Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Surrender Dorothy

(If you've had it up to here with the recent war of words between certain authors and certain bloggers, try looking at this instead: Another excellent review of ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE.)

For those of you still hanging around, the rest of my post was inspired by this conversation.

Rather than hijack that poor woman's blog, I moved my final response here:

~To anyone who has ever bought a book of mine, considered buying a book of mine, or may sometime in the distant future consider buying a book of mine:

What you see is what you get. If you don't like my opinions, if you're appalled by how I present myself in public? I implore you not to waste your money on my work because you'll find many of my characters to be just as abrasive and challenging as their creator. Sometimes they get slapped upside the head for it. Sometimes I do, too. We muddle onward.

~To the various online blogger/reviewers with whom I've recently crossed swords:

This ain't my first rodeo. I spent years working in retail, business, and academia. I learned early that cowering in fear of other people's opinions or harsh words is the fast track to nowhere. If I lose readers because I choose to speak my mind...well, them's the breaks. I won't be bullied because some folks think they have less to lose than I do, nor will dire warnings of career disaster make me sit down and shut up.

Review my books if you've a mind to. Give them lousy grades, good grades, and anything in between. You'll receive a thank you from me for your effort.

Engage me in a debate, comment on my online persona, attack me for not holding my tongue when you think I should, and I'll meet you halfway every time. With luck, we'll part with a better understanding of one another. If not, so be it. I am at peace with either outcome. But don't kid yourself into believing I fear you. Not on my worst day, or your best.

To quote Glinda the Good Witch of the North, who was one badass mofo bitch:
"You have no power here! Now begone, before somebody drops a house on you!"

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I can has a cookie??

Somebody on the RWA Board took the time to do a little research on how epublishing works and as a result, the Board has revised its definitions. Because no matter how many folks SAY the RWA has the power to redefine the terms "vanity publisher" and "subsidy publisher" and the word "primarily"....honest and truly, people, not so much.

From the RWA National Offices:

"At the request of members, the Board has re-visited the definitions of 'Subsidy Publisher' and 'Vanity Publisher.' After considering the advice of legal and industry professionals, along with suggestions by our Publisher Recognition Task Force, the board met in a telephonic board meeting on July 25th and redefined the terms 'Subsidy Publisher' and 'Vanity Publisher' as follows:

'Subsidy Publisher' means any publisher that publishes books in which the author participates in the costs of production in any manner, including publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishers who withhold or seek full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs.

'Vanity Publisher' means any publisher whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing and distribution are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and/or associates.

RWA’s mission is to promote the professional interests of career-focused romance authors through networking and advocacy. Advocacy is one of the main reasons RWA exists, and since advocacy is included in RWA's core purpose, mandated by the Bylaws, the Board cannot simply decide to stop advocating for the fair treatment of RWA's members.

Though we know some RWA members disagree, when determining whether a publisher is a Vanity Publisher, RWA believes it is important to look at distribution of books. When a publisher does not pay an advance and does not become involved with marketing and distribution, it is, in reality, acting as nothing more than a consignment dealer for the book. Providing this kind of service requires little or nothing of the publisher, and the responsibility to market the product and drive traffic to single distribution point falls upon the author. There is nothing two-sided about this kind of arrangement, no give and take where both sides involved incur risk and both stand to gain. In this situation the author incurs all of the financial risk in attempting to market a product.

On the other hand, if a publisher doesn't pay an advance, but is investing time, energy, and money to provide alternate means of distribution, the publisher is at least somewhat invested in the product. This investment moves this relationship away from a consignment arrangement and closer to a two sided publishing agreement where the author and publisher are crucial to one another. Some of the methods of national distribution that benefit an author are: Advertising in national trade or consumer magazines, wholesaler agreements, Amazon.com-type internet bookstore agreements, or national chain bookstore agreements to carry a publisher's titles. Also included are exhibiting at national and/or regional tradeshows and book fairs as well as advertising to readers.

