Friday, November 30, 2012

Win a Freebie, Save the World!

The lovely but temporarily scarred Chris at Stumbling Over Chaos is currently running a giveaway for  Xylophone. As usual, you don't have to jump through any hoops; just leave a comment.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


"Every predator has a xylophone." 

* * * 

Fucking great.
Carver, Dare’s twenty-nine-year-old brother and only sibling, was stretched out on the couch with his iPad centered over his face.
In spite of the fact they barely tolerated each other, this living arrangement was preferable to sharing a cramped apartment with a near-stranger. Besides, it was a great location. Dare occasionally performed in Milwaukee and Chicago and other, smaller cities in the area, and Waterford was pretty much smack in the middle of the cluster.
He threw his keys on the hall table with obvious vexation and more carefully set his clarinet beneath it. “I thought you were going to an art fair or something with whatshisname, the guy who owns the gallery.” After pulling off his shoes, he went into the living room.
“Okay, art mart.”
Grudgingly, as if it were an imposition, Carver sat up. “No. His name is Mart.” He squinted at Dare. “What the hell are you wearing?”
“My band outfit.” Dare dropped into one of the recliners and pulled off his tie. Jonah Day’s business card, still buried in the shallows of his pants pocket, gave his hip a gentle poke. I will not be ignored, pal. The reminder further abraded his mood. “I had it on when I left this morning. You must’ve seen…. Oh, that’s right. You were still in bed.” Dare pushed back and stared at his white-socked feet, hands linked over his belly.
Carver continued to study him. His torso seemed to be balanced on the tips of Dare’s toes. “Didn’t it go well?”
“It went great.”
“So why do you seem so pissy?”
And why do you seem like such a supercilious dickhead? Carver still hadn’t explained why he hadn’t gone out.
Instead of answering, Dare closed his eyes. His friends and coworkers generally thought it was the coolest thing in the world to have a queer sibling—theoretically, a confidant, cheerleader, and comrade-in-arms all bundled into one supportive package. But Carver Hamilton Boothe, he of the MBA and macho manner and Spanish Modern aesthetic (or whatever the hell it was), had precious little in common with, or sympathy for, guys who gave away their gayness as soon as they opened their mouths or stepped into a shopping mall.
Carver was about as straight as a homo could be without engaging in hetero sex.
Thank God, Dare thought at least once a week, he’d never set foot in the Sugar Bowl.
“Well?” Carver said. “What’s the problem?”
Dare sighed. Carver, all too familiar with his brother’s moods, would keep picking until he got an answer. And maybe it would help to talk. “I met someone, a guy about my age who takes his grandmother out dancing every week. I guess he recognized me, but I don’t know from where. He wants to get together and talk about… something having to do with Dr. Battaglia.”
“Your shrink?” Carver looked as baffled as Dare felt.
“Former shrink. Maybe his, too, for all I know. He didn’t have a chance to explain.”
“So are you going to meet up with him?”
“I don’t know.” Dare covered his face. “Goddammit, why won’t that shit go away and stay away?”
Carver rose from the sectional and slid his iPad onto the coffee table. “Because it’s your lot. It’s been your lot ever since you invited the attention of a pervert. And you should keep that in mind while you’re doing whatever it is you do at that club—”
A spring of rage snapped Dare forward and up, making him nearly trip over the footrest. Without a shred of reasonable thought he pitched himself at his brother, pitched himself at Carver the way he should’ve pitched himself at Howard Pankin in that cluttered backroom echoing with xylophone notes and sick desire and the slithering rustle of soiled hands over smooth, clean skin.
“Hey, hey, settle down!” Carver grabbed his wrists.
For a moment their locked arms pumped in all directions, jointed braces in a mechanism run amok. The word invited kept striking like a flint, reigniting Dare’s fury. His jaw hurt from being clenched. “You cold, ignorant—”
With a surge of gym-acquired strength, Carver flung Dare onto the couch, sat on his legs, and pinned down his arms. “Chill. Okay?” He must’ve guessed a knee to the groin would’ve been Dare’s next move. Little brother didn’t have much of a repertoire when it came to fighting. “I misspoke. I’m sorry.”
“The fuck you are!” Dare bucked to throw him off.
It wasn’t necessary. Still gathering his breath, Carver slowly held up his arms to concede defeat. “You want to punch me, go ahead. If it’ll make you feel better and calm you down, go ahead.”
Just like that, it was over. Carver’s invitation yielded nothing more than a stare. Dare couldn’t imagine how he looked, didn’t want to think about how he felt. A familiar nonphysical weight seemed to be sinking him into the couch cushions.
“You know I can’t punch worth a shit,” he muttered.
After regarding him a few seconds longer—and, Christ, that mixture of disgust and pity made Dare want to throw up—Carver rose and left the room.

