Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Smile, Somebody Loves You! New Year's Eve Blog Hop

Welcome to the New Year's Eve blog hop! Check out the Rafflecopter below and comment here to win a cool prize!

So, shall we look fondly back on 2013 or never speak of it again? I don't know about you, but this past year, on paper, was one of my better ones. I saw a few stories released, I contracted a few stories with some awesome publishers, and I got to Disney World...twice. I would go back and change some things if I could, but really I have no reason to complain. Later on, though, I will. ;-)

I have only made a few resolutions for 2014: read more books, be less of a butthead than I was in 2013, and just be happy. Sounds simple, but at times being happy is hard work. If you have to deal with people who are anything but, for example, you'll find happiness a lofty goal. I've had a few days to ponder my future, and I decided if I make the choice to be happy, my environment will change for the better. I'll go for hikes in the spring, eat more kale, drink more water, and smile even if it hurts. If I sound too much like a hippie I apologize, but I consider the Debbie-downer alternative and am not enamored by it.

I look forward to 2014 and a few new releases coming early in the year. My short story in Coming Together Through the Storm is a sexy romp through a fierce hurricane, and my upcoming 1Night Stand for Decadent Publishing, A Different Class, is a hot, long overdue reunion between two male schoolmates. Later this month, I'm participating in Katiebabs's Lesbian Romance Appreciation Event, where I'll have an amazing announcement.

My resolution in 2014? To keep it up. What's yours? Share one resolution in the comments below and I'll draw one winner for a backlist eBook title. (18+ please)

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Monday, December 23, 2013

New Contracts: Part Two

So a few days ago I was telling you about the new contract I signed with Coming Together. I am excited to be part of another amazing Coming Together anthology, and in that post I hinted at more contract news. Some I will share in January in a guest blog, but the rest I can reveal now.

Very soon, I will have a 1 Night Stand story with Decadent Publishing! A Different Class is an M/M short, hopefully one that will spawn a few followups. I have read a number of 1 Night Stand stories since the line launched, and am thrilled the publisher offered me a contract.

Edits are happening now, and I hope to have a cover to reveal soon.

In January I'll have more contract news to share, can't wait for that!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Cookie List

This close to Christmas, I usually have my baking gear scattered throughout the kitchen. I believe this year I have baked more than in the past: so far I have done cutout sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal scotchies. I still have the gingerbread cutouts and snickerdoodles left, and with the last one I'm trying to decide how to go about it.

I bought a bag of caramels because I wanted to experiment with a Pinterest recipe or two. I know what you're thinking - all the glorious pretties on Pinterest look wonderful in theory, and you'd think they were simple enough to try. Then you follow the instructions to the letter and you're left with a graying hot mess that looks nothing like what's on the Internet. I will read the Pintrosity site on occasion and laugh myself silly, then think of all the fails I created and then I come back to Earth. Nonetheless, I'd like to do something special for Christmas.

I would love to make caramel-filled treats. Pinterest has a few suggestions on filled snickerdoodles. I have the option of using regular cookie mix, prepared according to package, then molding the dough around a caramel. Roll the ball in sugar and cinnamon, then bake. Or, I could use Pillsbury crescent dough cut into two inch square, roll into balls then into the sugar/cinnamon mix and bake for about 7-10 minutes. I can't imagine, though, that the second recipe has that cookie texture that I'd prefer. On the other hand, it's probably more likely to keep the caramel contained.

Do you make filled cookies? Do you have a secret or two to prevent leakage?

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Story, New Contracts, Early Christmas!

I've had an amazing early Christmas so far. So much to relay, but I can't divulge all the good news just yet. For now, though, I'll share what I can and announce the rest when it's official.

First up: I've revised and lengthened the story I wrote for Coming Together: Girl on Girl. I've made A Taste of Vanilla the first in a series of shorts that celebrate diversity in romance. Vanilla is an F/F interracial story (BW/WW), and the followup, A Taste of Ginger, continues the romance from within a small circle of graduate students. If you picked up Girl on Girl to support the NCLR, thank you! Hope you'll read the rest of the story in Vanilla and let me know if you enjoyed it.

Click above to buy at ARe, or buy for Kindle.

Speaking of Coming Together, the next item to share is a recent contract. Nicole Gestalt will edit and publish my short "And Lily Makes Three" for the anthology Coming Together: Through the Storm. This will be a collection of weather-themed erotica to benefit Mercy Corps, who is helping victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. I don't know who else is in the book yet, but will share a list when I do.

