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December 19, 2013

Holiday Stuffs with DS news, D/s news, and Christmas cuddles!

Oh, what a week it has been! =D
Huge thanks to everyone for the wonderful experience I've had with the Different Strokes release. I love the positive vibes, and being surrounded by upbeat people means that what could have been a really stressful week has instead been a fun and awesome one. *squishy hugs for everyone* Some of the reviews have really astonished me, and I'm so grateful for you all!


Congratulations to Shirra, who won the Different Strokes ebook giveaway! Thank you to everyone who stopped by for release day. If you'd like another chance at winning, Chris over at the blog Stumbling Over Chaos is hosting another giveaway of Different Strokes, so pop on by at this link and enter to win.


How's the holiday season treating everyone? I swear it snuck up on me and suddenly it's a week from Christmas. Whoa! To make up for lost time, I crocheted four scarves yesterday, and I'm also trying to get my fill of holiday stories between crocheting and eating lots of yummy holiday goodies. I managed to write a quickie post for Penny in which I highlighted some m/m holiday recs, so check it out here if you want to see me explode in candy canes all over holiday books.


Also, I have a little bit of news about another story. A couple of months ago I wrote a short story for an anthology submissions call. I finished Sex and Candy really early, and the beta readers loved it, which had me really stoked. The story kept tapping me on the shoulder while I waited for the call's due date to get a little closer. Finally, I asked the boys "what??? o_O" And the short story told me it didn't want to have siblings in an anthology; it was a needy only child. So I hemmed and I hawed and finally I thought "well, let's see what options I have, then," knowing full well that many publishing houses had minimum length requirements for their submissions.

Long story short (heh heh – short!), Sex and Candy found a home at JMS Books. Yaaaaaay! I'm SUPER excited that Lee and his Sir will have their opportunity for their own spotlight. They are needy and exhibitionist little (big) boys like that. *winks* Sex and Candy explores a D/s vibe and is smutty yet oh-so-sweet.  It's scheduled for a March 2014 release date. I hope you like it!



Finally, unless some crazy brain spaz happens in the next few days, I won't have a holiday story this year. However, if you haven't had a chance to check out my freebie A Man-to-Man Christmas, you can download the PDF on the Goodreads page here.  It's part of the Man-to-Man Coverage series, but it would work as a standalone, too. It's a sweet and super flufftastic short story with no sexytimes on the page (but lots of cheesy holiday cheer instead). =D

Happy holidays to everyone, and may your stockings be filled to overflowing with love, cheer, and good reads!

♥,
NJ

December 11, 2013

Release Day for Different Strokes, Giveaway Info & Some More Crafty Quickies!

Today is release day for Different Strokes. Woop woop! *tosses confetti* Of course that means one last cartoon from my lovely artist friend Natasha Snow:


And, yes, I freaking am IN LOVE with Darren's little face here. __ If you wanna find out what's in the little box, check it out in Different Strokes! To celebrate release day, I'm doing a giveaway of an ebook copy to one lucky commenter! A US winner will also get a little swag pack from yours truly. ;)

If you're looking for some gift ideas of your own, here are a few DIY quickie craft projects that I'd recommend. I'm a super amateur crafter, but I found these doable!

***
1.  Rice Heat Packs


This project is the classy and fancy-looking alternative to the rice heat packs I posted this weekend. If you're interested in seeing the Winging It Rice Heat Packs version that I actually made last month, check out Sunday's crafty post.

2.  Puff Stitch Crochet Hat


I'm obsessed with this hat! I'm pretty basic with my crochet, and I found this one to be super easy to follow. The results are pretty awesome, too, and I've received tons of compliments on them already. Yes, them. I've made at least four at this point. *shameless grin* There's also a really helpful video tutorial to accompany the instructions.

3.  Unicorn Horn Headband


This unicorn horn headband is super cute and fun! Even though it's labeled as a Halloween tutorial, it'd be great for kiddos who love to play dress up. I know a certain *coughs* big kiddo who definitely enjoyed making and wearing it! Just grab some crafty materials from Jo-Ann and about an hour later, you have the beginnings of a really lovely and unique Fantasyland costume for you or the favorite kiddo in your life. :)

***

Hope everyone's having a fabulous holiday season! If you have any other crafty projects to recommend, definitely let me know. :D



GIVEAWAY INFO! One commenter will win an ebook copy of Different Strokes, and, if within the US, I'll also send a swag pack via snail mail. :D Just leave a comment below with some means of contacting you on the web (e.g., email, Goodreads profile, Twitter handle, etc.). The winner will be chosen by a highly scientific metaphorical "names in a hat" method using an Internet randomizer. ;) Contest closes at 11PM (Pacific time) on December 15th!

Live long, craft prosperously, and happy reading!
NJ




December 8, 2013

Brrrrr! Quickie craft project from yours truly!

With this winter (Wait, what? It's still technically autumn??) cold snap gripping the country in its icy clasp, any type of heat pack seems like a pretty darn good idea. Since completing this little project last month, I've seen a few DIY tutorials out there, but I actually made mine by winging it, which turned out just fine. :) I use my heat pack in bed when my toes are almost always icicles, and it has made a huge difference!


