Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Trailer for Donal agus Jimmy

Irish music can be anything from toe-tapping fun to sweetly sorrowful; love songs are especially likely to have a mournful aspect to them. The song I used for the book trailer is Jimmy, Mo Mhile Stor, which is lovely and haunting. Here it's sung by Mick Bolger of Colcannon, and yes, the song did dictate the name of one character.

One Hundred Years Ago

When a great historical event comes upon a milestone, what may have faded from the general consciousness comes alive again, sometimes on a day by day timetable as, say, a hundredth anniversary approaches.

The sinking of the Titanic is such an event, and while we won’t see moment by moment replays until the time the ship would have left Belfast, there was still much to do to keep a lot of people very busy. At this time one hundred years ago, the ship was in dry dock, being fitted out. The interior needed huge amounts of work, which would continue even during sea trials and all the way to Southampton to collect her passengers for the maiden voyage. The ship went down with washbasins still in crates in some second class cabins.

That day was April 15th, 1912, but one hundred years ago on February 29, men like Donal Gallagher were still working feverishly to complete the magnificent liner. Donal, a cabinetmaker, had dozens of washstands to construct, because this most modern vessel had running water in all cabins, and in first class, the water was even hot!

Donal’s lover Jimmy had done his work for the great ship much earlier; boilers must be installed into an otherwise bare hull. Too huge to do anything but build around, a marine boiler is a mundane and still amazing piece of craftsmanship, built to use high pressure steam. This powered the ship's engines and electrical plant, and by extension, all refrigeration, lighting, elevators, and a hundred other mechanicals mostly taken for granted, and incidentally supply the hot water for the washstands.

We’re used to hearing about the passengers, the Molly Browns and John Jacob Astors, the doomed third class emigrants, and even fictional passengers such as Jack and Rose. A few of the crew, such as Harold McBride and Wallace Hartley, have passed into the folklore of the ship.

But I have chosen to write of the men who made the ship, the unsung such as Donal and Jimmy, two of the twelve thousand who worked at the shipyard. And one of them sailed away.

There is a happy ending here.

Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy.

On Sale This Week

This week we have books by Lee Benoit, Charlie Cochet, BA Tortuga and Vic Winter on sale for 20% off.

Check them out!

New Releases for February 29

The Amethyst Cat Caper by Charlie Cochet

Two years ago, Remington Trueblood left England and everything he held dear for the chance at a new life. Now the successful owner of The Purple Rose Tea House in Manhattan, Remi has come across the perfect addition to his business: a stunning amethyst cat. But Remi's acquired something else with his latest purchase: the attention of the notorious Gentleman Thief!

Detective Stanley Hawk doesn't know the first thing about tea. He's strictly a java kind of guy. What he does know, is crime, and someone's just committed one. As a Pinkerton’s, Hawk always gets his man, and when his investigations lead him straight to Remi, the words have never been truer.

Can Remi and Hawk resist each other long enough to figure out who the thief is and what the heck is going on? Or will the Gentleman Thief get his hands on more than just the Amethyst Cat? From a quirky antique shop, to a high-society tea house, The Amethyst Cat Caper is a delightful little romp through 1930s New York. Whether you prefer tasty tea or steamy java, grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy!

Get your copy today!

Maple Leaf Red: Sugaring Off by Vic Winter

Jacques Duchamps lives and works the Canadian sugar bush where he grew up with his grandfather. It's a lonely existence, but he wouldn't give it up for the world: sugaring off is in his blood. One late fall day, he encounters a wounded wolf, who follows him home. Both Jacques and the wolf are cautious, but eventually come to trust each other.

Could the wolf be more than he appears to be? And will Jacques be able to accept the impossible and discover his soul mate?

Find out today!

Bored Eco-Terrorists and Redneck Lovers by BA Tortuga

MJ and Sonny from the Road Trip series are back and hanging out on their boat. The only problem is that MJ is getting bored, and a bored MJ is seriously dangerous. A game of Truth or Dare is sure to keep MJ from blowing things up, even if it devolves into debauchery of the best kind.

Originally published in Taste Test: Truth or Dare.

Pick up your copy today!

Paulo's Santa Kink by Lee Benoit

Paulo’s harbored an unusual fantasy for years. Working up the courage to tell Master Preston about it is only the first step. Preston has to figure out a way to fulfill his boy’s Christmas wish without losing his authority as a top. Flannel pajamas, hot chocolate, and Christmas cookies join red velvet, black leather, and willow switches in this tale of nicely naughty gift-giving.

Originally published in Toy Box: Twisted Presents

Get your copy today!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Popping in for the Day!

Hi everyone, I'm Neena Jaydon. I'm dropping in a little late because of morning classes.
February might be the month for romance, but here it's also the month for miserably cold and snowy weather. Winter is a considerable obstacle for Villam and Luke, the couple from my debut novel Storms and Stars. When you're surrounded by inhospitable fields of snow, the only thing to do is huddle close for warmth!

In the hopes of bringing just a hint of warmth to your winter day, I come bearing a snippet from the book. Enjoy!

First, the blurb:
It's lonely at the top for Commander Villam Elding, who has always ranked loyalty to the empire and career ambition over romance. He finds it easier to love ideas than people; without military life, he's lost. Even so, it's his close relationship with Kardiell, a popular officer, that tears him from his life. Those with competing ambitions try to take Villam hostage to leverage Kardiell's soft spot for him. In the struggle, Villam crashes the small spacecraft he's riding. All hands perish except he and Luke, his kidnapper.

