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Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Squishgiving

I took this photo after Squish got all ready this morning. What you can't see are the painstakingly chosen pink skirt, pink tights, and pink shirt that all went on under the big pink hoodie--but I think what you can see is enough.

Squish was ready to go out on the town.

This is, of course, about five minutes before she spilled milk all on herself, and cried.

And I felt that cry-- she'd been so proud. It was such a good outfit, and I'd fixed her hair so it spilled down her back and she was wearing matching wristlets and the lovely scarf (Thanks Rhae!) and earrings--and the purse? Do you see the matching purse? Yeah. She looked her best and most adorable Squishiness today.

It sucked to have her plans change.

We rinsed off her clothes and threw them in the dryer and she found another sweatshirt and, for the most part she got her groove back, but I do try to remember moments like the big cry, too.  Because we expect so much out of the holidays-- we expect to look good and be happy and have everything go well--and sometimes, it just doesn't.

So, for those of you who had the perfect holiday--I'm so glad. We need those days of family warmth and good food, those days of tradition and joy. They do make our lives so much more pleasant--so very fulfilling, if we are fortunate enough to have them.

But if you got into a fight with a family member or burnt the turkey or ended up alone in your apartment with a tin of beans--remember that not everybody gets the perfect holiday. You're not alone if you cried, or if you couldn't join the five-thousand people in the kitchen or if you're revolted by turkey. You're not a freak if this was a shitty day for you-- but that doesn't mean you won't get a quiet happy day of your own, with people who love you and some joy.

It just doesn't have to be this day, or this moment.

Have faith--it will come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving-- the fridge is empty but the buy links are up!

Through a miserable adolescence and a lonely adulthood, Skipper Keith has dreamed of nothing but family. The closest he gets is the rec league soccer team he coaches after work—and his star player and best friend, Richie Scoggins.

One brisk night in late October, a postpractice convo in Richie’s car turns into a sexual encounter neither of them expected—nor want to forget. Soon Skip and Richie are living for the weekends and their winter league soccer games—and the games they enjoy off the field. Through broken noses, holiday decorating, and the killer flu, they learn more about each other than they ever dreamed possible. Every new discovery takes them further beyond the boundaries of the soccer field and into the infinite possibilities of the best relationship of Skipper’s life.

Skipper can’t dream of a better family than Richie—but Richie’s got real family entanglements he can’t shake off. Skipper needs to convince Richie to stay with him beyond winter ball so the relationship they started on the field might become their happy future in real life!   WINTER BALL, NOW AVAILABLE AT DSP 

So, today I...

* Emptied the refrigerator and cleaned it with bleach and fire
*  Talked on the phone to my bestie
*  Went out for lunch, since all our stuff is in the outside refrigerator
*  Cooked for tomorrow-- and for the day after tomorrow when we're going to have our own turkey
*  Edited in between cooking and dealing with the kids
*  Skipped my nap to read Rhys Ford cause she's amazing
*  Sorta cleaned the kitchen when I was done cooking
*  Stared blankly ahead in exhaustion and knitted through two episodes of friends
*  Got my buy links and got excited!  
Now, you may notice I said "Links" and not "Link"--

See, Selfie is ALSO up for pre-sale (from Riptide, and not DSP.)  Now, Selfie has a much longer lead time, so it's not due out for a couple of months-- but you'll get to see the pre-buy link (and the blurb and the warnings!) if you go RIGHT HERE.   (If that doesn't work, go to and look up Selfie by Amy Lane-- that should!)  

Now, normally I'd totally post my artwork right here, but if you go to the website, you may notice that the artwork is covered, and that's because we're going to have a big cover reveal a little closer to publishing time.  But in the meantime? I've got stuff UP and I'm totally excited. WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!

And now to totally have Turkey Day-- and to be grateful for my family that helped exorcise the refrigerator and for the dogs who are exhausted for having ALL THE PEOPLE at home, and for my cat who wants all the affection NOW, and for my friends who answered bizarre phone calls and goofy texts all day because I didn't WANT to do my chores and for fun books to read.

And for all of you :-)


A Little Book With a BIG History

Okay-- so today, Dreamspinner Press announced THIS.   Do you see that?
I am SO EXCITED about this-- you have no idea.

