Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The wonderful Charlie Cochet tagged me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, so today I’m posting about my current work in progress!  Read on to find out more about it.

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This is the third book in my undead series, which started with Art of Death and then followed with Bonds of Death.  I decided to write this book because the story and the characters just weren’t done after Bonds of Death.  At this point, I plan on Lifelines being the final book in the series, but I acknowledge that there’s still an endless amount of potential stories for these characters and their future dealings with the undead.  So you never know.

As for the plot itself, I actually cannibalized an old comic I was working on during my early college years, in which students would perform rituals in order to control other students as if they were puppets, using strings—or “lines”—drawn from their life essence.  In Art of Death we had paintings, and in Bonds of Death we had dolls.  In Lifelines, the theme is marionettes.

What genre does your book fall under?

M/M paranormal mystery/thriller (with a side of romance)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

This question is going to be the death of me.  It’s bad enough that I live under a rock when it comes to actors and such, but even with my limited knowledge, I really can’t imagine anyone who would be a good match.  But I’ll give it a shot, knowing that these are all sort of rough estimations of the characters:

Riley: He bears some physical resemblance to Gaspard Ulliel in this interview, but he’s not meant to be quite as “exotic,” if that makes any sense.  And of course, Riley's key features are his bright emerald eyes and long eyelashes.  The image to the left is a portrait I did of Riley awhile back.

Westwood: I’m completely at a loss.  I can’t think of anyone with that “obnoxiously masculine to the point of looking animalistic” quality that Westwood needs.  This photo of Rafael Verga is close in terms of physical features (and hair!), and he's at least from the right region, but Westwood has a deeper complexion and is more intense and intimidating, with cold black eyes that are set a little deeper.  He's also just a touch older than the model.  Hopefully before the end of the year, I'll be able to do a portrait of him.  I've been dying to do one for a long time...

Porter: I think a 20-year-old Matthew Gray Gubler could probably capture Porter’s personality and his sense of fun, and they share a body type, but Porter’s face is long and narrow rather than square.  Not a perfect match, but as close as I can think of right now.  Of course, he'd need big poofy hair that resembles a tumbleweed...  I did this sketch of Porter when I was in the beginning stages of writing Bonds of Death, and I still haven't had a chance to paint it, but I really want to..

Arman: Unfortunately, Iranian-American actors don’t have much visibility here in the U.S., so I don’t know of any that would be a good fit.  But in terms of physical appearance, the first guy on this page is a close match.  I've tried and failed at drawing Arman a few times now.

Quinn: If pressed, I’d say that perhaps a hardier version of Tilda Swinton (with long hair) would make an interesting Quinn.  I imagine Quinn to look quite a bit less ethereal, but they do share a certain sense of severity.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Riley and Westwood are called to a prep school in the Chicago suburbs to investigate a case of mysterious undead activity, they’re caught in the middle of a vindictive scheme by someone who’s determined not only to tear them apart but to destroy them body and soul.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The first two in the series were published by Dreamspinner Press, and I hope the third will be the same.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still writing it.  I’ve been working on it since August and hope to finish and submit it by March.  Progress has been slow compared to the first two.  I wrote Art of Death in a month and edited it in two or so additional months.  I wrote and edited all 96,000+ words of Bonds of Death within two months, but that was horribly tight, and I never plan to do that again.  This time, I’m pacing myself.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre.
I don’t know of anything similar other than the two previous books in the series, especially not within the m/m genre.  The undead are somewhere in between vampires, zombies, superheroes, and demons, without falling into any of those categories, and the books are definitely on the harder edge of the m/m spectrum.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I mostly see this story as a natural progression from the previous two books.  Really, Riley himself was the inspiration.

My main reason for writing this story is Riley’s unresolved issues as a character: his recklessness, his dishonesty, his fear of intimacy, and his depression.  All of these issues (along with one other huge problem) prevented Riley from finding happiness in his last relationship, and I knew that nothing would stop him from doing the exact same thing with Westwood unless something changed.

