Category Archives: Viking

Kind-a-sort-a done with my cyberpunk story

I thought I’d be able to finish up a final draft of the cyberpunk story this weekend and send it off to Dreamspinner.  (Frankly, I’m starting to get anxious about DSP rejecting the last story I submitted, so I was hoping to stave off some of the anxiety by having a second story submitted before they informed me of their decision on Zack and Larry.)

But that didn’t quite work out.  I finished the draft, but the 2nd half of the story had to be rewritten a good bit, mostly because it was a dull travelogue of locations in the Seattle area, before we got to the final scene.  I ended up expanding two key sections into small scenes, to keep things interesting, and provide a little more character development.  But now my confidence is a little shaken on that part of the story, so I need to set it aside for a few days and pick it up again when I’m able to step back and look at the new material critically.

In the meantime, somebody from the Seattle area said she’d try to look it over for errors in my depiction of the landscape. 

Which reminds me…whatever happened to that woman from Iceland who was reading Seidhman?  I should send her a note….

I’m two-thirds done the current draft of Seidhman, based upon notes given to me by a friend.  Another friend is waiting to read it, but I decided I wouldn’t pass it along to him, until this draft was ironed out.  I have all day tomorrow, so we’ll see how far I can get.

1 Comment

Filed under Cyberpunk, Viking, Writing, Young Adult

Editing frenzy

Well, for me it’s a frenzy.  I edited Zack and Larry before submitting it for publication (of course), and went directly from that to editing both Seidhman and Murderous Requiem, at the same time. 

Murderous Requiem is, frankly, still a bit of a mess.  Since it’s only half done, and I’d written that half during NaNoWriMo, the quality of this first draft was…rough.  Very rough.  Was it good?  Well…parts of it were.  The rewrite helped.  But it will still require a lot of rewriting, when it’s finished.  I got through the chapters I’d written, and now I’m plowing ahead with the rest of it.  So far, the requiem isn’t very murderous.  At about halfway through, we have yet to have anything happen, apart from ominous foreshadowing.  It’s still entertaining, but the interest comes from the relationships our hero has with the other characters, and his rediscovering of a life he thought he’d left behind.

Seidhman, on the other hand, is getting close to the point where I’ll start sending it out.  My friend, Roxanne, handed a copy of the manuscript back to me with copious notes scribbled in the margins — good notes, for the most part, since she knows her history and is a writer, herself.  I don’t agree with everything she says (of course), and sometimes decyphering exactly what she’s saying can be a challenge, since her handwriting is…interesting.  But a lot of it’s worth considering.  So I’m about halfway through the manuscript now, using her notes as a guide.

A friend of a friend, who lives in Norway, gave the manuscript a read and said she loved it, and found it to have a very Scandinavian feel to it, which was tremendously encouraging.  She gave me some notes, as well, but they were mostly minor details, except for some matters of “You can’t get there from here,” which I’ll have to take into account.  When you don’t live in an area, you often don’t realize that what looks like a simple route on a map has a towering cliff or a raging river that you can’t cross, forcing you to pick a different route.

I also have a reader in Iceland going over the story, and since she’s an Icelandic historian, that’s nerve-wracking.  Hopefully, she won’t come back with, “Foolish American!  Don’t ever write anything about my country again!” 

So, I’m about halfway through the current draft and it’s getting pretty polished.  Depending upon what the woman from Iceland tells me, I will hopefully be able to have a final draft done by spring.  Then I have to make decisions about whether to send it to a publisher or to an agent.  An agent is preferrable, but these days they appear to demand that you already be published, before they’ll look at your work.  I also know of some publishers who might be good fits for the story.  But those are small press.  And considering how much of myself I’ve invested in this particular novel, I might want to aim at the bigger houses, to begin with.

In the meantime, I’m still fretting about Zack and Larry.  I should probably do a final draft of my still-untitled cyberpunk story, so I can have something else ready to put out there.  In the event Zack and Larry gets rejected, I’ll at least have something else to pin my hopes on.


Filed under Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Romance, Viking, Writing, Young Adult

My First Royalties Statement!

This afternoon, I received an e-mail from Dreamspinner Press with a pdf attached.  The pdf was my royalties statement for last quarter’s sales of “The Christmas Wager” and “The Meaning of Vengeance.”

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to amount to much.  After all, eBooks sell for just a few dollars a piece, so it would take substantial sales for any percentage of that to amount to much.  But I was pleasantly surprised. 