Winging It Rice Heat Packs by Nico Jaye


Here are the step-by-step winging it instructions! They might look lengthy, but that's just because I know I like things explained out to me when I do crafty stuff. I figured you guys might like that, too. :)
  • Step 1: Towel-Covered Rice Pack
    • Sewing
      • Using a tight seam, sew two 100% cotton square washcloths together on the edges (if there's a right vs. wrong side, then sew with wrong side facing out). I did this by hand, but now that I have a sewing machine (YAY!), I'd say maybe use a zig zag stitch or something? *shrugs* :) IMPORTANT: Sew three sides completely and then leave an opening on the fourth side that's about 3-4 inches long to insert the rice.
      • Flip towels so that the right side is facing outwards. Sew the two towels together using a seam down the center. The seam shouldn't start at the edge of the towels. Instead, the seam should bisect the center of the towel and be about 60% of the length. I left about 1-1.5 inches from between the edges of the towels and the start and end of my seam. This seam is to ensure even distribution and movement of the rice.
    • Rice: Fill towel pack with uncooked rice (hrmmm, don't use instant rice, either) until it has a pretty good layer when lying flat. If you're gonna lie it down to test layer thickness, definitely remember to hold the opening closed! I think I ended up using about 2 cups. Pin the opening together and sew the rice pack closed.
  • Step 2: Pillowcases
    • Because I don't enjoy the idea of smushy rice, I realized it'd be pretty darn impossible to wash my towel pack. Thus, I decided to make pillowcases to ensure it'd stay clean. I used cotton flannel for my pillowcases, which are nice and soft against my feet, and I also designed them so that I wouldn't need to use buttons or zippers to keep them shut. :) Bonus: The flannels were on sale at Jo-Ann -- SCORE!
    • Cutting: Cut one piece of fabric in the size 28 inches x 13 inches. On the two short edges (the 13 inch sides), sew a little of the edge under so that there isn't a raw edge.
    • Folding:  I tried to make a little picture thing to illustrate this step! :D 
      • Place the piece of fabric so that it's lying flat and horizontally in front of you (right side facing up, wrong side facing down). NOTE: This is how the fabric will be oriented for all of the folding, so there's no need to flip the entire thing over or rotate it at any point.
      • (1) Fold a little flap of ~4 or 5 inches on the righthand side over until the long side of your fabric is only ~23 inches. Now you'll have a little flap with the wrong side facing up.
      • (2) Fold the lefthand side of the fabric over until you have folded the fabric in half, leaving the side closest to you ~11.5 inches. The folded fabric should now be ~11.5 inches x 13 inches, and the fabric side should all be wrong side facing out.
    • Sewing: Sew the two sides that are ~11.5 inches long shut. To reinforce the seams, I sewed a couple of times over the connector point where the little flap was on the inside of the folds. Now flip the whole thing right side out, and you should have a pillowcase with a little foldover flap. Tada! I made three pillowcases so that I could rotate them around when in the wash.
  • Step 3: Stay warm!
    • Pop the rice pack minus the pillowcase into the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes to heat it up. Watch out when handling it straight out of the microwave because it'll be pretty hot.
    • Tuck the rice pack into the pillowcase and enjoy!
I hope this little creation helps keep at least some of you warm this season--just as toasty-comfortable as all of the great holiday stories out there! :)

Hope you all are staying warm and that you have plenty of warm and fuzzy fiction to keep you cozy this season!

Curling up with her heat pack and holiday stories,
NJ

P.S. I actually have another warm-and-fuzzy cartoon that my awesome friend Natasha provided to give y'all a taste of the flufftastic scenes in store for you with Different Strokes. Check out this cutie right here:


Heee! Poor boy. *squishes him*


December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving roundup with cartoons, movies, and social media, oh my!

Okay, so this post may be a week after Thanksgiving, but better late than never, right? :D Hopefully the stuff I have to report is cool enough to make it worthwhile!

1) Less than one week until Different Strokes is released! *quivers in excitement and anticipation* Of course that means...another cartoon teaser from my lovely and talented friend Natasha! Here's a little scene you can be on the lookout for in the story:


What's going on here, anyway??? Wellllll, you can check out Different Strokes (now available for preorder) when it releases on December 11th to find out! :D

2) Thanksgiving was pretty awesome. I might have gained five pounds in the last week, but regardless, it was SO. WORTH. IT. Between my aunt's famous turkey and sweet sticky rice (yay, being Asian American!) to my other aunt's famous cornbread to my uncle's prime rib to my OTHER uncle's homemade cranberry sauce, everything was just so. dang. good. I was giddy with food elation.

Over the holiday weekend, I was lucky enough to catch not one, but TWO awesome animated movies. If you couldn't tell from the Different Strokes cartoon cuties I've been posting, I kinda-sorta really love animated stuff. :) Well, Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph were right up my alley. I did a quickie write up of the films over on Penny Romance Reviews, but suffice to say that they were GREAT.

Also, last week I discovered (and binge-watched!) a web series called It Could Be Worse. It is pretty much the most amazing thing to happen to my computer since I figured out how to Print Screen. j/k But really, it's SO good and totally worth a try. If you're a fan of the Husbands web series, then you'll love ICBW.

3) Lastly, but certainly not leastly ;), I finally landed on Facebook! Yup, this one definitely falls into my "better late than never, right?" category because, um, it only took me about a year and a half to set it up. Oops? *sheepish grin* You can find me at my brand spankin' new Nico Jaye Facebook page! Feel free to gimme a shout with any ideas - awesome or otherwise! - of the kinds of doodads I could share on there. :)

Anyway, that's the scoop with me. What's new with you?

Salutations and squishies,
NJ




November 27, 2013

Different Strokes: Introducing Tomas and Darren!

Different Strokes comes out in exactly two weeks. Woohoo! I am super duper excited about that, and particularly excited about the boys! Here's a little introduction to the characters, as gorgeously illustrated by the talented and beautiful Natasha Snow:


So what do you get when you put those two together?


If you like fluff and want to hang out with a grumpy Olympian who meets his match in a cute and sweet massage therapist, then keep an eye out for more of Tomas and Darren. :D

I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving weekend! I'm thankful for the awesome friends I've made throughout this fun and crazy Different Strokes journey.

Different Strokes is available for preorder right now at a 15% discount on the Less Than Three Press website!



November 25, 2013

Cartoon teaser for "Different Strokes"

Do you like cartoons? Because I like cartoons! =D From Gummi Bears to Inspector Gadget to Snorks to X-Men, I grew up with cartoons and still haven't let them go. *coughs The Incredibles coughs*  Sooooooo...here's a quick cartoon teaser for Different Strokes for you all!


