There and back again: A Los Angeles recap

The most important thing anyone really needs to know about Hollywood is that the theater that hosts the Oscars is in a mall.

Really.

It even has an outpost of middle-America’s goth depot, Hot Topic.

Speaking of goth… despite the fact that my & Erin’s vampire duology, Snare is still a work in progress, I have to confess that vampire mythology is something really core for me in a way that very much relates to my experience of Los Angeles.

Say what you will about Anne Rice, but her The Vampire Lestat was how I learned that it was okay that I had emotions, and that the expression of them didn’t make me weird, bad, manipulative, or a liar. My father may have threatened me with exorcism for reading the book, but that book — and the idea of vampires by extension — saved me. So while it’s not a part of Rice’s vampire mythos, the idea of needing to be invited into a space is a superstition by which I have long lived my life and my ambition.

I have not, for example, ever taken a studio tour when in Los Angeles. For me, studios are places of work and of aspiration to the work; they are not places I go unless I am requested to do so.  I do not, and never have, given myself that permission, and if that makes me feel like I’m missing out (friends have had some pretty cool experience while on these tours), that’s okay.  It just makes me work harder.

IMG_1257So it was a little complicated when, on this recent trip, I attended two Paleyfest events at the Dolby Theater which, yes, also plays host to the Oscars. For Angelenos, the Dolby is just one of those places where you see concerts or attend other events.  For me, it was just weird.  Although as I rubbed my hand back and forth on the red velveteen of the seat, I felt nothing.  No magic, no frission, no regret… not even any static electricity.

Instead, I was sort of annoyed by the overzealous air-conditioning and preoccupied with where to go to dinner.  Tourist Hollywood is my least favorite part of Los Angeles, and I had to spend a lot of time there during this recent trip.  It did not make me fond; it did make me sad.  Like any big city, Los Angeles harbors a lot of hope and a lot of desperation.  Los Angeles just does those things differently than any other.

IMG_1263This trip was the trip where I fell in love with LA’s food culture, discovered the location of Alex and Gemma’s shitty apartment when they first move to the city, and found the nerve to swim in the ocean for the first time in years — largely because of the freakish heatwave that accompanied me to and from the city.  I also learned how everything connects. I’m a non-driver and assumed I’d get by as I usually do, with Lyft and Uber. But somehow, I did everything I needed to on public transit and now have this keen sense of the shape of life there, all mapped at the right angles of bus routes.

IMG_1283Without those bus routes, I would not have discovered the absurdity of Larchmont, which seems likely to be useful in the project Erin and I refer to as Secret House; or where, on the edge of Los Feliz, Minette (a character you’ll meet in the fourth book of the Love in Los Angeles series) likes to buy her 1950s-style dresses.  I wouldn’t have finally gotten to the Observatory; taken shaky video for Erin at Our Lady of the Angels; nabbed fairly mediocre macaroons at ‘Lette; or been able to drag my ass both to the WGA West library and Burbank on the same incredibly difficult and stressful day (scheduling fail, my friends, scheduling fail).

Unlike my last trip to LA, this time I didn’t cry when I left.  I didn’t feel desperate or sad or scared by the things the city arouses in me or the parts of me thatIMG_1342 always get left behind there. And I didn’t feel ashamed by the gap — sometimes positive, sometimes negative — between where I am now and where other people expect me to be. This time, Los Angeles was just a place I go because I write stories, my own very much included.

So what was the magic weird serendipity that happened this time? I’ll confess, getting a yes on book 2 in our series with Dreamspinner while I was awkwardly standing in the middle of the Beverly Center was pretty amusing.  So was a friend sending me a link to this piece by Roxane Gay, when I returned — we were there the same weekend and clearly experienced some of the same pursuits and inconveniences (although her trip was notably more glamorous).

But, the really good stuff?  That would be telling.

I will, however, say this: If you ever need perspective on your dreams in order to stave off fear or force yourself to buckle down and work even harder?  Just remember that the Oscars are totally in a mall.  With a Hot Topic. And a California Pizza Kitchen.

Just take a right when you see the Sanrio and fly straight on ’til midnight.

