Baseball romance in time for the World Series!

You may know that I am a huge baseball fan. Game 1 of the World Series is tonight, which is very exciting! And you may have wandered over to this website thinking, “I heard Kate wrote that baseball romance, what was it called again?”

So, SURE, this is a promo post with an obvious tie-in to a current event, but this is also my website, so here you go. Here’s a primer on my baseball books if you want some baseball romance reading!

Out in the Field
Matt Blanco is at the twilight of his career and Iggy Rodrigquez is at the beginning of his on the World Champion Brooklyn Eagles. It’s romance, it’s Major League Baseball, and everyone gets a happy ending!

“One Man to Remember” in Playing Ball
Baseball in the Jazz Age! A Major League player in the Babe Ruth era falls for a flamboyant sportscaster.

Four Corners
This novel is not about baseball per se, but it is about four guys who played baseball as kids (they were the four corners of the baseball diamond) and the romance between Jake (the one who stayed) and Adam (the one who left). There’s a lot of baseball talk, though, and a tension-filled scene at the batting cages!

“What There Is”
This little novella is about a retired professional baseball player who needs a place to stay, and ends up finding love with his geeky roommate.

Thrown a CurveAnd finally, the Rainbow League series, which is about an LGBT amateur baseball league in NYC.
The Windup
Anxious Ian is back in NYC after fleeing a traumatic childhood and intends to leave just as soon as he makes sure his ailing mother is ok, but then he joins the Rainbow League and meets Ty, who may just persuade him to stay.

Thrown a Curve
Retired Yankee Mason came out in a very public way and still struggles to find acceptance in his own family. Meeting flashy hairdresser Patrick doesn’t make that much easier. And yet…

The Long Slide Home
Childhood friends Nate and Carlos save each other from some difficult times and become more than friends along the way. This one’s a bit of a slow burn, but it wraps up a series-long arc, so I recommend reading all 3 books in order.

The baseball season begins!

Baseball MondaysThe baseball season has just begun! So here’s a bonus Baseball Monday!

If you’ve been around these parts, you may be aware of the fact that I am a huge baseball fan. My sister-in-law had a good insight regarding that recently. In New York, since we have two teams to choose from, she said that whoever was winning more when you were twelve is your team. This is not exactly true in my case—the Yankees sucked when I was twelve—but I did go to my first Yankee game when I was twelve (and they lost, badly, to the Orioles, but it was such a great experience that it kind of imprinted itself on my psyche).

I recently re-watched Ken Burns’s documentary Baseball, and I’ll say, if anyone is ever wondering, “Why does Kate like this sport so much?” watch it to find out. Even if you just watch The Tenth Inning (a follow-up documentary Burns put out a few years ago; the original first aired in 1994), you’ll see “the key years of Kate’s fandom” (the ’90s and ’00s) and my team’s great triumphs (Aaron Boone’s home run to win the 2003 ALCS) and defeats (the Red Sox coming from behind to win the 2004 ALCS and ultimately win the World Series). The documentary is fantastic, and I highly recommend it if you’re even a tiny bit interested in baseball (and have a good number of hours on your hand, because it’s long).

So, hey! Have you caught up with my baseball books? There’s the whole Rainbow League series, about the guys who play for an amateur league. There’s Out in the Field, the story of two Major League ballplayers who fall in love. There’s “One Man to Remember,” my historical novella about a player in Babe Ruth’s shadow in 1927. Four Corners is about four old friends who played baseball together (though the story is really more baseball adjacent). And “What There Is” is a novella about a former ballplayer who falls for his new roommate.

The beginning of the baseball season is great because it’s fresh and new and the prospects for your team always seem positive. Anything can happen! So happy spring and happy baseball!!

Greatest Hits!

I have greatest hits, and you can now purchase them in one convenient bundle!

Five of my novels are now available in one neat package through Dreamspinner Press for only $9.99. It’s the Kate McMurray Greatest Hits Bundle! The books are:

Blind Items
Four Corners
The Stars that Tremble
When the Planets Align
The Windup

Hard to beat that deal! Shorter descriptions: a reporter and the son of a conservative politician meet and then there are shenanigans; Jake’s best friend Adam ditched him five years ago, but now he’s back—is it for good?; an opera singer meets the father of one of his student, and each helps the other get over his losses; old friends never quite seem to be in the same place at the same time—until they are; and the launch of my series about the guys who play for an LGBT baseball league in New York.


You can also purchase through Amazon or the ebookstore of your choice.

Four Corners in French and the Rainbow Awards Cover Contest

FourCornersFRFSA couple of quick news items:

Four Corners has been translated into French and is available for preorder! (Release date is November 25, 2014.) Now you can read about Adam and Jake en français!

• Aaron Anderson’s cover for The Silence of the Stars has advanced to the next round of the Rainbow Awards Cover Contest. You can vote for it and many other great covers here.