Amazing, right? *dreamy sigh* I love those little cuties, and they're now cartoon cuties thanks to the awesome talents of Miss Natasha Snow!

Check back later this week for an official introduction to Tomas and Darren! =) Different Strokes is now available for preorder at a 15% discount on the Less Than Three Press site.

November 20, 2013

I'm reviewing for Penelope's Romance Reviews!

Hi all! Just a quickie - update, that is. ;) Recently Penny Watson approached me to do m/m reviews for her site, Penelope's Romance Reviews.  Penny writes quirky and beardy (hehe!) m/f contemporaries, and her blog features a bunch of cool stuff in addition to reviews, too.

I'm really honored to be included in Penny's crew, and it should be a lot of fun. =) I just wrote my first review for her, so check out my thoughts on Amy Lane's The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters here.

On a related note, I feel a teeeeensy bit of pressure picking m/m books to review for a crowd that might not necessarily read m/m frequently or even at all. I want to pick something that won't be too graphic or outrageous (so, yeah, no tentacle sex...yet?), but also something that represents m/m romance well. I generally read sweeter, non-angsty stuff, so it'd have to fit into my overall reading preferences, too.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment! =)

Cheers,
NJ

November 16, 2013

Pet Adoption Saves Lives


I recently came across this comic strip, and it really hit home for me. A little over seven years ago, I adopted Nico-kitteh from a rescue organization that pulls pets from NYC-area animal shelters. There were a lot of pets in the foster home, and they could all stand to win a little in the lottery of life. Nico has brought me so much happiness and joy, and I can't imagine my life without him in it. As we come into the holiday season, please be responsible in making the decision to bring a pet into your home.

Pets are a lifelong commitment, so before you spring one on someone as a surprise gift, please consider why pets make bad gifts. However, if you've carefully considered everything that goes into welcoming a pet into your life, then please consider rescuing a shelter pet. You'll save a life, and that just feels good. =)

Here's a treasure trove of tumblr goodies about shelter adoption. They made me smile, and I hope they bring a smile to your day, too.








October 30, 2013

"Different Strokes" Cover & Other Miscellany

Things have been really hectic around here because Nico-kitteh had surgery to remove a fast-growing tumor last week. (yikes) Yeah. (yikes) Thankfully, I received confirmation from the surgeon this week that the biopsy results reveal he removed all of it. So yay! I'm closely monitoring the incision site now and we have follow-ups, but otherwise the little boy is in good spirits.

The thing is, while I was busy focusing on the furbaby, the book page for Different Strokes went live on Less Than Three Press's website.  You can now find the story here and add it to Goodreads or BookLikes. Yay! So here's the beautiful and gorgeous cover that talented graphic designer Aisha Akeju created:

Available December 11th!
Isn't it fan-damn-tastic?? =D

I'll post more later when additional release information is available, but in the meanwhile, here's the blurb: 
When his regular masseuse is called away on a family emergency, Tomas does not expect Darren, her temporary replacement, to be such an attractive distraction. Tomas has always been a serious, no-nonsense type of swimmer; after all, elite competition leaves no room for unprofessional conduct. However, he finds it extremely difficult to stay on the right side of the professional line with Darren tending to his needs. 
The story is super-fluff, so get your sweet tooth ready. ;) Different Strokes comes out December 11th. (yay!)

Hugs and HEAs,
NJ


October 15, 2013

My Neighbor is a Billionaire, or "Are there really as many billionaires out there as popular romance would suggest?"

Just a quick post to fact check the proliferation of billionaires in romance. If you've been anywhere near a bookstore, Amazon, or other book or ebook retailer in the last ten years, you'll have noticed that the heroes in books, and the titles of Harlequin romances, are trending towards the ten figure income.

To which I say: whut.

Yes, yes, I am oh so eloquent.

According to Forbes, there are 1,426 billionaires in the world in 2013. According to the World Population Clock, there are 7.18 billion people in the world and counting.

What does that mean? Well, that means you have a 1 in 5,000,000 chance of running into a billionaire, let alone running into one, striking up a conversation, falling for his sparkling green eyes and dimpled smile, and having him sweep you off your feet. That's also not even taking into account that a fair number of those billionaires are either married, older than the average romance novel hero, and/or not possessing of the aforementioned sparkling green eyes and dimpled smile.

Sorry for being the bearer of bad news, but Forbes also tells us that there are only 29 billionaires in the world under the age of 40. To be honest, my middle school science class was larger than that.

It's at this point that I confess that I have a soft spot for those Harlequin romances. I cut my romance-reading teeth on them back in high school, after all. =) I'm not knocking them, and I actually enjoy them quite a bit still. I understand the value of a good ol' fashioned fairy tale-like romance just as much as the next romance novel reader.

HOWEVER.

What this post is really getting at is a sort of wishlist plea for more real guys in those romance novels. The trend towards everyone's-a-billionaire is getting out of hand, and we need more real guys who aren't bazillionaires with their own private jets and islands. More guys who are small business owners, veterinarians, chefs, paralegals, teachers, nannies, and computer programmers. Let's even throw in an electrician and a nurse or two.

I'm not saying that Romancelandia has to be filled with stories where every hero out there has to be a plumber, but hey...wouldn't it be cool if more of them were?

Lost in Romancelandia,
NJ



October 2, 2013

One Year Later (an introspective post)

Today is the one year anniversary of VU Day, also known as my (voluntary) unemployment. A year ago I left a very cushy job at a huge corporation to take some time off and do, well, whatever crossed my path and piqued my interest. After six years of long days and nights in the office as I busily climbed the corporate ladder, I wanted to take time to stop and smell the roses.


I explored New York. I did some things. I wrote some stuff. I went some places. All of which were completely and utterly awesome experiences.

And after seven years in NYC, I drove cross country and made my way back home to San Francisco.

Except what I found when I got here was that it didn't really feel much like home now. Outside of a summer spent back here in college and various trips home for holidays, I hadn't lived here since finishing high school, and man, things were different.

