Years ago I was at a conference chatting with a writer whose career had recently taken off to the kind of NYT best-sellerdom I can only dream about. I'd been reading her since her early days, and we'd exchanged a few emails back then so I felt emboldened to express sympathy over a scathing review for her most recent book in one of the industry magazines. (Please note, this is not an anti-reviewer blog post. I firmly believe that if someone took the time to read a book and wants to share his or her opinion on it, he or she should. ) This book was the third or fourth in the series that had really taken off for her and what had struck me and annoyed us both was the reviewers complaints about it because it was in a series. The review sneered about the characters getting more book time because they were "beloved." My thought was that revisiting beloved characters is kind of the whole point to reading series.
There's a point to this rambling. and like I said, it's not about reviews. It's about series. Right now I'm writing another book that has Joey and Aaron from Collision Course in it as secondary characters and they are about two pages from hitting the stage. I think back to that conversation with and I get nervous. Not about reviews, but because of wanting to do right by the story, my characters, and the reader. I want to deliver the kind of connection with the characters that the readers who've been asking for more will enjoy, while not pissing off anyone who reads it no knowing them. Sequels or connected books should always stand alone. I've come into series out of order and the writers have been kind enough to let me in. I've also been there since the beginning and enjoyed sharing with the writer that in-joke, a trace of "Yeah, that's how we go on" that feels familiar and cozy and like hanging out with old friends.
There's a reason series are popular, from my childhood friends like Trixie Belden and The Black Stallion to any of the latest series books gracing the bestseller lists. There's a reason publishers, authors and agents love them. They come with a built-in readership and following. Sometimes as a writer, they feel like the easiest and the hardest thing to do. The world buildings done—but you're stuck with what you've done before. There are characters already made, but you'd better not bore new readers with them or make assumptions.
And if it could unnerve a NYT bestseller like my acquaintance in the first paragraph, the weight of that expectation hanging pretty darn heavy on me as Joey and Aaron are making their way onto the scene. I'll try not to make them seem "beloved by all."
The book is Dylan's story and if all goes well, you should be able to get it when things get warm here in the Northern Hemisphere.
Hey. Not Knowing Jack is my tenth release and I'm really excited about that. I wanted to do something cool, but I suck at organizing anything like that. Then I wanted to write you a prequel of that how-Jack-and-Tony-met blowjob, but I'm still trying to finish up Bad Company. If I can, I'll try to do a little scene Joey's been nagging me to write for him after I turn this book in. In the meantime, to say thank you for making my tenth book possible, here's another snippet of number 11. It's without the deft touch of my fabulous editor, Sasha Knight, but I hope you can make it through.
Several years ago, there was a minor schism among my mom and her five siblings. For the most part, things have been smoothed over, but some friction remains between my mom (the middle child) and the second oldest girl, Bev, who has always displayed the warmth and tact of a rusting ice-breaker locked in the Arctic. Needless to say, the chill which remains emanates from Bev’s side of the rift.
Just to give you an example of my mom’s family’s communication dynamic, when Aunt Bev wasn’t speaking to my mom, she sent her a Christmas card—but didn’t sign it.
So this morning, my mom is playing Words With Friends (a mobile phone app that’s like a Scrabble game) with her baby brother who sends the message: “Did you hear about Ed (Bev’s husband) being in the hospital?”
My mom played a word and sent back “No. What’s going on?” but there was no further response from him.
She called her older brother who is also still mainly in the rearward of Bev’s affections (such as they are). Apparently, Ed in the hospital on life support and has been given 48 hours to live.
How did I get this news? My mom sent me a note on Words With Friends.
The social network, taken to new heights (or the frigid depths) by my family. I wonder about the people in the family who aren’t on Words With Friends. How ever will they get the news? But hey, at least mom answered my return message. And she always signs my Christmas card.
Sorry for the Bertie Wooster quote and the brief interruption in bringing you updates on books, but I have to stop to sing the praises of a present I bought for me.
This Breville Tea Maker I got at Amazon does everything advertised, except have Jeeves make my morning selection and bring it to me in bed with a polite cough and a "I thought perhaps a single estate assam this morning, madam, as the air is quite robust with chill."
When I took it out of the box, my first thought was "Wow, the rich really do have different stuff." The weight and the look of it is all about quality. I'm a teacher. At a private school. For the kids no one else wants. I've never owned a small appliance that wasn't the cheapest thing available. Trust me when I say you can tell the difference, right down to the power cord.
I haven't gone through all of my favorite black teas yet to try it on my whites and greens, but it will make and keep my brew warm for me when I set it the night before and brews a perfect--I mean perfect--cup of loose tea. There must be something about the basket hitting the water as it's still boiling and the spacious area of the basket that gets the full flavor in only three minutes (I go for the strong setting on my black teas). And then the basket comes back up on its own so there's never an overbrewed bitterness because I got involved in writing a scene.
Every time I see it on my counter it makes me do a little happy dance. It is a dream come true for the tea-obsessed like me. I now return you to your regularly scheduled excerpts and release information.
So it's a new year and a new month and I have a shiny new contract for Bad Company, which will come out in June. Because I'm nothing if not a tease, here's the first chapter. It's unedited, and you don't have even a tagline to tell you what it's about, so click if you dare.
I have been writing my busy little fingers off, working on Jack and Tony's story (which may possibly have more angst in it than Regularly Scheduled Life, God help me). And I'm getting ready to go to Orlando for RWA National, so I almost forgot that I get to share a new book with people on August 3. I'm really excited about this release. It's a different sort of story for me, and it has what I think is a sweet and hot first time.
The first chapter was a little too R for Samhain to have on its website and it cut off early, so I'm giving you guys the whole first chapter and a little something from chapter two. Enjoy!
No Souvenirs came out yesterday and wow. Thanks, guys. It's making best seller lists at Amazon and Books on Board and My Bookstore and More. I'm so glad because it felt like it really worked. I'm glad people were excited about Kim's story. He was fun to write, pairing him with an opposite (yet not) like Shane made for some interesting sparks.
I've been thrilled with the reviews so far. The one at Dear Author couldn't have been more flattering if my mother had written it. (Come to think of it, my mother would have probably been a whole lot less flattering. She's pretty critical in her reviews of anything--not just me. No, she's not Mrs. Giggles.)
I'd insert the cover image, but I am a technological failure today and can't make that work. So if there's anyone who hasn't grabbed it and is looking, here's one of the places you can find it.
Elisa Rolle is a frequent poster who lavishes attention on the gay romance genre. She provides interesting commentary on more books than I could ever hope to read. Her evaluations of my stories always leave me astounded by her insight. So when she asks people in the genre to help her out by spreading the word, I'm happy to. Here's her problem.
Basically, LJ is stealing the money she uses to buy the books in the genre that she then reviews. She makes the money through people follwing her referral links to Amazon. That would be annoying enough, but then they lied to her and tried to pass it off with a story that their service reps were supposed to use to cover up this behavior. Ouch. Come clean, LJ.
It's been awhile since I read Ntozake Shange but I believe I have this quote right "Next time you should admit you're mean, low-down, no good, triflin' and no account straight out. 'Stead of being sorry all of the time, enjoy being yourself." (Apologies for altering Ms. Shange's spelling.)
I thought I had posted this here awhile ago, but I can't find it. So as a little warm up for No Souvenirs, here's a little deleted scene introducing Shane not appearing anywhere else. (Oooo. Director's cut. Bonus content.) Come to think of it, Kim's description of him in Joey and Aaron's Valentine short wasn't far off. He does seem a bit lost and unwilling to ask for directions.