Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! Look what's coming up....

It's been a nice break, here with the holidays, but I'm ready to get back to work.
In January, I'll have more stories from the erotic Meredith Medical Center serial, commentary on issues surrounding writing GBLTQ, guests galore with books coming out, give aways and contests.
If there are topics you'd like to see covered, let me know. Research is my forte (one of them, anyway).
Join me in making 2013 a great year!
All the best,

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Real Men Don’t Say These Things

Well, it happened again. I browsed Kindle M/M books, looking for an author I hadn’t discovered, hoping to find a cache of books to get through the holiday travels. Read a few blurbs, then found a seven book series that looked like a good bet. Downloaded the sample on Kindle.
The first couple of pages weren’t bad—I liked the characters. Then all hell broke loose in the form of head hopping. For the next few pages, I persevered—rereading every bit of dialogue to see whose head I was in. Then the onset of the kind of intimate scene I hate. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent):
“Oh, Johnny. Want you. Need you now.”
“Need you too, baby. Now. Right now.”
“Can’t wait, Johnny-cakes. Pleease.”
ME: Johnny-cakes? Seriously? And so forth. I admit. I caved—couldn’t take any more of the free sample. How anyone made it through seven books’ worth is beyond me.
Real men do NOT have these kinds of conversations at work, then seek out a closet.
Accurate male characters in fiction do not act like this. I’ve read enough to be pretty sure on this point. I’ve written enough to know I’d not submit these two characters to an editor.
Sooo…back to the browsing. Hope something appears.
What are your pet peeves in M/M?

Available from MLR Press: Going For Gold
Available from Redhot Publishing: Everything Erotic

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Santa Baby, Hurry..

Key Eartha Kitt--Santa Baby.*
For Christmas this year, I'd like a helping of inspiration wrapped up in XY chromosomes. That's medical-ese for "a guy."
Not a real live flesh-and-blood one--a hero.

This month I started a new MS. The last one is on the submission launching pad, and it's time to do something new. I didn't do NaNo as I was fine-tuning the last MS, so I suppose I'm having a private NaNo ala December. Just need a character to get started...

With my head full of the Christmas stories I've read the last couple of weeks (yeah, Christmas anthologies are my favorite) I seem to be at a loss for a hero or two of my own.As far as I'm concerned, he could fall out of the sky in a clump of snowflakes; whatever it takes.
Back to daydreaming. Otherwise, I may be asking for more under the tree than Chritmas cookies. So please, Santa Baby...

*To see Eartha sing Santa Baby, click here: Eartha!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing

So here we are, talking about the WIP, the work in progress. In this case, the work nearly ready for submission.
What is the working title of your book?

High Concept
Where did the idea come from for the book?

Not sure—just occurred to me.
What genre does your book fall under?

M/M contemporary romantic suspense
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

Mmm…Not sure about this.
What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

A detective and an FBI profiler must ignore their past and collaborate to solve a series of deadly home invasions before they become the next victims.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

--Likely a small publisher.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Four months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre.

Mmm…LA Witt, maybe. She's got a couple that are of a similar genre.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?

 A police shooting.
What else about your book might interest the reader?

Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and one man will sacrifice anything to have it, including human lives. Beck Stryker, homicide cop and shooting survivor, lives to solve the case that left him with chronic pain and killed his co-investigator four months previous; now his career hinges on his ability to work with the FBI profiler who shut down his advances two years ago. After parting ways with Beck, Zach never anticipated working with him again, let alone on a series of killings that continue after the only suspect died in a shootout. Businessman Isaac Olivetti has his sights set on winning the governor’s race, but he’s behind in the polls—until a series of home invasions leaves his wife and daughter dead. The killer will stop at nothing to protect his investment, and as they zero in on the plot behind the murders, the crosshairs zero in on Beck and Zach.

Link back:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kiss Me Straight

Michael Thomas joins me today to give us a taste of Todd Eisenbraun, the hero of Kiss Me Straight. Todd's an international kind of guy, a flight attendant with a wicked sense of humor, and he's agreed to answer a couple of questions.
What is your name and occupation?
My name is Todd Eisenbraun, and I’m a flight attendant for a big international airline, based in San Francisco. Actually my name is Walter Todd Eisenbraun, but only my dad calls me Walter. And I really wish he wouldn’t.

How old are you?
I’m starting to come to grips with the fact that I’m thirty. Which is probably a good thing, since I’ll be thirty-five on my next birthday.

How did you come by your current occupation?
I needed the hell out of Ogallala, Nebraska is how. I studied French and Spanish in college, and Globe Runner Airlines was hiring Spanish speakers for their flight attendant base in Buenos Aires.

Do you like your job? Why or why not?
It’s a living. I loved it when I started! We had a blast in Argentina, and the Hong Kong base was good fun for a couple years. I’m always down for a good time on my layovers—Sydney’s a blast!—but lately I’m starting to wonder if I really want to be so far away from my friends in San Francisco all the time, you know? But my rent won’t pay itself, and I love how much time off I get at Globe Runner. I can rock out the First Class galley like nobody’s business, and I’m still a great flight attendant. As long as you keep me away from the people.

