on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Category Archives: Authors M-O

PlayingBall_tourbannerWhoohooo, today is the release day for the baseball themed anthology Playing Ball. And in honor of this day, Kate McMurray and I thought we’d get together to discuss our lifelong love of two teams in particular, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox and some of the moments we remember in this ongoing rivalry.

Kate:
So, I am a lifelong Yankee fan who went to college in Massachusetts and, in fact, dated a Sox fan for almost ten years. (He was one of my favorite people to talk baseball with, even after we broke up, although we were dating when the Sox won the ‘04 World Series, and we had plenty to talk about that season. I almost wanted to root for the Sox to break the Curse of the Bambino—grudging respect and all that—though it was hard after they swept the Yankees in the ALCS. NOT THAT I’M BITTER.)

Anyway, I remember one game I watched with friends in college, and the Sox won and must have clinched something, their spot in the play-offs maybe, and all the baseball fans poured out of the dorms and gathered in the courtyard to cheer and talk about it—these are things we did before social networking, I guess—and, as was inevitable, chants of “Yankees suck!” broke out in the crowd. It didn’t matter that the Yankees hadn’t been anywhere near the game we just watched. (It also didn’t matter that this was the late-90s when the Yankees were AWESOME. Statistically, I mean; I’m not just saying that. I mean: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/201305-were-the-1998-yankees-the-best-team-ever) This is the funny thing about being a Yankee fan. Because there are two pools of baseball fans: Yankee fans and fans who hate the Yankees. No baseball fan has ambivalence about the Yankees. I’ve been to a few Mets games, and there is always at least one guy who whips the crowd into a “Yankees suck!” frenzy, even if the Yankees aren’t there.

Marguerite:
And I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan. Hell, it’s in my blood. When my Grandmaman emigrated to the U.S. she became a huge fan of baseball before she even learned English and settled right down in the heart of Red Sox country. She passed that love down to the rest of us, though my mother takes it to a whole different level. I remember when we were transferred to Ohio when I was seven and I teased my mom about becoming a Cincinnati Reds fans since that was the closest team just to watch her explode. See the Cincinnati Reds had beat the Red Sox in the 1975 World Series and my mother never forgot or forgave them even though we lived in Ohio for seven years. Her best friend came from New York and was a diehard Yankees fan and there were many summer nights where the two of them would watch the games, trying to encourage each others’ kids to switch team loyalties, and hooting/hollering the entire time.

And as for BITTER, I will never forget the 7th Game in the ACLS of 2003. We were sure that this was the year. It seemed like we always thought that this could be the year. But in 2003 it was feverish. The entire clan gathered at my mom’s house for Game 7, kids, grandkids, even the family members who weren’t huge baseball fans. (I cannot believe such a creature actually exists.) My son wasn’t even a year yet, trying to sleep on my lap as we followed each pitch, every damn swing. And when Aaron Boone got that damned home run the living room exploded.

Kate:
I have a good friend who lives in the Boston suburbs, and she and her husband are rabid, fanatical Sox fans. Their home office is completely Boston sports themed, with an entire wall taken up by 2004 World Series memorabilia. I am not making this up. I usually sleep in that room when I visit and it is terrifying. They come down to New York once a year or so for a game and usually invite me to tag along, so all of the Sox at Yankee Stadium games I’ve seen in person have been with them. There was a time when you could get bleacher seats at any Yankee game for 5 bucks, so I saw a few rivalry games that way. This is no longer true—I don’t think you can get even a hot dog for $5 at the new Yankee Stadium, no joke—but I saw some great Sox vs. Yankee games from the noisy bleachers, when people would get rowdy (and get tossed out of the stadium) even after the stadium banned the sale of alcohol to the Bleacher Creatures. (Not that one couldn’t get drunk at one of the many sports bars across the street before the game.)

