Friday, December 19, 2014

Santa's Little Kinksters: Guest Bloggers

 Today I would like to welcome Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese to the blog! They're here to talk to you about their new release, Evergreen, of the Santa's Little Kinkster's anthology, available now from Torquere Press and on Amazon if you prefer.. Take it away folks!
 

 
As a native New Yorker, being involved in writing a holiday story about Christmas was actually something of a challenge for me.  That’s because there are two New Yorks during the Christmas season. There’s the one that happens in Midtown Manhattan, that involves bright lights, expensive shopping, and often unbearable crowds, and there’s the one that happens in the rest of New York. That other holiday season is smaller, more local, and takes place on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis.  It also tends to be very quiet. 

After all, New York is filled with people who moved here from other places, which means they usually return to those places around the holiday season. For people that grew up here we often say that we like the holidays simply because everyone leaves. The bulk of Evergreen takes place in Brooklyn, just a neighborhood or two away from mine. It’s about what happens when Liam, who grew up in New York and moved to L.A. for work, comes home for the holidays to his family and his childhood friends. Presenting that quiet New York, the one that tourists don’t see and probably wouldn’t find that interesting, in a compelling way was challenging. It’s a very different type of romantic Christmas feeling than the one most readers are familiar with.

But what we hope that readers discover all the beauty of that romance that comes from quiet streets and familiar haunts. From the privacy (as private as one can get in New York, at least) of the backyard of Liam’s parents’ townhouse, to the hush of Liam’s street during a Christmas Eve snowfall, Christmas in this New York is full of moments of unexpected magic. And even in a big, outrageous city like New York, and a busy, complicated life like Liam’s, at its core, romance is about the trust and comfort of home.
 
Blurb:
 
When bisexual polyamorous TV star Liam Campbell returns home to New York City for the holidays he finds out his his best friend (with benefits) Charles Ortwin has recently acquired a serious boyfriend. Thrown by not being the center of everyone's attention, Liam seeks out advice from three of his chosen family: ex-lover and co-star J. Alex Cook, boss and asexual romantic companion Victor Salcido Santillan, and fiancée Carly Amadahy, each of whom are tied up with their own sensual pleasures.

When a holiday party ends in a series of arguments between Charles, the new boyfriend, and Liam, it takes a snowy Christmas, a bit of honest communication, and some delightful sexual agony to put everything back as it should be.

Bio:
Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese are authors of the gay romance series
Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry (Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)), all from Torquere Press. Their gay romance novella Midsummer (Summer 2015), about a summerstock Shakespeare company, is from Dreamspinner Press. Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller; Erin is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. They write stories and scripts about the intersection of private lives, fame, and desire. You can find them at http://Avian30.com.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Curse on the Mountain: Sneak Peek #2



