Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Author Extra: Little Square of Cloth by Sean Michael

Little Square of Cloth
By Sean Michael

When Peter is unexpectedly thrust into a bdsm club with a black hankie in his right back pocket, he has no idea that he’s signaling being a hard core sub who is up for anything. Lucky for him, Master Rupert takes one look and falls for the unwitting sub and takes Peter under his wing, in more ways than one.
Can a rescue at a club turn into so much more?

Available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4237


Author Extra:

Master Rupert serves Peter coffee cake and milk when he brings his new sub home and it turns out that Rupert is quite accomplished in the kitchen. I’m sure he uses some complicated recipe to make his coffee cake delicious, but I found a quick and easy one that’s not at all intimidating.

Quick Coffee Cake

Ingredients

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    6 tablespoons white sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup shortening
    1/2 cup milk
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons butter, melted
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan.
   
In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender to the size of small peas.
   
In a separate small bowl, beat the egg well, then stir in the milk and vanilla. Add the egg-milk mixture to the flour mixture all at once. Stir carefully until just blended.
   
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Drizzle top with melted butter.
   
In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of cake. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


Author Extra: Haven by Lee Benoit

Haven
By Lee Benoit

Haven Tucker tore up his coal country roots so he could live his life as a gay man. Then he shut down his Leatherman lifestyle so he could pursue a medical career. Now the former Vietnam Army medic is working as an ER nurse in Boston where he’s about to meet his future.

Tadeo is an Argentine dancer on the wrong side of his country’s Dirty War who’s stranded Stateside with a brand-new baby. Official channels won’t help him keep his son with him and stay safe. Enter the singularly attractive Haven and his unique brand of problem-solving. The pair tries to keep their mutual attraction in check as evil forces mass on all sides to tear Tadeo and his son apart -- and away from Haven.

Can Haven’s past ride to the rescue before Tadeo’s present destroys their future?

Available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4243


Author Extra:

“Haven” was originally published by Torquere in 2008 in the Bedside Manner anthology. It’s been a great experience revisiting these beloved characters. One of the reasons I adore Haven and Tadeo so much is that they remind me of some of the colorful characters who made my 1970s childhood so memorable.

Tadeo and Haven’s story is purposefully farfetched, and it evokes the rollicking vibe I remember from the 1970s in which the story is set. Of course, I was a kid in the 70s, so my memories are filtered by both the magical reality of childhood and the fact that a lot of the rollicking adventures I remember happened to adults in my life. My mom and stepdad had a fascinating group of friends -- artists, intellectuals, and political activists, and culture warriors: our home had a decidedly counterculture feel to it.

Thanks to my stepdad, an Argentine exile, part of my childhood occurred within the sphere of influence of Argentina's Dirty War (though we lived in the United States and were never in direct danger). Naturally, he didn't share the grisly details with me, but that atmosphere of unrelenting threat, that feeling that you might never be safe? That was something I learned to empathize with quite young.

So, when writing “Haven” I didn't need to do a lot of research on the War and its consequences; I refreshed my memory as to the timeline, but that was about it. Instead, I spent much more time combing through old maps and records of the New York subway system for names of lines and stops as they would have been in the late 70s.  You'd laugh if I told you how many hours I spent tracking down the 1977 subway fare!

One aspect of that era that I was less aware of at the time was the exhilarating post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS era in gay subculture. That spirit, with its almost paradoxical glammy grittiness was the mood I was going for in “Haven”.

I hope you enjoy reading (or re-reading!) this picaresque bit of madness as much as I relished writing it! Let me know what you think by emailing leebenoit at charter dot net.


Author Extra: The Mistell by Katey Hawthorne

The Mistell
By Katey Hawthorne

Hottie gamer-geek and designated bottom Pete has a pretty good life: job he loves, working toward his masters degree, and lately it seems like it’s raining men. Sadly, none of them do it for him like he wants, and he’s totally given up on dating. Which is why it comes as such a surprise to find someone like Samir via his favorite MMORPG, of all places.
Smart, sexy, and obviously haunted by something, Samir pushes Pete’s buttons intellectually and physically like no one ever has. But Pete’s trail of broken hearts comes back to haunt him just as Samir’s starting to open up. Turns out that taking their relationship into the real world is a lot harder than taking out hordes of imaginary orcs.