Marguerite:
Sadly, I have never seen a live game between the Red Sox and Yankees. Being a military brat we were rarely stationed anywhere close to a baseball stadium. Except for the year we lived in New York when sadly I think my parents thought I was too young to enjoy a live baseball game. And now that I’m settled in Maryland most of the games we catch are at Camden Yards. (Another beautiful, old stadium.) And home is the Great North Woods of New Hampshire and nowhere close to Fenway. However, I do get a lot of grief for being a Red Sox fan from my Orioles fan buddies. Speaking of memorabilia, my brother-in-law on my husband’s side of the family is from New York and passed his love for the Yankees down to my niece who is one of the sweetest girls you’ve ever known. She came to my sister’s house for a party and hanging in the garage was a sign proclaiming, “Yankees Suck.” The poor child was shocked down to her toes and I took her aside and told her not to let it get to her. Even if this house was Red Sox territory, she was still welcome and she should wear her cap with pride.

Kate:
But it’s all in good fun. My Sox fan friends and (and my Mets fan friends) and my Yankees fan friends can talk baseball all day long, and it gets heated sometimes, but we joke around about it, too. But the Yankees are one of the greatest sports franchises of all time, and I will not hear arguments to the contrary.

My dad has a tee-shirt that says, “I’m a fan of two teams: the Yankees and whoever is playing the Red Sox.” I think that about sums it up.

Marguerite:
LOL, my sister has almost the exact same T-shirt, only with the opposite sentiment.

Seriously though, I love the rivalry, I love the history between the two teams, and the grudging respect. I love that Fenway played “New York, New York” after 9/11 and New York played “Sweet Caroline” after the Boston Marathon bombing. How many other teams/rivalries have that same kind of vibe?

PlayingBall_334x500Well, that’s our little take on being fans and rivals, though I think we could’ve gone on forever if given the chance. But we channeled our love for baseball into our anthology. Kate McMurray’s story is “One Man to Remember,” a wonderful historic tale set in 1927 New York. The characters are so memorable and she really captures the time period.

It’s 1927, and in New York City Babe Ruth and the Yankee’s unstoppable batting lineup, Murderers’ Row, is all anyone can talk about. Across town, the Giants’ rookie infielder Skip Littlefield racks up hits, creating a streak to rival the Babe’s. Worried his secrets could get out, he avoids the spotlight, but he catches the attention of lauded sports reporter Walter Selby, a notorious dandy whose sexuality is an open secret. Skip reluctantly agrees to an interview, and mutual attraction is sparked. Skip can only hope the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from his romance with Walt. Otherwise, his career and everything he loves is at stake.

My story “Wild Pitch” is about two retired players and best friends who have gone on to coach rival Little League teams in Vermont.

Ruben Martell fell in love with Alan Hartner during their years playing baseball. They stepped over the foul line once, but the encounter left them struggling with heartache and guilt, turning away from each other to focus on their families. Now retired from the majors, they run a batting cage together and coach rival Little League teams as they juggle fatherhood and being single again. Though Ruben has never given up hope that Alan might look at him as more than a friend, Alan seems determined to keep things the way they’ve always been. But long-buried feelings and desires have a way of resurfacing, and Ruben can’t wait forever.

Print link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4198
Ebook link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4197

To celebrate the release of PLAYING BALL and our blog tour, Shae, Kate, Kerry, and I have put together a pretty awesome giveaway.

Grand prize: A print copy of PLAYING BALL signed by all four authors, a unisex BBQ apron featuring hot athletes from Originals by Lauren, and swag from all four authors.

Runner-up prize: An ebook copy of PLAYING BALL and swag from all four authors.
The giveaway will run from 12AM Central on September 21, 2013 to 12AM Central on October 11, 2013. To give an opportunity for the authors to get together to sign the book and gather swag, the winners will be picked and the prizes shipped after the end of GayRomLit 2013.

But there are some rules:

You must be a resident of Earth, 18 years or older, who lives in a place where the viewing of adult material is legal. By entering the giveaway, you are indicating your agreement to the rules. Winners must provide a physical mailing address to receive their prizes. If a winner does not respond to the prize notification within 48 hours, the prize will be re-awarded.
Good luck!

