Monday, April 17, 2017

Beneath the Layers Anthology - Celebrating Men in Satin and Lace

Hey, it's a book baby day! That is to say NineStarPress released its first anthology Beneath the Layers today in print and ebook and I am honored to part of it. Beneath the Layers is a collection of short stories sharing the theme of men who do not conform to gendered clothing norms and celebrating the joy of a gorgeous man in something unexpectedly sexy. Across the anthology you'll find stories about several different kinds of men, including enby and trans men, bisexual men, officers, jocks, and princes.

I've long been an enthusiast when it comes to men in typically feminine garb, eschewing gender norms is in my Top 5 turn ons. When I heard that NineStar was going to be doing an anthology all about it, I practically begged to be included with other amazing authors offering up sweet, sexy, and smoking hot erotica and romance. Now, here we are.

My story for Beneath the Layers titled A Secret Shared is about a newer couple, college students still exploring their relationship and how reveling aspects of oneself can take things to the next level. When Michael shares his secret life as a Dungeon Master of the dice and maps variety, as opposed to the whips and cuffs kind, he doesn't expect anything in return. Of course, one secret shared deserves another.

You can find Beneath the Layers at NineStar Press as well as retailers everywhere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

An Ode to the Friends to Lovers Trope & Sound Proof is out!

So, my newest novella Sound Proof is about two LA voice actors who've been close friends for many years who over the course of working through a break-up discover that maybe the line between loving someone and being in love with someone is a bit more gray than it seems, at least for them. Sarcasm, snark, friendly banter, Chipotle in bed, couples yoga, and cats are the recipe for their crossing from one side of that thin line to the other.

Sound Proof is published as part of the My Dearest Friend collection from Less Than Three Press; an entire collection exploring what is probably my favorite romance trope of all time: Friends to Lovers. Or, as I like to call it, bromance to romance. I've been a fan of this trope for as long as I can remember, but particularly the last decade or so it's become my favorite for comfort reading. After thinking on it for a while I narrowed my love down to a single concept: familiarity.

As much as I love a good meet-cute or accidental romances and hookups, there's really something to be said for the comfort of familiarity. In a story where the main character and their love interest already know each other well there's no awkward getting-to-know-you phase, it skips the misunderstandings and little lies happen when the character is trying to impress someone they're attracted to. In fact, that whole "making an impression" stage has already been done, they begin already time-tested so there's little focus on how they come to enjoy spending time together and you can come into the story with the early awkward bits already done with. Not that there's no awkwardness, mind you, now there's the awkwardness of confessing attraction and the uncertainty that comes with possibly harming a friendship by "going there". It's very real, it's just a different sort of awkward.

I find when your characters are already in an established friendship the affection can feel more genuine, there is less of a chance that the intimacy will feel like it's going too fast and often that's the sort of thing I crave; a slow-burn without the pages of pining and longing because that's already in play.

The banter in FTL romance is more comfortable with all the in-jokes and little things that are hard to find in other stories as there's been no page time to establish those things in a new relationship. When the main pairing curls up together in bed in other romances you can feel the "will they or won't they" tension of sexual attraction and the paradigm is different when it becomes a matter of "is this friendly intimacy or potentially sexual?". It's a small shift, but noticeable.

I think it's  very much that head-spaces where Sound Proof comes from and part of what makes it special.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

WIP Wednesday!

So I figured for WIP Wednesday I'd share a somewhat smutty taste of my current WIP baby, a short story working its way toward novella called Sound Proof about voice actor best friends falling in love.

Thomas nodded, and then shifted his weight again - rolling Chris onto his back and pinning him down against the bed. His hands planted on either side of Chris’ head, he experimentally thrust his hips, guiding the hardness of his cock along Chris’ boxer briefs. “You’ll have it.” He answered, “Anything you want.”

Anything?” Chris lips twisted into a wicked grin entirely unrestrained as he watched Thomas’ expression shift from bemused sleepy arousal to the intent fixation he’d been watched with before.

For a moment, Thomas didn’t answer. His hips dug again, prodding the head of his cock against the firm arousal tucked under tight cotton. “Did I stutter?”

Suck my dick.” Chris grinned wider, not even realizing in the moment he’d slipped into one of the many twenty-something dude voices he’d used in the booth since they started recording.

Thomas broke, leaning his full weight down on Chris’ torso as he let out a laugh that shook his body. “I hate you… I hate you so fucking much.”

You love me. You love me so fucking much.” He pushed up against him, laughing softly in his ear before letting his sleep-heavy tongue lap over the tender skin. “C’mon, you know that was hot.”

When he pushed back up, and looked down at Chris, he was grinning. “You woke me up to spout cheesy smut lines at me?”

