”, you can win a free e-copy of The Druid Stone when it comes out in August! How? Just take the following quiz all about “Cruce de Caminos” and email us your answers. There’s no Cliffs Notes for this one, folks, but you may be able to find a few clues if you stop by the blogs we visit on our "Cruce de Caminos" blog tour.

Ready? Clean off your desks and get out your pencils. And remember, no cheating! Please don’t post your answers in the comments here, email us instead! 

Alright, flip over your tests and begin!

  1. At which New Orleans landmark does Sean have coffee with his girlfriend Cristina?
  2. Sean believes that Ángel is being “ridden.” In the context of the religion Santería, what does he mean?
  3. Sean is offered three “jobs” in one night. Which one does he turn down?
  4. What color is Ángel’s hoodie?
  5. Sean and Ángel’s john assumes an alias that’s based on a brand of whiskey, but Sean has a different association. What is the name he demands they call him?
  6. Which cartoon character does Cristina contrast herself to?
  7. Ángel warned him, but he didn’t listen. How much does Sean earn when he “gets into the wrong car”?
That's it, boys and girls, time’s up. Make sure your name and the date are at the top of your paper, and when you’re ready, email me at (at) with your answers pasted into the body of the e-mail (no attachments please!). You have until July 1st to get those entries in.

Quizzes with 100% correct answers will be entered into the draw to win a copy of The Druid Stone. Two lucky winners will take it home!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Heidi's Top 5 Kinks (and where to find them)

So a while back Violetta was agonizing over needing to write a blog but not having a topic to write on that wasn't miserably depressing/furiously angry. I graciously offered her a topic I'd been thinking of: Top 5 Kinks and Where To Find Them. And now I've finally decided to do my own. BUT I THOUGHT OF IT FIRST. And hey, maybe we could make a meme of it!

So here's my list. Ready to learn way more about my personal tastes than you ever wished you knew?

1. Non-con, Dub-con, and Consent Issues (Misc.)

For anyone who knows me, this will come as nooooooo surprise. Erotica that stretches (or breaks) the boundaries of consent is a kink for a lot of women, many of them survivors like me. There's a lot of reasons why rape turns us on so much, a lot of them centring around the extreme power dynamics or the fact that erotica allows us to safely explore the darkest most taboo parts of human sexuality. Violetta and I wrote a big catch-all post about it on the Storm Moon Press Blog here: Like It Or Not: Breaking and Bending Consent in Erotic Fiction.

For me, it's about the power exchange, but also about how it often incorporates my other kinks, like bondage, sado-masochism, and humiliation (featured below). So for example, a traditional yaoi scene where the bottom says "no" but means "yes" and ultimately ends up loving it (and his rapist) really isn't my personal cup of tea.

Where to find it:
If you're looking for an extreme experience, it's gotta be Anchored, by Rachel Haimowitz.
Warning: this book is NOT for the faint of heart, and even people who enjoy extreme BDSM often find it to be too much for them. It's violent, unflinching, psychologically intense... just how I like it.
If you'd like something that plays with consent in a less drastic way, try Like It Or Not, an anthology edited by SL Armstrong and April L'Orange, which advertises itself as "push[ing] the boundaries of consent without fully breaking them." (Also, I'm in this one! Yaaay!)

2. Comeplay
I don't know what it is about come that gets me going so much, but I love it. I love descriptions of it. I love reading about people eating it, swapping it, getting covered in it... okay you get the point. The only thing I don't particularly like is bukkake, because it has a tendency to feel somewhat impersonal. For me the appeal of come is all in the trust and affection and submissiveness that comes with allowing yourself to  overcome our taboos against bodily fluids for your sexual partner's pleasure.

Where to find it:
Try Collared, by Kari Gregg. This book has a lot going on: two simultaneous relationships, dystopian slavefic (but in a 'consensual' context here), chemically induced subby-sub sub that borders on seme/uke dynamics... but it's all finished off with a mind searingly hot scene with some of the best comeplay I've ever read. Seriously. Yowza.

3. Toys
Dildos and floggers and vibrators and restraints, oh my! I used to work in a sex shop, so I have a soft spot for the many delightful inventions we use to enhance sex. Weirdly, in this genre sex toys seem to mostly crop up in kinky BDSM stories, which suits me just fine of course, but it does seem a little bit strange that I've only very very rarely read stories of more vanilla relationships where toys are incorporated into the couple's sex life. It's not all cat-o-nine-tails and ball-gags, after all. Cock rings and blindfolds and even fuzzy handcuffs, as silly as they seem, are all things couples can use even if they don't know what a "safe word" is.

Where to find it:
Power Play: Resistance by Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz. Of course, having said that my recommendation is the super duper kinky bondage epic. But what can I say? Jonathan the dom in this story's relationship is a billionaire with a big well-stocked dungeon and Grant and Haimowitz are absolutely gleeful to take advantage of that fact. Unlike many stories where sex toys are touched on or used for quick kicks and then quickly forgotten in favour of more straight forward penis-in-orifice sex, here the various scenes revolve around the toys and they are absolutely essential to the dynamic of the scene and the overall plot. If you're into extreme kink, there's pretty much a little bit of something for everybody. For me, it's gotta be how it hits my very very favourite toy-related button: having something (vibrator, dildo, plug, etc.) inserted for a long period of time, only to be removed at the Dom's say-so. Oh yes please!

