Homespun Release Party: Spinning!

September 18, 2013

I just realized I had to go in and approve comments, which means there were a bunch of comments that weren’t showing up! I am so sorry! Now I know where to look, though, so hopefully you won’t have to wait the next time …

I mentioned snow in my last post, so here is a picture of the driveway when I drove out of the yard this morning.

Snowwwww!

*sob*

Some of the trees haven’t even turned colors yet! I’m sure they’re as shocked as I am …

And getting back on topic, here are some updated purchase links for Homespun:
Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

One of the central themes in Homespun is spinning — that is, twisting raw fiber into yarn. In the book, it’s a metaphor for the way that people’s lives become entwined until they cannot be separated without breaking the threads that make up their lives. (As well as being literally what Owen and Laura do on their sheep farm, of course.)

Although I love fibercrafts like knitting, I didn’t learn to spin wool into yarn until just about a month ago. I’ll be talking about that process some more at my guest blog posts in upcoming weeks, but today I have some videos and photos to share! The photographer is my husband, who is also the person asking questions in the video. (I didn’t actually realize I was being recorded — I’d asked him to take some pictures for this blog, but my jumbled explanations were meant for him alone! If I’d known it was being recorded for posterity, I would have tried to be a little clearer …)

I can’t seem to embed, so links will have to do …

Spinning video #1 on Youtube
Spinning video #2 on Youtube

And here are some photographs. I love his camera; it’s got a super fancy lens that has a great depth of field for taking closeup shots, as you can see here!

I’m spinning here with a drop spindle, the very oldest kind of spinning technology. Owen Fortescue, in Homespun, owns a spinning wheel, which you may have seen in old photographs or in paintings like this one: http://www.encore-editions.com/friedrich-ortlieb-at-the-spinning-wheel. Actually, he probably has more than one; I’ve since learned that most spinners who are serious about their craft have at least two, one for home and a portable one to take with them to shows, demonstrations and the like! But he probably also has a few drop spindles as well, because hobby spinners will often switch between one or the other depending upon the kind of yarn they’re making.

If you have any questions about the spinning process, feel free to ask! I’m not sure what aspects of it people might like to know about, so just ask me a question and I’ll do my best to answer. :) (There is also a more complete explanation in some of my other guest posts which will appear in upcoming weeks, but I’m not sure if it’s actually any more coherent than my jumbled attempts to explain in the videos above …)

Homespun Release Party: Fibercrafting!

September 18, 2013

I woke up this morning to discover that it was snowing. WTF, Alaska.

Anyway, I’m up and about now, pausing occasionally to glare out the window. Don’t forget I’m giving away a scarf in the previous Release Party post! As of my writing this, there are NO entries, which means your odds of winning are basically 100% at this point. :D

I guess it’s abundantly clear by now that I enjoy fibercrafts such as knitting and crochet. I haven’t done as much of it as I’d like to; life keeps getting in the way. Over the years I’ve tried a bunch of different things; I’ve made latch-hooked rugs, done embroidery, and I’ve recently decided to try my hand at quilting. Of course, all I’ve gotten done towards that goal in the last couple of years is learning to use (badly) a secondhand sewing machine my mom gave me and buying a shit ton of fabric:

Fabric

All neatly organized and unused! (*sigh*)

My yarn tends to see better use. I enjoy both knitting and crochet, with a slight preference for crochet because there’s only ONE stitch on the hook, so dropping it isn’t really a problem! (I’m always dropping stitches in knitting and having to go back and make them up.) Most of what I make are scarves and afghans, because these can be reduced to simple repeated stitch patterns and done while watching TV or visiting. I enjoy having a project in my lap while I watch TV.

Occasionally I’ve taken on more complicated projects, but I still haven’t tackled a sweater. One of these days I’d like to! Lace is another thing I would like to learn. The basic technique is pretty simple, and I already have the skills, but I haven’t tried it yet.

