Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trick or Treat - I Eated Thems!


No, really, my cat ate my blog post!

See, it began like this:

It's Halloween tomorrow and here in Chicago, that means costumes and candy and all sorts of craziness.

My day job is in the insurance industry, dealing with cars, homes, life, that sort of thing.  As you can imagine, sunspots are making everyone crazy.

So I went to the store last weekend to get decorations for Halloween, so I'd have this cute little table diorama to photograph for my Halloween-themed blog post today.

My cat ate it.

No, not the blog post, the decoration!

I blame sun spots.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

What's your favorite Halloween candy?

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

The Persis Chronicles:**Coming Soon!** Watch for EMERALD KEEP from Torquere Books, out April 2015!
Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.Check out "Seeking Hearts", available from Torquere Books.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Releases from Sean Michael & V.L. Locey

This week get 20% off selected titles from Sean Michael & V.L. Locey! http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=specials


Velvet Diamonds, a collection of shorts
by Sean Michael
128 pages / 34300 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-826-4
$3.99
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76&products_id=4289
Blurb:
From Kes, the Velvet Glove’s guest manager finding his soul mate in A Bird in the Hand, to corporate leader Isaak finding what he needs as a sub with Velvet Glove regular Car in Raw Need, these five stories run the gamut from sweet to spicy. Just like the Velvet Glove has a little something for everyone, these gems explore five different flavors for you.
Velvet Diamonds brings together five previously published short stories from the Velvet Glove world. Stories included are: A Bird in the Hand, Peace Within the Quiet, Love and the Farmer, Three to Heal, and Raw Need.



Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 3: He's a Lumberjack and He's Undead

by V.L. Locey
130 pages / 40500 words
ISBN: 978-1-61040-825-7
$4.49
Buy Link:  http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=78_85&products_id=4288
Blurb:
Paul and Gordon aren't your typical zombie hunters. They're a loving couple of educators who might be infected by the virus that is turning the world's population into mindless, undead eating machines. So why haven't they turned?  Well, Gordon has a theory about that. He suspects that those who march under the rainbow flag just might be carrying the cure for the plague in their bloodstream. Zendra, the massive pharmaceutical company where the mutated virus was made, certainly seems to be in a hurry to round up all the gay survivors they can grab.
To avoid the clutches of Zendra, Paul, his partner Gordon, and a ragtag band of survivors head into the Great White North - the land of maple syrup, hockey, lumberjacks, and thick bacon. Here they plan to spend the winter, hopefully safe from roaming bands of undead, militaristic companies with far too much power, seedy groups of other survivors, and the always dreaded moose. Can two guys in love lead a motley crew to safety?

Coming Next Week...
Murder in Torbaydos
by Ian Krender
Old houses hide secrets, sometimes dark ones.  When the dead offer you a life of fame and fortune beyond your wildest dreams, beware of the price, as even death may not be a release.
Genre: LGBT/Paranormal/Horror/Historical
Cereus: Rescue
by Sean Michael, BA Tortuga & Julia Talbot
Genre: Paranormal
ZA & The Dead Shall Rise
by ID Locke
It takes a zombie apocalypse for Tracey to finally get into Guy's pants and while banding together to survive makes perfect tactical sense, Tracey and Guy think there's a bigger pay off for both of them -- each other. 
Genre: Paranormal/Horror

Zombies and Romance? Really?

Yes, really!

I know that many people just cannot think about romance and zombies being in the same book. I mean that is just squicky, and nasty, right? Well, not necessarily. If you stop and think about it, when would love ever be more important? The world is falling apart, the dead are rising up, and the Twinkies are all gone. Having someone to love and cuddle during such a horrendous time would certainly make survival that much easier. Just think of Daryl and Carol. Go on. I'll give you a minute. *Takes moment to enjoy recollections of Norman Reedus looking all sexy and whatnot*

Yeah, recalling their reunion made me tear up too. See, love and romance and spicy things are needed when one is facing an apocalypse. With that in mind, may I present my newest novella in the Two Guys zom-rom-com series?



Blurb:
Paul and Gordon aren't your typical zombie hunters. They're a loving couple of educators who might be infected by the virus that is turning the world's population into mindless, undead eating machines. So why haven`t they turned?  Well, Gordon has a theory about that. He suspects that those who march under the rainbow flag just might be carrying the cure for the plague in their bloodstream. Zendra, the massive pharmaceutical company where the mutated virus was made, certainly seems to be in a hurry to round up all the gay survivors they can grab.

To avoid the clutches of Zendra, Paul, his partner Gordon, and a ragtag band of survivors head into the Great White North - the land of maple syrup, hockey, lumberjacks, and thick bacon. Here they plan to spend the winter, hopefully safe from roaming bands of undead, militaristic companies with far too much power, seedy groups of other survivors, and the always dreaded moose. Can two guys in love lead a motley crew to safety?

