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Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Haiku of Category Romance

 So, I got asked to go teach a class about world building in Reno this April (not at RT, this is at Truckee Community College) and I was going through my notes (okay--I was putting my brain together because I haven't spoken about this for a while) and one of the points I've made before (and Damon Suede makes a lot as well) is that while people think of contemporary romance as "real", as much world building goes into a contemporary romance as goes into a paranormal romance or urban fantasy romance, people just aren't aware.

When you're writing a contemporary romance, and you're deciding on tone, you need to make some world building decision. Example?

Manny Get Your Guy: Taylor was injured in the military. Is he bitter about his service? Is he worried about his appearance? Is he suicidal? Have PTSD? Is his life still threatened about his injuries? Can he still get wood? Do these injuries provide interest to the love story or are they a tremendous obstacle to the lovers getting together? Is he tortured because of them? Or are they just a practical consideration?

The answer to these questions almost uniformly lies in, "What kind of world am I building?"  And the nuances of that world are very much dictated by the fact that Manny is category romance.

Now, for those folks who think, "Well, that makes category romances easier to write and boring to read!" you're missing the point.

Writing for a category does place some restrictions on the prose and the world--but it opens up some possibilities that true lovers of the genre appreciate.

The same restrictions placed on Taylor's injuries--that they can't be too graphic, too painful, or too much the focus of the character--are also placed on sex. Not too graphic, not too painful, and NOT the focus of the plot. They're also the same restrictions placed on the emotional pain the characters undergo. Channing Lowell was saddened by the loss of his sister--he wasn't suicidal.

But those restrictions also set us free.

Much like writing a Christmas story, when I feel free to focus on the romance, on the small, meaningful personal interactions that make the coming together of two people such a delight, limiting the amount of heartache in a story can also free the writer up to simply focus on the romance. The myriad combinations of quirks, flaws, and heroism that makes up a successful couple are quite simply a delight to explore. Of course Tino wasn't going to be a virgin by the end of the book--but how he got to that deflowering, that was the real question, and watching him and Channing dance was part of the joy of writing it.

I think some of the confusion for readers who haven't been exposed to a whole lot of category romances comes in the subtleties and nuances that have been forced upon us by the form.

Think about it as a type of poetry.

Anybody who has ever tried to write a sonnet or a villanelle or a haiku poem has spent copious hours tapping their pen on their desk, trying to sound out the beats and rhythmic declensions, while also utilizing the appropriate rhyme, and, hey, for fun, making those few words mean something.

And the smaller, more compact the poetry form, the more ingenuity was demanded of the poet.

Often, the writers of haiku poetry had giant lexicons of each word used in poetry, along with that word's denotative and connotative meaning, including colors, sounds, and smells that could be associated with that one word.

Think about it--one word.

Autumn, for instance.

Autumn is the year end, it is the time of dying, it is the time of long shadows, it is the end of summer, or the end of love, or the end of joy, or the end of a long life. Autumn is gold, amber, green, and brown, it is the smell of smoke, it is the haze over the sun. It's a certain shade of blue that makes most people's hearts ache in their chests, and a time when you gather your harvest to see if all your work paid off, and how long, how bitter, the winter would be.

Farm animals are slaughtered in the autumn. Clothes are gathered to repair in the autumn, in anticipation of long winter nights.

One word, and a thousand different meanings. That one word depended on the few syllables on either side of it to determine why it was there.

A category romance is like that.

Yes, the tropes are established--there are even trope lexicons, like there are word lexicons for poetry. But for each trope, there are infinite combinations with other tropes, and with the characters depicted within the trope, to make a different story. An experienced category romance reader will pick up the book, spot the tropes, and then wait to see what the characters will do with them. The beats of the story are already established, but the nuances are new. The ending of the story is always the same--but it's never the same, because the characters are different, and the roads they took to that happy ending were different and the trope combinations were different, every damned time.

And for people who accept this, embrace it, envelop the play of trope and character that can be found in a compact little haiku volume of romance, the clues to romance, to happy ever after, to individual human beings finding contentment in a vast and impersonal society are there for the taking.

How many people were surprised when Harry Potter ended up with Ginny Weasley at the end of the series?

I betcha category romance readers weren't. We saw that romance develop from Ginny's first stirrings of hero worship to her mortification that Harry should be the one to rescue her in the second book. We saw it through Ginny's determination to have her own life and her own suitors and not to let the big doofus break her heart, and through Harry's ill-fated attempts to court another girl. No matter what the characters were doing or saying to each other at the time, we saw the clues between the two of them that told us they would be together, and the ending was not so much a surprise as it was a sweet fulfillment of a long-ago promise.

