How Did We Get Here Already??

February? Really? I swear Christmas was yesterday. I need life to slow down a bit, please.

The past week has been mostly a wash. As many of you know, my mom fell Tuesday morning and broke her ankle badly. After surgery and a few days in the hospital, she’s now settled into a rehab center. She can’t put any weight on her right leg for 6 to 8 weeks, so she’ll need some strengthening and practice on moving around on her left leg only before she can go home. Thankfully, she’s doing well, without a lot of pain.

While I was able to do some day job work from my parents’ place, I made no writing progress and very little on my other major project, which is reading books to judge for the RITA awards. I have eight books to read, and I’ve only finished one so far. I have a pile of recent releases on my Kindle that will just have to sit and wait until I have the required reading done!

I’ve decided to start noting what I’m working on in my blog posts (and to try to post every 2 weeks). Like this:

Currently writing: Rhythm & Blues, M/M novella (~30% complete)

Keep Track of Me in 2016 (and Beyond)

First up: In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a shiny new header and a shiny new tagline: Romance for Every Heart. The tagline reflects my belief that love is for everyone, and my intent to show that with the stories I write. Even though some of those stories might fall outside your usual reading boundaries, I hope you’ll give them a try. Don’t worry—I have no plans to leave M/M romance behind. :)

I’ll also be working on a redesign of the website, and along with the new look, I’ll be launching a newsletter probably later this month. Sign-ups are available right here. I don’t expect to publish more than once a month, and likely less often than that. Expect to find updates on upcoming titles, sneak peeks at cover art, snippets of works in progress, and a giveaway now and then.

So, what kinds of things will I be telling you about? I’m glad you asked!

I have only one firm submission deadline this year. In the fall, I’ll be submitting my (first?) title for the Dreamspun Desires line, Dating the Dad Next Door, with tentative publication slated for late 2017 or early 2018. In the meantime, though, I’ll be working on three primary projects: Help Wanted, an M/F category romance; Out of Bounds, the first in a college-set, sports-centered, crossover series (with M/M, M/F, and F/F titles); and Rhythm & Blues, a set of three thematically related M/M novellas. I might also try to squeeze in a Christmas story. I’ve been jonesing to write one for a while now.

I don’t currently have any firm publication dates during 2016, but after successfully getting In From the Cold published to Amazon in December, I’m working on self-publishing some more second editions. I have a novella and a short story that will revert to me this year and another short story that I already have back. Expect the novella in March, one short story in June, and the other short story in August (dates subject to change). And I plan to have those be available more widely than just Amazon this time!

(I’ll be doing cover art for those too, which is a whole different kind of fun. The novella cover is already done and will debut in the newsletter. :D)

On another note, I’ve decided not to publish guest posts regularly like I have been the past couple of years. I hate to do it, but it’s time I can’t really spare right now. I will still post occasional guest blogs as part of special events (like charity blog hops), so if you have one of those coming up and would like me to host, feel free to shoot me an email. :)

 

Sixteen for 2016

HappyNewYear

I decided to make a resolutions/goals list this year. I don’t really expect to fulfill it all, but I figure having something to shoot for is better than wandering around lost and confused. I’m mixing up personal and professional goals because that’s how I roll.