Right now, publishing is changing daily. Companies are rising and falling with alarming speed, but it is the writers who are being hurt when a company goes under or fails to live up to promises. There are, of course, many stable and viable publishing companies who have become established in the past few years, but even with those companies RWA must continue to advocate for the fair and ethical treatment of its authors, as it has always done with long established publishers. RWA welcomes the addition of strong, viable publishers because any increase in reliable, reputable avenues of publishing is good for writers in general.

There will never come a time, however, when a writer can afford to assume any contract is good. It will always be the author's responsibility to read all the clauses, question the ones he/she doesn't understand, find out what the industry standard is, and only then, with full knowledge, make the decision to sign or not to sign. The hard truth is that a Vanity Publisher or Subsidy Publisher is not, in general, as favorable to the writer as an advance-paying non-Vanity Publisher or non-Subsidy Publisher. RWA is not here to determine who should sign or not sign any specific contract. That decision remains solely with the author. But in its role as advocate for its members, RWA must take a stand."


So we're all legitimately published again. I feel so much better now. */sarcasm*

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Thursday, July 26, 2007


The theory behind THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES -- three well-known authors (Jenny Crusie, Eileen Dreyer, Anne Stuart) combine talents to create a single novel -- is like opening a menu and finding your three favorite desserts combined into one. (In my case, it would be a honkin’ slice of sour cream lemon meringue-hot fudge sundae-cheesecake, but you’re not here to find out how I flirt with diabetic coma on a weekly basis, so never mind.)

You think, “Wow. All three at once. I wonder how that’ll taste...” And so you order it and you dig in and lo and behold...it ain’t bad. In fact, parts of it are downright tasty.

I’ve read a little Dreyer and a little more Stuart, and liked them both. I’m an inveterate Crusie fan, though, so I expected to love the Crusie contribution best. I wasn’t wrong. The characters she created in Mare Fortune, Crash (Mare’s one true love), and a cast of wacky supporting actors are the sour cream lemon meringue pie my grandmother made for every birthday I celebrated between ages five and twenty.

My next favorite was Anne Stuart’s contribution in the character of Lizzie. I guess she’d be the hot fudge sundae with homemade vanilla ice cream drowned in fudge made from real dark chocolate. Maybe some coconut flakes for texture. I found Lizzie loveable, if a little more dim than I generally like my heroines. Her soulmate, Elric, tended toward the typical paranormal alpha male -- inscrutable, arrogant and more than a little annoying at times, but I forgave him eventually. All in all, a solid effort.

Finally, Dreyer’s eldest sister, Dee, was my least favorite of the trio, which is not to say I didn’t like her...because hello? Cheesecake? The really good kind, straight from New York? But she’s a frustrating character for me, forever trapped by her own sense of responsibility and guilt, and carrying secrets alone, and I dunno...cardigan sweaters and her hair in a bun? Really? It made me want to rebel in solidarity with eldest sisters everywhere. Plus, her interactions with her one true love tended to be a little on the repetitive side. But hey...even when every bite of cheesecake is the same as the last, who’s complaining?

Together the three sisters were a delight. With a villainess, Xantippe, who is the perfect cup of espresso -- dark, bitter, and cleansing to the palate between bites of confection -- this book can’t miss. If I were a real reviewer giving it a real grade...hmmm...four and a half maraschino cherries out of five.


SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Monday, July 23, 2007


I generally don't review fiction here unless it's to give recommendations. I just don't possess whatever special skills it takes to criticize -- in the formal sense -- the work of others.

But I took a chance on a free ARC of the Jenny Crusie/Eileen Dreyer/Anne Stuart collaboration, THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES, which Ms. Crusie offered up in sort of a "viral blogging review fest," much like that of Alison Kent's COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WRITING EROTIC ROMANCE last year. So if anyone's interested, my review should be up tomorrow.

In other news...yeah, it got pretty ugly out there for a little bit, and I contributed to some of it. I stand by every word I've said, however, and will not attempt to excuse my fit of bad temper by saying I was provoked or moved to verbal violence by the words of others. That would be tacky. And while I may be a bitch of the first order, I do try to avoid the tacky.

