31 December 2009

Spammers and Pirates

Spammers are just stupid. What makes them think they can comment on something (with their for-shit grammar and spelling and their link to their illegal activities) and I won't find it and delete it? Seriously. Stupid.

Pirates (not the cool kind that fight global warming and worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster, those are the good pirates) are evil and should have their hard drives melted down for slag. If I could find a way to embed code into my ebooks that fried the hard drive of anyone who illegally downloaded it, I would. But I'm a writer, not a programmer.

30 December 2009

New Anthology Cover!

Check it out! I got the cover art for the upcoming anthology from Torquere Press.

My short story, Play Music, Play Magic, will be in this anthology that comes out on 13 January 2010. This is a magic-themed (obviously), m/m/f anthology and I'm totally jazzed to see all the other stories in it! I'll have a bit of a blog party leading up to it, so check back for that.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun New Year's Eve!

18 December 2009

Friday Quizzage Holiday Edition 2

There is exactly one sentence in here that is true. I'll leave it to your imagination to guess which one. ;-D Frankly, I find this hilarious!





You are Brightly Optimistic



During the holidays, you're the one who has a bit of cheer for everyone.

Even when things get hectic and chaotic, you keep on smiling.

You believe it's important to have a spirit of generosity and gratitude all the time... but especially this time of year.

You get more satisfaction from giving than receiving. You're always going out of your way to improve someone's day a little.


17 December 2009

Gone international!

And I don't mean Canada and the UK. Apparently, my lastest book, Client Privileges, is available in France (scroll down) and my first book, The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing, is available in India.

How much do I love Google Alerts? Seriously. HOW MUCH? :-D

11 December 2009

Friday Quizzage - Holiday Edition!




You Are Eggnog



Your holiday personality is indulgent.

The holidays are when you enjoy your favorite treats without abandon.


And while you're a bit greedy for your favorite goodies, you aren't selfish.

You're the type who makes a whole bunch of holiday treats and gives them to everyone you know.



I think they mean with abandon, but I could be wrong. ;-D

09 December 2009

More Traditions

Another seasonal tradition I thoroughly enjoy is the ridiculously entertaining Haggis Hunt from TheScotsman.com. Really, it's an excuse to watch webcams of places I'd rather be (esp. Edinburgh). The hunt begins on St. Andrew's Day (of course) and ends on Burns Night (of course, again). The migration over Hogmanay (or New Year's to us New Worlders) is particularly impressive. I've been hunting haggi for years and ever once won a prize. Not even a coffee mug or a key chain. But I still get a kick out of it--if only because I can watch the sunrise on Edinburgh Castle, which I would never see were I actually in Edinburgh.

This year, a friend sent a link to something else haggis-related. It's a most...disturbing song by Peter Sellers from an album of Captain Beaky and his Band. I'd never heard of them, and I probably could have gone my whole life without hearing the song, but still it amused me. The Haggis Season mp3. Don't click unless you have Quicktime Player and a strong constitution.

08 December 2009

Holiday Traditions

(Cross-posting from S&B today because I liked my post and wanted to share it with folks here, too.)

Everyone has something that's a tradition, right? And many people have holiday-related traditions. Whether it's the family trip to find the right Christmas tree, or making Grandma's "secret recipe" latkes for Hannukah, or going from one friend's home to another delivering Solstice prezzies. Around here, a big tradition is the annual Rankin-Bass Gingerbread party. I posted about it last year, too, so even that's become a tradition. ;) This year's decorating was tamer than most. There was no gay frat house, no gingerbread brothel, no Victorian home that was crashed by a satellite or the object of a drive-by shooting. (Yes, we've made all of those in the past.) Just an Eye of Sauron, a gnome impaled on a tree, and a monkey in a tar pit, among other random things. (What's a Swiss chalet without a giraffe out back, right?) But really, that's not the point but simply the excuse to get together with friends and family. Hanging out, talking, laughing, eating, and being silly. It's been a rough year around here, both in my and my husband's life and around the area generally. Too much death and sadness, you know? So having a tradition like this, which is utterly bizarre and absurd, is a wonderful thing to have. A few hours of fun to remind us that life can be good and that people can be good, too.

So how about you? What traditions do you have that you look forward to each year? They don't have to be Decemeber ones, either, just those things your year wouldn't be complete without.

16 November 2009

Writers' Day Out

I spent yesterday riding the rails to Portland and back with some writer friends. We secured ourselves a table both southbound and northbound, and so were able to spend the better part of 6+ hours just writing, writing, writing while the train whisked us to our destinations.

Once in Portland, first thing to do was have brunch/lunch, so we made our way to Mother's Bistro where the wait was long but the food was oh so good! When a place is jam packed with locals, you know it must be good.

No trip to the City of Roses would be complete without stopping at VooDoo Doughnut for a bacon maple bar. Fortunately, we happened to hit there between rushes, so our wait was not too long and the bacon maple bars were still ample. (They often run out as it is a particularly popular item, and rightly so!)

Then it was time for our pilgrimage to Mecca, i.e. Powell's Books. Set four avid readers/writers loose in Powell's and just get out of the way. It's the only safe choice. ;) After checking our computer bags and our donuts, we set to work scouring the city-block-sized building for all the best bookish treasures one could hope for.

Then we stopped for a pint in a quiet, lovely pub--I believe it was called The Fox and Hounds--near the train station, and back we went northbound, computers out, fingers flying over the keyboards as the train took us home once more.

Even more than being a wonderful chance to buckle down and write like a fiend with very few distractions, it was wonderful to have a day out with great friends in a fun city. It's hard to beat that sort of weekend adventure. :)

13 November 2009

Friday Quizzage

I do occasionally paint my toenails for a bellydance show or something, but I've never painted them this color. Might be a fun change.




Your Toes Should Be White



A little funky and a little fresh, you're constantly evolving your flirting style.



Your ideal guy: A witty brainiac with hottie potential



Stay away from: Overly dorky guys who become obsessed with you




I also may have posted this quiz before, but it's the one I was in the mood for so there ya go. :-)

31 October 2009

Halloween Quizzage Finale!

So it's Saturday. We can still have a quiz, right? Right!



You Should Be a Mermaid for Halloween



According to our quiz, you'd make an ideal mermaid.

Your runner up costume: Geisha


Blogthings: Quizzes and Tests and Memes, Oh My!

Hope everyone has an enjoyable Halloween!

Blessed Samhain to all my fellow pagans out there. :-D

30 October 2009

Friday Quizzage - Halloween Edition 3 + a recipe!

I don't know that this is terribly accurate, but it's a great excuse to post a recipe. :-D



You Are Pumpkin Bread



You are considerate and generous. Your heart warms when you're able to do something unexpectedly nice for someone else.

