Saturday, February 16, 2019

GayRomLit 2019

I'm thrilled to once more be a part of the wonderful event known as GayRomLit. There are so many people I want to see. However, I'm already sad over some folks who've said they're not going this year, and doubly sad because the wonderful Ethan Day will be absent. I cannot imagine a GRL without him.

It will be a bittersweet time of reunion and mourning. So many times I'll expect to see him, only to be reminded he won't be there.

I wonder if there'll be some sort of tribute during the convention. I certainly hope so. He was so much a part of GayRomLit and the Gay Romance community.

He will be sorely missed.

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Valentine's Deal!

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! This year Bear and I celebrate our third Valentine's Day together. Ah, young love (even if we're not so young).

In honor of the day, Valentine's Day story Fanning the Flames is on sale for .99 cents from now until the end of February. While this work is the second installment of The Match Before Christmas series, it can be read as a standalone.



The man of Barry’s dreams has gone from a sugarplum fantasy to sweet reality, thanks to the LGBT dating site GetaDate.com. Introducing a new boyfriend to the family and settling into coupledom isn’t the easiest thing in the world for a man with little dating experience, but the romantic demands of Valentine’s Day are beyond Barry’s imagination. His piteous cry for help brings all kinds of suggestions from family and friends.
Fully believing he’s found the perfect ways to charm his sweetheart, Barry isn’t prepared to hear “Achoo ” at every turn. Adam’s allergic to what? And will sneezes and welts wreck Barry’s painstaking plans for Fanning the Flames?
Links to the story can be found on the page at Rocky Ridge Books.

Discount available at Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Easter Egg in Corruption

I've been listening to the audio book version of Corruption, which should publish by month's end, and I came across a line Bo says that I'd forgotten about, that made me smile.

"Pop my cork, big boy."

There's a story behind that line involving fellow authors D.H. Starr and Ally Blue. Doug, Ally, and I used to spend an annual weekend together in Asheville, NC, visiting Biltmore House, checking out the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, exploring in quaint shops, discovering amazing restaurants, and talking shop. Each year we kept a list of double entendres we accidentally said, and at the end we'd choose one that we all had to include in our latest work in progress.

Well, Ally and I arrived at the hotel first, and Doug's plane was late, so we decided to buy wine and snacks before he got there. We returned to our room with our purchases to discover:

We had no corkscrew. 

Luckily, the front desk provided one, but it was plastic and neither me nor Ally could get the cork out of the bottle. There was a gym on our floor, so we took the wine there hoping to find someone with more muscles than we possessed to help us.

A young man was standing in the middle of the gym, eyes trained on the corner TV, and when Ally spoke he jumped. The words, "Would you pop my cork?" were uttered. He did. I'm laughing even now.

Soooo.... no matter what was said all weekend, nothing topped that phrase. We each included it in a book.

If you read or listen to Corruption, you have Doug and Ally to thank for that line.

We haven't been able to get together for a while, and I really miss those two.

Monday, February 4, 2019

When Lucky Met Victor, From Victor's POV



If you've read Diversion, you witnessed the pivotal moment when Lucky met Victor. Ever wonder what Victor was thinking that night? 

Read on!

***

Another Saturday, another expected appearance at the club. At one time, getting the best table, having everyone rush to fulfill his every whim, had been thrilling. Now, the bowing and scraping grated on Victor’s nerves. Everyone wanted something from him: money, his clout, to bask in the glow of his accomplishments.

Sex.

As far back as the family remembered there had been no poor Mangiardis, but if his dipshit of a nephew didn’t stop spending…

Victor sighed and adjusted his appearance in the mirror, running a hand through his dark waves. A few more gray stands now showed, which only made his hangers-on fawn all the more, telling him how distinguished he looked.  He’d dressed simply tonight, jeans, a button-down shirt and his favorite loafers.

