five things on friday

Thursday was insane and stressful and I’m glad it’s over! Let’s Friday it up!

1. Saying! The obvious headline is the article on m/m in RT. I had the opportunity to talk to the author of the article a couple of months ago, so she quoted me, along with Damon Suede, Heidi Cullinan, Kate Douglas, Josh Lanyon, and some others. The article is pretty great and you should check it out.

2. Reading! I finally finished Game of Thrones and am about 150 pages into Clash of Kings and I’m liking it. If I can find the time, I want to also read one of the, like, 15 romance novels I’ve downloaded in the last month. (Amazon sent me a, “You should review your recent purchases!” email yesterday, and I realized I hadn’t read a single one of the books listed yet. I should get on that!)

3. Writing! Reviewed proofs for Four Corners this week. I have that pre-release jumble of emotions, simultaneously elated and incredibly nervous. (I’m really pleased with the book and I’m excited for it to be published, but I always fret about how my new books will be received.)

I have a whole list of new ideas. I’m hoping for more free time in August to pursue them.

4. Doing! Earlier this week, a friend of mine had an “I quit my job to get an MFA!” party in the East Village. The party was at a nice bar on Avenue C. I can’t think of the last time I was that far east in Manhattan. Here’s your bit of insider New Yorker knowledge: I hate going to the East Village because it’s really inconvenient, subway-wise. This was the sort of special occasion I make an exception for, and I’m really psyched for my friend (also kind of jealous, because if I could afford to quit my job to focus on my writing, I would do it in a hot minute). Anyway, I walked East on Houston on a hot night and reflected on how different and weird and outside of my usual zone it was. That’s the funny thing about New York; most residents stay in their section of the city and don’t venture out of it much. That I both live and work in the same part of Brooklyn means I don’t leave a 2 mile radius all that often. It’s kind of sad, now that I think about it. So hooray for friends making me go places I don’t usually go! There’s a whole big city out there!

I’m also pretty psyched for the Olympics. I like sports! I’m going to watch as much of the coverage as I can, and I’ve got TWO Olympics-related apps on my phone. My favorite things to watch are gymnastics, diving, track, and swimming (how hot are swimmers?) but I usually also pick some random sport to follow, and this year, I think it’s going to be women’s weightlifting, because how great is Sarah Robles? So great! Strongest woman in the US!

5. Linking! Lead Us Not got a nice review from Rainbow Book Reviews. That story is still totally free. You can click on the book cover in the sidebar to get to the download links.

That’s it! Until next week…

five things on friday

I’ve been tooling around with swag designs. I’m not really a designer, but where there’s a will and a copy of Photoshop… I’ve got a monochromatic version of this that I might have printed on various things. (Because if it exists, someone will let you print your logo on it. Like, I could have plushie baseballs with my logo on them. I don’t know what good that does me, but it can be done!) Decisions! Anyway. It’s Friday. Here are some Things.

1. Reading! The last 100 pages of Game of Thrones are kind of a drag because I know what happens, thanks to the show. I think that’s why I’ve been dragging my heels on reading the end of it; things do not work out for all of the characters! I’ve been kind of reading it through my fingers. I’m also reading this book on the history of London; the writing is gorgeous, but the book itself is a little unwieldy. (I own an ereader but prefer to read nonfiction in paper because it’s easier to flip around. This book is just shy of 800 pages printed on nice paper, so it’s heavy.)

2. Writing! I’m trying to do a little journaling or freewriting every day. It’s a pretty effective way to get through creative blocks, and I’ve been so distracted lately that it’s been good for getting my focus back. I’ve had what I think are some great ideas this week, so hopefully that translates into new stories soon!

I’m also working on final edits of Four Corners and revising this fantasy thing I’ve been working on and keeping busy!

3. Doing! I booked my flight to GayRomLit in Albuquerque! (I even spelled the city correctly on the first attempt this time!) I got a really good deal (relatively speaking). I’ve never been to the US Southwest before. (I think San Francisco might be the only place I’ve been west of the Mississippi. I should really travel more.)

