Tag Archive: Bryce Newhouse


HardWork

 

This summer is a little unusual for me. For the first time in a couple of years, I’m taking just a little bit of a writing vacation. Well, technically, I suppose it’s more like a “staycation” – the only immediate things on my plate are a short story with an August 1 deadline and prep for a couple of blog tours later in the summer. I need the breather, as I’m also getting ready to move (pretty much all through the month of July).

Plus, I just passed through a very unpleasant time in my writing life. I hesitate to call it “writer’s block,” because it wasn’t, really. The ideas were all there, I knew where the story had to go, I loved the characters (yes, even Bryce). But writing was almost physically painful. The only physical analogy I’ve ever come across that kind of gets the feeling across is an unfortunately crude one – dry-humping. An activity that’s supposed to be exquisitely pleasureable, that you remember as being exquisitely pleasureable, yet it’s somehow reduced to sheer effort and a lot of pain.

How did I get to this point? I didn’t realize it while I was in the middle of the desert, but basically, I let being a writer pull me away from writing.

It all started innocently enough. I was writing merrily away on my fifth Fae novel, the first in a new series for Ellora’s Cave, but growing out of the SoulShares series. And I started getting a little hung up on finding the right balance between explaining references to the original series and moving forward with the new story. Then I started noticing all the articles and blogs and links on “the craft of writing.”  I saw articles posted by all kinds of helpful people and pages on structuring your story, outlining, research. The appropriate ratio of explicit content to non-explicit content. The story arc of a romance. Tension between the protagonist and the antagonist. Tropes we love. Tropes we hate.

And just as I was pretty sure I’d never written anything correctly in my life, I found help with…  marketing. How to tweet to best advantage – when to favorite, when to retweet, how to create an attention-grabbing profile page, making the hashtag your friend. How to leverage LinkedIn and Google+. Getting the most exposure for your YouTube channel. Building buzz on Goodreads. Optimizing your Amazon footprint to take advantage of its recommendation algorithms. Maximizing my Pinning so as to reach my target audience. (I do have a Pinterest account, born of a night of too much champagne and quite a bit of unfounded optimism… I don’t even remember the password, much less how to pin anything – sorry to disappoint all of you who have started following me there!)

And I wasn’t doing any of that stuff.

And then came… the phone call from my mother. “So how are your sales doing, sweetheart?”

Crash. Burn. Ouch.

*insert uncontrollable sobbing here*

Bottom line, I got completely sucked into other people’s ideas of the “how” of writing, and completely lost my own sense of the “why”. I write because I love it. I never expected to be published; I was lucky enough to be noticed by an editor who loved what I was doing, and I continue to be lucky enough to work with editors who love what I write and help me make it even better. When I forget that, when I stop concentrating on my writing (and, okay, on conventions, I love conventions, I could live at conventions and be completely happy), when I fixate on mastering social media technology and maximizing online presence…. on selling books, instead of writing them, the joy goes out of it. And I need the joy, to make the rest of it work.

I have it back now, by the way. The joy. Rory’s got her groove back. *winks* Wait till you see this story. Hint:  shifters. Yes, shifters. Gotta run, time to write…

 

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It’s funny — whatever I plot, for one of the Fae books, I almost always end up with at least one chapter set on the Acela — the express train between Washington, D.C. and New York City. My Fae can get from one to the other by Fading, but humans don’t take very well to being transported that way. And I hadn’t planned for this scene, but Josh and Garrett got up in my face tonight and told me I had to give them a scene on the train. So, without further ado…

 