Unless we're talking Swan Hats, because I'm ALL OVER that shit.

Moving on.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Friday, July 20, 2007

My GOD, look what she's doing to that poor bird.

Moving this conversation from the comments section because it deserves its own damn post. And then? I'm done with this issue. Two days of writing time and 6K words lost to this nonsense. I'm not a happy camper, and have no one to blame but myself.

First, the inimitable Ferfe:

"*vbg* At this point I'll take a decent rant from either of you but I'm not sure I can make it that long between "rant fixes" so Selah needs to schedule something in alternating months. I would rant myself but ...well ... my pilot light must have gone out or something. If I were going to rant, though, it would probably be about how annoying manufactured dramas in the blog-o-sphere are, and how one or two people saying something cranky in a private email is not worthy of 400 comments about a fucking swan hat. Or ... how everytime someone blindly agrees with Nora Roberts or apologizes profusely for "kind of" disagreeing with her, promising to buy more of her books in penance, I feel IQ points being sucked out of my head in much the same way a bot fly gets tweezed from it's nest under human skin while still in the maggot stage.

It's my own fault, of course. If I spent more time writing and less time reading the blogs ... sigh ... It's just ... They're like the four horsemen or something and we are missing the obvious end of days right there in front of us on our computer screens. But for a single, worldwide EMP event, we could have evolved. Now? All we can do is hope the great firewall of China will spread across the Web and save us from madness. ;-)

But you guys can rant on anything and I'd be happy."

My reply:

"Ferfe-o'-my-heart, I'm sorry. My Ranty McRantypants hat is in the shop this week, and I used up all the juice in the spare over at YOUR blog.

The sad thing is, I don't doubt Nora would agree with you. She seems a level-headed sort, and likely wouldn't mind someone saying, "Respectfully, I think you're fulla shit on this particular point," without then feeling the need to apologize. Only nicer, of course, and without the vulgar language.

The more I read on this particular issue, the more I really think it's never been about the costumes at all. I'm not absolutely certain what it IS about, you understand. But one Dead Poultry Chapeau and a couple of grown women in thigh-highs simply do not make for this much drama all by themselves.

And if it really IS about the costumes and whether or not we should wear them at certain events and what that will do to the level of respect we engender as professionals? Then truly, as a group we don't deserve to garner the level of professional respect we desire, simply because we want it so badly we're willing to savage our own to get it. Poor Marianne, Liz and Sherri. Sacrificed on the altar of Won't You Pleeeeeeeease Respect Us?

And as I said before -- on your blog, I believe -- I just don't care that much what total strangers think of me. And I still don't know if that makes my self-esteem too low or too high.

But I will say that I'm very tempted to show up at the RWA signing some year -- not as a member, you understand, just as a reader and rabble-rouser -- RIDING a swan and wearing thigh highs on every part of my body but the naughty bits. And won't everybody be sorry THEN.

Mostly the swan."

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mr. Eastwood is ready for his close-up.

AKA: RWA Nationals Round-up: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good:

~ Barb/Caridad Ferrer's RITA win. However you may feel about the contest itself and the process by which the categories shook themselves out this year, the bottom line is this -- the book RAWKS, and deserves a RITA. The judges thought so, bless their brilliant and insightful hearts, and so do I and a slew of other readers.

Or to quote Jenny Crusie's comment:

"I haven’t read the other comments (sorry!) but these are the same kind of idiots who made the NYT start a children’s book list because Harry Potter was screwing up the NYT bestseller list.

A good book is a good book is a good book. The fact that Barb’s book won in a field of “adult” single titles tells you that it was head and shoulders above the others because there must have been some innate prejudice at work there--look at the prejudice in the comments against it--and yet it made it through to the finals and the win."

Yeah. What she said.

~ Bloggers, reviewers and fans at the conference. Apparently, some folks are uncomfy with this phenomenon, but the general consensus appears to range from "bring it, Bitches," to "meh, whatev." As far as I'm concerned, it's all good, since it makes for entertaining blog hoppage.

