1 Jan 2015

He Makes a List. When I Read Number 10? My Jaw Dropped.

Daniel gains 15 experience points in Click Bait.
Congratulations, you have reached Level 2 Click Bait!

Is anyone else sick of all those posts you see around the Internet these days? You know, the ones where they lure you in with a title like this blog post's. It seems to be the new fad after the whole '53 year old Mom discovers weird wrinkle trick and Doctors hate her' thing.

I have to admit to being sucked in to clicking more than a few links because of the titles. But anyway, on to the real reason for this post. I did something similar at the end of last year, and I intend to keep on doing it every year. That is, to make a list of all the cool things that have happened to me in the past 365 days.

Resolutions have never really worked for me, and if I were to list all the ones I've actually completed, I would have an extremely short list. But even though I may not have accomplished the things I originally set out to do, that doesn't mean this last year hasn't been filled with lots of accomplishments. So I'm going to focus on those things instead. We should all celebrate our successes and use them to propel ourselves into 2015.

I listed 13 things last year, so I'm going to do 14 this time. So here we go, in no particular order.

1) I passed my driving test
This was a massive accomplishment for me. It's done wonders for my independence, and allowed me to avoid having to look for other employment following a change of office locations. Just being able to go out and about without worrying about the distance, or public transport has been so great. And I'm getting really good at this whole driving thing. Just the other day I successfully pulled away in third gear! Couldn't have done that six months ago.

2) Slasherazzi
No doubt by now you'll have heard about this one. I started writing this book in the summer of 2010, and it took me until January 2014 to finish writing it. As far as my writing career goes, I'd say this has to be my biggest accomplishment so far. The response to it has been mind-blowing for me. I never realised just how many readers would enjoy reading about graphic torture. You sick bastards :)

3) Got a permanent promotion at work
I've been trying to move up the ladder at work for some time, but always seemed to hit a brick wall. Thankfully, just earlier this month I found out the position I was seconded for since July has now been made permanent. I do like, and dare I say almost enjoy, this role a lot more than my previous one, so this news made me a very happy bunny. Now I just need confirmation that I've reached the next pay grade as well.

4) GayRomLit, Chicago
Another big moment for me. I've talked about this in other posts, but Chicago was a massive step forward for me. In the past I've always been quite reserved, and shied away from situations where I'm surrounded by lots of people. This year, I was able to overcome a lot of that anxiety and really put myself out there. I had a lot of fun meeting everyone who was there, and I think that shows in the pictures that were taken throughout the week. Can't wait for San Diego in 2015!

5) Rainbow Awards
This kinda links in with #2, Slasherazzi. For the first time I entered one of my books into the awards, and I was pleasantly surprised to make it through to the finals for the mystery/thrill category with an honourable mention. While I didn't place in the top 3, I'm still extremely happy to have made it as far as I did. Maybe next year I'll grab one of those top spots.

6) I made lots of new friends
This tends to happen after every GRL, but this year I added some really awesome people to my friends list, including someone I think may be my mind twin. Also glad to have met some great people at work following a change of departments too. You guys rock!

7) I discovered the joys of Cards Against Humanity
I seriously cannot understand how humanity has lived so long without this game. I first played this while in Chicago, and we had such a blast. I think part of that was probably down to the other players, but damn we could not stop laughing the whole way through. Best. Game. Ever.

8) I stuck to my goal of going to the gym more regularly
This is one of the few times I've actually managed one of my new year's resolutions. I may not have gone as often as I was hoping, but I did attend a lot more regularly and made some good progress. I even had more than one person comment on how the difference was noticeable, which made me feel very good about myself too.

9) I broke my personal best for running
So, in 2012 I started doing the C25K program. In February 2013, I managed a 10k run, and this was one of my accomplishments for last year's post. I haven't been doing as much running, but as my overall health has improved I've managed to go one step further and managed a 15k run. Next stop, a a half marathon!

