Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fabulous 5 Blog Hop

Okay, I know I'm well past my own deadline on Ben and Gavin's first time, but that doesn't surprise anyone who knows me! Since I'm so late for *that* post, maybe I should get off my butt and post my answers to the Fabulous 5 Blog Hop!

I was tagged by the amazing Piper Vaughn.

What am I working on?

Ha! That kind of depends on the day? I have several (too many?) projects going, so, have a list!

Ben and Gavin’s (untitled) first time is almost ready for beta. What was supposed to be a little 2K erotic scene to get me writing again turned into a short story because letting those two talk to me was A Bad Idea.

Irrevocable (working title) is Monty’s story. A lot of readers loved to hate him and, well, I wanted to slap him too, but he’s not such a bad guy once you get to know him. Skip liked him well enough to throw away several years on him. And, I really like watching his new love (yes, love!) interest rake his ass over the coals on a regular basis.

Breakthrough is a short story about an older man who finds love in an unexpected place. I’ve been polishing that one for a while now and it’s nearly ready for a second round of beta.

Between Now and Never is a novella dealing with life in the closet, suicide, and second chances. The angst in that one pretty much guts me, so it’s slow going for now.

I’ve got a few others on the backburner, but those are the ones I’m hoping to finish by the end of this year. Which means I'll be lucky to get them finished before the end of 2015. >_<

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

This is kind of a cheat answer, because it applies to all the authors I’ve read in the M/M Romance genre, but I think (hope?) my characters feel real and unique to readers and my dialogue seems natural. I think we all take parts of our real life, or people we know or have met, and weave bits and pieces of them into our stories, so each story and each character is as different as the author writing them. It’s really one of the most beautiful things about writing, or any art form for that matter. Give ten authors the same prompt and you’re going to get back ten very different stories. Shifters, BDSM, fluffy romance, full on erotica, mystery, time travel… and every character would be different. That’s amazing, isn’t it?

Why do I write what I do?

My first thought is simply “because I love it” but I love high fantasy novels and mysteries too. I couldn’t write one worth reading.  I guess I write what I do because those are the characters who speak to me. They pop into my head and tell me their stories and I write them down. I’ve written a couple of (unpublished) het stories too, but M/M Romance is simply where my heart is.

How does my writing process work?

Lol, when it’s working, it usually goes something like this: I hear a song or see someone on the street corner or have a dream and I start to see their story play in my head like a movie. I write down the scene, then the characters start talking. I pound out 10K or so and then read it back and maybe don’t hate it. Then I keep writing a few more days, get to the halfway point, start making notes on what I’ve written and maybe a few points of what I think is going to happen—because my first synopsis to a Dreamspinner nearly killed me. Seriously, I had A Simple Romance FINISHED for over a year before I sent it in because of the synopsis—then I usually take a break from it for a while. I come back to it, look at my notes and read what I already have, then I write some more. I almost never have a plan and pretty much everything you read is spontaneously written in fits and starts. When I finish, I’ll send it off to beta, then pick at it for a while. This is why it takes me roughly two years from spark of idea to sending it in with a query. I’m trying to get better and really focus on one project at a time, trying to get to a point where I can maybe send in a manuscript every 3-4 months, but, uh, that goal is probably a long way off.

The free reads I’ve done for Don’t Read in the Closet are a little different. I get two months for those. Nothing more. Two months. Which is why they’re usually very short. The first time I signed up for that event, I ended up getting horribly sick and then having to do a bunch of stuff for my best friend’s wedding. I wrote Pillow Talk in roughly four days. Maybe I just really need do-or-die deadlines?

Who’s next on the blog hop?