Luke tyv Sicinik travels the galaxy performing dirty missions for money to send home. Born on a desert colony abandoned by the empire, he has no love for imperial soldiers. He spent his childhood in a monastery which taught the evils of anything impractical or sentimental. Yet when he crawls from the destroyed spacecraft, his first instinct is compassionate: he drags Villam's unconscious body free of the wreckage. Stranded together on a wild planet, Villam and Luke know that survival means cooperation. A truce becomes trust, and trust turns to passion, as they struggle to find a new life together -- just the two of them against an entire world.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Coming this Week

Coming on Wednesday:
The Amethyst Cat Caper by Charlie Cochet (Birthstone, M/M)
Bored Eco-Terrorists and Redneck Lovers by BA Tortuga (Short Story, M/M)
Maple Leaf Red: Sugaring Off by Vic Winter (Color Box, M/M)
Paulo's Santa Kink by Lee Benoit (Short Story, M/M)

A look at February, Julia style

Hey y'all!

February has been... interesting.

Between Paypal, industry pot stirring that's really one dud beating a dead horse, and a car accident that left me creaky and sore and cranky, it wasn't a very productive writing month.

Lest you think all I do is grump, I had a new book out, A novelette called Loose Snow.

I also had a Sip come out that was a reprint, and as embarrassing as it is, I didn't remember it at all until I read it for the new round of edits... O.O

Loose Snow is here

and my Sip, Acting Out, is here

Neither of them are paranormal, either! Woo. Grins. Forest rangers and cowboys for the folks who love the Thatchers and Jackass Flats, etc.

Here's hoping March sees a little more work from me *g*

And a little less pain


Meme Monday - Romance on a Budget

"Whether it's a cheap first date or a cheap vacation to celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary, less money doesn't mean less romance!"

Why CHEAP romance ideas? Sure, you can always do the classic things like rented limos, fancy restaurants and plane tickets to far off places. In fact, you should do those things whenever you can! But we’re talking about the smaller and sometimes more meaningful gestures that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

What are some low cost romantic ideas you have tried or want to try?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

*waves happily*

It's spring here in central Texas.




Open windows.

Hot and cold running rodeo.


Did I mention the cowboys? *sparkles*

I love the beginning of rodeo season. No one's really hurt yet, the weather is perfect, and I'm ready after a winter where the cowboys are all home.

Right now I'm writing on Coke and Dillon, but Adam Taggart's queued up and then I've got Jason and Bax going, hello? Writer lady? Get your shit together, please ma'am.


Love writing cowboys.

Love it.

Oh, apropros of nothing, have y'all seen Ink Masters?

Is Dave Navarro not utterly lickable? O.o

I just... wow. Yum.

(Although I have to admit I would NEVER let those people tattoo me. Now, yes, my artist is a dear friend and she and I have a creative process thing going on, but still... Ink for a reality show? Not my thing. My left sleeve is going into a book of nature tattoos, though...)



BA Tortuga
Because sometimes fistfights are foreplay.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cold Front Sale!

There's a cold front coming and to help keep you warm, we're offering 15% off your purchases from now through the end of day Monday! Just put 'cold2012' in the coupon code box any time you check out at Torquere Books before Monday at midnight to get 15% off your order.

Sale good now through Monday, February 28 at Midnight (est).

Heat up with some books from Torquere Press today!

Discount codes are provided as a courtesy to our customers. Torquere Press Inc. cannot be responsible for discounting purchases made before coupons/sales are announced, and cannot issue discounts to customers who fail to use the coupon or discount code during the purchase process.

Writing Made Me A Better Person

Sometimes I look back on the person I was before I became a writer and I shake me head. If I met that person today, I wouldn't want to hang out with her. I would think she was mean and bitchy and tremendously callous. I wouldn't want to be her friend.

Of course, me being me, I have access to all my memories and experiences. I can psychoanalyze myself and explain away certain tendencies and behaviours. But part of my establishment of Self involved getting a job in business... in downtown Toronto... right out of university. As other Canadians will freely tell you, a lot of people in business in downtown Toronto are not so nice. Maybe we're talking on a Canadian scale here, but nevertheless, working in business plunked me right up against some crazy critters.

I figure there are only two directions you can go when your clients are jerks. No, I just changed my mind. There are three:

1) You can become meek and submissive, just hoping if you keep your head down low enough and don't stop apologizing, they might not yell at you today.

2) You can have a complete emotional shut-down, so that you just don't care if you're being chewed out every day.

3) You can become a jerk too.

For me, it was a combination of 2 and 3, I think. Maybe I'm being a touch hard on myself, and of course there are always other factors at play, but before I started writing, I just wasn't a very nice person.

Let's skip ahead a few years to the days when I've just started writing and submitting my work to publishers. No, let's skip even further forward to the days when my work has been accepted for publication and I'm started to get those "join our author yahoo group" links.

I came into publishing quite naively, but I distinctly remember thinking, "Everybody's going to be ruthless. Everybody's out to get me. Everybody wants their book to sell and mine to fail."
I don't believe that anymore. Sure, I'm aware of those few and far between authors who will trash competitors' books on Amazon, but from what I've encountered, authors in the romance/erotic fiction genres are the absolute best and most giving people... ever!

