Monday Music: We’ll Love Until the End of Time

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On Friday, my parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They are still very much in love and a wonderful example of a couple who’ve weathered every storm together. They’re a large part of the reason I believe in things like romance and true love.

And this is their song. :)

Guest Post: Kristen Slater on Good Guys

My guest today is Kristen Slater, who’s just published her first story, a novella titled Working It Out. Take it away, Kristen!

Hello everybody—and thank you to Shae for letting me wave at you from her blog. My name’s Kristen Slater and just over a week ago my first ever published story was released by Dreamspinner Press. I’m now starting a round of visits to kind people who are letting me tell their readers about my book, and introduce a giveaway that will run for the duration of my blog tour—details of where else you can find me are on the list on my blog. More about that later.

Working It Out is the story of Cas and Joe—and how Cas works out he’s in love. As the story opens, Joe’s already been saying “I love you” for a while, but Cas isn’t sure how he feels. Now, I’ve never been in love and don’t really form close relationships with people, so you may wonder how I can write about it.

It’s because I’ve read about relationships—everything you read shows people in relationships of one kind and another. Some are more successful than others, and they’re not necessarily the focus of a story the way they are in a romance, but the ins and outs of how people interact are described. And then I’ve also listened to people talking about the people in their lives and watched them interact with each other.

So I’ve a reasonable idea of the theory, at least. And I’m in love with the idea of romantic love. That people meet a special someone (or someones if they’re polyamorous) with whom they want to spend the rest of their life. The idea of having someone at your side, someone to share in your good times and support you in your bad times, someone with whom you can completely let go of all the pretences and barriers and masks. That’s an amazing idea. The person you can trust that much must be pretty special, huh? One of the good guys.

In Working It Out, Cas describes his boyfriend, Joe, as one of the good guys. Originally, the paragraph below finished with those two words. Then the editor asked me a question. How is he one of the good guys? How do we know this?

Well, she had a good point there. It inspired me to think about what makes Joe special, why Cas would want him to stick around. The result was an outline of some of the things that I think make a good partner. One who’s right for you and who values you. Someone it’s worth making an effort for.

Joe just texted to say he’s on his way. He doesn’t like calling from the bus; it’s too public. Time to do something nice for my guy. Vanilla scented candles in the bedroom, a big towel on top of the quilt and aromatherapy massage oil. He’s going to be all twisted and knotted up, and I give a good massage, if I do say so myself. There’s other things I do well, but this is the one he’s going to need tonight. I’ve turned the heating on to make sure the room’s warm enough. Afterwards we’ll just cuddle and go to sleep. This isn’t about sex—we can do that anytime—but making him feel good. He deserves it; he’s one of the good guys. He’s never once let me down, never walked off in the middle of a conversation, never spent the whole evening talking to other people and left me on my own in the corner. I realize that makes it sound like I’ve got crappy taste in men, but I haven’t, honestly. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t complain about the same things in their boyfriends. Joe’s really different, and that’s why I don’t want to mess this up.

Basically, Joe’s attention and focus is on Cas. He doesn’t take Cas for granted. I think that makes him a good guy.

Below is a taster and a peek at the cover. If you’d like to read more, you can buy the story from the Dreamspinner Press website.

But first, that giveaway I mentioned. I’m running a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $10 gift certificate for the Dreamspinner Press store. You can enter by commenting on any of the posts on the tour and then visiting Rafflecopter to tell me about it. While there you can click to follow me on twitter and follow my blog for more opportunities to win. If you can’t think of anything to say, I have a question for you. What do you think makes someone a good guy, a person you can depend on?


0 WorkingItOutCover-full 300x450CAS——November

What is love, anyway? I mean, you tell me how you know you’re in love.

Joe’s been saying I love you for months. I get the feeling he’s expecting me to say it back. But. I dunno. It just doesn’t feel right, you know? Aren’t you supposed to just know? And I don’t. Maybe I love him. I know I like having him around. Those days when he’s late home and there’s no one in the house when I get back, it feels kind of… empty. But that’s habit, isn’t it? Because most times he’s already there when I walk through the door. So it’s bound to feel odd when he isn’t. Isn’t it?

