Free novella & an interview

So the last 24 hours have been quite busy for me!

Last night I got to have dinner with the wonderful Amy Lane and her amazing family. So much fun! Her kids (and her husband too!) are really fantastic.

Then this morning, Amy and I were interviewed on Capital Public Radio. You can listen to our segment here: http://www.capradio.org/news/insight/2014/06/09/insight-060914/

Amy is such a fabulous person. Plus we got to hang in the green room with a band called Kumyn, and the band members were really nice. And, of course, for the near future I can begin all conversations by saying, “Well, when I was hanging out in the green room with Amy Lane and the band….”

And also this morning, my novella Guarded released! It’s free! If you’re a member of the Goodreads M/M Romance group (also free) you can read it here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1857162-guarded-by-kim-fielding-6-9  It’ll be available to everyone for download within 5 days.

So today you can hear me and read me. 🙂 And it’s supposed to hit 105F here today and I think I need a nap.

Hell & High Water by Charlie Cochet– cover reveal!

Hell and High Water 
(Thirds Series, Bk #1)
By Charlie Cochet

Blurb: 

When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

Available for Pre-Order at 
Excerpt

Sloane observed Dex as he made his way to the center of the mat. The guy had a nice ass too. On that note, maybe it was time for Sloane to get laid. It had been way too long since he’d picked anyone up, but then, the only thing that seemed to interest him these days was the job. Why the hell was he thinking about sex now? He followed Dex onto the blue mat and stopped a few feet away from him, pushing any and all sexual thoughts out of his mind. He had work to do. A lot of work to do.

Dex readied himself, stretching his neck and back. Despite his disastrous introduction, the guy actually had excellent poise. He balanced perfectly on one leg while he pulled the opposite knee up to stretch then swapped and did the same with the other. He bent over and grabbed his ankles with ease then slowly rolled his back to stand upright again. Rotating his shoulders, he shook himself off and hopped on his toes for a few seconds to warm up. His movements revealed he was lithe and flexible, yet Sloane couldn’t understand how this was the same guy who had scored top of his class during the training run. It was true he didn’t know much about Dex, but he’d read the file the moment he’d been informed of the decision.

Both parents had been killed during the riots when he was five years old. He’d been adopted by his father’s friend and work partner, Anthony Maddock. A year later, his baby Therian brother was rescued and adopted. Went to Berkeley at eighteen for four years, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Justice Studies, and joined the HPF a year later. Four years after that, was promoted to homicide detective. Dexter J. Daley, thirty-three years old, unmarried, and recently testified against his Human partner in a murder trial. Sloane was still figuring out what to think about that last part.

Dex took his stance, bending his knees, his left leg a little farther up than the right, and his fists up near his face.

“Your stance is good,” Sloane murmured, ignoring Dex’s surprised look. Taking up his own fighting stance, Sloane motioned for Dex to advance. “Okay. Come at me.”

Dex shook his head. “No.”

Sloane paused. Was the rookie messing with him? “What do you mean ‘no’?”
“How about you come at me.”

“That’s not how this works.”

“I’ve seen what attacking you head on does. You want to see what I can do? You’ll have to work for it.”

Sloane arched an eyebrow. Well, if nothing else, the guy had balls. “Okay. Remember, you asked for it.” He advanced, faked with his right to land a left hook to Dex’s ribs. A swipe to his left foot brought Dex crashing down to the mat.

“Fuck,” Dex moaned, rolling out of the way. He jumped to his feet and rounded his shoulders. “Okay.” Bouncing on his toes, he circled Sloane. “Let’s try this again.”

This match was over. Rookie just didn’t know it yet. Sloane was good at exposing weaknesses, and he was already working on discovering his new partner’s.

They slowly circled each other, and Sloane got closer to Dex with each step until he was close enough to throw a punch. Dex blocked it, his concentration focused on keeping Sloane from landing a hit. He was studying Sloane, trying to get a handle on his technique so he could formulate a plan of attack. Rookie was using his head—that was good—but he was taking too long to decide on his course of action and that was bad. Hesitation was something his Human partner couldn’t afford out in the field, not when dealing with Therians. As a species, Therians were faster, stronger, healed quicker, and had a higher level of tolerance when it came to pain.

