I have to admit, I’m not doing that well. Which is hardly surprising, seeing as we’re now past the point where we all initially locked down and we’re only just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Having idiot governors lift mask mandates and throw open business doors doesn’t help (and cases of COVID and deaths from same are going up in my county, so thanks a lot, Abbott). I know that eventually things will get better and I just have to hang on. But to be honest, all I want to do is crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and hope that I can get to sleep before one or more of my joints decides to start screaming at me.
Thing is, we’re genuinely in a good position. We have a roof over our heads, all the bills are paid, and we’re even going to New Orleans in May for a long weekend. More importantly, Ramón just got his second shot yesterday (he’s feeling pretty crappy today, but he’s not sure if it’s due to the shot or the fact that we have hella high tree and grass pollen levels today and that’s doing a number on his system). My second shot is scheduled for tomorrow, and we’ll be considered fully vaccinated on April 17th, at which point we’re going out to dinner for the first time in about 15 months.
But. I can tell that my temper is in shreds. I’m definitely showing signs of situational depression, and while I’m trying to mitigate it with exercise, fresh air, and meditation it’s still there in the back of my mind. It feels like I don’t have anything to look forward to but constant unending chores. This house is a fucking disaster area and I need to clean each and every room in it, but between the daily contract work, trying to finish the book, and ShitKnee playing up I rarely have the spoons to do that. Even the New Orleans trip feels like a chore because I have to arrange everything and find stuff for us.
It doesn’t help that the inflammatory response to the pollen is playing merry hell with my joints, so in addition to being depressed I also hurt all the time. God only knows what shape I’ll be in tomorrow after I get the second shot, so today I need to make sure that we have food and other things stocked up in the house so that I can just sleep it off if necessary.
What I really need is one of Ray Bradbury’s Electric Grandmothers who can help me cook and clean, keep an eye on the J Crew, bring me something to drink when I’m working, then tuck me in bed at the end of the day and tell me not to worry, everything will be fine. As that’s not going to happen, however, I’ll just keep muddling through.
On March 13, 2020, I was sitting in a Starbucks off of 121 in the Colony with two friends from my writing group. We met there on Mondays and Fridays to write for a couple of hours (and to get out of the house for a bit).
But that Friday was different. The place was almost empty, as it was becoming clear that the COVID pandemic had reached the US, and cases were popping up in Texas. When I went to the counter to get my drink, the barista confessed that she was terrified of getting it–she couldn’t take time off if she got sick.
When the three of us finished our writing session, we decided that it would be the last time we met at the ‘Bucks until things had improved. At the time I genuinely thought it would maybe be a couple of months at most. I mean, we lived in the United States–the country that came down like a hammer on swine flu and SARS. The CDC had a plan for a pandemic, right? They would be able to get everyone to work together and starve COVID of new victims, no problem.
It’s now one year later, and I haven’t seen either of my friends person since that day (our writing group started Zoom meetings a few weeks afterwards). In the last year, the universe outside our house has dwindled to five stores, our doctor’s and dentist’s offices, and the vet. We started wearing masks immediately because I had access to a good fitted Fu mask pattern and a shitload of fabric in my quilting stash (wound up making masks for a lot of people until commercial mask production got off the ground). We started washing/sterilizing anything that came in the house from a store, and changed clothes/showered after we got home (I was already a regular handwasher).
We managed to avoid COVID, mainly due to the above actions combined with the facts that we don’t have kids and we both worked from home. Unfortunately, our friends and family weren’t so lucky. Four family members caught it, and we just found out that Ramón’s best friend and his wife caught it in January of this year. Nobody we know in our immediate circle died from it, however, which is a huge blessing.
