On Gratitude, and Why I Am Not Writing

Mar 11, 2014 by

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. This year, however, is different.

On New Year’s Day, I was sitting with my mother watching the morning talk shows on TV. Now, anyone who knows me knows I not only don’t watch TV, but I abhor talk shows, especially the artificially cheerful ones they have on in the morning. But I was sitting with my mom, which was the important thing.

Anyway, they had a pop psychologist on there who talked about not making resolutions for the year, but finding one word that would be the word you lived by for the next twelve months. He mentioned things like courage, and self-esteem (which is really two words, but we’ll give him that since it’s hyphenated), and so on. The idea was that you thought about these words and what they meant to you when you were faced with difficulties, or a hard decision, or whatever you needed a little back-up on. I thought “huh,” and then went on knitting while my mom sat quietly in her recliner.

Not quietly. Silently. My mother was in the last stages of ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She had no voice. Hadn’t been able to speak clearly for a year, relying instead on notes she wrote, first with a pen on paper, then electronic slate, first with a stylus, then, when she could no longer hold a pen, with her finger. Towards the end, her communication was to raise one finger for “yes,” two for “no.” But she always communicated.

She was in the recliner because the only way she could swallow was to let gravity help. She could use the controls of the chair to tilt herself back far enough to drink the thickened puree that was the only thing she could swallow. And when she needed for us to lift her to the commode, she could tilt the chair forward. But she couldn’t stand on her own. Her body had twisted into a horrible, painful knot, the strength was gone from her limbs, and she had almost no control over her muscles. Her right hand could hold a baby’s sippy-cup, or point, or raise one or two fingers, but her left hand and arm were dead. She could raise her legs a few inches, and did so, calling it her “exercise.” To the end, she still could laugh, though soundlessly, and even if her facial muscles didn’t work, you could tell she was still smiling at my baby nieces when they came over. She knew everything that was going on.

Because that is the evil of ALS. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, but it’s terrible mostly for the people around the victim. Most of the time the patient doesn’t know what’s happening to them. But with ALS, the body decays while the mind stays sharp. My mother knew exactly what was going on, even when she could no longer stand, no longer move her head, no longer write. The last day I saw her—the day before she died—she was only able to communicate by squeezing my hand. But she answered every question I asked.

For ourselves, we were lucky. Damned lucky. I have five brothers, all of whom were involved in Mom’s care. My oldest brother lived with her. Her sister lived with her. Everyone did what they could to make sure she was comfortable, if not happy. We didn’t have to abandon her in a nursing home. She had hospice who came in when she needed them, and the ALS Association made sure she had whatever machines or equipment or medicines she needed. A nurse was on twenty-four-hour call, a social worker came by every few days, and an old friend of the family, an LPN, came every morning to help Mom get up and bathed and dressed. We had help. We had backup. And we had each other.

And that brings me to my New Year’s word. Because only an hour after watching that TV show, I thought of my word. Gratitude.

So every day since New Year’s, I’ve tried to think of the things I’m grateful for. It’s so easy to slip into the poor pitiful me state when things are going wrong. I’m horrible about that—I tend to feel way too sorry for myself, and envious of other people who have more or better or different. Conveniently forgetting that everyone has troubles, that everyone thinks other people have more or better or different.

I’m grateful for so many things, but most of all I’m grateful for my mother. For raising me to be strong enough to live alone, and for teaching me how to be a good friend, so that I will have good friends when I’m not so strong. For giving me five wonderful, exasperating brothers, whom I adore even when they make me crazy. For loving my dad, so that when I write about love in my books I know whereof I speak. For her endless support, even when sometimes I think she thought I was a cuckoo in her nest. For teaching me to love art, and beauty, and learning. For teaching me how to appreciate things, and more importantly, how to appreciate people. For the marvelous long trips we’d take to places neither of us had ever been, and for the spontaneous side trips to places that weren’t on the itinerary. For taking us out of school to go to the zoo, or the museum, or on picnics, or camping trips. For raising six only children on a three-child income, in such a way that we never knew it.

Mom died on Monday, January 27th. Two nights before, I had a dream about her. She was at my house, helping me clean (a family joke, because she was always helping me clean, and my house is always a disaster) and we were having a conversation.  I don’t remember the subject. I just remember thinking that it was a good conversation, like we often had, about life, and books, and family, and so many other things. We didn’t always have these kinds of conversations—sometimes we argued, but this time, in this dream, there was none of that. And the thing I remember most about that dream was me thinking “God, it’s so good to hear her voice again.”