Who is the person you dislike the most?
Bobby Dutta! Just kidding. He’s a great guy. Who needs to keep his hands to his damn self.

Who is the person you respect the most?
My little brother Bertie. I don’t always understand him, and our lives are very different, but he stands by his values, and he challenges me to stand by mine.

Is there anyone special in your life?
You know there’s a whole book about how nuts I am about this guy Josh, right?

What’s your favorite meal, and do you fix it yourself or have someone fix it for you?
Anything made by my friend Chris. He’s the chef at our friend’s café, and he’s a genius. And the boy can eat, too…

Favorite color?

Football or baseball?
Definitely baseball. Way better butts on baseball players.

Favorite exercise?
I ride my bike out to Ocean Beach every once in a while, just because I grew up in Nebraska and I think it’s pretty cool that I live close enough to the ocean to ride my bike to it. And hiking up to the Great Wall of China in the middle of the night on a Beijing layover turned out to be pretty rewarding.

Favorite holiday?
My family makes a pretty big deal out of Christmas. It’s a good excuse for me to home, and time with my brothers is cheaper and more fun than therapy.

Favorite song?
Chris has brought an awful lot of Judy Garland into my life. She sings, “The only bridge that’s a real gone bridge is the bridge across the Bay to San Francisco.” Pretty hard to argue with that.

“So,” I said, not beating around any bushes, “tell me about this new guy.”
“Oh, he’s wonderful!” she gushed. “He came into the café the other day, and we got to talking. He’s an incredible sweetheart, and I think he’s got some talent. So I offered him a job,” she told me, “I want for you to meet him. I think you and he just might hit it off, Todd.”
“Katie mentioned that you might have something like that up your sleeve,” I told her. She flashed the briefest cross expression at Katie for spoiling her big idea. “You’ve never had a man behind the counter that I wouldn’t willingly marry,” I went on, “and you know my taste, so I am sure I would be delighted to meet him.”
“Oh, Chris won’t be counter help,” she said. “He’s my new chef, and I have only the highest hopes.”
And he’s a chef. This keeps sounding better. “But whatever happened to your motto?”
Marzipan flashed another look at Katie, this one slightly guilty. “Which motto is that, darling?”
“‘Never trust a skinny chef,’” I reminded her.
“Todd, those are words to live by. Chris is no one’s vision of skinny. In fact, he’s rather … abundant.” It took her a second to land on the exactly right euphemism, I couldn’t help but notice.
“Abundant.” She sipped her tea, not meeting my eye.
“You mean he’s fat?”
“I mean he’s positively a treasure, and the more of him, the better,” she said, without contradicting me.
“But I’m into skinny guys,” I pointed out.
Groans from both Marzipan and Katie. “Todd,” Katie insisted on reminding me, “You’re into unattainable guys. You’re into torturing yourself over straight guys and men who live three continents away.”
It is a particularly prickly thorn in the side of many of my friends, including these two, that I spend much of my free time whining about being single, and yet I seem unable to break free of a counterproductive and irresistible attraction to straight men. I mean, I’ve been out of the closet for years, to all of my friends and my conservative small-town family, and I live in the city known throughout the world as the Center of the Gay Universe. I am more confident in my looks and comfortable in my skin than I was when I was a hunky twenty-two-year old new hire — in an industry, no less, where to even get close to a straight guy, I have to push three or four hot gay guys out of my way. And yet, surrounded by eligible gay men, I throw myself again and again at guys who invariably have to sit me down and explain how they’re flattered, but …
Ignoring Bobby Dutta’s taunts of internalized homophobia and Katie’s diagnosis of a Fear of Intimacy, I prefer to think I just like a challenge. After all, if a man’s worth loving, he must be worth some psychic torment, mustn’t he?
Marzipan arched an expertly-plucked eyebrow at me. “Do you suppose,” she asked, “you might be able to overlook something like your waist size preference if the otherwise-perfect man came along? I think you might really like this guy, Todd. He struck me. He’s handsome, sweet, funny, he’s an excellent cook.”
“And,” Katie chimed in, “unlike the last fifty guys you’ve chased around the world, he’s gay.”
Okay, she did have a point there. The idea of a lean, muscled straight guy renouncing women because he can no longer ignore his smoldering love for me has been my requisite for “Happily Ever After” since I set out after my first straight guy in high school. Traveling the world for a living, I have certainly had my share of one-night stands with straight (and “straight-acting”) guys, a couple of which were fantastically hot. And, at 34, I am decidedly still single. A guy could do a lot worse than the men who usually surround Marzipan.
“You don’t have to become life partners just because I want to introduce you,” Marzipan continued, after I had gone several beats without responding. “I just thought maybe you’d like to sample a new dish from the man buffet that is your life. You can always go back for something else if it doesn’t satisfy.”
A dyed-in-the-wool monogamist, Katie burst out laughing at this description of my dating style. “And it sounds like this Chris guy might be all you can eat!” she cracked, getting into the spirit.