  1. Pay off at least two credit card balances. I’ve let these creep up after being free of credit card debt about five years ago. Two balances are low enough that I can pay them off quickly, though. Update 1/31: Paid off card #1!
  2. Stop adding to credit card balances. They’ve been mostly steady this year, but I’d like to get them all headed consistently toward zero.
  3. Set up an office space. I’m planning to buy a desk and chair this weekend, and getting those assembled and in place will be about 75% of this goal.
  4. Get a massage at least once a month. I have a monthly membership that I’m not using often enough. If I’m not going to, I should just cancel it—after I use up the extra credits!
  5. Start doing stretches/yoga regularly for my neck and back problems. More reliance on movement, less on painkillers and heating pads.
  6. Get a mammogram. I’m way overdue.
  7. Weed out and donate clothes/shoes I never wear.
  8. Buy new clothes, especially tops and dress pants. About a third of new clothes I buy end up not working when I actually start wearing them, so the wardrobe turnover is an ongoing issue.
  9. Finish unpacking and get the last boxes out of my space. I plan to accomplish a good part of this by getting rid of more stuff. How the heck did I end up with this much STUFF??
  10. Finish and submit three new stories. I’m shooting for three novels, but I do have a germ of an idea for a short novella for Christmas, so we’ll go with three total.
  11. Republish two stories after rights reversions (and on more than just Amazon this time).
  12. Go to Walt Disney World. Planned for the week of the Dreamspinner author workshop. Decided against going that week, but will reschedule for later in the year.
  13. Attend the Dreamspinner author workshop.
  14. Attend the RT Booklovers’ Convention.
  15. Attend the Council of Science Editors meeting (for the day job).
  16. Plan and execute publication of the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con 2016.

Release Day! “Sons and Brothers”

Today is release day for “Sons and Brothers,” the short story epilogue to the Sons series. If you haven’t read the series, you’ll probably be fine reading this one, but of course it’ll spoil some things. :)

As the end of the year approaches, seven gay men in their own unique romances ring in the holidays in their own unique ways. Six months after they started dating, Evan Day and Riley Yeats are settling into living together in Riley’s loft. Across town, Shaun Rogers and Con Brooks are celebrating an old-fashioned Christmas with Shaun’s family. But when threesome Mikey O’Malley, Jimmy Black, and Cory Lassiter pull off a big New Year’s Eve surprise, their friends find themselves considering the future of their own relationships.

Dreamspinner Press: Ebook
Kindle
Nook
Kobo
All Romance

(Note that Amazon and Barnes & Noble haven’t price matched yet, so you’ll probably want to hold off on those until they hit free.)

If you’d like to read the series in order, here are all the links you need!

Unfortunate Son (Sons: Book One)
Dreamspinner Press: Ebook || Paperback
Kindle
Nook
All Romance
Kobo

Wayward Son (Sons: Book Two)
Dreamspinner Press: Ebook || Paperback
Kindle
Nook
All Romance
Kobo

Nobody’s Son (Sons: Book Three)
Dreamspinner Press: Ebook Paperback
Kindle
Nook
All Romance
Kobo

Antonia Aquilante on Inspiration and Creating a World

My guest today is Antonia Aquilante, here to talk about her Chronicles of Tournai series and its latest addition, The Artist’s Masquerade.

Thanks for having me on your blog today! I’m Antonia Aquilante, and my new book, The Artist’s Masquerade, is out today from Dreamspinner Press. The Artist’s Masquerade is the second book in the Chronicles of Tournai series, but it can be read as a standalone if you haven’t read the previous book, The Prince’s Consort, yet. It’s the story of Cathal, cousin to the prince and son of a duke, and Flavian, an artist on the run from his restrictive and dangerous homeland.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, often the strangest places, which happened to me when I was creating the world of Tournai. I sometimes dream things—characters, scenes, places—that become stories or elements of stories I write. Years ago I had a very vivid dream. It included a rather emotional scene between two people and a lot of details of the setting in which the scene took place. One element of the setting, which I knew, in the way you know stuff in dreams, was a room in a royal palace, was glass art. Intricate, delicate sculptures of fanciful subjects in vivid colors. I had no idea where the glass fit in to the story, or where it came from, when I woke, but I wrote down every detail of the dream I remembered in the notebook by my bed. Fast forward several years and I traveled to Italy. I saw beautiful glass pieces of all kinds made in Murano. I was struck by the beauty and the color and the craftsmanship of the pieces, some of which were incredibly old. A couple years after that, when I was crafting the world of Tournai, the dream and the memory of the Murano glass came back to me, and I knew where it fit. Tournai became famous for its glass, which was the most beautiful and highest quality in the world due to secrets of the process used in Tournai and perhaps to magic. Amory, one of the main characters of The Prince’s Consort, became the son of the foremost glassmaker in Tournai, and Flavian, a painter from far from Tournai, comes to appreciate the art of glassmaking. So inspiration can come from the oddest places, and I’m always happy when it does.

