five things: Friday at Last

Weekly wrap-up:

1. Yup, I read Lover at Last. I liked it on the whole, but had some very mixed feelings. I posted a wordy review on Goodreads if you want my opinion.

I have probably a stand-alone post about the increase in m/m stories infiltrating the mainstream romance market, but not the time to write it right now. Generally, though, I find this really exciting, and you know, if fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series are like, “Hey, that was pretty hot!” well, I have some recommendations.

Speaking of series, I now must await the next Cut and Run book, although maybe I’ll take the time to savor that one instead of trying to read it all over two days when I really should have been doing other things.

Hi, yes, I did go to some Harry Potter midnight release parties back before those suckers could be delivered magically to my Kindle.

2. I want to write a series. Maybe I will!

The thing with a series is that I think certain sub-genres tend to work better. Paranormal seems particularly well-suited to series books. So does suspense (especially law enforcement and military stories). I had a crazy idea last fall for a paranormal series about supernatural crime fighters that’s pretty far outside of my wheelhouse but totally the sort of thing I would read. Maybe some day. (I wrote an outline for the series, so this is a thing I may revisit next year.)

Or I could try to write a contemporary series. Do people like contemporary series’ or do you need more bells and whistles to sustain your interest? Anyone have good examples of contemporary series’?

3. Writing updates: Edits are currently going for Save the Date, my romantic comedy novella coming out in June. I finished a second draft of The Stars that Tremble before I took my Lover at Last break. So, Draft #3 ahoy!

4. Baseball season starts next week! My fantasy league did its draft on Wednesday and I have a pretty good lineup, I think, except half of these guys are starting out the season injured. Womp womp. I lucked into my #1 draft pick for hitters (Robinson Cano) and my baseball boyfriend (Joe Mauer… he’s so dreamy) is on the team, too, but didn’t do so well with pitchers, so we’ll see how that shakes out.

5. As a parting gift, relive my trauma with me: I was innocently reading on my sofa last night when my cat trotted in with something in her mouth. At first I thought it was one of her little toy mice, but then I realized that it was a for-real, actual mouse. My cat then proudly hopped up on the sofa and dropped the mouse in my lap, at which time I promptly got up, screamed a whole lot, and hopped up and down. No idea where the mouse went. I hope it crawled back into the wall and will tell all its mousey friends what happens to mice that wander into my apartment.

In the seven years I’ve been in this apartment, I’ve never seen any pests before. Good to know the cat will catch mice. I don’t think she understands they aren’t toys, though.

So that was my week. How was yours?

five things: moving right along

Another week over. Why are you speeding by so fast, 2013? Slow down!

Kate at LSFW1. I had a great time at the Liberty States Fiction Writers convention last weekend. (There’s a photo of me at the book fair.) The convention was fun and very well-organized, definitely worth the trip to New Jersey. Plus I got to hang out with some fabulous authors. (Because of the alphabet, I shared a little m/m corner of the book fair with Tere Michaels and K.A. Mitchell, who are both wonderful. And I’m definitely not just saying that!) I got to see and talk to and hang out with some old friends and I met some new people, and I’d list everyone but I’d probably space and forget someone, so suffice it to say it was good.

2. I attended a few really great workshops at LSFW. My favorite was one K.A. Mitchell did on writing characters that connect with your readers. This is something I already knew she did well, which is always a good thing in a workshop. She talked a lot about personality types and Enneagrams, which I didn’t have much familiarity with. (I bought a book on Enneagrams earlier this week to help me develop the characters in my current WIP, although it’s hard not to diagnose my friends. I’ve been following people around and being all like, “Well, clearly you’re an eight.” Um, sorry, friends.)

It’s inspiring to look at something in a different way. That’s an important takeaway from talking with other writers. A lot of people I’ve met in my travels have varied techniques for developing character, plot, and setting, and even though I don’t think all of them will work for me, I appreciate learning new ideas and techniques. The thing with writing, for me anyway, is that there’s always something new I can learn. Let’s hope I can apply some of this to the WIP.

3. So next up is RT. I’m pulling together everything for that now, including last-minute book and swag ordering. I’m a little intimidated by the size of this convention, but I’m excited, too. Although, actually, the Rainbow Book Fair in New York is the next thing on my public-appearance agenda, but that’s one day and doesn’t involve travel so it feels a little less overwhelming, I guess. That’s on April 13th.

4. In non-convention news, I’ve been busy with my day job and revising The Stars that Tremble. Both things are going well, but I’m having one of those weeks that has been so intense and busy that I am quite looking forward to being able to sleep in Saturday.