An arranged marriage of sorts--which is another favored trope.

Christmas novellas are my favorite category romance to write--I won't lie. There is something about writing a story for the holidays that frees me to write as happy as I dare, as sweetly as I possibly can. But the rules to the Christmas story are just as strict as the rules to the Dreamspun Desire--and I try never to forget it.

In fact, I revel in it.

I'll write unapologetically happy as often as the rules will let me, and Regret Me Not is an example of following category romance rules (even if it's not a Dreamspun Desire.) My characters need to be happy at the end, they need not to be too consumed with their own pain, and they need to have learned something by the end that lets them be happy.

And hopefully, they need to be likable enough for us to want to see them happy.

Regret Me Not is coming out December 4th. I love this Christmas novella, this "Christmas trope" of category romance. Pierce and Hal make me sublimely happy--and I hope you love them too.

* * *

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving--whether spent by yourself or with family. May you have peace and some joy, and please, I offer every prayer to any deity that you are fed, clothed, warm, and safe as you read this.

Take care!

Amy

Monday, November 20, 2017

Watch This Space

 So, I'm putting together a newsletter.

Okay--so that's misleading.

Ambrosia who is working as my PA right now is putting together a newsletter for me, because otherwise, I'd be a lost and lonely loser, wandering the newsl
etter dessert without a compass.

 Anyway, the good news is, the entire family got to hold the baby and I got a friend on Friday to play with.

The other good news is, we're going to put Scorched Haven out on Instafreebie, and all you'll have to do is sign up for the newsletter to get it!

I'll also have links here, on Twitter, on FB,  and I think Ambrosia is going to be dropping the newsletter links and the Instafreebie links in all the promotional groups on FB too.

So, uh, yeah.

Newsletter!

Anyway--

I commissioned a cover for Scorched Haven, and it's lovely, and I thought you all would like to see it! But watch this space for the newsletter signups, okay?  And for the link from Instafreebie, in case you haven't read the story yet.

Friday, November 25th, we'll roll everything out. It's coming!

Also--

Zoomboy got this 3D model of a TIE-Fighter from my parents for his birthday--and he put it together in two hours. He did a great job, and I foresee another hobby in his future.

He was so damned proud.

BTW--did you know that the TIE in TIE-Fighter stands for Twin Impulse Engines?

Me neither!

ZoomBoy--he's pretty up on shit, amIrite?

Anyway-- like the title says--watch this space!



Sunday, November 19, 2017

The ABC's of a Long Weekend...


First of all, our Saturday was as carefully orchestrated as a Bolshoi Ballet--pick up kid's friend, take Mate to first soccer game, pick up Big T, pick Mate up, take Mate and Squish to second soccer game, watch this one, take everybody to store to pick up cake and snacks, take everybody to pizza place to pick up pizza, take everybody to slot car race to celebrate ZB's bd, drop kid's friend off, come home so mom can write.

We ran into some glitches, but the basic takeaway was this--

A. SQUISHY SCORED A GOAL!!!

B. Even if you're having a birthday party at a slot car racing place, it's important to remember napkins and forks for the cake. And embarrassing if you don't. So. Embarrassed.

C. Make sure the kangaroo pocket of your hoodie isn't ripped if you put your cell phone in it.

D. If it is ripped, and you're jump-starting your daughter's car (as Mate did), don't tilt your body over a storm drain.

E. The following conversation really happened:

       Mate: Shit! My phone went down the drain!

       Me: Like the 'OMG I lost all battery!' drain?

       Daughter Chicken: No--like the PENNYWISE LIVES THERE drain!

       Me: Oh. Well. Damn.

F. Should you EVER have that conversation, research your options first.

G. When returning to the storm drain after researching your options (and dropping off kid's friend), have two plans.

H. Make sure one of them includes a 12 foot ladder and someone who can fit in the drain and isn't afraid of small spaces.

I. A headlamp helps.

J. If you're trying to film your husband doing this, don't give the camera to your son because odds are good he'll do an in depth study of your ass that goes on forever, both in the realms of time and space.

