My beautiful boys – July, 2013
Cover Design: AngstyG
Photograph by CoolTomPix
Cover Model: Nicko Morales
Marie Sexton, my co-author on Flowers for Him, a story in the Promoted by the Billionaire anthology coming out MONDAY from Total E-Bound, has posted an awesome contest to her blog, in which she and I will give away a copy of the anthology to the winner!
Here’s what she has to say:
Promoted by the Billionaire, which includes my story Flowers for Him (co-written with Rowan Speedwell) will be out in just a couple of days! Rowan and I can’t wait for you to meet our uptight billionaire, Chandler, and our graffiti-artist turned hippie muralist, Neil.
We each received our author copies of the anthology today, and we were trying to come up with a fun contest in order to give one away. But what could we do? A random giveaway on Goodreads or Twitter, sure. But what else? And as we talked about it, we kept coming back to our cover.
Now, it’s sort of a stereotype that all m/m stories feature two buff, super-hot men, but the truth is, both of our heroes are fairly average. One is in his thirties, and the other in his forties. They’re cute, sure. But not big or muscular. Not necessarily drop-dead gorgeous. Who then, you might ask, is that sexy studmuffin on your cover?
It’s a fair question, and the truth is, we don’t know either. And although we sure don’t mind looking at him, we can’t help but notice that there’s nothing to indicate that our story is about an artist. Not just any artist, either, but a graffiti artist who loves nature and messiness and color.
And then it came to us.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to Graffiti Our Cover!!
The rules are simple. Take that cover and graffiti it up, any old way you’d like. (If you click on the image, it’ll take you to a larger file, which you can download.) Be fun and creative. (Don’t just draw a penis over his face!) Send your entry back to me at email@example.com. We’ll make a gallery of the entries, and then we’ll choose a winner. (Probably by random selection, but depending on how many entries we get, we may institute some kind of voting system.)
Contest closes at 5 pm MST on Tuesday, April 2nd. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or Marie.
We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Another week, another contract. Yawn.
I’m totally lying.
Nothing boring about signing another contract! This one is for the short story Flowers for Him, which I wrote with Marie Sexton for a Total E-Bound anthology. With billionaires! Just like Harlequin! Only different. The story will come out as part of the anthology, Promoted by the Billionaire, but also available in e-format separately.
Here’s the tentative blurb:
Billionaire Chandler Harrison’s third marriage is now history, and he’s left with his ex-wife’s parting barb, “You have no appreciation of beauty.” Determined to prove her wrong, Chandler hires artist Neil Sweeney to add a mural to his office wall. He doesn’t even care what the picture is, as long as it’s beautiful.
Neil Sweeney is an ex-tagger, a free spirit, and a bit of a hippie. He’s never met anybody as uptight as Chandler, but when it comes to warming up Chandler’s cold, stark office, Neil has plans involving more than art.
Chandler begins to find himself strangely moved by the mural developing on his office wall. He’s especially moved by the artist himself. Chandler has denied his homosexual urges for most of his life, but it isn’t long before Neil begins introducing Chandler to all kinds of new things. As Neil’s masterpiece comes to life, so does Chandler’s appreciation for art, color, and the best kind of beauty of all — love.
It was so much fun working with Marie! Before I started writing M/M, I had read a couple of her books and was a total fangirl. Then when I met her at Des Moines Pride, I was amazed at how friendly and down-to-earth she was. There are few days now that we don’t chat at least a little online. To collaborate with her was kind of a dream come true.
My dear friend J.P. Barnaby has a guest post up at ARE (All Romance Ebooks): http://www.arecafe.com/cafe-news/the-best-of-both-worlds-j-p-barnaby-on-gay-bdsm-fiction/ She talks about BDSM in fiction, particularly in M/M. Lovely post. We’re waiting to hear about her submission <snerk> of her BDSM book Painting Fire on the Air, which I had the privilege of beta-reading. Amazing book.