10) I cooked something that actually resembled a meal
Most people who know me will be aware of the fact that I can't cook to save my life. When it comes to meal times, I'm usually all about convenience. I have those little bags of frozen veg that you can steam in the microwave for a few minutes, and I generally add to that something that can just sit in the oven for 15-30 minutes. Well, this year I decided to branch out and made some seasoned chicken with rice and vegetables. It's a far cry from appearing in Gordon Ramsay's restaurants, but it's progress!

11) I spent less time playing video games than any other year
Yes, I do love to play video games. I've played many over the years, but recently I've been into online games, which as many people will know, are a giant time sink. This year, I seem to have kicked my habit. I do still play, but a lot more casually than I used to. Still not entirely sure where all my times goes, though. Might be a mix of Tumblr and watching animes...

12) I learned to be more comfortable with myself
I guess this partly explains why I was able to be more relaxed at GRL this year. Personally, I think this comes down to the fact that I've been able to spend more time exploring who I am, particularly as a submissive. I just feel more at home in my own skin, and much happier overall. I even managed to take a few selfies over the year and spent less time avoiding cameras. Still not completely over my aversion to photos though.

13) I survived another year of being me
Yup. This one's always a massive accomplishment. Another year of Daniel in the bag, and one year closer to my plans of world domination. Soon...

14) I set myself up for a great 2015
While I may have achieved a fair few things this year, I've planned to make next year even better. I've already got myself organised to have at least two books out next year. No firm dates yet, but you'll all hear as soon as I find out. Got some exciting projects lined up, including some witches, and a perverted amphibious shapeshifter dude. 2015 is going to be all about productivity.

I'm planning to continue heading to the gym and getting into shape, hopefully completing that half marathon. I'm going to make plenty of new friends. And, of course, I'll advance my plans to take over the world.

I know I kinda stretched for those last two accomplishments, but I'll need 15 for next year's post. Go go go!

25 Oct 2014

GRL 2014: Part 2

If you haven't read part 1, you can find it here.

So, Friday morning. I started off the day at 6:30am with a trip to the pool. As mentioned in my last post, I'm a bit of a water baby. I could literally have spent all day in there, if not for the fact that I'd only had about 4 hours sleep. I had a lovely swim in the main pool, and then a good bit of relaxation in the hot tub before I finally managed to drag myself away from the water and back to the room to get ready for the day's events.

Breakfast once again consisted of sausage and maple syrup, along with some french toasty kinda things. I seriously just started drizzling everything in maple syrup. God, I love that stuff. But enough about me stuffing my hole with sticky sausages...

That morning I just kinda chilled out, spent some time by the fireplace and talked to people. Then it was off to the Booksellers room for another hour behind the Wilde City table. By this point I believe I had about 5-6 copies of my book left, and those didn't last long. I still can't believe I was the first person at the table to sell out. It's such an amazing feeling. While there, I picked up a copy of Red Rose (Blood) by Michael Kudo. From the first two chapters I knew this was going to be my kind of book.

I had Michael sign the book for me. I'm still a little confused as to whether he's telling me that I rock, or that I'm a cock. *sticks tongue out at Michael*

Later that day I took part in the Author Lounge, which kinda turned into a mini booksigning, though I understand that wasn't really the intention. I got sat next to Clare London with her bowl of candy, and we had readers sitting down on the other side of the table for a good natter.

I can't even remember what I did for the rest of that afternoon. Probably sat about somewhere, maybe even had a nap. I do like my naps, as the rest of my roomies will attest to. I believe this was the night a group of us went to the Shiraz restaurant. I had a lovely Tuna steak.

That evening was the Casino Royale event. I'm the type of person who gets really into gambling, and that's why I stay the fuck away from it when it involves real money. Give me five-hundred fake dollars, though, and it's a different story.

We started off with a game of poker, where at one point I ended up with about seventy dollars left in my pot. Somehow I managed to pull that back and ended up leaving the table with over three-thousand. I so wish that had been real money now. Then Amy and I decided to try out the blackjack tables. We settled with the single most awesome dealer in the history of casinos. I think he was out for a bit of fun too, given that the money wasn't real. In the end I finished the night with a little under six-thousand dollars. Yeah, totally wish that was real money. So I cashed in my chips for tickets, and I won... nothing from the raffle. D'oh! But, all in all, it was a really good night.