K. Make sure you celebrate your husband's ingenuity when he gets his phone back--that's important.

L. Suggest an extra dessert after this, because it's been a long assed day.

M. Be ready to write anyway, because, dammit, deadline.

N. If you can, fold the laundry next to your bed or you might have the following experience:

I wake up in the middle of the night and ZB is lay ing on the unfolded laundry, his body angled down so all I can see his his disembodied
head, levitating above the level of my mattress.

        Me: *gropes ZB's face* What the HELL????

         ZB: I had a bad dream.

         Me: I HAD A BAD WAKE! OMG! Are you all attached?

         ZB: Yeah.

Me: Then fine, get in bed.

O.  If your kid is almost adult sized, you WILL kick him out after five minutes because the last thing your bed needs is another body--even one with the head attached.

P. After a day like that, a little nappy-poo on Sunday is pretty much a requirement.

Q. I took that nap. It was DELICIOUS.

R. And 2000K to go before I sleep.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Oh fuck it's Thursday...

* So, walking the dogs today, I met the doggy version of me.

She was perfectly loaf shaped, with a tiny head and tiny legs and a tiny tail, poking out of a body that was half as wide as it was round. In short, she was like a can of Crisco with appendages. Her muzzle was graying, her little tail was whipping around ecstatically, and she really wanted to be friends with Geoffie and couldn't understand, "Why all the barking!"

And she was wearing a red acrylic sweater shot through with silver Christmas sparkles, for no other reason than she thought they were pretty.

I looked at the dog, utterly entranced, and told my friend over the phone about our red-sweater wearing little friend.

"Why don't you take a picture?" she asked.

"Because I'm juggling the umbrella, the phone, the leashes and a poo bag," I told her, trying really hard not to drop anything!

"Oh, yeah. No picture--the first thing going in the poo is the phone and that's bad news."

I love it when friends get me.

*  Squish came home today completely enraptured. Her class had an "auction" and the kids got to use their "good behavior tickets" to buy stuff.

And what fun stuff!

It was a garage sale on the best sense of the word--an antique jewelry box, a picture of the ocean, a ceramic fish--lovely kitschy little gifts that kids could take home and look at and say, "I was a good kid--and look what I got!"

For a kid as good as Squish, her haul was quite impressive.

One of her items was a picture--and it's exactly the same size as a picture we have at the end of our hallway. "Should I put it there?"

"Yeah, get some thumbtacks, go for it!"

So she did.

And I could hear her making noises from where I said--desperate little squeaks and pants, until I was like, "Uh, Squishy, everything okay down there?"

"Yeah," she said, out of breath. "But I am SO SHORT."

I admired her handiwork--picture in place!  But I also admired her self-reliance and resourcefulness. She is short--for now. But her heart is as big as the world.

*  So this week has been pretty busy, and one of the hardest parts has been Squish's schedule. It's been a nightmare because, FINALLY ZoomBoy is getting picked up at the same time she is--but THIS WEEK and this week only was conference week, and she was getting picked up three hours early.

It's time consuming and exhausting and no--it doesn't make it easy to get into a pattern at all for work.

Anyway, this afternoon I was happy. I could bring Squish home, take a nap, and go pick up ZoomBoy and I might finally feel like I was catching up.

It was a near thing, folks.

I crawled into bed at 1:25 and thought, "Hey, I can set the alarm for 2:45 and get a really decent nap."

And I don't know what made me do it, what made me think it, or what made my body do this, but at 2:00 sharp, I shot upright in bed and went, "OH FUCK IT'S THURSDAY!"

Because, as those of you who have kids in schools can attest, schools don't get out at the same time all week anymore. Our district gets out about an hour and fifteen minutes early ON THURSDAY.

Oy.

But I got there and ZB only had to wait a little long--which was good, because he'd forgotten his phone.

And oh fuck it's Thursday--the Thursday before Friday, the Friday before Thanksgiving break, when I've got a deadline again.

*yawn*

Night everybody!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy 14th on the 15th, ZoomBoy

Me: What do you want for your birthday?

ZB: I got nothing. I'm fairly content.

Me: *pulls hair out*

*  *  *

Me: Do you want to be a ventriloquists dummy wearing Dad's lederhosen for Halloween?

ZB: No, I'd rather be Morty. All I have to wear is a yellow T-Shirt.

* * *

Me: Go boop your meep.

ZB: *pets his cat*

* * *

Me: That's great! You got a part in the play! What is it!

ZB: Two lines. Ten words. I'm Jim.

Me: Well, congratulations, Jim.  You'll do great!

