Articles for the Month of December 2015

Teaser Thursday- Chance Met

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They walked away. Despite the cold, Crawford stood there watching them walk up the street alongside Burger King. He could have walked with them. Bremen Street was the next one, and though his apartment was further down the street, it still would have been a reasonable route for him to take. But he didn’t want to push his luck.

He’d already learned more about Trey than he’d expected. The guy was gay, given that Mikey had mentioned Trey having a boyfriend in the past. He knew about and accepted his son’s abilities but was cautious about letting others find out. It might have been solely because he was worried about the general public’s reaction, or there might have been another reason. The fear in Mikey’s eyes when he’d realized he’d given himself away implied the latter. If anyone had tried to hurt the boy because of something he couldn’t help, Crawford would—

Do absolutely nothing, because whatever had happened was probably over. And he couldn’t be the knight in psychic armor for the little boy, anyway. It was Trey’s responsibility to protect his son. Crawford would help as much as the pair would allow, but it wasn’t up to him to do it all.

He shivered. Thinking about Trey and Mikey had distracted him from the cold temporarily, but now the wind cut through his jacket. He was an idiot for just standing here. It was time to go home. To his empty apartment, where he would spend the rest of the evening watching TV and surfing online until he was tired enough to go to bed. Yeah, my life is fascinating.

He’d gone through the same routine for years now, with occasional breaks to assist Joel with evening workshops and seminars and to spend time with the few people he’d allowed into his life. Something which hadn’t happened for far too long.

He headed home, walking fast to try to warm up. His life had become one enormous rut, consisting of work and distractions and very few people. He kept telling himself he needed to change that, but he’d become so stuck he hadn’t even tried.

Now things were improving. All because a little boy had wanted hot chocolate.

He stuck his hand in his pocket to touch his phone. He had Trey’s number. Trey wanted to see him again. The mention of a dinner without Mikey had sounded a whole lot like Trey was asking him on a date, something Crawford had no objection to at all.

He would take things slowly. It wouldn’t help anything if he became too excited about the idea of having a friend. Or a boyfriend, as the case may be. He wasn’t quite sure what Trey had in mind, and it would make sense to let Trey have the lead on how things developed between them. Trey had his son to consider, and he probably wouldn’t want to get into anything too fast. But if he was able to spend any time with the other man at all, Crawford would be happy.

2015 In Review

This week, I’m going over some of the things that happened and changed in my life in 2015. Next year, I’ll talk about my hopes and goals for 2016.

In the fall of 2014, something happened in my personal life that led to me being unable to write erotic romance. I won’t go into detail here; it’s something I’d prefer not to talk about right now, and I think I’ve blogged about it before anyway.

In early 2015, I tried to write a male/male romance. I failed. I couldn’t get the characters to fall in love with each other given the circumstances in the story, and given the circumstances going on in my own brain, I couldn’t get them to have sex, either. It became a suspense novel with romantic elements, Dawn Over Dayfield, which will be released in March 2016.

Dawn Over Dayfield’s existence owes a lot to someone who was pretty important to me during the first 7 months or so of 2015. He was a huge part of my overall support system, was very supportive and encouraging about my writing, and with Dayfield in particular, he helped me brainstorm the plot, helped me create the town (which is fictional, but is located in the part of Massachusetts where he grew up), and did the historical and geographical research I needed. Unfortunately, in August that person ceased to be part of my life, which is sad for a number of reasons, not least of which is that some really exciting things have already happened for Dayfield and I can’t share them with him. That person exiting my life also impacted my writing, though this time more on the romance side than the erotic.

In June 2015, I tried to write another male/male romance. This time, I barely managed to get 10 pages in before I ran into some pretty severe mental health issues. I chose at that point to put romance writing in general on indefinite hold.

In 2014 and 2015, a number of my books were taken out of print. Six of my nine Ellora’s Cave titles were pulled at my request due to poor sales. Several of my MLR Press and Passion in Print Press books were pulled, I think in late 2014. (Sorry. Fibromyalgia…I have a brain like a steel sieve and would have to look things up to be sure of dates.) As of now, I no longer have any books available from Pink Petal Books/Jupiter Gardens Press. All told, I think my number of existing titles was cut in half in 2015.

