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"We read to know that we are not alone." — C.S. Lewis

Archive for the tag “writing”

‘Hard Press’ is a new kind of novel for me

My latest novel, “Hard Press,” is releasing Aug. 18. And I think there will probably be some readers who will be surprised the same author wrote both “Catching Jaime” and “Hard Press.”

Most of my earlier works, including “Catching Jaime,” tend to be sweet romances. There are varying levels of sex in them — ranging from no sex (Rewriting His Love Life) to your typical, vanilla sex (Source of Protection, Winter Blom) — but none of them would be described as racy or sizzling hot. The stories are more about the romance, and sex is a natural part of the evolution of a relationship.

“Hard Press” stands out from the other novels in that regard.

julian quotesWhile there are elements of sweet romance in it, the characters aren’t all that sweet. Julian begins his journey as a “vain brat” (Elliott’s words, not … well, yes, they are mine, but you know what I mean). Elliott, who is stressed to the max due to his family situation, finds Julian’s submissive nature liberating — finally, he can take control of something — and comes off as pushy, and occasionally, like a bit of an asshole.

Somehow, it works for them both. So who was I to question it?

But of course I did.

Power play is not my favorite trope, and actually I debated quite a bit about whether to go that direction with the book, even with only mild themes of submission. It wouldn’t have been my first choice. Because, you see, it pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone.

But the characters were demanding it, from pretty much their first meeting. They weren’t cut out to be a sweet romance, and they weren’t going to let me dictate that.

When I started writing books, I thought it would be a good opportunity to create the stories I crave as a reader. That is maybe a little bit true. But the larger truth is that each book in Ashe Sentinel Connections is different, because the characters are different. And as it turns out, they’re the boss. Not me.

Each book takes on a life of its own, and it’s not entirely within my control.

And that’s how I happened to write a love story about a vain, rather unlikeable man and a stressed-out, aggressive man who both needed something the other had to offer.

In the end, I like to think they helped each other grow into better human beings, too. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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About Hard Press

Julian has everything: good looks, flashy cars, a high-end condo. Until his girlfriend dumps him after a disastrous attempt to have a threesome. To top it off, he rear-ends a motorcycle and meets a pissed off biker who calls him on his shit. But there’s something about the man that hits his repressed buttons, and makes him want to finally pull his desires out into the light. But living up to the standards of an edgy but caring man proves a challenge.

Elliott feels like his world has spun off its axis, and if he can just get control of his life, he can breathe again. His parents’ deaths and his autistic brother’s need for a boarding school weigh heavily on him. When Julian hits his bike outside the news office where he works in the press room, he thinks the sultry man is a spoiled brat who knows nothing of real pain. But bringing him under control soothes something in Elliott’s soul — and Julian seems to need a steady hand, too.

Can these two very different men navigate the give-and-take of a relationship unlike any other they’ve experienced? For both of them, it will be a hard press.

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In baseball and in writing, you have to keep swinging

I’m a fledgling Kansas City Royals baseball fan — and I’m a writer. So, naturally, as I watched the amazing comeback in Monday’s playoff game vs. The Astros, I found myself drawing parallels between baseball players and writers.

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Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Game 1 of the ALDS playoffs. Photo by Lucas Soltow

My husband, a more knowledgeable baseball fan than me, quoted a statistic that even great baseball players get a successful hit about 3 out of every 10 at-bats. “Baseball players have to be great at failing,” he said, with way too much enthusiasm for that statement. This was, of course, in response to my complaint that the Royals players often look like they shrug off strike-outs and failed hits. Why aren’t they cursing or crying, damn it? That’s what I would do!

My husband, in his vast baseball wisdom, told me that it comes down to perseverance (and perhaps a Goldfish-like memory of all those failures) to make a great baseball player. The same can be said of writers.

I cannot tell you how many pieces of writerly wisdom I’ve come across that hammer the same points home again and again: Don’t give up, and finish what you start. If there’s one piece of advice, above any other, that keeps me going, this is it. Perseverance.

When the Royals were down by 4 runs in the 7th inning, most of us thought the game was over. They’d lost. It was too late. But they didn’t give up. They persevered. They kept swinging, even when it seemed hopeless.

That’s what I want you to do. When you’re questioning your vision; when you’re disheartened or losing momentum on a work in progress; when you receive criticism or reviews that are hard on your heart, just know that it isn’t over until it’s over.

Keep swinging. Keep writing.

It’s time to take pride in our love of gay fiction

I’m relatively new to this authoring business (although I’m an old hand at the aspiring bit). Recently, I told a couple of friends that I’d written some books in the gay romance genre. Their first reaction: “Oh, you write gay porn? Good for you!”

Okay, so they’re more open-minded than some people, and that’s good. But why would their first assumption be that gay romance equates to porn? If I’d said I write romance stories, would they have made the same leap? Probably not. And that’s what makes so many of us gay romance writers and readers hide out in our own metaphorical closets. I suppose a few people are embarrassed to read mainstream romance, but the bigger issue is the misconceptions about gay romance.

Yes, gay erotica is a subset of the gay romance genre. But it’s not the entire genre. There’s sweet romance and romantic suspense, paranormal romance and so much more in the genre. Some of these books contain erotic sex scenes, some contain tame sex scenes and some contain no sex at all.

lanyonbookI have to thank Josh Lanyon for drawing me into the genre. If I hadn’t come across the Adrien English series — a fantastic set of romantic mysteries — I might not have delved further into the genre and discovered many more quality authors of LGBT books.

Lanyon’s series also demonstrates an important point: gay fiction — even gay romance —  is about a lot more than gay sex. The Adrien English series should appeal to any reader who enjoys a good amateur sleuth story. It probably won’t reach a lot of potential readers because its protagonist is gay, and that’s a shame, because Adrien and Jake’s love story, as it unfolds over the course of the series, is complex and deeply moving.

Right now, I’m new to publishing. I’ve written a few novellas that are sweet gay romance stories centered on a small-town newspaper staff and their sources. I hope to keep evolving, and to someday write something as meaningful as some of the highly regarded authors of LGBT books.

Authors and readers alike should take pride in their love of gay fiction. It’s just as good as any other genre, and if you ask me, it’s a heck of a lot more interesting than yet another boy-meets-girl story. After all, that’s the story of my life. I don’t really need to read about it.

You can find the Adrien English series here. Josh Lanyon has many other books available as well, but this series is — in my opinion — his best work.

If you’d like to explore my writing, you can find the Ashe Sentinel Connections series here. They’re also available on most ebook retailers, including Oyster and Amazon. The first book is free. My third novella will be released Oct. 1.

 

 

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