Saturday, July 30, 2016


First things first.

Magic and Mayhem:  Fiction and Essays Celebrating LGBTQA Romance is now available for preorder at Amazon or Smashwords right now. When you buy the antho you help support the event known as Gay Romance Nothwest Meet-Up, and I think we can all agree we need many more such events.

Look at this line up:


“Broken Art,” by Dev Bentham
“Caroline’s Heart,” by Austin Chant
“Demonica,” by Megan Derr
“The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus,” by Ginn Hale
“Fade to Black,” by Josh Lanyon
“Charmed By Chance,” by Alex Powell
“Sun, Moon, and Stars,” by E.J. Russell
“Slack Tide,” by Karelia Stetz-Waters


“Romance for the Rest of Us,” by Jessica Blat
“Sad Queer Characters and the Revolution of Joy,” by Austin Chant
“Dear Rose,” by Rose Christo
“How to Get LGBT Romance Books Into Libraries” by Marlene Harris
“So What is “Character-Type Love Match” Anyway?” by Nicole Kimberling
“My Road to Romance,” by Susan Lee
“To My Future Self,” by E.E. Ottoman
“What I’ve Learned,” by Jordan Castillo Price
“Dear Len,” by Radclyffe
“A Letter to My Former Self,” by Rick R. Reed
“Five Things We Learned Running A Queer Romance Event (and the One Thing We Still Need to Do)” by Tracy Timmons-Gray

My "assignment" was Soldier and Tattoo Artist. :-)

I think I'm almost as excited to read the essays as the stories. 

So that's one exciting piece of news. And then we have a little bitty story from me called Night Watch.

Three years ago investigative reporter Parker Davidson barely survived a brutal attack by his psychopathic ex-boyfriend. It’s given him a dim view of romance. 

When Parker’s ex escapes from a maximum security prison, LAPD Lieutenant Henry Stagge is tasked with making sure that Parker doesn’t end up a victim a second—and final—time. 

Most cops believe Parker got what he deserved, but over the course of a few very tense hours, Henry begins to wonder if there’s more to Parker than he thought. 

Second chances happen in the strangest places—and at the strangest times.

You can pop over to Smashwords or Amazon and conveniently buy them both at the same time.

There's more to talk about (I know I missed last week's blog, but that's what happens when the writing frenzy starts) but we'll leave it there for now.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Curse of the Restless Writer Brain

It never rains but it pours.

Having regained my usual ruthless optimism and energy, I'm busily working away at three books right now. Yes, three. I went from unable to formulate complete sentences on paper to working on three books at one time.

Want to know my secret?


Yes, I'm drinking this banana coffee smoothie thing in the morning and it's just fant--

No. I wish I had a quick fix I could offer my equally burnt-out writer friends. I think it was basically just having a bit of time to breathe and swim and read and chat with friends...and catch up some of the stuff that was making me nuts.

That last is always a temporary state of affairs though. The problem with being a self-employed writer is no sooner do you complete one task -- arrange for Italian translations! -- then a new challenge occurs -- just lost narrator for The Mermaid Murders!

But thanks to the bananas, I'm rolling with punches and punching the rolls. Or something.

One of the projects was what I think of as a "throwaway" project. Not that it's not a real project--these are inevitably the projects that end up being the most work--but it's a project that can be relegated to the back burner if needed. And it's a project which I figure won't bring in a lot of money, so it's very much just for fun. And a healthy writer brain needs a few of those in order to keep cranking.

Anyway, I decided to experiment with Kindle Unlimited for the launch of this one. And I wanted to discuss why--given that I'm a staunch and vocal opponent of KU and Amazon's exclusivity policy.

I've had a couple of people challenge my stance given that I've never actually done Kindle Unlimited. Maybe they think I'd change my mind about it if I saw How Much Money You Can Make with it!!!!

See, I think I probably make more money than most authors in Kindle Unlimited, and I believe that I will actually make less putting this crazy little project into the program. But I don't know. And there is some very interesting data on the numbers (and on author earnings in general).

I'm sort of an anomaly in my genre as it is thanks to primarily writing mysteries and crime for an audience that typically doesn't read a lot of mystery and crime. So it's possible my success is an anomaly too. I don't know. Hence the experiment. I'll compare my preorders and first month earnings for a couple of my regular releases versus this KU release and we'll see what happens.