ArtistsMasquerade[The]LGAs the first-born son of the Duke of Tournai and cousin to the prince, Cathal has always tried to fulfill his duty to family and country, including following through with an arranged marriage to Velia, cousin to the emperor of Ardunn. But it’s Velia’s companion, Flavia, who fascinates Cathal. Cathal doesn’t know that Flavia is really Flavian, a man masquerading as a woman to escape Ardunn, a restrictive place in which Flavian’s preference for men is forbidden.

Even when Cathal discovers Flavian’s true gender, he cannot fight his attraction to him. Flavian is intrigued by Cathal, but Cathal is still betrothed to Velia, and Flavian worries Cathal is more taken with his feminine illusion than the man beneath it. While both men battle their longings for each other, spies from Ardunn infiltrate the capital, attempting to uncover Tournai’s weaknesses. They are also searching for Flavian, who possesses a magical Talent that allows him to see the truth of a person just by painting their portrait—a skill invaluable to Ardunn’s emperor.

M/M Fantasy Romance
Series: Chronicles of Tournai
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Release Date: December 21, 2015
Length: Novel (300 pages)

Links:
Goodreads
Dreamspinner Press ebook
Dreamspinner Press paperback
Amazon
AllRomance
Kobo

About the Author:

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent – they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats which she shares with friends and family, and of course reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to ebooks, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, she is living there again after years in Washington, DC, and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the New Jersey Romance Writers.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

 

Charity Wrap-Up, Birthday Shae-nanigans, and A Spot of Promo

12daysgraphicI finished up my 12 Days of Charity list on Saturday, so be sure to check out the full post and consider the featured organizations in your giving plans for 2015.

I started my birthday celebration early on Saturday with brunch with several friends, and that was a huge amount of fun. I have been well gifted! I’ll have a small giveaway to share on the actual day (tomorrow), so keep an eye out for that.

UnfortunateSon_smallIn addition to the honorable mentions for both Unfortunate Son and Wayward Son in the Rainbow Awards, Unfortunate Son was a finalist and came in fourth place overall in the erotic romance category. Dreamspinner has all its winners on sale for 30% off through the 18th, so if you haven’t picked up Unfortunate Son yet, now’s your chance. :)

Also, “Sons and Brothers,” the short story epilogue to the Sons series, is up for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press and AllRomance. It’ll be out on New Year’s Eve, and I’ll have a post at Joyfully Jay that day with a little more about the story, which revisits all seven of the main characters from the series and their relationships.

I also have a few changes in store for 2016. The biggest one will debut in my Outside the Margins post at Prism Book Alliance on Christmas Day, but you can get in on one of them right now. I’ll be starting up a newsletter that’ll give updates on what I have in the pipeline and new releases as they appear. You can sign up right here (or using the link in the sidebar at right).

Now Available: “In from the Cold”

So, I did a thing. Kind of on a lark, though I’d had it in development for a while.

I got back the rights to my Christmas/New Year’s short story “In from the Cold” a while back (it was previously published with the now-defunct Silver Publishing). After a brief discussion with William Cooper on Friday, I decided to give Kindle publishing a try for the first time. The story is now live, just in time for the holiday season.

The new edition is basically the same as the original, with just some minor edits, no content changes, so if you read that version, no need to buy the new one. I currently have no plans to publish the story on other platforms, though that could change. (A week ago, I had no plans to publish this one!)

InFromtheCold_Coversmall“In from the Cold”
2nd edition
Length: 8,700 words
Buy link

Blurb: When Jeff Young walks into the rural Georgia lodge Neal Owens runs, he’s just looking for a room to escape a frigid late December night. What he ends up finding is a new friend, a lover, and maybe more, all wrapped up in one hot package.

