Saturday, May 26, 2012

Excerpt 2: Carny's Magic



Happy Memorial Day to all U.S. readers. And happy weekend to the rest of you! 

I'd promised another snip from Carny's Magic, and here it is. This scene takes place after Carny and Peter have grown close and life at "Casa Spey" starts getting seriously, disturbingly weird. (The GIVEAWAY for this novel ends Monday, May 28, at 7 p.m. CDT.) 

* * *

I see no light through the small window beside Peter’s door, so I don’t knock. He could be asleep. Instead I go into stealth mode and let myself inside. Peter has left his door unlocked since we started seeing each other.

Immediately I know he’s here. His scent is stronger when he’s here, and I also pick up the sound of his soft, even breathing. Within seconds my eyes adjust to the gloom.

Filtered white moonlight clings to the body on the bed, or at least portions of it: Peter’s face, pale as a wafer, turned into the pillow; his arms, resting limply on his torso; one bent leg and the smudge of his canted foot. A dark-colored sheet obscures the rest.

He moves his head but doesn’t awaken. Even though silver minnows swim through his hair.

I want to tuck in his arms and that lone, out-flung leg, pull the sheet taut around him to make a protective bunting. Right now I could swear he’s a will-o’-the-wisp, seeping through the seams of night. The image frightens me. I want to make him solid again and anchor him to my world.

What am I going to do?

Pad over to his bed, for starters. Sink down beside it. Take one of his hands in both of mine and rest my forehead on this small bundle of us.

“Carny? Is that you?” He sounds groggy, wrung out. And very vulnerable.

“Yes.”

“I’m so glad you came. I’m really sorry. It hurts, feeling this sorry.”

My throat begins to clog. “I know.” I kiss his hand.

“Don’t give up on me.”

My mouth forms the words I won’t.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Excerpt . . . and Sperm Cake


Next Tuesday, May 29, my favorite couple (and certainly the most interesting and enduring) will again take center stage in one of my books. 

Granted, the events in Fugly wouldn't have transpired without the presence of Jackson Spey and Adin Swift. And Dustin DeWind in Abercrombie Zombie wouldn't have had much hope of redemption without Jackson's aid. But a catalyst is different from a major player. In Carny's Magic, Jackson and Adin are MAJOR players. Although the novel centers primarily on Carny Jessup (hence the title -- duh), the nineteen-year-old protagonist wouldn't have had much of a story without J&A.

The blurb for and first chapter of Carny's Magic are now posted at Loose Id. You might want to read them first. Over the next week, I'll put up additional snips here on my blog. Hope you like them. (Oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at Stumbling Over Chaos! It runs through May 28.) 

* * * 

This scene, from the beginning of Chapter Two, immediately follows the excerpt posted at the publisher's site.

*

When I open my eyes, I’m no longer standing outside a Polish flat. I’m lying down. Indoors, on a couch. I swim back into clear water and see Jackson kneeling beside me. He’s pressing a cool, damp cloth to my forehead.

“Here, drink this,” he says gently. He eases a moisture-slicked bottle into my hand. A sports drink. A straw angles out of the bottle’s mouth.

“Did I faint?”

“More or less.”

I close my eyes and grimace. “God, I feel like such a pussy.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. It isn’t only pussies who can’t take this weather.”

I want to thank him, but thanking a guy for telling you you’re not a pussy seems like something only a pussy would do.

I’m grateful it’s much cooler in here than outside. The building must have central air. I simultaneously raise my head and lift the bottle, slipping the straw between my lips. I’ve always hated jock drinks—every single one makes me think of a Jonestown cocktail mixed with pond slime—but I obviously need it.

“Thank you,” I say.

“You’re welcome.”

As I drink more, I look up and see Adin standing on the other side of the coffee table like a guardian angel. No better sight could greet a swollen eye. He smiles kindly at me, with a touch of concern.

“How did you get here?” Jackson lays the back of his hand against my cheek. I assume he’s gauging my temperature. No electricity this time, just a hint of rough skin.

“Walked.”

“From where?”

“Around Eleventh and Greenfield.”

“Are you crazy? That’s almost two miles away!”

“Closer to a mile and a half.”

“Still. Why didn’t you take the bus?”

“I don’t like riding the bus. And I probably would’ve had to transfer.” Crazy but true. There's no bus line that runs straight from Tricia’s place to this place.

