The Windup (Rainbow League Book 1) is now available for pre-order!

The WindupAvailable April 24, 2015!

Ian ran screaming from New York City upon graduating from high school. A job offer too good to turn down has brought him back, but he plans to leave as soon as the job is up. In the meantime he lets an old friend talk him into joining the Rainbow League, New York’s LGBT amateur baseball league. Baseball turns out to be a great outlet for his anxiety, and not only because sexy teammate Ty has caught his eye.

Ty is like a duck on a pond—calm and laid-back on the surface, a churning mess underneath. In Ian, he’s found someone with whom he feels comfortable enough to share some of what’s going on beneath the surface. The only catch is that Ian is dead set on leaving the city as soon as he can. Ty works up a plan to convince Ian that New York is, in fact, the greatest city in the world. But when Ian receives an offer for a job overseas, Ty needs a new plan: convince Ian that home is where Ty is.

Pre-order from Dreamspinner Press!

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Baseball Monday: Eye Candy

Baseball MondaysI spent the weekend at a conference, so how about a softball (har-har) post this Baseball Monday?

Let’s face it, some of us watch sports because athletes have nice bodies. Not to be shallow. I mean, I love the mechanics of the game, I’m a dork about baseball statistics, but it’s hard not to admire a nice baseball body. But just in case you need a reminder:

• I put together this eye candy post for the release of Out in the Field.

• Here’s an important Buzzfeed post about baseball butts.

• I’ll be a Yankees fan for life, but Twins catcher Joe Mauer is kind of my platonic ideal of a hot baseball player (I call him my Baseball Boyfriend). He played Would You Rather with GQ and it was very cute.

• Other people have feelings about which baseball players are the hottest.

Do any of you have a Baseball Boyfriend, a particular baseball butt you admire, or even just a favorite player? (Derek Jeter for all time ever, if you want to know mine.) Please share. Bonus points for photos!

And, hey, the GIVEAWAY! STILL ON!

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Baseball Monday: Baseball Equality

Baseball MondaysLast summer, Major League Baseball appointed Billy Bean, the only living openly gay former pro player, the ambassador for inclusion. Last Friday, the the Washington Post published an article about the work he’s doing, hopefully paving the way for an active out gay player, just like Iggy Rodriguez in Out in the Field.

I put a few Easter eggs in the Rainbow League series for fans of that book, particularly in Book 2. The article on Billy Bean was well timed, because when I read it, I was wrapping up first edits on book 2 (titled Thrown a Curve) in which one of the heroes is former-Yankee Mason. Mason had a very different career than Iggy, in that it was ended more by an injury than anything else. Mason took the opportunity of a torn achilles, an injury he probably could have recovered from with time, to quit professional baseball and come out of the closet.

Mason didn’t think he had a better option. I think we’re approaching an era in which this will not be the case, but we aren’t there yet. Hence Billy Bean’s appointment. To me, this shows the MLB is serious about paving the way for an openly gay player, and part of Bean’s mission is to educate players and coaches about how to treat those players. Bean would know, given that he stayed in the closet for the seasons he played professionally.

Book 2 also has a subplot about Mason struggling to write an article about a college player who has just very publicly come out. I think this is most likely going to be the way in. Baseball will get a Michael Sam type who gets drafted out of college after he’s already come out.

What do you guys think? Is baseball ready for an out gay player?

You can still enter the giveaway!

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The Silence of the Stars is now available in audio!

The Silence of the Stars audioNow available for your listening pleasure: The Silence of the Stars. This is my first audiobook and I’m pretty psyched about it. You can download it from most places you buy audiobooks.

More info: The Silence of the Stars

Blurb:

Sandy Sullivan has gotten so good at covering up his emotions, he’s waiting for someone to hand him an Oscar. On the outside, he’s a cheerful, funny guy, but his good humor is the only thing keeping awful memories from his army tours in Afghanistan at bay. Worse, Sandy is now adrift after breaking up with the only man who ever understood him, but who also wanted to fix him the way Sandy’s been fixing up his new house in Brooklyn.

Everett Blake seems to have everything: good looks, money, and talent to spare. He parlayed a successful career as a violinist into a teaching job at Manhattan’s elite Olcott School and until four months ago, he even had the perfect boyfriend. Now he’s on his own, trying to give his new apartment some personality, even if it is unkempt compared to the perfect home he shared with his ex. When hiring a contractor to renovate his kitchen sends Sandy barreling into his life, Everett is only too happy to accept the chaos… until he realizes he’s in over his head.

Baseball Monday: Hobby Leagues

Baseball MondaysSorry my post is late in the day this week. I’m still a little fuzzy after four days in Florida with the Dreamspinner Press crew. If I may gush for a moment, I walked away from the weekend feeling like I’m working with a seriously great group of people. The DSP staff is friendly, smart, business-savvy, and open to adapting and changing as the market does. My fellow authors are great to chat and hang around with. I got to wear cute dresses and cute shoes instead of sweaters and snow boots for a few days. It was all pretty fabulous.