ZB: I already memorized the lines!

* * *

Me: So, how was school?

ZB: Great! I saw two dogs humping on my way to the car! Want to see a picture?

* * *

ZB: How's politics today, Mom?

Me: Dismal.

ZB: I'll send you kitten memes. They help.

* * *

ZB: *picks up majestic gray floof*  Hey, Dewey--judged anything to death today?

Dewey: *cats*

ZB: Just remember--I feed you. That gives me extra points so you should let me live.

* * *

ZB: What's the difference between a starting line and a finish line?

Me: Oh dear god...

ZB: Well, one is where things begin and the other one is somewhere in Finland...

Me: *screams*

*  * *

Happy birthday, ZoomBoy. I've got a thousand anecdotes about you, a thousand wonderful quirky geeky hilarious conversations, a thousand moments where you made me laugh, made me think, or made me proud.

I love you bigger than sky and deeper than blue, my little man, my Cave Troll, my ZoomBoy. Keep doing you--there's not a soul on earth who could do it better.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My Next New Invention...

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post for the following advertisement of a fictional product:

Step right up, ladies and gentleman, I have an idea for the next big thing, the kickstarter of 2018, the invention we've all been waiting for.

It's not the Tile, folks, but it's close, and it's not the keyless entry beep cause it's better. 

It's the "Holler Back" ap, a feature that hooks your phone to your car so your car can go apeshit bananas when you lose it in the parking lot.

Are you like these people, this mother and her daughter, scratching their heads with a cart full of party supplies, wondering where in the fuck they parked the goddamned car?

Then we suggest the "Holler Back" ap--it keys in to your car, much like your bluetooth, but instead of the soothing tones of Offspring and the Foo Fighters, it gives you the words on speaker that will get your attention in the crowded madness of pre-holiday Target.

This feature is fully customizable and it comes with over thirty holler-backs including--

The I'm Fabulous holler--"Hey, girlfriend! Your car is right over here, doll, can you see the pink fuzzy dice in the mirror?"

The Soccer Mom holler--"Dammit, Kenny, stop picking your nose and make your mother look down this aisle!"

The Blue Collar Dad holler--"Hey, DUMBASS! Your fuckin' car is RIGHT OVER HERE!" 

The Dumb Kid Trying to be Tough holler--"Yo, whassup, dawg, yer wheels are over here, ya feel me?"

The Surfer/Slacker holler--"Dude! Did you lose your car? That's SO not cool!"

The Shy College Student holler-- "Uh, hey? Hello? Don't worry, this happens a lot, but if you follow the smell of patchouli and the theme song to Overwatch, you'll find your used Crown Vic out here in left field!"

And so much more!

So come on down, folks, just hit a couple of buttons on your phone, connect to your car, let their airwaves make sweet lurve to each other and BOOM! You too can be driving out of the Target parking lot like all the other satisfied customers who can easily find their cars.

And now that the advertisement is over... can someone please invent this app?

Please?


Monday, November 13, 2017

Traffic Court

So, went into traffic court today and brought Chicken just for company. One of my favorite things about court is people watching. I run in isolated circles these days and I gotta tell ya, I get tired of little old ladies at the pool.

So, three quick highlights here--because what fun is it without highlights?

*  The Bailiff-- So, I was totally guilty. I knew I was when I walked in, but seriously--I've gotten three tickets at this damned intersection and the entire reason I went in instead of just paying the fine is to find out who I talk to about maybe getting a green light arrow installed in the damned intersection. Anyway--     you don't really get that opportunity when you're talking to the judge, but in my case I lucked out.

"Did you see the video of the transgression?" the judge asked me dispassionately.

"No!" I said, jumping on this. "The video was out at the kiosk and I couldn't pull it up at my home computer."

"Sit with the bailiff and he'll show it to you," the judge said, and while I was rooting for the video to be lost so it would be case dismissed, I wasn't going to hold my breath.

Instead, the bailiff showed me in traffic, sucking on an ice water, ZoomBoy blacked out next to me, and said, "This is you?"

"Oh yeah."

"Do you want to contest this?"

"OH no--I'm totally guilty. I'm just wondering--where would I go to talk about the intersection. I've been driving for over thirty years, I've got maybe six moving violations total, and three of them are at this intersection."

"Oh yeah," he said. "Citrus Heights is famous for three intersections that are constantly off--this is one of them."

Seriously--just the  validation alone.