Available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4241


Author Extra: 

Five Fun Facts about “The Mistell” by Katey Hawthorne

1.     The story is dedicated to my friend Jenna. She’s the one who introduced me to the glory of Rami Malek, who was the inspiration for Samir. Thank you, Jenna. Thank you.
2.     The soundtrack to “The Mistell” while writing consisted mainly of Avicii’s “True” album—but especially “You Make Me”. That’s why Samir actually says those exact words once in the story. Thanks, Avicii!
3.     I’m a longtime MMORPG player myself, and the first mistell in the story, the super embarrassing one? Actually happened to me. Thankfully, it wasn’t me mistelling, just someone in my group who did that exact thing. And it was hilarious.
4.     I’m also an art historian, at least in terms of education, and so Pete got one of my favorite areas of concentration: Pop Art.

5.     This is my first time ever writing a contemporary. I’ve never done anything without a paranormal element before, so I had to go heavy on the geek.

Author Extra: Czech Me Out -- An Austin Story by BA Tortuga

Czech Me Out: An Austin Story
By BA Tortuga
Cowboy Korde has come to Austin to visit his sister, and to find some work during a tough patch in his life. He has no idea what to do with himself, though, and his sister needs him to amuse himself and stay out of her hair.
When food truck owner Josh meets Korde, he knows just what the hot cowboy needs. Korde is willing, if completely overwhelmed by what Josh makes him feel. Can Josh convince Korde they have the perfect recipe for love.
Available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4235

Author Extra: 
Texas-style homemade sausage kolache are a savory twist on the classic Czech breakfast pastry.
Ingredients
o   For the dough:
o   1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
o   1/4 cup water, warmed to 110-115F
o   1 cup milk, warmed to 110-115F
o   4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled to warm
o   2 large eggs
o   5/8 cup sugar
o   1 tsp salt
o   4 3/4 - 5 1/2 cups flour
o   For the filling:
o   Grated cheddar, optional
o   Fresh jalapeno slices, optional
o   Smoked sausage, cut into 3-4 inch pieces and halved lengthwise if very thick
Instructions
1.     Sprinkle the yeast over warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Let proof for 5 minutes, until foamy/creamy.
2.     Turn the mixer to low and add the milk, melted butter, 2 eggs, sugar, and salt until mixed thoroughly.
3.     Add the flour in two batches (start with the low amount) and mix only until just combined. The dough will be tacky but should be firm enough to crawl up the dough hook. Add additional flour as necessary.
4.     Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1-2 hours, until dough has doubled.
5.     Punch down and refrigerate covered overnight or for at least 4 hours.
6.     Divide dough into ~2.5 inch balls (I weighed mine at 2.5 oz each) and set on a lined baking sheet.
7.     Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
8.     Flatten each dough ball and top with a couple slices of jalapeno and pinch of grated cheddar (if using) and place the sausage on top.
9.     Wrap the dough around the fillings, pinching the edges together and placing seam-side down on the baking sheet.
10.  Cover and let rest for 20 minutes, while preheating oven to 375.
11.   Bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned.
12.  Let the kolache cool for 20 minutes and serve.
13.  Leftovers will keep tightly wrapped in the fridge for 3-4 days and can also be frozen.
Notes
Yields: ~15 large kolache
Adapted from The Pastry Queen
Estimated time: 7 hours

New Releases - Anthology & Novella

This week, we have selected titles from BA Tortuga, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, and Lee Benoit on sale for 20% off! Check 'em out here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=specials

Designated Bottoms
by Katey Hawthorne, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, BA Tortuga, KC Wells and Shannon West
285 pages / 83900 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-776-2
$7.99
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76&products_id=4234
Blurb:
Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who’s happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!
In Czech Me Out, by BA Tortuga, Korde discovers what it’s like to fall for someone when food truck owner Josh takes on the cowboy virgin. Katey Hawthorne’s gamer grad student Paul doesn’t date. He keeps things strictly physical. So why is Sammy so important to him in The Mistell? Kitty shifter and stripper Aleks doesn’t mix business with pleasure, but he thinks Rafe might just be the master for him in Julia Talbot’s Faster Bobcat.
Sean Michael’s Peter isn’t sure about the club his friend takes him to, especially when Doms start hitting on him. Experienced Dom Rupert is happy to help, explaining about that Little Square of Cloth. In Sgt. Hardass, by Shannon West, recent ex-Army man Jake meets up with a man he has history with, and Chad isn’t sure he can explain himself and defuse Jake’s anger. In the Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly, Prince Liam and longtime friend Deacon have to go back to Deacon’s Appalachian home, much to the prince’s dismay. And in Switching It Up by KC Wells, Jay knows he looks like a twink, but only hunky Dean understands that looks can be seriously deceptive.
Individual Stories:
Czech Me Out: An Austin Story by BA Tortuga
Faster Bobcat by Julia Talbot
Little Square of Cloth by Sean Michael
Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly
Sgt. Hardass by Shannon West
Switching It Up by K.C. Wells
The Mistell by Katey Hawthorne