I also have more contract news to share, but will wait until all the papers are signed. Hope you'll be as excited as me!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Very Paranormal Holidays Blog Hop

Authors Kallysten and Tricia Schneider organized this Very Paranormal holidays Blog Hop to share their love for paranormal romance, help you discover new authors, win books, prizes... and maybe a brand new Kindle Fire!

Enter the Rafflecopter below for the main prizes, and be sure to comment on this blog to win one backlist eBook from me and a $10 gift card for ARe, Amazon, or B&N.

Hello, everybody! Thanks for stopping by my blog as part of the Very Paranormal Holidays blog hop. We are close to the home stretch now - vacation will start soon, giving us several days holed up at home with cookies and presents and blankets. Where we are during Christmas, we need all three.

Since this is a paranormal hop, I thought I'd share an excerpt from one of my M/M shorts, Enter Sandman. If you're looking for something short and sweet-hot to read, it is 40% off at Phaze.com through the end of the month. Use code HOLIDAY at checkout, and check out some other Phaze authors while you're there. If you enjoy it, I hope you'll check it out and let me know what kind of paranormal stories you like to read.

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Struck by insomnia, Len Crocker is desperate to try anything to get to sleep, even obtain the services of a mysterious living god, and probable huckster, known simply as The Sandman.

When the object of Len’s desires, Andrew Gibbons, springs for the nighttime session, Len is amazed by The Sandman’s effectiveness…and pleasantly surprised with what he finds in his bed the next morning.

Excerpt

Multi-colored strobes cut the air and flashed in rapid, nonsensical patterns. The shrill beat of a Gwen Stefani tune, jacked up twenty more miles an hour than the law should allow, vibrated the floor and every panel of wood keeping the club intact. Men danced and flirted and reveled in the night’s celebration—as though anybody needed an official reason to indulge in good feelings and great friends. At Third Dimension, a gay man could shed his inhibitions and the conventions of the outside world and be himself.

Any other night, Len Crocker would be out on the lighted floor, grinding and gyrating amid crowded bodies, energized by the collective musk of hard men, horny men, queens and twinks and bears—oh my! Now, perched on a stool at the bar, hunched over a steaming mug of coffee, he just wanted everything to mute and morph into a Quaalude dream, slow enough to let him slip away without Spike and Gerry noticing. He wanted the bartender, hovering close with the coffee pot as though waiting to refill, to go away. He wanted Gwen to shut the fuck up. He wanted to go home and sleep, but knew that wasn’t an option. Hadn’t been for six weeks now.

As Gwen’s techno-driven, helium-voiced scat segued into more of the same from the month’s latest pop tart, Len felt a nudge at his wrist. The bartender had set a bottle of Jack in front of him.

“Maybe a little liquid inspiration in your coffee to get the heart pumping?” He punctuated another silent offer with a wink.

Len snorted. He didn’t even need the coffee, and God only knew why he’d asked for it. Alcohol proved useless in helping him wind down, otherwise he’d have chugged at least a fifth of Scotch on arriving.

He refrained from a response and the bartender shrugged. “Whatever, guy,” he said. “It’s a gay bar. Just lighten up, eh?” And he granted Len’s wish by shuffling to the far end to chat up a more amicable pair in matching Polo shirts.

Figuring his exposure at the bar might attract more unwanted attention, Len grasped the mug and loped off toward privacy. He found an empty, shadowed circular booth situated on the opposite end of the dance floor—couples used it normally for a clandestine blow job or fisting—and slid against the cool vinyl to the middle. This granted him a nice panoramic view of Third Dimension, and easy spying access on Spike and Gerry, who twisted and tangled with another couple under the rainbow track lighting. They appeared totally in their element, and as Spike drove them all here—and had literally carried Len and shoved him into the backseat—Len knew he wasn’t going anywhere soon.

The coffee burned him, and Len pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth, wincing at the odd sensation of heat mixed with dark roast. The bitter stench curled in beckoning fingers of steam above the rim of the mug, as though taunting this extended bout with insomnia. He pushed the mug aside and rested his head in folded arms—a futile effort, but the scenery proved too repetitive and uninteresting for him to watch anymore.

He didn’t know how much time had passed—the segueing in the music stream offered little help, everything sounded the same—before he sensed another presence close to him. A shadow fell across his narrowed line of vision, which previously granted him a sideways view of the path toward the bathroom and back area by the pool tables. He inhaled a tangy cologne that burned his lungs and warmed his blood.