~ Candy's rack. 'Nuff said.

The Bad:

~ Bitter shrews who post anonymously. Yeah, we get it. You're miffed. But there are plenty of folks who disagreed with Ferrer's RITA win who managed to say so in a calm, non-insulting -- if not always coherent -- manner and weren't cowardly about expressing their opinions on the record. Have the ovaries to sign your name or STFU.

~ Organizational arrogance and/or incompetence. At first, it seemed like the RWA Board was attempting to redefine the term "vanity/subsidy press" to include any company that sold most of its books from its own website. Now it turns out they're only trying to redefine the word "primarily" to mean "exclusively." (They're allowed to do that -- they're the RWA.) Christ on a cracker, people. You want to be taken seriously? Admit you made a mistake. Or at least that expensive lawyer -- the one you hired with membership dues? -- made a mistake. Said it before, will say it again because I love the sound of my own self-righteousness in the morning: Accountability. It's a good thing.

~ Book "snatch and flippers." Although I'm still waiting for those folks who so vehemently defended selling ARCs on eBay to tell us how THAT is different from THIS.

The Ugly?

I understand there were costumes. And some pronouncements of "how unprofessional" to said costumes. Hey, I get that. If romance writers want respect, we should probably avoid the hats made of overstuffed poultry. On the other hand? At the moment, the RWA is looking (again) an awful lot like the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, with or without the Dead Swan Chapeau in the pages of the Dallas Morning News.

Maybe the costumes are the least of their problems?


Oh, look. I did a couple of interviews. Here's one from a few weeks ago, and a brand-spanking new one with Cindy Cruciger (REVENGE GIFTS, Tor, 2005). Enjoy. :)

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sssssssssssweaty goodness.

7810 words since Tuesday, which is somewhat below my goal of 2K per day. But still, not bad.

This week's gonna be killer, though, because I'll be breaking in my first pair of bi-focals.

Yes. It's true. I am an aged hag. Gloom, despair and agony on me.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Joy in Mudville.

2007 RITA for Best Contemporary Single Title: ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE, by Barbara Caridad Ferrer.

Can I get an amen, people? Truly, good things can happen to good people and their brilliant, beautiful books.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Saturday, July 14, 2007


There reaches a point where the leadership of an organization becomes so self-destructive in its stupidity that those watching move beyond anger, beyond pointing and laughing, and on into pity. Now they're insisting they never, ever, not in a million YEARS meant to exclude epubs like EC, Samhain or Loose Id. We MISUNDERSTOOD their INTENTIONS. *insert wide-eyed pout*

Maybe because their intentions were couched in a shittily worded document that isn't worth the pixels it's transmitted in?

Juno Books editor Paula Guran makes excellent point about just how thoroughly the RWA has shot itself in the foot with this latest boneheaded move. Make sure you read the comments.

Is the lawyer they hired to draft the language in their latest policy change the ne're-do-well nephew of a board member? I'm askin'.

In other news, after cooking right along for the first four days of the Seventy Days of Sweat, I hit a spawn-shaped roadblock (my son is having issues with a bully at summer day-camp) and I now find myself 1800 words in the hole. But I'm pretty sure I can climb out again if I can convince my family to leave me the @#$% alone for a few hours.

Tonight is the Rita Awards ceremony. Every limb and digit on my body is crossed in hopes that my brilliant and ever-stylish crit partner, Barbara Caridad Ferrer, will win at least one of the categories in which she has finaled. God knows she deserves it, and so does her book.

And that's about it. You may have noticed that I'm trying to blog more often. That's in response to people who email me and say, "Why don't you blog more often?" Well, you see where that gets us. BORING. All I can do is hope the Rita ceremony provides fodder for more interesting posts. Who knows? Maybe they've planned an extravaganza of fuckery to rival Reno. One can only hope.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's Thursday, and I'm still a "vanity-pubbed" author.

I thought maybe I would've cooled down a little by now.