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“You’re still glowing.”
Garrett grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, I feel like I am. Which is silly, really.”
“I’ve always believed life’s much easier if you have a low pleasure threshold, myself.” Josh grinned back from his vantage point opposite Garrett. “And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year or so, it’s to stop feeling silly about being happy.”
“I get that.” Garrett glanced out the window, his grin turning into a more introspective smile. “Hard to believe that six months ago, I hadn’t met Lochlann.”
Garrett knew his fellow human SoulShare would follow his leap of logic. The tattoo artist and his ethereal Fae partner were still so obviously in love, it was hard to breathe when they were both around.
“So what exactly did you tell Terry?” Josh tossed aside the magazine he’d been trying to read and settled back in his seat. “I know the basics, but damn, I haven’t seen Terry look that happy in a long time. Since well before Bryce threw him out.”
Garrett frowned. “Remind me to ask you about that, because I really want to know, but right now that’s harshing my mellow.” He laughed softly, leaning forward so as not to have to raise his voice. They weren’t alone in the car by any means, and even if they weren’t talking about Fae at the moment, his life was nobody else’s damned business. “I told him that Lochlann and I had been to that pole-and-aerial dancer’s performance, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center–Davide Aubuchon–and that watching him lit a fire under my ass.” Truth. The Frenchman had combined pole dancing and aerial work and floor work in a way Garrett had never imagined possible. “Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I’m not giving up the pole any time soon, and by that I mean ever, but I told Terry that I really need to push myself. I think I can do that.”
“But you need formal dance training. Or so you think.” Josh raised a brow. “I beg to differ.”
Garrett could feel himself blushing. When he was working the pole, accepting the whistles and shouts and other forms of appreciation showered on him by other men was part of the job. Off the dance floor, though, he still had problems accepting praise. Especially now, when he’d seen what was possible and figured out how hard he was going to have to push himself to accomplish it. “Thanks. But if you’d seen this guy, you’d know what I’m talking about. And I’ve had pickup classes here and there, all different kinds of dance. But I’ve never really studied. And I would feel like a complete idiot walking into a beginners’ ballet class at my age.”
“Terry was obviously okay with you asking.” Josh nodded. “And that made me happy. He took losing his dance company in New York really hard. I don’t think he’s even been in a ballet studio since he moved down to D.C. It’s going to do him a world of good to work with you.”
Josh was happy. Truly happy. Terrence Miller had been Josh’s lover, partner in work as well as in life, until Bryce Newhouse had come along and decided to lure Terry away. Breaking Josh’s heart in the process, Garrett had no doubt, though the hunky tat artist never talked about it. Yet Josh hadn’t thought twice, back when Bryce dumped Terry and threw him out of their apartment. He’d opened his tattoo studio–and even his home, until Terry had been able to get back on his feet. And even now, all it apparently took to make Josh happy was to make Terry happy.
And all it took to seriously piss Josh off was… “What is Newhouse’s shit, anyway?” He was pretty sure his original impulsive desire to meet the investment banker cum dickhead had been a bad idea. He’d still be on this train regardless–Conall was going to need Lochlann, and Lochlann was going to need him–but what he knew of Newhouse reminded him entirely too much of the bullies he’d grown up with. The kind who made people’s lives hell because they could. So they could see they had an impact on the world. They had to hurt others, just to know they themselves existed.
“I’d say I wish I knew, but I don’t think I really want to know how that kind of mind works.” Josh tipped his head back against the seat and closed his eyes, the very top of the head of the black-headed hawk tattooed on his chest visible over the neckline of his t-shirt. “Though I’ll admit, he wasn’t much more than an ordinary run-of-the-mill dirtbag when he first went after Terry. I still think the Marfach had a hand in kicking him out of the house, though. Even Terry has never figured out why Bryce did that.”

BLOWING SMOKE is the fifth Fae book. And the first in its own series, the Broken Pattern. See, at the end of FIRESTORM, the fourth SoulShares book, in order to save Cuinn and Rian and coincidentally the Fae Realm and the human world, the SoulShares of Purgatory had to, well, blow a great big hole in the Pattern, the portal between the worlds. And strange things are beginning to happen. (Yes, even stranger than in the first four books…) This is an excerpt from Chapter 8 — Lasair Faol, formerly the Master of Fade-hounds for the Royal family of the Demesne of Fire, and his newborn Fade-hound puppy Culin haven’t yet been formally introduced to Bryce Newhouse, but Lasair’s already feeling the pull of the as-yet-unconsummated SoulShare bond.