What else about your book might interest the reader?
When staying at his childhood home, Riley sees a hauntingly familiar figure standing underneath the apple tree in the backyard, where his older brother had committed suicide eleven years ago.  Soon after, he discovers clues about an arcane ritual that allows for a human to be reborn as undead—hidden among his brother’s old belongings.

I’m also sharing this excerpt from Lifelines, which says a lot about Riley’s state of mind.  Throughout this book, it gradually becomes evident that perhaps Riley really isn’t as stupid as he’s appeared all this time.  Reckless, yes—but not stupid.  His problem, unfortunately, is much bigger than that.


Excerpt: Lifelines

A yearbook sat at the top of the box.  It was from the end of Andrew’s sophomore year.  Although he’d died in January, his classmates had arranged to pass the yearbook around at the end of the year and get signatures and messages from all of Andrew’s former friends and classmates.  Riley remembered being blindsided when a kindly sophomore he’d never met before handed him the book on the last day of school.  Up until now, he’d completely forgotten about the yearbook.

He fought back tears as he pulled the book out of the box and flipped to the sophomore portraits.  There was Andrew Burke: stick-straight blond hair, freckles, a somewhat delicate nose, and ears that stuck out just a bit.

Out of curiosity, he flipped to the freshman portraits and found his own.  He compared it back to Andrew.  Although Riley had always gotten far more attention for his looks than Andrew, they did share a clear resemblance, especially in their eyes and their bone structure.  Riley noticed the resemblance much more clearly now than he had back then.

Before Andrew died, Riley had been a blissfully stupid fifteen-year-old, always eager to accept whatever dare or challenge his big brother tossed his way.  He’d gotten into more scrapes than he could remember, but he knew that Andrew always had his back.  Andrew would tell him to swim down to the bottom of the lake in search of tadpoles or try to steal a pack of condoms from a senior football player’s locker, and Riley would do it without hesitation, knowing that his brother wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him.

During the years after Andrew’s death, Riley slowly came to accept the fact that no one else would ever have his back the way his brother did.  Yet he still put himself down into the depths of dangerous waters over and over, knowing all the while that his lifeline was long gone.

One of these days, he’d finally get pulled under for good.  For eleven years, he’d wondered when that day would come.  He almost wanted it to come.

Alanna’s words surfaced in his mind.  “Sometimes you act like you don’t really care about your life.”

When he’d first met Westwood, the man had accused him of having a death wish.  Just a few months ago, he’d said, “I’m wondering why I’m wasting my time on a human who’s intent on getting himself killed.”

Riley gritted his teeth, trying to fight off a surge of anger.  What did they know?


I have the pleasure of tagging/linking the following lovely people, who will share their works in progress next!

December 26

January 2

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Unlikely Inspiration Behind Lucky

The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him.

--Judges 16:5

I’ll be the first to admit that I get inspiration from some very odd places.  Getting inspiration from the Old Testament isn’t odd or unusual in itself, but I think it’s a little more unusual for it to serve as inspiration for a sweet, feel-good gay Christmas romance.

I hadn’t intended on writing anything for Dreamspinner Press’s Evergreen anthology, but inspiration happened to strike.  While I was trying to brainstorm some extras to offer the readers of my webcomic, one reader suggested doing a spoof of Samson and Delilah.  I decided that it would be a good time to brush up on the actual story of Samson, so I read the bible verses and checked out Wikipedia and a few other sites as well.  Rereading the story reminded me of how I always used to feel about Samson.

Samson has to be either the stupidest or the most ungrateful man in the bible.

God gives Samson this amazing gift of strength.  Then he meets Delilah, and Delilah says to him, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”  Samson says that if she ties him with seven bowstrings, he’ll lose his strength.  And Delilah tries it.  It fails, so she asks him again, and he lies again.  And again, she tries it.  And then—because he’s “sick of her nagging”—Samson tells her the truth: if she cuts the seven braids of his hair, he’ll lose his strength.