Prologue
At the very top of a mountain shrouded in dark clouds was a city, the capital of a kingdom called Eldore. It had rained for a thousand years, with no indication it would ever stop. Centuries ago the city was cursed by Cai, a god torn from the mortal woman he loved by Death and the borders that limited his influence outside the kingdom he called home. The other gods refused to allow the lovers to reunite after her death, and in his grief and anger, the once loving god turned his sorrow into a curse.
Clouds formed over the mountain and the plains on the first day, dark clouds filled to bursting with Cai’s tears. Those raindrops fell onto the city and continued to fall as the god cried for his beloved wife, withheld from him by the jealousy of his brethren. Over time the clouds shrank as Cai’s power diminished, until only the mountain was subjected to his curse.
The mountain’s name had been lost to time, and the records on which that name was inscribed had long since succumbed to must and mold and damp. The city perched on its crest was called Var Eldore. Like all cities on mountains, the wealthy lived at the peak while those with less struggled closer to the bottom. Unlike all other cities on mountains, there was a slightly more practical reason for this than simple ego or even defense. It was the rain. The rain flooded the lowlands beneath the mountain. The poor built their homes upon stilts of stone, while the rich built elaborate systems to divert the water from one place to another.
The rainwater eventually made its way to the plains below the mountain. The plains muddied and sank and became a marsh, a cold, harsh place where little life grew. What life there was came in dangerous forms. Large beasts of claw and tooth and pebbled leather hide. For the most part, carnivores roamed the thick swamp. Stretching farther from the marsh, the plains took hold again. The great beasts were present there as well, but tamed by the efforts of those who dwelt on the plains. A people apart from their pale neighbors on the mountain, the Ruvi were gypsies and nomads with dark skin and hair the color of blood. Legend told of the time when the mountains to the far east split open to allow passage, and these strangers came to the plains.
The winds swept the grasses and drew music from the reeds at the edge of the swamp. Sunlight warmed the plains, and the Ruvi kept their herds in peace. They traded east and west, and even with the city, though Var Eldore was a dangerous place for a Ruvi to go. Slave markets abounded in the lower city, called the Mire by those who lived there, and the traders weren’t particularly choosy about where their wares came from. They raided the plains and stole children from their beds. The small settlements on the edge of the swamp were all fair game to those vile men with their vile trade. Farther up the mountain, slums and slave markets gave way to taverns and tradesmen, and farther still were the fine shops where petty nobles and wealthy merchants spent their coin.
It was also there, in the highest reaches of the city, where the guild of magic resided. Many such guilds dotted the city landscape. There were those traditional edifices for carpenters and wheelwrights, bakers and smiths in Blathe’s Row, but in the Palace Green, in the shadow of the Royal Castle, the Mage Guild stood as testament to the power and influence of magic.
For every guild there were guild lords. The Mage Guild had nine, though the trade guilds were limited to three. These lords were powerful, wealthy and influential. Through the guilds the people of the city felt security, and over all of this was the king. Every profession had its guild, and every member had protection.
Except not every member was equal. Certainly in trade there were those merchants with more power than others. There would always be a better blacksmith and a smarter alchemist. In magic, however, it was different. There was magic that killed, magic that healed. Magic to build and protect. For each of those schools there were those guild members that stood out. Sentinels who watched and worked closely with the King’s Watch, the city’s erstwhile police force; Enforcers who dealt out justice with the Crown’s grace and no trial; Healers who could knit bone and blood with a touch;  Artificers who made armor and weapons of magic.
Yet these masters of the arcane were only a handful in comparison to the numbers boasted by the guilds of trade and craft. These more mundane men and women kept their heads out of palace politics and avoided places like the Mage Guild and the dangerous wizards it bred. They worked in their forges and shops and simply tried to make a living in a cursed city.
It was at such a shop, on a particularly foul-weathered day, winter beginning to settle in on the mountain, that a man stood by a window staring out at the sky and the dark clouds that still hovered over the mountain.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The News

First off, thank you to the hosts I have thus far! There are still three dates free, the 29th, the 2nd and the 3rd are still up in the air. I'm putting together posts and prize sets now and in all trying to be as organized as possible while battling a cold? I think it's a cold. I've had four cups of tea today. Black tea. Highly caffeinated, plus one cup of herbal tea that has helped the symptoms to some degree.

I've also been replaying Bioshock 2, as it seemed the thing to do. On Hard mode this time because it was too easy on normal. Anywho....

I just read Vixen's Valor by Charlie Cochet... The North Pole City Tales are a highlight of my Christmas season, they really are. I've just started pre-ordering them whenever I see I new one on the Coming Soon page because I know they're going to be heart-warming, a bit naughty and just all around wonderful. I just wish she'd write something longer in that world. And of course I want to see the boys from Mending Noel again.

In other news, I've got another Night Wars short reverted into my hands, so I'm adding it into what I hope to be a full-blown Anthology of Night Wars short stories. All the old ones plus a few new ones. Right now I'm trying to finish something totally unrelated with brand new characters you've never seen but after that I'm going to work on The Evil Eye which is a book from Jack's perspective and delves more deeply into his family, secrets, and past. As far as The Night Wars go I have Jack's book, then I have a plot for a book for Michael, a novella I think for Bronson and definitely a revisit of Station House Six. Then, however, we'll be moving on. I've got Divisions abroad to look at, as well as New York, New Orleans and St. Louis.

In YA news, the Guidebook series will continue with the addition of two novels I'm working on. How to Breathe Fire  deals with the dragon you met in Vampirism and You! but I'm at a standstill plot-wise so no real progress is being made. On the other hand I have Baying at the Moon, which will deal with the supposedly non-existent werewolf (well, vampires do keep secrets after all). That one I am looking forward to quite a bit. I have plans and plots for about five more books in total for that series.

This year did not go the way I wanted it to. I had hoped to publish four books this year and only pulled out two. A lot of this had to do with a mystery illness and a long bout of depression. I'm feeling better now, more focused and more like myself. I don't think I noticed how bad I had gotten until I started to feel better.

For next year, I won't make any battle plans. I'm not going to promise anything because I just want to focus on the writing, on continuing to get better and telling the stories I love.

A Curse on the Mountain is a story I've been trying to tell for a long time. I started it my Freshman year of college and have been fighting with it since. I think it and I came to an understanding, and I hope it's a story that you will all enjoy reading as much as I've enjoyed writing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blog Tour?

