Articles for the Month of September 2015

Meeting New People

With my usual lack of grace at thinking up blog post titles, I realize this one might be a bit ambiguous. So to clarify, I’m talking about the ways people might meet other people. I’m not giving advice; I’m definitely not qualified for that, seeing how difficult it is for me to meet people.

Actually, that’s kind of what this post is about. I realized over the weekend, as I settled in for two days of not seeing anyone besides my family, that I don’t actually know many people. I don’t have an outside-the-house job, so I have no coworkers to interact with. Hubby’s parents only live a couple of blocks away, but I don’t see them much. I’ve lived in this town for over six years, and still don’t know many people because…

I don’t know how to meet them. That’s my confession for the day. I have no clue how people meet other people and move from “Hi” to hanging out and having coffee and chatting on the phone.

I have less grace with social skills than with blog post titles.

I’ve never really had an easy time with meeting people and making friends. When I was growing up, it was easier because I was in school, so I had plenty of other people around. But even then, sometimes I would find a friend who after a week or two decided friendship wasn’t going to work out with me. Once I was out of college, I had jobs, but socializing with my coworkers didn’t happen. At my last teaching job, it was particularly painful; the other two women who worked in the classroom I worked in often made plans right in front of me, knowing I was listening. It was junior high and high school all over again.

Obviously I do meet people occasionally, but it’s rare and they don’t usually stick around in my life very long.

I know how whiny this post sounds, and I don’t mean it that way. I’m an introvert, I have social anxiety, and I seriously don’t have good social skills. Social stuff is like a foreign language to me. But at the same time, sitting at home all day knowing that even if I wanted to have coffee with a friend, I don’t have a friend to have coffee with… it’s kind of lonely. And the last time I tried asking a professional for solutions, her answer was, “Just meet people. It isn’t that hard.”

Um… maybe not for her…

So how do you meet people and make friends?

Teaser Thursday- Whipped Cream

This is the ORIGINAL whipped cream scene, written in response to editor Kris Jacen’s challenge on a Yahoo loop well before Salad on the Side was a thing. In fact, this scene is WHY Salad on the Side became a thing. The scene was tweaked for the book, and appears later in the story than I thought it would.

“Ripe strawberries, fresh from the garden.” Leaning over the bowl, Tobias inhaled deeply and sighed. “This is what you had planned the night Melia bit you, Kyle?”

“This and homemade spaghetti sauce.” I opened the fridge and took out the spray can of whipped topping. “You’ll have to wait on the spaghetti. For some reason, going all furry last night kind of killed my gourmet mood.”

“Hey, a man who feeds me is a man after my own heart.” He took the can from me and turned it to read the ingredient list. “Thought you were vegan.”

“Non-dairy.” I pointed to the words on the label. “That means it’s safe for vegan consumption. Would you like to put that on your strawberries, or are you just going to use it for reading material?”

The front of my shirt was suddenly covered with spurts of white topping. “Oops, sorry.” Tobias’s eyes widened in mock innocence. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

“You jerk. This is my best crappy shirt!” I scooped some of the “cream” onto one finger and held it up in front of his face. “Look what you did.”

He took my hand and guided it to his mouth, where he slowly licked my finger clean. My cock twitched and swelled in my jeans. Holy shit. All my fantasies about him flooded into my mind, and I closed my eyes to fight off the urge to crush my mouth against his.

“Tastes pretty good,” he murmured, releasing my hand. “Look at me, Kyle.”

If the eyes were really the windows to the soul, the way the old cliché claimed, the moment I looked at him he’d know how much I wanted him. But his voice didn’t leave room for disobedience. He was the Alpha, and that meant I did what he said, even in human form. Even if I really, really didn’t want to.

I followed his command and opened my eyes. With a face-splitting grin, he pulled the neck of my shirt open and sprayed a stream of whipped topping down over my skin. “There, is that better?”