Finally the vaccines started to become available. As soon as I found out that our county would be offering COVID vaccinations for people in tier 1b (which included us–it’s the first time being fat and having two endocrine disorders worked in my favor), I signed us up. Ramón had his first Moderna vax shot on 3/4/21 while I got my first Pfizer shot on 3/11/21. By mid-April we should both be fully protected. We keep talking about what we want to do after that. Ramón wants to start doing a biweekly date night where we try places we’ve never been to before. First stop will be our favorite Tex Mex restaurant, but after that I’m eyeing some of the Koreatown spots in Carrollton, followed by various Asian restaurants here in Plano.
Me, I want to travel. New Orleans, Cancun, Chicago this summer, maybe even a cruise this winter if it’s safe enough. I want to go on a road trip so badly I can taste it. I daydream about driving to Las Vegas again and enjoying the amazing scenery in New Mexico.
But what I want to do more than anything is just be around people. Sit and people watch, go shopping in a mall, eat in a restaurant–just be around other human beings and settle that primate genetic demand that wants to know where the hell my troop is. I think it may be why I’m having such a hard time writing this year––I’m burned out with being in the house all the time and I need something, anything different. I’m honestly not that much of an extrovert to begin with, but I do enjoy being around people and picking up on the energy of a crowd. I miss that badly, more than I’ve wanted to admit.
By 4/18, both Ramón and I will be fully vaccinated. We’ll still take all necessary precautions when we go out because we know what the vaccine does is make sure we won’t get seriously ill or require hospitalization if we catch COVID. The last thing I want to do right now is be asymptomatic with COVID and pass it on to some poor schmo who isn’t vaccinated. But by God, we will be doing something that week to celebrate. He’s suggested we rent a convertible and go on a day-long ride somewhere. I like that.
First off, we’re okay. I’m a veteran of blizzards so we did a humongous food stock-up for all house residents, we never lost power (we’re three blocks away from a police station and a corner ER so I’m assuming we’re on an essential grid), I shut off the sprinkler system and winterized all the outside taps so they came through without a hitch, and none of the inside pipes burst (although we did have a near miss with the hot water tap upstairs, of all things––luckily Ramón caught it and we left it on stream until the ice clog dissolved. Since that tap is NOT on an outside wall I’m a little confused about what was going on there, but whatever).
The worst thing that happened was spending five days nervous about the possibility of losing power and having a pipe burst, and the fact that our pool vacuum hoses became brittle due to the cold and had to be replaced. Considering how many people I know lost power, or have to replace burst pipes, or wound up with some kind of major residential problem, I will take stress and buying new vacuum hoses any day.
Also, I must stress that the fact we came through without any real problems is because we never lost power. If we had, all of the trickling taps in the world wouldn’t have stopped the pipes from freezing due to the extremely cold temperatures. The ironic thing is, the picture at right shows how much snow we got. Maybe six inches in total? But it wasn’t the snow that wrecked Texas so badly––it was the temperature. Houses down here are simply not set up to handle days of temps below freezing, much less temps that go down to single digits. On the plus side, I have now ordered a combo tool that will let me unlock the water meter box and shut off the water, so if this ever happens again and we do lose power, we’ll fill up every available jug/tub/bucket/2 liter bottle we have with water, then shut off the sumbitch and drain the pipes. Especially since the Railroad Commission, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest their groin hair, isn’t going to force power companies to winterize their equipment, which would have stopped much of this from happening.
Stores down here are still recovering, but we’re also still eating out of the stock-up I did on 2/10 so we’re okay. Ramón picked up some extras on Monday, and I figure I’ll hit the store and the butcher’s tomorrow and do a proper stock-up for the weekend. The stress from the storm cut into my writing because it’s kind of hard to focus on a story when you’re waiting for the power to go out, but the nice weather this week has helped with that. I mean, I spent Tuesday writing on the patio––go figure. You can expect Shifter Woods: Growl by the end of next week, and The Crimson and the Black will be available sometime mid-March. Sorry about that, but I can’t control the weather or loons trying to overthrow the government.
So I have been patiently waiting for science fiction drama The Nevers to come to HBO ever since I learned about it. Superpowered Victorian women in a quasi-steampunk setting? I am so there.