Sleep wouldn’t come.
Again Dare heard those xylophone notes, throaty and taunting, only pretending to be happy-go-lucky. At one time they’d hung from his bedroom ceiling, hung there for two years, slipping down invisible filaments when night fell, bloated balls with limbs but no features, spiders spinning and dropping. 
He’d clamp his hands over his ears, fold his arms over his face.
“It started as a kind of courtship song, or game. In faraway Germany.”
The notes wanted to fill each small cavity of his body. They wanted to take up residence within him.
He wasn’t strong enough to turn them away.
Hi-ho the derry-o…
The pervert in the ground.
Heart hammering, Dare pushed and kicked away his comforter. He swung to the right as he lifted his body to reach up and click on the lamp. Jonah’s card lay on the nightstand beside, of all things, a pack of condoms and a bag of Skittles, candy he’d loved since the Time Before.
He snatched up the card, ripped it in half, and tossed the rent rectangle into the junk-littered darkness beyond his bed.

Coming December 12 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back to Business

The most consequential secret of Daren Boothe’s life centers on an unlikely object: a xylophone. That secret eventually led him to develop his professional alter-ego, a sensual, androgynous dancer. When Dare begins his second and considerably more wholesome job playing clarinet in a polka band, he meets an unassuming young man who takes his grandmother out dancing each week -- a man who has his own secrets.

Jonah Day immediately recognizes the clarinetist. Three years earlier they'd crossed paths in a therapist's office, but they'd both abandoned that route to mental health. Neither was ready then to open up about the psychological traumas that haunted them and had adversely affected their lives.

In an attempt to heal their wounds, Dare and Jonah turn to each other. Understanding and empathy come instantly, accompanied by ambivalence about their growing attraction. But the repercussions of victimization are many . . . and, often, impossible to anticipate. Regardless of their bond, Dare and Jonah could easily be driven apart by the very experiences they share.

Coming December 12 from Dreamspinner Press.
Cover art by Anne Cain.
Pre-order here.
(Excerpt posted soon.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Winner of Tam's Giveaway is . . .


Congratulations, Teresa, and thanks for your comments! Please contact Tam Ames at so she can forward your copy of "The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall."

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Tam Ames tells all: from her secret royal babies to the size of Justin Bieber's widgie to how she single-handedly swung the U.S. presidential election!

Yeah, okay, I might be stretching the truth just a tad. But the scintillating Tam Ames is indeed here, and she does have, as usual, some interesting things to say. Oh, and she's offering a giveaway, too. So start shakin', Tambourine!


Hey everyone. I’m completely honored, thrilled and freaked right out that KZ asked me to come by the blog. Eeek. Does this mean I’m a “real” author now? I have to do authorly things like hang out at Starbucks with my laptop, wear black and sigh dramatically at regular intervals? Hmm. I may suck at this then.

So given my intense dislike of Starbucks coffee (not the company, they seem pretty okay) and sighing dramatically, I decided to do a post about what I love about writing and being an “author” and what I don’t love.

For those of you who don’t know me, I started writing m/m as a bit of a dare. I’d never shown any interest in writing fiction of any kind, and then someone said “Well, you can’t have a romance with X in it.” Uh oh. My inner obstinate child came out and said “Oh yeah? Watch me.” And that was it. It was just for fun, to amuse my friends, who continued to push me to write more and to submit, which I finally bit the bullet and did with Winterlude (my first published short story through Torquere Press).

So why do I do it, on top of my full-time job and my reviewing work and being a single mom? Hmm. Good question.

What I like about writing #1:

THE POWER!!!! Okay. Well sort of. You can make your characters do and say whatever you want. You want him to be in a good mood, voila. Bad mood, here you go, he’s snarly. I know some people say their characters determine the direction, but let’s be honest, it’s our own subconscious. I see that my mood rules my characters. When I’m feeling down, my characters are sad and have sad stories to tell. When I’m in a good mood, my characters tend to be light and funny. I’m in control, I can write the story I want to read with the guys I want to know more about.

What I dislike about writing #1:

EDITING: Anyone who tells you they like editing is a liar. (IMHO) I can really see the appeal of a short story. My editing for shorts is so fast and easy. There is only so much you can change in 9,000 words. But for my longer story Summer School I was so damn sick of reading it over and over and over by the end.  You also get paranoid that you’ll miss something major because your brain is now seeing what it thinks should be there rather than what is really there. Maybe when I’m ├╝ber-rich and famous I can hire one to do my dirty work and correct all my grammar. Preferably someone kind of young and twinky who I can force to work mostly-nekked. J

What I like about writing #2:

THE FAME: *rolls on floor laughing* Okay. Really, that is so untrue. BUT there is no human on this earth that does not crave positive feedback for their efforts. Whether that be doing a great job at the office, cooking a nice meal for your family, or receiving a slow clap from your child when you tell her you signed another contract. (Really, it was a slow clap.) We all want validation. And it’s kind of cool to go into Borders and set all of the sample Nooks to show your book. Okay, it was ONE sample Nook, but it was still way cool, and I’m sure JK Rowling does the same thing. It’s also a thrill to be part of the “club”, the one made up of authors you admire, even if you’re a junior member.