“Asshole!” I couldn’t help laughing. I yanked off my shirt and surveyed the damage. Topping streaked my chest, dotting my nipples. “You’d better clean this off, Tobias.”

“Yeah? And how would you like me to do that, Kyle?” He turned my name into a low growl. In his eyes, I saw something wild. Not wolf. Something more primal than that.

Before I could squelch the impulse, I replied, “Lick it off.”

He ran his tongue over his lips. Orange flame kindled in his gaze, and he bent and licked a line across my chest from one nipple to the other. I shuddered and clutched the counter behind me to keep from being knocked over by the rush of arousal that coursed through me. My dick hardened to the point of pain, and I let out a low moan.

“Does that feel as good as you taste?” He sucked my nipple between his lips and clamped down lightly with his teeth.

“Fuck, yeah,” I gasped. “Tobias—” I stopped, not knowing whether to beg him to stop or to keep going, to bring us both past the point where anything mattered other than the physical. The point where we could forget about being neighbors, about him being my Alpha now, and just rip off our clothes and fuck.

I was pretty much already there.

“You’re not clean yet.” He swirled his tongue over my skin. “I think I like this even better than fresh strawberries.”

“Tobias!” I closed my eyes and let my body take over. The point of contact between his tongue and my chest grew to a bonfire that spread through me. My cock strained against the front of my jeans, wanting release in every sense of the word.

And he didn’t stop. Making soft sounds of pleasure, low grunts that bordered on growls, he licked every spot of topping from me. I tensed and thought frantically of baseball and my former next-door neighbor’s hugely ugly housedresses to keep the explosion of my climax at bay.

Finally, he looked up with a satisfied smirk. “All clean.”

“Fuck.” I leaned against the counter, breathing heavily. “Tobias, what the hell are we doing? Because I have to tell you, I’m now horny as hell, and if you aren’t going to do anything about it, please leave so I can, er, relieve myself.”

He laughed, a rich sound that rolled over me like warm water. Without answering my question, he unfastened his button-fly jeans and shoved them to the floor. His long cock sprang against his abdomen, a droplet at its tip.

He picked up the spray can and squirted a ring around his dick. “Banana split?”

I cracked up. “You are a dork, you know that?”

“Yeah.” His tone turned serious. “Your dork, if you want me. You think I didn’t know how you feel about me, Kyle? I held back because of the whole wolf thing, not because I didn’t want you. But now…” He gestured at himself. “I’m here, and I’m naked. What are you going to do about it?”

I dropped to my knees. Every single fantasy I’d had since moving in was about to come true, and I damn sure wasn’t going to hesitate to take the offer. “I’m going to lick you clean,” I said hoarsely.

“Good.” His fingers twined through my hair. “And then?”

“And then.” I licked up his shaft from the base to the tip, and enjoyed the power surge from hearing his soft moan. “And then, we’ll fuck.”

Accurate Info About Publishers

Recently, it seems as though a number of e-publishers are struggling. Sometimes the struggles are very public, such as with a certain company that has filed a lawsuit against a certain review site. Other times, the struggles are more subtle and are known only to the authors who are with that publisher, such as problems with advance review copies, or slow payment of royalties.

Because it can be relatively easy to start an e-publishing company, some people are setting off to do exactly that without fully understanding the business aspect and without knowing how to effectively market and promote their books and authors. When they realize they’re in over their heads, it can be a very negative situation for them and their authors. But even companies that are well-established, run by people who fully understand publishing as a business and an industry, with highly visible marketing can start to fail, and companies that are new and started by people who have never worked in publishing before can sometimes become quite successful.

As with the company that filed the lawsuit, oftentimes authors are aware of problems, or notice red flags, before things get really bad. But authors might be afraid to speak up about what they’re seeing. They don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker, or be blacklisted in the industry. Their books bring in money, and they worry about losing that income if they say something negative about their publisher.

Some authors don’t consider it their responsibility to caution others about problems with a publisher. They figure if someone doesn’t do their research about a given company, they get what they get.