Two Guys Walk Into An Apocalypse 3: He`s a Lumberjack and He's Undead is available at the Torquere Press Store, as well as all major eBook retailers.


Torquere Press Store

Amazon



Excerpt:


My sigh and a steady but thin stream of urine pattering on the pine needles and last fall's dead leaves were the only noises until something stepped on a branch directly behind me. The dead bough cracked like a pistol. My urine stopped flowing as my heart dropped into my gut. A hot breath blew over the back of my neck causing every fine hair to stand up on end. The exhalation stank of rotten teeth and pond scum. With one hand, I tucked the shriveled beast back into its BVD cage. If a phobie was going to rip me into strips I was not dying with my *#*#  out. That's just a thing I have. Death can claim me but my genitals will be covered if I can manage it.

With a very unhurried demeanor and a sudden weakness in my legs and knees, I simultaneously reached behind my back for the gun while I swiveled my head around. The largest brown eyes I have ever seen gazed down at me. The creature shook its massive head and blew snot from its nostrils. My fingertips skimmed the gun as a scream of sheer horror escaped me. The moose promptly freaked out. It bulled forward (I know, it's funny isn't it? Bull plus moose. Ha. Ha. God, I hate moose) as if someone had rammed a hot poker up its bunghole.

I pulled the gun free and fired. The moose got over being scared and got royally pissed off, which was rather a bit of irony since I now was fearful of losing control of my bladder. Where I hit the monstrous beast from hell I do not know but I think we can rest assured that it was not a killing shot. Bullwinkle threw his head to the left and right. I turned to run, was hit in the shoulder by a moose brow and was thrown to the side like some insignificant gay Raggedy Andy. My face met a tree, my gun flew from my hand, and Sir Moose attacked the nearest bush thinking -- in its brilliant moose way -- that the bush was the man who had screamed in its face and then shot beside its ear. I watched all this from the ground where I was balled up in a fetal position, whimpering about the sap on my lower lip.

My shot must have roused the camp, for within a moment (although between you and me it felt much more like several hours) the sound of people crashing through the woods broke through the snorting, thrashing, and pawing the long-headed cousin of Bambi was doing. A brilliant light swept the area. I screamed. The moose spun from his bush battle. Rider and Gordon skidded into the scene, the beams from their flashlights hitting the moose right in his ugly, flubbery face. Gordon raised a shotgun into the air but never got the chance to shoot. The moose plunged between the men, sending both diving to opposite sides. Bouncing shafts of light accompanied the departure of the moose as he crashed away into the land of nightmares.

"Sweet Jeezus," I heard Rider pant somewhere in the darkness. "Damned shame I didn't have my deer rifle, we could have eaten on that bitch for a month."

"Paul, are you okay?" my partner called as he struggled to get to his feet and locate his flashlight.

A mousey sound tumbled from me. I coughed and tried several times to find my voice. When I located it down by my spleen, I had a question for my saviors. "Did-- Did he mean 'bitch' like that animal was a female, or like some sort of rural Southern expression like 'Damn son, we could have eaten on that bitch for a week!' when in actuality the beast was a male?"





Author Bio:

            V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers,  comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a steer named after a famous N.H.L. goalie, and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

            When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, fresh cup of java in hand.


I love to meet new friends and fans! You can find me at-



More V.L. Locey Torquere Press books:

Two Guys Walk Into An Apocalypse (Part of the He Loves Me For My Brainssss anthology), Two Guys Walk Into An Apocalypse 2:It Came From Birmingham, Love of the Hunter, Goaltender`s Penalty, All I Want for Christmas, Every Sunday at One (Part of the 2013 Charity Sip Anthology), Night of the Jackal, An Erie Halloween.

And coming soon exclusively from Torquere Press . . . An Erie Operetta and Early To Rise - A Toms & Tabbies Tale.






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Halloween - New My Zombie Boyfriend Excerpt



Hi everyone! We're so close to Halloween I can smell it! I was going to rake leaves today, but it's really gross and wet out so I'll have to celebrate fall in a different way...so, please enjoy the second Halloween excerpt from My Zombie Boyfriend. 

My Zombie Boyfriend is told from Edward's perspective. Edward is your typical medical student/necromancer. Kit is his sassy, sarcastic zombie, and Boo is Edward's undead cat. 



American Horror Story: Freak Show -- Halloween, Camp, and Queerness

Right now, I am deeply, deeply in love with American Horror Story: Freak Show, despite not being someone who is really passionate about horror.  But AHS: Freak Show isn't really about horror -- despite a central horror element -- it's about disability, queerness, and camp. It's about how people cast as monsters often turn into monsters to survive, and about how people who look perfectly good/normal/acceptable/healthy are at times the worst monsters of all.