Also, I’m doing NaNoWriMo, so I stuck a little widget in the website sidebar so you can track my progress if you feel so inclined. I’m behind on my research for this book, but apparently that is not deterring me from writing it!

Book Updates: New Contemporary and Four Corners in Spanish!

FourCornersSPFSI hope to have lots of new book updates soon, but quickly, here are a few things you can look out for from me in the coming months:

1. A new contemporary romance called When the Planets Align that we’re sort of billing as a gay When Harry Met Sally only with less humor and feathered hair. (I just mean that it’s a story that spans 20 years about two friends who never quite get their act together in the romance department, but it’s more on the dramatic/angsty end of the spectrum, not a romantic comedy. Also, Meg Ryan’s hair in that movie!)

2. Four Corners is going to be released in Spanish. Yup, Jake and Adam en Español! It should be available September 30th.

I have, no joke, 5 other books that are currently at the contract negotiation stage. Once everything is finalized, I’ll share more details! 2015 is going to be BUSY!

Also, quickie reminder: If you want some hot paperback action, Dreamspinner’s paperback sale is on now. All in-stock paperbacks are 35% off through Sunday. If you enter the code GRL2014, you can have the paperbacks shipped to GRL for pickup, though the sale applies to ALL authors and customers. Maybe Jake and Adam need some love; Four Corners is part of the sale.

five things: GRL (OMG); swag disasters; reviews

Weekly wrap-up, comin’ at ya:

1. I was chatting with a coworker yesterday about my travel plans in October, and she said, “Why are you staying in Albuquerque? There’s nothing to do there.” Somehow, I don’t think that will be a problem for me.

So, YES, GAYROMLIT, LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. I am REALLY EXCITED, if that was not obvious from the caps lock abuse. We’re close enough now that it’s not too weird if I start pre-planning my outfits (not that I didn’t start that already, but now it’s not crazy… right?). Everyone in my social networks is atwitter about it. (Har har.) I would like to get on that plane right now.

I have run into one snafu, which is that the pens I ordered arrived last week and they were misprinted. (Seems to have been a font issue, so some letters were replaced with random characters.) Panic ensued, followed by ranting all over anyone who would listen, and then it took me two days to get anyone at the pen company on the phone. The customer service people, when I did finally get through, were really nice at least and they are sending me new pens, so now we play the game of hoping and praying that they arrive before I fly to ABQ. Man. I really want those pens. My thought process had been that the swag I always keep after conventions are pens. (I always need pens.) These ones I ordered are not top of the line, but they’re nice and they came in a variety of bright colors. *pouts*

Even if the pens don’t come in time, I do have postcards, bookmarks, Matt & Iggy baseball cards, and some other goodies for an event the Rainbow Romance Writers are doing. Between all that and the books I’m going to be selling, my bedroom is currently Box City.

2. BUT FIRST, I’m going back to my home state for the New Jersey Romance Writers convention next weekend and also kind of double-guessing the wisdom of doing two conventions two weekends in a row. (Who needs sleep? Bah.) I’m actually pretty psyched for that one, too, but my plan is to sit back and observe, figure out how these kinds of conventions go down. Well, also to represent the hot gay love contingent of the romance writing universe.

I was going to try to fit New York Comic Con in there, too (also next weekend) but then the part of my conscience that deals with my sanity laughed like a lunatic. So… no Comic Con this year. Maybe next year.

3. Dreamspinner is doing a Halloween Extravaganza, so they’re having sales all month. If for some reason you haven’t read Blind Items or Four Corners, you’ll be able to purchase them for 25% off during GayRomLit (sale is on the 19th–21st) and there might be some things you should pay attention to the @dreamspinners twitter account for.

4. I’m finishing up revisions on Show and Tell this week AND I got a release date yesterday: the book will be out January 22. (That’s soon!)

5. Reviews! I haven’t posted any of these in a while. The Novel Spot gave Across the East River Bridge 4.5 stars. Lisa says, “This is one of those books that not only entertained but also informed, which resulted in a really lovely read for me.”

Top 2 Bottom Reviews gave Four Corners 4.5 stars. Gabbi says, “I enjoyed watching both men work hard to find their way back to each other, and I appreciated the solid foundation of love and trust that they once again build between them.”

Announcement: Sports Week will be happening on this here blog the week of October 22nd, so you’ll have something to read during your GayRomLit hangover. I so far have 3 fantastic guest bloggers lined up, and we’re gonna talk about sports and romance and it will be fun! More details soon!

five things: vampires, doormats, unfinished projects, etc.