I want to hear her voice again. I miss it so fucking much.

When I saw her the next day, I told her about the dream. She squeezed my hand really tightly.

Mom had gotten sick the Thursday before—just a slight fever, and by the time the nurse got there a few hours later, she was already better, but it sapped her strength and she went downhill after that. We knew it would only be a matter of time then, because even though ALS is an idiosyncratic disease, it’s terminal. The lifespan after diagnosis runs two to five years, with nine years being the upper limit, in general. People like Stephen Hawking who live with it for years are very much the exception to the rule. And victims of that god-damned fucking disease are so vulnerable to just about everything that even the slightest infection can kill them. And does.

I wasn’t there when she died, but my oldest brother and my two youngest brothers, and my aunt were there. She wasn’t alone, and she was in the house she’d lived in and loved in for fifty-six years. The curtains were open and she could see out into her beloved garden, even though it was covered with a thick blanket of snow. She knew her plants were there, sleeping and waiting for spring.

My brother Mark said it all and said it simply, when they knew she was going. He just said “Thank you, Mom.”

I’m grateful he was able to say what we all feel. Thank you, Mom.

 

In the Absence of Monsters by JP Barnaby: Win a Kindle Fire!

Jan 25, 2014 by

It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I adore JP Barnaby. She is one of the most fearless writers I know, and obstacles to her are just something that make her stronger. And of all her wonderful characters, I have to say that I love Master Ethan most of all. Fierce and flawed and brilliant and troubled, Master Ethan is the heart and soul of In the Absence of Monsters, now available from Wilde City.

Here’s more about In the Absence of Monsters, and at the bottom of this post is a chance to win a Kindle Fire and $100 Wilde City download code to fill it!animated-ad

Here’s what this awesome story is about…

Jayden Carter knew the path he wanted his life to take. He wanted to get his Master’s Degree in History and teach. But, when he answered an ad for a roommate and met mysterious doctor, Ethan Bryant, he’s brought into a world he never knew existed and his path changes.

 It changes again for Jayden and he leaves Ethan with their friend, Lexi, in tow. Ethan loses himself in a haze of self-destruction and pain. With the help of a childhood friend, Gabriel, Ethan battles the demons of his childhood and finds a way to survive. Gabriel and Jayden wage an epic war for Ethan, but in the end, they may all end up losing.

Adapted from The Forbidden Room and A House of Cards: Deconstructing Ethan

Note: the following excerpt contains strong language and seriously graphic adult situations. Because this is not for children…

In the Absence of Monsters Behind the Scenes

Jayden’s Burden

Jayden Carter

 Someone who will care about him all the time?

What did that little prick know about it?

I was in love with the guy, all the time, not just when it’s fucking convenient.  It was threatening to destroy my whole life!  I was going to crush Lexi, disappoint Kimberly, and admit that I liked to fuck guys.  All for what?  A guy incapable of loving me back?

Golden boy hasn’t been there for Ethan in fucking years.  He wasn’t there to pick up the pieces; he wasn’t there when Ethan really needed him.

I was.

Lexi was.

Presumptuous little ass, I thought as he followed Ethan up the stairs.  Fuck, the prick was probably going to break up with him, and I couldn’t stand to see him hurt like that.  I knew the little bastard was going to hurt him.  Lexi tried to grab my arm, but I pulled out of her grasp, stewing about it, and headed up the stairs a few minutes later.  I stood outside the door trying to gain my composure.  Then, I heard laughing from behind the door.  Things must not have been going too badly if they were laughing.

Maybe I should just apologize.

I sighed, and turned the knob.

The sight in front of me stopped me in my fucking tracks.

Ethan was lying on his bed underneath Mike, his legs wrapped around the guy’s waist.

They were kissing.

My words died in my throat.  It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that Mike and Ethan were having sex.  From Ethan’s reaction to our…our night together- I wanted to call it lovemaking, but I doubted he would see it that way- the way it took him back to that horrible time in his life. Never would I have thought he would ever want to do bottom again.  That night, I had tried to be as gentle as possible with him, to show him how much I cared about him.

It was all a sham.

