April 18, 2014

Kickboxing Smuff Progress, Title Madness & Another Sex and Candy Giveaway!

It's been a while since I've posted, so I thought I'd add a little update about the kickboxing Love's Landscapes story that has been consuming my free time. Consuming it voraciously. Like a puppy with a juicy bone. *ahem* I finished up the draft last night (yay!), and since I do most of my edits as I write (which is just as time-consuming as it sounds, heh), I polished it up this morning and sent it to my awesome beta buddy for thoughts. >__>

A lot of stuff happens, and, at the same time, it's total smuff (smut + fluff), too. I'm a little nervous about how that combo works here, so we'll see what she thinks. I wanted to post a cool kickboxing photo, but there weren't any decent ones in the public domain. Thus, instead of a kickboxing or boxing photo, here's a picture of Nico-kitteh sitting in a box:

I can also tell you that a unicorn costume makes an appearance in this story. Anything else is secret, and you'll just have to see what happens when the (freebie!) story comes out this summer! ^__^ The full prompt and picture can be found at the end of my post here.

I would totally share the title with you, too, except I'm not sure yet what it is. Eeps! Yes, I sent the title Punch-Drunk Love to the event organizers, but now I'm not sure if I like it enough to use it for the story. *shakes fist weakly* Argh, why is the title so hard?

For my latest story Sex and Candy, the title was automatic.

Have you heard the Marcy's Playground song "Sex and Candy?" That's one of my favorites, and I had it on repeat often in college. Of course, when I set the decidedly smuffy short story in a club called Hard Candy (which you can read more about here), the title Sex and Candy immediately popped into my head. At the time, there was only one other story out there with that title, so I thought it was good to go. I wrote the story back in the autumn and didn't give the title a second thought.

It's funny because a few weeks before the March 30th release, another story with the title Sex and Candy came out from MLR Press. That came as a surprise, but then, after reading the description, I realized the stories were completely different. Now I'm just crossing my fingers that people give my Sex and Candy a shot, too. =)

So while I'm waiting for my beta buddy to get back to me (alliteration there, eh?), I thought I'd post a bit about Sex and Candy and give some stuff away. Yay!

There have been some amazing reviews, and I'm so freaking grateful to everyone who has checked it out. Thank you! You can see what the folks at Prism Book AllianceMy Fiction Nook, and 3 Chicks After Dark had to say about the book if you're curious. =)

Another thing to mention is that the publisher, JMS Books, is having a sale this weekend. All ebooks are 40% off, including Sex and Candy. You can enter the giveaway below for an ebook copy or, if you can't wait to read it, you can pick up the discounted story (for $1.79) here at JMS Books through April 20th! :D




I'm giving away another prize package to celebrate the Sex and Candy HARD opening (heh heh, hard) now that it's available everywhere. *tosses confetti* The soft opening on March 30th was a publisher-only release date, so here's a quick listing of some of the other ebook retailers where you can now find Sex and Candy:

To celebrate all the sexy and sweet things, I'm doing a giveaway package with these lovely goodies:
- ebook copy of Sex and Candy

Plus a snail mail package of these items (open to international winners because you guys read books, too!):
- a pair of electric blue undies (unfortunately, hot guy not included)
- a candy-colored gumdrop bead bracelet
- a silver-colored metal "love" ring


To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with a means of contacting you (e.g., email, Twitter handle, Goodreads profile link, etc.) and, if you feel like sharing, let me know what your favorite type of candy is! :) 

Contest closes at 10PM (Pacific time) on Monday, April 28, 2014. The winner will be chosen using a highly scientific internet randomizer (i.e., the 21st century's answer to "names in a hat") and should reply within 48 hours or else another winner will be chosen.

You can also add Sex and Candy to your Goodreads shelf here. Thanks for checking out the post, and happy reading!

March 31, 2014

RELEASE DAY GIVEAWAY!! :D "Sex and Candy" Soft Opening!

Today Yesterday was release day for Sex and Candy! Woop woop! Okay, so I'm a tiny bit dilatory in my release day giveaway, but ummmm...that's just what happens when release day is on a Sunday and I end up watching "Noah" and doing a million other little things. Oops. Sorry!

