Five Things on Fr—Saturday

I had this idea for a weekly wrap up post yesterday. “I could make a list!” I thought. “And post it on Friday! It could have five things! It could be called ‘Five Things on Friday!’ Maybe it’ll even catch on and become A Thing!” Alas, I also worked a thirteen-hour day at the day job yesterday, so when I got home from the office, pretty much the last thing I wanted to do was stare at a computer screen and try to form words. But I still like this weekly wrap-up idea, so here are five things I’m reading and doing, in no particular order. Hopefully this will become a regular thing.

So many books!1. Reading! This is part of the pile of books next to my bed. I’m taking a break from reading romance to delve into some nonfiction, and also Game of Thrones. I may finish the whole series someday! I think I mentioned that my summer project is to learn a lot about British history, not for any real purpose beyond just to do it. But the funny thing about dipping your toe into the water is that soon you realize how vast the ocean is. I started reading this book on the Wars of the Roses (Alison Weir’s, which is really well-written and engaging) which soon made me realize how little I know about European history on the whole. I picked up John Davies’s book on Wales because I myself have a whole lot of Welsh ancestors (and some cousins who are still in Wales), and yet I know almost nothing about the country. (I do know that my Welsh family’s tartan is red and green and looks like Christmas, though, so there’s some trivia for you.) I’m also reading Sherry Jones’s Four Sisters, All Queens, which I got at a reading I went to a couple of months ago. It’s a nice supplement to my new case of Anglophilia. My only issue with the book is that it requires me to believe that these very young queens have a lot of political savvy, that teenaged girls are capable of playing politics with the big boys—no, wait, that makes perfect sense, never mind. 🙂

2. Doing! I saw the Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar last week. It’s one of my favorite musicals ever. It was enjoyable, but not very innovative, which is maybe why the show isn’t doing that well. (I saw the touring production a few years ago, the one with old Ted Neely as Jesus—he also played Jesus in the 70s movie; Google tells me he is 68 years old—and Corey Glover as Judas, and that was a fun show.) Still, it’s hard to go wrong with that music, and the actor playing Judas is outstanding, so if you’re in New York and can get cheap tickets, it’s worth seeing. I’ve had “Heaven on Their Minds” stuck in my head ever since.

And I plan to see Magic Mike later today. Other than that, I’ve been working a lot. Boo.

3. This is a great roundup of links to discussions of race and romance. (I have a lot of complicated feelings on the matter.)

4. Like me! Really like me! I never solicit things like Facebook likes, but it came out earlier this week that a great number of likes on your Amazon author page somehow boosts your visibility on the site, whatever that means. (I assumed book sales tied into this more, though. Amazon keeps recommending I read this book called Out in the Field, for example. LOL.) And I thought, hey, I never do this. I don’t care if you click the button, but if your clicker finger is feeling especially itchy, you could:

Like my Amazon author page
Like my Facebook page
Be my friend on Goodreads.

But only if you want to.

5. Links! Places I have been this week:

I was interviewed by Wave!
Out in the Field got a lovely review from the Novel Approach.
I wrote about flawed heroes for the RWA-NYC blog.

Phew! Busy week! Hopefully I’ll see you back here next week and we can do it again!

reviews and things

Good news first: “Lead Us Not” got a five-star review from The Novel Approach.

It’s enough to give a girl a complex about self-publishing. I swore up and down for a long time that I didn’t want to do it. It’s so much work—hiring editors and designers, converting files, distribution. I got a taste of that here in a micro scale, and it wasn’t so bad. So now I don’t know. I’ve got a couple of other shorts languishing on my hard drive. Maybe I’ll polish them up and make them available for $0.99 or something. (I think for novel-length work, I’d still want to go with a publisher.)

Also good: Out in the Field got a 4-star review from The Romance Reviews. That was pretty swell.

I’m hoping to spend a good chunk of this summer focusing on my writing. I started a bunch of new things this winter that I never got around to finishing. So I’m excited about that. You should be, too, because that means hopefully more books next year! My problem right now is deciding where to focus—I think contemporaries are my bread-and-butter, but I’ve got a few historicals that I’ve started and I have this insane idea for an epic fantasy. I KNOW! It keeps things interesting, though.

Love Is Always Write — Lead Us Not

My story for the M/M Romance Goodreads group‘s Love Is Always Write event, called “Lead Us Not,” is now available. Check out my book page for it, where you can download it in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF for all your e-reader needs. Sometime this week it will also be available at Goodreads and ARe.