Anyway, he told me to go to a town hall meeting and see if I couldn't get the damned intersection put on the docket.

So, that was cool.

*  Chiffon.

Chicken and I were waiting to pay the fine--and this is where things got long and boring.

Anyway, we were talking to a young lady named Chiffon. (I say young, but she was in her thirties--she was just fun to talk to!)

Anyway, Chiffon was there because she borrowed a car from her brother to run an errand, got stopped by a cop on registration (not her fault) and no proof of insurance (again--not her car, not her fault).  She was there to ask for a court date so she could tell somebody, "Hey, NOT MY FAULT!" Because seriously-- a no insurance violation is $870. If she could just get that cut in half, it would be worth the effort, right?

Anyway-- we talked about everything from traffic tickets to the times our neighbors got raided to her unique and wonderful name and how it was weird that people couldn't pronounce it when it was spelled like it sounds--like the fabric or the cake.

And Chicken listened and laughed, and I met someone new.

So, again, cool.

*  And finally, in traffic court, we met Thor.

Or his twin.

Or just some random god.

Because...

*sob*

He had a blond undercut--the most glorious wheat colored hair, shaved on the sides and caught in a tiny knot at his crown, and a full, luscious beard the same glorious color of golden beer, and sky colored eyes and lips made of sin.

I'm not kidding.

He was dressed in black leather--black leather!-- and when the judge asked him if he knew he was forfeiting the rights listed on the wall and if he could read them, he said, "No. I'm sorry. My English not so good."

"We can get you a translator. Which language?"

"Russian."

And then all the women's panties exploded, and we're all pregnant with motorcycle babies.

Okay--maybe not that last thing but...

But...

Chicken and I waxed rhapsodic about this guy for the rest of the day.

Squish said, "So, was he so pretty you wanted to poke him in the face to see if he was real."

"No," I said seriously. "He was so pretty we wanted to grab him in the ass to see if he was real."

Chicken whimpered. "That's totally fair," she said. "Not that you should ever grab anybody's ass without consent."

"But if this guy gave consent, you should totally take advantage," I added. "You don't get many offers like that in a lifetime."

So there you go.

I talked to a bailiff, met a nice woman, and saw a god.

Not a bad day, really.

Cause we is all class...

Huzzah! We're going to see the Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus perform in December--I was so excited when I bought tickets.

Leave it to my family to make things weird.

"Yay!" I printed out the tickets. "We're going to the Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus in December!"

"What's that?" Squish asked suspiciously. Apparently if it's not soccer, Chicago, or Thor Ragnarok, my family does not compute.

"Well, it's a... you know. A chorus. People singing Christmas carols. It'll be great."

She got that bullshit-line between her eyebrows. "People singing Christmas carols?"

"Well, not like us singing Christmas carols..."  My family sings Christmas carols like, "We wish you a Merry Gentleman and a happy whatever why are we singing wait isn't there another chorus, Jeez, mom do you have to be so loud? Shut up she thinks she can sing and we don't want to hurt her feelings, and a happy new hasty pudding, oh bring us some hasty pudding oh bring us some hasty pudding and I'll settle for a burrito, dear!"

Given that, I can see why she was a little skeptical about the entertainment value.

"Then who's singing the carols?"

"Uh, gay men?"

"That's important?"  Okay-- so given that LGBTQ people are unremarkable to my children--mom knows lots, they knows lots, friends are friends and not a label--you can see why she was skeptical of the emphasis. Like, "If being gay is all cool and no big deal, why is there a gay men's chorus?"

"Well, yes."

"Because?"

"Look, it's a social organization and a chance to bring attention to LGBTQ rights and it's fun!"

Politics are not fun and the kids know this. They can be funNY, when on John Oliver and Samantha B, but fun? No. ZoomBoy sends me kitten memes to help me forget that the traitor in the White House is fucking our country up with ever word salad he dishes out.  So, they're not seeing the connection.

"It's not a political event, guys! It's a show!" I'm a little desperate here.

"Like... singing."

"Like two Christmas elves find a cassette tape and they bring it to Santa and people sing what's on the tape, but it's like a dramatic affectation to give people the excuse to sing really well."

Squishy's face lights up. "Like a musical!"  So we spent the weekend listening to A Chorus Line in the car because she knows it's her chance to scream "TITS AND ASS" even though she's only eleven.

"Yes!" I say, relieved. I, uh, honestly didn't think this was going to be a difficult concept.