I am hope-hope-hoping that the nifty giveaway goodies will help! March 30th was the "soft opening" for Sex and Candy (and OMG isn't that just a ridiculous way to describing release day for an m/m erotic romance?). :) I say "soft opening" because the story is officially available on the publisher's website, but it won't be available on other distributors' sites (like Amazon or B&N) until next weekend. For now, though, Sex and Candy can be found here at JMS Books at a 20% discount!

Thinking up a blog post to go with a release day giveaway is a toughie for me, so I'm just going to chat a bit about how the story came into existence. 

I didn't set out to write a D/s story with a Dom or a sub or any of the other BDSM vibes in the story. Nope, not at all. The stories that I read don't typically fall into those themes, and I definitely hadn't written it before. Sex and Candy, though, is simply the organic product of the story that the characters needed me to write.

Lee is such a sweet guy, and he wanted/needed a firm hand. Without spilling exactly what happens, I'll just say that he finds it...in more ways than one. ;) The BDSM vibes are D/s-lite with an element of cute sweetness. Indeed, my super smexy author friend Kol Anderson said it was "sexy...incredibly sexy," so I hope you all like it. ;)

Sex and Candy is a short story, but there are a few things that show up in it that I'd like to share in the giveaway. Sooo...here's the fun stuff!

an ebook copy of Sex and Candy

And...for a US winner...a snail mail package of these goodies:
a pair of electric blue undies (unfortunately, hot guy not included)
a candy-colored gumdrop bead bracelet
a silver-colored metal "love" ring


To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with a means of contacting you (e.g., email, Twitter handle, Goodreads profile link, etc.) and, if you feel like sharing, let me know what your favorite type of candy is! :) 

Contest closes at 10PM (Pacific time) on Monday, April 7, 2014. The winner will be chosen using a highly scientific internet randomizer (i.e., the 21st century's answer to "names in a hat") and should reply within 48 hours or else another winner will be chosen.

Sex and Candy is now available for 20% off at JMS Books and will be at your favorite ebook retailer soon. Add it to your Goodreads shelf today! Thanks, and happy reading!

March 20, 2014

"Sex and Candy" Smuffiness, plus Smuffiness in Progress!

Howdy, folks! I've been pretty radio silent lately, and I apologize for that. Life has a way of getting busy all at once and then, suddenly, it's a new season. Like whoa!

In that period of time, I began my job hunt and spent an amazingly fun time in NYC, during which I attended a friend's wedding and had so. much. food. I loved it.

Anyway, life was busy, and my "then suddenly" moment came when I realized that my short story Sex and Candy will come out in ten days.

Yes, ten days!

How exciting is that?? I'm super psyched - this story holds a very special place in my smuffy (that's smut + fluffy) heart. 

Here's the cover - keep an eye out for it! ;)

Isn't it fun? *grins*

You can find Sex and Candy on the JMS Books website on March 30th or look for it on other ebook retailer sites shortly thereafter. Check out the blurb and a (quite scandalous!) excerpt here at the publisher's site. If you are so inclined, you can also add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

The next bit of smuffiness to report revolves around the M/M Romance Group's annual writing event. My author roots lie deep within this writing event. In fact, if it weren't for the M/M Romance Group's 2012 event Love is Always Write, I'm not sure if I would have had the courage and motivation to write something to completion AND publish it for the world to read. Once I did, though, Man-to-Man Coverage was born, and I found that I really had fun with the creative process of fiction writing. The satisfaction of seeing boys who lived in my head find love on the page didn't hurt, either. =)

Well, the M/M Romance Group's 2014 writing event Love's Landscapes is under way, and I've picked a prompt. *quivers with excitement* It's kickboxing. It's sporty. It's being outed in front of your entire team. It's smuffy goodness.

Check out the Dear Author thread here (note: must be a member of the Goodreads group) or you can see the NSFW picture and prompt after the jump. =D I've been having a lot of fun with this smuff, and I hope you all enjoy it!