 

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Lasair stopped short. The human lay on his back on a richly-upholstered and beautifully carved divan, his head propped against one arm and his feet hanging over the other, sound asleep. Culin was curled up on his chest, half wrapped in a soft cloth, likewise peacefully asleep. A little table had been pulled over to the divan, near the human’s head, and a small cooking-pot sat on it. Even from where he stood, the enhanced senses of a Fae could smell milk. There were even traces of it on Culin’s short grey-brown mustache. Milk, and something else, something that smelled like salt.
A pang of pure jealousy went straight through Lasair, surprising him with its intensity. He wasn’t sure which was harder to swallow, the thought that the human had been able to get Culin to eat where he’d failed, or the visual proof that he and the pup hadn’t bonded. Most modern Fade-hound breeders considered the old stories about blind Fade-hounds no more than idle tales. And surely it was fantasy, to think that a blind dog could form such a close, exclusive bond with a Fae that each could see through the other’s eyes. Pure fantasy. Yet he’d hoped, when little blind Culin had looked up at him…
Lasair shook his head. The important thing for now was that the human had gotten the pup to eat. Filled his belly, too, from the look of him.
I am not jealous.
Not.
Not jealous at all. But Culin was his responsibility, not the human’s. He reached to pick up the puppy–froze as the human stirred, groped restlessly, mumbled under his breath. One slender, long-fingered hand found Culin and settled protectively over the furry body; the muttering stopped, replaced by a snore almost too faint to hear, even for a Fae.
Just that quickly, Lasair realized that he was indeed jealous. But not of the human. Of Culin.
I want that hand on me.
He backed up quickly, almost falling over a chair he’d forgotten was there, catching himself, turning and hastening back to the bedchamber. It wasn’t until he was leaning against the far side of the closed door, head tipped back, eyes closed, trying to slow his breathing, that he started to curse. Under his breath, so as not to wake the human.
In the Realm, the Master of the Royal Fade-hounds had been held in awe. The hounds were terrifying to most Fae, a story told to misbehaving children, used as a method of execution by some Royals. Forces of nature with five-inch fangs, relentless hunters with a taste for blood. But to him, they had been like family. He had been ready to lay down his life for them, and he knew they would have done the same for him. Even little Culin, following him trustingly through the terror of transition.
His rapport with the hounds had been legendary.
When it came to Fae, on the other hand, he was a disgrace. He definitely had all the reflexes and instincts and hungers of his race, but if seduction was an art form among the Fae–which it most certainly was–then he himself had never passed much beyond sketching childish stick figures on the hearthstones with charcoal. In a culture where desire always came wrapped in layers on layers of enticement and mystery, no one knew what to make of a Fae who refused to play the kinds of games they were all born to play. As clumsy as one of his pups, they’d said, laughing. But clumsy he was not. He only wanted to be open about what he wanted.
He hadn’t realized until just now how much he’d hoped things would be different with the human. Hadn’t Fae had their way with humans whenever they wished, back in the time before the Sundering when the two races shared a world? There would be no need for the dance, the game. For once, surely, he was free to take what he wanted, what his body needed. All he had to do was do what he wished, be what he was and had always been. All would be well.
Except it wouldn’t. It wasn’t. For the first time, he saw at least in part the point of the rin’gcatha gríobhan, the labyrinthine dance. He still didn’t want to play the game for the sake of playing, for the style and the beauty and the craft of it, but neither did he want to simply wake the human up, roll him over, and take the pleasure he both needed and wanted. He wanted to smooth away the frown line that seemed to live between the human’s brows. He wanted to see the smile he knew the human hid, and he wanted to know he’d been the cause of the smiling. He wanted to find out if the scent of salt had come from human tears, and to make them stop.
There were a great many things Lasair wanted. None of which he had ever wanted before, and none of which he had the slightest idea how to get.
No. There was one thing he knew how to get. Knew very well. One of the many words as’Faein for self-pleasure was dara-láiv. Literally, it meant ‘second-hand’–the implication being that your partner had grown bored and left after one orgasm, and you were thus forced to rely on your own devices for the second.

