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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year Giveaway...The Kitchen Sink!!!

As in..."Everything but..."
Yup, I'm getting one of those "If it fits, it ships" boxes and I'm going to just grab stuff from my swag and giveaway stash. And if you know me, you know I giveaway some cool stuff!

So, how to enter? If you've participated at all this month, you are entered. If you have won, you can win again. If you want to enter again...every comment counts. I'm going to pull a random comment from those that have shown up on my blog in December, so yes, you can enter more than once.

Please tell me on this blog, just one of your New Year's resolutions. And to start, in 2012, I resolve to pay $1000 straight onto the principal of my house.

How about you?

Belinda

Saturday, December 24, 2011

No Sunday Drawing this week...

But I'll be doing a big drawing on New Year's Eve! I'll post details later this weekend! Merry Christmas, all!

Belinda

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free To Fly is Free!


I've just ventured out into the world of self-publishing! Its just a little experiment with Free To Fly, the short I wrote for the M/M Readers at Goodreads this summer. I've expanded it a little bit and put in more better words, and a hot, hot new cover by the wonderful Fiona Jayde.

So head on over to Smashwords and give it a try...like I said, its free!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/116211

Blurb:

Chef Vincent Sala is big, gruff and definitely on the rough end of the spectrum. His partner Daniel McGee is a smooth, urbane young professional. Their romance took off like fireworks, but lately, Danny is painfully unhappy and Vince is about ready to hit the road.

An explosive confrontation reveals an unexpected twist in their relationship and Vince sees a small glimmer of hope. The question is, can he step up and give what Danny needs to make him fly?

m/m romance, BDSM

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Upping the ante for my Sunday drawing...


OK, this week, I"m going to draw for a piece of artwork by Christie "Goldenwolfen" Grandjean. This week's winner will receive an 8x10 print of "Echo" which is signed by the artist. The winner will also pick their own choice of "Dance" swag! (poster, tee shirt, notebook, mug)

So to play this time around, tell me what you want Santa to leave in your stocking....

Once again, I'll draw Sunday night via random number generator. :)

Good luck!

Belinda

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Week's Drawing...


Since it's December, I'm going to run a drawing every Sunday this month. I was hoping more swag would show up, but its not here yet. :( BUT...I still have tee shirts and posters, so the rules are the same; just leave a message and your email addy to be entered. I'll be drawing a winner Sunday night, and if the other goodies, come, I'll let you know!

Belinda

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blog Contest! Hurry, Hurry!


I just feel like giving something away. So, do you like my new Helios and Griffin art? Would you like something lovely, just in time for Christmas?

Well, comment right here on my blog and tell me if you'd like a tee shirt (XL) or a poster of this lovely image. I'll choose a random winner on Sunday, December 4, about midnight ET.

So again, reply here, tell me if you want a tee shirt or a poster. That's it. :)

For the entire month of December, I'll be doing Sunday drawings, so check in on Monday to see what I'm giving away next week!

Happy Tails!
Belinda

Hey Belinda, Where Have You Been?

Boy, I can’t believe it’s been well over a month since Gay Rom Lit and the release of ‘When I Fall.’ Generally when there have been a couple big events like this, I jump all over guest blogs and such, promoting my book and sharing my experiences.

First off, I apologize for not blogging about Gay Rom in New Orleans. It was a really special convention put on by a bunch of talented and dedicated authors and organizers. My congratulations to them! I got to reunite with some of my best writing buddies, meet lots of new people and see some dear friends face-to-face for the first time.

We stayed in the majestic Bourbon Orleans Hotel, and I have to say that the rumors of its hauntings appear to be quite valid. (especially given the mischievous entity that interacted with us in Lynn and Amanda’s room!) And of course, New Orleans is such a spectacular city. Every time I leave, I wish I could have had just another day.

When I returned, I noticed that my mother seemed…not well. She’s 76 years old and has had a few health issues this past year, but I was still concerned that she appeared to have come down with a flu bug. About a month ago, she got up on a Sunday morning came out to me in the living room.

“I need to go to the emergency room.”

Well, when my mother says something like that, I know that she probably should have gone days ago. She’s stoic, to say the least. And I was right, she’d developed an ulcer which had perforated, spilling all sorts of nasty stuff into her gut. Her gall bladder and pancreas then got into the act. It was a very dire emergency and we nearly lost her.