The website Dear Author has an interesting post today, regarding gender politics and romance novels. This is actually one of the reasons why I enjoy M/M fiction; the politics that are part and parcel of het romance is, if not totally lacking, then very understated in same-sex stories. While there is sexual politics at play in all romance, the gender issue is (obviously) not part of it. I don’t dislike het romance—I read a lot of traditional romance, including historical—but sometimes the male/female social stratification affects my enjoyment. If the writer is skilled enough, I can suspend my disbelief, but if not, the status of females in a lot of het books makes me insane. To say nothing about the “rescue the TSTL heroine” stories. (Too Stupid To Live.) Wallbangers. Robin Reader says it so much better than I: http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/love-is-indeed-a-battlefield/
Last but not least, I just sent the revised draft of Ghosts of Bourbon Street to J.P. for her critique. It’s a fuller version of the original story, with an additional POV to flesh things out. (Hur-hur, she said “flesh”). I’m thinking of subbing it to MLR Press’s “Average Joe” call—while it is a ghost story of sorts, it features two very average Joes: Paul, a bartender, and Michael, an accountant (who just likes to dance naked on top of a bar). So we’ll see how that goes.
I have 6000 words on the sequel to Kindred Hearts, but I think I’ll also trot out the abandoned manuscript about John Rogers, the Special Forces captain who rescued Zach in Venezuela. I have some serious rewriting to do before I proceed much on that one, but I like to have a contemporary in progress when I work on historicals. A little of the cleansing of the palate…
And if you’ve been having trouble subscribing to this blog, you’re not alone. Trying to get that fixed. Let me know if you can’t subscribe and we’ll see about getting you set up.
Love, Like Water has been accepted by Dreamspinner Press and will be released in July or August of this year. Yay! Now it’s just the editing process, which should start in about late April or May.
April is also the DSP writers’ conference in Chicago, for Dreamspinner authors only. It will be nice to not have to travel any great distances; I will be able to work a full day Thursday and just take a cab to the hotel for the opening dinner. I’m staying at the hotel, of course, because that’s just fun and saves me the stress of commuting. Which is stressful, even though I don’t have as bad a commute as some people do. It’s probably the thing I like least about working. The conference last year in New York was a lot of fun, and very interesting; I’m hoping that this year’s will be as productive.
I’ve finished the rewrites on Illumination and sent them to Sarah, my editor at Riptide. Haven’t heard back from her yet, but it was only last week or so, so I’m not fretting… yet. Estimated release date is September, so I’ll have two new books out for GayRomLit this year. That will be nice.
I also got my hotel for this year’s TeslaCon, over Halloween weekend. No roommate yet, but hopefully one of my steampunky friends will step up to the plate. Now it’s just a matter of putting together some nice outfits. Because Steampunk is ALL about the clothes. I’m trying to figure out how I can write off the cost of the con by showcasing my books or something. If I can think up a steampunk book, maybe I could get away with it. Maybe a book set at a steampunk con? Hmmmm….
Don’t know where this came from originally, but thanks to my friend Merril for sending it on!
Rules for Writers
1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
16. Don’t use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
28. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
There is a blog hop going on now, called The Next Big Thing. I’m not sure where it started, but it seems to be a way for writers to talk about what their next work is, and to tag other writers for them to write blog posts. Well, you all know how very much I love writing blog posts (see the date of the last one) but J.P. Barnaby tagged me for it so I guess I’m stuck. (Smooches!!)
Here’s what she has to say about the blog hop. She puts things much more succinctly than I ever could:
There are the books everyone has heard about: Twilight, Hunger Games, & Fifty Shades of…What was that again?. But what about all those books written by people you’ve never heard of or only kind of heard of? Some of them are treasures, just waiting to be found, and that’s what this blog hop is all about: the books you might not have heard about, but that you might end up loving.
I’m supposed to tag five more writers but the few I actually know have already been tagged, so the hop—at least this branch of it—ends here. Fortunately, they do supply the questions, and so I get to talk about my latest brainchild, which I submitted to Dreamspinner yesterday.
I actually have three other things in progress, ranging from Illumination (formerly Going Like Elsie) that’s contracted but needs rewrites, to a science fiction thing with AIs and space pirates and genetically engineered monsters tentatively titled On Ariadne Station, to the New Orleans ghost story that I’ve hauled out of mothballs to see if I can fix. But this one is off my desk, at least for a while, so I can talk about it. And so I do:
What is the working title of your next book?
Love, Like Water. It’s inspired by a song by Tito el Bambino, a salsa/reggaeton singer.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I love New Mexico, and horses, and angst. And as usual, I wrote lots of angst.
