NaNo and the next big thing

nanowrimo Winner-180x180

I got tagged by Christopher Koehler in that “Next Big Thing” blog hop, but I’ve had a million crazy things including a sick child, a completely sleepless night, and some other things I won’t go into or else the rest of this blog post will be nothing but four letter words plus a few I just now made up. So this post isn’t gonna be mega-organized, and I apologize, but do go check out Chris’s latest big thing, because his rowing series is fun reading, and Burning It Down promises to be the best one yet. Be sure to hum that Linkin Park song while you download. I know I did.

Technically speaking, I won NaNo. The book is not quite done yet. 50k is a novel by the standards of the RWA, but it’s not a very meaty one. So we’re almost there because I have a few thousand more words to go (and a whole lot of editing) before I’ll feel like my guys are ready to go out into the world. It’s a small town contemporary novel about two guys who work in a strip club and I hope to have it done very soon. My heroes are Greg and Carlos, and this is a prequel to a contemporary novel I wrote earlier in the year that wasn’t ready yet to be finished. I finally decided what I needed was to know the world and the characters better. So I handled that that in the form of writing a prequel instead of a sequel for the supporting cast. I feel like it went rather well, but until I’ve finished it, polished it, given it to my beta readers, polished it some more, and handed it over to my agent (Eric Ruben) for perusal, I don’t really want to say more. Not counting unhatched eggs, and all that jazz. This is darker and angstier than anything I’ve written before, so it’s new territory, and I’ve gone from proceeding with optimistic caution to throwing myself into the void. But fingers crossed, hopefully you get to meet my new guys soon, and in the meantime check out some other great authors and their next big things (snerk). Like Sloan ParkerAmy Lane, Belinda McBride, and Lee Brazil.

Hot Angels and Cool Demons Blog Tour, Day 2 (Win Free Books!)

Just a quick note, Amor Prohibido is being read as the book of the month in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group! After you’ve read the book, come join the discussion, here!

What do you think of, when you think of an Angel?

In Amor Prohibido, Pakal is an immortal spirit guide. .. An angel, of sorts.

Once mortal, he was bound and ritualistically drowned a thousand years ago to honor the Mayan rain god. Unlike the angels that we think of in Biblical terms, Amor Prohibido deals with Mesoamerican mythology, and Pakal now walks the earth as a man of flesh and bone. He is able to interact with others. He’s able to help mortals with their problems, he’s able to have sex, and he’s got some very major flaws. As angels sometimes do, he falls…in love with the mortal Jacob, for which he risks banishment to the Mayan Underworld, where he would confront…

The demon gods.

Best I was able to find out the Mayan Underworld is seen as a large city beneath the earth. And it is overseen by twelve powerful demon gods called the Lords of Xibalba. Hell itself has nine levels, the worst of which is Mental. Word is, when healers would pray to banish diseases, they sent those bad boys to Mental. And that level of the underworld was overseen by Ah Puch, a demon god with the head of an owl and a decaying corpse for a body (hot, huh?).  In Amor, Ah Puch has a teensy bit of a crush on Pakal.  *shiver*

And these demon gods, they like to play with mortals the way a cat likes to play with a mouse before devouring it. When a mortal gets banished to the Underworld, the demon gods make them fight through six deadly houses of fear: the Dark House which was pitch black inside, the Cold House which was full of bone-chilling cold and rattling hail, the Jaguar House full of hungry jaguars, the Bat House full of shrieking bats, the Hot House full of fires, and the Razor House full of knives that moved about on their own.

Sounds impossible, right? But hey! If they make it through, there’s a chance these folks will be allowed to be free of the underworld. If not? Well, cue the sad trombone music. They may experience the kind of permanent death that banishes them to one of the nine levels of the Mayan Hell for an eternity of demon torture.

So, what about the immortal Pakal and the mortal Jacob? Do they fall in love? Of course they do, it’s a romance. So do they confront the Lords of Xibalba and fight through the houses of fear? And how?