Yes, I've written one for the line--and I hope it's accepted.  It's called Tamale Boy and the Spoiled Brat and I'm so amped-- if they take it, it will come out in January 2017.

Now you may wonder what's so exciting about this. "Oh, yes, look-- Dreamspinner has books out, you know,  like those grocery store books. Harlequin Presents or Silhouette Desires. Oh, isn't that quaint. You know, the M/M people trying to be like the Het people. That's funny!"

No.  No no no no no...

You're not seeing it. 

It's awesome. 

See, the basic Harlequin Presents is what I tried to write when I first tried to write. In fact, on my website, if you look under my free work-- much of it is REALLY OLD by the way--you will see a 60K book--horribly formatted--called Name.  This is probably my third or fourth attempt at writing a Silhouette Desire or a Harlequin romance--because when I was growing up, man, those things meant everything to me.  And even as a grownup, they brought me comfort like you cannot believe.  

Want proof?

Here-- I'll offer you a short history of Amy and the Category Romance.

* Sixth Grade-- Amy tries to check out Forever by Judy Blume and is reported to her father by the librarian because that book had sex in it.  Amy is mortified.

* Seventh Grade-- Amy discovers the Harlequin Romance rack at the library. Curiously enough, Amy is allowed to check out as many of these as she wants, because everybody knows that the sex in them isn't that bad anyway.

* Eighth Grade-- Amy is desperately convinced that she will fall in love and marry somebody who is much older than she is, someone who can educate her on life, because the boys she knows are hopelessly stupid and the mysterious men in the books are much more interesting.  Eighth Grade is sort of a nightmare for Amy-- those mysterious men in the books would definitely see those wonderful qualities that the stinky poo-heads in eighth grade were missing.

* Ninth Grade-- Amy discovers that people have also slipped sex into the science fiction and fantasy books she adores. Much of her reading becomes the QUEST FOR SEX.  Harlequins still help in this department.  At this point, Amy is invisible and is still convinced that the men in the books know EVERYTHING. 

* Tenth Grade-- Amy's family takes a summer trip before tenth grade in her grandparents' RV. This is seven people in the RV, entertainment space is limited, and the PC, Kindle, iPad, iPod, Smartphone and any other device made to keep people from strangling each other when on a six-week trip across country in an RV has yet to be invented. We have the following: My stepbrother's electronic football game--by the end of the trip, all seven of us are fucking ACES at this game. A walkman and six cassette tapes made by my parents--which is how I know all the words to an album put out by Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Crystal Gale. I'm looking' for blue-eyes... has anyone seen him? Don't you tell me... he gave up on me....  And four books per person. 

You read that right-- FOUR books... PER PERSON. 

Yes-- I thought I was being smart, because I chose sci-fi fantasy books, and I went for the wrist breakers too.  But it was no good. I was done with them in the first week. So, by the end of the road trip, I had read my books, my stepmom's book (The Thornbirds), my stepbrother's book (which was also my dad's-- it was about time travel conspiracies in the military) and my grandmother's Harlequin Romances. Did you know that secretaries who traveled to the far east could marry their handsome sheik employers? I was thrilled to find out!

*  Eleventh and twelfth grade-- Amy learns that she can claim she's studying if she sits on the bed with her GIANT TOMES OF GOOD LITERATURE on her lap... and hides a tiny $.25 romance book behind it.  Her stepmom accuses her of wasting her day when she does this, and frequently shoos her off to do chores or get beaten up by her stepbrother.

* College-- Amy learns that Mate is susceptible to the same trick--but that Mate is much more amused than her stepmom was when she gets caught doing it. But, see, at this point there is a Mate-- and I am Amy, and I am no longer living my life through my books. Here is when I realize that I am reading the books because I am going to school and working full time, and sometimes I need to read something NOT painful, informative, dry, educational, or SET ON A GRAND SCALE OF HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT. Or, you know, written by dead white men. I need to read something immediate, heart pumping, and real. I need to read something that appeals to my emotions and makes my day better. Which, I think, is why Mate lets me slip one in now and again. All puns intended.

