Thursday, October 29, 2009
Here it is, the end of October, and NaNo is almost upon us.
I confess that I've never participated in the event before, and initially wasn't that interested. This summer, I had the fantastic experience of doing several 2 week Fast Draft challenges with a small group of authors, and for me, the results were amazing. It seems that while I suck at deadlines, when I issue a challenge to myself, I'm capable of more than I give myself credit for.
So...just days away and I haven't begun preparations yet. In fact, the project that I intended to focus on might not be appropriate. How can I write Book 4 of Bad Angels when I haven't even drafted Book 3? LOL! Oh well...
That's what the Drawing Board is for.
When I first enrolled in college, I was a pretty good student in most of my subjects. Unfortunately, I had major problems in algebra. Not math, not geometry...just algebra. Testing indicated a fairly rare and specific learning disability, and the school promptly assigned me a tutor. What I learned from her was the use of white boards and colored markers to delineate an equation. Later on, when I began writing plays, I used this same method to track scenes, acts and characters.
Let me explain some of my tricks. When I'm creating a character, or even if I'm blocked, I write the name of the problem character (or situation) in the center of the board, and then circle it. From there, I send out a line with the name of the first character that comes to mind. Then the next, and so forth. They all get their own circles and lines out to other characters. Pretty soon, there's a network that expands from that central character. It's a bit messy, but gets all the threads out of my head and into a physical context that I can stand back and look at.
Another trick I use is free association. I just sit down and think. I use a large yellow pad and set a time line for the story, and jot down all the possible directions the story could go. Or I bend the ear of a poor unfortunate listener and babble on about everything that's flooding my brain. Unfortunately, if I don't record it, most of that drifts away on the ether...
When I'm actually writing and feel the story is vague or without a clear plot, I use a variation of the Snowflake Method. I write a sentence summarizing the book. Next comes a paragraph that expands on the sentence. From there, each sentence is given its own paragraph. That's a neat trick for really pinning down your project. It also works really well to write your book's summary.
Well, hope there was something of worth in this late night post. I'm off to bed to dream about Bad Angels.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Leather was initially scheduled for a December release, so imagine my surprise when I got a note from my publisher Sunday night, letting me know it would be up for sale on Wednesday! Well, it was a good surprise, because the buzz on the book has been building.
Leather came about as many of my books do, because of a personal challenge. I was trying to pull heroes from unlikely sources, and to go against the 'alpha' type. Pierce Wilder is an unlikely hero: he's a porn star. And though the book is erotic romance, the majority of the sex takes place on the film set, rather than in his love story. (Don't worry, it's there too! LOL!)
Pierce Wilder has found new success playing a Dom in internet porn, but in real life, the big, butch actor is really quite soft and easy-going. He has real issues trying to figure out where exactly his onscreen persona is coming from. When his fans start calling him "Master Wilder" he is distinctly uncomfortable. As Pierce begins dating a woman he views as 'normal' he struggles to blend his vanilla fantasies with the reality of who and what he is.
Researching this book was sad, intruiging and slightly heart-breaking. I didn't exactly do thesis level research on it, but still learned more about the adult film industry than I was completely comfortable with. It also contains a brief reference to something that happened to me as an underage teen when I briefly ran away from home and ended up in the Greyhound Depot in downtown Los Angeles. I didn't realize at the time just how vulnerable I was, and later discovered that the well-meaning adults that offered me food and shelter were actually evil, dangerous people. Fortunately for me, I had a ride waiting. I saw other young people walking away with them.
This was also my first time playing with BDSM, and again, I did it "my way," treating it as a plot device for Pierce's films rather than a lift-style choice.
On a lighter note, I nick-named this book, "A Porn Star Fairy Tale" because I grew to love Pierce so much, that I wanted to give him every possible happiness by the end of the book. So the 'happily for now' ending was tweaked a little bit.
My thanks to New Concepts Publishing for taking a chance on a book that doesn't quite fit in the box. And I truly hope you enjoy it!
Click the link below for an excerpt:
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Toxic was a bit of a family project. I had the kernel of an idea for this story, but just couldn't flesh it out. When I was batting around ideas one day, I blurted out that I'd love to have Rico the werewolf wake up in Dr. Briony Theale's vet clinic, naked and trapped in a dog crate. From there, we got silly, exchanging wild ideas (most of which never made it to the manuscript) and just cracking of over the potential disaster of a werewolf dating a vet.
