Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bonds of Death has been released!

You can now purchase Bonds of Death through Dreamspinner Press's site!  It's available in ebook and paperback.

Since I'm an author attending GayRomLit this weekend, the ebook is 25% off until 10/21.  (The ebook for Art of Death is also 25% off!)

The first 20 copies of the paperback sold through Dreamspinner's site have signed sketches inside!

Buy it in ebook
Buy it in paperback

3rd party listings (Amazon, etc.) will probably be up later tomorrow.  When I get a chance, I'll make an announcement.

Fresh out of a messy breakup, starving artist Riley Burke has found happiness with Westwood, his new undead lover—enough happiness that when his friend Porter warns him that the undead only see humans as flashy playthings, Riley looks the other way. After all, he only wants a bit of fun. It's not like he's asking Westwood to put a ring on his finger.

Once a brutal and violent criminal, Westwood now atones for his past by punishing the undead for crimes against humans. But his job doesn't make him popular with his undead brethren—and someone has a thirst for revenge.

That someone has uncovered Westwood’s weakness and is on the hunt. To withstand an attack, Westwood must bolster his strength by taking on a human worshipper. He turns to Riley, but Riley is terrified of the bond Westwood's ritual will create. He would rather risk his life pursuing Westwood's attacker than risk opening his soul to a man who doesn't respect him. But time is running out, and if Riley and Westwood can't come together, one of them might pay the ultimate price.

I'll try to put up a more thorough and informative post later in the weekend.  Right now, I'm at GayRomLit in New Mexico, and having a great time!  I've been getting reacquainted with several authors I met at the Dreamspinner weekend in March, as well as authors I've known online but never met before.  At my current level of tiredness (and lack of sobriety), I don't yet want to attempt to list all the awesome people I've talked to, but I will definitely be mentioning many of them in the near future.  I caught my first glimpse of the paperback of Bonds of Death in the swag room yesterday, and I was really happy with the way the cover printed.  It looks great!

And hey, if you're also attending GayRomLit, come say hi to me!  I'm the one with the name tag that says Ana Bosch. ;)  And you can pick up my books in the swag room at Dreamspinner's table for only $15.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another Bonds of Death Excerpt

Bonds of Death releases on Friday!  FRIDAY!  Until then, enjoy this excerpt.

(FYI, a wights-only party is a party where the undead are hooked up with human worshippers.)


