Friday, November 29, 2013

Enforcer's Book 4 and updates

Book 4 has been submitted! My publisher will let me know if it will be split into two novellas or not--it's 50k words!

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

I may be participating in a giveaway on the M/M romance group board over on Goodreads, so stay tuned if you want to hear about a chance to get a free review copy of Remembrance! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Small Excerpt

Hey everyone!

It's getting horribly cold where I live, and there are ice and snow storms everywhere. I wanted to post something from a novel I've been working on, in a world where things like that are less common.

You can enjoy the excerpt as it is, but for context you might want to check this piece out first: First Chapter from StormLords . One thing to note--The MC here, Rowen, is mute.

The book is 28k words and counting for now! It's one of my longer projects. 


“C’mon,” Volkes said, the cool air making Rayen shiver as they stepped outside the mess. The sky had gone from pink to deep purple. “No Kristoff this evening?” 

Rowen shook his head, his face heating slightly. He didn’t want to think about Kristoff, or Kristoff visiting his village, at all. Not when he was supposed to be celebrating. 

“Hmm.” Volkes’s gaze sharpened, but he left it alone. “Fine then. We’ll get an early start.” He broke into a wide grin, his teeth visible. “I’ll make it worth your while. C’mon.” 

Rowen followed Volkes, tracing the now familiar path back to their shared house. Rowen wished he could ask about Volkes’ training, maybe get some information about what to expect for his own. Elise was talkative, but had never sensed her own magic yet, and Sharon was usually away. Rowen didn’t know where. 

Volkes didn't offer anything as they walked, and the first few stars began to appear in the sky. Rowen shivered again as another cool breeze blew, bringing with it the still strange scents of deep forest and the salty edge of what Rowen knew must be the ocean. He wished he could see it again. Maybe tomorrow, with no need to study, he could explore the island itself some more. 

“Enjoying yourself?” Volkes dug into his pocket for his key, pulling out a keyring. Rowen wondered what the others were for. “Not used to it all yet?” 

Rowen gave a sheepish smile and shook his head as they walked up to the front door. No lights shone from the windows of their shared house. 

“It took me a while too when I first came here. I was ten.” Rowen hadn’t expected that. “In the north, where I’m from, we didn’t have quite this much forest and greenery. Certainly not the varieties you’re seeing here.” He lit the torches inside, skipping every other in the main hall and not bothering with the sitting room. “It was mostly snow and cold. Heat spells were different--when the snow started melting, we knew the storm would come.” 

Rowen raised his eyebrows, hoping Volkes would keep talking. He wanted to know what snow was. 

Instead Volkes headed up the stairs, keeping the lamp lighter in his hand. “C’mon, Rowen.” His blond hair gleamed in the dim light. “Come up to my room. I want to give you something to help you celebrate.” He grinned. “Ever had Darsean beer?”

Rowen paused on the first step. He was beginning to realize what kind of celebration Volkes may have in mind, espeically since there was no one else in the house with them. The blond northerner waved the lamp lighter, the small flame on the end dancing. “C’mon, Rowen.” 

            Sking prickling with unease and no small amount of anticipation, Rowen headed up the stairs and into Volke’s room, waiting in the doorway while Volkes lit one sconce in the corner. Volkes had a window, the untied curtains fluttering in the breeze. The covers on his bed were rumpled, and clothes and books lay strewn on the floor. Rowen carefully stepped inside. Volkes had more things on his floor than Rowen had ever owned in his life.

 Elise’s words from his first meeting with her came back to his mind as Volkes opened his dresser drawer and pulled out two glass bottles, holding them aloft. The light from the sconce shone through the clear liquid. “I got this from the Darsean traders. Best stuff there is.” No one had ever mentioned Darseans to him, and Rowen tilted his head. 

