Finding Forgiveness now available for pre-order!

We have a new historical Western coming out with Dreamspinner Press on September 24: Finding Forgiveness! It’s 200 pages for $4.49, and it’s available for pre-order from Dreamspinner right now.

Keen eyed readers might find an easter egg that links this book to our first historical Western, Heart of Stone. ;)

Boston in 1888 is quite urbane, but unfortunately for Gil Porter, that isn’t the same thing as being understanding. When his sexuality is exposed by the scandalous suicide of his lover, Gil is exiled to the small town of Mercy, Texas, by his domineering father, George, who believes life on Vernon Porter’s ranch will cure Gil of his “unnatural” desires. Grieving and ashamed, Gil is determined to keep his distance from everyone until he can return home. To his surprise, he finds acceptance at Bent Oak Ranch, especially from Matt Grayson, the handsome son of the ranch foreman. Knowing he must fight his attraction to Matt, Gil courts a local girl, but an unexpected encounter with Matt leads to his discovery of Matt’s feelings for him. Torn between Matt and his desire to be “normal,” between returning to his old life and building a new one in Texas, Gil is faced with a choice—appeasing his father or becoming the man Matt knows he can be.

Herc 2 release day!

It’s here! “Herc’s Mercs 2: Line in the Sand” is now available from Torquere Press! Or you can buy it here from Amazon.com!

In order to keep his skill in the field up to date, Alec “Red” Davis, Hercules Security’s Chief of Operations takes a job protecting Jon Baldwin, an actor thrown into the spotlight by sudden fame. Although he’s attracted to Jon, who is modest about his success and genuinely appreciative of his fans, Alec knows he has to keep his distance. Even when Jon makes it obvious he returns Alec’s interest, there is a professional line Alec knows he must never cross – no matter how great the temptation.

While accompanying Jon on a vacation to Central America, the two are caught in a devastating flash flood that pushes Alec’s abilities to their limits. Determined to get Jon to safety, Alec has to battle both nature and his own feelings. But when Jon falls ill, Alec realizes that professional integrity won’t mean a thing if he loses the man he loves.

126 pages / 40000 words for $4.49

Spoilery discussion below.  Continue reading

Herc’s Mercs visual inspiration

To start on a random note, I really like my nails right now. I don’t normally go for pale colors, but I found a combo I wanted to try: In the Flesh with Vintage Confetti glitter coat on top. Both are Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, which I’ve found wears pretty well. The glitter coat caught my attention first, and In the Flesh is a subtle pale pink that picks up one of the glitter colors, so I thought it would make a good foundation. I’m very pleased with the results!

Also, I’m trying hard to cut down on processed foods, but they make it really hard when they throw things like Lays potato chips in “Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese” flavor at me.

I’ve talked a bit about Herc’s Mercs: Line in the Sand before, but mostly I nattered about how Tom Hiddleston was the inspiration for Jon and then I veered off into talking about Herc 3. So I wanted to talk about visual inspiration, which we use a lot in our writing.

Choosing visual references for our characters helps us set a clear image of that character in our minds for ourselves and each other, which means we’re both on the same page in terms of physical description. Usually, we end up taunting each other and trying to whip each other’s muses into a frenzy by linking to sexy photos of the person we’re using as visual inspiration, which is fun if a little distracting. ;) Continue reading

Finding Forgiveness cover art!

We have a new historical Western coming out from Dreamspinner Press this fall (exact date TBA): Finding Forgiveness. The cover art is by Reese Dante, who also created the cover art for Heart of Stone. We loved her work on that so much that we requested her again for Finding Forgiveness. We’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing cover artists over the last two years!

We just got our image ad packet, so we’d like to share a preview of the cover art. We hope our readers like it as much as we do!

