(Also, my apologies for this one being a day late! Just pretend it’s Monday? :D?)
Oh, my. I’m just terrible at keeping my promises to you guys, aren’t I? Can you see me hanging my head in shame? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.
It’s the end of June, and the last few months have been a complete whirlwind. In April, we had our first ever Rainbow Conference here in Tampa. The event when without any major hitches, which is a huge blessing with how hard everyone was working to keep everything enjoyable for the ~175 attendees that came out for the event. Geoffrey Knight was an amazing Guest of Honor, and really hit one out of the park by giving an opening speech on the fly for us that really spoke to uniting in the genre as supporters of GLBTQ fiction, and I felt like we were able to get topics out in front of people that really matter, in fiction and in life. We’re already planning the 2015 event, and it’s going to be awesome. The official charity is the Big Cat Rescue down here in Tampa, and we’re running with the Big Cat theme through several panels having to do with fiction, fandom, and television/film. We’re also having a themed Masquerade along with a Dinner + Drag Show and a field trip out to the Big Cat Rescue so some of the attendees can see the big cats up close and personal. I can’t wait!
If you’re curious about RainbowCon, definitely click the name there to go to the website. The entire schedule is up there along with a list of the authors already signed up. Registration is OPEN. I hope anyone interested in a 4-day conference filled with nothing but QUILTBAG-centric content will join us July of 2015! :D
In other news, a new anthology out through Storm Moon Press has a story I co-wrote with S.L. Armstrong! Blood Embrace brings together 4 stories taking a unique approach to vampires. Our story, “Of the Flesh”, centers around a priest who has been hunting down a particular vampire since his brother (and fellow man of the cloth) was turned and disappeared. It’s a religiously and sexually charged piece that I hope everyone enjoys. I gave the story prompt to Saundra (S.L. Armstrong), and she really went above and beyond, bringing all the themes that I’d envisioned to a wonderfully dark, moody piece with some edge. I fully give Saundra credit for this one, since she did a lot of the leg work getting it written. It might have originally been my idea, but she enhanced it and really delivered with wording that made me giddy as a schoolboy while we collaborated. Check it out along with D.K. Jernigan’s “Red Filter” story, which I had the pleasure of reading while it was being written. Fantastic story with psychic vamps and an artist who isn’t afraid to take charge when he realizes what is haunting his artistic haze. Highly recommended!
In yet other news, I just started a new massage job a couple weeks ago, and I’m going strong. After a while not being in the business, it’s great to return and feel like I’m doing some good and helping people manage their aches and pains.
At the moment, I’m organizing a promotion tour for RainbowCon, but Saundra and I will also get writing again soon on a short story to be included in the Devout anthology, which will be all about priest kink. We might have just written a priest with a vampire, but this new short will be a minister’s encounter with an angel, so it’ll be quite a different story. ;)
I hope everyone has a great July! With how busy I am at the moment, no promises for regular updates, but I’ll do my best!
Hey, everyone! I know it’s been a couple months since I last posted. Life has been more emotionally taxing since Dorian’s passing. Some days are better than others, and I know the grief is most severe for Saundra, who was, by far, the closest to Dorian. Basil and Victor (the latter being our newer black kitty we took in from the streets) have both taken on a couple of Dorian’s habits, which is really sweet, but it’s also kinda bittersweet. He’s missed every single day.
The last two months have been full of change. There’s been the ongoing adjustment of the household to being without Dorian, a lot of vet visits for the other pets, a new job for me (night shifts, make-up & heels required. GAH!), and finally writing a piece featuring a transman.
With the help of Kathleen Tudor/D.K. Jernigan, SMP put out a Valentine’s Day anthology pretty much at the last minute. The premise behind Sweethearts and Seduction is very simple: gay romance with a high fluff factor. Kathleen practically begged me to be part of the anthology, and though I had a vague idea in my head for a solo piece, it was incredibly difficult for me to write following Dorian’s passing. (Still is, truth be told.) She therefore tempted me by writing the opening to a story that she thought would be fun to co-write. This… was definitely a new thing for me. I’ve co-authored almost constantly as an author, having been pulled into writing and pretty much mentored by S.L. Armstrong (Saundra), but this was the first time I’d co-authored with anyone else. It was incredibly low stress and a lot of fun. Kathleen is pretty laid back, doesn’t mind improving some of what I write if it doesn’t strike quite the right tone, and when I was having difficulty, she was there to help. She also fully encouraged me to create Zane, my first transman character. He’s the love interest of Troy, a cis-gendered man who decides to propose to Zane even though it might put his roller rink business at risk. It’s a sweet story and was a welcome challenge for me, since I wanted to make Zane trans* without bashing the reader over the head or getting preachy.
