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December 12, 2014

Writing Droughts and Other Meteorological Phenomena

This has been a weird year, writing-wise. I got a couple of stories down like gangbusters in the beginning of the year. One of those stories, He's Just Knot That Into You, is coming out next year with Dreamspinner Press, and I'm really excited. It's my werewolf story that will have at least two more stories to follow.

After finishing that story in the spring, however, I've fallen into the pit of a massive writing drought. Like the ongoing three-year drought in California, my word well has been bone dry. It's sad. It's discouraging. I see friends who are finishing stories left and right, and I'm super excited for them. But then I look at myself and ask, "Why can't I get started?"

It all started when my poor Nico-kitteh died in June. I haven't written more than a couple thousand words since then. The initial writer's block isn't unexpected--I was pretty depressed and down in the dumps, no matter how much his cancer meant I should have anticipated his passing. After a certain point in time, though, I started to wonder what's normal?  As one month turned into three, then five, I found myself questioning why it was taking me so long to "get back on that horse," so to speak.

As month six passed recently, I realized something: there is no normal. Everyone grieves in different ways and on different timelines. And, with writing, you can't force it. Because if you do, it'll only be insincere.

Sure, I'm a pecker. (Not that kind!) =) I hunt for and peck out every single phrase when I'm writing. It's never a flowing explosion of words; rather, each sentence is carefully considered before even landing on the screen. However, to get in that head space of creation, I have to be in the mood to visit those places.

And, unfortunately, I haven't been anywhere close lately.

That's okay, though. I'm coming to realize droughts just happen, and I can only hope that, one day, the urge to create through words will be there.

On a lighter note, I've been creating through crafts this season. I doubt it's a coincidence I start to crochet my fingers off the second the temperature gets even remotely nippy. So now I'm crocheting tons and really enjoying myself. I've made hats for friends' children, slippers for my mom, a whole army of cute little amigurumi octopi (one of which an author friend commissioned me to make for her daughter), and a dear friend even commissioned me to make a pair of boot cuffs for her to give as a gift.



Crocheting has been fun and therapeutic. It fills me with a sense of accomplishment when I see the finished product--I've turned a ball of yarn into something wearable! And cute! And my friends appreciate the handmade gifts I've sent around the country.

So, while I still am flailing around in my empty well of words, I've at least found another pool in which I can swim and express myself creatively. Crocheting might not get me any closer to writing the sequel to #HJKTIY or the short story follow up (of which I have those couple thousand words from the past six months), but at least it's something that truly makes me happy, which is a place for which I've been searching for quite some time.

On that note, anyone interested in commissioning an octopus? ;)

Wishing everyone a warm and wonderful holiday season!
NJ


November 12, 2014

Sex Positivity Blog Hop: THE INTERNET IS FOR PORN!

 

Hi, everyone! How're you doing?? Thanks for stopping by my page and checking out my spot on this hop. ^_^ The Sex Positivity Blog Hop, the brainchild of author Grace Duncan, aims to share positive views on sex and any and all topics related thereto.

When I signed up for the Sex Positivity Blog Hop, I kind of had no idea what to expect. And then, when we received the call to arms (a.k.a. the dates on which we each would be posting), I kind of had no idea what to post about.

Should I post about the advances that are currently being made across the United States in efforts supporting marriage equality?
Should I post about bisexuality? Demisexuality? Asexuality? Pansexuality?
Should I post about cross-dressing and how it doesn't automatically imply transgender identity?

Fuck it! I thought. I'll just post a video of someone rolling a condom onto a banana.

(In case you would rather just see a video of a condom-covered banana (as instructed by Max Ryder!), here ya go.)

Anyway, I thought about it a little more, and I decided that, in the immortal words of Salt 'N Pepa, let's talk about SEX bay-bee!

Specifically, porn.

Porn is in the business of sex. Of filming it. Of taking pictures of it. Of inspiring it. Of making it available for the public's viewing pleasure.

There's a huge taboo surrounding sex and, particularly, porn in mainstream society.

YET EVERYONE WATCHES IT.

Well, almost everyone.