I remember the day he asked me to move in with him. We’d been seeing each other casually for over a year, meeting up and going to his place or mine for some mutual fun. I’m still not sure how it developed into spending most of our spare time together, but we became really good friends at some point. Then there was the day we went back to his flat in the middle of the afternoon, unable to wait to get our hands on each other’s bare flesh. Afterwards, the late afternoon sun bathing us with warmth, he propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at me with an uncharacteristically serious expression.

“Cas? I like being with you. I like it a lot.” Joe’s hand idly stroked my belly in circles and swirls. “I don’t just mean the sex, although that’s incredible. I like the way we never seem to run out of things to say to each other, the way we like doing the same things, going to the same places.” The hand stopped and rested over my diaphragm, warm and relaxed. “What I’m trying to say is I’d like to spend more time together. All our time. I want to wake up next to you every morning and know I’ll see you again that evening. I’d like to try living together.”

The longer I stayed quiet, the more tense his hand became. His beautiful gray eyes were fixed on my face, as if he was trying to read my thoughts. He’d have had a problem. I didn’t really have any coherent thoughts initially. Then, when I did, I wondered why he was asking. What we had was good. Why change that? Living together was like some sort of heavy-duty commitment. I’d seen enough people who had a good thing going break up after moving in together. And we’re only in our midtwenties, what’s the rush?

I suppose I should have seen it coming. The “I love you” thing. I’d said yes to living together because I couldn’t see a way of continuing to see Joe if I didn’t. And I wanted to keep seeing him. Like he said, the sex was—and still is—incredible. Also, I’ve never been one of those people who have hundreds of friends. I always say it’s because I’m picky and have a different definition of what the word friend means. And Joe was—is—a friend. He isn’t the only one who likes us spending time together. The way I define friend, I’ve only ever had about four or five, and Joe’s the best one I ever had. It’s not that I’m antisocial or anything, but most people are acquaintances. Some closer than others, but still—acquaintances.

Tonight, I’m on my own on the sofa, some program or other on the muted TV providing a bit of light and movement in the corner. And getting all introspective. Tonight’s one of those late nights for Joe. His job at the Council is on flextime, which looks like an excuse to mess people around, if you ask me. Unlike him, I don’t have unexpected delays at work, because the library at the University has set closing times. It’s a specialized library and I help people find the information and references they need, and assess the quality of their sources, as well as the usual library things. You know, making sure everything’s back where it belongs at the end of each day, keeping our journal subscriptions up to date, chasing down students and staff who don’t bring stuff back when it’s due. But mostly I help people with their research.

I came home to a text on the mobile I accidentally left on the kitchen worktop when leaving for work this morning. I could tell he was pissed off about working late. He doesn’t normally swear in texts. Or any other time really. When he gets in, he’ll need to let off steam about his boss, Penny. I keep telling him he needs to get another job. The trouble is, he likes what he does. It’s just her.

I was disappointed. I’d been looking forward to telling him about my day, finding out about his. There’s always some small thing that’s happened in the day and I need to share it with someone—with Joe specifically. He understands what I’m saying, he gets why it was funny, or sad, or annoying. I like to hear what he’s been up to as well. We sit there after dinner swapping anecdotes, snuggled up on the sofa or one on the sofa and the other in a chair, depending on our mood. I feel like I’ve known him all my life, and even when we’re quiet, it’s comfortable sitting together. I don’t have to make this huge effort to be constantly entertaining, and if a thought crosses my mind I know I can say it out loud and he’ll understand.

So. Where was I? Oh yeah. What is love, and how do you know if what you feel is love? Why should I be worrying about this tonight of all nights, you ask? Well, we’re going away this weekend. Joe’s planned this incredibly romantic weekend in Brussels. I know why. Sunday’s six months to the day when we moved his things in to join mine. If we’re going to start celebrating anniversaries and stuff like that, I need to think about what sort of relationship this is. Is this just good fun, or are we in it for the long haul?

