Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

I had a serious pair of grumpy pants on earlier today. I mean the really, really tight ones that pinch and rub in all the wrong places.

This year, I spent New Years Eve alone. First time ever. Xto is away working and my family went to Maui. Now, before you get to feeling all very sorry for me, I was invited out to a party, but I chose not to go. I wanted to stay home and get some work done. That didn't stop me from throwing my own pity party though.

All sorts of little things went wrong today. Getting ready for work, I ran out of eyeliner (complete disaster), I was at work on New Years (horrible tragedy), I forgot the right pen (cause for meltdown), etc etc etc.

Now there is just under an hour left until midnight -- the joys of being the second to last time zone to change over -- and I am feeling much better. Know why? I thought about all the amazing things that have happened to me this week alone. There have been too many to count over the last year (some of the highlights were: I got married, my first novel was contracted, I began the process of changing careers, I traveled to some really amazing places, and I met my new niece Isabelle), but three of the highlights from this week:

1. I got my cover comps from Brooke Albrecht, who is amazing, and they were everything I could have hoped for. I had a hard time choosing, but I think I've picked one and I should have the final copy soon. Of course the moment I have it, I will post it here because it needs to be shared. So gorgeous.

2. I finished the first book in the Hope Cove series. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would, but I was working on a few other projects at the same time. I actually finished it, did a happy dance, went to bed, and then at 5:00 the next morning, woke up to the realization that I had written the ending all wrong. So I rewrote it in my head, went back to sleep, then got up and rewrote it for real.

3. I finished the second book in the Hope Cove series. You know those other projects I just mentioned? This was one of them. And I finished it about an hour ago.So yeah. Two books in one week. It was my goal to have them both finished by the end of December, and I did it with two hours to spare! So those are done. One more book and the series is complete. I've started the third and hopefully it will be done by the end of January, which makes February the Month of Epic Edits before I can submit it in early March.

There have also been a host of other, smaller accomplishments this week, like, for example, me flying all by myself without completely losing my shit during takeoff and landing (I am not a good flyer), and making it through Ikea during boxing week without being trampled to death.

So looking back on 2012, some really great things happened, but I am hoping for even better, even greater things from 2013.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Home for the Holidays

I am officially home for Christmas and it's great to be here. My parents give Martha a run for her money every year with holiday perfection.
This is their tree. Gorgeous, is it not? I'm hoping this shows up properly as I am posting this from my phone (a first for me).
It is nice to be home, even if the roads were a little scary. Family is always good, especially at Christmas and this year was especially good because my sister didn't know I was coming home so it was a fairly emotional homecoming (we don't get to see each other often).
Anyways, hoping you all have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy all sorts of Christmas themed stories (which are always so nice to read this time of year).
Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Merry Early Christmas

There is officially less than a week left until Christmas. Life is hectic for everyone everywhere and our family is no different. We leave tomorrow morning to spend Christmas at my parents' house. I am so excited to be going home, but there is so much to do before I leave. I haven't even started packing yet. In fact, I haven't even started writing my packing list yet.

Instead of actually starting on that list, I'm updating instead. I just can't help it. Too many exciting things happened this week. So here it is, the list of all the totally thrilling stuff that happened to me over the last seven days:

1. The editing department from DSP contacted me to fill out my blurb questionnaire. So effing exciting. I was completely over the moon until I actually tried to fill them out. I've never felt so brain-damaged in my life. Those questions were hard! Questions like "what is your book about?" Huh? What? Who knows? I sure don't. I managed to get it filled out and sent back, although embarrassing detail: my friend Lex Chase (hilariously talented author) warned me that spell check doesn't work on the form for some reason, so I went over that thing six times looking for errors. Satisfied that there were none, I fired off an email with the attachment and in my haste I left the subject line of the email as "blub questionnaire". Fingers crossed that the editing department doesn't retroactively cancel my contract for being a dumbass.

2. The art department from DSP contacted me to fill out my book cover spec sheet. The email was from Paul Richmond, who I adore (not that we've actually met, but he is seriously talented and hilarious to boot -- if you haven't seen his video about his bootlegging revenge escapades, you need to watch it now). I got that all filled out too and I really can't wait to see what they come up with. This whole thing is starting to feel more real for me now, and I think once I am able to see the actual cover for the book, it'll feel like I'm a real author. It's pretty much the most exciting thing that's ever happened.
3. Xto came home early from work on Monday. He scared the shit out of me, because I thought someone was trying to break into our apartment, but then I realized that a burglar wouldn't use a key, so I stopped being scared and got happy instead. It's so nice to have him home, and so rare. We had a glass of wine, stayed up watching Tosh.0 for a while before bed.

