Random Friday Updates

First, a clarification, because this is important. I saw a comment about this, so I wanted to clarify that the US flag in the cover image for Unfortunate Son is not touching the floor. Travis was standing on a paper background drape for the shoot, and while the flag did touch the paper a few times, it was never on the floor. Travis is a military veteran and I’m the daughter and granddaughter of one, so that’s definitely something we paid attention to.

Moving on… more Unfortunate Son blog tour stops! I’ve been to Andrew Q. Gordon’s with a post on writing to a deadline, The Kimi-chan Experience talking about Atlanta as setting, Grace R. Duncan’s to discuss how “The Hero’s Journey” helped me write Unfortunate Son, and The Blogger Girls to talk about how the progression of same-sex marriage legalization could affect gay romance fiction. (The last post went up early, but better early than never!)

And in other news, I’ve completed the first round of edits on Sons book 2, Wayward Son, and I’m deep into work on book 3, Nobody’s Son. Also, the print version of Butt Babes in Boyland is being finalized, and Butt Riders on the Range (with my story “Faux Cowboy”) is in production with the publisher. Release dates to follow as soon as I have them! :)

Unfortunate Son Book Release Party

Saturday evening, I had a real-live-in-person book release party for Unfortunate Son, graciously hosted by Burkhart’s here in Atlanta. My cover model, Travis Irons, was on hand along with his awesome boyfriend, and a bunch of wonderful friends from the area came by. Oh yeah, and I sold some books! :)

A few pics from the evening. Wish everyone could’ve been there!

Me with Travis

Me with Travis

Another one with Travis. That's my sister photobombing on the left. LOL

Another one with Travis. That’s my sister photobombing on the left. LOL

With Travis and his adorable boyfriend Danny

With Travis and his adorable boyfriend Danny

With Danny, friend Teresa, and Travis

With Danny, friend Teresa, and Travis

Awesome friend J brought me flowers! :)

Awesome friend J brought me flowers! :)

More Blog Tour & Reviews for Unfortunate Son

It’s been a busy release week, and it’s not over yet! :)

I visited Joyfully Jay on Wednesday with a post about the cover art for Unfortunate Son. Today, I’m at Love Bytes, with an interview of cover model Travis Irons.

I’ll keep updating my blog tour schedule post as new posts go up. Be sure to check them out, because there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway included!

Speaking of Love Bytes, their reviewer Cindy gave Unfortunate Son an awesome 5-star review. Thank you so much!

And, for anyone near Atlanta, tomorrow night I’ll be throwing a book release party and signing at Burkhart’s at Ansley Square. Cover model Travis Irons will be there, and we’ll both be available to sign books. Come on out and say hi!

Release Day for Unfortunate Son!

UnfortunateSon_smallYay, it’s out! Unfortunate Son is now available for sale! Buy links (will add others as they come available):

Dreamspinner Press: Ebook Paperback
Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
All Romance

I’m kicking things off with a bang today. I’ll be at the Dreamspinner Press blog all day, talking about the book and series plans and giving away an ebook copy and a few other goodies. I’ll also be taking over the Dreamspinner Twitter account from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for more shenanigans.

Annnnnnd, I’m starting off my blog tour at The Novel Approach with a post about dealing with change and a brief excerpt from the book. Be sure to check in for a chance to win a $25 Dreamspinner gift certificate, a cover flat signed by both me and cover model Travis Irons, and an ebook from my backlist.

I’m also thrilled to note that I already have some great reviews:

Starred review from Library Journal

4.5 stars from MM Good Book Reviews

4.5 stars from Sinfully Reviews

 

Blog Tour for Unfortunate Son

UnfortunateSon_smallStarting on Monday, I’ll be embarking on a 10-site blog tour for the release of Unfortunate Son. I’ll be running a Rafflecopter giveaway as part of the tour, and I hope you’ll join in and check out what I have to say about the book. :)

January 12: The Novel Approach

January 14: Joyfully Jay

January 16: Love Bytes

January 18: Andrew Q. Gordon

January 20: The Kimi-chan Experience

January 22: Grace R. Duncan

January 24: The Blogger Girls

January 26: Prism Book Alliance

January 28: Vicktor Alexander

January 30: JP Barnaby

Computer Tools and Sites I Like

keyboardbed_sixninepixelsAfter not having the time and brain power at the same time for much too long, I have finally gotten my new laptop set up and have switched over from the old one. Man, what a difference! No hanging up! No lagtime! No sticky keys from where I spilled lemonade a week after I got the old one!

Wheeee!

Ahem.

