Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday Briefs - To Touch the Sky #3.1


Welcome to the Wednesday Briefs flash group (click to go to the site). The short stories have a maximum of a 1000 word count plus links at the bottom to the other flashers. If interested in joining us, drop me a line and I'll tell you how. :)

Prompts this week are:
“No time like the present.”
“Might want to put a ring on it.”
“Got to break a few eggs to make an omelet.”
“Here we go again.”
“Don’t say it!”
“It’s always a pleasure seeing you.”
“Did you say…”
“I just wanted to point that out.”
“What a mistake that was!” 
or have a character shopping
or use: pizza, golf ball, box
or have a character dancing
or have a motorcycle in your story
or use: bug, orange, pen
or use: radio, fan, tape
or use: video, pillow, lube 
or “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and...”
or “Knit me a penis warmer, will you?”
or “If I could turn back time, I’d undo our first meeting.”
Or “Whistle while you work... it drives your co-workers crazy.”
Or “stuck between a cock and a hard place...”


To Touch the Sky #3.1

Simon checked his bobber. Nothing happening there. Kind of like my life. Annoyed, he jerked the line out of the water and packed his fishing gear. Usually he loved to be outdoors, especially if it involved fishing, but the peace he normally felt was missing.
Back at his apartment, he put away his gear, then dropped down on the couch. Immediately the mess surrounding him caught his eye. “Man, I need to clean this place up. It’s getting bad in here.”
He knew without a doubt Chip would agree, loudly. In private, he could admit he was a little sloppy. He’d make up his mind to shovel out this dump, then get distracted by something… and there went cleaning. Disgusted with that train of thought, he ignored the mess. It was Friday night and damned if he was going to sit around here cleaning. Maybe he’d get Chip to go out with him and they’d score. God knew both their love lives sucked.
Pleased with the plans, he called Chip, only to be shot down. Chip had other plans with a few people from his work, which surprised him. He knew things at the global shipping company Chip worked at weren’t good and that Chip was worried. Discouraged but determined, he showered and dressed for a night on the town.
A friend from work mentioned this gay friendly bar called Wings he wanted to check out. “No time like the present.”
Simon gave himself one last look in the full-length mirror on the back of the bedroom door. The simple dark brown T-shirt really made his dark brown eyes stand out, and man, he was having an excellent hair day. His short naturally blond hair was wavy, and he worked hard for that tousled, just-rolled-out-of-bed-I’ve-been-fucked-hard look.
He’d hunted down his ‘special’ jeans, the ones washed so many times they were almost white, and had a few strategically placed rips. They hugged his ass like a glove. He looked damn good in them. He finished off the look with his favorite sheer boxer briefs. Yup, he was loaded for bear. Someone was going to get lucky tonight. Smiling at his reflection, he picked up his keys and left.
A lifetime later, he wasn’t smiling. “Jesus, who puts a bar way out here in the middle of no-fucking-where?” His friend from work said it was a little out of the way, but this was ridiculous.
“Damn, this better be worth it.”
The parking lot was full, which was a good thing. He parked and locked his car. The enticing smell of food drifted to him, another positive. As he drew closer to the front door he could hear the band, and they were rocking.
The bouncer carded him, of course. Annoying as that was, he was also used to it. But it was nice to see they didn’t let in underage people. The bar resembled dozens others he’d been in, just maybe cleaner. Tables set up for people to eat with strategically placed TV’s for optional viewing pleasure. A long bar took up the back of the place.
The table lamps provided enough light to eat, which was nice. He liked to be able to see what he was eating. The dance floor wasn’t huge, and that was a little disappointing. The music wasn’t so loud you couldn’t think, which was good. An area off to the left contained pool tables and a place to play darts. Nice.
The crowd was a nice mix. There were several heterosexual couples, along with gay couples. The age range did surprise him, though. There were people in their twenties—his age—then the ages went up to middle forties. Dress included everything from jeans and T-shirts, to business suits, to those that went for the preppy look and on to flannel lumberjack. Hell, there was even leather. 
A cute ginger passed him and winked. And, oh yeah, there were single folks on the prowl—which was exactly what he was looking for. Maybe this place could be his new hot spot. He’d have to get Chip out here if things went well.
He grabbed a table and ordered nachos along with his one, and only, beer. He scanned the crowd. If he was taking someone home tonight, he didn’t plan to get drunk. His food arrived in a timely manner and a quick bite told him the food was going to be good too. As he ate, he scanned the dance floor. He smiled at the sight of guys dancing with guys. The dancing wasn’t as hot as some totally gay bars he’d been in, but there was enough grinding to get his blood up.
Once he finished his food, he made his way to the dance floor. Immediately a guy with long dark brown hair and brown eyes joined him. Simon settled his hands on the other man’s hips, bumping and moving against him. Nice. A little taller than me, and seems to be in good shape. After the music was over, they stayed on the floor and danced to several more songs, then the guy nodded at Simon’s table. “Want to take a break and get a drink?”
“Sure, I could use something cold.”
He followed the guy and sat across from him. As luck would have it, the band was taking a break. Now they could talk. Simon ordered a new drink, a soda this time. No way was he drinking from his beer bottle after being gone from it. The guy ordered a beer.
“You’re new here, aren’t you? I don’t think I’ve seen you before. My name’s Douglas.”
“I’m Simon. It’s nice to meet you. And yeah, this is my first time. I’ve heard good things about this place, and I finally decided to stop by tonight.”
“It’s a cool bar.” Douglas paused as the waitress brought their drinks. “Here, I got this round.”
“I’ll get the next round then.” Simon sipped his drink, taking note when Douglas glanced at his soda.
“Not a drinker?”
Simon grinned. Well now, if that’s not an opening, I don’t know what is. “Oh, I like a good cold beer as well as the next guy. I just don’t drink much when I’m looking for a hook-up.”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Goddess Fish Presents Bleeding Heart by Melissa Graves and a Giveaway