“The traders.” Volkes shook his head with a snort. “How do you think our island gets supplies? The Darseans are seagoers. Live and die on ships. Apparently heat spells destroyed their home country way back. Undispellable ones.” He waved a hand. “They’re the only ones who can come to the Storm Lord’s island, and Storm Lords are respected in their culture. They ship food and supplies to the island from around the world.” Rowen nodded. Suddenly the plethora of foods in the mess hall made sense.  “You can ask Sharon more about them if you’re curious. She’s Darsean.” 

Rowen gave a weak smile. As soon as he could write, he would. He also wanted to know more about undispellable heat spells, but Volkes tossed him the glass bottle before he could figure out a way to ask. 

“Well? You know where it comes from now. Try it.” Volkes grinned, popping his bottle open with his thumb. 

Rowen followed suit, the strange wooden top falling off onto the floor. He almost moved to pick it up, but Volkes waved a hand. “Forget it. Just try it.” 

His tongue curled at the taste, and he tilted his head back, letting the fiery liquid fall down his throat. It burned immediately, and he swallowed it down fast, coughing a few times. The aftertaste was smooth and cloying, with a root-like flavor Rowen could not identify. 

            Volkes whistled. “Wow. You didn’t gag or anything. I’m impressed.” Volkes tilted his head back and downed a portion of his own bottle, then stood up and set it down on the dresser. Rowen’s skin buzzed as the blond came so close Rowen could smell the Darsean beer on his breath.

            “So, Rowen. You want to celebrate or what?” 

It suddenly occurred to him what Volkes meant, his words about men and men who liked men flashing through his mind.  

A chill breeze blew through the window, but it wasn’t the cold that sent goosebumps down Rowen’s neck. He had never been with any man, with anyone at all. Was Volkes the one he wanted as his first? 

Kristoff came to his mind then, and with him the anxieties of the coming few days. No. He didn't want that, not now. 

“Rowen? Do you want to celebrate with me or not?” Volkes asked again, his tone more demanding this time. He reached out and took Rowen’s wrist, his grip firm. “Yes or no?” 

He looked so much like Lucas, and yet not. Rowen’s mouth went dry, his heart speeding up at the thought of finally doing something about the desires that had plagued him since he had first seen the blacksmith’s son. His desires for men, the ones his father had told him to be careful about. 

But that didn’t matter here. This was Rowen’s new life. It was normal. Even Kristoff liked men. 

Rowen gave into his feelings, his eyes leaving Volkes’ face and roving over his body. Warmth began to suffuse Rowen, curling up his spine and quickening his breath. Volkes smirked. 

“Yes, right?” He reached up to Rowen’s chin. “Either you are the lightest weight in history, or just really easy.” Rowen wasn't sure he liked his words, but they ceased to matter when Volkes’ lips met his. 

He had heard girls in the village giggling about such things, and boys and young men describing how soft girls’ lips were. Volkes’ were soft, but Rowen felt the tiny pinpricks of stubble, and Volkes moved his lips in such a way that Rowen was guided to copy it, molding his mouth against the other man’s. Volkes pulled with his kiss, as if nibbling on Rowen’s lips, and the sensation sent the curling heat into a burning flame. 

“Do you want any more beer?” Volkes asked, breaking apart and leaving Rowen breathless. He shook his head, letting Volkes take the bottle from his hand and place it on the floor. The blond smirked. 

“Have you ever been with anyone?” When Rowen didn’t respond immediately, he clarified. “Have you ever fucked anyone?” Rowen blushed hot. 

“Well?” He moved forward, so fast that Rowen stepped back, bumping against the wall. Volkes put a hand on his chest, then trailed it lower, his lips turning up further as Rowen squirmed. He was hard now, his erection uncomortably confined, and he knew it was obvious. 

“Answer me. Am I going to be your first?” He didn’t move, his hand motionless an inch above the bulge in Rowen’s pants. 

For a moment, Kristoff flashed through Rowen’s mind, and he pushed the thought away. He nodded. 

Volkes broke into a victorious smile. “I am going to make you feel good.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Echoes Of Balance review!

Remember the book I posted a few days ago? I finished it, and now here's a review! 