I love cowboys, too; at least the classical archetype: quiet, strong, independent. I needed someone like that who could counterbalance a bright star that’s been shattered. So when Joshua started talking to me, I tried to think of someone who could handle him, and that’s where I found Eli.
What genre does your book fall under?
M/M Romance, contemporary. There are cowboys in it, but it’s not strictly a cowboy story.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
Um, Tyler Hoechlin for Joshua, the broken FBI agent. He’s got the right dark broody looks. Eli’s more like the young Sam Elliott. I can’t really think of a present-day young actor who fits the quintessential cowboy persona like Sam Elliott did back in the 80’s. And Eli is completely a cowboy.
But possibly if Heath Ledger were still alive, at his age he might have been a good fit for Eli.
What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
Eek. I had a hard enough time keeping the synopsis to two pages. Um… Horse rescuer rescues broken FBI agent?
Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?
It’s in the hands of the gods—or at least submitted to Dreamspinner Press. I don’t have an agent, and self publishing is too much work!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Three months—the shortest I’ve ever done a novel. But it also required the most rewriting, so I think I wrote it too fast. For me, anyway. I’m a plodder when it comes to writing.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
None, because there are some SERIOUSLY good horse-related stories out there. It does have some similarity to my Finding Zach, because one of the MCs is definitely broken and needs therapy. I seem to have a thing for shrinks.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The stark, austere beauty of the New Mexico desert. I’d been wanting to set a book there since my first visit in 2010 (the week before Finding Zach came out). Then last year, when they announced that GayRomLit would be held in Albuquerque, I decided that was enough of a sign for me!
What else about your book might interest the reader?
It might have a sequel? Not sure yet, but there are two young characters that I really like, and one of them I met on my first visit to Albuquerque, while visiting Taos. His name is Jesse. He plays a minor role in Love, Like Water.
When I met him, I promised myself a story, and I think I know what it will be about.
Okay, so tomorrow I leave for Albuquerque, one of my favorite places (actually, practically every city I’ve been with the exception of New York is on the list of my favorite places. What can I say? I’m easy) for GayRomLit 2012: Desire in the Desert. Can I just say “eeeeeeeeeeeeeee”? I’m so nervous. I’m always nervous when I travel, but even though GRL is one of my favorite events (again with the favorites) it still makes me anxious. To wit: hives, zits, a tic in my eye, insomnia, and stomach troubles. Add to that the fact that my boss, who is my backup when I am away, is out on unexpected FMLA, so I’ve been doing two jobs for a week, and they both are going to be uncovered for the nonce. And, of course, I’m dealing with the insurance company to get back our deposit for our cancelled Turkey trip. I hate insurance companies, I really do.
But GRL will be fun. I’m doing a Q&A, the signing, and will be hanging out at the Dreamspinner Press event, so if any of you are going to be in ABQ this week, stop by one of those places and say hello. I’m also doing drawings at each of the Q&A and the signing for a little goodie bag of giveaways, 12 at each event. I’ll also have some pages for the Rainbow Romance Writers scrapbooking event on Thursday afternoon.
On the book end—Love, Like Water, is still in the rewrite process, though I’d hoped to have it submitted before GRL. But I haven’t gotten any feedback yet from my betas, which of course means “OMG THEY HATES IT.” Sigh.
The Novel Formerly Known As Going Like Elsie has a new working title: Illumination. It’s in my suitcase, waiting for down time at GRL for me to work on it. I’m in negotiations with my favorite Artist, Shannon Valentine, for a cover for it.
So… Albuquerque… here I come…
Okay, today at lunch I finished the project that has been occupying my time for the last three months (aside from getting stuff ready for GayRomLit, which is in—gulp—three weeks). Well, that is to say, I finished the first draft of it, and have sent it to my amazing critique partner, JP Barnaby, for her to… um, critique. It’s a book I started June 29th, right after I finished The Book That Will Not Be Titled Going Like Elsie (TBTWNBTGLE), and is as unlike that book as any other book that I’ve written. It’s more serious, for one thing, and has horses in it. I was thinking of calling it The Book With Horses In, but cooler heads prevailed, and its official title, after being named “Joshua” in my working folders, is “Love, Like Water.”
