The Once And Future Book…

The first volume of the Hot Summer Days project is out: Don’t Read In The Closet Volume One. It covers release days 1 to 19, and does include my story Gone To Pieces. (It’s highly explicit, involving D/s and a cyborg designed and purchased as nothing more than an incredibly complex sex toy.) The other important parts are that the whole thing is free, and there are three more volumes after this one. If you’re not a member of the Goodreads M/M Romance group, or if you know someone who wants to get their feet wet in the M/M end of the pool without spending much/any money, this is a great collection. It has stories of every kind (cowboys, sci-fi, sweet, funny) and every length; it has some great authors, both published and unpublished (until now).

I really enjoyed this project, and I’d love to do it again, both as an author and a reader. (I have to admit that I have a letter all ready to go for next time, if there is one. Heh.)

As for my latest release… I got the galley proof today! So now I have to check it over and figure out if there’s anything else that needs a last-second tweak before it goes off to the formatter/publisher. After that, it’s deciding on cover art (which I am looking forward to like…like you don’t even know) and then, then! It’s pre-release jitters and then the release. It’ll be out either in November or December, and as soon as I have a date, I’ll post it all over creation.

More Hot Summer Days Recommended Reads

I haven’t been getting much writing done, for reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture. In an effort to try feeling accomplished, I caught up on my HSD reading. Here’s the latest that I’ve liked, in no particular order whatsoever:

Bridges, by M. J. O’Shea. More of an enemies-to-lovers story, so it takes a little time for the guys to get their heads around the idea that maybe there could be more to their relationship. I definitely need more O’Shea and Vaughn in my life.

Photo Booth, by Neil Plakcy. A cowboy hooks up with an FBI agent: it sounds like that should end with “can they get along in the suburbs?!”, but Mr. Plakcy makes it work. (Full disclosure: I’m proud to say that Mr. Plakcy was the first editor to ever buy one of my stories, but that has nothing to do with the fact that I liked Photo Booth.)

Delivery With A Smile, by Megan Derr. A delivery guy finally meets the son of one of the ladies on his route. She’d told him her boy was single and handsome, but she left out that whole ‘tends to kill people’ thing…

Like The Taste Of Summer, by Kaje Harper. Jack Korbel hasn’t regretted a single minute of his life since the moment he decided that the only way out was straight through.

The Tears Of The Sea, by Marguerite Labbe. A lovely interpretation of an Irish folktale, and if you’re at all a fan of the things that live in the sea, you should give it a try.

Luscious Love, by Zach Sweets. A confession, first: having been through food-handler’s licensing classes, my first reaction to the picture was “Oh, God, they’re gonna have to throw out the whole batch and start over, and tempering chocolate can be kind of a bitch…” That, however, has nothing to do with the story, which is a cute little read about a man finding more than just a job. (Also, it pokes my Characters With Communication Issues button.)

Cupid’s Beau, by the intentionally-punning (and aptly-named) Jade Archer. You’d think finding love would be easy, for a Cupid — it’s understandable, he’s a Cupid, after all. Sadly, you’d be wrong… At least until the right person shows up.

The Importance Of Being Denny, by Kari Gregg. If you dislike stories wherein everything would be resolved in about ten minutes if one of the characters would just STOP ARGUING already? Yeah, this might not be for you. (He does knock it off, finally.)

The Boy Next Door, by PD Singer. He’s grown up, and he knows what he wants… If the object of his affections will just stop thinking of reasons it won’t work.

Say A Little Prayer, by Clare London. Another story about the seaside, and the unusual things that one can find on the beach. For instance, a naked man.

Super Sock Man, by Amy Lane. I am a fan of Amy Lane’s writing, and this is one of the stories that I was really looking forward to reading. What do hand-knit socks, Pablo Neruda, and a dancer have in common? Donnie’s not entirely sure, but he aims to find out.

Just One Kiss, by Lisa Worrall. This reminds me of Damon Suede’s Hot Heads, but that’s not a bad thing. I’m not a huge fan of “gay for you” stories, but both Hot Heads and Just One Kiss do a good job of selling me on the relationship between the guys. It really helps that they’re both friends-to-lovers stories (which I seem to have developed a real Thing for — who knew?).

