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Off To The Races

By On Aug 27 2014, 9:00 am

He’s racing for a prize…

It started with Ben-Hur, because I could watch that chariot race over and over. The moment when the horses leap the wreckage and just keep going is lovely.

I’ve always liked stories about races, whether those are between cars (Cars), horses (Seabiscuit) or early planes (Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines). Provided we care who wins, a race is inherently suspenseful.

Plus, it’s a test of skills. Skills, it has to be said, that I lack across the board. For some reason, I have never won even a game of musical chairs, so I love vicariously participating in spectacular trials of speed—and winning them, of course.

She’s running for her life…

Last year I spent most of a weekend watching films like The Caine Mutiny and Das Boot, which made me think about a race across the ocean. Sailing—or traveling underwater, for that matter—can be so dangerous in and of itself, just arriving alive at your destination is often enough to ask for. Weather, pirates, water supplies—all these make an ocean race more of a survival marathon.

Then I read about the built-for-speed ships called clippers. With their small size and extra sails, these ships made great smugglers and blockade runners. They also played a role in the opium and tea trade, and I couldn’t get through the day without tea.  But by the 1870s, steamships started to edge them out.

That gave me an idea. What if the captain of a newly built steamship was ordered to compete in a race against well-known sailing ships, commanded by people with years’ more experience? The steamship captain would be under even more pressure to win, to demonstrate his ship’s newfangled technology as well as proving himself.

Of course, the captains of the sailing ships would pull out every trick in the book to beat the upstart to the finish line.

And they’re on a collision course…

That’s what happens to Captain Alyster Juell in my sharkpunk romance The Farthest Shore. He’s confident of winning the lucrative prize, but the first sign that things won’t go as he expects is a stowaway on board. Now it’s too late to send her ashore.

Miri Tayes was in a race too. She didn’t stow away on purpose—she ran from a man who tried to kill her when he discovered her secret. She’s always been trying to escape from that secret. But there’s no place to run on board a ship. The voyage will force her to confront her past, just as Alyster will get past her barriers. And for both of them, love could be the greatest prize of all…

The Farthest Shore

Double (or is it Triple?) Meaning

By On Aug 6 2014, 9:00 am

When it came time to name my current romance series, I got tricky.  I had a concept for a series that was so cool, with lots of twists and turns.  I could envision the books clearly in my head, and I wanted a name that tied them all together as well as the overarching plot did – but I didn’t want to spoil any of the surprises.  When the name came to me, though, I didn’t know if I dared.

Triple X.

It has a certain connotation.  I was well aware of that, but the title fit the series so perfectly, I couldn’t resist.  They say sex sells, so I decided to go for it, although I was very careful to always spell out the word “Triple.”  The books are steamy contemporary romances, so readers buying them for that reason would have something to appease them, but it was the secret meaning behind the name that got me more excited.  Why?  Because my story concept was about identical triplets reuniting and finding the men that they love.  If I just gave the sisters names that contained the letter “x”, everything fit perfectly.

Lexie, Maxie, and Roxie

For a split second, I nearly wimped out and went with Triplet X, but that would have given away the first major twist.  (It also sounds like a bad sci-fi television movie. ) So Triple X it was.  The fact that I loved the names was just the icing on the cake.  They matched the characters’ personalities so well.

So there you have it, the double meaning behind the name of my Triple X series.  Half the fun was waiting to see when readers would catch on.  The answer?  It took exactly one book.

Maxie’s book is now coming out in print, and I still have a few secrets left up my sleeve.  All the final twists and turns are being revealed.  I enjoy watching readers uncover those surprises as much as I did the first one.

So what about you?  Have you ever kept a secret you just couldn’t wait to tell?  Or am I the only one who gets a kick out of being sneaky?

Author Spotlight: Romancing the Geek

By On Jul 23 2014, 9:00 am

Get What You Need by Jeanette GreyI’ve never made any secret of the fact that I love a good geeky hero. Sure, geeks can be portrayed as ungainly and unbearably awkward on TV sometimes, but they have so much potential. They’re smart. They’re witty. They’re passionate about what they do.

And most importantly, they’re layered.

