At the Summer Olympics, a swimmer who hit rock bottom meets a diver who hates the spotlight. There’s sports, there’s romance, there’s tabloid scandal. Get Here Comes the Flood now! (This link goes to retailers selling the ebook. Paperbacks are coming one month from now, on May 26!)
This series has been a long time coming. It seems like a million years ago now, but I moved in the summer of 2016, and the process was so stressful that I didn’t really write anything for a couple of months. But I have always been a huge fan of the Olympics, so I spent that July distracting myself by consuming all of the Olympics-related media possible. (I’m working on a Special Features post that will delve into that more. There shall be book recs and videos! Stay tuned!)
Then one morning in August, the day after the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Games, I woke up with the book idea fully formed in my head. I literally got out of bed, walked across my apartment, sat at my desk, and wrote out the whole plot. I wrote the first draft over about three weeks, most of that time with sports on in the background.
That book went through revisions and beta reads and edits, of course, but I was so excited about the idea while I was writing the first draft that I teased it on social media at the time. And I’m still excited now! The 2020 Olympics may be postponed, but this book is finally out in the world.
And two more are coming!
Book 2, Stick the Landing, is about a brilliant gymnast who tends to choke in big competitions. He meets a retired figure skater who is at the Olympics to do puff pieces for the American TV network, and he knows a thing or two about choking. The pre-order for ebooks should be up at your favorite retailer any day now, but the paperback is up on Amazon now. (The ebook will be out July 28. The paperback will be out in October.)
Book 3, Race for Redemption, is about track runners. One is a flashy sprinter trying to repair a tarnished reputation, the other is an engineering student who uses math to make his hurdles races better. They’re total opposites, but also meant for each other obviously. I believe that book will be out this fall.
I really love this series and I’m excited for it to be out in the world. I hope you guys love it, too!
The last… few weeks… month… year… have been pretty terrible for everyone. For self-care reasons, I’m binging more entertainment than usual. (I already work from home and usually just have cable news on during the day, but sometimes you just have to check out.) So I thought it might be fun to share some of what I’ve been binging. Feel free to share what’s getting you through in the comments.
First, a podcast rec! Today, I binged Hall of Shame, a podcast on which two funny ladies talk about sports scandals. Definitely recommended if you, like me, miss sports.
On TV, I’ve been watching the current season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is still hilarious. And I think my favorite new show is Zoey’s Imaginary Playlist, which manages to combine humor, heart, and big musical numbers into a pretty entertaining hour of television. My one niggle is that there’s a love triangle, which is not my favorite trope. (And I have Very Strong Feelings about which guy Zoey should pick!) If you haven’t seen it, the premise is basically that after an accident, Zoey can hear people’s thoughts in the form of pop songs, often with accompanying choreographed dance numbers. Which sounds goofy, but Zoey works out pretty quickly that part of this new “power” is that she has to help the people who sing to her, and some of them have pretty difficult problems.
On Netflix, I watched all of Sex Education over two weekends and loved it. (And am dying for the next season, they need to get on that.) This show has a lot of nudity for a show about teenagers, but maybe that’s the prudish American in me talking. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is that Otis is an awkward teenage boy whose mother is a sex therapist, played by Gillian Anderson! Enough of her work has rubbed off on Otis that his crush Maeve talks him into setting up a business at school wherein Otis—despite having zero sexual experience himself—advises his classmates about their sex problems. Meanwhile, Otis’s best friend Eric is an out-and-proud gay kid from a very conservative family who, in the first season, is not so happy when Otis blows him off to spend more time with Maeve. Maeve is a “bad girl” but it turns out her family is The Worst and she’s actually really smart. There’s Adam, the obligatory psychotic jackass, which, if you’ve watched Veronica Mars, you will correctly surmise means there is more to his character than just a bully. There’s Jackson, the school’s head boy, the classic popular jock who is secretly buckling under the pressure his moms put on him. The rest of the supporting cast is also great. (Also, I was tickled to see Jim Howick playing one of the teachers. He’s a regular on a British kids show called Horrible Histories that I watched all of last year, because it’s basically a sketch comedy show about history, and what’s not to like about that? A lot of potty humor, though, so your mileage may vary with that.)
