Accidental Serial: It’s not the same as spilling hot oatmeal on you lap like I already did this morning

The idea for Getting Him Back (which has a shiny new cover from Carina as a result of the accidental serialization I’m talking about) was one of those random plot bunnies. It hopped in while I was driving to a seasonal job, listening to Steve Grand in the car. The next morning, it had teeth and it wasn’t hopping anywhere.

It felt like something light and novella length and I felt Carina would be an awesome home for it so I sent off a proposal (with a synopsis that proved to be about as accurate as a thirteenth century map of the world). The characters, though, were even more fun than that bunny had promised. I loved Ethan and fell for Wyatt just like he did. As I got near the ending, my critique group said, “Are you writing another novella with them? You’ve got potential for a series here.”

“A series? You mean like about their friends?”

“Duh, about them.”

0816_9781460397459 _BoyfriendMaterial_Web

My crit group pulls no punches, which is why they are awesome.

But I’d never written a series continuing with the same characters. How did you do that unless there were external plot problems to be solved? But they saw my weakness. Wyatt.

“You could do that one all from Wyatt’s point of view.”

I looked at my packed tight plans and schedules for books to be written and proposed and released.

“You could do it in a couple weeks,” they enabled assured  me.

When the fabulous Angela James (my editor at Carina) read Getting Him Back, she suggested a second book too.

Again, I launched into the story completely intending to wrap up everything with a shiny bow at the end.

Angela and critique, “Is there more?”

Well, yeah, there is. They’re happy for now, but they’re also nineteen. They have issues. So my one little bunny has done what bunnies often do if you let them. Here’s hoping we all get a nice bow after Ethan and Wyatt tell me what happens during their summer sublet, but I’m not holding my breath. Or apparently holding my oatmeal bowl correctly.

 

 

 

 

Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth

Have you heard we’ve gone a bit “post” queer?

I’m at the national RWA (Romance Writers of America) in Manhattan. It’s been absolutely amazing. I just got back from the Harlequin Ball and my feet ache from dancing but I had so much fun. It was terrific to see A.M. Arthur’s gorgeous cover for Finding Their Way up on the big screen with titles like The Billionaire’s Bargain. Tomorrow, at the awards ceremony, two books by gay romance authors are up for the “Oscar of romance writing,” something I didn’t think I’d see when I started selling gay romance eight years ago. (And I am going to go crazy happy to hear their names tomorrow.)

Today I was on a panel with some other fabulous writers (and a brilliant editor) talking about constructing authentic queer (LGBTQAI) characters. One of the points we raised was that things have changed regarding our (queer people’s) legal standing. It’s harder to fire us (in some states). We have marriage equality. Some people no longer struggle with their queer identity, so it’s important to be aware of that when constructing conflict for contemporary queer characters. Obviously for those characters who live in places or times where they risk their lives by being openly queer, things are different.
However, one conflict remains consistent. As my fellow panelist Radclyffe pointed out, something that cannot be achieved by laws protecting our equality is acceptance by our family and friends. Coming out to people still holds the risk of losing people close to you.

Sorry for burying the lead. If you’re still with me, let me show you the “ante” queer turn my life took when I got home for the party.

My wife is here with me. She’s touring New York mostly, but as I’ve made many friends among the romance-writing community, she’s become friends with those writers too. When I got home, she told me about running into one of my/our oldest “friends.”

This friend just signed her first contract with a publisher after years (16 of them) of trying. I was thrilled for her. Over the years, I’ve helped anyway I could with brainstorming and advice and support. It’s what we writers do for each other. Especially for friends.

This friend saw my wife in the lobby and exclaimed that it had been years since she’d seen my wife. We’ve missed the last two national conferences. My wife, recounting locations, mentioned that we were at Gay Rom Lit in Atlanta the same year RWA national was in Atlanta though not at the same time. Adopting a wise tone, our friend said, “Well, that’s smart. There’s really nothing for you here.”

Nope, nothing here for us queers. Not RITA award nominations for books with queer characters, not panels for current and aspiring writers of queer characters, and not all the readers and writers of queer romance I’ve talked to this week. Definitely not the fun I had with the rest of the authors at the party tonight. The one given by a publisher whose name is synonymous with romance novels.

