World on Fire ebook winners

January 16, 2012

Congratulations to:

Midia, Fallingnstar, Verena, and Toni.

Please email me at hayley.b.james [at] gmail [dot] com to claim your ebook! Thank you for your comments!

Walking on Air

January 16, 2012

I hear the wind outside and I feel I need to find a blanket to warm up. This must mean I need to crawl away from the PC and join my puppy in the front room to save the cat. In an hour I’ll tally up the comments and draw the winners! (That means you have until 6:30 MST to post) I’ll contact the winners by email if I can, or I will comment in the post alerting them.

World on Fire was written in 2010 after a trip to Seattle. Originally the forest featured in WoF was in Washington but for shorter train travel time I changed it to Colorado. While in Seattle I heard the song “Walking on Air” by Kerli and it greatly inspired this story. The song fits so well because it molded Cole’s story from the sound and lyrics.

I wanted Lucian strange enough to forcefully pull Cole out of his shell without seeming like a bully. He ended up being just this side of crazy, but still loveable. Cole’s blushful reactions are inspired by a friend of mine. She’ll blush at the mention of shirtless men tennis clubs. (She might be reading this. Hi!)

Thank you for joining me during my second release. I hope I’ll have many more in the future. Water Waltz comes out in February so you do get to see me at least once more in 2012.

Follow me on Twitter.

Like my Facebook page.

Read my Blog.

Purchase World on Fire.

Comic Book Art

January 16, 2012

Continuing from the last post: are comics a form of art? There are many arguments about this. I believe they are most definitely created by artists so therefore, comics are art.

Not all comics are available through Marvel, DC, or TokyoPop (or any other known publisher). Many artists now post their comics online. These are free to read. Advertisements give the artists revenue, but if you want to support the artist/writer, some have the comic available in print you can buy and hide when the grandparents come over.

I’m going to share some of my favorites. All are M/M and 18+ unless noted. Let’s just assume no one should be reading the below links unless you’re allowed to be reading my novels.

Demon of the Underground by Shobana (aka Bob).

The art is pencil and Photoshop, and the details are amazing. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to art style and fairly picky about which comics I read, so trust me when I say the details are amazing.

The story follows Pogo—a thief who falls into an underground world. So far he’s met a ferret, been chased by guards, and met a mysterious man. The story is in chapter one right now so if you start reading today and follow each weekly update, you won’t need to catch up! Did I mention there’s a ferret named Annie? That’s always a reason to follow a comic.

Bob is also a Dreamspinner Press author. She’s published under Ana Bosch and her first short story is The Dragon Tamer. It’s out in February so check it out. I’m a fan of bittersweet Dreams titles so I’ll be reading it.

Starfigher by Hamletmachine.

I’ve met Hamletmachine at yaoicon and I still think she’s the sweetest person on planet Earth, and she draws 18+ scenes like a pro. Starfighter is set in the future and follows a pilot and his navigator. The sex between them is just wow, and the plot is really picking up after chapter two. Black and white art with a dash of color.

Sfeer Theory by Chira and Muun.

This one belongs in the category of “I’m not sure if this is M/M but it’s so pretty I don’t care.” If it is M/M, it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. (Other than Luca thinking the Prince is hotstuff) And so far, so clean.

I can’t really explain the plot on this one. Isn’t all that confusing, but it seems very hard to explain. It’s too multi-layered to wrap my head around in a single blog post. In a nutshell: Luca works as a lab technician at a school and he harbors the same magic ability the professors are teaching. The art is beautiful, the pages are colored, and the expressions are full of emotions.

Tea House by Emirain.

Finally, I don’t think I can post about M/M comics if I don’t mention this one. The plot might seem cliché—brothel, whores, and love—but the plot skates by those cliché ailments with finesse. The cast list is long, the pairings debated, and the drama flowing. The art is fantastic and every page is colored.

Lucian Thomas from World on Fire would probably be too scattered brained to properly maintain a comic online. and if he did, it would consist entirely of making fun of just how cute Cole is. And a lot of chicken. It’s a good thing he’s a painter.

Do you have a favorite comic online that I haven’t mentioned here? There are many out there so give your favorite a shout out.

A few more links to M/M fixes:

Guilt Pleasure has short stories with illustrations. The artist is a professionally paid one so expect quality from these side projects of hers. Fair warning—the plot lines are dark and can be viewed as cruel.

TJ and Amal starts slow but gains ground. Two guys start a road trip and their adventures are chronicled for your viewing and reading pleasure. I enjoy the humor in this one.