FindingForgiveness_postcard_front_DSP

 

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Shore Leave and publication dates

Ari and I will be attended the Shore Leave convention in Maryland this weekend, so if any of our followers happen to be going, please drop by our table at Meet the Pros on Friday night and say hi! We’ll have copies of Heart of Stone and Blood Bathory: Like the Night available. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get copies of Blood Bathory: Absence of the Sun from Amazon in time for the convention.

We’ll be attending Meet the Pros on Friday, and we’ll be participating in a couple of panels as well. We won’t be entering the Masquerade competition this year, however. We couldn’t settle on anything we both liked enough to commit that level of time and energy to making, so we decided to give it a miss.

In other news, we have new publication dates! Our Halloween novella, “The Demon’s Door”, will be released on October 22 from Torquere Press. Also coming from TQ, the third novella in the Herc’s Mercs series will be released in early 2015. The second novella is “Herc’s Mercs: Line in the Sand”, and that’s coming out on Sept. 3, 2014. The third one, “Herc’s Mercs: Bloody but Unbowed” is coming out on January 7, 2015. We hope our readers enjoy these as much as the first one!

A hodge-podge of topics

One thing I forgot to mention when I wrote about it initially that I did like about VWars is that the vampires aren’t one size fits all. The type of vampire you are is based on DNA, so it manages to incorporate all the different types of vampires from around the world… well, except without actually going around the world. The different types are mentioned, but not all of them are seen. Props to the writer who chose to make their main character a Chinese hopping vampire, though!

In Warcraft news, I decided — now that the expansion is almost over, of course — that I wanted to try to get the legendary cloak. All the buffs Blizzard has been giving out pushed me over the edge into committing to the long-ass quest chain.

So far, it’s not difficult so much as it is a grindy pain in the ass. I’d already gotten almost to exalted with Wrathion from doing the Isle of Thunder rep grind, and I finished off getting the initial set of drop items from LFR when Blizzard had the first round of increased drop rates. Then I hit the “gather 3000 valor points” part. For those who aren’t familiar with the game, you can only earn 1000 valor points per week, and it starts from the time you pick up the quest. Well, I’d already collected quite a few vp that week because I was doing Pandaria faction dailies in my quest to hit exalted with all the main faction reps and buy all the faction mounts.

Side note: mission accomplished. The only reps I don’t have at exalted are Emperor Shaohao, Shieldwall (but I did all that on a different character, so I’m not in a rush to do it on my monk), and the Shado-pan Assault. So I have a new achievement and a new kite mount. Also a lot less gold.

ANYWAY. I could only earn about 200 more vp that week, so my quest to hit 3000 vp took a little longer. But I did it… and now I’m at the PvP part.

I hate PvP. I don’t enjoy it. I’m not good at it. I hated it when I was working on What  A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been for the violet protodrake back in Wrath (yes, I got my violet proto before the achievements went account-wide), and I hate it now. I’m sure the PvPers hate it too because they get us PvEers flailing around in their battlegrounds, but believe me, guys, we don’t want to be there anymore than you want us to be there.

The worst thing is, Blizzard has released a drop rate buff from now until the 29th, so I have got to get the PvP part done so I can hit LFR and get as many of the Secrets of the Empire as possible in the next couple of days before Real Life kicks in, then do it again next week and pray I get close to 20 secrets before the buff goes away.

I really don’t mind the gathering parts. It’s grindy, and if the things you need don’t drop, you’re out of luck because after you run the necessary raids once, none of the Secrets (or whichever you’re looking for) will drop again, so you have to wait until the weekly reset. It’s a pain, but it’s not difficult. For me, the PvP aspect is difficult, and I suspect I’ll be running through the solo Nalak scenario more than once. But mostly, the quest chain is time-consuming. This is a weeks — possibly running into months — long commitment, but by golly, I’m going to stick with it because if I can do it, it means I’ll have my first legendary ever and it’ll still be current content.

I devoted a year to What a Long Strange Trip, so two-three months isn’t that bad in comparison. Or that’s what I keep telling myself as I keep queuing for battlegrounds after losing again.