“I won’t keep you long,” the voice began, deep and smooth. “I just couldn’t help but notice you slumped over like you’d lost your best friends.”

“I didn’t, I know exactly where they are.” Len jerked his head back slightly to indicate the dance floor. “And in all honesty, I’m not looking for a sympathetic ear…or penis,” he added as he turned his gaze, then immediately wished he could take back those words.

Shit. Of all nights for the object of his wet dreams to finally acknowledge his existence, here he’d nearly blown him off—not in the good way, either. Len straightened and offered Andrew Gibbons a weak smile that the other man might hopefully interpret as an apology and invitation to remain.

“Sorry, Gibb,” he said, raking a hand through his hair. Everybody called the gorgeous, tanned brunet by this shortened version of his surname. Len hoped this manner of address wouldn’t provoke an annoyed response, seeing as how he and Gibb had never before spoken privately. Len thought until now he had to stay content with admiring the lean gym god from afar, or listening in on a group conversation dominated by others.

“Been a rough week,” Len added.

“Looks like you’ve had a full calendar of rough weeks,” Gibb observed, tilting his head for an intense gaze at what Len certainly perceived were eyes darkened by bags underneath the lower lids. “Wanna talk about it?”

Len’s tongue thickened in his mouth. Words, he suspected, might come tumbling out in a garbled mess. After a swig of still molten coffee for courage, he smiled. “End of quarter reporting is always a son of a bitch,” he said. “I have to meet with the board of directors at my company next week and convince them to keep our budget the same, or at least not cut it to the point where they have to start laying off people.”

“Ouch.” Gibb winced. “I don’t envy you that. Do you really think you have to tell them to fire anybody?”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that.” Len shook his head. “It’s just the anxiety getting to me. I haven’t slept well in so long. I got bills due, loud neighbors, ugh!” He’d hole up in a hotel room if he could afford it, but Gibb didn’t need to hear about his money woes. Spike and Gerry spotted his cover charge tonight, and that had embarrassed him plenty for the month.

Gibb clicked his tongue against his teeth, and reached into a back pocket. “That doesn’t sound good. If you could at least sleep, you’ve won half the battle. You’d think straight.”

Len really wanted to laugh. “I haven’t had a straight thought since I was sixteen.”

“Good one. Here.” Gibb pulled a card from his wallet and slid it on the table toward Len. “I had a problem with insomnia last year, contacted this guy, and he took care of it. You won’t find anyone better to help you.”

Len looked at the card but didn’t pick it up. He saw no designs or fancy fonts, just a white rectangle with bold, raised lettering:

THE SANDMAN – A PEACEFUL REST GUARANTEED

He frowned, then slid his thumbnail down to lift one corner of the card. “There’s no phone number, or e-mail address,” he said. “Not even a Twitter handle for a direct ping. How am I supposed to get in touch with this Sandman?” Len reached into his pocket for his smart phone, but after a few quick searches through his Web browser window he could find nothing remotely related to Gibb’s testimonial.

Gibb pressed his finger against the card and slid it back. “Now, now, I didn’t exactly say you had to make the call. Trust me, I know where to find him.” Gibb chuckled. “In fact, I could try him tonight, if you’re interested in getting some sleep this weekend.”

Len sighed. How deliciously forbidden that sounded. With two days of downtime ahead of him, he desperately needed to catch up on forty winks, times infinity. Suddenly, a sobering thought shuddered through him.

“You know,” he put away the phone, “the way that card looks, he’s probably very exclusive. I doubt somebody like that would be available on a whim—”

He looked up just as Gibb put his own phone to his ear, and pressed a hand against his other ear to listen without too much distraction. Ignoring Len, Gibb conversed with the party on the other end. “Hey, I have a last-minute appointment if you can do it,” he half-shouted. Len watched as Gibb’s face lifted in a smile, and Gibb winked.

“Great! I’ll text you the address in a few minutes.” Gibb rang off and beckoned to Len. “He’s in between clients, but said since he’s on this side of town he’s happy to squeeze you in if we get you home now.”

“This late?”

“People sleep at night, don’t they? What do you say? Are we going home?”

Home? The idea of having a strange man poking around his apartment so close to midnight unnerved him. Gibb, on the other hand…

He pinched the bridge of his nose. Ugh! Under any other circumstances, he’d welcome the opportunity to entertain Gibb at his home…on the couch, in bed, wherever the man felt most comfortable or willing. As Gibb tried to lead him out of the booth another thought struck him.

