I Can’t Even…

So I’m sure you’ve heard the news about ARe.

The shocking, startling, out of the fucking blue news that they are closing. With three days notice. And only offering 10 cents on the dollar for 4th quarter royalties to authors who sold through them. Up until yesterday. If anything was sold today? Or in the next few days? Too bad for you, because they’re keeping it. If you have a book with ARe as the publisher? You’re really SOL because you get NO royalties in lieu of getting your rights back.

Utter. Bullshit.

Needless to say, I have pulled my self pub titles. Dreamspinner has pulled all their books as well. Not that the site is even working right now, because so many people are trying to take care of business before the 31st. Not that it seems to matter.

For me? As a self pub author with no clout? There’s not much I can do. I know a lot of lawyers, both from publishers and individuals, are being put on the case. Hopefully it will amount to something.

To put it bluntly, All Romance eBooks has screwed EVERYONE over. In the shittiest way possible.

(yes, I know I’m using language I don’t normally. But I think the occasion calls for it.)

It could be worse. It could be like Ellora’s Cave and Torquere and Silver who lied and strung people along. It could be like Samhain who said they were closing and then pulled a “ha just kidding” out of nowhere.

There’s no way they didn’t see this coming for months now, and they could have handled it far better than they did. ARe is a retailer first, but they are a publisher as well, and what they’ve done is despicable.

Though it was just this past January, not even a year ago, that Amber Quill announced it would be closing it’s doors. And they are the only ones who have done it right. They made the decision, they went about it professionally and respectfully. They paid us what was due. And rode off into the sunset with their heads held high. I’m even more grateful for that now than I was earlier this year.

Basically, it’s crap. It’s just so much garbage. And it sucks. And it’s discouraging. So very discouraging. Because it makes you wonder if there’s a point in trusting anymore?

So I’m gonna wallow in this for a couple of days. And be mad.

And then I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and see what’s next.

What Kind of Year Has It Been

So.

2016, am I right?

What is there to say about this year? I’ve been alive for a good number of them now, and I can’t recall ever encountering a year quite like this. Despite the good that has happened, the bad far outweighs it. The sheer number of celebrity deaths is astounding, and I have to wonder if the same exorbitant number also happened to people we’ve never heard about. So many figures who have shaped our lives have passed, and the sadness that accompanies the mourning is great.

The political situation. Here in America. In England…I’ve made it a point to be as well educated in this area as I can be, and my paltry knowledge exceeds a lot of people in this regard, and even I don’t fully understand the deep ramifications these situations will produce. No one truly does, I think. Talk about a lasting impact. The years to come will be a dark and dangerous time.

Aleppo. The massacre at Pulse. The Dakota access pipeline. Flint’s water. People of color gunned down in cold blood. So many other terrible things…

Our world was forever changed this year. And not necessarily for the good.

My personal life hasn’t been all roses either. I don’t talk about my personal life a whole lot, and there are reasons for that. But it’s been trying as well. Issues with my older brother. A beloved uncle’s health is failing fast. The unstable and incredibly upsetting day job.

I know I’m not alone in waiting for this year to be over and sending fervent wishes into the universe the next year is far better.

I saw a Tweet I’m holding hope on, by Maureen Johnson, which read “Maybe 2016 is the year a lot of heroes were born and we just don’t know yet.”

But there is good. There are people who reach out a hand to those who need it, stand up when other’s can’t, give and give and give until they have nothing left and then give some more. We see it, and we’re seeing more of it. And that gives me hope too.

And the positives in my own life? I’ve knitted tons of things, for myself, which I love (and fed my yarn addiction an obscene amount). I’ve written five stories, published three, am waiting to hear on the other two, and have begun another. I self pubbed for the first time. My sales have been steadily climbing. My family is still here. I have some very close friends who support me and cheer me on, and mean the absolute world to me. A BFF who is unwavering in loyalty, straight talking, and love. I’m fairly healthy. I have furbabies who are a constant comfort, and a new puppy to shower with love.

The good and the bad are unbalanced right now, but I truly believe it will head back in the other direction. When? I can’t say for sure. But I know it will.

