Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From the Ashes

A couple of years ago at the urging of a friend, I started writing slash fan fiction. At that time, I also started a Facebook account so she and I could post yaoi and slash links and photos for each other. Somewhere along the way a few authors sent me friend requests. I was a little startled, but since they were fine with my interests, I added them.

Linda Reilly was an m/m author and encouraged me to continue writing. Next, Rebecca Leigh who liked my slash and said I should keep up with it.  AB Gayle helped me with POV. The support of these ladies kept me writing once I finished the slash and I'm deeply appreciative of that.

I had only written a few chapters of my Samurai Champloo slash (Infinite Infatuation) when Linda pointed out that Samhain Publishing had a call for m/m fairy tale submissions. I remember thinking, "Yeah right! They wouldn't be interested in anything from me." But that set my mind to working and I came up with a plausible Cinderfella.

Cinder insisted that I tell his story Right Now even though I was in the middle of a chapter of my slash. So I sat down and wrote half the story in one night! About 4:00am, I decided I should really get some sleep before I had to get up in the morning for work. Big mistake! I seriously pissed Cinder off and he wouldn't talk to me for the next couple of nights. I did finally finish the story in spite of that.

Recently, Deanna Wadsworth, the queen of gab, pushed me to add to the story and submit for publication. I'm glad she did. I'm actually very pleased with the nearly finished WIP. With many thanks to Cinder's godmothers, you know who you are ladies!

I'm on the second round of edits and unfortunately do not have a cover to display yet, but I think maybe a little excerpt might be in order.

Cinder never thought that he could rise from the ashes of his life, but an unexpected encounter with a woman claiming to be his fairy godmother may be just what he needs. Finding himself flung into his very own fairy tale, she sends him off to meet his Prince Charming. But was the gown really necessary?

Cinder glanced around. Paper lanterns floated in the trees, lined the walks, and graced the gazebo near the reflecting pool, giving the grounds a mystical air. Their warm glow caught the dancing jets of the fountain splashing merrily to his right. The musical, crystalline tones carried on the night wind’s breath. He was reminded of the enchanted gardens in the fairy tales his father had read to him when he was a child. What would happen to him if he dared walk there?

Henri led him toward the gazebo. Soon he would find out.

The cool breeze caressed his uncovered neck. Cinder shivered at the ethereal touch. Henri turned to him, the question clear in his eyes, but he didn’t know how to answer. Instead he breathed in the tangible scent of rich earth and flowing water, hoping to calm his bounding heart.

Henri lightly stroked his arm. Cinder’s breath caught at the silky brush of the other man’s fingers. He drew another shaky breath. Henri may have meant to soothe him, instead his touch set Cinder’s wayward body aflame.

They left the last of the courtiers behind as they entered the dim interior of the fanciful pavilion. Vines climbed its intricately carved posts, perfuming the air within. The music and voices of the aristocrats faded away. Only a single intrepid nightingale could be heard over the cheerful babbling of the fountain. Hidden from the rest of the court, an unworldly sense of peace filled him. Was his very own fairy tale about to come true?

Bespelled and bemused, he could feel the magic in every beat of his heart, in every trembling breath he drew.

Once inside the bower, Henri reached to cup Cinder's cheek. Unused to being touched, he nearly flinched away but managed to still, heart pounding, before giving himself away. The older man's thumb slid across his cheekbone and came to rest lightly on his mouth. Why did he want to lean into that caress?

The other man's warm, slightly musky scent filled his nostrils, drowning his senses.

Henri's other hand wrapped around his waist and drew him close while tipping his face upwards. Cinder's breath left him in a rush, stirring the noble’s hair. Henri was all that he could see, his mouth slowly, carefully descending toward Cinder’s. If he allowed this, the other man might discover his deception. He couldn’t risk that, so why then did he ache to feel Henri’s kiss? Their lips brushed, light as thistle down.

Surprisingly, Henri's mouth was soft and warm upon his own. After a moment, Henri's pressed more firmly against his. Something fluttered in his chest, trying to get out.

Cinder didn't think to pull away until he felt Henri's tongue seeking entrance. The hand on his face slipped to his nape and held firm. He froze in shock, not even daring to breathe, as flames rushed through his body. The very beat of his heart betrayed him.