What I dislike about writing #2:

NAMES: I swear, this should be the fun part. It’s like being on 19 Kids and Counting. You get to choose all your kids names, without all the poopy diapers. BUT… it’s so hard. I seem to gravitate towards certain letter of the alphabet and I have to be careful, or everyone has a J or K name. Then there are certain names I can’t use because they are the names of friends, and in my mind I can’t separate the name from the person, and that’s just creepy.  It seems like it should be easier. It’s not. I also don’t want to get too weird, unless that’s the point. Made up names with random letters and no vowels are just annoying. Then you have to watch ethnicities.  A guy with British parents is unlikely to be named Pedro. See how hard it is? Who’d have guessed? I need a spreadsheet because I’m terrified I’ll use the same name twice.

What I like about writing #3:

STORIES: I’ve never been one of those people who could just lie down and – poof – fall asleep. My way of coping was to make up movies in my head. Now I find most of my before sleep movies involve on-page stories. I’m thinking up ideas, and working out scenes in my head. I said to my daughter I wished there was some kind of program that could take the thoughts from your head and just write them down. When I’m driving I have a ton of stories, I rework scenes in my head, and if only I could get it on paper. But it’s fun to have ideas and stories and see them gel, not just be amorphous things that float through your head before sleep never to return.

I’ll end on a positive note. There really are many more good things than bad. I love the community of authors and readers. Sure there are moments of brow wrinkling as I wonder if someone has spiked our punch, but that is such a small part of it all. Seeing a story come together, trying new things (even if you think others will hate it), are all fun and rewarding.

So thanks, KZ, for having me by. It was fun and maybe someone can throw out some names for me to use. LOL Or names you hate. That’s always more fun. Elmer? Um. No. “That wasacally wabbit.” Tell me your LEAST favourite name for a romance hero (and why, if you can) and you could win a copy of my just-released short, The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall. 

Spence may be a big guy at six foot four, but he’s mortified when he faints at the sight of blood in front of sexy client Vander at the local tattoo parlor. But it’s not often Vander finds attractive men his own height, and he’s not going to let a little thing like fainting ruin his chances for a date.


Tam is a single mom to a teenage daughter who lives in Ontario, Canada. It was the encouragement and dares of some friends that inspired her to start writing m/m romance. Traveling as much as possible with her daughter, reading, writing, and playing around on-line keep her busy, in addition to her day job. You can find Tam at her regular haunts: her blog and the excellent review site she runs with Jenre, Brief Encounters.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Announcement & Random Rants

This week I'll be hosting AN EXCITING GUEST BLOGGER! You know her. You love her. You can't get enough of her! So if all the election propaganda combined with endless blog tours have been numbing your mind, stop by in a couple of days for a refreshing break.

  • Speaking of the election, I've had it. The hype has become unbearable. Commercials, robo calls, "news" shows that don't report the news but instead give us opinionating pundits, sound bytes from political speeches devoid of substantive content, and the daily results of countless conflicting polls. Only when Hurricane Sandy hit did we have a respite from all the BS. Honestly, at this point I don't care if Alfred E. Newman becomes president; I just want the torture to end.
  • We just had the modem for our TV and Internet service replaced. Turns out we now have wireless (we didn't before). I'd always thought this would be an incalculable blessing. However . . . not for my Kindle, it ain't. Now I have to look at stinkin' ads every time I turn it on. I'm SICK of having ads shoved in my face!
  • Hunting season. Oh, gawd, hunting season. Boneheads with bows and arrows or rifles skulking through the woods. Dead deer hanging off vehicles. Blinding blaze-orange everywhere (what a hideous color!) Even though our dogs never leave our property unattended, I've heard plenty of reports over the years of hunters killing cows and even each other. If these trigger-happy morons can mistake a cow or a person for a deer, God knows what dumb-assery they're capable of.
  • I used to look forward to Thanksgiving. I stopped looking forward to it when the in-laws started showing up at our house every year. (Why not their daughter's much larger house? Why not their own house? Why always our house?) So I suggested that JLA take his parents OUT to eat -- with my blessing. Hell, I'll even pay for the dinner if I have to, just to spare myself the hassle of cleaning and cooking and cleaning again . . . followed by a depth of boredom that makes me want to jump out of my skin. So -- hooray! -- he's taking them out. Macy's Parade and football, here I come!