"A musical sung by adorable gay men," she said--again, she's seen A Chorus Line and The Bird Cage since infancy.

"Sure," I said, and then, mindful of stereotyping, "and some average gay men and some older gay men and some younger gay men--"

"So basically Dad is going to be the only straight man there?"

"Yup," Mate says, still sulking because we were going to see Electric Christmas on this exact night, but this was cheaper and we could bring the kids and dammit, just once I wanted to see a thing with friends.

"No--I'm sure a lot of women are dragging their husbands--I mean a lot of straight men will be there. Including your brother, probably."

"I'll be there," ZoomBoy says brightly.

"But it doesn't matter, because we'll be there and there's going to be singing and it's going to be fun."  How are they not seeing this?

"Cool," she says, and then wanders off to do whatever Squishy does during the John Oliver Show. 

"Yup," Mate says. "Cool."

"Sorry about Electric Christmas."

"That's okay." He is trying to be a good sport.  "I like Kim."  Kim Fielding is the one spearheading the group--did I mention I'm excited?

"It'll be awesome."

"It'll be adorable."  As in, not Electric Christmas which one year featured Cage the Elephant and another year had Joan Jett as a surprise guest.

"You'll have fun."

But right now I think he's got this vision of our family singing the aforementioned Christmas carol en masse in a church.

"We're going with your writer's group?" he asks, making sure.  He's met the Sacramento Writers of Queer Speculative Fiction before--he's enjoyed their company.

"Yup."

"It'll be good," he concedes.

I quietly resolve not to mention Electric Christmas again until he gets to the "Oh, hey, that was great and I really enjoyed it!" portion of that particular evening. I know it's coming.

My family, crawling toward enlightenment, one chorus of We Wish You a Merry GentlePudding at a time.





Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cover Reveal and Randomness


Regret Me Not
by Amy Lane

Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.

Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.

As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.S

So, in blog news...

Sorry about missing last night. I was falling asleep while writing so the blog got put off until today.  
But, my reward for writing my Nano minimum was that I got to sleep in today, and it turned into a nice, rainy, bond with the kids sort of day.
I didn't expect it to be, but ZoomBoy came with me to the vets to chip the furry judgmental bastard the he calls his cat, and Squish came with me to walk the dogs and get waffles, and generally I got to spend nice moments with each kid.

ZoomBoy got to be proud of Dewey at the vets--and how he wore a cat treat as a hat to the amusement of our Bannfield peeps, and Squish and I walked in a landscape made pretty by rain--but not when it was actually raining.

Unexpectedly lovely, I know.

Of course, I got back and my to-do list had grown and grown and grown!

But that won't change the fact that Squishy looks just lovely as we take a breath on the bench. She was so funny-- it started raining as we left to walk the dogs and I asked if she wanted to wait. "No--because this way I get to use my new umbrella!"

And a very pretty umbrella it is too!

So that's it for my day, but I'm going to leave you with two things--

One is the blurb and the link for Regret Me Not--which is up for presale.

And the other is the blurb and the promise of Bobby Green, which will be out in Feb.

May the joy of fall be with you!

*  *  *
 Bobby Green
by Amy Lane

Group Admin Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.

As “Bobby,” he's a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It's the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.

Reg Williams likes to think he's too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.

But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

SuperBat: A Touch of Frost

So, it's been a definite writing day--not a whole lot to blog about other than ZoomBoy's Finnish line joke, so I'm going to do some fanfic moments here. 

First of all, this: 


If you haven't seen the movie, do.

Next of all, this.  

SuperBat. I'm in a mood:



It all started so innocently.

"Oh, hey." Clark ruffled his fingers along the hair at Bruce's nape as they lay in bed, about to fall asleep. "You're getting gray."

"Shut up," Bruce mumbled. 

"No--seriously. The whole bottom layer here is gray. It's fantastic!"

Bruce rolled over and Clark recoiled. He didn't often show his Batman face when they were together alone. Right now his eyes were like rebar bullets--to anybody but Clark, they'd be deadly.

"What?" Clark asked, honestly hurt. "What did I say?"

"Nothing of consequence," Bruce said, voice stiff. "Good night."

It was hard to sleep when the warm man in his bed suddenly morphed into a human ice berg, but Clark tried.

The next morning, Clark woke up and Bruce was gone. Not a kiss on the cheek, not a word, and Clark started to worry. Seriously. What did he say?

