Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In All Your Ways


Storm Moon Press is making me a gorgeous cover for the pdf release of this.  It's available through their website and it's totally free.  Free!  Yay for free awesome!  The link is just below.

Good morning!

My goodreads story In All Your Ways is up today.  Go read and tell me what you think!  Here's the prompt and details, to entice you.

Find it here:

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: A nude angel with white wings kneeling before another man, only seen from the chest down, armed with a katana


Dear Author,

One angel, one demon. Ancient enemies. Lifetimes of yearning. For millennia the demon Renat has loved the angel Emiel from afar. One kiss was all they ever shared, ages and ages ago. When Emiel is captured and imprisoned in Hell, Renat knows he will risk anything to rescue Emiel and return him to Heaven, even if it means facing the wrath of Satan himself.

Please find a way for this lonely demon to save his angel and get his long-awaited happy ending


Jordie R

genre: fantasy
tags: angels; demons; hurt/comfort; soul mates; graphic violence; first time
content warnings: religious themes; graphic violence
words: 10,329

Thanks again to Jordie for an awesome prompt with a great photo.  I saw it and just had to have it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Holiday!

Happy Memorial Day, Americans! For those of you who have it off, you are all lucky bastards. For those of you who don't, I feel you, baby. I'm giving you the mental fist bump of solidarity right now. *bump*

So, release week is over, for both Changing Worlds and Reclaimed. For all of you who followed my visits and posts, entered the contests and bought the books to read, I truly, truly appreciate you. Writing is what I want to do with my life, it's what I spend my free time on and where so many of my aspirations lie, and the people who support me are, in a word, awesome. You mean a lot to me.

If you feel moved to do it, I would love a rating or review. I don't really care where, but one place you can find my stuff is on Goodreads here: Cari Z. I'm on Twitter too if you like soundbytes. I don't say much, but that may change as my Luddite status slowly fades:!/author_cariz.

Okay, that's done! What's coming up next...well, my free story for Goodreads Love is Always Write event should be out this Wednesday. It's called In All Your Ways and has demons and angels and hell and resurrection and redemption and gore! And sex! But not at the same time. Anyway, it's fun, and I'll post a link here when it comes out. Also, Storm Moon Press is giving this story a real cover and making it downloadable in PDF form, so I'll add a link for that too if you like things pretty. Which, don't we all?

I've sent in stories to several different anthologies and hope to hear back soon. More info if they pan out. I've got 2 parts left to Cinders, I think (maybe 3, but I hope just 2) and want to get them to you asap. I'm sweating bullets writing out query letters for my mainstream novel, and I've decided I can't synopsize for shit. Um. Think that's pretty much it. My weeks of nonstop mania are over now that my folks are back in Germany and my sister is safely graduated from med school and off to her residency, so perhaps things can finally relax.

Until I turn 30 next month, at least. At that point I fully intend to lose my mind for a while. Should be fun!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cinders Post #10

Notes: OMG, that was a hell of a week.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to do promo for my novel, I want it to be a success.  But daaaaamn.  Stressful.  And I totally owed you guys this part and it took forever to buckle down and do it, but here it is, so forgive me and enjoy.  This ended up being a pretty fast chapter, honestly.  Lots of fun dialogue:)  We're getting so close, guys!  Maybe two more parts?

PS--if you read either of my new releases, please let me know what you thought of it/them!

Title: Cinders

Part Ten: Prep Me


Asher sits up.  That’s harder than it looks, after being knocked onto the ground by some magical goddamn force field that won’t let him leave the mansion grounds, but he manages it.  He can’t take his eyes off of his…his… “What the fuck are you?”

The absurdly colorful man rolls his eyes again.  “Honestly?  I mean, you have read this story, right?  Seen the movie?  The Disney movie, I’m guessing, because that’s the only time I come off looking so freaking ridiculous.  I way prefer it when I get this gig as a disembodied voice, but I’m guessing that you’re not incredibly religious, and so the God loudspeaker didn’t even occur to you.”  He looks down at himself with a grimace.  “Seriously, has the only person who’s ever been nice to you been a total flaming queen?  Because that’s what you’re projecting here, Prince Charming.”

“I’m not Charming,” Asher retorts automatically.

“No shit, Sherlock.  But your handsome prince is, and right now he’s getting an eyeful of a bunch of gaudy, bitchy little peacocks who want nothing more than to snap him up like it’s last call and he’s the only drink for miles.  C’mon.”  He holds a hand out to Asher, who notices that the…whoever it is’…nails are covered in rainbow polish.  Asher takes the hand, though, and a second later he’s on his feet.  This little dude is stronger than he looks.

“Really,” Asher says as he shakes some feeling back into his hand.  “What are you?”

“Your fairy godmother, of course.”  The little dude doesn’t look very happy to be that, either.  “And would it have killed you to have given me pants?  This dress does nothing for my ass.”

“Hey, none of this was my idea,” Asher protests.

His fairy godmother looks at him with an expression of exasperated condescension.  “It’s all your idea, Ash.  Everything you see is shaped by your own experiences.  I’m guessing you watched a lot of those A&E Jane Austen adaptations as a kid or something, because you’ve done a way more realistic job on the farm parts of this than I would have given you credit for.  Work, now that you understand.  But the people?”  He spread his hands out to indicate himself.  “I mean, seriously!  Look at this!  Where did you even get this?  Why do you have to make people who are trying to help you into objects of ridicule?”