The statistics of porn are staggering. Although much has changed about the landscape since I first chose pornography as the topic of my informational speech in my speech course back in 2000 (got an A on that speech, too!), one thing remains the same after all these years: porn remains king of the media.
I apologize in advance because this blog post is going to be short on research links. However, if you really want something, just let me know and I'll do my damnedest to find it. I studied media and communications in college and specifically did copious amounts of porn research for my Speech 100 course. *ahem* REAL research, mind you. *cheeky look*

A few things to take into account:
• Pornography is an eleven-figure, multi-billion dollar industry. A little over a dozen years ago, when I first did my porn research and as porn really began to take over the internet, that figure was less than half that amount. While it's hard to pin down the exact size of the industry, it's pretty safe to say that pornography's revenues are jaw-dropping.
• Trekkie Monster sang in the Broadway musical Avenue Q that "the internet is for porn!" (Avenue Q is an awesomely hilarious musical, by the way - definitely check it out!) And he was right. As this super interesting infographic from HuffPost states, porn sites see more visitors in a month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.
• The first American antique pornographic film purportedly was 1915's A Free Ride. The plot is classic and something that you'd see today: a man driving on a country road picks up two female hitchhikers.
• Have you ever enjoyed watching a movie on VHS, DVD, or the internet? What about Betamax and VCD? Guess which ones the pornography industry adopted to offer their films. Exactly. The porn industry has had more than a helping hand in revolutionizing technology over the years.
While I am by no means an expert on porn and its influences, my point here is that people watch it. LOTS of people. Millions of people, both men and women. And it has had a huge effect on our lives, whether we know it or not.

Despite all of this, so often porn is looked down upon by society. There are instances of adult stars transitioning into the mainstream, such as Jenna Jameson and her multi-million dollar brand or Sasha Grey's role in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, but more often than not the reaction is simply to clam up when porn and sex come up in conversation (if they come up in conversation at all).

There are, of course, issues and concerns in the porn industry over exploitation. However, it bears mentioning that exploitation exists in almost every industry (from sweatshops to childcare workers), and, when done "right," the performers in porn are consenting adults who are earning their honest livings, while entertaining and arousing the audience.

There's nothing wrong with sex on film. Or print. Or screen. So don't let society shame you into thinking there is!

I mean, I watch it. I'm betting you watch it. Or you have watched it. Or, if you haven't, then your neighbor has. And if you have and still do, then go forth and wear that porn badge proudly! With millions of people consuming porn and 12% of the internet devoted to it, I'm pretty sure that you're not alone in enjoying it.



P.S. Obligatory new book plug!

So, I wrote a thing! And it's set in Regency England, when gay sex was, like porn, très taboo. A Time for Loving is a historical m/m romance short story that offers a glimpse into the lives of Jack and Christopher.

Jack and Christopher have made it through years of campaigning and the horrors of Waterloo together—side by side by day and, by night, in each other's arms. After the war is over, however, will the love shared between this batman and his officer survive when Christopher returns to the life of a gentleman?

Just 99 cents for this bonbon of m/m romance!

*~*~*

Thanks for visiting and check out these awesome authors who are also contributing to the Sex Positivity Blog Hop!

October 23, 2014

It's time for A Time for Loving! (and a GIVEAWAY!)

*slides into the room with white gym socks on*

Hellooooooooo, lovely folks! I finally have ten minutes to myself today to share some news.

A Time for Loving is LIVE and ready for YOUR lovin'! Your good, ol' fashioned, historical lovin'. Your cravat-tyin', pantaloons-wearin', waltz-dancin' lovin'. *winks*


You can get your begloved and bejeweled paws on a copy of A Time for Loving at your favorite ebook retailer. Some of 'em are listed below. Yes, we like to spread the lovin'.

Find the story here: Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks

In A Time for Loving, Jack and Christopher must navigate the rigid rules of Society and family expectations, knowing that the danger of discovery lies in many corners. After their unexpected love survived and, in fact, flourished in the climate of the war, now they must face more genteel hardships.