Otherwise, I’ve worked a lot this week, but I have a ticket to see The Dark Knight Rises tomorrow and generally plan to have a good weekend. 🙂

4. Harshing My Mellow! The news out of Colorado this morning is horrific. My heart goes out to everyone affected by it.

The other news lighting up my Twitter feed today is that the Goodreads Bully people wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post that I will not link to because lord knows those people are getting too much attention as it is. We all agree on this, too, right? It’s repugnant to post the personal details of people on the Internet, even if they said some not-nice things about something you wrote. Is there a marauding band of rabid, pitchfork-wielding book reviewers who hide in the shadows, waiting to attack sweet, innocent authors? I’ve never seen it, but even if there is, how does that justify putting people in harms way, which is what you do when you put their personal info on the Internet?

Some people are dicks, it’s true. Some of these people have Internet connections. They voice their opinions about things quite vociferously and with heaping loads of snark. If you are an author, there is a certain inevitability that someone will at some point write a scathing review of one of your books. You will not understand it. You will shout and gnash your teeth and argue about it with your cat. And then you will move on, because you have other books to write, and one stinking review will not end your writing career. Then later, you will make jokes, because sometimes the bad reviews are funny. (My favorites lately are the reviewers who two-star Out in the Field all appalled that it’s a romance novel. Were the two angsty dudes on the cover not enough of a clue?)

I feel like I’ve given the actual bullies more attention than they deserve, so moving on…

5. Promoting! So, you may have heard, I have a book coming out in 2.5 weeks, which is sooner than I had anticipated, and I find myself scrambling with promo stuff. This past spring, I organized myself a little blog tour for Out in the Field and now I’ve lined up some guest appearances timed around the release of Four Corners, but I don’t have time to do the all-out assault, you know? (That’s a lot of guest blog posts to write, for one thing, and my work schedule is so bonkers I barely have time to think. That was the one tricky thing about the Out in the Field promo blitz; it was really hard to come up with original things to say every time. Besides, like, “Nrr, I like baseball.”)

Fun thing: a few weeks ago, I was going through a few boxes of crap I took from my mother’s house. Among the things I found were a bunch of notebooks full of stories I wrote in college. (I wrote longhand! Crazy!) Turns out, I wrote a story when I was maybe 19 that is also called “Four Corners.” I didn’t read it because I’m pretty sure I would find anything I wrote as a nineteen year old terrifying, but I don’t remember what it was about and I keep wondering. Maybe I should read it.

Well. Until next week!

Coming Soon: Four Corners

My next book will be available for your reading pleasure on August 8! (That seems really soon!) Here’s the blurb:

Since childhood, Jake, Adam, Kyle, and Brendan have been teammates, best friends, brothers. Then one day, when they were twenty-five, Adam disappeared without a word, devastating his friends—none more so than Jake, who had secretly loved Adam since they were teenagers.

Now, five years later, Adam is back, and he has his mind set on Jake. But those years of anger, hurt, and confusion are a lot to overcome, and Jake doesn’t find it easy to forgive. He isn’t sure they’ll ever fit together the way they did. Jake, Kyle, and Brendan have moved on with their lives, but Adam’s high-profile career keeps him in the closet—the same place he’s been for years. Still, his apologies seem sincere, and the attraction is still there. Jake desperately wants to give him a chance. But first he has to find out why Adam left and if he’s really back for good.

Available at Dreamspinner Press.

I’ll have more to say as the release date gets closer. Woo!

Five Things!

Three weeks in a row! That makes it a trend.

1. Reading! I read a couple of novellas this week and I will eventually finish Game of Thrones. I am so looking forward to my upcoming vacation; I want to just lay around and read for a week.