I didn't know people. I didn't know places. And let me tell you - it was hard.

It's still hard.

I think at the center of it was just not knowing my place in this new world. My family (whom I love) is here, but I had next to no friends in this area. So, for social purposes, it was like moving to a foreign country where I happened to speak the language.

And, now that I think about it, that's freaking scary.


I took this photo in Istanbul this past April on one of my trips. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it's actually part of a larger street art campaign by the artist Curtis Kulig. What drew me in was its simplicity and the honesty behind the message because, really, isn't that really what all of us want: to find someone to love us?

But I think first, before you can expect anyone else to love you (or, in my case, care about becoming friends and socializing), you have to love yourself. I'd been so used to my social circle in NYC - where I knew people; I had people - that not having those people around me or things to do really took me by surprise. To be completely frank, I felt pretty lost for quite some time.

So then...how did I find my way?

After tackling a span of self-doubt (did I make the right choice to move back? why did I leave all of that behind?), I got back to doing things that I enjoyed without regard for who was doing it with me or why I wanted to do it. I regained self-confidence that I'm a pretty damn awesome person (and, even if I still felt crappy sometimes, fake it til you make it, right?). How? I stopped caring what would happen to me here in this new city...and sought out stuff I just enjoyed, period.

I've always been pretty comfortable alone, but coming to a new city and being truly, actually alone threw me for a loop. It made me question myself, and while self-exploration is usually a good thing in the end, it's a difficult thing when you're in the midst of it. So I basically relearned how to get comfortable with myself and spending time with me.

And it has helped. It really has. I enrolled at the junior college to explore some other areas of interest. I spruced up my resume and have been discussing possible career options with one of the instructors. I joined some Meetup groups for stuff I love doing *coughs* karaoke *coughs*. =) I reached out to some people and things are just...better now. After a couple of months of a word drought, I even started writing again, which is a bit of a relief.

Anyway, this post is pretty emo for me, but I wanted to explain my absence and show my appreciation for all of you guys who have stuck around during my marked dearth of posting in the last couple of months. I've been gathering my bearings, as you can see, and just trying to figure things out.

The takeaway, then?

Change is change. It's scary, even when you're the one to introduce it into your life. But have confidence in yourself and things will almost always pan out. And, until then, fake it til you make it because, chances are, nobody else can tell the difference...even, eventually, including you.

NJ


August 20, 2013

Guest Post: AC Valentine on "How to Date Your Husband"

Today's guest is author AC Valentine, whose story, "How to Date Your Husband," is included in the Cuddling anthology from Dreamspinner Press. Cuddling includes stories that focus on established couples. You can order your copy here!


I loved AC's story and thought it was hot-hot-hot. The guys were so sweet, and their love for each other really leaped off the page. Here's a quick blurb for "How to Date Your Husband," and later on AC answers some questions about herself, her story, and writerly things in general.

Blurb for "Hot to Date Your Husband" by AC Valentine: 
Ryan and Mike are stuck in a rut but still in love after more than ten years together. When Mike finds an article offering love-life tips in an old magazine, he suggests trying them as a way to add some spice back to their lives. Ryan thinks Mike is crazy, but he’s willing to do anything to make Mike happy, even if it means dating his own husband.
"Awwwww," right? I was really excited to read this story, and it definitely lived up to expectations. It was clever, sweet, and totally hot. 

Now, let's hear some more from AC!

Q:  What interesting thing would readers be surprised to find out about the guys in your story?
It’s not about the guys, but I think readers would be surprised to find out that Puppetry of the Penis was and still is, a real show put on by two guys from Australia. It was on off-Broadway in NYC for two years starting right around September 11th.  I went with my new husband. It was quite the theatrical experience.
Q:  What interesting thing would readers be surprised to find out about you?
I was once offered 50 sheep for my hand in marriage. My godmother, who worked for the UN said that she’d been offered camels and camels were worth more. My sister who was a junior in high school was only offered 40. So when people came to my college and asked ‘What is a Wellesley education worth?’ I would always tell them ten extra sheep.
Q: Do you have a favorite "happily ever after" story?
Nope. It’s why I keep writing them. I don’t write ‘Happy For Now’ stories. If I write a story you can bet those two people ride off into the sunset. I think I feel thwarted by all the television ships that blow up in my face (I’m the biggest fangirl), so I keep writing happily ever after stories. I’d write fanfic if I could but I can’t write in someone else’s voice.
Q: How long have you been writing and what inspired you to start?
It’s funny, I’ve been writing bits and pieces of things for years. I’d start and get discouraged because back when I started writing m/m, the market didn’t really exist yet. In my writing group, I had a bunch of friends in publishing who thought my writing was good but didn’t think there was a market. I knew it was out there though. LiveJournal was full of original slash, and I remember when Torquere Press opened. I think they were one of the first e-book m/m presses. I remember ordering a book from them, but it was just such a pain to read full length books on a computer back then. I laugh now because I’d be reading novel length fanfiction on the desk top, and there really wasn’t any difference.  I got away from m/m for a long time, until I happened to be stuck in bed about two years ago after going through some medical issues and I don’t even know how it happened but I found some m/m ebooks and kept reading them. A year later I figured I better start writing to support my habit, set a goal to have a short story published by the end of the year, and wrote one and submitted it. I got very, very lucky because Dreamspinner agreed to publish it in their ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ anthology. I didn’t even have to deal with a rejection letter. Rejection is such a large part of a writer’s life and I’m dreading it. When you write, the characters are your babies, so it’s like they are rejecting your children.
Q: What books or authors inspire your own work?
Well I write in a couple of different genres. In the m/m genre, some of the people who have been pretty influential or inspiring are Amy Lane, Mary Calmes and Cardeno C. There are bits and pieces of their styles that have influenced me.  I wish I could write angst like Amy Lane. I love some of Mary Calmes’s plotting- her plots are off the wall, and Cardeno C just has that awww factor. I love reading people like Damon Suede and T.J. Klune as well. T.J. Klune writes killer dialogue. I’m either rolling on the floor with laughter or with tears. I wish I was that evocative. Also, Suede’s Hot Head had some of the hottest, sweetest sex scenes I’ve ever read. 
Q: Do you prefer to write short stories or novels?
Short stories are great, because you get quicker gratification. I’ve got a couple of novellas and novels in the early stages, but once you get into the longer material you have to worry about getting agents and writing query letters. Short stories are also a great way to break into writing because in the m/m world particularly you get a prompt, write to it, submit and hopefully get it published. Then you have writing credits to put on those pesky query letters to agents.
Q: What are you writing now or what upcoming releases do you have scheduled?
I’m in the middle of writing a steampunk novella that was just supposed to be a short story, but the characters and plot got away from me. Each story I write gets progressively harder to write and the plots get longer and more complicated. I’m also writing a YA novel which has a m/m subplot. I’ll also be writing and submitting short stories as I have time, because I love writing to prompts. Giving me a theme is the best way to get a story out of me.
Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both. I usually start with a general plot. I also know the general ending when I start out and I have a couple of beats I want to hit on the way to the end. However, my characters tend to do whatever the hell they want and I generally just let them. I do go back and try to make sure that the characterization is consistent and that there are several threads binding the story together. How to Date Your Husband is a great example of that because initially there were supposed to be ten dates. Ha! Never going to happen in a short story. I would have loved to have a throwaway date though. “They agreed to never, ever discuss date number six. They just decided to buy a new couch and forget the whole thing.”
Q: Cuddling is an anthology that features stories all about established couples. What can couples do to keep the flames burning in their established relationships?
I’m not answering this one. My husband would kill me!!!
***
AC Valentine is a New Yorker who recently traded her quiet bohemian life in the Village for the wild metropolis of Vermont. She dragged with her a tattooed corporate husband, a small child, a neurotic dog, and several libraries worth of books. She can't clean or cook but can throw a mean party. She can always be found bemoaning the lack of a day job while happily reading or writing m/m fiction or fiddling around with some craft project to add to the pile that is threatening to take over the dining room. The newest craft project is a bouncing baby boy who believes all the other craft projects are edible. AC believes in true love, marriage equality, and happily-ever-afters. She'll continue to write about them until someone pulls her laptop away from he cold dead hands or the sheer volume of baby drool shorts out the computer.