This guy was fucking Ethan.

I apologized for disturbing them, not paying a whole lot of attention to where I was headed; I stumbled back down the stairs, and made it to my study so that I wouldn’t have to see them leave.  More than anything, I hoped that Ethan would come and talk to me before he left.  I don’t know why that small measure of comfort would have been so important to me.  Maybe I wanted to know that I was as important to him as that little bastard he was with upstairs.  Sitting in the leather office chair, I ran my fingers along the polished mahogany desk, not caring about any of it.  It was the finest furniture money could buy, but it could have been a folding table for all I cared at that moment.  The only thing that meant anything to me in the world was him, and he was about to walk out the door with another guy.

I heard the front door open and close.  He was leaving – without a word.  Why?  Why did I do this to myself?  Had I turned into an emotional masochist as well as a physical one?  I fucking hate this.

Grabbing the first thing my hands came across, I hurled the mantle clock out of the open study door where it exploded against the hallway wall.  Lexi came running up the hall to see what had happened, her face registering first shock, and then pain, at the clock lying in pieces on the hardwood floor.  At first, I didn’t understand.  What fucking difference did it make?  I had more money than God; I’d just buy another fucking clock.

“That clock belonged to my mother,” she said softly, the tears falling silently now.  All of a sudden, I felt sick.  I took off at a dead run, barely making it past Lexi and the clock in the hallway and out the back door before I threw up in the bushes.

I was a fucking monster.

Nothing in that moment could have prepared me for my own self-hatred.  I got on my motorcycle and sped as fast as I could away from the house, towards the lake.  Things like speed limits, or even stop signs didn’t concern me.  Weaving in and out of traffic like a man possessed, I finally made it to Navy Pier.  Parking my bike on the sidewalk, not caring if it was towed or even stolen, I walked aimlessly along the bike path.  Turning sharply to my left, I walked until I reached the end of the pavement at the water’s edge.  I sat down precariously, blissfully alone, and dangled my legs over the water below.

Lexi had to know how I felt about Ethan; I wasn’t exactly the best at hiding my emotions.  At some point, it would be too much.  My deception was going to break her heart.  Would she leave?  Would she go back to New York?  I couldn’t stand the thought of that.  Even though I didn’t love her in the way she wanted, even though I didn’t love her as much as I did Ethan, I did love her.

I wanted the three of us to always be together.

However, with my feelings for Ethan, his lack of feelings for me, and Mike now in the picture, I didn’t see how that could ever happen.

I was being so fucking selfish.

If Ethan could be happy with Mike, I should let him be happy.  I’d made my choice.  In a blind fucking panic, because I couldn’t face the fact that I might be in love with another man, I couldn’t face that I was in love with my Dom, but most of all, I couldn’t face that I was in love with a guy that could never feel the same way about me. So, I had made a panicked declaration to Lexi.

Lexi loved me, I knew that.

I grabbed a hold of her love like a drowning man.  After my parents, and after the falling out with Rosalie, I needed to know that someone gave a fuck about me.  Now, I just didn’t know what to do.  It hurt so badly watching Ethan with Mike, like a searing knife through my chest.

I could see it all playing out in my head.  Ethan and Mike at mommy’s brunch, holding hands and playing the token gay couple.  Ethan would fake a laugh at their stupid jokes, all the while staring blindly at his watch begging time to speed up.

Ethan deserved better.

He deserved better than to be paraded out like some circus animal for his parents’ amusement.  Mike didn’t know Ethan, Mike wouldn’t understand that Ethan didn’t like that kind of attention.  I sat quietly seeing Ethan in my mind in front of the all of those people, how edgy he would be, how off balance.

I hated it.

No matter how I was feeling about Ethan, my natural tendency was to protect him.  It made my chest ache to think of him being uncomfortable like that.  Grabbing my phone, I made a decision.  It was now just past five and I had to talk to Lexi first, so I figured I better make it later rather than earlier.  Hitting the keys on my phone, I sent him a text asking him to meet me in the playroom at nine o’clock.  A session would help him deal with his emotions after being with all of those people.

It was just after seven when I finally got back home, and my mind was on planning the session for Ethan.  It took a few minutes for me to realize that Lexi was standing in the doorway, calmly watching me with red-rimmed eyes. I looked down at the floor, away from her face, feeling the guilt eat at me.