The next morning he took me for breakfast in Fairhaven just outside of Bellingham. If you're from the  area and you've never visited the old part of Bellingham, you need to go now. Today. Do it. it's beautiful. Breakfast was at the Skylark Cafe, which I recommend. They have banana bread French toast. What more could you want in a breakfast food?

4.Yesterday, I got to open my Christmas presents from Xto early. I am a very lucky girl and got completely spoiled this year. He bought me a Canon printer that I so desperately needed and (drumroll please) my new KINDLE PAPERWHITE. I am completely in love with it. This is technically my fourth Kindle. Xto teases me that they are just burning out from overuse. In reality I am clumsy and keep breaking them. The Paperwhite though? Epically good. The thing glows. GLOWS.

5. Last night, Lex Chase (previously mentioned hilarious & talented writer extraordinaire) sent me the second installment of her Pawn Takes Rook series to read through. Granted I am only on page six, but so far it is completely amazing. She makes me so jealous sometimes with how funny she is. The first book comes out in March from DSP, so in three months, go buy it.
Here is her "Next Big Thing" blog post for the first book to tell you all about it.

6. Today, I hit 60,000 words on my WIP Brokenhearted (the first book in the Hope Cove series). It's officially a novel! I only have a couple of scenes left to do and then some heavy editing before it's ready to submit. I've set a deadline for myself of the end of February to have all three ready for submission. It might be a little overly ambitious, but shoot for the stars, right?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Next Big Thing Blog Chain

Last week my fellow author Rebecca Joyce tagged me in her Next Big Thing, so this week it's my turn. The idea is that I answer ten questions about my latest project, Keeping Sweets, and tag a few more authors who will talk about their next big thing next week.

What is the title of your book?
Keeping Sweets

How did you come by the idea?
This is a tough question to answer. Since this is my first book I think it was kind of a culmination of many mind wanderings over the years. Who wouldn't want to know what boys get up to on and off the camera on a porn set?

What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary m/m romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?
I'm not sure about actors. I have a fairly specific idea in my head of who these guys are and what they look like. I can't think of actors that would fit them perfectly, but maybe Matt Lanter and this guy:

Evan is young and fairly small, with brown hair and brown eyes.
He looks something like this.

Bran is bigger; broader. He has blonde hair and blue eyes.
He looks something like this.
Delicious, are they not?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Love blooms on the set of a porno.

Will your book be self-published or traditional?
It will be published with Dreamspinner Press and it set to be out in March or April of 2013

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me almost six months from word one to submission, but it was a very lazy six months. I would write for a couple of hours, then pick it up a few days later and write a little more. Since Keeping Sweets was contracted and I realized that people may actually want to read what I've written, my current WIPs have been a bit speedier.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Blatant curiosity more than anything else. For me, one of the best parts of reading romance is the aspect of fantasy that is created in each and every book. Keeping Sweets was like that for me. I wondered what those boys get up to when the cameras aren't rolling on set, so I imagined the answer for myself.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
One of the reasons I enjoyed writing this story so much is the setting. It takes place on the coast of Oregon, which has always been one of my favourite places to visit. It is so beautiful and there is something there for everyone. I enjoyed putting the characters there and living vicariously through them for a while.

And that’s my Next Big Thing. Here are the writers I’m tagging...
The multi-talented Lex Chase, whose Superhero novel will be out in March from Dreamspinner Press
The supremely creative Jamie Fessenden, who will talk about his upcoming Occult Murder Mystery
and the Ever So Romantic Skylar M. Cates, who will be blogging about her contemporary romance, Exposed.

They will be posting their Next Big Thing on December 18th, so make sure you check them out!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Kim Fielding Blog Tour

Hi! I’m Kim Fielding and I have a confession to make about one of my pet peeves. It really bugs me when people say, “Wow! I don’t know how you find the time to write.”

Now, I realize that people who say this aren’t trying to offend me. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s meant as a compliment. But it bothers me anyway, because the truth is that time to write isn’t something you find, like a lucky penny on the sidewalk. It’s something you struggle for, usually at great expense.

I love writing, but it’s not my only job. Most weeks I spend way more than 40 hours as a university professor and administrator. I write textbooks too (fun, but m/m romance is much more fun to write!). I’m also a parent. My kids are 9 and 13, which means I get to be chauffeur, homework tutor, chore taskmaster, housecleaner, cook, counselor… well, you get the idea.