CLICK HERE TO WIN


Thank you so much Cole for having me on the Armchair Reader! Today I am going to be talking about my new short novella Your Happy End.

So I’ve been trying to keep the subjects I talk about on this blog tour fairly light. This is a serious subject thought that does have a large baring on the book I am promoting, Your Happy End, and so I want to take it seriously.

Bullying is a huge problem that affects people in many different walks of life and for many different reasons. Bullying of LGBTQA people, especially in school setting has become one of the most high profile issues facing the queer community in the United States. It is an issue because a large number of LBGTQA children will be bullied in school often to an extreme level.

“Bullying” is a term we give to what I see as a combination of different kinds of abuse and harassment. Bullying combines elements of harassment, physical abuse or assault, emotional or physiological abuse, and sexual abuse or assault. It can happen anywhere, in work places, at home but it seems to be most troubling to the general public when it happens in schools between minors. Bullying in schools is common and always has been, getting beat up by bullies is such a common image American media with regards to the experience of childhood and school that most of us take it for granted. We don’t think about it as abuse and assault, although that is what it is. Unfortunately bullying can lead to real, serious trauma for the victims. Suicide attempts are not uncommon for people who have been victimized in this way over long periods of time and in some cases these attempts do end in death.

As we become more aware of the cost of bullying on the lives and well-being of its victims we have begun to shine more a spotlight on the problem with, I think, mixed results. Here I want to concentrate primarily on childhood bullying of minors by minors and specifically the bullying of LGBTQA youth.

In Your Happy End one of the main characters, Cooper’s, academic career was fought with almost constant bullying. During his high school years, he was harassed, intimated, threatened and assaulted for having a Southern accent in a private Northern prep school, for being a computer geek, for being slightly overweight and non-athletic, and for being gay. Cooper was also threatened and coerced into having a non-consensual sexual relationship with one of his victimizers – he was sexually assaulted.

Cooper has spent most of his twenties in therapy receiving the professional help he needs to move past the abuse. Even though he is at a point in his life when he is ready to have a healthy, committed relationship with someone, his experience still deeply affects the way he thinks. Throughout the book Cooper’s past impacts his understanding of his self-worth and of himself as a sexual being. Even though what Cooper experienced is not the only thing which defines him or even the most important part of him it still has a major affect on who he is.

I wish I could say Cooper’s experience is completely fictional but it isn’t. What Cooper experienced, the kinds of abuse he was subjected to by his classmates are slightly fictionalized accounts of things which have happened or where said to really LGBTQA people that I know. The way he views himself, the issues he still carries from the abuse, and the way it affects his and Jun’s relationship is also based on real life experience.

One of the things I wanted to be careful of when writing about Cooper’s experience was to take what he went through seriously and not try to excuse those who victimized and sexually assaulted him because of their age. Cooper’s frustration with the fact that there are so very little consequences for those who perpetuate this form of abuse, I think is everyone’s frustration, or should be.

Despite the growing media attention bullying is too often not considered “real harassment”, “real assault” or “real abuse.” Too often people dismiss bullying, especially among minors, as ‘boys being boys’ or a ‘mean girl’ syndrome even as it causes other children to drink bleach, or hang themselves.

Too often as well the perpetrators of childhood bullying when they get older are portrayed as ‘really nice people’ who just made unfortunate mistakes when they were younger, or got swept up in the moment. A long running trope both in the romance genre and in popular culture in generally is in fact for the victim of childhood bullying to fall for one of the perpetuators of it when they have both grown up. The message of course being that bullying is not a serious crime as much as a youthful mistake, easily forgiven by the victim and with no real baring on how the perpetuator will turn out later in life.

Related to this is the belief that when it comes to the bullying of LGBTQ people, the perpetuators of the abuse is often, if not always, queer themselves. This again is a common trope in the way the issue of bullying is dealt with both in fiction and in the media. The underlying message of this belief is that heteronormative society is not to blame for the abused and the death that abuse too often causes, since the bullying is essentially gay on gay violence.