“Jayden, this has to stop,” she said softly, her voice almost pleading.  “It’s not healthy for you, or for him.  He is trying to heal, to find some measure of peace.  Mike is helping him.  You cannot fly off the handle when you see them together, no matter what you may think of Mike.  It’s hurting them, and it’s hurting us.”  Letting out a sharp huff, she turned.  Before getting completely out of the room, she added, “by the way, my mother’s clock is still in the hall.  You’ll need to do something with that.”

I heard the front door slam as she left.

Staring at the empty doorway, my heart hammered in my chest.  I was screwing this up so badly.  I was letting them both down.  Pretty soon, neither of them would be able to stand me.  I’d be alone, and I would deserve every bit of it.  Just as I deserved Lexi’s anger, I deserved Ethan’s indifference.

I waited, huddled on the floor of the playroom for the time to pass, but it refused.  There were no clocks here, and the sun had already set.  Nothing was discernable with respect to time; I may have been sitting here for minutes, or for hours.  My eyes had traced over every piece of equipment here, imagining how best to utilize it with him.  Finally, they landed on the ottoman.  That piece had been a gift from Ethan, and it was one of my favorites.  He had used it with me, and we had both used it with Lexi.

I was deceitful.

I was manipulative.

I was out of control.

Trying to quell the rising panic building in my chest, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket to check the time.  Oh God, it was just minutes before nine.  The panic took over, there was no way I would be able to Dom him in a session.

More to the point, I wanted to be dominated by him.

I needed to serve him, please him.  I needed the structure, the discipline. Stripping quickly, I made my decision in an instant. My knees had just hit the floor as I landed in my position when I heard the knob turn.

Slowly, almost excruciatingly slowly, he made his way to me and knelt on the floor to look at my face.  I couldn’t contain the overwhelming panic, the devastating need I felt for him.  Trying not to let my voice crack, I begged him for Master Ethan.  We hadn’t had these roles for months, but I needed to give myself over to him now.

I felt his fingers in my hair, and I relaxed, closing my eyes.  His touch always had that effect on me; he excited me sexually, yes, but I felt safe and comfortable with him.  Tilting my face up to look at him, he asked me about the clock.  I answered in a whisper, ashamed of my outburst.  Then, he asked me if I should be punished, and I wanted to beg him, but I knew my place.

I knew the game.

“If it pleases you, Master Ethan,” I said, almost calm under his influence.  He had me stand and hold onto the bondage frame, and when I was stretched, it felt good to exert myself.  Spreading my legs wide, so that more weight was forced onto my arms, I was almost hanging.  Listening to him move about the room, I waited.

Then, I felt the sting of the flogger and was grateful for it.  He whipped me everywhere, my back, my ass, my thighs, and my cock.  I presented each in turn, almost begging for him not to stop.  Then all too soon, it was over.

Binding my hands behind my back, he then tied my ankles wide apart to a spreader bar.  I suppressed any sound of surprise as he wrapped his arms around my waist.  Oh God, I could have stayed in that moment for the rest of my life and been completely happy, even if I was bound.  I wanted to let my head fall back on his shoulder, I wanted him to kiss me, and I wanted him to make love to me.

It was eating away at me, knowing that he wouldn’t.  It would all be about the domination, about the sex, but I would have to take what I could get.  After helping me down to my knees, he grabbed that damned ottoman and set it in front of me.  Sensing what he wanted, I almost lay down over it, but I’m so glad I didn’t because he poured some of the silicone lube over my cock and began to stroke me.

Fuck.

I could feel him behind me, and I tried to hold back, to stay still, but I just couldn’t.  After a few minutes, I started pumping my cock shamelessly into his hand, and when I felt him kiss my neck and I nearly came.

His voice was low in my ear, the nearly painful need he had for me evident, as he asked me if I wanted him to fuck me.  Telling me that he was my Master, he asked if I wanted to please him and I nearly missed that small miracle when he called me his Jayden.  I wondered, as my breath caught, if he really understood how true that was, that I was his Jayden.

After pushing me over the ottoman, he lubed my ass.  Again, I shamelessly moved my hips pushing back against his fingers as my slick cock rubbed against the leather.  All I wanted out of life in that moment was for him to be inside me.

And then, he was.