There's a poem that inspired me in writing this short story. It's a beautiful poem that, to me, speaks of love for nature and finding the unexpected. The poem embraces nature's freshness, its boldness, the unabashed glory of it. Nature, in turn, is a metaphor for love. It's a William Wordsworth poem called I wandered lonely as a cloud and, unofficially, Daffodils. If you have a chance to read Jack and Christopher's story, then I encourage you to read Daffodils afterward. In truth, the poem was so inspiring that I debated adding it to the book itself in an Afterword. =)

So that's my little tidbit of behind the scenes info on A Time for Loving! There'll be more tidbits on the story when I visit a couple of other blogs over the next two weeks. I'm super psyched for everyone to meet Jack and Christopher and find their own time for loving.

I also want to give a copy of the story away! Actually, I want to give THREE copies away! Or more. Actually, more. Yes, definitely more.




Here's how to enter!

Leave a comment on this post with the following info:
(1) let me know your favorite historical fashion (flapper dresses? togas? powdered wigs? It could be any period of time, not just Regency.) and
(2) include a means of contacting you such as your email, Twitter name, or Facebook profile, etc.

That's it! You'll be entered to win an ebook copy of A Time for Loving and a "love" ring via snail mail. Yes, I will send a token of wearable love and affection to your beautiful self. This contest is open worldwide where permitted by law!

Leave your comment by 10PM (Pacific time) on Wednesday, October 29th, and I'll draw a winner by an internet names-in-a-hat method shortly thereafter.

This will be a quick giveaway so that anyone who doesn't win can also enter the rafflecopter that will be running through November 6th. Yes, there's a rafflecopter giveaway! And the prizes are three sets of the ebook + "love" ring combos! Actually, you can enter that, too, if you want to be doubly sure you've got all your bases covered. Trust me, I won't judge. I will, however, limit wins to one win per person, regardless of method. That just seems fair, right?

Anyway, leave a comment to win! And here's the rafflecopter giveaway if you want to enter there, too. ♥

Thanks for checking out the story, and happy reading!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 1, 2014

Release Date and Cover for "A Time for Loving"

Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, guess what? A Time for Loving is coming soon to an ebook retailer near you!

First off, take a gander at the absolutely gorgeous cover that the incomparable Natasha Snow has created for this little bonbon of historical smuff.


...

........

*drools*

*coughs, clears throat*

Ahem! Excuse me, sorry, I was distracted by the pretties. ;)

It's beautiful, right??? Natasha is awesomesauce and got the vibe just right for this little historical tale.

Plans are in the works for me to release this short story into the wild. Right now, the release date is set for three weeks from now on Thursday, October 23rd. Yay! Here's the shiny new blurb, too:

A Time for Loving 
Jack and Christopher have made it through years of campaigning and the horrors of Waterloo together--side by side by day and, by night, in each other's arms. After the war is over, however, will the love shared between this batman and his officer survive when Christopher returns to the life of a gentleman? 

Want a little taste? You can peek at a quick (unedited!) excerpt in this post.

More info on purchase links and such will come at you soon. Very soon! In the meanwhile, you can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

I'm very very very excited about this story. After reading tons of historical and, particularly, Regency stories as a novice romance reader, it was a lot of fun to write in that style.

Bidding you a fond adieu,
NJ



September 10, 2014

"Punch-Drunk Love" needs an assist!

Punch-Drunk Love needs an assist to take the ball to the hoop! Okay, I'm totally mixing up my sports metaphors here (yes yes, PDL is about kickboxing, not basketball), but the sentiment remains the same.

Punch-Drunk Love is a super fluffy free story that came into existence thanks to the M/M Romance Group's Love's Landscapes event. I recently added the story to Smashwords, All Romance eBooks, and Amazon. However, because Amazon requires you to set a minimum price of 99 cents, I was not able to list the book as free. So...

Hey, can y'all do me a solid??

I've always wanted to say "do me a solid." ;)

Please help me ask Amazon to make Punch-Drunk Love a freebie, too! Note that, in the interim, I plan on donating any royalties from the Amazon sales of this book to the Human Rights Campaign .