Melissa will be awarding a $25 Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Barnes & Noble GC and a print edition of Bleeding Heart (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn host. A free download of an Interlude Press eBook title or an author/book swag pack will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter at each stop during the tour.

Fllow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2014/06/virtual-book-tour-bleeding-heart-by.html




BLURB:

While the public struggles to live side-by-side with vampires, medical student Brian Preston has dedicated himself to their care and study by working in a government-run clinic that monitors and feeds the resident vampire population. He has learned to expect the unexpected in his job, but his life takes a surprise turn late one night when a young, struggling vampire named Kyle stumbles into his clinic and his heart.

 As they draw closer, can Brian come to grips with loving the elusive vampire, and can Kyle find the strength to share the secret that can separate them forever?

Bleeding Heart is the story of love, blood, political intrigue and the secrets that can spell the difference between life and death.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPTS:

 “It’s the husband,” Erica says, jabbing a finger at her iPad. “It’s always the husband.”

 “Oh, come on,” Brian replies, laughing at her insistence. “He’s such a nice guy.”

“That is exactly why it’s him,” she counters, tossing up a hand in frustration at his apparent inability to see what is so very obvious to her. “Besides, he slept with her sister.”
  
“Before they were dating; that doesn’t even count, and it doesn’t make him a murderer. Geez.”
  
“Lunch at the taco truck says it’s the husband.”
  
“I see your angle,” Brian replies, smirking. “You’ve got a deal.” He taps the iPad, pausing the television show they’ve been watching. “We should keep an eye on the door.”
    
She brushes back her glossy black hair. Her almond-shaped eyes and petite frame show a weariness that matches his own. “It’s been a long week. Besides, it’s just past four-thirty; the rush is over.”
  
Can’t deny that, Brian thinks, and thank goodness. They’d had no less than six unidentifieds, and one volatile who’d done serious damage to the counter and the security doors before the police had arrived with their chemical spray and herded the poor guy off into custody.
  
Working the graveyard shift at a blood service center in downtown Chicago, Illinois is a job that could never be called boring. It’s not that the vampires can’t go out during the day—the fact that they can is one of the reasons they’ve been able to hide for as long as they have—but that they are stronger at night. They tend to handle their business and socializing between dusk and dawn and getting free blood at the center is often the first stop for many of them.
  

Coming on later in the evening means that Brian usually sees the more mature vampires—those who can wait, those who prefer to avoid the younger crowd that shows up as soon as the sun goes down. The downside to this is that he also sees, at times, the unpredictable ones—the ones who aren’t regulars, the ones who wander in at all hours of the night. Between he and Erica, they have plenty of crazy stories to tell.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~




How do you come up with a title?

I know that a lot of authors begin with titles, but I end with them—I almost never have a title in mind when I start writing a story.  To me, a title is vitally important, both in the choosing as an author and in the result for the reader.  A title can be such a huge part of the reading experience.  I will typically write a story first, and then take the title from the text itself—either a phrase or a phrase inspired by something central to the story.  I try to make it both compelling and relevant to the story.  I want it to inspire confidence as well as interest in my readers.  Selecting a title, for me, is like waiting to name a child until it's old enough to show you its personality—naming that way can be powerful, under the right circumstances.