Excerpt from BLOWING SMOKE

Here’s an excerpt from Blowing Smoke, the first book in the Broken Pattern cycle of the SoulShares. (I’m sitting at my desk, looking out my back window at the sight of snow melting, hearing a chorus of angels singing “Hallelujah,” and I’m just so happy I need to spread a little joy around!) This bit is part of Chapter 7, and it doesn’t actually involve the main characters, Lasair Faol and Bryce Newhouse (ducks objects thrown by those who have read the first four books and think I’ve lost my mind). This chapter lets us catch up with Lochlann and Garrett, the Fae healer and the pole dancer from Deep Plunge. Enjoy!

Garrett slid a hand down Lochlann’s side, along the curve of his ass to his thigh where it rested over his own. At the same time, he leaned in, catching the dark Fae’s startled breath with a kiss, and a soft laugh.
Lochlann relaxed into him, deepening the kiss, and using his leg to draw him closer. Garrett’s hips tilted, without him telling them to, getting the most out of the sweet friction.
“My morning wood thanks you.” He didn’t feel like pulling back from the kiss, so his lips rasped against Lochlann’s heavy stubble. One more reason to regret all the years he hadn’t been waking up with his SoulShare. Or anyone. “Though it’s almost my afternoon wood.”
“Noon?” Lochlann worked his hand between the two of them and wrapped it around Garrett’s erection, his thumb immediately going to the heavy ring piercing the head. “You’re up early. In several senses of the word.”
“Noon isn’t early.” Garrett groaned as Lochlann toyed with his PA. “You realize, I’m supposed to be using that to drive you insane.”
“It is when you got in so late.” Lochlann’s smile was pure wickedness. “And life’s unfair, grafain. Get used to it.”
“That wasn’t a complaint, exactly.” Garrett bit his lip, closing his eyes to focus on Lochlann’s touch. It was still new, this thing of having someone else focused on his pleasure. Hell, someone else focused on blowing his mind with every touch, every kiss, every word out of his mouth.
After almost ten years of renting his ass out to pay the rent and keep the lights on, and almost nine of being HIV-positive, Garrett had become an expert at sex without intimacy. Expert even for a rent-boy. Whore. Fracun, the Marfach had called him. A thing, an object, only valued for how it was used, not for what it was. Lochlann had been furious, but Garrett had just shrugged. That was what he’d been, before Lochlann.
And to hear Lochlann tell it, Fae never got close either, and for some of the same reasons. The only way to be sure you couldn’t be broken was to be damn sure no one ever touched you.
The tip of Lochlann’s tongue traced over his closed eyelids, breaking off Garrett’s thoughts. He was glad. That train of thought never took him anywhere he wanted to go.
“I worried about you. Last night.” He could almost feel Lochlann’s voice, like silk on his skin. Rough silk.
“I’m sorry.” He flushed, opening his eyes. “I actually meant to tell you what happened, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open.” He hadn’t made it back to the hotel until just after sunrise, and the decadently soft bed had been way more temptation than he could handle.
Lochlann laughed softly, rolled Garrett onto his back, and pinned the lower half of his naked body to the bed with his own hips. “So tell me now.”
“Vice showed up, about an hour before closing.” Garrett felt his erection softening, and sighed. What happened to Purgatory affected all the Fae, though, and all their human partners. Report first, afternoon delight later. “They sent an undercover cop in first, but Lucien spotted him right away. He always does, I don’t think  Vice has ever gotten anyone past him.”
“What did Tiernan do before he hired Lucien?” Lochlann propped himself up on his elbows, his black hair tumbling down around his face as he studied Garrett. Apparently his lover wasn’t giving up on afternoon delight entirely.
