Category: In progress

I’m baaaack . . .

Sep 12, 2013 by


Illumination_200x300Just sent off final edits for Illumination, my book with Riptide that’s coming out September 30th.

What? you cry. TWO books from the glacially slow pen of Rowan Speedwell within just a few months of each other? Is the Apocalypse nigh?

Well, hopefully not. I wouldn’t know, not being in the confidence of the folks who manage that sort of thing. But it’s true. Less than two months after Love, Like Water (with the beauteous Nicko Morales on the cover), I have another book to promote.

I’ve mentioned this one before. Probably several times. Probably accompanied by swear words, because I have to say this has been the most difficult book to write. It took me over two years to write the first draft, then another three or four months for the second. And it went through FOUR rounds of edits. Blood,  I tell you. There was blood.

Really, though, this is a lot less angsty than Finding Zach or Love, Like Water. All of the angst happened outside the book. There is less crying than in Kindred Hearts (thank God!), although there is some. There is romance, misunderstandings, drama, and two very stubborn heroes. There is what I hope is very, very funny stuff.

They always say “write what you know.” Well, I’m a fifty-five year old straight chick raised in a middle class family, so I’m already out of my league writing gay romance about young men, let alone rock stars. And my phobia is claustro, not agora. But.

J.P. Barnaby, who has been along for most of the ride with this book, says that Miles is me. We have a lot of similar issues, similar hangups, similar weird OCD/perfectionist behaviors. I like to think that I put a little of myself in all my characters, but Miles is probably the closest.

He has a temper, like me. He obsesses over details, like me. He’s bright and competent on a lot of levels, but those levels do not include technology. Like me. His taste in music runs to classical and show tunes, and is clueless about modern music. He’s impatient. He’s socially awkward. He’s messy (yes, you can be both messy and OCD). He can go happily for days without talking to anyone but his parrot. (For me, it’s my cat.) He’s a better artist than I am, but we share the art form. I cope a little better with people.

I think if were to meet Miles in person, we would either be soul mates or loathe each other.

Adam has some of my quirks: he’s self-indulgent and kind of lazy. I think he’s a Libra, like I am, but with more of the good qualities. He’s social, extroverted, and charming, which I can be for short periods of time. He tends to take the easy way out, sometimes simply because he doesn’t like to disappoint people; he’ll “go along” just because he wants the people around him to be happy. He’s vain and fussy about how he appears to people, but it’s not that he is obsessed with his image; it’s more that he wants—needs—people to like him. Hm. I guess maybe he’s more like me than I thought.

Which is kind of funny, when you think about it, because Miles and Adam are two really different people. But then again, we all have contradictory bits in our personalities. It’s what makes people human.

And I think that might be why it took so long to finish this book. Because Miles and Adam are the closest things to human that I’ve written. And like most humans, they have their own ideas of how things should go. I fought harder with these two than I have with any of my other characters, and that includes Tristan from Kindred Hearts, who was an absolute bastard.

But Miles and Adam’s story is done now, and I can honestly say that they’re probably my favorite couple. Even if I want to smack them hard enough that their ancestors are bruised.

And before I knew it…

May 31, 2013 by

So, okay, a couple of weeks ago I was GChatting with Marie Sexton, as one does, and she mentioned that she signed on as a Keynote Speaker for the UK Meetup 2013, which is an event held in Great Britain for the local m/m writers there. This year’s is only the second or maybe third one they’ve had, but it’s drawn a lot of interest, both with UK writers and non-UK. It was one of those things I’d look at and dream about, but never thought I’d actually go to.

And then Marie mentioned she didn’t have a traveling companion and really didn’t want to travel alone… and before I knew it…

ukmeet  Guess where I’m going in July??

I’m really psyched and freaked out about it! I was to the UK a few <cough, twenty-eight, cough> years ago and have wanted to go back ever since. Now I can!

We’re actually arriving on the Fourth of July and spending a week in London doing touristy things, including a pop over to Paris for a day through the Chunnel. I mean, really. One has to.  I’m hoping to hit some of the spots I missed last time, like Canterbury and Windsor Castle, as well as my favorites from then too.

And we won’t be alone! My Chicago peeps Harper and Sue are going to be there at the same time, and Belinda McBride might come early too and do some touristy things. We’re all set with plane tickets and accommodations, and I have been making Lists. We don’t leave for a month, but I’ve already started packing…

In between the packing and the panic attacks, though, life has been going on. I just sent off the second batch of edits for Love, Like Water, so I’m hoping I’ll have a release date soon. I also set up a Cafe Press store for it, like I did with Finding Zach and Kindred Hearts, and am thinking about carrying an LLW tote bag around the UK.

