May 25

Book Trailer- With Every Touch

I’ve probably shared this on here before, but I felt like sharing it again because I’m really proud of the music in it. “Break the Fall” is my song. Literally. I composed the bass guitar part, and my musician friend composed the lead and rhythm guitar parts based on the bass. I also wrote lyrics and composed vocals, but since I love to complicate things, I can’t actually *sing* the vocals properly yet (the last chorus with its key change trips me up every time), so I’ve only used the instrumental version in the trailer.

But still… that’s my song. And me playing bass on the recording. So I wanted to share.

May 21

Teaser Thursday- Beta Block

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Mine. No matter how many times the word went through her mind, Brianna had trouble believing it. Carlos was gorgeous, strong, compassionate—everything she’d ever wanted, and everything she wasn’t. He couldn’t be her mate.

She sat on the couch in Mikey and Trey’s apartment, staring at the TV she had turned on for company. With the only other person in the apartment sound asleep, the place was too quiet. Talking to Carlos about her past had felt good in a way. Like lancing a boil and letting out all the pus. The comparison disgusted her, but it was accurate. Once she’d punctured the surface of everything she kept inside, it had all poured out no matter how hard she’d tried to stop it.

Admittedly, she hadn’t tried very hard. Carlos had listened and had kept his promise not to judge. Suzannah and Tobias had been the same way when she’d talked to them, but she hadn’t dared to tell them everything. They knew about most of the abuse. They didn’t know about the men she’d chosen to be with.

She hadn’t wanted Carlos to know either. Women who enjoyed sex were sometimes looked at as sluts or worse. And if a woman had been raped and enjoyed sex afterward…She had heard the opinions of some of the Sunset Pack members. Not to mention the men who had used her between the time she’d left home and her change. They thought she was twisted at the least. Damaged. Warped.

She agreed with them. She had learned from an early age that women and girls weren’t supposed to like or want sex, and even though she knew better, she couldn’t help judging herself.

She had learned to compartmentalize. To put things into neat categories so she could try to move on and live her life after everything that had happened. In her mind, what her father and some of the other men had done to her hadn’t been sex. It had been rape, abuse. Of course she didn’t enjoy it. But with some of the men she’d chosen to be with, it had been sex, and she had liked it. She understood the difference. Others didn’t, and some assumed her enjoyment of consensual sex meant she’d enjoyed all of it.

People were idiots sometimes.

Carlos had seemed to understand, and he hadn’t minded any of the things she’d told him. The kiss they’d shared at her front door said more clearly than any words that he cared about her. Possibly he even loved her already, though she didn’t believe love happened so quickly. Nothing she’d told him had turned him away from her, just as he’d promised.

Their kiss had strengthened the connection between them, too, which worried her. Having a bond with him felt right, but it also felt wrong. As if she had betrayed someone.

The moment the thought crossed her mind, she knew. And she wanted to scream.

The rogue. She knew his name, of course. She just didn’t want to think it. He had said he was making her his. The bond she’d had with the Sunset Pack Alpha had been severed the first time the stranger had fucked her. He had formed his own bond with her somehow, by force, and it wouldn’t budge to allow the bonds she should have with Carlos and Tobias.

“I’m not yours.” She spoke softly so she wouldn’t wake Mikey, but she needed to hear the words aloud. “I am part of the Boston North Pack. I am the mate of Carlos Garza. And I belong to myself.”

May 18

Someone to Believe

When you grow up being constantly told you can’t do things, it’s really hard to believe in yourself. Because of that, just making an attempt to learn something new, or to build a skill, can be scary. What if all the people who told you that you would fail were right?

When I was growing up, no matter what I said I wanted to do, I was told I would never manage it. I wasn’t good enough, or talented enough, or dedicated enough, or whatever. People made fun of me for my dreams, as bullies will.

I’m not saying any of that to whine, by the way. Just setting the stage.

When I was a kid, there were three things I wanted to do. I wanted to teach. I wanted to be a published author. And I wanted to write songs and perform them in front of audiences.