Punch-Drunk Love on Amazon
Punch-Drunk Love on Smashwords

To request the price match, go to the Amazon page here, then under Product Details click on "tell us about a lower price." Once the popup window appears, enter the Smashwords link - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/473018 - and indicate that the price is zero.

If y'all feel so inclined, you can also drop PDL a review and/or share the word on this freebie. Thank you so much for the helping hand, folks!

Hooray for freebies!
NJ


September 5, 2014

Fabulous Five Blog Hop

Hi, everyone! I was tagged to answer five questions by the fabulous Piper Vaughn, whose story One Small Thing is a feel-good fave of mine. :) Check out her books if you haven't already!

1. What am I working on?
Right now I have a few things percolating. I'm currently polishing up my historical short story A Time for Loving, which I'll be publishing later this year. The incredibly talented Natasha Snow and I are putting together a cover that I hope will convey the mood of traditional Regency stories of yesteryear. A Time for Loving takes place post-Waterloo and will explore the relationship between Christopher, an aristocratic second son and former officer, and Jack, his batman-turned-valet.
As I await news from Dreamspinner Press on next steps for my newly-signed werewolf novella He's Just Knot That Into You, I'm also brainstorming for 2.5 sequels that will be follow-ups and set in the same universe. The first will be a short story follow-up for the guys in HJKTIY (let's just say...omega heat and a whole lotta scandalousness will feature in this one!) and will introduce the MCs for books 2 and 3. Book 2 will be a human member of their wolf pack, and book 3 will be the human's werewolf BFF. I have a pretty strong sense of the direction each of those stories will take, but I just haven't had the discipline to write anything down...yet.
I also have a couple of contemporary stories that I've outlined and have been eyeing. One, a contemporary office enemies-to-lovers story, has actually been rather loud in demanding attention lately. *gives it the side eye*

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Piper had a great and completely on point answer to this question: every author has their own unique voice and style. So, yes, everyone's work is different, and, as a reader, I've had so much fun exploring the genre and discovering just that!
With that said, there's one thing that consistently appears in m/m romance: the HEA. I love HEAs and have sought out HEA stories ever since I was a wee lass. If you read my work, you'll get an HEA and a story full of smuff (that's smut and fluff, joined together in a happy-fuzzy concoction). I've been fortunate enough to have experienced a lot of different things over the years (from my bus breaking down in the desert in the Middle East to being mistaken for a prostitute in Paris to being only one of thirteen German majors at UCLA), and I hope that what I've seen and done in this world help to enrich the tales I tell. Contemporary themes (and, particularly, sports-related ones) have been pretty prominent in my stories so far, but that'll change soon with some of my upcoming releases! :)

3. Why do I write what I do?
Honestly, this question might be the hardest for me to answer. I've always loved HEAs, and romance novels have played a huge role in my life since I was young. The part I always enjoyed the most in my romances was the hero's POV. When I began reading m/m romance, the fact that there were TWO heroes' POVs blew. my. mind. I loved it. I've never really explored the appeal that closely, but it could be the way the hero's POV reveals a vulnerability that we don't often see in mainstream media portrayals of masculinity.  Anyway, that's why I fell in love with m/m romance. Naturally, when the opportunity arose to try my hand at writing, it just made sense to write what I loved. That first (amazing!) writing experience opened up a whole new world for me, and I just haven't looked back. 

4. How does my writing process work?
Up until my last story, I would have claimed to have been a loyal devotee of the outline and a big time plotter. However, with HJKTIY, I totally pantsed it without an outline, and that was a blast to write. As such, I guess you could say I just do what works and hope it continues to work. *sheepish grin* In general, I usually start with two characters and then ask myself "hey...wouldn't they be perfect for each other? Yeah? Well, how?" And then I explore them a little before I get an inkling of an idea as to how their HEA would unfold. That's how the outline would develop, but I'm beginning to see the beauty of the no outline approach, too. As long as the story I have in my head gets onto the page, I'm not one to question how! =)

5. Who’s next on the blog hop?
Tagging the fabulous AC Valentine, Nash Summers, Olley White, Annabeth Albert, and S.H. Allan. You're it!