But, now, baseball.

Early in the process of writing the series, back when I was still kind of just kicking the idea around, I ran into this story on gay sports leagues being the new hot hookup spots.

Perfect, right?

I mean, I’d settled on writing about an LGBT baseball league for this series I was planning, and that article was like confirmation that I was onto something.

To say I am not athletic is like saying deserts are a little dry, so suffice it to say I don’t have a lot of first-hand experience with this sort of league. But I know plenty of people who do. The Rainbow League is a hybrid of three things: 1) my ex-boyfriend used to play for a softball league, and I went to a good number of their games (there was some unifying theme I can’t recall—they all worked in IT, maybe—and the uniforms were basically brightly-colored tee-shirts and sweatpants, so it was not super fancy); 2) coworkers of mine were once in a hipster kickball league that seemed like a thinly veiled reason for getting together to drink one night a week; and 3) the Gotham Girls Roller Derby, whose meets I used to go to regularly, is all about puns in their team and player names.

So, basically, recreational baseball + drinking + puns = the Rainbow League.

(We’ll talk more about teams and mascots at a later date, but JUST WAIT, because there will be puns.)

The fun thing about creating a series like this is that I got to make up the rules. So if I were in charge of running a sports league, here’s how I’d do it. It’s also not limited to men; there are two all-female teams, one of which dominates the league (natch) and the league is open to people from all over the spectrum.

Do any of you play in a league, baseball or otherwise?

The Giveaway is still on!

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Baseball Mondays: Who do you root for?

Baseball MondaysIt’s time for another Baseball Monday!

This week’s topic is team alliances. Which team do you root for?

I know first-hand how slavish team devotion can be. I’ve been a fan of the NY Yankees since my dad brought me to my first game at Yankee Stadium when I was about twelve. I grew up in the New Jersey suburbs, about ten miles outside of NYC, so they were my hometown team, too. When I was a kid, the Mets weren’t a terrible team, either (see the 1986 World Series) but, I don’t know. I think there’s something intangible about team loyalty, and something imprints on you when you see a game live at an impressionable age. I mean, the Yankees were not great when I first started getting into baseball, but they were my team, you know? (And, besides, they turned it around.)

pink hat!

pink hat!

I went to college in Massachusetts, which meant I had to defend my baseball loyalties quite a bit. I’ve probably written about this before, but the tricky thing about living in MA and being both a Yankees fan and a girl was that a lot of people assumed I was a Pink Hatter rooting for the home team because I didn’t know better. I don’t know if that’s a universal term; in Boston, “Pink Hatters” are the girls who don’t know anything about baseball but come to games to cheer along with their boyfriends, and there’s a negative, ditzy connotation associated with them. They are so named because for a while, they all had baby pink hats like the one pictured. (I feel dirty just inserting that image into my post.)

I used to get pretty offended, but my weapon of choice was baseball statistics. In those days—the late 90s—I could have talked anyone’s ears off about Derek Jeter’s numbers, and usually whichever dude had dismissed me as a cute clueless girl was like, “Oh, wait, you know what you’re talking about.”

Jay-Z did not make this more famous than a Yankee can.

Jay-Z did not make this more famous than a Yankee can.

I mean, defending your team is one thing. Being a girl defending her team is another.

Anyway, now I try to go to a Yankee game once or twice a summer. I’ve seen some pretty epic games in person. I like going to games generally; I’ve been to plenty of non-Yankee games, too. (I went to one of the last games at the old Shea Stadium. My ex and I also once went on a stadium tour around the country. Wrigley left the strongest impression.) My youngest brother also follows minor league teams and likes to go to those. In Brooklyn we’ve got the Cyclones, but there are a bunch of teams in the greater New York Metropolitan area, if you like baseball but not pro stadium prices.

The team loyalties among the guys in The Rainbow League series are a little mixed. They love their own team, obviously. Neither Ian nor Ty, the heroes of Book 1, follow professional sports, so neither has strong opinions. Mason, one of the heroes of Book 2, used to be a Yankee, so he has pretty strong loyalties. And Carlos and Nate, the heroes of Book 3, grew up in the Bronx in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, and they go to games together all the time. So, wait, maybe they aren’t that divided after all! (Um, sorry Red Sox fans. I hope you like the books anyway!)

So what about you guys? Which team has your loyalty? It can be major leagues, minor leagues, or your son’s T-ball team.

And the Giveaway is still in effect:

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Baseball Monday: COVER REVEAL For Rainbow League Book 1

Baseball MondaysAre you ready? Do you want to see the lovely, gorgeous, amazing cover for the first Rainbow League book, The Windup?

