25 June 2008
24 June 2008
Since my first book released last week, I've gotten two reviews—one from Elisa Rolle and one from Mrs. Giggles. I'm glad I have a thick skin. I'm an actor; I'm very good at handling rejection and criticism. Neither review was glowing, but neither panned it completely. Of course, Mrs. Giggles was less positive but that's to be expected. She is known for snark and she does it well. Both reviews had one criticism in common and I agree with it: the book starts slowly. ::shrug:: I'm okay with that. It was a lot of detail and description at the top. Visual world-building before leaping into the action. Some people like that and some don't. Usually I'm in the don't. Funny how that happened, eh? Irony. It's good for the blood. ;)
Right now I'm working on expanding a novella that my editor liked but wanted more of. Higher stakes, more back-story. I'm glad she didn't take it as is (or at this point as was). I initially wrote it for an anthology submission with a 25,000-word limit. These boys deserve more story than that and while I was pleased with the initial version, I think the expanded one will be much better. Here are pics of actors I'd cast were I casting. Pretty boys, no?
and Simon Woods
23 June 2008
11 June 2008
Without further delay, here are the winners, chosen by the highly scientific method of printing out names, cutting them apart, and drawing them from a bowl....
The Jot-a-thought Notebook goes to CrystalGB, by random chance the first person to post to the party and the first name to be drawn from the big blue bowl!
The silver music charm goes to carrot-cake67!
The winner of the notecards is Jane!
And the grand prize winner who gets her very own free dowload of my book is ... ::drumroll:: ... Kaye!
Email me with your mailing addresses, please, ladies at maiastrong (at) earthlink (dot) net. (You all know how to do the converstions so that's a real email right? ;) ) And Kaye, please let me know what format you'd like your book in.
Thanks again everyone!
10 June 2008
Today's the day and I'm beyond excited!
Available now at My Bookstore and More
Wand'ring Minstrel Jimothy Redwing is used to life on the road, living by the words and music that are his stock in trade. While he's comfortable finding his way alone, he's always amenable to a friendly stranger who knows the lay of the land. Ricky Lennox is smart, funny, handsome, and very amenable.
With a place to stay, a sexy new lover, and some local contacts, Jimothy looks forward to delivering the letters in his care—including a message for the local ruler—and earning a little money with his music before moving on.
Ricky's declaration he's interested in more than just a one-night tryst starts Jimothy thinking about settling into a life of perfect harmony. But things hit a sour note when he learns his lover's true identity—and exactly what's in the epistle to Kanbec's ruler.
Jimothy's journey turns out to be far more complicated than he could have dreamed, and as dangerous as any epic ballad. For himself—and for Ricky.
Warning: This book contains a sexy musician, hot nekkid manlove, violence, and nuns dressed in blue.
FYI: This is my last blog party post. All comments posted by midnight Pacific Daylight Time will be included in the prize drawings. I'll announce the winners tomorrow. Good luck, guys!
09 June 2008
This is the last excerpt for the week and it's not for the faint of heart, my friends, so prepare yourselves accordingly. This one is also definitely Not Safe for Work--unless you work somewhere more than a little liberal in its policies. ... I love those sorts of workplaces, don't you?
Come back tomorrow when I'll be squeeing like a fangrrl because my book will be out at last. The contests all run through the end of tomorrow, too, so remember to keep those comments coming! Oh! I almost forgot! I was interviewed by Kate Davies today for her new feature: Meet The Author Monday. Go check it out. You might learn something new.
He wearily pulled off his tunic and shirt and couldn't hide the wince that flashed across his face as he did. "Do not offer me any medicine," he commanded before Ricky could even open his mouth.
"I wasn't going to," he protested, but it was clear from his expression that he was lying. "Sit down. Let me help you." He crossed to the bed and knelt, pulling off each of Jimothy's boots and setting them to one side.
Jimothy wasn't such a fool that he didn't appreciate the help. "Thank you. This is familiar." A little smile tugged the corner of his mouth.
"Yeah. Isn't it, though?" Ricky looked up at him with a warmth in his pale eyes that was completely unlike the fiery flashes Jimothy had seen there before.
Jimothy stood once more, leaning against the bed to keep his balance. He really was exhausted and the fact annoyed him.