Keep in mind, every time Samson told this lady how to get rid of his strength, she tried it—and he knew that she tried it.  So why would he ever tell her the truth?  This is why I think he has to be either incredibly stupid or incredibly ungrateful.

All throughout the story, you can see that Samson is kind of an entitled jerk, although I’m sure that wasn’t anything unusual at the time.  Heck, it’s still nothing unusual.  But when I read the story, I really felt that Samson was so spoiled by his gift from God that he took it for granted.  After his strength was depleted, the Philistines blinded Samson and put him to work, but I believe he’d been metaphorically blind his entire life.

This was the unlikely inspiration behind Lucky, my Christmas novella, and if you look closely, you’ll notice a hell of a lot of references to Samson’s story while you read.  At the time I wrote the story, I’d also been reading a lot about racism and classism and privilege, and it made me realize just how blind we often are to the gifts and blessings that we’ve had all our lives but didn’t necessarily have to earn.

And that’s where Martel Heller comes in.  Martel is the main character in Lucky, and for seven years, he’s had the privilege of being able to pick and choose the hottest dates because he happens to have these dreadlocks that make him really attractive.  As a result, he’s pretty shallow, and he’s used to getting exactly the type of guy he wants.  But when he has to cut his dreads, his luck seems to magically disappear.  Like Samson, he feels disabled by the loss.  But this loss might be just what he needs in order to open his eyes and see clearly for the first time.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Guest Post by Kim Fielding: Brute Blog Tour

Hi all! I'm really excited to welcome the first ever guest to my blog! Allow me to introduce Kim Fielding, an amazing writer and a fascinating person. I had the honor of meeting her at GayRomLit in October, and I have a huge amount of respect for her and her work. I'm honored to host her as part of her blog tour for Brute, her newest release. Please read on and welcome her to the blog!

Hi! I’m Kim Fielding and I’m about to embarrass myself.

I often tell people that writing is my therapy. When I have a rough day at my day job, instead of taking it out on my students, colleagues, and family, I go home and do terrible things to my characters. Don’t worry—I almost always save them by the end. But for a while I’m mean, and then I feel better.

Today I’m going to be mean only to myself. Today you are going to be my therapists as I share with you one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

My older daughter was three and I was picking her up at preschool. They’d had their pictures taken that day, so photography was on her mind. I was standing and chatting with one of her teachers, and she was dancing happily around, chatting a mile a minute.

“You know what?” she chirped to her teacher.


“My Mommy and Daddy have pictures of themselves. Naked!”

Now, I want to be clear with you about this: my husband and I did not (and do not) have nude photos of ourselves. I don’t know why she said this. Maybe for the same reason she once spent naptime skipping around the room singing, “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” (She’s 13 now, by the way, and a really wonderful kid.) But there was no way I could deny the truth of her statement without sounding like I was lying through my teeth.

My face went beet red. The teacher’s smile grew strained. I beat a hasty retreat. The subject was never raised in my presence again.

My daughter has had 10 years to add to my store of embarrassing moments, and her younger sister—she of the famed Shoe Tantrum—has had 9. Which means I am hardened and nowadays it takes a lot to make me blush. Like the other day when I sort of accidentally admitted to a classroom full of college students that their professor was in the midst of writing a novel about a gay hipster architect werewolf (the sequel to my Good Bones). The students were a little surprised, but I just went right on teaching. I guess I have my daughter to thank for that.

I’m not at all embarrassed by my three new releases this month, incidentally. In fact, I’m pretty proud of them, and I hope you’ll read them and enjoy. Dreampsinner released my Hanukkah short, A Great Miracle Happened There, on December 1. Silver will release my Christmas short, Joys R Us, on December 13.  And on December 3 my latest novel, Brute, came out.

Thank you for the therapy session! I feel much better now. 

by Kim Fielding

Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life.

Rumors say the prisoner, Gray Leynham, is a witch and a traitor. What is certain is that he has spent years in misery: blind, chained, and rendered nearly mute by an extreme stutter. And he dreams of people’s deaths—dreams that come true.

