What a Long, Strange Trip…

I’ll be honest, I barely remember starting to write The Tenth Muse. It came about because my agent put out a call to her clients, looking for a m/m New Adult romance that was frankly sexual. The journey from writing to publication was a long one, undertaken during my mother’s long term illness. I don’t remember what editor initially asked for the book, but it found an excellent home at Pride Publishing.

I’d been tinkering with a story about a young man who was descended from both the fae and Greek dieties, but this call brought up some other ideas. I wanted a story linked with that original idea, but fresh, and with different characters.  I looked at pictures and ran across gender-bending models, and suddenly the idea clicked: Eros, the God of Love has run amok on Earth.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first stumbled upon mythology. Very young…I do know that. My sister had a paperback from school, a translation of the best known Greek myths, strung together almost like a novel. I do remember the translator was a woman. After that, I found the Odyssey among my uncle’s books. Later I went to the library and tried the Illiad, but it was too much for me. (Still is!)

I loved the stories then, and when I decided to write my own spin, I pulled out my notes from college Greek history courses and pulled a few elements that intrigued me then. Ideas like Chaos and Logos, and the cult of Orpheus.

I’m not an expert at all this, but I think I managed to pull together a theme that travels under the surface of the story. The fertility and lust elements of Eros fuse with the intellect of young Rees, joining the heart and the mind. Its a recipe for love!

I had some fun and took some liberties that purists will probably raise their brows at. In fact, there’s even a nod to Ranma 1/2 buried in there! But in the end, the story of Eros and Rees is a story of love, acceptance and family. And when your mother is Aphrodite, and your father is Ares, family life is always the stuff of legend. 🙂

The Tenth Muse is available for pre-release at Pride Publishing and will be available for general release on May 17.

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In a wicked game, the God of Love falls to his own arrow, and a gentle scholar learns how dangerous knowledge can be.

Aphrodite has had it.

It was bad enough that her son Eros walked a fashion show in drag, but did he really have to show the entire world his wings? Desperate to rein in the impulsive young god, she recruits the scholarly muse Rees to lure him back to Olympus until the scandal dies down.

After hundreds of years, Eros has finally located the reincarnation of his former love, Psyche. The only way to her heart is through fame, so the God of Love plans a daring campaign to win her back. Yet the closer he gets to Psyche, the more he’s drawn to a geeky young professor who came crashing into his life.

Eros drags Rees into his wicked world of high fashion and risqué parties, only to expose him to danger from an unexpected source. When Rees’ secrets come out, they threaten to destroy Eros’ love for him. Yet when Rees is kidnapped, Eros is forced to turn to the woman who set this catastrophe in motion—his mother, Aphrodite.

Buy at: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/the-tenth-muse

Pre-order at Amazon

Re-Create Your Life

A long time ago, a teacher at my JC used to urge his students to spend time every week playing. He urged us to take time out to get away from the routine of classes and to clear our minds, whether it was on the basketball court or taking a walk…anything to get us up and out of the routine of study and work.

He told us that the word recreation broke down into “re-creation.” It was what allowed us to re-set our brains and to re-charge our batteries.

Sometimes I forget that lesson. We all do. We go day after day, taking care of our families, doing our jobs, and as writers, agonizing over sales, edits, and producing the next manuscript.

I just spent nearly a week with a friend, taking our semi-annual retreat, holed up in a hotel room, sometimes ordering room service and basically just staying unplugged. We worked…yes. But we also unwound. We confessed our fears to each other, shared our frustrations and listened while the other poured out all the unwritten ideas, the fledging stories we wanted to write and our hopes and our plans for the coming year.

I look back on the week and while I didn’t get as many words written as I’d planned, I came home re-set and ready to go back to work, to grapple with my duties as a caregiver and as a writer. I can look at tomorrow and the next day without flinching. My insomnia is still gripping my nights but I have a new approach that doesn’t involve crying jags or sleeping pills.

Regardless of what you do in your life: if you’re a parent, a writer, a clerk or an executive, it’s imperative to sometimes step back and give yourself that space to regroup and recover. Go to a movie, take a walk, go window shopping or go for a swim. Play. Have fun. Laugh. Hire a baby-sitter, check into a hotel and sleep late.

Dream. Fantasize. Then write down that fantasy and what steps it will take to attain it. That’s when it becomes a goal.

Enjoy your re-creation. Enjoy your life.

All They Want for Christmas….

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Christmas Eve…A Bad Angels short story

As the season approached, she thought about it. Noemi Gasteneau thought and pondered and spent far too much time on Amazon, to no avail.  She’d heard the stories of their first days together, when Rex had found a broken angel in a muddy field; when they’d been afraid of the attraction and the love and the fact that fate had thrown them together. They’d told her the stories and sometimes, she’d even been there.