Dex blocked a left hook to the ribs with his right elbow tucked up against his body, but in anticipation of Sloane faking a right, he tucked his left elbow in as well, leaving his head exposed. Sloane took advantage and clipped Dex under his chin. His head came up, once again leaving himself exposed long enough for Sloane to give his cheek a smack. Dex shuffled back, eyes wide.

“What the fuck was that?”

“I’m sorry. Did I smear your makeup?” Sloane held back a smile at Dex’s glare. This was too easy. Forgetting all about keeping his distance, Dex charged him.

A fierce combination of hooks, jabs, and an attempt at an uppercut were nicely executed, but still not enough to catch Sloane off guard. He blocked Dex’s advances, ducked under a right hook, and grabbed Dex’s leg. With a forceful pull, Dex was once again sprawled on his back.

“I haven’t spent this much time on my back since college.”

Sloane laughed. “It’s a good look for you, Rookie.”

“You asking me out on a date? Because I don’t date assholes,” Dex grumbled, sitting up.

“I may be an asshole, but even I’ve got standards.”

With a smirk, Dex hung his head and held an arm out.

“Giving up already? How disappointing.” Sloane reached out and took Dex’s hand, ready to pull him up when Dex twisted his torso and kicked a leg out, catching Sloane on the side of his knee and sending him down onto it. He was jerked forward and Dex’s legs wrapped around his waist. He twisted his lower body to throw Sloane onto his back. Dex landed on him, his hands pinning Sloane’s wrists to the mat beneath them, their faces inches away from each other.

“So, about that date,” Dex said, laughing breathlessly. His eyes shifted to Sloane’s lips before moving back up and his smile grew wider. The little shit was taunting him.

Sloane didn’t know what pissed him off more, that he’d been caught by surprise, or that he was enjoying it. His anger started bubbling up inside him and that pissed him off even more. He didn’t get angry. Anger meant the rookie was getting to him.

With a pleasant smile, Sloane jerked his left wrist free to snatch Dex’s in a tight grip. He looped his arm around Dex’s neck, forcing Dex’s arm to come up and around as well. With a swift yank, Dex spun off him and onto the mat.

That was better. Sloane casually got to his feet with a satisfied grin. He took a deep breath to regain his calm and turned, frowning at the sight of Dex on his stomach, his back arching as he let out a frustrated groan. He ignored the curve of the rookie’s spine and the way he looked when he got onto his hands and knees. Jesus, what was wrong with him? It was time to put a stop to this… distraction.

Come on,” Sloane snarled. “Get up. I’m not here to be your Xbox buddy.”

“Come on, Dex!” Cael sat on the floor a few feet away, and Sloane tilted his head, his bottom lip jutting out in a pout as he teased Dex.

“Aw, isn’t that cute? Baby brother is cheering for you.”

Dex lunged at him, throwing his arms around Sloane’s waist in an inane attempt to knock him over. Sloane didn’t go down. He was bigger, stronger, and heavier than Dex, but to the rookie’s credit, he managed to get in a nice jab to the ribs. With a well-maneuvered twist of his body, Sloane was out of Dex’s grip and holding him in a headlock. Instead of punching him, he delivered another slap to his cheek. Dex let out a frustrated growl and tried to push away from him.

“Stop doing that!”

“Ooh, Rookie’s got a bit of a temper.” Sloane ruffled Dex’s hair, pissing him off further.

“Aw, isn’t he cute,” Ash teased from the end of the mat.

“Fuck you, Simba!”

Rosa burst into laughter and Ash glared at her. “Are you fucking serious?” He turned back to Sloane with a scowl. “You better kick his ass.”

Dex struggled in Sloane’s grip. “Come on, Rookie. Is this the best you got?”

“This isn’t fighting,” Dex spat out. “This is you being a prick.”

