Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Response to the Events of the Past Week

Many of you might have heard about the abrupt closing of All Romance eBooks, announced just this past week. Plenty of authors have had a lot to say about the stunning development. The fallout will be felt for some time. Hearts are broken, authors and readers alike are angry, and many are hurting both emotionally and financially from what’s happened.

This is not a post about being wronged. I’m not going to rail against this specific situation. This is to tell you where I will be in relation to this, the latest painful situation to be visited on authors. You see, I’ve heard that some authors have had enough. They feel that writing has become too much of a minefield. They’re tired of getting their hopes and hard work blown away…not to mention their financial well-being.

I understand. It’s frustrating – no, it’s heartbreaking – to spend months or years pouring your soul into a story (or many stories) only to be met with books being banned by large don’t-give-a-fuck corporations. To have publishers screwing you out of rights and/or money. To be faced with book sellers who up and tell you they aren’t going to pay the royalties you earned. These are the worst of a thousand irritants that dog an author. So when we yet again suffer a major setback, there will be those who can’t invest another word, another page, or another teardrop into the effort.

I get it. I respect it. I wish those who have had it with this business all the very best on their future endeavors. I thank them with all of my heart for hanging in as long as they did. Only they could create their unique and lovely worlds for the rest of us to visit.

As for me, I’ll continue to plug along. I have to. Writing is my therapy. See, I don’t much like the real world. It’s always been a fearsome place to me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have seen plenty of good in it. I’ve known people who are heroes. I have a husband who loves me in spite of all the crazy I throw his way. I have a son who is the center of my universe. I have plenty of terrific things to be thankful for.

But some of us are built to register the bad on an epic scale. Where some people can shrug off natural disasters, armed conflicts, and general selfish ignorance perpetrated against others, I feel it on a personal level. I always have. Therefore, the world does not seem to be a kind or caring place to me.

My refuge has always been the written word. I started as a reader. In a childhood full of personal upheaval, I retreated into books that took me away from the scary events of my life. I hid in them. Hell, I lived in them. I found sanctuary with heroes and heroines who were as much friends and parents and protectors as the real things. I could count on them to be there for me when things turned dark. While the world went to hell outside, I huddled over and over again within well-worn pages.

As I got older, my fortress of books grew to include my own writings. Now I had the keys to heaven itself. No longer did I have to depend on someone else to find the right words to transport me away. I built my own exit from a world that held more monsters and mayhem and evil than my battered copies centered in Pern, Middle Earth, Dune, and Narnia combined.

I could be the master of my own escape. The older I got, the wider the Pandora’s Box of the real world opened. So I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. Writing was that ray of hope that mitigated the hurts. I could take the misfortune I saw around me and prevail against it in the pages I created. Writing reminded me that there was good all around, that courage and strength could win out.

I was around long before the technology-infused world we live in today. When I started writing, self-publishing was not considered a viable option. Certainly, it didn’t allow access to many sales venues as it does today. I tried to get published for almost twenty-five years with no luck. With each rejection, my heart broke. I felt physically wounded that I couldn’t share my worlds with whatever audience might be out there for me. I even reached a point where I said, “This is the last book I’m going to try to get published. I won’t bother after that.”

But at no time did I plan to stop writing. I couldn’t. I knew that I would never stop building my fortress against the ugliness I perceived. Book-block by book-block, the walls would continue to be erected, the defenses strengthened.

It remains so to this day. I felt the betrayal this past week of yet another entity turning on us authors for its own gain. I was angry and hurt like all the rest. I clutched at my wounds and nursed another round of despair for the way writers keep getting shit on by the publishing world.

I also wrote more than usual, forging yet another block to hold the tyrant legions at bay. They could take the money my work had earned and they had agreed to pay me. They could have gotten the opportunity to take the rights to my books had I signed with them (I did not and dodged that arrow). They could take my trust in what I thought was a solid, respectable company and stomp it into pieces.

But they couldn’t take away my ability to write. I proved it day after day following ARe’s announcement. I escaped their assault by running off to Kalquor and other beloved places. I even found the ability to laugh, giving them the middle-finger salute as I wandered friendlier lands and lived with my character friends. I laughed at the attacking forces, sneered in their faces by writing, and they could not stop me.

Bilbo's got my back on this.

Though fortune may turn against me, though some day the bottom might drop out and I’m no longer allowed to pursue writing as my sole career, I will always write. I can’t not write. It saves my soul every day. So rest assured, though I might have to slow down to meet other obligations should things go south, I’ll still be building my fortress of words, one block at a time. I’m not going anywhere.

I'll see you all in the new year!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Now Available: Clan Beginnings: Clan and Command

Losing the one man he loved convinced Piras he would never have a chance at happiness. He is too different from the other members of the Dramok breed to attract a Nobek warrior and Imdiko nurturer to his clan. Unwilling to pretend to be someone he is not, he faces a lonely future.

Nobek destroyer captain and spy Kila’s one night with Piras was a shocking revelation. Yet he can’t stop thinking of the temperamental Dramok admiral he has grown to respect. A dangerous mission in the midst of Kalquor’s civil war throws them together once more, and Kila must decide if Piras’s needs are an obstacle…or an incredible gift. Meanwhile, he has the added headache of an obstinate Imdiko chief engineer undermining his orders at every turn.