Here’s an excerpt:

Their interactions were so comfortable and easy that Pakal had to remind himself repeatedly that Jacob was his spirit charge, not a friend. Not a lover. Every now and then Jacob’s warm, chocolatey gaze found Pakal’s, and it was as if he were a better man just for having borne witness to that soulful stare. Gods, what he wouldn’t give for them to be just two ordinary mortals. Pakal shoved the foolish longing aside, but it was insistent, like a hungry stray dog.

Eleven hundred years was a long time to be alone.

The gentle breeze playfully ruffled Jacob’s hair while he chatted about his favorite music (techno), his feelings about animal cruelty (con), his feelings about American football (pro), and his favorite foods (Chinese pork buns, and Swiss cheese fondue). Pakal, in turn, discussed the local culture, the history, and the cave formations. Many times he caught himself assisting Jacob in a far too friendly manner, and each time their bodies touched Pakal was overcome by the sensation of their being so…in tune, with each other. He would almost swear their pulses beat in the same rhythm. Yet through it all, Jacob’s posture was still overly controlled. Tight.

They were plodding carefully through a large corridor of stalactites and stalagmites that gave the appearance of a giant shark’s mouth, when Jacob stepped absently and slipped. Pakal grabbed Jacob from behind, just narrowly preventing him from being impaled on the business end of a sharp, vertically jutting piece of rock. Many a tourist had landed at the nearby clinic for such accidents.


“I warned you to be careful of where you stepped. It’s slippery in here.” Pakal’s breath was heavy, and he was panting right in Jacob’s ear. His heart thudded against the thinner man’s back. Their bodies vibrated together as if they shared the same skin. They were dangling over a great precipice just then, and for the life of him Pakal was too caught up in the thrill to truly care about the consequences. He tightened his grip around Jacob’s naked waist and his light slipped from his fingers into the water. It was stupid. It was dangerous.

It was too late.

The thought was interesting, but fleeting, as Pakal’s hand dipped inside of Jacob’s loose, surfer-style swim shorts.

“Holy, Jesus. What are you doing?” The words held a note of obligatory protest, but even as he said them Jacob’s ass pushed into Pakal’s crotch, and his forearm and head came to rest against the curve of the cave wall. Both men breathed heavily, totally in sync.

“Keep it down,” Pakal whispered. Gods, Jacob’s cock was smooth. Deliciously soft and hard at the same time. “You’re so tense. I’m helping you to loosen up.”

Jacob’s breath hitched. “Someone could come by here any minute.” Yet even as he said it, Jacob’s hard length fucked faster into Pakal’s wet fist. His dick was perfect against Pakal’s skin; it was long and thin, with only a small amount of soft hair at the base. Pakal’s fingers strayed for a moment to roll Jacob’s weighty sac in his hand, and he longed to feel it inside of his mouth.

“Better be fast, then,” Pakal breathed.

For a chance to win a FREE copy of Amor Prohibido as well as books from each of the other fifteen authors in the Angels and Demons blog tour, leave a comment below! And be sure to stop by all of the other authors on the tour for more chances to win! Jay Di Meo has the schedule, here.

Can’t wait to see if you’ve won? Amor Prohibido is available for purchase at Amazon.

Where’s My Happy Ever After, Beeyotch?

Recently a Twitter buddy wrote an amusing and insightful blog post entitled “Screw Your Ever After.” This is a sort of rebuttal to that post.

In recent memory, a stone’s throw from where I live, a woman threw her young granddaughter off of a bridge. No one knows why. The girl, 2 years old, died. Another woman accidentally ran over her two children with her own car. The youngest was killed. A man forgot his sleeping infant son in their vehicle carseat, and that child died from hyperthermia. Because the boy was adopted and because of the nature of the child’s death, this couple may never get to have another child. We just passed the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and I was not far from where the plane struck the Pentagon on the tenth anniversary of that ugly day, which was quite a stunning reminder of the hateful attacks that occurred. And as I write this, we are a day away from the anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a beautiful young man whose murder was so horrific and heartbreaking I can hardly stand to think about it.