“Wait, how much is this, uh, service?” he asked. A cryptic business card hinted at a possible bill equal to his rent payment. “If he’s expensive, I can’t do this. And what does he do, anyway?”

Gibb waved him closer, stepping toward the exit. “Relax. It’s on me. Crane’s kind of a pay it forward guy, and so am I.”

“Crane?” The name evoked an image of a burly, homophobic construction worker, come to cure Len’s insomnia by bashing him upside the head with a crowbar. Maybe he and Gibb worked together, and would rob him blind after rendering him unconscious. “First or last name?”

Gibb kept pushing him to the door. “The fewer questions you ask, the sooner we can get you to sleep. Don’t worry about your friends, I’m driving you. You got everything you came with?”

All this and insomnia, too. Once out into the lot, Len looked sheepishly around. He didn’t know Gibb’s car. “Uh, you have to take the toll bridge to get there,” he said. “You got change?”

“How much?”

“Fifty cents.”

Gibb scratched his chin, as though considering the expense, then winked and led Len to a black Lexus. “You’re worth it.”

“Gee, thanks.” He’d roll his eyes if he didn’t think Gibb looked so damned adorable when he said that.

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Don't forget to comment for the giveaway. Good luck!








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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Queer Town Abbey Christmas Blog Hop with Leigh!

Comment below to win a $10 gift card to Amazon, B&N, or AllRomance from Leigh, and add to your Christmas reading list! Scroll down for the QTA Rafflecopter, too.

Happy holidays! I am pleased to be a part of the Queer Town Abbey Christmas Hop. QTA and author KT Grant were kind to help promote Coming Together: Girl on Girl, and I wish them great success. Since we're here to talk about Christmas, I would like to divulge one of my favorite Christmas traditions, and perhaps it's one of yours as well.

I love this time of year because you can turn on a television and find any of my favorite holiday movies. I like the tearjerkers fine, but I want to remain positive in the cold weather, so when Clark Grizzwold is stringing up the lights and stapling his pants to the roof, or when Will Ferrell is wandering around Manhattan in an elf costume, I'm there. My all-time favorite, though, is A Christmas Story - not necessarily because it's the funniest Christmas movie ever. I've actually lived this movie (well, not the sticking my tongue to the frozen pole part).

One year, when I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, my parents and sister decided to come and visit. Having lived in Florida for decades, they wanted a white Christmas, and got more than they bargained for. That year a horrible winter storm blew through town, knocking out our power for days. We had no heat, no electricity, and therefore couldn't cook, so no turkey dinner. It got so bad that we had to burn newspaper on the barbecue grill in the garage - it's a small miracle that we didn't get sick from smoke poisoning.

Come Christmas Day, after our numb fingers unwrapped gifts, we ventured out for something to eat. The only restaurant open that day was the Chinese buffet - very reminiscent of the dinner scene in the movie. The next year, we stayed in Florida. Sure enough, TNT aired A Christmas Story and when it got to the Chinese restaurant scene we were able to appreciate it on a whole new level.

This year, it's Christmas with the in-laws in the mountains, and they have a generator in case the power goes out.

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One thing I love about Christmas: cookies! I do most of my baking in December, and I always make Oatmeal Scotchies. I use the Nestle recipe which is on their website, but sometimes I add a cup of chopped walnuts to the mix. What's your favorite Christmas cookie? Comment below and enter to win a gift card.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

40% Off Sale at Phaze Books! Save on eBook and Print by Leigh Ellwood

Now through December 31, all paperbacks and eBooks at Phaze Books are 40% off. This means you can order my entire Phaze backlist and save big. Phaze offers eBooks in a variety of formats, so you can read these books on different apps and readers. Be sure to use the code HOLIDAY when you check out.

Many of my Dareville romances are available through Phaze Books, so if you're missing some books in the series this is a great time to stock up. There's also some hot M/M and a menage or two. Don't forget to check out other great authors at Phaze, too.

As for current writing, I am still waiting to hear on two recent submissions, one F/F and one M/F with a BBW heroine. I'm 10K into another F/F story and plan to submit that one by year's end. After that, I need to re-release a few stories that came back to me, and set up another M/M print collection. Then it's off to order promo for a few events in 2014. Oh, and I have to bake Christmas cookies before Christmas ends. I'll find the time, I swear.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, if you celebrated. I'd like to host a Christmas giveaway while I'm online, too, so we'll see how that goes.