On Your Marks...

Blood Sacraments
Hey everyone - nope, not dead. Just had a writing retreat vacation, a lot of work crush, and when RedRoom went down, I sort of got paralyzed at the thought of trying to make my own, new, blog. Still not sure where I'm going with that one, but I do have news.

You know how I said I was going to focus on short fiction for a while, now that Light and On the Run were out there?

Yeah. About that.

While I was at the brilliant Bold Strokes Books writer's retreat last month at Easton Mountain, I attended many classes, including one on making a book pitch. I had also decided that during that week I was under a self-imposed deadline to figure out what to do next - what project to look at. I'd gone into the week thinking I'd work on short fiction and came out of the week with a pitch idea for a novel instead.

Actually, I came out of the week with seven pitch ideas, but one in particular.

I sent it in, and a contract landed yesterday.

I've been very blessed with feedback about my writing from readers and other authors over the years, but when I look specifically at my short fiction pieces, two things stand out. One, "Heart," the first story I ever had published, continues to be the one people mention the most. But if you take the four stories "Three," "Intercession," "Possession," and "Necessary Evils" as a whole, I get way more feedback from them. Those four stories all deal with a group of three guys - Luc, a vampire; Anders, a demon; and Curtis, a wizard. Together, they formed a Triad and things have been interesting for them ever since.

So the novel I'm working on now? It's a Triad novel.

And on that note, I need to go get me some cue-cards, pens, and a whole lot of tea.

Sidenote: If you've not read about the Triad before, as I mentioned above there are four short stories with the fellas in them. Those stories are found in Blood Sacraments, Wings, Erotica Exotica, and Raising Hell.
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A Farewell to Red Room

Four years ago, I signed up at Red Room, and I've really enjoyed the site since. Designed for authors, it was such an easy and useful interface for authors like me - which is to say, not super-tech savvy. The books were easy to list, the reviews easy to link, and posting was simple as well. Huzzah.

But all good things, as they say. Still. The good news is that the posts will all live in an archived fashion, and that's why I'm writing this particular post - if you've come to Red Room via a link or an author bio from one of my earlier works, hopefully this will explain why there's nothing new past this post. The site is shutting down as of the 8th of July, 2014. I'll miss it, really, and I'm going to be figuring out a new online presence over the next little while.

I own NathanBurgoine.com so if you check there, you'll see the options. I am on Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads as well. The current plan is to make the NathanBurgoine.com page into something better, but that might take a bit of time.

At any rate - thanks for stopping by at Red Room, and thank you to Red Room for four years of really great help.
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Help Alex Jeffers Get Back on His Feet

One of the joys of writing short fiction is that I get to meet a wide variety of editors, authors, and publishing houses - a vast range of people. In my experiences thus far, the vast majority of these people have been wonderful, supportive folks.

And right now, one of them needs some help.

If you don't know him, Alex Jeffers is an amazing artist, author, and editor who most often works through Lethe Press. His covers, interior art, and prose are freaking wonderful (and if you're at all a speculative fiction fan, you should be checking him out). Right now, things are rough for Alex, and if I could fix it solo, I would, but I can't. I've dropped money in the pot, but the goal is modest.

From the Crowdsourcing website: Alex Jeffers has been living at a subsistence-level for several years now. A talented author and graphic designer, his clinical depression and agoraphobia have made it extremely difficult for him to leave his small studio apartment in Rhode Island to find work. The depression also makes him reluctant to seek out benefits from social services. He has made several open declarations about harming himself and has been hospitalized after the police arrived at his last wellness check.

It is this crowd-fundraising goal to provide a sum of money that will enable Alex to stabilize his life: money to pay for a family member or good friend to spend time in Rhode Island and convince Alex to enroll for Mental Illness and Social Security Disability and other services; to cover his past due utilities and rent; and provide him with food.

I got my order of things backwards when I did it myself - I popped my money in the pot, and then signed up as a fundraiser, but whatever - it doesn't matter. I've since figured out how to be a fundraiser. It's not Kickstarter, so things aren't easily organized on there with "reward" levels or what-have-you, but I do want to reward even the smallest donation (because everything helps), so...