As Brute becomes accustomed to palace life and gets to know Gray, he discovers his own worth, first as a friend and a man and then as a lover. But Brute also learns heroes sometimes face difficult choices and that doing what is right can bring danger of its own.

Buy links at Dreamspinner Press:

As part of the Brute Blog Tour, Kim Fielding is running a contest. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this entry, stating one of your embarrassing moments. Please leave your email address in your comment. You can comment at multiple blog tour entries for multiple chances to win! Click here for the full list of tour stops. Winners will be chosen on December 25. One person will receive a paperback copy of Brute and another person will receive an e-book copy of Brute.

Excerpt from Brute:
Time passed achingly slowly. Sometimes someone would pop out from one of the little doors and take one or more of the waiting people back in with them, but nobody ever came for Brute. New people came through the large entry doors, did a double take when they saw him, and sat far away. They were eventually escorted through doorways too. His ass grew sore from sitting on the hard bench, his stomach gurgled and growled, and worst of all, his bladder began to complain quite insistently. He knew it was impossible for the giant with the ugly face to have been forgotten, and yet none of the people who worked there even glanced his way. Maybe they thought he was a new and especially unbecoming statue.
Just as he was about to give in to desperation and ask where he might find a place to relieve himself, a round woman with a feathered hat and the widest skirts he’d ever seen appeared from the far left door and sailed in his direction. “This way,” she commanded.
His hips and legs had cramped a little as he sat, and he limped very badly as he followed her.
The far left door led to an office smelling of tea and crammed with books and papers. The woman went away and shut the door behind her, leaving Brute alone with a man who was a few years older than him. The man was dressed in rather plain clothes and was tiny—barely five feet tall and probably one-third Brute’s weight—but he managed to project an aura of such powerful authority that he was almost terrifying. He stood several feet away and looked Brute up and down slowly. “You have a letter?” he finally said.
“Um, yes sir.” Brute produced the paper from the folds of his cloak and held it out, but the man didn’t take it.
“You will address me as Lord Maudit. You may call me milord or Your Excellency as well, for variety’s sake.”
“Yes, Lord Maudit.”
Lord Maudit rolled his eyes and snatched the paper out of Brute’s hand. He tore open the seal without ceremony and scanned the contents. When he was finished, he considered Brute again, this time appraisingly. It reminded Brute of the way Darius would look over a mule he was considering buying. “So you’re a hero?” he said at last.
“I—no. I mean, the prince, he—”
“Needed to be rescued from his own foolishness. Again. And rather dramatically, I understand.”
Brute didn’t know how to answer that. He licked his lips nervously and fought the urge to shift his feet. His bladder was full to bursting, and the glimpses of the sea he could catch through Lord Maudit’s window weren’t helping.
“Not very chatty, are you?” the lord said. “Good.” He folded the paper and slapped it against his thigh before tossing it onto his desk. “Wait here.”
Lord Maudit was nearly to the door when Brute blurted out his plea. The little man turned, eyebrow raised. “Yes?”
“I need to—is there an outhouse? Milord,” Brute added hastily.
“Garderobe’s through there,” the lord said, waving at a narrow door in the corner. Brute made what he hoped was a dignified dash for it while the other man left through the main door.
To reach the garderobe he had to climb a set of very narrow, winding stairs. The stairs dead-ended in a rounded little chamber with tiny slits for windows. The room contained a wooden seat with a hole in it and a small table bearing an earthen pitcher of water. Fumbling his laces open one-handed seemed to take forever, but eventually he managed to get his trousers undone. He emptied himself with a long groan of relief. At least he hadn’t lost his good hand, he reminded himself for the thousandth time. The gods only knew how he would have managed to get himself undressed then.
Lacing back up again was even more troublesome, but at least his need was no longer quite so urgent. He just wished he could have managed to find a way to pour the water in the pitcher over his hand to cleanse it.