Many of you may know I'm terribly bad at putting myself forward. Those that know me personally find this hilarious as I'm rather gregarious and forthright in person... Some would say headstrong, blunt, bullish, bitchy even. However, when it comes to actually presenting myself and my work I seem to flounder.

I can talk your ear off in person, and have on occasion near accomplished this, but the initial contact is hard for me.

So, in the spirit of putting myself out there, I'm plotting out a blog tour for A Curse on the Mountain. It'll be my first official one, and I hope to make a full week of it, starting December 28th and ending January 3rd. This will mean a total of SEVEN blogs willing to host me.

I'm planning to give away eight prizes. One for each day and then one grand prize, as it were. Prizes will be things like, back list stories/books, ebooks, perhaps a gift card. The grand prize I know will be a commissioned piece of artwork, naming rights to a character in an upcoming book, a book and a signed book plate or vellum.

I'll try to work out all the wrinkles in the meantime, and if anyone is interested in hosting me, just hit my email!

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Curse on the Mountain: Preview

 IT ALWAYS rains.

Myr sighed at the sight of moisture beading on the window. He hated the rain. Hated that it made everything stink of ozone and mold. Myr was a slight fellow, with the pale blond hair of a native Eldoran. He was dressed neatly, a dark apron over his linen shirt, black tie knotted simply, and trousers tucked into the top of his calf-high boots. His hazel eyes, uncommon among the usually blue-eyed Eldorans, held a deeper pain than his outward posture would suggest, and there was an unusual grace about the way he held himself.

“Myr! We have a customer!”  Jole, the proprietor of the shop called from the front.

Myr rolled his eyes and pushed away from the window, his melancholy air shifting as he rearranged his apron and  slipped a smile on his face. It was a mask so complete it erased the pain from his eyes—but it was  a mask. “I’ll be right there, sir,”  he called back. He’d been ostensibly organizing the backroom, though in reality he’d simply been looking for a reason to  get away from a particularly annoying customer. He peered out to make sure she had left before heading into the front.

The shop was kept very clean to  compete  with the damp. The floors were glossy red tile and the walls lacquered wood. Oil lanterns hung from long chains to light up the bolts of fabric and lengths of ribbon, lace, and bobbles. Tall jars of buttons, needles, and spools of thread and yarn stood in neat rows. Large books filled with prints of the latest fashions sat on the countertop.

Myr wasn’t sure who the trendsetters were, but he was starting to question their taste. Goring had made a recent, most unwelcome comeback in jackets and bodices. He’d very much hoped he’d seen the last of it three seasons ago.

A lady and her sober attendant stood in the silks section of the shop. With an appreciative eyebrow raise, Myr noted the lady’s tasteful blue gown and approached her with his best customer service smile. The lady’s complexion was fine and slightly tan, a fashion for the wealthy who could afford to leave the rain-cursed mountain and vacation in the sunny valleys and plains beyond it—or at least could afford the skin-darkening creams sold at the most trendsetting salons.

Her hair was dark and her eyes a touch darker, a sign of foreign ancestry. She wore her hair in braids coiled and pinned to her head underneath a wide-brimmed hat of felted wool adorned with wax flowers and birds, something that could withstand the rain without being utterly unfashionable. Myr recognized the work as that of a milliner three streets over. Her umbrella was made of hide and trimmed with pierced leather so fine it looked like lace.

Her low-heeled boots were a match to the umbrella, with buttons made of round blue stones that matched the dress. Myr was betting the buttons were changeable. It was a common way to update a pair of boots to suit a garment.

“What may I assist you with, milady?”  Myr asked with a bow of the shoulders and sweeping gesture.

She smiled.  “I need a new dress for a winter ball. I would like it to be in keeping with the weather.”

The weather indeed. As winter approached Eldore, the rain turned to sleet. The streets turned to ice, and no few buildings collapsed under the weight of it. Not everyone could afford a mage to spell the ice away from their rooftops with fire.

Myr nodded.  “May I inquire as to your color preference? Or may I be so bold as to suggest something for you?”

Myr had always had an eye for color and a charming smile, talents that served him well as a salesman in a fancy dress shop, just  as they had in his previous life.  He kept his eyes on the lady’s face, though he never quite met her gaze. Cautiously respectful was the wisest tactic to take with nobles one did not know.

“Please do. I have heard you have excellent taste.”

“Thank you, milady.”  Myr led her over to the velvets and pulled a few swatches in green, dark cream, and a rose tone that would bring out the tan of her skin. He draped them casually over his arm and presented the colors to her.  “These would be warm enough for the season, and the texture is quite luxurious,”  he said with a smile. They come all the way from Galei.”