But part of researching a publisher is finding out what that publisher’s authors are saying. If authors aren’t saying anything at all even when they know things are getting bad, new authors will sign contracts and get caught in the same mess. Authors who are already with that company and aren’t noticing the problems will stay, and then might be taken off guard when the publisher suddenly folds.

I wouldn’t tell anyone to risk their income and their career, but writing isn’t a competition. In a sense, in my opinion, authors are colleagues, even if they aren’t with the same publishers or even writing in the same genre. If you were working in an office and knew the company was going bankrupt, wouldn’t you want to let your coworkers know? And if someone else knew there was a big problem looming, wouldn’t you want them to tell you? If an author has information about a publisher that might affect other authors, I think they should try to make others aware. Your career and income aren’t the only one at stake.

Just my opinion.

Teaser Thursday- Reflected Love

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Listrial sat up when she entered the room. Ralie ignored him for the moment. She hadn’t worked at her job long enough to risk ticking off her employer. Her phone was still where she remembered leaving it, fortunately. She dialed and asked to speak to her boss when the receptionist answered, then gave her supervisor a halfway thought-out excuse about food poisoning, the only thing she could think of off the top of her head that would make her sick enough to need to stay home. He expressed his hope that she would feel better soon, and she hung up.

“You talk to people through that?” Listrial asked.

“Yeah.” Ralie handed the phone to him, and he turned it over in his hands, looking confused. “Please don’t ask me to explain how it works. I’m not completely sure, and I haven’t had enough coffee to try to explain anything.”

“Coffee?” He licked his lips. “That, at least, is something with which I’m familiar. At least if it has anything in common with the drink we have at home.”

Given how little their worlds seemed to have in common, Ralie doubted her coffee would be anything like what Listrial drank. Especially since all she had was instant. “I’ll make you some,” she offered. “Then we really need to talk.”

“I agree.” He stood. “May I help you with anything?”

“Thanks, but I know where everything is and you don’t.” She would eventually have to show him where she kept things. For the moment, she didn’t want to take the time.

She went over to her cupboards and took out the jar of instant coffee and the only two mugs she owned. She filled her kettle with water and set it on the burner, then went back to Listrial, who hadn’t moved from his spot. “The water will take a while to boil,” Ralie explained, sitting beside him.

“In that jar, those brown things?” he asked.

“That’s coffee. Instant.” She looked down at her hands. “That probably doesn’t mean anything to you. How much should I explain to you, Listrial? How much do you really want to know about this place?”

“I’m unsure,” he admitted. He rested his hand on her knee. “I thank you for the place to sleep and for your care last night. I may have seemed ungrateful. Truly your assistance meant a great deal.”

“You didn’t seem ungrateful.” She hesitated. “Are you going to stay or try to find your way back through the mirror?”

“If I return home, I will return to the Unseelie ruling my world,” he said slowly. “At least ruling the lands once held by my Queen. If they truly killed her as they said, the Unseelie Queen has right to my Queen’s holdings now. As a Seelie soldier, I would likely not be allowed to live.”

“This isn’t an easy world to get used to,” she said quietly. “Even for those of us who’ve always lived here.” She didn’t know whether she would be able to handle the responsibility of helping him acclimate to her world. When she’d seen him through the mirror, she had wanted desperately to be with him. Now that she had him in her home, she wondered if she really wanted him there.

At least, her mind wondered. Her heart had no question. She loved Listrial, and looking at him, she knew that what the mirror had said was true. They belonged together. He belonged there. And she did want him.

Backlist Books and Self-Publishing

As most people reading this probably know, over the past year or so I’ve regained rights to a number of my published books. So many, in fact, that I think I now only have half the titles available that I did in spring 2014.

Some of those books are definitely better off collecting cyber dust on my hard drive. I’ve learned a lot about writing since I started out, and when I read some of my earliest published stuff, I admit I kind of cringe.