You know it can be a cold world out there, and you have plenty of happiness to spread around.



You try to give as much as possible every day, and you know that small acts of kindness can often mean the much.

Whether you're being a good listener or sharing a slice of your pumpkin bread, people feel lucky to be able to count on you.




Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup AP flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmet
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup raisins

(I, of course, feel that there is something inherently evil in a baked raisin, so I substituted 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts.)

Mix sugar and oil. Add eggs, pupkin, and water.
Sift dry ingredients together; add to pumpking mixture. Blend well.
Stir in raisins. (Or nuts. Or nothing.)
Pour into greased 9"x5" loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 1 hour or until done. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

23 October 2009

Friday Quizzage - Halloween Edition 2

We'll that's not right. I'm much witchier than they think I am.




You Are 45% Witch



It's unlikely that you're a witch. At least, no one thinks you are.

You may still be interested in witchcraft, but you're by no means a stereotypical witch.



While you don't seem all that witchy, people may think you're a bit weird.

You're definitely a little offbeat. No one really knows what to make of you sometimes.


16 October 2009

Friday Quizzage - Halloween Edition




You Are Candy Corn



Your Halloween personality is whimsical, colorful, and creative.

You see Halloween as a time to get your creative juices flowing.



Each year, Halloween can't start soon enough for you.

You tend to go all out for Halloween. You decorate like crazy and always dress up.


13 October 2009

New Anthology Short Story

I signed another contract with Torquere today! Short story for a magic-themed anthology. It's m/m/f, rather than m/m, which was a fun change and challenge. I haven't a clue when it's coming out, and I don't actually have a title for the story yet (How lame is that?), but it's written and the contract is signed so we're well on our way.

The excerpt isn't officially edited yet, but we can all live with that for now, yes? Good! ;-)

Blurb:
Isaac and his husband Rhys are delighted when Noula Tuomi arrives in town. Noula and Isaac have been close friends and lovers for many years, and when Rhys became a part of Isaac's life, she embraced him and his relationship to her old friend without hesitation. Now, the three share company and comfort whenever she's in town. As with every visit, Isaac hopes that she'll decide stay. But Noula is a Wand'ring Minstrel. Some Minstrels do retire and some do settle down, but will Noula? And will it be this time? Each of the trio privately ponders this question, but even these heavy thoughts can't detract from their enjoyment of one another and the magic that Noula brings.

Excerpt:
Putting such heavy thoughts aside, Rhys let himself relax into the music.

He didn't know the song she played, but it hardly mattered. Noula's music was...enchanting. The notes intertwined like a tapestry growing on the loom of a master weaver. Complex, subtle, haunting. Beautiful. He'd listened closely to every Wand'ring Minstrel he had ever come across--here in Yanto, back in Western Zephren, and everywhere in between--and no one he had heard could do what Noula could do. And with such a deceptively simple instrument as a recorder.

Simple. There was nothing simple about what was happening. Colors and light that had nothing to do with the candle lanterns began to swirl slowly around the edges of his vision. Rhys sighed and leaned into his husband, resting his head on Isaac's strong shoulder. Isaac reached an arm around him, kissed him on the top of his head. For that suspended moment, everything was perfect in Rhys' world.

Subtly, the tone of the music changed. Where before it had buoyed him on pillows of flannel stuffed with the softest down, now it grew sleeker and less cozy, and yet no less welcoming. He floated on the melody, rich as silk, spicy as cinnamon, and exotic as the island paradise Noula had spoken of earlier. The music flowed over his skin and into his blood, warming it from within. The heat grew and centered itself quite deliciously in his groin, and he grew hard.

Isaac's arm around him squeezed a little tighter, and Rhys opened eyes he hadn't realized had fallen shut. The colors he had seen in the room had continued behind his eyelids, and now, as he opened them, those swirls and eddies of rainbow light were there with him in the room again, too. He turned his head and looked deep into his husband's jet black eyes, sparkling like obsidian with every flicker of light. He didn't have to look down, or reach out a hand to know that Isaac felt what he felt. Craved what he craved.

Together, they turned and looked at Noula. She played on, but a knowing and eager twinkle was in her eyes.

Wordless and as one, the three of them rose from the table and headed for the ladder to the sleeping loft. Noula played the men up, bringing the tune to a suspended end as they reached the top. Pocketing her recorder, she climbed up after them, humming as she came.

*****

02 October 2009

Friday Quizzage

Second week in a row these things are scarily accurate. Hmmm... Am I become too predictable? O_o





You Are Indie Rock



You are a very unique individual. People may try to label you as hipster or emo, but you defy all labels.

You like music that's quirky, unusual, and not commercialized. Your taste in music is as eclectic as you are.



You stay true to yourself. You don't like something just because it's popular.

You like songs that are expressive, funny, dark, and / or frank. You don't like songs that were written to be everything to everyone.


25 September 2009

Friday Quizzage

I am a huge fan of irony, although my love of it started in the '80s. Still, this is disturbingly accurate.





You Are the 1990s



You are a honest, down to earth, and somewhat sarcastic person. You don't front.

You appreciate the cynical days of the 1990s, when irony was king.

You're somewhat skeptical and mocking of the mainstream. You tend to embrace alternative culture instead.

You are open minded and accepting. You don't judge people as long as they're real with you.


24 September 2009

New Sale

Woot! I sold another story to Torquere! It's a change from my usual fantasy realm, but for me not so terribly far from my comfort zone. It's a space opera called False Dawn. With all the reams of Trekkish fanfic I've written, this wasn't so different--only I got to use my own universe and characters, which, frankly, makes the writing a helluva lot more fun. :D

More to come when I have more to report!

18 September 2009

Friday quizzage returns!




You Are West



Like an American, you are an innovative, free-spirit. You tend to do your own thing, especially if no one has done it before.

People admire that you are creative and a visionary. You come up with all sorts of ideas, and you're never afraid of failure.



Sometimes you come across as wild to the point of being careless. You are a rule-breaker who borders on dangerous.

You make a great artist. No matter what you do in life, it's your personal expression of who you are.


11 September 2009

Author Extra - Recipe

I have one more Client Privileges post for you to round out the week. You know how I said my characters (whatever their universe) always end up out somewhere drinking and/or eating? Well, in that vein, I have a recipe for you!

Etta, head chef of the Hopvine in Korpi, makes a delicious vanilla custard. As luck would have it, I managed to get the recipe from her, and I'm sharing it with you.

Etta's Vanilla Honey Custard
Stove-top method (There's also a baked method, but the vanilla seeds all sink to the bottom, so I prefer this one, strictly based on looks.)