Haven
by Lee Benoit
72 pages / 19000 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-790-8
$3.99
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4225
Blurb:
Haven Tucker tore up his coal country roots so he could live his life as a gay man. Then he shut down his Leatherman lifestyle so he could pursue a medical career. Now the former Vietnam Army medic is working as an ER nurse in Boston where he’s about to meet his future.
Tadeo is an Argentine dancer on the wrong side of his country’s Dirty War who’s stranded Stateside with a brand-new baby. Official channels won’t help him keep his son with him and stay safe. Enter the singularly attractive Haven and his unique brand of problem-solving. The pair tries to keep their mutual attraction in check as evil forces mass on all sides to tear Tadeo and his son apart -- and away from Haven.
Can Haven’s past ride to the rescue before Tadeo’s present destroys their future?
This novella originally appeared in Torquere’s Bedside Manner anthology.
Coming Next Week...

From the Heart
by Kiernan Kelly
Making Repairs - Box of Nails 3
by Sean Michael
New Toys, a Hammer Club short story collection
by Sean Michael

Author Extra: Sgt. Hardass by Shannon West

Sgt. Hardass
By Shannon West

Out of the Army for six weeks and still adjusting to civilian life, Jake Hardy has moved to Atlanta to an apartment over his brother-in-law’s bar to start a new life. Things would be good if only he could get over his feelings for Chad Malone, the only man he’d ever loved, and the only man who’d ever broken his damned heart.  When he looks up from a seat at the bar and sees Chad coming toward him, Jake feels as if he’s just been sucker punched right in the gut. He has the pleasure of seeing Chad’s face blanch at the sight of him, those still gorgeous eyes going wide in his white face. It’s all Jake can do to keep his seat, when all he wants is to jump to his feet and knock Chad flat -- or kiss him. And one might be as satisfying as the other.

Available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4239


Author Extra:

Since my story takes place in Georgia, the Peach State, I’d like to share one of my mother’s favorite recipes for Peach Dumplings:

1 c sugar
2 c water
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1 c pancake mix
½ c milk
¼ c firmly packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Vanilla ice cream

Combine the first four ingredients in a Dutch oven and bring to a slow boil.

Combine pancake mix, brown sugar, and nutmeg.  
Add milk and oil.  
Stir until all dry ingredients are moistened, then drop by tablespoonfuls into the boiling peach mixture. 
Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. 
Don’t uncover until done. 
Serve warm with ice cream.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On sale this week...

This week, we have selected titles from BA Tortuga, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, and Lee Benoit on sale for 20% off! Check 'em out here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=specials

Monday, July 28, 2014

BDSMonday - Primal Play



It's BDSMonday!

(For me, it's actually still Sunday, but I work all day tomorrow so I'm queueing this post...shhh!)

Today's topic is a new one for me; thanks, Google!

I was looking for potential future topics, and primal play caught my eye. I'd never heard the term before, but it makes sense to me, and it seems like a term that applies to me and my Sir. Some of my favourite scenes have been very hands-on and physical, with lots of tumbling and wrestling and laughing. Both my Sir and I know who's going to win--she's much larger than me, and I find it more fun to lose. I love being having my hair pulled, being wildly bitten and scratched and pinned down, and there don't need to be words. 

To me, primal play is different than pet/animal play. Pet play is a much more direct and obvious animal/human dynamic--(most of the time) the human is in charge, doing what the human wants. Primal play is a subtler form of power play, and I think it's a great way to explore a relationship. 

Does primal play resonate for you, too? Have you all heard the term and I've just been living under a rock? 



Vanilla Corner: Have you read a primal play scene? Is that something you would be interested in reading about? (Or, of course, trying :D)


---

If you have a topic to suggest for BDSMonday, or if you would like to do a guest post, please

Coming This Week...

