New Year’s Eve Kisses Party

I’m participating in a New Year’s Eve Kisse Party, which will include some sexy excerpts of first kisses from novels from a bunch of great authors. It’ll be hosted by Kay Berrisford (where you’ll find Matt and Iggy’s first kiss) and Tara Lain from December 31st through January 1st.

There’s a $35 gift card and some books to win, so go check it out!

five things: end of the year edition

Welcome to my last weekly wrap-up post of the year!

1. I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season. Things were quiet but nice here.

I considered doing an end-of-the-year wrap-up post—and I still might if I get my shit together this weekend—but in the event that I don’t, I want to say that this year has been super incredible on almost every front but most especially in terms of my writing career, and I’m still awed and humbled by all of it. So THANK YOU to everyone who helped me out this year (too many of you to name!), who bought a book, who talked up the genre, who said “Hi!” at a convention or book fair. You guys rock and make so many things possible. I’m really looking forward to 2013!

2. I spent a lot of last week with family. My mother just moved, so we spent part of the holiday weekend unpacking. My dad is still reeling from having attended a number of the funerals in Newtown—the short version is that he does enough work with kids in the area that he knows a few of the families whose children were killed in the shooting. It is so, so awful, the situation there.

Cup o Fireworks

Cup o Fireworks

3. Do you have big plans for New Years? I have friends who throw a party at their place in Manhattan every year, so that’s where I’ll be. I did the whole Times Square thing once, when I was twenty years old, and that was enough. I’m generally happy to stay inside and watch the ball drop on TV, frankly.

4. I’m going full-steam ahead on the new story I’ve been working on. I’m totally winging it, too; I never got around to making an outline. That could be good or terrible, I’m not sure; in the plotter vs. pantser debate, I am definitely a plotter. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned the story on the blog, but it’s an opposites attract story between a musician and a construction worker and I love these characters so much. I’m also trying to wrap up a novella; my beta reader has been poking me to send it to her all week, so I guess I should do that.

5. And the rest: Elisa reviewed Across the East River Bridge.

According to Goodreads, where I’ve been tracking my reading all year, I read 100 books this year. Some of those were short stories, but still… wow. If I do that yearly wrap-up post, maybe I’ll choose 10 good books at random. But I’m not making any promises.

five things: happy holidays!

I always thought there was something kind of quaint and Victorian about Brooklyn during the holidays.

I always thought there was something kind of quaint and Victorian about Brooklyn during the holidays.

Weekly wrap-up!

1. It has been a little tough to get into the holiday spirit this year. Not for any specific reason, it just… doesn’t feel like the holidays. Maybe I haven’t listened to enough Christmas music, or maybe I did myself a disservice by doing ALL of my shopping online, but… it’s tough to get into that headspace for me right now.

This has not always been the case. The first five years I lived in New York, I worked for a major publishing company with an office in Midtown, not far from Rockefeller Center, and that is a place where the holidays basically hit you in the face. I could have done without the crowds, but I liked all the decorations, the lights, the buskers playing “Silver Bells” on saxophones, all of that. I always thought there was something magical—and tourist-y and commercial, sure, but generally magical—about New York at Christmas. I think my early years in New York were characterized by a lot of wide-eyed, “People come from all over the world to see this, but I live here.” Perhaps now that I’ve lived here for ten years I am a little long in the tooth, a little more cynical, a little less awed by the same old stuff every year. But I find the idea that this city might not still capture my imagination the way it used to a little depressing.

So, come on, New York. You’ve got, like, four days to do something impressive!

2. Although, speaking of New York at Christmas, I went out last Saturday night and ran into Santa Con, an annual… thing… in NYC wherein hundreds of people dress in Santa suits. Normally I think it’s cute, and there’s something really funny to me about a proliferation of Santas in the city, but I’m less impressed when the influx of red-suited individuals causes there to be a wait for a table at a restaurant that’s usually not crowded on Saturdays.

Not the most action-packed week otherwise. I went to a couple of holiday parties and watched a lot of the Food Network. (I am so hooked on Restaurant: Impossible. It was my binge watching of Pawn Stars last summer that partly inspired Show and Tell, so maybe watching Robert Irvine be all cranky and British as he rehabilitates failing restaurants will inspire me to write a story. WE’LL SEE.)

3. Speaking of writing, I started a new story that is a play on a favorite trope of mine, someone world-famous paired with a regular guy. Writing it is going very well. I’m hoping to spend a lot of the next week on that.