I learned to knit as a child from my mom. Crochet was something I added later when I got my hands, as a teenager, on a book of different fiber crafts. Over time I tried almost all of them, from crewel embroidery to stuffed toys to applique. My sewing skills are pretty weak, which is one of the main reasons why I’d like to learn to quilt. Someday …

Afghan
Above is an afghan I made last winter as a birthday gift for a family member.

And, because I know many craft people enjoy looking at other people’s crafting projects (me too!), here is my yarn stash!

Yarn

I’ve told myself I have to use up this yarn before buying more. The problem is that most of this is just small odds and ends that I bought in various places, not enough for a full project. I’m sure I’ll come up with something, though …

Don’t forget to go back to the last post and sign up for the scarf giveaway! Do you do any sort of crafting? Tell me about it! :)

Welcome to the Homespun Release Party!

September 18, 2013

Hello! I’m Layla M. Wier and today I’m hosting a release party for my contemporary romance novella Homespun, brand new and hot off the digital presses! Thank you for joining me!

Homespun Cover

For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.

Order it from Dreamspinner’s store and start reading in minutes!

I will be hanging out with you all day, giving away nifty prizes, showing you some shiny pictures of the gorgeous New England autumn colors that inspired the visuals in the book, talking about spinning and fibercrafts, and more! I live in Alaska and autumn is in full swing here, so I might run outside to take some pictures of the scenery if I get the chance. (I’m currently attending school part-time at the University of Alaska Fairbanks — I’ve lived in Fairbanks off and on since 1995 — and I’ll be on campus for most of the day. There must be SOMETHING to take a picture of!)

Homespun is truly a labor of love for me, a book that combines more than just a few of my favorite things. (Autumn! Rural life! Knitting! Painting! Late in life love!) I will be talking about some of those things today. But first, let’s kick off my release party with a bang! How about a giveaway? Who doesn’t love free stuff? :D

I’m currently doing a blog tour for the book’s release, and if you happen to have run across any of those posts (tour schedule here) you might have already seen that I’m giving away a custom knitted or crocheted scarf in your choice of colors, made just for you! (You can go here for more information and to enter, or leave a comment on any of my posts during the blog tour period to be entered to win!)

But today and today only, I’m doing another scarf giveaway! One of the themes in Homespun is handmade stuff — knitting, crocheting, spinning, painting. Today, you can enter to win the handmade blue wool scarf you see below (the turquoise one on the right):

I knitted this for a family member’s Christmas present a couple of years ago … but then she moved to a very warm climate before I had a chance to give it to her, so suddenly it became completely inappropriate! Since it was knitted in her colors, it doesn’t really work for anyone else in the family (besides, I tend to give scarves as gifts, so most members of the family who aren’t knitters themselves already have at least one!).

It’s never been worn or used. It’s made from Sensations Angel Hair, an incredibly soft wool-acrylic-nylon blend. This is a very warm, very soft scarf that’s good for wrapping around your face on a cold winter day — it’s made for our Alaska winters, but it will be very warm and cozy for any cool climate. I will mail it anywhere in the world at no charge to you.

Our house does contain pets, and while I obviously don’t let them roll around on my knitting, I cannot guarantee that this is allergen-free — so if you have severe pet allergies this might not be a good choice. (There will be another giveaway for something else later today that won’t be a problem for people with pet allergies!) If you’re in a hot climate, perhaps you know someone who might like this for a Christmas or birthday gift!

To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment telling me about something handmade — something you own, something you’ve made, something you have fond memories of. Do you have any crafting hobbies — knitting, crochet, scrapbooking, seashell sculpture? Tell me about them! Do you have a favorite item you bought at a farmer’s market or craft show? Did your child make you something neat? Or maybe you have a shockingly horrible craft item that you can’t get rid of without hurting your Great-Aunt Imelda’s feelings … or a story about the tackiest thing you ever saw in a thrift store! Your comment doesn’t have to be elaborate – a sentence or two is fine – but feel free to get chatty if you want to, and even share pictures! :)

(And if you just absolutely can’t come up with ANYTHING craft-related, leave me a haiku on the topic of your choice. It doesn’t have to be a good haiku. :D I want everyone to be able to play!)