When I was a novice, just coming into writing professionally, I had no idea what to expect. What I found, at every turn, were other authors willing to help. No, WANTING to help. Because we all remember what it felt like to know nothing and feel insignificant. I couldn't believe how at home I felt with other writers. I thought they'd be mean, because I was used to people being mean to me. Instead, I found I'd stumbled upon the most giving, loving, generous, and caring people I'd ever encountered.

And other authors' generosity encouraged me to be generous too. As soon as I'd established a blog I opened it up for interviews and granted authors lots of free promo opportunities. So many people in this industry went above and beyond for me. When you're not used to "nice," "nice" can be a thing of inspiration.

My change in attitude has extended out into other aspects of my life too. As an author, you're bound to get some bad reviews along the way, and god knows I've had my fair share. I know how it impacts me when somebody out there in the world, somebody who doesn't know me and maybe doesn't even realize I'm a real person, says something scathing or cruel or just plain... mean.

That hurts. As a result, I'm now very careful how I talk about other people, even if they are celebrities to some degree. Twitter makes it very easy to hear what others are saying about us, and I would never, never want to make another human being feel as down as I have felt at times.

I think about other people now. I really didn't do that before I started writing professionally. I care about people I've never met. I want other authors to succeed. I want other people to feel happy and proud of their accomplishments, not depressed or ashamed.

I care about other people. I'm excited about other authors' projects. I want them to have great sales and great reviews. That's how writing made me a better person.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspiration: The Romanorum

My sources of inspiration come from many angles these days. From music to games, and from movies to everyday events, there's always something that sparks my muse in some shape, form, or fashion. The Prince's Angel came about when Shayne and I put two of our own original characters together and wrote two "fanfic" stories using them. When we read each other's story, we knew immediately we had something big.

Those two stories combined her Gabriel, the vampire prince of San Diego from her Blood series books, and one of my older characters named Mychael. (Yes, that's where I got my pen name from, if you're wondering.) Eventually, Gabriel became Mael Black, and Mychael became Cian Carmichael. (To further complicate things, that's how we cemented our pen names: Mychael Black and Shayne Carmichael. *chuckles*)

The Prince's Angel was written in a month--all 90k words of it. Since then, the entire Romanorum world has exploded and we've written what seems like a gazillion stories set within the world. The Romanorum is, in itself, a huge inspiration for both of us. While we've officially finished Mael and Cian's third and final book, I promise you there is much more to come from Diocourides' intricate world of vampires. :)

On Sale This Week

This week we have books by Jane Davitt, Vaughn R. Demont and Julia Talbot on sale for 20% off.

Check them out!

New Releases for February 22

Spoken from the Heart by Jane Davitt

As an up and coming actor in the city of Sorrent, Julian always has the perfect words to say, even if someone else wrote them. But when it comes to wooing the innocent young country man he's rescued and befriended, he's going to find that the only words that count are spoken from the heart, not the page.

Alex is innocent, eager to please, friendly, lovable -- and a trouble magnet. With the ducal court offering both temptations and danger, and the theater at risk from the duke's temper, both Alex and Julian find it difficult to separate friend from foe. Julian's ambitions drive him, even as his heart tries to lead the way, and Alex tumbles from one scrape to the next as the city swelters in the summer heat and sickness stalks the streets.

When Julian is faced with an impossible choice that will change his life, he's left with no script to follow, no stage direction to guide him. But if they're to make it unscathed and take a final bow, they'll need to be sure of only one thing. Each other.

Pick up your copy today!

The Last Paladin 1-3 by Vaughn R. Demont

Closeted Pagan and self-professed prude Lennox Kingsley was only looking earn his college degree and get his life started, but a chance encounter in the park leads him to the life he was destined to have as a Knight of Pan. As he walks the path of the Paladin, he will face ordeals, battle demons and vampires, forge relationships with his fellow Knights both stalwart and steamy, and still manage to maintain a 3.4 GPA.

Originally published as the Chaser Series The Last Paladin.

Get your copy today!

A Watched Demon Always Boils by Katherine Halle

Lane is a professional photographer hired by Greg to do a photo shoot and magazine spread about his restaurant in hopes of making his business more profitable. Trouble is, Greg's got a demon on his back, literally. Now Lane must race against time to save Greg from the demon and convince him that Lane isn't crazy; he wants to help Greg.

Take one stubborn chef, a determined photographer, mix in an evil demon and a slightly crazy best friend, and watch it come to a boil, every time.

Pick up your copy today!

Acting Out by Julia Talbot

Bullrider and adrenaline junkie Colby is mid-jump in his ATV when his old rooming buddy Sean drives back into his life, sending him flying off his vehicle. Sean wants Colby to come to Hawaii for a charity event. Colby agrees to attend, but only if he and Sean can share a room again, just like in the old days.

Can these two rough-riding cowboys recapture a piece of the past, or can they do even better this go-round?

Originally published in Taste Test: Buck Wild.