Sooooo, anyway…

In the process of setting up and installing various things, I figured I’d give a tip of the hat to a few tools I find useful. Maybe you will too.

The biggest one is f.lux. This little bitty program does a wonderful thing, at least for people like me who stay on the computer late into the evening: it automatically (and gradually) shifts the color value of your screen from cool (blues) to warm (reds) as evening approaches. You’ve probably seen articles talking about how staring at a screen can affect your sleep, like this recent one? Well, f.lux is the fix. I know I noticed a definite change after I started using it, especially in finding it easier to fall asleep quickly.

Dropbox is a given, of course. I have an external hard drive and used that to back up the old computer completely before doing the transfer, but getting the bulk of my files moved over was as easy as installing Dropbox, signing in, and waiting for everything to sync. All my working files are right where I need them, with automatic online backup so I don’t even have to think about it. Huge help.

Browser of choice is Chrome, though why it imported bookmarks from my phone but not from the old laptop is a mystery. (And dammit, I forgot again to port them over when I was grabbing the last few files from the old machine. Sigh.)

My sister had already installed Office 365 when she got her new computer not long ago, so I’m using a second installation on mine. So far, so good. It looks somewhat different, but the basics are the same, and so far files are opening fine. There’s also cloud backup, and it’s the full Office suite, so if I want to do something crazy like build a database, I’m set. ;)

I haven’t set up Evernote yet because I’m going to try out OneNote first, but if I don’t like it, back to Evernote I’ll go.

I have not yet decided what to do about Adobe software. I had an old installation of Creative Suite 3, which was fine for my needs, so I might reinstall that and go with it. Creative Cloud is probably awesome, but the price is prohibitive for the small amount of use it would get. There’s a chance another project I work on might provide access, so I’ll probably just limp along without it until I know what’s going to happen there.

Things I immediately added to the quick launch bar and/or start menu: Word, Chrome, Spider Solitaire. Priorities: I haz them. ;)

And… I think that’s it. I’m going to add an ad blocker, and the computer came with a McAfee trial but I’ll probably switch back to TrendMicro when that expires. Otherwise? I seem to have a fully operational battlestation on my hands. I’ll try to resist firing the primary weapon in your direction. :D

Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looking Back, and Forward

newyearSo here’s a little of what happened in the world of Shae in 2014:

  • Attended the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop
  • Set a goal to complete two novels and two short stories in the coming year
  • Promised Elizabeth a three-book series
  • Published “Clean-Up on Aisle Me!” in the Butt Ninjas from Hell anthology
  • Submitted “Ice Cream Dreams” for the All in a Day’s Work anthology
  • Attended Outlantacon with various other butt-thology authors
  • Agreed to not one, but TWO more butt-thology anthologies
  • Submitted Unfortunate Son (Sons Book 1)
  • Organized a writers’ retreat in the north Georgia mountains
  • Did a whoooooooooooooole bunch of editing for various Dragon Con projects
  • Submitted “The Half-Life of Pumpkin Pie” for the Butt Babes in Boyland anthology
  • Attended Dragon Con, working on the Daily Dragon, as usual
  • Attended that writers’ retreat in the north Georgia mountains
  • Published “Ice Cream Dreams” in the All in a Day’s Work anthology
  • Attended Atlanta Pride
  • Attended GayRomLit
  • Submitted Wayward Son (Sons Book 2)
  • Won a Rainbow Award for the Playing Ball anthology
  • Published “The Half-Life of Pumpkin Pie” in the Butt Babes in Boyland anthology
  • Submitted “Faux Cowboy” for the Butt Riders on the Range anthology
  • Bottom line: completed two novels and three short stories, for a total of 146,000 words submitted for publication

What’s on the horizon for 2015:

  • Publish Unfortunate Son
  • Attend the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop
  • Complete and submit Nobody’s Son (Sons Book 3)
  • Publish “Faux Cowboy” in the Butt Riders on the Range anthology
  • Attend Outlantacon with other butt-thology authors (and probably plan another anthology)
  • Publish Wayward Son
  • Attend Animazement
  • Attend Romance Writers of America convention
  • Do a whoooooooooooooole bunch of editing for various Dragon Con projects
  • Attend Dragon Con, working on the Daily Dragon, as usual
  • Attend Georgia Romance Writers annual conference
  • Attend Atlanta Pride
  • Publish Nobody’s Son
  • Write two short stories/novellas
  • Write novel trilogy
  • Write at least one Christmas story (possibly a set of three)
  • Bottom line goal: complete at least two novels and two short stories/novellas (submitted/ready to submit for publication)

Any or all of the 2015 plans are subject to change, of course. For one thing, there’s a strong possibility that my sister will be getting married at some point, so that’ll throw a big monkey wrench into everything!

