Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Big Cover Up

Hey, you like awesome book covers? I have one to share:

Amanda Kelsey of Razzle Dazzle Design did this amazing cover for Silver Wings, due out early next from Phaze Books. I really can't wait now for the book to come. We have four stories included and I hope you enjoy all of them.

"Spoils of War" - Ross Baxter
"Steamy Surrender" - Mahalia Levey
"Nothing Ventured" - Cari Z.
"The Deserter" - J.T. Whitehall

Monday, May 24, 2010

Coming Soon: She Loves Me (Yeah Yeah Yeah)

I've said it once and it bears repeating: I am dead chuffed by the response to the F/F stories I have out with DLP Books. I never would have thought to discover these stories are starting to best my M/M work, which I've long considered my strongest genre. I don't know if it's the low pricing, or the sexy covers, or maybe people just want to read lesbian stories, but they're selling, and I'm happy for it.

Usually when I get reader mail, it's about the next Dareville story (more on that later). Recently, people have asked about more F/F. Now, I won't completely switch to one genre, but I have decided it's time to collect what I do have in print format. She Loves Me will come out in eBook format at the end of May to qualify for EPIC Award consideration in the erotic anthology category (I checked the rules, it will be eligible since the stories haven't been entered before), then onto print shortly afterward. I'll be sad to miss the big Pride Month push, but I understand lesbian works do well in print, so we'll see. I wouldn't consider doing this if the stories hadn't been so well received, and I have you readers to thank for that!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Crazy for Slots

This August I'll be visiting family in Ohio, near that little divide where one can easily slip into Kentucky and Indiana unnoticed. This means very likely I'll be making at least one trip with Mom to the Bally's in Indiana. It's there, not sure exactly where, but I'm sure Mom can drive there with her eyes closed. I don't mind going - I'm always careful to set a cap and stop playing when I've exhausted my original funds - just wish people wouldn't smoke so much once they settle in for the day.

I rather like the penny slots, anyway, when I can find a machine. I saw somewhere online there are Sex in the City machines out now, just in time for the movie. I imagine those will cost a bit more to play.

There are online alternatives if you can't get to Vegas. I was looking at Crazy Slots Casino for one. You download a program, deposit your funds, and play online. No smoking! It will naturally differ from playing the real thing - whether or not you can "read" a machine through a website like some people claim to do at a casino remains to be seen, but if you have a budget for games of chance this could work out for you.

Looking at the screen shots, they don't appear that different from the machines I've played at Fitzgerald's and MGM Grand in Vegas. Depending on how much you bet, you can play several lines horizontally and diagonally and hope for the best. It's nice to see, too, that customer support is available.

If you do decide to try the online route, it's best to scout for a good deal - no hidden fees and sign-up bonuses. Always, too, know when to walk away. Like I said, I set a budget when I head out, and when it's done I count how far in the red or black I ended up and call it a day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All this and Betty White, tonight on Sixty Minutes!

Some community notes from this week's church bulletin:

1) I have officially closed submissions to the upcoming M/M steampunk anthology for Phaze Books. The works are selected and will be announced in short order. I thank everybody who submitted. Silver Wings is slated for an early 2011 release. I should have the final cover to show off soon.

2) The proof for the Truth or Dare audio book from is here! I have to admit, it's rather surreal to hear words I've written read for this format. The voice actor they hired for the job is pretty good - she's distinct and easy to understand. Listening to her give voice to my characters, particularly ones close to my heart - is kind of weird for me, but I think it's an experience audio book buyers will enjoy.

3) My hostess skills have been called to duty once again. Along with Bridget Midway, Yvette Hines, and Denise Jeffries, I'll sponsor a Saturday night party at Authors After Dark. A few years ago, we held a totally 80s party at the Virginia Beach EPICon, which was a success. Sherrilyn Kenyon showed up! This year, we're dusting off the theme again as the Golden Girls of erotic romance. Right now we're hashing over who gets to be Blanche, though I wouldn't mind being Rose. It won't take much for me to launch into a story about Ingrid Geflurktegnurgen, St. Olaf's very own romance author, who bestselling Kirsten and the Herring Prince has been translated into seventeen different Scandinavian dialects. Ingrid's dream was to write a series of young adult romances about a young milkmaid who falls in love with a werechicken, and...

I know. Shut up, Rose.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Riding the Rush Caravan

It's been a rough winter and spring so far. Between having to look for a new place to live (we had one place chosen, so we thought, but the owner's run into mortgage refinancing problems and the clock is ticking), dealing with hubby's injury, and an extra work load at the day job following a co-worker's resignation, I haven't had time to breathe. I'm happy to be at a place finally where I can catch up on Phaze work and writing, but lately I have those nights where I sit down at eight, look up five minutes later and it's 2AM. I tell you, if this weren't a Rush touring year, I don't know where you'd find me.

