1. Reading! So I’ve decided to read J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I’ve been meaning to for a while. I started the first book on the plane home from the midwest Sunday. There are things I like and things I don’t. One thing I don’t like is a chicken-and-egg situation; the first few chapters are every urban fantasy novel I’ve ever read, but Dark Lover was published seven years ago. (So other authors may be aping J.R. Ward and not the other way around. On the other hand, I am so over vampires in da club. Can they hang out somewhere else, please?) The other thing that didn’t work was a mixed bag; the first sex scene is total insta-lust with no build-up whatsoever, BUT the scene itself is pants-on-fire hot. I don’t know what to do with that. What is working for me is that I love a book that shows male friendships, and the Black Dagger Brotherhood has echoes of other bands of brothers in fiction I have enjoyed (Suzanne Brockmann’s various SEAL teams come to mind) so I look forward to that element of the story. Also, I like how some of the mythology is a little different from other vampire stories and the worldbuilding is pretty good so far.
So that is my very early take on the BDB series. To those of you who are fans of the series, tell me in the comments—with as few spoilers as possible!—what you find compelling about it. Convince me to keep reading!
2. Writing! Last weekend, I feverishly read a true crime book, and so this week I’ve been inspired to do a gay romance take on a crime novel set in the 1890s, sort of like The Alienist but less dark and violent and with more sex. The crime is pretty gruesome but I’m debating with myself about how much detail to get into—personally, I’m pretty squeamish and don’t like violence, so I’ve been erring on the side of vague, but might amend that in the next draft. I also worry the romance is too sweet given the gritty nature of the rest of the book, and I’ve apparently forgotten how to write a love scene without it turning into a cheesefest. I’ve written almost 14,000 words so far, which is fantastic and awesome, although it’s been at the expense of some other thing I had planned to do this week, so that’s not so good. Hmm.
3. Doing! I’m gearing up for conventions! Got a box of books in the mail earlier this week to sell at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 23rd. I’m sharing a table with some of the ladies from my local RWA chapter. Then in October, I’m going to the New Jersey Romance Writers “Put Your Heart in a Book” convention and, of course, GayRomLit. I might spend one day at New York Comic Con, mostly to support some friends who will have a booth and see what freebies I can score. (Look, if I’m going to all these places, there better be some free books, is all I’m saying.)
4. Thinking! Some bullet points:
• While I was out of town last week, I saw a cousin who could be the poster child against any campaign arguing that gay people don’t make good parents; he’s about to turn eighteen, is a really great kid, and happens to have two moms. (Also, I remember when he was born, and that makes me feel OLD.)
• The publishing news o’ the week is this paid-reviews story that the Times broke last weekend. My takeaway from all the discussion is basically this: just write the best book you’re capable of. I have some theories on what drives book sales, and some of it is good reviews and word of mouth, but some of it is just… magic. Such is the nature of publishing. I think as authors, we want to have more control over sales, but books are these crazy little subjective things and you can’t control or predict how one will sell. (Well, not really. There are things you can do to bring attention to your book, but you can’t force anyone to buy it.)
5. Pimping! Hey, speaking of books… Gratuitous self-promotion corner! Four Corners got a great review from Joyfully Jay this week! (Also, Dreamspinner is having a Blue Moon 30% off sale today, so you can buy it at a discount!)