In the end, the characters came to life and the story actually kick-started a series idea that I'd been playing with for nearly a year. Will there be more Truckee Wolves? Stay tuned!
Sex and Chocolate: Toxic releases at Changeling Press October 16.
Sex and Chocolate: Toxic
There are three things that Dr. Briony Theale loves. Her job as a veterinarian, a good bar of rich, dark chocolate, and Rico, the new ranger in charge of the Wildlife Rescue center. When a casual dinner with the mysterious Rico turns surprisingly intimate, Briony realizes that she might just have a chance with him after all, if only she could lose a few pounds. It’s the ultimate sacrifice, but Briony goes cold turkey, and swears off chocolate forever.
Rico Montgomery fell hard for Briony the first time he set eyes on the curvy little doctor. Her brown hair and cocoa skin trigger cravings that he can barely control, and her fragrance is like the sweetest, richest chocolate he’s ever scented in his life. That’s a bad thing for Rico, because to a werewolf like him, chocolate is literally a toxin.
Rico can’t live with it, and Briony can’t live without it. And when a certain wandering wolf finds a bag of chocolate in the trash near Briony’s clinic, these two will find out just how toxic love can be.
* * *
Genre: Paranormal/Shapeshifters, interracial, BBW
Content Warning: adult language
* * *
“Dr. Briony, you have a call on line two.” Amy gave an impish smile. “It’s Ranger Rick from the Wildlife Rescue.” She waggled a pale blonde brow.
“It’s Rico, not Rick.”
“Well, he’s a ranger and looks just fine in that uniform.”
That he did. Briony’s belly tightened at the mention of his name. Butterflies danced alongside the slight chocolate euphoria she was experiencing. “I’ll take it in my office.”
“Sure you will. Are you guys having phone sex yet?”
God, why did she keep the girl around? It wasn’t bad enough that Amy was a smart-mouthed kid, but at the age of nineteen, she was the poster child for the perfect
Briony was brown. She didn’t even have the satisfaction of saying she was African American or Latino. She lived as a chocolate woman in a vanilla community. Sometimes Bree felt like the ultimate outsider, an eclectic mix of races that left her with brown skin, brown eyes, and even brown hair. She certainly didn’t have a bikini body, but she didn’t let that keep her away from the water. Part of the reason she’d moved to
In the summers she spent every spare moment at the crystalline lakes and rivers, kayaking and swimming. In the winters, she explored the back country on her cross country skis. She’d grown up without money and had still managed to graduate from UC Davis Veterinary School. When Briony decided she wanted something, she gathered up her courage and went after it.
Well, all except for the man waiting for her to answer his call. She’d never found the nerve to pursue him.
Rico Montgomery. The first time she’d seen him, she’d nearly had a spontaneous orgasm. Her body wanted to have his children. She’d contemplated tripping him and beating him to the floor.
He was six feet two inches of dark-haired, gray-eyed, chiseled beefcake, and this beefcake had brains. He wore his tan uniform shirt to perfection, and his Smokey the Bear hat threw her into the most delicious fantasies of her life. But face-to-face with the man, she was a wreck.
She stared down at the blinking light on the phone. “I am woman, hear me roar.” She took a deep breath. Her fingers trembled as she lifted the handset. “This is Dr. Theale.”
“Hi Dr. Briony, it’s Rico at Rescue.”
“Unhh… hello, Rico.” Oh, that was brilliant. Just brilliant. “What can I do for you today?” Maybe a full body massage? Or hell, let’s just go for broke… a blow job? She shivered, imagining wrapping her mouth around his cock. Just for fun, she’d dribble chocolate sauce over it first. In fact, she’d like to cast that phallus of his in chocolate. That way, she could have the best of both worlds…
Briony’s head dropped to the desk, her face hot with embarrassment. This was how she acted around the man over the phone! The idea of seeing him in person just blew her dignity out the window.
“Well, I wanted to see if you could make a house call today. I’ve got an injured falcon that’s just come in.”
She could almost hear the smile in his voice. Rico Montgomery was a walking wet dream of a man. There was no doubt in her mind he knew exactly what she was thinking. He had to be accustomed to women losing their cool around him.
“Let me see, I’m short-handed today.” Briony booted up her scheduling calendar for the day. “I’m booked pretty solid for the next couple hours, but I can come out right after my last appointment… say 5:30?”
“That’d be awesome. And since it’s on your own time, dinner’s on me tonight.”