What on earth does this have to do with LGBTQ+ romance? Quite a bit. The shows camp looks at the way various concepts (including queerness and disability) have been coded as horror and as entertainment to make them palatable to "regular people." It talks about fetishization and the in-group rituals, superstitions, beliefs, and codes of behavior that exist in any marginalized community.

Which means AHS: Freak Show makes me think about what I write as a queer romance author and how I live as a queer person who is old enough to have been coming out as gay when more coded language and narratives about people like me were common and necessary in the media. It also makes me think about what visible and invisible disability means from my viewpoint versus that of someone who isn't living with one or both of those things.

Because AHS: Freak Show is also about passing.

In many ways, so is Erin McRae's and my Love in Los Angeles series.  The first book, Starling, came out in September and you can win a copy right now if you go look at the @Torquere twitter account and follow the instructions. Book 2, Doves, is currently in edits and will be out in January.

Starling is, on its surface about how to do life and love when you're a deeply private person, but the whole world is watching because you're also a TV star.  But Starling is also a story about growing up, about learning how to do communication, and discovering the many types of love and loyalty the world has to offer.

What Erin and I are discovering as we do this current editorial pass on Doves is how much the subtext of this book (which we suspect is the darkest book in the series. Phoenix, book 3 will also be out later in 2015) is about passing, disability, mental health, and the anxiety about institutional settings faced by many marginalized people.

One of our characters apparently passes so well, none of our readers have yet, to our knowledge, noticed he has a disability.  That's okay.  That's how he wants it.

So this Halloween, aside from figuring out what I'm going to wear on Friday and gorging myself on candy corn, I'm thinking about how much this holiday is about people like made comfortable and delightful for people possibly like you.  Sometimes, it thrills me, the double lives and private communities that come with my identities.  Sometimes, it makes me sad.  But mostly I'm grateful for being so aware that I, like everyone else, is just made of stories.

You can visit Erin & I at our blog, Avian30.com,
Or on Twitter: @racheline_m and @erincmcrae
Or over at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline

Don't forget you can grab Starling and everything else in the Torquere store now through Haloween for 20% off with code BOO: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=97&products_id=4269


Monday, October 27, 2014

BDSMonday - Predators




It's BDSMonday!

Since last week's post was so silly, I've got to balance it out with a more serious post (or something like that). 

First, I want to say that, as a group, kinky people are just like other people--because we are other people! There are good people and bad people, people who are looking to screw you over, and people who are trying to hurt you in not good ways. 

I believe that people sometimes get labeled 'predator' simply because they pissed someone off. That doesn't mean that predators don't exist in BDSM, and it doesn't mean that you should ignore someone being called a predator. 

There are different kinds of BDSM predators. An unfortunately common one is someone who approaches every new person and sets themselves up as being the Wise Old Leather Master who will train them and teach them and turn them into a Twoo Submissive. Most of them are pretty harmless, if annoying, and they're pretty easy to spot. Remember--there is no 'right' way to BDSM...though there are wrong ways! If someone tries to convince you their way is the only way, especially if it goes against what your instincts or common sense are telling you, trust yourself. Just because they have 'years of experience as a ______' doesn't mean their opinion is any more valid or true than yours. 

There is another kind of predator who can be extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening: people who are attracted to BDSM because they genuinely want to hurt/maim/kill other people. To me, sadism and masochism often go hand in hand--the sadist wants to hurt, the masochist wants to be hurt, everybody's consenting and goes home happy. There are people out there for whom that is not the case. They aren't looking to please anyone but themselves. I don't truly consider these people into BDSM, but that's how they're usually portrayed in the media and they have given BDSM a lot of dark baggage to overcome for the public.

If someone you know approaches you and tells you to look out for Mac because they've heard he's done some nonconsensual things with past play partners, be careful. I'm not saying write Mac off completely or base your opinion of him on hearsay, but where there's smoke, there's usually at least an ember. 

If you get a bad feeling about someone--listen to that feeling! BDSM relies heavily on trust, and if something feels 'off' about someone you've met, there's probably a reason for it. They might not be any sort of danger, but chances are they're not right for you to play with. Ask other people in your community who know that person. Ask people who have played with that person before, if possible. Get as many angles and opinions as possible, but please don't ignore your gut feeling. 



There are also predators in BDSM fiction. Sometimes they're obviously predators, but sometimes they're set up as the love interest or main character. Some forms of BDSM predation can be sexy--IN FICTION--but I find it pretty rare that I don't just go 'ew' and drop the book. Have you read any BDSM fiction that just seemed more like abuse or predation? What was your reaction to it? 

Coming This Week...