Which character caused you the most difficulty to write?

Brian, actually, which is interesting to me because his POV is half the story.  He is so very delightfully human—he cares, so much, and in a lot of ways he is very innocent.  He believes in medicine, compassion, and the system, and then he actually falls for one of the vampires that he is taking care of, and is forced to see a whole other side of the world that they live in, the world that they share, a world that he thought he fully understood.  Kyle's world is not his world.  Brian is an optimist and an idealist and a romantic, and I am definitely not, so his POV required stepping outside of my personal experiences and letting him grow on his own.

When do you do your best writing… morning, afternoon, evening, night?

I have always been a consummate night owl.  Both as a kid and an adult, I could easily sleep through the day and live my life at night.  Something just happens to me around 10 PM, creative insight, communion with whatever characters are in my head at the time, a second wind that screams at me to engage, to write, to do. (Feel free to insert a vampire joke here!)

Do you plan your stories and, if so, to what extent?

Absolutely.  Stories, for me, are like storyboards in my head—except I usually only have a beginning, an end, and milestones (the most pivotal scenes) when I start, and everything else is fuzzy.  I begin with a premise that I find compelling and strong, something that I think might make an impact, whether it's a new fantasy/sci-fi setting, or a combination of fantasy/sci-fi elements that I have never seen before.  I let my characters grow out of that, usually in an attempt to pair up two beings who can teach each other something or take each other somewhere.  After that I figure out where I want them to go, both together and individually, and I set my ending.  Endings are subject to shift but usually not change entirely.  With that done, I figure out what must happen to get my characters from beginning to end in a realistic, interesting, and sexy way.  Pacing is everything to me.  I want people to travel with my characters as they would travel through the same life experience.  I want them to believe in the emotional progression, and feel every moment, every decision, every touch, every discovery.  Those are the pivotal scenes.  Once I have all three of these elements, the rest of the story tends to flesh itself out for me, and it's just a matter of taking the time to do it justice.

How many stories do you work on at any one time?

I prefer to focus on one story at a time, if possible, but sometimes having two going at once can be very helpful.  If one story is drastically different than the other, it can provide a refuge from the other story that is giving me trouble.  Especially if the character's voices are nothing like each other.  I can easily juggle two separate worlds in my head, and switching often jogs my creativity for the one that I'm not writing at that moment.  Sometimes it comes down to wanting to "spend time" with one set of characters that you miss, because you've spent a lot of time with another set, and both sets give you something that you have fallen in love with—they're just different!

Is there anything you’d like to tell? Maybe something in the works you would like to promote? Feel free!

Well, Bleeding Heart is certainly not the end of Brian and Kyle's story, that's for certain!  Our boys are entering a world in which they are new players—and uninitiated ones, at that.  Elisa and Clara have been in business a long time, and are far more invested/involved in the politics of vampire-human relations than even Brian and Kyle realize at the end of Bleeding Heart.  The boys' journey into the underground of their society has only just begun.  They have a lot to offer Elisa and Clara—but do they know what they're getting themselves into? 

What was your favorite character to write, and why?

Elisa was by far my favorite.  She has a back story that is only partially told in Bleeding Heart, but the readers get a good sense of the depths that lie there.  She had a rough childhood, growing up as a lesbian in a time and place that wasn't too thrilled with that.  We never find out how she became a vampire, but it's clear that it wasn't a happy situation.  Her relationship with Clara, at the start, was by no means easy.  They struggled to escape their small town and small-minded families, and then struggled to succeed even when they made it to a big city—but Elisa gets them there.  Her drive and take no prisoners attitude were a pleasure to write.  I like that she works for what she wants and believes in and doesn't compromise.  She has no trouble telling it like it is.  She's an unstoppable advocate and businesswoman, but she also believes in pleasure and enjoying life—what's one without the other?

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Reading and writing have always gone hand and hand for me.  Books were magic to me from the start.  I have a very distinct memory of being a little girl and trying very hard to learn how to read—I struggled, always a year or so behind other kids.  But one day I was sitting there with a book in my hands, and I remember with complete clarity the moment that the words went clear on the page and I understood what they meant.  I remember running to my parents, shouting that I could do it, I could read, and from then on the house was full of whatever book that I wanted.  I remember thinking about how amazing all of these books were—worlds unto themselves, and all I had to do to get there was open them.  That's when I realized I wanted to be a writer...I knew that if I could immerse myself in these amazing worlds, I could create them, too, which was a whole new kind of power.