On Wednesday night, Porter shyly asked Riley if he’d be willing to pose for a painting, “for old time’s sake,” as he put it. The setup in his bedroom wasn’t ideal, but at the moment he couldn’t afford to rent a studio space.
As requested, Riley sat sideways in a wooden chair, facing away so Porter could paint his back. Riley usually preferred Porter’s paintings when they included the model’s face because he had a knack for capturing likenesses and subtle hints of emotion, but a painting from behind meant he didn’t have to keep a rigid expression, and they could even converse while Porter worked. As Porter laid down the underpainting on his canvas, Riley filled him in on what had happened during the days he’d been gone, including all the details of Riley’s foray into designing baby dolls and Matt’s promise to send him more work.
A couple hours into the pose, Riley asked, “How does my back look? Is it getting too bony?”
Porter laughed out loud. “Relax, Riley. It’s just a painting.”
“I’m curious, that’s all.”
“You’re as gorgeous as always, okay? Jeez, I never understand you people with your perfect bodies who fret about every pound you gain or lose.”
After a pause, Riley reluctantly explained, “Westwood thinks I’m getting too skinny.”
“Is that why he hasn’t been coming around lately? What a douchebag.”
“How do you know he hasn’t been coming around? He usually lets himself in through my window.”
“Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard your bedsprings screaming for mercy.” He chuckled. “Or you, for that matter.”
Riley’s face went red. “I didn’t think you could hear.”
“Uh, yeah. I can hear. Mrs. Mason and I always analyze your performances when we run into each other in the stairwell.”
“Mrs. Mason? The old lady from the third floor?”
“Yep. I love her. She’s hilarious.”
“Man, you suck.” He waited, listening to Porter’s rhythmic scratchy brushstrokes for a minute before speaking again. “But no, that’s not why Westwood hasn’t been around. I think he’s… mad at me.”
“Why should he be mad at you?”
Riley frowned. “Well really, it’s all Quinn’s fault. She put me on the spot. She said Westwood needed to get stronger in order to survive an attack with your blood, and she asked me to worship him.”
The brushstrokes stopped. “And?”
“I said no. Well, I didn’t exactly say no, but I didn’t say yes, and Westwood obviously knew I was about to say no. He walked out of the meeting. And he was my ride, so Quinn had to drop me back at his house to pick up my car. And by the way, it doesn’t get any more awkward than being stuck alone in a car with Quinn.”
Porter began painting again. After a minute, he said, “In a sense, I see where Quinn is coming from. I personally don’t care if Westwood bites it, but apparently he does good work for Lychgate, so I guess it would be best for him to pick up a follower and get stronger.” He paused. “But you and Westwood are sleeping together. You’re the last person Quinn should be asking.”
“You think so?”
“Definitely,” Porter said. “You know how I feel about Westwood. He’s in it for himself. He always has been. You’ve been seeing each other for six months, and he probably doesn’t even know your middle name.”
“We didn’t see each other much for the first three months. Things only started picking up in June. And besides, I’m fine with things the way they are. He doesn’t need to know my life story.”
“But he’s already taking advantage of you, and if you start worshipping him, it’s just going to go to his head.”
“He doesn’t take advantage of me,” Riley protested. “I know how to take care of myself, Porter. And when he and I are together, I want it as much as he does.”
“I’m sure you have wonderful sex together,” Porter said. “But that’s not what I mean. It’s like when you were telling me about your big car chase. All Westwood cared about was running that other car off the road so he could save his own skin. You said it yourself; he didn’t even consider what it could have meant for you until Quinn told him off.” Again, the brushstrokes slowed. “Even though I’ve been undead for twenty years, I live as a human, and most of the undead I run into think I’m human. It’s become clear to me that most undead don’t have a lot of respect for humans. They think humans are inferior, and they don’t have much consideration for a human’s life. Since they can die and come back over and over, they forget what it’s like for the people who only have one shot at it.”
“Westwood is ignorant,” Riley admitted. “He doesn’t know any better. But that doesn’t mean he can’t change.”
“Do you think worshipping him is the way to get him to change?”
Riley didn’t reply. He remembered the last time he and Westwood had slept together. He remembered Westwood holding him down, positioning Riley’s body to his liking, and going at it without another thought. That night, Riley might as well have been a hole in the mattress, for all Westwood seemed to care about his half of the experience.
After a moment, Porter asked, “Can you relax your shoulders? Your muscles are bunching.”
“Oh, sorry.” Riley corrected his posture.
“Perfect. Thanks.” The brushstrokes resumed. “I’m sure there’s another human out there who’s willing to worship Westwood. It may be hard for him to find and seduce that person. He doesn’t know how to turn on the charm like, say, Thackary for example. But he’ll find someone. Heck, maybe you can help him look.” Another pause. “I just don’t know if you want to go opening yourself up to him like that.”
“I kind of feel the same way.” Riley gave a wry laugh. “You know, I’m going to a wights-only party this weekend. Maybe I’ll meet someone for him there.”
At this, Porter sputtered. “Wait a minute—you’re going to a wights-only party?”
“Yeah. Why is that so surprising?”
“Those parties are hardcore, dude. You don’t go to a wights-only party unless you really want to become a part of the world of the undead. I guess I figured that even though you were dating an undead guy, you still wanted to live a normal human life.”
“I do want to live a normal human life.” Riley hesitated. “To be honest, the main draw for me is the prospect of free food.”
Porter’s resulting cackle was so loud it made Riley wince. “Why is that funny?” he demanded.
“Dude, you’re delusional! I don’t even know what to say to you! If I invited you to an S&M orgy, would you come just for the hors d’oeuvres?”
“Not for, like, a cheese cube tray. But if you did something cool with smoked salmon or maybe some of those Thai lettuce wraps—”
“My God, Riley!” Riley heard the sound of paintbrushes clattering on the ground. “That’s it. I’m buying you groceries with my next paycheck.”
Riley glanced over his shoulder. “Hey, why did you stop painting?”
Porter tossed Riley his maroon silk robe. “I’m done.”
“Really?” Riley pulled on the robe, heading around to the other side of the easel to take a look. As usual, he was awestruck by Porter’s talent.
Porter’s hand lowered onto his shoulder, bringing him out of his trance. “Hey, buddy?”
Riley turned and met Porter’s gaze. His roommate looked unusually serious. “What?”
“If you’re really going to go to that wights-only party, just… just watch your back, okay? As much as I hate Westwood, at least he’s an honest guy. He doesn’t play games. Not everyone else who goes to those parties is like that.”
Riley considered his words. He knew it was silly, but the more people warned him about the dangers of wights-only parties, the more he wanted to go. He still didn’t see the harm in it. After all, no one could force him to perform a ritual if he didn’t want to. He’d go, scope the place out, and politely excuse himself. No big deal.
        “Thanks,” he said to Porter at last. “I’ll watch my back.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bonds of Death - Opening Excerpt

Bonds of Death releases in exactly one week!  I can't believe how quickly the time has come.  I'll be at GayRomLit from 10/17 until 10/21, so I'll be out of town on the day of the release, but I'll be sure to find some time to post news and excerpts and other fun stuff regardless.