“I don’t do that,” Asher says, stung.

“You so do, honey.  Just like you make the women in this reality as unapproachable as possible, because you don’t want to be reminded of the things you used to have.  Just like you make the men nonexistent, here one moment and gone the next, nothing you care to think about.  Like your daddy.  Like your johns.”

“You can shut the fuck up at any time, thanks,” Asher snipes.  It isn’t true, it can’t be.  Because that would mean… “Are you saying that I could have gotten out of here at any time, just by imagining people being nicer to me?”

His fairy godmother grimaces slightly.  “Okay, so it’s not all you.  I mean, yeah, setting, characterization, a lot of that comes down to you—nice job on the birds by the way, you lazy bugger—but the basic plot…well, that’s been around for a long, long time.  Not much you can do about that except try to live through it.  Try to finish the story.”

“I don’t want to finish the fucking story, I want to go home!” Asher shouts, losing the little bit of control he’s barely regained.  “I want out of these stupid clothes and away from this stupid place and I want to be back with Ty, damn it!  He probably thinks I left him or I’m dead, or—” He couldn’t go on.  The number of ways Ty could take an absence like this are plentiful, and none of them are good.  The only thing Asher knows for certain is that Ty cares.  Ty cares, he’s the only one who cares, and he’s the only thing that Asher wants.

“Then I guess you’d better get to him, huh,” his fairy godmother says quietly, now looking so compassionate that Asher can hardly bear to meet his eyes.  “The story isn’t just gonna let you go, Ash.  It doesn’t work like that.  There’s a narrative imperative to satisfy.  Once that’s done, well, you’ll get your light at the end of the tunnel.”

“Are you telling me Ty is actually here, trapped in this story with me?”  Asher pulls out the ribbon and looks down at the wax seal.  Ty…  “Is he really the prince?”

“I don’t know,” his fairy godmother admits.  “The story is a little different every time.  Generally it’s just one character who gets drawn in, but there have been multiples in the past.  It’s not frequent, but it does happen.  But you won’t know,” he continues more loudly, “if you don’t get your ass to that ball.”

“I can’t leave,” Asher mumbles.  “She said I can’t leave without an invitation.”

“Honey, I’m your invitation this time,” his fairy godmother assures him with a saucy grin.  “But you can’t go looking like that.  You wouldn’t get within a hundred feet of the palace door.”

“Oh, Jesus.  Not a makeover.”

“Ash, you smell like pig shit and you look like you got flung into a pile of gravel at twenty miles an hour.  A makeover is the least of what you need.  I’d give you the time to enjoy a real bath, but,” he glances down at his wrist, which is oddly delicate and bare, “time’s a-wastin’.”  He snaps his fingers.

All of a sudden Asher is…fresh.  Not just clean, but really fresh, fresh like he just stepped out of a shower before getting ready to bang Ty fresh, fresh like he hasn’t felt since before he got trapped in this damn fairy tale.  He reaches a hand down automatically and cups himself.  Which is easy ‘cause he’s stark naked right now.  “How exactly did you clean me up?” he asks suspiciously.

His fairy godmother arches one ridiculous yellow eyebrow.  “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Yeah, I would, you perv.  And how about some clothes?”  Asher isn’t ashamed of his own nudity, but it’s kind of chilly tonight and he can feel his balls start to get shy.

“I’m just trying to decide if you’re more of a winter of an autumn.”  His fairy godmother taps one finger on the point of his chin and purses his pouty lips.  Asher growls, literally growls, then suddenly panics when he remembers something.

“Shit!  Where did you put my clothes?”  He scans the ground frantically. 

“Why?  They were barely more than rags—”

“I had a mouse in there, asshole!  What, did you vaporize him or something?”

His fairy godmother laughs.  “I knew about your little friend.  He’s at your feet, genius.”

Sure enough, Asher looks straight down and there’s the mouse, staring up at him and twitching his ears.  “Thank fuck,” he mutters, crouching down and looking the little guy over.  He seems fine.  Totally mousey, nothing special beyond the fact that he’s not running away.  “Hey, buddy.”

“You’re such a softie.”

“Screw you,” Asher says.  He trembles, a little shiver that rustles the gravel at his feet.  “And clothes, dude.  Anytime.”

“Fine.”  His fairy godmother waves his hands.  An instant later Asher’s nakedness is covered with silk, tight and clinging in some places, loose in others.  Asher looks down at himself and groans. 

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“It’s the fashion!” his godmother exclaims.  “Tight through the calves and poofy around the thighs is the fashion!”  And that’s what this outfit is, all in black, the doublet edged with silver along his throat and wrists.  He’s got silver shoes on, too, soft little slippers that feel so odd against feet inured to hardness and pain by this point.  And they sparkle.

“I look like a moron!”

“You look expensive,” his fairy godmother assures Asher, “you look attractive.  Your prince won’t be able to resist you when he sees you.”