“Did you have any breakfast this morning?”

“No. I wasn’t hungry.”

“When were you in that fight?”

“Late last night.”

Adin, who’s still in his angel stance, shakes his head in dismay. “You’re probably dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion and lack of sleep.”

“Not to mention the effects of that ass-whupping,” Jackson adds.

Good impression I’ve made. Any wizard would want an apprentice who’s an idiot. I feel like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, scrub mops running amok around his silly rodent ass.

“I’m not going back there,” I mutter, more to myself than my hosts. “I’m not spending another night in that place. I’ll find a friend to crash with. Or I’ll sleep in Kosciuszko Park. I don’t care, as long as—”

The men exchange confused glances. Adin answers me. “No one said you had to go anywhere.” His voice is mild, soothing. An aloe vera voice.

“I would like to know why you’re here, though.” Jackson removes the cloth from my forehead and stands, gazing down at me. “We never got to that part.”

Fucker looks eight feet tall, all scowl and shoulders. Oh boy. “I want…I want to be your apprentice.”

What?” he and Adin yelp in unison.

I look back and forth between them. “Seriously. I want to learn magic from you. I’ll live in your garage if I have to.”

Jackson’s forehead is still rumpled in disbelief. “Have you seen my garage? There isn’t enough room for one car and a well-shaped ass in there.”

I manage to lift one corner of my mouth. “Then how do you get in and out of your vehicle? Your ass ain’t exactly flat as a pancake.”

Adin snorts in amusement. “You don’t know the half of it.”


* * *


And now for dessert! This good-enough-to-eat photo was ganked from Billy Martin (Twitter @docbrite):



Monday, May 21, 2012

Thanks for a Wonderful Hop!

Heartfelt thanks to the many caring readers, bloggers, reviewers, publishers, and authors who participated in last week's Hop Against Homophobia. I suspect we posters were mostly preaching to the choir, but maybe the Hop instilled us all with renewed determination to stand up for what's right.

Finally, for stormymonday211 . . .


Actually, all the commenters are winners in my book, but through a process of random selection,  stormymonday211 gets to choose one of my books.

Have a happy, productive week, everybody!  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hop Against Homophobia


So let's take a bit of a break to honor the late, great Donna Summer. One of my favorite DS songs is featured in this snip from one of my favorite movies, The Full Monty -- the unemployment-office sequence.


Welcome to my stop in the Hop Against Homophobia. Please click on the colorful sidebar button for a comprehensive list of the hop's 250+ participants. And here is a list of organizations and groups that are active advocates for GLBTQ rights and acceptance. (Please let me know which ones are missing!)

I've noticed over the years that homophobia is a three-pronged attack. Leading the charge is the religion-based army -- the conservative Christians, Jews, and Muslims who believe they're battling Satan when they decry any departure from heteronormative behavior. From another direction come the garden-variety haters -- everyday ignoramuses, usually male, who inexplicably harbor animosity toward everybody who isn't just like them. The third hostile force seems unlikely, but it exists nonetheless -- GLBTQ snipers who take potshots at each other.

We all know how despicable narrow-mindedness is, as well as how destructive and how difficult to overcome. But what we often fail to keep mind is that all wars come to an end. I'd like to concentrate on that. Need to, actually, especially after that fiasco in North Carolina.

Although the first two foes mentioned above are the most daunting, glimmers of tolerance sometimes come from their ranks. Check out, for example, Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye (yes, the once-infamous televangelists). In spite of his roots, he's a smart, sensitive man who's now pastor of a humanistic church and an outspoken supporter of gay marriage. His ministry is not unique; there are more and more like it springing up all the time. The rednecks? They're not all irredeemable. I've seen many come around, simply through regular, casual interaction with gays and lesbians. And the "bitter old queens"? (I set this in quotes because it's a phrase I've read and heard . . . quite often, sad to say.) They're more the exception than the rule.

So there's hope in this Hop. However slowly, those glimmers of acceptance will shine ever brighter. Sure, enlightened school systems, fierce activism, and civilized dialogue will hasten the process. They can lead to saner laws and, if necessary, constitutional amendments. But I believe change is going to come mostly through acclimation, through all those fearful, judgmental antagonists realizing they have friends, relatives, neighbors, fellow PTA members, coworkers, leaders, and idols who aren't straight yet pose no threat to them whatsofreakingever -- in fact, are often lovely individuals in loving relationships, and are simply trying to get by like everybody else.