What’s my point here? Life can be beautiful, but it can be terrible and ugly and tragic, and unpredictable. It can be depressing as hell. If I allow them to, things around me can begin to look very bleak–something I can’t afford, as my day job is raising two children who haven’t yet been touched by all that ugliness to go out into the world and be good citizens.

The thing is, when I read, I read to escape. To find that proverbial happy place. I read to be taken on a journey, to feel that “good ache,” and to experience the highs and lows along with my protagonists–I don’t want to read a story that’s nothing but 300 pages of my characters skipping through daisies. I do want that happy ending to be earned. I want them to have to battle bad guys or demons or maybe even each other. But at the end of the day I want them to kiss and make or up make love and I want to close the book (or turn off my Kindle, more likely) and know that things are probably going to work out okay. Is it realistic? Maybe not, but hell, that’s why we call it fiction.

In a couple of days I’ll be leaving for the GayRomLit retreat. Could. Not. Be. More. Psyched. And I owe a huge thank you to the M/M Romance group on Goodreads for holding a contest to give away the plane ticket that’s allowing me to attend this shindig. I’m a survivor of abuse and assault, and M/M romance is my escape from all the ugliness that I mentioned, not to mention the stuff that’s in my own head. The opportunity to meet with the writers who have created those stories and other readers who love M/M as much as I do, is such a thrill. THAT is how much the Happy Ever After means to me. I once wrote a 1300 word flash fiction story, and still made sure it ended happily. THAT is how much the ever after means to me.

I grok that not every writer wants to write romance or happy endings and not every reader wants to read it, and that’s totally fine. Diversity, it’s what makes the world go ’round. But in an uncertain world, some of us need to know once in awhile that things turn out okay. We need the romance.

So…where’s my ever after, bitch? 😉

Today’s Quickie: The “Pre-Plow Blow Job”

As a woman who writes m/m, I have found that while yes I can write an erotic love scene between two (or more) men, there are certain things that I just don’t have practical experience with in the male sex department. I do not, for example, possess a prostate or a penis and so there are a lot of experiences that I understand only in theory – sexy theory though it may be.

Something I’ve seen more times than I can shake my proverbial stick at, are sex scenes where the bottom gets a blow job or hand job immediately prior to getting his ass pounded like there’s no tomorrow. And this is NOT exclusive to women who write m/m, though it does seem to be more common. Yet I’ve had male friends insist to me that the last thing a guy wants after getting off is to have something shoved up his ass. So I started to wonder – what gives??

One of my favorite buddies, Damon Suede, was recently patient enough to lay it all out for me. Not just an honest answer (which apparently is no, except for certain rare exceptions, guys really don’t like to get fucked right after they’ve gotten off) but I also got an in-depth explanation of the physiology behind the WHY part of it unlike I’ve seen in any gay sex instruction manual. This in turn prompted his guest blog today over at Reviews by Jessewave entitled “Numb Shots.” It’s a fascinating read, and I encourage you to check it out, here.

Guest Blog – We’re not in Oz anymore Toto by D.J. Manly

I am pleased to present the following by D.J. Manly. His commentary about writer responsibility is spot-on regardless of what genre you read or write, and if you’ve read his work then you know he follows his own advice.

D.J. is an accomplished writer of m/m romance, whom I respect and admire a great deal and I am thrilled to no end that he has given me permission to post this.

I have hired myself out for the day as a blog s**t…thanks to all of you who decided to take me on!

I’ve been sick with a bad cold for the last few days, something rare for me. I haven’t contracted any virus of any kind for the past two or three years. This one more than made up for it. I lost my voice…scary…for someone who teaches…my poor employee has been running the office…in between receiving instructions from me via telephone in my barely audible voice. She’s wonderful.
Somewhere in my haze of cough syrup and Tylenol, emerged clarity. I’ve had nothing to do except be sick which means I’m restless as hell, given my usual 70 hour work week, including writing. And although I did manage to do some writing, I mainly goofed off. 

