Beat Your Winter Blues this week!

We are over at JL Merrow’s talking about Valentine’s Day! You can saunter on over there to learn how February 14th is somehow my own personal Bad Luck Day. By some miracle, I manage to escape relatively unscathed this year, although I’m getting over a cold, so that made it maybe not as pleasant as it could have been. (But there was chocolate!)

Actually, things kind of worked out on one front. My 3-year-old Kindle finally gave up the ghost. I called customer service to see if there was anything they could do; my old one was long out of warrantee, but I paid them a surprisingly low amount for a replacement and by whatever voodoo magic Amazon works with UPS, I’ve got that sucker in my hot little hands already. And, since the blue cover I wanted was sold out, I decided to buy a hot pink cover for it, so it’s a couple of sparkly butterfly stickers short of being the girliest e-reader ever.

And it looks like my baseball novel, still titled Out in the Field because I haven’t come up with a better title, will be out at the end of April. Out in the real MLB, pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring training this week, so that thing you smell in the air is the impending baseball season. I, for one, am pretty excited for that.

this and that

Some bullet points!

• Brooklyn Pride is this weekend, although unfortunately, the weather is pretty crappy, gray and rainy. (You may recall that I went to the street fair last year—oddly, this year’s festivities haven’t been advertised hardly at all, so it looks to be a small celebration, though there is a parade tonight I might go watch if it doesn’t get rained out.)

• I’m also hip deep in the second round of edits for my upcoming Dreamspinner novel Blind Items and I’m writing a new novel that I’m really excited about, so that’s also taking up my time this weekend.

• Here’s a really nice review of The Boy Next Door.

• I recently joined the local RWA chapter, and it seems to be a pretty great group of people. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the national convention in a few weeks, which is a real bummer because it’s in New York.

• And right now I’ve got the Yankees game on, which mostly looks like watching it rain int he Bronx. Well, happy Saturday and happy Pride!

sports romances, current events, and other news

By a weird cosmic coincidence, I read Amy Lane’s excellent basketball romance The Locker Room the same week that Rick Welts came out. If you haven’t heard, Welts is the president of the Phoenix Suns, and his profile in the Times is pretty interesting, discussing how difficult it is to be gay and in the NBA in particular. This week some good discussion relating to homophobia in the pro sports world primarily given certain NBA players’ habit of using the word “faggot” as an insult.

What I especially loved about The Locker Room was that, while the characters struggled (rather intensely) with staying closeted in order to keep the jobs they loved, there was plenty of shop talk about basketball. I’m a big sports fan, so I like that kind of detail in books, and so many sports romances are completely lacking in detail—the hero is a pro athlete but his career is only referred to obliquely, for example, or he’s a retired player so the novel doesn’t talk about the sport at all. That’s not a problem here. I don’t really follow basketball, so I can’t speak to the veracity of the lingo, but games were described in detail, with points earned and types of shots taken, and other details describing the mechanics of the game.

Baseball is my particular sports-related passion. I’ve got the Yankees game on as I type this, actually. And yes, yes, I root for the evil empire, but I’m a New Yorker and I’ve been following the team since I was twelve, back during that period when the team was not so good. (They lost the first game I ever went to at Yankee Stadium, in fact.) I like all the nitty-gritty detail of the game: the stats, the rules, the history, and so forth. I’m working on a m/m baseball romance (that I might even finish one of these days!) about two players who fall for each other, so I’ve been thinking about how much detail to include. Because I could go on all day about batting averages and RBIs and OBP and so on, but of course, non-baseball fans might find all that difficult to follow. Then again, the best sports romances don’t inhibit your enjoyment of the story—I don’t follow basketball, but I enjoyed The Locker Room immensely. (Also, as far as my books go, Jase played college ball, and Noah mentions being a baseball fan.)