For all of you who have struggled this year, it is my sincerest wish is that next year is vastly better, and that each year that follows continues to improve.

Hang in there. Find joy where you can. Take care of yourself.

Flash Fic Friday

**Here’s some more with Travis and Noah. Last week they decorated their tree. This week it’s all about the gifts. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!!**

The house was full to bursting with every member of my family. The kids were running around creating havoc with Gianna as the ring leader. Even the babies were in on the action. Micah was the smallest and youngest, but he even had his part to play. I watched them run around, my sister Marielle riding herd and trying to keep any one of them from getting injured, maimed, or worse, in trouble with Nana. My older brother Nick was helping, occasionally managing to wrangle a baby and keep them occupied for minutes at a time. The rest of my siblings, and assorted spouses, were watching with amusement while my mother tried to feed everyone, my nonna chastised in rapid-fire Italian, and my father looked on indulgently. It was basically another Christmas Eve in the Mastriano household and I loved it.

The children were getting restless, and pretty soon, we’d have to start opening gifts. With or without Travis. He’d had no choice but to work the holiday, but he’d lucked out and not only snagged a shift on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas day, it had also been an earlier shift. He’d been scheduled to finish at five, and then his plan had been to go home, change out of his uniform and be at my parents house about six.

It was now almost seven.

I wasn’t exactly worried. As a trooper, any number of things could have come up to keep him on shift. And keep him from texting me saying he was going to be late. Unless he was dragging his feet on purpose. Travis had every good reason to be wary of the Christmas Even celebration at my parents. Last year had not gone very well. In the end, it had worked out. Mostly. And I knew he’d be here. He said he would, and the man never lied or went back on his word. But I could understand if Travis was reluctant.

My phone let out a snippet from a carol, letting me know I had a text, and a glance at the screen showed it was from my boyfriend. Travis didn’t elaborate but he did say he was sorry and that he’d be here in twenty minutes. I was sure he’d tell me later what exactly had held him up. In the meantime, I let my mother know Travis was on his way, and she set Nonna and the kids the task of sorting the presents.

Travis made it in nineteen minutes, and I met him at the door with a kiss and a hug. I didn’t want him walking into the packed living room alone. He held me extra tight for a long minute, and then together we entered the chaos. It took us a while to work our way across the room, because everyone had hugs, kisses, and Merry Christmases for Travis. By the time we made it back to the couch, Joe had procured Travis a plate of food. My mother wouldn’t allow the gift opening to go on until Travis was fed, and Joe was trying to expedite the process. Travis gave him a grateful smile, a fist bump, and settled down into the corner of the couch, making sure there wasn’t space to breathe between us.

All I could do was smile.

An hour and a half later, all the kids were happily entranced by new toys, and we were halfway through opening the adult gifts. Since we had the tradition of the youngest starting and moving up through the ranks, quite a lot of presents had been opened. Nick had just finished, which meant that Travis was up next, since he was a few months younger than Joe. Nerves fluttered in my stomach as Travis reached for my mother’s gift first. She spend all year knitting, sewing, or otherwise crafting gifts for the entire family, and I knew it meant a lot to Travis. His own family couldn’t be bothered with presents even when he was a child, so that my mom took the time and put the thought in was special to him. I wasn’t suprised that he picked up that one first. But that he had made my pulse pick up.

I knew what was inside.

Travis ripped off the paper, then opened the box with a sort of reverence one didn’t usually reserve for gifts. The mittens inside were a rich, cobalt blue. I’d picked the yarn from Mom’s stash three months ago. She’d thrummed them, adding wool to the inside to make them especially warm. And the outside was decorated with an intricate cable. They’d be mittens he wore when it was negative fifteen degrees out and the sidewalk needed to be shoveled.

“Thank you, Angela,” he murmured, awe in his voice. He hadn’t been able to call her “mom” the way she used to insist upon since the year before, and even though I could see a little bit of hurt around my mom’s eyes, she understood. It had taken them awhile to get back to where they’d once been, though they weren’t quite there. Her behavior last year had been forgiven but not entirely forgotten.

“You’re welcome, honey.”