That's reason number one. I haven't seriously ever tried KU before, so I may as well find out exactly what I'm "losing" by taking my high-falutin' stance on the program.

(I can tell you this though. Regardless of what the earnings are, the book goes straight into general distribution when the KU time period is over.)

The second reason is this question of Discoverability that haunts us all in indie publishing. Given the tidal wave of STUFF (good, bad and indifferent) pouring out daily through the various bookselling channels, it gets harder and harder to find new readers. Now why do I need NEW readers when I have so many wonderful loyal existing readers? Because a writer's long-term survival is largely based on continuing to sell backlist, and you need new readers for that. The existing readers already have your (my) stuff in every conceivable form up to and including the coloring book. ;-)

Again, I have my doubts about this experiment because I suspect a lot of the readers who subscribe to KU are loyal to price point rather than author. But maybe I'm wrong. If I'm wrong then it's useful to know that.

Anyway, the book I plan to experiment with is The Curse of the Blue Scarab, which I'm calling my monster mash-up. It is in fact a literary mash-up of a 1912 novel called The Mummy by Riccardo Stephens.

I'll talk a bit  more about the project in detail later on, but I wanted to reassure readers before I list this for preorders that I'm not planning to make this book an Amazon exclusive permanently nor are any of my other titles present or planned going into KU.


I changed my mind and decided that it was not fair to do one of the year's "big" books as a KU title--especially when it would mean having the books unavailable to other sites for about six months (taking into account the lengthy preorder phase on that one--the 90 days doesn't start until the book actually goes live). So instead I'm doing this next post WW2 historical mystery novella as my KU project. That will sort of skew the results because this won't have as long a preorder run and it's not a novel AND it's historical which is a typically smaller audience for me, but there you go.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Books and Black Orchids

My writing slump seems to have passed.

Partly, I'm sure, that's due to catching up on all the stuff that was mentally weighing me down. Everything from buying screens for the front windows of the house to arranging for the Italian translation of The Mermaid Murders.

But mostly I think my renewed enthusiasm for writing is due to two things: spending time with friends and family AND reading.

More precisely, reading within the M/M genre.

Last year I read an essay by Matt Bell in the NY Times titled "Influence Looming" wherein he muses "Novels have two primary sources: writer's life experiences or their art experience."

It's a real balancing act. The best fiction is that perfect blend of art and reality. Too often the aspiring author confuses writing fiction with the dutiful documentation of memoirs--and rarely are our own lives as fascinating to others as we imagine. But there's also the danger of being unduly influenced by the work of your peers. You don't want to sound like a third generation recording of a what was once a live performance.

Still, it's important to read in the genre you're working in, and regardless of the medium, all artists are inspired by each others' work. Part of how a genre evolves is through this process of influence. So yes, it was interesting to catch up on what's been happening in the genre over the past couple of years -- sample some of the rising stars and see what old favorites have been up to. There's some great stuff out there, although it feels harder to find those nuggets of gold given how very wide and very deep that river of content has grown.

Anyway, the only thing better than reading is talking books and writing with friends. Especially
talking over cocktails. I discovered something called Black Orchids at our local Yard House and our martini shaker has not been silent since (kidding -- no shaker is involved in this recipe).

Black Orchid
 1 ounce Skyy Raspberry Vodka
 1 ounce DeKuyper Blue Curacao
 1 ounce DeKuyper Watermelon Pucker
 Splash: Cranberry juice
 Garnish: none

I'm not going to share too much information about what I'm working on because I've got several projects going now and only two of them are absolutely certain to be finished this year.

One is Fair Chance, the final book in the All's Fair trilogy. HOWEVER that book won't be released until next year--please don't give me a hard time about it because I have no control of my publisher's release schedule.

The other project is So This is Christmas. It's that long promised Adrien English holiday novella.

(I know, you'd given up hope of that ever happening, but just because it takes me a while doesn't mean I'm not going to follow through on the books I promised.)

Yes, it's a mystery and it picks up right where the holiday codas end. And...and...I think that's pretty much all I'm going to say at this point!

Cheers! Have a Happy Weekend!

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Blog Post

I find myself at a loss today.

I was going to try to avoid anything remotely political or even socio-political, and instead mention that I've put together a print collection of my historical novellas. Three of the novellas have previously been in print, but had been allowed to go OP. And the third, "This Rough Magic", has never been available in anything but digital.