The questing tongue stroked his lips and pushed between them. It slid over his teeth, seeking to enter. When he protested, Henri's tongue swept in and began a lazy, sensuous exploration that left him breathless.

Soon he found himself stroking Henri's tongue with his own. Henri responded to his fledgling attempts by pulling him closer and moaning into his mouth. He had never experienced anything so deeply sensual and erotic. He fed his own needy pleas to the other man one at a time.

Finally they separated slightly, Cinder panting heavily, trying to catch his breath. Was Henri as affected by their kiss as he was? A quick glance confirmed Cinder was not alone in his arousal. Flushed and gasping, Henri gazed at him with eyes full of wonder and something unnamed smoldering in their depths.

Look me up at:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Being Part of the Good

The world we live in is a complex, dangerous place. All one has to do for verification of that is turn on the news, or check the Internet. Stories of war, cruelty and evil abound. We have to look harder to find stories that make us smile, or laugh, or even shed a tear of joy. Sometimes I get philosophical when I'm faced with the bad and evil acts that occur all too often around the globe.

Romance, in any of its many facets, is a counterpoint to the brutal realism we face with regularity. The ways of love, and the stories of love, help us believe in a better world, that there is hope for us. At the very least, romance is an escape. At its best, it is a reflection of our inner selves, the love inside that needs to be expressed and shared.

M/M romance is a part of the romantic fiction genre that is fast growing, finding new readers all the time. The growth and growing acceptance of this sub-genre has been amazing, and add to the hope I feel for this human race. The exposure to more and more people, most of them reportedly straight females, demonstrates to me a growing acceptance of the variations of love.

I was at a romance readers/authors meeting this spring. In one of the sessions, a panel member was asked why straight women read m/m romance. I listened to a few answers from panel members before I volunteered my own. "Women want to know that men can fall in love." To me, the messaging behind M/M, if one wants to look for such, is the representation and verification that men are capable of the deep feelings, profound thought processes, and the both sweet and goofy behavior that comprises love. 

We need reminding that humanity is inherently good, that most of the world goes about its days functioning in a productive, constructive way. Reading, writing, believing in romance is an important part of the good. We need to perpetuate it, to expand it, to spread the hope and the love far and wide.

In doing so, we don’t just spread love; we open minds and we foster tolerance and acceptance. Seems to me the world could use a heck of a lot more of that.

~JM Cartwright 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thank You by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday, y’all. I’m going to use today’s post as an opportunity to thank the readers out there who support small, independent publishers and the writers who are fortunate enough to have our books published through them.

I’ve heard people say that writers write because we have to, that we do it for ourselves. I can’t deny that, for me, that’s true to some extent. I started writing because I wanted to share uplifting, positive portrayals of relationships. I had characters in my head talking to me and writing down their stories felt natural. I didn’t know about Dreamspinner Press then, or about all the other independent publishers who give a venue to gay romance novels. So I posted my little stories on the internet and hoped that they’d touch someone, somewhere. And that’s when that “writing for myself” thing changed a little.

I started getting e-mails from people who were reading my writing and suddenly my characters weren’t just talking to me, they were talking to Carissa or Tony or Tricia or Bob or Jenn or Sam. And, for me, that’s the moment when I stopped writing just for myself and started writing for other people too.

The people who told me I should consider publishing my books and told me about Dreamspinner Press (thanks Tisha). The people who help without hesitation when I need someone to translate a chat (thanks Barbara, Shirley, and GiveARush). The people who review a timeline I want to post on my website and remind about things I’ve forgotten about my own books (Anita and Amanda, thanks for everything). The people who give me suggestions that make my books better (Katie, I’ll continue working on those female characters). The people who buy my books right when they’re released, even if they don’t usually like paranormals (glad I could convert you, Sam). The people who e-mail me about my stories and their thoughts about them (Marc, Elizabeth, Tricia, Terri, thank you). And the people who take the time to write reviews or tell their friends about the books (Natred, James, Anisa, Kim, you’re the reason new people buy my books, which is what helps the new ones get published, thank you).

