Tag Archives: writing

Taking the Plunge

386200_2673280425520_1061443511_32785704_1832786642_n.jpgAs of this weekend, I am now a full-time author.  In other words, I’ve quit my day job.

It’s a little scary.

Although I didn’t do too badly last year, in terms of royalties, it wasn’t enough to live off.  And halfway through this year, I’m way behind what I made last year.  But one thing has become very clear over the past few months:  I can’t continue working full-time and still have the kind of writing output I had last year.  It used to be that I would write on my lunch breaks, then come home and write in the evenings until bedtime.  But thanks to staffing issues at my job, that all changed this year.  Everyone was taking on more and more work and I was just too tired to write, when I got home.  My writing output during the work week dropped to nearly nothing, and I spent the weekends trying to catch up, and trying to maintain my beauty by going to spas and having beauty treatments, and even taking supplements for the skincare such as amazon vitamin c serum and others you can find online.

Fortunately, my husband makes a decent amount and can afford to cover expenses for the next year or two, while I see if I can ramp up my writing income.  And New Hampshire recognizes our marriage, so I’m covered under his health insurance, which is perfect since I take many supplements, so I’m cover in case of anything happen, but I’m still choose to be prepared by reading about the proflexoral side effects, or any of the other supplements I take.

I’m excited about this, of course, but also a bit anxious.  What happens if I can’t increase my output significantly?  What happens if my publisher stops buying my stuff?  What if no other publishers are interested in my writing?  What if Erich loses his job?

On the other hand, this is probably the best time for me to try this “experiment.”  We’re financially stable.  I have a publisher.  I have a decent track record with five (soon to be six—Billy’s Bones is in editing) full-length novels out and five shorter works.  And I have a husband who loves and supports me.

So, holding my breath… 1… 2… 3…

 

 

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“Billy’s Bones” has been contracted!

KevinI just signed a contract with Dreamspinner for my psychological drama, Billy’s Bones!  For those who haven’t been following my progress on that novel, here’s the “blurb” I sent in my cover letter:

Kevin Derocher was just thirty-two when he walked into Tom’s office, newly married, a baby on the way, and the collar of his red flannel shirt pulled up in an attempt to hide the bruises around his throat caused by hanging himself in his garage.  After this initial encounter, therapist Tom Langois is convinced he’ll never see Kevin again, until the man turns up three years later to make repairs on Tom’s new house.

The two men become fast friends and Tom begins to suspect that Kevin may be interested in more than just friendship.  But Kevin is haunted by something from his distant childhood—something so terrible that he’s blocked it from his mind.  Not only do these suppressed memories make it impossible for Kevin to get close to anyone without panicking and lashing out, sometimes violently, but as they begin to surface, it becomes apparent that Kevin may hold the key to the disappearance of a boy from his neighborhood twenty-five years ago.

The picture on the left is what I pictured Kevin looking like.  Tom looks like this guy:

TomWe’re looking at a release date sometime in late July or maybe early August!

So this week I decided to go back and re-read the novel.  I’d already had a conversation with my mother, who is a psychologist with experience treating PTSD, and I learned that I’d handled several things incorrectly in the therapy scenes.  Or you might say I had Tom and Susan doing things the way they used to be done, and psychology has learned a thing or two since then.  For example, it’s no longer considered essential (by many therapists) to pressure the client to remember suppressed memories.  That can cause them more trauma than simply leaving things alone.  And giving someone something to relax him, such as Valium, before experiencing a possible trigger in a controlled setting isn’t as good an idea as I’d thought.  It can do additional harm by distorting the memories further.  (Some therapists don’t believe in repressed memories, but my mother has worked with enough cases to take them seriously.)

So I sent Mom the specific scenes in question to get some feedback on how to make them more realistic.  Hopefully, since the novel is already contracted, we’re just talking about tweaking things a little.  In the future, I’ll remember:  always check with Mom!