Rather than go to the after party, a group of us ended up playing Cards Against Humanity by the fireplace. I can honestly say I've never laughed so hard, and so much, in my entire life. There were big black cocks, vaginas so large they take you into another dimension, and queefing. Poor Whitney still can't live down the fact that her phone makes queefing noises. Well, that was her excuse anyway.

So it was another late night for a lot of us. And still, I somehow managed to get up out of bed around 6am to head to the gym, and then the pool again. Saturday morning was a lot more relaxed. As usual I started my day with a helping of sticky protein - lots and lots of sausage. Hi, my name's Daniel and I'm an addict. Then we hung out around the fireplace.

Then I headed over to the Good Cop, Bad Cop, Drunk Cop event, with the awesomesauce, SA Mcauley, SJD Peterson, and Abigail Roux. There I managed to pick up a couple of alcoholic drinks, including kinky liquor and glazed doughnut vodka. Also won a copy of Crack The Darkest Sky Wide Open.

That afternoon it was on to the book signing event. Normally I hate these kind of things because in my day-to-day life I hate being in the spotlight. But last year Abigail Roux taught me a valuable lesson; take alcohol with you! So I took my shot glasses, and someone even donated a mini bottle of baileys to my cause. So, with those in hand I made it through the three hours, and even had a lot of fun.

You can just see the top of the alcohol bottles in front of my pepsi bottle.

I even made up a little game on my laptop for someone to win a copy of Slasherazzi. It took almost the full event, but eventually the copy was won.

Then came the last major event of the week - the time travel costume party. I only stayed briefly, but it was great fun seeing everyone dressed up. I wasn't in a costume mood this year, so I went with my standard snarky t-shirt and claimed to be sent back from the future to prevent the apocalypse. I even managed to pick up a balloon friend at one point. That guy was seriously clingy and would just follow me around by sticking to my t-shirt. The official story was that he was some alien lifeform I'd picked up while travelling through the vortex. Kinda makes me sound like the thirteenth doctor, or something.

Judging by the amount of wine I was drinking in the short time I was at the costume party, my plans to prevent the apocalypse were not going well at all. Gotta say though, that Cockwalk wine was really nice. Thanks to whoever was going round handing it out.

So, as mentioned, I left the party early to go do other things, and ended up back at my room at 3am. Not surprisingly, Amy had only just returned also. I had even less sleep that night than any other, waking up at around 7am for my last swim in the pool. This was followed by the farewell breakfast. I hate this part so much, as it means saying goodbye to so many great people that I know I won't get to see for another year.

After that, it was time to pack up and head back home. After several hours stuck at Chicago airport, and then even more waiting at Heathrow to be rebooked on a new flight to Manchester, having missed the connecting flight, I finally made it back to my car. Then began the epic drive home that lasted way longer than it should have, due to my decision to stop in Leeds for some food.

Now, anyone who has been to Leeds will know that they have a one-way traffic system throughout the city centre. And it is a nightmare. I spent almost an hour just trying to find my way out of the city and back onto the motorway. This process was not helped by the fact that my phone battery had died and so I couldn't use my GPS until it had recharged a little.

I finally made it home on Monday, around 5pm UK time. And then after an hour or so, I crashed. Hard. I slept for around 15 hours.

Well, that pretty much covers my time at GRL. I'm sure there's probably loads of bits I missed out, but there was so much going on that much of it is a blur to me. All I can say is I can't wait for San Diego, and I'll be putting in plenty of overtime at work to get the money together for it. I'm going to do one last post about GRL in general in the next few days, so watch out for that. Until then...

21 Oct 2014

GRL 2014: Part 1

Wow, where do I start? This year was such a blast for me, and I think almost everyone would agree. Everything from the events, to the late night parties, to the after-after parties was amazing, and the people I shared that time with, even more so.

