Monday, July 15, 2019

Getting Ready for GRL!

Even though it's a few months off, I'm trying to get ready for GRL. I've been many times, in fact, I've only missed the one in San Diego, so I'm a veteran of these things. However, I can't think of one single costume for the party, the theme being "My Superpower."

Dang. I just did. Okay. This might work.

Anyway, now I'm stuck for swag. In the past I've prepared tons of swag, and normally brought back too much of it. Usually I offer about ten different items. This year, I'm scaling back, but hopefully what I've chosen will be meaningful. And yes, I didn't have a clue what to do until I started writing this post. Y'all are amazing, you know that?

I'm having to travel light this year, as I'm flying and it seems most airlines don't want you to bring clothes, let alone a suitcase full of books.

Due to those restrictions, I'm afraid I'll be relying on presales, and bringing only the books I need. You can pre-order books here. 

Bear is coming with me this time, and so is one of the cubs! I can't wait for them to experience the whole GRL tribe. My husband looks forward to this event as much as I do, and has many friends among the attendees.

So if you're heading for Albuquerque in October, I'll see you there!

If you want to stop by at GRL and say hello, my author lounges are Thursday from 4:00 PM to 4:45 PM, and Friday, from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM.

Also, I'll be reading on Friday, from 3:30 PM to 4:20 PM. I'm not sure yet which book I'll be reading from.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Cheating in Novels and Real Life

One thing I've learned from social media posts is that readers hate cheating. They want the happy, and cheating is a big no-no.

There are also many different definitions of "cheating" too. Some readers are so adamant about the issue that if one of the main characters is intimate with someone other than the intended love interest, even before they actually get together, it's cheating. Others think it's perfectly fine for one or both parties to have sex with other people.

Cheating happens. It's brutal and it hurts and it's hard to recover from. However, sometimes cheating isn't the end, but merely a bump in the road on the way to a stronger couple.

I recently read a book about a long term couple, in which one made a horrible mistake, confessed, and destroyed the trust between them. I won't mention the book's title, because this situation is not described in the blurb and I don't want to give spoilers. However, the author vividly describes the situation from both points of view, and it broke my heart.

There are two sides to every story, and this one leaves you breathless and hopeful, showing the lengths it took for these two men to start talking again and trying to work through the issues in their marriage.

Cheating doesn't have to be the end, but sometimes there is no going back.

I know several people who have been there and chose to ride out the storm, hoping there'd be a light at the end of the journey, myself included. One of the people I talked to held on for two years while their partner had an affair, and ultimately the cheating partner left for their paramour.

There have been some cases, though, where the couple did reconcile--one couple I know getting back together after being divorced for  three years. They've been married over twenty-five years since then, so guess that's testament to the fact that cheating doesn't always mean the end.

Still, in romance, it's all about the happy, so tell me: How do you feel about cheating in books? End of the line, or obstacle to overcome?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Back 2 Good, or the Wonderful Adventure

The Telling first published in book format in 2009, ten years ago. Today I thought of that story that launched my career as a writer, and did a little reflecting.

At the time, I was very open about the reasons for that book, but those who've discovered my writing more recently may not be aware of the book's inspiration. 

The Telling is a very personal work, what some call a "therapy book." I didn't merely write the story, I pretty much cut myself open and bled all over the pages. The pages are full of symbolism, though it might not be obvious. 

2007-2009 marked the darkest time of my life. Reality had kicked me in the teeth, leaving me reeling and wondering what I had done to deserve the hardship I found myself in. "Low" didn't even begin to cover my state of mind. Getting through a single day seemed like such a big accomplishment. I hurt. I didn't know a person could be in so much emotional pain and still exist. 

A dear friend tried to help, but what could she do long-distance? We talked books a lot, and our love of fiction is how we met and bonded. She challenged me to write a book, pouring out my bottle of pain. 

The result is The Telling, the story of a young veteran returning home with damaged hearing and internal scars from seeing so much, so young. He also struggled with coming out. His intention was to go back to his small town, get back on his feet, and leave to find a place where he could live his authentic life. 

How does this relate to me, you ask? I poured my doubts, fears, and insecurities into the characters. Every single person but one represents some facet of my life, from the ideals I was raised with and could no longer support, to my insecurities as a mother. 

Something strange happened along the way: the characters started developing strengths. I realized their strengths were also facets of myself that I didn't even know I had. 

The main character, Michael, is in therapy, and takes music with him to his sessions to express his feelings. One song mentioned was Back 2 Good by Matchbox Twenty. My fondest desire at the time was to get "Back 2 Good" myself. Also, at the time, I couldn't see that happening. 

It took years, ten to be exact, from then until now, and during my reflection today I was surprised to realize how far removed I am from that time. It wasn't easy, in fact it was painful as hell, but step by step, day by day, I learned to live again. 

The book was, of course, too personal to sell, so I published some of it on websites, but also self-published, giving the book away for free. However, when I published it to Amazon, for some reason they never allowed me to mark it perma-free, so I put the price as low as possible (.99), and donated the proceeds to PFLAG. 

Besides the self-recovery, something else wonderful happened. People began writing to me, telling me their stories, or how much my book meant to them, or even how reading my book opened someone's mind and heart to LGBTQIA+ issues. 

Some of those stories were heart-breaking, some inspirational, all touched my heart. I made friends through those e-mails that are friends to this day. 

What a difference 10 years makes. I've got a darned good day job (though I'd love to write full-time), I'm about to publish my 21st novel, my work has won awards, I've gone to New York as a Lambda finalist, and have the greatest friends on the planet. I also did something I swore I'd never do: entered into a relationship. 