In re-reading the novel, I’m still finding it engrossing.  But Tom is seeming a bit more like an asshole than I remembered.  My beta readers didn’t seem to hate him, so maybe I’m just seeing him from a bad angle at the moment.  But I may try to make him a bit less pushy in edits.

Of course, the really frustrating thing about re-reading a novel after it’s been submitted, but before the first edits come in from the editors is that the typos and mistakes I find, I can’t correct.

How on earth did I not notice that I’d failed to capitalize one sentence?

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A Day in the Life of a Writer

So let’s say you’ve decided to make a go of writing full-time.  You might imagine that your work day would consist of sitting at your computer for long stretches of time, busily writing.  After all, you’re a writer!  Isn’t that what writers do?

Well, I’ve had a busy day doing pretty much all writing-related stuff and it occurred to me that it might be of interest to someone contemplating the life of non-stop excitement and adventure that I’ve embarked upon.  Keep in mind that I still work full-time in the tech support industry, so this is all in my “free” time, at the moment.  This was how I spent my Saturday.  Not that I’m complaining.  I love it.  The temptation to play computer games is always hovering at the edge of my consciousness, taunting me (and occasionally seducing me), but the writing and editing is in fact fun.

But it’s also a lot of work.

  • Last night, I finished going over the final galley proof of my YA novel and emailed that off to my editor.  That doesn’t count for what I did today, of course, but this morning I remembered a couple things I’d forgotten, so I sent a couple emails to straighten that out.  That novel will come out March 1st!
  • I also received an email from a reviewer who’d been nice enough to host a giveaway of another one of my YA novels.  She’d picked a winner and was forwarding the email address to me, so I could send the eBook to that person.  I sent the email, of course.  And I was charming as all get-out.  
  • Murderous Requiem has gone into the editing phase.  Yay!  I received the first wave of edits from Dreamspinner and now I have to go through the manuscript and accept or reject the changes… and explain why I rejected them, if I do that.  I have a lot of respect for my editors and I think they’ve really improved my writing over time, by pointing out passive sentences and suggesting ways to make them more dynamic, as well as forcing me to review awkward phrasings and strange word choices.  But sometimes we disagree.  I may prefer the way I wrote the sentence originally, or I might have a reason for using a particular phrasing.  One of the big battles in By That Sin Fell the Angels was over capitalization of pronouns referencing God and Jesus.  The Chicago Manual of Style says they shouldn’t be capitalized.  After all, the King James Bible doesn’t capitalize them.  However, I based the church in that book on the Assembly of God churches I attended as a teenager in New Mexico and Texas.  They capitalize.  A lot.  Just listen to an Assembly of God pastor talking about Jesus and you can hear the capitalization.   Their website is covered with capital letters.  So I fought for that one.  But I digress….  Anyway, the edits have to be done by this coming Wednesday.
  • I was contacted by a fellow author who had read The Dogs of Cyberwar and wanted to let me know that she’d reviewed it, and also wanted to chew me out for the cliff-hanger ending.  I assured her that I would get back to Dogs as soon as this current novel I’m writing was done.  She’ll have to get in line behind all the other people who want to strangle me for the ending on Dogs.  Does this count as work?  It was a pleasant email chat with a friend.  But still, writing-related.  And yay!  A review!  (Thanks, Angel!)
  • Speaking of my current novel—or as we sophisticated writer-types like to call it, WIP (Work In Progress)—it’s lagging behind.  I’d promised my publisher I’d have it done by the beginning of March.  Now I’m certain that isn’t going to happen, so I had to hang my head in shame and ask for an extension, until the end of March.  Fortunately, she was gracious.  
  • Then I wrote a scene and realized I was going in the wrong direction.  It wasn’t bad, but it meant I had to change the direction I’d wanted to go in for that character, which really didn’t make sense.  So I spent some time brainstorming with my husband to see how I might get things back on track.  Fortunately, it didn’t involve throwing out what I’d written, but I now have to go back and write some stuff leading up to it and change what’s coming after it.
  • Then I played Morrowind.  (Scratch that!  It never happened!)
  • I updated the list I’m keeping of things that need to be done.  It includes interviews I’m doing, bloghops, submitting published novels for consideration in various awards, miscellaneous promotional stuff, etc.  I currently have about fifteen open items to keep track of.  
  • I did some brainstorming about my next YA novel, a somewhat surreal sci-fi adventure.
  • I submitted two novels to the Rainbow Awards.  (Last year, one of my YA novels got two honorable mentions.)
  • So how much writing did I actually get done today?  It actually wasn’t a banner day for writing.  Let’s say about 1,000 words.  A good day for me is about 2,000 words.  But if I can manage 1,000 a day for the next few weeks, I’ll make my deadline, at least.  