No. I woke you up to play a little game of-”

If what you’re going to say next is any rendition of ‘hide the sausage’ I’m going to need a cold shower and a smoke before you’re allowed to speak again.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Canyon Creek Love Story - Out Now!

Yes, you read that right! My baby Canyon Creek Love Story has made its way out into the world and is available on the Less Than Three Press website right now for your reading pleasure. Please do introduce yourself to the sleepy Arizona town of Canyon Creek and fall in love with the locals.

Creating this story has been a long labor of love and I'm proud to see it out to share with all of you. I do hope that you enjoy the experience and get a good taste of the sort of thing that's to come from my brain in the future.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WIP Wednesday

So, warming up to the release of Canyon Creek Love Story in just over a month now I thought it may be nice to share a little bit of the pre-alpha stuff I'm working on right now.

The closest to completion is also the only one still lacking a title; a cybernetics infused space western with a lot of heat, romance, and attempted murder. Everything I love about combining technology, space, and western themes in a M/M romance piece. This bit comes from chapter 2:

"Uh, I know I'm apparently an idiot... but South is over there." I pointed, pushing up with a frustrated groan. I tried to step forward only to realize too late that my right leg wasn't moving with me. "Ah, fuck..." I sighed, hitting the hard sand face first. "So, uh... little problem here."

Michael swore under his breath, turning back toward me. "You have a mechanical leg, don't you?"

"I prefer the term 'artificial limb analogue', thank you very much."

"Hydraulic would have suited you better... those damn cybernetics are touchy when you take on a large amount of current." He frowned, but sank down close again, withdrawing his tools.

"Yeah, but mine's cool."

He shrugged; "Fair enough." A long, awkward moment passed before I realized he was waiting for me.

"Oh, pants off?"


I tried to toe off my boots, managing the easy one off before nudging my dead leg with my human foot. "Little help here?"

Michael swore again, the corners of his mouth twitching as though he may smile, though it didn't come. "You know, I never really thought the next time I took a guy's pants off it would be in the middle of fucking nowhere."

"One of the perks of being a fucking merc. Travel to distant and exotic lands... have total strangers take your pants off."

"Shut up or I'm not fixing it."

"Just saying..." I lifted my hips, helping with the process of getting off my boots and trousers as best as I could. "This really is a lot more fun with control of all my limbs."

 I'm really looking forward to cleaning up this novel and getting it out to share the fun with everyone!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Your Fun is Wrong!

Writing process is something I think about a lot, especially when it is frequently used as a device to tell new writers that they're “doing it wrong”. Personally, I can't imagine any one wrong way to write – if you're doing what works for you then by all means, carry on. I say this because I've been told that my “process” is wrong more often I really thought I would when I first started writing seriously, and I can't help but wonder what sort of irrational thought process would lead someone to judge another person's way of getting the ideas out of their head.

I've made no secret of the fact that my writing always has been, and likely always will be, influenced by fandom and by nearly twenty years so far of writing fanfiction. Fanfic is great, it brings a lot of things to the table that I think a lot of "traditional" authors dismiss much the same way fanfic itself has been dismissed as juvenile and the very worst of the craft itself. Writing fanfiction means the author is taking familiar characters, settings, plot devices, and situations and using them to tell a story that is uniquely theirs. In this process, you are required to examine the characters in all their glory and fault; a good fanfic author will take the time to know their characters as well as any you can create yourself. You study their motivations, their history, their shortcomings, and in the process you begin filling in the gaps (as with any medium there will always be gaps, how dull would a story be if it told you everything there ever was to know about a character?) that can either play a part in your story or not. For some fanfic is less about the characters and more about the world they live in, but the process is remarkably the same; what is this world about, what sort of things happen there, why is this a place. In taking apart what has already been established you also learn how to build it, how to create your characters and worlds and relationships. Fanfic, at its best, is a study of something you love and want to know intimately.

Another huge influence on my writing has been the world of RPGs. I'm a geek to my core; and my brand of geekery has always been heavily steeped in the world of roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire: the Masquerade. My first breaths of writing, of creating characters and worlds, was sitting around a table rolling dice. When I open the player's guides of these games the very first thing you're introduced to isn't charts and rules; it's how to make your character. The template for building a character quickly became how I relate to all characters, my own and those created by others. What do they look like? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What motivates them? What are they afraid of? Who are the important people in their life? Where do they live, and where did they come from? What is their community like? If you can answer those questions, you have everything you need to know to create a living character.