"You're frowning," said Ricky, removing his tunic and shirt and tossing them aside.
"About what?" He pulled off his boots and set them next to Jimothy's.
"It doesn't matter." Jimothy hated being helpless. And helpless is exactly how I feel. He undid the lacing of his pants, but strong hands reached out and stopped him. He met Ricky's blue gaze, and the other man smiled.
"Let me." He undid the laces the rest of the way and slipped his hands inside the waistband. He pushed the breeches down, running his hands warmly over Jimothy's hips and down his legs as he did so. "Lean on me." Jimothy put a hand on Ricky's shoulder, lifting his feet one at a time so Ricky could slide his pants off over them.
Then he was naked before his kneeling lover. His memory of the last time Ricky had knelt before him rushed to his mind as blood rushed to his penis, making him hard and hot. He was suddenly very alert.
"You're not so terribly tired, then, I see," said Ricky softly, smiling up at him.
"I am," contradicted Jimothy, "but you seem to have this effect on me." Ricky's smile widened and he took his lover's erection in one hand, causing it to jump with anticipation. He chuckled and licked the tip playfully.
"Do you want me to?" Ricky asked. "Because I'd be more than happy to."
Jimothy wasn't about to lie. "I do, but I think if I came on my feet right now, I'd collapse."
"Better to just sit down in that case." Ricky stood as Jimothy sat on the bed, pushing the blankets back. Ricky took a moment to remove his pants, releasing his own throbbing cock from its fabric prison. Already the end was slick.
"You are beyond sexy," Jimothy stated fervently. "I want to taste you."
"Are you sure?"
Jimothy nodded once.
"Move back." Jimothy shifted back from the edge a little and Ricky knelt on the mattress, knees straddling the seated man's thighs. Ricky frowned slightly. "How's your jaw? Don't hurt yourself."
Jimothy couldn't help but chuckle. "You're about to trust me enough to put your cock in my mouth, and you're worried about me getting hurt. That's so incredibly sweet that I think you're actually even sexier than you were a second ago." Ricky looked down at him, and even backlit by a single lantern, Jimothy could see he was blushing. The blush ran down his neck all the way to his chest.
"I don't know what to say."
Don't say anything. Just trust me, Jimothy answered silently, wondering if he would be heard. Then Ricky smiled and he knew his message was received. Ricky placed his hands on Jimothy's shoulders for balance, and Jimothy put one hand on Ricky's hip, taking his hard penis in the other. He massaged gently, eliciting both a moan of pleasure and a dribble of pre-ejaculate from the other man. He licked at the slickness, tasted salt and sweet, and then ran his tongue in a circle around the silky tip.
"Mmm," moaned Ricky again. He looked down and they locked eyes. "You know I like to be able to see everything," he whispered.
"I know." Jimothy opened his mouth and took just the tip of Ricky's cock inside. Little by little he worked his way up the shaft, lips curled over his teeth to protect the silken skin. Too soon he was forced to pull back. The ache in his jaw was stronger than his drive to continue. He looked up at Ricky apologetically and shook his head. "I'm sorry. I thought I could, but… It hurts."
Ricky held his shoulders in both hands, sat down so he was on Jimothy's lap, and kissed him tenderly. "It's all right. I'd have been surprised if you could manage it, really. Delighted," he added with a smile, "but surprised. Here. Lay down." He shifted off of the bed so Jimothy could turn and stretch out on his back with his head cushioned by pillows. Ricky laid down beside him. Careful of Jimothy's bruises, he ran gentle hands over the supine man's lean, naked body. He leaned over and kissed him again.
This was something Jimothy could still manage—at least in short spurts. He opened his mouth and Ricky took the cue seamlessly, running his tongue along Jimothy's teeth and then using it to tickle the roof of his mouth. His already sensitized groin tingled and tightened, his hardness leaping at the surprising sensation. When Ricky released him, both men were smiling and Jimothy's eyes were wide.
"Good unusual?" asked Ricky, a hint of concern in his voice.
"Very good," Jimothy reassured him. "I've never had anyone do that before. It tingled."
"Right down to your cock, I hope." Ricky reached a hand down and took hold of him, rubbing his thumb over the wet, slippery tip. "It does that to me."
"Yes," agreed Jimothy, suddenly at a loss for words as the other man's hand worked slowly, toyingly up and down his prick.
