reviews and things

I woke up this morning to find two new reviews of Across the East River Bridge:

MM Good Book Reviews gave it 4 hearts:

This is a great story that drew me in because of the interesting historical facts as well as a doomed 1870’s love story and the present love story. I must admit that I am a bit of a history nerd and love finding out new historical facts especially when it’s blended in with fiction and this author does that beautifully. This isn’t a light read; I’d class it as medium as we have two historical researcher’s digging into a mystery that is over a hundred years old and they are trying to figure out their attraction to each other; while one of them is fighting it and two ghosts are interfering with them as well.

And Cecilia Ryan at Three Crow Press gave it 4.5/5 stars:

The characters were engaging, and the mystery that formed the basis of the plot was interesting to watch unfold, with satisfying glimpses into history dotted along the way that were a bit like uncovering buried treasure. All in all, it was an entertaining read with perhaps a little more substance to the plot than you might normally find, and strong enough characters, setting and writing to hold up to the increased complexity. I can honestly say I just enjoyed reading it, in a simple sort of way that makes me perfectly happy.

(This was an especially nice review for me, since Cecilia and I are both members of the same online writing community, and we have had some, let’s say, spirited discussions. So I’m especially grateful that she took the time to read the book!)

I have crossed the 50,000-word threshold on my NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m currently about 60% of the way through my outline, so there’s still a lot of story to go. And there are fantasy elements! If you had asked me two years ago if I saw myself ever writing fantasy, I would have laughed at you, and yet here we are. Just goes to show it’s good to keep an open mind!

holiday shorts: 1 free, 1 soon

1. If you missed Dreamspinner’s Halloween Howl, it was a promo that went on all October in which authors contributed very short stories that were hidden around the Dreamspinner website. I wrote a story that I thought was maybe not the usual Halloween fare.

Let me explain: I grew up in the Jersey suburbs, in the sort of small but typical town you see on TV. Growing up, Halloween involved going door-to-door in my entirely residential neighborhood with a decorated pillowcase, usually with my best friend at the time and probably my brother, plus maybe some others, with at least one mom in tow. But when I moved to New York City, I discovered it was a different beast entirely. One of the weirdest things to me is that kids trick-or-treat at stores. I guess I can see why—going into a brightly-lit store on a major thoroughfare is safer than going door-to-door on a dark side street—but I still think it’s weird. In Brooklyn, there seem to be lots of weird rules about which houses you can go to. In the neighborhood of Park Slope this year, apparently there was some kind of collective decision that houses with decorations were open to trick-or-treaters, and houses without were not.

This year on Halloween, I was out with a friend on an unrelated errand in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill, which is a cute, quiet, fairly affluent neighborhood. My friend was born and raised in Brooklyn, and as we watched all the kids popping in and out of stores on Court Street, we had a very surreal conversation about Halloween. Mostly it went like this:

HER: Those kids are too old for trick-or-treating.
ME: Aw, come on. You never went trick-or-treating as a teenager? Back home, kids did that all the time. I did when I was sixteen.
HER: In stores?

So you see the fundamental disconnect.

Anyway, now that I’ve veered off topic (participating in NaNoWriMo makes me wordy!) I will say that in my neighborhood, the houses that want trick or treaters send a designated person to sit on the stoop and hand out candy, rather than waiting for kids to come to the door. That’s where the idea for “On the Stoop” came from.

Adrian is experiencing something that I think all transplants to NYC experience at some point, that disillusioned fatigue that comes from the city being harder to deal with than you ever anticipated. (“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” sang my fellow Jerseyan Frankie, and I think it’s really true, because New York will chew you up and spit you right out if you let it.) So he’s wondering if all his pain and suffering and rent money are really worth it as he walks home on Halloween night. Then he sees a handsome older man handing out candy on his stoop. They get to talking.

The story is available for free in PDF right here. Enjoy!

2. I think I’ve mentioned, I have a story in this year’s Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. It’s about a man who is in love with his roommate’s boyfriend. It was inspired in part by a Craigslist Missed Connection post I saw about a year ago, and I was so taken by the idea: the guy posting was in love with his roommate’s boyfriend but the roommate took the boyfriend for granted. A classic conflict, no? That’s where the story comes from.

The whole Advent Calendar collection is available here for pre-order. Individual stories will be available in December.

But if you’re brimming over with excitement, I’ve posted an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

Saturday Snark

I figured I’d play along. Here’s a little Finn and Troy from Across the East River Bridge:

And now he was sitting in the same room as Troy, who was yammering on obliviously about gender relations in the nineteenth century, and all Finn could think was that Troy had a really lovely mouth, and he would very much like to kiss it again.

Troy interrupted his lecture to ask, “Do I have something on my face?”

“What? No.”

“Oh. You’re staring.”

Finn blinked a few times. “No, I’m not.”

Troy shifted his feet so that he was sitting with his legs stretched out. He leaned against the sofa, right next to where Finn was also leaning. “You weren’t even listening.”

Finn contemplated lying. “Eh, I guess I zoned out. Sorry.”

“It’s fine. Probably stuff you mostly already knew. Here, have a fortune cookie.” Troy picked up two and handed one to Finn.

Finn cracked his open. He read aloud, “Look in the right places; you will find some good offerings.

“In bed,” said Troy with a grin.

Finn rolled his eyes. “You are such a child.”

“I don’t think there is anything childish about showing you the offerings found in my bed.”