August 26, 2014

Super exciting news!

I just returned from Paris, which was lovely and amazing, and I arrive bearing exciting news beyond simply having returned from Paris.

Yes, that's a red wolf, and YES, I signed a contract last week with Dreamspinner Press for my werewolf novella, He's Just Knot That Into You.

I am crazy excited about this, y'all!

I'm planning to write more in this universe, so this is hopefully just the first in a series of werewolf-y announcements. *crosses fingers* Regardless, I'm so freaking psyched that Tanner and Jon have found a home with DSP. I can't wait to work with their amazing team and bring this smuffy lycan story to you. Look for more information in the coming months ahead!

On another book-related note, I'm preparing Punch-Drunk Love for publication on Amazon and Smashwords. It's on Amazon right now as a cheapie, but I'll be loading it up to Smashwords as a freebie once I finish formatting the file. Hopefully Amazon will price-match eventually. In the meanwhile, you can still find the downloadable files at the M/M Romance Group's website here.

Paris was a great period of relaxation and escape. I'll do another Paris post later, but suffice to say it helped with my being so down lately. It wasn't a cure-all or anything, but it helped.

Hope you all are doing awesomely well, and allow me to squee just once more about He's Just Knot That Into You: Squee!

Wolfy kisses and nuzzles,
NJ


July 12, 2014

Gay Par-ee! ...or, "If Not Now, Then When?"

I leave for Paris in 10 days.

*coughs* Last week I booked a trip to the City of Lights, and I'll spend a month there this summer.

After Nico-kitty died, I was in a pretty big funk. I'd put off traveling while he was sick, and although I'd started doing some job-hunting, nothing really panned out. I still haven't written anything in the last month, and yeah...it was generally a pretty big downer-fest for me.

I got to the point where I felt cooped up and needed a change of scenery. With a LOT of frequent flyer miles accumulated, I had enough for a round trip flight to pretty much anywhere I wanted to go in the world. A search of airBNB led me to Paris and a cute little apartment with lovely views of the rooftops for a relatively affordable price. On top of that, Paris has the benefit of being one of the largest European train hubs, so short trips elsewhere were also a possibility.

I hemmed and hawed for a few days until finally realizing that the opportunity to do this trip -- a month! in Paris! -- was something that doesn't come around often. I still have a lot of money saved up, and I have plenty of free time. If not now, then when?

So I booked a trip. And I'm really excited!

I'll be completely honest, though: it's difficult when the everyday people in my life are not nearly as open-minded to new things. I'm talking about my family, with whom I've been staying since moving back to San Francisco. I made that decision since I wanted to be close to Nico and because I've been without an income for a while.

Even after the kitty's treatments, though, I do have quite a bit of savings still -- enough for a couple more years of voluntary unemployment and finding my own place to rent, to be quite honest -- but that's a topic for another day. Anyway...given the fam's lack of interest in new things, I've tried to keep my excitement under wraps since booking my trip, but now I'm starting to do an inner-squee because it's ALMOST HERE. And hey...what better place to inner-squee than all over the internet??

So...squee!

I'm going to Paris for a month, and it'll be super fun. YES, IT WILL.

I'm crossing my fingers it will be the perfect place to get me out of my funk.

Now let's just hope I pick up some French while I'm there...

Au revoir!
NJ


June 17, 2014

Freebie Alert! Punch-Drunk Love downloads are available!

Hi all! As promised, here's the link to download a copy of my latest free story, Punch-Drunk Love:

http://www.mmromancegroup.com/punch-drunk-love-by-nico-jaye/


Because blurbs are things over which I absolutely agonize when asked to write them, I'll put that off until later and instead let you guys see what the tags are for the story. Yes, yes, I'm lazy. *slaps "lazy" sticker on forehead* Basically, be prepared for serious fluff overload, and...if you've seen the reviews...well, let's just say our boy will be dressed up in a rather UNIque costume. ;)

STORY INFO:
Genre:
 contemporary
Tags: sports, athlete, college, geeks/nerds, public activity, kickboxing, humorous, costumes, Vegas, lots of fluff
Word Count: 16,200


Don't forget to check out the plethora of other freebies that are available through the M/M Romance Group's wonderful event this summer. A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who make such an event possible - from the prompt writers to the authors to the editors to the proofreaders to the formatters and beyond! It wouldn't happen without you folks.