2. Doing! Last weekend, I went to a local Romance Writers of America meeting. I’ve been a member of the NYC chapter for, like, a year and a half, but always have schedule conflicts, so I never go. Last Saturday, I had no other plans, so I went to the meeting. I’m super glad I did for a couple of reasons, but most relevant to your interests is that Tere Michaels was the guest speaker, and you guys, she is fabulous. She did a workshop on writing strong secondary characters that I greatly enjoyed.

The other significant thing is that I made a more firm decision to go to the RT Booklovers Convention next year, and somehow Damon Suede telling me over dinner that I should do a panel has led to my writing TWO workshop proposals. So we’ll see how that works out. Either way, everyone I’ve talked to has enthused about how great this convention is, so I really want to go.

3. Thinking! A few people have theorized that J.R. Ward’s upcoming m/m book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is going to make m/m as a genre really explode. I wonder about that. I think there’s still enough homophobia in the world that m/m won’t, at least not in the near future, take off the way erotic romance has in the wake of 50 Shades. But one thing I’ve talked to other authors about is availability. How many people who might otherwise be interested in the genre don’t know about it? Will more exposure translate into a lot of new sales? Which authors will be successful? Will there be a glut of J.R. Ward knock-offs? Will the cream rise to the top? It’s both exciting and terrifying!

I, by the way, purchased the first book in that J.R. Ward series and I plan to read it while I’m on vacation. A friend and I have been talking about it for a while, wanting to see what all the buzz is about. I don’t read a lot of paranormals, but the last time I went on vacation, I read, like, six Sookie Stackhouse books, so Vampire Vacation 2 it is!

4. Writing! I had an idea for a story yesterday. I promise I’m not a crazy person, but I’ve had this character kicking around in my head for a couple of weeks and couldn’t figure out what to do with him, and then suddenly BAM! Yesterday I got it. The last few books I’ve finished have been out of my usual scope—the ghosts in Across the East River Bridge, the setting research I had to do for Out in the Field, the fantasy thing I’m working on now, even my newest Four Corners is set in Chicago instead of New York—and part of me wants to do a straight-up (but not straight, har har) contemporary set in Brooklyn, and I finally figured out how to plop this character into it. So, on the first page, he loses his job and his apartment through circumstances of his own making, and he has to figure out how to change and grow and make a new life for himself. Possibly there’s a hot blond guy with his own issues to help lead the way.

I’m hesitant to talk too much about the fantasy thing I’m working on because I haven’t sold it yet, but I’m revising it right now based on some editorial feedback, and that’s probably what I’ll be working on most of the weekend. Calling it “fantasy” is probably a misnomer; when I workshopped it with my writers group, which is about 60% fantasy writers, they were like, “Oh, honey, this is not fantasy, this is romance.” I was like, “I know, but weird shit happens, so it has fantasy elements.” They seemed unconvinced, but the book has Celtic gods and reincarnation and magical objects, and those are not things you usually find in a standard contemporary romance.

5. Other! Not a lot of news to report this week. I sent first edits of Four Corners back to the publisher on Sunday. I think we’ll have cover art soon—I saw a mock-up and I love it, it’s very much to my design tastes.

Next, it’s Swag Design Time. I’m doing some local events in August and September and then GayRomLit, so I need bookmarks and postcards and things. Pens, probably. Stickers, people like stickers. Also, and this is so obvious I’m embarrassed it took me a long time to come up with it, baseball cards for Matt and Iggy, because duh. (I’ve got a template designed, I just have to find photos and then get them printed—if anyone knows a company that will print trading cards PLEASE TELL ME. Neither of the printers I use regularly do anything in the right size.)

Five Things on Friday

1. Reading! I haven’t been reading much this week, but I did have a conversation about Game of Thrones with a guy at a party on Wednesday. That maybe says more about the kinds of people I hang around than anything else.

