Saturday, July 31, 2010

Got lucky again!

I am now eagerly awaiting a signed copy of Rick Reed's new Amber Allure collection, On the Edge. WOOOHOOO! (Click on post title to check this book out.)

Some of you might recall me mentioning here and there how addicted I've been to horror fic since I was a kid and how much I also love the eerie psycho-stews concocted by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine. But in the writing of RRR, I can enjoy gay eros in addition to a dose of chiller lit . . . in addition to some damned fine writing.


Honestly, I feel like a kid at Christmas. I'm going to allot myself only a certain portion of the book each day, as I did with Normal Miguel, so I can prolong my enjoyment. Abundant thanks to Mr. Reed for this unexpected gift!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How WAS that cover made?

Okay, the book is coming out next Monday, August 2, from Liquid Silver. But you already know that. What you might not know -- and what I certainly didn't know, because my ignorance about many things cannot be plumbed -- is how this incredible cover was made. (And it was painted . . . with tricks!)

Christine Griffin, the artist, was kind enough to post at LSB's "Coming Soon" forum and explain:

"My background is in traditional media, but when my kids came along, I had to put the paints away. Digital is SO much neater! (I'm trying to get back into oils now that the rugrats are older, though.)

"Fugly was actually painted with Corel's Painter program; it mimics traditional media wonderfully, but is a little hard to control. PS is da bomb! I'm still using PS7, and I've no complaints. Someday I may graduate into one of the CS models...when I HAVE to!"

(By PS, I assume she means Photoshop. See? I'm learning!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I can haz book to read!

I've tried a couple lately but couldn't get into them. For example, the highly regarded Perdido Street Station, a fantasy-steampunk rendition of a Hieronymus Bosch painting (that's how it struck me), proved too damned dense--dense with characters and concepts, places and plot points; dense with grotesquerie; dense with words. It's 722 pages' worth of dense. And, yikes, the prose! I felt I was eating my way through a fifty-pound fruit cake. What made it even more trying was that I couldn't connect with the characters, all of whom had surprisingly little humanity about them. They felt distant and exotic. They felt cold to my mind's touch.

When I view the book objectively, I see a marvel of erudition and imagination. How can I not admire this writer's skill? But when I view the book subjectively, I see . . . a fifty-pound fruit cake. Laced with mescaline. So I put the book down. Maybe I just haven't been in the right mood for this kind of read but will be in another few months. Maybe it's something I'll appreciate more in the winter.

Then, along comes Normal Miguel. In the mail. I got a book in the mail! But I don't quite know how to evaluate this novel. On the one hand, it quickly became a comfort read for me. I've been doling it out to myself, turning to it every day, if only to enjoy a few pages, just because it makes me feel good.

I love the simple lyricism of the prose. (It creaks and stumbles a bit now and then, but no matter. So fresh!) I love the characters. What PSS lacked in humanity, this book has in abundance. And the sense of place is so strong, it rises off the page with a full complement of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. I could feel the cold heaviness of those drenching rains.

This author is clearly in love with his subject matter.

However, herein lies the novel's greatest weakness. It's very discursive. Point of view is unpredictably everywhere, like the movements of a palm full of jumping beans. Not only does POV shift abruptly, it's scattered among major and minor characters alike. I get cranky when the story's flow is suddenly disrupted by paragraphs or pages of background detail about a secondary character. Invariably these passages are colorful, but . . . I'm not sure they're necessary. Are these characters significant-enough players to warrant so many digressions? Sometimes the characters' motivations mystify me too, and a few thematic strings are fiddled on a bit too ham-handedly.

Still--and this is highly unusual for me--I keep looking forward to my daily read. The novel has so much charm and so much heart, I've been forgiving of its flaws. I can't remember when that's ever happened in my reading experience. Any other piece of fiction with any of these no-nos would've had me gnashing my teeth.

So if you'd like a truly refreshing read that not only brings Mexican culture to life but weaves a sweet gay love story, give this book a try. I don't think you'll regret it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So . . .

Here's what's new. I'll keep this on the bright(er) side, since I'm sick to death of the dreaded T word.

First, I apologize for not visiting more blogs more often. Please don't take it personally. I've been busy, and endlessly harassed by you-know-what. I do pop in to see what's up from time to time, but I rarely post anymore. For some weird reason, whenever I use Word Verification or Captcha, those T's seem to get active. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I don't know; I'm at a loss.

Mobry's Dick is now up at All Romance eBooks. To my amazement, so are some of my Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press titles. (Some kind of "rebate" lowers their prices. WTF is that?)

The steampunkish WIP is finished at 53,000 words. Title? I'm torn. At first it was Mongrel, then some very inconsiderate person went ahead and published a book called Stray. That's a little too close for comfort. The other possibilities are Mongrels and Mystics, The Dog King, and All the Dog King's Men (although the last might be a bit too precious -- do you think?) I haven't yet decided where to submit this.

Back to contemporaryville with my next story, precious_boy. At least I have the title down!