So, yes, kickboxers coming your way this summer. ;) And Sex and Candy's D/s smuffiness coming your way in ten days!


P.S. Keep your eyes and ears peeled because I have some Sex and Candy giveaways planned, too. Two words: sexay undies. ;)

NSFW photo and prompt inspiration for my next story after the jump:

February 11, 2014

Coming Out as a Gay Athlete, College Draft Edition

It's been a while since I've posted about gay athletes, and, my oh my, how things have changed. Michael Sam, a promising college football player, came out on Sunday night as a gay man. With NFL Draft Day just weeks away, the impact of his coming out on his draft prospects is the big question on my mind.

This post is part of a loosely-themed series that I like to call "Coming Out as a Gay Athlete." Previous posts covered an athlete's coming out, homophobia at the time of last year's Super Bowl, a fake girlfriend, a gay athlete in the '70s, stats, and more.  The big question, in my opinion, has been (and will be for the foreseeable future) how athletes and sports leagues will react to having a publicly gay athlete on their roster.

In a post last year, I posed that question about an athlete who came out and was eligible for free agency that summer. Jason Collins, who came out last April, remains without an NBA team, and I am incredibly disappointed. While Collins may not have been a superstar, he is a seven-foot player, and seven-foot players aren't easy to come by. It surprises me that absolutely NO team saw potential for him on their roster.

Michael Sam, who came out as a gay athlete this weekend, is a college football player of considerable skill. He was voted SEC Defensive Player of the Year while playing with the Missouri Tigers, and he is definitely expected to be drafted to an NFL team, perhaps as high as the second or third round. In the CBS draft report, which serves as sort of a scouting report list for prospective players, the top prospective draft picks are ranked. Prior to this weekend, Michael Sam was at no. 90, and, overnight after coming out, fell to no. 170. The rankings have since "stabilized" at no. 110, but this drop nevertheless concerns me.

Will Michael Sam get the fair chance that he deserves on NFL Draft Day?

In the past, the question of how professional sports leagues would react to having a gay athlete playing actively on their team was very hypothetical. Even in the hypothetical, the reactions were mixed. There has been a lot of support - hypothetically, of course - from players, both active and former alike, and in all of the sports. Now, though, the question comes up with a very real face and a very real set of circumstances that will reveal the impact, if any, such an announcement would have on an otherwise promising and talented player's prospects.

CBS Sports takes a guarded and ultimately pessimistic viewpoint on the impact, while others take a more optimistic and supportive stance. A number of Sports Illustrated opinion pieces reveal a thoughtful analysis of how the NFL will react, with this one, revealing the progress that gay rights in sports have made in the last several years, as one of my favorites. Most telling, though, may be the immediate support Michael Sam received from the public, including current and former players, as shown by Deadspin.

Once again, I'm hopeful that there will be a team with the courage to reward this talented player's merits without letting his personal life influence their decision. He's a good player who deserves to find a team that appreciates his strength and talents, and I wish him all the best in his future NFL career. As the Bleacher Report puts it ever so eloquently in a piece that highlights the success of Sam's contributions to his college team, "Michael Sam Being Gay Will Only Be a Distraction for Those Who Want It to Be."

I look forward to the day when the question of teammate and league reactions to having a gay athlete in their midst is a thing of the past. I look forward to the day when a player's sexual orientation isn't even a blip on anyone's radar.

Watching closely on Draft Day,

P.S. The second book in my freebie Man-to-Man Coverage series covers the main characters' coming out while active players in the NFL. I hope things go just as smoothly with Michael Sam as he begins his professional football career.

January 31, 2014

Happy new year! (No really, it is a new year...)

Happy Lunar New Year!

Today marks the first day of the year of the horse. So...happy new year! Or, as we say in Chinese, Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Celebrating the new year in my Chinese American family usually involves many traditions, from things you do (or don't do) to foods you eat (or don't eat). We ate a special meal last night to close the old year of the snake, and tomorrow we'll open the new year of the horse with another special meal. The first day of the new year is meant to set the tone for the rest of the year, so today we'll focus on enjoying ourselves, spending time with family, not doing any housework, and having a peaceful and happy day.