So the past few weeks have been pretty busy for me. There have been other crisis to weather, a few really major issues have affected members of my family. Plus, I’ve not only been caregiving for Mom and my niece KJ, (who has Angelman’s Syndrome) I’ve been doing the fencing in the dog yards, prepping Wyatt for a big circuit of shows he was scheduled to compete in, (7 wins in 8 shows!) And to confirm that I am indeed slightly demented, I competed in NaNoWriMo. LOL!

Today, Mom is on the couch next to me, complaining that she’s just so tired and weak. She hasn’t quite come to accept that she nearly died. I just returned from Stockton, where I watched Wyatt finish his championship and reclaimed my pooch. Because of NaNo, I’ve got nearly 40K on a Truckee Wolves novel and a start on a western ménage. It looks like things are returning to normal. Not the old normal, I’m not sure how long it’s going to take for my mother to recover fully. I may have to scale back on future conventions, but that’s ok for now. There are other ways to develop a writing career. Like…writing instead of traveling…LOL!

So welcome me back to the world of the living, folks! It’s good to be back where I belong!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Commissioned Artwork...drooling....drooling...

I bow at the feet of P.L. Nunn, who did this fantabulous commission for me.
If you haven't read 'When I Fall,' well, this is a hint of what you're missing...



(coming soon to some swag near you!)

http://www.loose-id.com/When-I-Fall.aspx

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Uhh...Oops...


You might have heard...there's a major continuity error between Uncommon Whore and When I Fall. :) Yeah, I read about it in a review and after saying "WTF?" to myself, I opened my files and looked. Yup. And it is a big one. This was a true head/desk moment.

In Book One, Maia is blonde, Lauren is brunette with an eyepatch. In Book 2, I switched them. Maia is now brunette with the patch and Lauren is blonde. I switched personalities as well.

After writhing in embarrassment for a few hours, I let the publisher know and have been assured that the book/s will be re-formatted and will reflect continuity within the story.

So how did this happen in the first place? After all, when I started the second book, the first thing I did was print and review my style sheet. (the 'bible' that keeps track of people, places and things in the Coalition Universe) I then re-read Belle Starr (there are crossover species and characters) and An Uncommon Whore. After When I Fall was finished, it was edited, line edited and checked for continuity before being formatted. There was an intimidating amount of data to review and cross-reference and every one of us missed that single glaring mistake. We could dive into excuses, but in reality, it was just a mistake.

Going back to Book One, I wrote Griffin's daughters as Maia: blonde and blue eyed, and Lauren: brunette with a maimed eye. A member of my family beta-read the book and pointed out to me that I have a grand-niece named Lauren with a disfigured eye. As I'd met her only twice, using the name and disability was probably coincidence, but still, it seemed insensitive to go forward as it was, so I swapped the names. I noted the change in my style notes but obviously never made the change in the final manuscript.

Moving on to When I Fall, I consulted my style guide and in reviewing the first book, didn't even notice the difference in the names. For the past year and a half, Maia and Lauren had developed distinct appearances and personalities in my mind. Since I was so comfortable with them, I never even considered double checking my portrayal of the girls. I guess I was literally blind to the change in names.

Boy, do I regret that omission.

Anyhow, I comfort myself with the fact that I'm merely human and normal typos and misspellings sometimes slip through. As far as mistakes go, it doesn't hold a candle to some of the horror stories other authors have to tell. For example, the mainstream romance with a typo that read "shitted" in place of "shifted." Or the cover where the hero's rippling pecs had a little something...extra...(a part that should have remained in his pants!) But those are so blatant and over-the-top that they're the stuff of legend. My mistake is just lame.

Still, I do strive to produce the best work possible, as does my publisher. I'm proud of writing for a company that holds its authors and team members to the highest possible standard. None of us are comfortable that this slipped through and there's plenty of chagrin going around. LOL!

So if you want those original, flawed e-files, get yourself to Loose Id as they'll be coming down for reformatting very soon. Who knows...they might end up as collector's items, available only on select pirate sites...

Belinda

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Exerpt: When I Fall


So I'm counting down the days...October 11 is not only release day for 'When I Fall,' but its the day I fly to New Orleans to Gay Rom! I'm busy with last minute details. And packing. And unpacking...

So, I thought I'd tempt you with a little excerpt from 'An Uncommon Whore 2: When I Fall'. Enjoy!

Blurb:

Sometimes revenge is a kinder fate than justice. – Helios Dayspring

As king, Helios Dayspring is desperate to secure the future of his people and their new homeworld. His memories are slowly returning, bringing with them danger and betrayal.
As the king’s consort, Griffin Hawke wrestles with growing isolation from his lover. As Helios’ secrets begin to come to light, he finds that he barely recognizes his lover anymore. Griffin is also haunted by his own secrets, as nightmares bring torture and death to his sleep.