He’d taken his family’s modest fortune and made it grow. And if some of the family didn’t like his means, well, they never complained while enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Tonight, though, he would love to stay in, relax, listen to some music. Or maybe he could call…

No, Nestor had made his feelings known, and no amount of wanting would change his mind.
Victor barked a humorless laugh. Who’d believe the great Victor Mangiardi wanting something he couldn’t have?

What else could he do but live up to expectations and go out drinking and dancing? He took one last look in the mirror and headed downstairs. His butler looked up from the foyer. “Are you going out, sir?”

“Yes. Have Lyle bring the car around.”

“Yes, sir.”

Victor didn’t wait long until his 1963 Mercedes roaster purred like a large cat at the front entrance.
He drove himself to the club, knowing his entourage would catch up. He didn’t want them following too closely, they might scare off his admirer. Or rather, his car’s admirer.

A smile spread across Victor’s lips. There he was, the scruffy kid standing outside the chain link fence surrounding the club, with his torn jeans, faded hoodie, and undoubtedly worn tennis shoes. Occasionally Victor caught a glimpse of hay-colored hair. What color eyes did the boy have?

Night after night he watched Victor’s car, his attention not following Victor to the club, but staying on the car. Should Victor be hurt that the kid wanted the car more than him?
Would he do more than want?

Ten minutes until his bodyguards arrived. Now to see if he’d take the bait.

Victor bypassed the main area of the club, climbing the stairs to the VIP rooms. There, he watched through the cameras he’d had specially installed.

Two months. For two months he’d had his eye on this kid. Now to see if he at least provided a night of entertainment. Victor waved off a barely-clad waiter, who pooched his lips and sauntered off.
Victor had partaken of his gorgeous body, with its surgically enhanced six pack, face, and ass, highlighted hair and buffed nails, and most of all, his high-maintenance lifestyle. Such men surrounded Victor, circling like sharks. He didn’t want surgically enhanced, he didn’t want high maintenance, he wanted someone alive as he was, living for the game.

He watched the young man climb the fence at the back of the club and casually stroll to the front. To anyone watching he’d appear to have parked in the back.

About eight more minutes until Victor’s bodyguards usually arrived, though he’d warned them off tonight, telling them to be ready all the same.

Ah, the kid bypassed the security system and started the car in under two minutes. Nice skills there. He drove around the building, avoiding the bouncer stationed in front, and stopped the car twice while the visible security cameras swept over the parking lot. Too bad he’d not noticed the new cameras.
He headed north and Victor gave up the camera feed for a tracker. No need to have him tailed. Victor would be waiting for him when he got to his destination.

Now to make a phone call. “Ricky, pick me up,” he said, making his way out of the club, excitement rising. He’d not had such a challenge in ages. No telling what the night might bring.

Victor climbed into an unobtrusive F-150 truck.

“I don’t know why you let him take the car,” his second in command growled.

“Because I wanted to see what he’d do.” Victor buckled in and folded his arms over his chest. He owed no explanation to anyone. “Hit the Interstate. Head north.”

Ricky listened to some gawdawful something, which grated on Victor’s nerves. He turned the radio off. If only he were in his roadster, where even now the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon must be playing. Would his thief like the selection Victor chose for him, or change to something more in keeping with Ricky’s tastes?

Victor hoped for the former. It would be nice to find a touch of refinement in the country bumpkin who’d caught his attention. Occasionally he checked his iPad for the tracker, a smile playing on his lips.

His little thief was about to be so disappointed.

“How do you know where he’s going?” Ricky asked.

“He’s meeting a buyer.” Victor gave the address.

“How do you know this?”

Victor gave Ricky a wicked  grin known to make enemies grovel. “I’m the buyer.”

“Boss?” Ricky did a double take. “You what?”

“I contracted him to steal my own car.” Victor sent a group text with the address and “Now.”

Ricky squealed tires turning into the parking lot of an abandoned building, cutting off the Mercedes’ escape. Here the game grew tricky. Would the thief destroy the car to get away, or did he, like Victor, appreciate fine craftsmanship?”

