Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two in one Month!

It is not often that Amber Quill releases two PAX collections in the same month. Only those that have five weekends are so honored. August just happens to be one. And as luck would have it, I have a story in both of them! This is purely by chance.

Here's how it works. We maintain a list of suggested topics in a data base. Different AQ writers are intrigued about one or another and sign up for it. Once five or more are signed on, that theme is a go and gets onto the schedule. We have deadlines each quarter, the first day of the third month to be exact. Sometimes you can have more than one in that future lineup. Normally we have three PAX themes for each deadline. Complicated? Not really but it is a bit of a crap shoot. I had two for the June 1, 2015 deadline and by chance, they both managed to be released in August. Luck of the draw!

Okay, you know about A Cop and A Con. What's next? It's a science fiction tale called Return to Atsileigh.  Although I am a big sci fi fan and loved both Star Trek and Star Wars, I have not written a lot in the genre. But it so happened that my first gay story which was also my first dip of the toe into science fiction. Treading Dangerous Ground  was also my first best seller (#1 for the month it released!) and started my writing career off on another new direction. There have been a lot of m/m stories since Treading Dangerous Ground came out some years ago now though only a few sci fi among them.

I've always known that Dangerous Ground had a sequel lurking but it took me a long time to get it written. When I first tried, there were two guys and a woman. That was just not working although menage tales are fun. Then finally Florene Jaxon had a gender change and became Floyd. Voila, we were off and running. So Return to Atsileigh features the gradual intertwining of the lives of three Unifleet cadets and continues the saga of Hightower's Betrayal. The question of whether Jayce Hightower was a betrayer or the betrayed becomes a critical element in Return to Atsileigh.  No spoilers here!!

But here is the yummy cover. To learn more you'll have to snoop around the 'net (I will have a post on the PAX blog and also some comments on the AQ promo sites in various of the social media starting Sunday), and maybe get your own copy! Three hunky guys in a  action-packed space opera story? What's not to love?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back in the thick of things

It's been a difficult month. I had a great but short trip to Alaska the last week of June but ever since I got home have been struggling with what I call "allergy eyes". It's a major inflammation with drippy, gummy, sticky and very irritated eyes sometimes to the point where driving or even being on the computer was just not possible. I've had allergy tests run and will be going on antigen treatment injections shortly and also back to my ophthalmologist to see if we can come up with a short term help to keep me functional. I'm a lot better due to some homemade and homeopathic treatments but I know that is not the real cure.

Anyway, while I was semi out of commission I managed to get the edits done on two new stories, both of which will be coming out this month! Both are part of PAX collections and August, with five weekends, will have two!  The first one comes out on August 9--just a few days away--and the second on August 23.

I have a cover for the first one and two blog posts that I'll share here about it. It's a cop story and pretty much a Canine Cupids tale as well. It felt powerful and real to me as I wrote it and I hope my readers will find it the same!

A Cop and A Con

A Cop and A Con by Deirdre O'Dare
Released August 9 by Amber Quill in their Amber Allure line as part of the Strip Away the Badge PAX.