She would love to hear from readers and can be contacted by email at acvalentineauthor@gmail.com, on Twitter @valentinewrites, or via Tumblr at http://villagechick.tumblr.com

***

Thanks for stopping by, AC!

You can pick up your copy of Cuddling today at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or All Romance eBooks. Happy reading!


August 12, 2013

Release Day for "Cuddling" is...TODAY!

Welcome to release day for the Cuddling anthology! Yayzerbeams! *tosses confetti*


Cuddling is now available here in multiple formats through the Dreamspinner Press site. Woop woop!

The anthology, edited by Anne Regan, includes the following stories:

At First Sound by G.S. Wiley
Change of Heart by Rhidian Brenig Jones
Cupcakes for Two by K. Lynn
Dream Lover by Nico Jaye
Happy Holidays by Anna Butler
Home on the Range by Anna Martin
How to Date Your Husband by AC Valentine
Like an Old Sweater by Elizabella Gold
Looking Back by Rob Rosen
Quarter Moon Over a Ten Cent Town by Stephen Osborne
Reboot by S. H. Allan
Remember When by River Claire
The Cat's Out of the Bag by Rowan McAllister
The Making of a Family by Caitlin Ricci
The Responsible One by Eva Clancy
The Thing I Love Best About Mitch by Dawn Douglas

My story focuses on Chris and Brady, whose relationship seems to have taken a backseat to Brady's ridiculous work schedule. How, pray tell
, do they manage to get back on track? Well, a weekend getaway and a lil sexytimes never hurt! :)

I thought I'd add a lil excerpt for my story so that you guys know what you're um...getting yourselves into here. :) If you missed it, I posted the blurb here a while back, and the general blurb for the anthology is here on Dreamspinner Press's website.  It's an established couples anthology, so you'll find a bunch of different themes here - the seven year itch, difficult work situations, growing apart, etc. Hopefully you'll find something fun that tickles your fancy.

***

EXCERPT from Dream Lover by Nico Jaye:

A smile played on Chris’s lips as he checked his reflection in the gilt-framed mirror. He had slicked back his hair, and his hazel eyes finally—finally—looked wide-awake. He pulled on one of the thick white robes before he brushed his teeth and shaved.
When Brady had come out of his shower, he’d mentioned checking the times for vineyard tours nearby. A wicked smile spread across Chris’s face as he reached for his shaving kit.
Even though he was excited to explore the area, Chris was pretty sure the vineyards could wait.
A few minutes later, Chris slid open the bathroom’s dark wood panel and padded barefoot toward the open balcony doors. He paused in the doorway to admire the view. Brady sat in one of the chairs in dark jeans and a gray polo, and his caramel-brown loafers matched the woven belt that was looped around his waist. Brady looked up and set aside his BlackBerry.
Brady’s smile was teasing as he caught sight of Chris’s robe. He lifted his brows. “I thought we were heading out. Going back to bed, Sleeping Beauty?”
Chris darted a glance around before focusing on Brady. Chris’s lids dropped to half-mast. “Maybe,” he murmured. “But not to sleep.” His words trailed off as he let his robe fall open.

Chris watched Brady closely. Brady’s eyes went wide, and Chris could pinpoint the exact moment Brady saw it.

***

Hrmmmm! This raises the all-important question: what exactly did Brady see beneath Chris's robe? *wiggles eyebrows* Well, you can find out in Dreamspinner Press's Cuddling anthology! Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf here, too.

Hope you like it, and happy reading!