Pick up World on Fire in the Dreamspinner Store and comment for a chance to win it on ebook.

What is Art?

January 16, 2012

Art being such a large part of the world of World on Fire brings up a discussion about art itself. A term argued about from the start, there are many opinions about what’s considered art. People agree that paintings created on canvas with pol based paints are art, so Lucian is safe from any art argument.

Definition from Wikipedia: Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect.

Definition from The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture.

What if art uses unconventional ways to create? The above gives examples of paintings or sculptures, but what if the items used are uncommon for paintings or sculptures? Artists seem to constantly branch out of the “normal” and find new ways to express their visions. The definition of art must also branch out. It’s my opinion that art has no restraints.

There’s an artist who uses feathers to create sculptures. Kate MccGwire

Is one still considered a painter if the paint is date stamped? Federico Pietrella

Does the how matter when the end result is clearly art?

What if the end result might be something people find strange or morbid? One artist has gathered quite the attention from a group here in New Mexico with her Snuff Stuffie creations. Not everyone can look at these skull plushies and see a cute critter, but I find sure do. Custom Cranium Gallery.

Some art ends with a knife and fork. Eating the canvas or sculpture is the whole point to lavish cake designs. Many argue that food is not art. But there is clearly talent in many of cake creations. Like this Stormtrooper Cake by Amanda Oakleaf.

Is makeup art? I don’t mean the everyday fountain to cover blemishes. Lauren Schulte can create unique looks using makeup and talent. Be it an adorable look or a frightening monster—Lauren can create it.

I’m no way an expert of conventional or unconventional art, but I’m constantly amazed by the creativity in others. These are just a few examples that have crossed my path or are a part of my life. Do you think the above isn’t art? What’s art to you?

World on Fire excerpt 2

January 16, 2012

The object was dinner. At least that’s what Cole had been told. The live, twitching sea creature squirmed in Lucian’s grasp. The lobster’s claws were safely held closed by rubber bands, and there was quite a distance of safety between him and the lobster, but Cole still leaned away.

“You want to name it before you kill it?” Cole questioned dishearteningly.

Lucian turned the lobster to look at what Cole assumed would be the face area. “Naming this dinner does go against our discussion yesterday about speaking animals and being unable to kill dinner. Of course, this creature does not speak.”

“Or does it speak and you simply do not have the ears to understand it?” Victoria asked without moving her gaze away from the yard.

Lucian cast a look at her back. Cole saw the horrific surprise in the blue eyes spread to a soundless gasp. “I dare say.” Lucian placed the lobster beside the other on the island table in front of Cole, releasing his hold on both. “We’ll be having salad tonight.”

Cole stood up abruptly to avoid the lobster heading for him and to catch the other before it wandered off the end of the granite. “Lucian?” he questioned the artist just as he disappeared into the basement.

“What will you name your new pets?” Victoria asked.

“My pets?” Cole gasped. “I can’t take them.”

Lucian returned with an empty cardboard box, placing it on the table. “Forgive me for my ignorance.” He took one from the table and held it up, directing his statement to the face area once again. “I may believe you are not speaking to me, but I cannot understand all that I hear.”

If there had been any doubt left in Cole’s mind that Lucian was strange, this cleared it. “You’re keeping them as pets?” he asked after Lucian placed the one in the box.

“I can’t return them to the store for another as ignorant as myself to take them home to murder.”

“You can’t save all the lobsters.”

Lucian laughed appreciatively. “I don’t intend to, but I can’t kill what I eat.”

“But someone else will be able to, so—”

“You want to kill Wilcox and Becca?” Lucian interrupted.

“Who?” Cole asked, bewildered.

Pointing at the lobster on the counter, Lucian said, “That one’s Wilcox, and”—he nodded to the box—“that’s Becca.”

Cole looked down and laughed. “I didn’t mean to insinuate that I would boil them.”

“You think if I return them to the store and another fool buys them that they’ll be killed by that stranger instead?”


“I can’t allow it.” Lucian shook his head. “These two have been a part of my life, and I can’t allow another to murder them.”

Cole stared at Lucian. “They were a part of your life as dinner until just three minutes ago.”

“Your point, Mr. Saunders?” Lucian picked up Wilcox the lobster and smiled at it. He pinched one claw to hold it out. The other twisted in a desperate attempt at escape.