Coming This Week...
Cereus: Training
by Sean Michael, Julia Talbot and BA Tortuga
Genre: Paranormal/Horror
Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 3
by V.L. Locey
Paul, Gordon, and their ragtag band of zombie hunters are searching for a winter stronghold. Will undead lumberjacks, wandering moose, and other less-than-friendly survivors put a crimp in their homesteading plans?!
Genre: Paranormal/Horror, Apocalyptic, Romantic-Comedy
Velvet Diamonds, a Velvet Glove short story collection
by Sean Michael
Velvet Diamonds brings together five short stories from the Velvet Glove world. Each of these gems explores the coming together of Tops and bottoms at the universe's most exclusive BDSM club.
Genre: Contemporary, BDSM

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Western Dragon Culture




There are two types of dragons, Western and Eastern, in Dragonfall. Due to the distance separating them, the two clans developed very separate cultures. <br>

The Western dragons have a militaristic and caste-driven culture. The first subdivision is between the royal family, the warrior class, and the servant class.

The warriors are trained from birth and their entire existence is centered on conquest and war. All of the warriors were divided into four classes: Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma. The Alphas are the best of the best, and the caste is kept strong by strict breeding control. For the rare instance where an unfit dragonet is born - it is killed shortly after hatching. The fit dragonets undergo a strict and punishing training regimen almost from birth. The lesser castes do not have as rigorous a training program, but they also are not allowed to advance past their caste.

The Eastern dragons, by contrast, are scholars and teachers. They've brought knowledge to the humans of fire and alchemy. They've also mingled freely amongst them and have even mated with humans.

When the Eastern clan became aware of the Western clan's existence. The Eastern representative brokered a non-interference pact with their Western counterparts. As long as the Western dragons did not invade Asia, the Eastern dragons wouldn't interfere with their war with the humans.

In the modern day, Western dragons are fairly rare. They've all but disappeared after a mysterious event they refer to as "the Fall". Eastern dragons and humans with draconic blood are much more common. Arthur, the main protagonist in Dragonfall, is a Western dragon and had been one of the above mentioned Alphas. "Had been" because the Western dragons are now mere stories to the humans.

Arthur spends his days waiting for his Queen to summon him to battle again. Until then, he spends his days in a haze, seeking any sort of stimulation to feel alive again. This seeking is what leads him to a BDSM club.

A glimmer of hope shines through the haze when he meets Eastern half-dragon Drew, but trying to have a simple tryst is proving daunting.


Dragonfall is part of the Spinning The Top Anthology, available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=4153

It's also available as a standalone here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_93&products_id=4158

Excerpt:
The cheap wooden chair creaked a little under Arthur's weight, but it held. Drew nibbled on his scone and said, "So, what do you do for lunch?"

"Unless there's a company function, I eat at my desk." That was on purpose. Arthur had cultivated his relationships with his co-workers so they could banter with ease, but they weren't close enough to invite him out for a meal.

"Seriously? Fuck that, we're going out for sushi tomorrow," Drew said.

"I don't think--" Drew put a hand over Arthur's.

"Thinking's overrated. Come on, it'll be fun. The place I like has nice big portions, too."

Arthur hesitated, and Drew switched back to telepathy. "It's not healthy to be cooped up inside the office all day. And... I'll fly with you if you promise to come to lunch tomorrow."

That piqued Arthur's interest. Like all of his kind, he was most at peace when he was flying with his brethren. Ever since the Fall, he had rarely taken to the sky -- there didn't seem to be a point to doing it alone.

"All right, I'll go." 

 Drew had the barista pour their drink orders into paper cups and he left a healthy tip. Once the two of them were back in the SUV, Drew said, "I know the perfect spot. Take the highway north; we're going to be heading outside the city."

 About half an hour later, he said, "You see that sandy area over to the left? Turn off and go there." 

That was interesting, that would put them on the edge of a cliff. Arthur pulled over as Drew directed. "Where to now?"

 "Go out as far as you can without falling. You'll see."

Arthur did as he was told and his sharp eyesight spotted the miniscule path twisting down on the opposite side of the cliff. He headed for it, Drew on his heels. The climb was trivial for them.

Once Arthur's feet touched the sand, he noticed that the area was deserted. He stripped off all of his clothing and glanced in Drew's direction. To his chagrin, Drew was walking away.

"Where in the world are you going?" Arthur asked.

"Sorry man. I need to go somewhere more private to change. I'll meet you in the air."

Drew disappeared behind a dune, out of range of Arthur's dragon sight. Arthur was hoping he would see more of that soft skin, but now that was impossible. He had never thought Eastern dragons were so prudish.

Guilty Pleasure : Halloween Wars

I don't usually watch reality TV, and although I could do without the manufactured drama, I love the creations from the contestants on Halloween Wars. Halloween Wars is a 4 episode contest where a cake artist, a sugar artist and a pumpkin carver team together to create fantastic Halloween creations.