Thanks, Todd.
**Michael has a couple of book signings in the Denver Metro area in November:
Michael will read from and sign copies of Kiss Me, Straight at Spark Theater, in the Santa Fe Art District at 985 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, on Saturday, November 24th, from noon to 3. There will be a drawing for prizes, including CDs, Pablo's coffee, and copies of the book!
BUY: JMS Books Amazon
Contact: Facebook Twitter: @MrStewardess Email

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What kind of Book Do You Get for a Buck?

99-cent books, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
A hundred books for a hundred bucks. What a bargain for the book hound.
Or is it?
These buck books are everywhere. Amazon sends a list of their newest ones, their top sellers, their "Books [I] Might Like" based on my buying history.
I’ve gotten a few excellent reads this way, discovered new authors whom I’ve followed on to their more expensive works. I’ve also purchased my share of not-so-good books for 99 cents.
Recently, I analyzed my eBook buying habits on Amazon over the last two years--not counting textbooks. :)
**I've learned to check how long the work is before I hit "Buy." Nothing worse than paying $5 for a twenty-page story that's so-so.
**The reviews actually can be helpful. Check them out.
**I don’t like to go over five bucks unless it’s an author I know and love. If I get a free sample of an unknown and love it, I buy it.
**Publishers sometimes have better deals--specials going on, volume discounts, etc. Most authors make more on buying direct, and the publisher certainly does.
**Seven dollars is my "ouch" point. Only for my tried and true authors, or for a sample book I love som much I know it'll be worth it.
**My average per book is $3.23.

With all the e-publishing going on and the many e-readers out there, what are you willing to pay? What do you average? Do you wait for a book to go on special, or try the publisher first for a better deal?
If you set the price of your book, where do you set it? Do you raise/lower the price depending on sales?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scrambling with Lex Valentine

Have you ever read a book and wanted to just hug the main characters? When I wrote Scrambling, that is how I felt about both my heroes.
Of course, I also wanted to crack their heads together. Holding onto their childish fears of losing their best friend caused them no end of trouble and kept them apart for years. Most people who read Scrambling want to knock some sense into these two guys, but I wonder if they also wanted to hug them like I did. It’s rough to be plagued with fears like theirs even if it was their own stubborn faults for feeling as they did.

So when you read, do you laugh and cry and get angry along with the characters? If you do, the author has truly done their job. The book that leaves you going “Meh” is a book I don’t want to write. I want to engage the reader even if it’s just to piss them off. Granted, there’s always a percentage of books you read that turn out not to be your cup of tea which is why you go “Meh.” But then there are others that definitely are a story you could love if only the author had gone the extra mile to imbue the story with enough emotion to capture your attention and your heart.

I love books that make cry when the main character achieve their HEA or when their heartbreak breaks my heart too. Those are the books I end up reading again and again. Those are the authors I tend to gravitate toward when it comes time to buy a new book.

As an author I sincerely strive to give my readers the sort of book they would want to read again and again and the characters that make them want more. When a reader emails me and asks for a sequel, I know I’ve done my job. When a reader emails me and says I made them laugh and cry and spit nails in anger, I know I’ve done my job. Oftentimes I want to write sequels because the characters call to my heart too. It’s hard to let them go…

I hope that if you read Scrambling or any of my books that you will love the characters and want more of them. I encourage my readers to email me or speak to me on Facebook because I love talking about my books and characters. I’ve just started a new thing on my Facebook author fan page where I post snippets of my characters, bits that weren’t in the book or bits of WIPs. Come on by and see what my people are up to! It’s meant to be a fun interactive thing and it’s a brand new thing for me to do.

Many thanks to Whitley for the chance to guest blog here today. Below is a bit of Scrambling and I hope you like Evan and Reed as much as I do!

Lex Valentine


Loose Id

Book Trailer

Evan McAdam has two constants in his life--football and his friendship with Reed Matthews. From the age of six, Evan's played football alongside Reed. In his teens, he realized he was gay and loved Reed, but fear kept him from confiding his deepest emotions to his best friend.

When he and Reed are drafted to the L.A. Stars, Evan decides to come out. His decision impacts Reed who's been in the closet too. The two men struggle with secrets of unrequited love while facing the world as the first two openly gay NFL players.

When injury forces Evan to retire, the love he bears Reed can no longer be hidden. But will Reed be able to reciprocate, or will Evan lose both football and the man he's always loved?


