Available Today: The Boy Next Door

The new book is out today! Big thanks to everyone who had a hand in this one, from my beta readers to everyone who sat with me in cafes while I banged my head on a table hacking my way through a revision. You all know who you are. 🙂


When Lowell moves back to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother, the last person he expects to see living in the house next door is his childhood friend Jase, grown up now and more attractive than ever. Jase had starred in many of Lowell’s teenage fantasies, but Lowell is convinced Jase is straight. And yet, as they rekindle their friendship, it begins to look like Jase might not be so straight after all.

Jase has problems of his own: his troubled ex-wife has allowed him full custody of their daughter on one condition: he never exposes her to his affairs with other men. The arrangement works just fine until he starts falling for Lowell and a whole new world of possibilities opens up for him. But how can he have a relationship with a man and still keep his daughter?


The Boy Next Door

Welcome to New Book Week. The Boy Next Door will be available this Tuesday from Loose Id. More details to come on Monday night or Tuesday morning. (I’m fighting a serious case of holy-crap-is-the-weekend-really-over-but-I-still-have-so-much-to-do-itis right at the moment. It’s tempting to give up and go to bed. ;))

Also, I’m gonna be around the interwebs all week doing little promotional things, so look out for me (I’ll make a big wrap-up post Friday-ish).

I’ve updated the book page to include a short excerpt for your reading pleasure. And here’s the lovely cover by Valerie Tibbs.

This book was in the works for a long time and I’m really excited that it’s finally getting published!

what makes a romance novel

It’s funny. I made a resolution-y commitment to blog and twitter and all that this year, and then I got slammed by a project at my day job that has zapped all my time and energy. In an effort to at least hold up my commitment to blog once a week, here are some disconnected thoughts:

I’ve been thinking some about what constitutes a romance novel. Given what a wide range of stories fall under the umbrella “romance,” I think the only connecting thread is the focus on the development of a romantic relationship culminates in a happy ending. Other than that, I think all bets are off. Now, I love romance and I love mysteries and suspense thrillers, so it’s probably not at all a surprise that romantic suspense is my favorite romance sub-genre (to read), and in those novels, the couple usually meets under trying circumstances and spends the novel not only falling in love by trying to stay out of danger.

Maybe this is only on the brain because my younger brother is getting married this summer, so he and his fiancée get asked the “Oh, how did you meet?” question a lot, and the answer is pretty mundane (college) and I imagine that’s pretty true for most couples? A lot of my coupled friends have similar stories; a mutual friend introduced them or they met at a concert or they both participated in the same after-work activity. It’s pretty rare for a romance novel to feature a couple who just, like, meet and go on dates. At least in the books I’m reading. I think if someone wrote the story of a typical couple, readers would complain that there wasn’t enough conflict. (And they’d probably be right.)

Which begs the question, how much should romance novels resemble real life? People cite fantasy escapism as a reason to like romance novels. I like books that deal with hard truths, gritty settings, difficult circumstances, those sorts of things—corrupt cops, reformed criminals, heroes with troubled pasts, yes, yes, yes—but at the end of the day, no matter how “true to life” those stories are, they aren’t really true to my life, so I can get absorbed in the story of someone who overcame incredible adversity but then put the book down and be back sitting in my nice warm bed in my cozy apartment.

I was the kid who always had a book in her hand. (This hasn’t really changed; my shopping weakness is handbags, and my main criteria for evaluating them is whether they are big enough to hold a book or two, or at least my Kindle.) I went through phases (see my note on binge reading); I liked adventure stories as a tween, for example, I think because they were the sort of books you could get pulled into enough to block out the world. I read a lot of historical fiction in high school. Perhaps the cliché about a book taking you places you couldn’t go otherwise applies.

There’s still something of that in me as a reader. I’m not a big fantasy reader in the high genre fantasy sense, but I like the “fantasy” element of romances—they exist in a world where big things happen and everything works out. Maybe the two main characters meet in college, like my brother and his fiancée did, but they meet under unusual circumstances or there’s a huge roadblock or one of them has to overcome some deep secret from his past, etc. etc.

It’s sort of like how, if all of your knowledge of New York City came from watching police procedural television series’, you might think the city was still a violent cesspool, which it really isn’t. Fiction is so often more extreme than real life, or different enough from our lives that we feel safe observing it.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. A lot of my characters are ordinary folks who get caught up in extraordinary circumstances. In my latest (out next Tuesday!) we have Lowell, who until recently lived in a studio apartment in NYC and worked as a graphic designer. His new next-door neighbor is Jase has a mundane office job. Ordinary guys who are connected by a shared past. Lots of extraordinary things happen in the novel—without giving much away, I can tell you that Lowell and Jase both have plenty of baggage, with plenty of roadblocks in their way. Because these guys can’t just be neighbors… what kind of romance novel would that be? 😉

so I have a new book coming out…

I am what I think of as a binge reader. I’ll latch onto a genre and read only that genre for a couple of weeks, as many books as I can get my hands on. Like, I’ll read three or four regencies in a row. I went through a two-month period once wherein I only read Westerns. I currently am reading a lot of detective novels.

Apparently I’m this way with writing, too, although less so genre than theme. I seem to be going through a phase where I really like to write second-chance stories, especially those that involve two characters who knew each other well in the past—as lovers or as just friends—and then meet again after a long absence. I’ve always liked stories like this and I’m not sure why. I suppose there’s the idea of The One That Got Away, although there isn’t really anyone like that in my past. (Sure, there are a few people I’d like to see again, flubbed moments I’d like to do over, and I occasionally think about that one guy who just had bad timing, but there’s no one person that I yearn to meet again.) And yet, it’s a theme I seem to revisit a lot. Exhibit A: Seth and Kieran.

Exhibit B: in my upcoming book, The Boy Next Door, Lowell moves back to his hometown in Connecticut. He doesn’t realize until after he’s bought his house that his next-door neighbor is his childhood best friend—and the subject of a few of his teenage fantasies—Jase. He and Jase drifted apart when they got to high school and led very different adult lives, but they find as they rekindle their friendship that they have a lot more in common than it seemed at first glance.

The book will be out on January 25th! You can sneak a peak at the cover here.


So 2010 was a pretty stellar year. My first book came out, and my second, and I sold a third. (It’ll be out January 25th!)

I have a bunch of stuff on the agenda for 2011. One of my resolutions is to do a little more marketing, and I want to make myself as accessible as possible. This means:

1. I’m going to conventions this year. More about that as dates approach.

2. I’m going to try to do more with my existing social networking accounts, which hopefully means updating my LJ and Twitter more than once a week. Maybe.

3. I’ve got a Facebook fan page now. So you can follow me over there. I’ll post updates and things.

4. And of course the writing. I had the germ of a new idea right after Christmas and spent a number of hours feverishly writing this new story, and it feels really great, I have to tell you.

So that’s what’s going on with me. More info on the new release soon!