So that was my day.  I’m sure other writers are much busier than I am.  I certainly know writers who have more output, but I’m not too unhappy with the amount of actual writing I do.  I have slow days and fast days, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I managed about 150,000 words of new material last year, not counting editing.  If I calculate that out for 52 five-day weeks, then that means I wrote about 600 words a day.  I can easily increase that, if I were doing this full-time.  We’ll just see how things go.

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Even in gay romance, love does not always have to equal anal sex

WARNING:  What follows is a frank discussion about my views on the use of anal sex in the M/M genre.  If that sounds icky to you, don’t read it.

This came up when I was writing Billy’s Bones about a man who had repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse.  Since he had a history of sexual abuse, it would be ludicrous (and incredibly insensitive) for me to end with him and his lover having anal intercourse.  That is in fact something he might never feel comfortable doing, even if they remain a loving couple for the rest of their lives.

Yet this is a standard part of the M/M romance formula.  I’ve actually been criticized by readers for not always following this formula “correctly,” and it’s now become a pet peeve of mine.

The formula is basically this:  the couple meets and falls in love, often having various kinds of sex along the way—mutual masturbation, handjobs, blowjobs, 69s, etc.  And then comes the Big Moment, the moment where they truly share themselves with one another.  One man opens himself up to the other, allowing full anal penetration, and in the moment of orgasm, they are joined heart and soul and truly become one!

Yeah.  Right.

I’ve apparently violated this formula in two different ways.  The first was when I failed to get there fast enough.  I constructed a careful escalation of sexual experimentation that progressed through mutual masturbation next to one another (no touching) to masturbating each other t0 masturbating while kissing, etc.  I thought it was damned hot, but a reader dismissed it as, “It’s nothing but mutual masturbation!”

The next crime I committed (in the same story, in fact) was when their experience of anal intercourse occurred in front of other people, who offered them money to take it to the next level.  The characters agree and then discover that they really like it, forgetting about everybody in the room but each other.  This was apparently disgusting, because they would never agree to do something that intimate and emotional in front of other people!

Frankly I was shocked by both responses (from different people).  Mutual masturbation is my favorite sexual activity (Stop reading, Mom!) and even though I like anal sex, I’ve never liked it that much.  It’s just one of the many ways people can enjoy having sex with each other.  Given a choice, I think 69 is definitely the best way to go.  There’s a penis right there for me to play with, at the same time that someone’s playing with my penis!  It’s awesome!

As far as having sex in front of people…I had a housemate who was paid $500 to have sex with her boyfriend on camera.  She didn’t seem terribly traumatized by it.  I myself have had sex with a crowd of people watching.  (Shy?  Not me.)  Would I have been willing to try something new in front of that audience?  If it didn’t hurt, sure.  Why not?

Not all M/M novels are culminate with anal intercourse, of course.  But I’ve just read a couple more recently that promote this trope.  It didn’t ruin the novels for me, but I definitely find it irksome.

Somebody once suggested that the whole “anal sex is the ultimate form of love” thing is a holdover from straight romance novels, in which “going all the way” — i.e., full vaginal penetration — is reserved for special moments in the novel, such as the final love scene or even held off until after the novel, when our hero and heroine are safely married.  That’s not really the case anymore with straight romance, any more than it is with gay romance, but it seems to be embedded in the psyche of many readers.