Although maybe I should start following basketball; they’re building that horrifically ugly new stadium for the Nets right in my neighborhood. And I grew up near the Meadowlands, so it’s like the Nets followed me from NJ to Brooklyn.

Completely unrelated: I’ve been watching the news about tornadoes tearing up towns through the south. The recent one in Joplin, MO, maybe hit a little closer to home for me than the previous ones. I have family in Missouri, albeit on the other side of the state, and I grew up hearing stories of tornadoes (there’s a rather legendary one about how my great aunt narrowly escaped one once). But more to the point, the entire town of Joplin was wrecked. I find myself wanting to do something, and if you have the same inclination, here’s a list of ways to help.

I’m hip deep in the first round of edits for my upcoming Dreamspinner novel Blind Items, so progress on the writing front is going well. No sports at all in this one, but it’s a very New York novel in my mind, about a writer who gets entangled with the subject of one of his stories. More on that as the release date gets closer!

blog posts have I loved

I probably owe you a blog post.

I’ve been alternately busy and under the weather for the last couple of weeks, but here’s a quickie rundown:

I had a spectacular time at the Rainbow Book Fair in New York a little over a week ago. I met a bunch of other Dreamspinner authors (most of whom came in from out of town!) and I talked to some readers. I was still buzzing from it a few days afterwards, so now I can’t wait for my next event. (There are a couple of conventions I want to attend if I can rub enough pennies together to pay the registration fees. And I will for sure be at GayRomLit in New Orleans in October.)

Baseball’s back! I’ve got my fantasy team all drafted. The regular season has started. The Yankees are hitting lots of home runs. It’s good. (I’m currently watching the Yankees vs Twins game. Non-fans, let me introduce you to Joe Mauer.)

I’ve started a new novel that requires reading a lot of comic books as research, which is a hardship as I’m sure you can imagine. (Over the weekend, I read a Superman series from the mid-90s in which Superman had terrible long hair. Who thought that was a good idea?)

Well, anyway. I keep getting distracted by the game, so I’ll end it here. Hope you all have great weeks!

hodge podge

I’ve been contemplating the relative merits of setting up a mailing list or Yahoo group. If you have opinions, let me know in the comments!

The weather took a weird turn, and it’s been cold and rainy all week, which is making me feel kind of blah, which is not very good for my productivity.

I saw the Yankees play Sunday in the rain. I have Mets tickets for this coming Sunday, and it’ll be my first time at Citifield.

I’m setting up a new workspace in the spare room in my apartment. It’s turning out to be a greater undertaking than I first imagined, but right now I’ve got a desk that faces the window. I have a grand view of… the apartment building across the street. Weirdly, hardly anyone in that building bothered with curtains, and I can see into many of the windows. This is good for making up stories about what the people there are up to. Which I learned on Saturday while I sat at the desk for a few hours to test drive the space.

I’ve got a lot of projects going right now; concrete news and pub dates and things coming up as soon as I know them, so if I don’t create a mailing list, watch this space!

excerpt: baseball

Babe Ruth!You guys want a taste of my baseball WIP? I wrote this scene this evening.

The dream always started the same way. Matt stepped out of the dugout. He picked up his bat and walked to the on deck circle, where he took a few practice swings. Then it was his turn at bat. He paused to acknowledge the crowd, which gave an uproarious cheer. He walked up to the plate and swung the bat again. Finally, just like Babe fucking Ruth, he pointed. Where he pointed varied, but it was usually towards the left field bleachers.

Anytime he had the dream, he was confident that his bat would connect and he’d drive that ball out of the stadium. Everything from the wind to the velocity of the pitch was under his control. He choked the bat, he lifted it, he saw the pitch, and he swung.

What happened next was a crapshoot. Sometimes he got the home run he expected. He’d run triumphantly around the bases. Best case, the bases were loaded before he got up to bat and he became the hero of the game. That version of the game usually ended when he was hoisted up on the shoulders of his teammates. Sometimes the bat whooshed right over the ball and he woke up just after he heard the slap of the ball hitting the catcher’s glove. Sometimes the bat connected but the ball soared into an outfielder’s glove. Sometimes the ball hit him in the head.