4. You can take a look at my last few posts for newsy things, but to recap:

Out in the Field and Lead Us Not were nominated for a couple of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Members Choice Awards, and that is quite awesome.
• I’m going to be posting some “deleted scenes” from my upcoming book Show and Tell over the next couple of weeks. These are flashbacks to past lives, basically, and I had to cut them from the novel because they were messing with the pacing, but I still really like the scenes, so I got permission to post them here as free shorts. I hope they serve as a dirty tease for the new book. 😉
• I tinkered some with the website last weekend. Changes are subtle, but I consolidated my social media links in the sidebar, I added buttons so you can share blog posts on various social networking sites, and I fiddled with a minor banner redesign—now with cute boys! (Fun trivia fact: the photo of the guy gazing out the window features the New York skyline. I realized after I downloaded the high-res image that the skyline is backward! Ha! Thanks, stock agency, for your silly Photoshop fail. Still a nice image, though.)

5. Well, that’s all I got this week. Happiest of happy days to you and yours!

The Show and Tell Stories: “Revolution”

KM_ShowandTellShow and Tell is a story about past lives of a Celtic god and his mortal lover. The past lives are unlocked by objects discovered by Dan, a history student, and Malcolm, a reality TV show host. A number of these are shown in the novel, but I didn’t have space for all of them. So, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be presenting these stories here on the blog. Think of them like deleted scenes. These will eventually be available as one collection in a few different ebook formats, if you want to wait until they are all posted.

Dan and Malcolm visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and stumble upon a glass bottle made by a colonial American glass artist named Henry Danforth. Getting near the bottle unlocks the memory of a past life of Aengus and Caoimhin, the Celtic god of love and his mortal lover. Continue reading

Show and Tell cover and blurb

KM_ShowandTellOne of the few joys in Dan’s life is the TV show Junk Shop, a reality show about antiques hosted by the handsome and charismatic Malcolm Tell. Then an old music box turns up, and Dan’s sister encourages him to try to get on the show and meet the object of his affection. He does, and his life changes completely.

When Dan and Malcolm first meet, they have a sudden vision of a couple from the past. Is it a glimpse at a past life or something else entirely? They agree to work together to figure out what is going on, and they stumble upon a forgotten Celtic myth that may explain everything. If the myth is true, then Dan and Malcolm could be a pair of lovers who have been reincarnated over and over again over two thousand years. That seems impossible, but it’s hard to deny that something very strange is happening.

As Dan and Malcolm work to find the truth, they fall for each other hard. But searching for who they really are puts them both in grave danger, and they find themselves racing against time to keep their happily ever after.

Available January 8 from Loose Id.

five things: we need more scarves

Weekly Wrap-Up Post!

Before we get into it, I want to say: I got the news about the shooting in Newtown, CT, as I was typing this post. My heart aches for those kids and parents. It’s a completely horrifying tragedy; there’s something especially gruesome about the deaths of children. It’s sort of making it difficult to finish writing an upbeat post, but I’ll try.

1. In reading news, this week I devoured Amy Lane’s knitting series. These fall pretty low on the Amy Lane Angst-o-Meter, but they hit a sweet spot for me this week, conveniently being exactly the sorts of books I was in the mood for. There’s a little bit of insta-love, in the last book especially (the main couple’s first meeting is basically, “Hello, I am your soul mate, and we will be having a romance now”), but Lane manages to sell the relationship over the course of the book, so at the end, I was all in blubbery tears, like, “Of course, they totally belong together” and, yeah.

Scarf! Almost!

Scarf! Almost!

Of course, reading the books got me excited about knitting in a way I haven’t been in a while. This whole year has been tough for me just because I’ve had so much going on that I didn’t have time to just… sit and knit. But this month, I decided to take it easy, kind of. Luckily, I binge bought some pretty pink and purple yarn last week, so I decided to knit myself a scarf (progress so far pictured at right). I think one of the reasons the Amy Lane books resonated with me so much is that I learned to knit 7 or 8 years ago during a not so happy time in my life, and the repetitive movement really does ease stress, and then you have something pretty at the end to show for it. (Although, there is much made in the books about having people to knit for. I have knitted many gifts over the years, but this one is just for me.)

Our view of the Stones concert. We were... not close. Still a good show, though!

Our view of the Stones concert. We were… not close. Still a good show, though!

2. Last Saturday, I went with my dad to see the Rolling Stones at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Basically, he called me about a month ago and was like, “I’m doing this thing in your neighborhood, you want to come with?” and really, who am I to turn down Rolling Stones tickets? The Stones are my dad’s favorite band of all time, and he really enjoyed the concert. (He said the last time he’d seen them live was in 1966. He would have been 17 then, if my math is right.) It was a good show. Mick Jagger basically danced around like a crazy person for two and a half hours, and I admire that man’s energy, given he is twice my age and I got tired just watching him.