I’m not going to mention specific dollar amounts — that would be crass, even for me — but the number of copies that sold was much more than I’d expected, my first time out the gate.  Wager sold 103 copies, which seems pretty good for a Christmas novella by an author nobody’s heard of that came out just three days before Christmas.  And Vengeance sold 31 copies.  (I’m assuming that figure combines individual sales with the sales of the anthology it was included in.)

This makes me very hopeful for my future as a writer.  Not that I can plan my retirement any time soon, but if I can start to build a name for myself, and get enough stories out there, who knows?  Both of these stories were holiday stories, which means that a) the sales were probably considerably higher than I can expect for non-holiday stories, due to the holiday feeding frenzy; and b) they are unlikely to sell much over the next eleven months.  A few weirdos like me, who get into the Christmas spirit at odd times of the year, might grab a copy here and there, but pretty much the sales are probably over, until next Christmas.

I’m hoping that Dreamspinner accepts Zack and Larry and The Bodyguard (though they both need rewrites).  If not, I’ll try them at other publishers.  But at any rate, those stories may have a longer-lasting appeal, even if the audiences are smaller.

I’m currently working on my YA novel, The Guardians Awaken, doing most of my editing on my iPad now.  The rewriting is going well, as I work my way through from the beginning, tweaking the mythology and adding more detail to the world I’m creating.  But the actual writing of the ending has been slow.  I’m hoping I can force myself to get through another section this weekend.  The accursed thing is so close to being finished….

Then there’s the problem of where to send it — that, and my YA novel about Vikings, Seidhman.  I’m certain that the YA publishing world is considerably different from the world of m/m erotic romance publishing.  I haven’t heard of many eBook publishers for YA, and I think that makes a huge difference.  Book publishers, as opposed to eBook publishers, seem to have a vastly smaller output.  They simply can’t afford to publish more than a few books a year, whereas eBook publishers can put out as many as they have time to edit.  The expense model is completely different.  So the chances of getting a manuscript accepted by a traditional book publisher are much lower.

But in happier news, I learned today of a new review of The Christmas Wager, at Queer Magazine Online.  For some reason, whenever I open the link, the review is all squished into a narrow column in the center of the page, which I don’t think is how it was intended to look.  But it’s a good review, so who am I to complain?


Filed under Christmas, Romance, Viking, Writing, Young Adult

Zack and Larry is finished

Zack and Larry Make a Porno was finished a couple days ago, and it came out better than I’d anticipated.  I was afraid it would just be, well…porn.  It certainly does have a lot more sex in it, than anything I’ve written previously.  Not terribly surprising, considering the premise.  But the characters found their own voices, with Zack being protective of Larry and concerned about what “normal” straight men were supposed to do and not do, and Larry being an outsider who manages to offend nearly everyone, but who would do anything for Zack. 

It needs polishing.  The pacing is a bit off, and the characterization can be improved, but there’s something there worth putting out, I think. 

My still-unforunately-named cyberpunk story, The Bodyguard, has been read by a couple friends and both liked it.  The main criticism, so far, has been unhappiness with the open ending.  It’s intended to imply that our heroes are now heading into an even bigger adventure.  But of course, my friends wanted to read that adventure now.  I’m beginning to think I might need to write the sequel, before submitting this one.  I’d rather not change the ending.  But it might be a good idea to have the sequel already written, so I can tell the editor that there is definitely a follow-up story — and here it is.

Of course, that means both stories may be considered together, and if the editor doesn’t like one, or doesn’t feel like publishing two stories, right now, neither will be published. 

I’ve gotten back to work on my YA fantasy novel, The Guardians Awaken, about two young men — one a street urchin; the other, nobility — caught in the middle of a human war and a simultaneous war between the gods.  I love the novel, but I’ve been stuck on the big battle scene at the end since last Fall.  Hopefully, I can get through that and finish it up.  Between that novel and my YA novel about a Viking sorceror, Seidhman, I really hope I can at least start making the rounds of YA publishers this coming year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cyberpunk, Fantasy, Romance, Viking, Young Adult

New story and more reviews coming in

So, I’ve been waffling back and forth between two story ideas, since finishing the first draft of my (still unnamed) cyberpunk story.  One is a Christmas story intended for submission to Dreamspinner for next year’s Advent Calendar anthology.  (Yes, it’s already open for submission.)  The other is just a light-hearted sex romp. 