5. And it’s still winter. Boo. There were snow flurries in New Jersey on Saturday. It snowed here in Brooklyn earlier this week. There were snow flurries today. Um, hullo, universe? It’s spring now. Catch up.

five things on friday

Wrap it up, week!

1. I leave in a few hours for the wilds of New Jersey for the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference. If you’re in the area, the book fair Saturday evening is open to the public. I’m excited; I’ve heard from past attendees that it’s a fun conference. And I’m really excited about the lineup of workshops and attending authors.

2. Speaking of conventions, I registered for GayRomLit last weekend. I’ll be attending as a featured author. I am super excited about that, too! I’m helping out a bit with the writers workshop, too, and I think that will be a really great event as well.

3. I finished a draft of my opera singer novel, tentatively titled The Stars that Tremble. I still need to write the epilogue and I have a lot of revision work to do, but the first draft is basically done, so woo!

4. I bought a lot of accessories this week; I guess I was feeling too plain. I now own a couple of pairs of sexy shoes and some funky new jewelry. These things make me happy.

5. I’m still reading a lot of nonfiction, but it’s all pretty good stuff. The problem I’m having right now is that I’m reading, like, five books at once and so not finishing any of them. (And then last Sunday, I had dinner at my brother’s place and borrowed another book. It’s a problem I have.)

five things on friday

Lots to report in my weekly wrap-up this week!

1. Four Corners was nominated for a TLA Gaybie in the “Romance/Erotic Romance Book” category. The book is in some GREAT company. You can go here to see all the nominees and also VOTE (for me). (That was my one bit of shameless vote mongering. Seriously though, the nomination was such a surprise that I’m really honored just to be listed there.)

Lady Jane's

That’s Leanna Renee Hieber, me, Ron Hogan, Ashlyn MacNamara, and Sara Humphreys at Lady Jane’s Salon

2. I read at Lady Jane’s Salon on Monday. It went pretty well! I think any time you put romance fans and cocktails together, good times are bound to ensue. It was a pretty great crowd this time (helped probably by Damon Suede dropping by; he tends to bring up the energy in a room) and I had a lot of fun (and gin). Lady Jane’s has satellites in a bunch of cities (Denver, Raleigh, Naperville, to name a few) so if there’s one near you, I HIGHLY recommend going.

3. My trip to Philadelphia was pretty great. I stayed at the Hotel Monaco, which is so gorgeous inside. Check out the photos on the website—that’s really what the rooms look like. There’s a lot of funky and clever design. I loved it. Plus, it’s right across the street from Independence Park.

This is right near Benjamin Franklin's grave. I just thought it was funny.

This is right near Benjamin Franklin’s grave. I just thought it was funny.

I basically spent the weekend dorking out about historical stuff. The highlight of the trip for me was the National Constitution Center. It’s a fairly new museum and you can get through everything in a couple of hours, but I liked that the curation is modern and there are a lot of interactive exhibits. I really enjoyed the exhibit on Prohibition (half the reason I decided to go to Philly to begin with, so I’m glad it lived up to expectations). I wandered around the whole historic district, though, and took in most of the important sites: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, a couple of cemeteries, the Printing Museum, Elfreth’s Alley, the Betsy Ross House. (See: dorking out. I mean, I also ate a cheesesteak.) I’m sort of a history buff, although the Revolution is more my brother’s area of expertise (he’s about to finish a masters in history with a concentration on the American Revolution and its impacts on foreign countries) but I still enjoyed getting to be a nerd for a couple of days.

Also, apparently March is a great time to go to Philly, because I didn’t have to wait on line for anything. It was a little cold, but nothing a sweater and a good coat couldn’t hold up to.

4. Relatedly, I’m reading Daniel Okrent’s book on Prohibition, Last Call, which is really great. I finally finished reading all those books for the RITAs, so I can go back to reading for fun. (Not that reading the RITA books wasn’t fun; there were three of them that I really loved. That’s always a joy for a contest judge.) You’re probably like, “Wait, you’re reading nonfiction for fun?” Yes. I’ve got some romance novels to read this weekend, though, so don’t worry!

5. Aaand, it’s snowing. I took this photo of Prospect Park West in Brooklyn around 9am this morning, but there is twice as much snow now.

Prospect Park West

Prospect Park West

Snow in March is not unprecedented, but it’s not the most welcome thing given that by March I think we’re all pretty sick of winter. And it’s supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow, so it’s all gonna turn to watery slush. (Snow was fun when I was growing up in the suburbs. It kind of sucks in the city.)

Next Best Thing—The Stars that Tremble

My writers group buddy Maria Granovsky tagged me to do another Next Best Thing post. (If you like thrillers, she wrote a good one.)