The truth is bullying boils down to people feeling safe, justified and even empowered to victimize those they deem different from the group, the outsiders, the Others. Bullying happens because we live in a world what teaches us it is okay to abuse those not like ourselves. Specifically bullying of LGBTQA people happens because we still live in a world where being LGBTQA automatically makes you an outsider and thus deserving of abuse, harassment and assault. Bullying of LGBTQA youth is not the beginning and end of the problem, it does not exist in a vacuum. It is a symptom of a society in which there is only one right way to be when it comes to sexuality and gender that this is cisgender and straight.

Unfortunately Cooper bares the brunt of living in such a society, fortunately for him he doesn’t have to do it alone.

Read more about his and Jun’s story in Your Happy End.

Your Happy End - EE OttomanBy day Jun is co-owner of a comic book shop. By night, he provides the high tech gear used by superhero team Ghost Hawk and The Spider. Cooper is the computer genius and information specialist behind the vigilante known as The Shadow Avenger.

Attraction and a love of graphic novels make for a good start, but if they want to last Jun and Cooper will have to overcome secrets, danger, Cooper’s past and Jun’s firm belief that people in the superhero business don’t get happy endings.


Give-Away: if you are interested in participating in a give-away to win a copy of Your Happy End, visit my blog http://thisjourneywithoutamap.blogspot.com/2013/08/give-away-you-happy-end.html and leave a comment! The give-away closes on August 17th.


angelsredemptionTitle: Angel’s Redemption
Author: Azalea Moone
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 31k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Fallen Angels, Rockers/Musicians, Metal Music, Roommates, Luck, Insta-Love
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Twenty-four-year-old Blaine Schneider is seasoned to hardship. Since the age of eight, he’s experienced nothing but a swarm of bad luck: from the funny electrical fire in shop class to failing grades and relationships gone sour. He believes he’ll never get past it; only his band, ‘Til Dark, and their dream, keeps him going through it all.

Shortly after he mysteriously inherits a beautifully carved angel statue, Blaine also finds an apartment big enough to display the lifelike sculpture, and he thinks his luck has finally taken a turn for the better. But when he discovers the spell inscribed on the statue’s base, he frees Lynsael from his stone prison, a handsome fallen angel who claims to be Blaine’s former guardian angel, and then his luck really improves.

But while Blaine is falling hard for the angel’s blue eyes and lively personality, in the shadows, dark forces are working to keep Blaine and Lynsael apart. It will take more than luck for the pair to come through unscathed—it’ll take a miracle.

REVIEW

I shouldn’t apologize for my feelings and I try not to usually, but I will, because I tend to do that. Sorry ahead of time to those who put a lot of love and care into the creation of this book, this isn’t really going to be a positive review 😦

I have a love/hate relationship with angel stories. I think that maybe people are turned onto angels for a few different reasons, but a lot of it has to do with the loss of innocence. There are so many directions an author can take an angelic character — an exploration of literary history and popular angelic mythos, playing on the fallen angel theme and the dichotomy of innocence and corruption, angelic and human. Many romance novels place a lot of importance on world building as a backdrop to the reason their angel falls and then some place the romance itself as the focus of their story. Many of those stories are where I find myself not as interested. I like seeing an author’s imagination in world building of angel stories. I think that what I really don’t like is that I sometimes find angels in romance stories to be somewhat… vapid? without personality? They convey all of that innocence but it seems one dimensional. It’s hard to connect with a character like that, and even though it might be a purposeful choice because angels are in fact, not human (who knew?!), that doesn’t necessarily make it a good choice for the story.

That’s where I started to encounter some problems for me with Angel’s Redemption. I like this author’s prose, no doubt about that. And that is probably why I continually come back to read her stories even though, in the past, I’ve not been very kind in my reviews. So for me, taking a gamble on this story for review was… well, a gamble, what with the angel theme and my past history with not liking some of this author’s characters so much. The premise of this story is the freedom of an angel who is bound in a statue. Blaine received the statue, which has always mystified and alternately unnerved him, from his father’s best friend, an artist who worked on the statue for a long time and for some unknown reason left it to Blaine in his will. When Blaine moves to an apartment with enough space to showcase the beautiful rendition of the male form (au naturel), he puts it in a place where he can showcase it, even adding a spotlight to show it off.