So, how do I make time to write? Well, I have to say that I’m fortunate enough to have a very supportive husband. He works long hours too, but does more than his share of the parenting and housework when he gets home. Therefore, my first tip on making time is to choose your partner wisely.
My second tip is to write whenever and wherever you can. Don’t wait for that perfect moment when the coast is clear and the muse is singing, because it will never come. I do most of my writing on a laptop at the kitchen table, often with the currents of life eddying around me. At this very minute, for instance, my younger daughter is sitting across the table from me, humming and coloring a picture of a turkey—a task that apparently requires much noisy rearranging of colored pencils. My husband is a few yards away watching football. And my older daughter is in the living room, periodically shouting requests for advice on zombie control. I write at doctors’ offices, in the car (not while driving!), while eating, on airplanes, in hotels, and, if I can get away with it, during boring meetings.

The third tip might be difficult for some people, but you have to make your priorities. In my case, that means I watch exactly one hour of TV per week (Dexter, Game of Thrones, or True Blood, depending on the time of year). I play only one electronic game—Word Welder—which has the advantage of being playable in small bursts. I’ve had to give up on knitting. My house is usually messy and I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie. Even my reading has decreased since I began to write.

And finally, make time to write by writing fast. Until the first draft is complete, don’t spend time going back, tinkering and editing what you recently wrote. My writing is never perfect in the first draft anyway, so why waste time attempting the impossible? When I just let the words flow instead of struggling for perfection, I get a lot more done. And I think the finished product is improved.

I do all this work for the same reason all writers do: because the stories are in me, clamoring to get out. And this month I get to enjoy the fruits of my labors because I have three new releases. The longest of these is Brute, a novel about a giant with much more serious challenges than finding time to write.

by Kim Fielding

Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life.

Rumors say the prisoner, Gray Leynham, is a witch and a traitor. What is certain is that he has spent years in misery: blind, chained, and rendered nearly mute by an extreme stutter. And he dreams of people’s deaths—dreams that come true.

As Brute becomes accustomed to palace life and gets to know Gray, he discovers his own worth, first as a friend and a man and then as a lover. But Brute also learns heroes sometimes face difficult choices and that doing what is right can bring danger of its own.

Buy links at Dreamspinner Press:
At Amazon

Kim Fielding’s blog
Kim Fielding on Facebook

As part of the Brute Blog Tour, Kim Fielding is running a contest. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this entry, stating what you find hardest to give up in order to make writing time. Please leave your email address in your comment. You can comment at multiple blog tour entries for multiple chances to win! Click here for the full list of tour stops. Winners will be chosen on December 25. One person will receive a paperback copy of Brute and another person will receive an e-book copy of Brute.

Excerpt from Brute:

Time passed achingly slowly. Sometimes someone would pop out from one of the little doors and take one or more of the waiting people back in with them, but nobody ever came for Brute. New people came through the large entry doors, did a double take when they saw him, and sat far away. They were eventually escorted through doorways too. His ass grew sore from sitting on the hard bench, his stomach gurgled and growled, and worst of all, his bladder began to complain quite insistently. He knew it was impossible for the giant with the ugly face to have been forgotten, and yet none of the people who worked there even glanced his way. Maybe they thought he was a new and especially unbecoming statue.

Just as he was about to give in to desperation and ask where he might find a place to relieve himself, a round woman with a feathered hat and the widest skirts he’d ever seen appeared from the far left door and sailed in his direction. “This way,” she commanded.

His hips and legs had cramped a little as he sat, and he limped very badly as he followed her.

The far left door led to an office smelling of tea and crammed with books and papers. The woman went away and shut the door behind her, leaving Brute alone with a man who was a few years older than him. The man was dressed in rather plain clothes and was tiny—barely five feet tall and probably one-third Brute’s weight—but he managed to project an aura of such powerful authority that he was almost terrifying. He stood several feet away and looked Brute up and down slowly. “You have a letter?” he finally said.

“Um, yes sir.” Brute produced the paper from the folds of his cloak and held it out, but the man didn’t take it.

“You will address me as Lord Maudit. You may call me milord or Your Excellency as well, for variety’s sake.”

“Yes, Lord Maudit.”

Lord Maudit rolled his eyes and snatched the paper out of Brute’s hand. He tore open the seal without ceremony and scanned the contents. When he was finished, he considered Brute again, this time appraisingly. It reminded Brute of the way Darius would look over a mule he was considering buying. “So you’re a hero?” he said at last.