It’s time for my weekly wrap-up post! Here’s what’s going on with me this week:

1. Reading I just finished the second book in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and then immediately started book 3. I may have a problem. I forgot how much I liked series’ like this, where there are series arcs and the characters have to work together and side plots and all that. (If you’ve been hanging around here at all, you know I am an unabashed fan of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. I feel like Troubleshooters and BDB are similar and yet totally different. On the one hand, a team of alpha males have to work together to keep the world safe from terrorists/soulless vampire slayers, and the strong women who love them. On the other hand… vampires.)

So needless to say, a lot about these books is working for me. My one quibble so far is that I’m not really a fan of the mates trope in paranormal romance. It feels like a short cut. I like to see relationships develop and people fall in love when I read a romance novel, but in all of the relationships I’ve read so far in this series, it’s all, “OMG, you make me so hot, I’ve never felt this way before, I love you!” insta-love craziness. (I’ve also been skimming the chapters from the lesser POV; I’m less interested in that part of the plot.) So the series is not perfect, but I’m enjoying it.

Aside: I’m so in awe/jealous of those readers who can plow through many books in a week. It took me four days to read Lover Eternal, and I spent almost all my downtime reading. My life is too busy and/or I read too slowly.

2. Also reading! Given the enduring popularity of the alpha-hole hero and the doormat heroine (see 50 Shades, et al) there’s been a lot of talk this week about doormat heroines specifically and everyone’s wondering why they continue to be A Thing. (Here’s a great essay by May at Smexybooks and the question was asked over at Heroes and Heartbreakers.)

Given all the reader gripes online, it’s a little mystifying to me not only that the trope still exists but also that books that employ it are tremendously popular, particularly in the case of the heroine who is only functional with help from her man (see also Swan, Isabella). It’s one of the things that actually put me off m/f contemporaries for a while; I read one book too many with a klutzy, incompetent heroine who could only take care of herself and/or enjoy sex when this one man came along.

I get why this trope exists—it has a lot to do with restrictions on women and the ways they can express themselves, if you don’t mind me putting on my feminist pants here for a sec—but I don’t like it, and I don’t feel like there’s much justification for it in 2012. I suppose there is also something to be said for letting someone else handle things for a while, letting your partner take over if you’re the type who piles too much responsibility on herself, but I don’t particularly find this dynamic appealing.

One of the interesting things about the BDB series is that these are, like, Alpha Alpha Males. They’re all huge, muscular guys who are aggressive and fight a lot. I like an alpha hero, I do. But you know what I really love? A strong heroine who stands up to him and calls him on his shit, who is his equal and not his dependent. And Ward has put those women in her world.)

3. Writing! I’m about 25K into the novel I started last week, a Gilded Age mystery. I’ve gone off-outline a little, but it’s going well. Hooray!

4. Not Writing 🙁 Heidi Cullinan put up a post this week that I identified with pretty strongly. I keep trying to write and then re-shelving the sequel to The Boy Next Door. It’s just… not coming to me. It’s not sustaining my interest. Which sucks, because it’s a story I want to tell, but every time I try to work on it, it’s just forced and awful. I hope that changes. Neal is a fun character to write, and the whole book is outlined. I’ve put it aside for now, though.

5. Pimping: I guested at Coffee and Porn in the Morning this week, talking about booze and bars. There will be an excerpt and giveaway of Four Corners today (as of when I’m writing this, it’s not up yet—I write my blog posts in advance—but go to the site and it should be there; the giveaway is open until Sunday I think). (Uh, site is NSFW, if that wasn’t obvious.)

five things on friday

Weekly wrap-up!

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!)

Saturday Snark: Four Corners

I have to leave to get on a plane in about a half hour, but it’s Saturday, and Marie Sexton is running some snark, so here’s a snippet from Four Corners:

WHEN I opened the front door of my building, Adam stood on my stoop. “Boystown, Jakey? Really? Isn’t that kind of a gay cliché?”

“What the hell are you doing here? How did you get my address?”

“You’re still on Mom’s Christmas card list.”

I looked around him and saw the Ducati was parked in my driveway. “Your dad told me you sold that.”

“I did,” said Adam. “To my brother Danny. Take a ride with me.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Serious as a cancer diagnosis. I even brought you a helmet.”

I took a long look at him. He was wearing tight jeans that looked expensive in that distressed-just-so way and a white T-shirt under a well-worn black leather jacket. He looked like sex on legs, frankly. I thought of all the times in my early twenties that I’d pressed against Adam while riding on the back of that motorcycle, and I felt my skin flush. It was nearing twilight, luckily, so I was pretty sure Adam wouldn’t be able to see me blushing.

“Did you really ride that thing here through the city?”

He guffawed. “What are you, my mother? It’s perfectly safe. You trust me, don’t you?”

“That’s kind of a loaded question.”

friday! five things!

Happy release week to me! The theme of today’s post is, “Taste is subjective.”