Reed held his breath and watched the play of emotion across Evan’s face. He probably shouldn’t have been so blatant about what he needed, but he couldn’t stop himself. All he could think about was that Len lay dying and it could so easily have been him had he ever given in to Len’s whining about his use of condoms. Right now, he needed Evan to make him feel alive, to chase away the specter of death and disease. He needed to feel whole, and only Evan could give that to him.
“You’re overwrought. You don’t know what you’re asking.”
Evan’s voice quivered a little, and Reed could feel the tension in his friend’s body. He could also sense an underlying current of fear in Evan’s voice although he had no idea what Evan could fear.
“Yes, I do. I want you to make love to me.”
There. He’d said it aloud. All his hopes and dreams since he was fifteen years old, laid out for Evan in words of one syllable. No mistaking them for anything except what they were, a blatant invitation for Evan to fuck him. He opened his mouth and made the invitation even more clear, the words driven by the emotion he’d held so long inside.
“I want you. I need to feel you touch me, taste me. I need to be with you. I want your arms around me, your cock inside me. I need to be with someone who cares about me. For sixteen years, it’s been you and me. Even Len and Bryce haven’t come between us. It’s always been you and me.”
Reed poked Evan’s chest with a finger when he said you and his own when he said me. Evan blinked and shook his head as if he were dazed. “I-I don’t understand. Where is this coming from?” he asked with a frown.
“It’s coming from deep inside me, Ev. Whenever something is wrong, you’re there for me and vice versa, although God knows it’s usually me with problems not you,” he said with a tinge of bitterness at the life destiny had given him. “This time, I need more than just hand-holding. Will you give it to me?”
He stared at the man he’d loved since they were kids. The man he’d shared everything with. The one he couldn’t imagine his life without. And he willed Evan to say yes.
A long, soft breath escaped Evan, tension leaving his big body. “Yes. You know I love you. I could never say no to anything you ever asked of me.”
Reed pushed himself against Evan’s chest, his hands coming up to frame the handsome, beloved face of his best friend. “Then just love me. Death is cold. I need to be warm.” He pressed his mouth to Evan’s, and a pleasure like none he’d ever experienced exploded inside him.
Evan’s lips were soft and warm, gentle in a way Reed hadn’t known men could be. He took control of the kiss, took control of Reed, his hands and his mouth leading Reed to ecstasy. Their tongues slid together, tentative in the way of new lovers but without urgency or fear, just a growing awareness and heat. Evan’s hands slipped over Reed’s shoulders and down his back, causing a slow burn in Reed’s veins.
The limo turned a corner, and they rocked, swaying with the movement of the car. Reed pulled his mouth from Evan’s, and they stared at each other, breathing hard.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to push you into something you don’t want,” he asked as pain threatened. He needed Evan, but he could walk away if Evan didn’t want him.
The big man pushed a trembling hand through his sandy hair. “I want it,” he replied, reaching for Reed’s hand. He pulled it toward him and pressed it into his lap.
Beneath his fingers, Reed could feel the hard ridge of Evan’s erection, and his heart sang in triumph. The evidence of Evan’s desire was enough for him tonight. He didn’t need to own Evan’s heart although he yearned to.

Friday, October 19, 2012

GRL: The Virtual Version

This week, a bunch of writers are gathered in Albuquerque, NM to celebrate GBLTQ literature.
And have fun with activities like scrapbooking, eating drinking, meeting and greeting and putting faces to names from online.

For those of us stuck at home with only our laptops for company, I thought it would be fun to look through some vintage GBLTQ literature. These books are hard to come by, and expensive investments unless you can run across them serendipitously--perhaps when the family cleans out bachelor Uncle Jackson's attic.

Gay pulps first became available after WWII, allowing the first wide dissemination of books portraying the gay lifestyle. For many young men, perusing the paperback rack at the local drug store or five and dime yielded up these incredible treasures, this printed proof that they weren’t alone in their preferences. These pocket-size books were easy to hide, easy to read, and easy to pass along.

For example, Lonnie Coleman in the novel Sam. This is one of the genre showing a gay man in a positive light, not illustrating a bleak existence but a chance at real happiness while being true to one’s self.

Ricardo Armory’s Fruit of the Loon, and Song of the Loon. A bit tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended), but still showing a positive take.

Going forward, the genre exploded. Not all publishers were willing to take a chance on these “risky” novels, but enough did to launch the books into the population at large.
As the sixties morphed into the seventies, the “lifestyle” became more public, if not more accepted. The hippies and their philosophy of free love actually advanced the cause.

More publishers sprang up, and books became available via mail—the “plain brown wrapper” variety. These authors opened the way for the rest of us, laying down a rainbow path for us to pursue.

As time has gone by, GBLTQ publishing has grown into its own, with some houses dedicated to the genre, and other mainstream publishers opting to jump on the bandwagon and offer an imprint. The number of writers has exploded, some hoping to capitalize on the wave of interested buyers. I like to think that most writers, however, are interested in the genre for itself, and enjoy writing these books because it’s their personal calling and not that of their bank account. Along with the steep increase in the number of offerings has come a wonderful advance in the quality of stories accepted for publication. It’s competitive, and not a foregone conclusion that a MS will be accepted simply because it’s M/M.