Between Friends, by EM Woods. As I said, I’ve developed a Thing for friends-to-lovers stories. This is, surprise! yet another; the friends this time are a soda-delivery guy and his boss. Soda Guy gets into some trouble on his route, and his boss doesn’t take it well…

Sucker-Punch, by Sarah Black. A world champion boxer and his physical therapist take their relationship beyond the typical therapist-patient boundaries. I’m not a fan of boxing at all, but I kept reading to the end, which was worth it.

Be My Boy, by Casey K Cox. Owen is adrift, asea, lost in the fog of grief; Mitchell is a young man who doesn’t seem to have any need for Owen at all… Until Mitchell changes his mind.

A Woman With A Dildo, by Cardeno C. When we’re not being suspected of being indecisive or slutty or some other unflattering thing, people are worrying that we bisexuals’s heads are going to be turned merely by the equipment possessed by the opposite gender of our current partner — whether that equipment is biological or man-made (sorry). In this story, the point is made that there’s more to attraction than just parts.

Bear Naked, by JL Merrow. And to counteract the seriousness of the last story, here’s a fun little tale of a man who steps way outside of his comfort zone and discovers that he won’t regret it after all.

The Muse, by Astrid. An artist and his boyfriend live across the street from a woman with a camera. It all begins with an inadvertant pose and photo dropped in their mailbox…

— Crocodile Undie, by AJ Llewellyn. This story is, ultimately, about the blossoming of a relationship. It also involves three men named Bruce, a photoshoot at a lake, and tourists acting like, well, tourists.

One of the best parts about this project is not only reading things from authors I know I like, but discovering new voices, as well. Not that my budget can handle finding more things for me to buy, but at least I’ll have a list ready if I should win the lottery.

Hot Summer Days Reading Recs

Needless to say, these are all decidedly Not Safe For Work.

– Piper Vaughn’s Wanting is a friends-to-lovers story, sweet and hot and funny in places. There’s a bonus scene in the comments, too. Sometimes the tagalong little brother grows up to know exactly what he wants…

– Stuart Wakefield’s The Elements Of Love is an interesting futuristic/post-apocalpytic sort of world, populated with mechs and wracked by war. Fortunately for humanity, when the four elements are united, peace will return. Earth, Water, and Air just aren’t sure if Fire is alive, never mind where Fire might be.

– LC Chase’s Open Tackle is another friends-to-lovers story, this one featuring college football players. Carrying a torch has one little drawback: torches can’t be hidden forever.

– Deanna Wadsworth’s Unscheduled Maintenance is definitely not sweet. In fact, I was considering not even finishing it, but I kept reading — and I was glad I did. It’s rough, it’s a little darker, and it features a D/s-ish relationship with elements of humiliation, just as a heads-up. Like I said, though, I ended up liking it even though I’m not keen on the whole humiliation thing.

Pre-Release Jitters

So I just got the first message–and read two of the three stories–about the Hot Summer Days project. Jen and Company are planning on releasing about 20,000 words a day from now until August 20th, and no, I don’t know when Gone To Pieces will be out.

Part of me is okay with that, and part of me is thinking that it makes it even worse because I have no idea when to start squinting through my fingers at the comment section. (I got this way after posting Anonymous Lovefest fics, too, just FYI. And hey, people loved those, so maybe it won’t be so bad.)

So far, Open Tackle and Unscheduled Maintenance are pretty good; Open Tackle is sweet, while Unscheduled Maintenance is darker/rougher but still good. (And I say that as someone who does not, as a rule, enjoy D/s stuff where the Dom is all about his own pleasure.)

I started Wanting Jack, but decided that I wasn’t interested in reading about people yelling at one another/The Big Misunderstanding at the moment. *Shrug* Currently, that’s not my cuppa, but I may go back and finish it later. Don’t let me dissuade you from checking it out, though.

And now I think I need to go poke at some fiction and go to sleep. Maybe if I let myself do something silly for a little while, I’ll be able to work on something for submission.

This was a triumph…

(Apologies if you now have that song stuck in your head. I’m muddling my way through Half-Life 2, and every time someone mentions Black Mesa, I hear GlaDOS in my head.)

Anyway! Successes abound, at the moment. I have, as of this moment, A) gotten myself a ticket to go see MCR this fall, with parking and everything; and B) FINISHED my Hot July Days story. I have to let it sit for a couple of days, now, and then go back and make sure that everything’s spelled right and formatted correctly, but that’s the easy part.

I’m still happy over that whole ‘sold another story’ thing, too, but that’s not new.