“Really?”  Asher swallows hard.  Because that’s the crux of it, isn’t it.  That’s the heart of it.  He wants Ty.  Seeing Ty with other people drives him crazy, makes him insane, and he can’t take it.  He just can’t.  He has to have Ty, be with Ty, be for Ty.  That’s what Asher wants, more than anything, more than his hazy dreams and silly jealousies.  Just Ty.

“You should probably tell him that,” his fairy godmother says quietly.  Asher swallows back his instant denial and just looks at the other man, his heart in his eyes.  He’s almost panting with the need to go, to be there, to be with Ty.  Much more and he thinks it might kill him, might stop his heart, and then he’ll never get home and he’ll leave Ty wondering forever.  Spots crawl across his vision and Asher closes his eyes and swallows, hard.

“Please,” he whispers.  “Please…I have to…”

“You have to go, honey.  I know.”  His fairy godmother rubs his hands together briskly.  “And you need a way to get there!  Fortunately, this is one part of that damn animation that I can actually do.”  He makes a shooing motion with his hands.  “You might want to step back.”

Asher frowns but moves a couple feet.  “What are you going to—”

It happens that fast, one minute there’s nothing but a twitchy mouse and the next it’s a twitchy goddamn stallion, wearing a saddle and bridle and looking confused as hell about that.  Asher recoils instinctively.  “Fuck!”

“Let’s not, hmm?” his godmother says as he comes around the horse and takes the reins.  “There, there…hush,” he says gently, patting its nose, and the horse calms.  “I know it’s a little disconcerting, love.  So high, so big.  You’ll get used to it.  There, there.”  When the horse has relaxed, he turns back to Asher.  “Ready to go?”

“I don’t know how to ride,” Asher mumbles, staring at the horse.  The big, tall, capable-of-crushing-him horse.

“It’s a breeze, honey.  He won’t buck you, this little fella likes you.  Just hold on and don’t squeeze too hard with your heels, and for god’s sake, don’t saw at his poor mouth with the reins.”

“I don’t know where to go.”

“He does.”

“I…”  Asher turns wide eyes on his fairy godmother.  “How do I even get in, once I’m there?  What do I do?”

“You’re a smart boy.  You’ll figure it out,” his godmother assures him.  “Come on now, time waits for no man.”  He motions Asher over to the side of the horse.  “Hold onto the front of the saddle and put your left foot in the stirrup.”  Asher does so, gingerly, stretching more than is comfortable to reach the thin strip of metal that’s supposed to hold his foot.  Two pert hands cup his bottom and suddenly he’s airborne, and comes down on the leather saddle with a whump a second later.

He scowls down at his fairy godmother, who smiles innocently.  “What!  You needed some help!”  He reached up and pats Asher’s hand.  “Go get your man, honey.  Go end this story the way you need it to.”

“Thank you,” Asher says, more than a little uncertain but eager too.  He looks at the gravel road.  “Is it safe now?  Can I get through?”

His fairy godmother walks a ways out in front of him, then turns and grins.  “Asher Davis McKellan, I invite you through.”  The horse takes a few steps forward of its own volition, and Asher stays on.  A few more and he’s still on.  He grins at the sudden heady rush of freedom that rushes through his body.  It leaves him energized, almost high.  He laughs, for the first time in what feels like forever.

“Go on now,” his godmother encourages, and it’s enough to get him racing down the path, so fast the wind brings tears to his eyes, so fast he can hardly breathe from the thrill.  He’s going to find Ty.

He’s going.

He’s finally going.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Schedule of Events

Okay, contest over!  Only five commenters, so that should mean only one giveaway, but that would just be sad, so I'm doing two, and you each get both of the books.  Yay!  Random number generator says 2 and 5, so Ely and Booga Booga, email me at to get your stories.

If you didn't win, there are giveaways going on all week as well as interviews and excerpts.  I'll post the schedule of events below, in case you want to come visit these blogs and read my odd answers to questions:).  Come visit me!  The interviews are really fun:)

May 19th - It's Raining Men Interview: here!

May 20th - Bibrary Book Lust Interview: here!

May 21st - Top 2 Bottom Guest Post: here!

·         Topic: Building Blocks; or How to Have Fun Playing God, plus there's a review!  Apparently Gabbi liked it.  Read the review here if you're still on the shelf about the book: top2bottom review.
May 22nd - Pants Off Guest Post + Giveaway: here!  It's a giveaway too, guys, just comment for a chance at the ebook.

·         Topic: Sex with Aliens:  How Much Weird is Still Sexy?
May 23rd - Well Read Guest Post: here!  And it's another giveaway, and it's Jenre's blog, whom I adore, so go and visit and comment!  You could win me!  I mean, my book!

·         Topic: Romance or Science Fiction?
May 24th - Joyfully Jay Interview: here!  There's a review for Opening Worlds as well right below it, just in case you want another opinion on the short story that started this whole shindig. 

May 25th- Ebook Addict Reviews interview (it's fun, some very unique questions): here!

and finally - Storm Moon Press blog: here!  It's already out, come read what I have to say about the vaaast difference between short stories and novels.

·         Topic: Short Stories vs. Novels

*whew*  That was a lot to prepare for.  Mad props to SMP for working so hard to get me noticed, I love you guys:)  Now I'm off to finish the next part of Cinders.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Release Day for Changing Worlds!