If you donate through fundraising page - any amount - I'll "Tuckerize" you at my earliest opportunity. Tuckerizing means I'll use your name for a character (or, if you'd rather it be someone other name, just say so). I'll absolutely check in with you first ("Hey, you mind having the character named after you being a meth-dealing devil?") just in case, but that's on the table for anyone, for the low-low price of anything you can spare.

If you have any other ideas for "rewards" that would make you chip something in the pot, please tell me. I'm happy to expand options, but this was the first thing that came to mind (and, selfishly, I hate trying to name characters, so it's a total win-win).

Also, I know that if you donate $10 or more over on Lee Thomas' fundraising page he'll send you an unpublished story. He's a great author, so that's definitely a good move, too.

If you can't give, I get that. I've been there. I'd really appreciate a signal-boost, if you can spare a moment to do so. Alex is a wonderful and gifted artist, and I'd like nothing more than to see him find his way back.

Thanks, everyone.

The site, again, is: https://www.crowdrise.com/HelpAlexJeffersGetBackonHisFeet/fundraiser/NathanBurgoine
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Fool For Love
Well holy heck - way to bring it out with a bang.

Okay, this is one of those "which child do you love the most" questions and it's totally unfair, and I could wallow here in confusion for days - days - but when I went up to my library bookshelves, something occurred to me as a contender, and nothing came back to knock it out of place.

It sounds selfish, but bear with me here.

Before I begin, here was the full Borough Press #BookADayUK schedule:

Book a Day

So, what book would I rescue? Fool for Love.

Now hang on! Hang on! Before you judge me as totally self-centred, it's not because it was the first anthology in which I ever had a story published, though that's part of it, I guess. It's because I've managed to get my copy signed by many of the contributing authors. I have a tonne of autographed books, and while it would kill me to see any of them go up in flames, this book is my highest author signature:page count ratio and more than that, it really does have the sentimental value of having that huge sense of community initially sparked by my first visit to the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival.

Synopsis of the book: In an age of hookups and cybersex, who has time for a little romance? For all those who think love’s gone the way of the 8-track tape comes a collection of new gay fiction designed to reignite their belief in love and romance. Follow the travails of a dog walker enchanted with his new client, a restaurant owner who catches the eye of his most loyal customer, a blind date fix-up, and other seekers of the lost flame as they stumble upon romance and a possible chance at love. Showcasing new work from some of today’s best-known gay writers, including Trebor Healey, Felice Picano, Joel Derfner, Andrew Holleran, and Greg Herren, the stories in Fool for Love are a funny, sweet, and sometimes wrenching reminder of the joy romance brings to the human heart.

If you want to read my story-by-story review of the anthology, you can do that here. Suffice it to say I adored this book, which was the start of my writing career, and put me in such wonderful company.

And that's it for #BookADay! I hope you enjoyed this trip through some of the books I've read and enjoyed. Over this last month, I've thought about titles in very different ways, and that's always a good thing. Maybe there'll be another list of prompts like this, and I can do it again.
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#BookADayUK - The One I Reread Most Often

This one's easy.

I've been working retail Christmas Seasons for mumble-mumble years now, and a while back I bumped into a book about a bookstore assistant manager and this wonderful magical thing that happens to her one year just as Christmas is ramping up into full chaos mode:

She injures herself at work, and has to take time off work. Oh, and she falls in love and stuff.

Here's the the Borough Press #BookADayUK schedule:

Book a Day

I'm of course talking about A Coventry Christmas by Becky Cochrane. If you've known me through even one holiday season in the last mumble-mumble years, then you've heard me talk about this book. I re-read it every single year as the holiday season gets more and more crazed, and it helps make me smile and laugh and takes some of the edge off the stress. It's wonderful.

Synopsis: Coventry, Texas—a place where the locals are friendly and snow has been known to fall in December. And this year, Christmas in Coventry promises the most wonderful and magical gift of all—love!

Keelie Cannon is in danger of becoming a Scrooge. Her job at a Houston bookstore is hardly inspiring Christmas cheer—more like a need for double vodka martinis. Her surrogate mom, the rock of holiday predictability, is suddenly spending Christmas in Hawaii. So, why not grab her friends, get away from it all, and spend a nice quiet Christmas together in Coventry? It sure beats repeats of How the Grinch Stole Christmas…

Between a fractured ankle, a bawdy grandmother, and Hamlet (Keelie’s suddenly under-the-weather hamster), she and the gang are in for a Christmas that is as unpredictable as it is merry.