That's where my stories start. Sitting down with a piece of paper or an open document with one or two of those questions already answered, I flesh the rest out and then draw from there. By the time I start writing, I know what genre my story will be and what sort of goals my main character will have in it. From there I can layer on how they get from where they are to where they're going, what obstacles they'll face and their epic wins against them, or utter failures. I rarely outline, preferring instead to follow that vague track and let this character that now lives in my head to guide my path to tell me where they're going. I let my characters shock me with unexpected turns, and disappoint me when they revel secrets I hadn't considered until it came up in the moment. At all points the character drives my story, not necessarily the plot. In a lot of ways, I'm writing fanfiction for a character and universe I created, because really I love my characters and want to know more about them and the world they live in.

Which is why I'm wrong, because all authors should have a clearly defined narrative when they first set on their quest to write a story. I should have a clear message that I want to put out, not one that happens by chance as my characters are blundering through their world. Honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way. My fun is wrong, and that's okay.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pre-Order Now! Canyon Creek Love Story from Less Than Three Press!

I've been sitting on this for a few days, barely able to contain my excitement that after much work and waiting, I finally have a date for when my novella, Canyon Creek Love Story will be making its way into the big world!

June 22, 2016

Fifteen years ago Robert left Canyon Creek behind, and has made a life as a junior detective in Brooklyn. When he returns home to attend his mother's funeral, however, circumstances make it difficult to leave again.

Stuck in the place he once tried to leave behind, helping his pregnant little sister, Robert meets Charlie, the sheriff's son now turned sheriff. He's kind and sweet, but also divorced with a young daughter to raise. But the more time passes, the more Robert wonders where he's really meant to be, and if that place just might be the home he once left behind.

What can you expect from Canyon Creek Love Story? Feelings about love, identity, family, home, and what it means to yourself when life has told you nothing good will come of it. Oh, and some steamy sex. I am hyped to say that the beautiful cover art is by the talented Kirby Crow, bringing the vision of the small Arizona town of Canyon Creek to life.

The best part? It's available for Pre-Order RIGHT NOW. And, you can save some money by skipping the wait and ordering before it's too late!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Where Are All the Queer Faves?

So I’ll say right off the top that this post has come from a place of discussion and interest as well as one of anger and concern. Not long ago I was talking over Twitter DMs with a very good friend of mine about an actor we both happen to fangirl over and I happened to say “I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out as bi”. It feels awkward to admit this here, outside of the safety of one to one messages with someone who knows me so well, but it’s not the first time I’ve found myself looking at an individual I admire and coding them as bisexual, pansexual, demisexual, or ace whether their actions or stated identification says otherwise. This feels awkward because from a psychological point of view the vast majority (or even all) of these instances are at least in part my own projection.

I mentally code them as not-heterosexual because there isn’t exactly a wealth of visible, public individuals with the power and access that comes with celebrity who fall outside of the hetero/homo dichotomy. Even now as I try to think of “celebrities” that have spoken openly about being bisexual (as it is the most visible of the multitude of non-hetero/homo sexualities currently) I can think of three off the top of my head. Three people, all of which are women, all of which have in more than one piece I’ve read regarding their sexuality been written about to draw attention not for their openness and visibility, but to titillate and shock readers.

As a cis-gendered female who identifies as pansexual (and to be honest, more often one who is content to simply say bisexual to avoid discussion the difference with uniformed individuals), I’ve found myself building a significant part of my identity on sexual coding and hope that representation will come. As a geek, I find myself longing for out geeks with media pull to talk openly about their sexuality; to see not only healthy representations of queer culture but queer culture within the huge and ever-present geek kingdom where it seems that the large numbers of queer fans looking for representation get none. Note, I understand and acknowledge that I’m not entitled to have anyone come out – that no person is ever obligated to come out for any reason – but as a queer geek who knows for a fact that I am far from alone in this huge cultural pool, the fact that there aren’t more out queer geeks in our beloved media saddens me.

Even in our popular geeky media, queerness is still written in code that us “select few” are left to decipher if it’s not clear cut homosexual/heterosexual. We’re in a position where those of us not content with the fact that more homosexual characters are appearing in our fandoms are still left with the queerness we create in our shipping and head canons. It may show my age, but in reality our media of now – of 2016 – hasn’t come much further than it was in my teen years and Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a lesbian and then was straight again with no mention of the dreaded ‘b’ word because “love is love, we don’t need a label do we”. Sexuality continues to be boiled down to being either straight or gay depending on who you’re currently interested in with only rare mentions of bisexuality as something that actually exists beyond vague implications of fluid sexuality and experimentation.

Unfortunately, those mentions are usually in reference to the tired old bisexual tropes, the non-monosexual individual as evil or insane or simply seeking attention. Can you name a single character on television or in the movies today, let alone an actor or actress, who is openly identified as bisexual (not “fluid”, not “experimenting” not “curious” or “a people person”) and treated with respect and dignity, you know… like the normal people that we are? I’m not as media savvy as most, but I sure can’t.