2 cups milk, plus 2 Tbls
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and scraped
2 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbls cornstarch

In medium sauce pan, combine 2 cups milk and vanilla bean with scrapings.
Simmer over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes to infuse vanilla into
milk. Stir constantly to avoid developing a skin on the milk.
Remove split vanilla bean. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in honey.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. A ladleful at a time, add hot
milk mixture to the eggs until they are warm.
Pour egg mixture back into sauce pan.
In a separate bowl, mix 2 Tbls of milk and cornstarch until dissolved. Add
to sauce pan, whisking constantly to avoid curdling. Continue to stir until
mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
Divide evenly amongst four ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.

Makes 4 servings

If you try it out, let me know what you think. My hubby and I ate both this version and the baked one, and we yummed them both up. I'm thinking I might need to try it with lavender next time. Mmm...lavender!

10 September 2009

Winners!

We have are blog party and scavenger hunt winners! (All selected using my highly techincal pieces of paper in a latte mug method.)

The rainbow glass bead bracelet goes to

Gail!

The rainbow stones necklace goes to

Jane!

The winner of an electronic copy of Client Privileges is

Karin!

And the winner of the Scavenger Hunt is

Deidre!

Congratualtions to all the winners! Here's the next step to claiming your prizes.
Gail, email me with your wrist measurement (so I can finish the bracelet to fit you) and your mailing address.
Jane, email me with your mailing address.
Karin, email me so I can send you your copy of my new book.
Deidre, email me and let me know if you would like a) an ebook of Client Privileges, b) an ebook of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing, or c) an autographed print copy of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing. (If you pick c), I'll need your mailing address.)

Where do you send all these emails? Why, to maia (at) maiastrong (dot) com, of course. :-)

Thank you to everyone who came out to party with me and celebrate my latest release! I hope I'll see you around again sometime. And let me know if you try those martini recipes. I love 'em, and hopefully you will, too!

09 September 2009

Client Privileges Now Available!

Woot! Client Privileges is available for purchase today! ::happy dances::

And, if you go to Torquere Press's homepage, you'll find me under the Featured Author header. Or you could just go directly to the full interview.

You can even read a review before you decide to buy the book. You're gonna buy it, right? ;-) Unless, of course, you win a copy by posting a comment or correctly completing the scavenger hunt before midnight PDT tonight.

::bounces away, trying very hard not to scare the kitties too much::

08 September 2009

Scavenger Hunt Extension *Again*

You all know I'm rotten at linear time. I've said so on many occasions. I thought the other day, Why am I cutting off the deadline for the scavenger hunt before the rest of the party? That's just silly!

So, you now have until midnight PDT on 9 September (That's release day, you know. ;-D ) to send in your answers from the scavenger hunt.

And remember to keep posting comments, because that's another way to win fabulous prizes! :-D

Character Interview Day!

Today is your chance to get to know the heroes of Client Privileges a little better. You've already read their excerpts—and wasn't it generous of them to share? Well, now I'm happy to announce that Jonas and Micah agreed to answer a few questions.

MS: So, Jonas, do you have a favorite childhood memory? And if you, would you share it with us?
Jonas: Th-thanks for starting with an easy question. When I was a ch-child, my mom would walk me to school every morning. It was our time to b-be t-together without her b-being distracted by work, or visitors, or cooking dinner, or my f-f-father. I l-loved going to school everyday because it meant I got to spend that time b-beforehand with my mom. I hope that d-doesn't s-sound, I d-don't know, unmanly.
MS: I don't think it sounds at all unmanly. I think that's the sort of thing readers like to learn. And since we're talking about school, did you have a favorite subject?
Jonas: I did. You'd th-think it was l-law, wouldn't you? I mean, that's what I ch-chose for a l-living. But actually it was music. There was a b-bard named B-Benedict who came to our school once a f-fortnight, and of course I s-studied harpsichord at home.
MS: We'll let Jonas off the hook for a minute and talk to Micah. So, Micah, we've seen from yesterday's excerpt how you and Jonas met. (And thanks for that, by the way. Rowr!) I suspect many readers would be curious to know how you got into your line of work. Would you mind sharing a bit about that with us?
Micah: I don't mind at all. When I first came to Kanbec, I had dreams of becoming a bard. I traveled from Zephren, which is to the west, and Korpi is near the mountains on the eastern border of Kanbec. Well, by the time I got all the way across the country, I realized I had to settle down and find a proper job, a home. You know, generally start behaving like a responsible adult. Kanbec has a very complex apprentice-journeyman-master system. I can't begin to make sense of it all. Jonas could tell you more about that than I can.
Jonas: We don't want to bore them, s-so I'll pass on that.
Micah: That's probably a good idea. Anyway, there weren't a lot of good jobs I could get without going through the system, and I was already too old to start that sort of process. The small gods of fortune were smiling on me, though, because through happy chance, I discovered I could enter the Whore's Guild as a full journeyman by simply passing their tests. I won't go into detail about what that entailed. People can read our story and come up with their own conclusions on what the exam process was like.
MS: So you like your job, then? You're happy with your choice?
Micah: Absolutely! I've been very lucky. I found a place where I can work the hours that suit me and where there's opportunity for advancement. Our madam is one of the best in the city, too. And the Guild provides for all my health care, which is great.
MS: Hmmm. If only that could be said of the world I live in. But I digress. You said you wanted to be a bard originally?
Micah: Gods. You had to ask. All right. I can sing, and I can tell a decent story, but the whole playing a musical instrument thing utterly escapes me. I'm much better with people, if you know what I mean.
MS: I think I do, yes, and again we'll let the readers learn about that from the book. Jonas.
Jonas: Yes?
MS: You have a cat.
Jonas: Yes, I do.
MS: How did you get him? Did you have any pets when you were growing up?
Jonas: My f-folks didn't allow p-pets. I was starting my l-last year of university when I f-found Durward. It was the r-rainy season. My dorm room was on the s-second floor, and one evening, after a r-really heavy storm, I heard this s-sad little s-sound outside. I opened the window, and there was this tiny, yellow kitten on the stone l-ledge. I haven't a clue how he got up there, but I'm g-glad he d-did.
MS: I bet he's glad, too, despite the name you gave him.
Jonas: It s-suits him, I think.
MS: I'm afraid I'm forced to agree. All right. Thank you, gentlemen, for taking the time to talk to us today. If anyone has anything else they'd like to ask Jonas and Micah while they're here hanging out with me, please don't hesitate to chime in.

07 September 2009

The drinks are on me!

There is always food and beverages in my books. Pubs, restaurants, bakeries. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, midnight snack. Ale, wine, small beer. You name it. My characters always end up talking over food and/or drinks. So, in keeping with the party theme and the fact that I can’t seem to write anything without putting someone in a bar or tavern, here are two cocktails that I adore. Both combine in delicious way things I love individually. And you can’t get much better than that, right?

