five things, on friday this time!

Hey, how are you, how’s it going? Here’s my weekly wrap-up.

1. I missed posting last week because I grossly miscalculated how much time I’d be spending with family over Thanksgiving. (This is a problem I have. Every year I lug my computer to whichever family member is hosting thinking I’ll get some writing done, and every year my family is all, “Spend time with us! Why are you getting your computer out?” and then I get nothing done. I should learn to accept this.)

2. NaNoWriMo ends today. Here’s a round-up of what I’m working on:

a. A romantic comedy novella about a guy who gets invited to his ex’s wedding. This was a tremendous joy to write and I pounded a complete draft out in a week, which I think must be some kind of land-speed record. I was playing around with the tropes from every Julia Roberts movie you’ve ever seen. I think it’s funny. I have to do some revision work on it (I mean, I wrote it in a week) but I do really like this story, so I will keep you posted on when/if it will be available on an ereader near you.

b. A short novel about two damaged characters, a misanthrope and an extrovert. This was actually kind of torturous to write because I started with a not-fully-fleshed out idea and I had to really push myself to get past the 25K hump, which seems to be my writing problem of late. (That is, I get really excited about a new story idea, write 25K in a blizzard of activity, and then promptly lose all interest in the project. This particular malady has been plaguing me since August.) I think forcing myself to write until the end of the story was probably a good exercise, but I can’t say the story itself has much going for it. I especially failed in making the novel have the emotional resonance I thought a story like this should have. Not all of my books are winners, I guess. I think it’s salvageable and I maintain that the premise is a good one, but this manuscript is rough. To the editing board!

c. On Tuesday, I spent my lunch break freewriting whatever popped into my head and came up with an idea for a m/m Regency. I’ve written about 5,000 words so far. We’ll see if I get it over the 25K hump.

Aside: I worry about discussing my WIPs publicly, because some (a lot) of the things I write will probably never be fit for human consumption, and how much of a dirty tease am I if I’m all, “I’m writing this thing!” and you go “I want to read it!” but then I never finish it? Also, talking about what I’m working on seems to be the death knell for my creativity. Like… talking to readers about a sequel to one of my books? Pretty much kills all desire I have to write said sequel. No idea why this is. Pressure to actually do it, maybe? I have at some point sat down and started a sequel to every one of my novels, with the exception of Out in the Field, but I’ve never actually finished one. [OitF ties everything up quite tidily and I never felt the necessity to revisit those characters. I sort of blew my baseball wad there, I think.])

Will any of the abovementioned projects make it to bookstores? Who knows?!

3. I successfully (?) finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Then the woman who runs my book club came down with the flu and we canceled our meeting, so I haven’t really gotten to talk to anyone about it yet. Although, actually, a few people I know have essays in Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades, so I went to a release party for the book on Wednesday. I did talk to a few people! I have the same opinion I had before I read the book, which is that, generally, the phenomenon is a good thing because it has opened up the conversation about erotic romance and, I think, indirectly gotten people talking about LGBT romance, which, you may know, is relevant to my interests. The contents of the book are kind of irrelevant. But I can say now that I’ve read it that the book’s chief flaw (IMHO) is that Ana exhibits a profound level of naivete that I could buy in a 16-year-old but not in a 22-year-old grown woman. When you consider that her personality is basically Bella Swan’s elevated to an age when it’s not creepy to think about her in a sexual context, it pulls you out of the story. (Also, the creepy stalker push-pull dynamic between Ana and Christian—wherein she would weep about how he was all wrong for her but he would bully her into liking him again—was off putting to me personally, but the same dynamic is in every Harlequin Presents I’ve ever read.) (I wasn’t really a fan of the first-person present POV, either, but I have less of a leg to stand on there.)

4. I saw Lincoln right before Thanksgiving and really enjoyed it! It’s surprisingly engaging for a movie that is pretty much about political process. I spent some time this week reading cerebral essays picking apart the history presented in the movie, which the nerd in me has been enjoying.

5. Otherwise, work on Show and Tell is moving right along. (January 8!) I’ve got a bunch of stuff on my schedule over the next couple of weeks that I’m looking forward to (parties! concerts! readings!). I totally splurged on a gorgeous handbag at a sample sale the other day, and that was sort of the highlight of my week, because sometimes I’m shallow.

five things: whoops, it’s saturday

I was all set to have a wrap-up post up yesterday, but then when I was writing it, the post turned into this screed about how much I dislike how sex is handled in this het erotica novel I’m reading, and probably that one is best left in my brain and not on my website. So besides that weirdness, what else happened this week?

1. Earlier this week I was elected vice president of the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’m excited! I’m nervous! I do think, though, that we’re at a really crucial moment for LGBT romance, just as it’s starting to hit the mainstream. There’s still some work to be done to help LGBT romance writers be taken seriously. This is a really great board that I’ll be working with: President Damon Suede, Secretary Zahra Owens, and Treasurer Lara Brukz.