Of course, one of the other draws for me was the fact that Pip Torrens (aka the actor who inspired Shadow of the Swan) would also be in it playing an aloof aristocrat who appears to be aligned against the superpowered women. Hey, I can live with that.
I mentioned this to Ramón, remarking that it was lovely being a romance writer because I could monetize my celebrity crushes. To which Ramón said, “Wait, who is he?”
“Ever watch Preacher?”
“What about the first season of The Crown?”
“Yes, I saw that.”
“Okay, you remember the Queen’s first secretary, Tommy Lascelles? Pip played him.”
“Ah, okay, yes. Him.” He thought for a moment. “You do have a type, don’t you?”
Apparently I do.
Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, darlings! Today I’m featuring E.D. Parr and her wonderful new SF romance Love in Danger, now available from Evernight Publishing and other retailers of fine romance. Take it away, E.D.!
When I wrote Love in Danger, I wanted the story to have a completely different feel to my other stories.
Usually, my stories have the two main characters that are going to fall in love meeting in the first few chapters. Their meeting and falling in love is the story. There is always a happy ending, so often I will give readers a look at their future in a decision to stay together, marry, or a view of how happy they are after being committed partners for some time. I’m a big fan of love at first sight. Readers can blame it on Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and even Dickens to a certain extent.
So what’s different in Love in Danger? The two main romantic heroes are already together as Love in Danger starts. They’re warrior partners and lovers. They’ve been together for some time.
Writing this story with the heroes already in love gave me such pleasure, I might have to write another story where this is the case. (Smiles) The love between Corin and Marcus is obvious, but Corin can’t admit that he loves Marcus by saying the actual words, and that forms the romance ‘conflict’ within the story. This Sci-Fi story has horror themes, and adventure, including events that focus Corin on the need to tell Marcus besides showing him just how much he loves Marcus.
Marcus adores Corin and isn’t afraid to say so. He’s a sweetheart and it shows in how we see him assisting Corin.
Both heroes are special to me. Their origins and courage are epic. Their love is red hot and tender. I don’t know any authors who don’t fall in love with their characters. I always do, so I hope that readers love Corin and Marcus. I hope too, that readers enjoy the inclusion of another warrior in the story, Zeb, who used to be Corin’s lover. He’s a big part of the story without being part of the romance.
I hope readers enjoy Love in Danger as much I loved writing it.
Centuries ago, the planet they cherished was conquered, but now three warriors from an ancient race of gifted beings intend to remedy that.
Lovers, handsome Corin JaKobi and gorgeous Marcus D’Ath are members of an elite planetary squad that rid the city sectors of the mysterious and dangerous Fallen.
When an old friend uncovers the true horrific nature of the elders in the organization they work for, anger at their duplicity drives Corin, Marcus, and rogue squadron hunter Zeb to plan for the ruling group’s demise.
It won’t be easy, and when Marcus is captured and detained at the elders’ pleasure, Corin’s white-hot fury at the thought of losing the man he loves knows no bounds.
Will Corin get to his beloved, Marcus, in time to stop the horror that awaits him?
Can the warriors free the planet and return it to the lovely place it was before the aggressors arrived?
Corin received a call on his communicator just as he and Marcus loaded the crockery from their meal into the dishwasher. He looked over at Marcus as he listened to the order and gave his lover a stare to convey annoyance at the task they’d been given.
Marcus grinned in return at the silent communication and pressed the button on the panel to start the machine.
He leaned on the counter, arms folded, waiting for Corin.
Affection flowed over Corin as he looked at Marcus. He traced the handsome man’s face with appreciative eyes. He walked quickly to his lover, dropped the communicator onto the table as he passed, and slipped his hands around Marcus’s face. He kissed Marcus tenderly, until his lover grabbed his hips and thrust against him with a low moan. Passion surged through Corin and he rained hungry kisses on Marcus’s lips.