*  Post-college-- I have been fired from my first district because they hired me when I was pregnant and this pissed them off. It doesn't matter-- my son can't keep a babysitter because there is a mysterious problem that nobody can diagnose and everybody assumes is bad parenting, and so childcare is not going to happen anyway.  We are living in a terrifyingly old and decrepit house in the middle of nowhere, and I have no car.  Mate is working all week and going to school at night, and I am pregnant again and alone with my son who cannot communicate.  And Harlequin Romances are $.25 a piece at The Almost Perfect Bookstore, and they are my friends. I make my first attempt at writing one at this time, and it's molding away in the garage somewhere, but I still remember when my friend read it and told me it was a real book, just like the one she was reading.  It was one of my best moments of that time, hands down.

*  Post-first children-- Mate is in school and I have a job teaching and we are trying so hard to dig ourselves out of the hole we were in when I wasn't working. I have two very small children, one with a communication handicap, and leaving them behind as I go work full time is ripping my guts out. And my husband is working at night.  Every month I get two deliveries-- each one has a wine glass packaged with the box, it was part of the deal. One was Harlequin Historicals, and the other was Silhouette Desire. I teach English now-- I have an idea of why these books comfort me, why I cry with relief every time the little box shows up at my door. The first Christmas we lived like this, Mate and I have no money for gifts for each other. I give Mate socks-- which he needs--and some shirts--because his others have holes-- so he can open a present in front of the kids. I wrap--and open--my four Silhouette Desire books, and some of the chocolate we put in the stocking for the kids. (P.S.-- we still have the wine glasses to this day-- they're the nicest things in our cupboard.)

I write Name during this time, but I stop reading categorical when I go back to school--and start reading urban fantasy, which totally turns my key.

* Today-- I have been writing professionally for over ten years. I have been writing for a publisher who wants my work for over six of them. I am no longer a teacher.  And I look at these books--these 50-65K books-- and I see why I loved them so very much. 

They were comforting--they had a heartbeat and a rhythm. There was a rush to the first meeting, and the rush escalated to the first touch, and rose further to the first kiss. There was an explosion at the first sex and a gentle let down afterwards, and a sweetness at the end. This rush was addictive--and at the times in my life when I was most stressed, or sad, or confused, it was better than chocolate, that knowledge that, in between the pages of this book, I could find endorphins and happiness. There would be banter and characters and joy. There would be scenes that took my breath away, courtship scenes, scenes that led to happiness and happy ever after. There was this ability to, very quickly, take a peek into someone else's life and experience the happiest moment, just like you were living in her skin. 

It was marvelous. 

It is still marvelous. It is still magical. It is still a peek into somebody else's life and a chance to live the happiest moment in it.  

Yes-- I am known as the Queen of Angst. I am known for writing books that strive to be real, and are often gritty, and hopefully haunting. But I can do that because I have found my peace and my balance and I have lived through my turbulence (I hope) and that's where I draw from. But I never forget that during those times when things were hard, when I didn't know who I was, when I doubted myself, when I hated myself, it was the basic, happy, trope-filled categorical romance that gave me a window to a better life. Yeah, sure, I stopped looking through that window and started living my own life--but I had that window to paint a picture for my future. I had a window in which to see a working relationship, a happy ever after, two people in love.  

There is no shame in reading those books-- in needing those books during some times in our lives (or ALL THE TIMES in our lives!)  I am so so so proud that my name is going to be added to this line. I am so excited to see my publisher doing this. 

Oh guys-- look. They're calorie free chocolate.  They're fat-free prime-rib on the page. They're a big hit of legal endorphins. They're happiness by the word. 

Enjoy--freely and without guilt or worrying that someone's going to accuse you of reading "trashy romance"-- they're SPLENDIFEROUS romance--because they ARE romance, and they are meant to celebrate, in juicy Bacchanalian splendor, the joys of finding happiness and falling in love. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

6 Reasons to Go Walking in the Rain

*  The dogs assume you are NOT a booger-head who breaks your promises.

*  You can freak out the mailman twice in one day. (Once as you leave the house with the dogs who think he's lunch, and once as you encounter him at a random time during your walk with the dogs, who still think he's lunch.)

*  You can work out that lingering stiffness in your back and neck that comes from knitting for too long in front of the television.

*  Self-righteousness works off at least a hundred extra calories. It's like going swimming in the cold or running in the heat. You're not just exercising, you're suffering.