A few notes on the story: When I decided to participate in Love Is Always Write, it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be writing for a publisher, so I had some room to experiment a little. Which is not to say I didn’t take the challenge seriously! It also occurred to me that that this could be the gateway to my writing, that some people who have never read my books or never heard of me could be reading the story, and I needed to make a positive first impression. But this is also the story I wanted to write, and as such, I’m committing two cardinal sins: the story is told in alternating first-person narratives, and it’s told in present tense.

I know. But I wrote the first chapter almost immediately after I got my prompt, and Jess’s voice was so clear in my head that I just… wrote it. But I knew I needed Sam’s POV, too. So, that is what the story became. Probably some readers won’t like it, but I do know that I really like this story. It’s got some of my better writing, it’s very New York-y, and I really love these characters.

It was based on this prompt:

These guys have known each other since college. They fell in love and went to New York to follow their dreams of being models and actors. They thought nothing could break them apart, but life is filled with temptations. Can these two remain true to each other or will fame tear them apart forever (please HEA story only, and I don’t approve of cheating, but if it happens I hope that two lovers can find a way to resolve things).

So, challenge accepted, I wrote a story called “Lead Us Not,” and it is about temptation. Then I asked my fabulous friend Alexis to design the cover. I love the cover so much.

The blurb:

When Sam and Jess set out for New York City, they were young, deeply in love, and had big dreams for the future. Four difficult years later, some of those dreams are starting to come true—but at what cost?

Jess has stumbled into a fairly successful modeling career, but it feels like a consolation prize after his failed attempt at acting. He knows too his good looks will only last so long and he wants to try something else, but Sam keeps talking him out of it. Sam just landed the lead in a Broadway revival and all of his hard work is finally paying off, but lately Jess seems to be slipping away from him. Just as strains and cracks begin to show in their relationship, temptations are dangled in front of both men, but will they take the bait or will they come back to each other?

You can drop me a comment in the group thread about the story.

when I’m not working, this is what I’m doing right now…

I don’t mean to be one of those writers who is all, “Gah, I’m too busy to blog, I’ll be with you in a moment!” but that is sort of the purpose of this post. I try to update the blog once a week or so, but, man, I have been so swamped lately. So in an attempt to not make things boring, a few bullet points:

• I wrote a short story for the Goodreads m/m romance group’s Love Is Always Write event, and that will go live… sometime in June. (I know the date, but it’s a surprise! Shh.) A fabulous artist friend of mine is designing a cover. More on that soon!

• I hit some kind of weird saturation point last week wherein, after reading a number of really excellent romance novels in a row, I just… didn’t want to read about romance anymore. Weird! That doesn’t often happen! I’m not sure why that happened. So for something completely different, I’m reading A Game of Thrones. I’m not a big fantasy reader, but I’ve read and enjoyed some genre classics, so I figured I’d give it a go. Love it so far. Which is good, because I bought the first four books in the series in one go. These are not small books.

• I read an article a couple of weeks ago that said that George R. R. Martin based A Song of Ice and Fire partly on the Wars of the Roses, so I bought a book on same, which I’m really enjoying.

• This coincides with my deciding a week ago to sit down and start writing a Victorian historical, although the one issue there is that most of what I know about nineteenth century British history was gleaned from romance novels. So I started researching, and came to realize that British history? Really fascinating. Lots of drama and conflict. No wonder so many have written novels about it.

• But I started wondering if there was some definitive text all the historical romance writers rely on. (If you know what it is, please tell me!) I got frustrated with Amazon because browsing through thousands of books on British history wasn’t getting me anywhere.

• So today, I went to get hair forcibly removed from my face with hot wax (that is, I got my eyebrows done—this is the one excessive grooming thing I do, because I unfortunately inherited my father’s bushy eyebrows, so I end up looking like Frida Kahlo if I leave them untamed) and then remembered that there’s a used bookstore across the street from my local salon. How convenient! I went in and was happy to find a dauntingly large illustrated history of Britain for only $6. Used bookstores are the best!

• I saw Sherry Jones read last month and bought Four Sisters, All Queens—also about European royalty, a couple of centuries prior to the Wars of the Roses—so that moved up a few spots in the TBR pile.

• So, summer projects: read the first four Song of Ice and Fire books; DIY crash course on British history.

• This’ll be like the 3-month unemployment period I had a number of years ago, during which I decided I wanted to learn all about Caesar’s Rome. I read two books just about Caesar crossing the Rubicon, no lie, and then I got an old coworker to send me a book my former employer had published about early civilizations, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

• I like learning!

• Maybe I should write a novel about sexy times in Ancient Rome. Or sexy times during the Wars of the Roses. Or both!