Kade Boehme, Hank Edwards, and RJ Scott! There were supposed to be five, but, uh, those three are fabulous enough to make up for the other two. >_>

Also, I was going to tag the wonderful Nico Jaye, but Piper got to her first. You can check out her answers here. :D

Monday, August 18, 2014

Context. And, perspective…

I could have titled this entry a lot of different things. Why I Shouldn’t Be Allowed Online Alone or Alienating Writers, Readers, and the WORLD in 140 Characters or LESS! Both spring to mind. But in the end, it really is about context. And, how I handle it (or anything else) is really about perspective.

Earlier today, while I was sitting in my car waiting for one of my kids, I was messaging a friend on Twitter. We were talking about a lot of things, but one of the main topics (of this conversation and maaaaany others) was how neurotic and basically crazy I am. That ALL writers are. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t WRITE. Who would volunteer to have a bunch of characters stomping through their head all day and night, waking them from deep sleep or making them pull over on the side of the road to make notes? Poking our brains at two in the morning. “Did you put that notepad next to your bed? NO? That was foolish. Boot up the laptop. Might as well put some coffee on, because it’s going to be THAT night! You’re welcome! :D”  You’d have to be a little crazy to love that. And, I do. I think most writers do. And, not just writers. I’m that kind of reader too. I stay up late, skip meals, ignore phone calls just so I can READ. We don’t just want to enjoy the books we read, we want to LOVE THEM. We want to be absorbed, we want to laugh and cry and feel all the joy and wonder that comes from walking in some character’s shoes for a while. Readers are just like writers in that respect. We are wonderful, gloriously crazy creatures. We are obsessive. We are dedicated. And we are eccentric. We love what we love, we hate what hate—or, better! We sometimes love what we hate, too—and we love to tell the world about it.

SO, anyway… When my friend, a fellow author, was worried that she was coming off as crazy and obsessed with someone in the publishing world she was working with, I told her that her questions/concerns weren’t too crazy and that she should see some of the authors on the message boards because they’re… eccentric. Now, I’m paraphrasing because I have NO IDEA the exact wording. Why? Because I realized SECONDS later that I didn’t send that as a PM, noooooo. NO. That was public! Because I’m just that awesome. Now, if our entire conversation had been public—with or without my realizing it—I wouldn’t have worried a BIT. Everything we talked about was true, a little self-deprecating, a little funny to anyone who’s been there, and—here’s the important part—in context, it was all positive. She was stressed and I made a flippant joke to make her feel better.

Once I realized what I’d done, with my heart pounding so hard it vibrated my seat, I managed to delete the tweet. Despite my shaking hands and the bile rising in my throat.

Context is a big deal. HUGE. It’s a make-or-break thing. 140 characters might not seem like much, but with a little context—or lack thereof, in this case—they can be pretty damning.

But that leads me to perspective. As I was sitting in my car, wishing I had an emergency Xanax rolling around, I was talking to a different friend. She listened and gave all the appropriate “oh nooooo” responses. Then I clicked on a link about something in the news. (Aside: Just me or is the world particularly shitty lately?) Then perspective sank in. I’d messed up—publically, no less—in a pretty bad way, one that could come off as a little dickish. But… I’m not being shot at. I’m not being bombed. I’m not in danger because of my orientation or the color of my skin. My children are fed and healthy and safe. They’re not dead in a street, or a desert, or the trunk of someone’s car. When I look at my life, everything I have to be thankful for, everything I wish I could change about the world, all the hurt and pain... I’ve got it pretty good.

I may be the online version of a klutz who stumbles headlong into a wall while simultaneously flipping a bowl of boiling soup into someone’s crotch, but I’m doing pretty good otherwise. Sorry if you got splashed with my soup fumble, though.

…I guess that’s not the best example. Hot soup to the crotch doesn’t really improve with context.


So, I will forge ahead and stop sweating over every typo or, ya know, public-instead-of-private message, and keep trying to get it right with social media. God help me.