*  The sound the rain makes as it hits the leaves, knocking the yellow ones a-fluttering to the sidewalk, is like fairies in gold-plated booties pattering across a tin roof.

*  You might encounter--and exchange banter--with a utilities worker standing in a hole of someone's yard.  His head and shoulders might be peeking out, and the dogs might be hysterically flummoxed by said man-in-a-hole.  You might carry the image of the man-in-a-hole with you for the rest of the day.  He might--just might, mind you-- reserve a place for himself in a book.  So, remember that: walk in the rain = man-in-the-hole.  And all that that implies.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

On Balls and Walls

Okay-- so, this story is sort of dependent on THIS STORY RIGHT HERE, in which the other soccer moms and I tortured Squish's coach with some innuendo involving white and blue balls.

Well, this this weekend was Squish's soccer banquet, and because Soccer Mom 2 is EXTREMELY brave and industrious and creative, it was a rousing success--at her house.

At the end, the coach got his coach gift, which is traditionally a framed picture of the coach and the team.

This time, Soccer Moms 1 & 2 went above and beyond-- they gave him a book of photo-illustrated "coachisms".  For example, one of his favorite coachisms this year was "Suck it up, Cupcake!"   So they took pictures of the girls pretending to eat a drawn cupcake-- and the page that said, "Suck it up, Cupcake!" had those pictures next to that coachism.

The idea was AWESOME, because, as I've said before, the coach has lots of energy and spends a lot of that energy making the kids love soccer.

So, one of the coachisms was "You can't eat fast food! I never eat fast food!" And that prompted the Soccer Moms and I to gather our fast food wrappers from our cars (there was an embarrassing amount of them, even though we'd all just cleaned our cars out) and stack them next to his truck, so it looked like they'd all fallen out of his door or had been thrown into the bed. He had a good laugh at that-- "Aw, you guys trashed my truck!!!"  -- and the only forgivable thing was that he hadn't known we'd done that so we'd cleaned up really good.

And another one of the coachisms was, "Where's my white ball?"

And of course the other soccer moms and I had a good laugh over that. And Soccer Mom 1 told me, "Oh yeah. It was pretty funny-- I told him why you'd be a ball expert and he was MORTIFIED. He turned bright red and changed the subject and he could barely speak. It was hilarious."

Heh heh heh...

I am so socially awkward. It really doesn't behoove me to have an in-joke because people, I will USE that shit.

I went to the coach and said, "So you know, I promise not to use you in my books. Ever."

At first he played along-- "Soccer Mom 1, she just told me I'm going to be in her book!"

"No I didn't!"

"She said she's going to put me in the book because you told me too!"


And he laughed his ass off, because I was so earnest and she play fights very well.  But after things quieted down a little, I said, seriously, "No-- I really don't make people I know into love interests-- it just gets weird, so you have no worries."  (Those of you who have asked for Darrin's story in Candy Man already know this.)

He said, "Uh... well, uh..."

And then I pulled up the cover of Winter Ball.  "And you should know that this book was written almost a year ago, a long time before I even knew you and your assistant coach, so this is not about you in the least."

"Oh God. Is that really a book about soccer?"

"Yeah. But I promise you're not in it."

"Good. Uh... that's great to know."

"And honestly, I've already used your name-- it was about four years ago, and he was a stock broker, and if it makes you feel better, he was very butch."

And at this point he turned to Soccer Mom 2's wall --which had once been an avocado green and was now in the process of being painted a nice granite gray.

And he said, "That's a really ugly wall. Why would you paint a wall that color? I mean... green. That's a horrible color. Gross."

And Mate (who had been cracking up the entire time) said, "Yeah-- that's the color of 70's appliances. That's horrible."

And Soccer Mom 2 and I met eyes and laughed and she said, "If you think the wall is bad, you should have seen the carpet."

And I was dying. I've never seen anybody change a subject that fast.

So I hope he gets to be Squish's coach next year. He was awesome, he had Squish running and feeling good about her improvement, and he noticed that she was really really smart--and that is always something wonderful.

And the girls love him.

And, at least once in the season, I'll get a chance to make a crack about balls.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fanfic Friday--Stucky: Some... Day....

