laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)


My m/m sci fi vampire short "Cultural Hospitality" is now available from Torquere Books! This was one of the most straightforwardly fun stories I’ve written in quite a while — the submissions call wanted vampires and masquerade balls, both of which already felt like deeply self-indulgent ideas for me to play with. So I piled on some interspecies romance, a bit of literal intoxication, and the sweetness of “I didn’t think I could have this happy ending, but I was wrong,” and basked in the entire writing process.

Here, have an excerpt:

Dracula, hmm? )

The publisher and I both make the most money per copy with direct sales from their website, so they put up new releases on their own site first. If you don't want to create an account there to buy, though, it should be available through the major ebook retailers within the next week.

And if the vampires-in-masquerade theme is as much catnip for you as it is for me, you can always pick up the entire anthology's worth of the theme. ;)
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Yesterday I coughed up for a domain name at last and got the beginnings of an author website up and running: http://www.laylahhunter.com/

It's very basic for the moment, but it's present and it's a start. I'm going to be trying to keep up with blogging there in a public-facing-author capacity, and might add a few more static pages (probably a "coming soon" page to list contracted stories that aren't released yet, first and foremost). I like the wordpress theme that I'm running right now but would definitely like to plug in a custom image instead of the default one, so I'll have to think about what I want for that & who to commission to make it.

Before I spend too much more time dicking around with it, though, I should probably do some actual writing & editing. The promo stuff is nice but it isn't the actual primary part of being an author. Whoops.
laylah: a person's torso; the person wears black and has hands hooked in belt loops. the belt buckle is a silver cross. (every man a liar)
Now that the contract is signed, a really thrilling announcement: my short story "Resurrection Man" has been accepted by Riptide Publishing for their Bump in the Night anthology! I'm so excited to have the chance to work with Riptide, after reading and admiring so many of the things they've produced so far. Expect to hear a lot more about that later in the year when we get close to its release.

In other exciting upcoming news, Torquere has sent the authors a copy of the cover for Masks Off Too!, the vampire masquerade antho they're releasing next month. Cover under the cut:
totes worksafe )
laylah: a person's torso; the person wears black and has hands hooked in belt loops. the belt buckle is a silver cross. (every man a liar)
So, trying to distract myself from waiting on a reply to a difficult email I just sent off, and what better way than by looking at submission calls?

And Total-e-Bound has a call due April 1 for het or mixed-gender menage stories about witches. They want 15-20k, which is long enough that I'd want to have a decent amount of plot in there (I've seen people write 12k that is essentially one long sex scene, but I don't have that kind of stamina, heh) to go with some hot sexy bits. They seem pretty open to a variety of takes on the witchcraft theme. I'm leaning toward doing a contemporary/urban fantasy feel, but beyond that? I'm still sort of fumbling for a bunny.

So, I come to you for ideas -- what kinds of things would you like to see done with that theme? What would you rather NOT read? Throw some elements at me and let's see what happens.
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
I've been sort of following Storm Moon's anniversary blog hop over the course of the month, as one does, and today Lor Rose has a post about her muses, and how she believes that ultimately every author has them. (TW for a lot of jokey language about mental illness.) I sat there for a bit trying to compose a response to the post, but really I think what I want to say ought to be a post of its own.

I have never been a "muses made me do it" writer. I know there are people who get a lot of mileage out of that model, who picture themselves in dialogue with their characters or with a Classical Muse-type figure who spurs them on. But it's never worked for me, for a few reasons:

1. This is hard work. I'm not channeling inspiration that comes from someplace external; I'm not writing down ideas that some magical third party dictates to me. I am conceptualizing characters, building worlds, designing plot arcs, and crafting sentences of my own volition and by my own effort. Some days it goes so smoothly that it does feel almost like a blessing from the gods! Other days it's like trying to plow a field with a hand trowel. But it's still all about me, either way. Blaming a muse for any of it feels like I'd be brushing off that reality: I had to work for every one of those words. They're craft and labor as much as they're inspiration and magic. After all that, I can't imagine WANTING to give the credit to my imaginary friend.

2. Being creative =/= being crazy. This one is a really personal prickly spot for me; I am a writer and I am also a long-term depression sufferer. It took me seventeen years of living with varying degrees of depression before I managed to actually get help and get it under control. A huge part of why it took so long, why I spent all of my 20s being an emotional disaster area, was the idea that the way I felt was just "normal" for a creative person. "I write what the voices in my head tell me to!" is a glib and frivolous riff on that really pernicious idea, and I have no desire to participate in it. (For the record: I am more consistently creative and productive now that my mental illness is well-managed than I ever was as a "crazy" writer.)