NOW, to keep this blog from becoming the place where I list my sins and mortifying moments, here’s a (very!) little teaser for something I’ve been picking at. I hope to finish it and post it this month.  I also hope you’ll be distracted enough by it not to realize what a blundering ass I am. Or at the very least, forgive me for being a blundering ass. >_<

The club was jumping, hot and loud—just the way Gavin liked it. He’d been dancing with one of his friends all night, hoping that Ben would take his invitation and meet him there. It was his eighteenth birthday after all, and Ben had been keeping him at arms-length for an entire year. Ever since they met. But tonight? Gavin was finally legal and he knew how he wanted to celebrate.

Friday, August 8, 2014

And bad mistakes, I've made a few...

My laptop! He is all better! Pro tip: Never leave your earbuds on your keyboard. Just sayin’.

Now for why I decided to update today. I hope you'll forgive me, because I can already tell this is going to be longwinded and probably boring. And will have little to do with writing or my characters because, well, I have no excuse. Sorry!

So, the camping trip was pretty much awesome. It started out VERY rocky, with a three-hour late start and then a search for a campsite because our favorites were either full or closed, but in the end, we found one! Of course, it took us over five hours in the car to find a beautiful campsite only an hour and a half from where we live, but, uh, there were Firefly quotes and good music, so that’s not so bad, right?

When it was all said and done, we had an amazing time. My kids cracked me up, my sister and I got to chat and just hang out, which is rare for us since we’re almost always running in the opposite direction. Most importantly, I got to really connect with my kids. We talked about everything and nothing. We laughed, we teased each other, we ate junk food, and we did it all without wondering what was going on away from our little campfire.

The older they get, the more important those kinds of days become. When they were little, it was easy to hold their attention and easy to get them to talk to me. Now, though, I have to compete with their friends, their dramas, their TV shows, their online life, their… worlds. And I know that’s how it’s supposed to be, but, damn it, I still want in there somewhere. Thankfully, when I try to collect them to me and hold on for a few days, they let me.

 My oldest daughter opened up to me about some online stuff she’s been dealing with. Nothing too bad and nothing directed at her, but it’s coming to a boiling point for her and her friends. We had a long talk about it and I gave her my advice on the topic. I basically told her to stay as far away from drama—online or off—as possible. I chose to share with her one of my worst moments, one that I’m not proud of and one that still makes me burn with regret and shame when I think about it. It was an online altercation, one that I started, one that degraded quickly into bullying and people—good people, friends of mine and friends of the other person’s—saying some truly awful things. Online. Where it sits forever. Where it can’t be taken back.

 I won’t go into it all here because, like I said, I’m still ashamed by own behavior, but I did tell her the whole story, a good bit of it through tears. I explained to her that when you hurt someone, even years later, the regret doesn’t go away. And, when it’s a stranger online, it’s almost worse than someone you know in real life because you sometimes can’t go back and apologize. I’ve thought about it, thought about looking the person up and trying to figure out how to get ahold of them now, but… Well, honestly, at this point I’d be afraid of opening up a painful memory for someone that they’d probably (hopefully) moved on from, all so I could what? Assuage my own guilt? My daughter and I are similar creatures. I know her quick, hot temper because it’s mine. I also know her kind heart and her goodness and her gentle soul, and I know that if she makes the same mistake I made, it will bother her for years to come. Just like me. For better or worse.

 I don’t know how that’s going to play out for her. I could’ve shared plenty of stories about how I was hurt by something someone said, times when I got the verbal thrashing that left me bawling. Maybe I should have. But I hope sharing my really awful experience—where I was the one on the very WRONG side—maybe it will mean more to her and maybe it will stick in her memory the next time she feels like saying something really ugly to someone else, something that may wound them deeply.

That was one of the most important conversations I’ve had with one of my kids in a long time. I sometimes feel like we share a lot of the awful things that have happened to us (not that I’m knocking that—I think that’s really important too) but we—or at least I—rarely talk about the seriously big mistakes I’ve made. It’s uncomfortable to tell anyone that I’ve done stuff I’m ashamed to admit. Hell, if I were comfortable talking about it, uh, I wouldn’t really be ashamed, right? But maybe it’s important to get that stuff out too. Maybe it’s important to own that you screwed up, own that you did something you wish you hadn’t, something that gnaws at you for years. In the end, we’re all flawed, we’re all… human.