 Here is a bit about how and why for this story:
I know readers often wonder why an author might write a specific story. Since Deirdre O’Dare writes more offbeat tales than many, the question may be even more frequent and pressing for my stories than most! I’d have to say I walk a very narrow line between stark, harsh reality of either the world we live in or others that may exist and tend to mirror what I witness here and something less grim. I also believe to the depth of my heart that Love is the One True Thing and that everyone deserves to find and experience it. While happily ever after may be a fairy tale dream, I still believe it is possible. So everything I write is a romance! But they all happen in a setting of hard times, dark reality and struggles.
            I’ve been involved with law enforcement through family members since 1971. Before then I didn’t give a lot of thought to what our peace officers deal with on a daily basis and the issues they face. Then it hit home and became very real.
            Of course “cops” have been in the news a lot lately, some for doing very bad things and some for being heroes. While I certainly do not condone a number of the fatal shootings that have taken place by police officers, I do have some sense of the danger and fear they have to face every time they get into their unit or answer a call. They never know when someone will make that fatal shot at them.
            Here in New Mexico two officers have died this year in the line of duty--from being shot--and several have been badly injured. I cannot defend the ‘bad’ cops, and there are some, but I have deepest sympathy and respect for the good ones who are far in the majority. So, I write about them. I know when I began to write gay romances, about ten years ago, I soon gained a great deal more sympathy and understanding for gay and lesbian people. I had always thought that everyone deserved to find and have love, but once I had gotten into the heads and hearts of my characters as they told me their stories, it all became very real and I moved firmly into the Rainbow Camp.
            My wish is now, when I write about law enforcement, that I can make these individuals more real and human for my readers. I want to let more people see just how tough it can be to walk the world behind a badge. A few may strut it but most bear the authority as a heavy burden of responsibility and visibility.
            Although I can hardly even imagine how horrific it can be to carry that badge in our modern cities, I do know more about circumstances for the men and women who serve in the rural and remote areas of the west. In a city there are almost always witnesses, sometimes hostile but at least many pairs of eyes. Out in the desert, chaparral and mountains, it may be just the cop and the bad guy or guys. Backup may be miles away. I feel a need to tell these folks’ stories. Although A Cop and A Con is not the first time I have tried to honor the rural officers nor will it be the last, I gave it my best shot.
            Perry is a composite of a number of men I have known and observed. As for Ike, I have witnessed prejudice, too, and the struggles many people have after making just one bad mistake that landed them on the wrong side of the law. For this tale, he was the first character that came to me and Perry emerged a bit later, after Ike began to share his struggle with me. And of course I added the dogs—dogs are special to me and I enjoy showcasing their unique qualities as special secondary characters in many stories.
            I tried to avoid becoming maudlin or dwelling too deeply on the squalid and sordid side of things, but it’s all part of policing in this region and background I felt was needed to make the story real. Reality is almost a watchword with me; however fantastic the story may be, I have to feel in my soul that it is “real.” While there is no guarantee of a happy-ever-after ending, at least I know that at the end Ike and Perry found some peace and contentment and we can hope it lasts for them. In a fictitious world, perhaps it does.
             Even in the real world, sometimes things actually do work out. To me fiction should give a reader hope that for them as well as for the characters, good endings are possible. Is that not why we read genre fiction? It appeals because we know the good guys will win and bolster our sagging faith that outcome is possible for us, for everyone.

A Cop and A Con--PG 13 excerpt

A Cop and A Con by Deirdre O’Dare.
It will also be available on the main Amber Quill page for awhile as a new release along with the other four Strip Away the Badge PAX © tales.


Alamo County, NM
Late November

Cold, so damn cold. Isaiah “Ike” Hernandez stumped along the side of the winding two lane highway, half blinded by the stinging mixture of windblown snow and sand that slashed at him. He’d long passed teeth chattering and shivering. Now he was just numb. He only knew when each foot hit the ground by the jolt that ran up his leg. The thin shoes they had given him provided little protection and no bounce.
With a near-frozen hand, he pressed the thin jacket closer to his chest and supported the small dog curled against his body, the one spot almost warm. He’d found the half-starved little mutt two days ago, the third day of his journey northwest from a horrible prison in south Texas where he’d spent the past several years. Leaving the pen, his one thought had been to get home —even though it would not be the home he’d left.
He knew that while he’d been away the town had been razed to make room for a new open pit mine that now was nearly closed due to the economic problems and environmental issues. The town of Esperanza was no more, but where else could he go? At least he had to see for himself that it no longer existed before he could go anywhere else.
At first he wasn’t sure if the pup’s matted hair covered a male or female. Now he knew the little red scrap of canine was male, and he’d decided it was a mix of dachshund and Chihuahua—but with a shaggy ancestor somewhere in the past as well. He’d kicked himself for picking it up. He could hardly feed himself, much less a dog, but he couldn’t leave it crouched by a highway, whimpering, hungry  and cold.
Now several hundred miles later, hitching, walking and hoping, he was sure he’d made it back into New Mexico. Even so, his goal still seemed impossibly far away. Then this storm had swept in, an early but a vicious one.  In prison all he’d had was time. Now that he was free at last, it looked like time had run out.
Even his thoughts seemed gelid, ill-formed and jumbled, mixing in his mind. Memory told him the ground was hard and cold. Despite that, it looked soft, comforting. He wanted to lie down, let the snow and dust drift over him while he went to sleep. He’d die. And probably the little red dog would, too. Ever dogged himself, he could not let that happen. At least he would not roll over and play dead until he really was. He put a foot forward one more time.