So just an update for everyone who came to the panel, things might not be as “post” queer as we thought. When your queer characters feel like they’re living their lives equal to everyone else, someone will come along to remind them they’re not. And it will probably be someone with the ability to cut, just when they thought that wasn’t going to happen again. The panel had a word for this, microaggression, which is preferable to lots of aggression, but it tears a bit into a character’s psyche. And from a friend, it’s disappointing.

I will, of course, be like Daryl, but inside I wanted to go all Cookie. Especially as it bothered my wife.

And I Think to Myself

And I Think to Myself

Sometimes the world sucks, and I think it’s never going to change.  I stomp around and say, “People are why we can’t have nice things.” Then something cool happens. And I think maybe people aren’t so impossible after all.

Every year the Romance Writers of America give out their trademarked RITA award for best romance books. The books are judged by other romance writers in a bunch of different categories, kind of like the Oscars, but no one has ever taken out an ad that I know of that says “For your RITA consideration.” The one which I’ve always thought of as equivalent to the “Best Picture” award is in the category “Long Contemporary.”

Let me give you a little background of some personal experience with the Romance Writers of America. It was founded in the 1980s in Texas. About ten years ago, some members were outraged enough by the mere existence of happy-ever-afters happening for poly couples that those members tried to have the whole group vote on the definition of romance as one man, one woman. Sound familiar to anyone? A bunch of big-name authors came out against that stupidity and it never came to pass. But I’m sure you can imagine the resistance when gay romance started gaining steam. In fact, four years ago, a local chapter of RWA tried to say gay romance couldn’t be entered in their local contest. Initially, appealing to the mothership got us nowhere. Then pressure built through social media and they ended up canceling their contest.

So here we are in 2015. The finalist for the RITAs were announced today. And in that big, heavy duty category, the “Best Picture” of romance novels, is Fever Pitch, by Heidi Cullinan. Yup. A big ol’ gay romance waving at us from the top of the heap. For good reason, it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I could not put that book down. If you haven’t read it, go do that. It’s totally awesome.

I am so excited and thrilled for Heidi. I’m going to be at the awards ceremony jumping to my feet and cheering when she wins. And I’m so proud of the changes our books have been able to make on the world. An awesome love story can really do that.

What a wonderful world.

(Note for Heidi: You made Walter proud. Note for everyone: you’ll get this if you go read the book. Go, do that. )

ETA: Holy crap! Gay romance is all over the RITA finalist list! YAY! Four books and counting.

Even Hermits Get Cabin Fever–Central NY Invitation

Being locked inside with nothing to do but write has always been my dream job. I love it. I love it even more when the words and stories are flying at me like they are right now. So who knew there would finally come a winter where I was sick of being trapped in my oh-my-god-so-desperate-I-cleaned-it office?

fuckwinter wallpaper

It’s hit. I’m done. I love winter. I do, but I’m tired of it. Tired of the cold and the ice and the wind that makes walking outside impossible. Lucky for me, I have an invitation to go out in the world and talk about creating characters. So it’s like playing with imaginary friends outside! YAY!

Saturday, March 7, I’m going to be giving a presentation on characterization to the Central New York Romance Writers at the Northern Adirondack Public Library at North Syracuse, 100 Trolley Barn Lane, N. Syracuse, NY.

The presentation is from 2-4, but I’m planning to stick around afterward to chat with people and would love to meet any readers or fellow hermits sick of the weather who want to show up. I’ll have books, swag and even a gift or two if you make the voyage out into the cold. No purchase necessary to partake in a little respite from hermiting! I promise to stay at the library until at least 4:20. If you think you might stop by, please email or comment.

I’m With Stupid

To borrow a little from someone who knew how to bring it, it is a truth universally acknowledged that all writers are crazy. Actually, if you want to quote my wife, we’re “all fucken crazy” which is what she texted me after she heard her favorite author—no, not me—Diana Gabaldon speak.

I feel like I should save that heading and use it every time I have an example for it. (Done!)

I love funny print T-shirts. The more thinky the better. So when this came up in my tweet stream yesterday, I thought it would make an awesome T-shirt.

Kieran's tshirt

Then I immediately wanted to get it for Kieran. A fictional character. My fictional character in my WIP. See above, “all fucken crazy.” Because I kept insisting to myself that not only is it perfect for him, especially where he is—I am—we are—in the book, I think he would wear it. Well, maybe. He says no. I’m working on him. It really is perfect for him. *chases fictional character with non-existent T-shirt* What? So I’m crazy. But I like it here.