So far I have my tickets to one show up north, and tickets to the Rush documentary one-nighter here in town. I can't wait to see the movie - my best friend saw the premiere at Tribeca and said a mutual friend of ours made the final cut. It's a fitting cap to this year's Time Machine tour, which features Moving Pictures performed in its entirety. It's made me wonder, too, if these signs are guiding us toward the band's eventual retirement. I hope not. When I look at what passes for entertainment these days, it gives me hope that cloning will be perfect before Geddy has resort to a walker enhanced with a Moog.

The tour is supposed to stretch into next year, so there's a chance I'll see more shows. I'd hoped to see them at Red Rocks this time, but my schedule won't allow it. Would have been nice to score some Coors Fields tickets to see the Rockies at the same time. Ged's been known to stop at a ballpark or two while touring. Asking around my circle of Rush friends, people are having a time scraping together the funds for tickets - I know people who'll see as many as fifteen or more shows a tour, and when you factor transportation and hotel it adds up. Still, it's all they spend money on, and if you have friends at every venue all you really need is a sleeping bag and a White Castle directory. :) This year the tour starts in New Mexico rather than the southeast, but unfortunately my Arizona friends won't be waiting in line for US Airways Center tickets. The Red Rocks show is August, too far apart to get Comfort Dental Amphitheatre tickets and see Iron Maiden in June. Interestingly enough, the filmmakers behind Beyond the Light Stage also produced the Iron Maiden doc. I hadn't realized the other band was touring this year as well until I went on my ticket search.

Front row isn't a guarantee this time, like it was in DC last tour. Honestly, once you're that close, you don't want to go back to lawn space. I am just so pumped for this tour, and I don't care if I have to be brought into the venue on a stretcher, I'll be there!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Like My Tea Loose

My supply of loose leaf tea is getting low. I keep two types of Earl Gray at work now: a rose Earl Grey that is particularly good first thing in the morning, and a lemon Earl Gray I usually have with food. While my co-workers tend to gravitate toward the coffee pot in the morning, I'm the sole tea drinker, which is fine because it means more for me. I'm getting to the point now where I'll have more than one cup during the day. If it's decaffeinated it doesn't bother me so much, but as I understand it there are quite a few health benefits to natural tea anyway, so it's all good.

When I shop for loose teas, and there are a few good places around here, I tend to look for black or red blends. I have a nice rooibos vanilla at home I drink with dessert sometimes, but I'm not averse to stronger varieties. Earl Grey is my first choice, and recently I'm getting into flavor infusions like vanilla and lavender. Certain types of wellness tea like green tea I can't quite get into, though I'll try it if it seems like the best choice. We've all heard that tea is high in antioxidants, but I think that's especially true if you have the most natural blend available. A loose leaf will likely have more potency than manufactured bags.

Anyway, I'm due for a refill soon, so maybe I'll try something different to go with breakfast. Suggestions welcome.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Casting a Story in Your Mind

You talk to enough writers, you'll find that some go into a new story a certain way. One question I get often in interviews is that if I had to hold a casting call for one of my novels, which actors would I pick to portray my characters. Truthfully, I don't always go into a book with a specific actor in mind. I don't expect any of my books to get to the film rights stage anyway, because so many are of an alternative adult nature. If Dead Barchetta should happen to receive an option one day, I wouldn't say no immediately.

However, I'd hope to have a say in casting. I can't think of an actor in the 20-25 age range, though, so I'd settle for somebody with blond hair (or a wig) who can play guitar. If they're trained through video acting lessons, that's fine, but the guitar is essential to the character.

With the romances, that is difficult. I don't necessarily have a famous person in mind - most of the Dareville residents have a face, just not a particularly recognizable one. I like that, though. It gives each character a chance to establish themselves in the minds of reader. If ever casting should be a necessity for a film or television series, I'm sure a headshot will guide me in the right direction. Until then, I'll write from the faces I see in my head, not particularly on the screen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A World of Bookcraft?

I look at games like Farmville on Facebook and the SIMs and World of Warcraft and wonder if something like that could be made applicable to the stories I write. I have a few series out, with characters who interplay with each other in different timelines, and think to myself how neat it would be for people to sign on to a computer and act them out. Pretty much like the way one would buy Aion accounts or connect to a game on Facebook, they could even create their own characters within that world I built.

It wouldn't be the first time it's been done, I'm sure. Star Wars, for example, has become a role playing game I think. My challenge is that I don't write much fantasy or sci-fi, so I wouldn't likely attract the hardcore gamers with the World of Warcraft accounts or the 12-sided dice. I can't really see somebody rolling for plus-25 immunity for Dareville (heh), but if you spice up the game to match the stories, it could generate some interest.

I'll have to spend more time in the gaming rooms at the next Marscon. I might have a good idea here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Just Keep on Giving

First, a small correction to make: in my previous blog I mention Sonoma County as being in Southern California. A reader pointed out it is actually up north. My apologies. I don't get to Cali much, maybe one day soon. RT 2011 is a faint possibility, but I'm not holding my breath. I seem to be cursed where conferences are concerned. BEA 2010 is still on, though I won't be doing much other than booth hopping and handing out business cards. Still, it's a favorite event - Christmas and Halloween combined for the book lover, and I even made up a little itinerary through their online planner. Aren't I efficient?