Creative minds do work in a variety of ways, obviously; there are clearly people for whom it's helpful to treat their writing process as an internal dialogue, to engage themselves in conversation as a way of getting their creative drive going. But it's not all of us; it's not me. The only voice I'm listening to when I write is my own.

I should probably get going. I've been having a field-vs-hand-trowel week, and I hope to make a deadline at the end of the month. Back to the word mines with me!
laylah: close-up of a person's thigh, showing the top of a stocking and strap of a garter belt (sex in spotlights)
This story is for [personal profile] ilyat, who won my services in Piper Vaughn's Hurricane Sandy charity auction. She asked for expansion of a little snippet I'd done at some point featuring a blood magician who used her powers as an illusionist. This is the result: the seedy underbelly of a paranormal setting, complete with strip club.

Risa is used to dealing with shady characters as part of her job at the Second Circle "gentlemen's club." But usually they're less persistent than the vampire who's here tonight to watch her dance, and she's going to wind up spending more blood than she planned on to get out of this one.
Contains bloodletting, blood drinking, and non-con of the hypnosis/mind control variety.
5,000 words.

Available in EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and right here in this post, below the cut:

may never see the light )
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
My next short story release will be available next month! "Ivory Black, Flecked with White" appears in Dreamspinner Press's Snow on the Roof anthology, a collection of m/m romance featuring older men. "Ivory Black" is a historical, established relationship piece:
Renaissance painter Felice has enjoyed Lucio's patronage, and his love, for years; neither of them are young men anymore. When the youthful good looks of Felice's latest model make Lucio jealous, Felice must find a way to convince his lover that in a painter's eyes, there is no conflict between age and beauty.

The anthology is available for preorder now on Dreamspinner's site, in ebook or in paperback. Once the book releases, on February 11, it will be available through all your favorite online retailers as well. :3

and here's a quick excerpt from Ivory Black )
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
I'm always iffy on the subject of New Year's Resolutions, which I guess is kind of the trendy way to approach them lately. Eh. If I were going to make a list, though, I hope to hell it would be as good and as fierce as Chuck Wendig's 25 Writer Resolutions for 2013. Just sayin'.

I do have one concrete goal for writing this year: to focus on structure, and improve my ability to plot out (and follow through on) actual narrative arcs that sustain longer work. The longest story I placed last year was about 17k words; the one rejection I got was for a novella of 28k. Looking at the novella now, I can see weaknesses in the structure; having it rejected was probably good for me, because it's a nice reminder that I should keep trying to make this stuff better instead of assuming that I'm good enough. So there's my goal: coherent, compelling plot arcs that will support the longer stories people want to read. Let's rock this house.
laylah: distant city lights at night, with the text "I swear I'd burn the city down to show you the light" (weasel in love)
After fussing about it for ages, I finally sent out my first novel on submission a few minutes ago.

*deep breaths*

The Dragon's Tale is a city-based low fantasy novel in the vein of Swordspoint crossed with Plunkett & Macleane -- I've been describing it to people for years as my "alternate history boy/boy street thug romance." It's also my baby. I really hope it finds a home.

moviegoin'

Dec. 17th, 2012 12:13 pm
laylah: pine needles and a pine cone dusted with snow (all the trees in the green wood)
I went to see The Hobbit yesterday! and the vast assortment of trailers that preceded it, of course. Two of them caught my eye -- Warm Bodies looks charming even though I feel pandered to, and After Earth is one I'm definitely shelling out for. The story for AE looks pretty familiar, man-vs-hostile-wilderness, but the trailer framed it as a story whose central relationship is the father-son bond between two black men, and godDAMN does that need to make money.

A zillion years later, we got to the feature presentation! cutting everything in case of spoilers )

Overall: glad I saw it! And glad I saw it with [personal profile] subtext, who quite helpfully provided the perspective that the film version of a book you love is the filmmaker's fanon, their chance to enthuse about the things that matter most to them in the source text; you can consume it and groove on it even if you disagree with some of their conclusions.

The end. :3
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Signed the contract last night, so I am now happy to announce that I will have another short with Dreamspinner in February: Snow on the Roof is an anthology of m/m romance about older men, and will include my story "Ivory Black, Flecked with White," about an Italian Renaissance painter and the man who has been his patron and his lover for years.

Yay more stories going out in the world!
laylah: pine needles and a pine cone dusted with snow (all the trees in the green wood)
My contribution to Dreamspinner's 2012 Advent collection, "Safe Harbor," is now available from DSP's site. Sailor Blake ran away from home seven years ago to avoid having to face his grief over his father's death or his tangle of romantic feelings for his best friend Tom. Now, his ship has come in to port on Christmas Eve, and he's going to get a second chance at family and love.