I’m watching some reality shows, too. I thought Next in Fashion on Netflix was okay. Maybe a little slow. It has the Great British Bake Off element of all of the contestants basically being nice people who get along, but it otherwise felt a little like a low-rent Project Runway. (I’m looking forward to the Heidi Klum/Tim Gunn show on Amazon but haven’t gotten there yet.) And, look, I’m watching The Masked Singer, which is weird and dumb, and I don’t even care.
Also, this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race is pretty stellar. This was maybe my favorite runway ever:
And I’ve of course been reading. I’m making my way through a box of old historical romances a friend sent me. (Today, Box 2 arrived, and it’s a lot of Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood, so it’s about to get very Old Skool around here.)
I hope you and yours are healthy and safe and getting through this all right. What are you reading/watching/listening to for distractions?
I’m sad but understanding about the baseball season being postponed this year, so now seems like a good time to rerelease my baseball novella, “One Man to Remember.”
The novella takes place in the summer of 1927 in New York City. It’s part Babe Ruth-era baseball, part speakeasy, and all around a romance between a promising rookie baseball player and a stylish sports reporter.
Babe Ruth and the Yankees’ unstoppable batting lineup, Murderers’ Row, is all anyone can talk about. Across town, the Giants’ rookie infielder Skip Littlefield racks up hits, creating a streak to rival the Babe’s. Worried his secrets could get out, he avoids the spotlight, but he catches the attention of lauded sports reporter Walter Selby, a notorious dandy whose sexuality is an open secret. Skip reluctantly agrees to an interview, where sparks fly. Skip can only hope the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from his romance with Walt. Otherwise, his career in baseball—the only thing he’s ever excelled at—could all be over.
This one was originally published in the Rainbow-Award-winning Playing Ball anthology (winner of best anthology!) in 2015.
Here Comes the Flood is about a swimmer who has arrived at his fourth Olympics after quitting swimming, falling into a bottle, and then recovering—he has something to prove—and a diver who came out in a splashy way with his (now ex) actor boyfriend, and now just wants the press to leave him alone so he can focus on his sport. They meet in the Aquatics Center locker room and there are sparks… plus lots of sports and drama. You can read more about the book here.
The book hits digital shelves on April 28 and physical shelves on May 26!
I’ve had a fairly busy summer. July was nutty, and I’d been looking forward to an uneventful August. And it wasn’t even that August was eventful as such, but… I wrote a book. I spent time with my family. I did a lot of day job work. There was quite a bit of RWA board business in there, and people from out of town came to visit, and I came down with a cold that knocked me out for most of a week, and I babysat my nephew a lot.
I’m never really idle, is my point. And things have been a little stressful the last few weeks… months, really. And I’m really terrible at not working. During the week I was sick, I kept telling myself that what I should do is build a blanket fort around my sofa and stream one of the 47 TV shows I’ve been meaning to check out, and what did I do? When I was actually awake, I mostly did day job stuff and/or tried to work on the book I have due later this fall. (What is wrong with me?)
But! I have a vacation coming up. Ten whole days out of town. I’ve been counting down the days like it’s the end of the school year.
This is all to say that I’ve been bad about updating this space, but I hope people hang on a little longer because I’ve got a lot of stuff coming soon!
I just finished a draft of the first Whitman Street book. It’s a contemporary romance: m/f enemies to lovers, featuring a grouchy veterinarian and the manager of the cat cafe next door. (That’s the book I wrote in August.) And I just got first edits on my second Elite Athletes book… that’s the series coming out next year about Olympic athletes. More about what I’ve got coming up can be found here.