It's Release Week, yay!

Every week should be release week, it gets me so excited!


Okay, mind out of gutter, back to the not-quite-straight and narrow.  This week I have two new releases coming out:

Reclaimed from Pink Petal Books on Thursday the 17th, TODAY!!!, and you can find here:

This is the third novella in the Treasured series and features Daniel and Reese, two of my favorite boys, with a healthy helping of mistaken identity, miscommunication, close calls and, of course, mad hotness.  Because I can:)  It's a really fun novella, pretty long at almost 25k, and I try to make it readable for newcomers and loyalists alike.

The second new release is:

Changing Worlds from Storm Moon Press, the sequel to the short story Opening Worlds, on Friday the 18th.  You can find it here:

The cool part?  You get Opening Worlds included in the release, so new readers can get the whole picture and the rest of us have an easy reference if we need to look back.

This is a huge deal for me, my first novel ever!  It makes me want to overuse punctuation I'm so excited!!  The story picks up where Jason and Ferran left up, getting ready to go live on Perelan as the planet's very first interspecies couple, which for a place as xenophobic as Perelan promised to be challenging.  It's a sci fi, m/m, erotic, tender love story...with sword fights and shuttle crashes and carnivorous plants.  Score!

So what's the contest already, right?  It's very simple.  All you have to do is comment on this blog post.  Just say hi, tell me what's up and let me know which ebook you'd like from me.  If I pick your random number next Sunday (the contest closes on Saturday the 19th) then you get the book.  If you've already ordered them, then you get to pick something else I've written. 

The best thing?  The more commenters there are, the more copies I give away.  Five or less, one book.  More than five, two.  More than ten, three.  One lucky person will get both, because I'm a lover, baby:)

I'll post reminders for these books on Thursday and Friday, but the only post that counts for the contest is this one, so put your comment in here before you go and say hi to me there. 

Good luck!

PS-if you're looking for the latest part of Cinders, #9 is just one post down.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cinders Post #9

Notes: Happy Mothers Day!!! This isn't a good part of the story when it comes to mothers, but at least it's another part! We're almost to the ball, ladies and gentlemen. Gird your loins!

Title: Cinders

Part Nine: La La Land


The hardest part of the whole business is getting hold of a suit, or pantaloons, or whatever the hell these boys wear. Asher knows better than to expect his stepmother to just offer up the right clothes, and he also knows there aren’t going to be any singing mice and flitting birds sewing him something, which is fine. Totally fine. One non-talking mouse is plenty, thank you very much. Besides, every bird he’s seen has looked like a colored cotton ball, like whoever had put this place together figures you aren’t going to be getting very close to them, so fuck the details.

Thinking too long in that direction leads to a shit ton of crazy, so Asher puts it aside and does his innumerable chores and waits for a moment where his stepmother is otherwise occupied so he can get into her room. She was married to his sort-of-dad, right? She should have men’s clothes in there somewhere, something nice enough to pass muster. All Asher needs is a chance. And, yeah, he needs for her not to blow up at him when the time comes to go, but that’s a bridge to cross later. First things first: getting in.

Except his stepmother is in her room all the time, except at dinner, and then he’s supposed to be serving her and her two little poisonous apples. He tries using laziness to his advantage and going extra slow with his chores in hopes that someone else will serve dinner, but all it gets him is a cuff on the ear from the cook (which stings like an absolute bitch) and an admonishment to go faster. Asher tries to cut out early too, but he gets called back. He tries to begin late, same issue, but again with the hitting.

Finally Asher resorts to causing some property damage. He isn’t proud, but the ball is tonightand he’s got to get this done. He decides on a fire. Everyone likes to look at a fire, and besides, everything flammable is on the side of the mansion that his stepmother doesn’t have a view of from her room, so she’ll have to leave to see it. There are two barns, one large, one small, and the granary as potential targets. Asher decides on the small barn, there are no animals there, it’s mostly used to house the carriage, and happily the carriage is gone right now too, being spruced up for the big night. Win-win.

Asher never has been a pyromaniac, but his older brothers were, and he paid attention. Their medium of choice was lighter fluid, but Asher goes with a thick smear of goose grease (that nasty gritty stuff in the pot that he couldn’t identify on his first day and still won’t eat, no matter how kind of okay it smells) on the back wall close to the floor. The wood is rotting, a little wet but this should get it going.

He sets the fire early, before breakfast, so most everyone is still asleep. People will be suspicious but no one will be able to prove anything. He readies the kindling, then lays the embers from the fire in the kitchen to it. They catch almost immediately, and Asher bolts out of there. He watches surreptitiously from the back door, pretending to be barely awake. Nothing at first. A little smoke after a while, nice, good start, but no one notices.

When the smell is so strong the air is saturated with it Asher is sure someone will say something, but no, the kitchen staff bustles around and the cook thrusts a bucket of scraps at him. “Pigs,” she grunts. Right. Asher goes out back and stops in the courtyard. There are flames shooting up the back wall now. If he doesn’t get this party started, the damn thing will burn down and no one will be the wiser. Okay then…

FIRE!!!” he yells at the top of his lungs, then takes off around the corner so he won’t be called upon to help put it out. He needs this time.