Okay-- so I wonder sometimes when I'm doing the Fanfic Friday-- OMG-- what if I love that bit? What if I decide to use it someday in my published writing? Will my readers hold that against me?  And, for those of you who are interested, I also wonder what would happen if I ever wrote a story about two older law enforcement types getting together when they had adult children at home. Because, the more I write Cartinski, the more fun a story like that seems like it would be.

Anyway--so, given that I have no ideas how readers will react to that, I think it's only fair to tell you: I DO plan to use the "Some... Day..." idea someday. Because one of my favorite movies of ALL THE DAMN TIMES has been LadyHawke. And when Rutger Hauer said this line in that movie, ALL THE THINGS IN THE WORLD just... stopped. Held their breath. And we all wanted to know what could cause Navarre so much pain.

So, probably not in an easily recognizable form... but, you know... some... day...

(Also... I apologize for it being so short--I may have mentioned "Drabble" in the labels?)

*  *  *

Steve watched dispassionately as the cybernetics-enhanced body thrashed against the vibranium-reinforced hospital bed. His own wounds--wrenched shoulder, broken nose, bruised internal organs, broken ribs, cracked hip-- were all healing ahead of schedule, because hey! Those were just the Captain America perks!

The Winter Soldier had the same perks it seemed--except, while Steve had come out of his anesthetic well ahead of schedule, the same way he healed...

Bucky-- or the man left inside his shell--was struggling. Going deeper and deeper inside his head each day.

"Maybe," Fury said, during one of his quiet periods where he'd only lain there, twitching, "he just needs to realize that what's out here isn't going to beat him, drug him, and destroy what's left of the man inside."

"That's very wise," Steve said, so dryly he couldn't differentiate his despair form his sarcasm. "I'll let you know if we find a way to tell him."

His response had been a hard squeeze of his shoulder, and then Fury had left.

And Sam had taken his place.

Steve had given him a sideways glance, wondering how he felt about this. He'd helped Steve take Bucky down--he'd heard their final words, screamed just before Sam had fired the vibranium-fiber snare.

Why can't you just let me go!

Because I loved you--I loved you with all that was inside me. I can't let ME go--and you never gave up on me, Bucky-- not once! 

He'd been falling down, in pain--just like their previous encounter, only this time, he had the teeniest bit of hope that he wouldn't die.

And that's when Sam had fired the snare.  One of the weights had gone awry, almost smashing Bucky's head--and another had shattered Steve's femur.

But the fight was over. Bucky was anesthetized, Steve was healing.

Sam was... quiet.

"What?" Steve said after an hour of just sitting there, watching Bucky twitch.

"I can't let you go either," Sam said.

Steve looked at him in surprise. "I'm sorry?"

"You think I don't know what's at stake, you tracking him across the known universe. Risking your life--again--to come up against him. You think I'm fooled? YOu're just here for your 'friend'?"

He had no answer to that, so he studied his hands instead.

"You're here for him in the same way I"m here for you," Sam said, and that--that came as a shock when it shouldn't have.  Steve almost broke something twisting around in his chair, and Sam's defiant, tortured eyes met his.

They were red-rimmed, and Sam's mouth trembled.


"Shut up," Sam muttered. "I'm just here."

"But what if--"

"I don't care if he wakes up and wants you right here and now."  Sam's voice shook. "You are not the same person. He may have known you then, but I know you now. And now is what you need."

Steve couldn't seem to get a handle on his jaw--it wobbled up and down, and his breathing started coming in short pants, hurting his side.

"What if I can't?" he asked finally, but his voice was weak, and he had to stare at Bucky to make sure he remembered every detail of that dear, alien face.

"You will," Sam said, the confidence inches voice giving Steve something to cling to. "Someday."

*  *  *  *

Bucky Barnes remembered the first time he looked at Steve Rogers and thought he was beautiful.

Steve had gotten the shit kicked out of him--again--for defending somebody who didn't need defending--again.  Bucky pulled him out of the trash pile, wiping blood from his nose and shaking blond hair from enormous eyes, glaring at Bucky and daring him to say anything, anything at all, about his fifty-billionth fight.

Bucky hadn't been able to. "Jesus, kid. Do you even remember how to hold up your left?"