3. Work on Show and Tell continues apace. I saw a cover mock-up last night. I look forward to showing you the final! (Early next week, I think.)

Covers are always a funny thing. I have such a specific idea of what my characters look like that the cover models never look quite right (although this cover designer got Dan pretty closely, so some applause is warranted). I’m not one of those authors who “casts” my novels because, well, actors look like actors, not like my characters. (And I’m always confused when movies based on books I liked are cast. I know Stephanie Plum, Katherine Heigl, and you are no Stephane Plum.)

4. Some other writing news:

• I’m currently working on a novella for an open call. It’s a comedy! I gotta tell you, I like some angst in both my reading and writing, but I also appreciate an opportunity to be funny.

[Although, we should clarify angst, maybe? I think Four Corners is my angstiest book, because there’s a lot of longing and “I love you but I can’t be with you” going on in it, and that’s not going to be for everyone. However, I get the impression that this is lowercase angst and not, like, ANGST as happens in this genre sometimes, what with the tortured childhoods and dark themes and all that. I don’t see myself ever writing the latter kind of ANGST.]

• I’m going to be posting some short stories related to Show and Tell in the lead up to the book’s release. I am a dirty tease. Actually, the shorts are scenes that it almost killed me to cut out of the novel, but in the end I agreed with my editor that they screwed with the novel’s pacing, so we took them out and then I got permission to post them as free shorts. I’m still revising those, though, so I don’t know when I will post them. Next week, maybe. (There are two, at least. I’ll try to get those up in a couple of different formats for your downloading convenience.)

• I wrote a little flash Christmas story earlier this week, in case you missed it.

• I saw a new review of In Hot Pursuit over the weekend. It was an odd experience. That book came out almost three years ago! I’m glad people are still buying and reading and enjoying it, and certainly Noah and Harry will always have a very special place in my heart, but whenever I see reviews, I think, “Hey, check out my more recent stuff! I’m a much better writer now!” That’s silly, I know. I mean, I still like that book a lot. But I’ve learned a lot, about writing and everything, in the time since I sold it.

5. One of my other dastardly writer plans is to (finally) do some website updating, so this place might look a little different if you come back next week. On the agenda: making the top banner a little sexier, updating my events calendar with all the places I will be this year (a lot of places!), and adding social media stuff to blog posts so you can tweet them with ease.

Bee tee dubs, I heard from Loose Id that they are creating a customer loyalty program wherein you can earn points by spreading the word about new books on social media, so if you are down with that, maybe give Show and Tell a little love after the new year. (This book is so crazy, you guys. Reincarnated gods! New York! Historical flashbacks! A reality TV show! My critique partner thinks it’s the best thing of mine that she’s read, though, so that is a RINGING ENDORSEMENT, because she is a harsh mistress. January 8!)

Flash Fiction: Christmas Eve, 1972

Would you like a very short, vaguely Christmas-related story? Of course you would!

A tiny bit of background: I’ve been turning over ideas for a story that takes place in New York in the 70s, and also feeling sort of sad that I didn’t get around to writing a Christmas story this year. Then both of those trains collided, et voila! Here are 830 words on the theme of people who are down on their luck on Christmas Eve, something I apparently keep returning to. So, think of this as New York in the bad old days, Greenwich Village in the wake of Stonewall, a city in decay.

Continue reading

the promised discussion question: research!

I mentioned in my Five Things post that I had a discussion question this week.

Did I mention that I’ve decided to write a Regency? Just, like, to do it? I wrote the first 10,000 words without having done much research at all, so over the weekend I decided to rectify that. I’m the sort of obsessive nerd who will now hoard information on England and the Regency like I’m a squirrel hoarding acorns for the winter, and I’m taking this as my incentive to finally finish reading that book on homosexuality in 19th Century Europe.

Because I am extremely fortunate, I’ve been able to talk to a number of prominent historical romance authors about this, and when you ask the, “How much research do I need to do?” question, you get a pretty wide range of answers. One author told me she checks the origin of nearly every word she uses in the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure her language is correct for the time. A few authors I’ve talked to just like to research because it’s fun or have degrees in related fields. Other authors have said that modern readers mostly just want things that feel historical, so if you’ve read enough historical romances, you probably will get what you need.

That last thing may be true, but for my own writing, I disagree. For example, I recently read a Regency in which something happened or a character said something that I knew (because I’ve been researching) to be demonstrably false. I guess it’s easy enough to read a Regency as taking place in a sort of magical fantasy land, which was how I got through and ultimately enjoyed the book, but when the first stirrings of that plot arc got going, it pulled me right out of the story.