The Christmas story began as a light comedy, but as I’ve developed the story further, it’s taken on a bittersweet romantic tone.  It has a happy ending, but as things got weirder in the story, I decided I wanted to mull it over a bit more, before writing it.  The sex romp — a story of two college roommates who agree to have sex in a porn video, tentatively called Zack and Larry Make a Porno — caught my interest, sheerly because it promised a bunch of raunchy fun.  So, that’s the one I’m currently working on.

Yes, I know — when Erich heard the title, he didn’t exactly groan, but he gave me an I-don’t-know-about-that-one look and said, “Something tells me, I’ve heard that title before.”  I assured him I’m covered under parody law.  I’m not sure I’ll use it, anyway.  But I probably will use the names Zack and Larry, so anyone familiar with the brilliant Kevin Smith film will get the joke. 

The story brings up another matter that’s been bothering me, though.  I don’t mind writing fluff…I guess.  But I like to think that my stories — even the ones with sex in them — are first and foremost good stories.  If they contain sex, then the sex is just something extra.  But it could be removed without damaging the story.  This, to me, is the distinction between erotic stories and porn.  I don’t mind porn, but I don’t think that’s really what I want to be known for.  I want people to read my stories and be caught up in the plot and the characters, and generally in the romance.  If someone happens to enjoy the sex scenes in the stories, great.  But that’s not my primary goal.

Is Zack and Larry more than just a loose framework for a bunch of porn scenes?  I wish I knew.  I have to admit, I’m enjoying the story because it’s raunchy.  But does it have any other redeeming value?  

I’m reminded of the explicit sex scene in John Cameron Mitchell’s Short Bus, in which Jamie, James and Ceth attempt a threesome.  The scene has to be explicit, because the humor revolves around the awkwardness of the situation, and the fact that our heroes have no idea what to stick where.  The scene is hilarious, and more importantly, it demonstrates how James and Jamie are trying desperately to save their relationship.  That’s what raises an explicit sex scene above the level of pornography: it’s an intrinsic part of the story.   

Hopefully, as I write it, the characters in Zack and Larry will take on a life of their own and there will be something going on between them that makes the story worth reading…as something other than masturbation material.

In other news, more reviews have come in for both The Christmas Wager and The Meaning of Vengeance.  Some good; some not so good.  The two worst reviews were 3 out of 5 stars, and both reviewers seemed to like the stories. 

The comment on The Christmas Wager was that it was “delightful,” but the major plot twists seemed forced.  This is, perhaps, a valid criticism.  I was less concerned with the plot in that story (which is, admittedly, rather formulaic) than I was with the romance developing between Thomas and Andrew.  This is, in fact, the real story.  It’s this story arc which requires action on the part of our heroes, in order to resolve successfully.  The story of the wager itself is resolved fairly easily.

The 3 star review on Vengeance was a little harder to fathom.  Apparently, he had thought the story was about the mafia, based upon its title, and that had intrigued him.  So he thought it was okay, but it wasn’t what he’d hoped it would be.  That’s fine, but it seems odd to me to read a story intended for a particular audience, then mark it down specifically because it was intended for that audience.  I didn’t write Vengeance for people who like stories about the mafia.  I wrote it for people who like Vikings.

On the plus side, The Christmas Wager has received two 5 star reviews from people who don’t generally like historicals, but fell in love with the characters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Romance, Victorian, Viking, Writing

Another good review!

The Meaning of Vengeance is doing very well, so far.  I just picked up another wonderful review from Jeff at!  My rating at Goodreads has climbed up to 4.25 out of 5 stars!

On the same site, The Christmas Wager has picked up one 5 star rating!  No reviews yet, but it was just released, of course.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that people like it as much as they seem to like Vengeance.

I have a friend currently reading my first draft of my as-yet-unnamed cyberpunk story, and in the meantime, I’m getting back to a Christmas short story idea I have for next years Advent Calendar anthology.  I might as well get most or all of it written while I’m still in the Christmas spirit. 

Of course, I find myself in the Christmas spirit about four times a year, but that’s beside the point.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Cyberpunk, Romance, Victorian, Viking, Writing

Another great review for “The Meaning of Vengeance”!

The review site BriefEncountersReviews has just released a review of The Meaning of Vengeance, giving the story a B+!