Zane’s life in no way mirrors my own life, but there were certain elements of his character that I pulled from my own experience as a genderqueer individual. I did my best to keep him down to earth and focused on his own life rather than getting soapboxy about his state of being. This is a fluffy anthology, after all, so it wouldn’t have been appropriate for him to angst to that degree. I think he’d moved past that by the time we see him in “The Best Thing on Eight Wheels”. ;) Zane presents male and both binds and packs, though that isn’t spelled out in such plain terms in the short story. In my mind, he isn’t on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) because of a sensitivity to testosterone… but again, this isn’t explicitly stated in the short story. XD He’d happily get top surgery, but that’s an expense he can’t afford, especially with his partner’s business on the line. He has insecurities about his body and the way it still looks feminine in some ways, but he manages that with the support of family, friends, a loving partner, and someone whom I like to imagine is an excellent therapist. Do all trans* people need such things? Not necessarily, and many to varying degrees. But in my head, therapy and having a good support structure was the way he could deal with his transition at his own pace and doing only what he is comfortable doing.
So! I hope everyone checks out the Sweethearts and Seduction anthology. There are some really fun stories in it, and my personal favorite is Erik Moore’s “Sold!”, which has a fantastic mix of humor and seduction to it. Go check it out!
Coming up on the blog (soon-ish… I hope), I’ll be doing a random facts sort of meme, and I’m determined to write a post about underwear. No. Seriously. Underwear. You’ll see what I mean when I finally manage to get it written. It’s been bouncing around my brain since just before Christmas, so it’s long overdue. XD I hope everyone has a great St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow! Get your Irish on!
There’s a pain goes on and on…
Today, after a months-long struggle, our sweet kitten, Dorian, left this earth for the Rainbow Bridge. He died surrounded by those who loved him dearly, and we will all miss him terribly.
Throughout the decline of his health, we all weren’t sure what was ailing him, but the vet who saw to him at the end gave us a diagnosis that, now that we’ve researched it, explains every single bit of his illness. Dorian had Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which was brought on by the feline Coronavirus. We did all we could have done to prolong his life and give him a happy and healthy one to the very end, but there is no cure and no treatment for what he had, so when the time came, we had to say our goodbyes and let him go.
There’s a Dorian-shaped hole in all our hearts here at the Armstrong-Piet household. Dorian was the sweetest little kitty I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and loving. He was very much Saundra’s cat, as you’ll see in the photo below. My roomies have two yellow Labradors whom I often walk in the evenings, and tonight as I walked them, I looked up at the sky and honed in on the moon and the constellation Orion. Dorian lived through the holidays and through Saundra and Roger’s 16th wedding anniversary (which was yesterday). He also lived through the full moon. It seems as the moonlight began to wane, so too did he, and it was as swift as the scorpion bite that killed Orion in Greek Mythology. I know all of that doesn’t take away from the grief of losing Dorian, but those are the things that went through my mind tonight as I walked. Dorian lived an amazing life, and he squeezed every moment of loving out of everyone in the household, especially Saundra. We’re just sad that his life with us was so very short.
The last photo we took of Saundra with Dorian – November 2013
May 2012 – January 2014
Our sweet kittle skittle. You’ll always be treasured in our hearts and spirits.
Happy New Year, everyone! First off, let me wish you all a safe, healthy, and productive 2014. :) I hope you and yours are able to celebrate and reinvent and thrive as we move into the new year. Face those challenges and triumph in 2014!
In 2013, I think I only met one of my New Years Resolutions (to see 3 movies in the cinema), so this year, I’m saying fuck that shit. I just want to celebrate what I loved best about books I read in 2013 and what I’m looking forward to in 2014. Just keep in mind that this is my personal list. I’m not magnificently well read, so I’m sure there are plenty of amazing titles outside of Storm Moon Press that I didn’t read or didn’t know about. ^_^
- Rhys Has a Crush by Melanie Tushmore
- An Invitation to Love by Blaine D. Arden
- In All Your Ways by Cari Z
Rhys Has a Crush is a wonderfully informal short with a rocker boy pulling a ploy to try to approach his crush via texting. Hilariously put together; I just loved it. An Invitation to Love is another example of Arden taking fantasy settings and running with them. This one involves language barriers as well as a ménage à trois, which is just full of win. Lastly, In All Your Ways (technically a 2012 book, but I read it in 2013) is an awesome love story taking place in the angels/demons mythos. It also ties into Cari Z’s Cambion series, so it’s definitely worth reading. Yay for freebies!