“I—no. I mean, the prince, he—”

“Needed to be rescued from his own foolishness. Again. And rather dramatically, I understand.”

Brute didn’t know how to answer that. He licked his lips nervously and fought the urge to shift his feet. His bladder was full to bursting, and the glimpses of the sea he could catch through Lord Maudit’s window weren’t helping.

“Not very chatty, are you?” the lord said. “Good.” He folded the paper and slapped it against his thigh before tossing it onto his desk. “Wait here.”


Lord Maudit was nearly to the door when Brute blurted out his plea. The little man turned, eyebrow raised. “Yes?”

“I need to—is there an outhouse? Milord,” Brute added hastily.

“Garderobe’s through there,” the lord said, waving at a narrow door in the corner. Brute made what he hoped was a dignified dash for it while the other man left through the main door.

To reach the garderobe he had to climb a set of very narrow, winding stairs. The stairs dead-ended in a rounded little chamber with tiny slits for windows. The room contained a wooden seat with a hole in it and a small table bearing an earthen pitcher of water. Fumbling his laces open one-handed seemed to take forever, but eventually he managed to get his trousers undone. He emptied himself with a long groan of relief. At least he hadn’t lost his good hand, he reminded himself for the thousandth time. The gods only knew how he would have managed to get himself undressed then.

Lacing back up again was even more troublesome, but at least his need was no longer quite so urgent. He just wished he could have managed to find a way to pour the water in the pitcher over his hand to cleanse it.

Lord Maudit’s office was empty when Brute descended the stairs. Brute resisted the temptation to poke around—he had an eerie feeling that the man would somehow know—and instead admired the view from the windows and then a large painting of a hunting party chasing a stag.

“Hideous painting, isn’t it?”

Brute jumped at the voice and whirled around. Lord Maudit had returned, but it was his companion who had spoken: Prince Aldfrid, attired in riding clothes and smiling broadly. The prince showed no sign of limping as he crossed the room. “I’m glad you’ve recovered enough to make the journey,” he said to Brute. “How are you managing?” He seemed genuinely concerned.

Brute pulled his stump out of his cloak pocket, which made Lord Maudit’s eyes widen. Apparently the prince’s letter hadn’t mentioned that Brute was maimed. “Your Highness, are you certain—” the lord began.

“Yes,” the prince interrupted sharply. “Completely. He’s the man for the job.”

“The job, Your Highness?” Brute asked.

“That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? I could just give you a sack of gold and send you on your way—you’ve earned it—but I’m guessing you’re not that kind of man. You want to be… useful.” His laugh sounded a little sad. “More useful than a king’s fourth son.”

Brute took a moment to consider the prince’s words. A sack of gold. He’d never have to worry about his livelihood again. He could buy a little cottage somewhere, have some clothing made that actually fit. He could eat decent food every day. And then… what? Sit by himself and wait to grow old and die? “I would like to be useful,” he confirmed. “But I don’t know what I can do for you, sir, not like this. I’m sorry.”

“Have you any skills at all?” Lord Maudit asked. “I suppose it’s too much to ask that you know how to write.”

Brute hung his head, ashamed. “I wanted to. Had no money to pay the schoolmaster.” After his parents were dead, when his great-uncle would send him scurrying around the village to fetch this and carry that, Brute used to pass the little schoolhouse now and then, and he’d pause long enough to gaze at it enviously. Once he’d even dared to ask his great-uncle to send him—Brute had promised to work twice as much to pay for it—but his great-uncle had cuffed him hard enough to send him sprawling, then growled that Brute was too stupid to learn.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Prince Aldfrid, pulling Brute out of the bad memory. “I have something perfect for you.”

“Aldfrid, you’re taking an enormous risk.” Lord Maudit sounded irritated with the prince, but in a resigned sort of way, as if he were used to conversations like this.

“He’s the one, Maud.”

“But the king—”

“My father, if he notices at all, will see that a very large and not especially bright man—sorry, Brute; I know you’re no idiot—has been put in place. That’s all.”

Brute stood there mutely, slightly surprised at the obvious familiarity between the men and not having the vaguest clue what they were talking about. But then the prince clapped him on the arm and grinned. “It’ll all work out. You won’t be seeing much of me, Brute, but if you need anything, just get word to Maud here and he’ll take care of it.” He smirked at Lord Maudit and sped out of the room.

Maudit briefly closed his eyes, as if he were in pain. “Scrambled your brains a bit more on those rocks, didn’t you, Friddy?” he muttered. Then he glared at Brute. “Follow me.”