My Favorites of 2014

Recommended_Anusorn_P_nachol
I am terrible at keeping up with this list during the year, so know that I will probably leave out at least a couple that I really loved. These are all books I read for the first time during 2014, even if they were published earlier. I normally do favorite cover art too, but I’ve been sick as a dog for the past five days, so just don’t have the wherewithal right now. :)

M/M

Better Than series—Lane Hayes

Dissonance—Shira Anthony

Five Dates—Amy Jo Cousins

A Heart for Robbie—J.P. Barnaby

Junk—Josephine Myles

The Last Thing He Needs—J.H. Knight

The Lonely Drop—Vanessa North

The Mating of Michael—Eli Easton

North Star trilogy—Posy Roberts

Nothing Serious—Jay Northcote

Nothing Ventured—Jay Northcote

Off Campus— Amy Jo Cousins

Rainbow Blues—KC Burn

Sleigh Ride—Heidi Cullinan

Spencer—J.P. Barnaby

Stuff—Josephine Myles

Tough Love—Heidi Cullinan

M/F

The Lumberfox & The Superfox—Ava Lovelace

The Place I Belong—Inez Kelley

Elizah Davis on Astrological Traits and Making Nice

My guest today is Elizah J. Davis, whose novel Making Nice releases today from Dreamspinner Press. :)

The Eagle and the Archer

Thank you to Shae for hosting me!

One of the first things I do when I’m sitting down to write a new story is figure out what the characters’ sun signs are. Whether or not you believe in astrology, it is a fantastic way to fill out a character’s positive and negative personality traits, as well as the relationship dynamics of the couple.

With Making Nice, Blake and Ryan’s dynamic worked itself out pretty quickly once I figured out where they fell in the zodiac. Initially, Blake was a little harder to get a read on. I knew he was fiercely loyal to his loved ones, but guarded and prickly at first, and eventually pegged him as a Scorpio. Ryan, on the other hand, was always unquestionably a Sagittarius – tactless, but charming and kind-hearted enough that he’s usually forgiven for it.

As it notes in Linda Goodman’s Love Signs (one of my favorite astrology resources), these two have a lot of potential if the Sagittarius can learn to think before he speaks, and thus avoid stepping in it all the time. Unfortunately, Ryan has some trouble with that, leaving Blake unconvinced of his charm.

Excerpt:

“Hey, man, how much do I owe you?” Ryan stopped short, nearly hitting himself in the face with the door when he actually looked at the guy standing there.

Definitely not the pizza boy, and easily the most gorgeous guy Ryan had seen in a good long while. He looked like some sort of haughty underwear model or high-class prostitute. He was put together like he was on his way to a GQ photoshoot in a gray wool coat with a red scarf wrapped artfully around his neck. His jeans looked faux-worn, cuffed and draped too precisely over his boots to be casual. Was he there as some sort of practical joke? Had Matt hired some dude to pretend he had sophisticated friends?

The guy gave him a practiced, flirty smile. “Depends on what you’re paying me for, I suppose.” The statement hung somewhere between sarcastic and suggestive.

Ryan turned his head and shouted, “Did you guys order me a hooker?” He turned back to the hooker/underwear model and grinned. “It’s not even my birthday.”

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry, the term is escort, right?”

“What are you—Jesus, Ryan,” Matt said, coming up behind him. “This is Bianca’s brother.” The why are we friends, I’m going to kill you was very clear in his tone.

“You’re Blake?” Ryan asked, ignoring Matt’s death glare. “Man, now I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or disappointed.”

“You’re such an ass.” Matt turned to Blake. “Feel free to ignore him. The rest of us do. Please come in.” He led the way to the living room without giving Ryan a second glance.

Ryan gestured for Blake to enter, and grinned when Blake whispered, “You should be both, but if you have to pick one? It should definitely be disappointment. Scout’s honor.”

MakingNiceFSTwins Blake and Bianca Dunlap have always been there for each other, ready to lend support and make sacrifices. Blake can’t imagine a bigger sacrifice than getting along with Bianca’s fiancé, Matt. However, Matt turns out to be more than the meathead Blake had dismissed him as, but Matt’s best friend, Ryan Everett, is a different story. Ryan seems intent on being an insufferable jerk as often as possible. The fact that Blake is undeniably attracted to Ryan only makes the whole situation more annoying.