This is one I made up myself. It’s a bit high maintenance in its preparation, but once you have the ingredients, it’s quite simple.

Pumpkin Martini
Equal parts spiced pumpkin syrup (recipe below) and vanilla vodka. (Two shots each usually does well for one serving, but I have rather large martini glasses.)
A splash of cream
Ice
Shake it all up and strain into a martini glass. Soooooo good! Especially now that autumn is nearly upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Here’s one I got from a fantastic and funny waiter at the (sadly now long departed) Brass Monkey Restaurant & Bar in Vancouver, BC.

Espresso Martini
1 shot freshly pulled espresso
1/2 oz kahlua
1/2 oz crème de cacao
1 oz vodka
Ice
Shake well and strain into glass.

Okay. Here’s my recipe for making Spiced Pumpkin Syrup. Do I expect anyone else to be this nuts? No. Just go to the store and buy Spiced Pumpkin Italian Syrup. It’ll work. It just won’t be nearly as cool as making it yourself. ... I'm just sayin'.

Spiced Pumpkin Syrup
Halve and scoop the guts from a sugar pie pumpkin (or, indeed, from several).
Roast cut-sides down (on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum for easy clean-up) at 450-500 F until done. (Anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your pumpkins.)
Remove from oven, allow to cool until you can peel the skins off.
Throw the skins away. They’re sticky and useless.
Put pumpkin flesh in food processor and blend until smooth.
Line mesh strainer with cheesecloth, place over bowl (or a large measuring cup because you’ll need one anyway.), and add puréed pumpkin to the strainer.
Allow to drain overnight.
Take the liquid you’ve gathered, measure it (Said you’d need the measuring cup.), and pour it into a sauce pan.
Add half as much sugar as there is liquid (or equal parts sugar to liquid, depending on your personal sweet tooth).
Add a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves, and a few allspice berries.
Heat to dissolve sugar and allow to steep, infusing spices into the syrup.
Remove from heat, allow to cool, strain out spices.
Store your new spiced pumpkin syrup in the fridge.
Make amazingly tasty martinis.

Oh. You want to know what to do with the puréed pumpkin? Well, there’s pumpkin sauce for pasta, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones, and let me tell you it makes a mighty good pumpkin pie. Mmm...pie!

Now I’m hungry and I want a drink. ::looks at watch:: Bit early for the latter, but maybe some scones… ::wanders off to the kitchen::

06 September 2009

Scavenger Hunt Extended!

It occurs to me that it's silly to cut off the scavenger hunt the night before Client Privileges releases. So I'm bumping the deadline out to midnight Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday 9 September. There. That's much more sensible.

Client Privileges Excerpt #2 - Angsty

This one isn't steamy, except in the sense that it's high summer and everyone's bathed in sweat from the heat. It is, however, nicely angsty, IMO. What do you think?

***

Micah woke from an uneasy doze to the sound of knocking. For a moment he thought he'd dreamed it, but then it came again. But it wasn't at his door. "Bollocks," he muttered. Someone was knocking on Minnie's door and she wasn't home. She'd told him this morning that she would be spending Sabbath and Nativity Night with her friend Jessie.

The knocking came a third time. Whoever it was certainly was insistent and determined. He'd better go tell them she wasn't there before someone downstairs complained about the noise.

Micah rose, his limbs sluggish and his mind still half in dreams. He opened his front door and stuck his head out. "She's not home," he said before he could focus on the shadowed figure.

The person jumped, and turned to look at him. "Sh-she's… n-n-not--?"

He knew that voice, that stammer. "Jonas?"

Jonas nodded. His eyes were huge in the moonlight and his cheeks shone as if wet.

Of course they're wet. Everything's soaked with sweat, Micah thought, but he knew he was wrong. Now that his initial muzziness was gone he could tell that something wasn't right. Jonas was visibly upset and Micah could feel the man's anxiety from here. "What's going on?"

"I… I… n-n-need t-to t-t-talk--"

It was painful watching him fight to get out words that simply wouldn't come. Micah took pity on him and interrupted. "Why don't you come inside?" Micah offered gently, opening the door wider. "You can sit down, try to calm down, and maybe tell me what's wrong. All right?"

Jonas nodded.

Once they were both inside, Micah closed the door. "Sit down. Can I get you anything?" As he spoke, he crossed to his dresser where, in spite of the darkness, he quickly found a clean pair of drawers. He pulled them on. Jonas was distraught enough; Micah didn't want to make him even more uncomfortable by sitting there naked -- although Jonas was in such a state that Micah wondered if he would even notice.

He lit the lantern he'd doused earlier. "Would you like some water? Or I have wine if you need something stronger." He hadn't opened it in the week he'd had it, and he wondered suddenly if this was why he'd bought the bottle in the first place. Had the small gods of fortune seen this coming and made sure he was prepared? Were they that far ahead of him? Of course they were.

Micah looked at Jonas and waited patiently for an answer. Jonas opened his mouth to speak, but as before the words seemed to stick in his throat. Micah again came to his rescue. "Water?"

Jonas shook his head no.

"Wine?"

This time it was an emphatic yes.

"All right. Hang on." He went to the kitchen and quickly returned with the bottle, two cups, and the strange twisted metal device the shopkeeper had given him. "I -- uh--" He held out the bottle and the tool and gave Jonas a hopeful and apologetic look. He was glad to see Jonas almost smile as he took the items from him.

Jonas opened the bottle while Micah watched and made note of how it was done. Micah also noticed how the other man's hands shook. Part and parcel of his tremendous emotional distress.

Micah took the open bottle and poured them both some wine. He was unsurprised when Jonas accepted the cup with both hands.

"Wh-where's J-Je--?" Jonas looked around.

"She's asleep. Don't worry. She won't wake up until morning."

"And M-Mi-Minerva?"

"Staying at a friend's."

"Oh."

Silence fell and extended into most of a minute while the two men sipped at their drinks. Jonas seemed to calm down marginally as the wine entered his system.

"Better?" asked Micah in a soft, calm voice.

Jonas nodded once. "S-some, th-thanks."

"Is there anything else you need?"

"No." There was a pause while he appeared to reconsider, and then he nodded slowly. "I n-need a m-m-miracle." He looked at Micah with an expression so full of pain and longing that Micah's heart ached. "C-can you d-do that?"

Micah shook his head slowly, the tears welling in his eyes a mirror of those in Jonas'. The man's sorrow was like a living presence in the little apartment. "No. I'm sorry. But there is something I can do." Micah took Jonas' wine and set both cups next to the bottle on the nearby table. Then he shifted on the bed to kneel, facing Jonas. "Do you trust me?"