Sloane shrugged. “Either way, I’ve seen what you can do and I gotta say, it’s pretty uninspiring.”

“Uninspiring, huh?” Dex pulled back a fist and Sloane released him, jumping back and narrowly missing Dex’s fist, his knuckles brushing Sloane’s crotch. Sloane gaped at Dex.

“You were going to punch me in the nuts?”

“You said it yourself. This isn’t a fight, so yeah. And I would have enjoyed it too.”

“Hey, watch it.” Sloane stormed up to Dex who held his ground, his chin lifted defiantly. Rookie had nerve, but he needed to learn his place. Sloane grabbed him, hauled him off his feet and slammed him into the mat. “Stay the fuck down, if you know what’s good for you.”

Dex ignored him, his breath coming out heavy as he got back on his feet and threw a punch. Stupid little bastard didn’t know when to quit. Sloane ducked, grabbed Dex around the waist and once again slammed him back down on the mat. With a low groan, Dex rolled onto his side and pushed himself onto his hands and knees. Sloane wiped the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand as he circled Dex. He’d lost count of how many times he’d dropped Dex, yet the guy kept getting back up. Granted, each time took a little longer than the last, but he pushed himself to his feet regardless. Sloane didn’t know whether to be impressed or aggravated.

“You’re not cut out for this, Rookie.”

Dex didn’t reply, simply glared at him. He charged Sloane with a growl, ducking under Sloane’s right hook and landing a jab to Sloane’s exposed ribs. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Sloane used the adrenaline pumping through his veins to keep going and bring his fists down onto Dex’s back. Dex hit the mat painfully, his head smacking against it.

Fuck. Sloane touched his ribs and winced. Damn, the rookie had gotten him pretty good. “Why don’t you stay down? It’s only going to get worse.”

With a humorless laugh, Dex rolled onto his back, his chest rising and falling rapidly. “Let me guess. This is the part where I’m supposed to go crying home to Daddy. “Ooh, my new partner hates me. Boo-hoo.”’ Sloane could see the strain on the rookie’s face as he struggled to stand, sucking in a sharp breath when he straightened. “Well fuck you. Here’s a little FYI for you. I would rather fucking bleed to death than give you the satisfaction, you prick.”

Sloane arched an eyebrow at him. “Charming.”

“I am fucking charming!” Dex shouted, his entire face going beet red. “I am the most charming motherfucker you will ever know, so kiss my perfectly perky ass!”

After some consideration, Sloane cocked his head to one side and shrugged. “I’ve seen better.”

“Oh, now you’re insulting my ass?”

Sloane opened his mouth when a booming voice came over the speaker system.

“Destructive Delta, please report to briefing room “A” in one hour as per Sergeant Maddock’s orders.”

“Looks like you were saved by daddy after all.” Sloane turned to his team and clapped his hands together. “Okay, hit the showers. See you upstairs.” Everyone headed out, and Sloane made his way to the towel rack. He grabbed himself one to wipe his face, and when he turned, he almost ran into Dex, his rig hanging from one hand.

“Well, let’s see it.”

Sloane threw his towel over his shoulder. “See what?”

“You know.”

“Are you asking me to go feral or whip out my dick?”

Dex looked like he was actually considering it. “Come on. I want to see the alpha beneath the asshole. We’ve got lions, and tigers, and….” Dex shifted his gaze to Sloane’s neck, a strange little smile coming onto his face as he looked back up at Sloane. “Jaguar. Oh my.”

Holy shit, the guy was serious.

Dex shrugged. “I don’t see what the big deal is. You’re my partner, we’re in a wide open space, and there are vending machines down the hall for post shift. We’ve got time before we need to get to the briefing room. It’s my turn to see what I’m dealing with.”

Sloane mulled it over. “Okay.”

“Yeah?”

“Sure.” Sloane circled Dex and crowded him, making him retreat until his back hit the wall. With his arms to the sides of Dex’s head, he watched Dex’s Adam’s apple bob as his new partner swallowed hard. Just as Sloane suspected, Dex was clearly having second thoughts about seeing the “big bad alpha.” He leaned in close, his lips inches away from Dex’s jaw as he inhaled deeply. “Do you know why jaguar Therians are the most lethal of the Felids?”

