Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nominated... Me???

I was really excited to see that my free Love Has No Boundaries novella, Human Frailties, and the full length novel that grew out of it, Human Frailties, Human Strengths, have both received nominations in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's 2013 Members' Choice Awards! Dudes, I'm kind of stunned (but not, as Husband Beast is quick to point out, speechless). In fact, I've been trying to come up with a blog post to announce this, and I'm still not even sure what to say except, "Thank you!"

Human Frailties has been nominated for Best Debut Book, Best Free Story, and Best Title, and Human Frailties, Human Strengths has been nominated for Best Fantasy and Best Cover!

I don't know that I would have had the courage to put anything else out there if it wasn't for the wonderful, encouraging reception that Human Frailties received in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's Love Has No Boundaries Event this past summer.

Thank you so much to the folks who nominated my stories, and thank you to everyone who has taken a chance on a new author and taken the time to read my books! Your support and your overwhelmingly positive comments mean a lot to me.

And 2014? It's gonna be great...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Clouds and Glass

My brain does not play well with medications of any type. A lot of medications make me experience odd side effects, so I'm very careful about what I take and how much of it I take, and I really hate being forced to take anything. One of the allergy meds my doc suggested I try last summer worked wonderfully, but it also made me hear music. Annoying brass band music. In my head. All. The. Time.

So when I hurt my back last month, I resisted going to the doctor because I knew he'd just give me medication that would make it impossible for me to work. Predictably, the pain got bad enough that I couldn't work anyway, and Husband Beast scraped me up off the floor and dragged me off to the doc (amazing what a week of "I hurt too much to cook dinner" will do for a man's powers of persuasion...). Several prescriptions for muscle relaxants, pain pills, and steroids later, things are looking (and feeling) a lot better, but the last three weeks have been rough in terms of getting any writing done, or even being able to think straight.

Struggling to work through a narcotic cloud for the past three weeks, while frustrating, has given me an interesting insight into my own creative process. (Yeah, I know, I'm groping about for the silver lining here, dudes... there has to be one. By my reckoning, three weeks of lost work is hardly worth one interesting insight, but I'll take what I can get at this point!)

Back in the Stone Age, when I was a starving graduate student, I was doing research on glass structure. Glass is an interesting material in that it doesn't have a fixed crystal structure like a lot of solids do. It's more like a flash-frozen liquid. There are identifiable structures you can find, but these structures only exist in the short range. There is no ordered, repeating pattern like you would find in a crystal. It has become apparent to me that my creative process organizes story-things in a similar manner, and writing a story for me is a bit like trying to figure out a structure where none is apparent.

When I have mental clarity, I can see the subtle signs of long range order in the chaos of my thoughts. I can see layer upon layer of ever deeper connections between the characters, motivations, and events of the series I'm working on. I can see far beyond the obvious, ordered, short-range structures, and get a sense of the underlying connections and how they fit together and what sorts of things they might turn into. Pain meds completely shut down my ability to sense any of that. They trap my mind in a place where all I can see is the obvious, structured short-range stuff that's right in front of me. I know all those layers and connections exist out there, but I'm unable to follow the threads of them or even see them.

Interesting as all that is, the real take-away from this experience is a lot more practical: Women of a certain age should gracefully concede that lugging around forty-pound bags of softener salt is a Bad Idea.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Power Balance

There's been a rather dramatic, unexpected, and unwelcome shift in the power balance around here over the past couple of weeks, and I'm still struggling to adjust. Due to a back injury (Not My Fault), I have been demoted from Commander-in-Chief of the Holiday Preparations to Frantic Spectator.

The Symbols of Power (including the Ermine Cloak lined with Real Live Ermines) have been grudgingly handed over to Husband Beast, who is not taking the Responsibility of the Holiday Preparations seriously at all. The tree is not up yet. The gifts are not wrapped (or even bought). There is no white chocolate cheesecake nestled carefully in the freezer. Nor are there any gingerbread gargoyles (long story) in the cookie tin. And let's not even talk about the amount of dog hair on the floor. There's enough of it floating around to cobble together a whole 'nother dog or two. Not that we're in need of any more dogs, but if we were, we'd be set.

The only bright spot in this rather gloomy December is that Husband Beast very helpfully bought me a Granny Grabber. This is a long, stick-like device with a pincher on the end. It's good for picking up stuff I dropped and sorting laundry, as I'm not supposed to be bending over and stuff. It allows me to do a few things so that I feel Useful and Helpful, even though I am not In Charge.

It's also good for pinching people's butts as they walk by.

Best. Gift. Ever.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Er... Tweet?

So I looked into opening a Twitter account because social media, right? And somebody I respect said that I had to make these tweet-things in order to sell books. During my research I discovered that there are all these Rules and Etiquette Things about how you can't even mention your book, not even casually, else it's Spam, which I thought was a canned meat product. Apparently not. Who knew?

Important Discovery Number One: In your marketing strategy, do not mention your book. Ever.

So how does one market if one isn't allowed to mention one's product? Further research revealed that you're supposed to send your minions followers something called Valuable Content, and somehow, through a Mysterious Process which I have yet to identify, this will translate into book sales.

Except? This Valuable Content can't have anything to do with your book because otherwise it's more Spam. Which... I still think of as lunch meat in a can, so go figure.

Important Discovery Number Two: Tweet Valuable Content, which has nothing, whatsoever, to do with your book.

Unfortunately, my research did not unearth any information regarding whose definition of Valuable Content I am supposed to be adhering to. And I'm pretty sure my idea of Valuable Content isn't even in the same universe as, say, my mother-in-law's idea of Valuable Content. (Although to be fair, I'm basing this supposition entirely on the not-even-remotely-amusing penis enlargement advertisements she keeps forwarding to me.)

Anyway, with all of these restrictions, and the lack of a working definition of the term "Valuable Content", I have come to the conclusion that the people who are using Twitter to successfully market their books must be using some kind of code.

Important Discovery Number Three: Any Tweeting that contains marketing should be done in code.

This code shouldn't be too easy to crack, otherwise people would immediately understand the message and as soon as they realized I was trying to market to them, they would Unfollow me, which is a Bad Thing. Near as I can figure, Unfollowing is the Twitter version of being sent off the playground for Not Playing Well With Others (story of my life, but that's a rant for another day).

Important Discovery Number Four: Your code should not be too easily broken.

On the other hand, the code shouldn't be too complicated, either. A quantum encryption algorithm, for example, might prove problematic because by the time anyone got it figured, most of my electrons would be entangled with electrons in some other galaxy, and I just can't see being too concerned about book sales at that point.

Important Discovery Number Five: Quantum encryption is probably not a good choice.

A nice, middle-of-the-road code, which obfuscates things just a bit beyond casual recognition, would probably be best. I decided to try a code based on a technique I remembered doing in a poetry class, where you take each letter of your name and come up with a descriptive phrase beginning with that letter. Except, instead of my name, I would use my very simple and clever marketing phrase, "Buy My Book", and instead of a list of descriptive phrases, I would use a list of some Valuable Content. A quick search of what passes for News on several internet news sites (which shall remain nameless) yielded a number of interesting pieces of Valuable Content that could be used:

B = Black Friday Deals on Canned Lunch Meat!
U = Underwear Mogul Decapitated in Freak Accident with Pink Thong!
Y = Yak Poo Removal Hints: Your Thanksgiving Rescue Headquarters!
M = Myopic Guinea Pigs Save Drowning Man!
Y = Yorkshire Terrier Attacks Bus -- 12 Dead!
B = Black Friday Fashion Hints!
O = Orange is the New Black!
O = Octopus Gives Birth to Kittens!
K = Kelp Brownies: A Holiday Tradition!

See what I did there? Clever and subtle, eh?

Before trotting this out for real, I decided it would be prudent to conduct a trial run. After all, if no one could figure out the code, what was the point? I prepared and sent a series of emails with the above titles to everyone on my contact list. Then I sat back and waited for the money to roll in.

Unfortunately, all I got was a whole lot of replies, most of which started with WTF, Jaye? Apparently, my code was a bit too clever. *Sigh*.

Frankly, I'm not convinced that Tweeting about yak poo is going to do anything for book sales.

Important Discovery Number Six: Tweeting is for the birds.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Sexy Saturday Roadtrip

So I took a very small, virtual road trip over to Cameron James' Blog of Writerly Things. I'm over there today for his Sexy Saturdays series, in which he features authors of glbt erotica and erotic romance. I get to talk about writing and publishing and my recent M/M fantasy release, Human Frailties, Human Strengths. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hi!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Facing the Mirror is Live!

Facing the Mirror, the free novella which is meant to sort of kick off Guardians of the Pattern (my forthcoming M/M science fiction series), is now live on Smashwords. While this story is not a romance, it introduces some of the characters who appear in the Guardians of the Pattern series. Facing the Mirror tells the story of a pivotal moment in the life of Cameron Asada. The events this story describes are summarized and mentioned several times throughout the series, but never really explained in detail.

Facing the Mirror will be going live on Amazon later today or tomorrow, but unfortunately, it won't be free over there until it's price-matched. It should also trickle through to all the Smashwords retail partners by Christmas. I'll add download links to this post and to the book page as they become available.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stalking the Muse

Next Saturday, November 23, I've been invited to leave the Swamp and travel out into the wilds to visit Cameron D. James' Blog of Writerly Things. I'm a bit nervous about this, as I have no idea what to wear, and I wouldn't want to show up all formal and frilly if this is a casual affair... nor do I want to appear in my tatty old footy pajamas if some modicum of decorum is expected.

And what about headgear? I'm pretty sure my lovely straw hat with the big plastic daisies is a bit out of fashion... ditto for the carpet bag into which I have stuffed most of my worldly possessions, including a map, a compass (perfectly bloody useless, since I can't tell left from right anyway) and my lovely chrome giraffe. As I am both directionally and spatially challenged, I'm quite certain I'll get lost along the way, which will probably necessitate an Embarrassing Rescue of some sort.

Ah, well. I've packed plenty of iron rations and a tent, so it should be all right. I shall just have to gird my loins and do what we all do when faced with uncertainty: keep calm and don't forget to wear clean knickers. Or... something like that. See you guys next Saturday! (Er... and if I don't show up? Could somebody send out a search party? I'll be the pathetic, whimpering heap shivering under the pink tarp...)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Facing the Mirror: Teaser

With a muttered curse, Cam rolled out of bed and turned on the light. He dressed quickly and headed out to the main room of his suite. The needlepaks lay on the bar where he’d left them, and he walked woodenly forward and stared down at them.

One hit was all it would take.

One hit would be enough to shut out Miko’s pain, allowing Cam to drift off into dreams and get the sleep he so desperately needed.

He hated himself for even thinking about it, but at the same time, his mouth watered in anticipation. Twenty years he’d been clean… would one hit be enough to send him spiraling back down into the darkness of addiction?

He reached for the packet and then stopped.

Any peace the drug could bring him would only be an illusion. Miko would still be alone and in pain. Cam just wouldn’t be able to feel his screams anymore.

But if he interfered with whatever was going on in the suite down the hall, he’d be throwing away the four years it had taken to build his reputation and earn the trust of the Guild. DeMira wouldn’t thank him for interrupting his new business partner, and God only knew what Draven would do.

He drew in a shaking breath. His fingers closed around the packet, trembling as he removed one of the needlepaks.

Two seconds to inject himself. Five minutes for the drug to start working on his psi-centers.

He only had to endure Miko’s pain for five minutes more…

And how the hell long does Miko have to endure it?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pants... And Cover Art

Chinchbug has been on a creative roll lately. He's working on the covers for all five of the Guardians of the Pattern novels in one fell swoop because he wants to tie them all together thematically (I hope this is artist-speak for make them look cool, but you never know).

Last night he was working on the cover for Book 3, and he showed me the initial renders so I could tell him if the model looked the way I pictured the character. Our impromptu creative consultation session went something like this:

Chinchbug: So what do you think? Does he look young enough? Androgynous enough? Are his eyes and his hair right?
Jaye: Er... yeah... he looks good... but Dude, he's not wearing any pants.
Chinchbug: Well, no. He doesn't need pants. We're doing head shots, remember?
Jaye: Yeah, but... he's not wearing pants.
Chinchbug: I know he's not wearing pants. But what do you think of the rest of him?
Jaye: I can't take him seriously if he's not wearing pants.
Chinchbug: It's artistic license.
Jaye: Yeah, but--
Chinchbug (handing Jaye the mouse and getting up out of his chair): Maybe you'd like to drive?
Jaye (staring at Daz Studio interface in techno-horror): Er... you know what? I think I can live with a little pantslessness.

So anyway, here's the cover Chinchbug worked up for the soon-to-be-released short story, Facing the Mirror.

That's Cameron on the cover. He's the main character in Facing the Mirror, and he's a secondary character in most of the Guardians of the Pattern novels. Eventually, I'd like to give him his own novel, because he has an interesting story to tell, but for now, he's going to have to wait.

And in case you were wondering... he's not wearing any pants, either.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Coming Soon: Facing the Mirror

The short story, Facing the Mirror is nearly finished. It introduces two of the secondary characters who appear throughout the Guardians of the Pattern series, and another character who will probably inspire a book of his own, because I found him so intriguing. He's been whispering in my ear ever since he came barging into my head when I wrote the first draft of this story, and he's been getting louder. I don't think he's willing to wait much longer for his turn in the spotlight.

Facing the Mirror is now in the hands of my long-suffering, overworked beta reader (to whom I really need to send a nice, large box of truffles), and I'm hoping to have it out during the first part of November. I do have a blurb to share, and next week, I'll post a sneak-peek at the cover art. Chinchbug did his usual awesome digital magic on it, and it looks great.

Special Agent Cameron Asada has spent four years deep undercover in an attempt to deal a death blow to the Sapphire Guild, the largest drug cartel on Alpha. The things he's done in the name of his mission weigh heavily on his soul, and Cam is reaching the point where he's not sure he recognizes the man he sees in the mirror anymore.

Things come to a head when Cam finally gets the break he's been waiting for: an invitation to work for the boss himself as a psionic interrogator. While working at the boss's estate, Cam meets Miko, a powerful psion trapped behind a wall of silence. It doesn't take long for Cam to realize that Miko is a slave, handed around to the boss's associates as a reward for a job well done.

Miko's plight tugs at Cam's heartstrings, forcing Cam to examine just how many lines he's willing to cross in the name of serving the greater good. Will Cam risk his life and his career to help Miko? Or is the trail of broken minds and bodies he's left in his wake worth the possibility of victory over the Guild?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Guardians of the Pattern

The next thing on the agenda is to get my M/M science fiction series, Guardians of the Pattern, all nice and shiny and ready for consumption. The series consists of five novels, all of which are in first draft form at the moment, and all of which run around 85 - 95K right now.

There is an over-arching plot that runs through the entire series, but each story will focus on a different couple. The same core group of characters appear throughout the series, which covers the events of several years, so the characters from the first book will be making appearances throughout the series, and have important roles to play in some of the later stories.

Without further ado, here is the blurb for Psi Hunter, the first book in the Guardians of the Pattern series:

In a future where humanity has spread out among the stars, those few possessing psychic abilities are looked upon with suspicion at best and murderous intent at worst.

On Aurora, one of the more tolerant worlds of the Federation, Pat Cottrell works for Federation Security as a psi hunter, tracking down and neutralizing dangerous psi criminals.

Kyn Valdari works for the Institute for Psionic Research, running search-and-rescue operations, in which psions in distress are offered the chance to learn how to control psychic abilities that can threaten sanity and ruin lives.

Kyn and Pat used to be best friends, closer than brothers. Three years ago, one passionate night that never should have happened left both of them shocked, confused, and desperately wanting more.

They haven’t spoken since.

Now, the silence between them must be broken. Kyn and Pat have been ordered to investigate a string of murders that may have been committed by a psion powerful enough to kill with a thought. In order to succeed, they will have to work together to save an abused, traumatized young psion from being taken advantage of by the very organization that is supposed to save him.

Author's Note: Speculate all you like, but I refuse to explain the similarities in the last names of one of the main characters in this book and the name of the evil dude in Human Frailties, Human Strengths. Stick around… all will be revealed… although it might take us a while to get there!

I'm planning on having this out early next year, and sometime before the end of this year, I'll have a short (about 10K) prequel story coming out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm an "Arthur"!!!

So when I was about four, I sauntered into the living room where my parents were having tea and announced, "I want to be an arthur."

Fast forward more years than I want to admit to, and I can finally say that yes, I'm an "arthur". Human Frailties, Human Strengths is finally finished, and is available on Smashwords and on Amazon.

Now I'm going to crawl under the rug and have a nice, long nap. And a metric crap-ton of chocolate.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Human Frailties, Human Strengths: Cover Art

Husband-Beast (aka Chinchbug, to his artist friends) has done a gorgeous cover for Human Frailties, Human Strengths, and I wanted to share it before the story comes out. He's currently hard at work on covers for the five-book sci fi series, the first book of which will be out in early 2014, if all goes according to plan (shh... don't tell the Universe I said that...). The nice thing about having my cover artist living in my house (and dependent on me for meals, laundry, bathroom cleaning, and kid-wrangling) is that we can have conversations like this:

Jaye: Dude, can you make Ash look a little more evil?
Chinchbug: (not Husband-Beast, because he's in Artist Mode, and we have to Respect that) Evil?
Jaye: Yeah, you know, like he eats puppies for breakfast, or something.
Chinchbug: Hmm... I think I might actually have a template for that...
Jaye: (impressed) Really?
Chinchbug: After reading your synopsis and character descriptions for that sci fi series, I figured I was going to need a lot of shocked, terrified, and generally miserable dudes for the covers.
Jaye: (shuffling feet) Er... they get happy endings...
Chinchbug: Yeah, well, let's just say I'm glad I don't live in your head and leave it at that, shall we?

So yeah, it's like that at my house. Anyway, here's the new cover:

Friday, September 6, 2013

WIP Excerpt: Human Frailties, Human Strengths

I’m coming down the home stretch on this project. I’m on the final proofread and polish run now, and a lot of the formatting is figured out (I can make very pretty .mobi files now). I’m still planning to have Human Frailties, Human Strengths available on Smashwords and Amazon at the end of this month or early next. I’ll be updating here, and closer to the time I’m ready to release it, I’ll post the new cover (it’s gorgeous!). For now, I’ll leave you with another snippet of Fun with Tor and Ash:

Inside the shelter, Tor sank down and sighed with relief as the warmth began to sink into his chilled flesh. “You know, I can put up with an awful lot,” he said, glancing briefly at Ash, “but I’m getting pretty tired of being kept in the dark. Especially about things that concern me.”

Ash gave him a grim smile before dropping his pack on the ground and squatting down beside it. “It’s probably a good thing you can put up with a lot. You’ll have to, bonded to Carrik Tarn as you are.”

Tor scowled. “You say that like I had a choice about it.”

“You’re the one who picked up the sword.”

“What? I should have let the rhyx eat me?”

“It might have been more peaceful if you had.”


Ash pulled a cloth-wrapped bundle of travel cakes from the pack and passed it to Tor. “Of course I wouldn’t have wanted the rhyx to hurt you.” Ash’s voice held a note of exaggerated patience that had Tor gritting his teeth. “But I could wish that if you were going to make the acquaintance of a leythe-blade, it had been any but that one.”

Always thinking of your own comfort, eh, Vaya? Seven hundred years, and nothing much has changed, has it?

Ash rolled his eyes. “I was wondering when you’d wake up and take notice.”

Tor set the packet of travel cakes down, unopened. He wasn’t going to let Ash distract him with food or sex like he usually did. Not until he had some answers, at least. “Ash. You turned your lover into a sword. That doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence when I think about what might happen to me in the future.”

“Rest assured there would be little point in doing the same thing to you. You don’t have the skills.” Ash shot a dark look at the sword as he passed a waterskin to Tor. “Or the temperament.”

Why don’t you tell the boy what happened, Vaya? Oh, sorry, it’s Ash now isn’t it?

Tor took a long drink and then passed the skin back. He gave Ash an expectant look. “I told you earlier you owe me an explanation.”

Ash narrowed his eyes.

“I can ask Blackfang,” Tor said. “I’m sure he’ll be happy to tell me every smutty detail. Blond slut, did you say, Carrik?”

Blackfang was only too happy to comply. Ah, yes, the blond slut. Pretty little thing, he was. He promised me immortality.

“And seven hundred years later, you’re still here, shooting your mouth off,” Ash muttered. “I’d say I delivered.”

As long as one disregards such inconveniences as complete dependence upon my bearer, I’ll concede the point. But that doesn’t change the fact that you never said anything about spending the rest of eternity trapped in a fucking sword.

“Ungrateful bastard. Seven hundred years has done nothing to improve your attitude,” Ash snapped.

Nor yours.

“You’re immortal. What the hell else did you want?”

Full disclosure would have been nice. And perhaps a chance to refuse your… gift.

“You wouldn’t have refused and we both know it.”

You never gave me the chance.

Ash rolled his eyes. “It wouldn’t have made any difference. Your brain never was anywhere near the size of your ego.”

“Shut up!” Tor clapped his hands over his ears, even though he knew it wouldn’t do any good. “Both of you just… shut up!”

Ash shot the sword a threatening glare, then let out a long-suffering sigh. “Humans. You have to know every single insignificant detail, don’t you?”

Tor stared at him in disbelief. “The reason why you turned your ex-lover into a sword is hardly insignificant. Considering I’m your current lover, it seems very significant to me.”

That earned him an eye roll. “Even though it has no bearing on your relationship with me. Even though it’s none of your business. Even though it was so long ago, I’ve practically forgotten it—”

Humph. Surely I made more of an impression than that?

“Shut up,” Ash snapped.

“I’ve already told you why it’s my business,” Tor said, adopting the same perfectly reasonable and utterly condescending tone Ash often used with him. “If you don’t want to come clean about it, you can damn well sleep alone tonight, because I won’t be warming your bed.”

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Update: Back from Beta

Human Strengths is back from the beta readers (thanks, guys—awesome job!), and I’m pleased to say it is not a steaming pile of crap. I got some wonderful suggestions for additional content, so I’ve been working on that, and it’s sitting at around 88K now. I rewrote the end of Human Frailties so it transitions better into the new material, and I’m pretty happy with it so far. The title of this expanded version is Human Frailties, Human Strengths (see what I did there?).

Chinchbug, my tame cover artist, is reworking the cover for me. It’ll be similar, but you know, Tor really needs to have a sword, so he’s getting one.

I’m still hoping to have this out late summer/early fall, but it’s going to depend a lot on how quickly I get the formatting figured out. And, you know, I’m kind of tech-stupid, here, so… yeah, that might be optimistic.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Update: A Novel Idea

Human Strengths is now in the hands of my beta readers, so I will soon know if it's a steaming pile of crap or not. Hopefully not, but you never know. I might have had a bad hair month.

Early feedback is telling me exactly what my gut has been suggesting: that the two stories really want to be a novel. With that thought in mind, I've written up some new content for Human Frailties, mostly concerning Tor's background.

Once Human Strengths comes back from the beta readers, I'll be working to meld the two stories together into one long one. Expect at least 85,000 words, possibly more (my drafts seem to get longer with each edit pass). I'm still hoping to have it available on Smashwords by the end of the summer (that's officially September... right?).

Monday, June 17, 2013

WIP Excerpt: Human Strengths

I've been really excited and humbled by the positive response Human Frailties has been getting from the Goodreads crowd. I've had people asking me about the sequel, and yes, I am hard at work on it! I'm working on the rewrite at the moment, and hoping to have it out to my beta readers in a couple of weeks (which is all depending on how much more ass-kicking allergy season does to me... the last week? Miserable.)

At any rate, since I had so much fun posting teasers for Human Frailties over on Goodreads, I've decided to post a teaser for the sequel. From Human Strengths (mostly unedited, so no promises about whether this bit will make the final cut):

Ignoring the pain in his ankle, Tor scrambled back until his hip hit the stone lid of the sarcophagus. He spared a glance behind him, reaching for the sword just as the rhyx began its charge.

“Tor!” Ash’s cry of warning barely registered. The moment his fingers closed around the leather-wrapped hilt, something huge unfolded in his mind. Tor froze. There was a split-second of intense cold and then something ghosted through him, a tingling that moved outward from his core to his fingertips in one quick pulse. His limbs exploded into motion and his grip on the sword shifted as he charged the rhyx.

The creature screamed as he met it in mid-leap. The blade penetrated fur, skin, and muscle. There was a brief feeling of resistance before their combined momentum drove the blade deep into the animal’s chest. The rhyx dropped to the floor with a gurgling breath and Tor, unable to let go of the sword, crashed to the floor with it.

Whatever it was that had possessed him suddenly let go. Swearing and gasping for breath, Tor struggled to get away. The panic that burned through him was so thick it nearly choked him. Before he could scramble to his feet, the cold light of the leythe surrounded him and seared through him, an icy, burning shock. It felt exactly like what Lucano had done to him, and the screams that tore from his throat were as much terror as pain.

He tried to drop the sword, but his fingers tightened on the hilt instead. The cold burned into him. Every muscle in his body locked and Tor’s back arched as he screamed again. He couldn’t feel the bond, couldn’t feel the sword in his hands, couldn’t feel anything except that freezing pain that burned him in places no one should have been able to touch.

The cold was abruptly replaced by a flow of healing warmth. The nameless places inside him that hurt beyond all bearing drew in that warmth and slowly faded from his awareness.

I am Blackfang of the Azhani, and you are my bond-mate. There was a long pause followed by a strong sense of disbelief before the voice continued, sounding much less sure of itself: Oh… you’re not a princess…

“Princess…?” Tor echoed faintly, and then everything went fuzzy and darkness closed in over his head.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Human Frailties Available Now

I’m pleased (and excited) to say that Human Frailties, the story I wrote for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s 2013 Love Has No Boundaries event, is now available on Goodreads. You can read it on-line here if you are on Goodreads and are a member of the M/M Romance Group. The story is also available for download in PDF, epub, and mobi formats at the M/M Romance Group’s website. You can reach the downloadable version using the link posted at the beginning of the story thread.

Stories from this event will be posted in the group's Love Has No Boundaries Stories thread all through June and July, so be sure to check them out. I've been following a lot of the writers' threads since March, and it looks like there's going to be some great reading coming up!

Genre: fantasy, other world
Tags: sorcerer, angels/demons/gods, magic users, soulmates or bonded, slave, prisoner, psychic ability, snarky banter
Content warnings: dubious consent
Word count: 39,489

I will be getting the story up on Smashwords later this summer, assuming I can figure out all the tech stuff. (Formatting an ebook? Me? How scary is that? Apparently not scary enough, because I’m up to my eyebrows in learning how!) Once that's done, I'll post a link here in The Swamp.

A sequel, tentatively titled Human Strengths is in the works. The first draft has already been written, and I’m currently trying very hard to keep my grubby paws off of it. This is the hardest part of the process for me, because I desperately want to play with it right now, but I need another week or so for it to cool down so that I’m able to give it an objective look and figure out what more it needs from me.

Once it’s done, I’ll be publishing it on Smashwords.

Yeah. This is gonna be one of those Tech Stupid Nightmares.

I can tell.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

LHNB Story: Cover and Title

Over in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, those of us participating in the 2013 Don't Read in the Closet event, "Love Has No Boundaries", have been given permission to reveal our titles, so I thought I'd go ahead and post the whole cover for the story:

So there it is, and many thanks to the cover artist, Chinchbug. He's now hard at work on the cover for the sequel, which is sitting at about 37K and I'm pretty close to being done with the first draft (it will be longer than 37K... my stories tend to get bigger with each editing pass...).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


So. Mother-in-Law. She visited last weekend and there we were, chatting away. I might have had a beer. And I might have said something about the LHNB story that would be out this summer. Well, Mother-in-Law knows I write, but she doesn’t know what I write. So she asked if she would be able to read it.

I shuffled my feet and prevaricated a bit. And it went something like this:

MIL: What’s it about?
Jaye: (realizing she should have kept her mouth firmly shut) Er... well. It’s a sort of a fantasy romance sort of thing.
MIL: Oh. I’ve read some fantasy before. I’d really like to read it.
Jaye: Er... well... um... it’s... um...
MIL: (frowns)
[camera pans to Husband Beast, who is standing behind MIL and listening with a highly amused expression on his face. He quirks one eyebrow as if to say, opened mouth and inserted boot again, didn’t you, dear?]
Jaye: (shuffles feet and ignores Husband Beast) Uh, well, look, Ma, the guys in my stories? They sort of have a lot of sex.
MIL: Well, that’s all right, dear. I’ve read Nora Roberts, and I really like her stories.
Jaye: (almost under her breath) With. Each. Other.
MIL: (deer-in-the-headlights look) ...
Jaye: (totally oblivious to the idea of quitting while she’s as ahead as she’s likely to get) And it’s um... kind of... explicit.
MIL: Really?
Jaye: Heh. Yeah.
MIL: Oh... so... you’d be right up there with that gay marriage thing, then.
Jaye: (Blinks.) Er. Yeah. Definitely on board with that. (Note that at this point, had I been Cunning and Clever, I could have taken advantage of this topic change and Distracted her. Alas. I am not Cunning. Or Clever, apparently.)
MIL: I’d still like to read it.
[camera pans back to Husband Beast, whose shoulders are shaking with laughter. His hand is clapped over his mouth to hold it in and his face is turning red.]
Jaye: (turning pale at the idea of having to explain the dubcon warning on the story) Um... well, actually... it isn’t coming out until this summer. I’ll... I’ll let you know, okay?
MIL: Great! I’ll be looking forward to it.
[camera catches the back end of Husband Beast as he bolts for the bathroom and locks himself in.]
MIL: (turning to look at the dust cloud Husband Beast has left in the wake of his hasty departure) Is he not feeling well?