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35% off at Torquere Press for the rest of the month!

For the rest of the month, you can get 35% off everything in your cart at Torquere with code Spring2015.

room2014You can pre-order Room 1024 for $1.94 (it releases on April 8 for $2.99 and pre-orders will receive it the night of April 7th): http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=200&products_id=4373

Starling SmallDoves SmallYou can get Starling for $3.89 (list price is $5.99):http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=97&products_id=4269

Meanwhile, Doves is $4.54 (list price is $6.99):http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=69&products_id=4344

Evergreen CoverEvergreen is also $1.94 (list price $2.99):http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_108&products_id=4328

td-lakeeffect1400And “Lake Effect” is $1.62 (list price $2.49): http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_93&products_id=4208

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of the Love in Los Angeles series, we recommend signing up for our newsletter (enter your email in the box on the right hand margin of this site).  We only contact you on the first of every month, we never share your email address, and this month since we have met some subscriber goals, we’ll be sharing a mini story set in the LiLA universe about the start of Victor and Liam’s relationship.  While we’ll share that with the general audience via this website eventually, you get first crack at it.

Posted in BDSM, books, Doves, Evergreen, Lake Effect, Love in Los Angeles, Room 1024, Starling, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey, want to know five secrets about Doves?

Doves CoverDoves has been out for a while, and Phoenix is out in just under two months. Which means it’s time to share five things about Doves we haven’t really told explicitly before.

Some of these, you may have figured out already. And if not, get a sneak look — including some information that may or may not be pertinent to Phoenix — over at An Indie Adventure.

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40% off at Torquere Press, today only!

Want to catch up with stuff Erin & I have written?

Today, Tuesday, March 17, 2015, you can get 40% off everything in your cart at Torquere with code LUCKY2015.

room2014You can pre-order Room 1024 for $1.79 (it releases on April 8 for $2.99 and pre-orders will receive it the night of April 7th): http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=200&products_id=4373

Starling SmallDoves SmallYou can get Starling for $3.59 (list price is $5.99): http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=97&products_id=4269

Meanwhile, Doves is $4.19 (list price is $6.99): http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=69&products_id=4344

Evergreen CoverEvergreen is also $1.79 (list price $2.99): http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_108&products_id=4328

td-lakeeffect1400And “Lake Effect” is $1.49 (list price $2.49): http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_93&products_id=4208

Posted in BDSM, books, Doves, Evergreen, Lake Effect, Love in Los Angeles, Starling, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post: Cover Reveal for My Zombie Boyfriend

Today, we’re pleased to host fellow Torquere author T. Strange, whose novel, My Zombie Boyfriend, is coming out April 15th, the cover for which is revealed below!

We love the premise and the excerpts, and we think the cover is completely adorable.


Title: My Zombie Boyfriend
Author: T. Strange
Publisher: Torquere Press
Length: 64, 000 words (Novel)
Genres: Romance, Paranormal, Contemporary, M/M
Release Date: April 15th, 2015

Blurb: Edward Grey is a medical student by day, necromancer by night. He lives alone with the first zombie he ever raised, his childhood cat, Boo. Edward’s life is simple: studying medicine, training his necromantic powers with his mentor, Mariel, and having weekly dinners with his parents. When he finds a very attractive corpse in a park and brings it home to reanimate, he creates a sassy, free-willed zombie who believes Edward is the one who murdered him.

With no memory of his former life, Edward names the zombie Kit and tries to win his trust. Kit slowly adjusts to his new un-life with Edward’s help, though he’s still suspicious of Edward’s role in his death and is convinced that Edward is hiding his former identity. Edward is very attracted to Kit, but understands why Kit doesn’t trust him. As they become closer to one another, Kit turns to Edward for comfort and love. The fragile trust they’ve built together will be tested when Kit unexpectedly regains his memory and seeks revenge on his murderers.

Excerpt:

Shopping with Kit was a nightmare.

I expect my clothes to cover publicly unacceptable bits, keep me warm, and protect me from the environment. That’s about all I require of them.