12 Days of Charity 2015

12daysgraphicIt’s charity time again! For those who don’t know, every year I kick off December with a dozen days of spotlighting various charitable organizations for your holiday giving consideration. I’ll be tweeting each day and updating this post with the additional charities as I go (or as soon as possible).

Diving right in this year…

Day 1, World AIDS Day

As always, I feature an HIV/AIDS-related charity for December 1, which is World AIDS Day. This year, I’m highlighting amfAR: the American Foundation for AIDS Research (Twitter: @amfar), which focuses its funding primarily on finding a cure. The organization also provides prevention and treatment services, works toward developing stronger policies to support research and care, and increase awareness.

Day 2

Lakota Children’s Enrichment (Twitter: @Lakota_Children) was suggested by my author friend Sarah M. Anderson. The organization provides opportunities in the arts, education, sports, leadership and mentorship for children of the Lakota tribe in South Dakota and beyond. Their focus is on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where is around 80%, dropout rates above 60%, and the average reading level is fifth grade.

Day 3

The International Rescue Committee (Twitter: @theIRC) focuses on refugees caught in humanitarian crises worldwide. Founded in 1933, the organization’s services include health care as well as economic and educational support for people in more than 40 countries. The IRC also helps resettle thousands of refugees each year in the United States.

Day 4

The goal of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry network (Twitter: @nokidhungry) is right there in the name: fighting hunger among children. Their goal for the 2015 holiday season is to provide 10 million meals to kids in need. The organization works through various partnerships to connect children and families with school breakfast programs, summer meal programs, and assistance with food purchases. Their Cooking Matters program is designed to teach low-income families to stretch their food budgets and prepare healthy, low-cost meals.

Day 5

My day job involves reading a lot about infectious diseases, and one of the most serious and widespread of those is malaria, which kills more than 1 million people a year worldwide. The Against Malaria Foundation (Twitter: @againstmalaria) is one of the organizations working to fight malaria by combating the source: mosquito bites. AMF buys bed nets impregnated with insecticide, which are proven to be effective in preventing mosquito bites and thus infections carried by those mosquitoes, including malaria. Each net costs less than $3 and can protect two people while they sleep for up to 4 years.

Day 6

Children in the foster care system often own nothing more than the clothes on their backs. A relatively new organization, Comfort Cases (Twitter: @comfortcase) was founded to provide basic necessities to these kids in the Washington, DC area, providing them with things like a bag for their belongings, clothing, toiletries, stuffed animals, and other items, including both necessities and comforts. (You might recognize the founder; his daughter with his partner was the focus of a recent story in American Girl magazine that drew some controversy.)

Day 7

A good friend lost his father to Alzheimer’s recently, so I wanted to highlight a charity that works both for support and research into the disease. There are a number of good organizations, but considering said friend is also a comedy writer, I thought Hilarity for Charity (Twitter @Hilar4Charity) would be the perfect fit. Led by comedian Seth Rogen, Hilarity for Charity organizes variety shows in Los Angeles that have raised more than $4 million to go toward care for patients, support for their families and caregivers, and research toward a cure. A newer initiative, HFC U, aims to help colleges organize their own events.

Day 8

For an author, it goes without saying that literacy is always an important issue. Room to Read (Twitter: @RoomtoRead) is a triple bonus because it works to increase literacy among children in developing nations, provides books directly, and supports girls in particular. Room to Read teams work within each country to tailor services to fit local context so they have the biggest effects. The organization currently works in ten countries in Asia and Africa and is working to expand to a reach of 15 million children by 2020.

Day 9

The You Will Rise Project (Twitter: @UWillRise) offers victims of bullying a venue to express themselves and tell their stories through multimedia art. Founded by Paul Richmond and Linda Regula, You Will Rise accepts submissions ranging from paintings to poems to videos. The goal is to foster creativity and pride through positive feedback and support.