Coming This Week...
Designated Bottoms
by BA Tortuga, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, Kiernan Kelly, Shannon West, KC Wells, Katey Hawthorne
Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who’s happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!
Haven
by Lee Benoit
Haven is a former Vietnam Army medic working as an ER nurse in Boston when he meets and falls for Tadeo, an Argentine dancer stranded Stateside with a brand-new baby. Evil forces mass on all sides of the pair as they try, with a colorful supporting cast, to figure out how to be together and stay safe.
Genre: Historical, Drama

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Emerald Keep Is Coming!


It's official!  It's official!  Emerald Keep is now under contract.  Or, should I say, Contract.  (Sorry, inside joke.  You'll have to read Emerald Fire to get that one. ~ebil grin~

Here's a teaser:

When Emerald Keeper Teeka returns to the city of Reghdad and leaves the harsh desert behind, he finds that not all dangers come from the Great Valley. The dangerous Daymonth is nearly upon them and no one can survive on the surface of the planet – but Senior Hunter Quill Mayer is trying to get to Reghdad, and Teeka, before the start of it. Even if he makes it, Emerald Keep denies Teeka’s Contract with Senior Hunter Quill, and Teeka discovers his enemy is more powerful than any of them suspected and he will stop at nothing to separate Teeka and Quill – even by striking in the very heart of the city.

-- 
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

The Persis Chronicles:
Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.
Check out "Seeking Hearts", available from Torquere Books.

Check out "Taking a Chance", available from Torquere Books! An All Romance eBooks Bestseller!

My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora 
Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook
The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter | Meetup

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Releases

This week we have selected titles from Mychael Black, Missouri Dalton, Jon Keys, Nicole McCormick, Julia Talbot, and BA Tortuga on sale for 20% off! Check 'em out here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=specials

Rode Hard Anthology
edited by Elizabeth L. Brooks with stories by BA Tortuga, Julia Talbot, Yolande Kleinn, Nicole McCormick, Mychael Black, Jon Keys, Missouri Dalton and Penn E. Loaffer
172 pages / 39400 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-781-6
$4.99
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4224
Blurb:
It's time to ride hard for cattle country! In "Where the Men are Men" by Julia Talbot, Skeet's not the brightest guy around, but he still manages to surprise Donnie. In "Sage and Sand" by Yolande Kleinn, when Bram Caldwell's stage route is attacked by bandits, his only hope lies with vigilante Marshall Maddox. In "Devilry Done" by Missouri Dalton, Luke's out to get Ambrose back, but he might just get himself killed in the process. Birch is a champion bull rider who wants to try some of his moves out with bull fighter Lucas in "Eight Seconds" by Nicole McCormick.
In BA Tortuga's "Hoping for a Good Break," Colby left his man, Alan, with harsh words that are made unbearable by the misfortune of a riding mishap. "Asher, James, Glenn, and Gregg" by Penn E. Loaffer introduces us to four SoCal friends: a transplanted Colorado cowboy, two San Diego natives, and a Brit who proves that not all English are "proper." In "Showstring" by Jon Keys, two men with wildly different backgrounds meet at the state fair, but is Jayden's baggage going to spoil everything? In "Come Undone" by Mychael Black, Bryce Caldwell's first impression of Ricky Clements is a whirlwind in black.
Individual Stories:
Hoping for a Good Break by BA Tortuga
Where the Men are Men by Julia Talbot
Sage and Sand by Yolande Kleinn
Eight Seconds by Nicole McCormick
Come Undone by Mychael Black
Showstring by Jon Keys
Devilry Done by Missouri Dalton
Asher, James, Glenn, and Gregg by Penn E. Loaffer

An Auspicious Moon
by Julia Talbot
89 pages / 24600 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-782-3
$3.99
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4225
Blurb:
From cat shifter to werewolves, An Auspicious Moon collects seven short stories about the animal inside. Sit up and Beg and Sit Pretty features Killian and Evan, the werewolf and the man who saved him from captivity. In Chew Toy, CIA agent Jack thinks being eaten by a tiger is a bad way to go. Good thing the tiger is also a man. Crate Trained sees Gary getting a bite he never expected during casual sex. In Doggie Style, Ray thinks Doc is just a new foster pet. He’s in for a shock. Finally, in Wolfy Resolutions, Cage has no desire to go to his demon friend’s party, but it might be worth his while.
All stories previously published in Torquere Press’ Sip line.
Coming Next Week...