My last erotic romance title, a heterosexual contemporary novel, was released in March. Since then, nothing has been released under Karenna Colcroft’s name. I’ve been working on promoting my books that are still out there, and on making plans for the upcoming year, as well as focusing a lot more time and energy on writing and promoting my young adult fiction under the Jo Ramsey pen name.

It’s hard to predict where my career will go from here, but I do have some thoughts and things I want to try for 2016. I’ll share those with you next week.

Teaser Thursday- Vengeance Is Sweet

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One positive thing about the Midworld: they had good food.

I discovered that when Ghast ordered a meal from a nearby restaurant. We didn’t even have to go outside. About half an hour after he placed the call, a small Asian man brought the food right to our apartment. I could get used to that kind of thing.

Ghast paid the delivery guy and closed the door. “Hungry?”

My stomach growled at the aromas filtering out of the large paper bag he held, and I followed him to the small round table in one corner of the kitchen. He split the food onto two plates, and we sat down. For a moment, I regarded the contents of my plate. Unaccustomed to Midworld food, I had no idea what sat there. It smelled wonderful, but looked like a pile of unappealing colors and globs.

Ghast showed no hesitation. He picked up his fork and shoveled some food into his mouth. “Try it. It’s quite good, and you’ll need to become used to this kind of thing.”

“I don’t want to get used to this human stuff.” Hesitantly, I took a forkful of food from my plate and put it in my mouth. It did have quite a good taste, and I decided I’d manage to eat it. When I swallowed, my stomach happily agreed.

“You haven’t much choice,” Ghast said. “I truly believe it’s the only way you’ll be able to prove Alejandro Ruiz’s innocence.”

“That might be harder than we thought, if angels are involved.” I toyed with my fork. “Angels gave the vengeance department the case. Angels visit the little girl. Angels may be involved in the false accusation. Angels allowed the soul of a suicide into Heaven.”

“Although I rather doubt their involvement in the accusation, it is possible,” he agreed. “Assuming the accusation is false. As for the suicide, this soul is not the first to go to Heaven. It’s dependent upon the reason the person chose to die.”

After the time I’d spent with Alejandro, I had no doubt about the accusation. “It’s false. I don’t think that man would hurt anyone for any reason, least of all his child or his ex-wife. Whatever her reason for killing herself, I don’t think Alex had anything to do with it.”

A thought flickered into my head. “If she’s his ex-wife, when would he have abused her? He said they’d been split up for over a year. They didn’t live together, and he almost never saw Keeley. He wouldn’t have had any opportunity.”

“Perhaps the abuse occurred before the separation,” Ghast suggested.

I shook my head. “The file said she killed herself to escape his abuse. She wouldn’t have any need to escape something that ended over a year ago.”

“Good point.” He ate a few more forkfuls before adding, “It does sound more likely to be a lie. However, that doesn’t mean the lie involved anyone other than her.”

“It would have had to,” I said. “I don’t think a soul would be able to fool an angel. Don’t you guys have built-in lie-dar or something?”

“We do have the ability to detect when we’ve been deceived,” he said. “Still, a particularly persuasive soul might be able to convince one of us.”

“How likely would that be?”

“Not very.” He set down his fork. “You realize you’re accusing a member of the Heavenly host of dishonesty. Perhaps more than one member. You have no proof, and you have no reason. You also cannot discount the possibility that Alejandro might have hurt his ex-wife as she claims. Perhaps he became angry at her refusal to allow him access to the child, and they fought about it.”

“I don’t believe he’d harm anyone for any reason,” I said stubbornly, twisting my fork through the stuff on my plate. “You saw how gentle he is with Keeley. Do you really think he’d do anything to her or her mother?”

“In my opinion, he wouldn’t.” He chewed a forkful of something and swallowed. “However, we’ve seen him with her only today.”

“And yesterday.”

“You saw him then. I wasn’t with you.”

“Fine.” I tried another piece of food. It tasted as good as the first, even though it looked no better. “Even so, I believe he’s innocent. Someone set him up.”