Echoes of Balance, by Cally Ryanne 


To begin, I’ll be honest and say I don’t read YA paranormal that often. I am a M/M erotica author, after all. I’m familiar with the heavy hitters, of course, and I dip into the genre on occasion, but typically I don’t find myself too interested in YA that has paranormal romance elements and I would not call myself well read in the genre by any stretch of the imagination. However, I was intrigued by the chance to read the first book released by a new publisher.

I was also pleasantly surprised. Echoes of Balance is an enjoyable book and one with a lot of strengths, including wonderful worldbuilding, generally strong characterization, and a plot that has just enough mounting tension to keep you sucked in. I’ll try to avoid spoilers in this review.

Let’s start with the book description. Echoes of Balance focuses on Chloe, one of the Naimei. The Namei are a paranormal race dedicated to preserving balance, and do this by using the Ways, a set of instruments that point to where trouble may be looming. Chloe isn’t too interested in the ways, having been interested in hunting vampires for most of her life, but when she injures herself and realizes that vampires are more than just mindless bloodsuckers, she refocuses and gets pulled into preventing the resurrection of two very powerful demons. To do that, she has to keep track of Aurelia, a girl in high school who somehow is pivotal to the demon’s resurrection.

Clearly there is a lot going on in the book, but the author, Cally Ryanne, does a good job keeping track of all the threads and tying up the important things by the end. The tension mounts as the book goes on, from Chloe meeting Josef and Sam, two vampires who she suspects more and more have something to do with the demon summoning, to Aurelia who displays strange powers, and even to Ducante, a demon who runs a bar and clearly knows more than he is letting on. It’s not quite a page-turner, but the mounting mystery kept me reading. There are also a lot of hints scattered throughout the book about Chloe and her family that suggest the series will only get more complex and interesting as it goes on.

The only weakness in the plot was the strange prologue. It hammers you over the head with mysteriousness and characters you know nothing about, so it falls rather flat. But it’s only a few pages, and then the story picks up quite quickly after that.

I’ll focus on the world-building for a bit. It’s hard to do paranormal justice these days, but the Naimei, the race that our MC Chloe belongs to, are a very neat paranormal species. I loved the idea of the Vanishing—that the Naimei, rather than die of old age, simply vanish with no explanation when their time comes. It was a wonderful bit of mystery and made the Naimei feel as alive and unique as any other paranormal creature. And this world has quite the menagerie—shifters, vampires, psychics, witches, and of course, demons. (I feel I should mention—no worries for those who are sick of vampires. The vampires here are fairly traditional, with enhanced strength and speed, a weakness for blood, and not much else. No sparkling, otherworldly beauty, or any other such things). It was also a boon to the story that the paranormal elements were absolutely integral to the plot. This was no YA high school romp with vampires thrown in for flavor, it was a supernatural adventure that happens to dip into high school. It reminded me a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in its tone.

That said, the high school elements did fall a bit flat for me. Their were a lot of fairly cliché elements to them, including the bullies who are bullies for no reason, the fact that everyone in school decides Chloe is the coolest thing ever and should be Spring Fling Queen despite only attending the school for a week, and of course the whole idea of Spring Fling in the first place. Those high school elements made me feel like I was watching an episode of Saved by the Bell. Luckily, though, this is only a minor complaint since the high school elements, as I mentioned before, are not a huge part of the action. They also do get resolved with minimal teen angst and drama, which is appreciated.

Turning to characterization, I really liked the MC. Chloe is not a shrinking violet nor is she overly snarky like some other YA heroines, and not only knows how to use her powers but appreciates what they can do for her. For the protagonist of a YA book, Chloe is very mature in a lot of important ways, and her self-discovery takes the route of her finding a new way to focus her powers (from hunting vampires to fulfilling her family’s goals) and learning more about the paranormal world around her. She does have a few flaws, like not being as open with her family as she should, but all in all she was a strong character that I respected.