On the Illumination front (if you recall, that is the new title of Going Like Elsie, about Miles and Adam), the cover is in the sketch stages and looks pretty good! LC Chase is doing the cover; I really love her work, so I’m happy! Should be getting the edits any time now…

Updates and some links

Feb 19, 2013 by

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): 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:

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.


The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Jan 2, 2013 by

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.

A sense of accomplishment…

Sep 26, 2012 by

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.

That sinking feeling . . .

Apr 12, 2012 by

Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  I don’t know why I care, except that it gives me a title for this post, which I otherwise wouldn’t have, since it’s not really about anything. I’m just writing so I can avoid working on The WIP That Will Not Die. Two years, people! Two years I’ve been working on this book–or rather, avoiding working on this book. I am determined to finish it by the end of May at the latest. I sort of promised it to a publisher way back last fall, and am feeling very guilty about it.

     I reread it up until the part where it starts to go off the rails, and I like pretty much all of it to that point. I don’t know why it’s taking so long. I like the characters, I like the writing, I like the story, and I pretty much know what’s going to happen. WHY is it being so difficult? Every time I start to work on it it becomes a matter of… look, a squirrel!  Roadblock.

     This weekend I’m getting officially apprenticed to Sarafina, a Laurel in the art of sewing. The idea is for me to actually get better at pattern-drafting and period sewing techniques. A lot of SCA garb gets made on the machine, which is fine, but I like hand sewing, so I’m trying to work on the period styles. I want to make a Tudor outfit using solely period techniques. The only problem with that is it requires I make a corset to fit me.

     I am so not a corset type. I don’t want to wear a corset. Roadblock.

     Seems I keep running into them. Or maybe, it’s really an issue of me putting them up. Probably a pshrink would say I’m afraid of failure or afraid of success, when really I’m a fred a staires. (rimshot)

     The editing process for The Florentine Treasure, the novella coming out June 1st from Dreamspinner, continues apace. I sent in the form for the cover art (which isn’t custom cover art, since it’s only a novella) and the picture that inspired me. I wish they could include it on the cover, but it’s Michael Stipe from REM.

     Here it is.

He looks exactly like a Renaissance angel to me. Amazingly beautiful. It’s an old picture from when they were first getting started, so naturally he no longer looks like this, but boy, was he something back then.

     So, that’s what Giacopo looks like, except his eyes are jade green. You’ll read more about him when The Florentine Treasure comes out. Hopefully.

     ‘Til then, I’m going back to writi… LOOK! A CHICKEN!!


Bonus post

Mar 1, 2012 by

My God – two posts in two days?!!  I must be sick. Or something. But I’m not, I’m fine. Well, aside from the upset stomach from taking too many Excedrin yesterday battling a severe case of FMS, but that’s over now, and I’m feeling better. Except for the stomach. But anyway, that’s not what I’m posting about.

     (At least I’m in better shape than my poor Aunt Bunnie, who fell Tuesday and broke her arm and dislocated her shoulder. A normal person would have sat on the concrete and called for an ambulance. Nope, Bunnie is a Finley Girl, and they do not admit to pain. So she went home, and refused a trip to the ER when my brother wanted to take her. Then she went to the Urgent Care place the next day, and they SENT her to the hospital. That’s Bunnie. She’s home now, and allegedly comfortable, although she wouldn’t tell you if she wasn’t.)

     A couple of announcements – I have FINISHED the time travel romance short story that is due the fifteenth, or at least the first draft of it. Sadly, about 3,297 words are going to have to be cut. I will do that this weekend. I’m waiting to see if my beta reader can review the rough draft so I can see if it’s worth working on. I think it will be, with some clean up. It’s a bit art-history heavy, but that’s what it’s ABOUT, so…

     ALSO!  I am officially registered for GayRomLit 2012, to be held in Albuquerque October 18-21st. (I forgot to mention that the other day in discussing my upcoming travels. How could I forget that???) The lovely and delightful JP Barnaby will again be my traveling companion, and we will probably do some kind of author event together. Gay porn stars may be involved. (Hers, not mine, but what the hell.) We have a little time to work something up. There will be lots of stuff going on, and I’m really looking forward to it. Registration is limited to 400 and tickets are going fast!!

     And third, but no less important, I got an email today that said that Kindred Hearts is entering the process of being translated to Italian. This is nice enough news, but it came on the heels of my finishing my story (set in Italy) and reading a CupOPorn post written about living in Rome (also in Italy, for those who have been living under a rock or, you know, were educated in certain public school systems in the U.S.). So there is definitely an Italian theme going on here today…

     Maybe I need to book a trip to Italy, too…

The fall, she is falling.