Steve held his fists up, just like Bucky had showed him. A righteous bruise was blooming along the outside of Steve's arm. Yeah-- he'd held up his left, and it had gotten battered to hell.  Bucky had taken him home then--Bucky's home, where his mom let him use the bathtub, and then given him some of Bucky's little brother's clothes to wear.

Bucky had walked into the bathroom just as Steve had stood up, water sluicing from his scrawny chest and delicate waist and flanks, and it should have been no big deal.  Skinny naked guy-- they'd seen each other without clothes since they'd been first graders, fighting back to back in PS 12.

But this time, he'd stood up, and Bucky had seen his bruises first, beauties, all of them, from his shoulders to his jutting hipbone.

Then he'd seen the milk-pale skin, and then he'd seen his graceful, almost dancelike movements, and then he'd seen...

Those enormous eyes, staring at him in confusion.

"Buck? You got clothes for me?"

Bucky had cleared his throat and ignored the flush took over his body, and thrust his armload of clothes into Steve's arms and then turned to exit the bathroom like the fiends of hell were after him.

And now, locked into the horrible, recursive hell of doctors, probes, brainwashes, rinsing away Bucky and leaving only Soldier, it felt like every atom of his being was running through the molasses of time go get back that moment. that moment, when Steve's body was new and beautiful to him, and the possibilities of them touching had seemed... endless.

So when the anesthesia threatened to wear off, and consciousness threatened to overwhelm him, with a new world, a new directive, a new Steve, one in a perfect body and a new uniform and a deep, bitter anger against the powers that forged them both--that was what he struggled against.

He wanted to go back, back... to that moment in the hotel room in France, when they'd both forgotten who they were supposed to be and were only hands on bodies, aching pleasure, the subsumation of each of their strong, dominant personalities into the well-being of the other.

He arched off the hospital bed, fighting the newness, the present age, the reality he would wake up to.  He fought for that perfect moment, that exact pitch in time, when he touched Steve Roger's skin, and all of that sweetness, that strength and innocence, had been his for the taking.

Some... day...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Back in the Saddle of a very Tame Horse

So, I have volunteered to be Art Docent for Squish's class. Now, fun fact-- one of the years I tried to be docent for Squish's class, I ended up in a class with no child of mine in it--but a very awesome teacher.

So, Squish actually has this teacher this year, and I get to bring art and art education to her class.

I'm a little worried-- fourth graders are SKEERY CRITTERS.

But the art is beautiful.

And I get to teach children again, something dear to my heart.

A thousand and one things to do this weekend-- a thousand and one things to do this month. 

And I'm so proud I can give some of my time to this.

Yippee Kai Yay!

You know it's November when...

... The cats become determined to pet you with their fluffy furry bodies, so that you're not inclined to throw them outside in the cold.

... You realize your body can no longer tolerate pizza--and yet you have at least three after-soccer pizza parties to attend.

...You try to remember if these are really the only jeans you own.

...You're on the edge of your seat waiting for you Christmas release.

...You make stupid plans to cook your own turkey even though you're going somewhere else for Thanksgiving.

...You start wondering exactly how cold it has to be to make you change from iced coffee to hot mocha. (I suspect I would have to live in Michigan.)

...Your circadian rhythms keep trying to make you sleep at six o'clock at night.

...You lose half a pair of fingerless mitts that you made especially for yourself this year.

...You find half a pair of last year's fingerless mitts that in no way match this year's.

... You are too deep into Christmas knitting to take three days to knit yourself another pair.

...You think, "Gee, the kids are tired-- they need a break!" without realizing it's two days before Thanksgiving vacation.

...You have to spend fifteen minutes in the hot tub after aqua or your feet will cramp too bad to walk to the shower.

...It's not close enough to Thanksgiving to use your Thanksgiving clipart, but you have nothing else to post a picture of.

...All you want to do is sit and knit and cuddle and knit and catch up on all the shows you've gotten behind on in the fall.

...You panic, because, Holy Goddess, there's only a month until Christmas, and you have all the knitting to do!

...You also panic because you're supposed to write 2,000 words a night.

Goodnight everybody!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Amy Lane Christmas Stories

 Okay-- so, everybody knows the Gambling Men story, and how Amy came to be a writer for Dreamspinner Press.