Ricky leaned in again, this time to whisper in his ear. "Come inside?"
© 2008 Maia Strong
To read the rest of this scene, you need only wait one more day. That's not so bad, right? I'm done counting down the days. Now I'm counting down the hours…
08 June 2008
For today's part of the party, I promised a slightly steamier scene this time and I did not lie. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the sexiest snippet, however. I'd call this one an [R+]. You have been warned. *weg*
"You said I could have two songs."
"Yes I did."
"Can I save the other one for later?"
"I don't see why not." Jimothy set his guitar down in its soft case. He stretched and yawned.
"You look like you're ready to collect your side of the transaction," Ricky said, rising from where he sat on the edge of the bed.
"I am, indeed," agreed Jimothy emphatically.
Ricky chuckled. "I thought so." He rose and went to his pack.
That bag must be bigger inside than it is outside, thought Jimothy. I bet if I asked he could magically pull a saddle out of one of those multitudinous pockets.
Turning around to face Jimothy again, Ricky held up a glazed pot about the size of a man's fist, its lid secured with a soft wax seal. "You're in luck. I was out, but I made myself stay an extra few minutes in Torvik just so I could restock."
"I appreciate your sacrifice," joked Jimothy.
"You should. You know how I feel about that city. I should warn you," he went on as he peeled off the seal, "it's sort of…pungent."
The moment the lid was off, Jimothy could smell the stuff. He concluded that his companion was a master of understatement. It wasn't that it smelled bad at all. In fact he quite liked the scent, detecting clove, cinnamon and peppermint oils. There was a hint of something softer underneath them, but he couldn't identify what it was. "You're not kidding. That smells like powerful stuff."
"Do you like it? I love it." Ricky stuck his nose in the pot and inhaled deeply. "Mm! Clears the sinuses a bit, too."
"I imagine it does. But all I care about is how well it works on sore muscles. I'd forgotten how hard horse riding is on my back."
"It's all that time keeping your balance. Don't be surprised if you wake up tomorrow feeling it in your gut and your thighs, too."
"I'm already feeling it in my thighs, thanks," Jimothy cracked dryly.
"I can rub those for you, too." This time Jimothy knew he wasn't mistaking Ricky's meaning or his expression, but before he could say anything, the younger man's eyes went wide. He quickly turned his back to Jimothy. "I'm sorry. That was inappropriate."
"No. Don't apologize."
"I shouldn't have said that. My mother warns me all the time that my mouth is going to get me into trouble. I'm really sorry."
Jimothy rose and came to stand a little behind and to one side of him. He cautiously reached out a hand and laid it gently on Ricky's shoulder. Ricky turned with the gentle pressure and the two men stood face to face. Jimothy looked down the short distance into Ricky's pale eyes and saw a mix of emotions he couldn't quite sort out. On impulse, he leaned in and kissed him on the mouth—a little cautiously, a little eagerly—and was thrilled when Ricky readily kissed him back.
They parted, but neither of them moved away so much as a step. There was a moment of silence until…
"Damn," breathed Ricky, his eyes alight once again. "Now that's the kind of trouble I like getting into." Jimothy laughed and they kissed again, deeper and hungrier and longer. Ricky pressed him back towards the bed until Jimothy bumped into it and sat down, abruptly breaking the kiss. He looked up at the other man and smiled salaciously.
"Blankets are soft, too. The linen sheets are nice on bare skin."
Jimothy ran a hand over them. "Mm-hmm."
Ricky stood close, legs spread just enough to squeeze Jimothy's knees between them. "I like to be on the bottom," he said, his voice daring a challenge.
"Then what are you doing up there?" Jimothy's words were met by a wide smile.
Ricky stepped back. Jimothy leaned forward to pull off his boots and moaned inadvertently as his back protested. Ricky laughed and knelt in front of him. "Let me do that," he offered. Jimothy was happy to let him. He held out each foot in turn and Ricky quickly removed Jimothy's boots and chucked them aside. They were soon joined by Ricky's boots and clothing. He pulled Jimothy to his feet and helped the aching man undress.