He had the dream the night after Ignacio Rodriguez’s first game. Instead of Cruz or Roger, the person who slapped his back before he got up to stand on deck was the Rodriguez kid. Although, Matt knew even in his dream that Rodriguez was clearly not a kid, he was a man, and a sinfully attractive man at that. His touch was affectionate, supposed to be encouraging, maybe even a promise for something to happen later. It felt a little like a kiss before being sent off to war, only Rodriguez was right there in the trenches with him. More than that, Rodriguez was probably the better player, now that Matt’s knees ached, now that his batting average had plummeted. But in the dream, he was aware of these things, but they didn’t matter, because then he was at bat, then he saw the pitch, then he was swinging.

Slap! Strike 1.

“No,” Matt said. “That’s not how that was supposed to go.”

He choked the bat and held it up. He could see everything as if it were in slow motion. He saw the pitcher spit, his right leg draw up, his glove rise, saw the way his fingers fit around the ball before he threw it, saw that ball flying right for him. He had this one. He could control it. He moved the bat forward slowly, knowing it would connect. Then whoosh! Slap! Strike 2.

Matt cursed. He glanced towards the dugout, where Rodriguez waited expectantly. He could not disappoint this man. He would not. He went through the routine. Practice swing, point to the left field bleachers, Babe fucking Ruth. He had this.

And again, there was the windup. The pitch. The ball hurtling through towards him. The bat slicing through the air. And slap! Strike 3.

Matt fell forward onto his knees. He cried out in anguish. The crowd booed.

He woke up with a start.

sports and things

By some amazing coincidence, Jessewave had a post up yesterday about the lack of m/m novels about sports. I may have mentioned, I have been similarly bemoaning this lack. It seems like a natural combination, men and sports. Well, and also, I like sports.

My brother and I half-heartedly collected baseball cards as kids. Or, more likely, my brother collected them and, as with a lot of his toys, I sort of borrowed and looked at them. (Our toys were largely gender segregated, and I have no idea why. I mean, I liked Barbies, but I also liked action figures and Legos and baseball cards, you know?) As a kid, I was a Mets fan, if only because basically everyone who was a kid in the greater New York metropolitan area in the 80s was a Mets fan. (Also, it’s kind of a rule of living in New York: regardless of whether you follow a sport, you are required to declare a team loyalty. Mets or Yankees? Jets or Giants? And so on.) Then, when I was 12 or 13, my parents took me to my first real major league baseball game: Orioles at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees lost, but it didn’t matter: I was hooked.

It’s hard to articulate what I love about baseball exactly. I love all of it. I love the history, the legends. I love the statistics and math. I love how superstitious the players are, how insane the fans are. I love the players (and, okay, I like some players look in their uniforms). I like just sitting in the stadium, soaking it up, sipping a beer.

I missed out on baseball last summer, so I didn’t actually make it to the new Yankee Stadium (which opened last year) until last night. My friend J accompanied me to a game—he’s a foul, loathsome, evil Red Sox fan, but he’s also one of my favorite people to argue the sport with, so he’s good company. He reminded me that the last time he’d been on Yankee territory was ten years ago, when we went to a Yankees-Sox game that got rained out. Anyway, the new stadium is gorgeous. All the photos in this post are ones I took last night.

I’ve started to write a baseball romance. It’s very early stages yet, I’ve got a loose outline and the first scene written, but that’s kind of it. I feel like this is my mission now, though. I mean, baseball! Romance! What more could you want?

COMPLETELY UNRELATED: Did you guys see this great essay by a gay 15 year old who is trying to get more GLBT books in libraries? If you haven’t, you should read it, it’s really good.

And speaking of books, there are about a million I want to read right now. And things I want to write. I should get cracking!