Jonas nodded mutely.

"Take off your shirt." What Micah intended would work better the more skin-on-skin contact they could make.

Jonas did as he was told, and Micah took the shirt from him and set it aside.

Micah was afraid. It had been years since he'd done what he was about to attempt, and that had been under completely different circumstances. He had no way of knowing what would happen, how Jonas' inexplicable ability to overwhelm him might affect the process.

He looked at the man opposite him: pale skin and slumped shoulders; chest and belly that were both a bit soft around the edges. All of it evidence of too much time spent sitting behind a desk and not enough time spent living. But this wasn't about the flesh, the shell, the exterior. It was about all the intangible pieces that made up Jonas' spirit.

Micah took a deep breath and let it out, releasing his fear and allowing it to dissipate into the moist and heavy air. All the time he was aware that Jonas watched him. He opened his empathic senses as he opened his arms, held both out to Jonas in wordless invitation.

05 September 2009

Scavenger Hunt!

Okay, so apparently I'm crazy because I've decided, quite out of the blue, to host a scavenger hunt this weekend. Whee!

Here is a list of the URLs where you can find the answers (I've even included a link to this very blog. How easy is that?), and I believe I have provided ample clues for you to search out everything.

URLs:
http://www.maiastrong.com
http://maiastrong.blogspot.com/
http://slash-and-burn.blogspot.com/
http://lucymonroeblog.blogspot.com/

Here are the questions you need to answer correctly:

What grade I was in when I first read The Lord of the Rings?
What new activity do I love to do?
On April 26, I blogged about the title of my new book Client Privileges. Who came up with the title?
On August 1, I blogged about my interview with Whipped Cream. What did I tell them is my favorite food?
I post every other Tuesday on Slash & Burn. What was my most recent subject line?
On April 27, I was fortunate enough to be the guest of the lovely and talented Lucy Monroe. Where did I get half of the name of the hero of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing?

Collect up your answers and send them to me using the “Contact Maia” form on my website. I’ve even added a box especially for the Scavenger Hunt to make it that much easier. You have until MIDNIGHT Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday 8 September to get your responses in. I’ll pick a winner from among all those with the correct answers and post that person’s name when I post the winners of the regular blog party contest. What’s the prize? How about either an electronic copy of either The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing or Client Privileges? Sound good? :D

Good hunting to you!

Client Privileges Excerpt #1 - Steamy!

I promised you an excerpt today, and here it is. So, while I set the virtual adult beverages to chilling and start the charcoal so we can grill up some virtual burgers later, you go on and a take a read. I do hope you like it!

*****

Micah sat on the bed. "What do you think?" He gestured expansively around the small room.

"It's n-n-nice." Jonas silently cursed his stammer. It always came out in stressful situations, and while he'd sought this one out, that didn't make it any less nerve-wracking. If his parents should find out… He forced away the unpleasant notion. How would they ever know unless he told them? And there was no way that would happen.

He took a cleansing breath and let it out slowly. For the first time, he looked directly into the eyes of the whore he'd just hired. They were moss green, smiling, rimmed by thick lashes, with tiny smile lines at the corners. His hair is the color of beaten copper. It was unlike anything he'd seen before, and it set off Micah's eyes so perfectly that Jonas wondered if it was natural or contrived.

"So, Jonas, how would you like to spend the time we have together?" Micah smiled, and it was such a warm, giving expression that Jonas balked.

"I-I'm s-sorry. I have to go." He took a step backward toward the door, only to be stopped by Micah's gentle voice like a tug at his heart.

"Stay. Please." Micah held out a hand.

Jonas hesitated. He wanted to stay. Physically, he longed to stay and take advantage of this professional's willingness to please him. Despite his emotional diffidence, his body was eager. His cock was hard and had become so at his first sight of Micah leaning against the brothel's bar. Jonas was glad for the thigh-length coat he wore; it was far too heavy for the hot weather, but it kept his aroused state hidden.

Unaware of making the decision to do so, he sat on the foot of the bed at right angles to Micah. His heart raced. He wondered if Micah could hear it, then chided himself for such foolishness. I can do this. Jonas shot a nervous glance at the other man, looked away swiftly. If I just don't have to make eye contact again. It was absurd. What was he thinking?

"There's no need to rush," Micah continued.

"B-but there is," Jonas said quickly. "I-I'm expected… s-somewhere."

"That's all right. I'm ready for whatever you'd like."

Micah shifted on the bed and Jonas' gaze was drawn to him. The whore leaned back against the pillows at the headboard, one long leg stretched out, and the other bent at the knee. Jonas could see that he was erect, his cock tenting out the loose fabric of his pants. His arms were folded behind his head as if he knew he needed no help drawing attention to his engorged condition.

Jonas stared openly at the protruding fabric, eager for what it hid and uncaring whether his hunger was obvious on his face.

"I take it you like what you see."

Jonas could hear the smile in his voice, the teasing but tender tone. Jonas' gaze was inexorably pulled upward, over Micah's flat and muscular belly, across his smooth chest, up to his handsome face. Square, clean jaw; smiling lips; wide cheekbones; and soft green eyes. Micah's expression was open and without judgment. He was so beautiful that Jonas' breath caught.

"I--" He inhaled, said in a rush, "I've been alone a long time. Years, and he was… Anyway. I want to… take you. Fuck you. May I? Please?"

Micah laughed, a rich, warm sound that Jonas couldn't help but join in on ever so slightly. "When you ask so politely, how could I say no?"

04 September 2009

This just in!

More reasons to party! I received my author copy .pdf of the book today. Soooo purty! ::pours drinks, flips burgers, and happy dances all around the blog:: Wheeeeee!

Party Time!

It's blog party time, my friends! I have a new ebook coming out on Wednesday (appropriate, that it's releasing on "hump day", no? *wicked grin* ), and of course that calls for a celebration! First, a little about the book:

Client Privileges by Maia Strong
Available 9 September 2009 from Torquere Press

Blurb:

On the surface, Jonas Vaneau's life is ordinary: days working at the law courts; evenings relaxing at home with his cat; and countless Sabbath dinners with his parents and an endless string of potential brides. But his routine life cannot provide what he most desires—at least not as long as he must continue to pretend to be the person his overbearing parents want him to be.

An unusual encounter with a seemingly ordinary brothel client causes Micah Hartshorn considerable consternation. When Jonas inexplicably bursts past his emotional defenses, Micah finds himself involved in a drama that is far beyond anything for which his professional skills have prepared him.

