Friday, August 28th, 2009
Writing Bittersweet….

Bittersweet

Now that Bittersweet is out, I’ve had some questions about it and wanted to share what happened during the writing of Brand and David’s story. It taught me a few things, trust me.

When I signed up to write two stories for the Hot Comforts anthology from Manlove Romance Press, I pitched the ideas for Giving Thanks and Bittersweet. Several other authors also joined the anthology and it was scheduled for around Thanksgiving 2008.

Because these stories are part of an anthology, it means they really can’t be too long. 20,000 words is a LONG story to have in an anthology. So there’s a maximum reasonable size the editor and publisher expect.

Giving Thanks went pretty well and relatively quickly. I’m happy with it and it really told the whole story I wanted it to.

Bittersweet is a whole other case. I knew a bit about the conflict and the fact it’s very much based on not judging someone by their appearance or what you think they might be like. When I started writing the story, though, I really got into these characters. I sent the first chapter to my test readers and one of them immediately replied that this was NOT a short story.

But it had to be. It needed to be. I literally spent months fighting with this story and trying to force it into an appropriate size and structure. But it fought back. Every time I tried to force Brand and David to get in bed, it came out horribly. Every time I tried to gloss over their personalities and foibles, they seemed like plastic characters. I rewrote it so many times I delayed the whole damned anthology. My deadline was blown and I was so frustrated and in despair it was awful. There’s just no way these characters would behave that way.

Finally I had to step back for a bit from my attempts to force my will on the story and I wrote another chapter, letting myself write what was demanding to be written. There’s a lot of background. There’s a lot of detail and some scenes that don’t have to do with sex but let the readers learn more about who these two people are.

I liked it. It flowed again.

So I finally accepted I could not shoehorn a Happily Ever After into this story. I took it to the point of a Happily For Now but there’s a lot more of this story to come. I’m going to write the rest of their story and see if I can sell it because I want to tell it. There’s pain, misunderstanding, assumptions, sex and love to go.

I know I’ve seen one opinion so far that there wasn’t enough sex and I spent time on things that didn’t matter. I hope that’s not the majority opinion because I love these two characters and the have a compelling and beautiful story to finish. But I did want to share what happened to me while I wrote this story :)

Bittersweet can be purchased from Aspen Mountain Press!

Saturday, November 15th, 2008
Friday Flash – Black Dragon (m/m)

Friday Flash

This is based on a lovely picture sent to me by Jet, courtesy of the ladies of the Phade. So, ladies, what do you think of the Dragon you inspired?

(Archives are on the website, if you want to read the offerings of past weeks)

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Black Dragon
(c) 2008 by Maura Anderson

Maolmuire, you are summoned.

Mal attempted to ignore the mental summons and drift back to his peaceful sleep. Surely another could answer the summons instead.

Maolmuire, you are needed and are sworn to answer the call. Arise and report to the Council chambers.

With a gusty sigh of resignation, Mal cracked his eyes open. His eyes gradually focused on the stone wall of his lair, dotted with quartz and pyrite. The glittering minerals sparkled in the low light, easily visible to his sensitive eyes.

With a groan, he forced himself off the low platform. So stiff. How long had he slept this time? Even in his dragonskin, the extended immobility had taken a toll. A heavy shove moved the huge stone sealing his lair’s entrance to one side. Bright sunlight assaulted his eyes and he could feel his pupils contract down to a slit in response.

He sniffed the fresh air that rushed in, cool and wet with the scent of the salty ocean nearby but also overlaid with a faint taint of chemicals. Pollution had even reached here. Damned humans.

With no smells that would indicate a threat nearby, he squeezed out the doorway and past the boulder. The rough abrasion of the rocks felt so good he couldn’t resist pausing for a moment to rub his shiny black scales on it. Too bad he couldn’t just take a quick dip in the ocean and then sun himself for a while. He would be a lot happier for it.

Report now, Maolmuire. This is no time to indulge yourself.

Mal snarled and gave a last good scratch to his right wing in defiance of the Council’s lackey. Let him dare try to stop him. Wrapped in the illusion of a cloudy sky, he launched himself into a long glide off the high ledge.

*****

Caleb bailed from his bed, jolted awake by the motion of the bed. Was he being shelled? Who was firing on him? Where were they? He rolled to take cover at the base of the wall near the door, the pistol he’d grabbed even before fully awake cocked and ready.

He froze and gradually realized the only sounds he heard were his own thundering heartbeat and the distant sounds of the morning traffic. He wasn’t in Afghanistan anymore.

Caleb sat up, slowly, unable to stop himself from examining every corner of the small bedroom, assessing every shadow.

Once reassured that there was no threat in the bedroom, he stood and made his way to the bathroom. The adrenaline was wearing off and he needed a shower to clean off the soured sweat coating his body.

How the hell had it come to this? Was he even capable of becoming normal again? Well, according to some people he’d never be normal because being gay was already abnormal. He just couldn’t go on like this.

Setting the .45 on the back of the toilet, in easy reach, he stared at himself in the mirror. Scruffy and unshaven, his blonde hair way too long and the still-fresh scars on his face and chest shiny and bright red – he was a mess. Maybe he should just be done with it all. Not like he had shit to live for anyway – the Marines wouldn’t send him back to his team unless he was able to convince the psych he was okay.