The truth of the matter is, there’s nothing special about anal sex.  Yes, some people — both male and female — enjoy it.  Many even prefer it.  I’ve heard one gay man describe it as the sort of melding one reads about it M/M novels.  But for me?  No.  It was fun.  That’s it.  Angels didn’t sing.  Some of my previous boyfriends hated it, as do many gay men.  They thought it was filthy and disgusting.

Yes, that’s right:  a lot of gay men hate having anal intercourse.

Oh, yeah.  I said it.  We’re not all cookie-cutter robots who like the same things.  Go figure.

I do occasionally include anal sex in my novels, but not always.  It isn’t always appropriate.  Certainly it wouldn’t be appropriate in a novel about a rape survivor and frankly I think I would be offended by a plot in which his lover felt compelled to teach him “how to enjoy” anal sex, as if that was particularly “healing” and there were no alternatives they could engage in.  That possibility did cross my mind as I was contemplating how to end the novel and I immediately rejected it.

While I’m on the subject, I also recommend against including anal intercourse in YA novels.  Not because of the sex part.  I expect anyone writing a YA novel to hold back on explicit detail anyway, of course.  But in terms of what two teenagers would try on their first fumbling attempts at sex…?  It’s possible, but I would say they probably wouldn’t.  It’s kind of scary for young men who have never tried it before.  (I did in fact ask my first boyfriend to try it with me, when I was nineteen, because I was more adventuresome than he was.  It hurt; we stopped.)

So once again, I’m not necessarily saying everyone should stop using anal sex in M/M novels.  But I really think there’s a little too much emphasis on it, as if it represents the ultimate merging of souls for two men.  It can be that, just as any sexual act can be for two people who are in love.

But that’s just my point.  It doesn’t have to be anal sex.  There are other possibilities.

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Just finished “Billy’s Bones”

I finally finished the contemporary psychological drama I’ve been calling Billy’s Bones (awful, awful title!) and several friends are reading it to tell me if it’s any good.  I’m really not sure.  I like the first half, but it gets very grim in the second half.  Ever read the beginning of Alice Sebold‘s The Lovely Bones?  That’s about the level of grim I’m talking about.  To a lesser extent it resembles the revelation of Tom’s repressed memories of “Callanwolde” in The Prince of Tides (considerably toned down in the film version).  Not exactly what most people expect in a romance novel.

I should have seen it coming, of course.  I came up with this plot centered around repressed memories of sexual abuse and murder, and then when I came to the part where the repressed memories begin to surface, I thought, “I could have the character tell the story to his therapist or his lover (who is actually the viewpoint character), but it would be far more dramatic to show it in a flashback!”

Yeah, great idea.

Except that I soon realized that what I was writing was too horrific to describe in any kind of detail.  There’s a reason that I tend to use crimes against children to represent evil in my novels:  I find them absolutely horrifying.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  So there’s a fine line between being boring by not dramatizing it and showing too much by dramatizing it.  It wasn’t my intention to write a horror novel.

So I wrote the scene out, but didn’t go into graphic detail.  We’ll see what my friends say, when they read it.

The other potential problem is that my viewpoint character (Tom) almost disappeared in the last quarter of the novel, as Kevin works with the police to piece things together.  I had to go back and make sure he said something now and then to remind readers that he was still there.  I don’t know if that worked.  We’ll see.

What all of this demonstrates is that I can’t write in a vacuum — at least, not all of the time.  While I’m working on the first draft, I don’t let anyone look at it.  I generally have a sense of whether it’s good or not and I like to think I’m a fairly good storyteller.  At that stage, I don’t want people injecting their opinions.  But as soon as that first draft is done, I lose the confidence I had while writing.  Sometimes my ego is too fragile for criticism for a week or so, as my husband has learned, but fairly soon after the first draft is done, I need feedback to tell me if the story came out any good or if it should be scrapped.