In the meantime, Blaine is trying to make his sucky life better. Ever since the age of 8 he’s been terribly unlucky. Prior to that, his life was wonderful. Now that he’s 24 and with a band he’s proud of he thinks he might be able to master his own luck and make his life happier. There’s a chance for his band to play a weekly gig at a popular club, which will give them lots of visibility and even a bit of cash. His life and luck is looking up, if they can actually get the gig. It looks promising, if only his bandmates would get their shit together.

But Blaine is still mystified by the statue of the beautiful angel. Sometimes… he swears that when he walks by the eyes follow him and occasionally he sees a feather ruffle. It can’t be true, but further investigation of the statue reveals a strange phrase in latin marked on the base. Blaine’s curiosity could be the best, or worst thing that has ever happened to him.

I hate to sit and list the problems I had with this book. I mean, for the most part I still enjoyed reading it and I definitely didn’t hate it. But, I also found some things here that have bothered me with past Azalea Moone books and stories. One of those things, and the one of the biggest problems that I had here was the world building. It’s almost non-existent. I read through this whole book having no clue what was going on. It wasn’t because the characters were purposefully keeping secrets — they were — but, we’re often given references of things that have happened in the past. This is great because it helps us put the pieces of the story together ourselves, but there has to be a framework in which to fill in those gaps — a world. I read the blurb again when I finished the book and it had more detail than was in the actual book. Also, throughout the book, Lynsael continually asks Blaine to help him find out what happened with the statue. Both of them don’t understand how he broke out, how he was bound, or what the sculptor (Blaine’s father’s friend) really knew about any of this, including Lyn. Blaine offers to help, about a million times but something always seems to come up to distract him. This is just one of my pet peeves. It didn’t seem like a very good reason to stall them, to put off talking about their situation and finding out what is going on. It seemed more like an easy way to stall them until the ending of the story. It was just… frustrating to read, honestly. I would have liked to see them talk, not only to figure out why everything was happening as it was, but also to get to know one another — their history, their lives, their feelings — and by extension for me to get to know the characters.

I ended the book feeling like I didn’t really understand the story, only the few events that happened but no background at all to fill in the details and gaps. I also felt like I didn’t really know the characters well. I understood Blaine a bit better than Lyn, but not well. So I didn’t connect with them and I didn’t really see a connection between them. In another story by this author that I read and reviewed (“On Clouds of Obsession” in the Fraternal Devotion anthology, reviewed here), I felt like I didn’t really like one of of the main characters. And I felt that way about Blaine somewhat too. While he wasn’t the kind of asshole like in “On Clouds of Obsession”, he still pissed me off most of the book with his words toward Lyn and his refusal to help him and his general attitude of pissy and then, suddenly, he loves him. I didn’t get it, really.

I think that pretty much says everything. I didn’t really like the book and I feel like it needed more work to fill out the story. That and I just couldn’t connect with both of the characters. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this one.


His Roommate's Pleasure - Lana McGregorTitle: His Roommate’s Pleasure
Author: Lana McGregor
Publisher: Carina
Length: 30k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Erotic Romance
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: College, Jocks/Nerds, Nerds/Geeks, Roommates, Opposites Attract, Closeted, Coming Out, First Times
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

It started with an accidental click…but where will it end?

Desperate to turn in a paper, Adam borrows his roommate’s computer and mistakenly opens a folder that contains Josh’s collection of porn. Adam had no idea that his jock roommate was gay–and into leashes, paddles and domination. And Adam, an inexperienced virgin who’s only ever kissed one guy, is surprised to find himself curious about submitting…

Josh can’t believe that his roommate discovered his spank bank–and he can’t believe that Adam is so turned on by the thought of giving up control to someone. Taking a chance, he offers to look through the photos with Adam…and maybe try acting some of them out.