Dinner on Rico. She imagined licking gravy from his navel and stifled a giggle. “Oh, really… that’s okay…” Her chocolate-filled stomach lurched. Briony wasn’t sure if it was nausea, nerves or arousal.
“No problem, I’m on baby birds till later tonight. Gotta grab dinner sometime.”
Briony stood and paced a bit, dragging the phone cord across her cluttered desk. A pile of books crashed to the floor. “Damn! Uh… sorry, just dropped something.”
His laugh was as rich as melted chocolate in her ear. “Is pizza okay? I usually do an all meat combo. I’m a carnivore, you know.”
Damn, even pizza talk sounded sexy coming from Rico’s mouth. “Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll see you in a couple hours then.”
They made their goodbyes and Briony put the phone back into its base on her desk.
“Hot date with the ranger?” Amy was leaning against the doorjamb.
“No, an injured falcon. He’s working late too, so we’re just…”
“Having dinner together.”
“It’s not a date.”
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
“Kaine, this is Nestor.”
“Just wanted to let you know he’s back and mostly okay.”
“Oh God … thank God for that. How is he?”
“Well, he’s not talking much, won’t go in his house, so I’m setting him up in one of the new cabins up in the trees. Looks like he’s been living off grass since … you know ... the funeral.”
“He probably has. He’s probably been running hard, too. Don’t have to think when you’re running.”
“Yeah, his hooves are beat up so bad, he’ll have to stay in man form for awhile.”
“She’s still shaky. Hysterical a lot of the time. I’m sending her to stay in Texas till Dorian gets his feet back under him. Rumors about what happened have gotten out, and none of the other Alphas want to deal with her. I don’t know, Kaine. Don’t know how we’re gonna pull this one together. Anyhow, she wants to go through her sister’s things, I figure Blue won’t mind since he won’t go anywhere near the place. I had to go pack a suitcase for him.”
“Okay. Listen, Nestor, I’ll catch the next flight out and pick him up. Iris can stay on as long as you need her.”
“Iris has been a lifesaver with Chloe gone. I can’t tell you how distressed everyone is. Lots of grief.”
“I should imagine. Chloe was well loved.”
“Kaine, about him going with you … I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think he should stay on here at the Siskiyou Compound.”
“He’s my brother, Nestor. He’s gonna need me.”
“I know, Kaine, but frankly, if he leaves, it’s really gonna throw the compound into a tailspin. These people have been his family for a decade now. I think he needs to face this thing down here. He can’t run away from it.”
“This isn’t a suggestion, Kaine. Nor is it a request. He stays. It’s hard for him, but I’ve got the other members up here that can help him. They need to help him.”
Kaine hung up the phone without responding. He knew it was rude, but he didn’t care. He sat down at his PC and went online, purchasing tickets-- one out, two back. The hell with Nestor. He was bringing Dorian home.
He was going to reject her request.
Phaedre schooled down her frustration and took a deep breath. She mentally reviewed her arguments and rationalizations for seeking out an Equis for her extraordinary request. A specific Equis. She needed a Soul Keeper. Humbly, Phaedre folded her hands in her lap, gently resting her palms upward. Chiron Nestor’s shaggy head didn’t move as he pored over her application, but nevertheless, she was certain that his huge, liquid eyes didn’t miss the symbolic gesture. This man hadn’t single-handedly created paradise on an otherwise hostile Earth for his Equis race by being non-observant.
“This is difficult, Phaedre Goode. Very difficult.” His accent was sultry and flowing. She’d heard many accents over the years, but couldn’t place his origin. Not unusual, as he’d been born in another, earlier century.
He sifted through a stack of medical records and signed statements from Phae’s physicians and specialists, spiritual counselors and psychologists. “You have a great deal of professional support behind your request, but I still have difficulty with how and why you sought us out.” Carefully, he laid the papers in organized stacks. She’d sent copies to him two weeks prior to her visit, so Phae knew he’d already made himself familiar with her records.
Chiron Nestor carefully folded his large hands on the desk pad in front of him. His vivid blue eyes scanned Phaedre’s face, seeking deception behind her serene, Madonna-like beauty. She allowed him to hold eye contact with her for an extended period. The nostrils of his strong Roman nose flared slightly as he assessed her by scent. She’d been mentally prepared for an extensive sensory scan, but still, it made her feel slightly uneasy to know that he was seeing and smelling her in a way she’d never been examined before. She had no doubt he could also hear the rhythm of her heart and the pattern of her breathing. Phaedre was uneasy, but felt no difficulty in sharing those feelings.