As he slowly entered me, the realization that our arrangement would most likely end soon spread over my body like a hot, wet, blanket threatening to suffocate me.  I would lose even these brief moments of intimacy with him.  He would not see our sessions as intimate, but in my desperate need for him, that was the only way I could think of them.

After all, it wasn’t me he wanted in his bed.

Our one night of lovemaking was just a failed experiment.  An experiment in which I’d found everything I had never wanted, and he found … nothing.  My throat burned as the tears that had been threatening to fall all day welled behind my closed lids; my emotions were always so much fucking stronger during these times when I opened myself to him – mind, body, and soul.

When I let his name escape, I was surprised when I received no admonishment for it.  Whimpering again as he drove harder into me, I felt my orgasm rapidly approaching.  The muscles in my legs began to tense, the burning, tingling feeling in my cock and my balls grew more pronounced.  Ethan made me feel things that no one else had made me feel during sex…ever.  At first, I had thought it was the submission, then I feared that it was just because he was a man, but now I knew – it’s because he was Ethan, and one day I would never feel like this again.  I would never be able to have this intimacy with him.  The tears streamed down my face as I heard him give me permission to orgasm. Trembling now with soft sobs as I rubbed myself against the ottoman, I tried hard to obey him and when my orgasm tore through me, I cried out as I came.  I not only heard, but also felt him follow quickly.  Turning my head, resting my cheek against the cool leather, I tried to get a handle on my churning emotions.

I failed.

As soon as he released me from my bonds, I fled, taking the stairs to the third floor two at a time in my haste.  I did not want him to see how truly upset I was.  Surely, he would ask questions that I did not want to answer, or even questions to which I had no answers.  Once in my room, I flung myself onto the bed and cried openly.  I cried for Lexi, because due to my cowardliness, she would never truly find love.  I cried for Ethan because though he deserved it more than any of us, he was incapable of finding love.

Then, finally, I cried for me and my selfish squandering of Lexi’s love in a fruitless dream of ever having Ethan’s.

BlogTourMemeClick on the above graphic for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and $100 Wilde City download code!

* By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
* Giveaway is only available to residents of the US
* Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
* If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen.
* Winners may be announced on JP Barnaby’s blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner.
* In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
* Void where prohibited by law.

JPBarnaby_authorImageAward winning romance novelist J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.

Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JPBarnaby

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JPBarnaby

 

 

Boys in the Band Blog Tour Starts Today!

Dec 4, 2013 by

rock_tour_banner_blk

 

Cecilia Tan!

Paula Coots!

LA Witt!

and some chick named Rowan Speedwell…

Our mad, bad boys will be talking about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and everything related! Come and visit with them!

The first stop on the tour is Sinfully Sexy Books!  Click here for the link and here for a chance to win all four books shown!! (You can also enter from the blog site!)

And here’s the upcoming tour stops!

Dec 4:  Sinfully Sexy Books

Dec 6:  MM Good Book Reviews

Dec 10:  Pants Off Reviews

Dec 11:  Mrs. Condit Reads Books

Dec 12:  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Dec 13:  3 Chicks After Dark

Dec 14:  Sid Love

Dec 16:  Em Lynley’s Literary Love Shack

Dec 19:  Joyfully Jay

Dec 18:  Boys in Our Books

Dec 23:  Elisa Rolle’s Reviews and Ramblings

 

 

 

Ghosts of Bourbon Street has a cover! And a date!

Nov 14, 2013 by

 

Release Date November 29, TheGhostsbourbonStreet52013!!

As a bartender at his family’s gay New Orleans bar, Paul Thibodeaux finds it easy to pick up guys. Too easy—he drifts from one encounter to the next. He’s drifting through life, too. He barely even notices the naked guys dancing on the bar in front of him. When his friends challenge him, he has to admit he never looks higher than their knees. But then one night, he does.