Night after night, the boys delve into their darkest fantasies of domination and submission. And as lust and experimentation grow into the promise of something deeper, Adam must decide if he’s brave enough to tell Josh how he feels.

REVIEW

I’ve been looking forward to reading and reviewing this book for months now, and I hate that I had to keep pushing back my review, especially after hearing so many of you talk about it in such a tantalizing way. And even though I think I may not have loved it in the way that some of you did, I can’t deny that it was a seriously sexy piece of story that I had to put down a few times just to take a breather.

It’s a pretty simple and embarrassing premise that leads to oh so much of something more. Adam’s computer is pretty crappy and he only has twenty minutes to log onto the university’s server online and turn in his paper. But his computer is once again crapping out on him. So, in order not to be marked down for his tardiness, he sneaks onto his roommate’s computer to send it in. But when he starts to shut down and erase all his work with a series of quick closing clicks before his roommate is due back to their room he stumbles upon something he never would have expected from his supposedly straight jock roommate — a gay porn folder full of guys in leather and an array of erotica BDSM regalia.

Then the worst comes. Adam’s roommate Josh opens the door before Adam can get his hand out of his pants — because he was obviously turned on and out of his mind — leading to a rather embarrassing situation for Adam. But Josh surprises him. They don’t know each other very well, even though they’ve shared the same room for six months of their freshman year. Adam took one look at all of Josh’s sports gear and assumed he was the same kind of jock who used to shove him in lockers in high school. College is supposed to be a chance to get away from all of that, to start over. He never knew that not only was Josh gay and apparently in the closet, but that they do have some things in common after all, because Adam is seriously turned on by the pictures of submissive men, skinny like him, tied up and dominated.

What might tear their relationship apart forever very soon crosses a line to bring them together. Instead of accusing Adam of violating his privacy, Josh starts to open up and ask Adam all sorts of naughty questions about what he likes in the pictures.

This story is rather short and had a different sort of dynamic than what we usually read, especially with characters this young. This could easy be in the New Adult set, but with so much sexual debauchery between the two, for pretty much the whole book, it really is very firmly an erotic novel, but also a romance. The dynamic is at once explicitly sexual, frank almost and at times for me riding the edge of uncomfortable. Told from Adam’s point of view, he quickly learns that what he wants is not just to be dominated by Josh, but also to be debased. And it isn’t the actions themselves that provide the intensity between them but their discussions. They talk out almost every scene before and during and they’re both very open to the other about what they like and want, but at the same time the newness of it all is uncomfortable. For most of the story they’re working around each other, feeling out their limits and their feelings about one another, and the frank openness with which they go about doing that was at times, almost a little embarrassing for me to read, lol.

On the other hand, I really liked the smooth transition between their frank business of sex setup and the intimacy that grows between them to a real relationship. In many ways, this is a very sweet story, because both of them are so refreshingly new to not only BDSM but also to sex that their scenes ride a line between extremely explicit and endearing. I admit that it did take me about half the story to really understand and get in the groove, but after that the story was cute.

This is definitely something that BDSM readers will like, but it makes it difficult for me to recommend in a way. It’s such a cute romance on the one hand, but the BDSM in other parts is intense. It isn’t intense in a play sort of way. There aren’t a lot of strange toys or play that crosses boundaries, but Adam finds that he very much likes the debasement aspect of submitting, to be embarrassed and made to feel dirty, and that might be a line for some readers. Honestly, with so many people liking this one already (and it’s a pretty cheap price), I’d say go for it and try it if you haven’t yet and at least see what you think of it 😉


One of the best parts of writing science fiction is getting to invent the fun gadgets you wish you had. For me, if I could have anything in the multiverse, it would be the translator software carried by Union’s ambassadorial corps in Thornless Rose.

For one thing, having a universal translation program installed in my brain would be very useful in Washington, D.C. It would make going through the paperwork of the international organization I work for much simpler by cutting down on the things lost (or at least stalled) in translation. I would also get to eavesdrop on more conversations on the Metro, which, in my defense, is some of the best observational learning on human nature a writer could have. And being able to pack the vocabulary multiple dozens of languages around means being fluent not only in two or three tongues, but dozens. I could read and write reports for the Mexican subsidiary in Spanish and then unwind by reading Les Miserables in the original French. Without having to endure a single class or shell out for one more Rosetta Stone tape.