Get your copy today!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming This Week

Coming out on Wednesday:
A Watched Demon Always Boils by Katherine Halle (Short Story, M/M)
Acting Out by Julia Talbot (Short Story, M/M)
Spoken From the Heart by Jane Davitt (Novel, M/M)
The Last Paladin by Vaughn R. Demont (Chaser Compilation, M/M)

Monday, February 20, 2012


I'm sure everyone is dying to know: What the heck is a BeaverTail?

Seriously? With chocolate hazelnut spread? Ewwww. Exactly, that would be gross, however in Ottawa, a BeaverTail looks like this (I think they are called elephant ears in some places in the US):

A BeaverTail is a whole wheat pastry, stretched to look vaguely like a beaver tail, that is then deep fried and then topped with sweet or savory toppings. I have to confess, the classic cinnamon sugar is my favourite, although I do like the maple butter version. Chocolate is popular and I used to like the raspberry jam that they no longer carry. My daughter liked the garlic and mozzarella cheese topping. Okay, so we pretty much like them all.

BeaverTails were "invented" in Ottawa, and used to be almost exclusively found in winter, but now the franchise is spreading world-wide, including Saudi Arabia and the US. (I still think they taste best in the freezing cold, with some hot apple cider while eating them by a fire like Omar and Lucas did.)

Some interesting facts from the company:
  • Since 1981, more than 8,000 young Canadians have worked for the BeaverTails operations in the
    nation’s capital alone.
  • BeaverTails uses 21.1 tons of chocolate hazelnut spread per year - equivalent to the weight of 5
    elephants and 12 beavers.
  • Since BeaverTails’ debut in 1978, enough BeaverTails have been sold to make a straight line of
    tails, end-to-end, from their store on the boardwalk in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, to the  two Whistler Ski Resort stores in British Columbia.
How famous are BeaverTails? Well, When Hillary Clinton came to the city back when she was first lady, she skated down the canal to have a BeaverTail. In 2009 when President Obama came to the city, he had a BeaverTail, and it's even been a question on Jeopardy.

So if you ever get a chance to try a BeaverTail, be sure to grab the opportunity.

Romance on the Ice

Here is a little quickie short that let's you share Valentine's Day with Omar and Lucas, a year or so after they met. Is the romance still alive?
 ~*~ ~*~~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“You’re not serious?” Lucas raised an eyebrow in Omar’s direction. 

“Sure. It will be fun.” He wrinkled his nose and made a kissy face. “Very romantic.” 

Lucas let out a snort. “You do know the temperature out there don’t you?” Omar shrugged. “Let me refresh your memory, minus twelve, minus twenty two with the wind.” Lucas shook his head. 

Suddenly Omar’s face brightened, and he grabbed the bag he’d dropped by the door. “I got you a present.” 

That perked Lucas up. He was always up for presents, and it was Valentine’s Day. He was hoping for  chocolates from Godiva, but that t-shirt he’d so subtly pointed out when Omar was in the shop last week would be okay. Omar handed him the bag. Unwrapped was not exactly romantic, but Lucas figured as guys, the fact it was even in a bag was doing pretty good. 

He reached in and pulled out something flat and wrapped in plastic. Two things. He flipped them over and looked at the packaging. When he picked his jaw up off the floor, he looked at Omar aghast. “It’s, it’s …” he couldn’t even get it out. “It’s … Jesus Christ, it’s long underwear.” 

Omar was beaming now. “Yeah. It’s great, we’ll be warm.” 

“You bought me long underwear … for Valentine’s Day?” He was a guy, and he didn’t go for all that commercialized crap about Valentine’s, but he thought long underwear might be right up there with a vacuum for Christmas.

“Come on.” Omar was wheedling now. “I didn’t say that’s all I bought you.” He tried doing the puppy dog eyes. It worked for their friend Gavin when he wanted something from Lane. 

“You look pathetic, like you have dirt in your eyes. Stop it.” Lucas heaved a sigh. “Fine, but if I break my leg, or freeze off something important, it’s going to be on your head.” 

Two steps brought Omar tight against Lucas’ chest, arms around his back, lips together. When Omar finally pulled back he was smiling. “Thanks. I promise, it will be memorable.” Lucas had no doubt about that. Omar grabbed his hand. “Come on, let’s get changed and go. I’ll buy you a BeaverTail.” 

Lucas rolled his eyes, but, well, BeaverTails weren’t bad. 

They got changed, and Lucas wouldn’t admit it, but Omar did look pretty damn hot in long underwear. If only it had one of those old-fashioned trap doors, it would have had great potential. 

After putting on numerous layers, including hats, scarves and mittens, skates over their shoulders, they made the short walk to the canal. The wind was cutting as they’d walked the city streets. Lucas had visions of his dick withdrawing into his body and becoming a vagina. It was a little better when they walked down the steps to the canal. It was sheltered from the worst of the wind by the high walls. Lucas was surprised how many people were out, given that it was Valentine’s Day and freezing cold.

They found the heated shelter and got their skates on, pushing their boots back into the furthest corner. Lucas just prayed they were still there when they got back, but everyone seemed to be leaving their boots, so he figured it must be relatively secure. 

It was the first time Lucas had been skating in a couple of years, so he was a bit shaky at first. He thought it was highly unfair that someone whose father was from North Africa, he had it right now, should look so damn confident and smooth on ice skates. As he nearly fell, arms wind-milling wildly to catch himself, it seemed doubly unfair. 

