Reporting from Mount TBR (July Edition)

I eliminated only two titles from my TBR list over the past two months—a poor effort considering how much I read. The library is to blame. Nearly every book I put on hold over the past six months arrived on my Kindle all at once, and I had to read like the wind to keep up.

I read a lot of great stuff, though. July has probably been my most fun reading month yet.

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Wrong Direction

I’ve had three stories published in three weeks. While I couldn’t be more proud of the shiny new titles listed under my name, or thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive reception I’ve had, I’m so, so glad I have nothing due out next week! Promoting a new story every week is absolutely nuts, and no one should ever try it.

That being said, let me tell you about this week’s new addition. Wrong Direction is a novella about two college-aged guys who share a bathroom. One is a neat-freak and the other is a slob. It’s the perfect recipe for conflict and romance! Seriously, I had a lot of fun writing this one. I adore Alvaro. From the moment I heard his voice, he inhabited my thoughts, prodding and poking, until this story was done. He was LOUD and insistent and just so damned adorable I could do nothing but listen and write.

Wrong Direction is available to read now for free. Soon, there will be a download available, also for free. Yes, I said free. This story was written as part of the Don’t Read in the Closet event “Love is an Open Road”, hosted by the M/M Romance group on Goodreads. Every year, the group posts prompts submitted by members which include a picture and a letter to the author describing the sort of story they’d like to see. Writers then claim the prompt that interests them the most (sometimes the competition is fierce!) and have two months to write their story. These stories are edited for grammar and proofreading errors by volunteers to the event. They are then formatted, posted, and released as free ebooks. It’s a huge undertaking and one that has proven so popular, there were two hundred prompts this year. That’s two hundred stories, ranging from short to novel-length, donated for a good cause. I’m delighted to be a part of it all.

Cover design is my own. To view the photo prompt, click through to read the story!

WDCover500Dear Author,

I had such a good feeling about this year. It’s my last; I’m on track to graduate near the top of my class, I’m working towards a degree in a field I love, and I even managed to score one of the coveted singles in the nicest upperclassmen dorm. There’s only one problem. Him. The guy whose single is attached to the other side of the connecting bathroom. The mess I could maybe ignore, it’s the singing I can’t take. Every night while he takes a bubble bath― yes, a bubble bath! It’s only a few weeks into the year and I don’t think I can take it anymore. Actually, I know I can’t. I’m gonna go over there and say something before I lose my mind!

So, how’d we get from there to the picture above? And what happens after that?

Make me laugh, everything else is up to you.


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Review: Willful Child by Steven Erikson

22129402Steven Erikson is the author of the hugely popular series ‘The Malazan Book of the Fallen’. Willful Child could not be more different from his sweeping fantasy saga, however, which is why I chose to read it. I wanted to see what he’d do with some science fiction, particularly as the blurb promises he’ll be turning it inside out and examining the guts – in a loving and humourous manner.

Captain Hadrian Sawback is an idiot, yet somehow he has command of the ASF starship Willful Child. His crew seem as baffled as perhaps the reader is. Sawback selected the female members of his crew based on their looks and other obvious assets. He seems surprised when they prove to be good at their jobs, which is just as well as the Willful Child is going to take them to some very dark and hairy places.

Their mission is to explore space and chapter one begins with Sawback recording a journal entry:

“SPACE… it’s fucking big.”

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It’s the Snowpocalypse

It’s the snowpocalypse and, let me tell you, this is not the way I thought I would go. When imagining the apocalypse (something I do with disturbing frequency), I figured it would happen in one of two ways: dreaded disease or someone bombing the crap out of the United States. Both seem equally plausible, don’t they?

I have stocked the basement with supplies. We keep the camping gear down there. It has running water and heat (gas, in case the electricity fails), our huge collection of board games, daughter’s craft supplies, food (beans, beans and, for variety, some more beans) and water. If we get bored of board games, we can set up the tent, pretend we’re actually camping. Or, we can take turns pretending the elliptical machine is running. Imagine the workout you could get making that thing go with no electricity? We could stare at the blank TV screen, maybe play with our reflections. There’s a kickbag down there. We could take turns kicking and punching it. Or we could fight each other, as a measure of stress relief and to practice for the inevitable invasion of gun-toting survivalists who will be after our beans and board games.

I have looked into sealing the entrance with one of those sneaky false floors. Make the stairwell look like a closet, one with an innocuous keypad mounted on the inside wall. The floor would be really thick steel. Something only a dedicated post-apocalyptic burglar (or alien equipped with acidic saliva) could burn through. After all, we’ve only got beans to share.

We also have a weapon down there. A recurve bow with a slack string and about three arrows. The tip is hanging off one. I think we’ve shot it at too many trees. My daughter has a bow, too. A post Hunger Games ‘toy’ that is pink. Despite the wrongness of taking down a deer with a pink bow, that’s probably how it will happen, but only after we’ve enraged the mutated beast and it has finished trampling us.

The gas will run out before the beans, so we’ll have to freeze dry the strips of venison. We’ll know how to butcher it. I have a book. I do not have a strong stomach, but somehow I think that will be the least of my worries after the end of the world.

Or, I could just order three of these:

The video is in Japanese, but really, the pod speaks for itself. Sort of. There’s a pole inside, and dingy carpet. Do they expect us to while away the post apocalypse learning to pole dance? Or is that all we get to hold on to as our safe place rolls between disasters? I’ve already planned what to put in those handy compartments. (One of them would have to function as a toilet, wouldn’t it? Practical and gross.)

You know, these would be perfect for the snowpocalypse. They’re crush-proof, float and can withstand 9.3 tons of compressive pressure. Plunge distance is limited to 25m, so we’d have to cruise carefully around the Poconos. We could order them in white and travel incognito as big, shiny snowballs. The aliens (taking advantage of our weakened planet) might not recognize us. My mad family might end up as the rearguard of all humanity.

Scary thought, isn’t it.

I talked to my husband about the life armor and explained why we should order three. One for me and the cats, one for him and daughter and one as a spare. He wanted his own, of course. I predict we’d all end up in the one my daughter orders. The pink one. We can roll over the mad deer and play pinball with the aliens (hoping the toilet compartment doesn’t flip open).

Then, when the snow melts, my daughter can go back to school, I can write something other than crazy blog posts and my husband can return to his daily routine of gaming between conference calls.

Stay warm, everyone!