If I go on like this, I’m going to want to hire my own personal scientist to invent this thing for me. I can even vaguely describe how it might work—computer chips implanted in the language centers of the brain, carrying some risk if there’s a clumsy operation. It would be pretty awful to wake up from a procedure that’s supported to turn you into a polyglot cyborg, only to develop aphasia instead (I’ll jot down that note for an angst-filled story).

Then again, even if you get a perfect installation, the program contents themselves may prove… strange.

As in Thornless Rose, where bodyguard Tyrel realizes

…though the stress lay on a different syllable, the Corrinan word for stranger was the same as for enemy.

In fact, maybe you’d prefer not to know everything the names in a language signify:

Verithe unfolded a data screen and examined the map display. “This seems to be called Lusabra,” he said. The Union translation program running in Tyrel’s mind whispered, Tears of our enemies fall like rain.
“Unexpectedly poetic.”
“Lua is just a verb distinguishing falling drops, as opposed to tumbling solid objects or a cascading flow, like a waterfall.”
“Still, at least it isn’t a cascade,” Tyrel persisted.
“Oh, an optimist.”Verithe laughed softly.

Knowing someone’s language brings you that much closer to understanding their thoughts. In the real world, that’s a good thing. Ironically, in a universe like the one in Thornless Rose, where instant comprehension of someone else’s words is actually possible thanks to technology, it may be more comfortable if it wasn’t. Especially when it does more to show the limitations of language than its possibilities.

“Thank you,” Verithe said, a phrase with implications of surrender and pleading not carried in his tone. He wouldn’t say it at all to a native Corrinan, not if he valued his dignity or his life.

On a happier note, being able to understand multiple languages would let you into entirely new worlds of wordplay and puns—I would appreciate, and maybe my characters might come to, too–

Veri, he should think of him as now. The translator chip told him it was a cognate for a dozen words—a songbird on Cussler, a Senian unit for measuring gold, and from some dying language on an obscure planet in the opposite galactic spiral, something like ‘extremely’ or ‘muchly’. It struck him as amusing, but he wasn’t certain enough of his newfound sense of humor to share it.

And more than once, at times of great emotion, Verithe speaks in his native language, relying on Tyrel’s translation equipment to get the message through to him.

One last word on the use of universal language software for diplomacy—provided the people around you don’t have access to the languages you do, you have a ready-made code to prevent being overheard.

“Don’t glower,” the diplomat murmured in one of the obscure languages provided by Union translator chips. Santiro might understand it, but the Corrinans couldn’t.
“I can’t help it. Instinct.”

If I haven’t yet sold you on the absolute necessity of inventing these tools by next week, at least this post has given me a chance to have some fun with language. As a writer, I love words. But sometimes sitting down to a blank page and trying to fill it with the tricky bastards is like herding cats—touchy, petulant cats who arch their backs and hiss if you draw near to pet them. Yet, on other days—days such as today obviously is for me—you can get swept up by a metaphor, tickled by puns, enchanted by ambiguities and beguiled by sudden fireworks of meaning. Words, words, words! Writing Thornless Rose has been the most fun I can remember having with them recently. Especially penning Tyrel’s curses in the name of his deity’s various primary and secondary sexual characteristics. In fact, I might even trade in my chance at a translator chip for the chance to use those in everyday conversation.

Thornless Rose – by T.C. Mill – Now Available from Storm Moon Press for just $3.99 (ebook)!

thornlessrose_tcmillTyrel Uvieras, a bodyguard serving the Union of planetary governments, has been assigned his most interesting charge yet: Verithe Jerrith, Union’s ambassador to what might be the most cursed planet in the galaxy. Something distinctly unsavory surrounds Corrina, whose first contact with Union space came through the stolen equipment of a stranded spaceship. Yet, Union policy requires an answer to the Corrinans’ request for negotiations. The best they can do is send a well-prepared diplomatic party—if it’s possible to prepare for what they find on the planet’s surface.