This was how I discovered the talents of Karen Portaleo. Her team, the Bling Bats (from season 1), created a wonderful Zombies vs. Vampires submission, which you can see at this URL: http://www.karenportaleo.com/halloween-wars-zombies-vs-vampires/

This year's teams did some cool zombie dolls, werewolves vs. mummies, and nightmarish farm creations. You can watch the episodes on YouTube (although I don't know how long they'll be up) here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4pxolV43gkrEmZIFAtUJ2g

What Would a Real Gamer Do?

As a long-time gamer, I had heard my friends diss gamer characters in movies. For example, I heard a lot of gripes that the supposed gamer character in Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was taken out far too easily. (By the way, I haven't seen the movie.)

A real gamer would have been able to outmaneuver Freddie Kruger, since the only limit was his imagination. I've heard theories that the gamer character should have been able to not only build some impenetrable armor, but also that there was no need to tangle with Freddie directly. After all, if you could create anything, why not just make an invincible warrior to stomp Freddie?

Anyway, the idea of how gamers would react to certain situations has always pinged around in the back of my mind. And last year, after finally seeing the Guild, I had an inspiration to write a story about how a gamer would actually react when he discovered that shifters were real.

Raising Cain was the final result, and it's part of the Dawg Days anthology.


Blake, my protagonist, is your typical hardcore pen and paper gamer, but since he's gay, the pool of available dates is pretty small. However, non-gamers tend to have a hard time relating to him.

Serena Yates pointed out in her review that gamers "live in their own world". It's true, we do, and so do shifters, which makes the meeting of the two so fascinating.

Buy link for Dawg Days: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76&products_id=4251

Buy link for Raising Cain: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_93&products_id=4258

Excerpt:

After he glanced at Cain's room, he noticed movement on the roof. His jaw dropped open when he saw two people. One was a shirtless Cain, and the other was an equally buff and shirtless man. Oh God, were they going to fuck right there? 

To his relief, instead of kissing, Cain and the other man seemed to be gesturing to each other in a ritualistic fashion. Was this part of a live action game? Suddenly, the man chopped at Cain, but it was just a feint. Cain responded with a stylized strike.

That was really weird. Most battles in live games didn't involve actual physical contact.

The hum of a low-flying plane penetrated the haze around Blake's brain. Once he felt the first drops, his sluggish mind remembered that the plane was spraying for beetles. He was still trying to convince himself to move when he saw Cain and the buff guy arch back. 

Suddenly, fur sprouted out of their arms. Their legs shortened and in an eye blink, two large dogs were snarling at each other.
There was no fucking way that was real. The bottle fell out of Blake's hand and he ran as fast as he could back into the party. He nearly bowled over Gayle and babbled at her that he needed to leave.

She escorted him down while he raved about how there must have been LSD in the punch, because he just had the mother of all hallucinations. Or maybe all the bullshit he had seen about chem trails was true. Or maybe the government had put some kind of chemical into the spray that mutated people into dogs.

"Uh huh," Gayle said in the voice she used when she wasn't listening. It took a lot of effort on her part to get Blake back to his room. She found his keycard in his pocket and made him drink three huge glasses of water after she put him to bed.

"Ugh, I think I'm going to float."

"You'll be fine. Text me when you wake up." After she let herself out, Blake's mind was still whirling. He was confused as all Hell, so he reached for his phone so that he could post his feelings. It didn't seem terribly long before he heard a tap on his door. Maybe she forgot her goggles, Blake thought dully. He opened the door and his eyes went wide when he saw Cain standing in front of him, wearing a hastily tied loincloth.




Greetings!


Hey there! I'm Winnie Jerome, guest posting on the blog today. I'll have an excerpt or two later, but I thought I'd start things out by posting about my childhood Halloween costumes.

Second grade was when I had my first Halloween costume - my parents didn't want me to be out after dark because they were paranoid about me being kidnapped.

I probably still wouldn't have had one if my school hadn't had a Halloween parade. My memories are hazy as to how my parents relented, but I suspect copious amounts of whining on my part, because I was definitely going to be the only kid not doing it, thus plummeting me to the bottom of the social ladder.

Unfortunately, buying the costume became a problem. My Mom is very conservative, and didn't want me running around in anything that had a tutu. She also was looking to keep it cheap, so the only thing that fit both criteria was a fairy costume that had a wand and a mask...but nothing resembling a dress. Instead, it basically had this tunic with the outlines of a dress printed on it, that you tied on over your regular school clothes.

Needless to say, I had that sinking feeling that I was going to be cannon fodder for the next couple of weeks. And I was right - the boys picked on me for several weeks. So, that put me off of Halloween for quite a long time.

Then, when I was barely a teenager, one of my older sisters (I'll call her Sis2), who was living in the suburbs, told my parents that it was very safe to trick or treat in her neighborhood and that since Halloween was on a Saturday, she was going to have me stay the weekend and take me trick or treating. My other sister, Sis1, had learned how to sew, so I was super excited to go out with her and pick out a costume.