Not so much.

Rather than rant, I'm just going to link to what some other smart people have to say on the subject.

This one is is a few years old, but I love it. "Tree Forts for Grown-ups."

Here's the perspective from soon-to-be-NY-pubbed author Maya Reynolds.

And here's what author Lynne Simpson has to say.

Finally, author Emily Veinglory destroys the EREC blog's G rating with her potty mouth. See? The RWA turns even the most mild-mannered of us into loud-mouthed little shrews.

Not that Emily is a loud-mouthed little shrew. That's all me, baby.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The more things change...

Today, when I crawled out of bed, I was the author of several short stories and novellas in both print and electronic format published by small-but-growing presses that either didn't yet meet RWA's criteria for publisher recognition or had no interest in applying for said recognition. And I was okay with that. My sales were up, my royalty checks getting bigger each quarter, and I had a growing and supportive readership.

When I crawl back into bed tonight, some sixteen hours later, I will be a "vanity/subsidy pubbed," as per the new RWA defintion.

"3. The Board updated the definition of Subsidy Publisher or Vanity Publisher to: any publisher that publishes books in which the author participates in the cost of production or distribution in any manner, including publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishers who withhold or seek full or partial payment of reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishers whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site; publishers whose list is comprised of 50% or more of its books written by authors who are principals in the publishing company; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates."

Note, please, the highlighted sections.

Now, let me be clear: I understand that after the Triskelion bloodbath, they had to do something. I'm even okay with the new "thousand dollar advance for a novel, five hundred dollar advance for a novella" requirement. It'll cut out a lot of small presses and epubs, but you know what? It's their organization -- no longer MINE, most assuredly -- and they can recognize who and whatever they want to recognize.

But where do they get off changing the definition of "subsidy/vanity publisher" to meet their own ends? Last time I checked, "vanity/subsidy publisher" meant publishers who require their authors to pay for some part of the publishing process. The Board of Directors, in one ugly little fit of "throw the baby out with the bathwater," have attempted to marginalize multiple small but legitimate companies and thereby have marginalized hundreds of their own members who are published with these companies.

And they wonder why the RWA is becoming less and less relevant with each passing year.

If I'd bothered to send my membership dues in April, I'd be sorely regretting it now. As it is, the RWA can bite my "vanity pubbed" ass. Both cheeks. Make a meal of it, why don'tcha? Not another penny of my money, not another second of my time.

It's almost enough to make you miss Tara Taylor Quinn.

Oh, shut up. I said "almost."

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Seventy Days of Sweat: Drop and give me 400, bitch.

Sunday, 7/8: 2041 words.
Monday, 7/9: 2055 words.
Tuesday, 7/10: 1609 words. Dammit. Four hundred short.
Wednesday, 7/11: Well, it's only nine in the morning, and I have to make up those missing four hundred first, don't I? Dammit. And I should warm up first. Wouldn't want to pull a groin muscle. :p

ETA: Check out the insightful and fabulous Smart Bitches review of Adios to My Old Life by my brilliant and stylish crit partner, Barbara Caridad Ferrer. Now it's onward to the Ritas, and after that? Total world domination. You heard it here.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Heart of a Slacker, Soul of a Sloth.

So I signed up to do Alison Kent's "Seventy Days of Sweat" writing challenge. Read about it here.

I need motivation like this. Someone -- or something -- to beat me about the head and shoulders so I don't end up writing the last three chapters of both my summer projects five days before their respective due dates.

This is what I'm working on:

First one:
1) Title: Seven Year Ache
2) Hero Name/Occupation: Jamie Crosby/dude ranch owner.
3) Hero Name/Occupation: Rafe McCaffrey/failed country music singer/ranch hand. Yes, this novella has two heroes and no heroine. You do the math. ;)
4) Setting: ranch outside Kalispell, Montana.
5) Length: 5K words down, 25-35K words to go.