Well, first, here’s the blurb:

Ian ran screaming from New York City upon graduating from high school. A job offer too good to turn down has brought him back, but he plans to leave as soon as the job is up. In the meantime he lets an old friend talk him into joining the Rainbow League, New York’s LGBT amateur baseball league. Baseball turns out to be a great outlet for his anxiety, and not only because sexy teammate Ty has caught his eye.

Ty is like a duck on a pond—calm and laid back on the surface, a churning mess underneath. In Ian, he’s found someone with whom he feels comfortable enough to share some of what’s going on beneath the surface. The only catch is that Ian is dead set on leaving the city as soon as he can. Ty works up a plan to convince Ian that New York is, in fact, the greatest city in the world. But when Ian receives an offer for a job overseas, Ty needs a new plan: convince Ian that home is where Ty is.

And now, THE COVER!

The Windup

I <3 it.

I've put blurbs up for all 3 books on the Rainbow League page.

And it’s Monday, so don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

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Baseball Mondays: The First Pitch

Baseball MondaysI’m using the occasion of pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training later this week to launch a new blog feature: Baseball Mondays!

In part, this is a lead-in to the launch of my new series, The Rainbow League. It’s a series about a bunch of guys who play for an amateur league in New York City, and the first book will be out in April around the time the 2015 Major League season starts. It’s also a celebration of the greatest sport of all time. I mean… you guys were onto the fact that I’m a baseball fan, right? Right.

How this is going to work is that each week I’ll pick a topic, I’ll talk a bit about it, and then I’ll open it up to comments from you guys. Topics may range to which teams you root for, the teams from the book series, the characters, real-life baseball characters, baseball butts… who knows? I’ll run a Rafflecopter giveaway right up until the first book’s release in April, and one big winner will get the whole series as they’re released and a $25 gift card to the online book store of his or her choice. The Rafflecopter giveaway starts today—see the bottom of this post!

For the first Baseball Mondays post, I wanted to talk a little about optimism.

Here in New York, it’s mid-February and we’re suffering through a string of record-cold days and old snow that won’t melt. It’s the sort of weather that makes it feel like spring is very far off. But one of the things I like about the start of baseball Spring Training is that it means that, finally, spring is just around the corner! If pitchers and catchers are reporting, the rest of the team can’t be far behind, and before we know it, it will be April.

The fun thing about the beginning of a new baseball season, too, is that it’s a clean slate. What happened last year doesn’t matter. Lots of trading and drafting happened in the off-season, and the teams have been duly recalibrated. Who knows what the new season holds? This could be our year!

Do you have a favorite part of a new season? What about the spring in general? Are you looking forward to warmer weather? (I certainly am!)

Chat in the comments and enter the giveaway.

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The Boy Next Door temporarily unavailable

Just a quick note to let you all know that The Boy Next Door is about to go temporarily out of print. I’m hoping to have news soon about a shiny new edition and the long-awaited sequel for Neal. But in the meantime, you probably won’t be able to buy it anywhere after February 1.

I’m hard at work on Neal’s book (…again, finally) so I hope the wait will be worth it!

And Now for My Next Trick: Update on Upcoming Books and Other Insanity

My local RWA chapter does a time capsule each year, wherein every member writes down some things s/he hopes to accomplish in the next year. We put the pieces of paper in a box and don’t look at them again until a year later. I was surprised to see that I’d actually done just about everything I’d set out to in 2014. Well, “get organized” was and is perpetually on my list, but I did sit down in September to map out the next six to eight months of writing. (At BEA last year, Tere Michaels said to me, “So what’s next for you?” and when I said, “Uh…” she said, “You should always have an answer to that question.” So I try to keep that in mind.)

I’m currently about a month behind schedule, though.

I believe in plans. If I’m going to make a go of writing as a career—something I want very much—I have to have a plan, because going about it haphazardly will likely lead to me living in a cardboard box under the Manhattan Bridge.

But life. Oh, how life intervenes sometimes.

I figured I’d take a little time out to talk about some of the all-out insanity of the last few months and what I’ve got on deck, partly to explain my occasional absences from social media and to let you all know what I’m working on, and partly just to write about it.

This is a long post, but I hope you’ll read to the end. I buried the lead on some news.

• My non-writing career stuff got complicated in 2014 when the company I work for by day laid off half its staff in the spring. Figuring I’d probably get laid off in the fall, I hung up my freelance shingle again in July. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve worked in publishing for years and have long done editorial freelance on the side, but I’d taken a two-year hiatus to focus on writing. Well, as soon as I hung the shingle, I got two regular clients, which was great! Financial security is always good! But they kept me BUSY all through the fall. And then I didn’t get laid off after all. So mostly I just worked. A lot. I need to make some changes in 2015, and I will, though my plan is not concrete just yet.