Their mutual attraction grows with each encounter, but, foreseeing too many obstacles, both hide their true feelings. Jonas must face his parents before he can find happiness. Micah cannot imagine that Jonas could love him and at the same time accept his profession. As the men grow closer, all personal problems are swept up in political unrest when new laws threaten both men's livelihoods. When even greater troubles send Jonas's world spinning beyond his control, it's up to Micah to save him from his downward spiral—if he can.

Contest:

Next, a bit about the prizes and what you have to do to be entered to win them:

Prize 1 is a bracelet, made by yours truly. It's black waxed cotton cord with silver-toned findings and a rainbow of glass beads. I still have to finish it, though, and that will be up to you. I wouldn't want it to be too big or too small, so the winner of this one will have to let me know the circumference of her (or his, we are equal opportunity around here) wrist so I can make sure it fits all right.

Prize 2 is a necklace, also made by me. Again, it's waxed black cotton cord, and the pendant is a rainbow of semi-precious stones separated by sliver-toned spacer beads. It's fully adjustable in length from about 29-30 inches (that's around, not end-to-end) at its longest to about 16" at its smallest.

Prize 3, in keeping with the prizes made by me theme, is a free copy of Client Privileges! ;-) Although I admit I had a lot more help on this prize than I did on the other two.

And what, you ask, must you do to be entered to win? Why, it's as simple as it always is. Just comment on any Blog Party posting before midnight Pacific Time on 9 September, and you'll be entered into the drawing. My random winner selector will pick the three winners and I'll announce them on the 10th.

03 September 2009

Nearly there...

One...

Party starts tomorrow. I know, I know. It's not the weekend for another day, but why wait until Saturday when you can start to party on Friday? Am I right? I'm totally right.

02 September 2009

01 September 2009

Counting down...

Three...

Prizes, excerpt, interview, and oh, right! a blurb. Yeah. There'll be blurbage, all right. :)

31 August 2009

Blog Party Countdown

Four...

Let's see... Excerpts? Check. Prizes? Check.

How about a character interview? That might be cool.

29 August 2009

28 August 2009

Counting down to...

BLOG PARTY!

Seven days until the party begins...

Stay tuned. There will be prizes...

24 August 2009

17 August 2009

Cover Art Goodness!

Got my cover art for Client Privileges today! It's not absolutely finalized so please don't go copy/posting it around (as if anyone around here would, but just in case), but here it is for your enjoyment!


My husband's comment: I'd think it's about a lawyer. I laughed and said that one of the MCs is, in fact, a legal journeyman, a.k.a. the fantasy world equivalent of a paralegal. :-D

The font is totally groovetastic, too, isn't it? ::happy dances::

04 August 2009

Slash & Burn

It's my fortnightly blog day at Slash & Burn and I'm talking about control issues. Stop by and check it out.

01 August 2009

Whipped Cream Interview & Chat

If you missed my interview at Whipped Cream, it's been archived to their blog. You can find it here.

Thanks again to the lovely ladies there who hosted the interview and to all the great folks on the Whipped Cream Yahoo Group who made me so welcome on Wednesday!

28 July 2009

One Day Off

Whoops! I've told you before how I suck at linear time, right? Well here's a classic example. My interview with Whipped Cream went live today, 28 July, and I'm chatting tomorrow, 29 July. D'oh!

27 July 2009

Whipped Cream Interview

Earlier this year, I was interviewed by the lovely folks at Whipped Cream. That interview will be going live this Wednesday, 29 July! I also expect to be chatting over on their yahoo group the following day. Come check it out!

24 July 2009

Updates!

Samhain Publishing: Space Opera Anthology submission...uh...submitted. Keep your fingers crossed and good thoughts out there for False Dawn.

Torquere Press: Marketing materials for Client Privileges sent. The "author bonus" is super-tasty!

Torchwood: Children of Earth viewed. ... Duuuuude.

17 July 2009

Friday Quizzage

Your result for The 3 Variable Funny Test...

the Wit

(62% dark, 38% spontaneous, 21% vulgar)


your humor style:
CLEAN | COMPLEX | DARK




You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.



You probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.



PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais



1663872520735005819.gif

The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -



Take The 3 Variable Funny Test
at HelloQuizzy

15 July 2009

Free Reads!

How red is my face? I didn't realize until I went to post this year's Slash & Burn Round-Robin on my website that I never posted last year's round-robin. D'oh! Needless to say I have rectified this issue. Check out My Bookshelf for links to download these two ass-kicking round-robins.

10 July 2009

Proofing Process and Friday Fun!

Hey there! Long time no blog, eh? Well, at last I have an update on my current manuscript, Client Privileges. Having completed round one of edits with my awesome editor, Kate, at Torquere Press (Not to be confused with my friend and critique partner, Kate Davies. :) ), the manuscript has gone through one round of proofreading and is soon to be headed into the second round of proofreading. That means everything is, I believe, on schedule for a September release. Woo-hoo!

Oh, and just because it's amusing, here's my robot name, decoded:



MAIA, Your robot name is :

M.A.I.A.: Mechanical Artificial Infiltration Android

Source : http://cyborg.namedecoder.com

Happy Friday and I hope everyone has a great weekend!

05 June 2009

A Note from Samhain Publishing

From Angela James, Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing:

Samhain is open to submissions.

In the most recent issue of the RWA’s Pro newsletter (Prospects) it was reported that Samhain is closed to submissions. We’re unsure where the erroneous information came from, but we are not closed to submissions and have no plans to be. We continue to accept submissions in all genres of romance, as well as science fiction/fantasy/

urban fantasy all with romantic elements. Submissions guidelines can be found http://samhainpublishing.com/submissions. All questions and submissions can be directed to editor@samhainpublishing.com

26 May 2009

Give-away!

Hey, my friend Kate's posted an excerpt from my fave of her titles. You should go over and check it out. Plus, she's giving away a book she brought home from the Rose City Romance Readers' Luncheon. Leave a comment and you might win! Okay, so it says "between now and Monday morning", it's still wort a shot, right? I mean, she hasn't posted a winner yet. :D

01 May 2009

Friday Quizzage!




You Are Rosemary



You are stable and grounded. You may take a slow, steady approach to live, but you're a survivor.

You are an intellectual and very rational. You can see things from a logical, detached viewpoint.



You are successful but not particularly ambitious. You have a way of letting success come to you.

You tend to be a bit understated and modest. You let your accomplishments speak for themselves.

29 April 2009

Contest Winners!


Thank you to everyone who stopped by to party with me over the long weekend. It would have been very dull around here without you guys. And thanks to everyone who's already bought their copy. I nearly cracked Amazon's Top 10 with your help and that's pretty darned fantastic!

I have utilized our highly scientific name drawing device (i.e. slips of paper with your names on them tossed around in a basket) to select the winners for the Three-Day Blog Party Weekend celebrating the print release of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing! And here are the exciting results!