There’s a scuffle in the kitchen, people darting and shouting and then the chorus is taken up. “Fire! Fire! Excellent. Asher circles around to the front and looks in through one of the long windows, where he’s got a decent view of the stairs. The girls should be coming down any minute…

Envy is first. She always has to be the first to know anything, and she rockets down the staircase like it’s her ass that’s on fire instead of a barn. Pinky follows at a more sedate pace, rubbing at her eyes.

“C’mon, c’mon…” She has to be coming, this sort of thing has to make the grade for watchable entertainment. They have no TV here, a good fire should be like the Superbowl to these people.

Ah, there now, here she comes, stalking down the stairs like an angry wraith in a black nightgown, her hair frizzed out like wire. Asher has never seen her at anything less than her skeletal best, and it’s weird how uncomfortable seeing her in dishabille makes him. Like she’s really there, real, and of all of the people here, his stepmother is the one that Asher least wants to be real for some reason.

He slips inside and heads up the stairs fast. His little mouse buddy is bouncing against his stomach in the pouch, and he whispers a quiet apology to him for being rough, but timing is important now. He makes it to the third floor, last door on the right, and tries the handle. It opens, creaking, and he lets himself in fast.

The room smells musty, dank despite the fact that a maid is in there once a day to clean things. The bed is a canopy, its curtains drawn tightly shut. The furniture is dark, the walls are dark, the fabric is dark: this place is like a crypt. Asher half wonders if he pulls the curtain around the bed aside, what are the odds that he finds a coffin instead? He shakes his head and moves over to the wardrobe. The doors creak—naturally—as he opens it. Inside he finds layer upon layer of gowns. Asher paws through them, looking for something vaguely masculine without success. Shit. He can still hear the uproar through the window, so he’s got a little time…where else do people keep clothes? He tries the chest at the foot of the bed: all linens. The drawers on the vanity are too small to hold anything useful. In a fit of pique Asher throws back the curtain around the bed, needing to smack at something. And inside the bed he finds—

Oh. Oh, that’s kind of sick. There’s a mannequin in the bed, a life-sized straw man, and it’s wearing a blue satin suit The clothes are nice quality, Asher can tell, but the whole situation is just…just…is there even a word for this kink? There’s no mock genitalia that he can see, Asher doesn’t figure she’s using it for that, but lying in a tomb of a bed with a mock-up of your dead husband is not psychologically healthy. The doll is wearing rings on straw fingers, a medallion around it’s broomstick neck…and is that a real wig on its head? Definitely based on the real thing. Definitely disturbing. Definitely…

Definitely what he needs. Beggars can’t be choosers, and these are the only clothes he’s found. Asher strips them off the straw man and prays that his stepmother won’t crawl back in there for the rest of the day. Yeah, she’ll see him tonight, but again…gotta get there first. Asher leaves all the jewelry but grabs the shoes, figuring his string sandals won’t cut it, and hightails it out of there. Just as he emerges he hears the women of the household chatting animatedly on the main stairs, and he runs for the servant’s stairwell on the other side of the house and gets there just in time. He’s breathing hard, which is kind of gross ‘cause the clothes are just as foul smelling as the rest of that room, but he figures he can air them out.

He rolls them into a bundle and tucks it beneath his oversized tunic and gets outside without being seen, finds a likely tree not too far away and beat the fuck out of the fabric there, then hangs it over the lowest branches. Then he gets back to work.

The day is exhaustingly long, and by the time dinner is finished (served early for the ladies) and he’s done getting his daily allotment of abuse, there’s less than a half hour to get ready. Asher tries to excuse himself but the women hold on.

“You don’t look ready, piglet,” Envy says from where she sits, idly wrapping a ribbon around her finger. She’s wearing a green gown that for once makes her sit up straight instead of slouching, the corsets are drawn so tight. Unfortunately they’re not so tight that she can’t get enough air to keep speaking. “Such a shame.”

“The shame would be ours if he were to accompany us,” Pinky counters. Her hair is twice its normal size, and makes her doll-thin neck look like it could snap at any moment. Her pink gown looks like cotton candy strapped to a Barbie doll, poofy in weird places. Fashion, man.

His stepmother doesn’t say anything, but the cool look of disapproval on her face is infuriating. Like she didn’t know she was setting him up for an impossible task at the beginning.

“Actually, I can be ready in five minutes,” Asher tells them.




“You said—”

“Can you indeed?” his stepmother asks, one eyebrow arching elegantly.


“Do so, then. And if the clock makes you a liar, then you stay here.”

Asher runs.

The clothes aren’t that far away and he took a few minutes to wash up earlier. He struggles into the suit, still musty-smelling for all that it had been baking in the sun since morning. Christ, there are ties everywhere, at his waist, his wrists, around his neck like a fucking noose. Whatever, he can tighten them in the carriage. He ties the ribbon with the wax seal around one wrist, then after a moment’s contemplation slides the mouse into one of the voluminous sleeves. It’s totally irrational, but he just doesn’t feel like he can leave the little guy behind. “You okay there, buddy?”

The mouse just blinks calmly, then rubs its face on his arm. “I guess so.”

Asher slips into the shoes, a little on the big side and yet still they manage to pinch his toes. He can run in them, though, and that’s good enough to get him through the house and out onto the front walk just as one of the servants drives the carriage up.