Second one:
1) Working Title: Cinderella Blue
2) Hero Name/Occupation: Ty Samuel/casino owner
3) Heroine Name/Occupation: Joni Pruitt/writer
4) Setting: small town in Nevada
5) Length: 25-35K

It's too easy for me to spend the dewy hours of early morning puttering among my petunias, and the humid hours of early afternoon napping in the air-conditioned confines of my king-sized bed. But no more! Two thousand words a day or bust (which will give me time and room to work on the novel-length project I keep avoiding by taking on shorter projects). And anyone who wants to can come around and slap me silly if I give in to my baser nature and fall behind. I'm sick of not having enough time to do a final proofread, much less a decent revision pass. It's stupid, unprofessional, and morally wrong. My editor and readers deserve better. Hell, the stories themselves deserve better.

Besides, there's prizes. We LIKE prizes.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

Monday, July 02, 2007

New Release: Phaze Fantasies III: HARDCORE

“...and that’s when the chasm opened at her feet and sucked her into the fiery pits of hell, where she’ll burn in unending agony forevermore. The end.”

Yes, it’s true. I’ve crossed the line. Been lured, as my beloved and esteemed crit partner Barbara Caridad “Double Rita Finalist” Ferrer puts it, to The Dark Side. Phaze has released my very first M/M erotic romance, HARDCORE, as part of the Phaze FANTASIES III collection.

The Blurb (for the entire antho):

MASK by James Buchanan: Don Hecto Luz Aritza and his mayordomo y compañero Martín have been lovers since they were boys. Now that the Don is to wed a Frenchwoman, Martín must use magic and love to fight of the woman who wants to tear the lovers apart. Set in Colonial Mexico, Mask weaves the mysticism, suppression and magic of legends of the old southwest into a tale of two men who must fight to be together.

DEVOTION by Jade Falconer: Marcus was Prince Wilhelm's personal slave. The prince desires his lovely slave, and they share a bed every night. Their love transcends all convention; but when a new slave, Frederic, threatens their idyllic existence, will their love prevail? Or will misunderstanding forever tear them apart?

DRAGON’S FATE by Eliza Gayle: (details unavailable at this time)

HEADS OR TAILS by Jamie Hill: Jeff Roberts' life is all planned out for him. He's engaged to the boss's daughter, and eventually he'll run the construction/real estate company he works for. It's going to be the perfect life. When Kurt Lacey joins the construction crew, Jeff is suddenly fighting urges he'd forced himself to repress. There were male lovers in his past, but deciding that wasn't what he wanted, Jeff proceeded to 'go straight'. Kurt has other ideas, and one night together has Jeff rethinking his life. Does he want to be secure, responsible and boring? Wild, exciting and nontraditional seems like lots more fun. It all comes down to the flip of a coin—and whether Jeff chooses Heads or Tails.

HARDCORE by Selah March: Disgraced police officer and reluctant empath Jesse Bonham is a man with a mission -- eliminate the thug that ruined his life. Student and part-time bartender Sean Carr wants no part of Jesse's vendetta, no matter how hot he finds the ex-cop. When Jesse kidnaps Sean to use as bait, they discover the meaning of "out of the frying pan and into the fire."

BEHIND THE BEARD by Yeva Wiest: Madly in lust, handsome young counselor Byron Jones hides his secret self. The object of his attraction: Lord Richard Kincade, the Queen’s most sought after barrister. With the help of two conniving old codgers, a mischievous miss, and some six-legged buggers, Byron “wigs out” to capture the heart of Lord Kincade.
This story proves the bell of the ball just might be a beau, but everything depends on who is really hiding behind the beard.


An Excerpt from Chapter 6 of HARDCORE:

He was positioned between the bed and the bathroom door when Jesse emerged, clutching a towel around his hips.

"Stop. Don't move."

Jesse's eyes widened. In a way that looked almost like a reflex, a smirk curled the corner of his mouth.

Before he could say anything, Sean spoke again. "You'll notice the safety's off this time. You really shouldn't've underestimated me, you know?"