It seemed that everyone was saying that to him today. But Brute shrugged and did as he was told.

He was led through another dizzying arrangement of corridors and stairways. Once he caught a glimpse of an enormous room—by far the largest he had ever seen—with a polished marble floor, gilded pillars, and a ceiling fresco considerably more elaborate than the one he’d been admiring while he waited. But he didn’t get a chance to enjoy it, because Maudit dragged him along at a pace surprising for a man with such short legs. Guards saluted when Lord Maudit passed, and various well-dressed functionaries and servants all tried to look more industrious. Maudit ignored them.

They eventually left the building—through a different door than the one by which Brute and the guard had entered—crossed an oblong grassy area where several women in colorful gowns sat and embroidered, and entered a narrow passageway between two buildings. The passageway dead-ended at a grim little building of dirty stone. The windows in the building were simply narrow vertical slits, and even those were covered by iron bars. The door was iron as well—arched and sporting a heavy bolt—with a bored-looking guard stationed outside. The guard snapped to attention when he saw them coming.

“Has everything been readied?” Lord Maudit snapped.

The guard nodded sharply. “Yes, milord. The maids just left.”

“Good. This is… well, Brute. Obviously. You’ve been told of his duties?”

“Yes, milord.”

“If he needs anything, make sure he gets it. I’ll be checking on him.”

The guard looked slightly horrified at the prospect but nodded again. Then he unlocked the door and waited for Maudit and Brute to enter.

This time, Brute found himself in a small hallway with a ceiling so low he almost had to stoop his head. The walls were rough plaster, dirty and cracked, interrupted now and then by doors made of thick dark timbers. The building smelled of damp and age, with a faint sickly sweet undertone, as if something had rotted long ago.

“What—” Brute began.

“In here.” Lord Maudit pressed the latch on one of the doors; the hinges squealed in protest. Brute stepped inside and saw, to his astonishment, a somewhat dim but comfortable-looking apartment. The ceiling was higher than that of the hallway, although he could still have brushed it with his fingertips. The room contained an oversized bed piled with quilts, a chest of drawers with an actual mirror on top, a solid table with two equally solid chairs, and a matching wardrobe and bookshelf. The window was tiny, of course, but the walls were hung with colorful tapestries that depicted scenes of beasts in the forest and creatures under the sea. A small stove with dark green tiles was tucked in one corner, but not lit today because the weather was far too warm.

And in one wall, over near another corner, was a door constructed of heavy iron bars, with only darkness visible behind it.

“Welcome to your new home,” said Lord Maudit from the doorway.

“But… what?”

“His Highness has decided that you will be a very specialized sort of guard, with only a single prisoner to watch over.”

“Prisoner?” Brute’s eyes strayed back to the barred door.

Maudit twitched one shoulder. “See for yourself.”

With some degree of trepidation, Brute crossed the room.

The bars separated the apartment from a small cell. He had to squint to see inside—there was no window slit in the prisoner’s space—but there wasn’t much to see. Bare walls, bare floor, and in the corner, a dirty pile of rags. But as Brute stared, the rags shifted slightly and chains clanked, and a matted mass of hair appeared from under the edge of the fabric. A man, Brute realized. He was looking at a man huddled under a blanket. Chains sounded again, and Brute noted the metal collar around the man’s neck, manacles on his wrists, and shackled ankles fastened by chains to bolts in the floor. It was impossible to make out any details of the man past his rat’s nest of hair and tangled beard until the prisoner lifted his head slightly. Brute gasped at the man’s obvious blindness: eyelids closed over sunken, empty sockets.

Lord Maudit sighed. He still hadn’t actually entered the room. “Brute, meet Gray Leynham.”

Saturday, 1 December 2012

NaNo Hangover

Picture So NaNoWriMo is officially over. I'm hoping everyone that participated feels like they accomplished something great whether they got to 50K or not.

Three months ago I had never heard of NaNo. It was completely new for me and what an experience. Talk about lighting a fire under your ass. Seeing other people's word counts rise around me made me want to write...and I'm not a competitive person. Unless we're playing Monopoly. Then I'll kick your ass.

I'm pretty proud of what I managed to accomplish for my first time though. I wrote just over 68,000 words, 52,000 of which were on the second installment of my three part Hope Cove book series. Now I just have to finish the last little sections on the first two, write the third one in its entirety and hopefully they will be ready for submission sometime after Christmas.

I am going to try and get some freebies and excerpts posted up here in the next couple of weeks, so all of you who read this (a.k.a. Mom) you have that to look forward to!