2. This is not the book I was talking about above, but my book club is reading Fifty Shades of Grey, which I had managed to escape reading to this point. I know, but here’s the thing: The actual content of the book is kind of irrelevant now. The fact that the book took off and that the perception of it is that it’s this hot, spicy book that is capturing imaginations means that a lot more attention has been brought to romance that is, let’s say, not the traditional boy-meets-girl-they-get-married-and-have-babies narrative. This includes more attention paid to erotic romance, BDSM romance, and, yes, LGBT romance. (There’s a subscribers-only article in last week’s Publishers Weekly on this very topic.) So I think, in the grand scheme of things, even if the book itself is terrible (I’m finding it boring) its publication has changed the landscape for romance novels in a mostly positive direction. (Not all of the press has been positive, obviously, but at the same time, how many books by your favorite authors have ended up on “If you liked 50 Shades, you’ll love…” lists? A couple of mine have.)

3. NaNoWriMo is always a two-pronged event for me. I both write a novel and do a lot of the social events. A week ago, I gave that above spiel about how, even if 50 Shades is terrible, it has generally affected positive change in the industry (mostly) to people at a NaNo party and they did not look at me like I was crazy! And last night, I was talking about JR Ward with a woman, and after we had the obligatory “Butch and Vishous should really just fuck already” conversation, she said, “I’ve never seen any other gay romance outside of slash fanfic,” and I said, “Oh, hey, let me give you my card.” I am apparently shameless!

It is kind of nice to answer the, “Oh, you’re published? What do you write?” question with “gay romance” and have people say, “that’s so cool!” instead of “Why would you do that?” See, changing times!

4. Word-count-wise, I’ve written roughly 54,000 words so far this November on two different stories. One is the book I’m not sure works (misanthrope meets colorful, outgoing guy) the other is a romantic comedy about a big gay wedding that is sort of an homage to every romantic comedy movie involving a wedding that you’ve ever seen. I hope to finish a draft of the latter this weekend. Would you like a tiny excerpt? Of course you would:

I knew I was being dramatic.

Okay, I was weeping copiously, my tears spilling on the bar.

“So what I hear you saying,” said Kevin from his perch behind the bar, “is that you want me to pour you a drink.”

“You don’t think he’s had enough?” asked Darren.

“He hasn’t had any.”

“Oh.” Darren shifted on the stool next to me. “That bad, huh? What happened, Tris?”

I was too blubbery to speak, so I pulled the invitation from my coat pocket and handed it to Darren.

He read it aloud. “…request your presence at the wedding of Stuart Harker and Roger Stone…” There was a pause, although I couldn’t see was Darren was doing through my fingers given that they were pressed firmly against my eyes. “Wait, Stuart Harker? As in your ex-boyfriend Stuart?”

“Yes,” I said, the word sounding watery. “His parents request my presence to witness the wedded bliss between their son and the asshole he met less than a year ago.”

“That’s cold, man,” said Darren.

“Ten years of my life! I was with Stuart for ten years! Then we break up and he marries the first stupid twink who comes along.”

When I looked up, Kevin and Darren were exchanging glances.

“Maybe Tristan shouldn’t drink,” Darren said.

5. On the other hand, I just got edits for Show and Tell so that is the next thing on my priority list.

five things on friday: escape from the island edition

This was a WEEK you guys.

Mosaic at the Houston Street stop on the 1 train. This could have been our future!

1. Vote! Well, presumably you already got that taken care of Tuesday, but in my tiny universe, the election for the Rainbow Romance Writers Board is Monday and I am running for Vice President (against JP Barnaby, who has been a gracious opponent and said a lot of really nice things about me… she is also a swell gal and I appreciate that she is encouraging participation in the chapter). Anyway, if you’re a chapter member, please remember to vote on Monday. (And if you are an LGBT romance writer but are not a member of the chapter… why not?)

2. There is a whole world outside my neighborhood! I left Brooklyn for the first time in two weeks on Monday to go to Lady Jane’s Salon (that’s NYC’s monthly romance reading series). I’m really glad I did that; all of the readings were great and I got to patronize a bar that lost a week’s worth of revenue while the lower part of Manhattan was without power. Thanks to the MTA for actually getting the subway back up much faster than expected; I was starting to feel a little trapped. The train lines that go through my neighborhood were all back up as of Tuesday, and I think the whole system was more or less back up yesterday, so now I can come and go at my leisure. (Lord knows I’d be SOL if I actually drove. They’re rationing gas in the city now.)

The one weird direct consequence of the storm for me is that I had super limited Internet access until yesterday. (And, I mean, my iPhone is great and everything, but I was straining my already terrible vision trying to read websites on that tiny screen.) Really, though, a spotty Internet connection is nothing compared to what some people lost. An acquaintance of mine is basically homeless now because her place is still waterlogged. Friends of mine in the suburbs lost power AGAIN during that nor’easter Wednesday. I got out lucky.

3. Novel in a Month. So I’m doing NaNoWriMo, which is going okay. My word count is nothing to sneeze at, although I have mixed feelings about the story. I’m not sure the internal conflict works. One of my protagonists is doing the “I want to be with you, but you’re too good for me” wankery that I usually dislike. (Every time I catch myself writing it, I think, “No, that’s stupid. Stop it, Kate.”) So this story is going to need some work when I’m done.