I will be drawing a winner tonight at 9 p.m. Alaska time/1 a.m. EST.

Have You Gotten a Little HUNGRY FOR LOVE?

September 15, 2013
Well, whether you have or not, maybe you’re looking for something to read that warms your heart…and maybe a few other places. My latest book, Hungry for Love, not only hits romance and erotic buttons, it also provokes a little thought about who we are as people and the face, or faces, we choose to show the world.

Today, I’m dropping by the Dreamspinner Press blog to offer you a chance to see why Hungry for Love seems to be touching hot buttons with reviewers and readers alike in only its first couple of days of release. For the next couple of days, or so, when you enter coupon code Rick0915, you’ll get 25% off all my books, including Hungry for Love, plus all contemporaries.


What’s Hungry for Love about? Check out the blurb:

Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and both hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep. Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky best friend, Marilyn, are about to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. The two women are only exploring, but when they need a face and body for the persona they create, they use Nate as the model.

When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate. Real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, but Nate doesn’t even know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, the two men feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?

REVIEWS
From LIVE YOUR LIFE, BUY THE BOOK
“I loved his writing style, I loved the flow of the book, I didn’t feel like there was anything missing by the time the end of the story came around and I was really able to love Brandon and Nate very easily…this story had romance, love, friendship, deception, jealousy, heartbreak…. Read the review.
From ON TOP DOWN UNDER BOOK REVIEW
“…overall, I really enjoyed this book…it was perfect…” Read the review.
From MRS. CONDIT AND FRIENDS READ BOOKS
“…written beautifully with humor, and love, and intelligence. Rick Reed has done a wonderful, wonderful job with this story!!” Read the review.
From AMOS LASSEN REVIEWS
“Reed has never been afraid to tackle the important issues of the LGBT community and here he looks at friendship, love, lies, heartbreak and jealousy while creating characters that we can identify with and grow to love.” Read the review.
From USA Today
I’ve gotten distracted reading a book before but never because I stopped to marvel at the genius of the author...sigh worthy….” Read the review.

BUY from Dreamspinner Press in ebook or in paperback

Release Party Like Fire Through Bone: tackling the tough issues or writing about slavery

September 13, 2013

All right, one last post on a really tough issue before we call it a night.

In general I don’t go in much for non-con or rape fantasies.

I will admit though every once in a while I like indulging in the fantasy of sexual slavery. There is something about having total control over a person, being able to bend them to your will and take what you want without care for their feelings or their desires that can tap into the very darkest parts of my sexual appetite when played out in the safety of my mind or on the pages of a good piece of erotica.

As a historian though I am all too aware of the real world history and cost of slavery.   Owning humans as chattels degrades not just the people who are held in bondage but also the ones who hold them. A society which allows slavery is a society which will allow for a certain level of cruelty to be normalized. For in a society where it is acceptable to buy and sell humans like cattle it also often becomes acceptable to abuse, maim and murder them as well.

As Ira Berlin states “In saves societies by contrast, slavery stood at the center of economic production, and the master-slave relationship provided the model for all social relations: husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, teacher and student.”  This is a chilling world view but it does highlight the ways in which the mindset that allowed one man to own another outright affected everyone within that society.

During the editing process my editor mention that several of the characters are referred to as “good master” even though they do thing we would see as terrible or abuse.  They have slaves beaten, solid off to people who will abuse them further and subject their slaves to a thousand tiny acts of degradation daily.

This was very intentional on my part because in the grand scheme of things these characters are “good masters” but they are still people who see nothing morally wrong with owning other human beings and treating them like objects.