And when Coventry’s veterinarian starts making house calls to check on Hamlet, Keelie wonders if this Christmas might bring her what she’s always wanted: true love…

Ahh... Can't you just feel the insanity of Christmas falling away to what it's supposed to be all about? You know what I mean. Love. Family. Friendship. Hamsters. You can read my gushing review here.

Only one day left in the #BookADay challenge!
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I'm going to cheat a little bit today with this one, as I have two fave independent bookshops. One, After Stonewall is the functional art gallery/LGBT bookshop/photography studio that I am lucky enough to have here in Ottawa. It's a brilliant little space full of fantastic art, books, and - just recently - a fantastic photography studio available for artists to use. Almost every LGBT book I've bought in the last few years has come from here, and most of the days I've discussed LGBT titles this month through this meme have come from there.

The second independent bookshop I support is in Houston, a wonderful place called Murder by the Book. How do I support a place in Houston? Well, I have visited the actual store twice, but whenever I buy an e-book for my kobo, I desperately try to remember to do it through their support link, so they'll get a wee kickback.

Here's the Borough Press #BookADayUK schedule:

Book a Day

So, the e-book I most recently bought through the Murder by the Book site was Hell's Belle by Marie Castle.

Synopsis: Cate Delacey is glad she’s a witch—both kinds. She could have done without the guardian bit that put a bull’s eye on her back. Being a guardian comes with so many risks and rules that immortality ought to be a fringe benefit. Whenever the New Orleans Supernaturals’ Crime Unit calls for her help she’d like to tell them to go to Hell—but they’re already in that particularly unpleasant part of the netherworld.

Even a guardian has to pay her bills, and Cate has no intention of following in her mother’s footsteps as an enforcer for the Council of Supernatural Beings. Opening the Darkmirror Agency was a great idea. Her clients are mostly human, and they pay for everything from bounty hunting to process serving. But one day it all goes to Hell, figuratively. Then literally.

Because that’s the day the Council’s detective Jacqueline Sloan slinks her way into Cate’s life. Jacq. So alluring. So powerful. So immortal. And up to her sexy neck in a secret that will unleash Hell’s Belle.

Marie Castle’s unpredictable Darkmirror world is unveiled in this romantic, sizzling debut.

I adored it. It's fun. It's fast paced. It's got strong world-building and a Southern charm (I capitalize the S as it seems appropriate) all rolled into one sassy, supernaturally tangled heroine who handles cases - off the books - about the things that go bump in the night. Cate is a flipping joy to read - a Guardian, she might have the ability to open the gates between worlds, a power that's as frightening as it sounds in its potential danger, as well as a little "something extra" in her power repertoire that isn't quite normal for a witchy gal like herself. That alone would be enough on her plate, but added to it is her ex-husband (their marriage annulled in a week) who is also a possessive werewolf type, girls going missing, a simple job that turned into a very un-simple encounter with a demonically possessed corpse. Add to that pile a partner she doesn't want to take with her on the missing girls case - a partner who's a lady with undisclosed powers and ties to an organization Cate doesn't like much - and things start to snap and spark.

The relationship between Cate and this woman - Jacq - doesn't distract the reader too much from the actual plot, though as I admitted up there, I was desperately worried about her survival. As things snowball and twist and the complicated world Cate lives in is further and further revealed, the reader realizes that things aren't just as bad as people supposed: they're much worse.

Ultimately, where Hell's Belle ends satisfies the reader enough, but I can't wait for the sequel, The Devil You Know. Fans of urban paranormal (especially as in the style of Carrie Vaughn or Jim Butcher) will find Cate an easy witch to enjoy. The setting of the South just adds to the flavor. The large cast of characters in the book had me a bit overwhelmed a couple of times, but they had distinct enough voices that I wasn't ever confused, and I'm sure further books will bring these characters front and center. And for that, I'm very glad I got to meet Marie Castle.
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This is actually a rare thing for me - most of the time, I don't want to live in the worlds I read. For one thing, I read a lot of books filled with magic, the paranormal, and/or psychic abilities, and frankly, if I had any sort of "power" than I'd probably complete the slow slide from hero to villain after one shift dealing with the public.