I picture the swag room at GRL, and know it’s laden with wonderful books, interesting authors, and all sorts of treasures to bring home as souvenirs. Some of my friends will be there, hobnobbing with impunity as they meet people they’ve only known virtually up until now.

It’s something to be experienced, I’m sure. Next year, GRL will be held in Atlanta. I’m hoping to attend. In the meantime, I’m enjoying living vicariously seeing the pictures, hearing the stories, and doing my little review of how we got here in the first place.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Every Horse Lover Needs Lightning in a Bottle

Sarah Madison has a horse tail--er, tale--you can't afford to miss. This is the poignant story of a man determined to get to the Olympics, and another whose dreamed was snatched away in the blink of an eye. Now Jake and Rich must work together to achieve a dream.
Going for Gold is the new M/M Olympic themed anthology from MLR Press, featuring eight novellas by your favorite authors!
It's not hard to see the outward appeal of the Olympic Games: watching the fittest and most-accomplished athletes in the world compete---generally with fairly skimpy uniforms. Voyeurism aside, there's nothing sexier than a beautiful body running, jumping, swimming, rowing, and a couple dozen other activities. Who wouldn't take the chance to enjoy the spectacle?
To spectators, they may perform superhuman feats, but each and every one is human in the same way we all are.
Sometimes it's only the love of the right man who can make the effort worth it. And sometimes, love is more important than going for gold. Stories include: Hot Shots by Michael P. Thomas, Into the Deep by Nico Jaye, The Quad by Kelly Rand, Lightning in a Bottle by Sarah Madison, Swimming the Distance by Annabeth Albert, Shooting for Gold by Whitley Gray, Olympic Goal by K-lee Klein, Tumbling Dreams by Kaje Harper.

Blurb for Lightning in a Bottle
Four years ago, an accident turned Jake Stanford’s life upside down. In one fatal moment he lost almost everything that had ever mattered to him: his horse, his lover, and his spot on the 2008 Olympic Eventing Team. Four long years later, and Jake is poised to take his hard-won place on the team—only once again, personal tragedy threatens to derail his dreams.
Enter Rich Evans, the man who’d ordered Jake out of his life on that fateful night. Somehow, the two of them must overcome their history and learn to trust each other again if Jake has any hope of making the team. But is trust alone good enough in this dangerous and compelling sport? Jake has never been one to settle for second best and this time, he’s going for gold all the way.

Today, we have Richard Evans, trainer pro temp for Jake Sanford, being interviewed by Eventing Today Online Magazine reporter, Nancy Weston.