He watched Jesse's throat work as he swallowed. "Sean—"

"Shut up. Drop the towel and get on the bed." It wasn't easy to keep his voice and the gun steady at the same time. "On your stomach."

Jesse's brow crumpled in a look that screamed "confusion." Like a swimmer pulled out too far by a riptide and unsure for the first few seconds exactly what's happening. "What're you planning to—"

"I said shut up. Drop the towel. Get on the bed." Sean stepped forward and motioned with the muzzle of the .45. "Do it now."

Jesse hesitated another second, then moved in the direction Sean indicated, to the bed on the other side of the room. Sean stayed close to him, but not too close, in case he decided to pull some tricky move out of a ninja movie.

Sean watched as he dropped the towel at the last possible second, but stopped before actually stretching out on the bed. "I don't know what you've got planned, but if it's what I think—"

"Oh, I think we're on the same page. Down on your stomach, and grab the headboard."
Jesse's eyes flickered once, a glint of golden-hazel from beneath long, thick lashes. Then he did as he was told. Sean almost let himself be surprised. He never thought it would be this easy.

He pulled the handcuffs from his pocket. Now came the hard part—cuffing Jesse to the bed without fumbling the gun. Sean could hear his heart pounding in his ears. If he screwed this up...let Jesse get the better of him one more time...

Again, it turned out easier than he anticipated. Jesse lay with his head on one of the two pillows, his face turned away from Sean. There was tension in every curve and plane of his body—every muscle appeared coiled and ready to spring. But he stayed still, his hands fisted around the spindles of the headboard, knuckles white with the effort. Sean slid a cuff on one wrist, wove the second one between the headboard and the wall, and slipped it onto the other wrist. With each metallic click, Jesse's body jerked.

Sean cleared his throat. "This bed's pretty cheap-looking. You can probably break it if you try." He wasn't sure why he said it. Maybe just to have something to say.

Jesse turned his head on the pillow. Sean saw how the contours of his face matched the tortured lines of his body. He set the gun on the bedside table, and settled his hand on Jesse's shoulder.

The transformation wasn't immediate. It took a good ten seconds for Jesse to relax—for his brow to unknot, for the muscles in his back and ass and legs to let go of what looked like their involuntary clench. Sean watched it all, amazed at how just the single touch of his hand seemed to be enough to communicate what he intended.

Which was no kind of harm. He didn't play that way, any more than Jesse apparently did. Not ever.

He leaned over to speak into Jesse's ear. "I know you want this. You can pretend later that you didn't, if it makes you feel better...but I know. I could tell the moment I met you. The second I saw you."

Jesse made a noise—not quite a groan, not quite a sigh. Like honey poured over a bowl of gravel. It went straight to Sean's cock, the sudden redirection of blood flow nearly knocking him sideways off the bed.

He waited and watched Jesse's face. The older man didn't look at him, but he nodded. Once. Quick and easy to miss, but then he lifted his gaze to meet Sean's, and the yes was right there.

"Good," Sean whispered, and leaned in further to kiss him. Jesse twisted his head to meet him, his lips parting easy to let him inside. It was sweet like nothing Sean had ever tasted—the flavor of Jesse giving in.


Those of you who read and enjoyed FLESH AND BONE, my novella in the FORTUNE’S FOOL anthology released by Phaze in May, might be interested to know that HARDCORE is set in the same “world” -- the North Bay Area outside San Francisco and within a family in which inherited psychic ability is rampant.

My second M/M release -- this one a contemporary Western titled SEVEN YEAR ACHE -- is in the works, slated to be released by the new Allure imprint of Amber Quill Press in the Fall, and thereby cementing my place on The Dark Side forever. But never fear, fans of “het” romance. I’m working on an entry for the Kensington Brava contest, plus I’ll be announcing a contract for a novella featuring the boy/girl lovin’ with a brand new-to-me publisher before the end of the month.

In the meantime, don’t bother praying for my poor, damned soul. I’m rather enjoying the view from down here. For example, what they say about those Scottish lads and what they don’t wear beneath their kilts? All true. Yowza.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue