Monday, February 17, 2014

Afternoon Tea with Arielle Pierce

Today, I'm welcoming author Arielle Pierce to the The Swamp to talk about her new release, The Faery Reel. Arielle has graciously agreed to make the dangerous astoundingly gorgeous trek through The Swamp to join me for Afternoon Tea...

Jaye: [rubbing hands together in gleeful anticipation] Ooh, look… another victim guest! Looks like that Heffalump Trap worked as advertised…

Arielle: [picking damp leaves and twigs out of her hair] Er… Jaye? I think I might be lost. And I just fell down a hole. There was chocolate and a bottle of wine at the bottom…

Jaye: [proudly] Yes, that’s my Author Trap. What did you think? Highly effective, eh?

Arielle: Hmm...that's not really the correct hole to put a wine bottle in... [rubbing backside and glaring at Jaye]

Jaye: [muttering] … rusty engineering skills… out of the work-force… unemployable…

Osian: [rolling eyes] Doesn’t surprise me one bit. I'm sure she plays the bodhran as well.

Arielle: Er…

Jaye: Come on then, sit down, look, there’s a tea pot and real tea, and biscuits… [shooing away small alligator which has curled up on the biscuit plate and is contentedly munching away] er… well, they’re a bit soggy, but they should still be good…

Arielle: [eyeing soggy biscuits distrustfully] Er… no, thanks, really, I’m not hungry. Just a cup of tea, perhaps…

Jaye: [pouring tea] And who is this sweet little morsel you’ve brought with you?

Osian: Oh please! I'm on to you, lady.

Arielle: This is Osian. He’s the main character in my new release, The Faery Reel.

Jaye: Ooh, a new release… do tell…

Arielle: Well, it takes place in Ireland, at the beginning, and is about a young violinist named Osian (pronounced 'OSH-yin) who has been conned over by his best friend, who is American (Osian is Welsh) for a fiddle workshop. He catches the eye of Conall, a faery, whilst they're playing in a pub, and Conall kidnaps him during the summer solstice, taking him to the Otherworld. Osian cares for him and is given the choice of escaping, via a faery deal, or staying with a man who loves him.

Jaye: Sounds intriguing… what about Osian? Is he as sweet and innocent as he looks?

Osian: I am not innocent!

Jaye: [growling] Watch it, mate, I’ve got a swamp full of hungry alligators here…

Arielle: Osian, really! [nudges Jaye's side] We already know you're not innocent.

Osian: [spluttering for a moment] Fuck off.

Jaye: [shooting Osian an evil look] Those alligators all play the bodhran, you know. Incessantly. [Turns to Arielle and rolls her eyes] And I suppose you’re going to tell me he’s your favorite character in the story.

Arielle: Oh, absolutely, hands down. He's such a snarky, bitchy but comical little git.

Jaye: [under her breath] I’ll say.

Osian: [looking smug] coc oen

Jaye: [whispering] Alligators…

Arielle: I couldn't help but fall in love with him.

Jaye: Can’t imagine why.

Arielle: I think I just love how unconscious he is about himself, how everything he thinks he isn't, well... actually, he is. He may think (or want to think) he's not short...but he is. He may want to think he's not a twink and he doesn't have pretty boy looks...but he both is and does. And he may want to think he's not submissive... but....

Osian: [going rather red and looking indignant] Hey, by Welshmen standards, I'm just the right size, thank you very much!

Jaye: [ignoring him] Did it take a lot of work to get just the right degree of bitchiness and submissiveness?

Osian: [glaring] I am not submissive! Whatever gave you that idea?

[patting Osian on the head] Actually, you are, dear, but that’s all right. Unlike some characters who slowly develop, he came into my mind's eye fully formed as he is in the story. Conall, his faery lover, changed a lot, but Osian didn't.

Jaye: Hmm, well, I’ve read the story. Definitely submissive. And certainly oblivious.

[grumbling] Don’t know why I put up with this abuse…

If Osian’s any example of the sorts of voices you have in your head, I find myself wondering what got you started writing in the first place?

I started writing seriously when I came back from staying in Spain over two years ago, with this idea of a horse shifter. I just loved him and couldn't stop thinking about him, and the two bull shifters he gets involved with, in Spain, within the world of rejoneo, the bullfight on horseback. As I was merrily writing (and knowing absolutely nothing about M/M romance) my mind began wandering back to what had happened to Rafael and how he came from living in Mexico to being rescued by these two bull shifters. It was around that time that my best friend informed me in her 'I know best' tone that I should write gay erotica. I took a peek in at other stories and thought 'yeah, I can do this' and began writing out the beginning of Rafael's coming of age in Mexico.

In Oct of 2012 I finished the first part of his story and published it as a gay erotica. What a steep learning curve that was! In the space of a few weeks I had to learn to format correctly, in doc, text and mobi and epub. I had to very quickly learn to make a cover and about stock sites, and fonts, etc.

I think I did every single thing wrong, in that first story. I felt this quite sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hit that 'publish' button on Amazon. And then about fainted when I returned the morning after and discovered that someone had actually bought that story!

Jaye: It is definitely a great feeling when you put your first offering out there and people actually buy it. So the story that got you started on this road was a gay romance/erotica sort of plot. What made you continue working in the M/M genre?

Arielle: My mum is a lesbian, and came out when I was 12. I spent my teen years living half the week with her, half with my dad, and she was a big fan of Naiad Press, which was the big press back then for lesbian romance. I just loved reading her books and I loved the fresh feeling those authors brought to their work, and said to myself, even back then, that I wanted to write a book that would be published by them, even though I wasn't a lesbian myself.

I mean, I really kind of wish I were lesbian. Life certainly would be simpler with a female lover! But no, I was into men.

Like really into men, and the more men, the better.

Luckily for me, so was my older brother! So in addition to hanging out with my mum's friends, I also tagged along when my brother went to gay clubs and hung out with all his friends as well. I was sort of like their teen punk bargain basement fruit fly fruit fly for six gay men! I just loved it and love that world. For a young girl there was no better, and safer place, to grow up in.

I've written my whole life and in almost all my stories, the main character is a gay man, so honestly, it was no hardship at all to open the door to their bedroom and see what they were getting up to.

I do have to pinch myself everyday. I just can't believe I'm writing in a field I love so much and surrounding myself in a world I grew up in and am so proud of. Every day I smile when I get to sit down to write. I just love it.

Jaye: Tell us a little bit about that sitting-down-to-write process. How does that work for you?

Arielle: I'm this annoying type of person who has to have some sort of narrative to go along with anything I'm really interested in, or that I watch a lot. So when I sit to watch the racing on TV, I have to have a story about a trainer and his stable of steeplechasers. When I watch Wimbledon I have to have a little plot going on about a Spanish guy coming back from injury and his admiration of another handsome player/competitor. When I watch anything on WWII I have to have a plot on about a group of spies...etc., etc., you get the idea. So that's sort of the first stage, what I call the daydreaming stage.

If an idea really gets stuck in there, or I think now's the time for it, I sit and begin the main plotting points. I tend to be hit sideways by the opening and write that down quickly, and then let the idea sit and/or begin the plotting for it. Once the main points are in place, then I go back and start off where that beginning ended.

So like with The Faery Reel I had been researching the plot for a Roman slave story (just how different could this story have turned out than The Faery Reel!) and I was reading The Faery Faiths of Celtic Countries and the opening of this story hit me right up against the side of the head. I quickly wrote it down and then just let it sit for a few months before coming back, once there was space to begin writing it and all the main points were worked out. A lot of things didn't stick with the script in this one, but Osian's voice is what held it together from the start.

His strong voice was both a blessing and a bit of curse, for me.

Osian: [shuddering delicately and tugging on Arielle’s sleeve] Can we go home now? [eyes baby alligator which has returned to biscuit plate] I’m tired of this creepy, horrible bog!

Jaye: [plucking baby alligator from biscuit plate and setting it on her shoulder] Hey! This is my home!

Osian: [muttering] And your point is?

Arielle: [taking Osian firmly by the hand] Yes, I think it’s time we took our leave. Thanks for the chat, Jaye. And the soggy biscuits.

Jaye: [waving dispiritedly while absently petting the baby alligator, which is curled around her neck and chewing on her hair] Bye! Thanks for coming… [mutters to self] How come nobody ever wants to stick around?

So yeah, folks, that was Arielle Pierce and her pretty boy, Osian. If you’d like to read about Osian’s adventures, check out Arielle’s new release, The Faery Reel. It’s available on Amazon and Smashwords, and will be coming soon to other retailers.

Arielle can be found at Goodreads and at her blog.

Check back for more Afternoon Tea fun and frolics! I am already in liability insurance discussions negotiations with a couple more potential alligator snacks guests!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Update, February 2014

Thing #1: Psi Hunter is on track for a March 3 release... manuscript is out for a final polish and then I get to do my Paranoid Final Proofread and my Frantic Search for Missing and Misplaced Words. And here, because I don't think I actually put it in a blog post yet, is the gorgeous cover art by Chinchbug. I think this one is my favorite, but then I think that about all of them...  We'll have to have a vote when all five (or more?) books are out.

Thing #2: The rewrite of Gremlin's Last Run is sitting at about 14,000 words right now, and is heading for 100K. (I hope. This one was actually written first and needs a lot of tweaking to bring all the world-building in line with the rest of the series.)

Thing #3: That New Year's Resolution? The one about not wasting so much time on the internet? The unplugging the cable thing is working out real well... except? Now there is knitting. Sitting on my desk. To pick up whenever I get stuck. I can't decide if the fact that I'm all of a sudden getting a lot of knitting done is a good sign or a bad one.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Afternoon Tea with Lia Black

Today, I have an exciting new Feature to unveil (no thanks to my Minions): (dramatic music) Afternoon Tea! During Afternoon Tea, I will interview any authors who I can capture lure can be coerced manage to find their way through the wild and untold dangers pristine beauty of The Swamp, and perhaps offer them a moldy crust of bread biscuit.

For the Inaugural Edition of Afternoon Tea, I’d like to welcome author Lia Black to The Swamp. Lia has graciously agreed to make the perilous journey deep into The Swamp in order to chat about her new release, A King's Ransom.

Lia: [shouting from somewhere off camera] Jaye? What the hell? I thought you said afternoon tea, not wilderness survival camp.

Jaye: [disappearing into a mass of hanging vines and returning dragging Lia behind her] Right here, Lia. It is afternoon tea, look I’ve got the tablecloth and crumpets and everything. There’s even a tea cozy.

Lia: [muttering] I thought The Swamp was just the name of your blog…

Jaye: That’s what everyone thinks. Have a seat. Have a crumpet, and let’s get down to brass tacks… Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself… How did you get into writing in the first place, and M/M in particular?

Lia: [sitting gingerly on the edge of a grubby and rather precarious-looking deck chair] Honestly, I ask myself that question on an almost daily basis (well that, and “Am I wearing pants?”). My first book that I ever sent out to the world… or ever finished for that matter, was a het romance called The Loss of Sunlight. Before that, I hadn’t written anything but angst-ridden journal entries since I was seventeen. Right after LoS, Spiretown happened. I was worried — because I had no idea that m/m existed at the time — that I would lose any fans I’d managed to get with my last story… or that maybe nobody would take me seriously because I didn’t have boy parts. I contemplated using a pen name, but in the end, I just put it out there and I ended up with a whole new set of readers!

Jaye: [nodding sagely] Yes, the pants are important, especially for public appearances.
Your new release, A King’s Ransom, is a fantasy story. What can you tell us about that?

Lia: Urgh, this is always the hard part for me. The story starts with Kaidos trying to NOT be a thief anymore, but he’s not having an easy time being anything else. So he takes a contract to kidnap a prostitute and bring her to some nobleman overseas; the money he is offered is more than he would make in a lifetime, and of course, he accepts. Everything seems to be going as planned until Kaidos finds out that “she” is a “he”. It’s a story told in two parts; the first part of the story is Kaidos and Veyl’s journey together, both literally and emotionally, and the second part is them trying to keep that bond despite them being separated. Of course, there is sex and magic sprinkled in there (sometimes at the same time), political intrigue, and a talking bear.

Jaye: I see you’ve brought a couple of your characters with you… not the talking bear this time? I’m disappointed.

Lia: You said afternoon tea… I was afraid he might get carried away when he saw the food. Wouldn’t want anyone to get mauled.

Jaye: Ah, well, no matter. Safety first, and all that. Perhaps you could introduce us to these two lovely young men and tell us a bit about them?

Lia: Sure, this is—

Veyl: [flipping his mile-long hair over his shoulder and poking it into Lia’s eyes — Jaye ducks out of the way] Veyl, charmed. I am, of course, the star of A King’s Ransom…

Kaidos: [rolling his eyes] Only because you happen to get kidnapped — you spend most of the second half asleep.

Lia: [stepping between the two] Er, next question please?

Jaye: [still staring in disbelief at the vision of twinky loveliness before her] Er… yeah… question… oh, yeah… what was the most challenging part of writing A King’s Ransom?

Veyl: Trying to make him likeable [jerks his head towards Kaidos].

Kaidos: [leering] You seemed to like me well enough last night.

Veyl: Next question, please.

Jaye: Who is your favorite character in A King’s Ransom, and why?

Kaidos and Veyl: Me.

Lia: I actually love all of them for different reasons. I think my favorite one to write was Aegeus, though…

Veyl: Aegeus??

Kaidos: That weird little wizard??

Lia: He was so wonderfully damaged, and sort of a tragic character. Imagine having so much magic, but every time you use it, it messes you up mentally and physically. The poor guy was a wreck.

Kaidos: I’ll say.

Veyl: [touching Lia’s shoulder in mock-sympathy] You know, you really aren’t normal…

Jaye: [under her breath] You’re telling me…

Lia: Hey—

Jaye: Right. Next question… Aside from Aegeus, there are several other supporting characters in A King’s Ransom who are intriguing enough that I’m wondering if we’re going to see more stories that take place in this world.

Lia: Yeah, I hope so. It just depends if and when they want to show up. All of them have their stories to tell.

Veyl: [pouting] But none of them are nearly as interesting as we are. Our sequel should surely be next.