2. Writing I got first edits back on my next novel, Four Corners, this week. I also got a cover mock-up. This is one of those strange coincidences of timing, but as it happens, there is an image of a home plate on the cover, although I hasten to add that the characters in this novel are NOT professional baseball players, but rather former high school teammates. I would say baseball is an important motif in the novel (and I bet you can guess what the title refers to), but the novel is not about baseball in the same way Out in the Field is. But, man, two baseball-y books in the same year—that was just how the publishing calendar worked out, it wasn’t really a deliberate choice on my part. I guess we can call 2012 “The Year We Learned Kate Is Really, REALLY Obsessed with Baseball.”

Anyway, edits are going pretty well, but I’m the sort of writer masochist who likes revision time almost as much as I like writing the first draft. This has been a weird experience; I haven’t really looked at the manuscript closely since last fall, so I’m seeing it now with fresh eyes, and I’m having all these tiny epiphanies about the characters. It’s a little late in the game for that, but I think it says something about not rushing to publish; sometimes you just have to let things marinate for a while. It’s the difference between, “The character acts this way because he has to for plot reasons,” and “The character acts this way because he feels x, y, and z and has reasons.” There’s a scene in which the two main characters have a fight in the middle of the novel, and I feel like I finally just this week really understood what the fight is actually about. Is that a weird thing for a writer to say? I didn’t have to do more than add a paragraph to clarify things, but there are conscious and subconscious elements to the fight—you see what the characters are saying, but the fight is about something else entirely under the surface. I always knew that vaguely, but it wasn’t clear to me until a couple of days ago. (Good thing this is not published yet and I still have time to fix it.)

Also, I got a little teary when re-reading one scene this morning. I hadn’t remembered it being that affecting. I’m glad I still think it is.

But, of course, I’m also at the point of the production cycle when I start to worry. The stars of Four Corners, Jake and Adam, are both complicated characters, and both make mistakes and neither is likable all the time. Adam, especially, is kind of a dick at the beginning of the novel. He gets redeemed, which is the point. But is that going to turn off readers? These guys are soulmates and will never be happy without each other, is the thing, but I as writer have to do more work than just tell you that, and conveying why they like each other despite their flaws is the challenge of this particular book.

Still, I really love these characters. That’s also maybe a strange thing for a writer to say, because of course I do, but this book, I have feelings about it. A lot of them.

I think too much, maybe.

This is also the book I was working on last spring when the hard drive in my MacBook imploded. I’m considering dedicating the book to the cute, gothy Bradley Cooper look-alike at the Genius Bar who tried valiantly to rescue the novel from the burning data ashes.

3. Doing! The annual day on which I get showered with people posting on my Facebook wall (otherwise known as my birthday) happened earlier this week with little fanfare. I’m too busy right now to do much for it. (My dad called me the day after, and justified his missing my actual birthday by saying, “I didn’t want to call you last night because I figured you’d be out partying.” Right. You know what I did on the night of my birthday? I put in a late night at the day job.)

I’m going to go to my first RWA-NYC meeting tomorrow. I’ve been a member for more than a year and still haven’t actually made it to a meeting (usually they conflict with another regular thing I have).

Also, it’s supposed to get up to 100°F tomorrow in NYC. I finally got a window AC for my bedroom this year. Hooray!

4. Other! Here’s a pretty interesting article on the history of condoms. I read it and thought, “Wow, women in olden times probably got a lot of yeast infections.” (Seriously, though, linen? Sheep intestines? FISH BLADDERS? Yiiiikes.)

5. Also! My website went down for a couple of days thanks to an incompetent hacker who installed some spam code somehow; it did not display properly, so you got nothing instead of an advertisement, which I guess is something? It took me a while to figure out what was going on, so I took out the apps in the sidebar (for Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter). So this seems like as good a time as any to streamline my website. That will be a weekend project.

No new reviews or anything this week that I’m aware of. So I turn things over to you:

I haven’t read a romance novel in a while. I would like to! What really awesome, mind-blowing, must-recommend-it-to-everyone books did you read in June?