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New Year’s Dreams and Resolution

My goal for the past couple years, ever since The Christmas Wager was accepted for publication, has been to become a full-time writer.  As I’ve discovered over the past year, there are three parts to this, and they aren’t necessarily connected:

1)  Write a lot.

2)  Sell your stories to a publisher.

3)  Sell your stories to readers.

Over the past year, I’ve knuckled down and begun writing in earnest.  Since the beginning of the year, I estimate I’ve written about 150,000 to 200,000 words.  That’s finished, polished words — good words — that ended up in final drafts.  Those words have been in two complete novels (50,000 and 65,000 words respectively) and a 23,000 word novella, plus finishing up other novels I started before January.  It isn’t the copious output of some writers I know, but it’s pretty good, especially considering the fact that I’ve done it on top of working full-time in the computer industry.  Basically, I was coming home most nights, having dinner with my husband, and then retreating to my office to write.  I say “most nights,” because there were periods when I just couldn’t do this — generally after I’d finished a month or so of work on a novel and just needed a break.  Then I played a lot of computer games, like CSGO, using the best gaming mouse for csgo I found online.  And there were nights when my husband and I spent time together, of course.  Making Erich wonder if he’d be better off married to a dakimakura isn’t part of the plan.

But overall I consider that goal to have been obtained.

As far as selling them goes, I’ve done well on that front as well.  I’ve sold everything I’ve submitted, which includes four full-length novels and that novella I mentioned.  This may not always be the case, of course — markets can dry up, publishers can decide your work simply doesn’t sell, all kinds of things can happen.  But that’s the case with all jobs.  There are no guarantees.  So for now, I’ll just say I’m doing well in that area.

The last one is the tricky one, at least for me.  I tend to get pretty good reviews.  Sure, there are bad ones mixed in here and there, but for the most part, I think I fare pretty well.  But good reviews doesn’t necessarily translate into good sales.  I had a couple really good quarters at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, in which We’re Both Straight, Right? was still selling very well.  That gave me a lot of optimism to start off the new year, but then my royalties started dwindling.  Not to nothing.  I’m still making more per quarter than I made for my very first quarter, when The Christmas Wager and The Meaning of Vengeance came out.

So on the plus side, I can honestly say that my earnings from writing have increased five-fold per year, since I began.  That sounds pretty impressive.  But in fact most of the money that came in this year — I’d say about four fifths of it — came from advances on my novels.  And the problem with that is, I probably won’t be able to increase my writing output substantially over the coming year, which means I can’t count on selling more than I have for this year.  Maybe.  But not all that likely.

So that leaves me with income from royalties.  And that’s a total unknown.  What sells and what doesn’t sell is something that not even publishers can predict.  My next release might be a huge best-seller.  Or it might languish in obscurity.  I had high hopes for By That Sin Fell the Angels.  It’s gritty, emotional, controversial, timely… That should be a formula for success, right?  Well, not so much.  Again, good reviews, but it doesn’t appear to be selling.  I could be wrong — I haven’t actually seen the sales figures yet.  But judging by the attention it got on sites like Goodreads, I’d say probably not.

This must sound like a huge pity party, but it’s not.  (Well, not much.)  I’m being confronted by a harsh reality here:

Even if my books sell to publishers, that doesn’t mean they’ll sell to readers.   

And if they don’t sell to readers, how long will they continue to sell to publishers?  Perhaps not long.  Publishers need to make back their investment.

It’s possible of course that my next book, or the one after that, will be the one—the book that suddenly strikes a chord with readers and lifts me out of obscurity.  But that’s impossible to predict, and I’ve never been the type of person who puts much stock in winning the lottery.  I’ve always pinned my hopes upon succeeding through skill and talent, which I do believe I have.

I know other authors who don’t hit the best-seller lists (meaning, in the M/M corner of the world, that they sell over 2,000 copies a month — something I can’t conceive of, right now), but have still managed to do all right by having a lot of books out and selling enough copies of each to make it worthwhile.  Perhaps I’ll end up falling into that category.