This story is a warm fuzzy blanket in prose form; the excerpt available on the site is a little bittersweet, but the sweet chases off the bitter by the story's end (spoilers!!!).

If you're in the mood for some nice cuddly Christmas fic, give it a try!
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Whew. Three short stories out the door this month; here's hoping December will bring me good news on one or more of them.

December's drafting will probably focus on some pieces that friends have commissioned to help me come up with suit money; I'll also be dedicating some time to the final round of pre-submission edits for The Dragon's Tale (FINALLY, I know).

Also I suppose I should be sending out resumes in search of a new day job. I'm not ready to go back yet, but the unemployment office doesn't want to hear that.
laylah: a person's torso; the person wears black and has hands hooked in belt loops. the belt buckle is a silver cross. (every man a liar)
Saint Harridan is raising funds for a line of men's-styled suits that are designed to fit XX-chromosomed bodies.

I am incoherent right now about how much this means to me. I've always been of the "oh, it's just clothes" mold, and trying not to think about them any more than I had to. I'm genderqueer XX butch, with a body type that does not fit well into clothes made for XY shapes; my hips have never let me pass. Trying to shop for clothes has been an exercise in frustration, anxiety, and flat-out misery for years.

And now there's Saint Harridan. This post about their name made me wibbly when I first saw it, and now the kickstarter has me in tears.

Because this project, these clothes, say to me, Yes, you are allowed to be what you are. Yes, you deserve the chance to be stylish and fancy. You don't have to choose between physical discomfort and emotional discomfort to dress up.

If you can afford to kick them a few bucks, please do.

whoops

Nov. 24th, 2012 09:11 am
laylah: an illustration from  Through the Looking Glass: a black kitten pawing at a ball of yarn. (Default)
And then I went silent for ten days!

Since we last spoke, I've gotten a rejection from one place I really wanted to work with and an acceptance from another one. I've sent out a short story and finished a draft for another one in time to revise it before it, too, needs to be sent out. And I've found another call due at the end of the month for which I currently have 3k of a necessary 5k. And I've done a quick copy edit pass on my first novel before sending it to a couple of people so I could get feedback before it goes out into the wide world of submission.

...I feel like I've been slacking -- the last two days all I've done was play video games and eat pie -- but writing it down makes it look less so. Yay!
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Just a quick FYI, before I dive back into the writing mines and try to get the rest of this short story drafted -- I now have a twitter account for writing purposes, which is (predictably) LaylahHunter. Please feel free to add me, if twitter is a thing you do!
laylah: a cup of coffee with a heart clearly drawn in the foam (delicious love)
In a month or two when the rent keeps happening and I'm not getting paid, I'm sure I'll be more sorry about unemployment. But right this minute, honestly, it feels like such a relief to have time, at last. I've wanted to have time for myself for years.

And I'm not even entirely fucking off with it! Yeah, there's some Skyrim in the evenings (my dunmer is almost to level 50, you guys! she stopped the civil war and now she's chasing down the betrayer of the thieves' guild!), but I'm also settling in to be my own project manager:



Also, I'm the kind of boss who lets my employees use the internet at work. Aw yis.
laylah: an illustration from  Through the Looking Glass: a black kitten pawing at a ball of yarn. (Default)
Just a few hours left for bidding on the Hurricane Sandy charity auctions! Mine currently stands at $100 -- if we can hit $150 in these last few hours I will up the story minimum to 7,500 words. (...Stretch goal: If we could get to $200, I'd up it to 10,000.)

well.

Nov. 8th, 2012 04:48 pm
laylah: a person's torso; the person wears black and has hands hooked in belt loops. the belt buckle is a silver cross. (every man a liar)
Lost my job today.

I'm...okay in the short term; I've been living below my means for a while, so I have enough of a cushion that I don't need to worry about being suddenly homeless in the winter. Here's to hoping I can find something within a reasonable amount of time.

...I'd been pining for some time off for so long, too. I just wish it weren't this expensive.

Obligatory

Nov. 6th, 2012 07:15 am
laylah: an illustration from  Through the Looking Glass: a black kitten pawing at a ball of yarn. (Default)
If you live in the US, please vote today.

...And more selfishly, if you live in Washington State, please vote to approve Ref. 74.

(The church up the street from my apartment has an electronic message sign that currently reads, "We affirm the dignity and the rights of all people. Marriage, however, should not be redefined." Gotta say, I like the first sentence a lot better than the second.)

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