No. Kit was into Fashion. With a capital F. He looked at racks of shirts that, color aside, all seemed identical to me. He kept staring at the labels.

I got more than a little impatient. It had been a long day. Not to mention my long night raising the temperamental dead. “Kit,” I groaned, “money is not an issue. Just pick whatever you want and I’ll buy it for you. I literally do not care how much it costs.”

Kit’s mouth fell open in a perfect, sexy ‘O’ of exaggerated horror. “You think I’m looking at the prices? Oh, Edward. That’s so cute.”

He thought I was cute? I knew he was teasing me, but I still liked hearing him say it.

My headache was back. This seemed to be a trend with Kit around. If he wasn’t looking at the prices, what was taking him so long? I took a deep, soothing breath. On the plus side, Kit had obviously relaxed since being out in public. I had heard of retail therapy but never before witnessed its effect. He was practically glowing as he chattered on about the relative merits of this and that brand, designer and logo. It was a soothing wash of words that meant absolutely nothing to me, so I nodded, smiled, and tried not to focus on how pretty his mouth was, the way his hands seemed to hang in the air when he spoke, how amazing his hair looked even in the terrible mall lighting.

It was a good thing he was so pretty, or I probably would have killed him and left. It would be so easy, too. One word and he would collapse, his reanimated essence disappearing while I walked out of the store and back into my nice, normal medical student/necromancer life.

“Hello? Earth to Edward. I’m ready.” He thrust a very large bundle of clothes into my arms and stood there, all but tapping his foot. He smiled and said, “Oh, yes. We still have to get shoes.”

About the Author: My Zombie Boyfriend is T. Strange’s first full-length novel, though she has published several shorter works with Torquere Press. When not writing, T. enjoys gardening, spending time with her horse, and, of course, reading. T. lives in Canada with her wife, surrounded by pets.

Author Links:

Blogger | Facebook | Twitter | Tsu | Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest | Torquere | Google+ | Tumblr

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Guest Post: Ines Johnson

Here at Avian30 we love stories that subvert tropes, and stories about kickass chicks. Which means we’re very pleased today to host Ines Johnson, whose new book, Pumpkin: A Cindermama Story, is out from Heartspell Media today.

Pumpkinacindermamastory

Girl On Her Own Horse

Have you been paying attention to the evolution of the Cinderella story? If you’ve watched the Disney blockbuster, Frozen, then you have. Young girls and women are no longer waiting around for a man to come by on his horse, sweep them off their feet, and give them shoes.

Okay, I doubt any of us would turn down the shoes!

My point is that women are now taking the reins of their own stories and rejecting the Cinderella trope of changing themselves into someone new. In many, dare I say most, of these stories the prince doesn’t pay attention to the Cinderella character in her ordinary world of working 9-5pm with grime under her nails and threadbare clothes. He doesn’t look her way until she gets magicked into expertly applied makeup, a binding, shape-shifting corset, and brand new shoes.

My first notice of this was in the film Working Girl. This 80’s retelling of the Cinderella story featured a bright secretary who had dreams of entering the boardroom with a briefcase instead of coffee. When her wicked boss steals her idea, the secretary seizes an opportunity to steal into a high profile business meeting by pretending that she’s her boss, while also wearing her boss’s dress and shoes. Melanie Griffith, as the secretary, uses Harrison Ford’s charming character to get her into the board room’s door. When the business deal goes south, Griffith doesn’t wait for the knight in a business suite to rescue her. Instead, she shows off her ‘head for business and bod for sin’ in order to win a business deal, thwart her boss, and get her man.

A decade later Drew Barrymore retold the Cinderella story in Ever After. In a pivotal scene when Barrymore’s character, Danielle, has been taken prisoner by the evil Pierre Le Pieu, the audience holds their breath as the prince leaps onto his horse and heads off to rescue her. But Danielle picks up not one, but two swords, and swashbuckles her way to an escape. As she’s walking out of the castle a free woman, the prince arrives moments too late with her shoe in hand.