Doing the release day wiggle,
NJ


August 5, 2013

E-courtship & Online Romances

One of the things mentioned in a number of the BTW I Love You reviews is that readers knew of couples who met online or that they themselves had met their partners through the Internet. As many of you may know, the story centers around a long distance relationship that slowly develops when two college aged guys meet online. What's awesome is that there actually may be research out there supporting the strength of online romance.


I'm admittedly kind of a geek. Yup. That's right.  So when my alumni magazine came in the mail, instead of recycling it or beelining straight to the "what are my classmates doing?" sections, I actually read those sections on research and published academia articles. *points at self* See? Geek. :)

Imagine my surprise when I came across an article buried among the technical science papers that described research done by a psychologist on online romance. According to a recent article published by University of Chicago psychology professor John Cacioppo in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, more than one-third of marriages in America now begin online, and those online marriages were both slightly more likely to rank higher in marriage satisfaction and slightly less likely to break up.

Sure, it's "slightly," but it's still statistically significant. I just thought it was pretty nifty that academia came forward with actual findings of a scientific foundation for what many of us have already discovered: "online dating may offer a larger pool of prospective partners, greater selectivity, and more advance screening." ("Citations" by Jason Kelly and Lydiolyle Gibson in The University of Chicago Magazine)

Like I said. Welcome to Geekville, population me. :)

Live long and prosper,
NJ

July 30, 2013

Giving It Away for Free

Or, where I ask for HAAAAALP from you all. :D

Soooo, I've added BTW I Love You to Amazon and Smashwords. This is just a super quickie post to ask that you guys help me get the Amazon one price-matched to perma-free.

The Smashwords edition is already free, but because you need a minimum price on Amazon, the Amazon edition is currently 99 cents. Please help me ask Amazon to make BTW I Love You a freebie, too! Note that, in the interim, I plan on donating any proceeds from the Amazon sales to the Human Rights Campaign.

BTW I Love You on Amazon
BTW I Love You on Smashwords

To request the price match, go to the Amazon page, then under Product Details click on "tell us about a lower price." Once the window appears, enter the Smashwords link - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/342531 - and indicate that the price is zero.

Thank you so much for the helping hand, folks!



Oh oh! And don't forget to check out Dreamspinner Press's Cuddling anthology when it comes out August 12th! :) You can even pre-order it here.

Wheeeeeee! Hooray - BTW is  freeeeee! <3
NJ

July 22, 2013

"Cuddling" Cover - a.k.a. Cuddle Me, Baby, One More Time

Here's the cover for the Cuddling anthology, which will include a story from yours truly! *flails* The Dreamspinner Press collection comes out on August 12th and will feature short stories all about established couples.


Isn't the cover lovely? I think it does a great job of conveying a certain kind of familiarity and tenderness that comes from an established and loving relationship.

You can check out the official blurb for Cuddling, look over the listing of stories, and, if you are so inclined, pre-order the collection on the Dreamspinner Press website page here. :) I've also included the blurb for my story, Dream Lover, below:
"Dream Lover" by Nico Jaye:  Although Brady's job as a top attorney is demanding, Chris has learned to cope with the strains of Brady's schedule over the years.  Even when Brady misses his own birthday surprise, Chris is resigned--it's not the first time he's come in second to Brady's job, after all.  However, when Brady comes home with a surprise of his own, a weekend getaway just may introduce something new to their relationship that Chris never even dreamed was in the cards.

I'll be posting more about the anthology over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled!

Also, sorry about the long delays in updating. After getting back to SF, things have been kind of all over the place. I'll post more on that later, but long story short: I'm still trying to figure out my life. I guess we never stop trying to figure it out, eh? But again...that's also a subject for another post. :)

Hope you guys enjoy the story, and keep an eye out for more info on other stories within the collection.

Cheers,
NJ

July 1, 2013

SF Pride 2013 & Summer Miscellany

Hello, everyone! Here's an update post to let y'all know that I have officially arrived in San Francisco (in one piece! without any (major) incidents on the road! ...more on this later...). Yesterday I attended the SF Pride festivities, and they were awesome.


The mood was definitely celebratory what with the Supreme Court's rulings earlier in the week. I saw at least eight completely nekkid dudes (without even looking for 'em), a pair of boobs, a bajillion cute boys in Speedos and undies, fantastic costumes and tutus, and, all in all, it made me so glad to be home. San Francisco truly is a place where it's a-okay to let your freak flag fly. :) And I embrace that freedom!



It's been a hectic week or so since I arrived in SF, so unfortunately I haven't had a chance to read the SCOTUS opinions in the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases. However, I will say that, based on the coverage, I'd be curious to hear the SCOTUS arguments and opinions on the Prop. 8 case if they had ruled on the merits (and not a procedural element). Serious stuff aside, though, it was still a success, and the fact that the Court refused to stay the marriages again is hopefully a sign that the tenor of the Court is perhaps more in tune with my feelings than I had thought.

Separately, I hope you all are having a fantastic summer!

My summer started out awesomely with my little cross-country adventure. In case you missed it, I moved from New York back to my hometown of San Francisco, and I drove cross-country in June. The (minor) mishap I mentioned earlier occurred in the beautiful state of Utah. After making it through Chicago, Iowa, Mount Rushmore, and the Rocky Mountains without incident, my brother and I were in Moab, Utah, to visit Arches National Park (totally totally awesome - sooo recommended!). I kind of sort of left the gas cap on the roof of the car. And um...I didn't remember it was there until I saw it bouncing off the back as I watched it get run over by a giant truck through the rearview mirror.

*facepalm*

Yup. Awesome. Luckily, there was an auto parts store that (a) was open on a Saturday and (b) had a replacement gas cap for a 1994 Volvo (loaner car - worked out beautifully!). Otherwise, the trip was really cool, and I saw some amazing things in this great land of ours. From the top down, here's Arches National Park in Utah, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (moose sighting!), and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.