Despite everyone who told me I couldn’t do those things, I’ve done two. I used to teach; I had to stop due to health issues. And obviously I’m a published author, since this is my author website…

But I had people who believed in me when I did those things.

When I was in elementary school, the special education teacher asked my classroom teacher if I could tutor a couple of her students during the school day. She told me over and over what a great job I did, especially when I managed to help one of her students understand long division, something they’d been working on for months. And when I was in high school, my guidance counselor arranged for me to give up a study hall to volunteer in the special education classroom at the adjacent elementary school. There, again, I was able to help students make progress, and was told by the teacher and her aides that I should go on to become a teacher myself.

In kindergarten, since I already knew how to read, the teacher wasn’t quite sure what to do with me. One day, I showed her a story I’d written. From that point on, writing stories became part of my reading program. She had me read books from the classroom library and write my own stories based on them. In high school, my tenth grade English teacher enjoyed my stories so much that when she required us to keep journals, she allowed me to keep a journal for one of my characters instead of myself. And when I met my husband, I let him read a couple of erotica stories I’d written, and he told me I should keep writing, and that I shouldn’t hold myself back out of fear if I really wanted to be published.

Now I’m working on the singer-songwriter thing. And I don’t seem to have anyone who believes in me. At least not out of the people who’ve heard or read my songs, or heard me sing. (Except the vocal coach who told me I have a beautiful voice and can definitely make it onstage. But I can’t afford to have her keep telling me that at $50 a lesson…)

A friend told me I need to fight for myself on this. That I should ignore the “haters” if I believe I can do this. But that really isn’t easy when one of the “haters” is my guy who’s helping me with the music. And it isn’t easy when I was brought up to believe I would fail no matter what, and fighting for myself was… not a smart thing to do.

I’m still trying. I just wish someone in my “real” life believed in me.

May 14

Teaser Thursday- The Alpha’s Bride

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Tareth tried and failed to hold Justin’s gaze. His brown eyes showed nothing other than love and concern, but she feared once her words sank in, that would change.

They’d only been together since September. Their relationship had progressed at warp speed, from barely speaking in the subway each morning to dating to fucking in the span of less than a week. And they’d moved in together shortly after the death of Justin’s close friend Chal Torres. The death which had forced Justin to take leadership of the largest werewolf pack in the northeastern United States.

Because of Justin’s role in the pack, when Tareth had first begun to suspect her pregnancy, she hadn’t told him. He had too much responsibility in his life already. Along with becoming Alpha of the City Pack, Justin had taken over running the international shipping company Chal had owned. His second and third in command were constantly at each other’s throats, leaving Justin to mediate while keeping the rest of the pack from finding out about the conflict among their leaders.

The last thing he needed was to learn that the woman he’d known only three months was carrying their child.

They’d been careless in the early days. Tareth hadn’t been on birth control, and at least twice, they’d forgone condoms during sex. She’d known the risk and hadn’t cared. Justin had said he didn’t either. She should have known better than to take such a chance, and now it was too late to change it.

Now they were both stuck. And while part of her loved the idea of giving her lover—her mate, although Justin and some of his pack had told her they’d never heard of a human being a werewolf’s true mate before—the child he could never have had with a female werewolf, she was afraid he would leave her when he found out.

Holding her breath, she tried to stop tears from running down her face. Crying was manipulative, or so her parents had taught her. She couldn’t let Justin think she was trying to manipulate him into staying.

May 11

Tech Rant (Again)

I’m sure I’ve ranted about technological issues on here before, because I have a lot of them. Technology and I are definitely NOT close friends.

First of all… my YA pen name, Jo Ramsey, has not had a website in nearly three weeks. It was working great, then all of a sudden became a 503 error page instead of the website. My hosting company told me it was a WordPress issue, and that even if it wasn’t, I wasn’t paying for website support and therefore they couldn’t do much for me. They told me to go to WordPress for support.

WordPress apparently doesn’t have a support helpline, or if they do, I couldn’t find any contact info. They do have support forums, but when I tried to read the posts about how to fix 503 errors… I might as well have been reading cuneiform.