While I'm waiting for that action, I received news of an organization called Do the Right Thing for Nashville. You may have heard about the flood and damage - RWA's con was to have happened there, but I understand it's moved to Disney World. I hadn't planned to go anyway, but I'm glad they were able to move so quickly. Unfortunately, Nashville is still under water. I've only been there once, but had a grand time. It's why I decided to volunteer some services to be auctioned off at this fundraiser.

I sent an e-mail today letting them know I would auction off two services. I won't reveal them yet, as I hadn't received acknowledgement. If and when they do, I'll post them and tweet them, etc. Either way, head over to the page for more information and learn how you can help Nashville flood victims.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Greene Vs. County of Sonoma = Me Vs. County of Sonoma

Find out how you can help! Buy ebooks to support the cause.

This might have been ten years ago, back when I still had HBO - I watched If These Walls Could Talk 2. This is a trilogy of stories, each set in a different era but in the same home, and the main characters involved are lesbian couples. The first vignette - easily the best one, in my opinion - was about two elderly partners, one played by Vanessa Redgrave, living in an unnamed town in the early 60s. One night, after coming home from a movie date, Redgrave's partner suffers a fall and consequential stroke, and because she not officially a relative or legal spouse she is not permitted to visit her love in the hospital. She can only sit in the waiting room while her life partner (whom, as we presume through later scenes, had been with her for decades) dies alone.

Of course, it doesn't get better. Redgrave is obliged to inform her partner's next of kin, and fix up the home they shared to erase any evidence that the two women were more than roommates. We learn that although both women paid the mortgage on the home, the title was in the deceased's name, therefore leaving Redgrave's character with no legal right to claim it...unless she agrees to buy or rent from her partner's nephew, who isn't about show any charity toward the "roommate" of an aunt he barely knew himself.

We are forced to watch as this poor woman's life is dismantled. She's allowed none of her love's possessions, as the niece-in-law is likely calculating a yard sale, and her meager pension isn't enough to start over. The ambiguous ending of this chapter leaves us to assume Redgrave must find a cheaper living situation or check herself into a retirement home. Either way, she's lost everything she holds dear - the woman she loves, the home they shared, and in a sense her own identity.

But, you say, it's just a movie, and it's set in the 60s. Surely we've evolved as a compassionate society since then, right? Heh.

By now, you've probably heard the sad and unfortunately true story of two Southern California men, a couple. Harold and Clay were together for twenty years, and Clay cared for his ailing partner. Long story short, their story pretty much played out like Walls 2, only instead of an oblivious nephew Clay had to deal with an uncaring county government. The men were removed from their home and placed in separate nursing room quarters, and Clay was refused Harold's last moments on Earth. Then he watched helplessly as the county sold off both men's possessions without bothering to check who owned what.

Read the official reporting. I'll wait here.

Mad yet? You should be. Now, if you're the type who doesn't support gay marriage and shared benefits for life partners, you're probably shrugging and thinking to yourself, "this doesn't affect me." I say, can you be certain of that? This government saw fit to barge in on two human beings and confiscate their property to auction it off without their permission. Yes, they were gay, but think about it: what's to stop a government from doing this to anybody else? What's to stop a government from deciding a heterosexual couple, together for decades, should be separated and sent to a rest home? If you're not a relative, you likely won't get visiting rights, either. The longer people remain silent, the greater the risk to simple human freedoms.

Nobody - gay, straight, bi - should have to be treated with such cold indifference in this country or anywhere else. Would you want somebody in a suit and clipboard telling you that you can't see your partner, your parent, your child as they are dying? What kind of people are we to allow this behavior?

Clay has a court date this summer, and I hope he wins. A victory for Clay is a victory for every person who has suffered this level of indignity. The group representing Clay is currently accepting donations (see above link), and in the meantime authors and publishers distributed through All Romance have pledged royalties to the cause. Click the button to find out who's signed up so far. I have volunteered nearly all of my GLBT toward the cause - for every copy sold through ARe, I'll give 25% of the earnings, plus add on extra to round up the total. If you're interested in buying some of my books, please consider buying the following through ARe:

Listed Leigh Ellwood Titles - 25% of author's proceeds
Jack of Diamonds
Jack of Hearts
Enter Sandman
The Healing
Why, Why, Zed?

Listed DLP Book Titles - 25% of publisher's proceeds
By the Chimney With Dare
Last Call
Long Awaited Friend
Share Some More
Where Angels Dare to Tread
A Shot of Jack 

My friend J.T. has generously offered his first title as well, and we're working to get more up from him to add to the total. If I can get Dare and Dare Alike finished this month, I'll add that, too. Don't forget the other authors who has offered their works.