Sep 12, 2011 by

     Bitterwood edits are done and sent back to Amber Allure and the lovely Karin Story. (That’s my editor. I haz an editor! And isn’t that a great name for an editor? Fills me with all kinds of hope!) The book is still on track for a September 25th release, because the folks at Amber, they are fast.

     Today I got the second email regarding Kindred Hearts where someone was compelled to stop reading IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK to write me and tell me how much they are enjoying it. This blows my mind (sorry, Sixties’ flashback). That someone is so moved by something I wrote just flabbergasts me.

     Work proceeds apace on my niece’s christening gown; the bodice is embroidered and I’m working on the skirt embroidery. Time is fleeting and I need it done by the first weekend in October. IN THE MEANTIME, I’m trying to work on Turbulence, a sort of spin-off of Finding Zach (although there are no cameos planned for any of the major characters in that work); thinking about Going Like Elsie, my hermit/rock star romance; thinking about my straight Regency, A Lamb for Isabel; editing Angel Voices, a Christmas story that I need to submit, um, yesterday; and get some freelance editing done too. Oh, and finish my swag for GayRomLit and do a little thrift store browsing for Victoriana for my steampunk adventure.

     And then there that little issue of the electric in my house going all wonky. I’ve lost a “leg” of the circuits or something like that, which basically boils down to the fact that my kitchen mostly doesn’t have power and I have industrial-strength extension cords snaking around my house. Ahh, the joys of homeownership.

     Finally, I just ordered some Blue Stop for my fibromyalgia. Heidi Cullinan gave me some and it’s wonderful, especially for my hands, which hurt quite a lot, to the point where I can’t lean on them or rest my head on them, or anything like that. But I ran out and the weather is getting cooler, and that’s when the fibromyalgia kicks in. I got the two small jars so I can carry one in my purse and leave one at home. I have a feeling it will become like my Excedrin and my inhaler—one in every place I spend any time: car, office, bedroom. But if it takes the pain away, it will all be worthwhile!

Social, Not Working

Aug 3, 2011 by

     Pennsic preparations are underway; my bins are packed (that sounds vaguely off-color; I have no idea why) and ready to load in the car, and pretty much everything else is properly in train. This means, however, that I will be off-line for about ten days, which, considering I live and breathe by my mobile apps, will be not unlike quitting smoking cold turkey. (Not that I’ve ever smoked, and cold turkey? Yum, especially with mayonnaise and home-grown tomatoes on fresh bread…) 

     This has become an issue the last couple of years, what with the writing life and the social networking I do. (Who’da thunk I’d suddenly develop a social life?)  I pretty much don’t write during Pennsic—hell, I pretty much don’t READ during Pennsic, and anyone who knows me is right now dropping dead of shock. Because I read constantly. But at Pennsic, there’s so much to do, and so many people to talk to, and so many bottles of Gatorade to fill for the Ayreton Angels Fighter Support Squad, that I just don’t have time to read. I do sew, and sometimes draw, because you can do that and talk at the same time, but I don’t read or write, which are both activities for which I require quiet and solitude.

     The internet isolation is especially knotty this year, because of JP Barnaby. JP writes wonderfully angsty stories, some with BDSM, some without, but all with immense tear-jerking properties. In fact, she just sent me a heart-in-your-throat short short story under the subject line: “Your crying jag for the day…” Beast. I love her. AND she and I are going to collaborate on a novel. Or perhaps a series; we haven’t quite worked that out yet. The other day, we shot ideas back and forth like water balloons at a picnic. It’s still in the bare bones stage, but we think it will be a fantasy novel with kings and executions and gods and reincarnation and social reconstruction and battles and wizards and street kids and of course TONS of angst:  betrayals and murder and poison and forced prostitution and slavery and tattoos. Because that’s what we do, JP and I:  we torture our characters.

     So I will be pretty much incommunicado and left to percolate ideas with no way of sharing them with JP, and she will be working on her next Little Boy Lost installment without me as a critique partner (waaaah!!) hopefully, because she has a deadline. And I still need to finish the story I’m working on before I can commit to an undertaking like the collaboration I really want to be working on. It will be interesting to see how we work together; I tend to take a looooong time to write, and JP whips those puppies out like one of those tennis ball machines.  So I hope this will inculcate in me the drive to write faster, because I pretty much need to do that. Not so much faster as more, on a daily basis. I’m gonna have to start writing at home, instead of just on my lunch hour.

     Maybe I will develop a better work ethic….   Nah.

     On a separate note, my mom called last night, to tell me she’d gotten to the part of Kindred Hearts where Charles is in the Battle of Waterloo, and she said she had been on the edge of her seat it was so good.  I love that!  On the other hand, she doesn’t like men who cry, whereas I do. (See “Angst,” above.) I’m just happy that she’s reading it and finding it readable. Because she is, after all, my MOM.