It’s also possible that I’m simply writing in the wrong genre.  This is something my husband has been pushing me to consider lately.  By That Sin Fell the Angels is really a fairly mainstream novel.  So is Murderous Requiem, if I took the sex out of it.  It seems that more and more, when people ask for books to include in this or that romance novel giveaway or some such,  I’m finding myself holding back, because my novels don’t really fit what they’re looking for.  I love the M/M genre, but perhaps I don’t really write M/M.  So perhaps I should start branching out to other markets.  But the one thing I refuse to do is turn my gay protagonists straight to please mainstream publishers.  That would quickly kill any passion I have for the craft.

So this is a sober New Year’s for me, in this regard.  The excitement I felt at this time last year, when my royalties checks were growing by leaps and bounds, has faded as they dwindled again.  I’m certainly not giving up writing.  I love it.  And I still find it immensely rewarding.  But I can no longer say with confidence that my future as a writer is particularly promising.  So my New Year’s resolution is simply this:

To continue writing and honing my abilities as a writer, so that I’m putting the best I can offer out there on the market.

And I’ll just have to see what happens.

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“Murderous Requiem” has been contracted!

Murderous RequiemSounds a bit like a disease, doesn’t it?  But no.  I’ve signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for my occult mystery novel, Murderous Requiem!

As anyone who’s been following my blog or facebook page knows, I’ve been fretting about the marketability of this book for a long, long time.  It has a lot of sex, some of it rather raunchy, and more importantly a lot of occult information concerning ceremonial magick that could make some readers uncomfortable.  There is a romance between the main character and his ex-boyfriend, but since they’re in a sort of “free-love” commune environment, they have sex with other people while they’re working things out with each other.  Some readers don’t like that.  There are also some parts that cross over into horror.

I wasn’t sure if Dreamspinner would like it, because it doesn’t fit the classic romance model.  But they publish a wide variety of stories, so it was worth submitting it to them to see.  And now I have a contract!  Yay!

No info on a release date at this stage, but I’ll let everyone know when I have something.  Incidentally, the “cover” design to the left isn’t official and definitely won’t be the cover.  I cobbled that together from pictures I found on the Internet and used it as my “cover” for NaNoWriMo a couple years ago.

In related news, I did not win NaNoWriMo this year.  I didn’t even come close.  But I did get a start on my YA novel, Dreams of Fire and Gods book three, and re-wrote the ending of Dreams of Fire and Gods book two.  Trust me, the new ending is infinitely better than it was when I submitted it.  I’m very lucky that my publisher was understanding enough to humor me, when I asked her if I could resubmit the epilogue after we’d already signed the contract.  I also finished most of the edits on Dreams of Fire and Gods book one — we’re at the galley proof stage now.  That one will be released through Harmony Ink Press on December 15th.

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Filed under Fantasy, gay, Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing, Young Adult

Guest Blogger: Sue Brown

It’s a first!  I’m hosting a guest blogger this week — fellow author and long-distance friend (she lives in the UK), Sue Brown.  I could say wonderful things about her (I certainly enjoy her writing!), but I’ll let her speak for herself.  After the blog, she’s been kind enough to supply us with a short bio and an excerpt from her current novel, The Isle of… Where?, which is available through Dreamspinner Press.

I am asked on a regular basis how I can write gay romance. Actually what they normally say is gay porn and that’s the point I roll my eyes and contemplate tearing their heads off.

Let me say this slooooowly.

I don’t write gay porn. Ro-mance. Re-la-tion-ships.  Okay?

With men.

Yes, with men.

Two men.

You’re on the ball today. Yes, with two men.  Sometimes more. Otherwise it would be het or femme fiction.

But why men? You’re a woman.

So good of you to notice. What gave it away?

Why don’t you write about a man and a woman?

Because I don’t want to.

But…

Yes?

They’re men. Isn’t that icky?

Did you mean sticky? Hopefully.

There’s usually a horrified face at this point. I’m good. I don’t point out that het sex is icky too. Still have bodily fluids, chaps.