I read an article recently in Publisher's Weekly about "digital fatigue" and the ongoing decline of ebook sales. I've never stopped loving and collecting print books, so I have no idea whether digital fatigue is a real thing or not. Clearly declining ebook sales are real and can be graphed, but they don't seem particularly relevant to me. My sales have stayed pretty steady -- there's just that little problem of not being able -- motivated-- to write.

I'm still not exactly sure what's going on there. Am I just giving into laziness now? Am I more burnt-out than I realized? Or is this a natural lull in my productivity? I don't know. There's really no one to consult.

Is it depression? Is it a product of the fear and anxiety the TV serves with my morning coffee? Yesterday yet another young black man was shot to death by police. And today comes the news that five police officers were shot to death by snipers. The world seems increasingly violent and irrational -- and going on Twitter sure as hell doesn't help.

The world has always been violent and unpredictable. You don't need to be a history major to know that much. And the world is always in flux. Some things get better, other things get worse...and there's no guarantee we won't blow ourselves and the planet up in the near future.

But really...that being the case, what are our options? We can go on Twitter and harass and blame each other for not caring enough or not expressing ourselves properly. We can perpetrate our own violence in the name of...what the fuck ever. We can tune out entirely.

Or we can continue to do the best we can with the resources we have.

We can try to practice the tolerance that we preach. We can stop jabbering on Twitter and try actually contacting our political representatives. We can focus on improving the space around us -- and leading by example. Not in a grandiose way, but in a simple treat-others-as-you-wish-to-be-treated way. Because if that actually ever could happen all across the world? All our problems would be solved.

Just treat the people around you the way you want to be treated.

Don't be so godawful stingy with your understanding, your forgiveness and your compassion. It's not like any of us are in a position to judge. (And anybody who thinks they are in a position to judge is a big part of the problem.)

Today I am focusing on what is right in the world. What is good.

1 - Law and Order (because anarchy doesn't work)

2 - Gardenias

3 - Mockingbirds

4 - Tacos

5 - Love

What do you have to say for yourself?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

The news just keeps getting better, doesn't it?



You know you're in deadly serious trouble when The Donald congratulates you on making a smart move.

Yeesh. And now there's talk that Britain's leaving the European Union might encourage Texas to secede from our Union.

So there IS a ray of hope.

Hahahahaha. Just kidding, Texas. You know we love you. Especially now that the Supreme Court delivered your wake-up call.

But seriously (or SRS, as the nieces inform me) I am so very weary of people trotting out the Founding Fathers like demi-gods and then proceeding to completely misunderstand and misquote everything they fought for. (That would be everything the FFs fought for, not these modern day posers.)

I'm not going to get into that, though. (I know, breathe a sigh of relief.) The Founding Fathers, like everybody else in the world, were not always united in thought or deed. Believe it or not, they didn't always share the same aims and goals or even ideals.

It's like they were M/M Romance writers!

How did they resolve those differences? Well, they didn't take out their dueling pistols. I can tell you that much. They, you know, debated and talked and voted. That kind of thing. Grown-up stuff.

You probably already know that there was a good deal of debate over crafting the Declaration of Independence.

Or maybe you don't. But yeah, these educated and experienced men did not all agree. For example there's an apocryphal story that Alexander Hamilton objected to Jefferson changing John Locke's sacred trinity of the pursuit of "life, liberty, and estate" to "happiness."

The final version of the Declaration of Independence reads thusly:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ——

Happiness. Can you imagine that?

There are a ton of essays on why and where Jefferson came up with the idea of pursuing Happy. But I think the why and where are pretty much irrelevant. For whatever reason the pursuit of happiness (which, clearly, was not to be defined as the pursuit of monetary self-interest--or else Locke's wording would have stood as was) makes me, well, happy.

It's sort of...grounding. Centering.  It's a reminder that we weren't -- aren't --  all crazy with greed and self-interest. If it's true that Hamilton bitterly contested Jefferson's wording, they worked it out by vote or debate. Consensus was achieved.

(Which is a positive thing because, though I guess it's tactless to point this out, let's not forget how it went when Hamilton did resort to pistols over words).

The Pursuit of Happiness.

I like it. I like that they argued about it, but then conceded that Happiness was more valuable than Property. You can debate what "Happiness" means all you want, but it clearly wasn't -- isn't -- "Property."

So Happy Fourth of July! Happy Independence Day.

May you be ever successful in your Pursuit of Happiness.