Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Carny's Magic, a full-length novel featuring my favorite wizard, 
is tentatively scheduled for release on June 12 by:

Monday, February 27, 2012

In Praise of Cover Artists!

Anne Cain, for Dreamspinner
Since I blab a lot about my respect for cover artists, I thought I'd post a little homage to them. The covers in this post are but a small sampling of the ones that have recently caught my eye (within my genre, that is). Enjoy!
Christine M. Griffin, for Loose Id
Alex Beecroft, for MLR

Reese Dante, for Dreamspinner
April Martinez, for Loose Id
Justin James, for Loose Id
Jordan Taylor, for Riptide
L. C. Chase, for Josh Lanyon 

Anne Cain, for Dreamspinner
Anne Cain, for Dreamspinner

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Coming April 4 from Dreamspinner Press
Cover by Anne Cain

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let's talk body parts.

Thanks to a recent indulgence if mine called the Kindle, I've been reading quite a bit in recent weeks -- more than I should, really, because reading a lot can mean writing too little.

Anyway, I've been noticing recurring instances of unintentional anatomical misinformation and/or abuse.

First, many authors (hell, many people in general) seem to be under the impression there's a "thick vein" running along the underside of a penis. Now, I've never been the proud owner of penis, except when I've held a man in thrall (usually for the amount of time it took him to get off), and I've never been a medical student, but I had begun to suspect some time ago that this dense tubular structure was not, in fact, a vein.

Nagged by doubt, I looked into it (well, not literally).

Sorry to say, fellow writers, you need to consign the Mighty Penis Vein to the erotic-romance biohazard scrap heap. That tubular structure is the corpus spongiosum, a column of sponge-like tissue that fills with blood during an erection, keeping the urethra -- which runs through it -- open. (That bit is from Web M.D.) Wikipedia describes the corpus spongiosum as "expandable erectile tissue."

Then there are lips. No, not netherlips. They're in m/f erotic romance, and I haven't read any in years (in part because of phrases like netherlips).  I mean the lips that ring a person's mouth.

In every story I've read, characters bite/nibble/chew their lips. Frequently. This is no exaggeration. A chapter can't go by, it seems, without some (usually nervous) guy treating his poor lips like slabs of peanut brittle.

As a result, I've declared a moratorium on lip-biting in my own books -- unless, of course, one character is doing it to another. But no more self-cannibalism!

So what body parts in romance fiction have you seen mislabeled, ill-treated, or behaving in strange ways? I seem to have become hyper-aware of this stuff, but I'm hoping it will teach me some lessons. 'Cause I'm sure I've been guilty too!

(More) Doodoo Stirred

February 25 was unpleasant. It was full of stink from multiple sources. At first, the stink brought me down. Then I started getting angry. Really, really angry. I don't often get really, really angry. Irked, annoyed, irritated, peeved -- yes, superficially and temporarily. But that Saturday I was pissed. Royally. Still was on Sunday. (There are a few reeking hypocrites in particular I wouldn't hesitate to trip while they walked over a bed of shattered glass -- and I'm a freakin' pacifist.) 

I had a whole blog post planned, a damned good one, but then I thought, Why bother? 'Cause this song is so much more cathartic. (Plus, the Tea Party footage adds another level of aptness.)

You know what assholes have in common? They think their shit doesn't stink.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Linkage, Good & Bad

An oft-overlooked segment of the non-heterosexual world is comprised of gender-queer (or questioning) and transgendered persons. But the Embrace the Rainbow blog seeks to change that. ('Bout time!)

Their mission is to:
  • foster awareness of the issues facing trans*, gender queer and questioning people;
  • increase understanding through education and open discussion/s;
  • pay it forward, by encouraging acceptance and support in others. 

The refreshingly plainspoken Teddypig has called out All Romance eBooks for THIS smarmy twist on the definition of romance.
W-T-F? I must lead a more sheltered life than I realized, because I had no idea ARe is now in the porn business. (God, those titles alone make my stomach clench!) The fact their YA/Juvenile category also contains this crap is especially bothersome.

And -- holy jamoley! -- they have the audacity to categorize this smut under "Family and Relationships."

Maybe it's time to find another place to shop for ebooks . . .

On a brighter book-related note, SFWA has announced its 2012 Nebula Award Nominees. The Nebula is a prestigious award that carries a lot of weight within the publishing industry and among readers of science fiction and fantasy. Does the awards committee shun books with GLBTQ content? I can't say for sure, but I doubt it. *ahem*

Finally, my newest Jackson Spey / Adin Swift novel, Carny's Magic, seems to have found a home. I'm withholding details until all the contract stuff is finalized.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Research can be a blast!

I proudly present polka legend "Whoopee" John Wilfahrt (real name!) of New Ulm, Minnesota. (Yes, I knew about him long before I began my WIP. And yes, you will be ready to kill me before this book is finished!)

 Dare ya not to chuckle if you listen to this. :-D

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thoughts on Series

I don't tend to read series books. And after a recent disappointment, I'm even less inclined to give any of them a go.

For a series to remain engaging, its author needs to strike a delicate balance between variety and predictability. Variety keeps it interesting; predictability makes it comforting. Poppy Z. Brite's Liquor stories exemplify, for me, series fiction done right. None of those tales ever let me down. None contained any jarringly unpleasant surprises. Reading each novel, novella, and short was like revisiting a dear group of friends in a beloved place and knowing we were about to have fun together -- the best possible reunion.