Interview with the Playing Ball Authors

PlayingBallORIGI had a great time last night doing an interview with Wt Prater’s “Taste Test” segment on the Writers Online Network along with fellow authors Kerry Freeman, Marguerite Labbe, and Kate McMurray. We talked about how the Playing Ball anthology and our stories came about, as well as what we each have coming up. Check out the interview HERE and comment for a chance to win the anthology! Or if you’d like to go ahead and grab a copy, you can get it for 20% off through tomorrow at Dreamspinner Press. :)

An Interview and a New Audiobook

Two announcements to make!

PlayingBallORIGSunday night, Writers Online Network will play host to the authors of the Playing Ball anthology for the “Taste Test” feature. Kate McMurray, Marguerite Labbe, Kerry Freeman, and I will be there to talk with Wt Prater about the anthology, our stories, and our mutual love affair with baseball. The show starts at 7 p.m. Central time (8 p.m. on the East Coast, 5 p.m. on the West Coast). Here’s the link!

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Also, the audiobook for the Dreamspinner Press Grand Adventures anthology is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. As with all the other products related to the anthology, proceeds will go to authors Eric Arvin and TJ Klune to support them during Eric’s recovery process. Here’s the link!

Guest Blog: Aidee Ladnier and Traveling Time

Aren’t You That Guy I Met Next Week?

Today my guest is the fabulous Aidee Ladnier, here to talk about her new story, The Break-In. Take it away, Aidee!

Thank you so much, Shae, for letting me guest post on your blog during my tour to promote THE BREAK-IN, published by Dreamspinner Press. I even have a rafflecopter giveaway with lots of cool prizes, so make sure you enter.

Today I’m going to talk about a problem I recently struggled with that other writers might also face—yes, I’m talking about the dreaded curse of character confusion in time-travel fiction.

Most writers penning a series have tiny details they need to keep straight in order to remain consistent. A hero’s eyes can’t be blue in one book and then green in the next (unless they have some weird eyecolor-changing magic going on…or maybe contacts). A main character’s hair can’t be blue-black in one book and then flaming red in the next (unless they have a really good hairdresser).

But throw in time-travel and you have a whole other set of headaches. With time-travel fiction you’ve got characters popping in and out of each other’s lives at different points in their timeline. This not only requires keeping track of when it happens but also MATH. Because if Character A is 23 when they first meet, but Character B is 38, how does that affect their second meeting when Character A is 33 and Character B is 18?

So how to get around this–I keep lots of notes. You may have heard of something called a “series bible.” This is the book (or electronic file folder) with all the important information that helps keep your story coherent. Here’s what J.K. Rowling’s timeline looked like in her notes:

Most series bibles contain things like physical descriptions of all the major and minor characters as well as their biographies and histories—anything that you will need to know about them every time you write about them.

Notes on the settings are also a must. You can’t have a stream running on one side of the house in one book and on another in the next unless you want the house surrounded by water—might as well put it on an island. Is it on an island? Okay, put that in your bible.

Does your book contains some kind of new and innovative magic that works on a wonky system of rituals or maybe your book has several different species of vampires, or have castes of elven royalty? All these things should go in your series bible.

The main function of the series bible is not just to keep your facts straight but to keep from confusing your readers. If you’re unsure of a fact about a character, your reader will be lost as well. Of course, you can always reread your own novels to find out if a character takes their tea sweet or unsweet, but wouldn’t it be easier just to look it up in one easy-to-find place?

I hope you’ll join me as I journey back to visit my characters Forbes and Oliver in my new ebook, THE BREAK-IN.

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

About Aidee Ladnier

Aidee Ladnier began writing fiction at 12 years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee’s to write both romance and erotica with a little science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

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The Break-in

Author: Aidee Ladnier

ISBN-13: 978-1-62798-736-3
Pages: 56
Cover Artist: Christy Caughie

Buy: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble  | ARe

Blurb: Ten years ago, roboticist Forbes Pohle received a visit from time-traveler Oliver Lennox. “Wait for me,” Oliver said. Now a decade has come and gone, and Oliver has returned. However, Forbes never dreamed Oliver would reappear as the point man for a gang of technology thieves breaking into his lab. He finds the younger Oliver just as sexy and even more annoying; still, he must convince him their happily-ever-after is meant to be—but he only has the time it takes his robotic cat Jeepers to thwart the thieves to do it.