He was stunning, the first Equis she’d ever met in person. This was also the public face of Chirons, as they titled themselves, after their mythic ancestor. Chiron Nestor’s face was weathered and rugged, with unusually large, bright blue eyes, and strong bone in his cheeks and jaw. He was what the horse world called a strawberry roan, which in this man, translated to multi-hued, reddish hair with a strong, white blaze running from his forehead back a couple inches. The white streak swung to the side of his face, shading his eyes when he looked down.
When she’d seen him on television, he’d always worn a suit, his hair neatly combed off his face, usually in a neat, business-like cut. Today, it was loose and riotous, dropping well past his collar in deep waves. He was dressed like a rancher, in denims, a tee shirt and dusty, scuffed boots. Her eyes dropped to the top of the desk. His hands were long and strong, the nails unusually thick compared to hers. She knew he was over one hundred years old, but nobody really knew how long the Equis lived, or how often they reproduced. He’d managed to bring them to the public eye, securing their safety and freedom, while at the same time ensuring his species of privacy and self-determination.
Twenty years ago, the first known Equis had been captured in the rugged landscape of the Rocky Mountains. He’d been tending a herd of wild Mustangs, and had fought back when some enterprising rustlers rounded them up. Chiron Kaine had been tormented and exploited by his captors, who maintained that the shape-changer was not human, thus, entitled to no rights under US law. He’d been purchased by a government lab, and held for extensive testing and research.
That Equis had been sequestered from the public eye, abused and unmonitored, until some of the grad students assigned to him rebelled and took matters into their own hands. They leaked photos and documents exposing the abuse that he suffered. Those students had been arrested, accused of espionage, and expelled from their respective institutions. Their personal sacrifices had not been futile. Shortly after that exposure Nestor stepped forward, lawyers and activists at his side, fighting the good fight for his people, for the captive and for the students who fought for this helpless Equis.
Since that time, small pockets of Equis had emerged around the world, eventually migrating to the properties that Nestor and the other leaders had obtained as Sanctuary for their people. The Equis attained sovereignty within their respective countries. They were self-governing, extremely private, and amazingly industrious.
The little community of Mt. Shasta City was eclectic in nature, and had gladly embraced the concept of centaurs in their midst, along with Big Foot, the Lemurians and miscellaneous religious organizations. While the Equis rarely ventured out in public in their natural half-form, the friendly locals rarely batted an eye if they encountered one in town, casually reading a paper or checking out a community bulletin board. With its clean air and endless forests, the Siskiyous were the perfect haven for the Equis.
Phaedre couldn’t see out the large window behind her, but she knew it offered a gorgeous panorama of Mt. Shasta to the west, with casually landscaped grounds rolling away from the office. The area of the compound she had been allowed into reminded her of an upper-crust campground, complete with a large lake and a flagpole. An American flag took its position at the top of the pole, followed by the California Grizzly, and a third flag with the silhouette of a rearing horse against a rising sun. That flag flew over every Equis Sanctuary and compound around the world.
Phaedre endured Nestor’s scrutiny in calm silence, even allowing herself to meet his steady gaze.
“You are remarkably calm, young woman.” She nodded, no answer seemed to be necessary. “Would you tell me the how and why, please?” His slight accent was a bit stronger than she’d heard on the television interviews, but very pleasant to the ear.
“How and why?” Phaedre collected her thoughts. “My husband passed away about two years ago. I became aware that his soul came into the keeping of one of your people. I suppose you wish to know how I became aware of this?” He nodded, hiding his concern.
Phaedre realized that the existence of the Soul Keeper was a closely guarded secret, known to only a few in the world outside of the Equis. Their existence would create an even wider gulf between human and Equis.
“If I am correct, when a person dies, their soul leaves their body, and migrates to wherever they are supposed to go. In some instances, that soul cannot accept that it is time to move on, so they stay here in a limbo state.” He nodded again, neither confirming nor denying her suppositions. “My husband died unexpectedly. We were just married and planning our future when his life was taken in an accident. We’d been at the doctor that day and had discovered that I was pregnant. The accident happened on the way home. I wasn’t badly injured, but nevertheless, went into shock. I lost the baby and my husband within twenty minutes of getting the positive test.” Phaedre paused, aware of how choppy and stiff she sounded. She cleared her throat, trying to return to her normal tone. She breathed deeply, willing her composure to hold.