“My point is that you have no real connection to—” Cole dropped his sentence when Lucian moved away with the lobster. His steps toward Victoria were sweeping circles to the left, and…. Cole shook his head, astonished. Lucian was dancing a waltz with the lobster while moving into the breakfast nook.

“My dear Mr. Saunders.” Lucian danced himself over to Victoria and bowed before he handed her Wilcox. “I wonder what that face you’re making is for.”

Cole cleared his throat and smoothed his expression. I think you’re bordering clinically insane, Cole thought, but out loud he said, “Nothing.”

“I fear I’ve created an unpleasant feeling for you.” Lucian walked briskly across the kitchen to Cole’s side.

Cole leaned slightly away from Lucian, untrusting of the artist’s grin. “Unpleasant?” he questioned in a whisper and looked to the lone lobster in the box, fearing Lucian would have Cole dance with the simple creature.

“Jealousy.” Lucian clamped one hand down on Cole’s waist just as he took Cole’s hand in his other. Cole gasped in surprise and jerked away to free himself, but Lucian’s grip held strong.

“N-No, Mr. Thomas,” Cole said, using his free hand to push against Lucian’s strong chest. “I’m not jealous of anything.”

“You’re blushing so red I fear you might explode,” Lucian whispered in awe, studying Cole’s face. “And call me Lucian.”

Cole lowered his head, attempting in vain to hide the crimson heat racing across his face and up to his ears. “I don’t want to dance, Lucian,” he said softly.

Lucian released him. “I will get you to dance before you leave,” he vowed and took a step back, bowed, and turned to head around the island table.

You can buy World on Fire from Dreamspinner Press.

World on Fire: Talented Artists

January 16, 2012

Welcome to the release party for World on Fire. I have a few excerpts to share and a few posts about art to discuss. Three lucky readers will be winning an ebook version of World on Fire at the wrap up of the party. To enter the contest just comment on my blog or on the Dreamspinner Press blog. (Hint: You need to comment with a valid email address.)

Let’s begin.

In World on Fire, Lucian is an artist with a rather unusual talent with paint and canvas, and he’s famous for realistic and beautiful artwork. Since the plot hinges on paintings created by Lucian the artist, I thought I’d start this off by sharing my favorite—and real—artists.

Mark Stock is known for narrative paintings, capturing moments in time with enough details that you can actually see a story behind the image. I’m a big fan of his butler in love series. The details and emotions in each work are just amazing. You can see most of his work on his website.

J.C Leyendecker (March 23, 1874 – July 25, 1951) was a commercial artist, and quite the famous one during the early twentieth century. He illustrated fashionable men for Arrow Brand, Kuppenheimer Suits, and Interwoven Socks, as well as capturing the spirit of daily life for The Saturday Evening Post. I admit I might be a fan due to the fancy men in fancy outfits.

I tend to lean toward realistic art as my favorite. To be able to capture reality with paint, pencil, charcoal, or anything else is something I’ll forever be impressed by. Who is your favorite artist?

City Falcon Release Party – Trivia Quiz Answers and Winners

September 4, 2011

Thank you all who joined the party and helped to make the release day of City Falcon special!

Here are the answers:

1. A word meaning “deceived” that comes from a common pratice to calm falcons: a) beguiled, b) hoodwinked, c) bamboozled, d) double-crossed

2. A word meaning “to entice”  that comes from a training practice for falcons (one word) (to) lure

3. A phrase that mean “finished with due to frustration”, originally applied to a falcon who had just eaten and didn’t feel like hunting (two words) fed up

4. A word for “alcoholic beverage” that was originally used to describe a falcon’s way of drinking: a) hooch, b)booze, c) toddy, d) tipple

5. An expression for “overeat” that comes from watching falcons eat their prey: a) stuff, b) binge, c) gorge, d) cram

6. Which Toyota model was named after a male falcon? a) Prius, b) Tercel, c) Camry, d)Yaris

7. What do Arabic falcon lovers appreciate most in their falcons? What do they pay the highest prizes for? a) sound health b) amazing hunting skills c) flawless pedigree d) white feathering

How many answers did you get right?

Our winners are (chosen from the players who came closest ;-) )


Thanks for playing everyone!

City Falcon Release Day – Excerpt #3

August 26, 2011

As a fitting closure to this day, I’ll give you another little snippet. It’s actually one of my personal favorites. While writing this scene, I listened to Mark Knopfler’s “Sailing to Philadelphia” – I think the music fits the mood perfectly.