We knew my Mom would freak if I wore anything with a short skirt, so we had to find something that covered me head to toe. We wound up choosing a clown costume, and we worked together on picking out good colors (I know - it's okay for clowns to be bizarre and unfashionable, but I was still traumatized and I wanted to be color co-ordinated.). It was pretty simple - a bi-colored costume with a pointy hat and pom poms, but it was prettier than my first costume.

Once it was done, that's when we discovered that I had a Gandalf-like problem - the pointy hat wouldn't stay up. Sis1 tried stuffing it with batting, and that solved the problem.

I was *very* excited when it came time to trick or treat. I had missed out all these years - slinking in a corner when my classmates bragged about their Halloween loot. Now I had a chance!

It was awesome - Sis2 took me to a ton of houses, and the folks were very generous with their candy. I was a very happy camper that night. And when I went to school on Monday - I had plenty of loot to brag about.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Of Winter Coats and Woolly Sheep



 One week until Halloween! These days we don't seem to see many trick-or-treaters out on Halloween. What I mainly remember about trick-or-treating as a kid was the battle with parents over winter coats -- where I live, it can be in full winter by Halloween, but what kid wants to wear a winter coat over her costume?

 On the other hand, there is a lot more to do as an adult on Halloween now. Costumes aren't based around winter coats for adults. Personally I'm not such a fan of the "sexy" version of costumes, but my characters don't always agree with me. In my paranormal m/m romance Moon Shadows, werewolf Theo finds spiritual medium Max's choice of costume for him almost as trying as the evil spirits lurking around town . . .

Excerpt:

Theo sighed audibly in relief and pushed back the woolly hood as they stepped out into the chill night air.
 
"Hey," Max said. "Stay in costume."
 
"It's really hot," Theo complained.
 
"You're hot. You're my hot Greek --"
 
"-- wolf in sheep's clothing."
 
"-- wolf in sheep's clothing!" They spoke in unison, Max's voice pitched high with barely contained amusement, Theo's low and distinctly not laughing.
 
"That wasn't funny the first ten times you said it." Theo waved a cloven-hoof glove at him.
 
"Wrong," Max said, claiming Theo's elbow. "It's hilarious. I have no idea who would make a sheep costume in your size, but when I saw it at the thrift store, I just had to get it. You look," he dragged his voice back to its native range, "adorable." They made their way down the rickety back stairs, and he added, "Well?"
 
"Well what?"
 
"Glad we came?" He tugged and was amused by Theo's exaggerated loss of balance.
 
"Y-yeah." Theo smiled at the gravel underfoot.
 
"Good. Me, too." Max chuckled. "You think we're going to get a cab looking like a slutty shepherd and his hot sheep?"
 
"I don't know." Theo gave the street ahead a concerned look. "It's not even Halloween tonight."
 
"Halloween's on Monday. They couldn't have done it any other night. Besides, you've already got Halloween plans."
 
"It's a tradition," Theo said, as they moved slowly through the alley. "You're welcome to come."
 
"I'm not sure I want to watch a bunch of horror movies in a row with your friends," Max said. "Are you going to dress up?"
 
"Yeah, of course. It's Halloween." There was a pause, then, "But no non-fandom stuff."
 
"I don't have my geek-to-English dictionary on me, Theo."
 
"We cosplay -- uh, dress up -- like specific characters. Not like, y'know, just witches and stuff. Depends on what you're into." The words were coming out quickly.
 
"So what are you going to go as this year?"
 
"You wouldn't have heard of him."
 
"Hm." Max looked into Theo's rosy-cheeked face. "Do you want me to come?"
 
"Kind of."
 
"Does that mean you don't want me there?"
 
"It's not your scene, obviously. But it'd be nice if you knew my friends, and I could --" He paused.
 
"You could what?" Max let the last word linger.
 
"Sh-show you off," came the mumbled reply. Max stepped in front of Theo to stop him.
 
"Don't make me mess up your lipstick," he said. Theo smiled, then kissed him lightly on the mouth.
 
"I hope we can get a cab," he said softly. "I don't want Ana to come get you."
 
"Oh, I like drunk Theo," Max replied in a matching tone, wrapping both arms around the floss-covered body before him. With his black lashes augmented by mascara, Theo's eyes were incredibly beautiful, and they focused on him alone. Then Theo's brows drew down.
 
"Wait."
 
"Okay, that's not fair." Max gave up on his complaint when he felt sickeningly familiar tingles on his neck. "Oh, shit. Theo?" Theo was hastily getting out of his costume. Max watched despondently. "Theo, you're not --"
 
"It's close," Theo said, shoving his clothes into Max's arms as he looked up and down the alley. Max closed his eyes defensively, light battering at his eyelids. When he opened them again, all he saw was the tip of a tail disappearing around the side of the building. Max slipped between two buildings and waited, shivering. His half-pants left his calves at the mercy of the night air. The buzz of alcohol had been replaced by adrenaline, irritation, and an unpleasant sense of uselessness.
 