Nancy Weston: Hello, I’m Nancy Weston, with Eventing Today Online Magazine, and here today with me outside the lovely and historic Greenwich Park, home to the equestrian events during the London Games, is Richard Evans, trainer and coach to Jake Stanford, an unexpected addition to the US Eventing Team. Thank you for joining us here today, Mr. Evans.
Richard Evans: Wow. Did you even take a breath?
Nancy Weston (pausing to blink and smile stiffly): Mr. Evans, I understand that you have only recently taken over as Jake Stanford’s coach, just shortly before the final qualifying trials. That must have been quite a challenge for you, stepping into the shoes of such a well-known and respected trainer as Jim Banks.
Richard Evans: He’s not dead.
Nancy Weston: Excuse me?
Richard Evans: He’s not dead. I’m temporarily filling in for Jim while he undergoes chemotherapy. He’ll continue to coach Sanford and train for Foxden Stables once he has recovered.
Nancy Weston: Thank you, I’m sure I can speak for the eventing community when I say we are all thinking of Mr. Banks and wishing him well. Still, you have to admit, Jake Stanford’s story is a bit like something out of the movies. Tragically prevented from competed in the Beijing Games by that terrible accident, and not even really in contention for the team for these Games until very recently. In fact, not until after you took over as his coach. And yet you haven’t coached anyone at this level before, have you?
Richard Evans: No.
Nancy Weston (after a noticeable pause): So how surprising is it to you that the two of you are here in London today?
Richard Evans (looking irritated): Not surprising at all. Jake has worked hard for this. He was ready four years ago. If things had been different then, he would have been at the Beijing Games.
Nancy Weston: Finding a replacement for his 2008 mount could not have been easy. In fact, until recently, he appeared to be prepping another horse for these Games.
Richard Evans (shrugging): You know how it goes with horses. Nothing is a sure thing until you come out of the start box.
Nancy Weston: What would you say to our viewers who may not be familiar with the sport of eventing? Do you consider eventing to be the equine equivalent of the triathlon?
Richard Evans: Certainly. If a triathlete trained every day with a partner that weighed in somewhere around 1700 pounds, didn’t speak his or her language, had a mind of its own, and was frequently looking for an excuse to be lame or colic. Oh, and if any other Olympic sport allowed both men and women to compete as equals.
Nancy Weston (with a weak smile): What would you say to those people who call eventing an elitist sport—something that only the very wealthy can afford?
Richard Evans (leaning in on his cane to speak with emphasis): I’d say those people know nothing of eventing. Elitist? Because it costs a lot of money to train an event horse? Those people don’t know what it is like to put in twelve to fourteen hour days, every day, for the sheer love of the sport. That’s it’s not just about the training, that you also have to take care of the horse, your partner in all this. The horse, the tack, your equipment. You can’t throw some gym shoes in a bag and go to the track. Eventers ride with broken bones. They train all year, in all kinds of weather. Your hopes and dreams can fail on a single misplaced hoof. Most of the people I know in the sport have put their time in sleeping in the horse van because they couldn’t afford a room, or mucking out stalls as part of the chance to ride. Galloping at twenty five miles an hour at some of the trickiest obstacles in the world is not for the faint of heart. Sure, the sport is losing venues because there isn’t enough land dedicated to equine activities anymore. But eventing evolved out of people looking for a use for off-the-track racehorses. I bought my first event horse for a mere two hundred and fifty dollars. And there are more people out there every weekend competing their backyard ponies than there are people competing at the top levels. It’s a sport for everyone who loves horses.
Nancy Weston: You’re telling me that someone of Jake Stanford’s background has spent time cleaning stalls?
Richard Evans (smiling): Yes. We all did. Jim Banks made sure we knew everything there was to know about taking care of our mounts from the ground up. That included mucking stalls and cleaning our own gear after every ride.
Nancy Weston: You used to be a competitor yourself. Before the accident in 2008 that claimed the lives of several horses in the Foxden Stables and put an end to your riding career. Do you miss it?
Richard Evans (laughing): Who me? No. I like sleeping until 7 a.m. these days.
Nancy Weston: What do you have to say about the rumors that Jake Stanford is gay?
Richard Evans (looking flustered): I’d say what does that have to do with anything? I mean seriously, how can someone’s sexual, um, preference, have any bearing on their performance as an athlete? That’s such a personal question, anyway. How could I possibly answer either way?
Nancy Weston: Well, if the rumors aren’t true, most people would deny them outright. By not saying, you are by default implying that he is gay.
Richard Evans: Your logic is impeccable; however it leaves out one little possibility. I don’t answer rude questions.
Nancy Weston: My apologies for being overly personal, it just seemed to me with Jake’s father, Patrick Stanford, declaring his intention to run for the Senate that this question was going to come up.
Richard Evans (mouth hanging open briefly, then snapping shut, eyes narrowing): Patrick Stanford has finally tossed his hat into the ring, eh? Well, I can’t say as I’m surprised. I will say this, however: no one’s personal life should be media fodder for ratings values. And I will advise Jake to categorically refuse to answer this question simply because it is no one’s business but his own.
Nancy Weston (looking uncomfortable): There are those who would look up to someone of Jake’s athletic prowess as a hero, should he come out as gay.
Richard Evans: Look me in the eye and tell me that’s why you asked this question—and not to grab some ratings here. You want someone to come out as gay on camera? You can have me. Yes, I’m gay. Does that affect my ability to coach and train? No. Do you have any real questions now?
Nancy Weston: I, um, yes. Well. How do you feel about Jake’s chances for a medal here at the Games?
Richard Evans (pinching bridge of nose briefly before speaking): Okay, I’m not just giving lip service here. Of course, Jake would like to medal. But he’s here with a young horse that has a promising future in front of her. It really is an honor just to be here, especially after dashed hopes in 2008. I’m sure if you asked him, Jake would say that the thrill of competition was good enough for him. I know it is for me.
Nancy Weston: Thank you for joining us here today, Mr. Evans, and good luck in tomorrow’s dressage test. (Turning to face camera) I’m Nancy Weston, here at Greenwich Park, for the 2012 London Games. Tune in tomorrow for the highlights of the Eventing Team competition in dressage.

BUY: MLR Press Amazon

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrating National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day.
I’m thinking about those brave people who will take the step today that will change their lives. For some, it will be the relief of acceptance. For others, the heartbreak of rejection. A few may hear “Oh, we figured that all along.”
But nothing will be the same.
Outnumbering all these individuals are those who decide they’re not ready to take this step—some may never be ready to take it. Kids all the way up to retirement age and beyond.
Things are better. More workplaces have GBLTQ organizations. More public personalities have come out and shared their lives. TV has picked up the baton and introduced programming featuring GBLTQ characters. Public schools are on board with organizations for GBLTQ kids, engendering more acceptance. Teens and young adults have the Matthew Shepard Scholarship, awarded to youth involved in the LGBT community. (For those of you who don’t know Matthew’s story, click HERE).
National Coming Out Day. So today—
Maybe that brave person is a coworker, or the kid next door, or the guy who delivers your pizza.
Maybe it’s you.
To those who emerge, congratulations. To those who stay hidden, maybe someday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Men and the Greek Alphabet

If you read much romance of any sort, you’re likely acquainted with heroes. If you read M/M romance, you get twice the fun—an excellent reason to check out the genre, and one of the things that attracts readers.
Among the heroes, we’ve got three basic types: alpha, beta, and omega. Let’s start at the beginning and work through.