I guess I should start at the beginning. After a few minor delays at the airport in Chicago, namely due to one person's missing luggage, I arrived at the hotel around 16:00 on Wednesday with Clare London and Jaime Samms. I was whisked away by Lara Brukz to our hotel room, and what was definitely the most comfortable bed I've slept in for a very long time. Not that I did much sleeping, mind you, but we'll get to that later. Big thanks to Lara and the rest of the roomies - Amy DiMartino, AJ Corza, and Poppy Dennison - who didn't give me much grief for passing out in their beds during the day. You all rock.

A quick, panoramic view of the hotel room, with AJ Corza, Amy DiMartino, and Poppy Dennison.

After stuffing myself with mini Cheeseburgers and buffalo wings - and having my mouth go numb from all that spice - I traded presents with Poppy Dennison. I know she loves some of the cakes we make over here, so I had packed some Mr. Kipling's cakes and curly wurlys for her. Also took her some coffee and chicken seasoning. Yeah, chicken seasoning. Apparently it costs a lot in 'MURICA. In return, I received lots of beef jerky (I'm seriously addicted to the stuff), Twinkies, and Ding Dongs. I love my Ding Dongs. *winks* Oh, and a bottle of Jack Daniel's from Lara. I'm a big fan of JD :) Also, thank you to Carol Lynne who made a jerky contribution right before I left - those would be the Turkey Perky Jerky, which is the awesomest name ever!

Well, I do love to stuff my hole with meat, twinkies, and ding dongs :)
That night we mostly relaxed, but I did end up having a few drinks at the bar. And I really do mean just a few this time. Not like Atlanta where I think I was permanently sozzled. After a chocolate cake martini and some pink vodka drink, we ended up playing Cards Against Humanity. What a fun game! This was my first time playing, and I don't think I had ever laughed so much in my life. One of my favourite moments was when I gave AIDS to naughty children, instead of coal. I'll have to invest in a set of cards sometime soon. I'm sure it would make a lovely game to play on Christmas Eve with the family. Thanks to the guys who introduced me to this game; William Cooper, JP Barnaby, Brandon Witt, Michael Kudo, and everyone else who was there. Sorry my memory is a little fuzzy around the edges, so I'm sure I'll forget a lot of names along the way.

Awesome people, at an awesome card game.
Woke up the next morning at 6am, after tossing and turning most of the night, and went straight to the gym for a quick workout. How I managed to be so perky in the mornings, I'll never know. I try waking up at 6am when I'm at home, and I end up hitting the snooze button several times until I absolutely have to get up or risk being late to work. The first order of business was breakfast. Sausages and maple syrup! Seriously, my new favourite breakfast food. And then it was off to the swag room to lay out my pens and wrist bands. We showed up again after the doors opened to the masses, and picked up some awesome swag.

Can you tell I like pens?
Afterward, I spent some time at the Wilde City Press table in the Booksellers room. Firstly, I just wanted to say HOLY CRAP! I couldn't believe how different it was from last year. In Atlanta we had a small table in the corner of the room. It was clear to see how far the publisher has grown in just the last year, and there were some seriously great books on show. The highlight for me, though, was seeing the reaction to my latest book, Slasherazzi. It's been doing great in the reviews on Goodreads, and within the first hour all of my backstock had gone. To everyone who bought a copy, I really hope you enjoy the book, and thank you for making me a very happy soldout author by the end of Friday.
Because the table now needs two photos to fit it all in. Awesome work by the Wilde City folks.
Not sure what happened to the flash in this one.
 At lunchtime I went for a trip to Walmarts and Dick's for a pair of swimshorts. I'm a real water baby, being a Capricorn and all, so I was excited to find out about the pool. I could have swam in there for hours on end if I hadn't been tired half the time. I also picked up some more jerky, pretzel M&M's, a zero bar, and peanut butter snickers. So much candy to try!

After lunch it was an action-packed afternoon of attending events. We started with a storytellers spotlight on 'Why We Love Our Shifters', with the awesome Mary Calmes and Poppy Dennison. You guys totally rocked it.