“And again, you have no reason why anyone would do this. You can’t make a claim without cause, Omara. Especially when it comes to the Heavenly host.”

“I suspect it has a lot to do with Keeley. When she said I was nice, it sounded like she knew, not like it was just something to say. It seemed like she’d seen something inside me that made her say it. Like she’d looked right into me.” It sounded ridiculous, but I didn’t have any other way to describe what I’d felt from Keeley.

Cover Reveal- Vengeance Is Sweet

Well, okay, so I’ve already revealed the cover on Facebook and Tumblr, but not on my blog until today. Because why shouldn’t I do things backwards?

Vengeance Is Sweet was originally published in September 2012, under my Jo Ramsey pen name. That was done because there’s no erotic content in the novel, but it isn’t a young adult story, so it didn’t sell well under that name. After two years of almost no sales, I asked the publisher to return rights to me, which they graciously did.

I’ve spent some time polishing up the novel: getting rid of a ton of repetition, clarifying a couple of plot points, and making it something I’m even happier with than I was originally. I ended up cutting over 10,000 words! And on January 11, I’ll be officially re-releasing the novel as a Karenna Colcroft title. It will be available exclusively on Amazon, and is already up for pre-order there.

And here’s the cover…

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Teaser Thursday- Changing Planes

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“Coming out?” Colin raised his eyebrows. “Are you gay or bi?”

“I don’t know. I think I’m a person-sexual.” Oliver had no other name for it. “I’ve been really into guys, and I was really into Sophia before things crumbled.”

“Okay.” Colin didn’t look any less confused. “So you aren’t going to tell your would-have-been in-laws that you sometimes like men?”

“Yeah.” When Colin put it that way, even Oliver was confused. “And I definitely don’t plan on telling them I like you.”

Colin grinned. “Okay. Well, now that you’re single, maybe we can see where that goes. Except you’re not staying in Sacramento, are you?”

“Not past the weekend.” Oliver sighed. Colin at least seemed interested in the possibility of getting something going, but it wasn’t enough to keep Oliver from going back to Boston. They weren’t together yet, and even if they had been, two days of knowing each other wasn’t enough to warrant him going through with his move. Especially when it would be so much easier to return to Massachusetts. “How do you feel about long distance?”

“I’m a flight attendant. Every relationship I’ve had has been long distance.” Colin hesitated. “We aren’t really talking relationship right now, are we? You just broke off your engagement. I can tell you’re relieved about it, and to me it sounds like you and she weren’t really much more than friends in the first place. That doesn’t mean you should just jump right into something with someone you barely know. I like you too, and I’m attracted to you. I won’t deny it. But I think you’re kind of on the rushing-things side right now.”

“Yeah.” The barista called his order, and he went to the counter to get it, both disappointed and relieved. Colin was right. Oliver was so thrilled to be out of the tangle with Sophia he was ready to plunge into a relationship—or at least a bed—with someone he’d just met. He had a feeling he and Colin would turn out to be pretty compatible, but he didn’t want to push his luck.

He returned to the table and decided to just say what was on his mind. “Okay. I’m attracted to you too. If you said right now that you wanted me to go back to your hotel room, I would, and damn sure wouldn’t say no to anything you suggested.”

“That’s because you need to get laid.” Colin lowered his voice and gave Oliver a wicked grin. “We’ll see. Friends hook up sometimes.” He folded his arms over his chest. “Seriously, I won’t be your rebound, okay? Let’s get to know each other. If it ends in bed, so be it. If it ends in more, it’s all good. I have no problem with long-distance friendships.”

“Sounds good to me.” Oliver drank some of his coffee and tried not to seem too happy. He and Colin would be friends. At the moment, that would have to be enough.

They chatted over coffee about their jobs and interests and parted after a while so Oliver could go back to the condo and make the calls necessary for his return to Boston. He didn’t actually want to leave Colin. He could have made the calls just as easily from Colin’s hotel room. But it was better to leave. He was free to lust after whomever he wanted, and right then he wanted Colin, but he didn’t want Colin to think he was only rebounding.