“Um….”

“My Therian bite has twice the strength of a lion’s. I can use a deep-throat, bite-and-suffocation technique where my fangs pierce through the temporal bones of your skull, right between your ears and pierce your brain.” Sloane gave a little demonstration with his fingers on Dex’s scalp, earning him a scowl. Sloane laughed then whispered in Dex’s ear. “I bet the only word you heard from all that was deep-throat.”

Dex lifted his chin, his eyes dropping once again to Sloane’s mouth before moving back up to meet his gaze. He licked his lips, his eyes clouding over. “Your pupils are dilated. Does that mean you want to fuck me or eat me? Because I might have a problem with one of those.”

About the Author

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers. 
You can find Charlie at 
               
 Giveaway

Tune in next week….

So. This coming Monday (June 9) at 9 am PDT, the amazing Amy Lane and I will be interviewed on the radio. We’ll be on Insight, on Capital Public Radio in the Sacramento area. If you’re in the Sac region, you can listen to us live. Or anyone can listen later online.

I got us into this. I meant to get just Amy into this because I knew she lives ’round here, and because she’s wonderful and funny and I thought, I’d love to hear Amy interviewed on this show. But I ended up roping myself too, so I will try hard not to mumble incoherently. I am nervous.

God, at least it’s not TV!

Although radio means you all will miss out on my fabulous, freshly dyed red and blue hair. You can picture it while you listen.

More teasing! Second excerpt from Guarded.

My newest novella will be available soon–and it will be free! You’ll be able to read it at the Goodreads M/M Romance group, and then later it’ll be downloadable from the web. In the meantime, I’m teasing you with a second excerpt:

 
 
 
The king made a small noise deep in his throat. “I understand you lost your own family to the Kozari.”

The sharp pang never dulled, not even decades later. Even before the war had begun, Volos’s father— an ardent advocate for peace— had been forced to flee Kozar. He hadn’t been safe in Wedeyta, though. Kozari assassins had tracked him down eventually. While Volos hid in terror inside a cupboard, the men had murdered everyone. They’d likely have sought out Volos and killed him too, but a neighbor had been visiting at the time— a sweet boy who was friends with one of Volos’s sisters— and the assassins had mistaken the child for Volos.

“Yes, sir,” Volos said evenly. “My parents and my siblings.”

“How do you feel about the Kozari?” asked Prince Chidehu.

“I don’t…” Volos scratched at his hair. “I killed a lot of them during the war.”

“And?”

“And… it didn’t bring my family back to life.” Did admitting this amount to treason?

“It never does,” the king replied sadly. Then his gaze sharpened. “How far does your loyalty to the crown go?”

“As far as it needs to.” Volos’s heart began to pound heavily, although he wasn’t sure why.

“You’ve risked your life in service to this country. Would you do it again?”

“Of course, Your Majesty.”

“Why?”

“I… I took an oath, sir.”

The king continued to stare at him. “An oath is only words.”

“No, it’s—” Volos stopped himself. Took a deep breath. The ground beneath him now felt more dangerous than any battlefield. “I beg your pardon, Your Majesty. But to me, an oath is much more than that. My promise is… apart from my sword, it’s the only thing of value I possess. And even the best sword can be replaced. My… my integrity cannot.”

It was an honest answer, and perhaps also the right one, because something in the king’s eyes softened slightly, and he nodded. But he wasn’t through with the interrogation. “Captain Hiwot informs me that Berhanu’s display in this room was hardly the first time he’s treated you with… scorn.”

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty. I’ve tried to behave respectfully toward him, and—”

“Yes. Your captain tells me this as well. She says your restraint has been quite admirable, in fact.”

Another shift of the floor beneath him. Volos wished he had something to hold on to for balance. “Thank you, sir.”

“Volos Perun, does your loyalty to the crown extend to Prince Berhanu? Would you risk your life for him as well?”