What I personally think is interesting about the Regency era is that this was one of those eras when glitz and glamor and the pomp of the upper classes were actually masking some serious societal problems—horrifying poverty in London, for example. It’s a lot like the Gilded Age or the Jazz Age in America. Or now, even; the peerage in a Regency novel is basically the 1%, right? The seedier elements of society are so often glossed over in traditional Regencies because readers want the fantasy of dancing with a duke at a ball.

I had a really interesting discussion at a reading I went to on Wednesday about why there aren’t more American historical romances given that the largest audience for these books is American. She said she was working on a book that took place in the antebellum American South, and the road block she kept running up against was how to deal with race.

I don’t know why, but this had never really occurred to me before. Probably because it would never occur to me to write a historical novel set in the American South. But this woman I talked to was absolutely right—you can’t ignore or directly address the issues of race in the 19th century without pissing off some contingent of readers.

This got me thinking about how, in some ways, gay romance writers can push the boundaries more. I’ve read gay historicals that explore prostitution and opium addiction and excessive drinking and other less glamorous parts of 19th century life in England. I’ve read at least one m/m romance in which a white man had a relationship with a slave. I’m guessing this is because gay romance is already pushing the boundaries, so why not just keep pushing?

Anyway, I’m just curious. I’m not asking if research is important, but more for y’all to discuss the tension between historical accuracy and the fantasy world of a romance novel. This could be anything from ignoring the economics of an era to having characters who bathe regularly. Discuss!

five things: it’s beginning to look a lot like something…

It’s Friday, so it’s time for my weekly wrap-up post.

Fake snow!

1. Earlier this week, the temperature outside went above 60°F in Brooklyn, which is not really normal for December. This has not stopped the cast and crew of the upcoming film Winter’s Tale from filming in Park Slope all week. I haven’t read the book on which this movie is based, but I’m guessing based on what I’ve seen on the film “set” (by which I mean, “the street I walk down on my way to work every day”) it involves Victorian period costumes and horse-drawn carriages and takes place during a time in which it would be snowy in New York. I learned also that fake snow kind of looks like quilt batting. Some of it may indeed be quilt batting, actually, and once the dead leaves that have accumulated in the park get stuck to it, it does kind of look like snow. Yesterday morning, actually, a woman who was casually walking along Prospect Park West stopped me and asked if it had snowed the night before. (It hadn’t.) Anyway, go look at the IMDB page linked above and take a gander at the cast and then revel in my sadness that I haven’t actually seen anyone famous, although not for lack of effort on my part.

(My theory is that it’s only possible to see celebrities in New York when you aren’t expecting it, like the time I almost literally collided with Viggo Mortensen at the Met or the time, a few weeks ago, when I was walking with a friend to her apartment in the West Village and there was Susan Sarandon crossing the street like a normal person, and while I sputtered and pointed, my friend was just like, “Yeah, she lives on this block, whatever.” But, like, the time Paul Rudd filmed a movie in my neighborhood? He was nowhere to be found.)


2. Speaking of the neighborhood, I had dinner with Damon Suede at my favorite local sushi place for dinner on Sunday. He was amused that there is a special roll on the menu called “the Obama roll.” I was like, “Welcome to Brooklyn.” (My favorite local coffee shop has an Obama latte.)

3. I’m currently outlining a book set in London, reading a book set in London, and listening to an audiobook narrated by a British woman, and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I start speaking with a British accent. I don’t know if it’s actually possible for me to eradicate the North Jersey from my voice—I had a native Italian speaker tell me I spoke Italian with a New Jersey accent once, which seems about right—but I’m finding it easy to slip into British-sounding voices when I’m writing, so I guess that’s good. (Or inauthentic. “Why does her proper English like she’s on an episode of The Sopranos?” *sigh*)

4. I have a related discussion question for this week, but my explanation of the topic turned into this 500-word epic, so I’ll put that in a separate post. Two posts in one day! Crazy!

So, an aside: I had to do some research involving YouTube at work this week. Because YouTube is apparently linked to my Google account, the sidebar of other videos I might like is about half topics relating to my work research (how to teach grammar to 5th graders) and half boys kissing each other. So, um, that happened.

5. In book news:

I already posted about the Rainbow Awards.

Four Corners is getting translated into Italian. (I finished a minor in Italian Studies in college, for what it’s worth, but my conversation skills are seriously rusty. Eight years of Italian classes and all I really have to show for it is that I can pronounce the food on menus correctly, albeit with a New Jersey accent.)

Show and Tell went off to the proofreader yesterday.

And that’s all the news that’s fit for now!