Designated Bottoms
by BA Tortuga, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, Kiernan Kelly, Shannon West, KC Wells, Katey Hawthorne
Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who’s happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!
Haven
by Lee Benoit
Haven is a former Vietnam Army medic working as an ER nurse in Boston when he meets and falls for Tadeo, an Argentine dancer stranded Stateside with a brand-new baby. Evil forces mass on all sides of the pair as they try, with a colorful supporting cast, to figure out how to be together and stay safe.
Genre: Historical, Drama

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On sale this week...

This week we have selected titles from Mychael Black, Missouri Dalton, Jon Keys, Nicole McCormick, Julia Talbot, and BA Tortuga on sale for 20% off! Check 'em out here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=specials

Monday, July 21, 2014

BDSMonday - Negotiation



It's BDSMonday!

Today's topic is negotiation.

Okay--you've found someone you want to play with. Now what?

I know I've mentioned them before, but I can't recommend BDSM checklists highly enough. They're a great way to quickly and easily compare your kinks with your potential playpartner(s)'. (I also recommend them for keeping track of your own BDSM journey. I'm always surprised, when I look back at old ones, how many things I marked as "No" or "Not interested" are now some of my favourites!)

Ask questions. Lots of 'em. It doesn't matter if you plan on topping or bottoming, you want to know as much about your partner as possible. There are many factors that aren't directly related to BDSM that might influence a scene--has your partner been through a traumatic experience that could be triggered by something that might routinely happen as part of a scene? Do they have any old injuries that could be affected? Are there certain spots on their body they don't like to be touched?

Set your safeword(s). The 'default' ones are red, yellow, and green. Green means everything's okay, keep going. Yellow means pause, and red means STOP. You can decide on your own, either for all your BDSM needs, or for the specific partner you're negotiating with. It's a good idea to make it a word that stands out and you're not likely to use during a scene (mine is 'squirrel'.) There are alternatives to spoken safewords, but that's a whole other topic!

There's also nothing wrong with negotiating once you've started a scene. You may have decided you're going to do spanking and bondage, but halfway through one of you might decide you want to add caning, as well. Pause the scene, and ask your partner(s) if it's okay to add an activity. If it is, off you go! If not, you can discuss it later, and maybe try it during another play session.

You can also make the scene shorter. Maybe you really don't feel like wax play after your spanking. Let your partner know. You can always try it another time!






I decided it was high time for the Vanilla Corner to have its own graphic, so...ta da!

Today's Vanilla Corner question: When reading BDSM fiction, do you like the author to include a negotiation scene? How much detail do you like to see?

(Because my little safety hat is always within arms' reach, I like to at least mention that negotiation happened, but I also think writing too much detail could get a little boring for readers.)

Any negotiation questions or tips you'd like to add?

--

If you have an idea for BDSMonday, please feel free to message me, or email: tq.strange (at) gmail.com

I'd love to hear from you!

Coming This Week...

Coming This Week...

Rode Hard
edited by Elizabeth L. Brooks
The smell of horse and fresh-mown hay. The cheers of a rodeo crowd and the creak of harness. A gleam of steel and sun-baked skin. It's time to ride hard for cattle country.

Individual Stories:
Hoping for a Good Break by B.A. Tortuga
Where the Men are Men by Julia Talbot
Sage and Sand by Yolande Kleinn
Eight Seconds by Nicole McCormick
Come Undone by Mychael Black
Showstring by Jon Keys
Devilry Done by Missouri Dalton
Asher, James, Glenn, and Gregg by Penn E. Loaffer

Genre: Western, Contemporary, Historical

Talbot Shorts
by Julia Talbot

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chihuahua isn't just a funny word (although it is pretty funny)

For the upcoming, Dawg Days of Summer Anthology, I really needed to stretch myself. I hadn’t written any shifter stories before, although I had read and loved quite a few. In my youth, I had been an avid consumer of werewolf tv shows and many movies, from classic to comedy to horror (okay, some horror, I am easily frightened and often cover my eyes if I don’t outright bolt from the room).

But I also knew that the some of the most compelling shifter stories are ones where pack dynamics are focused upon and much drama can come from the upheaval that ensues when outsiders are introduced into matters that would normally be none of their business. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to delve deeply into those types of issues.