Back to the hosting company. I uninstalled WordPress and reinstalled it, because they said that might fix the problem. It didn’t. I still get a 503 error, and now all the information that was on my website is completely gone, lost when I uninstalled WordPress. (I checked internet archives. Because I had the site set up so “robots” couldn’t crawl it, the site is not archived anywhere.)

I’m paying a friend of my 19-year-old to come over, read the WordPress forums, and try to fix the site. Hopefully that will work. If not, I have no clue what I’ll do.

And then, on another type of technology, last week my “person” loaned me his recording machine so I could work on the vocals of a song we’re doing together. The instrumental tracks were all done; I keep redoing the vocals because they haven’t been right yet. The machine has an auto-tune function, so my plan was to record the vocals and apply auto-tune to see if that would give me the desired results.

Person also gave me the manual for the machine. I read the pages on the auto-tune function’s use four times before I started, and then followed each step to the letter.

Somehow, instead of ending up with a tuned recording of the vocals… I lost the previous vocal track AND the three instrumental tracks.

The machine has “lost” recordings on us before, and Person has been able to recover them by removing the memory card and reinserting it. We’re hoping that will work this time. If not, fortunately we have the instrumental of the song saved as an MP3 (which I did so I could practice the vocals), so we can import that back onto the machine.

Sometimes I think I should live in a technology-free cave…

May 07

Teaser Thursday- Beta Test

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Justin’s heart gave a little jump when Tareth walked out of the office, smiling at him like going to lunch with him was the best thing she’d done all week. She was so beautiful, and he was proud to be the one taking her to lunch. He couldn’t believe things were happening so quickly between them. He’d expected finding one’s mate to be like finding a girlfriend. Slow, taking time to get to know one another before anything physical happened. He knew that wasn’t the way things always went, but at seventy years old—though he looked only thirty thanks to shifter-slowed aging—he tended to be a little old-fashioned when it came to relationships.

He wasn’t a bit old-fashioned about sex. But that wasn’t the same thing.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked as they rode the elevator to the first floor.

“Wherever you want,” she replied hesitantly. “Honestly, I don’t eat out much. I mostly either brought my lunch to work before or picked up a burger and fries at a fast food place. So I wouldn’t even know what’s good around here.”

“I’ll take care of it, then.” When the elevator came to a spot on the first floor the small bump caused their fingers to brush. His heart gave another jump at the small touch. Even the tiny amount of physical contact with her sent sparks through him. He needed to tread very, very carefully with her to avoid another situation like the day before. That wouldn’t be easy.

He took her to a small seafood restaurant a few blocks from the office. As they walked in, it occurred to him that he should have asked whether she liked seafood. He’d just assumed she did because he did. The logic made absolutely no sense.

“I love seafood,” she said. “Great choice.”

“Good, I’m glad.” He breathed a sigh of relief and they took a table near the door.

As they waited to give their orders, for their drinks and food, they talked. Justin found himself giving Tareth more information about himself than he’d ever given anyone. He told her where he’d been born and then had to catch himself before he told her how long ago that had been. He doubted she would buy the “well-preserved” explanation for how he could be seventy years old. Not to mention that if she found out his true age, she would almost certainly decide he was too old for her.

He didn’t feel too old. Around her, he felt like a high school kid again. Only the fact that he was discussing a subject he knew quite a bit about kept him from becoming completely tongue-tied.

May 04

Who Cares?

Recently, on one of my Facebook accounts, an author friend posted that he’s been receiving accusations and even threats from someone who’s convinced that first of all, he’s a woman (he isn’t; he’s openly intersex, and to the best of my knowledge uses male pronouns, or at least that’s what his close friends use when they refer to him); and second of all, that he and a teenage boy he’s mentoring are actually the same person.

Not only is my author friend getting all this nonsense… but at least one of the people throwing BS at him is also stalking and accusing the teenage boy. Who is a legitimate teenager (other author friends have kids around the same age who have met or Skyped with the boy).