That makes the fourth review and/or reader feedback I’ve received, giving the story good marks.  I can’t say enough how delighted I am that this somewhat dark story seems to have to struck a chord with readers.  The Viking Age Iceland setting appears to interest people, at least because it’s unusual.  And the slow, careful development of the romance between the two characters has been commented on several times (in a good way). 

Last night, despite earlier problems with their website, Dreamspinner Press released my novella, The Christmas Wager.  This novella is very different from The Meaning of Vengeance, so I don’t know what kind of reception it will get.  It was really written as a fun exercise, to see if I could pull off a Christmas Regency (well, it ended up being Victorian, due to some elements I wanted to include), but with gay characters. 

It’s not an original idea.  The author, Erastes, had written a gay Regency novel called Standish, which I read and liked a lot, but it was very dark — so dark, in fact, that I had difficulty finishing it.  (Ultimately, I went back to it and I’m glad I did.)  At Dreamspinner, Connie Bailey and J.M. McLaughlin wrote a short story called Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, which I enjoyed.  I’m sure there are others — possibly a large number of others.  But at any rate, it was a fun exercise and I enjoyed writing it.  I was thrilled when it was accepted for publication. 

I’ve received a number of comments (in forums and such) that people are tired of Regencies, so I’m a little concerned about the reception of The Christmas Wager.  The same reviewers who like Vengeance might very well consider Wager to be trite and riddled with cliches.  I’m dreading a review like, “While his first story showed some promise, this latest offering by…whatever his name is…proves that we should never buy anything this author writes in the future.  Ever.  In fact, I think I’ll call the publisher right now and have him boycotted from publishing anything in the future.”



Filed under Gay Marriage, Viking, Writing

My first review!

The Meaning of Vengeance just received it’s first review, on a site called Goodreads!  It was a great review, by my estimation.  Not a perfect score, but four out of five stars, and the reviewer had nothing but praise for it.  The reviewer said it was well-written, with believable characters and “true emotions.”  I’m very excited to see somebody “getting” one of my stories, the first time out the gate.  I just hope other readers feel the same.  I was afraid the story might be too dark for a holiday story (though the ending is happy, of course).  But the reviewer comments on that and says it ends “Christmasy”!

The same review appeared on Reviews by Jessewave, as well.  I’m not really sure, which site originated it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Romance, Viking, Writing

My first check!

My first check for writing has arrived in the mail!  This is for my short story, “The Meaning of Vengeance,” and no, I can’t quit my job and become a full-time author, based on the amount.  But when Dreamspinner asked how I wanted to be paid, I chose to have a check sent in the mail, specifically because I wanted the moment I had last night — me walking through the door and Erich saying, “Here!  This will cheer you up!” as he hands me my first advance.

I almost don’t want to cash it.  But of course, I will.  Maybe we’ll go out to dinner.

1 Comment

Filed under Romance, Viking, Writing

Insecurity sets in

Reading through a galley proof of a soon-to-be-published work can, I’ve discovered, make you very insecure about your writing.  While I was looking over “The Meaning of Vengeance,” every bit of awkward phrasing, every cliched or often-used (by me) expression began to rear its ugly head.  (Look!  There’s another cliche!)  And it’s too late to fix it.  It’s on its way out the door.

By the time you get to the end of the manuscript, you wonder if anybody could possibly like this dreck. 

I’ve been through this before, when editing my stories.  Usually, it passes.  I’ll pick up the manuscript a month later and re-read it, and suddenly it seems really good.  How could I ever have doubted it?

Of, course, after I work on it for a while, it goes back to being dreck.

So, I’ve learned to ignore my manic-depressive mood swings concerning my writing — or at least try to — having faith that the final product will be good.  I’ve been honing my writing skills for a very long time now, and very little that I write is completely terrible.  Most, in fact, is pretty good. 

But this is the first time I’ve reviewed something that’s about to be published.  Soon, readers who aren’t friends of mine will be looking through those pages, noticing the awkward phrasing about Ari’s beard and hair (Is it just the beard that he keeps closely trimmed?  Or is his hair close-cropped, too?), and the bad line expressing Geirr’s doubts about Ari’s love.  Will the reader be disgusted and put it down?  Will they think my characters are dull and the romance unexciting?

Will they realize that the god, Frey, never really had antlers on his head in Norse mythology?!

Well, okay, that last one might be a bit esoteric…

Leave a comment

Filed under Romance, Viking, Writing