Without further ado, here’s to you:

They were back at runway 4L by then, standing at its very end where it jutted out into  Jamaica Bay. The landing lights were already on, and airplanes landed and took off half a mile behind them. Hunter used his field glass to scan the skies above Joco Marsh, speaking into his handheld, his voice occasionally drifting back to Mark between the roar of the planes.

Mark was leaning against the hood of his car, arms crossed, watching him. Hunter was a dark silhouette against the dramatic sky, hair and beard hued a coppery, golden red by the sun. The wind caught in the loose strands that had escaped his braid and tugged at his loose pants, outlining his long legs. He looked like something not quite from this world, some ancient spirit turned corporeal maybe, ready to leave solid ground at any moment.

He is gorgeous, thought Mark. A desire to touch, to make sure with his very own hands Hunter was solid and real, grew on Mark until he couldn’t stand it any longer.

They were all alone out here. The only ones who’d be able to see them were the pilots of the planes above, and they were supposed to be busy with other things.

He pushed off the car and closed the distance between them, enfolding Hunter in his arms from behind. Hunter lowered his field glass and leaned back into Mark’s embrace.

“I just called Greg,” he said. “We’re done here.”

Mark pressed a small kiss to the corner of Hunter’s mouth, pulling him a bit closer. “Good.”

They didn’t move, though. Mark’s hands rested on Hunter’s chest, his fingertips stroking lazily, back and forth. Hunter’s free hand covered Mark’s, thumb brushing the back of Mark’s hand. They watched the sun set in silence.

“This is beautiful,” Mark said softly, not only referring to the spectacle before them.

Hunter leaned his head back, searching for Mark’s lips. They kissed long, but gentle, without urgency, their lips barely open, painfully tender.

“You’re a romantic, Mark Bowman,” Hunter said, but he smiled as he turned his face to the horizon again.

Mark trailed his lips up and down the side of Hunter’s neck. “Is this bad?”

Hunter tilted his head to give Mark better access. “No, it is not. Not at all,” he said.

After a while, Hunter started to hum, that low, calming sound he used with the birds. He threaded his fingers through Mark’s and squeezed.

Mark wished he could stop time. He could have stood there forever, holding Hunter in his arms, with the wind caressing them, surrounded by peace.

To all of you who took the time to stop by today for my little party: Thank You! I hope you had as much fun reading through the posts as I had writing them.

If you took the quiz, come by here next week or check out my blog ( or my Goodreads profile ( for the winner.

City Falcon Release Day – Glossary

August 26, 2011

Like any other sport, falconry has created its own professional jargon. Since it’s been around quite a while, there is an abundance of terms for equipment, birds of various ages, gender and species, and ways of handling, hunting and feeding the bird. In City Falcon, I tried to keep the lingo as low-grade as possible, but a few technicalities slipped though nevertheless.

A Harris hawk landing on the glove

So for the geeks and other interested persons among us, here you are:

anklets and jesses: the falcon’s “shoes”. Traditionally made of leather, they can be a variety of materials today. Greg, being the traditionalist he is, uses Aylmeri jesses – suede leather anklet and jess is in one piece. The falcon wears the jesses in flight; when she rests,  they are attached to the mews leash with a swivel.

Mew(s): the falcon’s house. It should be big enough that she can flap her wings, airy and open to daylight, but keep her safe from wind and rain.

hawkbox or crate: the box used for the bird to travel, also called the big hood. Small and dark to keep her quiet, mostly made from wood.

hood: a leather pouch molded to the falcon’s head to cover her eyes. Birds of prey are very visual beings; when they can’t see, they tend to keep calm and still.

gauntlet: the correct technical term for the falconer’s glove. In the middle east falconers wear a mangalah, a cuff, instead of a glove

A propos Middle East: As Hunter used to speak mostly Arabic for almost a decade, he tends to lapse into this language in moments of emotional turmoil. He also uses Arabic endearments for Mark. Here are the translations:

yarouhi:  actually  ya rouhi, literally: my soul. ya is an appellative prefix in Arabic, also used in Ya Allah!, literally: Oh my God!, an exclamation Hunter uses several times

nour’ ehni: light of my eyes

gazzabi: a term to express a feeling toward a male as being attractive or beautiful. Roughly translated: “I find you very attractive/ beautiful”

City Falcon Release Day – Excerpt #2

August 26, 2011

Back turned to Mark, Hunter asked, “Why are you here, Mark? Want to join me for the patrol?” Despite his casual tone of voice, the set of his shoulders radiated tension.