Happy reading, and hope you enjoy!

June 12, 2014

Freebie Story, Now Available!

Hi everyone! Just a quick note that my freebie kickboxing story is now available to members of the Goodreads M/M Romance group. Check out Punch-Drunk Love here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1861722



I'll post another update next week when the free downloads are available on the M/M Romance website. In the meanwhile, hope you enjoy, and here are some NSFW pictures that served as inspiration, after the jump!


June 11, 2014

A Personal Post

Back in January I posted about the difficulties we would face as my furbaby battled cancer.

We lost that fight this weekend.

In loving memory of Nico, from whom I borrowed this pen name.



A personal post follows (after the jump).

June 6, 2014

Lesson Learned

Recently I started writing what I thought would be a flash fic fun sort of exercise--a historical Regency-set secret lovers sort of story--using the new no-outline approach that I took with my werewolf story. Little did I know that my tiny flash fic would turn into a 6000+ word short story. O__O Like the werewolf story (tentatively titled "He's Just Knot That Into You" *grins*), this shortie just kept going and going...and going. Who am I to argue with what the guys have to say? :)

While my werewolf goes through various beta stages, I thought I'd share a small piece of Christopher and Jack's story. Here's a glimpse (very rough and unedited!), and keep an eye out for more news on this one as I figure out what the heck to do with it. ^__^

When Christopher returned to the bedchamber at the time the clock ticked its way past midnight, Jack was waiting for him. As was their routine, they locked the doors to bar any unwanted nightly visitors, such a practice explained to the household as a way to deter Christopher's childhood habit of sleepwalking.
Little did they know he'd outgrown such an inclination years ago.
"A pleasant evening," Christopher said mildly over his shoulder as Jack assisted him out of his well-fitted navy coat.
"Was it?" Jack murmured in response. Setting aside the garment onto the clothes valet, he turned to face Christopher's back and skimmed his hands over his shoulders. His palms, forever callused from years of campaigning, nevertheless picked up the texture of the silver-embroidered brocade waistcoat. Those shoulders were broad, carrying with them the weight of responsibility—for their regiment, for their secret, for their future—well beyond Christopher's twenty-three years.
Lost in his thoughts, Jack startled when Christopher turned around to grasp his wrist gently. He looked up into Christopher's familiar gaze and sighed, his heart settling into place even as his pulse began to race at the sight of the heat in those blue depths.
"It would have been much more pleasant with your company, Jack," Christopher said, his voice warm and low. 
Swallowing thickly, Jack smiled up into that precious face. He listened and heard the sounds of the house going to sleep around them.
This was their time—the time between days when they could be lost in their world.
"You know 'tis impossible, Christopher," Jack whispered regretfully, searching his gaze. He moved to clasp his hand, drawing Christopher's palm to his neck and curling it against the skin there. "But our time is now, and my company is yours. Yours always."
 From A Time for Loving

Hope you liked the little peek into Christopher and Jack's lives!

In the meanwhile, I have to ask: are you a member of the M/M Romance Group?? You can read more about the MMRG here at http://www.mmromancegroup.com and join the group on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/20149. I only ask because the group has a fabulous writing event that kicked off last week!

Love's Landscapes is a very cool writing and reading event featuring free m/m romance stories every day throughout the summer. My upcoming freebie, Punch-Drunk Love, will be coming out soon, and the MMRG is the only place where you can read it first! Otherwise, you'll have to wait for the downloads to be available on their website. :) If you're not a member, then think about it! Highly recommended if you're an m/m romance fan.

Hope you're all doing well, and happy reading!

♥,
NJ

May 9, 2014

"Punch-Drunk Love" has a cover!