1. Watching! But this is not subjective: American women athletes are kicking all kinds of ass at the Olympics. So here’s a photo of Allyson Felix, because she won a gold medal Wednesday, and also just because I think she’s really pretty. She comes across as friendly and chill in interviews. Here are some more lady athletes!

I have some sadness that the Olympics are about to come to an end because I’ve enjoyed watching so much, but I also look forward to going to bed at reasonable times again.

2. Reading! I took a day off from work Monday to recover from all the madness that happened last week at work, and I took the opportunity to basically read a whole novel in one sitting. That novel was Rock and a Hard Place by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow, and I LOVED it. I went to add it to my Goodreads account, and I saw that reviews were mixed, which should have surprised me less than it did, I guess. Just goes to show.

I mean, I disagree with reviews all the time. Reading is such a personal thing. One reader’s dealbreaker is another’s enticement.

Or it’s like the experience I had when I saw The Dark Knight Rises. While I was watching the movie, I was totally into it. I have a hard time sitting still that long, but the movie totally captured my attention and entertained me. Then the friend I saw it with and I rode the subway home together and discussed the movie, and it started to retroactively fall apart. (I still liked the movie on the whole, but there were parts of it that were real head scratchers, you know?) That happens when I read sometimes, where I’ll be so caught up in a story that all flaws become invisible, and it’s only after the fact that I’ll realize what might not have worked.

But, yeah. Everyone likes different things. Which is not a revolutionary thought, but it seems like in this era of authors and reviewers and drama and high anxiety, it’s good to remember that. (I will have more to say about this shortly.)

3. Writing! Shipped a manuscript off to my editor yesterday. I have, I’m not even joking, four new projects open on my computer right now. I’m hoping to make some headway with some new stories over the next few weeks

I know I’ve posted this cover a zillion times, but I really love it. Let’s stare at it some more.

4. Four Corners! This release was especially nerve-wracking for me. Here’s our theme of the week: when I first started shopping it around, I kinda knew it was a novel not everyone would like. It’s probably the angstiest of my published novels. Jake and Adam both behave in ways that mean they aren’t always likable or sympathetic (although I hope that they are on the whole). I wanted to tell a good story and make you think and entertain you, and hopefully I’ve accomplished that. It’s a story that’s heavy on emotion and light on plot with heroes that don’t always act the way the reader might like them to, and that felt a little risky.

At my local chapter’s RWA meeting last weekend, one of the other women at the meeting said that it’s important to keep track of and follow trends, to adapt to the market. She thought that if paranormals are big, writers should try their hands at paranormals, for example. I disagreed quite vocally; I think if you try to adhere to trends, by the time your book comes out, everyone’s over it and has moved on to the next thing. So why not set the trend?

I write mostly for myself; I write the kinds of books that I want to read. I’m finding that the more I write, the more I want to take risks and try different genres and experiment. I hope my readers come along for the ride, that what they find appealing about my voice will carry over as I try to write different kinds of books. I hope there’s something about my writing and my brand that readers continue to connect with even if I’m not writing contemporaries.

Basically, I couldn’t keep doing it if I didn’t love it—it’s hard work—and my writing sucks when I’m trying to push through a story I’m not really feeling. And I think I’d get bored if I stuck with one tried-and-true thing. So I’m writing stories I want to tell, trying not to analyze market trends too closely. (Which is to say, it’s good to keep on top of trends and pay attention to the market, but as a writer, you have to follow your heart, too.)

So I wrote this novel that I really feel passionate about, but I’m assiduously avoiding places like Goodreads in an attempt to just ride the high of successfully getting another book out and telling my nerves to shut up. That’s only kind of working. (It’s so hard not to look. It’s kind of like waiting for grades to get posted after an exam.)

So, yeah, I don’t know. I love this book. I love these characters. I hope you do, too. (But I still feel nervous.)

That said, we’re off to a good start: 5 stars from Jessewave.

Also, you can check out some things I wrote about about angst and also enter to win a copy of the book at Joyfully Jay.

Also, I seem to have made #3 on the Amazon Gay Romance list the day after the book was published. So I guess I sold a few copies! (THANK YOU to everyone who bought the book or supported me!)

5. Doing! I have a zillion things going on, like always, and lots of work to do this weekend. Ugh. But I leave for my week in the woods a week from tomorrow. I need a vacation so bad, I can’t even tell you.

Also, I was very sad to hear about the passing of David Rakoff, long one of my favorite writers and contributors to This American Life. (True story: just last month, I downloaded the This American Life app to my phone and have been listening to the archives, and one of the episodes I listened to recently was What You Lookin’ At from 1998, in which Rakoff recounts a story of going to a tiny town in New Hampshire and feeling like a fish out of water. As with a lot of his material, it’s darkly funny and poignant, and I love his speaking voice also.) (That episode is also worth it for the Sarah Vowell story about getting a goth makeover.)