Since they’ll all be stuck together for the long haul, Blake is determined to make nice. Unfortunately he overshoots, and he and Ryan end up on much friendlier terms than Blake intended. While he and Ryan agree there’s no harm in having a strings-free fling, that changes when Matt and Bianca find out about it. As more complications arise, Blake and Ryan become more determined to do what it takes to avoid letting them down. But the only way to ensure getting through a joyous wedding and avoid the questions neither of them want to answer is to convince everyone it’s something more.

Buy Links: 

DreamspinnerAmazon ARe

Elizah J. Davis has lived in various parts of the United States, but currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying the abundance of coffee readily available there. Once upon a time she had journalistic ambitions, but switched to creative writing after she realized journalism involved too many facts and not enough unicorns. She loves stories of all kinds, but has a particular fondness for romance and fantastical adventures. When she isn’t busy making things up, Elizah enjoys reading, laughing at cats on the internet, buying girly shoes, and trying to come up with world domination plans that don’t require the donning of pants (her endeavors towards which have thus far been unsuccessful).

Website: http://elizahdavis.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElizahDavis

Tumblr: http://elizahdavis.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.elizah.davis

Anne Barwell on Music and Wings of Song

Today my guest is Anne Barwell, here to talk about how music plays a role in her writing, and especially in her new title, On Wings of Song.

Music/Music Hall

Thanks, Shae, for hosting me today. :)

My stories often have some kind of music reference in them, whether it is that the characters are musicians—Simon, Sean, Kristopher and Michel—or it plays a larger part in the plot such as in Winter Duet, Cat’s Quill, and Slow Dreaming.

In On Wings of Song, both of those elements combine to become a big part of the story.

When I first got the idea for the story, I knew that one of the characters, Aiden, would be involved in Music Hall.  I’ve played for the modern equivalent, Musical Theatre, as rehearsal pianist, and also as a violinist in the band for shows.  One of the shows I was involved in celebrated Music Hall and the music of that time. Another was an ANZAC commemoration.  I also played piano for church in Christmas services for many years, and so having Aiden sing for the combined service during the Christmas Truce was also a given.

One of the bonuses about writing a story set in the early part of the 20th century is that a lot of the lyrics are out of copyright. The music Jochen hears when he attends a performance at the Avery Theatre are actual songs of the time—and earlier.  The library had a wonderful book: Edwardian Song Book – Drawing-room ballads 1900-1914 from the catalogue of Boosey & Co – selected and introduced by Michael R Turner and Antony Miall.  As well as containing sheet music so I could play the songs and hear them, it had a brief history of them and their composers.

With the first and last chapters set around Christmas, it was also an opportunity to use Christmas Carols.  I didn’t want to use the same one twice, as the story needed to move forward, not backwards.  In the finish the songs chose themselves and worked perfectly for Jochen and Aiden and where they are in their lives at each point of the story.

During the Christmas Truce, many men exchanged uniform buttons, as Aiden and Jochen did. However, it’s not the physical reminder of their meeting that keeps Jochen going through the horrors of his war time experience, or the connection between himself and Aiden. It’s also the memory of Aiden’s singing, and how it touched him.

But once that song is over, what then?  If a man has lost himself in his music, or in someone else’s, is it that easy to pick up the melody again years later?   To quote from the story: “That stage was everything to you. You used to lose yourself in it, and sometimes I wondered if that was really a good thing. A man’s got to find himself before he can lose himself in a role.”

Music and literature are the song by which Aiden and Jochen meet, but six years later both of them have changed. The war has exacted a high price on both of them. In different ways they have both lost the music within them. Because of this, in order to find each other, they will first need to find themselves.

Buy link:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5869

OnWingsofSongSix years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

Excerpt

“I’ve seen it,” Aiden said quietly. “I wish to God I hadn’t.” He looked directly at Jochen. Jochen met Aiden’s gaze. He’d seen an echo of Conrad’s fire in Aiden when he’d talked about his music earlier that afternoon.

“Don’t die on the wire, Aiden.”

“I’ll try not to.” Aiden’s words were an empty promise. They both knew it, but what else was he going to say?

The red-haired man Aiden had spoken to about arranging the burials walked over to him. He too held a shovel, and he wiped perspiration from his brow despite the cold. “There’s going to be a combined service for the dead,” he told them. “In about ten minutes in no man’s land in front of the French trenches.”

As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognized him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?

Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.”

The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”

They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.

Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.

Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?

“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.

Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.

His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Links:

Blog:  http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/

Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/

Coffee Unicorns:  http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell

Dreamspinner Press Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_426