“After recovery, my life never got back on track. Grieving is to be expected, but I began to have disturbing dreams as well. Steven was calling me. Sometimes, I saw him … or thought I saw him. I’d see him reflected in a window, or on a street. Once even in my home. It was like being haunted. After a month, the sightings stopped, but the dreams continued. Initially, they were grief-stricken, frightened. But eventually, they changed. I began to dream of a place, a people. Sometimes, I caught the sight of horses running, but they weren’t always horses.”
Nestor watched her carefully, listening to her improbable story.
“I felt Steve in the dreams, but he was confused at where he was and what he saw. He wasn’t frightened, but confused. Eventually, he grew content and peaceful. Last month, he showed me the mountain, and I realized he was here, with one of yours. He’s ready to move on, so I want to be part of that.”
“Were you able to see who his Keeper is? Do you have a name? We have many Soul Keepers among us.” It wasn’t quite a lie. There were several known Soul Keepers, but only one in Mt. Shasta. Nestor watched as the woman in front of him bit her lip and shook her head. Apparently, she didn’t even think it odd that he accepted her story without skepticism.
“I never caught an identity. Just color, blue and white. But not blue like the sky, blue that is so dark that it’s almost black. Sadness. Depression. That’s why I waited so long to come. I didn’t want to impose on this person.”
Dorian. Chiron Dorian. Of course she sensed pain, he’d lost his wife shortly before he’d taken this man’s soul into his keeping. Like humans, Equis were not strictly monogamous. However, unlike humans, when a Chiron joined with their life partner, the bond was for life, and their lives could be very long. Dorian and Chloe had married almost a century ago. They had never been gifted with offspring. Dorian had been walking a path of despair for years now. Chloe had been the other half of his existence.
Nestor tented his fingers and rested them softly in front of his mouth. It was an odd habit, but Phaedre liked it. He looked prayerful, meditative.
“Phaedre Goode, I know who you speak of. Your request may not be possible, but there may be a compromise. I will speak to the Chiron and return to you later.”
He rose, giving her little else to go on. “Do you have a hotel in town?” She nodded. It was late season at the ski resort, so she’d managed to rent a little cabin at a secluded motel. “Please return tomorrow at this time. I will speak to you again.”
She’d been dismissed. Just like that. Nestor escorted Phaedre to the little hybrid car she’d recently purchased. She’d done without a vehicle after Steven’s death, it wasn’t really that important to have a car in the Bay Area. She’d purchased this thinking that she’d use it to travel the country a bit. She’d never really played tourist in her own state. Well, she could start with the rest of this day. Go see if she could find herself a Lemurian.
Heavy with disappointment, Phaedre buckled up and pulled away, driving out of the compound. It had been too much to ask, really. Chiron Nestor wouldn’t be interested in helping her with her little science experiment. Hell, if someone had asked her the same thing, she’d have slapped their face. But her baby had died. Her tiny son or daughter hadn’t had the chance to enter the world, and she owed it that chance. She owed Steve. Hell, she owed herself some happiness.
* * * *
The Equis owned hundreds of acres here, and it backed onto wild BLM land. They had endless ground to roam, to indulge their need for privacy. Driving through the compound, Phaedre spotted a small herd of horses running into the hills. The Equis bred some of the best purebred horses in the country. She’d seen a small group of appaloosa near the front office, while this herd looked like quarter horses. Phaedre wondered if those she saw now were real horses, or Equis in full horse form.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a lone stallion angle away toward the road and break into a canter. For a moment, she thought she saw a man form above the horse, but it was gone by the time she looked. The piebald was reverse from the norm, an inky black body with white splashed markings. The black was so rich that it was almost blue in the sun. He tossed his white-striped mane, flicked his tail and bucked slightly, bringing a smile to her face. Phaedre slowed the little car to pace him for a few moments, and then he was gone, fading into the tree line.
That was when the tears hit. She fought them back, dug for a tissue and pulled the car to a stop right in the middle of the road. “Oh God ...oh Steve .…” She sobbed hard, confused at the sudden surge of loss. Surrendering to the sensation, she let it roll over, then through her heart. As suddenly as it came, the emotional storm passed. Phae blew her nose, wiped her eyes and put the car into gear. She didn’t see the Equis standing in the shadows of the tree line, head bowed, front hoof pawing at the soft ground, tears streaming down his all too human face.
You can purchase Soul Keeper at Here: http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/soulkeeper.htm
It's also available at Fictionwise