“Yes, sir,” Volos answered immediately, even though his tongue was thick.

King Tafari and Prince Chidehu exchanged a very long look, clearly having a silent conversation. Perhaps they reached an agreement, because they both turned to him at once.

“I’m glad to hear you say that,” said Chidehu. “Because you may very well end up dying on my brother’s behalf.”

***

PS–Next Monday you can listen to the amazing Amy Lane and me being interviewed  on the radio. If you’re in the Sacramento region you can listen live, 9am on June 9. Or anyone can listen later online here.

New release, newsy update

I have a newsy little post for you this fine Sunday.

First off, I have a brand new release. It’s a short story called “The Border,” and it’s part of Dreamspinner’s Daily Dose anthology. If you buy the Daily Dose package, you get a story every day in June. Or you can buy stories individually. They all have hurt/comfort themes.

Here’s the blurb:
Injured in a war that has stretched on for years, Sergeant John Peterson guards a lonely border. Aside from passing contact with railship captains, the only person he sees is the enemy: the man who guards the other side of the border. A bad fall places John’s life in the other soldier’s hands. He’s wary of his rescuer, First Lieutenant Thomas Fellowes, but over time he finds himself drawn to his new companion. Both soldiers carry the war in their souls, but they might find peace in each other.

You can buy “The Border” at Dreamspinner Press or at Amazon.

My second piece of news is that I just got the draft cover art for my novella The Pillar and I’m really excited about it. The art’s by Shobana Appavu, who did that incredible cover for Venetian Masks. I love that cover so much I framed a poster-size version to hang on my wall. The Pillar is set in 15th century Bosnia. It releases in August and I’m really excited to share it with you. Here’s that blurb:

During his youth, orphaned thief Faris was flogged at the pillar in the town square and left to die. But a kind old man saved him, gave him a home, and taught him a profession. Now Faris is the herbalist for the town of Zidar, taking care of the injured and ill. He remains lonely, haunted by his past, and insecure about how his community views him. One night, despite his reluctance, he saves a dying slave from the pillar.
A former soldier, Boro has spent the last decade as a brutalized slave. Herbs and ointment can heal his physical wounds, but both men carry scars that run deep. Bound by the constraints of law and social class in 15th century Bosnia, Faris and Boro must overcome powerful enemies to protect the fragile happiness they’ve found.
 
And, third piece of news! On Monday, June 9, the ever-amazing Amy Lane and I will be interviewed on the radio! The show is Insight, which airs on NPR stations in the Sacramento region. If you get one of those stations, you can listen live at 9am. Or anyone can listen later online. I’m really excited by this and also terribly, horribly nervous.
 
My kids had their last day of school on Friday, so part of my life for the next months involves keeping the older one from permanently attaching herself to electronic devices and keeping the younger one from tormenting the older one. Yeah, good luck to me. I took younger one to the library yesterday and she came home with a big stack of thick books, but she’s already polished one of those off. Because she got straight As in 9th grade, the older one earned a reward: she’s now allowed to watch R-rated movies. She celebrated by watching The Breakfast Club last night. That movie might be ancient, but she totally loved it. I see more John Hughes in her future.
 
That’s all for now. I’m off to write about werewolves in 19th century Oregon!

 

Weird Research

I think I’ve confessed here before that one thing I love about writing is doing the background research.

Sometimes my reason for enjoying the research is obvious, such as the many times I’ve–tragically, I know–found myself needing to know something about men’s underwear. No, seriously. My husband’s a confirmed boxer-briefs-from-Target kind of guy, so if I want my guys to wear anything more exotic than that, I can’t rely on Hubby as an information resource. I’ve visited the Andrew Christian website enough times that their ads keep appearing on websites I visit. Again, tragic.

But not all my enjoyable research involves nearly-naked men. Sometimes I like the challenge of it. For my novella The Pillar, which will come out in August, I needed to know how much a male slave would have cost in 15th century Bosnia. I never found a definitive answer to that one. But I did find out the cost of a slave in Venice during the same timeframe, and I found out the name of the currency used in Bosnia  then, and I even was able to do a currency conversion to arrive at an approximation that’s close enough, I think.