I kid. (A bit.)

There is a series, however, that I freaking adore that I'd love to be a part of, in a fictional sense. The people in this series aren't good people, either - their liars, cheats, blackmailers, thieves, and con-men.

And they're hysterical.

Here's the Borough Press #BookADayUK schedule:

Book a Day

I'm talking, of course, about the Rob Byrnes caper books that began with Straight Lies (and continues with Holy Rollers and Strange Bedfellows).

The synopsis for Straight Lies:

Two Partners In Crime: Grant and Chase are a fun-loving pair of small-time hustlers with no money, little patience, and lots of get-rich-quick schemes. If only they could pull off the perfect crime--"The Big One," as Grant calls it--Chase could finally quit his job at the supermarket and the two could retire in style.

One Star In The Closet: Romeo Romero is the world's hottest openly gay celebrity. He's got the face, the abs, the fame, the fortune--and the sex video that could destroy his career. If this naughty little tape should fall into the wrong hands, Romeo's adoring fans would be in for one big surprise: He's straight.

No Lie: When Grant and Chase hear about the video (thanks to a notorious Hamptons' gossip), it's a no-brainer. All they have to do is steal the tape, blackmail the star, and collect the cash. But then, when they stupidly leave the video in a New York cab, the would-be crooks have to wheel and deal with a sleazy tabloid editor, a lesbian real estate agent, a kinky Internet stalker, and an alluring boy toy to finally get to the truth. . .behind not-so-straight lies.

To say I love the cast of characters in these books would be an understatement. I think a shady bookseller would be comfortably at home with these folks. Maybe a counterfeiter? A dealer in "lost" manuscripts? Work with me here... Surely there's some form of book-based larceny.

It's funny, but when I was reading the second book in this series, I believe it was during a bus strike, and I was waiting for my ride home and sitting in the mall and I noticed an area under construction near the bank in the mall meant the deposit hatches had been moved and built into temporary drywall walls constructed for the duration. It occurred to me that if someone could just get around the issue of the mall cameras, that it might be possible to set up a new "under construction" bank deposit hatch that wasn't, and that a whole day's worth of mall bank deposits would go awry.

Byrnes is such a bad influence.
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#BookADayUK - Should Have Sold More Copies

Can I say my own book here? Huh? No. Okay, hang on then...

Okay, wait, I got it. There's a series of books that have been running since 2010, that ties to my favourite literary festival. They hold a short fiction contest each year, and the results of that contest are included in the collection, alongside festival author contributions. I've been lucky enough to be in two of these collections, have been a finalist (and runner up), and hope to one day win the contest.

Best, though? Buying these awesome collections supports the festival.

Here's the Borough Press #BookADayUK schedule:

Book a Day

I am of course talking about the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, held in New Orleans. Saints & Sinners 2010: New Fiction from the Festival was the first collection.

Synopsis: Saints and Sinners 2010: New Fiction from the Festival contains a mixture of short fiction representing many genres and styles as well as a diverse number of themes and experiences. It was truly a difficult task for the judges to select a winner and two runner-ups from over a 100 entries. The completely-blind, three-tier judging process that was used yield what we think is a wonderful set of stories. The finalists for our first annual short fiction contest were Danny Bracco, 'Nathan Burgoine, Emily M. Danforth, James Driggers, Jack Fritscher, Wayne Lee Gay, William Holden, James Nolan, Steve Scott and Shawn Syms.

Born of the first Saints and Sinners short fiction contest, this anthology has a loose theme suggested from the festival itself: "Saints and Sinners." For the most part, the characters fall somewhere in the middle (though a few fall to one end of the spectrum or the other more decidedly) and the mix of authors is solid: contributors include well known authors long associated with the festival, as well as three finalists/runners-up to the contest, and the winner.

"Ondine," by Wayne Lee Gay was the contest winner, and is a captivating tale of the intersection between characters and music, desire and repression, and faith, all wonderfully tangled - and untangled - in the space of the story.

Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the anthology. The theme was loose enough that nothing felt forced, and the sheer variety of the tales was superb. Editors Amie M. Evans and Paul J. Willis should be proud - but then again, how could something that came from Saints and Sinners be anything other than this good?