Perry Parker gripped the wheel of the Alamo County Sheriff’s Department SUV and squinted into the swirling maelstrom of snow and dust that all but obscured the two lane highway he followed. The vehicle bucked, fighting the wind. Wheels slipped as he took one of the sharper curves. He eased off the gas and let momentum carry the car for a few yards.
If those fucking meth dealers are out in this, they’re crazier than I am. At least I’m getting paid. Not much, not enough, but it’s a living. Well, maybe they will be too if I can’t catch them. But hell, why on a night like this? I can’t even see them unless they’re standing in the road.
As one of the too-few deputies patrolling the remote county not far from the Mexican border, he had plenty of experience with drug dealers. Now, damn the luck, even local kids were caught up in cooking meth, suddenly considered cool because that damn TV show was so popular. What were they thinking, making a meth dealer a hero, for God’s sake?  Still, border crashers or locals could be out tonight peddling their product although they were risking death in a wreck as well as the normal hazards of their illegal business.
Beside him in the passenger seat, Badger gave one plaintive whine. Although the county did not have canine officers, Badger had been his partner for several months. He’d adopted the funny looking critter from the county shelter when the animal control man said he was going to have to put her down soon. Perry figured the dog was Pit Bull and Blue Heeler.
Although most folks would say she was the ugliest dog they’d ever seen, Perry noticed the intelligence and some other special nameless quality in her mismatched eyes, one blue and one nearly black. He had to save her. Because she was both brave and tenacious, Badger seemed like the right name.
With her riding shotgun, he wasn’t quite alone. She’d picked up a few commands and become protective very fast. She even seemed to have a nose for drugs. Out on the long dark nights alone, she was the best partner he could ask for.
            “Okay, gal. We’ll be back in town in about thirty minutes and get us some coffee, maybe some chow and a treat for you. It ain’t pretty out but I’ll get us there. I know this road like our back yard.”
As he straightened the wheel and eased down on the gas again, something loomed ahead, right on the edge of his lane. What the fuck? A man, walking? He hadn’t seen a car or any sign of life for the past twenty miles or more. Who would be out in this weather? Probably some poor sap who’d been sneaked across the border and dumped to fend for himself. Perry despised the coyoteros with the pitiful living traffic they abused as much as he hated the drug dealers. Still, he could not pass a fellow human, one for whom death could come almost any moment out here on a night like this.
Feathering the brakes, he slowed, stopped and then shifted the SUV into reverse. He’d gone maybe twenty yards past the walker. The person had stopped, raised his—or her—head and waited, as if numb and dumb. Perry put the car in park and got out.
“Hey man, do you need a lift? Where you heading?” He spoke first in Spanish and then when the other person did not respond, repeated it in English.
The reply came faint, muffled, slurred and hoarse. “Yeah, I s’pose I do. I was going home--to Esperanza--but I think I took the wrong shortcut. Things look different now.”
The man staggered, as if disoriented or exhausted.  Maybe both. Perry grabbed his arm. Through thin, worn garments he could feel bone with very little flesh over it. The guy was not in good shape. He stumbled as Perry tugged.
“Come on, I’ll get you to town—that’s Riata, about twenty miles down this highway. Esperanza doesn’t exist anymore. Didn’t you know? You stay out in this much longer and they’d find your carcass after the storm blows out. No hope out here for now.”
The stranger nodded. “Yeah, yeah. You’re right, but I’m not leaving my dog.”