Here's a question for you all: Did you set any new year's resolutions this year? If not, why not set a lunar new year resolution? =D

I have this bad habit that I've been trying to kick since I was a teen. It's really gross. No really, it is. I confess: I bite and pick at my nails and cuticles. GROSS, I know. Ugh, I know, it's awful. This nervous habit had been the bane of my existence for over half my life. For the "regular" 2014 new year, I made a resolution to be done with it once and for all. On this day, 31 days later, I can say that I've been successful so far. Yay. YAY! Hoping and crossing my non-gross fingers that I can keep this up.

So in the spirit of new years, rather than kick a bad habit, I'm going to try to develop a good one in this year of the horse. Beginning today, my informal lunar new year resolution is to write for an hour a day with as few interruptions or distractions as possible. That means you, internet! I recognize this goal isn't much for a lot of authors, but with so much on my mind - between Nico's care, my now-active job hunt, and the general time-suck that is the internet - I want to make my goals realistic and achievable. Baby steps, right? So now I've got something to aim for that will hopefully help me get those plot bunnies down on paper. *shameless grin*

Speaking of Nico-kitteh, he begins his radiation therapy on Wednesday. I have high hopes that he will come through this well and be with us for many more years. The recommended treatment is quite aggressive, but I have confidence that he's receiving the best care possible that will give him the best chances possible. That said, your positive and healthy vibes would be much appreciated!

In closing, I wish all of you a happy lunar new year! Here's hoping that the year of the horse will bring us all health, happiness, longevity, and joy. =)

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

January 17, 2014

Difficult Times for the Nicos

This is a hard post for me to write. 2014 hasn't started out well, to say the least. I was sick for the first two weeks, but now I've been hit with something much harder: Nico-kitteh has cancer.

Yes, cancer.

It's hard news to take. As I'm sure you can tell, we're very close; I borrowed this pen name from him, after all. Over the years I did everything right: fed him high quality, grain free foods, took him to regular checkups, and gave him lots of cuddles and lovin'.

And now he has cancer.

In October 2013 we had a tumor mass removed from between his shoulder blades. The mass was around the size of a ping pong ball, and it only took a month or two to grow that big. He came through that surgery well, and he bounced back to his usual adorable and affectionate self. We thought that might have been a fluke - a one time thing, a growth that just appeared and then was removed. I was especially optimistic when the surgeon confirmed that the biopsy showed the margins of the removed tissues were free of cancer cells. That made me think that we got it all.

But no.

When I felt a little lump on his shoulder blade recently, I knew we shouldn't wait like we did the first time to "see if it goes down." So we had him into the vet hospital right away, and they removed the lump two days later.

But now we have to face the very real thing that the lump was not a one-time occurrence. Nico-kitteh has cancer, and given how aggressively these cells reappeared, it's likely not going to disappear on its own, even if the margins are clean again.

I cried. A lot. The ugly, blubbery crying, and it still comes and goes when I think about the situation. To be honest, I'm actually crying a little now while writing this post.

I'm not naive. I know that cats don't live forever. However, I thought that we'd have many more fun-filled, stress-free years with him. Instead, now we're faced with the question of what's best for him in the long run.

We spoke with the medical oncologist before his surgery. Apparently there's a cancer that tends to develop due to injections of vaccinations in the area between the shoulder blades. (Note to pet owners: Have your vaccine shots done on the hind legs or front paws where it's much easier to isolate problems should they arise.) He also spoke to us about treatments to address the fact that the cells didn't go away.

There's radiation therapy that would hopefully give Nico a better chance at ridding himself of the bad stuff. It's tough on cats, though, because they need to be anaesthesized each time they go under radiation. We'd also have to take him to facilities 1.5 hours away to have the treatments done. On top of all that, it's expensive. Like...really expensive. And when you take into account the cost of the surgeries, too, then this awful cancer has taken a toll financially in an amount that most people would probably say is absolutely crazy.