Aside from the complete heinousness of dragging a teenage abuse survivor through something like this, which I won’t rant about because it completely infuriates me, there’s the issue of the gender of my author friend.

And my response to that issue is… who cares???

An author’s genitals, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. has NOTHING to do with what or whether they write.

NOTHING.

It’s one thing if an author is blatantly lying about who they are, as has been the case with a handful. But my friend isn’t lying. He’s very open about who he is. And he’s a huge support and encouragement for abuse and trauma survivors, both through his books and in his personal life.

So who the bleep cares if he’s male, female, intersex, or whatever? Why are people going out of their way to harass him and the boy he’s mentoring?

He’s an author. Focus on his writing. Leave his personal life out of it. And the same goes for any author.

Read their books. Judge their writing, not the person behind it.

Apr 23

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch

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“Hey.” Standing shirtless in a pair of swim trunks, Erich gave a slow, lazy smile that sent heat through Sheila. Five days had slightly dulled her memory of exactly how sexy the man was. He stepped back and made a sweeping gesture with one hand. “Come on in. The place is a little messy, but I did some cleaning while I was waiting.”

“You didn’t have to clean up for me.” Sheila went through the door into a living room furnished with a brown couch and two mismatched chairs. “I’m not here to inspect the place.”

“That’s a relief. It’s gone downhill a bit since my divorce.” He walked past her into the kitchen area, which was mostly open to the living room. “Pizza’s here, and I have water and cola in the fridge. Help yourself unless you’d rather I serve you.”

“I can serve myself, thanks.” Realizing she had spoken more irritably than she’d intended, she smiled. “I appreciate a gentleman, though.”

“I try to be a good guy.” He opened a cupboard to one side of the kitchen sink and took out a plate, which he held out to her. “Here you go. Unless you’d rather swim first. I did say I’d leave it up to you.”

“Don’t they say you shouldn’t swim for half an hour after eating?” Sheila took the plate but didn’t open the pizza box on the counter. “It looks like you’re all ready to dive into the pool, and I know I am.”

“Then let’s start with that and work up an appetite.” Erich winked. “This way.”

He led her out the backdoor to a small tidy yard, which was mostly occupied by a large above-ground pool. The water was clear and so inviting Sheila couldn’t wait to dive in.

“Go ahead,” Erich said. “I’ll get towels. Should have thought of that first. I’ll be right back, but don’t wait for me if you want to get wet.”

Sheila grinned. “What makes you think I’m not already wet?”

“Oh, it’s like that, is it?” Erich winked. “We’ll see.”

He went back inside, and Sheila stripped off her shirt and shorts and set them on a lawn chair by the door. There was no deck around the pool. The only way in was to climb a ladder and either jump in or descend the ladder. The ladder was rickety enough to make her nervous as she stepped onto the bottom rung, but she didn’t care. The humidity in the air had her sweating even though she had only been outside a few minutes, and she was ready for the cool water.

A noise behind her made her jump, and she almost fell. Immediately someone grabbed the ladder. “Careful,” Erich said. “I should have warned you about that. Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” She smiled at him over her shoulder. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” He gave her an appreciative look. “Nice view.”

“Thanks,” Sheila said again and turned away.

She reached into the water and decided it was warm enough to just jump in. She finished climbing the ladder and jumped off, allowing herself to sink under the water.

When she surfaced, Erich was on top of the ladder looking at her with sheer desire.

She beckoned to him. “It’s your pool. Get in here.”

He took a shallow dive in and approached her underwater. Sheila considered dodging him but, curious about his intentions, stayed put.

He wrapped his arms around her legs and lifted her as he surfaced. Laughing, she swatted his shoulder. Water dripping into his eyes, he looked up at her. “Damn, you’re sexy as hell.”

“So are you.” The playful mood between them was enjoyable, but lust underlay it. Sheila didn’t mind a bit. He wanted her. That was good.

Apr 20

Sometimes It’s Nice to Hear

Back when I first started writing romances, an editor criticized me for having my characters say “I love you” too often.