Favorite YA Book: Sinews of the Heart by Cody L. Stanford
Really, was there any other choice for me? No. I can’t shut up about this book, and you all have probably seen my proper review of it already, so I put it at the top here so you can just see that OF COURSE it makes my list… and you can move on to the rest. For those who haven’t seen the review, this is a trans*/genderqueer YA book in a post-apocalyptic setting with anthrotigers. It’s an exquisite read. ^_^
Favorite Short Story: Gift of Self by Kathleen Tudor
This trans* piece blew me away in the best way possible. Tudor really deals respectfully with the themes. Discovering the extent of your trans identity is tough enough alone, but there are even more things to consider when in an established relationship… especially one involving kink like the one between Jeffrey/Jessie and Athena. Weaving all those elements together takes a master hand, and Tudor has done just that with care and respect.
Favorite Novella: Thornless Rose by T.C. Mill
What can I say? This is an awesome sci-fi adventure story with an inhospitable alien planet and a bit of a romance tied into all the action. Sabotage and intrigue are tucked in there, along with some really fun linguistic details. When you have technology that translates for you, it’s nice to have a nod to the way things don’t quite translate between languages. Some words and meanings are inevitably lost or misunderstood, and I like that Mill took the time to recognize that when dealing with various alien races communicating with one another.
Favorite Novel: Cambion: Dark Around the Edges by Cari Z
This was released as a serial novel, and this ‘season’ was some of the best fiction I’ve read in a long time. I was gripping the edge of my seat and wanting to strangle Cari Z for making me wait to read the next bit in the serial. Now that it’s all compiled, others won’t have to go through that suspense, but it’s a great book filled with awesome supernatural/paranormal elements, plenty of action, and steamy scenes between the protagonists. I can’t wait to read more as the series continues, be it with the main characters or a number of the minor characters, who are equally engaging. :D
Favorite Anthology: Legal Briefs
It’s rare to get a mixed-bag anthology of various orientations/identities that jives well with me. Like most anthologies, not every story resonates with every reader. With Legal Briefs, I was overjoyed that three of the six stories are trans* and each of those three are completely different from one another. The authors involved with this anthology are excellent, and the fact it’s a charity anthology just makes it even better to me. The proceeds go to Lambda Legal, so if you’re looking for legal-themed erotic works, this anthology goes toward a great cause!
Favorite Drawn Covers:
The Dracones cover is easily my favorite this year. The color scheme is vivid, and I love the way Nathie worked the dragon in with a half-naked guy without any of it looking the least bit campy. The details in The Forester II‘s cover are exquisite, and I love that those covers for that series are from scenes in the stories themselves. And Forgotten Menagerie just makes me happy because there are shifters on the cover that are actually in the stories of the anthology. I just love that our authors got really creative when we told them to write unorthodox shifters! Nathie’s execution of our crazy themes never ceases to amaze me, and I will always be a huge fan of Nathie’s work.
Favorite Photo-Manip Covers:
- The Harvest: Taken by M.A. Church — Art by Lou Harper
- Bound by Ink by Kimber Vale — Art by ThinkSentient Ltd
- The Devil’s Midway by S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet — Art by ThinkSentient Ltd
Come on, the cover for The Harvest: Taken is just plain PRETTY! It’s everything I love about those science fiction covers with planets and hints of alien life on them. That it’s a wrap-around cover in the print version makes it even better. Get yourselves a copy of this book, guys. Seriously. And the other two covers are examples of the single releases we put out at the press. ThinkSentient Ltd did cover art that was then personalized for each story in a given anthology so they share the same basic covers but have their own titles visible. I love the multi-colored smoke in the covers for Written in Flesh, and the color scheme and demonic symbol layering in the covers for Devil’s Night really bring the ambiance for erotic demonic fiction. So happy with all these covers!
Favorite Upcoming Piece: “Red Filter” by D.K. Jernigan (aka Kathleen Tudor)
This story is to be included in the Blood Embrace anthology coming out from Storm Moon Press this year, and OH MY GOD. You guys, seriously. Psychic vampires with some power play and bondage. It’s sexy and amazing and did I mention sexy? I can’t wait for this story to be published, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I have in pre-production. Am I wicked to tease you all? YES! But you’ve gotta read this when it comes out. It’ll knock your socks off… right along with your pants, hopefully. ;)
That’s my round-up for the new year! As for me, I’m just going to try to keep my head above water this time around. I have a lot of new things in the works, both personally and professionally, and I know I need to hit the ground running this year. I hope a lot of great things come of my efforts. ^_^ Have a great 2014, everyone!