So now I’m writing a story set in rural Oregon in the 1880s. I’m only about 5000 words in, but here are the things I’ve looked up so far:

  • How to load and shoot a shotgun from that era– I’m still searching for good info on this
  • What color would a wolf’s eyes glow in lantern light at night?
  • What were the most popular boy names in the USA circa 1860?
  • Were there possums in Oregon in the 1880s?– I vaguely remember hearing they were brought west during the Great Depression, and it turns out that’s true. So no possums in my story.
  • What year did the transcontinental railroad arrive in Portland?– 1883, in case you wondered too.
  • How would a horse be attached to a cart it was going to pull?– Because I know zilch about horses or wagons.
  • Where was a tony place to live in New York City in this era?– Fifth Avenue
  • What would a fairly wealthy young man have for breakfast in Paris in the 1880s?

Sometimes it’s a miracle I get any writing done at all!

Tease tease tease! Excerpt from Guarded.

I do like to tease. So I present to you a brief excerpt from Guarded, a novella that will be available (for free!) sometime this summer. I don’t have the release date yet. This will be part of the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s Love’s Landscapes event.

So for now I present to you the initial interaction between the main characters, Volos Perun and Prince Berhanu.

It doesn’t go well.

*****

 
 
“Get up,” the king said. “Formalities aren’t wanted now.”

Volos rose. “Yes, Your Majesty.”

He kept his eyes trained carefully on the floor, but he could still feel the weight of the king’s gaze— not to mention that of the other man, Prince Berhanu. The prince always looked at him with contempt and disdain, but this afternoon he looked furious as well. Volos wondered what he had done to enrage him.

“What is your name?” the king asked. He didn’t sound angry, at least.

“Volos Perun, Your Maj—”

“And is it true that you speak Kozari fluently?”

Volos snapped his head up in surprise. “I… My father was…”

“Your father was Kozari, yes. I am aware of that. But do you speak the language?”

It had been Volos’s first tongue, and although he’d had little occasion to use it for some years, he still dreamed in Kozari. “Yes, Your Maj—”

“Good.” The king turned to Prince Berhanu. “He will accompany you.”

“No,” growled the prince. “I told you. I don’t need a nursemaid.” He stood with his hands on his hips, perhaps deliberately displaying his impressive musculature. He was a couple of inches shorter than Volos, but as well built.

“He’s not a nursemaid, he’s a guard. It’s not fitting for a prince to travel alone, not even under these circumstances. And it’s not safe. I won’t allow you to go unaccompanied.”

Any man but the prince would have been tried for treason for glaring at the king like that. “Fine,” Berhanu spat. “Give me a guard. But not him.”

“He can speak the language. His presence may ease your interactions with the Kozari.”

“I won’t spend days with that Kozari trash at my side!”

Volos had beaten men senseless for lesser insults. But now, he stood with his face carefully blank, pretending Berhanu’s words hadn’t pierced him like poisoned arrows.

The king had gray hair and a grizzled beard and was much slighter than his son, but when he stomped close to the prince, Berhanu took a step backward. King Tafari poked him in the chest. “This man is a citizen of Wedeyta. He was born here. His mother was from one of our prominent families. And he proved his loyalty during the war. He was a hero. I’m told he saved several dozen Wedey prisoners.”

A flash of sense memory: the reek of urine, shit, and sweat; the sounds of harsh breathing and terrified screams; the taste of blood. Volos hoped neither of the men saw him flinch.

Berhanu shook his head. “I don’t care if he saved half the damn country. I won’t go with him. Surely someone else speaks Kozari. One of our own people.”

King Tafari opened his mouth, then closed it. His shoulders slumped slightly as he gave his son a long look. He turned to face Volos. “My apologies. It seems your services will not be needed in this matter. You may leave.”