The canvass bag goes to...

jaunthie!

The coffee mug and tea go to...

Caffey!

And the winner of the autographed copy is... [drumroll]

gypsywitch36!

Please email me off blog at maia [at] maiastrong [dot] com (You guys all know how to convert that to a proper email address, right? I thought so.) so I can send you your prizes. Gypsyswitch36, I'll personalize the signature for you if you want to give me a name to put in it.

Thanks again everyone! And happy reading!

28 April 2009

Amazon Top 50!

After sinking all day, The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing has suddenly surged forward again.


Popular in these categories:

#11 in
Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Romance > Gay
#35 in Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Gay

Whee! It's like a really slow roller coaster! ;-D

In Amazon's Top 100!

As of 9:35 this morning, the print version of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing stands at:

#39 in Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Romance > Gay
#92 in Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Gay

Woot! :D

Release Day!

The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing is IN PRINT TODAY! Woo-hoo!

New lover. New city. New dangers.

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.

Don't forget: The contest is still on! You have until midnight Pacific Time tonight to post a comment here to be entered to win either: an autographed copy; a fabu coffee mug with a selection of tasty teas; or a stylin' canvass bookbag!

27 April 2009

Gone visiting

Hey there! Thought I'd let you know that my guest blog post is up over on Lucy Monroe's Blog. Sometimes on a three-day weekend it's nice to stretch your legs, get out of the house, visit friends. So that's what I'm doing now. There's some new information about Jimothy over there, so go check it out, say hello. :D

More excerpty goodness

I thought you guys might enjoy another snippet from The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing -- coming out in print TOMORROW!! (What? If that doesn't call for multiple exclamation marks, I don't know what does.) Here's a snippet that on a spice scale of 0-5 comes in very mild indeed, but one hopes that's not all you're looking for in your chosen reading material. ;)

~~~

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."

~~~

Thanks for reading! And don't forget that every comment is an entry to win a prize! What's that saying? Vote early. Vote often. Or in this case, post often. ;D

26 April 2009

Sneak Peek at Client Privileges

I hope everyone is enjoying their three-day weekend! I certainly am.

Time for another excerpt. This time from Client Privileges, which I recently contracted with Torquere Press. So recently, in fact, that the only editors this has seen are my beta readers. So if it isn't exactly the same when the book is released, that's why. FYI, this snippet is a little bit steamy. Just a little. ;-D

~~~

Jonas didn't know what he was expecting to find behind that door with the multi-colored gladiolas painted on it, but it wasn't what he found. Snug was the first word that came to mind. Comfortable was the second. Surprising considering the location, but wasn't that why he'd picked this place? Bawdy and cozy. He took a steadying breath and looked around. The big bed was of course the dominant feature in the room. Striped blue curtains were tied back to the four corner posts, revealing tidily placed pillows and a patchwork quilt of blue and brown squares. The wooden floor was smooth and well scrubbed. A small chest stood in one corner and atop it a pitcher and bowl. He guessed that the screen in the corner next to it hid a chamber pot, although there was no telltale unpleasant scent to confirm the suspicion. The only other furniture was a nightstand and a small, cushioned armchair. Jonas had expected it to be stifling up here on the uppermost floor on such a warm day, but the open window caught the afternoon breeze, ruffling lightweight blue curtains.

Micah sat on the bed. "What do you think?" He gestured expansively around the small room.

"It's n-n-nice." Jonas silently cursed his stammer. It always came out in stressful situations, and while he'd sought this one out, that didn't make it any less nerve-wracking. If his parents should find out... He forced away the unpleasant notion. How would they ever know unless he told them? And there was no way that would happen. He took a cleansing breath and let it out slowly. For the first time he looked directly into the eyes of the whore he'd just hired. They were moss green, smiling, rimmed by thick lashes, with tiny smile lines at the corners. His hair is the color of beaten copper. It was unlike anything he'd seen before and it set off Micah's eyes so perfectly that Jonas wondered if it was natural or contrived.

"So, Jonas, how would you like to spend the time we have together?" Micah smiled and it was such a warm, giving expression that Jonas balked.

"I-I'm s-sorry. I have to go." He took a step backwards towards the door only to be stopped by Micah's gentle voice like a tug at his heart.

"Stay. Please." He held out a hand.

Jonas hesitated. He wanted to stay. Physically, he longed to stay and take advantage of this professional's willingness to please him. Despite his emotional diffidence, his body was eager. His cock was hard and had become so at his first sight of Micah leaning against the brothel's bar. Jonas was glad for the thigh-length coat he wore; it was far too heavy for the hot weather, but it kept his aroused state hidden.

Unaware of making the decision to do so, he sat on the foot of the bed at right angles to Micah. His heart raced. He wondered if Micah could hear it, then chided himself for such foolishness. I can do this. Jonas shot a nervous glance at the other man, looked away swiftly. If I just don't have to make eye contact again. It was absurd. What was he thinking?

"There's no need to rush," Micah continued.

"B-but there is," Jonas said quickly. "I-I'm expected...s-somewhere."

"That's all right. I'm ready for whatever you'd like."

Micah shifted on the bed and Jonas's gaze was drawn to him. The whore leaned back against the pillows at the headboard, one long leg stretched out, and the other bent at the knee. Jonas could see that he was erect, his cock tenting out the loose fabric of his pants. His arms were folded behind his head as if he knew he needed no help drawing attention to his engorged condition. Jonas stared openly at the protruding fabric, eager for what it hid and uncaring that his hunger was obvious on his face.

"I take it you like what you see."

Jonas could hear the smile in his voice, the teasing but tender tone. Jonas's gaze was inexorably pulled upward, over Micah's flat and muscular belly, across his smooth chest, up to his handsome face. Square, clean jaw; smiling lips; wide cheekbones; and soft green eyes. Micah's expression was open and without judgment. He was so beautiful that Jonas's breath caught.

"I—" He inhaled, said in a rush, "I've been alone a long time. Years and he was... Anyway. I want to...take you. Fuck you. May I? Please?"

Micah laughed, a rich warm sound that Jonas couldn't help but join in on ever so slightly. "When you ask so politely, how could I say no?"

~~~

There it is. I hope you like it!

And remember that tomorrow, I'm taking the day to go visit Lucy Monroe because it's nice to get out of town for at least one day of a three day weekend. Don't you think?

Don't forget to post a comment to be entered in the prize drawing!

How a novel got its name

Jane reminded me that there's a story behind not just the book, but the title of the book: Client Privileges. (Thanks, Jane!)