Noemi considered those stories when she took the train to Edinburgh and walked the streets and the winding passages running off the Royal Mile. She looked past the shops selling tartans and haggis-in-a-can, and passed by the Tappit Hen, pausing to peer in at the crafts and art.

She stood at an intersection for a moment, looking up at the facade of an ancient building and had vague, barely realized memories of markets and cattle and hoards of people crowding the streets, running cattle to market and haggling over lengths of cloth. She caught the smell of manure and the tang of lavender from the shop that sold herbs and unguents and magical charms.

She followed that scent and found what she was looking for down a tiny crooked close she’d never seen and would probably never find again. Inside the tiny shop the walls were lined with music…with instruments so delicate the breeze from the opening door caused them to sing. She thought of the old lute hanging on the wall of their cottage, it was Rex’s lute, though Rion had long ago taken the instrument and taught it to sing with a voice as sweet as the one he’d lost.

Noemi closed her eyes and conjured up an ancient memory of an angel with the voice of heaven, and she shivered, and then rested her hand over the swell of her belly where their baby grew. All around her, stringed instruments murmured softly, singing imperceptibley to the unborn child, and she knew that one of those voices was that which she sought.

She stepped around a display of sheet music and looked high on a crowded wall and found it. The voice had been calling, it would come to life under the skilled hands of her men. Rex would play jaunty melodies that would draw them to dance, and Rion would make the violin cry with passion and love.

It was too high for her to reach and when she turned to look for a shopkeeper, he appeared, a man barely five feet in height. His grizzled hair was short and curly, his back slightly stooped. His stubby hands were twisted and thick, but once he retrieved the violin, he deftly tuned it and coaxed beauty from the strings.

She took out her wallet, drew out a stack of bills. Without smiling, he shook his head in refusal and pointed to a sign.

No Cash, No Checques, No Credit.

She looked at him in question.

“How do I pay?”

“Bring them back Christmas Day, so I can hear them.” His dark brown eyes didn’t sparkle with happiness, nor did he smile. He simply placed the beautiful instrument into a leather case, and then wrapped the package in fine linen. He fumbled in a drawer and slipped a card into her hand. It was heavy paper, the address of the store printed in fine calligraphy.

“Don’t lose it, or you won’t find me again.” Now a smile played over his lips, and to her surprise, he was suddenly beautiful.  Like Rex, magic simmered beneath a facade that was humble and plain. “Your payment is an angel’s song.”

Noemi’s smile faded. “He no longer sings. His voice was destroyed.”

The little man took her hand, opened it and held it in his own, staring down at her palm. “So much life here. You take and you give, and then you give more.” He looked up at her her. “You have a healer’s hands.”

“I”m a doctor.”

He held onto her hand, though he looked away and began to hum a wordless melody, his voice sweet and unearthly. He was old…older than time, maybe older than the very Earth. Before he broke into open song, he bent and gently kissed her hand, then folded her fingers over the kiss.

“And there is your gift to him.” He released her hand. “Hold it tight. Don’t let it go. Bring them here tomorrow. For Christmas                          .”

Her hand burned, but Noemi kept her fingers clenched and carried the violin in her other hand. She walked down the hill to the train station and boarded the train, focused on the magic he’d placed there, where it mingled with her own. When she got to her station, she got off the train and there they were, waiting, charmed to look like normal men, but to her eyes, they were astounding.

“How was shopping?” Rex took the package and eyed it curiously before placing it in the boot of the car. He then kissed her lightly. He frowned, opened the car and took the violin out, cradling it in his arms. To her amusment, he began unwrapping it.

“It was good. Very good.” She kept her hand clenched, even as Rion hugged her, a world of love packed into that gesture.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” His raspy voice was low and rough, and though she knew she’d miss the sound of that broken voice, the gift in her hand was of far greater worth.

Rex had opened the violin case, his hazel eyes blazing as he lifted the fine instrument. He plucked the perfectly tuned strings, and he looked at Noemi in shock.

“I did.” She smiled and placed her hand to his throat, slowly opening and spreading her fingers, letting her healing merge with the ancient magic of the little fae from the shop. “We’ve got an invitation in the city, for Christmas dinner.”

Rion opened his eyes wide at the sensation, and then cleared his throat. He coughed and Rex slapped him lightly on the back. Rex plucked a string and Rion absently hummed, matching the note with crystalline clarity.

Shocked, he looked at Rex, and then at Noemi. He rubbed his throat as though it hurt.

“Noemi?”

“Merry Christmas.” She tugged his long red hair and linked an arm into Rex’s and tugged them to the car. “Let’s go home.”

The End

The Bad Angels series is available at Pride Publishing as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance E-books and at other outlets.

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Comment every day of the Hottest Christmas List event for more chances to win some great prizes! I’m giving away the entire Bad Angels trilogy to one lucky winner. Check out what else is up for grabs!