Travis slipped them on, as we all knew he would, and my heart literally skipped a beat as adrenaline flooded my system. I saw the moment he realized something was inside, his eyes went wide, and shot to my mom. Slowly, he pulled his hand out, and then stared in utter shock at the ring he had caught with his pointer finger.

My mom smiled, a little of the sadness leaving her eyes. “It was my father’s.”

Travis’s mouth gaped open, and then he shut it and swallowed hard. “Angela, I don’t…what?”

I took that as my cue and dropped down onto my knee before him. I looked up at him, his bright blue eyes shiny with tears, love and affection all over his face, and fell in love with him all over again.

He knew how I felt about him. How hard I loved him, and how much I wanted him in my life. We talked about it all the time, and never lost and opportunity to tell each other. So as I knelt before him, and took his left hand in mine, I only had to say two words.

“Marry me?”

“Absolutely.” He let me take the ring and slide it onto his finger, then he yanked me up so that he could kiss me hard and fast. When we pulled apart, we were both a bit misty eyed, and couldn’t seem to tear our gazes away from each other.

“Love you, baby.”

“And I love you.”

Puppy and Progress

Okay so puppy first. Because, really. What else matters when you’ve got a new puppy in the house? We’ve had him all of, I don’t know, 15 hours and he’s just the best thing. Remarkably chill for a seven week old pup.  Meet Brutus! image1

So other than that? I wrote the first 5k of the next story! This one is a paranormal contemporary, so, you know, world building. World building is my favorite thing. Not necessarily for myself, but definitely in other people’s books. I want to know how it all works, and then, I want to see the story unfold within the confines of the world. So. Because that’s important to me as a reader, I will endeavor to do that as a writer as well. I’ve already had some early feedback about what questions need to be answered (discussing the world with a friend) and I’m pleased to know that most of that was already on the docket with the rough outline I have.

That’ll be my focus for the next several months as I endeavor to finish it by the deadline. It needs to be a bit longer than what I generally write, so I need to make sure I have a plot and various points that will carry the story through all the way to the end. It’ll take some planning on my part, but that’s just fine.

In the meantime, I have two others at the publisher that I’m waiting to hear on. And His Needs is on sale everywhere! Friday had their first flash fic, and I expect we’ll see them a couple of more times before we’re done with them. 😀

So that’s the low down on me, and the progress I’ve made. Hope all is well with all of you and that the holiday season is treating you well!

Flash Fic Friday

**Travis and Noah are out in the world, and you can get His Needs now at all major retailers! I’ve you’ve already read it, here’s the next installment. Travis and Noah, a year later.**

I kept anxiously glancing at the clock and then at the door. I’d only been home twenty minutes, but it felt like longer. With the blizzard blanketing the area, both Travis and I had gotten called into work. Well, he’d already been there, and just had to stay longer. I’d had to go in and work an extra shift. The car accidents alone were keeping our ER hopping. Fortunately, there wasn’t anything too major. But it was a steady non-stop flow for the entire eight hour shift.

Travis had been duty going on twelve hours.

I wanted him home. More than just wanting him snuggled up with me in our cozy apartment–he’d moved in with me almost nine months ago–I was worried about him. He hadn’t slept well the night before, and now he’d been working, out in this storm, for way too long. I knew he wasn’t taking care of himself, he never did, and as I thought about it, I got even more anxious. Travis probably had spent the day drowning his hunger in coffee and not taking any breaks.

The familiar clomp of his boots on the stairs up to our front door had me jumping to my feet. I yanked open the door just as he hit our little hallway landing, and my heart stuttered. Travis had brushed the snow off as best he could, but he was still dusted in it, and his smile as he looked at me was weary. There were dark circles under his blue eyes, and the stubble covering his cheeks glittering as the flakes melted.

I grabbed his face and pulled him in, kissing him hard and fast. His skin felt frozen beneath my fingers, and didn’t waste time. Once I’d greeted him thoroughly, I tugged him inside.

“Shower,” I said firmly. “Get out of those cold, wet clothes and into a warm shower. Now.”

“Hi, baby. Good to see you. How was work?”

I squinted at his playful tone and the way his eyes sparkled with amusement. “I’ll tell you all about it. After you’re warm and dry. Go. I’ll bring you sweats.”