When others left the dance and passed by his place in the shadows, Max held his breath. He didn't want to attempt explaining anything. He did worry about them, but suspected that leaping out of the dark warning about evil spirits wasn't going to get him anywhere.
 
They're going off with other people. At least they're not alone.
 
Theo had been clearly intimidated by the press of people but danced readily and with a decent sense of rhythm. It had been tremendous fun to watch him, to press against him, to laugh and smile with him. On the other hand, Max's head reeled from all the drinks he'd downed to try to keep from noticing the attention Theo had been getting.
 
This monogamy stuff's a pain.
 
After a small eternity, a big shadow trotted up to him. Panting, Theo sat down. Steam rose from his mouth, and his ears were at half-mast. Finally, he stood, shook, and flashed into light.

"Lost it," he said in disgust as he dressed. "Those things, I don't know where they go, but they just -- go." 

"Well, spirits move through worlds we can't," Max said, ambivalent. "If they're afraid of you, why do they keep coming near you?"
 
"I -- I don't know. Is it me?" Theo was buttoning up the sheep suit.
 
"It's a possibility."
 
"Either way, I ... We shouldn't be alone tonight."
 
"We weren't planning to be, remember?" Max gave him a playful pat on the side, but when they went out into the street, he could see the fatigue in Theo's expression.
 
Goddamn things. First they mess with my sister, now they steal a night with the sexiest sheep in Fort Rivers.

* * *

Not every werewolf is leader of the pack. Theo Dimitriadis, games tester by profession and werewolf by nature, has built himself a quiet life. But he puts himself into the public spotlight after he pulls Anastasia Shevchenko out of a river. This brings him to the attention of Max, Anastasia's brother. Max is a dog trainer who, like Theo, has a family secret. He's a medium, able to communicate with ghosts and spirits.
When life-draining shadow spirits appear in Fort Rivers, Theo and Max take action together. Max starts wanting the gorgeous man he sees hidden behind Theo's shyness. The more Theo retreats from his attention, the more Max goes on the chase. Theo loves to submit but fears that he'll give up too much control to Max. They struggle to understand each other even as they zero in on the shadow spirits. But before they can reconcile their differences, an even darker threat comes along, intent on harming more than their relationship. If Theo and Max want to be together, first they have to get through this supernatural battle intact!


 * * *


I hope everyone has a great Halloween, with lots of candy and fun, and no winter coats!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Author Extra: Blind Eye of the Sun (Eternally Dark) by TA Moore

Blind Eye of the Sun
by TA Moore

Once a man-made paradise, the pleasure planet of Canaan is now a man-made hell. The seas have boiled, the floating cities have crashed from the skies and the few who survived the disaster scrabble to survive long enough for rescue.
Even before he broke her hard old heart and became a soldier, Shea's ma said he'd come to a bad end. Now, stranded on a burned out pleasure planet, Shea thinks she might have had a point. He doesn’t think even his ma imagined the feral, starving vampires that hunt him through the ruins.
An elder of his species, an Old Earth √©migr√©, Anatoly Druget was used to being invulnerable. At least he felt that way until the sun fell out of the sky and burned him blind. When he finds Shea he thinks he’s only found dinner, but maybe there is more to the unsentimental soldier than his carotid. And maybe there's more to Anatoly than a monster.

This story is also included in Eternally Dark Anthology.
This book can be found at: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_93&products_id=4284

Author Extra:

The last thing Anatoly saw had been nothing in particular. He had been lounging at the balcony, gazing down at the clouds and the flickering lights of parties below. A passing pretty boy had caught his eye, but there was no shortage of them in Canaan and this one was not quite pretty enough to be worth pursuing. Loss of interest had unfocused his eyes and then the world burned white. Not even white. It was the actinic flare on the other side of blue, but white was the closest word he had.

So his last sighted memory was a blur of bodies, glittered skin and a slice of cloud. Not much to carry into the dark.

The first blind memory he had was of pain. He was old, he had been old before his damning left earth. It had been a long time since he felt pain, truly felt it. Without fear – of mutilation, of death, of worse to come – pain was just another bit of sensory data to register.

This he felt. He tried to list the different elements of pain: the wet burn of blistered eyes, the dry, cracking scab pain of his lungs, the nerve-twitching jolts of his bones binding themselves back together. Broken. He was broken.

His veins cramped and itched under his skin, withering as he spilled blood onto the ground. Hunger balled at the back of his brain, like a fist pushing at all the things it didn't care about.

Knowing that he'd kill the good Samaritan who'd answer, he tried to yell for help. His lips cracked, scraping against broken teeth, and his voice was a thin wheeze. Deaf? Was he deaf as well as blind? No. He could hear the screaming and the strange clicking tick tock of cooling destruction.