After waiting so long, he could lose everything in the span of seconds.

Holiday Stories Still On Sale

PresentADay_websiteWell, the Christmas in July 99-cent sale for Sand & Water is over (and a great big thank you to everyone who took advantage!), but you can still get a deal on a couple of my other stories with Dreamspinner Press. All holiday-themed books are 25% off this month, so you can pick up my short stories “Sharing Christmas” for $2.24 and “Of Holiday Spirits, Wake-Up Calls, and Happily Ever Afters” for just $1.12.

Be sure to check in at the Dreamspinner site every day for more 99-cent sales, too. I’ve been adding to my TBR pile every day!

Christmas in July! Get Sand & Water for Just 99c

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Dreamspinner’s having a Christmas in July sale all month long, and today, you can get my first novel, Sand & Water, in ebook for just 99 cents. Set on Georgia’s Tybee Island, it makes a great beach read. You can even transfer the file directly to your Kindle from the Dreamspinner site. Grab it while it’s cheap! :)

Party Mode: ON

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I am deep into planning for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party later this summer. Ten years ago, I gave my parents a 40th anniversary dinner. We had 20 people in a nice restaurant, and it was awesome and not terribly expensive. But I wanted them to have something bigger for their 50th, with as much family there as possible, without it being super-fancy.

So we’re having an afternoon reception in the social hall at their church. The space and time are reserved, I have invitations and a guest list, and I have a long, LONG list of things yet to do.

My mom has always been the big party planner in the family. “Mom’s in Party Mode again” has been a running joke for as long as I can remember. She’s 70 now and doesn’t have the energy to do big things anymore, but she still loves the process. Naturally, that means she’s driving me a little bit nuts.

“Mom,” I keep reassuring her. “I grew up learning about parting planning from you. I know what you like and what you don’t, and I can do this without breaking the bank. Redirect all that energy toward stressing over what you’re going to wear.”

(That last part she’s already doing with no prompting from me anyway.)

It’s kind of amazing how much work is involved even with a simple party. The guest list has been a bear, mainly tracking down current addresses for everyone who needs a mailed invitation. I made a decision early on to buy party trays and a premade cake, but someone has to be dispatched to pick those up. I love figuring out table decorations, and I think I’ve figured out how to do that without spending huge amounts. We aren’t going crazy with flowers, but Mom loves ferns, and a local florist will rent them with stands, so I need to call and set that up. We have some gorgeous silver pieces, including a big punchbowl and five-branch candelabra—all of which will have to be polished. And I’m setting up a memorabilia table with pictures and such.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something important. Like stressing out over what I’m going to wear.

Anyway, one of the few things I’m allowing Mom to do is making the base for the punch. She has a recipe she loves that can be made and frozen way ahead of time, and they have plenty of freezer space. I asked if she’d be willing to share the Secret Recipe, and she grudgingly agreed.

(I kid. She loves sharing recipes!)

So wish me luck getting the party together, and if anyone wants to show up for kitchen labor, just let me know. ;)

Party Punch

One 6-oz. package strawberry gelatin mix (or any flavor you like)
Four cups boiling water
Four 12-oz. cans frozen lemonade
Two 46-oz. cans pineapple juice
Six 2-liter bottles ginger ale

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add lemonade and stir until dissolved. Add pineapple juice and stir well. Punch base can be frozen at this point and thawed before serving.

To serve, mix equal parts punch base and ginger ale in punch bowl. Float frozen strawberries and pineapple chunks, ice cubes with lemon slices, and/or a fruit ice ring in the punch. Makes about 50 servings.

Monday Music: Gimme Some More

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Yeah, this post is basically just an excuse to stare at hot guys dancing in very little clothing. It’s also seasonally appropriate. So there. ;)

Free Read: A Life in a Year

I had forgotten about this. For GayRomLit 2012, I put together a set of free reads on CD to hand out, and I’d intended to post them on my site later. I never did, so, surprise! Free reads! :D

First up is “A Life in a Year,” a set of snippets from the life of one couple. You can read it here or download a PDF version here.

More to come over the next few weeks. :)