Omar grabbed his arm and got him stabilized, and they headed down the canal away from the crowds at the start of the route. Lucas’ face was cold from the wind, but he wasn’t so chilled once his muscles started doing some work. As they got further away from the center of the action into a more isolated part of the canal, Omar skated closer and took his hand. Lucas couldn’t help grinning at his man. Over a year later, and he still couldn’t believe he had a guy like Omar who looked at him like he was the best thing ever. 

They approached the first rest station and Lucas came to a shaky stop by a bench near the bonfire. Omar helped Lucas sit, and then went to get the BeaverTails and drinks. The line was pretty long, but soon Omar was back juggling two hot chocolates along with a cinnamon sugar, and a chocolate hazelnut BeaverTail. Lucas slid over on the bench and helped get the food and drinks set out between them. They had to take off their mittens to eat the BeaverTails, which they split, each getting half. Luckily the hot chocolate in the cups kept their hands warm while eating. The heat from the fire also helped to thaw Lucas’ nose slightly. 

Lucas watched the families and couples huddled around the fire laughing and trying to eat the sweet treats without getting chocolate and maple butter all over their faces. Once they’d finished their snack, Omar slid over closer to Lucas, their thighs pressed against each other, sipping their hot chocolate and listening the babble of voices. 

When he looked over at Omar, Lucas couldn’t help but grin. Omar gave him a funny look in return. “What?” 

“You were right.” 

“As usual.” Lucas laughed along with him. A serious look settled on Omar’s face. “About what?”

Lucas nudged him, and then tipped his head to rest it on Omar’s shoulder. “About coming out tonight. It is romantic, even if I’ve lost all feeling in my toes and I may need them amputated.” 

Omar rested his head against Lucas’. “Thanks. Mine are getting cold too. Maybe we should head back?”

Lucas sighed. “Yeah. I’m going need a massage. My legs are going to be jelly when we get home.” 

His brows waggling Omar grinned at him. “I think I might know just the guy to take care of that for you.”

“Oh really? Is he hot? I might want a happy ending.” 

“He can definitely do that for you. I think he likes you too. Maybe a lot.” 
Lucas realized that Omar had steered them over into the little thicket of trees the city had set up to resemble a forest near the fire. He frowned and looked at Omar. “What are we doing?” 

“Just wait.” 

Lucas tipped his head and watched as Omar pulled off a mitten, unzipped his pocket and started digging around.  He pulled out a small black velvet bag about four inches square. He looked directly at Lucas. “Remember I said I didn’t just get you underwear, although you look hot in it.” Lucas blushed oddly enough. “I got you something else. Because I do love you. I know I tell you that all the time, but,” he shrugged a bit self-consciously, “I guess it never hurts to say it again. Thanks for coming out with me tonight.” 

“Oh baby.” Lucas felt his eyes get a bit watery. That’s all he’d need, his eye lids frozen shut on the canal. He blinked a few times, pulled off his mittens and took the bag from Omar. He pulled the string and brought out a beautiful leather and silver bracelet. There was a double row of sterling silver beads, woven together with black leather with a leather tie. He looked up at Omar with his mouth open. “Oh my God, it’s gorgeous.” 

Omar grinned. “Are you sure? You like it?” 

He smacked Omar on the arm. “Don’t be stupid. I love it.” He threw himself forward and wrapped his arms around Omar’s neck laying a hot wet kiss on him. They struggled to keep their balance on the skates, but Lucas didn’t care if the people by the fire saw them. What had started out as the stupidest idea ever, now seemed absolutely perfect. He should have known. He'd met Omar on the coldest day of the year, and that was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Maybe Old Man Winter was in his corner after all. 

When they finally pulled apart, Lucas almost falling on his ass again, he couldn’t stop the grin on his face. Lucas carefully put the bracelet back in the bag and made sure his own pocket was zipped up tightly. He pulled his mittens back on and grabbed Omar’s hand. He wasn’t letting go, he didn’t care what anyone said to them. 

“Come on, you. You promised me some hot guy would give me a massage, so let’s go home.”

“Well, the price may be a return massage.” 

Lucas threw back his head and laughed. “I think I can handle that. I’ve heard he’s really good-looking, and I might just have a thing for him too.” 

Omar grinned. “Love you.” 

Lucas gave him one more small kiss before they set off back toward their boots. “Love you too, baby. Happy Valentine’s Day.” 

 ~*~ ~*~~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Hope you enjoyed the little visit with Lucas and Omar. If you are trying to visualize the bracelet, I started looking to see what kind of jewelry Omar would buy. Something cool and hip for blue-haired pierced and tattooed Lucas, but still romantic. I found this one on a site devoted to jewelry, but unfortunately they don't say where you can buy it.

A world record

Something we are quite proud of in my little town, when the weather cooperates, is being the possessors of the the world’s largest skating rink. It goes right through the heart of the city on the Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's 7.8 kilometres long (4.8 miles), and begins just steps from Canada’s Parliament Buildings. Along the route, there are, warm up at rest areas, where there are toasty fires, hot drinks and snacks.

40th seaon of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway | 40e saison de patinage sur le canal Rideau 
This is near the start of the canal and it is always very busy and crowded with skaters. The further you go, the more space you have to spread out. 