Day 10

The Fisher House Foundation (Twitter: @FisherHouseFdtn) provides lodging and travel help to families of injured military members and veterans. Built on a network of “comfort homes,” Fisher Houses provide suites for families to stay at no cost near their loved ones while they receive treatment. The organization also operates programs through which people can donate unused airline and hotel points to help provide travel support and additional lodging as needed, as well as grant and scholarship programs for families of military members and veterans.

Day 11

Possibly the most adorable charity on this year’s list, Deaf Dogs Rock (Twitter: @DeafDogsRock) finds safe shelter and permanent homes for dogs who are deaf. These dogs can be particularly difficult to place, so this organization works to educate the public about adopting, caring for, and training deaf dogs, as well as finding permanent homes for dogs in foster homes and shelters. They also financially support shelter, transportation, and medical care for these dogs.

Day 12

The final entry isn’t a charity but a way to easily support a charity that you choose. Amazon Smile (Twitter: @AmazonSmile) automatically donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to the charity of your choice. Once you sign up to support an organization, all you have to do is go to smile.amazon.com each time you place an order. My Amazon Smile is set up to donate to Lost-N-Found Youth, but there are many great charities you can support.

Dreamspinner Weekend Reads and More!

UnfortunateSon_smallAll right, you guys, here’s your chance to get me for cheap. Er, my books, that is! Three of my titles are on sale in ebook for just 99 cents this weekend for the Dreamspinner Press Weekend Reads promotion: Unfortunate Son (book 1 in the Sons series), Sand & Water (my first novel), and En Fuego (a novella).

And as if that wasn’t enough, everything else at Dreamspinner is on sale for 35% off through Monday, so you can pick up my whole backlist for a steal!

Plus! Amber Allure is having a Black Friday sale with 60% off almost everything, including my novella Accidental Love.

Go on, reward yourself It’s the holiday season! ;)

RELEASE DAY! Nobody’s Son Blog Tour/Parties/Giveaways Galore!

Today’s the day! Nobody’s Son, book three (and the last novel) in the Sons series, is now available! Blurb and buy links:

NobodysSon_600Who wouldn’t want a nice cup of tall, dark, and gorgeous? Shaun Rogers does. He’s working at the front desk of a clothing-optional gay resort when Conrad “Con” Brooks walks in. The sweet, funny, and smart IT guy is there to install a new network and security system, and sparks fly between the two men from the start. Trouble is, Shaun’s hiding his sexuality from his grandmother, the only family he has left, and that makes him reluctant to take the leap with Con.

Then a man claiming to be Shaun’s absent father shows up out of nowhere, throwing Shaun completely off balance. His life spiraling toward chaos, Shaun soon discovers that his “father” is hiding secrets of his own. When things come to a head between them, it’s Con who comes to Shaun’s rescue—but the incident could force Shaun into a decision he’s not sure he’s ready to make.

BUY LINKS:
Dreamspinner Press: Ebook Paperback
Kindle
Nook
All Romance
Kobo

I’m launching a short blog tour today, featuring a giveaway of a $25 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate and ebook of both Unfortunate Son and Wayward Son. Here’s where to find me:

11/16: Prism Book Alliance (with a bonus giveaway!)
11/17: Ever After Romance
11/18: The Novel Approach
11/19: World of Diversity Fiction
11/20: Love Bytes

Also today, the fabulous Vicktor Alexander is celebrating his birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!) with a party at his site featuring all sorts of giveaways, including a print copy AND ebook copy of Nobody’s Son! Wheeee!

Tomorrow, I have two more release celebrations! All day long, I’ll be participating in Amy Jo Cousins’ Facebook release party for her new book, Real World, which will have giveaways and lots of great recipes  because we like food. And then tomorrow night from 7 to 8 p.m., I’ll be taking over the Dreamspinner Press Twitter feed and will have even more giveaways.

And after all that, I’ll probably sleep for a week. :D