Is patience a virtue? Not when people are suffering and dying. But sometimes it's the only option we're afforded. In the end, I'm sure more of this will happen -- everyday and everywhere -- as people begin to realize that human decency is no more defined by sexual orientation than it is by faith, gender, looks, race, ethnicity, upbringing, income, or level of education:


 

By the way, we bloggers have been asked to give away a little something to thank visitors for reading our messages. So if you leave a comment, you'll be eligible for a free download of one of my m/m titles. I know it isn't much, but it's all I've got to offer. I'll announce and contact the winner on May 21. Thank you all.      

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm on sale!

I am a Dreamspinner Press third-year author. Oh yes I am. This means that as part of DSP's Fifth Anniversary celebration, all my titles are 30% off through May 19. Go get 'em!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Art . . and a Prediction

Considering I've had cover art on the brain lately (grrrr), it's no wonder I've been paying even greater attention to this year's Rainbow Awards cover art competition. I'm beginning to realize what I don't vote for is probably more telling than what I do vote for. The covers I invariably skim past all seem to have one or more of these characteristics:

  • Two faces or two torsos, usually front and center and large. Such covers are so commonplace, they say nothing about a book except that it's m/m romance. But so what? I already know that. Tell me more! Or at least make me imagine more.
  • Drawings that look generically yaoi-ish. These have gotten tiresome.
  • Bland landscapes.
  • Wings. Of the angel variety. I'm really sick of wings.
  • Animals -- usually, wolves or cats. Aside from poser figures, the one thing sure to send me running in the opposite direction is a freakin' wolf on a cover.
  • Shitty composition. Even if a cover has beautiful or intriguing graphic elements, I'm instantly turned off if those elements are out of proportion to one another or poorly arranged and balanced. 
  • Inappropriate fonts and/or colors. This is related to the above. Making bad font or color choices is probably the most widespread problem among designers, and it's one that can destroy otherwise promising covers. 

I know I'm not an expert, and a lot of people aren't in the least bit bothered by the things I've mentioned. But every time this competition rolls around, I get more of an education on how important a unique, well-done cover can be. And I'm reminded why Anne Cain is so consistently brilliant.

Just for the record, I think this one might make it to the top:



Even if it doesn't, BRAVO, Dreamspinner and Shobana Appavu! Wow. Hard to get more arresting than this.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Friday, May 04, 2012

What would I do differently?

I don't think a writer ever stops writing a book. That's why I don't look at my recent releases. It's absolutely maddening to see, in an already-published work, everything from typos that were missed to whole sections that could stand some refurbishment.

A few days ago, as I went over the final proofs for Carny's Magic, I became curious about the preceding Jackson-and-Adin stories, none of which I've read since they were released. So I quickly reread them. It proved an interesting exercise.

And, yup, a maddening one.



I would love to rewrite the first 25-30% of InDescent. LOVE toThere's a lot I'd change. I'd also go over the whole manuscript with a fine-tooth editorial and proofreading comb, because I see the novel was seriously shortchanged in those departments. The formatting, at least for Kindle, is also sloppy. All this stuff makes me crazy.

So why didn't I catch the problems before InDescent was released? Because I'd worked on the book so long, I'd developed "text blindness." This happens to many writers. If you go over the same manuscript multiple times, you have it virtually memorized and therefore skim more than scrutinize it. All kinds of things escape your notice. That's why sharp editors and proofreaders are so essential to the publishing process. They're supposed to pick up what text-blind authors have missed.

To Be Where You Are, the next book in Jackson's and Adin's saga, fared much better. Although relatively minor, the errors still bug me because they weren't caught and should have been. (Um, yeah -- same publisher as InDescent.) I'd written this story over a shorter period and so was able to keep a clearer perspective on it.

By the way, I developed a new appreciation for To Be Where You Are. It's a good story; I believe it deserves more attention. (Gee, what a surprise! :))

Fugly -- same scenario as above. I wouldn't do much to change it except for correcting the typos that weren't caught and cleaning up the formatting.

So how will Carny's Magic stack up against its predecessors? The answer lies in two words: Loose Id. They have one of the best (which translates into knowledgeable and thorough) editorial staffs in the business. I know this novel has been in good hands. Oh . . . and it's coming out in just over three weeks. ;-)