Belinda McBride Bad Angels books in E-format (3 books; 1 prize)
Emilia Mancini Seducing Kate in E-format
Jianne Carlo Manhandled, Sinner, and Prymal Lust in E-formats (3 prizes)
KaLyn Cooper Cancun Series in E-format (3 books; 1 prize)
Robin Danner Bound and Christmas Spirits in E-format (2 prizes)
Sara Daniel Captivating the CEO in E-format and One Night with the Bridal Party paperback copy (US only for print copy)
Tami Lund Into the Light in E-format and a silver paw print bracelet (US residents only for the bracelet). If winner is outside US – 2 EBooks – Into the Light & Dawning of Light, first & second in the Lightbearer series.
Annie Anthony One Exquisite Night in E-format and a burgundy surprise box (you’ll appreciate this surprise when you read the book!). US or Canadian residents only to win the box. Winner must be at least 18 years old. (2 prizes)

Grand Prize: a Diamond Necklace. Yep, you read that right.

Winners will be selected by Random.org and selected Dec 19th, announced on Dec 19 & 20th on the weekend blog. Winner must be in Continental US and Canada, due to shipping costs.
Please leave your email so we can contact you.
Thanks for playing and Good Luck!

 

 

 

 

Push Those Buttons, Hit That Wall!

Hello! This is my first blog at Love, Lust and Laptops, and I’m very excited to be part of this group. I’ve been quite jealous of these authors and was beyond pleased at being invited to participate!

So. To start:

Here are some things I hate in my personal life:

Cheating. On a partner, on an exam, on your taxes. When I’m with someone, they know they have one shot with me. I have no compunction about ending it when I’m cheated on. Same goes for lying. Or even withholding the truth. I don’t like cheating in romance. I don’t like it in any way, shape or form.

Spanking. Don’t even consider coming near my ass with your hand. I will bite it off, chew it up…and swallow.

Twincest in romance. Ew. Just…ew. It’s the kinda thing that puts people in counseling.

Yelling. I hate it. Don’t do it unless you’re yelling at Lassie to untie the rope and rescue Timmy from the well so he can go get the little neighbor girl off the train tracks. Yelling puts me into automatic flight mode.

Television. Guns. Bullies. Tailgaters.

Mansplaining.

What does this have to do with writing books?

When we write, there are so many elements that go into the construction of a story: characters, an engaging plot, conflict, tension, setting and so forth. Way back when…in my early days of writing, I stumbled across a story that offended the hell out of me. It made me feel so icky, and I went online for days, doing anthropological research. It was a twincest story and the damned thing just rattled my brain. Was it bad? Good? I don’t really know. Remember my comment about people being in counseling over that sort of thing? I worked in Children’s Protective Services for a stretch of time and saw too many kids in unwanted sexual situations. Not always with adults. So I had issues with that story.

Nevertheless, I recognized that my reaction to this book was extreme. To make the scenario acceptable in my hysterical lizard brain, I dug back into my university days and found information on cultures around the world that practice variations of twincest. I eventually found a cultural mythos that was so beautiful, it worked. I can’t remember right off hand, but I believe it was a Mescalaro Apache tradition. They believed that an opposite sex pair of twins had been star-crossed lovers in a previous life, so the parents married the children at birth so they’d never be parted again.

I integrated elements of this mythos into the creation of the Somian species in Belle Starr. I created a species that believed twins were one spirit in two bodies, and a brother/sister pair would eventually marry and produce offspring who advanced the evolution of the species. Since it was removed from Earth and humanity, I was able to make some peace with the idea of such an extreme kink.

I pulled the same trick with spanking. I have such a violent reaction to spanking that I literally feel sick when I read it in a BDSM story.  So…I write spanking scenes. I make them make sense to me. I make those scenes playful or cathartic. I make those spankings something *I* can understand and accept.

This is how I take control my personal hot buttons. It’s not only like psychoanalysis on the cheap, but I believe it’s a method of instilling some potent tension into a story. I jokingly tell people I’m a Method Writer. I let emotions and sensations generated by my visceral reactions color my stories. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I just feel crappy afterward. Sometimes I feel better about myself and sometimes I write a bit of power into a scene.

Don’t be afraid to write or read out of your safety zone. Push your boundaries, hit those personal buttons. Take time to consider your reaction…physical and emotional. Even if you don’t understand what you’re feeling, embrace the fact that you are feeling.

I think indifference is poison to an author’s soul. Don’t be afraid to charge that boundary and hit that wall.

You’ll get up again.

Belinda McBride

http://www.belindamcbride.com

Belinda’s newest release is the Bad Angels trilogy, now available through Pride Publishing, and at all major outlets. Now available in paperback!

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http://www.amazon.com/Belinda-McBride/e/B003LDKSZ0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1446101139&sr=8-1