Standing naked together, each took time to look the other over appraisingly—flat bellies, sharply defined calves and thighs, strong arms. Jimothy smiled at the dark hair that curled over the other man's chest and the thin line of fine hairs that led down to his groin and his engorged penis. It was bigger than he'd expected and his own cock jumped eagerly in response. Ricky saw and grasped it, winning him a wordless grunt of excited surprise. He massaged the silken skin with strong fingers and Jimothy moaned and thrust his hips forward into his touch. Ricky trailed the fingers of his free hand over Jimothy's smooth chest with a feather-light touch that caused the taller man to shiver slightly. Leaning in, Ricky tilted his head to nip at Jimothy's ear and murmured, "That liniment is good for more than treating sore muscles." He looked into Jimothy's dark eyes, his own as blue as the center of a candle flame.
Jimothy met his gaze steadily. "Then let's put it to good use."
© 2008 Maia Strong
07 June 2008
Come back tomorrow for Excerpt #2, everybody. You don't want to miss it and you really don't want to miss a chance to post a comment because, dude, there are prizes to be won!
See you in the morning! (Or probably afternoon wherever you are. ;) )
I've had pretty good luck in contests. I usually final and sometimes I win. Recently, I was asked if I had any tips on placing in contests.
This is what's worked for me.
• Always follow directions. If they want no more than 25 pages, don't send 26.
• If it's a huge contest, you'll want your entry in early. Judges can get tired and jaded toward the end. Catch'um while they're fresh.
• Read your entry backwards. You'd be surprised how often you can catch errors and readability issues.
• Find a virgin reader. Hand your partial to a crit partner who hasn't read the entire novel. You'll get a purer reaction.
• Target your entries. Always look for contests that will put your work in front of editors or agents you'd like to work with.
And now that I've told you the right things to do, let me assure you that luck plays just as important a role. I am living proof.
When I entered the Samhain contest, I had exactly five lines! Pathetic, I know. A friend of mine talked me into entering. I waffled a bit, knowing I had nothing to offer, but then I came across a short story set on a post-apocalyptic Earth. I had written it as a workshop assignment. The more I thought about it, the more the setting piqued my interest.
I entered the contest on an idea and a bucket load of chutzpa that I could pull this off. TOUCH OF FIRE was born.
By the time the contest ended, I had a full outline and the first three chapters polished. My little fingers flew across the keyboard because I knew exactly what was going to happen in the story.
There was going to be adventure, sacrifice and sex. Leda, the haughty young mage learns a lesson no elder can teach her. And Grey, an ex-soldier turned scavenger discovers danger he can't fight alone.
The world building is probably the most intriguing part of Touch Of Fire. I love blurring the lines between science fiction and fantasy. And this world is unlike any other.
Set 1200 years in the future, Earth is a fusion of language, culture and religion. Society is divided between the plainfolk and fae, mages who can manipulate the four great elements: air, earth, water and fire. When a dangerous alchemist's book surfaces, it threatens to introduce technology to a world that knows only magic.
These are the lines that started it all:
The Reverend Mother used to tell acolytes that if men were going to brawl, they should at least be naked and glistening with oil.
Leda’s money was on the hulking brute with the Cydian blade, but right now she needed the other guy to win. That one had information she needed, and she wasn’t going to get it if he got himself killed. She was just about to intercede when her quarry tripped on his feet and knocked himself out cold.
I'm glad Maia looked me up. Her blog party is a great idea and I'm thrilled to be here! (I really don't get out enough.)
And now that you know who I am, I hope you'll pop over and visit me over at my place.
During the week, you can count on me to discuss publishing news, business, markets and gossip. (The good gossip--like new agents in town or the latest conference intel.) On the weekends, I let my hair down and talk about movies, dogs, or weird-but-true stories.
Stop by and visit me. Read an excerpt for Touch Of Fire here. And buy the book. Buy Maia's book. You'll love'em. Honest.
We wouldn't steer you wrong.
Links o' Luv
Buy: Touch Of Fire
06 June 2008
And remember that I'll be back again on Sunday with another excerpt. This one'll be more [R] than [PG]. ;)
Long years ago, in an unassuming high school classroom where US History was taught by a balding and beloved liberal, a girl invited another girl into a fantasy world. This world was unlike any the second girl had visited before, for it was known as a Shared Universe with myriad characters and countries already established, and yet plenty of room for more and more and more. And the girl thought, How cool! How fun! How rad!