Without further ado, let’s talk about my WIP:

What is the working title of your next book?
My current WIP is currently titled The Stars that Tremble. The title comes from a line in Puccini’s opera Turandot.

usa_nyc_metropolitanopera_6Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’d been toying around with ideas for an opposites-attract romance. I’m not sure exactly where I got the idea, but I thought it would be interesting to pair together an opera singer and a construction worker. I liked the contrast of an art form mostly associated with the upper classes and a blue-collar working man.

What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary gay romance.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmm. Well, in my head, Mike (the construction worker) kinda looks like Thomas Roberts. Gio (the opera singer) is, I think, maybe an older Zachary Quinto but, like, with Pavarotti sensibilities? If that even makes sense?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Retired opera singer finds his next protege… and her father. *dramatic music*

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
To be determined. I’m putting off making that decision until the manuscript is done.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Still writing, but it’s almost done. According to my records, I started this on December 17. I’ll probably finish the first draft within the next couple of weeks.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I hate to compare! I’m not sure that there are any other m/m romances about opera singers (although please correct me if I’m wrong). The first book that popped into my head was Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan, which I think is really different in tone and sensibility, but has a similar opposites-attract dynamic between high art and lower brow athleticism. But this is kind of a trick question, because I’m also trying to write a book you haven’t quite seen before.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Well, the opera singer came first. My mother is a classically trained singer who was in a small opera company for a while when I was a teenager. She’s always loved opera and played it all the time at home (and when I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my hands over my ears all, “Aw, mom, again?” but as an adult I gained a real appreciation for it). I mention a bunch of arias on the manuscript, some of which are my favorites and some of which my mother played all the time when I was growing up. (She’s partial to Mozart. I love Puccini.)

I go to the Metropolitan Opera once a year or so, and sometimes we manage to score orchestra seats and sit with the classy uppercrust people in tuxes and ballgowns, and more often we sit in the Dress Circle with the hoi polloi (that’s the mezzanine that’s up around Jupiter, in terms of distance from the stage). Actually, the last time I went, I saw La Boheme and, sweartagod, the twenty-something girls sitting in front of us actually said at some point, “Wow, the plot is just like Rent!” (My eyeballs were in danger of falling out of my head, I rolled them so hard. And I love Rent as someone who loves musicals and came of age in the 90s is required to do, but come on now.)

So, yeah. Somehow I decided that the perfect man for my opera singer was a man who can’t tell a credenza from an aria and loves Lady Gaga.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
The book is partly about loss, but it’s not sad.

Gio has lost his voice due to a vocal injury. Mike has lost his partner. Both are a few years removed from their loss, so it doesn’t dominate the narrative, but that experience is an important part of both characters. It’s also their common ground. So that’s kind of the gimmick, for what it’s worth.

If I sell this one, details will be forthcoming.

five things—lightning fast edition!

Weekly wrap-up. Lots going on right now, so let’s get right into it.

1. I wrote a post about baseball for Jock Week at Joyfully Jay’s. There’s a copy of Out in the Field or one of MANY other sports romances up for grabs in the giveaway, which is open through Saturday.

2. I’m reading at Lady Jane’s Salon on Monday. If you’re in the New York area, stop by! It’s at Madame X on Houston Street between Thompson and LaGuardia. Doors open at 7pm and admission is $5 or a gently read romance novel. I’ll be reading from Show and Tell.

3. I’m going to Philadelphia this weekend for tourism and relaxation. I’m really looking forward to it! I put together a tentative itinerary for myself, but I might play a lot of it by ear. I’m hoping a weekend out of town will help relieve some stress and get my creativity fired up so I can be super productive in March.

4. I’ve got a post about my current WIP coming up later today. I’ve been alternating opera and dance music while I write to get into the heads of these characters, and now I feel a little insane. But check back for that.

5. We had a new member come to my book club meeting this past Monday, and after a quite lively discussion of the book, she commented that we were discussing it as if we were a crit group. We kind of were; most of the members of my book club are also romance writers, so maybe we just think that way. But it got me thinking about the way I read.

I do read critically a lot of the time. I mean, sometimes I just read for fun, but in the back of my mind, I’m constantly thinking about what I read—what works, what doesn’t, what turns of phrase do I like, what misused slang grates, what are the good writers doing well, what are the bad writers doing poorly. I think that’s an incredibly useful exercise for a writer, and I read so much in my own genre that I think it’s hard not to think about those things. (I’m also judging contests, so then I do have to read critically.)

I do enjoy talking the hell out of a book, though. That’s the main benefit of a book club. 🙂

So, until next week, happy reading!