Alfred brought him breakfast--two giant omelets with cheese and steak and peppers--and asked him the same question.

"I don't mean to be forward, sir, but what. Did. You. Say?"

Clark shrugged and took a bite of omelet. Flawless as usual. "I have no idea," he said through a bite of eggs, cheese, and steak. "I said his hair was getting gray and the world came to an end."

Alfred  winced and brought a thin, liver spotted hand to the back of his neck. "Are all your people this stupid, sir? Or just you?"

Clark regarded him with an open mouth and a blank mind. "Uh..."

"Because seriously--this could be the reason your people went extinct. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go update my will. You can clear your own tray, I am sure."

Clark gaped after him, and took another bite of omelet. Very faintly, in the back of his lizard brain, a thought began to percolate.

He gazed at the teddy bear that he kept on the chair by the bedstand to remind Bruce to take care of himself. "BatMan Bear," he said as he chewed, "I have the feeling this is going to get very, very, very bad before it gets better."

BatMan Bear regarded him impassively, but it didn't matter. Clark was beginning to see how bad he'd fucked up. 

Bruce Wayne went from work to a business engagement to haunting the streets of Gotham without a single text or even voice in the hidden com that day. Clark ran around Metropolis and pretended to be interested in stopping purse snatchers and bank robbers, but the whole time he was waiting for it.

He wasn't sure what it was, but he'd know it when he saw it.

"Oh Clark..." Diana sang sweetly into the com.  "Are you paying attention?"

"To what?" Clark asked, playing for time.

"To what your boy is doing here in Gotham. Cause it ain't standard Justice League shit."

Clark's stomach dropped. "Dear Lord. What--?"

"Well, he apparently walked into Cillian's disguised as a dock worker," she told him, and his stomach knotted even further. He remembered that morning's omelets with a little bit of panic. They were coming right up if he wasn't careful.

"He does that," Clark said, hoping this wasn't what he though. "He gets a lot of information that way."

"Yes," Diana said slowly. "Yes he does. But tonight, he walked into the biggest villain bar in Gotham and snarled, 'I'm Superman's bitch, who wants to take me out!'"

Clark covered his eyes with his hand, like that would make the rest of this sentence just not possible. "And..."

"And he proceeded to wipe out the entire bar. There are a lot of very confused bad guys in the Arkham infirmary tonight, and I'm not sure why it was necessary!"

"Is he all right?" Clark asked, already flying at light speed from Metropolis toward the Bat Cave.

"I don't know. He had to summon the BatMobile to pick him up at Cillian's, and the place is toast. I didn't think I'd ever say this, but I think the Justice League needs to make a private donation to a dive bar for repairs."

"I'm so sorry," Clark said numbly. "This is entirely my fault. I'll help rebuild tomorrow night, I swear."

"But Clark!" Diana laughed. "What did you say?"

Clark didn't want to tell her, but she was his best friend. "I said he's getting gray."

"You fucker," she snapped. "Fix it. Fix it!"

And then she signed off, which was just as well because he'd arrived at the Bat Cave by then.

He slowed down so he didn't roar in hot and as he floated near the infirmary he got a glimpse of Bruce Wayne and Alfred as they might have been without him.

Alfred, for all his usual competence, elegance, and dry wit, was starting to hunch. His bones were getting brittle, and while he'd still be as tough as a gnarled tree root in battle, he was seventy this year, and not getting any younger. His back hunched, his fingers were thin, and so were his bony wrists. 

For the first time, he looked frail.

And Bruce--powerful, nude but for a towel, stomach, chest, thighs thick with muscles, and with scars. 

So many scars. 

His head drooped on his neck, and  Clark could see the gray in his hair, but more than that. He had gray in the hair on his chest. He ate one omelet in the morning, no cheese, extra veggies, because he was worried about how his body was aging.

And his body was aging.

In his late forties now, he was a little slower than he had been when he and Clark had first gotten together. A little heavier.

Clark wouldn't have noticed--every moment Bruce Wayne, millionaire, let Clark Kent, country boy, near his guarded, twisted heart, seemed like a miracle. 

But BatMan was growing older, and Superman was not.

And if  Bruce and Clark had never touched, these two men would be alone here, in this lonely, sterile place, one doctoring the other's hurts, both of them locked in the dance of Bruce fighting on the streets and Alfred picking up the pieces, until one night, there weren't enough pieces to stitch up and Alfred simply withered away, his life broken, like his heart.