I’m still hoping to get Save the Date, one of my older novellas, reissued soon. The book has been expanded and re-edited, and it has a new cover that still needs a couple of small tweaks, but my goal is to set up a pre-order for that in the near future and have the book out again later this fall. (Save the Date is a rom com about a guy who needs a date to his ex’s wedding.)
So that’s the news that’s fit to print. Stay tuned!
I am now on the national board, so I will be checking into the Marriott on Saturday and spending the week there. I’m not mad I’ll be checking into an air-conditioned hotel in the middle of a heat wave.
Anyway, if you’re attending the conference, here are some of the places I will be:
8:30am: I’m teaching my Better, Faster, Stronger First Drafts workshop. 3:00pm: Sourcebooks Signing. My first book with Sourcebooks won’t be out until 2020, but I’ll bring some swag and will be signing prints that each attendee will receive.
11:00am: Kensington Signing (I’ll have copies of Such a Dance) 2:30pm: Carina Signing (I’ll have copies of See the Light)
3:00pm: Literacy Signing! (Locals, this is open to the public! I… have forgotten which books I requested, so it will be a fun surprise. Probably my Dreamspinner titles, I think Out in the Field and The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom.)
I will also be running around like a crazy person. I’ll be that colorful blur you see running by you for most of the conference, I’m guessing. (On top of the above, I’m doing an AMA in the PAN lounge, I plan to attend the RITAs, and I have a handful of Board obligations.)
In honor of June being not only Pride Month, but also the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, I thought it might be fun to put together a list of recommended reads. Not romance, though; books you should read to celebrate the long history of LGBTQ people, which is fascinating an surprising.
So bone up on your history for this Pride!
Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 by George Chauncey
Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb
Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality by Jonathan Ned Katz
When Brooklyn Was Queer by Hugh Ryan
Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York by Donald Albrecht and Stephen Vider (companion to the exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York)
Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day by Peter Ackroyd
I also recently started reading We Are Everywhere by Matthew Reimer and Leighton Brown, the team behind the @lgbt_history account on Instagram, and it’s a wealth of interesting photos, definitely worth a look.
This list is a little male-centric and is composed only of books I’ve actually read; I’m sure there are many other great history books that I would love for you to recommend in the comments!
PS: I wrote some historical gay romances!
In Such a Dance, vaudeville dancer Eddie gets involved with bootlegger Lane in Jazz Age Times Square.
In Ten Days in August, homicide detective Hank meets female impersonator Nicky while investigating a mysterious death at a dance hall.
The big news hit social media on Monday that I’m writing a m/f contemporary romance series that centers around a cat cafe for Sourcebooks. And despite Monday being April Fool’s Day, I promise this is not a joke!
Whitman Street is a fictional street I created that is in Brooklyn, kind of in the Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill area (like the western end of Atlantic Avenue, basically). A lot of you are probably like, “Where?” but the major takeaway is that I’m writing a series that is very neighborhood-centric, so it’s like a small-town romance, just set in Brooklyn.
If you’re playing at home, you might be like, “Kate, you seem to have a lot of books coming out.” And you would be right!
So, it’s very unlikely I will have any other new books coming out in 2019, because I have so many books coming out in 2020 and 2021 and I still have to write a lot of them. The schedule is roughly this:
This summer: I’ll be reissuing Save the Date, which was a novella originally published by Loose Id that has been out of print for about a year. Save the Date is a romantic comedy about a guy who needs a date for his ex’s wedding. I’ve expanded it about 10,000 words. (Cover art and a fresh edit are still pending.)
Spring/Summer 2020: The Elite Athletes Series. This is a m/m sports romance series set at the Olympics.
Fall 2020 and into 2021: The Whitman Street series. (I don’t have firm pub dates on those.)
Spring/Summer 2021: The Restoration Series, which is a m/m trilogy about people who are on home renovation shows on a TV cable network (that is not HGTV).
I have myself on a pretty tight schedule to get all these books written on time, but I’m VERY excited about all of it.