But others are good, or at least good enough that I can revamp and revise them and give them a second shot at life. One of my books, previously published under the Jo Ramsey pen name, is already on my Coming Soon page on here; I’m planning to self-publish that in January. I always believed it should have been a Karenna Colcroft book anyway, and now it will be.

I have several others that I’m considering re-releasing, as well as one or two that I’ve pitched to one of my existing publishers for potential republication. I haven’t totally made up my mind yet, though. I know a number of authors who’ve had great success in self-publishing previously-published titles, but I also know some who haven’t. And I know how much work is involved in self-publishing and am not entirely confident in my abilities.

On the other hand, some of my previously-published books deserve another chance, in my opinion. So I’m carefully considering, making lists, checking twice, etc. (Wait… it’s nowhere near close enough to Christmas for that song to get stuck in my head!)

Are there any books of mine that are out of print that you think should be re-released?

Teaser Thursday- Bishie Sparkles

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The fictional character thing that meant he had to have lost his mind. Characters from books didn’t just come to life with full-blown boners, begging for a fuck. Not that Teruo was begging, at least not yet. If his personality as depicted in the manga was accurate, that would happen soon enough if Grant kept turning him down.

Making Teruo beg did have its appeal. Grant had always found it a turn-on to have his partner want him so badly they pleaded to be fucked.

“No.” He shook his head. He couldn’t believe he was even thinking that way. “You don’t exist. You do realize that, right?”

“I’m here and I’m horny.” Teruo said it as matter-of-factly as if he were stating the color of his hair. “That feels like existing to me. Why do you keep saying no? You wanted me badly enough to jerk off thinking about me last night. You dreamed about me all night long. Do I have to throw myself at you?” He rose to his feet on the bed. “Because I can do that, as long as you promise to catch me.”

“Just stop it!” Grant stumbled backward against his nightstand. He banged his ass against the corner of the stand, and the pain coupled with the ridiculousness of the situation killed his hard-on almost instantly.

Teruo frowned and sank to his knees. “You don’t want me?”

“If you were real, I’d want you.” Great. He’d hurt the guy’s feelings. A couple of tiny frowny-faces appeared in midair behind Teruo’s shoulders, which made Grant feel even more guilty. “Teruo, you’re a character in a book,” he said. “I just woke up, and here you are. You can’t honestly expect me to accept this. Especially not before I’ve had coffee.”

Teruo’s expression brightened, and the frowny-faces disappeared. “I can brew you some coffee while you shower. I mean, I know you showered last night, but you might want to consider it again.” He wrinkled his nose, which Grant found excruciatingly cute, much to his annoyance.

“Yeah, I’m going to shower.” Grant opened the miniscule closet and picked out a shirt and slacks he hadn’t worn to work yet that week. “And then I’m going to work, and on the way, I’ll buy myself a cup of coffee.”

He stopped. He was going to work. He would be gone all day, nine hours minimum counting the commute on either end of the day, and that would leave Teruo alone. Teruo as depicted in the manga was a bit mischievous and impulsive, and he became bored easily. Grant wasn’t sure it would be such a good idea to leave someone like that alone in his apartment.

He sure as hell couldn’t take Teruo to work with him. Those sparkles and chibi eyes would be too damn hard to explain.

Sighing, Grant glanced at his clock radio. He had to be at work in half an hour. Somehow he had overslept, and that, combined with having to deal with a yaoi character in his bed, would make him late for work if he did go. Maybe it would be better to call in sick. His boss would have a field day trampling Grant’s ass for daring to call in, but he could handle that. It wasn’t as if he missed work often. The boss could deal with his absence better than Grant would be able to deal with worrying about what his new friend was up to while he was gone.

Taking the day off would also give Grant more time to figure out how to send Teruo back into yaoi-land.

Feeling Restless

I’m having one of those days where I know something needs to change, but I don’t know what.