His stepsisters are both aghast. “Where did you get that?” Envy exclaims.

“It’s not fair! Mama, tell him he is not to go!”

“I did the work,” Asher says, breathing a little heavily after the sprint from the woods. “I did everything you asked, I was polite to you, and I found something to wear.” He looks defiantly at his stepmother, who is completely expressionless. “So I get to go.”

“Hmm,” his stepmother says, her voice unusually soft. “I suppose you did follow the letter of the agreement.” She moves forward and reaches a hand out towards his, fingering Ty’s wax silhouette. “But I disapprove of your methods.” Her eyes gleam in the dim light of the setting sun, almost glowing, like the eyes of a cat. “Your father was the same way, you know. He snuck around, taking what he wished, and thought I was none the wiser. I never invited him into my chamber, not once while we were married, and I never invited you in, either. If you had begged me properly, perhaps…but there is too much pride in you for that.” She leans in close, and Asher can smell the dust on her.

“I have lived through more than one generation of this game, you know. I understand the hidden rules. You, cinder boy, must be helped over the threshold of this place if you are to pass to another. I will not help you, and neither will my daughters.” She draws back haughtily. “Let that be a lesson to you for your thieving ways. Into the carriage, girls.”

“No,”Asher breathes. No way. “You have to let me come.”

“Wrong.” The women get into the black lacquer carriage and shut the door. “Drive on!” It begins to move.

“No,”Asher shouts, “no, no! You have to let me come!” He tries to grab for the door but it’s moving too quickly by then, and so he leaps onto the back of the carriage. The old wood groans dangerously beneath his feet, far from secure, but if he just holds on hard enough, if he can make his way around to the door…

The carriage hits the invisible barrier of the property, and Asher iss flung from the back of it onto the gravel path. He falls flat on his back, knocking him breathless, and from the sting against his neck and hands he knows he’ll be picking pieces of rock out of his skin. Not that that matters, because Asher will need something to do, now that the fucking carriage has driven away without him. Ty’s going to be there, at the ball, this is the chance Aasher needed to see him, maybe to break out of whatever is happening here, and Asher blew it. Fuck.

Fuck!” he screams into the twilight, tears of frustration building in his eyes.

“Finally!”a voice exclaims. Shoes crunch in the gravel and a face suddenly looms over Asher’s. It’s a man…sort of? He has canary yellow hair, bright pink lips and wears way too much eye shadow, and he looks like he’s wearing a…no way…shit, is that a dress? “You couldn’t have just burst into tears earlier like a normal heroine? Cause then we could have avoided all of this falling-onto-the-ground bullshit.”

“Dude,”Asher manages to gasp. “Twinkerbelle.”

The man rolls his eyes. “Oh, perfect. I can see that we’re gonna get along like a house on fire. Time to get up, lazybones, we’ve gotta hustle if you’re getting to that ball on time.”

“Are you serious?” Asher demands.

The guy leans in even closer. “Don’t I look serious to you?”

Great. He’s lost it. Psychotic break, meet la-la land. Asher’s officially gone insane.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ruthless Efficiency

That description doesn't refer to me.  It refers to my publishers at Storm Moon Press.  My god, they are on top of pretty much everything that goes on with their authors. 

I'm doing a blog tour/series of interviews starting May 19th for Changing Worlds, the day after the release.  There will be giveaways with goodreads, ARCs were sent out to review sites, they got me signed up on twitter...goddamn.  Twitter.  Me.  Really?

Apparently, yes.  If anyone wants to follow what promises to be some admittedly erratic and funny tweets as I figure out what the hell I'm doing, you can find me here:!/author_cariz.

I should have the next Cinders post up in a few days, definitely before my new releases.  I can tweet about Reclaimed too, if I can figure out how:).   I'll have a couple of contests going here, and my website (which desperately needs an update, and will get one asap) will have the first complete chapters of both of them and an updated list of my free reads on Literotica.  Shit is getting done, my dahlings.  At least 50% of that is due to the girls at SMP, so mad props to them.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Casa Bonita

There are occasional moments in my real life that are so strikingly odd, I just feel the need to share them. 

Soooo...any South Park fans out there?

If there are, then you've probably seen the episode where they go to Casa Bonita in Denver for Cartman's birthday.  Casa Bonita, land of cliff divers and roaming mariachi bands and Black Bart's Cave!  Designated by numerous travel magazines as one of the top roadside attractions in the US.  How could anyone not want to have that experience?

Last night, I finally experienced the wonder that is Casa Bonita.  Casa Bonita, where the cheese comes out of a can and the chicken looks like cat food!  Casa Bonita, where everything is better when you don't ask yourself what that smell is!  Casa Bonita, where the waitstaff's efficiency rivals that of James Bond, and you get as many free sopapillas as you can choke down after dealing with the famously descriptive horrors of their entrees!

Actually, the place is so incredibly kitschy that there is an undeniable element of fun to it.  There are cliff divers, there was a fire juggler (a kind of lame one, but whatever, I can't do that), there were live shows that happily fed the lowest common denominator of humor (we're talking stuff the scads of kids there needed to be able to understand, and they did, so success!) and there were all kinds of other minor attractions, from a caricature artist to an old Frogger game to safety-minded pinata breaking.