Maybe that’s why I’m posting about it publically? Maybe I’m hoping that it will help someone. If you were the one who was picked on or made to feel bad by someone, you’ll know that maybe that person still feels bad about it. If you were the one who made the really bad choice and said the really hurtful things, well, you’re not alone. I’ve been on both sides of it and both sides suck and the only way to make it better is to just avoid it in the future. Were you a total asshole to someone? Apologize if you can, but if not, hey, try not to do that again. Did someone treat you like shit for really NO good reason? I’m really sorry that happened to you. I’ve done that to a couple people and I still feel bad for it.

Then, of course, there’s that third group of people who maybe just *are* assholes in general. The rest of us will be over here, eyeing them warily. >_>

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble at you. I hope everyone out there is having a good day and that you're surrounded by people who make your day better. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Quick Post!

Real life is still keeping me on the run, but I thought I should actually make a "release day, yay!" post, so, uh, here it is....

The Last Thing He Needs went live today on DSP, AllRomance, Amazon, and B&N! *cheers*

But! For a few more hours, A Simple Romance (along with reads by Tara Lain and Susan MacNicol) will be on sale at DSP for under a buck, so, ya know, spread the word for almost-freebies. There are a few days left of those special sales--three a day--so keep an eye on Dreamspinner's website. :D

I hope everyone out there is doing well and getting some rest this summer. We're heading to the mountains for some much needed relief from the heat!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Things are hectic here, but...

I've had a pretty bumpy start to summer with some family stuff and a cracked laptop screen, but I'm way over due for a post here.

My upcoming release The Last Thing He Needs went up for pre-order on Dreamspinner's website last week and it's also available (as a fledgling bestseller and on sale too!) at All Romance.

If you're looking for some great FREE reads, be sure to check out the offerings from the M/M Romance Group's Don't Read in the Closet event.  There are so many great stories on that site. If you haven't checked them out yet, do! You can find my free historical here.

And, lastly, on a personal note, for my daughter's sixteenth birthday I took her and four of her friends yurt camping! If you're not a camper or have never tried it but would like to give it a shot with something easy, I'd seriously suggest renting a yurt. It's cheaper than a cabin, more convenient than tent camping, and--at least at the park we stayed at--comes with a private bathroom. All the fun of camping (cooking over the fire, stories, playing in the fields and down by the river, watching the wildlife, etc.) with none of the hassle. Ours was even close enough to town that we had phone service *and* were able to make a quick run to the store when we ran out of hot chocolate and s'mores supplies. I highly recommend it!

We also figured out how to make pizza over the campfire. The key is making a tent out of tinfoil. It was perfect. :D

So, yes, rocky start to summer, but some fun stuff too. I hope you and yours are having a great July so far. I'll hopefully update again before the end of the month and, if I'm really lucky, I'll get something going on my new Twitter account. I've done nothing there yet, but I'll get around to it soon!

Friday, May 9, 2014

New cover!

Wow, it's been too long since I updated. I've been crazy busy for the last couple months working on my free read for the Goodreads Love's Landscapes event. Stories will be going up this summer, so be sure to check them all out.

I'm in the middle of edits for my new release through Dreamspinner Press as well. I'll post more details about that when they're available, but for now, check out this cover!

I hope you guys have a great weekend. More to come soon!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Season's Greetings!

Does everyone else feel like this year has flown by? Is there anyone looking back on the last twelve months thinking it was a slow drag? I feel like it's gone by at warp speed.

Anyway, I was playing around the other day and wrote a little Christmas short for Skip and Paul. And, well, mostly Johnny, but whatever. I thought I'd post it and wish everyone a happy holiday. Or, ya know, happy winter if you don't celebrate.