In WIP news, I haven't really been working on my workplace WIP (with my lovely boys R and Q....and their hate sex on the printer machine, heh heh).  Life's just been a little too hectic, and I can't seem to focus on them. However, I do have a story coming out soon! Keep your eyes peeled for "Dream Lover" in Dreamspinner Press's August Cuddling anthology.

Also, thank you to everyone for the kind words on my latest story, the freebie BTW I Love You (available to download here). I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it - I had a lot of fun with Aidan and Jake.

I hope you all enjoy your summer! I'll be spending mine getting reacquainted with the City by the Bay, including trips to museums (already went to the Academy of Sciences last week - very nifty!), a New Kids on the Block concert next week, volunteer work, and fun local things like SF Pride that really make this city the unique place that it is. And if you're in the SF Bay Area, drop me a line - I love connecting with new people! :)

Hugs,
NJ




June 11, 2013

Free Ebook Download of "BTW I Love You"

My latest freebie m/m romance, BTW I Love You, is now available as a free ebook download (yay!). So if you'd like a copy of the story or would rather read it on an ereader rather than on the computer screen, check out the download links here: M/M Romance Group Website - BTW I Love You.


The original posting is available here on the Goodreads M/M Romance group, and if you are so inclined, go ahead and add it to your bookshelf and/or review it here on Goodreads.

Separately, on a sporty note, I saw an article recently about Tim Tebow and the possibility that he will sign on with...*drumroll*...the New England Patriots. *AHEM* As in...playing as Tom Brady's backup. And OMG did that fuel the fires! So yeah....some Man-to-Man sequel action might have begun percolating...just sayin'.  :D

I'm still on my road trip, so I won't be able to update too often. However, greetings from the Mount Rushmore area! :)


Hugs all around, and hope you enjoy the story!

NJ

June 3, 2013

"BTW I Love You" - Free Story Available Today!

Just a type-by posting to let you all know that my latest freebie story, BTW I Love You, is now available exclusively on the Goodreads M/M Romance group's page. Yay!  Downloadable copies will be available on the Goodreads book page here in a couple of weeks. For now, though, group members have exclusive access to Aidan and Jake's story here. Not a member? It's easy to join if you're 18 or older - just make sure you have a valid birthdate included on your Goodreads information. :) This freebie story is just one of over 150 stories that the group will be offering during this summer's Love Has No Boundaries event.


So yeah, get exclusive access to the story here! :D Hope y'all like the boys.

As a life update, things are pretty crazy around here. I begin my cross-country drive from NYC to San Francisco tomorrow. Yes - TOMORROW. *gulp* I know - that came up super fast! I've been packing, tossing, shipping, giving away, and donating all month. It's amazing how much I accumulated in my years here in NYC.

And um...it probably didn't help my packing timeline that I also just discovered YouTube videos that edited down the Queer as Folk series to the Brian-Justin relationship. *hides* Yes, I glommed when I should have packed. *hides again* And, yes, because I knew how it ended (*shakes fist*), every time they did something sweet or amazing or beautiful, I couldn't help but say, "I seriously love you guys, but you're gonna break my heart." Out loud. Because I um...get invested.

Anyway, huge tangent there, but circling back to the point of my post, go check out the story (if you are so inclined), and I hope you guys enjoy Aidan and Jake's tale of World Wide Web romancing. :) And if you feel like rating and/or reviewing on the Goodreads page, then that would be nifty, too.

Hugs and dark-haired heartbreakers,
NJ

June 1, 2013

SNEAK PEEK! - "BTW I Love You" Excerpt

Well, folks, I'm heading out soon on my cross-country roadtrip (I'm moving from NYC back to SF!), so I'll be a little incommunicado this month.  However, that doesn't mean I won't have a story for you guys to read - and a freebie, at that! :)


BTW I Love You will be coming out verrrrry soon (yay!) as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance group's Love Has No Boundaries writing event. This story about two college-aged boys will be a group exclusive, so you'll have to join the group to get exclusive first-look access to BTW I Love You and over 150 other stories!

You can find the blurb here, and here's a tiny sneak peek from the prologue at the very beginning of the story. Hope you like it! :)

BTW I Love You Excerpt:

PROLOGUE
The afternoon SoCal sun was bright and cheerful two days before Memorial Day weekend.  Aidan was walking back to his student housing apartment when his phone buzzed in his pocket.  He'd just taken his last final – a hellacious combination of lab and written exam for his upper div Environmental Engineering class – and the day that greeted him upon exiting the science lab was glorious.  Provided everything went well, knock on wood, he would at last be graduating next weekend from UCLA.
Aidan shifted his backpack to his other shoulder to fish out his phone.  When he saw who'd sent the text message, he grinned.
24 hrs until some fun in the sun! check your email. ;)
He glanced up to make sure he wasn't going to walk into a tree like he did last week and, seeing the coast was clear, tapped his screen to check his email. 
To:  Aidan Montgomery
From:  Jake Everett
Subject:  You & Me?
Attachments (1) 
Once the picture loaded, Aidan let out a bark of surprised laughter as his heart warmed at the sight.  Grinning, he quickly texted a reply to Jake.
If you're lucky. ;)


***

That's it for now!

I know...cliffhanger, much? :D Well, if you want to find out what was in the picture that Jake sent to Aidan, then you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for BTW I Love You this summer...very very soon.  Like...perhaps...this upcoming week. :D

Cheers,
NJ

May 26, 2013

LHNB Story - Cover Reveal!

Hi folks! Sorry I've been MIA, but I'm currently packing up to move from NYC back to San Francisco next week. In short, life is hectic! As promised, though, here's a sneak peek of the cover for my Love Has No Boundaries story, which I wrote recently as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance group's annual writing event.


Beginning in June and throughout the summer, the Goodreads M/M Romance group will release free m/m romance stories every day (approximately 180 stories in total!), and the only way to get exclusive access to them is to join the group. So if you like m/m romance and aren't yet on Goodreads, why not check it out and see for yourself how great of a community it is? Three stories have already been released as an early membership bonus, and many more stories will follow starting next month.