I thought it would be fun to write some pop-culture-related stories for ye olde blogge, so I’m starting a blog column called Pop-Up, in which I wax long on various pop culture topics. This will probably be a sporadic feature, although I’ve already got a second topic idea, so we’ll see! For my first column, I’m going to talk about nostalgia for the teen lit of my youth!
A lot of romance writers will tell you the same story: they discovered romance because their mother/aunt/babysitter/etc. was a big romance reader.
That is not true for me. My mother reads a lot of heavy nonfiction. My female relatives read mostly of sci fi and literary fiction, if they read much at all. I have a degree in English literature, and wrote an interdisciplinary thesis about nonconformist women and intersectional feminism in literature. Where did my great love of romance novels come from?
I think I have the answer now!
When I was 11, back in the distant, pre-Internet time of 1991, I talked my mom, who worked full time, into letting me go to my town’s public library instead of the dread after school program after school. And there, I—and often some of my friends—did homework and also read. A lot. My friend Chris and I went to the children’s section after school every day for a few months, and when we finished our homework, we read through basically every YA novel the library had at the time. This was more or less limited to novels by Judy Blume and Loises Duncan and Lowry, some ancient Nancy Drew Mysteries, a whole lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike thrillers, and a rotating rack of Sweet Valley High.
I mention all this to say that I was the prime age to be reading the books described in Gabrielle Moss’s delightful book Paperback Crush, which I finished reading this week. The book is part nostalgia and part criticism—YA from this era had a lot of affluent white girls—but what was interesting to me was that I finally made the connection between the teen romances I was reading in middle school and my love of romance novels. Like, I can draw a straight line from Sweet Valley High to Harlequin Presents.
I don’t remember a lot of the plots anymore, but I remember getting caught up in the antics of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield when I was in sixth grade. (I was a Type A even back then, so I identified with the studious Elizabeth.) (I always identify with the Type As. Rachel on Glee, Amy on Brooklyn Nine Nine, Chidi on The Good Place, and so on. I keep a Leslie Knope Funko Pop on my desk because she is my patron saint.) And I remember the Jungle Prom and the Fiat and the over-the-top drama. It’s like a junior version of a category romance in terms of tropes and soap opera antics. And I think I loved those books at the time because sunny California felt pretty much as far from my home in suburban New Jersey as you could get. (By the way, I recently started listening to the Double Love podcast, in which two Irish ladies discuss each SVH book. It’s really fun. I recommend!)
I started reading romance again in my mid-twenties, and it started with a friend handing me a Nora Roberts novel, which I read in one sitting on a bus trip. It reminded me how reading doesn’t have to be an intellectual exercise every time, it could just be a few hours of fun escapism. Which is not that romances novels can’t be intellectual or challenging or great literature, because they definitely can be, but they can also just be engaging, enjoyable, escapist books, too. I finished that book and thought, “I forgot reading can be this much fun.” And then I went out and found more romance. The rest is history!
I mean, I read a lot of Danielle Steel as a teenager. One of my library friends and I used to take books from the massive Wall of Harlequins my hometown library had (several full bookcases of just category romances) and read the sexy bits aloud to each other. Another friend and I wrote our own SVH-esque teen romance series when we were 12 or 13. (Each book was, like, 10 pages, written long-hand on loose leaf paper. These were not sophisticated stories.) And I’ve always liked stories in which people fall in love. (I’m totally that person who sits on the couch and shouts “Kiss! Kiss!” at my TV when characters have tense romantic moments on TV.)
So then the very first novel I ever write a complete draft of was a teen romance novel based loosely on the character dynamics in a lot of the Christopher Pike books I’d read. I was seventeen when I wrote it. (The plot was basically that eight friends go on vacation together right after they graduate from high school and some of the pair up romantically and there’s a LOT of drama. Nobody was a victim of a grisly murder or anything, although I think I gave one of the characters cancer.)
Anyway, this is all to say that Paperback Crush is a really fun book that made me all kinds of nostalgic, and I heartily recommend it if you are of a certain age (namely pushing 40 and thinking a lot about the books of your formative years).