Plus, the wolf is an amazing, revered animal. It posses great strength, cunning, speed, and ferocity, yet it is part of a larger family structure. It parallels some of our human traits, in a way that makes stories about them endlessly captivating, but is different enough that there’s a definite feeling of the exotic and unusual. Wolves themselves tend to be gorgeous creatures, surviving in the wilderness, areas of which can seem so bleak and difficult that it is hard for us to understand how they manage.

So I doodled about some ideas, and daydreamed, and went for long walks. It seemed to me that perhaps I was not yet ready to take on some a formidable subject, and that I might do best thinking about things in a more domestic way, a smaller way.

And then I started seeing Chihuahuas everywhere. TV commercials and greeting cards (they appear to be the most popular ever) and conversations and celebrity news, and a few dog competitions on tv (breed, and agility). Then I knew, I needed to go the opposite way from sleek, big, powerful wolves. But not just for look-how-tiny-it-is-comedy or big/small juxtaposition. Perhaps it was time to give the apparently diminutive Chihuahua some more respect. Or at least an opportunity to growl, snarl, and snap.

So, dogs.

I really considered man’s best friend. I do love cats, too, and have had many in my home. But cats are different, intoxicating creatures in their own special way. What was it about dogs, if I had to bring it down into a nutshell?

They have an unparalleled ability to bond with people. I will leave ‘love’ to another time and discussion, although I did come across some neurobiology research that suggests what people have claimed, that dogs are capable of love and loving. But dogs are our friends and our companions, they want to be in our family, and do not thrive when they haven’t a home.

More than anything, however, they have been domesticated. They depend on people in ways that wild animals do not, and in turn, we have come to depend on them. Different dog breeds offer different things, from the large German Sheppard that is so suited to police work and exquisitely trainable to many variations of service dogs that are by a person’s side, day to day, helping them through the world.

Maybe all that was a little bigger than a nutshell, but that might be because those concepts are enormous. Friendship and companionship are incredibly important.

Ah, and then I understood a little bit of what I wanted to imbue my story with, when I finally started to work on what the pretty stuff was going to be built upon.

C is for Color, and other dog thoughts

Since I was focusing on the ability to shift into the form of a dog for my story “Nuts, Bolts, and Chihuahuas”, I took the opportunity to spend some time really observing the dogs I had available to me. I have a range of dogs that I see on a semi-regular basis, from small (yes, real Chihuahuas!) to large (a husky-mix with deep, soft fur), and a few ranging in-between (two energetic beagle-mixes). There were a few visits to a nearby dog park, where I could watch various dogs coming and going, playing and not playing. If you have a dog and are near a dog park, definitely give it a go. Dogs have so much fun and they come home tired and happy!

I think one of the things that struck me most during this research portion, was the distinct use of the sense of smell. As humans, even though smell is important to us, and connects to very primitive parts of our brain (smells can bring up memories from a long time ago so very easily), it is nothing to the smelling power of a dog. Not all dogs are alike in their sniffer abilities, some detect odors even more distinctly than others. We use these dogs to accomplish powerful tasks for us, as when they are well-trained, they can sniff out drugs, explosives, remains, and track people, in ways that we haven't yet been able to build machines to duplicate. There's even been work done on dogs that can detect cancer by smell.

I didn’t get to use much of the smelling research in my story as it just wasn’t necessary to tell the tale, but I did use it briefly, and particularly in the short (approx. 500 word) extra that I am also working on.

The other aspect of dogs that I looked into, and got to read some very interesting research on, was their sense of sight. I had always thought dogs were completely color-blind, but apparently that isn’t true! They see color, though they see far fewer colors than people see. They tend mainly to browns, yellows, and blues. They have more rods than people (easy way to remember: c is for color, c is for cones, so that means rods are the black/grey/white sensing structures) in their eyes, so they have better night-vision than people. This has been shown in the past, when I stumbled around in the dim night and my dogs have pranced around my ankles. Again, it ended up being more useful for the extra story bit than the main story, but still, it was fascinating knowledge all the same.

Again, it comes down to this companionship angle -- we have skills and abilities that dogs don't, and they have physical attributes that we don't. Together, as a team, more can be accomplished than separately!

Thank you for pondering with me today. I look forward to future conversations, and to having my story come out -- in the meantime, I'm going to keep researching, and writing.

(Apologies for the terrible spacing! I didn't see it right away, and blogger made it look okay when I was writing it! Fixed now!)

A little night owl music

Hello!