He captured my hand. “You could join me.”

I shook my head, but then used his grip on my to guide him toward the bathroom. “Not now. Get clean and warm.” I shoved him through the door and shut it on his laughter. I smiled, then retrieved his favorite sweat pants and sweatshirt from the bedroom. I set them, along with clean pair of boxers, on the edge of the sink, then ducked back out of the bathroom before the sight of his wet, naked body tempted me too much and buckled my resolve.

By the time he emerged fifteen minutes later, I was ready.

Travis went stock still when he saw the tree leaning against the far wall and the totes containing the Christmas decorations. With only two weeks left before the day, we were behind schedule. But we’d both been working a lot of overtime and hadn’t quite managed to make our schedules mesh. We’d talked about one or the other of us going to pick out the tree by ourselves, especially as the days wore on. I hope he wouldn’t mind that I’d taken the initiative on the way home to do just that.

“It’s perfect,” he murmured, not looking away from the tree.

I grinned, relieved. I made a point of going to the same lot he had gone to for years, and picking out a tree as close to last years as I could. I knew what he liked, and I wanted to do everything I could to make sure he liked it. It was our first together, in our home, though last year’s had felt like ours too. But this one felt even more important.

Travis crossed the room and grabbed me, wrapping me up in his thick arms and bending to tuck his face against my neck. He breathed deeply for a long moment, then kissed below my ear. I shivered a little, then gently pulled back. He was grinning.

“Thank you, baby. This is exactly what I needed.”

I waggled my eyebrows. “I’m good at taking care of your needs. Because I love you.”

“And I love you.”

I knew he did. I took his hand and led him over to the tree. “Let’s decorate our home for Christmas.”

Release Day!!

I’ve taken the day off from the day job to bask and do writerly things, and I’m up because the cat demanded food and was pulling my hair, but yay! Because it’s release day! His Needs is out!

!!

I’m over at Two Chicks Obsessed today with an exclusive excerpt and some behind the scenes stuff, which is always fun. And I’ll be popping up in different place over the next few days.

And if you wish, you can get it in all the regular places.

Dreamspinner Press     Amazon   BN    Kobo 

When State Trooper Travis Kinslow is injured right before Thanksgiving, the only positive is that for once he won’t be working during the holidays. Since he has no family, Travis was absorbed intohisneedsfs_v1 his best friend, Joe’s, and he considers them as good as his own. Everyone except Joe’s brother Noah. Travis has been in love with the younger man for much of his life, but he’s always kept his distance.

As an ER nurse, Noah is a caretaker by nature. When his brother’s best friend is hurt, he’s happy to help Travis while he heals. He’s only ever allowed himself to think of Travis as the next best thing to an older brother, but by the light of the Christmas tree, Noah finally sees Travis’s true feelings. And in that moment, everything changes.

When faced with opposition and a Christmas nothing like they imagined, will their hopes for the future be enough to carry them through?

One Day More!

Tomorrow! New release, holidays and friends-to-lovers and hurt/comfort and dirty talk  and good feels!

His Needs Dreampsinner Press    Amazon   BN    Kobo 

When State Trooper Travis Kinslow is injured right before Thanksgiving, the only positive is that for once he won’t be working during the holidays. Since he has no family, Travis was absorbed intohisneedsfs_v1 his best friend, Joe’s, and he considers them as good as his own. Everyone except Joe’s brother Noah. Travis has been in love with the younger man for much of his life, but he’s always kept his distance.

As an ER nurse, Noah is a caretaker by nature. When his brother’s best friend is hurt, he’s happy to help Travis while he heals. He’s only ever allowed himself to think of Travis as the next best thing to an older brother, but by the light of the Christmas tree, Noah finally sees Travis’s true feelings. And in that moment, everything changes.

When faced with opposition and a Christmas nothing like they imagined, will their hopes for the future be enough to carry them through?

 

For some extra content, I stopped into Alpha Book Club yesterday and an hitting up the DsP blog today! I’ll also be stopping at other places around the internet in the coming week, with some exclusive excerpts, contents, and giveaways so I’ll keep you updated!