40th seaon of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway | 40e saison de patinage sur le canal Rideau 

 This is one of the rest stations with with the trees and snacks and there is usually a fire with benches as well. A similar location plays a role in my next post. 

40th season of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway | 40e saison de patinage sur le canal Rideau 

 It's lovely when it's that smooth and empty. However this skating rink is at Mother Nature's mercy, you have to beware of large cracks, lumps, bumps and holes which can send you sprawling if you're not paying attention, but it's still amazing to skate outdoors like that. I've never skated the whole route though. Maybe someday. 

 40th seaon of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway | 40e saison de patinage sur le canal Rideau 

 I just love this little bridge. So up next, Omar and Lucas are going to stop by for a visit and share their Valentine's Day outing at Winterlude.

Winterlude, the Festival

Winterlude* is a three week festival of all things winter, with most of the activities taking place over three weekends in February. There are a variety of activities from concerts and special meals, but a large part of the festival is free outdoor winter activities. The main ones are:
  • The amazing ice sculptures at the Crystal Gardens
  • Skating on the Rideau Canal, the longest outdoor skating rink in the world
  • BeaverTails (you'll have to wait to find out about those)
  • Sliding on the ice slides at the Snow Flake Kingdom
My favourite is the Crystal Gardens. The work is amazing and if you get the chance to watch the artists carving 15 foot tall intricate sculptures, with such delicate pieces, it's amazing.They look especially gorgeous at night with the colored lights.

Winterlude 2010 - Bal de Neige 2010

At the Crystal Garden they also had a DJ in a plastic bubble. It must have had plenty of heat because it was  -20C with the wind when we were there.

After we saw all the sculptures, we had some warm stew and sat around the bonfire eating. It always tastes better when it's cold out. Normally we would have a BeaverTail (I'm still making you wait), but we were full.

Up next, skating on the canal. :-)

*All pictures today are my own or taken from the official Winterlude website.

Monday Morning

Good morning everyone. Another Monday is upon us. Weekends are far too short.

For those who don't know me, I'm Tam, I live in cold and snowy (sometimes) Canada. I have a couple of short stories with Torquere Press and today we'll talk a bit about my short Winterlude which was oddly released last year in June. :-)

While the story is entitled Winterlude and we have a winter festival called Winterlude, the guys don't experience it in that book, but now, a year later, they are going to share some festival activities. Today I'll share with you some of the different activities that take place during Winterlude.

Also as a special treat, everyone who leaves a comment on any of my posts today will be entered for a surprise Canadian gift pack of local treats. Open to anyone world-wide, so leave your e-mail in at least one of your comments so I can find you if you win. People have until 10:00 pm EST to leave a comment today. Good luck.

First up, a little bit about the story:

Eric hates the cold weather and his broken down car, which means venturing out on foot into the sub-zero temperatures. Navigating the icy sidewalks, he runs into Omar, literally. An impromptu hot coffee on the cold day finds that tattooed and pierced Eric, and government IT guy Omar might have more in common than they expected. When Omar is called away, before he can get the guy's number, Eric believes it may only have been a pleasant winterlude to temporarily distract him from the cold, or is there a possibility his winter will get a lot warmer?

Meme Monday - Personal Hygiene

So after traveling all weekend and dealing with those vile little bottles of soap in the hotel (since I forgot mine) I thought it would be fitting to ask you all...

What are 5 personal hygiene products you can't live without?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A mishmash from Syd

Hello all!

I've been quiet lately, I know. For those of you unfamiliar with me, I write the Dr. Fell Series and the Tarin's World stories.

Today is Remembrance Day, and Tommy and Dr. Tanaka, from the Dr. Fell series, are reflecting on their heritage. Why not take a peek at George Takei's video or read his blog entry to find out more?

There's a free Tarin story over at Laura and Laddie's site which I wrote for their Valentine's Day Couples post.

Need something sweet and lovely? Watch the enchanting story of Hedgehog in the Fog finding his way to his bear cub friend.

Finally, how about a contest? Post a reply about any of the linked items to be entered into a drawing for any one of my Torquere e-books. Deadline: Tuesday 21st February 7 pm EST.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The many flavors of love

For the month of love, I wanted to bring you a few little snippets of love in its many variations.

“A Little Light Loving” MM

Dillon smiled, lying back on the rug, a cushion under his head, his legs wide apart, feet planted flat on the floor.
Cord pushed another cushion under Dillon's ass and they both grinned. "See anything you like?" Dillon asked cheekily.
"I don't see anything I don't like," Cord replied.
"Well, then, what are you waiting for?" Dillon asked, letting one hand stroke down his torso until it rested on his cock. His gaze fixed on Cord's, Dillon tugged on his cock, slowly pulling it from root to tip, root to tip.
"Damn, that's hot," whispered Cord, opening the lube and squeezing a little onto two fingers.
Now it was Dillon's turn to watch as Cord slowly rubbed around Dillon’s asshole, massaging the tight muscles, then letting just the tip of his fingers slip inside.
Dillon's gaze was on Cord's face. He had the most expressive face, his features never still, with sparkling eyes alight with the lust of the moment. Watching Cord's face while feeling the man's fingers broaching Dillon's most sensitive place was beyond erotic.