He broke to breathe and whisper. “We have a job over in the badlands. Some idiot’s crash landed over there.” Then he kissed Marcus again. He swept his hands along his lover’s shoulders and down his sides to pull off his lover’s soft shirt. Raw sexual need gripped him and he ran his fingers over Marcus’s muscled chest. Little sounds escaped him as Marcus returned his frantic kisses.
Marcus helped pull his shirt off, casting it aside, then resumed kissing Corin. He murmured against Corin’s mouth. “How close are you? I can feel your cock rock hard through your pants.” He bit softly along Corin’s bottom lip and palmed Corin’s erection.
Corin groaned and pushed against Marcus’s hand. The need to come made his voice thick. “Close.” He dotted kisses along Marcus’s bare shoulder breathing in the masculine aura and light rosemary scent of bath soap on his skin. He dropped his hands to between their bodies and opened Marcus’s pants, trembling, hardly able to wait for the feel of his lover’s cock. He dragged the cotton pants down around Marcus’s thighs and curled his fingers around the huge erection that sprang free.
Marcus groaned into his open-mouthed kiss. “Corin … you have no idea what you do to me…” He held the counter edge, leaning back and his dick leaked onto Corin’s thumb.
Corin’s stomach flipped with the feel of the pre-cum on his fingers as he circled the head of Marcus’s cock. He closed his eyes and pumped his lover’s dick, groaning a little at the pleasure that consumed him and pressing his lips to Marcus’s. His own cock leaked and grew so hard he thought he’d come just from the delicious feel of Marcus’s kiss and satin-skinned erection in his hand.
Marcus thrust into his palm. He gripped Corin’s shoulders and rested his forehead on Corin’s as his cum spurted. He moaned and gasped trying to kiss Corin as his hips jerked.
Corin smiled onto Marcus’s lips. He waited for his lover to finish coming and kissed him softly every time he felt a throb run through his lover’s cock.
Marcus slid his hands around Corin’s face and kissed him.
The tenderness in the kiss dropped a blanket of love over Corin. He sighed as Marcus drew away and with a gentle push to move Corin, dropped to his knees.
Where to Buy
About the Author
I write stories that pop into my head and hope that they will resonate with someone. I’d love to think that the love stories I write are what readers want. I don’t think there’s enough love in the world, but even so, my stories are character driven. I always have a happy ending. We all deserve one.
I like to think there’s originality in my work. When I look at the body of my work I see originality within the story plots, but the theme of finding love is always there.
I had to check because for some reason it feels like Sunday to me. My time sense is all screwed up due to the pandemic, and while I usually have the date right I tend to double check on the actual day because Fridays feel like Thursdays and Saturdays feel like Sundays.
In writing news, I’m still working on The Crimson and the Black, finishing up Shifter Woods: Growl, and working on the first chapter of High Tide (Olympic Cove Book 5) because I want to include it as a teaser in the print version of Cross Current. It’s interesting because High Tide is the first and only book in the series where the main protagonist is a woman (Book Six will have Chiron as the main protag), so I’m approaching the story from a different mindset than any of the other books in the series.
Now, don’t worry––there’s still lots of hot guy-on-guy action (I mean, she walks in on her merman and satyr agapetos fooling around in the rental cottage she’s supposed to be getting ready for a renter. I ask you. And yes, she works for the mysterious Marcia Kuttner, which means that she’s going to be thrown into the deep end on page 1). But having a female lead gives me more of a chance to look at Olympic Cove and the events going on there from a woman’s point of view. It’s kind of cool, to be honest. In any case High Tide will be out at the end of April, so you can see then if I did a good job with it.
In personal news I have done my wifely duty (get your mind out the gutter, it’s reserved for me) and cut Ramón’s hair. The last time I did this was in June, so it had gotten to the point where I could have put it in a Viking braid, limed it, and sent him out to sack Frisco.
Which might not have been a bad idea, come to think of it.