Lokmi’s dual breed designation of Imdiko and Dramok has caused him problems in work and personal relationships. While he coddles his ship’s engines, his need to control puts him at odds with commanding Dramoks and fierce Nobeks. Dealing with hothead Admiral Piras and overbearing Captain Kila is everything Lokmi hates…until he discovers his unique qualities fit their needs. Could it be that he isn’t fated to walk through life alone?

Three outsiders fight to save themselves, each other, and the Kalquorian Empire. 

Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and All Romance. Also in print.

              They entered the low-lit sleeping room, and Lokmi readied to start offering apologies and excuses. Instead, he stopped just inside the door. His inhale was sharp as he looked at Piras kneeling naked and blindfolded on a thick black fur rug, his arms bound behind him.
              The Dramok in his smart uniform had been stunning. Naked, he was mouthwatering. The long, elegant lines of his body and the lithe musculature was like a line of divine poetry made flesh.
              And he liked to be dominated. Lokmi’s interest surged, particularly below the belt.
              Piras’s head had snapped up at the sound of the Imdiko’s gasp. His usually raspy voice was soft. Hopeful. Pleading. Not a Dramok’s tone at all. “Kila?”
              The Nobek went to stand beside him. He stroked the top of the admiral’s head. “Yes, Piras. I’m here. I brought a friend as well.”
              The announcement elicited an immediate change. Piras struggled with his bonds, his voice going from an entreaty to angry demand. “You son of a bitch. This was supposed to be between us! Who the hell else is here? I’ll fucking kill you!”
              Thinking of his career and hide, Lokmi was on the verge of turning tail and racing off when Kila stopped stroking Piras’s head. The Nobek grabbed a handful of the admiral’s hair.
              “Do you not trust me after all? Are we finished? Do I give up?”
              Lokmi watched in amazement as Piras ceased straining. His face and body gentled, anger draining from his face to show longing and anxiety instead. He seemed to melt under Kila’s touch.
              “I don’t – we never talked about someone else joining in.”
              “It’s someone who likes to be in absolute control. Someone who will give you what you need.”
              Piras trembled. He licked his lips and said nothing else. Waiting. Fear and hope appeared on his face, warring for possession.
              Enthralled by the apparent surrender, Lokmi drew closer. His cocks filled with a luscious, seething heat as he scented Piras’s spicy arousal scent. He watched with avid excitement as the Dramok’s shafts rose, lubricating so that they glistened.
              Kila said, “My friend won’t speak of this to anyone else, Piras. He likes what he sees. You’re quite exciting there on your knees, waiting to be taken by two powerful men. Men who want you to surrender yourself.”
              Piras shivered. His expression showed the battle he fought between accepting what he wanted and fear of who else was involved.
              One moment he had been the fierce Dramok known as one of the best leaders of the fleet. Then he became a man who needed to be cared for and given what he craved. The two sides of Piras spoke to the two sides of Lokmi. They more than spoke; they shouted. Lokmi heard them loud and clear.
              The Imdiko knelt next to Piras.  He ran his hand over the Dramok’s chest, enjoying the smooth feel of the man’s warm skin.
              Piras attempted to move away, the consternation on his face increasing. Kila’s tight hold on his hair kept him in place. The Nobek growled, “You will stay still. My friend has no problem whipping that lovely ass of yours before he shoves his cock in it.”
              The idea delighted Lokmi to no end. He grinned to see Piras’s cocks jerk in reaction. Anxiety couldn’t mask the Dramok’s excitement at Kila’s words.
              Wondering if he would recognize his voice, Lokmi hissed in his ear, “That’s right, Piras. We can do this easy, or we can do it hard. Either way is fine with me.”
              The admiral moaned, “I don’t want a stranger. I don’t want this Nobek asshole either.”
              “Then why are you hard and wet?” Lokmi chuckled when Piras cringed, his face reddening to be called out. “Lying will get you into trouble, my fine Dramok toy. Let’s try for a little honesty instead. What you really don’t want is to desire Kila. But you do.”
              “He’s a bastard.”
              Kila rolled his eyes, and Lokmi fought off a laugh. “I agree. However, despite that and all that’s happened to you in the past, you do want him. You want the second chance you didn’t know you could have. You just have to admit that it’s time to let go of the first Nobek.”
              Piras’s anger returned. “You shit, Kila! You told him?”
              Kila relaxed his grip on his hair and began stroking it again. “Only the general situation. No names. No specifics. I swear it.”
              Lokmi traced the fascinating indentations and lines of Piras’s torso lower, lightly touching his abdomen. He didn’t miss the sudden intake of breath. Good. If Piras could be distracted, he might divulge more. He might give up the information Kila sought. “Why are you hanging on to what was? You have a Nobek right here, one who appreciates you for who you are. A man who will let you be yourself. Don’t you know what a gift that is?”
              “I don’t – I don’t know. I don’t think he can be in this for the long term. How can you respect a Dramok who’s not one in the sleeping room?”
              Kila’s heart was in his voice as he tried to reassure Piras. “Because he’s a Dramok outside the sleeping room – and the man I prefer in my bed.”
              A stab of sympathy went right to Lokmi’s gut. He watched the two men struggling to find a way towards each other. 

Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and All Romance. Also in print.