I'm Tray Ellis, and I’m guest-posting today, and it should be fun. I didn't quite expect to be posting just to the other side of midnight (where I am, of course), but I ended up being a rare night owl, so I thought, why not start a little early? I'll catch some sleep, and come back with a few more posts the rest of the day.

I have an upcoming story in the Summer Anthology called “Nuts, Bolts, and Chihuahuas” coming out in later August, and I will spend a little bit of time talking about my thoughts and directions for that short story, including a lot of musing on about wolves and dogs.

I also have “Gray and Burnished Granite Seas” available here that is a short story I wrote last year for the Charity Sip Blitz. It’s been a whole year since that first published, along with quite a few other talented authors who donated their time (blood, sweat, tears, of course!) to the charity also, for the anthology. I carry around inside my head a core concept (I sort of envision it like a roughly hewn crystal) and even if the details of how I wrote it fall away a little (moving on to other projects fills one’s head with other projects) when I think of that core jewel for that particular story, I always, always beam with pride. It’s sweet and bitter, thrilling and harsh, hopeful and crushing, and unexpected in beautiful ways. In romantic stories, perhaps, we concentrate a lot of the stories on the youthful and handsome, and while my characters are no less handsome, the main character is at the end of his life and has seen nine decades. There’s a gravity to that strength and time of love that can’t be matched, though youthful love burns intensely and brightly in its own way.

So, the midnight oil is burning low, and I'll be back to ramble on a bit more later.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Author Extra: Midnight Rodeo - Homecoming


Midnight Rodeo: Homecoming
By Kiernan Kelly, Julia Talbot, and BA Tortuga

What happens when rodeos start to get too tough for humans to compete in? Midnight Rodeo, of course, where supernatural creatures like shifters and vampires work for the prize money, and for the awe of their audience.
In Welcome to the Pack by BA Tortuga, when head bullfighter Denton is killed by a demon bull, his twin, Denver, comes back to take his place. Denver was gone for years, working mundane rodeos and missing his twin. He’s not sure the pack can heal him since the other bullfighters challenge Denver at every turn. All except Blaine, who’s an outcast himself, and who knows Denver is like no one he’s ever met.
In Oklahoma Rain by Kiernan Kelly, psychic Blaze scouts locations for the rodeo company, Darque and Knight, where he finds another psychic talent, Zack, who’s hot as the Fourth of July. Zack is complicated, though, thanks to his sidekick, Mikey, a damaged kid. Blaze invites the pair back to the rodeo, but not everyone is as happy as Blaze to have them there.
In Big Bear, Little Bear, by Julia Talbot, bear shifter Ben is returning to the rodeo after a long injury recovery. Big bear shifter Ozzie is the barrel man and clown, and he’s been waiting for Ben to come back to the big show. But is Ben ready to ride again, let alone be the lover Ozzie is ready to take on?

Available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4220


Author Extra:

Kiernan, BA and Julia will be at Authors After Dark in Charlotte, August 6-10. Wednesday August 6, 2014 come visit us at the Westin Charlotte for the Midnight Rodeo welcome party from 4:30-6:30 pm. We’ll have paperbacks, prizes, and a mechanical bull!

New Releases are HERE!

This week we have selected titles from BA Tortuga, Julia Talbot, & Kiernan Kelly on sale for 20% off! Check 'em out here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=specials

Midnight Rodeo: Homecoming
by Kiernan Kelly, Julia Talbot and BA Tortuga
228 pages / 60000 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-777-9
$6.99
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4220
Blurb:
Also available in paperback at Amazon.com
What happens when rodeos start to get too tough for humans to compete in? Midnight Rodeo, of course, where supernatural creatures like shifters and vampires work for the prize money, and for the awe of their audience.
In Welcome to the Pack by BA Tortuga, when head bullfighter Denton is killed by a demon bull, his twin, Denver, comes back to take his place. Denver was gone for years, working mundane rodeos and missing his twin. He’s not sure the pack can heal him since the other bullfighters challenge Denver at every turn. All except Blaine, who’s an outcast himself, and who knows Denver is like no one he’s ever met.
In Oklahoma Rain by Kiernan Kelly, psychic Blaze scouts locations for the rodeo company, Darque and Knight, where he finds another psychic talent, Zack, who’s hot as the Fourth of July. Zack is complicated, though, thanks to his sidekick, Mikey, a damaged kid. Blaze invites the pair back to the rodeo, but not everyone is as happy as Blaze to have them there.
In Big Bear, Little Bear, by Julia Talbot, bear shifter Ben is returning to the rodeo after a long injury recovery. Big bear shifter Ozzie is the barrel man and clown, and he’s been waiting for Ben to come back to the big show. But is Ben ready to ride again, let alone be the lover Ozzie is ready to take on?