The other editions, from the following years, are here: the 2011 edition (in which I have a story, "Hometown Boy"), the 2012 edition, the 2013 edition (in which I have a story, "Sky Blue"), and this year's collection, the 2014 edition.
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#BookADayUK - Never Finished It

This was another tag that made me feel a little guilty to write about, but then I looked at my book shelves and there was a book perfect for this discussion.

Now, I should preface that I actually do enjoy series titles. I like revisiting characters, learning how they've progressed, watching them fill in (our out of, but preferably in) love. I like world-building, and seeing time pass. I love high fantasy and magic. I adore all those things, so you'd think that a super-epic fantasy series would be my cup of tea, no?

Here's the the Borough Press #BookADayUK schedule:

Book a Day

Well, yes and no. I gave up half-way through George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons. It's book five in the Song of Ice and Fire series.

Synopsis: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way east—with new allies who may not be the ragtag band they seem. And in the frozen north, Jon Snow confronts creatures from beyond the Wall of ice and stone, and powerful foes from within the Night’s Watch. In a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics lead a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, to the greatest dance of all.

So what happened? Well, two things. Remember when I said I like revisiting characters? Well, most of the characters I most enjoyed are dead by book five of this series, and I found one or two of the characters I enjoyed the most were just sort of not doing anything by this book. It's not that Martin is winnowing out characters to focus on the remainders, either - as the story progresses, many new players are entered into the story, and... well... I stopped caring. None of them had the emotional impact of the original core characters, not even among the characters I enjoyed disliking - one character's role in this book seemed to honestly be to ask "are we there yet?" while the character he traveled with explained history to him. Again, I like world-building, but there was just a whole lot of tell going on, and I just got tired.

I was listening to this one as an audiobook, as I had for all of them (though I physically read the first two first, I then listened to them all starting over again at book one). I'm not saying they're not well written, or that they're not great - people truly enjoy them and they're bestsellers that spawned a T.V. show for a reason... It just started to feel like a book I was reading because I really loved the first three books, and wanted to see how it all ended... but then I realized I didn't actually care about the vast majority of the (mostly new) cast, and decided just to stop.
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#BookADayUK - Hooked Me Into Reading

This was a tough one, again, because I'm not sure which book exactly it was that really got me reading, as it was a process (and a dedicated English teacher and Librarian or three) that really did the full job, but when I think back, there's one answer I can give that blurs the line between hooking me into reading and also hooking me into wanting to be a writer.

Almost everything I've written is contemporary, but has a slice of the psychic, magic, or otherwise supernatural to it. I remember quite clearly the first book that I read that did this, and reading it was a revelation.

Here's the the Borough Press #BookADayUK schedule:

Book a Day

Witch, by Christopher Pike was pretty much the first book that did a present-day character with that something extra that I read. I loved it. I devoured it and re-read it and then hunted down everything and anything I could find that was remotely similar. It started me on a whole new genre - before it really even had a name - that would actually become one of the most popular genres out there.

The contemporary paranormal is huge now, and for me, it all started with this book.

The Synopsis: She Was A Good Witch. Julia is a young woman with extraordinary powers. She has the ability to heal people with her touch. She also knows things that are happening in far-off places when she looks in water that has sunlight shining on it. She comes from a tradition of witches -- good witches. But before Julia's mother died, she warned her daughter never to look in water that had moonlight shining on it.

Unfortunately, almost by accident, Julia does. What she sees is a vision of the future, a scene in which a young man she doesn't know is shot in a hold-up and dies in her arms. Only later, when Julia attends a football game at school, does she meet the young man.

He is her girlfriend's new boyfriend.

Julia immediately falls for the guy, but it is an ill-fated love. He does not belong to her and he is supposed to die. Or does he have to die? Julia doesn't know if her vision of the future is set, or if it can be changed. She doesn't know why the gunman in her vision evokes such hatred in her, and why she feels she must destroy him at all costs. But using the supernatural powers at her command, and risking her own life plus the lives of her friends, Julia will find the answers to all these questions, at a terrible cost.

A thank you, then, to Christopher Pike.
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'Nathan Burgoine
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