The supporting cast is good too. Chloe’s family were well fleshed out and defined, and the two love interests/vampires, Josef and Sam, were well characterized. I will admit to a preference of Sam over Josef, as I’m sick of the “overbearing jerk” love interest that pops up a lot in YA and Josef fit that to a T. Sam, the youthful vampire, had a kind of puppy-ish charm that I appreciated. The only real weakness in the cast was Aurelia, the high school girl that Chloe had to keep track of. She was interesting and we see a lot of good commentary into teen life through her character, but for a character who may end up being very important to future books, she could have used a bit more screen time.

I figure I should add that while I mention love interests, the romance was not a huge part of the book. Most of it was the ever-rising mystery and tension, which to me was a plus.

And as a final plus, the book was well written. Even for an ARC, I didn’t see much in the way of errors. The author tends toward a “telling” approach to some scenes in the interest of either time or reducing word count that I thought could have benefited from being shown, especially scenes with Aurelia where we might have gotten to see more of her home life or personality. This is a minor quibble, though, as clearly the way it was done did a lot for maintaining tension and keeping the pace quick.

To wrap, while not stunningly perfect, Echoes of Balance is a fun, enjoyable supernatural romp with strong characters and a well developed world that I’d be glad to see more of. I’d definitely recommend this for fans of YA or YA paranormal stories, fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and anyone else who enjoys a fast paced fantasy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Got my hands on a cool book

So you can get some cool things by chatting with people on Twitter. When I'm not writing stories about cyborgs and mages and super powered students in college, I'm reading--and I got the chance to do an advance read and review of Echoes of Balance, a book by Cally Ryanne and published by a brand new start up publisher, Reuts Publications!

It's kind of exciting to read the very first book published by a new company! If you're curious about Echoes of Balance, check back in a few days for an in depth review.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Freshmen Blues on hold for a bit

Hey everyone,

So I'm going to put Freshmen Blues on hold for a little while. I'll be taking down all but the first few chapters.

Don't despair! I am super grateful for those people who have commented on it, and I'm glad I was able to share it. But I don't want to leave it up forever.

There are two major reasons why:

1. It started as an experiment, but I think it could go places. The story has taken off in my head. I don't want to post the entire thing on the blog since then it won't be publishable.
2. As a result of how it started, it needs editing. Badly. There are stupid typos already, and I want to hold off on posting more so I avoid posting really bad mistakes, like plot holes or other such things. I've had to back and change minor things in the earlier chapters, and if I add on more parts without changing things readers will just get confused.

Again, though, don't be sad. I know I'm halting just as things heat up, but you will see this story again, in a better form, and I will continue posting small excerpts here and there. And once it's complete, I might decide to post it for free once more depending on how things go. But it needs too much editing right now for me to feel comfortable leaving it up.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Changed layout again!

The red was a good autumn theme, but it was kind of harsh. Plus its cold now, so a nice soothing blue works better.

Book 4 of Enforcers is complete! I'm going to be editing it over the next month. Expect a sneak peek soon!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New project--Sneak Peek

So I'm starting a new project in between working on Book 4 of Enforcers and Freshmen Blues. It's a bit different than my usual fare, though.

Check out the first 1k below and let me know what you think! Everything is very much up in the air at this point. Do you like the 1st person perspective, or should I stick to 3rd?