What part of the writing process do you dread?

The blank document, just before the first sentence is written.

If we could see your writing space, what would we see?

An eight year old $15 desk, held together by Gorilla glue and hope.

A lot of your writing contains non-human elements. What draws you to that?

What would the world be like, if we had another species living alongside of us that was enough like us to communicate in our language, and yet at the same time be able to observe us as something Other?  What would it be like if we were to fall in love or form a friendship or a bond with someone of this species?  How would our lives change if we could have their point of view of the world we shared, of us, on a daily, intimate basis?  Nothing would be the same for us ever again—we would forever have that new perspective of ourselves through them, and we would see things differently, maybe even act differently, maybe even over time become something completely new.  This is why I'm always fascinated by stories where humans and non-humans meet and interact and care about one another—it's easy to write stories about those two groups fighting each other.  But what happens when they matter to one another?  What choices do they make?  Do they pick sides?  Do they have to?  How do they move forward?

You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?

My husband (without whom I would become impossibly lost, even on an island), and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (because it is sacred to me, and I could never live happily without it).

What's your guilty pleasure?

There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure!

What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?

My husband and I are gamers, so probably an evening spent playing our favorite MMORPG!

What is your favorite meal?

A medium-rare steak and as much Diet Coke as I'm allowed to have.

Name three things that would surprise your fans to know about you?

I'm pansexual.  I have a degree in Anthropology.  I've never dyed my hair.





AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A veteran writer of fan fiction known as MissBeizy to her online readers, Melissa Graves’ stories have thousands of followers. At age 13, she wrote her first work of fan-based fiction, and by age 16, had met her future husband in an online vampire fiction chat room. A fan of science fiction/fantasy, she has a degree in anthropology and a passion for good chocolate, amateur erotica and fan worlds that celebrate diversity. She is mother to two cats.

Follow Melissa Graves and learn more about her work at http://msmelissagraves.com/

Links:



Buy Links:

Interlude Press:




a Rafflecopter giveaway







Friday, July 18, 2014

Winner of the Nighttime Promises giveaway!



Carrier Violet

You're the winner! I’ve sent an email out to you. J Huge thank you to everyone who entered! 
~M


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tease Me Thursday Week #19 - To Touch the Sky


Welcome to week 19 of Tease Me Thursday! When it's not quite Friday, and you're feeling like some fun from your favorite authors and authors you haven't met yet. Come on in, have a seat, and most of all... have fun! For this hop you post 7 paragraphs or 7 sentences or 7 words. It can be from a WIP or something published.
For this week, I thought I’d do something from To Touch the Sky, the WIP I'm working on.






On a star-filled night, the full moon shone brightly over the untamed land. Predators, nothing but shadows in the dark, moved through the forest hunting for unsuspecting prey. A symphony of sound echoed all around. Tree frogs sang, crickets chirped, and a raccoon prowled in search of something to fill his empty belly. A barred owl hooted, his call reverberating into the night. Bats silently dipped and spun, hunting for food on the warm air currents as danger lurked.
A wolf howled, his cry crossing the land, then fading. A mysterious shadow moved through the forest, tracking the docile prey not far beyond the safety of the trees. Out on the moon-draped landscape, the plains reached for miles. The buffalo stood silently as the night held the land tight in its grip.
In this wild land there was only one creature who walked upright, stalking the flat plains and rolling hills on two legs. The Great Spirit, called Wha-tay, had created Mother Earth. Then her children, The People, inhabited the land and settled at The Tree of Life—the soul of Mother Earth. Each child born to The People was bound with a spirit—could be a land spirit, a water spirit, a plant spirit, or an animal spirit. Once bound, they had the ability to use the gifts the spirit had. Children of Wha-tay lived in harmony with the creatures around them. The land provided what they needed to survive, and they gave thanks for the sacrifices made to support them.
“It’s too damn bright, Mapiya. Do something.”
“Would you give me a second, Chetan? It’s not like I can just pull a cloudy night out of my ass.”
Mapiya’s totem had the ability to control the weather. Mapiya cleared her thoughts, letting the words that would bring her powers fill her mind. Closing her eyes, she gave her body over to her totem spirit and called to the Spirits that ruled the air. Taking a deep breath, she began to chant. 

A cool, gentle breeze wrapped around her body. The clear nighttime sky slowly filled with rolling clouds that blocked the moonbeams. The silvery light faded as the night darkened. Mapiya’s long hair whipped above her head as the breeze strengthened. Opening her eyes, she cast the land in shadows. Her eyes were a milky white and glowed with power.