Ignoring the prince’s triumphant smile, Volos bowed. “Yes, Your Majesty. Thank you.” He hoped that his failure to address the prince wasn’t taken as an unforgivable slight— but then, the prince hadn’t said a single word to him. Ever.

Motel. Pool. trivia

Sometimes when I write, I include little details that possibly nobody but me will ever notice. But they make me happy. Sometimes they help me understand a character better, sometimes they tie things together in ways that satisfy my slightly OCD-ish tendencies. Sometimes they just amuse me.

Here are three of them from Motel. Pool.  They’re a little spoilery, so you might want to skip this if you haven’t read the book.

Ready?

Scroll down just a bit….

Okay.

1. Jack in Motel. Pool. is related to Joseph, one of the main characters in Violet’s Present. Joseph was Jack’s uncle. Jack mentions him briefly to Tag at one point.

2. While Jack waits at the Jasper Motel, he thinks he hears a car crash. What he heard was the accident that killed Officer Mike Broderick several years earlier. (Jasper’s a strange place, where things like that can happen–like when Jack daydreams Tag.) Officer Broderick obliquely refers to that accident the first time he meets Tag.

3. About one-third of the way into the book, a character tells us how it’s going to end. But nobody pays any attention.

Did you notice any of these when you were reading?

4. It’s never mentioned in Brute, but when they were young, Lord Meliach had an unrequited crush on Gray. That helps explain his complicated and perhaps conflicted behavior toward Gray years later.

I like it when characters from different stories cross paths.

5. Jeff and Cleve from Venetian Masks make a cameo appearance in Pilgrimage.

6. Of course, Travis and Drew from Speechless meet the Bones guys, Dylan and Chris, in The Gig. And Travis and Drew will also make brief appearances in the third Bones book, Bone Dry. It’s due out this fall.

Labels

I’ve been thinking about this and I’d love to know your thoughts.

The other day, one of my daughters asked me a question: “Hey, Mom. If someone is a transgender woman who is attracted to other women, is she a lesbian?” And then the next day she asked, “Hey, Mom. If two bisexual girls are in a relationship with each other, is it a lesbian relationship?”

She wasn’t trying to be a smartass—they were honest questions. She’s at an age where sexual identities and relationship dynamics are becoming really important. I answered as best as I could.

But her questions got me thinking about labels.

One the one hand, why worry so much about what we call people? Labeling leads to stereotyping. It can place artificial limits on human beings. All of us are way too complicated to be summed up in a word or two. And when it comes to romantic relationships specifically, does it make any sense to classify them? What’s important is that people care for each other, right?

But. But I have degrees in psychology so I know that labeling seems to be an instinctive human trait. And labels can be empowering. They can be a source of pride and solidarity. Sometimes instead of dividing us, they can be a source of commonality, maybe even bringing us together with people who we might otherwise not notice. A label can even have profound legal consequences. For example, it matters in a lot of ways whether two people are domestic partners or spouses.

To what degree are you comfortable with labeling yourself and your relationships? What do you see as some of the risks and benefits? Do we try too hard to label people in our society? Does it make a difference when labels are self-imposed rather than placed on us by others?

Motel Pool locations 6: Route 66

I’ve been posting about some of the locations featured in my new novel, Motel. Pool. Today is the sixth and final stop: Route 66.

I’m not generally a huge fan of nostalgia, although I did own a ’55 Ford pickup (fire engine red!) until my second kid was born. And I have a special fondness for Route 66, maybe because it began in my birthdplace–Chicago–and ended in California, where I live now. Most of it’s gone now, replaced by interstate highways.

When Route 66 died, it left ghosts. Stretches of cracked, weed-choked asphalt. Abandoned gas stations, restaurants, and tourist traps. Entire towns gone to ruin.

Last year we took a family road trip to the Grand Canyon. Along the way we passed a former piece of Route 66. You could see where a motel and gas station had once stood, but all that was left were faded signs. I’m a little bit fascinated with abandoned places and the way they seem to reach out and promise you stories. This one reached out and gave me Jack Dayton, Tag Manning, and Motel. Pool. So, you know, I got my kicks.

I hope you do too.