“Nearly got busted a couple of times, I think. Kevin’s a fast talker, though, and it didn’t hurt that he’s a partner at a big-name law firm with some real clout. Fabian, the guy who owned the club before Tiernan, just bought off the cops. Probably put a dozen of their kids through college, just in the years I worked there. But Tiernan refused to work that way.” The new owner had started putting the protection money into improvements in the club. And in the salaries of the dancers.
“So Lucien called in Conall.” Lochlann worked the fingers of one hand into Garrett’s curls and tipped his head back, eyeing his throat speculatively.
“Yeah.” Garrett sucked in a breath between clenched teeth as Lochlann’s hot, soft lips caressed his throat. He’d compared notes with Kevin and Josh, and the humans were all in agreement that Fae never let any business, other than the most serious, interrupt amorous play. They were also all in agreement that that tendency was one of their more attractive features, and one of their most frustrating. “He doesn’t know that’s who he’s calling when he trips the alarm, he thinks it only goes to Tiernan’s office. But Conall showed up right away, down in the cock pit where no one would pay any attention to one more naked guy, and glamoured the cop.” According to Conall, an undercover officer with a see-no-evil channeling on him could stand on the edge of the cock pit and look down, and be convinced he was seeing a dimly lit, semi-private lounging area, with tables set up for drinks and maybe a few guys getting hot and heavy outside the clothes. He could even walk down into the pit, but the channeling didn’t work against physical objects, and things could get interesting if a cop ever tripped over a twink giving a BJ or a writhing mass of leather boys spilling off a sofa. So far, that hadn’t happened.
“So then what happened?” Lochlann started nuzzling right below Garrett’s left ear, his breath warm, his tongue gentle and insistent.
Then I had to stop for a mind-blowing orgasm. Jesus Christ in a rickshaw. Garrett had to pause for a couple of deep breaths before he could go on. “About half an hour before closing, Detective Harding came in.” Purgatory was part of Russ Harding’s bailiwick, had been since just after Tiernan bought the place. and while the Man from V.I.C.E. gave Tiernan props for running what he’d been heard to call a ‘remarkably clean place, considering,’ he was convinced Purgatory was crossing a line somewhere, and that it was his mission to find the line.
Things would be slightly less awkward if he were wrong. Between the “official” goings-on in the cock pit, the occasional freelance ass-rental a few of the dancers still kept up in the dressing room, and the tendency of some of their wealthier and better-connected customers to tip the dancers in designer drugs, there was probably enough action on any given night to keep butch cop Russ Harding busy for a week.
“And Conall took care of him, too.” It wasn’t a question.
“Well… kind of.”
That, unfortunately, brought Lochlann’s head up. “What do you mean, ‘kind of’?”
“When Detective Harding strolled over to the cock pit, he saw Conall. And he saw all of Conall, if you take my meaning.”
“The illusion didn’t work?”
“Apparently not. Conall thinks he just got careless. As soon as Harding said something, Tiernan came up with a distraction, and held his attention long enough to let Conall conjure some clothes, but even that glimpse was enough to put a bug up the cop’s ass. “ Garrett grinned as one of Lochlann’s fingers slipped briefly past his tight entrance. “Brat. Anyway, he went on the prowl, and it became my job to get everyone in the cock pit disentangled, dressed, and on their way out the door before he started to look too closely. Not that he ever actually goes into the pit.”
“And that was your job why?” A frown line appeared between Lochlann’s dark brows.
Garrett nipped his Fae lover’s chin. “Because Tiernan was escorting Harding around and trying to distract him from what he wasn’t supposed to see without looking like he was distracting him, and Conall had his hands full keeping the channeling up given that Harding was acting especially snoopy. I could have used Mac’s help, at least with getting guys out the door without it looking like a scene from fucking Exodus, but his prosthesis was giving him grief early on and Tiernan sent him home.”

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