Summer is a long way off, right? And she’ll probably forget between now and then.

And if she doesn’t, maybe I’ll have to write a very sweet fantasy romance just for her... (Except? I really don’t do sweet very well. More on that another time.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

WIP Excerpt: The LHNB Story

Here's a small excerpt from my story that will be available as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's "Love Has No Boundaries" Event. Look for it this summer!

Tor leaned on the worn wooden railing of the bridge and stared down into the dark, swirling water below. The wind carried the scent of burning leaves in from the fields beyond town, and the silver light of the nearly full moon danced like glitter cast upon the surface of the river.

He walked this way almost every night. On those nights that he felt the most alone, he would stop on the bridge to look down at the water and then gaze up at the stars and wonder why he hurt so much.

Deep inside, where no one could see and no one could touch, there was an emptiness that gnawed at his soul. An emptiness that had been there ever since he could remember.

As a child, he’d tried to fill the void with books and television and make-believe. As a teenager, he’d tried drugs, alcohol, and sex. All those things had passed the time and helped him forget for just a little while, but nothing he’d tried had ever come close to being able to fill that empty, aching darkness.

Every day it seemed to grow a little bit bigger and gnaw its way a little bit deeper into him. And every night as he stared up at the stars, he wondered when the void would grow big enough to consume him entirely, and what would be left when it had.

He’d searched all his life for something he had no name for. He was about ready to give up looking, because how did you fill a space that you couldn’t even see the shape of?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And For My Next Trick...

It has come to my attention that I have a one-track mind. Or, as Husband-Beast would say, I have a multi-track mind, but all the tracks run in the same general direction.

Here’s the thing: up until recently, I’ve not had time to focus on more than one project at a time. Now that I have more time, and am attempting to get something out there for real, I’m putting a lot more time into revising and editing, but I find that The Swamprat is unhappy with that.

This means I’m going to have to learn how to work on more than one thing at a time. So we’re going to give that a try and see what happens. (I suspect it will be Pandemonium on a Stick, but I’m trying really hard to reserve judgment at this point.) I’ve finished drafting the sci fi series (five books), and I’m moving into the revision/editing stage on book one (working title is Touch of Darkness). But I’m gnashing my teeth in Creative Frustration because I’m not actually writing anything. So I’m going to try to start drafting some fantasy stuff at the same time.

If that works out, I’m going to have a go at balancing on one flipper whilst bouncing a little red rubber ball on my head and playing a cheerful tune on my nose flute. Stick around—it’ll be fun.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Love Has No Boundaries

As any of you who are members of Goodreads M/M Romance Group are probably aware, this year’s “Don’t Read in the Closet” event is called Love Has No Boundaries, and it’s going on right now. Story prompts were posted in mid-March, claiming of prompts by writers took a week or so, and now all the writers who have promised stories for the event have their heads down and are writing furiously.

I wasn’t planning to do this event this year... I was just going to sort of have a look at the prompts and see what sorts of stories would be coming out of this, and maybe watch the process and consider participating next year. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow, and all that. Except... there was a prompt that really grabbed me, and before I knew it, I had committed to writing it. (Yikes!)

Two weeks later, I had a 34,000 word novella drafted, and had a ton of fun doing it. And Husband Beast, who has no interest in reading M/M fiction, even pitched in and did a cover for me. This is kind of a big deal for me—it’s the first time in about ten years that I’ve sent anything out there into the world except for blog stuff, which, let’s face it, is really just me talking to myself and the people in my head.

Anyway, here's a sneak peek of the blurb and the cover art... and once the story is released (sometime this summer) I'll make it available here in The Swamp, either as a series of blog posts or (if I can figure out the Terrifying Tech Stuff) a download.

The Blurb:

Ashnavayarian is a god-like entity who lives in the leythe, the fluid confluence of space, time, and energy that permeates the universe and binds the worlds together. Ash has always considered the human worlds his playground, and has spent many human lifetimes manipulating the creatures for his own amusement. When his meddling leads to a terrible war, the echoes of which disturb the matrix of the leythe itself, Jhara, the Leythe-Mother, sentences him to live as a human in a war-torn world that Ash’s manipulations may yet destroy. There he will stay until he learns compassion for the human creatures he so casually toys with.