With a wonderful person. 

Much has happened on my way from there to here, and I'm so glad I hung on and kept going. My life is so, so worth it.  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Redemption (Diversion 5) Now Available at Audible

Not long ago, it seems, I wanted to add audio to the Diversion series format. At least nine books. My first step was to find a narrator with the right voice and attitude to bring Lucky, Bo, Walter, and the remaining cast of this series alive.

It took eight months to find the right voice, right attitude, willing to tackle a series, is amazing to work with, and could complete each book in a few months' time.

And, dang, what a right voice he is.

Darcy Stark gave an amazing performance with books 1-4, but I have to tell you, he totally nailed book five.

Don't take my word for it; listen to the sample at Audible.

Redemption (Diversion 5)

Living is the easy part.

Agent Lucky Lucklighter and his partner escaped Mexico alive, only to plunge into bureaucratic fallout from their mission. Hell, maybe Lucky should have stayed south of the border. Especially when the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau places Bo into rehab, and Lucky’s facing both therapy and an inquiry into a fatal shooting.

Watching over his shoulder for a vengeful drug lord or a cartel don calling in favors leaves his scarcely able to imagine a future for them as agents, or as lovers.

Bo Schollenberger once had a vision for their life together, but he’s bowed by the weight of his undercover work. Lucky’s hanging on by his deeply chewed fingernails, clinging to hope by making Bo’s dream of a home into reality. The last thing he needs is a phone call from a dangerous man who knows too much, summoning him back to Mexico for “An early Christmas present”.

Not when the SNB brass asks tough questions like “How well do you really know your partner?"

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Where the Frogs Bark

I'm not sure all the areas in the US they populate, but there is a little-known critter in the Southern US frog world called the barking frog. That's right, folks. A barking frog. While I'd never seen or heard one until recently, now they seem to be everywhere.

Especially sitting in the bedroom window sill in the middle of the night.


All. Night. Long.

They are a form of tree frog, way too small to make so much noise, but there you go. Yes, they sound like a dog barking, or more precisely, a puppy. We call them puppy frogs. I even knew a woman once who went outside looking for the puppy.

The ones outside my house sound more like puppies, but this are the best video I could find:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Good Old Boys (and Girls!) in Pickup Trucs

I'm an independent woman, I do things for myself, and I'm proud to be that way, especially having been raised in a "young ladies don't do that" kind of world. It took me way too long to start replying, "This one does!" As independent as I am, however, there is a basic task that I've never performed:

I've never changed a tire on my car.

Don't get me wrong, I'm willing and I've tried, but one thing kept stopping me.

For all that the South has it's bad points, there is one shiny pinnacle of rightness: the good old boy or girl in a pickup truck.

Within moments of parking on the roadside, throwing open the trunk and digging out the necessary (if unfamiliar) equipment, help has always arrived. We're talking people who live to assist others, and who greatly restore my faith in humanity.

Today my 22-year-old daughter called, stranded with a flat tire. I made her sister a bet: that by the time we got there, the tire would be changed. I wasn't wrong. Thankfully, it was broad daylight and she found a safe place to park in a church parking lot, that more than likely was monitored by cameras.

It was a woman who saw my daughter, a mere wisp of a thing who could jump up and down on the tire tool and still not be able to loosen the lug nuts. This woman called her husband and said, "Go help this girl." He did.

There's a lot of bad in the world, but there's a lot of good too. Like people who go out of their way to help strangers.

May they forever be.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Eden Winters and the Bath Bomb of Doom!

I'm a simple woman at heart, and like simple things. Whenever my family members tell me I'm hard to buy presents for, I merely remind them of these four things that make my world so much better:

1) Decaf dark roast coffee
2) Audible codes
3) Dark chocolate (bonus if it has peppers or ginger)
4) Bath bombs

I grew up with the occasional bubble bath, graduated to bath oil, dabbled in making my own for a while, then ordered exotic soaps online. Finally, a few years ago, I discovered bath bombs. Oh, happy day!

About that time I married and moved into my husband's house, complete with ginormous garden tub. (No, I didn't marry him for the tub, that's just a rumor.)

Anyway, nothing relaxes me more at the end of the day than a nice, long soak while listening to an audio book. Last week a new shipment of bath bombs arrived (I buy them in the 42-pack), and this time there were some new ones I hadn't seen before.

Like the green one, labeled "Balance." Now, I've had a few bad bath bomb experiences, like the glitter bomb from Hell, and the one loaded with lavender. Actual lavender. Nothing floating in the bathwater, please. But the moment I saw this innocent-looking green sphere, I should have been on my guard.

Now this wasn't just any old green. It was dark green, almost black. Okay, well, they wouldn't have put in in a bath bomb to contact skin if it wasn't safe, right?


I unwrapped it, tossed it into the tub, started my audio book and prepared to soak. Dark plumes of what looked like smoke snaked through the water, the embodiment of evil (okay, I'm a writer and might be prone to exaggeration).

It had to be safe, right? I mean, if it was as dangerous as it appeared buyers would be screaming to the company, wouldn't they?

I relaxed, listening to my book. Then lifted my arm. Oh, damn. What was that? And on my leg! And, and...

On the sides of the tub. Basically everywhere. Hell, how'd it get on the floor? I soaked for thirty minutes, scrubbed the tub for forty, and hope the stain fades from my skin by the time I return to work on Tuesday.

I look like Abe Sapien from Hell Boy!

At least it smelled nice.