“A” is for alpha.
Okay…so what is an alpha male? He’s the take-charge guy, doesn’t show weakness; he’s successful at what he does. He’s likely to choose a “manly” career, such as law enforcement, physician, or attorney. He’s tough, and like the Energizer Bunny, keeps going, and going, and going no matter how much adversity gets in his way.

These days, alphas may have a couple of flaws—makes them more likeable and relatable for the reader. Maybe he has a soft spot for animals; maybe he brings his significant other breakfast in bed.

Pairing two alphas tends to result in terrific opportunities for delicious conflict. They both want to take charge, they’re stoic to a fault, and driven to succeed. They may work in the same field: two cops, for example, or my personal favorite, a doctor and a cop.

“B” is for beta.
This guy is more laid-back, in touch with his feelings, doesn’t feel the overwhelming need to be “macho.” Women like them—they make great friends. The beta has flaws, and we love him more for them.

I haven’t seen a pairing of two betas—not that it can’t be done, or hasn’t been done. The two guys might be too nice to each other to get a lot of sparks flying.

“O” is for omega.
Think of the definition of an alpha, and turn it on its head. The omega doesn’t take charge—he’s a follower, not a leader. He shows obvious weakness—physical or emotional or both. He may be too weak to propel his own career, and been seen as not successful. The omega lets his partner make the decisions, does what that guy wants; he might cry easily. Some say this character is a woman written as a man, but I disagree. A lot of heroines have more gumption than an omega hero.

I can’t see squeezing a story of any sort out of two omegas.

Alphabet Soup

Okay, we’ve looked at the alpha-alpha, beta-beta, and omega-omega possibilities. Now stir the pot.

Alpha and Beta—probably the most common set-up in M/M romance. One guy is more aggressive or powerful—an alpha trait. He might shake off weakness or deny there’s a problem. He’s a driven-to-succeed-full-steam-ahead kind of guy. His beta partner can be the initiator and make suggestions, and may be more likely to own up to a problem, like an injury or illness past or present. Often the beta is successful in his career and personal life and meshes with the alpha. He may allow the alpha to express a flaw, such as fear of commitment or an old hurt.

Alpha and Omega—this is mixing nitro with water. Think of the bodice-rippers of old, before the advent of the spunky heroine. The aggressive male, the weak-willed female. In this setting, our alpha is the little woman. The alpha will be in charge, call all the shots, and generally overwhelm his omega partner; he’ll also be protective. These stories may not be as satisfying unless the omega has a hidden strength and the alpha has a meaningful flaw.

Beta and Omega—the relaxed, sensitive beta will encourage the omega, praise his efforts, and try to please him. The beta partner will be in charge, more likely to make decisions. The beta may be the sympathetic friend the omega turns to after breaking up with an alpha. This pairing can lack the sort of fireworks that a story thrives on, as the omega’s passive pattern leaves little room for conflict.

No matter what you choose, in the end you’re working with characters. Create the character, and then decide what sort of a guy he is—don’t take an alpha template and fill it out or you’ll get a cardboard character that is flat and just about as tasty. Populate your story with three-dimensional people that intrigue readers.

Who knows? You might come up with more heroes than alpha, beta, and omega.
Zeta, anyone?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writing Real Men

Want to know the inside scoop?
I'm at AKA Sarah Madison today, with an original article on how
to do just that.

I also have a contest going--one commenter on that post at AKA's will win an e-copy
of Going For Gold, the new Olympic anthology from MLR Press. Don't forget to leave a contact email for the contest.
Here's the link for your conveniece:
Writing Real Men


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Doctors as characters versus real people, or how to write a likeable doctor

Happy Sunday.

Here’s a snippet of a recent conversation with a friend:
“I’m writing a novel, and my hero is a doctor. I work in the accounting field, and know nothing about doctors or medicine. What’s the best way to find out what a doctor does?”
(upslanted eyebrows and pleading look at this point from friend).

Ever think about character careers? What's high powered? What's wimpy? What draws you to a book? Does the word “doctor” in the title get your engine revving?
Working in the medical field, I have to say medical personnel are sexy. What they do is sexy, and if they look good doing it, so much the better.
But what is it about doctors that we like? What’s true, and what’s not on the page?

“They have interesting jobs,” you say.

True, but not everything is glamour. A lot of it is drudgery, especially in the middle of the night. In a book, ever see a bleary-eyed doctor drag in at 2 a.m., cow lick sticking up and shirt buttoned crooked? Not likely. Our hero charges in gallantly in time to save the patient. He’s kind, witty, and doesn’t make snide comments to the staff. After all, we want the reader to like Dr. Tall dark and handsome, right?