Yes, I finished it in less than three months. New record. Yay, me. First book: just under six months. Second book: a year. Third book: TWO years. Okay, I was seeing an exponential progression here that, I’ll tell you, scared the hell out of me. It is with great relief that I announce that I appear to have broken that pattern. Fibonacci got nothin’ on me.
What’s it about, you ask? Well, even if you don’t ask, I’m telling you.
Joshua is a former FBI agent who just spent three years deep undercover in a gang in Darwin Park, a dangerous West Side Chicago neighborhood. (Think Humboldt Park, but imaginary.) During his assignment, he’s killed more people than he likes to think about, and ended up hooked on heroin. But the assignment’s over, he’s gone through rehab, and he goes out to his uncle’s New Mexico horse ranch to try and rebuild his shattered life. There he meets Eli, the laid-back former rodeo cowboy who’s his uncle’s foreman, and falls for him. But Josh is a long way from healthy, mentally or physically, and life has a habit of tossing curveballs anyway….
Is it a bad thing that I’m already planning a sequel? It won’t focus on Joshua and Eli, but on Jesse, the son of the ranch’s cook, and Alex, a young nurse at the hospital in Albuquerque Joshua meets when Eli… but that would be giving away the story…. Anyway. That’s percolating in the back of my mind. For now, I’m working on getting this one ready to sub (probably to Dreamspinner) and hope to have it off before I leave for Albuquerque myself in three weeks.
This is Joshua. Isn’t he pretty?
Actually, it’s Nicko Morales, who is probably going to play Joshua on the cover of Love, Like Water, if I can get my ducks in a row. I’ve got a cover artist in mind whose work I’ve been really impressed with… so much so that I had her design this website. Her name is AngstyG, and she’s done all of JP Barnaby’s recent covers, too. Since JP is the one who introduced me on Twitter to Nicko, I figure I’ll keep it all in the family. We’ll see.
Back to TBTWNBTGLE. I’ve got a contract for it with Riptide Publishing, and their editor Sarah Frantz will be working with me to bang it into shape. Since it took two years—with long breaks in between—it needs a lot of tweaking to get there—it’s got a lot of erratic pacing and weird scene placement. I’ll be starting that as soon as I get the critique back from JP and the reworked Love, Like Water out to my betas. So don’t look for TBTWNBTGLE anytime soon; I suspect that Love, Like Water will be out before that.
Okay, bear with me as I am a complete dweeb and am attempting to write this post on my iPad with only my thumbs. I meant to do this earlier on a real computer but… forgot. Sigh.
Anyway, the winner of my completely random drawing, performed to the tune of “Younger Than Springtime” (God only knows why), is TraceyD! Tracey, I will be emailing you to find out which of my ebooks you’d like a copy of. And to everyone, thanks for posting, and I hope you enjoyed the blog hop! Stop by and visit me again some time–it gets lonely out here sometimes!
Rainbow Book Reviews is running a Blog Hop this weekend, and I get to participate! <blows whistle!> Here’s the link to the Hop.
As part of this celebration, participants were asked to blog about What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me. Aside for being whole bucketloads of fun, and the way to meet new people and make some kickass friends.
Oh, and there’s a giveaway at the bottom of the post.
So here’s what I have to say on the subject.
What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy… oh, wait, wrong story.
A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile… Nope. Not “American Pie,” either.
Start over. When I was a child (better), my mother used to try and encourage me to become involved in politics. She was—still is—a fighter, a gently fierce woman who defended her children to the death, stood up for what was right, and volunteered her time and energy to helping others. She and my dad and my aunt (who lived with us) all worked at soup kitchens and ran fundraisers for digging wells in Africa and marched in protest of the Vietnam War. All this although she had six kids at home and was, by nature, a shy woman.
I’m not shy, though I am introverted. The idea of being in public terrifies me; the idea of being the center of attention triggers panic attacks. The idea of being in politics? Ludicrous. But my mother firmly believed that people can make a difference, and politicians don’t have to be evil and self-absorbed, but they do have the potential to change the world.
I don’t know about politicians, though I am and always have been a Democrat and a staunch one at that. (Will Rogers once said “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” That pretty much sums up my involvement in politics.) But I do believe that people can make a difference, that people have the potential to change the world.