But cold, self-centered Ash is far more interested in escape than redemption. Furious at the way he has been trapped, he vows to break his exile by whatever means he can. The only problem is that Jhara has crippled his power over the leythe, leaving him only two choices: bow to her demands or find some other way to raise the power he needs to break his exile.

Tor MacAran has been alone all his life. He’s never belonged and he’s never been able to shake the feeling that something is missing. There’s a darkness in his soul, an emptiness that has haunted him as far back as he can remember. When an encounter with an old woman and an ancient book pulls him through the Void Between Worlds and dumps him at Ash’s feet, Tor thinks he’s found the answer to all his problems. Because not only is Ash the embodiment of every fantasy he’s ever had, but when the man touches him, the dark empty places inside him are filled with light, and for the first time in his life, Tor feels complete.

But all Ash sees in Tor is the answer to his own problem, for a hidden power slumbering deep within Tor may well be the catalyst Ash requires to effect his escape. But Ash risks far more than Jhara’s wrath in his bid for freedom—for both Tor’s life and the future of the world are endangered by his plans.

Acceptable losses, as far as Ash is concerned.

Or are they?

The Cover Art:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

When Characters Misbehave

I was all set to write this morning.

Except that there was snow to shovel so I could get the car out of the driveway in order to do the Mandatory Grocery Shopping. And there was the biweekly Scaling of Mt. Laundry, and the Cooking of Dinner. Oh, yeah, and the lifting of weights (boring), and the making of chai and baking of bread and untangling of the socks from the jeans (if they had any idea how much that pisses me off...)

And then, after chores and lunch and mandatory Morning Phone Call to Parents, then there was writing.

I figured I had a good four hours before I had the pick the kids up from anime club.

So I fired up Pyglet (the laptop. No, it isn't pink, but it's really cute, and constantly insists that it's a Very Small Animal), opened up Scrivener and grabbed my story, all ready to start.

Oh. Yeah. Sex scene today. That is where I left off yesterday, isn't it?

Okay, no problem—it's quiet, I got four hours, we'll just get this thing done.

So I yell at Nick and Vaya (main characters of book 5 of the series and the stars of said sex scene), "Okay, dudes, we got four hours, let's do this thing."

And they looked at me.

And I looked at them.

And they looked at each other.

And Nick shuffled his feet and batted those pretty green eyes at me and said, "Yeah, about that... we were thinking maybe we could just sit around and play cards instead?"

So, yeah. That’s about how that went.

And I didn’t even win at cards.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Not Quite What I Had in Mind...

I try not to make New Year's resolutions, because I always end up feeling like a total failure when I don't live up to them. I can still remember when I was a kid, every New Year's Eve, my dad would break all his cigarettes in half and announce that he was going to quit... and after two weeks of hell, he'd be back to smoking like a chimney.

I prefer to make goals for the year. So one of this year's goals was to whittle down my virtual pile of To-Be-Read books on my Kindle. I joined Goodreads last year, and noticed that the M/M Romance Group had a challenge/game posted called Whips and Kisses, which is sort of like Snakes and Ladders (or Chutes and Ladders for those of you who didn't grow up immersed in Brit culture). You roll a die, you move your marker, and whatever space you land on is the title of a list. You go to the list and pick out a book and read it. I thought this would be a great idea, because it's a lot easier to pick from, say ten or twelve books, than it is to pick from several hundred.

Well, being the organizational demon that I am, I had to go through and look at all the lists and decide if I even had enough books to attempt it.

This turned out to be a huge mistake. I kept clicking on intriguing covers and titles, reading reviews, and before I knew it, I'd added a couple of dozen books to my To-Be-Read pile.

Hmm. Not off to a great start, here...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Creative Procrastination

So it's been two weeks that I've had people in my office. Playing video games. Munching candy. Talking to (at) me while I'm trying to work. Arguing over whose turn it is to play Xbox... and whose turn it isn't to do dishes.

Okay, actually? It's more like three weeks, if you count the week before xmas, when Husband Beast decided to "work from home" (read: perch in my office) three out of the five work days I thought I would have to write.

So I'm sort of really needing some quiet time to get down to business.

Today I finally got them all out the door. And it was quiet. And there was no After-Vacation Cleanup like there was yesterday. And I could write. Except that when I sat down to write, I discovered that I had a pressing need to:

1. Change the beds.
2. Do the associated laundry.
3. Go to the grocery store to buy stuff that I don't need until Thursday.
4. Wind all the yarn for the Offensively Long Rainbow Stocking Cap I am planning to knit.
5. Go to the yarn shop and buy a set of knitting needles that I am realistically not going to need for three weeks.
6. Chat with the yarn shop owner about how I really should be writing.
7. Get a batch of bagels started even though I don't actually need them yet.
8. Dither over lunch (I hate lunch—can't I just drink chai lattes all day and have dinner?)
9. Consider cleaning and organizing every closet in the house.

If I can actually justify writing today, it's going to be a miracle.