“Blooming Love” FFM

Nothing happened for long seconds, then Hyacinthe felt the air move by the nightstand drawer. Ah, Inigo would be lifting toys out, likely showing them to Beverley or maybe just choosing some himself. Yes, they were moving again, Beverley would be choosing some toys, or accepting the ones Inigo offered her.
Careful to keep her face expressionless, Hyacinthe grinned hugely in her mind. Over the years she'd collected an impressive array of toys. Although she seldom used them when having sex with a partner, she enjoyed experimenting when alone, and had nipple clamps and clips, dildos, butt plugs, vibrators, and scented oils. She could hardly wait to find out which ones they'd use on her.
There was the soft sound of fabric being removed, the slide of a zipper, the pop of a snap fastener, then Inigo's heavy weight was beside her on the bed and his big hands ran lightly from her toes, over her sensitive arches, and around her heels.
Delicious! Cinthe shivered with delight.
A soft plop was followed by the weight of a body sitting on the other side of the bed.
Bev has taken her shoes off and joined us, deduced Hyacinthe.
Beverley's hands were slightly rough from all the outdoor work they did, but she used them gently to trail along Hyacinthe's rib cage and tenderly cup a breast.
Buy link:

“Burning For You” MMF

"Oh God, my feet," groaned Blair, ignoring them both.
"I'm glad you finally made it. I'm bored with playing the few pathetic games on my phone. Remind me to download something better before the next fire drill."
"Remind me to take a day's vacation if it ever happens again," said Blair tartly, massaging her toes. "Hell, that hurts."
Alex reached for her foot. "Let me. May I? Do you mind? I'm sure I can help."
"Please do. I'm not sure what rules apply to fire drills, but I think fixing my feet right now ranks right up there with life-saving."
Her foot was warm and soft under his hands. Gently he massaged the ball of her foot, rubbing circles and pressing into the pads, loosening up any tightness there. He separated each toe, stroking its length, rubbing it between his fingers, and again massaging the pad of the toe. She had such sexy feet: long, straight toes, narrow ankles, high arches.
While he tended to her feet the three of them talked. On the surface what they were saying was light, casual, just people sitting on the grass in the park waiting for the bus back to work. But underneath the conversation ran something much deeper, stronger. Lust and passion were in each look, each pair of eyes. Words used had double meanings, or the gestures that accompanied them gave them an underlying sexual connotation. Oh yes. What was going on was more than chatting, it was very definitely foreplay. Foreplay of a very carnal, erotic kind.
Buy link:

“Lady Caroline’s Reward” FF

Dinah gazed at Caroline. She really did look lovely in the firelight, her pale cheeks slightly flushed by the warmth of the fire, the long hair coiled neatly on her neck and gleaming with reddish highlights, her slender fingers busily employed mending one of her father's shirts.
Dinah's heart lurched. She could fall in love with this woman. Not only was Caroline beautiful, but she was also highly intelligent and courageous in the way she was facing the adversity of her father's, and therefore her own, situation.
"Have you ever been kissed?" Dinah asked suddenly.
"Well, just a few quick pecks by boys who shouldn't have when I was younger. At family gatherings and such. And one or two of the suitors have tried. That's why I made sure Hugh Howel was always with me. They totally ignored the fact my maid Betty was in the room!"
"Would you like to be kissed? Properly kissed?"
"But who-- What? You--"
"Yes, me. May I kiss you?" Dinah put her needlework down on the side table and slid along the sofa to the end where Caroline sat.
Caroline's hands dropped to the sofa. With no objection forthcoming, very gently, Dinah turned Caroline's head toward her and kissed those ripe pink lips. Softly, gently, sweetly, but with enough heat and passion to warm their lips. Very soon, Caroline responded, one hand reaching up to rest on Dinah's arm.
Buy link:

Berengaria Brown

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Romance in Dailiness

This week I’ve been overhearing more of my students’ conversations. I don’t know whether I’m eavesdropping more or they’re seeking less privacy. Some of the stray quotes make me laugh. For example, on Monday, I heard the two following quotes in unrelated conversations about a minute apart: 

“I’ve been spending too much money on weed.”

“Call me when you need bail money.”

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, and the conversations I overheard took a turn for hearts-and-flowers angst. (And I noticed that as the angst factor rose, students seemed more and more to forget that those of us outside their cellphone conversations can actually hear what they’re saying. I start to sound like an old fogey when I grumble about the invisible phone booth people don’t seem to realize they don’t have).  

“She’s going out with her girlfriends instead of me.”

“He didn’t even try to give me something from the heart. I wanted him to make me a nice dinner or something he put a lot of work into.”

Who can’t remember the feelings behind statements like these (never mind the lessons learned about talking to the person who needs the information before the fact rather than commiserating after the fact). Yeah, the students I overheard this week seemed really young, really bone-headed, and really moonstruck.

Don’t they realize “ideal love” is a myth? Real love, I thought to myself, isn’t expressed in grand gestures or dramatic overtures. It’s in the bass rhythms and repeating grace notes of daily life and common cause.

As a local public radio commentator put it, when it comes to romance our North American culture has a “bias against dailiness.” “At the end of the day,” he says, “we’re not staring dreamily into each other’s eyes; we’re looking at what’s coming.”

How we meet what’s coming. Isn’t that the real shape of our love lives?

What do you think? Post a comment about a real-life romantic gesture or a quotidian expression of love and I’ll enter you in a random drawing to win $5 in Torquere gift certificate money! 