If you have small children, they will absolutely enjoy themselves at the Casa.  If you want a unique experience in a place made-up to imitate a sprawling Mexican villa/village, then you'll get a kick out of it too.  If you want to pay a truly ridiculous amount for what is some of the worst food I have ever eaten in an American restaurant, then by God, it's worth it!

Feel free to share if you've eaten someplace that rivals this icon of awesomeness.  I just like knowing these things...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cinders Post #8

Notes: This particular post is more PWP than anything else, folks. *blushes* After the last couple parts being so dark, I felt like it was time for something light and easy and smexy.  We're nearing the end of the story, and all the heavy lifting is behind us, but here in particular I just wanted to have fun.  So enjoy!

Title: Cinders

Part Eight: Focused


People who only know a little bit about Asher tend to think he’s lazy.  Even the ones who know what he does for a living.  Part of the issue is that it’s clear he’s clever, and many people equate cleverness to success.  It’s so easy to take things at face value and look at him, unabashedly gorgeous, and figure that he’s doing what he does because it’s easy for him and he lacks ambition.  He must really lack ambition, because it wouldn’t be impossible for him to find someone to take care of him and set him up nice, even on his terms, if he was willing.  So, lazy.  Or perhaps, if they generously take into account the fact that he started supporting himself this way when he was fifteen, then damaged.  Mentally, emotionally damaged, and now he does what he does because of that.  Huh.  Poor kid.

There’s some truth in that.  For a while Asher did what he did because it was all he could think of, and all he thought he deserved.  But he’s been at this for years now, and it’s not that he doesn’t think there are other things to do.  Asher’s had dreams, he’s got goals.  If he was working just for himself he would be saving money for travelling, for moving on, for getting the fuck away from California.  He can do other things, might even go to school, but not here.  Especially not when he has other responsibilities.

Ty is both the best and the worst thing that ever happened to him.  The best, because Asher loves him.  He loved Ty when he first met him, kind of like a little-sibling kind of love, something he hadn’t felt since Cassie.  It took him off guard and opened him up to Ty like he hadn’t since he’d been on his own.  After living with him, after getting to know him, after taking care of him he started to fall in love.  Fell in love with him, and then it was too late to leave.  Ty has his own ideas about the future, about his life, and Asher has fallen in line with them despite himself.  Ty wants him there, at least for now, and Asher’s got to comply.  It’s the best of times, the worst of times.  Ty fucking owns Asher.  Asher just hopes to hell that Ty doesn’t know it.  He’d probably be horrified.

Anyway, the point is, Asher’s not lazy.  He’s got plenty to do, and when he’s working, either at the pool table or in the alley behind the bar, he’s dedicated.  Asher knows how to keep himself going all night, learned how to do it without resorting to drugs, and most of the time it involves having a very active imagination and good recall of past events.  He relives the moments he loves the most when he can, and imagines entirely new situations and conversations when he doesn’t want to tarnish the memories he treasures.

That’s how he spends a lot of the week leading up to the ball.  Asher is working his ass off, to put it lightly.  He’s up at dawn and down after dark, doing everything he’s normally tasked with as well as everything else his step family can think of.  The girls don’t approve of their mother’s deal, and that’s putting it lightly.  They’re pulling out all the stops between their inner bitches and their outer darlings, and the darlings are being totally subsumed. 

“The grate isn’t clean enough.”

“This water is practically freezing!”

“You’re tracking your filth into the house, piglet.  Go sweep it up.”

“Shine them.  With your tongue.”

The last one was pointedly ignored, taking almost more control than Asher possessed, but the other ones he had to do.  Those and a million other things.  The time passes faster when Asher lets his body do the work and lets his mind wander.

“Could you not lounge in front of me?”

“Wha?”  Not his best comeback, but then Asher had no idea where Ty was coming from.

“I’ve got finals in a week, man,” Ty said.  He was using his special pissy voice, the one he broke out when he was feeling put upon and frustrated and kind of wanted to pick a fight, but kind of wanted to be coddled too.  It was a fine line to figure out what to do when confronted with it.  Ignore it and Ty’s tone might devolve to Inconsolably Pissed Off, which was never fun and took a day to wear off, or worse, Vindictively Snipey, which tended to make Asher angry back and left them not speaking to each other for a week.  “How am I supposed to study for them when you’re watching Supernatural at piercing decibels in the living room?”

“Hey, it could be worse,” Asher offered.  “I could be watching Dancing With The Stars.  I know how irresistible sequins are to you.  You’d never get anything done.”

“Shut up.”  Ty pitched his pencil at Asher’s head.  Asher ducked the sharp end and looked theatrically offended.  “I’m not getting anything done now, asshole.”

“Well, then…” Asher indicated the other half of the couch.  “You should come over and sit down.  Stop studying for a while.  You’re going to do fine, you’ve just worked yourself into a stupor, man.”

Ty rolled his eyes and groaned, but he did put down the notebook and scoot away from the counter.  “I have to pass all of these,” he said disconsolately as he flopped down onto the couch.

“Yeah, ‘cause you’ve only got As in everything so far.”