It is easy to condemn the beating, mutilation and forced rape of slaves. I think though the fact that Vasilios has to go to his knees every time he enters a room and cannot make eye contact with his “betters” and this is seen as so normal that no one questions it, is more indicative of the kind of damage slavery does to a society at large.

The elephant in the room while writing about Vasilios’ time in captivity is rape. Slaves are not capable of consent. They can not say no especially to their masters but to any free person. For a slave to say know would be to risk severe punishment and would go totally disregarded anyway. A table does not consent, a horse does not consent and in a slave holding society slaves have no more right to consent than a table or a horse.

One of the things that was important to me while writing Like Fire Through Bone was to portray slavery as corrupting and degrading as it historically was and still is.

Vasilios has had sexual encounters with his master but I want to be clear that he in no way consented to them. He submitted to them out of a sense of self preservation and because he knew as owned property he could not say no to his master’s demands.

Further he and Markos can not further any kind of relationship with each other as long as Vasilios is held as a slave. As Markos points out if they were to become involved romantically or sexually before that neither could be completely sure that where wouldn’t be cohesion involved at some level. Markos is an extremely powerful man and business partner to Vasilios’ master. For Vasilios as a slave it would be almost impossible for him to say no to Markos if Markos where to make a pass at him and Markos knows this.
Stories that deal with slaves are a huge part of the romance genre but often these stories do not deal directly with issues like a slaves inability to consent. On the other hand the fantasy of sexual slavery is a potent one. Going into writing Like Fire Through Bone though I wanted to do something more realistic.

So what do you think? Do you prefer a more historically accurate portrayal of slavery? Or do you like like the fantasy better, where the pretty slave falls for his sexy master? Why or why not?

Release Party for Like Fire Through Bone: Let’s Talk Cover Art

September 13, 2013

I was originally going to talk about music but I can’t figure out how to embed the media player so let’s talk about cover art first.

I’ll admit it, I totally judge books by their covers.

As a reader browsing through a brick and mortar bookstore I am far more likely to grab a book that has an exciting or beautiful cover. As a die hard fantasy  and science fiction fan I’m going to be drawn to cover to portray something new and fresh from the genre. A cover with bulky space Marines isn’t going to attract my attention the same way a cover depicting a character walking the streets of a futuristic Delhi would.

When it comes to romance novels I’m just as picky. I’m not a fan of covers which show over developed pectoral muscles as their primarily attraction since they are a dime a dozen in the m/m romance genre. I am much more likely to be attracted to interesting covers even if they are not “sexy” per say. In fact a cover which doesn’t immediately scream “romance” to me is going to be more attractive because it will grab my attention and making me at least read the blurb.

Unless I know the author or have had the book recommended to me the cover art may indeed make or break my decision to buy the book. I know this about myself therefore I take the designing of the covers for my own book very seriously.

Working with a new publisher and new set of cover artists is always a little nerve wracking and the cover art is such an important part of the process that when I sent off my survey form for the cover art of Like Fire Through Bone I was mostly just anxious about how it was going to turn out.

I tried to give as much details about each of the characters as possible along with the over all feeling I was going for.

I really wanted to cover to emphasize the plot and tone of the book over the sex appeal of the characters.

It’s not that Like Fire Through Bone isn’t a sexy book because I think there is great chemistry between Vasilios and Markos and multiple hot sex scenes. On the other hand though the book is not all about the romance as much as it is about combining plot with romance I wanted a cover to reflect that.

What I got back from the talented Brooke Albrecht was four different but equally lovely covers. Two of them really jumped out at me though. In one I loved the cover model and felt like he was closest to my mental picture of Vasilios. The other I was totally in love with the color scene and lettering.

I asked if they could be combined and the cover that resulted was the one we went with. I love it. I think it is a beautiful cover.


“Wow” my brother said to me when I showed it to him “I could see that being a paperback novel in the fantasy section of any bookstore. I’d probably pick it up and read the back too.”

That made me so happy for all sorts of reasons.