Drawing will take place in a week’s time. Please make sure your email addy is included in your comment background (that is, don’t put your addy in the comment, but please make sure it’s in one of the appropriate sign-in fields - the automatic sign-ins don’t usually include email addresses thus making it really difficult to award prizes).
(Note: Image credits / attributions in titles.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Sale This Week

This week we have books by Adrienne Brennan, CC Bridges, and Julia Talbot on sale at 20% off.

Check them out!

New Releases for February 15

Dawn of the Seraphs by Adrienne Brennan

Tamar is a Seraph, a member of an influential organization of powerful psychics known as ANGEL. Possessing a greater lifespan and intelligence than ordinary humans, Seraphs within ANGEL grow to their full potential through study and practice. In the year 4287, ANGEL has deteriorated to a club for the bored elite. A small but passionate rebellion rises to take back the power they once held.

In pursuit of his own dreams, Tamar is caught in the chaotic struggle for evolution, power, and to define the greater good. Kir, an old rival from his days as an apprentice within ANGEL, resurfaces, threatening to shred Tamar’s world into bits... along with his heart. Their ideals clash, but Tamar needs all his courage save Kir from the darkness inside while remaining true to himself and all he holds dear.

Pick up your copy today!

Loose Snow by Julia Talbot

Jack and AJ had a thing once, but Jack wasn’t ready to settle down. They still work together at the Forestry Service, seeing each other every day, but the situation comes to a head when Jack encounters loose snow out on the trail, and gets caught in an avalanche. Will AJ see things differently after Jack’s brush with death?

Find out today!

Bonus by Liam Gray

Someone's taking credit for Mark's hard work. A suspension and a fractured wrist are not the expected result of informing his boss. It could be a blessing in disguise, though, when Jacob from Marketing drives him home, and Mark gets a bonus he wasn't expecting.

Get your copy today!

The Librarian and the Porn Star by CC Bridges

Evan, a socially awkward librarian, receives the shock of his life when his favorite porn star walks into his library. Matt isn't only sexy as hell, he's sweet, smart and loves books just as much as Evan. But Matt doesn't realize he's been recognized from his adult film career. Will Evan's deception keep them apart, or will they heat up the stacks?

Find out today!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keep your heart healthy - with romance?

What to blog about? Well, I could certainly bore you with current events, or the presidential campaign. Yuck. We get enough of that watching the news every night, yes? How about something more interesting and fun?

Do you know that February is National Heart Month? It isn't because of Valentine's Day, though that is a happy coincidence. It's to promote good heart health - and I have a way to do that. Read romance books! (Especially mine, but we'll get into that in a minute.)

You heard me right. Read a good love story. Doesn't that always make your heart better? It's my holistic method for helping your heart to feel happy, which has to make it stronger. At least, that's my unscientific opinion. The brain is a strange and wonderful machine, and when it's engaged and the endorphins are running, the heart has to go along for the ride. Doesn't it? *shrugs good-naturedly*

I've got a few books out that might make you smile, make you laugh, get your heart racing - ooh, watch that one! My funniest book, in my humble opinion, is a FREE read at Goodreads. You can also find it at my website. It's called Appearing Knightly, and it's an homage to The Dark Knight. It was written as part of the Goodreads Hot Summer Days Anthology. Authors were challenged by members of the M/M Romance Group to match stories to pictures. I fell in love with the shot of Batman holding a beautiful, naked guy, and the rest is history.  

Another one that will make you laugh -- and keep your heart happy -- is The Trouble With Angel. Angel Vargas is a piece of work, he's high maintenance, he's very much an urban animal, and he's been secretly lusting after one of his boss' clients for the last three years. The problem is, Brandon Halvorsen is straight. Or is he? Angel's boss has him roped into helping Brandon, who has a special problem. Brandon's life has just turned upside down. He's a major league baseball pitcher, whose new problem has nothing to do with baseball. Two little kids have invaded his life. Uh-oh. 

Reading my books you'll see that I like to laugh, I like to enjoy life, and my characters do too. Sometimes, all we need to do is sit in a quiet corner for a couple of hours and read a great love story/comedy/heartwarmer. I'd like to think that if you give my books a try, you'd experience that very thing. And I wasn't kidding about National Heart Month. I was kidding about how to keep your heart healthy - at least a little. More women die of heart disease than any other killer. Be sure to watch fat intake, limit your cholesterol and sodium/sugar intake, and keep moving! Here's a link to get all the info you need on symptoms of a heart attack -- and what you should do if you experience them. Don't take your heart's health for granted - keep it healthy, and happy.

Today, instead of worrying about whether your sweetie or somebody special is going to get you candy, or a gift, or take you to dinner, think about yourself... and what makes you happy. What gives you fulfillment as a person? As a mother, sister, wife, co-worker, human being? That's what each of us should celebrate this Valentine's Day. When we're happy, fulfilled and doing what we love, we make a huge difference in this world. When we walk around with a smiling face, it impacts people who might be grumpy, scared, or indifferent. And maybe, just maybe, reach out to someone you don't know today -- with a smile, a word of kindness, a friendly gesture. You might not know what a difference you make, but I guarantee the other person will remember. And he might just pass it on.

You can find me at, and also my blog. Join me, and make your heart smile.