Just finished the first round of edits for Electric Melty Tingles, coming in late September from Loose Id. Gosh, I love that novella. It gives me the warm fuzzies, although it isn't all angsty and maudlin. Neither is it action-packed, centered on a mystery, or crawling with paranormal beings. It's very simple. Here's a fresh, new blurb:

It's August of 1970, and the friends of 21-year-old Oliver Duncan are having a blast at his bachelor party. Except Ned Surwicki. He isn't an Ivy Leaguer. He doesn't appreciate female strippers. And although he's been Oliver's best friend since they were 14, Ned isn't much inclined to celebrate his pal's impending marriage.

Ned is gay, something he's known since he kissed a boy and got the melty tingles. Ned is also in love with the groom-to-be. Ned is miserable.

On the night before his wedding, Oliver realizes that he's miserable, too. Of course Ned comes to his rescue.

Thus begins a romance that spans forty years, requires one coming-out after another, and survives a broken engagement, a menage with War and Pees, world travel, an ill-advised marriage, scores of fuck buddies, a father who thinks his son is destined to be a clone of Liberace, parents who reject their son, and, worst of all, the failure of two misguided men to pursue their fondest dream.

The most important coming-out for Ned and Oliver is summed up in a declaration they spend too many years trying futilely to forget: "I love you. That's never going to change."


Monday, July 12, 2010

I feel like an ancient Greek.

Not just because of my age, but because of the trojans I've been battling. Ad-Aware found nine (eight from one class, one from another) on July 9, then two more on July 11. This means that either a.) my computer "repairman" failed to thoroughly purge my hard drive or b.) the new stuff he installed on my system was infected. Needless to say, neither possibility inspires confidence.

Many other things about this dude also fail to inspire confidence, like a.) he admittedly knows nothing about software, except how to install it, b.) he doesn't know what an URL is -- I kid you not, c.) he doesn't use any anti-spyware programs and seemed unaware of their existence, d.) he thinks the Internet is evil and should be avoided at all costs.

So if you don't see me around much, it's because I'm so effin' paranoid right now I'm barely comfortable checking my email. Let us hope this, too, will pass (and that Repair Dude isn't a Christian who spotted the error of my ways and decided to mess with me on purpose).

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

When good things happen to good people...

It just makes me smile. So here, in no particular order, is some really uplifting news about folks I happen to like. (Because, you know, life isn't all about dealing with #%#^&*@#* Word 2007 when all your documents are in Word 2003 and the *%$^#@*! program keeps shutting down because a certain person doesn't know what the eff she's doing and neither does her !*@#*# tech guy!)

Most excellent reviewer Val Kovalin will become most excellent author Val Kovalin when her m/m paranormal, Trinity Trespass, is published by Loose Id on August 31.

Clare London's m/m mystery Blinded By Our Eyes (intriguing, look-twice title to go with a stunning, look-twice cover!) will be released July 12 by the already-prestigious Carina Press. I loved the excerpt. (Go there to read it, because I can't get my damned link to work!)

Last but not least, a Katrina Strauss m/m contemporary, Sonoran Heat, is coming in September, in e-book and print, from Amber Allure. (No cover yet, I guess, but I don't need one to be sold on this novel. The short story that preceded it was persuasion enough.)

There, in three books, is a whole genre buffet of m/m goodness that extends from July through August into September. It's enormously gratifying (and helps me believe in karma -- heh) when lovely people who also happen to be talented are rewarded for their efforts.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Computer Hell

Don't know if you've all noticed or not, but I haven't been online since last Friday. Why? Well, it wasn't because of some fun-in-the-sun Fourth of July weekend vacation.

I awoke Saturday morning to find that some vicious creature (worm, parasite, virus -- beats me what category it falls into) had taken over my computer. As soon as I booted up, a big ol' window appeared that claimed to be a Windows alert. My machine was allegedly infected with a gazillion different things and I needed to download some (obviously bogus) $50 AV program to get rid of them. This "alert" wouldn't let me get online, wouldn't let me open any files, and wouldn't go the fuck away. It just kept popping up and popping up and blocking every move I made.

So, into the shop my PC went. Actually, it's the home of a local guy who works on computers in his basement. Just got the thing back today. However, now I'm facing a whole new boatload of problems.

For starters, I now have Word 2007 instead of Word 2003, in which most of my documents were made and saved, and this is making for a total cluster-screw when it comes to opening and working on manuscripts. I had no idea how very different these two versions of Word are. The toolbar is completely alien to me. I only have a tiny fraction of the fonts I used to have (what's up with that?), can't find the Track Changes feature (it's critical I find it!) and, in general, am totally confuzzled. Plus, I have to try to get my printer to work again, because at the moment, my computer doesn't recognize it. Plus, my carefully arranged desktop folders are in disarray.

So I'm working my way toward a monster headache at the moment -- a situation not made any better by the backlog of email I found. Just so you know. (Any advice or words of wisdom? Send 'em over!)