I have a friend back in my life who I thought I’d lost. Changes in his personal life caused a rift between us, but fortunately, that rift was temporary. We met on Friday and talked things through. Our friendship won’t be as time-intensive as it was, and won’t include hanging out at his place on the couch watching TV, but the basis of the friendship, and the associated emotions, are intact. For which I’m very thankful. That’s one thing that *doesn’t* need to change, but after a month of no contact with this friend, the reconnection is probably contributing to where my head’s at right now.

I have a new friend in my life who’s very comfortable and fun to be around, but something isn’t quite clicking. And I don’t know what it is. I like spending time with him, but something tells me this is going to be temporary too. Which is unfortunate if it turns out to be the case, but sometimes people are put in our lives for only short periods of time.

My romance writing is still in the flux state it’s been in, and I’m getting a little tired of it being there but can’t quite figure out how to change that. Aside from still being unsure whether I can write the type of thing I used to write, there’s also the realization that I only have two publishers remaining that I would be likely to submit to again. Which rules out some of the things I might want to try writing.

This site has a lot of stuff on it that’s been here for a very long time. I’m going to be going through it this week and deleting some old images from the media library, as well as the oldest (pre-2014, for the most part) blog posts. Clear out some space, and maybe some old energy.

But mostly it’s just a day of “what do I want to do, how do I want to do it, and what if I can’t?” I think everyone has days like this sometimes.

Teaser Thursday- Beta Block

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A warm chill ran through Brianna and her lower body tightened. She smiled, aware she was blushing. “I wouldn’t mind staying. But we’ll have all night, right? And they say anticipation makes it better.”

“They do say that.” He leaned forward and stopped. “May I kiss you?”

“You don’t have to ask.” She touched her lips to his but didn’t let the kiss linger. “We’ll have plenty of time later.”

“All the time we need.” He looked into her eyes with so much love she caught her breath. “Actually, I’m glad we’re going out. I want to show you off. Are you ready? It’s pretty warm, so that jacket should be enough for you.”

“I always thought Boston was cold in the winter.” She turned to lock her apartment door. “Is it usually like this?”

“It’s usually freezing in January. Must be global warming.” He took her hand again. “Ready? We’re taking the T across the harbor, and we’ll walk around from there unless you get tired.”

“I’m a werewolf. You think I’d be tired?” she teased. “I think you’re the one who’d better watch out about getting tired between walking and what we’re planning for later.”

“Going to wear me out, huh?” He winked. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

“Sure.” She looked away. Did I go too far? She couldn’t tell from his tone, and she didn’t dare to ask.

“I’m glad you’re comfortable enough with me to tease me,” he said. “And it’s definitely making me anticipate what’s coming later. I love you, Brianna. You don’t ever have to worry about what I think of you, okay? Not ever.”

“I love you too.” She turned to find him smiling at her even more broadly than before. “I’m kind of messed up. You already know that. It’s going to take me time to become used to a man who actually thinks it’s a good thing when I flirt with him and want him.”

“Any man who doesn’t think that is an idiot,” he said firmly. “You aren’t messed up. People treated you like shit and tried to break you, and from where I stand, you didn’t let them. If you have things you want to work on, we can work on them, or I can help you find someone to work with you. Suzannah, maybe, or there are a couple of my packmates who work as counselors who wouldn’t mind talking to you. But you aren’t messed up. Think good things about yourself, please.”

“I need help,” she said. She wasn’t going to give herself a free pass. Whether he called it being messed up or something else, she had problems, and she didn’t want him to have any illusions about her.

“We all need help sometimes,” he said. “I see a psychologist at work at least twice a month to deal with the things I see every day, and I talk to the counselors in my pack about what happened in Pennsylvania. There’s nothing wrong with needing help. Asking for it is a sign of strength, not weakness, no matter what you might have been told before.”

“You keep reading my mind.” She was somewhat relieved by it. She didn’t have to argue with him if he heard her thinking the argument.

“Mate bond.” He squeezed her hand gently. “If you’re done trying to convince me something’s horribly wrong with you, I’d like to take you out now.”

She laughed and shook her head. “I guess I failed. Okay, let’s go.”