Seriously, “Would I find this annoying if I were reading this in a book by another author?” is an excellent litmus test. If the answer is, “Yes,” then cut that out.

I also thought the reclusive character had agoraphobia until I started researching, and clearly I was mistaken about agoraphobia, so now I think the character has some kind of panic disorder, but I need a better source on phobias and anxiety than Wikipedia. (It’s time to email my uncle the psychiatrist, probably.)

4. But how about that election? I mean, as my authorial self, I try to stay out of politics, although if you’ve read Blind Items or take into account that I live in a very blue district in a blue county in a blue state, you can probably guess how I voted. Still, the fact that marriage equality passed in three states (and a ban was voted down in a fourth) is not insignificant. New York welcomes you to this side of history, Maryland, Maine, and Washington. Feels like the tide is turning.

5. I need more coffee. Not really a breaking news item so much as the truth. Apparently the latte I sprung for this morning is not getting the job done.

five things: post-Sandy edition

It’s been a very weird week. Here’s my wrap-up:

1. Oh, Sandy! I made it through the storm pretty well, all things considered. I live on high enough ground that there wasn’t any flooding, my building didn’t suffer any property damage, and we’ve had power the whole time. There were a number of downed trees in the neighborhood—a few that looked like they just got yanked, roots and all, right out of the sidewalk—but that was the worst of it. So, really, I’m good. It’s been a strange couple of days, though, with the subway down, all kinds of technical difficulties at the office, and a lot of storm-related zaniness in the neighborhood (well, maybe zaniness is the wrong word, but things that aren’t normal: really obscene car traffic, grocery stores running out of food, gas stations nearly out of gas, and so on).

So I came through unscathed, but I’ve got friends who still don’t have power and are dealing with much bigger problems than what I experienced.

I don’t think the bigger picture really sank in until Wednesday. I spent a lot of time Tuesday on the phone or online connecting with my friends and family and making sure everyone was accounted for and doing okay. (Everyone’s fine, albeit with setbacks like no power. Con Ed says lower Manhattan will be back Saturday night. Westchester County—where my mother is currently living in an apartment without heat or hot water—is a bigger question mark, maybe not back to normal until next week. A tree fell on my dad’s house in Connecticut, but the damage seems minimal.) I had some sense of the scope of things because I was more or less glued to the local news from Sunday evening until Tuesday evening. But I didn’t get it. It took hearing from some people I know in New Jersey, who are dealing with terrible flooding, no power, and now they’re running out of food because the grocery stores have nothing. It took watching the national news last night and seeing how the rest of the country is seeing the fallout from Sandy before I really felt how bad this was.

And, you know, I’m a Jersey girl first and foremost. I grew up in Bergen County. My family has all moved out of the state, but old friends, people I grew up with, they’re still in New Jersey. The Hackensack River flooded near my hometown and displaced a lot of people. It really breaks my heart, watching all the destruction in my home state. (I’m making big donations to the Red Cross and other aid organizations because I hope that normal life can resume as soon as possible for all of these people who are suffering now. This one really hit close to home for me, literally and figuratively.)

So, yeah, this is very surreal. Life in NYC will probably be mostly back to normal by early next week, and I look forward to that, but my heart goes out to everyone who was more severely affected by the storm than I was.

2. Halloween! Well, because of all that, Halloween was mostly canceled this year. No parade in the Village. I woke up on the 31st and just plumb forgot. I walked through Park Slope that night, though, and there were trick-or-treaters everywhere, so that was good. The public schools are closed this week and I think the kids enjoyed being out of the house.

Actually, that was the funny thing about Wednesday. People were EVERYWHERE. After everyone was cooped up for three days, all of the restaurants in this part of Brooklyn were slammed.

3. NaNoWriMo I decided to do it again. I’d been kicking around an urban fantasy idea, but then decided Saturday that it sucked, so I’m resurrecting a novel I started and abandoned over the summer, a m/m contemporary about two guys who are down on their luck and just happen to live across the hall from each other in a crappy apartment building in Brooklyn. Back to basics, you know? I’m setting the novel in my brother’s neighborhood (Crown Heights), which has developed a lot in the last couple of years. I might have to go to some bars there. You know, for research.

4. Future Books I don’t know if I announced this anywhere, but the pub date for my next book, Show and Tell, got bumped up to January 8. So hang onto that $10 bill your grandma sends you for Christmas!

5. Reviews Four Corners got top billing in the All Romance eBooks newsletter Tuesday (thanks, Val!) and Hearts on Fire Reviews gave it five hearts. Yay! If you want a slightly angsty contemporary to snuggle up with this weekend (and seriously, why is it suddenly so cold out? You’d think it was November or something) that is not a bad way to go.

So now I gotta brush the dust off my wool coat and get down to the business of writing a novel in a month. I hope your November got off to a less strange start than mine did!