Nearly another decade later came another retelling with Penelope. Penelope is an heiress born under a curse that can only be broken in the face of true love. The problem? Penelope’s face doesn’t inspire sonnets and poems as much as it does a hankering for breakfast meats. Penelope’s snout nose has caused her to be rejected her whole life, including rejection from her own mother. When she finally finds a man willing to tolerate her looks and break the curse, she comes to the realization that she likes herself just the way she is. And just like that, the curse is broken and Penelope’s outside matches her glowing inside.

In today’s stories, women don’t wait around for men on horses. They take the reins, defend themselves, and declare love to their own reflections. They’re now even qualified to deliver true love’s kiss to their own sisters as we saw in the blockbuster Frozen.

In my fairytale retelling, Pumpkin: a Cindermama story my heroine has given up on fairytale love. Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne has been searching for his soulmate all his life, whom he’ll recognize at first sight by a golden aura, that only he can see, surrounding her person. Manny doesn’t see gold when he meets Pumpkin, but the more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

Pumpkin: A Cindermama Story is available now on Amazon.

altheas-treatmentInes writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Find Ines Johnson online: Goodreads| Facebook | Twitter | Website

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I am currently on a plane to Los Angeles. I am not entirely sure why.

For the last five years I’ve gone to Los Angeles every February.  That started as a fan pilgrimage to a Doctor Who con, morphed into an excuse to see friends who don’t (or no longer) live near me, and in the last two years has become something of a professional necessity. The reality is that people offer to pay me to write things for them when I go to fan cons in Los Angeles.  The other reality is that Erin and I are writing a book series about LA, and like any New Yorker it’s a city I have a difficult relationship with.  Erin has never been.

You will note, however, that not only am I writing this from a plane, I’m writing this in March.  This year, my day-job schedule shifted in a way that meant I was needed in Europe (hence a recent whirlwind tour of Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Finland) the same weekend I was meant to be in LA, so I missed my friends, I missed some business, and Erin and I had to cancel a reading in Anaheim and some other book related stuff.

As I continue to work on an increasing number of scripted and serialized projects and as I have an increasingly intense attachment to the city due to our book series, I got sad. Really, really sad.  I’m a symbolic creature, and the cancellation of the trip hit me in my spots. I always think people — and the universe — want me to fail, and I have built my life on refusing to do so.

So I planned a new trip, sort of on a whim.  I’d never been to Paleyfest before and that seemed as good an excuse as any. I could do some fan stuff and maybe see some fan people, pitch some Paleyfest related articles to places I freelance for, do book research, and see what other business I could scare up.  I could touch the ocean, and I could go to my cathedral.

And now here we are, and I am going to Los Angeles alone, while I’m miserably jet-lagged from the European trip and exhausted from a three-day writers room in New York. And, more or less as anticipated, I have articles to write, people to see, a few meetings to attend, book research to do, and rituals to be fulfilled.

It’s all good, and I am, besides, a solitary creature.

But I am going to Los Angeles alone. Los Angeles who scares me, Los Angeles who whispers to this native New Yorker that I was not actually born at the center of the world; Los Angeles who seduces me, and Los Angeles who is filled with people who perhaps think I’m not good enough for her fair shores.  Well, there’s another thing I’m all into refusing.

When I first went out to LA in the late-90s, I felt too brunette and too ugly to endure the commercial shoot in Bel Aire that I was there to face.  The whole trip was bizarre and awkward, but the highlight of both was probably myself and a pair of lovers crashing the Miss Teen USA California pageant at an airport hotel and me missing my flight.

While I have no intention of repeating those particular events, they are germane.  Because above all else I am in Los Angeles not for its magic, but for mine.  I carry a strange serendipity with me.  Whether this is a form of witchy luck or the ability to apply narrative to and interpret destiny in anything, magic comes to me.  It always has, solemn and strange and filled with loud laughter.

I am currently on a plane to Los Angeles, and there I have some stuff to do.  But I will have absolutely no idea why I am on this plane until some moment there comes.  Sometimes, I don’t share these moments.  They are too private, too strange, and serve as the talismans that allow me to do the things I’m trying to do.

On the other hand, sometimes I take pictures. And, sometimes, I even tell stories.

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