But, little known fact, Gambling Men was my first submission, but If I Must was my first published work from DSP-- it was for their Advent Calendar, and nobody could have been as surprised as I was at how much everybody loved the befuddled Ian, the gentle, organized Joel, and the miserable cat named Manky Bastard.

If I Must came out in 2009.

The next year, I wrote for the Advent Calendar again, and I wanted a hero who was not perfect. I ended up with the chubby, well meaning Kit, and his rather slutty, but kind-hearted Jesse, and that was Christmas With Danny Fit. 

That came out in 2010

The year after that, I had the idea for, well, a story that ended up with a rather interesting knitted item at the end. Mate and I had gone traveling a few years beforehand, and we'd been to Granby--the real Granby-- and I thought, what if... what if a grumpy bastard named Craw lived in Granby, and ran the mill there. What if he met a tenderfoot named Ben...

The Winter courtship Rituals of Fur Bearing Critters came out in 2011.  It spawned three sequels-- How to Raise an Honest Rabbit, A Knitter in His Natural Habitat (all together, these are in the paperback, The Granby Knitting Menagerie), and Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair. These books spawned a character that people still refer to as "Jeremy Bunny" because referred to him as that-- he's never actually called "Jeremy Bunny" in the books.  And we love him so very much-- still.

ETA: And I can't believe I forgot this one! Puppy, Car, and Snow.   The book was a sequel of sorts to two shorts-- one called Shirt and one called Phonebook which came out from DSP. Eventually, I think I will be offering those stories for free, but in the mean time, Puppy, Car, and Snow is the story of two long term lovers (although we've seen them meet ;-) who have to endure a holiday under a mother-in-law's gimlet eye, complete with over achieving children and socially awkward inlaws.  It was fun and light, and sort of overlooked, really, in the midst of the Fur-Bearing Critters excitement;-)
In 2011 I also came out with a book called

The next year, I wrote a book about a care taking uncle who effectively became a single parent, and learned to relax with the irrepressible childcare worker at the nearby gym. The childcare worker was based after an actual childcare worker named Justin-- I don't know if Justin was gay, but I do know that when Squish was little and I went to work out, he was one of the best parts of her day. She was still getting over losing her regular childcare people then-- Justin saved our lives.  People responded to that, I think, because Turkey in the Snow was a big hit.  Of course the cover helped-- and an interesting fact is that Catt Ford, who was doing much cover work at DSP at the time, enjoyed the story so much that she painted the haunting, poignant cover picture on her own. My idea was to do a campy picture of a turkey wearing boots, ala the Granby books--but her painting was so lovely, I picked it out of a lineup, almost in tears. It remains one of my favorites to this day.

That came out in 2012.

In 2013, I actually came out with two Christmas stories. One of them was my first full-length Christmas story, an actual novel not a novella, written for Riptide, and part of the proceeds were donated to the Ali Forney center for homeless teens. Christmas Kitsch was near and dear to my heart, because it deals with two kids who were on their own (well, Oliver's family helped a lot) and stupid in love. I remembered that feeling-- and I got to relive a lot of it in the book and the blog tour, and that was wonderful.

The other was written for the Advent Calendar-- and I should clarify here. Books written for the Advent Calendar usually had to be under a certain word count. In this case, 20K.  I was not aware when I submitted Going Up! that it would be released on Christmas Eve, as a standalone-- but I was enchanted by the storybook cover, that depicted the lonely prince in the city of San Francisco, and his ebullient, joyful knight who rescued him one elevator ride at a time.

For Christmas 2014, I released Candy Man-- and since I knew it wasn't for the Advent Calendar this time, I let it run a little... uh, long. (Okay-- 49K. Yes. It's two Christmas stories long.)  And Candy Man spawned Bitter Taffy, which was out this summer, and Lollipop, which will be out in January, and Licorice Whip, which I will start writing about the time Bitter Taffy comes out. So, whew! Thank God I stopped by that little store in Sacramento, Candy Heaven, and met the real life Darrin who inspired so much joy. I've had the best time writing these books--I"ll be sorry to see the series come to an end!