“I’m Not Going Anywhere”

In a relationship, one of the scariest possibilities is that of your partner leaving. For some of us with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, that fear can be particularly huge. Depression tells us we aren’t worth being with or don’t deserve our partner. Anxiety magnifies every small concern into a major fear. And some of us may have had previous partners say they couldn’t handle our “issues” and walk away.

Personally, I know I’m not the easiest partner to have. Sometimes I wouldn’t want to be around me, so I can’t understand why anyone else would. And I have had partners break up with me in part or in whole because they couldn’t deal with the depressive episodes, anxiety attacks, and/or PTSD meltdowns. (That isn’t something I suspect. It’s something those partners told me.) But I also have a husband who’s stuck it out for seven and a half years. And I have another partner who just last week, seeing me having an anxiety attack, said, “I’m going to tell you this right now. I know you’re afraid I’ll leave, because you’ve told me others have left you because of your anxiety. But I am not going anywhere.”

Those words meant everything. Once I got to a point where I was able to believe them.

When you’re in a relationship with someone who has mental health issues, it isn’t always smooth sailing. No matter how well-managed the illnesses are–and please keep in mind, these are ILLNESSES, not choices–by either medication, therapy, or both, there will be times when something flares up and things get rough. Those are the times when it’s most important to assure your partner that you’re there for them, that you aren’t going anywhere. And they’re the times when it will be the hardest for your partner to believe you. But they will try to believe, and hopefully you won’t go anywhere.

 

Teaser Thursday- Stepping Stone Not Doormat

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“It is what it is.” Navon didn’t know whether to sit or stay on his feet. The one thing he could be certain of was that Solara wouldn’t allow him to stay much longer. The guy hadn’t wanted him there in the first place. “Charlie?”

“Solara,” the other man snapped.

At least there’s some emotion there now. “Sorry,” Navon said. “Solara.”

“I go by Solara Flare. My stage name and the name I prefer. And female pronouns.” Solara sighed. “Not that it matters, because once you walk out this door, you won’t be seeing me again.”

“Why female pronouns?” Navon asked the question before he could stop himself. It wasn’t any of his business how Solara chose to refer to him—herself. He didn’t need to know the reasons because Solara was probably right. They wouldn’t see each other again.

That hurt like hell. Navon didn’t know what he’d expected from this visit, but he’d hoped his former lover would at least be happy to see him. He’d believed that maybe after so long apart, Charlie would want to spend a little time with Navon before Navon returned to Los Angeles. Obviously he’d underestimated the impact of the past on Solara.

To Navon’s surprise, Solara answered. “I’ve always asked for female pronouns when I’m in drag. I use my drag name as a daily thing, so I carried the pronoun thing over as well. And it’s another layer of protection. A female named Solara didn’t seem as likely to be on certain people’s radar.”

Mason’s radar. Navon had no doubt that was what Solara meant. Mason had always been pissed off if anyone referred to Charlie by his drag name or used female pronouns or even terms like “girl” or “bitch.” The jackass had been adamant that the “woman shit” remain only onstage or during other appearances and not cross into Charlie’s regular life at all.

Navon had to wonder if Solara had chosen deliberately to go against that order, not only to hide from Mason but because she knew it would have infuriated him if he’d ever found out.

“If you’re going to give me what you brought, better do it now,” Solara said. “Nice to see you, nice to fuck you. Now get out. Please.”

The raw pain in that single word pushed Navon into action. He knelt beside his backpack. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

“It is what it is,” Solara said with a slight note of sarcasm. “Just like I always say. You asked why I never told anyone? I tried. That last time in the hospital. They laughed at me. Said he was so much smaller that I should have been able to ‘take him’ in a fight. A gay man hammers the shit out of another gay man, and no one cares. Especially if the one doing the hammering is smaller. I knew that. I wouldn’t have said a damn thing if they hadn’t recognized the injuries as an assault and told me to report who did it.”

Navon pressed his lips together and focused on opening the backpack. It was bad enough he’d wanted to kill Mason when he’d found out about the beating. Now he had a whole list of others to hate. Everyone who had let Solara down.

Himself included.