For a very long time, I was content to let other people handle that, thank you. Oh, yes, I contributed to charities and occasionally got dragged out by my mom or aunt to run bingo games at retirement homes and whatnot. And I supported public television and public radio. But I wasn’t passionate about anything.
And then I started reading m/m. And then I started writing m/m. And then I started reading about m/m, and f/f, and all the other permutations—specifically, the state the world was in regarding GLBTQ . And I was horrified.
We weren’t wealthy when I was growing up—hell, we were barely even middle class—but I was lucky enough to grow up in a suburb that was affluent enough to be mostly liberal. I went to parochial school during the Vatican II years, when the Catholic Church was all about giving, and loving, and “if you want peace, work for justice.” I went to a public high school, where I met my first gay friend, who was as out as one could be in 1974 (really, nobody talked that much about sex then, so while we knew he was gay, we didn’t know anything about any part of it). He never mentioned being hassled at school, at least no more than the rest of us nerds were, so I don’t know if he was ever harassed for being gay.
I was innocent like that for a long time. I thought that people were generally good and that the Catholic Church was a nice religion, and that Bad Things only happened elsewhere.
I still think that people are generally good. I think that most Catholics are nice, and appalled at the way the Church has imploded in recent years. And I’ve never really personally experienced the kind of Bad Things that happen elsewhere.
I have been damned lucky.
Because Bad Things do happen. Appallingly often. And to the friends I don’t know yet, and sometimes will never get to know, because they are taken from us long before their time. It frightens me and horrifies me, and sometimes it lifts me up, when I see things like marriage equality becoming law in state after state, and artists and actors and musicians coming out of the closet, and even things like the garage mechanic in California (I think…) who fixed for free the car of a gay person who had it smashed up in a homophobic attack.
And somehow along the line, I have become political.
I’m still introverted. I still dread public humiliation, and will never be a politician, or even an activist, except in the very edge of activism. But I am aware, and being aware, feel compelled to make other people aware. So I share on Facebook, and Twitter, and talk to people one-on-one on the train platform and at work. I contribute to GLBTQ causes and support Gay Pride, and try as best as I can with my limited ability to communicate the reality of what gay teenagers and young people face. Because the more people know, the more they can change. But they can’t change if they don’t know.
Writing m/m changed me. I’m much more opinionated now on political issues, not just GLBTQ ones, but feminist ones and racial ones and immigrants’ rights one, because they are all interlinked. I look at the news today and dread what is happening to the political process and to society as a whole, with a large number of powerful people seemingly determined to shove us back into the Stone Age—or at least some version of the 1950’s, which anyone who actually lived back then can tell you was not a nice time to live, if you were black, a woman, gay, an immigrant, a blue collar worker, or poor. For every step we take forward—a biracial President, marriage equality, occupational safety laws—there are those who are fighting to shove us backward. Some people—and I can name them, which tells you how much I’ve become more aware—won’t be happy until gays are back in the closet, women are back in the kitchen, immigrants are only hired to pick lettuce, and employers given carte blanche to ignore safety concerns. They talk about a “gay agenda” when their agenda is much more destructive to the fabric of the United States as a whole.
Politicians and pundits nowadays focus on business, but it’s not about business. It isn’t enough to have a job if you can’t provide human dignity. In the words of Jacob Marley: “Mankind was my business!” Mankind is our business.
I frame most of my arguments in terms of gay rights and marriage equality, because those are the issues that brought me to my political stance. I feel that if I can get one person to listen and understand what the situation is all about, and that there are Bad Things happening to Good People, things that they can do something about, then maybe they will find their way to understanding the other issues. And maybe one of them will not be shy, or introverted, or nervous in public places. Maybe one of them will be like my mother and my father and my aunt, willing to help others, willing to take a stand, brave enough to have an opinion and a sense of what is right, and courageous enough to offer their hand to their brothers and sisters. Braver than me.
Because until there is equality, there cannot be justice. And until there is justice, there cannot be peace.
I promised you a giveaway, so here it is. Any commenter on this blog will be entered into a random drawing for one of my ebooks. Drawing will be held at the end of the Blog Hop and winner will be notified on this site, so check back here on Tuesday to see if you won and to pick your prize!