So… how do you know what happens?

What happens?

You know…

Is this twenty questions? You’re an adult. Ask a bloody straight question.

You know, between two men?

Are we back to sex again?

*whispers* How do you know what they do?

Me. I can keep a straight face now. IKEA produce a guide. Stick cock A in hole B. It’s a fantastic guide. Not in English of course and the diagrams are bizarre but you can still recognize the…

You’re taking the piss, aren’t you?

Oh yeah.

I was only asking. No need to be sarky.

At this point my companion used to stop, but now, oh no, the torture doesn’t stop there. It carries on… and on.

You write sex?

Haven’t we just been there? Yes I write sex.

Why don’t you write…

Please don’t say it, please, please, please don’t  say it…

Fifty Shades of Grey.

You had to frigging say it, didn’t you?

Well?

Because it’s been written already.

But you could make millions.

Plagiarism. Heard of that?

But…

Look, I don’t write het and I don’t write BDSM.

But…

And if you say Brokeback I am going to kill you. Slowly, painfully and you are going to wish you’d never brought the subject up. Do you understand?

You’re very touchy, aren’t you?

Yes, yes I am.

So there we are, folks. Identikit questions. Identikit answers.

The next topic of conversation is the book that is burning inside of every person who discovers I’m a writer. I have a very short answer to that.

Author Bio: Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has got expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

She can be found at her website, her Facebook, and twitter.

The Isle of… Where?

Blurb:

When Liam Marshall’s best friend, Alex, loses his fight with colon cancer, he leaves Liam one final request: buy a ticket to Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, and scatter Alex’s ashes off the pier. Liam is tired, worn out, and in desperate need of a vacation, but instead of sun, sea, sand, and hot cabana boys, he gets a rickety old train, revolting kids, and no Ewan MacGregor.

Liam would have done anything for his friend, but fulfilling Alex’s final wish means letting go of the only family Liam had left. Lost, he freezes on the pier… until Sam Owens comes to his rescue.

Sam’s family has vacationed on the Isle of Wight every year for as long as he can remember, but he’s never met anyone like Liam. Determined to make Liam’s vacation one to remember, Sam looks after him—in and out of the bedroom. He even introduces Liam to his entire family. But as Sam helps Liam let go, he’s forced to admit that he wants Liam to hang on—not to his old life, but to Sam and what they have together.

Excerpt:

The beach was empty, miles of golden sand laid out for them to dig up. It was also freezing, and Liam shivered. It hadn’t occurred to him to bring a jacket, and the wind whipping off the sparkling waves sucked any heat from the sun.

“You’re shivering,” Sam said unnecessarily. “Here.” He slipped off the hoodie he was wearing, holding it out so that Liam could slip it over his head.

“Then you’ll get cold,” Liam pointed out.

“Put it on,” Sam insisted.

Giving in, because he was fucking freezing, Liam tugged on the soft gray hoodie. It drowned him a little, but it was warm and Liam didn’t care. He cared even less when he looked up and saw the open lust in Sam’s eyes.

“You like me wearing your clothes, huh?”

Sam swallowed and Liam had the feeling that if they weren’t in the open, Sam would have jumped him. As it was, he got up close, too close.

“I wanna fuck you wearing that hoodie and nothing else,” Sam whispered in Liam’s ear, his hot breath ghosting over Sam’s neck. There was no need to whisper, no one was in earshot, but it was hot as hell, and Liam couldn’t help the hitch of breath or the moan that escaped him. But because Sam was talking about fucking, Liam had to retort.

“Just remember, I do the fucking.”

“If you wear this hoodie and your arse is bare, I don’t care who fucks who.”

Liam swallowed hard. Sam chuckled and brushed a quick kiss over his lips.

“Sandcastles.”

“Huh?” Liam was soaking up the way Sam filled his senses. Words took a while longer to process.