Lord Maudit’s office was empty when Brute descended the stairs. Brute resisted the temptation to poke around—he had an eerie feeling that the man would somehow know—and instead admired the view from the windows and then a large painting of a hunting party chasing a stag.
“Hideous painting, isn’t it?”
Brute jumped at the voice and whirled around. Lord Maudit had returned, but it was his companion who had spoken: Prince Aldfrid, attired in riding clothes and smiling broadly. The prince showed no sign of limping as he crossed the room. “I’m glad you’ve recovered enough to make the journey,” he said to Brute. “How are you managing?” He seemed genuinely concerned.
Brute pulled his stump out of his cloak pocket, which made Lord Maudit’s eyes widen. Apparently the prince’s letter hadn’t mentioned that Brute was maimed. “Your Highness, are you certain—” the lord began.
“Yes,” the prince interrupted sharply. “Completely. He’s the man for the job.”
“The job, Your Highness?” Brute asked.
“That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? I could just give you a sack of gold and send you on your way—you’ve earned it—but I’m guessing you’re not that kind of man. You want to be… useful.” His laugh sounded a little sad. “More useful than a king’s fourth son.”
Brute took a moment to consider the prince’s words. A sack of gold. He’d never have to worry about his livelihood again. He could buy a little cottage somewhere, have some clothing made that actually fit. He could eat decent food every day. And then… what? Sit by himself and wait to grow old and die? “I would like to be useful,” he confirmed. “But I don’t know what I can do for you, sir, not like this. I’m sorry.”
“Have you any skills at all?” Lord Maudit asked. “I suppose it’s too much to ask that you know how to write.”
Brute hung his head, ashamed. “I wanted to. Had no money to pay the schoolmaster.” After his parents were dead, when his great-uncle would send him scurrying around the village to fetch this and carry that, Brute used to pass the little schoolhouse now and then, and he’d pause long enough to gaze at it enviously. Once he’d even dared to ask his great-uncle to send him—Brute had promised to work twice as much to pay for it—but his great-uncle had cuffed him hard enough to send him sprawling, then growled that Brute was too stupid to learn.
“Doesn’t matter,” said Prince Aldfrid, pulling Brute out of the bad memory. “I have something perfect for you.”
“Aldfrid, you’re taking an enormous risk.” Lord Maudit sounded irritated with the prince, but in a resigned sort of way, as if he were used to conversations like this.
“He’s the one, Maud.”
“But the king—”
“My father, if he notices at all, will see that a very large and not especially bright man—sorry, Brute; I know you’re no idiot—has been put in place. That’s all.”
Brute stood there mutely, slightly surprised at the obvious familiarity between the men and not having the vaguest clue what they were talking about. But then the prince clapped him on the arm and grinned. “It’ll all work out. You won’t be seeing much of me, Brute, but if you need anything, just get word to Maud here and he’ll take care of it.” He smirked at Lord Maudit and sped out of the room.
Maudit briefly closed his eyes, as if he were in pain. “Scrambled your brains a bit more on those rocks, didn’t you, Friddy?” he muttered. Then he glared at Brute. “Follow me.”
It seemed that everyone was saying that to him today. But Brute shrugged and did as he was told.
He was led through another dizzying arrangement of corridors and stairways. Once he caught a glimpse of an enormous room—by far the largest he had ever seen—with a polished marble floor, gilded pillars, and a ceiling fresco considerably more elaborate than the one he’d been admiring while he waited. But he didn’t get a chance to enjoy it, because Maudit dragged him along at a pace surprising for a man with such short legs. Guards saluted when Lord Maudit passed, and various well-dressed functionaries and servants all tried to look more industrious. Maudit ignored them.
They eventually left the building—through a different door than the one by which Brute and the guard had entered—crossed an oblong grassy area where several women in colorful gowns sat and embroidered, and entered a narrow passageway between two buildings. The passageway dead-ended at a grim little building of dirty stone. The windows in the building were simply narrow vertical slits, and even those were covered by iron bars. The door was iron as well—arched and sporting a heavy bolt—with a bored-looking guard stationed outside. The guard snapped to attention when he saw them coming.