When Helios and Griffin undertake a dangerous journey on behalf of their people, everything they fought for could be lost. Surrounded by enemies and allies, seductive aliens and dangerous operatives, Helios and Griffin find themselves tested to their physical and moral limits. Not knowing who to trust, they can only turn to each other.

Will you be there to catch me when I fall?

Excerpt:

He was on his feet again, crossing the floor to wrap his arms around me. “I am so sorry. Sometimes I forget to guard my tongue around your daughters.”

“It usually isn’t necessary to do so, but Maia’s been plagued by fears lately. It takes little to remind her of those times. Lauren as well.” Tilting my head, I unfastened the high collar of his jacket and then opened it the rest of the way. I slipped it from his body and tossed the expensive garment carelessly to the side. Helios clucked his tongue in disapproval but didn’t pull away.

“Mary will be vexed when she finds that coat wrinkled. I have only the one, you know.” He was smiling again, his humor directed at himself.

“I’ll hang it up later. Besides, you should probably have at least one more.” I leaned down and ran my lips over the smooth surface of his throat. Long ago he’d been inclined to be bristly, with ruddy whiskers by this time of the day. After his time as a slave on Warlan, he’d never grow facial hair again. Body hair either. I cherished the contrast between us; his skin felt like silk against mine. I reached behind him to unfasten the pin that held his hair in the tight knob and let the braids drop free. Then I slipped the bands from the ends of his braids and shook his hair loose. He sighed in relief as it came down.

“Mary enjoys playing with your hair as much as I do.” He leaned against me as I massaged his scalp.

“True, but your hand is gentler than hers. Wearing it so tight gives me a damn headache!” He slipped his arms around my waist, and for the moment, we were quiet. It occurred to me then that these were the moments I needed to harvest for the future. Simple moments of peace, love, and contentment. When I was an old man and looking back or when times once again would become hard, I would think back to holding Helios in my arms and the feeling of supreme happiness that surrounded us.

When he licked the skin of my neck, I suddenly forgot about those good intentions.

Just like that, contentment turned to lust, and I responded in both body and spirit. My fingers were still buried in his hair, so I tilted his head slightly and looked into his face.

And then I kissed him.

http://www.loose-id.com/When-I-Fall.aspx

Friday, September 23, 2011

Broken by Jessica Freely


What happens when the closeted younger brother of a mob boss falls for the boss's latest acquisition, a rent-boy from Hong Kong? Well that's what Broken, my new m/m romantic suspense is all about. Broken is available from Loose Id now: http://www.loose-id.com/Broken.aspx

Thank you for stopping by and helping me celebrate its release!

I'm very excited about this book and about the special events and activities I have going on in connection with it. I'm doing a virtual book tour , offering a behind the scenes peek at the making of Broken <http://www.friskbiskit.com/2011/08/behind-broken-podcast-1.html>, and I've got a special treat for my newsletter members <http://www.friskbiskit.com/2011/09/giving-ear.html>.

Please leave a comment to this post and you'll be entered to win a free copy of Broken. The winner will be announced at the end of the day.

Right now, though, I want to talk about something serious that's very close to my heart and to Belinda's: human trafficking. It's a tragic fact that slavery still exists. Human trafficking is considered to be a low-risk, high-profit crime and according to the United Nations, over twelve million people worldwide are bought and sold for forced labor and sexual exploitation. That's what's happened to Xiu, one of my main characters in Broken.

Fortunately, there's help available for those who, like Xiu, are caught up in the web of commerce and coercion that keeps human trafficking thriving. I want to introduce you to a wonderful organization called Polaris Project <http://www.polarisproject.org/index.php.> Founded in 2002 by two students at Brown University, it is now a leading nonprofit fighting human trafficking and modern-day slavery in the U.S. and around the world. Charity Navigator has awarded Polaris Project with its highest ranking of four stars for three years in a row, acknowledging the organization's commitment to effectively utilizing donations.

Polaris Project takes a comprehensive approach to the problem of human trafficking by providing direct assistance to those in need and helping create systemic changes to combat the crime. They operate a national human trafficking hotline and work to pass federal and state legislation to protect trafficking victims and bring traffickers to justice. Here's a link to just one example of the many ways in which Polaris Project helps people get out of trafficking situations: http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/the-nhtrc/call-vignettes/476-sex-trafficking-street-prostitution

In recognition of all of the real-life "Xiu's" still struggling for freedom, it feels appropriate to me to donate a portion of my proceeds from Broken's sales to Polaris Project. So, for the first four months of sales, half of what I earn on Broken will be donated to this worthwhile organization.