“Okay,” you say, “but the doctor has that saving lives thing going on.”

True. But in between is a lot of day-to-day paperwork and rounds to see grumpy patients. Some doctors—like pathologists—don’t see live patients, but can make excellent characters. Even Emergency Department doctors don’t see a lot of life-saving action. Mostly it’s like a giant walk-in clinic interspersed with the occasional car accident, stabbing, or cardiac arrest.

What if you want to write a character and know nothing about his/her particular career?

If you can’t write what you know, one word: research.

Now I know some of you have broken out in a cold sweat, the likes of which are only exceeded by the word "synopsis." I’m not proposing you check out a hundred pounds of medical books from the public library. Most of your book will likely not require medical scenarios—doctors have personal lives too.

For the occasional vignette or life-saving scene, consult with a professional, someone who's had a front-row seat to see doctors in action. I can't emphasize this enough. There are sites available to do this, or maybe you know someone in the medical field who can answer your specific questions. It will save you time, give a more authentic flavor to your story, and have the reader turning the pages instead of saying “That could never happen!”

So to my friend with the pleading expression, I smiled and replied, “What would you like to know?”

Want to read about hot doctors in action? Check out the Meredith Medical Center serial in Everything Erotic.
LINK: Everything Erotic

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I'm reading a new book, out from an author who has a couple of dozen books out. It's M/M. It's a mystery/suspense. It's a romance. has sex. Of course, because sex sells, right? Mmm...maybe. This particular author has intimate scenes in these books. But the interesting thing is, this doesn't represent a huge part of the text. The majority of the words are dedicated to getting to know the main characters, the plot development (including the subplots), and conflict. There is sex. Just not all the time. A couple of times--that's it. It is written in an explicit format, but contains so much of what the characters are feeling (other than lust), how the character feels about what is happening, that the reader can't help but be drawn in. It's an extension of characterization, and quite masterful. I didn't miss having a large number of sex scenes--I was caught up in the characters, so much so that I didn't want the book to end. Masterful. I've read this author's early stuff, the most recent stuff, and everything in between. I have to say, each book is widely anticipated--but not because of the sex. The take-away here is keep in mind the characters and the plot. Make sex part of characterization, not just a sweaty explicit encounter. Your readers will love you for it, and anticipate your next release. Thoughts? Questions? Whitley Now out from MLR Press: GOING FOR GOLD

Thursday, August 30, 2012

GOING FOR GOLD dives into action

It's here, it's here! The London Olympics are over, but the fun lives on. The Paralympics started this week in London, featuring the world's best physically challenged athletes. There were some fabulous victories at the Olympics--no doubt. But watching these Paralympians raises goose bumps. Just to be brave enough to learn the sport is something else, and then to compete on a world stage... Goose bumps. In my little corner of the world, GOING FOR GOLD has been released at MLR Press. If you like hot men in an Olympic setting, be prepared to sweat. From my story Shoot for the Gold: Matt Justice has worked for years targeting an Olympic gold in shooting. Physician Levi Wolf has kept his heart under wraps since the death of his partner. Before the shooting finals, an accident threatens Matt’s ability to compete, and Levi discovers risking love can win the best prize of all. Check out these entertaining reads, and get your Olympic fix. Check out those paralympians too. Going for Gold is now available on MLR's website: GOING FOR GOLD

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Let the Games Begin! (Olympic Games, that is...)

COMING SOON FROM MLR PUBLISHING The game's afoot. A group of stories about athletes and those who love them, the struggle and sacrifice to succeed, and of course, adding the agony of romance into the mix results in pleasant reading. Also this weekend-- Hopping around the virtual world, talking about what writing GBLTQ fiction means, along with a bunch of other folks celebrating Rainbow Reviews and their new site. Great prizes for those who hop and comment on my blog, and other stops on the hop. Check out the new site: Rainbow Reviews

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me'

GBLT stories are important. Although there are ongoing struggles for acceptance, GBLT rights have made huge advances. I like to think books have helped that evolution of thought along. From the early paperbacks with veiled encounters all the way up to the explicit eBooks widely available today, these stories help educate and bring acceptance. A friend told me he’d treasured those early books growing up, had been so relieved to find out there were “others” like himself. Later he availed himself of the growing selection of books through small presses, and then finally the explosion of eBooks over the last decade. I started reading M/M after reading a blurb on a book site. The plot sounded good—wasn’t so sure how I felt about two heroes. Turned out I loved the book, LOVED two heroes—twice as nice, as it were. Read a lot more in the genre, and branched out into other GBLT titles. Eventually decided to try my hand at writing it, and have been fortunate enough to have feedback from a couple of great guys. Many readers have never picked up a romance involving anything but one man and one woman. There’s a whole ‘nother world out there. If I’d never purchased that first book with the interesting plot, I would’ve missed out on so much. I’d say keep an open mind, and try it. Just try it. One poster chosen at random will receive an Amazon gift card. Rainbow Book Reviews