For today, I'm sharing an excerpt.  This is opening of Bonds of Death, and we get to find out what Riley, Westwood, and Porter have been up to for the past six months since the end of Art of Death.


A wash of yellow light spread across Westwood’s arm, hitting with a pinprick highlight at the height of his bicep and diffusing over his taut bronze skin. Riley feathered the surface of his canvas with his dry fan brush, blending the previously rough brushstrokes for a softer finish. For a moment, he sat back to admire his subject at the far end of the bedroom. Westwood’s face was partially buried in the crook of his hefty arm, exposing the small star-shaped tattoo on the back of his shoulder. His legs were bent as he lay on his stomach. The white bedsheet laced between his muscular thighs barely covered his nudity.
A better artist would have been able to portray the chasteness of the scene, but to Riley, there was no chaste way to look at Westwood’s body, even if his most intimate areas were covered. Riley knew too well the touch of those hands, the power in those limbs. With all his bulk, Westwood would have been plenty strong as a mere human. But Westwood was no mere human, and the jutting, vein-laced curves of muscle Riley replicated on canvas did little to portray the true strength within his lover’s seemingly mortal frame.
He attempted a few more brushstrokes, but he couldn’t keep his mind from wandering, from remembering the way those arms felt last night when they squeezed him tight and pushed him into the mattress.
Five years ago, when he was in college, he could have painted an attractive nude male model without batting an eye. Then again, none of those models were anything like Westwood.
As his eyes lingered on the bare-skinned man amidst the scattered sheets, he began idly chewing the back of his paintbrush.
Blech. Oil paint doesn’t taste good.
He scrubbed at his tongue and spat. Disgusting.
Sheets rustled, and Westwood groaned like a disgruntled wolf. He raised his eyes, fixing his coal-black gaze on Riley. “The fuck are you doing?”
“Nothing!” Riley squeaked, attempting to turn his easel as if he were painting the bare wall.
Westwood scrambled up to his seat, pulling the bedsheets close in an unwitting caricature of a demure maiden. “Were you painting me while I slept?”
“Goddamn, Riley. Since when did you become a creeper?”
Riley scowled, tossing his paint rag onto the drop cloth he’d stretched across the carpet. “I think I like you better when you’re not awake.”
“Spoken like a true creeper.”
Riley scooped up his paintbrushes and shoved them into a bucket before reaching for the canvas. “Whoa!” Westwood called, rising from the mattress. “You’re not going to let me see?”
“Of course not.” Riley tried to shield the canvas with his body as Westwood approached. “You know oils aren’t my strength. I’m a digital painter. I’m really rusty when it comes to traditional media.”
“Excuses, excuses. Let me see.”
“But I….”
Westwood shoved him aside indelicately, eyeing the canvas with all the artistic discretion of a teen flipping through a Playgirl magazine. “Hmm. You got my nose wrong.”
“Your nose was smushed into the pillows. I got it exactly the way it looked.”
Westwood gave a careless shrug. “You know, this is the first time I’m actually seeing your artwork.”
“I guess you’re okay at it. At least you’re better than me.”
“I should hope so. I have a degree in this, you know.”
“Porter doesn’t have a degree, but he’s still better than you.”
“Porter only doesn’t have a degree because he keeps dying before he can get through college. He may look like he’s only twenty, but he’s got decades of practical experience more than me.” Riley whipped the canvas out of Westwood’s hands. “And did I ever tell you you’re kind of a dick?”
Westwood tapped the surface of the painting. “You got that part wrong too.”
“You were on your stomach.”
Westwood raised his eyebrows as Riley shoved the canvas into a narrow gap behind his computer desk. “I don’t see why you have to paint me in the first place. Why don’t you grab a bunch of fruit and stick it on your table and paint that? Isn’t that what you artist types do? Still life paintings?”
“I don’t think a couple packets of ramen and a bag of frozen vegetables would make for a very compelling still life.” He frowned. “In case you forgot, I’m no longer the kept boyfriend of a rich lawyer. I’m the single unemployed artist who moonlights as a nude model at Prestwick College of Art. Fresh fruit is a luxury I can’t always afford.”
Riley idly examined a spot on the bedroom wall where the painters had spackled over a flattened roach. Gems like this were plentiful in the new two-bedroom apartment he shared with Porter Gomez. It had only been a few weeks since they’d moved in, but he was already beginning to wonder if it was even worth the minuscule amount he’d have to scrape together for rent every month.
“I’m not so sure about this apartment,” Westwood said as if reading his mind. “I thought I heard something in the middle of the night, but I was too tired to check it out.”
“Oh, that was the police. They arrested the crack dealer downstairs.”
“This was all I could afford,” Riley said defensively. “I couldn’t stay at Nick’s place, and staying with Mr. Tobias, my old painting teacher from Prestwick, was just awkward. I mean, unless you want me to move in with you….”
“Don’t even joke about that.” Westwood gave Riley a shove that was only half-playful.
Riley finished gathering his paints in uncomfortable silence. In truth, he didn’t want to move in with Westwood any more than Westwood did. The way Riley saw it, things were fine as they were. He went about his daily business, worked, chatted with his roommate, tried to navigate through the daunting world of networking with other artists, and occasionally woke up to Westwood climbing through his window and tackling him—an impressive feat considering the apartment’s location on the second floor. Riley was happy enough with their current arrangement. Even after six months, it felt like he was in a brand new relationship. Sex and independence, along with the occasional conversation. It was exciting, and he didn’t spend enough time with Westwood to get annoyed by his personality.
“You have to work today?” Westwood asked.
“Yeah.” Riley finished stowing the last of his painting supplies and collapsed his easel. As he folded the drop cloth into a crinkly square, he added, “I thought it’d be nice to get a little bit of painting in before I have to be on the other side of the easel at nine.” He glanced at the alarm clock on his thirty-dollar IKEA nightstand. “Speaking of which, I have to hop in the shower, so unless you want to join me, you should probably get going.”
“Your shower’s too small. I’ll go. But I want to get a glass of water first.”
Westwood stopped midstride, his hand on the doorknob. “What?”
“I don’t want you to scare Porter again.”
Two days earlier, Westwood had wandered naked out of the bedroom exactly as he was about to do now. Porter had been at the fridge, and upon seeing Westwood, he’d yelped like a startled Chihuahua and dropped an entire milk carton on the floor. It had been a rare half-gallon carton of organic milk from Whole Foods that Riley had been looking forward to using in his coffee. But as sad as he’d been to say good-bye to the five-dollar milk, he’d felt even guiltier for having put Porter in that uncomfortable situation.
“Porter’s had twenty years to get used to seeing me,” Westwood said.
“Not in his house without warning, though. I don’t blame him for being freaked. You were the one who took his mortality, after all.”
“You kill a guy once, and he never gets over it,” Westwood muttered under his breath.
“Twice,” Riley corrected.
“Whatever. Anyway, I don’t hear him out there. I’m going.”
Riley pulled on a robe as he followed Westwood to the door. When he stepped out into the hallway, he saw no signs of his lanky, shaggy-haired roommate. Porter usually slept late, but across the cramped living room, Riley could see that his door was wide open and the bedroom unoccupied. Unlike Riley’s room, which was still lined with unpacked boxes, Porter’s room was bare, instantly displaying his characteristic lack of personal effects.
“You think he slept over at the bar?” Riley asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t care.”
Riley cringed as Westwood helped himself to Sarasota’s questionable tap water. He then watched the water disappear from the glass in four impossibly large gulps. As Riley turned toward the bathroom, Westwood caught his arm. “One more thing before I go.”
Westwood tore open the belt of Riley’s robe, lifting him off the ground and slamming him on his back across the kitchen table. He whipped off Riley’s underwear and grabbed him below the knees, pulling him close. With a mischievous laugh, Riley dug his fingers into Westwood’s shoulders and readied himself for the ride.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Signed/Sketched Copies of Bonds of Death!