So, as I said, I wrote the manuscript while I was waiting to hear back from Samhain on The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing. That would have been in summer/fall of 2007. Like ...Jimothy the story didn't have a title when I started. Nor did it have a title by the time I'd finished it. In fact, it went through three beta readers without a title. Finally, I decided to enlist some help. I posted the blurb I'd written, gave a wee bit of information, and begged for suggestions. I got lots of really good ones! Over time, I whittled it down to my short list and in the end the one that landed on top was Client Privileges. That title happened to be suggested by Kate Davies. I don't know if she remembers, but I promised that whichever title made it to print, the person who suggested it would win a free ebook copy. Of course, it hasn't made it to print quite yet so I'm not making her any promises. I still have the back-up list handy just in case. ;-)

A late-late night party post for you to wake up to.

Welcome back to the party! By now you all know we're celebrating my first print release (The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing for those of you with memories even shorter than mine ;-) ) with a Three-day Weekend Blog Party. Well, I don't know if you recall, but believe I mentioned a sneak peek at my second novel, Client Privileges. Wanna know the scoop? Then read on!

Once I sent the manuscript for Jimothy into Samhain Publishing, all I had to do was wait. And twiddle my thumbs. And wish I could control time so it would go faster. And, oh yeah, pass the time quicker by writing another book. So, without the structure of NaNoWriMo to spur me on, I began working on a new story. This one was to be about what was going on across the country while Jimothy and Ricky were getting into all sorts of trouble in the capitol city. Client Privileges is the result (although it didn't have a title until very recently, and I don't know that this one will stick. We'll have to see what my editor at Torquere has to say about it.). I began with the idea of what would happen if I delved into the life of someone connected to the conspirators in the first book. A classic "average Joe" who just happened to be living and working in a place where political strong-arming was going on and causing trouble for normal folks. What would his life be like? That average Joe turned out to be a Jonas. And I wouldn't call him "average" any more, either. But he is a regular guy. I like my heros to be a bit more ordinary than in traditional romances, you know? I like putting normal people into extraordinary circumstances and seeing how they cope. And Jonas has a lot to cope with, not the least of which is an attraction to one very handsome fellow by the name of Micah.

Well, here. How about I give you the book blurb, eh? Then you'll have a little more idea what I'm talking about.

~~~

On the surface, Jonas Vaneau's life is ordinary. He works at the law courts during the day, spends Sabbath night with his parents and every other night with his cat, and tolerates the unending string of single women his mother invites to Sabbath dinner. But his routine life cannot provide what he most desires—at least not as long as he must continue to pretend to be the person his overbearing parents want him to be.

An unusual encounter with a seemingly ordinary brothel client causes Micah Hartshorn considerable consternation. When Jonas inexplicably breezes past his emotional defenses, Micah finds himself involved in a drama that is far beyond anything for which his professional skills have prepared him. Solving this new puzzle isn't in his plans—especially not when he has his own issues to deal with both at home and at work.

All personal problems are swept up in political unrest when new laws threaten both men's livelihoods. When even greater troubles send Jonas's world spinning beyond his control, it's up to Micah to save him from his downward spiral—if he can.

What future can Jonas and Micah hope to find together in a city turned against them?

~~~

I'll post an unedited excerpt later in the day and maybe give you some more background if you'd like. Of if you have specific questions you'd like me to answer, I'd be happy to do so about either book. Let's do that, shall we? Got a question about either book? The writing process? Fantasy world history? Whatever you want to know, post it here. I'll answer it for you to the best of my ability. Sound like a deal? I think so! :-D

All right. I'm well knackered at the moment. It's seriously late here and I promised myself I'd shut the computer off after one hour--a time that is fast approaching. See you on the morrow. You know, after the sun rises or something. ;-) And remember, every comment you make is another entry into the contest for spiffy prizes!

25 April 2009

Excerpt time!

So early this morning I promised you an excerpt from The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing. You know, my novel that's coming out in PRINT on Tuesday. :D (I never get tired of saying that. LOL!)

This is a slightly steamy snippet, so considered yourselves warned. ;)

*-*-*-*

"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.

"Nice bed."

"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. 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."

*-*-*-*

Remember, comment to enter the contest and I'll see you all again tomorrow for a sneak peek at my second novel, Client Privileges.

Jimothy's Coming Soon Page!

Just had to pop back for a mo to say that The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing PRINT is now up on Samhain's Coming Soon pages. Whee! I've been looking for it and I'm so pleased to have that link to give you now. :D

Three-Day Weekend Blog Party 2009!


It's time to party, guys! Normally I wouldn't be up this early on a Saturday, but when it's a 3-day weekend, the rules can change. Right? Right! Sometimes that long weekend is a reason to crash out for three days; sometimes you don't want to miss a minute of it so you sieze the holiday. After all, there aren't half enough 3-day weekends in the year. I was doing a mental count the other day and came up with only five: Jan. - Martin Luther King Day; Feb. - Presidents' Day; May - Memorial Day; Sept. - Labor Day; Nov. - Veterans' Day. And I thought, 'That can't be all!' So I went googling. Seems I missed out Columbus Day in October, but since he didn't really discover America, I'm dubious on that one. Does anyone who isn't a federal employee actually observe Columbus Day? Of course there are the holidays that move around through the week: New Year's Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day. But none of those guarantees a three-day weekend.

All right. Enough of that stuff. Let's chat about why we're partying on this newly declared 3-day weekend. My first novel, The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing, comes out in PRINT on Tuesday! Whee! I'm excited. Can you tell? ;) The fact that I'm awake at 7:30 on a Saturday is evidence enough of that. Later today there will be an excerpt, so make sure you check back for that. Tomorrow I'll be giving you a sneak peek at my second novel, Client Privileges, which I recently contracted with Torquere Press. And on Monday I'm traveling over to Lucy Monroe's place to guest blog. I hope you'll visit me there. (Don't worry. I'll post a reminder here on Monday so you won't miss out.) And of course there's a CONTEST! It couldn't be easier. Just post to play. That's right. All you have to do to enter is post a comment between now and midnight PDT on Tuesday 28 April. I'll even include any comments made to my guest blog post over at Lucy's. What a deal! What's that? You want to know the prizes? Fair enough.

Grand Prize: An autographed copy of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing. I'll even personalize it if you want me to. :D
2 First Prizes: 1) A Ballad of Jimothy Redwing coffee mug with a selection of tasty teas;
and 2) a Ballad of Jimothy Redwing tote bag so you can carry your books/groceries/anything you like in style. (I think these are both cool, so I declare them both to be First Prize. ;) )

Now I want to know how you like to spend your three-day weekends. Do you travel? Take the family camping or to Disneyland? Do you invite friends over for a barbecue? Do you stay home and do all those things you've been meaning to do if you could just get a little time off to do them? How do you mark that elusive weekend+plus+one+more+day?