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


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


The rainbow stones necklace goes to


The winner of an electronic copy of Client Privileges is


And the winner of the Scavenger Hunt is


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
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
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.


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."


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.


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


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.


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...


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...


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