Hi all! I'm doing a little traveling right now in Colorado and Arizona, but I couldn't wait to share the cover for my upcoming M/M Romance Group freebie, Punch-Drunk Love. The story, which features two kickboxing boys, is set in the San Francisco Bay Area (with a detour to Vegas...) and full of fluff. I hope you like it!

My super talented graphic designer friend Natasha Snow (http://www.natashasnow.com) created this beautiful cover. To me, she hit the nail right on the head, and it's absolutely perfect for the lighthearted vibe of the story.


*stares*

Oh! Ahem...

Sorry, got a little caught up in the awesome cover. :D

Anyway, hope you all like it, and keep an eye out for more on Punch-Drunk Love! The story, along with a number of other freebies, will come out this summer during the M/M Romance Group's Love's Landscapes event.

♥,
NJ


April 29, 2014

To Outline or Not to Outline

To outline or not to outline...

That is now the surprising question.

Although I'm still learning when it comes to writing (and, in fact, aren't we always learning?), I'd always done things the same way up till now: outline outline outline!

Perhaps it's the need to have control over a process (namely, writing) that in itself is quite creative. Perhaps it's my background as a lawyer that means I like to know what to expect. Or perhaps it's the problem solver in me that likes to think "hey...how exactly do they get from meet-cute to HEA?"

Anyway, up until now, I've always been about the outline. Even if it wasn't a completely detailed outline, it always took me along the main events from Point A to HEA. With every story I've written, there has been some kind of outline.

Well, no longer.

As an update on the kickboxing boys, I turned that in last week. (yay!) So keep an eye out for Punch-Drunk Love when the M/M Romance Group releases it this summer alongside a bunch of other nifty freebie stories. Like my other M/M Romance Group freebies BTW I Love You and Man-to-Man Coverage, it's around 15-20K words of fluff. On a separate note, the 15-20K words mark appears to be my sweet spot when writing, but maybe that's a subject for another blog post. :)

Anyway, I completed the kickboxing boys' story and immediately turned to a new one that had been waving its arms at me for attention. This story has taken up my writing time the last few days, and it's basically giving the finger and sticking its tongue out to my other WIPs.

I had a general idea that I wrote down in a quick paragraph of story direction.

But here's the thing...after that, I just sat down and began to write it.

No outline, no other notes, nada.

It's been so much fun.

The story is about a werewolf (yes, watching Teen Wolf has definitely provided some paranormal writing inspiration), and it's pretty much fluffy lycan office romance fun. :) Let's just say surprise shifting, bad dates, some porn mags, and a charming new personal assistant are involved.

The process of not having a process has been eye-opening. It's quite freeing, and I can definitely see the appeal of how writers favor this approach. That isn't to say that I don't have a rough outline in my head, but it's almost like not putting it down on paper has some kind of psychological effect of feeling no pressure to take things one way or another.

It might be that extra step of writing it down that has made me feel more locked into an idea. While my outlines in the past have themselves been fluid, my decision (or reluctance?) to change major points possibly was influenced by the fact that they were already down on paper in the first place. So maybe having it in writing already felt like a commitment, whereas doing it from the inspirational paragraph and whatever thoughts are in my head instead permit a lot more straying.

I have no idea, but it's making me question how I approach my other WIPs. Which could be a good thing. Or a bad thing. >__>

We'll see, right? As it is, I'm working on my werewolf boy for now and will take the others one day at a time. I've had a lot of fun trying out this new approach, so who knows? Maybe that'll be my new MO when it comes to getting my stories onto the page.

I've heard so many things about how people plan their stories one way or the other. If you have any opinions on how to organize and put together your tale, please share. I'm curious to hear what you guys think. =)

Now...back to my werewolf!

♥,
NJ


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


Anyway...GIVEAWAY TIME.

Yay!

GIVEAWAY

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



HOW TO ENTER

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! :) 

Hrmmmm...or, since I've asked that before and maybe you'd like to share something else, how about letting us know what song inspires you? "Inspires me to do what?" you ask. Anything! We're equal opportunity inspire-ers here. ;)

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!

GIVEAWAY:
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




HOW TO ENTER:

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!

♥,
NJ

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,
NJ

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!
NJ

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,
NJ