“Has everything been readied?” Lord Maudit snapped.
The guard nodded sharply. “Yes, milord. The maids just left.”
“Good. This is… well, Brute. Obviously. You’ve been told of his duties?”
“Yes, milord.”
“If he needs anything, make sure he gets it. I’ll be checking on him.”
The guard looked slightly horrified at the prospect but nodded again. Then he unlocked the door and waited for Maudit and Brute to enter.
This time, Brute found himself in a small hallway with a ceiling so low he almost had to stoop his head. The walls were rough plaster, dirty and cracked, interrupted now and then by doors made of thick dark timbers. The building smelled of damp and age, with a faint sickly sweet undertone, as if something had rotted long ago.
“What—” Brute began.
“In here.” Lord Maudit pressed the latch on one of the doors; the hinges squealed in protest. Brute stepped inside and saw, to his astonishment, a somewhat dim but comfortable-looking apartment. The ceiling was higher than that of the hallway, although he could still have brushed it with his fingertips. The room contained an oversized bed piled with quilts, a chest of drawers with an actual mirror on top, a solid table with two equally solid chairs, and a matching wardrobe and bookshelf. The window was tiny, of course, but the walls were hung with colorful tapestries that depicted scenes of beasts in the forest and creatures under the sea. A small stove with dark green tiles was tucked in one corner, but not lit today because the weather was far too warm.
And in one wall, over near another corner, was a door constructed of heavy iron bars, with only darkness visible behind it.
“Welcome to your new home,” said Lord Maudit from the doorway.
“But… what?”
“His Highness has decided that you will be a very specialized sort of guard, with only a single prisoner to watch over.”
“Prisoner?” Brute’s eyes strayed back to the barred door.
Maudit twitched one shoulder. “See for yourself.”
With some degree of trepidation, Brute crossed the room.
The bars separated the apartment from a small cell. He had to squint to see inside—there was no window slit in the prisoner’s space—but there wasn’t much to see. Bare walls, bare floor, and in the corner, a dirty pile of rags. But as Brute stared, the rags shifted slightly and chains clanked, and a matted mass of hair appeared from under the edge of the fabric. A man, Brute realized. He was looking at a man huddled under a blanket. Chains sounded again, and Brute noted the metal collar around the man’s neck, manacles on his wrists, and shackled ankles fastened by chains to bolts in the floor. It was impossible to make out any details of the man past his rat’s nest of hair and tangled beard until the prisoner lifted his head slightly. Brute gasped at the man’s obvious blindness: eyelids closed over sunken, empty sockets.
Lord Maudit sighed. He still hadn’t actually entered the room. “Brute, meet Gray Leynham.”

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Dragon Tamer - Rainbow Award Winner for Cover Art

The cover art for The Dragon Tamer placed 3rd out of around 2400 and won a Rainbow Award!  Woohoo!  I owe it all to Shobana Appavu, the cover artist. ;)  As part of the post-Rainbow-Awards celebration, The Dragon Tamer will be 25% off at Dreamspinner Press until December 8!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lucky, my Christmas novella, has been released!

Woohoo!  Check out my newly released ebook!  It’s a holiday-themed contemporary m/m romance.

Lucky   $3.99
By Ana Bosch
Ever since Martel Heller rolled his first dreadlock, his love life has been blessed. For seven years he’s had the luxury of cherry-picking the hottest men available. But when the dress code at his new job forces him to hack off his lucky locks, his good fortune comes to an end.

To make matters worse, if Martel shows up at the company Christmas party alone, his creepy coworker Phil will know he’s single. As a last resort, Martel enlists his best friend, Felix, a fashion photographer, to hook him up with a model. Then plans fall through, and Martel ends up stuck at the Christmas party with the last person he expects—but as the hours pass, he wonders if he's finally learned what it means to be lucky.

Buy the ebook now from Dreamspinner Press!
(Also available from Amazon, B&N, etc.)

Read on for an excerpt.