And so I circle back around to my own not-so-secret reading of famous people as potentially not monosexual, my own vain attempts to find representation where there has been so little. It’s awkward to admit, but yeah – I wish at least one of my “faves” was not only outside of the binary hetero or homo only scale that people seem to cling to, but also open about this. I long for the day when one of the nerdy actors I follow casually drops that they happen to bi or happen to identify as asexual and it’s no big deal. I deeply desire normalization, representation, and acknowledgement of identities that the media for the most part is silent on.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why It Matters To Me

(Originally posted to my Tumblr, but I felt this belongs here too.)

There’s something that’s been brewing in my head for a while now, and there’s a larger picture to it than just this post - but I want to start here. I want to talk about Critical Role; the Geek & Sundry Twitch phenomenon that is live Dungeons and Dragons played by amazingly precious marshmallows (Okay, in their words Nerdy Ass Voice Actors - but I like my version better). I could talk about this show all day (and pretty much do Thursdays on Twitter) and the depth of characters, amazing storytelling, and just all around awesome that is Critical Role - but right now I want to talk about something very special and rare to me - Representation.

Early in the series (episode 14) we first encounter a character that has been mentioned before on stream; a Glorious arcane bastard (shop keeper and wizard extraordinaire) by the name of Gilmore. Gilmore is an attractive, flashy, and fairly stereotypical gay human. However, as the story progresses over the course of many episodes we learn that he’s more than that; he’s intelligent, charismatic, ruthless, and a badass on top of that (explaining how would be spoilers, suffice to say he’s a fucking BAMF okay?). There is also an obvious interest in one of the adventuring party; the rogue Vax. At first it is uncertain if Vax’s flirtation with Gilmore is genuine or simply an attempt to (successfully) haggle out a better price and information. We’re left to wonder, but Liam O’Brien (Vax’s player) caught someone insinuating on Twitter that the attraction was one-sided and immediately squashed the idea, making it clear that the affection was certainly returned. Over the course of many episodes, we were given glimpses of this, and then (honestly, much to the pain of my shippy heart) Vax fell for Keyleth, another party member. In a move that I applaud Liam and Matt Mercer for, Vax told Gilmore about these feelings and “broke up” with him out of fear of hurting Gilmore by not being true and following what he appears to see as the woman he is destined to love.

Yet still, now several episodes after this, there’s still this glimmer of genuine love and affection between them that does not in any way diminish Vax’s love for Keyleth much the way Vax’s love for Keyleth does not detract from the real attraction to Gilmore. And with no fanfare, no applause, no pats on the back and cookies for their radical inclusion we have an actual HEALTHY bisexual character… on a Twitch based Dungeons and Dragons show. We have relationships that aren’t forced, that clearly aren’t there to appeal to a certain audience type. In the very thick of a culture that to many is toxic to its LGBT members we have healthy non-heterosexual characters and relationships portrayed as commonplace and without pandering or making it into a joke. Without insulting those of us who ARE nerdy and queer as fuck.

I can look at a character like Vax who is openly not straight, I can look at other characters both within Vox Machina and NPCs that are implied to potentially not be straight (whether through coding, flirting, or wild guessing). But most importantly I can see the community and the creators embracing this with the sort of normalcy that I’ve been groomed to not expect through a lifetime of being the outsider. It’s thrilling, and gives me hope that if representation and inclusion can happen in this amazing little corner of geek media maybe some day we’ll have openly queer creators and characters to look up to without feeling like we’re alone in this.

For this, I thank you Critical Role. Thank you for making one queer #critter for life feel a little less alone in this world.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Writer's Unique Relationship with Google

Today I found myself googling Chipotle locations in the greater Los Angeles area for a story. It was nice, I admit, to be able to find the information easily without going through stacks of wiki entries and anecdotes to recover the apparently vital piece of research I need to make this scene work.

This is not typically the case.

I'm pretty sure my tendency to write things that require specific information (at least in my mind that swears by the little details) has led me down enough dark google searches to put me on at least one watch list somewhere. For this piece alone I've found myself googling:

parks Los Angeles big fountain
population density (various neighborhoods in LA)
gay bars NOT west hollywood

All of which are *fairly* innocuous if you discount the fact that in the last year I've also searched for specific building floor-plans, helicopter blue prints, how engines work, and lolita goth fashion. What I'm saying is somewhere, someone is looking for an attack via helicopter on a specific building by a crew with alternative fashion taste.

Possibly followed by celebratory drinks and Chipotle.