Also for Christmas 2014, I released The Bells of Times Square, which nobody wanted to read because it was hella sad. But it was also apparently really good, because it was nominated for a RITA award, and no--I'm not going to let anybody forget about that, why do you ask?

So, here we come to Christmas, 2015-- and my seventh year of having a Christmas release.  (Yes-- I had to count that on my fingers-- 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015-- that's seven years of releases.)

And I've got another full length novel for you--and I love it so very much.

It's not out until December 24th-- I guess my other books have done very good on that date-- and I'll definitely be letting you know when those buy links are up!  (Dude-- you will not be able to toss a cat on social media without seeing this cover. I promise you. Swear to the cat on the front!)  There is something... wondrous about this book-- for me at least.  See, I spent the first part of the year writing Quickening. It was 205K. It almost killed me. It was enmeshed in a previous 1 MILLION words or more of world building, and I was writing it with the full knowledge that it would be released with a VERY LONG lead time. I would wake up in a cold sweat, thinking, "I MUST WRITE MORE!" I usually release a book every two months-- I was shaking whenever I thought about how long it would be between Bitter Taffy and my next release.

So when Quickening was done, and it was time to write Winter Ball-- oh, I cannot tell you how free I felt. How much I was longing to write a simple story-- two guys, working shit out. How much I wanted to write about first times, first sex, first true love, first holiday season in each other's arms. Something visceral, and hot, but with an underlying tenderness that would just cut you off at the knees, make your breath stop, make you think, "Oh. This is love."

So, yeah. That's my history of Christmas releases.

As always, the one coming up is my favorite.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Needling Up

Okay-- I admit it.

I knit a little every day, but some stretches of time are more firmly devoted to knitting than others. I can go for months without ordering yarn online, or visiting my LYS, and then suddenly... BAM. I MUST.

And I must watch all of the television every night, so I can continue to knit the things I must knit.

I'm in one of those stretches right now, where every moment of stasis is a moment of knitting, and the following things are either on the needles, on the roster, books I wish to knit from, books I wish to own, yarn I wish to order, or general stuff of yarnly interest.

Are we ready? Let's go!

Claire's Outlander Cowl--modeled here by Squish. It was really very easy-- two strands of ultra thick & lofty yarn (I used Malabrigo, super-bulky, but you could use two strands of Lion Brand Thick & Quick) and size 35 needles. Cast on 12-20 stitches, knit garter until your yarn runs out, save just enough to join in the manner of your choice. I used pickup and cast off--but that's just what floated my boat.  Addictive, this one. Like, size 35 needles BAM.

Stories in Stitches -- not just the knitted item, but the story behind the knitted item. The last volume is strong women in history. There's also a volume of WWI and II-- I love history and how simple things like textiles and woodwork have shaped the lives of all the people who have come before-- I would LOVE  hours and time to explore these.

The Baker Street Scarf  I love this not just because it's modeled by Neil Gaiman, and not just because I'm knitting one for my editor in a cobalt blue by Blue Moon Fibers that would just totally toast your cheese, but also because it's from THIS BOOK-- Geek Knits , and every item in this book is something either my family or I wants.  So. Yummy.

And if you're knitting Geek Knits, you need a special sort of yarn. How about Nerd Girl Yarn.  The colors are stupendous-- saturated, rich-- and even better? Guys, the yarn names are LISTED BY FANDOM! *swoon* They have pretty much every fandom you could imagine. *fans self*  Seriously-- made me hot and bothered, just to read the list of fandoms, and then looking at the yarn? *swoonz and diez*

And, if you've already admitted to being a geek and  nerd, the next step is... THIS HAT.   And yes. I've already ordered yarn for it.  Because Zoomboy needs. It's important. Truly.

And, if you've truly gone round the bend on this knitting thing... there's always THIS. Because your cat may need a hat like you need another dead thing at your doorstep. There's always that possibility. Truly.

And there you go-- my new knitting fetishes for your enjoyment.

Uh... I should warn you-- I begged the internet today for the strength to resist ordering the yarn for ZoomBoy's hat, and I was told in no uncertain terms that ordering that yarn was no more than I deserved for pushing things like Nerd Girls Yarn and Geek Knits on an innocent and unsuspecting knitting populace.


I should have told you that at the beginning of the post, right?