To his regret, Sam took a step back. “Sandcastles,” he repeated. “Otherwise things could get interesting out here, and much as people like me, I don’t think they’d forgive a display of bare-arsed man-loving in a hurry.”

Sadly, Sam was probably right, and Liam had to postpone the thought of throwing Sam down on the sand for another time. It didn’t occur to him until much later that he was already planning to spend more time with Sam.

Sam jogged back to Molly and picked up the kids’ buckets and spades from the pea-sized trunk. Liam had been firmly corrected and told it was the boot. Whatever. It was still miniscule.

He handed Liam the purple spade and the orange bucket, keeping rainbow ones for himself. When Liam protested, Sam just gave him a look.

“You got my hoodie. Now stop complaining.”

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Getting Depressed For Fun and Profit

Well, not very depressed.  More like the kind of delicious depression we settle into when we watch a movie like Brokeback Mountain or read a book like A Separate Peace.

With the first edits done on Saturn in Retrograde, I’ve begun another project, tentatively called Billy’s Bones.  (Not a great title, so I’ll probably change it.)   Like By That Sin Fell the Angels, which I can’t wait to begin editing, this is a contemporary, and I’m going for a stark, realistic feel.  Unlike By That Sin…, it’s a romance, so I’m hoping it will appeal to a wider audience.

Billy’s Bones is about a psychologist (Tom) and the suicidal patient (Kevin) he treats at the beginning of the novel.  Kevin bails on the counseling, when things get too intense for him, but Tom meets up with him again years later, after buying a house in the country and discovering that Kevin is one of his neighbors.  The two begin to fall in love (of course), but Kevin is haunted by repressed memories of a tragic series of events in his childhood and he can never be happy until the secret he’s buried is uncovered.

I won’t give specifics about the Deep Dark Secret, but really there aren’t a lot of childhood traumas to choose from in a story like this.  We’re pretty much stuck with sexual abuse, physical violence in various forms, or traumatic events such as car accidents or fires.

As much as I love fantasy and science fiction, there’s something immensely satisfying about delving deep into the psyches of ordinary people who just happen to be screwed up.  Not screwed up to the point of being serial killers (I went through a phase of loving serial killer books and films in college, and I’m pretty much done with that), but screwed up in a way that a lot of people are.  Just magnify it a bit.

 

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“Saturn in Retrograde” has been accepted for publication!

This is the fastest I’ve ever received an acceptance of a submission: 6 days!  But it probably has more to do with deadline pressure than my brilliant writing:  Dreamspinner wants the anthology to be released in early June.

I’m very excited about it!  Not only did Saturn in Retrograde turn out to be something I’m rather proud of, but a release in June keeps me in the public eye.  It’s bad to go more than a year between releases, if you’re trying to build up a readership (or at least I’ve read that the “magic number” in the publishing world is a new release in not more than a year and a half, if you don’t want people to forget about you).  And although I did have a release in December (The Dogs of Cyberwar), and it garnered some nice reviews, it didn’t sell particularly well.  Seiðman will possibly be released this year, but I’m not sure yet.  So a new release in June is good.

In the meantime, I’ve been struggling with Shinosuke again, my re-telling of a 17th-century samurai love story.  I’ve written about five thousand words in the past two weeks, which is hardly a great pace.  It’s been pretty awful, in fact.  I was blaming the slow progress in the first week on having my attention focused on getting Saturn in Retrograde out the door, but I don’t have much to blame the slow progress of the past week on.  I have a handle on the manners of the period, now.  At least, enough so that I don’t have to worry about it constantly.  And I like the story.  But for some reason, it’s hard to write it.

I guess the only thing is to keep plugging away at it.

In other news, Dreamspinner Press is hosting a workshop for its writers in New York City this week and I’ll be there!  I’ll be hopping on board a train with my friend, Claire Curtis (who needs to be there for moral support — travel gives me panic attacks), Thursday, at 9:17am in that wretched time of day some more optimistic people like to call “morning” and returning Sunday night.  No doubt, I will achieve some kind of writerly enlightenment somewhere in the middle.

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