But he is now back to his usual high and tight style (I even trimmed his neck and ear lines with the T trimmer), and is happy that he no longer looks like a cross between Doc Brown and the Unabomber.
The J Crew, however, stared at the pile of hair on the floor very accusingly. I’m guessing the English translation is, “And you people complain about the amount of hair WE leave? You could knit a new cat out of what Dad just shed.”
The other new thing in the house is the king-sized Purple mattress which replaced our 8-year-old mattress. Despite being delivered on Thursday, it’s currently sitting in the dining room in a tightly rolled package because neither of us wanted people in the house and assumed we could get it up the stairs ourselves.
Yeah, no. The mattress weighs 206 pounds. We gave it the old college try, but when I was on the verge of blowing out ShitKnee and he started to tear a ab muscle I called it off. A moving company is sending out three husky young men with shoulder straps on Monday to haul it up to the bedroom, and I’m more than happy to pay for the service.
In the meantime we’re sleeping on an air mattress because the delivery guys hauled away our old mattress (that, we carried down ourselves on Thursday) and the difference in sleep quality is notable. I don’t feel like I’ve been beaten all night, and Ramón’s sinuses have cleared up remarkably and he’s waking up feeling much more refreshed. That being said, this is one of those extra thick air mattresses with a built-in pump that are meant to sit on the floor and act as a guest bed. The fact that it’s sitting on our box spring makes getting into bed an adventure (translation: I kinda have to vault up to get onto it), and I find myself sleeping very carefully because if I roll off the edge at that height I will be breaking a hip.
Nevertheless, I’m sleeping well, my pain levels are going down, energy levels are going up, and I’m feeling a lot more compos mentis during the day. If the Purple turns out to be as comfortable as I think it’ll be, I may well wind up getting a lot more done this year.
Let’s be honest — I’m 54 and I work at a job where I spend a lot of time on my butt. Add in ShitKnee and fun new problems with other leg joints, and I’ve been having a hard time with the old gams lately. I’m still doing the PT exercises, but barring an actual replacement I think I’ve gone about as far as I can go in terms of functionality.
This is when FB decided to start throwing compression sock ads at me every half hour. Now, I know that they’re damn useful pieces of clothing, and I have no worries about “ew — grannywear” reactions because I have been in my house since 3/13/20 and nobody sees me anyway. So after the fifteen millionth compression sock ad danced across FB I decided, what the hell, let’s take some measurements, find a company that handles heroically sized people, and see what happens.
Squeeze Gear turned out to be the lucky company, and I gambled $40 on three pairs of rather snazzy blue and white compression socks (I feel a little like a superhero). They arrived today, and as expected they were a challenge to get on, but I did it.
First impression: I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The cuffs felt kinda tight around my left knee, but not painfully so. The other leg is the one that lost muscle mass 37 years ago when it was in an immobilizer, so that sock went on a bit more easily. Walked around in them, and immediately decided to put on my slippers with the traction soles so that I didn’t go ass over teakettle. I also felt a bit lightheaded, so I went upstairs and checked my BP, thinking maybe the socks were driving it up. Nope — 128 over 72.
I sat back down and did some paperwork. About an hour later I got up … and my legs felt okay. Knees and hip still hurt, but my calves felt pretty damn good. Decided to go grab the duvets and bring them down to wash them, then went back upstairs to record a podcast which meant sitting for a solid hour in a chair that usually causes me a certain amount of pain when I get up … and it wasn’t bad at all.
In fact, I gotta say that these things are kinda amazing. I’ve been up and down the stairs multiple times this evening, way more than I usually do, and I’ve been humping stuff up and down as well. Once again, the knees and hip still hurt, but there’s no pain whatsoever from my calves. It’s much easier to get to my feet without pain, and I’ve found that I have more energy to get chores and housecleaning done.
I’m going to wear these for a full week during the day and see how I feel by the 24, but based on today’s results I would have to recommend compression socks to anyone who has a job that keeps them sitting for long periods of time. These aren’t just for Granny or long plane rides anymore.