Victor never said a word as he climbed down from the truck. Two of his men wrestled the thief from the car. A string of curses split the air. The guy was small, only five five or five six, but he landed a few punches and got a few kicks in.

“Ahhh!” Eduardo screamed, gripping the side of his face. Had the kid bitten him? Oh, what spirit. Victor approved. He’d give Eduardo a bonus later to smooth over hurt feelings.

Eduardo recovered enough to slam his adversary to the ground.

“Stop!” Victor would rather destroy a priceless sculpture than hurt a work of art such as a dedicated thief.

Eduardo stepped back, allowing Victor to get closer. Ricky stood close by, weapon drawn. Oh, the theatrics! Like they’d need firepower to bring down one skinny punk.  

Pulled onto his knees, head held back by a tight grip on his hair, left the guy no choice but to stare up at Victor. The kid couldn’t yet be twenty, and while not classically handsome, he possessed a rawness, a wild quality of someone who’d never be tamed.

Victor knew how he must appear, especially to anyone given to watching late night gangster B movies. Victor had been told more than once that he’d make the perfect Mafia don.

With dirty-blond hair, the kind of tan that came from living outdoors, and a rim of black under his nails, this had to be the farmer’s son turned mechanic Victor’d found out about through private sources. A few small-time car thefts, no drugs, and no violent crimes.

He’d do.

Victor crouched down for a better look, and to up the intimidation factor. Two of his men held the guy’s arms behind his back, yet still he struggled and fought. Not one to admit defeat, then.  Even better. “If you had damaged my property, I wouldn’t have asked them to stop,” Victor said, in his best charming voice.

No answer. Not that Victor expected pleading, based on what he’d learned in the past two months.
“I’ve watched you, how carefully you planned your little adventure. You’re smart and resourceful. Few of my acquaintance would have bidden their time, waiting for the right moment to strike.” Impressive.

The man dropped his gaze to the ground.

Oh, no. This wouldn’t do. Victor brought their gazes back together, forcing the man’s head up with a finger beneath his chin. “Always remember this: you did not steal my car. I allowed you to take it. Never again will you get a second chance from me.”

The hissed warning earned a shiver. “How did you find me? No one followed.”

Victor stood and nodded to Eduardo, who stalked to the car, bent down on one knee, and returned with a small device in his hand. “Why follow when you led us right to you?”

His quarry  didn’t need to know Victor had orchestrated this whole meeting by pretending to be a buyer. He’d suffered enough of a bruising to his ego already. Lucky. The young man had called himself Lucky.

He’d not been very lucky tonight.

Lucky groaned when he saw the tracker.

Still, as job interviews went, this had been one of the most successful.  “Don’t be disappointed, for I’m quite awed by your skill. Though you fancy yourself a pro, you’re no more than a novice. I can teach you. In time, you’ll be untouchable. Come to work for me.”

Silence, giving time for the condemned to weigh his options. “And if I say 
no?”
Victor chuckled, with less humor. He must keep up appearances for his men.  “Then, my young friend, no one will ever find your body.”

Victor reclaimed his elegant car with a smile his men wouldn’t understand. He’d opened the door to the last long notes of Pachelbel’s Canon.

***

Haven't read the series? Find Diversion here:


Saturday, February 2, 2019

New Arrivals at the Farm!

Yesterday Bear and I welcomed new additions to our farm: two Dwarf Nigerian kids, one male and the other female. And what beautiful coloring they have.

Boy

                                                                  Girl
Babies and Mama are doing great.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

When Faced With the Truth, or Farewell to Chocolate

Let's face it: I have allergies. Sniffling, sneezing, 24/7 allergies. Even though I take three allergy meds a day. If you've ever attended a convention with me, at some point you've likely heard the rapid-fire, machine-gun sneezes that some describe as sounding like a cat.