So what can ruin a series? I believe it's the loss of one of those essential elements mentioned above. An author can squelch reader interest by dishing up the same old same-old, like Anita Blake repeatedly boinking her way through paranormal populations. Or an author can undermine the comfort factor by throwing in something the reader hadn't bargained for and can't accept.

I  just encountered what for me was a series killer, and it's related to the element of predictability. A single development, even a single incident, can have this power. I've come to think of such unexpected departures as "game changers."

For many followers of the Adrien English Mysteries, Jake's physical abuse of Adrien was a game changer. A huge one. It made those readers distrustful, even contemptuous, of the relationship arc that was central to the series. It colored (or discolored) their attitudes toward the main characters. It made those readers wary of how the series would proceed. But Josh Lanyon is an exceptionally shrewd and talented writer. He managed to smooth most readers' ruffled feathers. Fans forgave Jake and, however grudgingly, afforded him a second chance.

I've just been knocked out of a series by a game-changer. And I can confidently say "knocked out of" because, based on blurbs I've read, this development won't be resolved to my satisfaction.

Here's how I see it. When a reader commits to a series, she sees herself (however subconsciously) as entering into a kind of contract with the author. We all have different clauses in our series contracts, because we all have different requirements for a fulfilling reading experience. My contract for the Liquor series, for example, could have been worded like this: "I will remain a devotee of Rickey and G-man as long as their creator doesn't a.) break them up, b.) pull them out of the restaurant business, or c.) move them from New Orleans."

For me, one of the main draws for Frank Tuttle's eponymous Markhat series was the main character, Markhat the finder. He was wry and reckless and often moody. His only steadfast companion was a three-legged cat, and his BFF was an ancient conjure-woman, an amusing and grizzled crone known as Mama Hog. In other words, Markhat was a lovable loner constantly on the verge of becoming a lovable loser. I adored him that way.

A main character like this in an urban fantasy series is a delightful, refreshing change of pace. Cool, thought I. It will be possible to lose myself in this marvelously inventive world without slogging through any of the romantic bullshit that turns other UF series from crisp to soggy and from unique to derivative in three shakes of a butt.

Eagerly, I wrote up a contract. My first clause was: "I will remain an enthusiastic devotee of Markhat as long as he isn't saddled with a girlfriend or, worse yet, a wife."

What happens after I'm nearly four books into my investment? You got it. Then, to add insult to injury, the author seemingly killed off this "love interest" in a satisfyingly grisly way . . . but brought the bitch back! That book had the most tragic HEA of any I've ever encountered.

The Markhat series game-changer is way too much for me to accommodate. The contract has been breached. From now on, I think I'll stick to stand-alones. Unless, of course, another Liquor story is released. :)

Oh . . . and Happy Valentine's Day. JLA left this on my pillow:

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The One Million Mom Watch

Okay, all you leftist would-be destroyers of Family Values, I've decided to give you a regular kick in your (probably bare) butts on behalf of OMM. The following alerts are from their Facebook page. Nothing has been edited. However, space considerations have forced me to shorten certain rants messages. Ellipses indicate deleted blather text.

Alert No. 1 ~ "OMM isn't going anywhere so we need your help! Occasionally we will be on break to do a clean sweep of negative comments. As you can see many bigoted minded liberals who hate Christians because of our faith are spamming our facebook page.  . . . Please help us by reporting these comments, and understanding that we will not be able to delete them all. You can also help by showing these lost, narrow minded liberal the true love of Jesus Christ. Thank you!" ['Cause, you know, deleting those comments is what Jesus would do. I even asked him just to make sure.]

Alert No. 2 ~ "Recently Macy's Department store mailed its newest catalogue out to many Americans. In the hopes of making sales, instead they offended many customers in the process. The back cover looks like just a regular advertisement for their wedding registry service, but there is one major difference. When you take a closer look you see the cake topper of two men instead of the traditional man and woman. The ad also includes a license plate that reads "I do" and hearts scattered everywhere.  . . .  This is inappropriate marketing . . ." [Goes without saying. Everybody knows Macy's has no gay customers. I even asked them just to make sure.]

Alert No. 3 ~ "The separation between church and state is called the rapture." [I even asked the Divine Rapture Committee just to make sure.]

Finally, let us not forget to "SAY NO TO GIRL SCOUT COOKIES" and to CONGRATULATE HOME DEPOT for "silently dropping public support for the homosexual agenda."

WTG, OMM! We'll turn those bigots around yet!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Corvette Cocks

Today I'm at the Chicks & Dicks blog for their "Non-traditional Heroes" month. Why? Because Anne Tenino invited me, that's why. And I was raised well enough not to turn down an invitation unless I have a believable excuse handy death in the family or a debilitating illness/injury.

I suppose it's obvious to readers familiar with my stories that I shy away from creating high-powered heroes. On Saturday, I'll explain why. This doesn't mean I like slothful characters, and it doesn't mean paranormal-type protagonists are out of the question for me -- obviously. But it does mean that in my mind even a vampire can get gas, like Ridley Barron in the Utopia-X series, and even a wizard can have a midlife crisis, like Jackson Spey in Carny's Magic (not yet published), and small-town guys can be every bit as admirable as urban billionaires and crime-busters.

It should be an interesting month at Chicks & Dicks. Genre luminaries like Marie Sexton and Damon Suede, among others, are also scheduled to appear. Click on the post title to get there.