He’s not sure what to make of Michael, the dancer who catches his eye, but something in Jean-Thom’s old building seems to have an opinion about him, and the evening he finds Michael someplace he shouldn’t be is going to change his life…

www.mlrbooks.com

 

Between GRL and Teslacon…

Oct 31, 2013 by

I’ve only been home from GayRomLit in Atlanta a week, and already I’m heading out again, this time to Teslacon in Madison Wisconsin. Teslacon is a Steampunk convention, and if you don’t know what Steampunk is, Google it. Go ahead. I’ll wait. <whistles>

Okay, back? Well, let me explain something. As awesome as Steampunk sounds, it is TWICE as cool as that. Easily. Steampunk marries historical romance and science fiction and fantasy and adventure and mystery and RAY GUNS AND DIRIGIBLES AND AIRSHIP PIRATES. It’s the ultimate geekdom, where all the geekdoms run together and then explode. It’s like Jules Verne married HG Wells and together they popped out Robert A. Heinlein and Umberto Eco. (Totally possible if you buy Warehouse 13′s premise that HG Wells was actually a woman.) And then bought an airship line.

So that’s where I’m spending my weekend, in a total immersion Steampunk convention, where I will arrive in costume and remain so for three full days. In company with my godson and nephew, Joe V., the coolest teenager in the history of teenagers.

GayRomLit was fabulous, as usual, and the organization was even better this year than last year, with set rooms for Q&As and Storyteller Spotlights and Author Readings so you didn’t have to go wandering around looking for them. And every night was a dress-up thing, the traditional Juke Joint Junket being joined by the Some Enchanted Evening formal ball and the rocking Heaven & Hell Masquerade. The costumes were fantastic.

My friend JP Barnaby hosted an event where people got the chance to finger paint on half-nekkid guys: four professional adult models and four authors/regular guys. It was adorable to see that the regular guys actually got painted more than the models did. They raised over $600 for Lost and Found Youth, a gay youth homeless shelter in Atlanta. JP also writes as Jamie Mayfield, and all royalties from her young adult books go to the shelter. JP rocks.

There was also a Dine with the Author event, that was nice, but would have been nicer if it hadn’t been so noisy it was hard to hear what people were saying. Ballrooms have crappy acoustics. I bet someone could make a bajillion dollars if they invented a “cone of silence” thing that could settle over tables for weddings and conferences like these, so that only the people at the table could hear what was being said…

I had lots of people stop by my table at the signing and even sold a few books so I didn’t have to ship anything home. This is a Good Thing.

So I come home to an invitation to host a chat with FRENCH PEOPLE. Seriously! Apparently Kindred Hearts and Finding Zach have been finding some fans in their French incarnations, and DSP is setting up time for a Facebook chat with them. I have to do the posts ahead of time so that the translator can get them done, and then she’ll be riding along to translate their questions and my answers.  That will be November 23rd, so if you speak French, mark your calendars!!

Then, I was also invited to join a blog tour about rock stars, so Adam gets to come out and play for a while. That one should be fairly soon; it’s still in the process of being organized.

So, that’s it for now. In a couple of hours I’ll be hitting the (wet and flooded) roads to Wisconsin. After I get home from that, there will be no more traveling until April. Thank God – my house is a MESS, and my cat thinks I don’t love him any more.

The bus stops here… A Blog Tour!

Sep 27, 2013 by

 

Illumination_200x300Okay, so this is the first time I’ve engaged in a blog tour, and I have NO idea what I’m doing. But that’s okay—the folks at Riptide apparently do, and they’re the ones driving this bus.

This is all in celebration of Illumination, which comes out officially on Monday, but if you’re one of the cool kids, you can pick it up at Riptide’s website TONIGHT. That’s right—get it three days before everyone else. Because you’re one of the Cool Kids. I have anointed you thus, so it’s true.

So, here is a list of the official stops on the tour.  I am totally grateful to these people for letting me litter up their bandwidth, and abase myself at their feet. (Seriously. I’m on the floor. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get up again.)

Please stop by and say hello, and if you leave a comment, I will enter you into a drawing for YOUR CHOICE of the e-book version of any one of my previously published books and stories.  Contest ends with the last stop, on October 4th. (Okay, I’ll close it October 5th, for last minute entries.)

Stops for this tour:

September 28, 2013 – Sid Love – Spotlight Stop 

September 30, 2013 – Book Reviews & More by Kathy 

October 1, 2013 – Joyfully Jay  

October 2, 2013 – The Jeep Diva  

October 3, 2013 – The Fictionators 

October 3, 2013 – Cup O’ Porn – Spotlight Stop 

October 4, 2013 – The Saucy Wenches Book Club  

See more about the blog tour here!

I’m baaaack . . .

Sep 12, 2013 by

 

Illumination_200x300Just sent off final edits for Illumination, my book with Riptide that’s coming out September 30th.