Kaidos: Yeah, you know, I’m certainly always ready, willing, and able to contribute to the sex scenes.

Veyl: [raising a perfectly groomed eyebrow] Hm, I can think of some contributions… how about the sequel where I stay awake the entire time as a Personage of Great Importance and you’re my willing slave?

Kaidos: I can agree to half of that.

Veyl: [licking his lips and getting all slinky] Which half?

Kaidos: How about the bottom?

Jaye: All right boys, save it for the bedroom, eh?

Lia: Jaye, do you have a thermostat control on your swamp? Maybe a bucket of cold water to throw on these two? [fans self]

Jaye: Sure, just a sec… [produces bucket of water and advances threateningly toward Kaidos and Veyl]

Veyl: Not on my expensive silk shirt you don’t, evil minx—

Kaidos: [clapping hand over Veyl’s mouth] Quiet! You don’t want to piss her off… you should see what she does to her characters… [shudders]

Lia: Whew. Thank you, Jaye. Now, where were we?

Jaye: I was just about to ask if you would tell us a little bit about your writing process.

Lia: Well, I write with a laptop in my room—camped out on my bed. It’s kind of my cave. Sometimes I get ideas from snippets of conversations, maybe catching something for the half-second or so I have the TV on, dreams…they come at me from all sides. Usually I form the characters first, and then I build a plot around them. I like to think of it as building a body…I start with the skeleton, which is the roughest rough draft ever (I don’t outline—yes, that makes some of my fellow authors crazy), then I start filling in the organs, adding muscle and flesh, and finally the cosmetic additions.

Veyl: Gross.

Kaidos: You’re complaining about cosmetics? Who went trudging around the market for you yesterday morning because you ran out of kohl?

Jaye: [doing her best to ignore them] So what other projects do you have in the works?

Lia: Well, at any one time I have a ton of things all waiting to be worked on. At the moment I am working on Mercury’s Net, a science-fiction story about a sociopathic killer who loves children’s shows, but has a difficult time grasping some of the concepts they teach...

Veyl: [in a stage whisper] Really, really not normal, dear.

Lia: [glaring at Veyl] And I am trying to work on sequels for Worthy and Spiretown. I have had some people beg me for more het romance, but it’s just not my thing right now.

Kaidos: Lucky for us.

Veyl: [pouting] I’m stunningly beautiful… I wasn’t supposed to be a woman, was I?

Lia: No, Veyl, you were always going to be a boy… and before you ask, so was Kaidos.

Kaidos: [under his breath] Thank the gods for that! [grabs Veyl for a passionate kiss, which turns into a passionate grope…]

Jaye: [picking up the sock which has been flung over the tray of dainty pastries] Oh, dear… looks to me like you’d better get these two home before they disgrace themselves… ooh… er... too late…

Lia: Yeah, we should probably wrap this up... unless you want the Legion of Decency breathing down your neck...

Jaye: [looking about furtively for men in suits carrying large butterfly nets] Okay, well, thanks for being here today, Lia...

Lia: [hauling Kaidos and Veyl apart and dragging them off-camera by the scruffs of their necks] Yeah, thanks, Jaye! It's been fun... [under her breath] Honestly, this is why we can't have nice things!

So, yeah, that was Lia Black, and if you'd like to check out her new release, A King's Ransom, it's available on Smashwords, where you can get it for 40% off from now until February 16th using coupon code LV74S, and Amazon and will be coming soon to other retailers.

Lia can be found at her website and on Goodreads.

Check back for more Afternoon Tea shenanigans... I don't have an exact schedule yet, but I'll get one posted as soon as I finish finding some more victims baiting this trap sending out invitations...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Where Are My Minions?

Okay, so, I got a Domain, right? In case anybody wasn't watching... is now MINE, ALL MINE!!! (Much evil cackling and rubbing of hands ensues...) And through some amazing feat of technical wizardry, it actually leads to The Swamp. Which is sort of amazing, because The Swamp is normally really hard to find, and not many people stumble across it.

Eventually my tame IT dude is going to go all technical on it and it will be Visually Stunning and there will be confetti and trapezes and dancing penguins. And maybe a few sexy dudes in loincloths, if the entertainment budget stretches that far. (But don't hold your breath...)

But in the meantime, it's just me in this miserable charming, overgrown bug-infested pristine Swamp.

By myself.

Now, I might be pretty new to this whole Being on the Internet Thing, but Dudes, if this is my Domain, where the hell are my Minions? Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't there supposed to be Minions? Do they just show up? Is there a form? With a check-box thing for making sure I don't get stupid Minions? Because, you know, it's really embarrassing when they try to invade the blog next door, or set fire to wrong windmill...

Hmm. I'd better put in a call to Tech Support. And check the mailbox. I suppose they might have been shipped surface mail. I hope the Minion Warehouse remembered to punch a few air holes in the box...