Maybe in fiction, there’s such a thing as saying it too often. Especially since readers do tend to frown on repetition in a story.

But I wrote that way because in my own life, I couldn’t hear it enough. For me personally, at least, there’s no such thing as hearing “I love you” too often.

For some people, though, it’s difficult to say even when they feel it. They might assume their partner “just knows”. Or they might have had negative experiences in the past that leave them reluctant to open their hearts that much.

You can’t really push a partner into saying something they don’t feel able to say. On the other hand, you can’t expect your partner to read your mind. My past left me unable to trust my own judgement about relationships, so even if I see signs that a partner loves me, I’m never completely certain unless they say it. In fact, if they don’t say it, I manage to convince myself that I’m reading too much into the things they do and say–even if *they* believe those things are clearly showing me they love me.

If you love someone, don’t just assume they know. Try saying it to them at least once. Because sometimes it’s just nice to hear.

Apr 16

Teaser Thursday- Tempeh for Two

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“Before I start, I want you all to understand no one will face any consequences for anything you say here,” I said. “I gave Kendra my word no one here will be harmed in any way by me or by Kyle.”

“He staked it on his rank,” Kendra said. “Some of you may not comprehend that, but for these guys, if they stake something on their rank it’s like magic. They break their word, the rank is taken from them. So you can trust what Tobias says. He can’t hurt any of us, and Kyle won’t either.”

“Too bad he didn’t make that promise before yesterday,” Bill muttered.

“Yes,” I said, “it is, though it might not have saved Andrew. You all know what silver does if it enters a werewolf’s bloodstream. We can handle touching it for short periods as long as it’s only a surface touch. If it enters our blood, we die. Three lives were at risk in my office yesterday. We tried our best to disarm Andrew. He wanted to be disarmed, I could see it in his eyes. But he was unable to fight off the power controlling him, and I wasn’t able to break through it.”

“So you take the fucking gun out of his hands,” Bill said.

“It wouldn’t have helped.” Jeannette, one of the housekeepers, said.

Her comment was so unexpected that for a moment, I couldn’t come up with a response.

“How do you know?” Avery asked. She didn’t sound as if she was arguing, just asking for clarification. The question I should have asked.

“One of the alphas who was here last fall.” Jeannette clasped her hands together. “He…Tobias, may I speak with you privately after we’re finished here?”

“Of course.” My heart sank. Other than myself, I only knew of one alpha who’d attended the September gathering who had the power to compel humans. And I was all too aware of what he’d done to other women.

I’d hoped Saul had confined his abuse to female werewolves. That was bad enough, but hearing he’d also used human women sent a black rage through me. If he hadn’t already been dead, I would have hunted him and killed him myself.

“Anyway.” Jeannette took a deep breath. “I tried to stop him, but I couldn’t. Only a small part of me wanted to. The rest just did what he said.”

“I’m sorry.” Avery put her arm around Jeanette’s shoulders. “You shouldn’t have had to go through that. We should be safe here.”

“You should be,” I agreed. “And I’m doing everything I can to make sure you are in the future. I wish I could change the past.”

“I didn’t tell you so you’d give me sympathy,” Jeannette snapped. She looked at me with wet eyes. “I told you so you’d know there wouldn’t have been any way to stop Andrew other than what Kyle did. If someone was doing to him what was done to me—the control, I mean—he wouldn’t have been able to fight it off no matter what he did.”

“He did try,” I said quietly. “I saw it, and I did my best to help him. Sometimes I’m able to break through others’ control. This time, I couldn’t. If you all blame anyone for Andrew’s death, I share the blame. Kyle was the one who acted, but he only did so because I failed.”

“Then you should have tried harder,” Bill said.

“Maybe so, but if someone was holding a gun on you or someone you loved, would you talk?” I demanded. “Or would you act to save your life or theirs?”

He glared at me but didn’t answer. His silence was the only response I needed. He wanted someone to blame for Andrew’s death, but in Kyle’s place, he would have done the same thing.

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