4. Dirty Talk
Maybe it's just the fact that I grew up in a household where "God damn" or "this sucks" or even "fart" (yes, really) were swear words and could get you a mouthful of dishsoap, but damn does reading dirty talk get my metaphorical motor running. Now of course, erotica is kind of dirty talk in and of itself, since dirty words kind of come with the territory, but there's something extra special about characters with their distinct voices and quirks and hang-ups doing the dirty talking. Dirty talk can be humiliating, can play into D/s, or can introduce tension and conflict or humour or even tenderness to a scene, and the best part is how personalized it is to the characters, adding another dimension beyond the choreography of how bodies fit together. (Not that there aren't other ways of doing this, of course, but dirty talk is my personal favourite.)

Where to find it:
Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov. I could have picked several books to satisfy this particular kink, among them another of Voinov's offerings, the phone sex "episode" of his Dark Soul series, "Dark Whisper". However, Country Mouse stands out as a particular favourite because of how the dirty talk is perfectly incorporated into the rest of the story, an m/m that is pretty much a by-the-numbers rom com with a light D/s twist. The witty British-style banter and back-and-forth between the characters as they rub each other the wrong and right ways is really what carries the entire story, and the sex scenes are no exception, helping to incorporate the dirty stuff perfectly into the tone of the rest of the book. Hot and funny!

5. Humiliation
This is a weird kink for me because I'm terribly particular about it. There's a fine line between it being incredibly hot, and making me feel uncomfortable or overcome by second hand embarrassment. I don't know where the line is. I just know that when it's good, it's really, really good.

I like narratives where a submissive person willingly humiliates themselves or allows themselves to be humiliated out of obedience to another person. The way love and shame and pride can get all mixed up.
But I also love it in certain non-consensual contexts, where humiliation is used to make abuse that much more dehumanizing and shameful. Both of these narratives, though, I like from the perspective of the person being humiliated, not the one doing or directing the humiliating. If I can't see inside the humiliated person's head, or I'm not expected to sympathize with them, it can quickly veer into making me feel like I am a mean-spirited voyeur, or someone victimizing them.

Where to find it:
The Rosas of Spanish Harlem, by Johnny Miles. This book isn't for everyone: Miles comes from a gay erotica background, and the language he uses and the scenarios he depicts reflect that. This really, really isn't M/M according to genre conventions, and honestly as a romance it's not terribly convincing, but as a pornographic book, it's top fucking notch. Just so long as you're not squeamish. Hell, I'm not, and this book still had me blushing at a couple of points. The basic jist of the humiliation aspect is that the story follows an eighteen year old man still trying to figure out his sexuality and desperate for new experiences to satisfy his urges. There's forced feminization, anonymous sex, rough and rude tops, humiliating language... you get the idea. Check out the excerpt and see if it's your bag. Because if it is, it won't disappoint.

So what are your kinks? Got any recs, either that suit your own tastes or maybe you think I should give a read based on your new intimate knowledge of me? Drop me a comment!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Happy May!

Hello from Ireland!

I'm visiting my in-laws in my husband's hometown of Athy, Co. Kildare. Been poking through old graveyards, drinking Guinness (and Bulmer's!), listening to traditional Irish music at a Clancy's pub backroom session, and dodging rain. My vacation here is almost over, but I won't have much time to recuperate when I return, because I've got a very busy month ahead of me!

Addiction drives Sean O'Hara to a critical crossroads. Will he make the right decision, or will the floodwaters bound for New Orleans sweep him away?

First up, my erotic horror "Cruce de Caminos", written with Violetta Vane, comes out from Riptide Publishing on May 21st as a part of their Riptide Rentboys line of stories. However, it's already available for pre-orders, and if you buy it any time before the 21st you get to read it May 19th AND you get entered in Riptide's Free Books for a Year drawing. You can also buy the whole collection of stories and starting May 7th get each of the four e-books on their individual release days at a 20% discount! That's a story a week for the entire month of May for less than twelve dollars!

Secondly, I'm sad to say that Like It Or Not, Storm Moon Press's non-con anthology that includes our stolen-by-the-fairies short "Salting the Earth", has had its release delayed. It will now come out June 1st. You can still pre-order it, and hopefully as the month goes on I'll be able to give you a few delicious teasers of this incredibly decadent, unapologetically hedonistic, exceptionally perverted story.

And that's it for May, but keep an eye out in June for "Salting the Earth", our free historical short "The War at the End of the World" written for the Goodreads M/M group's Love is Always Write event anthology, and last but not least our debut novel-length work: the super romantic ghost story Hawaiian Gothic, which comes out from Loose Id on June 12th.