There were several royals in this world, each with her own nation. Strong women with power and responsibility. And there were fabulous names to the nations where they dwelled. Names like Zephren, Ifstael, and Glengannoch. The girl looked at these royal women in their respective countries and thought, You need some ordinary people in this world. And you need some men. But these "ordinary people" needed to have access to the royal courts, otherwise the girl's characters couldn't play with the others' characters. How to achieve this? Who to create? What to do?
Thus was born the Sect of the Wand'ring Minstrels. Ordinary people with extraordinary training. Ordinary people with the facility to travel anywhere they need to go. Ordinary people with the authority to work with rulers and the accessibility to address common folk all at the same time. Handy that, don't you think?
Of course not just anyone can become a Wand'ring Minstrel. Individuals must first be found and found worthy. Wand'ring Minstrels are always on the lookout for talented youths with great potential. Some are never discovered. Some who are chosen to study do not choose to go or do not complete the training. It's hard work becoming a Wand'ring Minstrel and even harder work being one.
The girl liked this Sect she had created and so created her first Wand'ring Minstrel. Next she created his mentor, and then the Headmaster, and finally his roommate and best friend: Jimothy Redwing. Zephreni by birth, Wand'ring Minstrel by vocation. Educated in music and poetry, statesmanship and survival. Ultimately bound only by the laws of the Sect that trained him. His professional imperatives are simple: travel, seek, learn, inform, entertain, and always get the mail through. His personal imperatives are a great deal more complex. But that is another story.
And you can read that story in The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing, available on 10 June from Samhain Publishing and My Bookstore and More. :D
05 June 2008
Here's the first of three excerpts for this blog party week. This one is strictly PG--safe for anyone who might stop by. Check back Sunday for a slightly steamier segment of story. (Oo! Aren't I all alliterative today?) Remember, the more you comment this week, the more chances you have to win one of three spiffy prizes. And everyone who posts will be entered once into the Grand Prize drawing for a free download of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing, coming out on 10 June. Whee!
Eventually, with everything piled neatly around him on the floor, Jimothy shook his head. "It's all here—not that there's much." He looked around at his meager belongings. "It would be easy to tell if something were gone." Even his folded bit of parchment containing his abortive attempt at a new love song was there. He began putting it all back, starting with the pages. He didn't want Ricky to see them yet.
With everything put away, he closed the chest and leaned heavily on it to rise. Ricky reached out his free hand to help him up. "Thanks. I feel like an old man."
"You know," Ricky said, placing the lantern on the table, "I still owe you that back rub. You could collect now if you like."
Jimothy was strongly tempted, but shook his head. "My ribs are so sore I don't think I can hold myself upright much longer tonight, and lying on my stomach just sounds like a bad idea right now."
"I suppose you're right." Ricky sat on the edge of the bed and looked around, frowning. "Why would someone break in and not take anything?"
"Why would someone mug me without stealing my money?" Jimothy sat next to him. "Who could have gotten up here this evening?" he wondered aloud.
"Anyone going to the privy would have had the opportunity."
"But would that give someone enough time to come all the way up here, pick a lock, search a room, relock the door, and come back down without anyone wondering?" Jimothy shook his head.
"It is unlikely," agreed Ricky.
"Besides, there are people coming and going from the kitchen constantly. Surely someone would have spoken up if anyone headed upstairs without permission."
"They could have slipped in between the staff. Or it could have been another guest," mused Ricky as the idea struck him.
"Could be. Seems more likely, too, doesn't it? And there's only one other guest." Jimothy fought back a yawn. His mind was spinning, but his body was about worn out. "At least, as far as I know," he added wearily.
"We'll ask Maeve or Japheth in the morning. You should get some sleep," advised Ricky, concern in his voice. He wrapped a warm arm around his lover who happily leaned into the embrace.
"When there's the chance someone could break in while I'm asleep?" he argued half-heartedly. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea."
"You can't stay awake all night, and there's no real evidence that anyone was in here."
"What about that healthy paranoia you invoked earlier?"
Ricky shrugged, admitting stalemate. "All right," he admitted. "Still, I'd rather you not be alone tonight. I'll stay. I'll have Nita bring some strong tea to keep me awake."