Hell, he knew he wasn’t okay.

But he wasn’t a coward. He’d never been a coward. Caleb fought the temptation back. If he really had wanted to die, he could have left that job to the Taliban. According to the guard he’d later killed, they were all set to film his decapitation but he’d refused to beg or grovel. Refused them anything beyond his name, rank, service number and date of birth. It infuriated them and they redoubled their efforts to crack him.

Heart pounding again, a sudden wave of dizziness washed over him. Caleb grabbed the bathroom counter to steady himself but it didn’t help. Earthquake. Another in the weird spat of earthquakes that were shaking through Southern California since he got back.

Friday, November 7th, 2008
RELEASE DAY – Giving Thanks by Maura Anderson

This is the release day for my first m/m romance, Giving Thanks. It’s available today in a stand-alone ebook from Aspen Mountain Press and will appear soon in a print anthology, Hot Comfort, from Manlove Romance Press , along with other great stories from some authors I’m really thrilled to appear with.

I hope you enjoy it!

– Maura

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Giving Thanks by Maura Anderson
m/m Erotic Romance
Aspen Mountain Press: Buy it here

Blurb:
It’s another Thanksgiving for lovers Derek and Troy. Another holiday to pretend they are merely platonic roommates in the chaos of Derek’s family celebration. When Derek snaps after one too many confrontations and admits he’s gay, his father disowns him on the spot. It’s going to be a quiet Thanksgiving…or is it?

Excerpt:
Troy turned down the street, bone-deep exhaustion warring with anticipation. Tired as he was, doing a double-shift before Thanksgiving was worth it so he and Derek could have two days free together. Thanksgiving was for Derek’s family, and the day after for just the two of them. Even after two years as a couple, he still couldn’t believe how happy he was. How eager to come home to Derek. How thankful he was they’d found each other.

He saw Derek’s Toyota in the driveway as he caught sight of the house. Derek shouldn’t be home. He’d been scheduled to work at his family’s restaurant until early evening, and that was still hours away. Derek’s schedule had never run unexpectedly early.

His stomach clenched. He had a bad feeling about this. A very bad feeling.

As soon as he’d parked, he grabbed his duffle bag and hopped out, barely tugging his coat from the car before the door shut. He trotted up the walkway to the front porch. Gut still roiling, he paused for a long deep breath then slowly opened the door, unsure of just what he would find. He was sure it wouldn’t be good.

He heard a loud clatter from the direction of the kitchen, followed by a snarled curse. Oh yeah, not good at all. Nothing in the kitchen ever fazed Derek, not even the time they’d gotten too distracted by the recreational uses of clarified butter and their dinner had caught on fire. Troy had been the one who’d almost fallen over when he rushed to get the fire extinguisher from the pantry, forgetting his pants were around his ankles. Derek laughed hysterically at Troy ’s shuffling hop, but still managed to put out the fire with a pan lid and even retained the presence of mind to silence the smoke detectors before a neighbor called the fire department.

It had taken him three tries to get the oily spots out of his favorite jeans, and to this day Derek persisted in cracking jokes about the perils of buttering him up. At least he hadn’t hurt himself and had to explain that to his co-workers.

He quietly set down his duffle bag near the stairs, took off his coat and hung it and his keys on their respective hooks. It only took a moment to sit on the wrought iron bench to take off his work boots and set them next to Derek’s chef’s clogs before padding toward the kitchen.

“Derek?”

The kitchen island had several grocery store bags on it. Why had Derek gone shopping when they were eating at Derek’s parents’ house tomorrow and would have leftovers enough for a week?

Turning the corner, he spotted Derek standing in front of the large stainless steel double sinks. He was still dressed for work in his white chef’s coat and a pair of his tacky baggy pants—this pair with brightly printed chili peppers on them. A big clear plastic tub sat on the floor near his feet, half-full of some liquid, and he seemed to be vigorously washing a rather large turkey with the spray nozzle.

“Derek?”

Still no response and the sick feeling in the pit of Troy’s stomach only got worse. He walked over to Derek and ran his hands up his lover’s back, slowly and firmly. Then back down Derek’s sides and around his waist.

Tense. So tense. Derek felt almost brittle to the touch. Not something he was used to feeling in his lover.

“What’s wrong, Derek? Why are you home already?”

No answer. He just continued to scrub at the poor abused turkey. Then Troy heard a telltale catch in his breath. A sob. Derek never cried; he just got angry and yelled a bit. What the hell had happened?

Troy reached over and shut off the water, then coaxed Derek to release the very clean turkey and the sprayer. His lover grasped the edge of the sink so tightly his knuckles were white through the thin latex gloves he was wearing. Tiny, not quite stifled sobs shook his body. “I’m here for you, love. What’s wrong? What happened?”

Troy rested his cheek briefly on Derek’s back, then pulled Derek’s wet hands off the sink and overcame his token resistance to turn him around. Troy caught sight of his face. “What the fuck! Who did this?”

Rage burned through Troy at the sight of the bandage below Derek’s right eye and the bruise that was blooming around it, the skin swollen and a dusky purple. “What happened, Derek? Tell me what happened.”