The man my master had commanded us to kill stood on the other side of the river, his wagon creaking as the wooden wheels began to roll over the bridge. The man was merely a shadow, even to my enhanced eyesight, silhouetted against the orange harvest moon.
            To my left, another of us chattered her teeth, her fangs emerging from her lips. My own stomach growled at the thought of food, the warm blood that would gush from the man’s veins and feed us. Master never fed us enough.
            Of course he didn’t. If he did, we wouldn’t be nearly as effective. The thought dulled some of my excitement, and I licked my lips, my fangs receding.
            The wagon moved slowly, the horses straining to pull it over the arched bridge. There were two, both with dark colored coats. One wore a frayed blanket, and the other limped as though its shoes fitted improperly. The man was clearly no wealthy merchant.
            One of us hissed, a sibilant, high pitched sound that only ones like us could hear. An answering hiss came from the bushes near the river.
            The lead horse flicked an ear, and the man in the wagonseat shifted his weight.
            As soon as the first horse set foot on the grassy bank, the one to my left attacked. Four others joined her, dark shapes against the light of the moon swarming toward the animals and their pumping, flowing blood.
            I cursed in my mind. I had been turned too recently, and compared to them I was slow. I swallowed saliva, my fangs pricking my lower lip, and leaped forward, dashing through the forest.
            Then light flooded the trees.
            The four who had run ahead first screamed, their hissing drowned out by the sizzling of bodies exposed to solar light. I ducked behind a tree, screwing my eyes shut, the heat of the light prickling on my skin.
            This was no weak man the master had sent me to take revenge on for some social slight. This was a vampire hunter.
            And I was just a thrall.
            The light died, fading to a dull orange glow of the first light over the horizon. A solar flare would work once and couldn’t be used again for at least a day. I knew that, from…somewhere. My life before, I supposed.
            My muscles tensed when the man spoke, a word to his horses or perhaps just to himself. The man was mine. The other thralls were dead. I would kill the hunter, take all his blood for myself, and the master would reward me. Me, his newest servant. The command tightened my muscles further and pounded in my head, my master’s words—Kill.
            I peered out from the edge of the trees, my vision sharpening with bloodlust. The man’s heart beat in a slow, steady rhythm. The light on the wagon made my eyes water, even used up as it was, but it couldn’t hurt me.
            The hunter sat, a gun across his lap. He wore tight leather trousers, and my gaze lingered over his muscular thighs. For a moment I imagined more than just blood.
            The thought died quickly. Since my master had turned me, any lust but lust for blood never lasted.
            The man had light brown hair, though it looked red in the fading light of the solar flare. Dark eyes scanned the forest, and then settled on me.
            I froze, my own thoughts tangled, my body screaming for me to take his blood. His scent, human and sweat mixed with woodsmoke and the bouquet from the village over the river, filled my nostrils.
            He raised the gun. In that moment, I knew I would die.
            My master’s orders still screamed in my brain, in my very being—Kill. I was a thrall. I obeyed. I was a servant, nothing more.
            But I knew I would die if I attacked. And I didn’t want to die.
            His horse snorted. The hunter held his gun trained on my heart. The sharp wooden stake that his gun would fire jutted from the barrel. A thrall like me would never survive it.
            I could attack. I wanted to attack, to try and sink my teeth into his veins, to obey the orders of the one who had made me what I was. My teeth ground against each other, and my fangs drew blood from my lower lip.
            Instead I turned and fled, without truly knowing why. No shot came from the forest.

            The hollowness in my gut was the first thing to break the hunger, and it took me a moment to realize that every other servant was dead.
            I hadn’t known them. It shouldn’t matter. We hadn’t even spoken, only interacting when we fought over the scraps my master gave us. Without them, there would be more for me. I should be glad.
            But happiness, like anything else, faded quickly. I fought to keep running, to ignore the command in my mind that told me to turn back and kill the man I had been ordered to kill. Doing so would be suicide.
            It was only when I entered the castle gates that I wondered if my master would be angry with me.
            The gates soared over my head, carvings of wolves seated atop the iron bars. The castle blocked the view of the mountain that overlooked it and kept it hidden from curious onlookers. Gray stone melded against dead trees.
            Inside, thousands of scents mingled, mold mixing with cold stone and dead leaves and the sharp scent of my master’s dogs. The scent of blood wound through it all, and saliva filled my mouth.
            I followed the scent, my bare feet silent on the cold stones, and found my master where the stone became plush rugs. A woman lay by the door to his room, her body shriveled. A shiver went down my spine, but faded quickly, just like every other emotion or feeling I had. The ever present hunger replaced it.
            “What are you doing here?” My master’s voice chased away everything else.
            The vampire who had made me strode closer. His blond hair was tied back with a blue ribbon, and deep red eyes met mine. He frowned, and I ducked my head, curling in on myself like a cur. I should have attacked the hunter and been done with it.