Of course, no thank you would be complete without a shout to L.A. Borgaard, who betas all my books and remembers details that my poor brain can’t keep straight. Kelly Shorten, the best website designer ever. And Paul Richmond and Reese Dante, covers sell books - thanks for making mine amazing. 

Those are just some names, some people. There are many others who have encouraged me or who’ve written a review on a website somewhere that I’ve come across and thought about and, hopefully, learned from. I’m grateful to them too. So, that’s it from me for today.

Thank you.


Monday, September 3, 2012

A MANtastic September

A few weeks ago I was pretty pissed off at the world because a bunch of crap was going on for me. I was thinking about the things that had been going wrong and came to a realization why it was all mattering to me so much. There was no balance, nothing feeding my sense of self-worth aside from my job and my relationship with my family (which, blessedly had always been loving and caring).
Then I went to The Garrison Institute in upstate NY for 5 days. The institute focused on contemplative mindfulness. At this retreat, we meditated and examined our feelings and how our emotions manifest physically within our bodies. For those of you who know anything about me (and certainly for those who have met me) you can imagine that sitting around meditating and examining my inner emotions isn’t my typical speed. In fairness, I’ll say the institute really turned things around for me and I’ve found a new respect for meditation and mindfulness.
Each day after our sessions were done I, and the other three people I’d gone with, went hiking. Sometimes we hiked easy trails along the Hudson, keeping to the water line and seeing some terrific views. Right across the river was West Point and the idea of hot young military fledglings filled my mind. Even cooler, there was a rope tied to this tree at a rock-cliff drop spot and I swung off the rock jumping about 40 feet (I think. I’m terrible at estimating distances). It was far, but not ridiculously far like in Hawaii or something. All I can way is WHAT-A-RUSH!

After this retreat went home to Massachusetts for the rest of the summer to spend the last few weeks with my family before work started back. My dad lives by the water and has a kayak. There’s also a pond down the street where families bring their children. The weather was mid-eighties and sunny. Basically, it was just this amazing conglomeration of all things good and wonderful. I went to the pond with my family, the kids making new friends each day. I took my niece and nephew kayaking to the sandbar near my dad’s home at low tide so they could dig for shells and horseshoe crabs. Basically I enjoyed each moment: the people, the places, the beauty around me. I even captured a snapshot of the sky one evening just because it was beautiful.

When I returned to NYC, I contacted my good friend Kenya Ferreira who’s been pushing to get me to go to the gym with her. We went to the gym. Then I went again. Then I went to my first yoga class. By the way, why didn’t anyone mention how much you freakin’ sweat while doing yoga? Yet as sore as my muscles were from working out again and as much as I fell over during certain poses in yoga, the act of doing good things for myself felt good.
So all of this stuff has happened basically over the past few weeks which has left me feeling transformed. It’s caused me to reflect on a few things which, after several rambling paragraphs, brings me to the point of this post. It’s far too easy to coast along, especially when things get tough. It’s almost like going into zombie-mode or numb is a protection mechanism that keeps us from feeling anything. Because when things seem bad, feeling doesn’t help at all, right?
Being present in my own life, taking note of the things going on, good and bad, has helped me to calm down. Rather than focusing on a particular task I have to complete that I haven’t been trained to do, I’m celebrating the fact that my colleagues are supporting me and enjoying how the process is bringing us closer together as a team.
A simple trip on a kayak, going about 200 feet away and walking on the soft sand which is only above water for portions of the day became a vivid memory because of all the details. The kids searching for shells like it was the most important thing in the world; the fact we could walk out a good 50 feet from the sandbar and still only have the water up to our knees; the rock which my niece decided to climb on and be Ariel from the Little Mermaid because it reminded her of that scene where the water splashes up behind her…those things made the moment one I’ll always remember.
Just being present has helped to calm me down and given me the space to put things back into perspective. It’s helped me to sit back at the age of 41 and say, “What’s really important here?” The changes, the fact I’m putting my emotional and physical health to the front of the line of priorities, has made me happy and proud and I feel stronger to face the challenges which we all face in our lives.
For me, taking that step, committing to it, is what has turned things around for me. What turns things around for you? I wonder who else has reflected on what makes them happy and helps them to bear the turbulence which comes by every once in a while.

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