But Bruce and Clark had touched, and they had breakfast in the morning, and dinner together when they could. They had banter and humor and a certain grim competitiveness that often led to highly destructive and highly enjoyable lovemaking. 

But Bruce was getting older. 

And Clark was not.

Clark would leave his lover behind. 

We will be quantum dust together.

Clark remembered those words, uttered the first night they'd made love. He still meant them. His hair would never go gray, and he would never have love handles, and he'd never have liver spots--but he would never live without Bruce Wayne.

He knew that in his heart.

He floated into the infirmary silently and tapped Alfred on the shoulder. "Get some sleep, my friend," he said softly. Alfred inclined his head and pulled off his gloves. 

"He should have some morphine, and you need to stitch his shoulders. Beer bottle, sir. Nasty things."

"Of course."

Wasn't the first time Clark had stitched him up. Wouldn't be the last.

Alfred faded into the night and Clark took over the doctoring in silence.

After he'd finished the last stitch and the last wrap of gauze, he stripped off his gloves and crouched before his lover, the last one he'd have on this earthly plain.

"Proud of yourself?" he asked.

"I beat every goddamned one of them," Bruce snarled, the hurt in his eyes obvious, now that Clark knew where to look.

"Of course you did," Clark said humbly. "You're goddamned BatMan. You'll always beat the fuckers. It's who you are."

"I am not old!"  He glared at Clark, daring him to say otherwise.

"You will never be old," Clark said, his heart breaking. "And I will never leave you. Our bodies will fade into dust together, and we'll mingle together with the stars. I promised you that, Bruce. I wasn't full of shit."

"You can't keep that promise," Bruce said, looking away. 

"The hell I can't!" Clark snarled. "You look at me, Bruce Wayne. Look at me!"

Bruce met his glare defiantly. "I'm almost fifty!"

"I don't care! You will always be the same, exasperating irritating son of a bitch I fell in love with! I didn't care how old you were then, I didn't care how old you were when you came to your senses, and I don't give a damn how old you are now!"

Bruce's hand on his cheek was tender, even if his words were not. "You haven't aged a day, motherfucker. You will be this young--thirty-something--for the rest of my goddamned life! And I"m going to have to leave you and you won't follow me--"

"Yes I will," Clark said, feeling weak.

"No, Clark. I'm going to grow old--"

"I'll follow you!" Clark yelled, rising to his feet. "You're not getting away that easy!"

Bruce was hurt--but he was often hurt. He was bloody--but then he was often that way. And Clark didn't care--didn't give a good goddamn, if he didn't feel up to passion--passion was the one language they spoke that they both understood.

His mouth crashed down on Bruce's and he ravished it, demanding a full response, taking everything Bruce Goddamned BatMan Wayne had to give and more.

There was no age here. There was no finish line. Clark stripped off his suit right there in the infirmary and took Bruce on the infirmary table, Bruce's legs around his ears, his ass offered up without reservation. The quantum vibrations of Clark's body enveloped them both, made their sex possible, made, for the moment of their joining, Bruce Wayne just as invincible, just as proof against the vagaries of time and physics as Superman himself.

Clark drove himself inside his lover--the one human he would ever love with all his being--and prayed for them to be one forever. 

"Don't leave me!" he screamed, as orgasm shook them both. 

"Never," Bruce whispered, broken. "Never."

Clark buried his face against Bruce's throat. "Never. That's a promise."

"Okay," Bruce panted, probably in pain, but Clark couldn't make himself not thrust, not shudder, not come one final, agonizing time. 

"A promise!" Clark breathed, so he'd know.

"Okay," Bruce conceded, as submissive as Clark would ever see him. 

"Okay," Clark finished on a sob. "I'm not leaving you."

"Okay," Bruce said again, pushing Clark's sweaty hair back from his brow. "Okay. You're not leaving me."  

He was humoring Clark in a way, but he wasn't desperate or hurt anymore. Clark would show him. Clark would prove to him that there was no Clark Kent without Bruce Wayne.

"And you are not getting old," Clark finished on a hiccup.

Bruce managed a laugh. "And you are not getting soft."

Clark pushed up on his elbows and started to thrust his hips again. "Prepare yourself, old man," he warned. "This is not over. Not even close."

Bruce didn't answer. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes, letting this next round wash through him. 

He surrendered.

Good.

Clark Kent would keep his promise if Superman had to die in a ball of flame.

Their dust would mingle under the stars. That was the only way it could be.