I discovered that sometimes goofing off produces….clarity? I said that already, didn’t I? And D.J…will you please get to the point some poor reader sighs! Well…given my busy life, I rarely have time to just leisurely browse the internet, and as I did, I began to ponder (dangerous when I ponder)…the questions of ethics, and social responsibility. As an educator, I’ve always been conscious of the power I have to (and I have to be careful with which verb I choose here or I’ll get strung up)…sway, enlighten, manipulate, educate….it all depends on who is doing the talking and your take on what they’re saying I suppose…but I don’t think anyone would disagree that a teacher has the power to influence the thinking of their students for the good or the bad. 

Well, as writers, we have that power too, and not just those kinds of writers who wrote our high school history books…but also those of us who write fiction. With power, comes responsibility, something often forgotten by those in higher places but that’s for another time when I catch something. Remember that list of guidelines publishers have when you sign up? We all know what they are so I won’t bore you with the details…some of legal like…others just good taste.

I don’t take the fact lightly that many, many people read what I write all over the world, and that some people don’t analyze every detail in a book like I do. University trained my brain to think that way but most people read my books for leisure, to be entertained.  Some of my readers write me and tell me they learn things also.

They may learn about social practices or customs in places they know little about, or new laws pertaining to this group or that. Sometimes they come to see love between people of the same sex from a new perspective if they’re reading this genre for the first time, or they become more conscious of discrimination in their own environment. For me, it’s a fringe benefit.  Although I write primarily to entertain, all books have a setting, a time period, variables which interact with the characters. It is what helps to drive the plot forward. Characters have social class, race, nationality, history, issues, and so forth. Any self respecting author who takes their craft seriously must commit to doing their homework before they write a book. You don’t write a book set in Montreal, Canada and say that “John is staring dreamingly at the C.N. Tower.” Ah…the C.N. Tower is in Toronto. That said…let me ask you, would you describe the beautiful wedding which took place in the deep south in the 1940s between a man of color and  white woman? No, because someone would tell you that what you are describing would have been impossible in that time. You may write about the love between this man and woman and make the story about how they long to be together but can’t due to racism but can you really negate the history that some people had to endure by pretending in your book it never existed? No, you can’t because it shows a blatant disrespect for the culture or history you are borrowing from. And that’s what bothers me the most. We can’t pretend that it’s fine for two men to walk down the street kissing in Saudi Arabia where that would bring a death sentence? Why? Because people actually die there. It’s not fiction. It’s not a fun story. Make your story ring true or create your own perfect universe. Call it Zanazel, for all I care, and make it homophobia free!

Some people reading this right now are asking themselves what in the world is that guy getting all worked up for? Why can’t I tell my story anyway I want? It’s just a story, not real. As a writer I can make anything true. But to me, it really cheapens the craft of writing to tell a story within a backdrop that rings false. At one time, electronic books had little respect and in all fairness, I’ve seen some books out there that I have to shake my head at. I have no idea why these books were published in the first place. But I also see some phenomenal writers in this industry, and you know who you are… :)….and these writers do have social responsibility, they are conscious of what they write and the power they have. These writers make me proud of my craft. They enrich it and they elevate writing to more than just another story. Those of you beginning, please, do justice to the culture or the situation you set your story in. You don’t have to be one hundred percent accurate but either know your backdrop or change it. It’s just an element of good writing and shows that you respect the power you hold.

If you want to be a serious writer then be conscious of the messages you send in your stories. And we all send messages whether we know what they are, or not. Unfortunately you can’t just write a story without including some reality, and if you’re going to put it forth as reality, make sure you’ve done your research, or…make up your universe and create your own reality, that’s a good way around it. Because telling me that the C.N. Tower is in Montreal…no matter how riveting your story is, makes me start to disbelieve all of it. And when I read, I want to believe. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

D.J. Manly
On meds