Then it was off to my Q&A. Now, I hate being in front of large groups of people, which you'd think was odd for a former Biology teacher, but I do hate it. Particularly when you don't know everyone there, and you're going to be asked a bunch of questions you can't anticipate, it's nerve-wracking! Luckily, I managed to mostly hold back the nerves and had a bit of fun. Thanks to everyone who came up to me afterward and said I did great. That kind of encouragement really means a lot to me.

After that it was time for more food, and then the opening reception, hosted by MLR. It was announced that GRL 2015 will be in San Diego, which I'm so looking forward to. Next year, my plan is to get in a couple of days early so I can look around the city, as well as getting used to the time zone differences before the events start.

I honestly don't know how those jeans fell down...

We had free time for an hour, which I believe we spent sampling the delights of Xara Xanaxas' cake vodka. If you haven't tried this stuff yet, you totally have to. Then we headed to the Juke Joint. Wow, I can't believe how drunk I was that night. I was one of the last people there still dancing away after 1.30am. So much fun stuff happened that night, and there are plenty of photos online.

Wow. So hawt. Much dancer.

I was spanked by Ethan Day with my jeans down around my knees. Inexplicably, there's another photo of my underwear while dancing on the stage. I'm totally unsure as to how that happened. And the go-go dancers... Wow! I wouldn't mind having a few of those around the house for entertainment and... other things.

That seems to keep happening. Maybe I need a belt...
I'm going to wrap this post up now before it gets too long, so let me just say what a crazy and fun day that was. I think I've definitely come out of my shell since my first GRL in Albuquerque, 2012. Alcohol helps, of course, but even during the sober times I feel I did a much better job at interacting with people. Partly I think that's down to how welcoming and nice everyone is at GRL. It's so great to see hundreds of people coming together over their love for M/M books, and I know it's only been 2 days, but I miss everyone so much already.

That's it for post one, but I'll be back in the next couple of days with post 2. Until then, see ya.

4 Jul 2014

Humans Are Twisted

I'm sure most people would agree, if asked, that I'm a very twisted individual - in a nice way, though. I may have some very dark thoughts, but I'd never actually turn round one day and decide to brutally murder someone. Instead, I write about it.

And I've come to the conclusion lately that it's not just me.  We're all twisted in some way - it's just hidden a little deeper in some people.

When I first started writing Slasherazzi, I knew it was going to be incredibly gory. I predicted that people would come away from reading it in a state of shock and disgust. Well, I was half right. People are coming away suitably shocked by what they read, but they seem to be feeling a sort of morbid fascination also, accompanied by a subtle hint of guilt. Not so much that they feel bad for reading it, but that they enjoyed it.

Let me share a couple of review excerpts...

"I kinda feel bad for saying this but it's great!"

"...it’s weird to say but these [murder] scenes are very well written."

In my eyes, humans are emotionally-driven creatures, and when you let your emotions really take control, that's when you start to do things you never thought yourself capable of. How many times have you heard of a person going into a blind rage and committing murder, then later regretting it? How many times have you had thoughts about wanting to kill someone? Inflict major bodily harm? Probably quite often.

But we, in the vast majority of cases, don't follow through on these acts because the rational part of our brain imposes a set of moral constraints. And let's face it, much of our morality these days is constructed by society. If we were still living nude in caves, I daresay we wouldn't hesitate nearly as much to kill someone for attempting to steal some of our food.

By nature we are savage, emotional beasts, and I think that part of us will always be there... lurking somewhere in the depths of our minds. Sure it's been suppressed - tamed - but that doesn't mean it's forgotten. And I think it's that part of our brain that Slasherazzi appeals to. It's that part that can't look away when there's a trainwreck, or has to go poke a dead body with a stick.

We're all twisted. And I think we're perfect just the way we are... just as long as you don't actually go out and start killing people. That would be bad.

13 Jun 2014

Slasherazzi: Blog Tour Stop #3

The Slasherazzi blog tour is well underway, and today I've over at Joyfully Jay sharing an exclusive excerpt from the book. As always, there's more chances to win an ebook copy, so get on over there and check it out.

You can view the full post here.