Summertime Stories
by Kiernan Kelly
51 pages / 14400 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-786-7
$2.99
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4223
Blurb:
Here are two stories of summertime romance, Sparks Fly, and Hurricane Season, both of which take place in sunny Florida.
In Sparks Fly, when Riley and Rocket butt heads, the fireworks aren't confined to the nighttime sky.
During Hurricane Season, Aiden and David meet as strangers searching for safety as the wind howls and the rain and waves pound the shore, but in addition to a warm, dry bed, find something neither one thought they were looking for.
Both stories were originally published individually by Torquere Press.
Coming Next Week...


Rode Hard
edited by Elizabeth L. Brooks
The smell of horse and fresh-mown hay. The cheers of a rodeo crowd and the creak of harness. A gleam of steel and sun-baked skin. It's time to ride hard for cattle country.

Individual Stories:
Hoping for a Good Break by B.A. Tortuga
Where the Men are Men by Julia Talbot
Sage and Sand by Yolande Kleinn
Eight Seconds by Nicole McCormick
Come Undone by Mychael Black
Showstring by Jon Keys
Devilry Done by Missouri Dalton
Asher, James, Glenn, and Gregg by Penn E. Loaffer
Genre: Western, Contemporary, Historical

Talbot Shorts
by Julia Talbot

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On sale this week...

This week we have selected titles from BA Tortuga, Julia Talbot, & Kiernan Kelly on sale for 20% off! Check 'em out here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=specials

Monday, July 14, 2014

BDSMonday - "Coming Out"



It's BDSMonday! (And my fifth wedding anniversary)

Tying in with my anniversary just a little, today's topic is coming out of the...toy box? Flogger? (Okay that one doesn't really make sense, but c'mon. It's a funny image--someone stepping out of the falls like a vehicle going through a car wash or something).

Anyway. Telling people who are important in your life that you're kinky.

If you are 'out', I'd love to hear how it went. If you're not, hopefully some of the stories people share will help you if/when you decide to let people know about that aspect of yourself.

For myself, I am completely 'out' with my wife. I came into the relationship ( ;) ) having been in a previous kinky relationship, and knowing I wanted BDSM in a new one. My wife had no experience with kink, though it turned out that a lot of her fantasies had a decidedly kinky/sadistic bent. Neither of us remembers exactly how I 'outed' myself to her, but we briefly broke up because she was worried that our relationship couldn't be an equal one if I was submissive. Obviously we worked that out, and we've explored our kinky sides with a freedom I couldn't possibly have imagined before meeting her.

Actually, I don't remember how I 'outed' myself to my last ex, either...though I'm sure written roleplay was involved. *heh* Yessss...my character wants to be tied up and flogged. Oh, you're okay with that? Well, how about if we act that scene out?

As I said, I don't remember if that's exactly how I broke the kinky ice, but I'm sure it was something along those lines, both with my wife and my ex. It seems to me that either reading or writing a kinky scene together is a good way to introduce the subject and test the kinky water (I'm sticking with my theme, okay?) Reading a kinky scene as foreplay is a good, safe way to gauge your partner's interest--if they jump you, chances are good their fantasies line up pretty well with yours. You could ask them to select something to read that they find kinky, so you can trade. From there, you could ask to act out one or both of the scenes. I've found roleplay is a good place to start--if the scene doesn't go well, you put those characters aside and don't play with them again. Both you and your partner know you were just acting, so it's easier to let go of any negative emotions that may come up. It's a fantasy, with clearly defined limits.

And if it does go well...have fun!

I'm not out at work, though several people either suspect or know indirectly. My mother-in-law kept 'finding' our toys when we lived with my in-laws, but I have no idea what she thinks about that. My sister knows, but that's about the only family member I'm comfortable discussing my kinky side with. I don't have kids, so I don't have to worry about them finding out/telling them. Some of my friends know (I met some of them through BDSM).

How about you guys? If you are 'out', how did it go? If you're not, how do you suspect the people in your life would react? Go!