Perhaps my favorite thing about a really good, compelling geeky hero is the mixture of confidence and insecurity. This is a sweeping generalization, but I tend to think of geeks as being masters of their fields. They’ve always been good at their chosen areas of expertise, and when they’re in their domain, they own the playing field. Take them out of that comfort zone, though? Instant vulnerability as they’re forced to contend with things they can’t control.

Take a social situation, for example. While there’s nothing saying a geek can’t have a rich social life, buried at the heart of every one of them, I like to imagine there’s a kernel of the kid who didn’t get picked for the kickball team back in second grade. Being different from their peers has always set them apart, and it informs everything they do, even as relatively well-adjusted adults.

Greg London, the hero of my new book, Get What You Need, is a geek, through and through. He’s a graduate student in engineering, and he typifies this confident/insecure dichotomy. He’s always been good at school work, and he’s thrown himself into his studies with abandon. Anyone on the outside who looks at him would see a successful, driven young man. His housemate, undergraduate jock Marshall Sulkowski sure does.

But when Marsh comes onto him, Greg is paralyzed by that part of him that’s still a seven year-old boy with glasses, desperate not to be the last person chosen for a team in gym class. He thinks he’s boring, and that the glasses Marsh frankly finds dead sexy are ugly and unsightly on him. His unwillingness to believe that attractive, self-assured, popular Marsh could really want a relationship with him is one of the things that sets them off on a rocky trajectory together.

Throw in the fact that he’s a work-a-holic with communication issues?

Well, let’s just say that it’s a damn good thing Marsh sees what a brilliant, amazing person lives inside this geek.

And it turns out that Marsh is just the man to help bring that geek out of his shell and show him he’s deserving of love, sex, happiness, and so much more. Read more…

Author Spotlight: Sex and Secrets: Think of England and the Country House Party

By On Jul 16 2014, 9:00 am

The country house party. Symbol of a golden age of privilege, epitome of that brief, glorious time before world war when life (for a tiny percentage of the population) was as good as it probably ever got. Think Brideshead Revisited or Downton Abbey (early series), with handsome young men in cricket flannels, witty young ladies in dashing gowns, croquet on the lawn, attentive servants, hunting parties and endless, limitless luxury.

Nice for some, eh?

The country house party was an essential, and eye-wateringly expensive, part of the social whirl. Entertainments would involve shooting, drawing-room games, gambling (bridge and baccarat), flirting, political manoeuvring, marriage-arrangement, and of course sex. Lots of sex.

If you’re thinking the Edwardians were too polite for that, forget it. One had to behave with decorum, of course, one should not brandish one’s affairs in the public eye. But for many, adultery was a hobby, even in some cases a job. Bedrooms were openly arranged for the convenience of illicit love affairs. I have not been able to substantiate the story that some hostesses would have a bell rung ten minutes before the servants came up with morning tea, in order to allow guests time to get back into their own beds. But it’s apparently true that the notorious womaniser Lord Charles Beresford burst into a bedroom crying “Cock-a-doodle-doo”, fully expecting to find his latest lady love, and leapt onto a bed already virtuously occupied by a bishop and his wife. (There’s a menage opener for you.)

I set my m/m romance Think of England in a country house for several reasons. It’s written very much in the spirit of pulp adventure, with treachery, villainy and espionage. So a country house, isolated and miles from anywhere, meant that my heroes were trapped – forced to socialise, forced to collaborate, forced to all kinds of things that wouldn’t have crossed at least one of their minds. The impossibility of leaving and the need to keep up appearances make for all sorts of desperate circumstances. And mostly, there’s the sex. Because the essence of the country house party – the keeping up of polite appearances and the hot, sweaty reality concealed behind them – gives endless opportunities both for villainous goings on and for the most delicious romantic entanglements….

Lie back and think of England…

England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.

Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.

As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.

As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…

Product Warnings

Contains explicit male/male encounters, ghastly historical attitudes, and some extremely stiff upper lips.

Jenna Bayley-Burke @ RWA Conference Literacy Booksigning

By On Jul 11 2014, 12:00 am

Jenna Bayley-Burke will be signing copies of Drive Me Crazy at the RWA Conference Literacy Booksigning, San Antonio, TX

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