So what do people think? What role does the cover art play in your decision whether to buy a book? What kinds of things do you love or hate to see on covers of m/m romance book?

It’s A Release Party!: Like Fire Through Bone

September 13, 2013

Hello all!
I am E.E. Ottoman and I am here to talk about Like Fire Through Bone cones out on Friday 13th, today! I am so excited about this release party which will be going all day and include an awesome coupon code for 25% off all Angel and Demon stories at Dreamspinner somewhere along the way.

You can buy Like Fire Through Bone as an ebook here or as a paperback

First let me introduce myself. I am a graduate student in my late twenties, studying history and living in the greater New York City area. I am a cat lover and an avid home cook. I love menswear and fashion and try to dress as fashionably as possible. I adore all things history, am a big opera fan and love reading mythology. My idea of a perfect day out is a trip to a great museum or art gallery followed by a stunning meal. I am definitely a fantasy author and I love relationships between people and portraying them in all different varieties so romance is an incredibly exciting genre for me.

But enough about me, let’s talk about the book:

Like Fire Through Bone is my first full length novel, although I have written multiple short stories and novellas before this. This is also my first book working with Dreamspinner Press.

When I set out to write it I didn’t set out to write a full length novel. In fact I was aiming for 30,000 words.

I originally had something of a Byzantine/Roman Empire world in mind. I wanted to write a short fantasy adventure story so I came up with a demon who had been terrorizing the capital city stealing away children in the night. The demon was based on old Christian folklore from the Middle East. I came up with two main character Vasilios was a household eunuch who held a kind of secretarial position for a wealthy merchant and Markos who was a General in the Imperial Army.

My original plot outline was simple, they were going to exorcise the demon and then get together as a couple.

I knew Vasilios would have prophetic dreams about the demon and I assumed as soon as he went to Markos with the that information the story would pretty much wrap itself up.

Except it didn’t work like that.

As soon as I started writing Vasilios I realized he was a far more complex character than I had originally intended. I was going to have to deal with his trust issues, his relationship to his master, his relationship to his status as a eunuch, and most importantly the fact that he was a slave.

My outline expanded to deal with the question of Vasilios’ servitude and the real tough questions of portraying slavery in any story.

Then Aritê came into the story. She was originally supposed to be a character mentioned in passing but who never got any actual on screen time, as it were.

As soon as I wrote the scene were Thoefilos describes her though I knew they were going to have to go out into the desert to find her.  With her Aritê  brought the question of faith and the complicated role faith plays in the story.

Suddenly I found myself writing scenes with angels in them and realizing that in some ways the story was also about Vasilios’ faith journey and his relationship with faith, belief and surrender.

At this point the story was over 60k word, twice what I had originally set out to write and I knew they were going to have to out back out into the desert again but this time to a monastery in search of a half-snake monk …

What really surprised me the most about writing the initial draft of the story was how fast it came together. For all that it ended up being almost three times longer than the story I had set out to write, it only took a couple weeks to knock out the first draft.

I wasn’t really sure what to do with it after I had written the first draft though. Going back over and editing something of that length seemed too intimating to me and I had no real idea if anyone asides from me would like it.

The story dealt with some heavy issues like slavery and religion. It also starred a fully castrated main character. As an author I was pretty much unknown in the m/m romance genre and unsure about how much I could get away with.

So I let it sit in my edits folder and went on to write other shorter works. At some point though I mentioned its existence in passing to the amazing LJ LaBarthe who was, to my shock, excited about reading it. She offered to beta read it for me and do some historical facts checking which I desperately needed.

Her enthusiasm made me reconsider. I dug the manuscript out and read over it. I was shocked by how much I liked the story and set about editing it.

Originally my world building had been very Euro-centric. Reevaluating I went back and did some research widening my inspiration pool to include some amazing non-European civilizations and cultures. I also reevaluated my reasoning for making my cast white. “Did my characters need to be white?” I asked myself and discovered that they didn’t.