I’m also on a mission to hit 200 mounts before the Warlords of Draenor xpac is released. I’m at 181, and I’ve reached the point where there are aren’t any mounts left I can get without a lot of gold or a lot of luck except the Argent Tournament ones (the expensive ones that cost 100-150 champion seals). So of course I’ve been hightailing it to Icecrown to do those dailies. I’m scrounging up gold so I can create a ruby panther, which is the last of the four Jewelcrafting panthers I need. I’m not going to try to make the onyx one because the idea of trying to make four more of the ruby/jade/sunstone/sapphire panthers is soul-crushing. I’m also trying to slap a mount out of Baron Rivendare in Stratholme, but so far, all I’m getting is cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. And moonberry juice. Skadi isn’t being very forthcoming either. He keeps giving me swords.

But sometimes I need a break from my monk, so I rolled a couple of new characters, including a worgen druid. I got him through the Gilneas starting zone, and he ended up with the weapon that always amuses me. It looks like a spiked banjo.

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“I’m going to Orange Blossom Special you… TO DEATH!”

Warcraft Weirdness

Sometimes you see some weird stuff in World of Warcraft. Some of these weird things stem from glitches, but sometimes, it’s from the mechanics of the game itself. Case in point:

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I went to Dalaran to level fishing while working on the Coin Master achievement, and I picked up the fishing daily, which was Jewel of the Sewers. On my way down to the sewers, I found one of those underground elixirs, which turned me into a firefly — holding a mini version of my character’s staff, complete with the enchantment glow. I could even whip out my fishing pole and see my firefly self casting lines!

Too bad the transformation doesn’t last outside of Dalaran. I would have loved to see a little firefly wailing away on mobs with its tiny shiny stick.

Review: VWars – A Chronicle of the Vampire Wars

I recently finished reading VWars: A Chronicle of the Vampire Wars, which is an anthology of loosely connected short stories edited by Jonathan Maberry, who also wrote the patient zero storyline.

The basic concept of this anthology is a lot like Max Brooks’ World War Z, only with vampires and the occasional werewolf rather than zombies. It also has contributions from multiple authors, and with that being the case, you’d think the anthology as a whole would be more diverse, but it isn’t. Other than “Vulpes”, it’s pretty US-centric with both characters and locations, whereas WWZ takes you all over the world.

Basically, it’s broken down into roughly 8 stories that are told in stages, interspersing with each other. Everything is clearly labeled enough that you can jump around to read each story as a whole if you want to, but unless you’re picking up and putting down the book over a fair bit of time, I’d suggest reading everything as laid out in the book to get the full effect of how the characters and timeline are intertwined.

Despite being US-focused, the characters themselves are diverse. Patient Zero is a handsome white dude, of course, but at least half of the stories either have a POC as the lead or prominently feature POCs, so it’s pretty diverse in that respect.

On the whole… I’m still trying to decide if I liked it. I think if I hadn’t read WWZ first, I might be able to say I do like it, but VWars feels like it’s trying to be the vampire version of WWZ and doesn’t quite measure up. I think part of the problem I have with it is a lack of clear closure. There’s implied closure, but given human nature and the way things are going in the VWars world up to that point, the reader is still left with the impression that things could go either way in the human vs. vampire “war”.

I would have liked some more concrete closure with one of the specific stories as well. “The Battle of Big Charlie” is one of the most intriguing stories in the anthology, given that it delves into the world of politics and shifting public opinion, but it feels unfinished. Again, there’s implied closure, but unless I missed something crucial, there’s not a clear resolution in regards to what happened with both Big Charlie and his mom. It was such an interesting story that I wanted to know the whole story.

Maybe they’re setting up for a sequel? Who knows! It was an interesting concept, and there are things I’d like to know more about the world the authors built, but in my opinion, WWZ did “see the supernatural apocalypse from multiple POVs” trick better.