He crawled out from the ruins of the club, dipping his fingers into puddles of boiling liquid and tearing his palms on ragged strips of metal. It took him hours. His flesh cooked and slid off his bones, bones splintered and cracked and the fist of hunger dislodged more and more of him from his mind.

Home, he promised it. There were decanted bottles of blood in the larder, his servant and a willing vein waiting once he had glutted himself. All he had to do was get there.

So he crawled until his legs put themselves back together, and then he stumbled through a world washed white and yellow in shades of heat. Twice something attacked him. The first time he was confused, breaking it without knowing what it was. The second time he knew the face he ground into the molten ground.

Gretel. Gret now, to sound more modern. Not a friend, but sometimes a lover. Someone he would have considered going to for help. Not someone who screamed mindlessly in a raw voice, biting at him with broken teeth even as he broke her neck, cracked her skull.

And when he got home... It wasn't gone. He had crawled across enough scorched devastation between there and here to anticipate that. Except the ancients of his race had their foibles, tics ground into their brains through centuries of repetition. His was a fear of being rescued – to a vampire being buried alive was considerably less inconvenient than a midday rescue. Even on Canaan, where the dawn never came, he had his dwelling retrofitted and reinforced.

It had listed and cracked, coming adrift from its moorings on one side, but it still stood. He felt his way along the cool walls, nails scratching the ceraglass compound, to the secure-seal door. Long fingers picked out the shape of it delicately, finding the chips and spurs that he had never noticed before. That was less to do with his new found blindness and more to do with the freshly regrown nerves in his onion-skin thin fingertips.

The best security system money could buy. Anatoly folded his hands around it and leaned down, positioning his forehead using the glare-screen. The laser flicker jabbed through his eye and into his brain like a laser, registering not as light but as scored black lines. Barely regenerated cells collapsing under the new assault on their fragile structure.

'Retina scan: Unconfirmed. Access denied,' the box intoned.

Anatoly closed his eyes and laughed until his scorched lungs seized, refusing to draw in fresh air. He couldn't get in. All that way and his only modes of access were denied him: his eyes blistered in their sockets, his fingertips regrown and scarred and the direct line leading, he supposed, to a burning pit.

'Sir?' the voice was unremarkable in the way this generation aspired to, barren of linguistic markers to his source or class. It was also blessedly familiar. 'Sir? Is that you?'

'Yes!' The word was a hiss, guttural as Anatoly had imagined a witch's to be when he was a boy. He turned his head blindly towards the sound, holding out his hand. 'Simon. Get me inside.'

 The man hesitated, Anatoly's hearing catching the nervous flutter of his heart and the undecided shuffle of his feet. It was only a second, but the disloyalty enraged Anatoly past all proportion. The fist of hunger, of need, in his mind hammered against the bones of his skull in demand, laying out the concepts of trust and forgiveness with casual backhands.

'Sir,' A warm hand gripped his arm, leading him. 'I thought...when the sun fell...I thought you were dead.'

Blood pumped through Simon's veins by the pint, the heady liquid just under the skin. Anatoly squashed the temptation down, layering over it with contempt. He'd known the boy's family for generations. They'd usually been good servants. He, in turn, tried to be a reasonable master. He chewed on his lower lip, shredding his flesh with his fangs, and dug his fingers deep into Simon's arm as the living man and his intact thumb print won them entry.

'The blood,' Anatoly rasped, casting his head around like a hunting dog. He let go of Simon, giving him a shove in the right direction. 'I need blood to heal. Get me a bottle.'

Silence. No footsteps. Just the rasp of breathing that was about to fail someone.

Anatoly turned his head. 'Blood. Now.'

He could actually hear Simon wringing his hands, the rub of skin on skin and the pop of finger joints.

'I can't. It burned or it broke. I....sir, bottles were exploding. There was nothing I could do. Nothing.'

Anatoly sagged, joints behind around him as he slid down them to the ground. He pressed his forehead to his knee.

'Told you, told you,' the hunger hissed its condemnation. 'We have to eat.'

It flexed and, for a second that seemed to float out of time, he felt his 'self' crack. The bit that was Anatoly split like an egg and something gaunt and mad crawled out. He heard the noise coming out of his mouth, a horrid chittering clatter, and felt his joints flex ready to move. It wasn't him telling them to do that, he wasn't pulling the strings on his flesh right now.

Then it was just screaming and the profligate Rorschach of blood splashing up the walls onto the screaming. The hot pleasure of Simon's blood filled Anatoly's mouth, the bitter sweet tastiness of the servant's last heartbeats on his tongue. He drank from throat, the synovial hinge and the great vein at the crease of Simon's thigh, draining the boy of every last drop.

It wasn't enough.