She made an appreciative face and fingered the fabrics with a confident eye. She nodded after a moment. “These would be fine. The rose would do for the bodice, perhaps a fuller skirt than the fashion, and a cape to match with the cream for a liner. I would like a touch of fur. If I send one round, could it be done?”

“Yes of course, milady.”

“Lovely then.”  She snapped her fingers,  and her lady’s maid handed over a  small envelope.  “Here is the design I would like to have done and my measurements. Please ensure they are burned after you are finished. I prefer no one else show up wearing a similar gown.”

“Yes, milady.”

“Very good.”

“Then my master, Jole, will write up  your order and see about the rest. Sunshine be in your wake.”

She smiled. “And in yours.”

Myr bowed and slipped away, placing the samples and the envelope on the counter and allowing Jole to take payment. Jole’s wife and daughters did all of the sewing for the shop, all of the fine embroidery and trimming. Jole handled the money, and Myr was the handsome face there to compliment them into spending more.

He was good at it.

Myr ducked back into the stock room and  wrapped up  his organizing. After Jole finished up with the noblewoman, he joined Myr.

“She spent a tidy bit of silver.”  He rubbed his hands together gleefully.  “I thank the gods every day you walked into my shop. I swear you were blessed with god-given charm.”

Myr smiled.

“Now I’m off.  My wife  wants  me home early. Our son is coming home for a visit all the way from the coast.”

“Of course. I’ll lock up.”

“Thank you, Myr.”

Myr let Jole out and locked up the shop, blowing out lanterns and closing curtains, stoking the furnace in the basement before heading up to the loft over the shop where he lived. The small room was furnished with a beaten and dying clothes chest, splintered in one corner from a recent fall where the leg had broken and was crudely repaired. A carpenter Myr was not. A small wavy mirror of battered copper covered with a thin layer of silver hung over a short washstand with a chipped basin.

He lit the lamp next to his cot and glanced toward to the small porthole window on the far wall, overlooking the street. The thick, bubbled glass was difficult to see through. Jole wasn’t the sort to spend money on unnecessary luxuries. A student glass-smith’s work was fine for an attic room. Myr sighed and took a seat on the cot.  His shoulders hunched,  and his spine bent as all of his poise slipped away, and the mask of jovial calm melted off his face to expose the raw pain.

“I can’t keep doing this, Ryall. I  can’t. I  need  you too much. I miss Quinn.”  He reached under his pillow and retrieved a small silver ring. He slipped it onto his finger, twisting it sharply.  “I can only hide so long. I can only keep  living  for so long.”  He clenched his jaw  before speaking.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know if I’m strong enough.”

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Curse on the Mountain: Coming December 29th

Description:
In the cursed city of Var Eldore, perched on a mountaintop surrounded by a frigid swamp, the rain never stops. Former pleasure slave Myr lives in hiding, trying to stay a step ahead of his captor. But there’s more to Myr than he realizes, and destiny has other plans for him. Soon, he counts soldiers, spies, nobles, and wizards among his allies. Their goal is to oppose the king and those who perpetuate slavery, and fight for the freedom of their land. As they uncover secrets and conspiracies, each more tangled than the last, Myr also discovers he has unique abilities to aid their cause—the Redeemers.

As the strength of the Redeemers grows, so does the number of enemies they must face. Each member of their alliance has his or her own demons to battle, and Myr must confront the truth about himself and become the leader they need. Alongside his lover Ryall and the people who have become his family—as well as some unlikely friends—Myr and the Redeemers must prepare for war. If they fall, the city in the rain will follow.

Now available for Preorder!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Rules of Engagement Kickstarter


 Some of you may know that I am known by other names. It's not something I make a secret of. It's not something I'm even particularly concerned about keeping a secret. It's merely a division I made three years ago when I was new on the scene and just deciding how I would present myself and my work.

Now, however, I have decided to begin publishing works under my own name and outside the m/m genre, as it were. After a lot of heartbreak in the query race and general irritation with some of the industry I decided what I really wanted to do was self-publish this series.

The Rules of Engagement Kickstarter, thus was born. There are two books currently written in a planned trilogy and the Kickstarter will run November 1-30 during Nanowrimo, while I plod away manically at the first draft of book three. I've been told I have a masochistic streak. Yeah. I might at that.

 So what exactly are these books about? Well, Rule of Sword follows the initial education and adventures of Charlie Ridley, a girl in disguise. Charlie finds herself shipwrecked, bitterly alone and becomes a cadet at one of Her Majesties officer academies. For more information you can follow along at the The Rules of Engagement Kickstarter Blog.