• Personal: My uncle, my mother’s brother, passed away in December after a long battle with cancer. I’d been mentally preparing for this for a while, but everyone thought he had a few more months left, so it still felt sudden. I went down to visit family for a week, which was nice but also incredibly sad. He was a really great man.

New cat, keeping my writing notes warm.

New cat, keeping my writing notes warm.

My mother has been having a difficult time with things—not just this but a bunch of other stuff, too—so I spent a lot of November and December with her. She’s getting ready to move out of her apartment and probably out of New York for at least a little while, and so her cat has moved in with me indefinitely. So now I have two cats. Which is why my Twitter is kind of All Cats All the Time lately.

The family stuff and the cats and my freelance work schedule all hitting at the same time was really tough. It was also an opportunity to put things in perspective. I’ve seen a lot of the flame-outs and community drama on social media recently—side effect of sitting at a desk all day and having a short attention span, I guess—and I understand how easy it is to get caught up in it, but I also decided over the holidays that I was going to blow off the Internet and spend time with family. My uncle’s passing brought home for me that my parents are aging and won’t be around forever, so I should make more time for them, for example. I want to make more time for what’s important to me, which is primarily my family—both biological and chosen—and my writing. So that’s where I’m focusing my energy right now.

• Other stuff: I just finished out my year as president of Rainbow Romance Writers, but in the meantime got myself elected to the Board of the New York City chapter of RWA (as vice president of programs). So I’m doing that, too.

• And so onto the writing:

• An obvious highlight in what was otherwise a completely crappy December was the release of When the Planets Align. I spent the week before its release in Georgia with my family, so it felt weird and a little inappropriate to beat the promotion drum too loudly under the circumstances.

Still, I got a lot of the blog tour stuff written before I left for the funeral, so I hope people found out about the book. This is a challenging book. I predicted critical response would be mixed. The story is told nonlinearly. When I was about halfway through the first draft, I ran into a post on Facebook that was basically, “These are all the romance tropes I hate the most!” and Planets includes almost all of them. I wasn’t at all sure how the Joan character would be received, because she’s not really a villain but she is an obstacle between the characters and their happily ever after, and she was really hard to write. I’m glad to see reviews are mostly favorable, but I also recognize this is not a book for everyone. I hope those of you who do decide to buy it enjoy it!

• My primary goal for 2014 was to finish writing the first three books in my upcoming baseball series, called the Rainbow League. I did actually accomplish that, as of about a week ago. That was not an easy thing. I aim to write 2+ books a year, but here, I wrote 3 full novels over the course of 14 months, on top of everything else. (I also finished Planets and wrote the first drafts of two entirely new novels, for what it’s worth. That is a superhuman amount of work, and I’m frankly astonished I actually accomplished it. Look, I’m here to tell you, if you really want something, you’ll figure out how to make it happen. I figured it out. I wanted to tell these stories. I made the time to do it.)

I’m working on first edits now for Book 1. It’s called The Windup. This is the rare book where I, uh, hit it out of the park in the first draft. (Sorry, expect a lot of baseball metaphors in 2015.) I often do a lot of rewriting and adding and moving when I revise—and I love revising, I really do, I think it’s the editor in me—but The Windup went to the publisher polished and trimmed but not substantially different from that first draft. It’s good, I think; I like this book a lot at any rate. I paired up a character who suffers from an anxiety disorder but is open about his life and his flaws with someone who is cool and outgoing but keeps his emotions and anxieties close to the vest. So they have to find some middle ground. While playing baseball together.

I threw up a placeholder page for the series that will contain more information and some fun stuff starting in the second half of February. I’m aiming to launch some of the preliminary stuff starting the week pitchers and catchers report for MLB duty. The first book is scheduled to come out in April.

• What of the other two books I mentioned? Well, those are first drafts, which means they still need to be put through the revision wringer before I’ll call them finished manuscripts. The first, a new adult novel that is kinda sorta but not really a gay-for-you story, is almost there. The second, a historical set in NYC in the Gilded age and already contracted with Kensington for 2016, is waiting for my attention in the queue. I haven’t looked at it since I finished the first draft in early December. So those are my immediate next projects.

• Today I also plan to start reading The Boy Next Door for preparation to finally, finally write the sequel for Neal. It’s in my six-month plan and everything. I mean it this time. Note that TBND is about to come out of contract and will likely be out of print for part of this year, but hopefully a shiny new edition will be out soon. Stay tuned for more info on that.

• I have a couple of other books I want to write this year, so the good news is that there will be more Kate stuff for the foreseeable future.

So that’s the long-winded version of what’s going on with me. I hope you all are doing well and keeping busy. :)