The record is 75 in five minutes. Yes, I was tired afterward.

For years I've dealt with it, but finally broke down and had a sensitivity test. I'd only recently discovered an allergy to pineapple, but I already knew of mango and celery.

The test told me things I should avoid, supplements to take, etcetera. Many will be easy, like caffeine, red meat and shellfish, since I've been vegetarian for 38 years and gave up caffeine 10 years ago (except for trace amounts). Lentils was as surprise, as was citrus fruits and spinach.

By far the most horrifying, the item that will prove to be the hardest to live without, is chocolate. I love a good dark chocolate, a cup of hot cocoa, chocolate chip cookies...

Sugar is also on the "avoid" list, as is milk. No more ice cream, unless I get the vegan kind. Bear said it seemed like this test left me with little to eat, but to be honest, when presented on a list, I'm giving up very few items as opposed to friends who have to watch every mouthful. Most of my allergens are environmental: mold, tree and grass pollen, dust. I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, so no easy answer there. I'm also allergic to yellow dye, but not gluten.

I'm happily surprised that "pet dander" isn't on the list, as we have two cats, two (massive) dogs, goats, and a llama.

So, I get to keep the pets, but I have to give up all the rich creamer I love in my morning coffee.

And chocolate! Baw!!!




Saturday, January 12, 2019

It Takes a Village to Raise... Suspicion

As the old saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child." So, too, a successful novel, like my latest installment in the Diversion series: Suspicion. While I have millions of ideas I pour into my books, the first draft is a far cry from what the reader sees. A. Far. Cry.

Even the third or fourth draft is a jumbled mass of thoughts, not necessarily coherent, or understandable to anyone save the author.

Enter my crit partners. The partners who've been with me for a long time and whose words and opinions I've come to heed, are as follows:

Feliz Faber - Not only is she invested in the Diversion series, she helps me insure I write with international readers in mind. Let's face it folks, not all my Southernisms are understandable to someone living outside the Southern US.

T.D. O'Malley - She makes sure my characters are likable and relatable and that my situations and plots are believable.

Z. Allora - She wants the feels and the love story, and only accepts happy endings. If my story turns too dark, she'll let me know in a flat minute.

D.H. Starr- Doug asks, "Why is this here? What purpose does this scene have?" He's also one of the most romantic writers I know. Holding hands on the Brooklyn bridge at sunset? Yeah, that's him. I wind up cutting a lot of unnecessary words after he's seen my manuscript, and amping up the romance factor.

P.D. Singer - She also will question if something doesn't seem plausible. She's the technical genius who formats Rocky Ridge Books' work, and understands what will and what won't hold up to formatting. Truth be told, I owe her my writing career, for it's she who first suggested I write a book in the first place, and has been with me on every single step of this journey. She also has an incredible knack for stringing together words in such lovely ways. If you need proof, read her latest, Concierge Service.

Here I am, twenty novels after she challenged me to write...

Not only are they the folks I count on to make my writing the best it can be, they're also dear friends. We met online, bonding over our love of the genre. Two years ago today, three of them were part of my wedding, two flying here to share my special day.

All of them will call me out on autonomous body parts, telling instead of showing, and overused words. Without them, Suspicion wouldn't be half the book it is.

And I do the same for them....

Those who don't participate in the actual writing process play a role in make a book a success also. The folks who've written, asking me to please continue Bo and Lucky's story, or telling me how much a book meant to them. Yes, writers need encouragement.

I've even received requests, such as, "I wanna see Victor again!" Someone has even suggested writing a story for Loretta Johnson.

Then there's those who read the book, like it, and talk it up to their friends, in conversation, on their blogs, or on social media. Word of mouth is still the most effective advertising.

There's the faithful readers who keep coming back for each installment, wanting to continue the journey of Bo and Lucky's relationship.

So, a heartfelt thankful thanks to all of you who've supported the Diversion series and other of my works.

I couldn't do it without you.