I also broke the story up into chapters.

When I was done going over it I sent it off to LJ who went over it with a fine tooth comb, doing an especially good job catching, correcting or adding historical details.

We had some great back and forth over different articles of clothing, some of which I made up and some of which are historical, different foods, and what the monitory system for my world was like.

When she was done I went over it again this time looking for consistency in overall tone and overarching themes. I added the second sex scene since I felt there were things that hadn’t been addressed in the first one.

Finally I submitted it to Dreamspinner Press and kept my fingers crossed that they would take a chance and accept it.

Which they did!

It might not be as related to my process of writing but I am genuinely curious, what do all of you love in fantasy? What attracts you to the sub-genre of fantasy romance? Or if you are not ordinarily into the sub-genre  what makes you interested in Like Fire Through Bone?

Last Post

September 5, 2013

Yes, this will be my last post. I’m trying to finish up my latest WIP and I seriously need my full mental capacity because, yikes, is it drama filled!

Sorry I didn’t post an excerpts for “Master’s Blood”, I was being lazy today. BUT you can see an excerpt on the main DSP page at: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4155

Remember: there is the coupon code Grimm0905 for 25% off any shifter book, including my own. It lasts for only 48 hours, but it may be less now…so hurry and use it!

Thanks to those who stopped by.

MD

More thoughts on “Master’s Blood”

September 5, 2013

This story was probably the most fun to write. Why? Well, for me, it was the battle of dominance between Poe and Nordik. They’re both alpha males and I really liked having them butt heads, and there was something about Nordik’s arrogance that just tipped it to where you wanted to slap and kiss him at the same time. I know Poe. He’s a workaholic, the Agency is his entire life. So, I asked myself a question – subconsciously, at least – what kind of shifter would turn his head and have him considering breaking the Agency’s top rule?The answer: Nordik. And, from there, the story came about. Poe signed his life away to the Agency, so it would have to be a very powerful, enigmatic, and arrogant, shifter to tempt him. I took a lot of care with Nordik, since he was a Native American, living years before white settlers came to North America. He remembered the way things were before the settlers, and the travesties committed as they attempted to conquer the lands.

I didn’t want to delve to deeply into that past, since it didn’t have a place in the current story, but I needed to know his history, to faithfully portray him. I gave readers a glimpse of him in “Blind Devotion”, and I believe that is the first story he’s mentioned. I was really happy with that cameo, and I’d gotten some positive curiosity concerning Nordik. Then I had to put him and Poe on the back burner, as I’ve said before, and write the other stories. But I enjoyed those other stories, don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved every character I’ve written about, and their ups and downs in love have been mine. But Poe and Nordik will always hold a special place in my heart.

Question: For those of you who’ve read my series, who is your favorite couple?

MD

Coming Soon in the Shifters series

September 5, 2013

My next couple of books will take place in the past – one in England, and the other in the American Old West. Part 2 deals with something that came up in the epilogue of “Master’s Blood”. I also have plans to bring back Derek and Brian from “Psychic Moon” and “Celtic Warrior and Wolf Spirit”. I’m really excited by that. I’m not quite ready to let those guys go, since they started me on this amazing journey.

I have some planned sequels to several stories, that don’t have anything to do with the main series plot arch. Some of these characters I don’t want to leave immediately. All the sequels will be holiday themed, but not just Christmas. I’ll have Halloween, Valentine’s day, St. Pat’s Day… and maybe Thanksgiving. I don’t know. I’ll have to research other holidays in other countries, so I can create a nice little bunch of variety for my sequels.

Teaser: I plan on doing a Valentine’s day sequel to “Healing Minds”. And probably Halloween will go to Jack and Travis from “Blind Devotion”. But don’t quote me on that! But can you imagine what fun Halloween would be in Haven, a town full of shifters?

Question: What is your favorite holiday to have a themed story to?

MD