Tyrel and Verithe discover a mutual attraction, though Tyrel also thinks Verithe perhaps too lighthearted given their dire mission and certainly too gentle—like a thornless rose—to survive long in a dangerous world without protection. Tyrel tries to provide that protection, but the two men are captured in what is just the beginning of their descent into barbarity and treachery. They will be called upon to make unbelievable sacrifices and confront the “curse” of Corrina that brings out people’s darkest desires, endangering sanity and soul. Even their feelings for each other might not give them the strength to endure.


WhatThereIsLGTitle: What There Is
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 15,318 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Sports, Athletes, Baseball, Brooklyn, NYC, Roommates, Jock/Nerd, Food, Coach, Past Injury
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Former professional baseball player Justin Piersol needs a new life after a career-ending injury, and his job as a high school baseball coach isn’t exactly fulfilling. Still, things are looking up: he finds the perfect room in an apartment in Brooklyn with Mark, who writes a popular column on sports statistics.

Mark is nerdy and socially awkward and intensely shy, and he immediately develops a terrible crush on Justin, who barely seems to notice him. As they get to know each other, Justin admits he misses playing baseball, that coaching doesn’t scratch the itch. Mark confesses he thought he’d be married by now, that he wants a serious relationship. So they make a pact: Justin will help Mark find a man, and Mark will help Justin find something he loves more than baseball.

They put their plan into action… and then life gets complicated. Mark meets a nice guy named Dave, and Justin is suddenly crazy with jealousy. Justin realizes he wants to let go of the past and focus on the present, but as Mark and Dave become an item, Justin fears he’s too late.

REVIEW

I’ve been excited about this new story from Kate McMurray ever since she visited the blog in June for Kate McMurray Week. It’s another baseball story and though I first thought that it might be a spinoff/sequel, or in some way related to Out in the Field because the main character Mark works at Sports Net, it seems to have no connection.

The premise is a roommates-to-lovers story, when Justin visits Mark about a listing looking for a roommate to share his Brooklyn apartment. They find that though they’re different in a lot of ways — Mark is painfully shy in front of an outgoing and hunky Justin — they also have some things in common. Justin was once a baseball player, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Cyclones, before an injury forced him off of the field and into a coaching job. Mark works for Sports Net, writing about baseball statistics, but he’s never been an athlete himself no matter how much he enjoys the game. But most of all, Mark is just glad that a normal and sane person came in reply to his listing and actually wants to rent the room, no matter the fact that Justin is so hot it might be impossible for Mark to actually have a conversation with him.

After a little while, when the awkwardness of sharing a home with a stranger starts to abate and the two start to get to know one another, they both start to see that they’re unhappy in their lives. Justin is having a hard time coaching those who he knows will go on to have the career that he always wanted and coaching isn’t giving him the same thrill that playing did. Mark really wants to have a relationship and he confesses to Justin that he doesn’t know if he could ever meet someone because he’s so shy. So, the two decide to help the other out — Justin tells Mark that he’ll help him find a guy and Mark tells Justin that he’ll help him find something he’s passionate about, just as he was playing baseball.

Even though this had less baseball in it than I expected, I really quite enjoyed this story. It probably isn’t going to get rave reviews because it’s a short story and I have a feeling that a lot of readers are going to want more from this couple and feel like this story is too short. I don’t really think that’s true. We aren’t presented with a couple here that has issues they have to work through, together and individually, that will take them a long time to process in order to get their HEA. They’re more of a simple couple that takes a small amount of time and a little nudge to see that they could be good together. And that was fine with me, I finished the story enjoying it for what it was and feeling satisfied.

Fans of Kate McMurray will definitely want to read this story. All of the things that I like about her writing were presented here, like her love of Brooklyn and baseball, and I really liked how the food and cooking classes brought them together (food can definitely do that!). It was a nice story, sweet and light, and enough to tide me over for more of her work to come.