What? you cry. TWO books from the glacially slow pen of Rowan Speedwell within just a few months of each other? Is the Apocalypse nigh?

Well, hopefully not. I wouldn’t know, not being in the confidence of the folks who manage that sort of thing. But it’s true. Less than two months after Love, Like Water (with the beauteous Nicko Morales on the cover), I have another book to promote.

I’ve mentioned this one before. Probably several times. Probably accompanied by swear words, because I have to say this has been the most difficult book to write. It took me over two years to write the first draft, then another three or four months for the second. And it went through FOUR rounds of edits. Blood,  I tell you. There was blood.

Really, though, this is a lot less angsty than Finding Zach or Love, Like Water. All of the angst happened outside the book. There is less crying than in Kindred Hearts (thank God!), although there is some. There is romance, misunderstandings, drama, and two very stubborn heroes. There is what I hope is very, very funny stuff.

They always say “write what you know.” Well, I’m a fifty-five year old straight chick raised in a middle class family, so I’m already out of my league writing gay romance about young men, let alone rock stars. And my phobia is claustro, not agora. But.

J.P. Barnaby, who has been along for most of the ride with this book, says that Miles is me. We have a lot of similar issues, similar hangups, similar weird OCD/perfectionist behaviors. I like to think that I put a little of myself in all my characters, but Miles is probably the closest.

He has a temper, like me. He obsesses over details, like me. He’s bright and competent on a lot of levels, but those levels do not include technology. Like me. His taste in music runs to classical and show tunes, and is clueless about modern music. He’s impatient. He’s socially awkward. He’s messy (yes, you can be both messy and OCD). He can go happily for days without talking to anyone but his parrot. (For me, it’s my cat.) He’s a better artist than I am, but we share the art form. I cope a little better with people.

I think if were to meet Miles in person, we would either be soul mates or loathe each other.

Adam has some of my quirks: he’s self-indulgent and kind of lazy. I think he’s a Libra, like I am, but with more of the good qualities. He’s social, extroverted, and charming, which I can be for short periods of time. He tends to take the easy way out, sometimes simply because he doesn’t like to disappoint people; he’ll “go along” just because he wants the people around him to be happy. He’s vain and fussy about how he appears to people, but it’s not that he is obsessed with his image; it’s more that he wants—needs—people to like him. Hm. I guess maybe he’s more like me than I thought.

Which is kind of funny, when you think about it, because Miles and Adam are two really different people. But then again, we all have contradictory bits in our personalities. It’s what makes people human.

And I think that might be why it took so long to finish this book. Because Miles and Adam are the closest things to human that I’ve written. And like most humans, they have their own ideas of how things should go. I fought harder with these two than I have with any of my other characters, and that includes Tristan from Kindred Hearts, who was an absolute bastard.

But Miles and Adam’s story is done now, and I can honestly say that they’re probably my favorite couple. Even if I want to smack them hard enough that their ancestors are bruised.

Family Tree Roots Run Deep – a Guest Post by Posy Roberts

Sep 5, 2013 by

Please welcome my guest Posy Roberts, whose book Spark was released by Dreamspinner Press this week!!

Take it away, Posy!

Long before I started writing the first book of my North Star Trilogy, I knew family of origin was going to play a pivotal role in Spark. The relationships my main characters had with their fathers were of great importance when they were teens and well into their adult years.

Whether we like it or not, the family or families we grew up with helped shape who we became. Some drive us so nuts that all we can do is bitch about their certain brand of crazy our entire trip home from “vacation” with them, even if the journey takes days in a car. Others make us look back with nostalgia, even if our memories aren’t telling the whole truth.

Human brains have plasticity, especially those of developing children. They can be influenced by both good and bad experiences that have the possibility of sticking for life based on which synapses grow stronger, which are pruned away, and which genes are turned on during critical periods of brain development. Think about this for a second: human brains aren’t fully developed until age twenty-five.

That’s a lot of years where family of origin impacts brain development, whether all members are present and accounted for, minimally available, or decidedly absent. Some of those experiences are going to be great, but some are horrid as well.