Please spread the word about Polaris Project and its cause.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Friend the Slave: Forced Labor in America

This week, I have a new release at Changeling Press. Generally, I'd take this week to promote the book on my blog, but in conjunction with Jessica Freely, the author of "Broken," we're going to talk about a couple real-life subject that are very ugly and painful. As authors, its not unusual for topics such as slavery and the Yakuza to be used at plot devices. In real life, these things are not sexy or romantic, and they are too, too real.

Please come back on the 23rd for Jessica's article on human trafficking and the Polaris Project.

The story that follows is true.

I once had a friend named…well…I can’t tell you his name. There’s a reason for that, as you’ll see once you read his story. For his privacy and his safety, I’ll call him Ken Tanaka.

Ken came into my life in the late 1990s. He’d moved to the US from Japan to make a career as a dog breeder and handler. For simplicity, I’m going to leave a lot of detail from the story, just suffice it to say that he and his wife and newborn moved to a small town about an hour away from me. By Northern California standards, we were practically neighbors. Ken and I used to travel to dog shows together and he mentored me and often handled my dog for me. In return, I helped him and his wife adapt to life in a rural area; they’d been living in Japanese communities in the Bay Area.

9/11 was a momentous day for obvious reasons. For me, I also look back on that as being the day that I failed my friend in the most tragic way possible. As my family watched the horror unfolding on television, Ken called me in a panic. His marriage had fallen apart the previous year but he’d been coping. That day, he needed my help for some reason; I don’t really remember what it was. I was hugely distressed and told him to watch the TV and call me back the next day. He didn't call back for a few weeks. He had taken a job in Sacramento and wanted to know if I could come down and take care of his kennel when he was working.

His construction business in Japan had folded and he needed a job to send money to his partner back home. The business was in debt and they didn’t have recourse to bankruptcy like we do in the US. Plus, his Japanese clients had abandoned their dogs with him and weren’t paying their handling and boarding bills. This situation seemed bad, but we had no idea what was really happening in his life.

Ken used to tell me about growing up in Osaka. He told me that he was lucky to have escaped the Yakuza; he’d been orphaned as a teen and was a prime recruit. He had absolute, utter fear and contempt for the Yakuza and mentioned them a few times over the years. I assumed that as he’d grown up, that threat had left his life. I now suspect that I was very, very wrong.

Just before Christmas, I visited Ken. He lived in a small mobile home and when I got there, he had no heat. His propane had been shut off. To my dismay, he had a bucket of charcoal burning in his living room, that’s all that kept him from freezing. It was a miracle he hadn’t died of carbon monoxide poisoning. His van was gone and he was riding a bicycle 15 miles to town for dog food. He was living on broccoli and rice. I took him shopping, he wrote checks on empty accounts.

I called a friend for advice, and she secretly paid his utilities and got his heat back on. Since it was the holidays, we brought food baskets to him for Christmas. For awhile, it looked like we’d averted the worst of the possible disasters. What didn’t make sense was that Ken was a master sushi chef and working in Sacramento from early morning till 11:00 every night…six days a week. He was exhausted from his work hours, yet he was broke. His van was gone...so how was he getting back and forth? It was a 100 mile drive.

I want to pause here. Ken was in the US legally. He had a green card and a Social Security card. I assumed he knew his rights under the law. He had no idea.

So…if Ken was working 60 to 80 hours a week…why was he starving? Why were his dogs starving? And where was his van? When he was gone, I dug into his paperwork. His bills were all delinquent and there were stacks of correspondence from Japan. Most was in Japanese but there were letters in English as well. They were mostly from a business acquaintance I’ll call Mr. A. Over the course of the year, Ken had paid tens of thousands of dollars to this man. He’d settled his debt, and suddenly, Mr. A wanted more.

Abruptly, things got worse. He was moved to a restaurant in Vallejo. His “employers” drove him home once a week to tend his dogs. They dropped him off and returned for him later; I never met any of the men. In the meantime, either my sister or I went down daily, trying to keep things together for him. We found homes for the abandoned dogs and returned others to their breeders. We discovered that Ken hadn’t been paid in weeks. His home was being foreclosed on. His van had been repossessed by his lender.