The release of Bonds of Death is just about two weeks away, and I just finished signing my vellums to be inserted in the first 20 paperback copies sold through Dreamspinner Press's site!  And just like I did with the first 20 copies of Art of Death, I did 20 new sketches along with my signature for Bonds of Death.

The vellums got to me earlier this time, so I was able to put a little more time into the sketches as well.  I worked on them all through the presidential debate, but don't worry, there are no Obama or Romney portraits on the vellums. ;)  This time I did all characters and items from Bonds of Death.  So here they are!

1. Riley Burke
2. Westwood
3. Porter Gomez
4. Arman
5. Quinn Harcourt
6. Charlotte
7. Rico
8. Chester
9. Lucy
10. Jasmine
11. Riley Burke 2
12. Porter Gomez 2
13. Westwood 2
14. Arman 2
15. Quinn Harcourt 2
16. Thackary Jones
17. Red Wine
18. Westwood 3
19. Riley Burke 3
20. Porter Gomez 3

Riley, Westwood, Porter, and Quinn of course were all in Art of Death, and Thackary was mentioned, but the rest are making their first appearances.  Charlotte happens to be the central character in my very favorite scene of Bonds of Death—which is actually probably my favorite scene out of any I've ever written.  And I love Rico.  Arman didn't come out exactly as I imagined him....  Sometime I'll have to do a full painted portrait of him.

Anyway, I'm really excited about being able to have these sketches in the first 20 paperbacks.  They'll be available through the Dreamspinner Press site starting on October 19!