This has nothing to do with M/M romance though, right? I think it has a ton to do with it, especially when I look at this as a writer. When I’m writing character sketches, I take into consideration how my characters were raised. Were they raised in a family that had no rules? If so, how did they react to that? They could’ve gotten involved in any and all questionable activities presented to them, or they could’ve been the kid who created rules of their own and basically took on the role of parent in their family. What about the kid with too many rules?

As I wrote the North Star Trilogy, I looked in-depth at the father-son relationships. In book one, Spark, I looked at Hugo Thorson and Kevin Magnus as teens and then again in their mid-thirties. At sixteen, Hugo loses his father. Kevin wishes he could lose his father, but that doesn’t happen. Both boys had very different relationships with their dads.

Kevin had a tumultuous father-son experience because his father expected success and perfection at all costs. Hugo had an absent father because the man was struggling with terminal cancer for years. So many of the troubles young Hugo faced seemed trivial compared to cancer, including coming out, so he chose not to talk with his father about his worries. Kevin chose not to talk with his own father because he knew he’d never measure up. Family of origin was always in the back of my head while writing, even after they’d grown into men.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 7 of Spark. You can read Chapter 1 here.

Kevin stepped closer and bent low enough to press a tender kiss to the wrinkles between Hugo’s brows, causing the creases to melt away. Kevin continued to talk in a low voice, almost a whisper as his hands warmed Hugo’s back. “You were so much more significant in my life than I ever let you know. Probably more than I even knew at the time. I took you for granted, but you changed me. When I was with you, I was just Kevin. I wasn’t Kevin Magnus, son of the great Peder and Linda Magnus. I was just plain old Kevin, and you liked me for who I was.”

“Of course I did,” Hugo said before placing a kiss in the slight cleft of Kevin’s chin. It felt completely natural to kiss him like this, uninhibited. “You were very easy to like, most of the time.”

“That was different for me, you realize, someone liking just me.”

Hugo nodded, liking the sensation of Kevin’s freshly shaved skin smoothing over his lips. He knew that’s how Kevin felt, often discounting how likable he truly was back in high school. Kevin’s father made every good thing in Kevin’s life into Peder’s own success, and every failure was squarely placed on Kevin’s shoulders for him to feel the full weight along with Peder’s overwhelming disapproval.

“If it weren’t for you, I would’ve never known I was bisexual. Or I would’ve never been brave enough to see what those feelings I had were even about.”

“You probably would’ve experimented in college.”

Kevin shook his head and drew Hugo closer, pressing a kiss in front of his ear. “No. No, Hugo. Don’t you see? I already knew I was bisexual in college, and not once, not once was I with another guy. You were it. You were the only one who made me feel brave enough to go against my father and his plan for my life.”

Spark2

In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.

By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children. 

When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.

 

PR white bkdg largePosy Roberts lives in the land of 10,000 lakes (plus a few thousand more). But even with more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, Minnesota has snow—lots of it—and the six months of winter makes us “hearty folk,” or so the locals say. The rest of the year is heat and humidity with a little bit of cool weather we call spring and autumn, which lasts about a week.

She loves a clean house, even if she can’t keep up with her daughter’s messes, and prefers foods that are enriched with meat, noodles, and cheese, or as we call it in Minnesota, hotdish. She also loves people, even though she has to spend considerable amounts of time away from them after helping to solve their interpersonal problems at her day job.

Posy is married to a wonderful man who makes sure she eats while she documents the lives of her characters. She also has a remarkable daughter who helps her come up with character names. When she’s not writing, she enjoys karaoke, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.

Read more at http://posyroberts.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/posyroberts11

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PosyRoberts

 

 

Deja vu all over again

Jul 25, 2013 by

So, Marie and I are walking down the street in Paris looking for the St. Michel Metro stop, where we want to catch the Metro back to the Gare du Nord train station. And of course it’s 5 p.m. and rush hour is starting up, and we know we’ll never make it back by cab. So we’re looking high and low for the station, and I look up and say: “There it is!” And Marie says “How did you find it so quick?”

Metropolitan  No, it wasn’t just from observing the name on the station. (Duh)

I RECOGNIZED it.

How, you ask, when I have never been to Paris before? Is it a past-life memory? Is it because the red things look like the aliens from the original War of the Worlds??

 

Nope. Because THIS is my train station, where I go every day on my way home from work, at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street in downtown Chicago:

Metra

Look familiar?

Kinda thought so!!

 

More tales (and pictures!) from our travels to come!!!