Mark rubbed his hand over the knotted muscle in his own neck with a wince. “I don’t think so, no.”

Hunter’s hands tightened on the window frame. Otherwise, he didn’t respond, waiting.

Mark took a deep breath. “Actually, I came to tell you… Hunter, I think it was all a big mistake. You, Greg, the falcons…. I won’t come back.”

“So why did you ask for it in the first place?” Hunter turned to Mark, face unreadable. “Why are you telling me that, anyway? It’s Greg you should be talking to.”

“I will,” Mark replied sharply. He clenched his fists in an attempt to control the angered embarrassment rising inside him. “I wanted to talk to you first because… because I think it concerns you most. I should never have gone after the falconry thing, knowing you were here.”

Hunter pushed himself off the car and straightened, crossing his arms. “What has me being here got to do with anything?” he asked, his voice even. Annoyingly so. Mark dug his nails into his palms.

“Don’t you tell me you don’t know that,” he said, struggling to keep his wavering control. “It was all about you, from the moment you first looked at me, with your fucking innuendos and your fucking attitude and your fucking eyes!” He heard his voice get louder but felt unable to stop it. Didn’t want to, either. “I knew from the start you were pure poison, and now I’m a mess, and it’s all… your… fucking… fault!” Mark’s fists pounded the accents to his last words on the car roof.

“Stop that,” Hunter snapped. “You’re scaring the falcons.”

“Don’t give a shit,” Mark growled, but he still took a step aside.

Hunter held onto his own biceps in a white-knuckled grip, but his face remained blank. His voice cut like cold steel. “You’re a grown man, Mark. No one could have made you do anything. You took my invitation all of your own free will. I didn’t have to twist your arm, as far as I recall.”

“You—” Mark started, but Hunter chopped him off.

“And don’t you dare blame me for the sex. That takes two, as well you know.”

“You started it,” Mark yelled. Hunter’s lips curled into a sneer.

“Ah, now, Mark, that’s pathetic. You didn’t strike me as a blushing virgin at all,” he said. “However, I get it. You don’t want to see me again. Fine. I’ll get over it.” Turning away, he made to round the car. “Get lost, then, and let me do my work.”

Mark’s vision blurred red at the edges. “You self-righteous, cocky, arrogant asshole,” he snarled, grabbed a handful of braid and yanked hard.

Hunter whirled around and lashed out, hitting Mark’s jaw hard enough to make him stumble backward. Roaring, Mark caught himself and launched into a tackle which ended with Hunter up against the car, wrists pinned in Mark’s iron grip, both men glaring at each other,  breathing hard. Hunter struggled, but his lean body was no match for Mark’s broader shoulders and taller frame. Eventually he stilled, eyes shooting daggers at Mark.

“What is it you want from me?” he hissed.

The words cut through Mark’s red-hot fury and brought him back to his senses with a jolt. Shoulders slumping, he stepped back and turned, all his anger draining away like water from a sieve, leaving him hollow and exhausted. He closed his eyes and shook his head, struggling to get his leaden feet to move, to carry him away.

A touch on his arm stopped him.

Mark stood, unable to turn, unable to move on.

“Mark,” Hunter said, the unexpected kindness in his voice helping Mark to find his tongue.

“Let me go, Hunter,” he croaked, horrified at how miserable he sounded. Hunter’s hand on his arm tightened instead, tugging gently.

Mark didn’t know how, but suddenly Hunter’s arms enfolded him, held him tight, and he just crumpled, knees going weak, hands fisting in the fabric of Hunter’s jacket.

The familiar soft humming vibrated beneath Mark’s ear. Hunter’s hands stroked Mark’s back, his hair. A part of Mark was appalled at the display of weakness he provided, but the rest of him didn’t care, leaning closer still into the warmth of Hunter’s embrace, unthinking, just giving in to the feeling of being held. Hunter’s lips touched Mark’s cheek, his soft beard brushed Mark’s skin. Words mixed into the low humming, no louder than the sound, soft words in a language Mark couldn’t understand but felt soothed by nevertheless.

They stood like that for a second or an hour, Mark couldn’t have told. Eventually he pulled back with a sigh, hanging his head. Hunter’s hands slid easily from his shoulders, coming to rest on his forearms. Mark turned his palms up, unable to stand the closeness any longer, but unwilling to give up physical contact completely.

“I’m so tired, Hunter,” Mark said. “I’m tired of fighting every day. I don’t want to fight anymore.”

“Then don’t,” Hunter said. “You needn’t fight everything.”