As part of “Let’s Make 2021 More Profitable,” I’ve been taking a good look at the books that don’t fit my usual subgenres of SF, fantasy, and paranormal romance. I’ve already split off the contemporary romance and romcoms to the Natasha M. Stark name, but that still leaves my *takes in a deep breath* poor redheaded stepchild of a historical BDSM menage romance Behind the Iron Cross out there twisting in the wind.
Unfortunately, Amazon listed it as erotica and I haven’t been able to convince them that yes, it really IS a romance with an HEA and everything. And despite being released during the centenary celebrations of the end of WWI it’s gone absolutely nowhere. A copy hasn’t been purchased on Smashwords or their assorted partners in over a year, and I’ve sold a grand total of 13 copies on Amazon in 2020.
The irony is, that book took me six years to write. I had to go to the British Library and study pre-WWII maps of Berlin. I bought books on the Weimar Republic and the economic and cultural effects it had on Germany. It’s still my longest book to date at 105,409 words (SHADOW OF THE SWAN is literally six words shorter at 105,403). And next to no one has read it, which gives me a sad because it’s a really, really cool story.
So I’ve decided to be proactive about it. I’ve pulled it from wide distribution and added it to Kindle Unlimited, in the hopes that fans of menage, BDSM, and historical romances will see the word count and say GIMME.
There’s a new contest in Romancelandia! The Swoon Awards are chosen by popular vote and are open to all romance readers. Much to my shock and delight, I found out that King of Blades made it into the semi-final round for the Fantasy Romance category.
Voting for the semi-final round ends tomorrow, so if you’d like to vote for King of Blades in the Fantasy Romance category you can do it here — go to the middle of the page and click the pink Next button to start voting. And thank you for your support!
Being an indie author isn’t all snacking on bon-bons and writing your heart out on your preferred choice of writing tech. You also have to do things like track your income, monitor your Amazon ads (I was doing absolutely splendidly up until yesterday, and then today––bubkes. I don’t know if it was because of the impeachment proceedings or not), write up and send out newsletters, study courses on how to promote your work more effectively, and a bunch of other paperwork things. Many years ago, Terry Pratchett once told me that only half of his day was actually taken up with writing––the other half was paperwork. Now I understand what he meant.
But at least the long-delayed newsletter with the links for Cross Current went out, plus I added info about King of Blades being up for a Swoon Award––
*sigh* I didn’t mention that here, did I? Yeah, KoB made it to the semi-finals in the Fantasy Romance category in the Swoonies, and if you’d like to vote for it you can do that here: bit.ly/3n6cYeh
I need a PA. Or the ability to go somewhere where five cats aren’t bugging me for attention.
Anyhoo, I also added a link to a survey in the newsletter so that people could tell me if they’re interested in my MM titles, my MF titles, or are willing to read it all. I’m trying to be more professional this year and target my newsletters more accurately so that people only get the info on titles that they want to read.
As for TCatB I haven’t hit word count yet for the day, but I’m hoping to get that done after dinner. I must say, it’s always nice when your Muse graces you with an infodump about your hero’s back story as she did this morning at 4:00 AM. So now it appears that I’m writing a book about a cheerfully pan Victorian vampiress who finds out she’s the mate of a big, hunky, virginal dragon shifter with amnesia.
I mean, yeah, there’s OTHER stuff in there, as well––the whole bit about finding a group of missing selkie girls who are being married against their will to wealthy merchants, for one. But Fee just can’t get over her craving for big, grumpy Callum Brown, professor of literature and dragon shifter who can’t remember anything from before the year 900 (when he was hit by lightning during a North Sea storm and a pod of selkies nursed him back to health. He’s been their protector ever since). Callum has waited almost a thousand years to find his mate, and now she’s finally walked into his life––except that Fyodora doesn’t DO lifelong commitments and refuses to be tied down.
I do like to complicate things. Now I just have to figure out how this is all going to work for them.