Another friend reported his employers to the Dept. of Labor and Ken received his back wages. For a brief time, things looked better. He got his van back and caught up on some bills. Abruptly he was moved again. And again. Alameda, Pleasanton, Vacaville, back to Sacramento…I eventually lost track of him. Since his dogs had been re-homed, I no longer needed to take care of his kennel. I dropped in and checked his property anytime I passed through, but everything was locked up tight. There was evidence that Ken had been home now and then, as his plants had been watered and the weeds had been cut.

One day I got a call, he wasn’t going home again and I was welcome to take whatever I wanted. He just walked away from everything…his artwork, his furniture and his personal possessions.

Over the next couple years, Ken dropped in at dog shows and I was alarmed to see that this skinny, frail man had lost even more weight. He told me he’d been living in his van outside the restaurant, but wouldn’t tell me where. His employers held his green card and he was afraid of being deported. We discussed the feasibility of his returning to Japan, but that idea seemed frightening to Ken.

At one point, I called his work and the manager of the restaurant screamed at me and wouldn’t let me talk to him. Another time I saw him at a dog show, he said he was now living in a small rental house, but “someone” had stolen his most precious possession…a custom sushi knife that his mentor had commissioned for him from a famous Japanese knife maker. It was worth thousands of dollars. He’d cherished that knife and was saving it until he opened his own restaurant.

Ken promised to come out to another dog show, but I never saw him again. But every few months, I did web searches, trying to pinpoint his location. After a couple years, I nearly gave up, assuming he’d returned to Japan.

And then something unexpected happened.

Remember I said that Ken was a master sushi chef? Well, he’s a Master Sushi Chef. As in…famous within the industry. When he worked in Alameda, his cooking was reviewed by a major critic. Culinary students began pestering him for training. He vanished again, but his fans and admirers followed him to Oakland. A major movie producer hired him to cater some of his parties. He began to train apprentices. I knew him as a superb dog trainer and groomer. A lot more people knew him as something else completely. In the end, I think that’s what saved him.

When we think of human trafficking, we generally think of sex slavery and prostitution. Forced labor is another major element of this vile industry and some of the major culprits are restaurants. I had no idea this sort of thing happened so I didn’t respond as I should have. There were red flags all over the place. Ken’s “employers” controlled his movements, limited his contacts with outsiders, worked him ridiculously long hours, took his papers and blackmailed him with the threat of deportation. They didn’t pay him and moved him whenever he drew attention from the authorities, his friends or his growing circle of admirers. They even controlled his health, taking him to the doctor when he needed attention, and allowing him a single meal a day. He lost weight, became fearful and paranoid and yet always told me that there was “No Problem.”

I still haven’t caught up with Ken, but I have a pretty good idea where he is, and I’ve located a former student of his. My hope is that Ken became too high profile for his “employers” to continue to exploit. Next month, I’ll be taking a trip to see if I can track him down. I want to see him for myself.

Now when I look back, I strongly suspect that “Mr. A” was a member of the Yakuza. When Ken spoke of them, it was always with profound fear and contempt. He hated Mr. A. He could barely look at a tattoo without becoming ill. The transformation of my friend was nothing short of unbelievable. He’d been a confident, responsible man. He ran a business and had a big, supportive circle of friends and clients. Watching his downfall was painful in every respect. Sometimes I felt like I was holding onto him by my fingernails, yet he slipped away despite my efforts and the efforts of others. I felt…and I still feel that I should have tried a little harder. I should have ignored his fears of deportation and done something At that time, I literally didn’t know who could have helped. Who would have listened if I’d called the police in some small town and said, “I think my friend had been enslaved by the Yakuza...” Even now, it sounds like the plot to a bad manga.

Earlier this year, I spoke with Jessica about human trafficking and told her Ken’s story. And to my shame, it wasn’t until that conversation that I really began to put all the pieces together: The red flags, the illogical financial collapse, the fears he developed of deportation. So many years have passed. In March, the dog Ken showed for me passed away of old age. I go to shows and on occasion, people ask if I’ve heard from him lately. I ask others the same question. The answer is always no.

Now I’ll tell you the most heartbreaking coincidence of all—this past year, I’ve been within a quarter-mile of the restaurant he now reportedly works in. Twice, I was just blocks away from him, and didn’t know it.

Sometimes the guilt hits me hard, but I’m just a person…I don’t live in a world where people market other people like animals. But it happens, and we can all do something about it. Visit the Project Polaris website, learn the signs and then just watch the world around you. My hope is that Ken has climbed out of this pit he’d fallen into. The last time I saw him, I told Ken that my daughter had become a chef, and he wanted to train her in sushi. I can’t help but think if things were still terrible, he wouldn’t have extended that invitation. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll know for sure.

http://www.polarisproject.org/