“But the final is worth anywhere from twenty to forty percent of my overall grade,” Ty argued, crossing his arms over his middle.  It was something he only did when he was feeling vulnerable, and Asher hadn’t seen the gesture since Ty had started school.  “I could go from an A to a D in one day.”

“Maybe if you have an aneurysm or to take the final drunk,” Asher agreed.  “But you’re in perfect health and you hardly ever drink, so neither of those are probably going to happen.”  Ty sighed and it probably would have been fine if Asher had stopped there, but he didn’t.  “So stop PMS-ing, you giant freaking girl.”

“Girl?”  Ty lashed out with his stupidly long legs and caught Asher in the middle of his chest, knocking the breath out of him.  “You’re calling me a girl?  Who spends more time in the bathroom every morning that a tween going to her first Sadie Hawkins dance?”

“I don’t even know what that is!” Asher protested.  “And fucking stop it with the feet, man, you’re going to bruise the goods.”

“Poor baby,” Ty cooed, kicking him again, “is the little princess feeling delicate today?  Need some smelling salts?  Want me to loosen your corset?”

“I will put a corset around your balls if you don’t stop it with the feet, bitch,” Asher warned.

“Ooh, kinky,” Ty replied, and all of a sudden the mood completely changed.  Fraying tempers and tiredness seemed to melt away as both of their minds careened gleefully into the gutter.

“If you keep kicking me,” Asher said slowly, deliberately, his eyes never leaving Ty’s face as he set the remote aside—they had demolished two of them in the past three months, “I won’t let you come for hours.  Hours, Ty.  You can bat your big eyes all you want, I will have absolutely no mercy on you.”

“I don’t think I believe you,” Ty said a little breathlessly.  He wasn’t kicking anymore though, more like kneading, working his toes under Asher’s shirt and pressing them against his flat, tight stomach.  “You like it when I come.  You won’t make me wait.”

“Care to put me to the test?” Asher challenged him.  “Put your money where your mouth is?”

“I’ll put my mouth wherever you want it,” Ty replied, never stopping with his feet.  One went up while the other came down, pushing lightly against Asher’s erection.  Asher stopped its motion with one hand.

“Put it here, then.”

Given his former straight boy status, it was kind of amazing how much Ty loved giving blowjobs.  He got into it, like really into it, into giving them almost more than receiving them, at least with Asher.  He’d drop to his knees for Asher in a heartbeat, with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a half smile to encourage him.  Now was no different.  Ty pulled his legs back and leaned forward, his eyes already hooded with anticipation.  He had Asher’s jeans open in a few seconds and went to town right after that, eager and greedy.  It was so much sensation so fast, almost too much, but that was part of what Asher loved about Ty.  There wasn’t much foreplay between them, not unless Asher initiated it, but there was an intensity to what Ty did that was undeniably hot.

“Ty,” Asher moaned, throwing his head back and cupping the back of his head.  Ty had made it abundantly clear as soon as he was over his shyness that he loved it when Asher fucked his mouth, and now that he was growing his hair out again, grabbing it was a compulsion Asher couldn’t resist.  He didn’t grip too tightly, just enough to make it clear who was in charge of the pace here, and Ty moaned happily around his cock.

“That’s it, Ty,” Asher said, letting out his inner porn star.  He didn’t usually talk when he fucked, but again, that was one of the things that got Ty going, so who was Asher to say no?  “Open up for me, give me your mouth.  This mouth is mine, bitch, and I’m gonna use you and come down your throat, and you’re gonna swallow all of it.”  It was almost always the same speech, something Asher had heard a hundred variations of over the years, but saying it to Ty, holding him like this, really made him feel it.  He had a pretty, perfect boy sucking his dick, the only person Asher had ever wanted for more than a night, and he was doing this because he wanted Asher.  Ty was moaning like a whore around the meat in his mouth and already rutting against the couch, because fuck, nothing said zero-to-horny like eighteen years old.  Asher had seen Ty with guys, and he was never like this with anyone else.  Only with him.

“Fuck, you feel so good,” Asher choked out, starting to thrust harder, feeling his dick hit the back of Ty’s throat.  When he was the one going down, Asher always slowed things at this point, kept control so he wouldn’t get hurt, but with him Ty didn’t even seem to care.  His eyes started watering and he gagged a little, but he was still moaning his happy moan, happy and desperate, and after a few more seconds Asher tightened his grip in Ty’s hair to just below the point of pain and arched off the couch as he came, hard.  Ty swallowed fast, his tongue licking over every inch of flesh it could get to so that nothing escaped.  Soon Asher relaxed his grip and pulled Ty back, ignoring his whine and tugging him up between his thighs.  He attached his lips to the pulse point on Ty’s neck and reveled in his sudden shudder, the helpless thrust of his trapped cock against Asher’s own, gradually softening with satisfaction.  Fuck, Ty had to be aching by now…

“Don’t even think about it, bitch,” he said languorously as he scraped his teeth down the taut tendons standing in stark relief beneath his mouth. “Hours, Ty.  I said hours, and I meant it.”  He wrapped his legs around Ty’s hips to hold him firmly in place, then went back to his neck, ignoring the pained grunt of frustrated lust in favor of the pure pleasure that holding Ty so close gave him.

Oh yeah.  He could keep this up for hours.