But here's the thing: he's my furbaby. He's my little boy. So I'm at least going to talk to the radiation oncologist to find out what we can do. And then I want to give him a fighting chance at having those many more years together.

And to everyone who says "how can you spend that much on a pet?" then I say shut the hell up. I don't want to hear it. If you're thinking it, then fine. Think it. But if you say anything to me about this in a way that criticizes me for doing what I think is best for me and for my furbaby, then you are not my friend. Period.

It's not your money. It's not your pet. It's not your life.

The way I see it, I don't have any kids. I'm not spending thousands on daycare every month or saving up to send someone to college. I don't have a mortgage. I'm lucky that I don't have any really big responsibilities at this point in my life. Nico is my responsibility. And I want to be responsible for giving him the best care possible so that he has the best chances possible at beating this thing.

Here's something that some people might have deduced about my situation from various posts or that, alternately, some of you might not know. I was a lawyer for many years and managed to save up enough money to take time off. I posted about this decision to take a sabbatical period a while ago, and I'm sure you've seen other posts where I've traveled and done some really awesome and fun stuff along the way. Even after over a year of time off, I still have plenty of those savings left. And after whatever this radiation therapy costs and whatever cancer will suck out of those funds, I'll still have more than enough as a nest egg.

So please don't judge. I know what's best for myself and for my boy-boy. Let me do what I want to do; it's not your decision to make.

That's what's happening with me. Big decisions. Big (and unsettling) news. And big hopes for a long, cancer-free future with my little Nico-kitteh. It's not often we can make decisions from our hearts and have the ability to support them. In this case, I'm doing what my heart says is the right thing to do, and that's to try to provide him with the best care possible. He'll have a chance, and hopefully he will beat cancer.

Your positive thoughts and vibes would be much appreciated as we go into this fight.

NJ and Nico-kitteh

January 11, 2014

Random Post to Start 2014: Saving Water is Sehr Importante!

Yes, I'm mixing my languages, but maybe it's actually a meta message because water conservation is a global concern. See what I just did there? :D

Here's a tangentially relevant picture from my trip to visit Niagara Falls last year. It has water in it, at least, okay?

Anyway, there's a real threat of drought here in California, which comes as a surprise to me after having spent years not living in the Golden State and in places that instead yielded feet of snow and wet weather. However, that is, indeed, the case. The Bay Area hasn't had rainfall in forever, and the reservoirs are in a dire state.

I thought I'd share a few tips because, like Aidan in BTW I Love You, I'm a bleeding heart environmental do-gooder like that. :) Now I just need my own Jake to give me mushy presents, and I'll be all good.

  • Easy-peasy Tip #1 - Turn off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth. It's super easy to do and can save lots of water. I mean, why is it on, anyway? It's not like you need a security blanket-noise of water running while you're keeping your chompers pearly-white, right?
  • Easy-peasy Tip #2 - If you have extra water lying around the house, don't just toss it out in the sink and let it go down the drain. Water the houseplants with it! As long as you have some hardy and healthy houseplants (and let's be honest, don't we all? Not all of us are born with green thumbs...), then give the water to the hardy houseplants and they'll say thank you by staying that way - that is, by staying hardy and healthy. Here are some ideas for water that might be wasted otherwise: (a) the used water when you change your pet's water bowl or (b) the used up ice when you empty your cooler.
  • Easy-peasy Tip #3 - Don't wash your hair every day. Bathing is awesome. Yes, I'm a big fan of bathing. Just try prying that Turkish hammam kese exfoliator out of my hands or taking away my aromatherapy shower gel. So yes, bathing, I repeat, is awesome. However, most of us don't need to wash our hair every day. Most of us probably shouldn't wash our hair every day. It strips oils and can dry out your hair. So give it a shot and see if you can handle second (or third!) day hair. I'm guessing your hair just might look even awesomer than on the first day of washing it. And water-saving bonus! You just cut your shower time in half. Awesome!
Hope these tips are easy-peasy for you all to incorporate into your lives. Not only will you save water, but you'll be saving sehr viel dinero, too! ;)

Toting her reusable bag everywhere,