"No." Jimothy shook his head and sat up. "I'm not the only one who needs some rest. I see those dark circles under your eyes," he said, his tone almost scolding. "You should go home. Get some sleep. If the woman in the next room really did break in here, she didn't find anything. There's no reason for her to try again."
"Except maybe to finish what those thugs started," said Ricky darkly.
Jimothy shook his head again. "They did their job, and she won't hurt me. But you–" He hated it, but it had to be said. "There's no guarantee you'll be safe if you stay here tonight." He stood up slowly and, as they talked, he carefully put away his guitar and transferred his night's earnings from his mug to his purse.
"What makes you think you're safe from her?"
"Something she said earlier tonight. She said that a talented musician was valuable to her."
"And you believed her?" Ricky challenged.
Jimothy met his lover's doubtful, worried gaze. "I couldn't tell you why, but I do believe her, yes."
They stared at one another for several moments. Ricky was the first to relent. "All right. But I'm not leaving you here alone." Before Jimothy could argue, he went on. "I have an idea." He rose and took the chair from the table, lodging it carefully under the door handle. Next, he took the bucket of water from beside the brazier and placed it about a foot to one side of the chair, in the path of anyone who might be hoping to sneak into the room. "Satisfied?"
Jimothy nodded, yawning. It was a stop-gap solution at best, but he was too tired to argue any more. "I suppose it'll have to do."
© 2008 Maia Strong
04 June 2008
The wee notebook.
The thank you cards.
The musical staff charm.
And of course the free download. (I didn't have to go looking for that one. I had it. ;) )
Have you heard? I sold a novel! I know! It's crazy. Who'd've thought it? It's called The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing and it's coming out in one week! Naturally, I'm celebrating. :D How? … It's a blog party, baby! Woo-hoo! For the next seven days, up to and including Release Day, 10 June, it's party time here at Just add coffee. What does that mean? That means excerpts, prizes, a guest appearance by the lovely and talented Maria Zannini, and behind-the-scenes stuff you won't find anywhere else. Check back daily for new and exciting installments. What? Oh! Right! I did say prizes, didn't I? More on that in a bit.
First, I'll tell you a little bit about how I got to where I am right now--plugging my first ebook release. In summer of 2007 Samhain Publishing held a Best First Line Contest. They weren't taking open submissions at that point but the contest was open to everyone. This was a great opportunity for us, the great unwashed, to possibly get a foot in the door. It started with one sentence each from 273 people. One week at a time, Samhain's editors narrowed down the entries. And one week at a time, each of those who remained got to add a single sentence to their contest entry. It was harrowing to say the least. Checking back every week to see if you're still in the game can put a strain on even the most jaded, and I'm pretty freakin' jaded. In the end, ten winners were left. The prize: the chance to submit a manuscript for consideration.
If you've read Aislinn Kerry's All that Glitters or Maria Zannini's Touch of Fire then you've already read two other winners' stories. And may I say how pleased I am to be in such good company? ::waves:: Hello, ladies! I don't know if any of the other winners made it to publication. I admit I've been lazy and haven't gone looking lately. If I've missed someone, please do post and let me know so I can wave hello and read your book, too! I'd also love to hear from Samhain's editors this week. Maybe tell us what you looked for during that contest, or what you learned reading and weeding through all those entries week after week.
Now, on to the prizes for this contest! It's way easier to win, so don't freak out, okay? ;)
There are four fabu prizes up for grabs. In no particular order: a wee, leather-bound "Jot-a-thought" notebook from The Literacy Site; a package of musically-themed note cards; and a silver musical measure charm. And as if that weren't enough, there will be one Grand Prize winner who will receive a free download of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing. (I don't actually know how to go about that, but I'm sure I can find someone to explain it to me before the week is out.) All you have to do is leave a comment here on the blog any time during the party. And get this: each post you make is one more entry into the drawing for the first three prizes! In the interest of fair play, everyone who posts will be entered only once in the Grand Prize drawing. Make sense? Good! I'll be posting the names of all the winners on Wednesday 11 June.
So come join the fun! There's wine on the table and beer in the fridge. There are apples and pears, cheddar and brie, water crackers and sourdough bread. It's my party. I get to serve what I like. ;) There might be cookies later. We'll have to wait and see.
Remember to come back tomorrow for the first excerpt!