BTW I Love You will be released as part of the event, and the only way to get first-look access to the story will be through the group. If you missed it, here's the blurb for the story:
When Aidan logs onto the Internet one night during winter break, he hardly expects to meet tall, dark, and handsome Jake - let alone discover over the course of their chats and emails that Jake may actually be...well...pretty much perfect.  However, with Jake studying abroad 8,000 miles away, Aidan soon finds himself struggling with the intense feelings that he's developed for a man he's never actually met.
With an ocean between them and all of the doubts and questions that come with the distance, will their relationship ever find wings? And when they finally meet in person, can their online romance become an IRL happily ever after?
As is par for the course with me, it's fluffy, not-too-angsty, and has cute boys who may or may not have a little sexytimes fun in between the pages. :D

I'm leaving on my cross-country road trip next week, but I promise to post a small excerpt before then. Also, in life news, I went to Turkey last month, and it was awesome. (Maybe I mentioned that already, though?) Anyway, I also just went to Niagara Falls this weekend, and it was also awesome. :) As dorky as it may sound, my favorite part was either getting incredibly wet on Maid of the Mist or straddling the international boundary line between Canada and the US. So cool!


Until next week, folks!

Cheers,
NJ

May 17, 2013

In completely non-writing-related news...

I'm currently knee-deep in sorting through my apartment as I prepare for my move from NYC to San Francisco. So of course that means I'm finding any and every reason I can to procrastinate. *grins shamelessly* And one of those finds was a Chibi maker. What's a Chibi? Well...


This is a Chibi. Specifically, this is Chibi ME.

Yup, so that's my big reveal of the week. This is pretty much what I'd look like if I were a Chibi, right down to the black tank, grey cardigan, bright corduroys, black flats, and red glasses.  Plus the mug of tea in my hand (can't forget that!).

Anyway, if you're curious and want to make your own Chibi, check out the Chibi maker here at deviantart. But make sure you have an hour to kill because let me tell you - cartoonifying yourself can be STRANGELY addictive. :D

Putting the "pro" into procrastinate,
NJ

P.S. Actually, I lied - I have some writing-related news. My short story was accepted by Dreamspinner Press to be included in their next anthology! Woop woop! This is the one that just flowed out of me in the course of 2.5 days. It felt SO damned good to write, and I'm so glad that DSP thought so, too! So keep your eyes peeled for the Cuddling anthology, which will focus on established couples. More info on this story and the anthology later. :)




May 6, 2013

OMGWTFBBQ - I haz a story for LHNB.

So yes, I submitted my Love Has No Boundaries story last week (a whole two weeks early). Yayzerbeams! I'll keep y'all apprised of the date that it'll be posted to the group.

As a treat for the folks who actually check out my blog, I'm posting a blurb-y type thing right now. :)

Warning: I kind of suck at blurb writing, but I tried. >_< And it's right here:
When Aidan logs onto the Internet one night during winter break, he hardly expects to meet tall, dark, and handsome Jake - let alone discover over the course of their chats and emails that Jake may actually be...well...pretty much perfect.  However, with Jake studying abroad 8,000 miles away, Aidan soon finds himself struggling with the intense feelings that he's developed for a man he's never actually met.
With an ocean between them and all of the doubts and questions that come with the distance, will their relationship ever find wings?  And when they finally meet in person, can their online romance become an IRL happily ever after?
Stay tuned for more tidbits on the story, including the date when it'll be available and the official cover. The cover is pretty simple, but the picture is perfect for one of the scenes in the story. I'll also post a sneak peek excerpt soon. :)

Thanks for reading!
NJ



April 29, 2013

Active Pro Athlete Comes Out

Today's...no, this month's...no, make that THIS YEAR'S big news: NBA player Jason Collins comes out as gay.

I just got back from Turkey and am kind of recovering from traveling right now. That said, I'm still awake and aware enough to do a little (good!) freaking out/flailing about the first active pro athlete (other than, perhaps, the 1970s baseball player Glenn Burke) to come out to the world as gay.

So, yes, consider this Jason Collins post the COMING OUT AS A GAY ATHLETE big, bold, all-caps post towards which the previous posts in this series of discussions (here, here, here, here, and here) were leading.

The Sports Illustrated article containing Jason Collins's narrative is honest and straightforward.  The truths that he shares are simple in presentation, but contain a courage in their simplicity that reveals his desire to live his life without hiding from the world this basic part of himself.  As Collins says, "The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. I'm much happier since coming out to my friends and family. Being genuine and honest makes me happy."

So far, the reactions to his coming out seem to be positive and supportive.  Today and in the upcoming days, I'm sure we'll see whether earlier interviews with sports personalities and athletes that showed support for a theoretical gay teammate will prove true in the face of an actual gay teammate.  

In my opinion, the most interesting and telling question of support may not be known until this summer when we see what happens with Jason Collins's free agency.  His career thus far seems to have been reliable and productive, and he's set to become a free agent in July.  In the world of sports, "free agent" means he's up for grabs, and he has stated that he intends to pursue a new contract.  It looks like he has more basketball to play in him, and seven-feet-tall players don't just grow on trees. With that said, the biggest and most revealing question of acceptance may come in whether and/or how the NBA teams react.  Will Jason Collins receive a new contract offer?  Will the contract offer(s) reflect his abilities? Will the team(s) take into account only merit or will they also consider his status as a gay athlete?  Not to be a downer or realist, but these questions are still unanswered.

Setting that aside, let's focus on the positive.  For now, this is amazing news. Groundbreaking, really. An active pro athlete came out today as gay. Wow. Can you imagine that headline even five or ten years ago? Perhaps more active gay pro athletes will follow in his footsteps. Perhaps other major professional sports will get their own "firsts" soon.  And perhaps there will eventually be a time when coming out as a gay athlete won't actually be front page, all-caps news at all.

Rooting for number 98,
NJ