2014 Rainbow Awards!

Wow! I’m so honored to have received the following:

WinnerMD Winner! The Playing Ball anthology I worked in with Shae Connor, Marguerite Labbe, and Kerry Freeman won first place in the LGBT anthology category! The anthology features my first foray into historical, “One Man to Remember,” a romance between a rookie baseball player and a sports reporter set in the Jazz Age.

I’ve been a runner-up before but never a winner. It is pretty fantastic to share the win with my fellow baseball-fan writers and friends! The anthology was a lot of fun to put together. I’m beside myself that it won the award.

HonorableMentionSM The Silence of the Stars won an honorable mention (that means the book received a score of 36 or above (out of 40) from at least one judge).

It was also the runner up (10th place) for the The William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance. That was a big, tough category—many really amazing books!—and I’m thrilled to have made the list of finalists.

Bonus: I was a judge for Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction, and this was also a pretty strong field. If you’re looking for a good lesbian read, you can’t really go wrong with any of these.

Here are all the winners! Congratulations to all!

Awards Season!

By now you’ve probably heard that the Rainbow Awards were announced over the weekend.

Runner-UpMD

I’m happy to announce that Show and Tell was one of the runner-ups for Best Gay Paranormal. It was an honor just to be a finalist, and I mean that honestly; there was a lot of stiff competition from some really excellent writers.

Also, the Goodreads M/M Group is having their Member Choice Awards voting right now. I’m up for two awards:

Best_Anthology.N

for Playing Ball

Best_Perform_Arts.N

for The Stars that Tremble

Details are at the Goodreads group.

…And this is me Snoopy dancing. That’s a nice cap to a great year.

Playing Ball blog tour week 1 highlights

The anthology is out! Order here!

I posted an excerpt of my historical story One Man to Remember. For excerpts of the other stories, check out the websites of my co-conspirators: Marguerite Labbe, Shae Connor, and Kerry Freeman. We’ve put together a pretty stellar anthology if I do say so myself.

Marguerite and I discussed the greatest baseball rivalry of all time at the Armchair Reader. (That’s Yankees vs. Red Sox. I bet you can guess which side of that I fall on.)

And today, I wrote about why we love sports romances for Elisa’s blog.

And don’t forget you can enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a few cool prizes.

Playing Ball Blog Tour: “One Man to Remember” Excerpt

playingballtourbannerNew York City, 1927

Walt leaned against the brick facade of a Times Square building and watched Babe Ruth get out of a cab. The Bambino was wearing a clean white suit with a matching fedora tilted at a jaunty angle. Walt always found the contradiction of Ruth—the expensive clothes on the odd, triangular body, with the craggy face that looked like it had been in too many bar brawls—to be quite interesting. But there were plenty of reporters in New York dying to follow Ruth around. Walt had another story to pursue.

The Penguin Club was around the corner. It wasn’t Walt’s favorite Times Square establishment. It was a little bland, but that was why he’d chosen it—it was safe. He couldn’t imagine a kid like Skip would do well in the sorts of places Walt really liked to go. He was skittish in the baseball stadium; Walt couldn’t imagine him calm in one of the racier clubs.

He pulled his fedora down over his eyes and slunk down Fifty-Sixth Street. The Penguin was a little off the beaten path—another reason Walt had chosen it—and tonight, Walt wanted to fade into the background a bit, to observe instead of be observed.

He spotted a figure walking down the street from Sixth Avenue and knew immediately it was Skip. He walked with a dancer’s grace, something Walt had noticed at the stadium. As he came closer, Walt saw he was wearing a brown suit a couple of seasons out of style and a battered bowler hat that didn’t really go with the suit. These were forgivable offenses, Walt decided, since he did look pretty great out of a baseball uniform.

“Why, Mr. Littlefield,” Walt said as Skip walked up to him. “You’re a real sheik outside of the ballpark.”

It was too dark to see if Skip was blushing, but Walt imagined from the way he ducked his head that he was.

“I’m still not really sure about this,” Skip said.

“One measly drink won’t do any harm.”

Walt gestured for Skip to follow him. He knew the password, although the door was being watched by a big six named Anthony, with whom Walt had once had a brief and tawdry affair. Luckily, they were still on good terms.

“How are ya, Walt?” Anthony greeted him.

“I’m just ducky. This is my friend John.”

Skip tilted his head, but then extended a hand to Anthony, who shook it.

Anthony said, “You boys can go on in. Although, Walt? If you’re looking for something to do later, Carmela’s performing at that little place off Forty-Third tonight.”

Walt nodded. He loved Carmela’s show, but he was sort of wishing this interview would go long enough for him to miss it. And he certainly knew better than to think Skip would be interested in a show like Carmela’s. “I’ll keep that in mind,” Walt said.

As Walt led Skip into the speakeasy, Skip said, “Who is Carmela?”

Walt chuckled. “Would it terrify you if I told you she is a female impersonator?”

Skip tilted his head again, as if he were taking that in. “Like a man in a dress?”

Playing BallWalt nodded. “Carmela is in fact an Italian fella named Carmine who I’ve known for years. He’s… well, he’s something, to be sure. But his brother owns a bunch of the Times Square establishments, plus a few other places downtown, so he has plenty of performance venues.”

Skip seemed more intrigued by this than put off, which was not the reaction Walt had been expecting. “What does he do in his show?”

“Dances, tells jokes, that sort of thing. Like a one-man vaudeville act. Why do you ask? Do you want to see it?”

Skip shrugged. “Just wondering.”

What an interesting man Skip was turning out to be. The lack of literacy had given Walt pause back at the stadium. Walt’s handwriting wasn’t so abysmal that it couldn’t be deciphered, so Skip’s hesitancy over the words said a lot. But he still had found the place. Asking about school was on Walt’s agenda for this evening. He didn’t know much about Skip except that he was very attractive—he had a round face with a narrow nose and surprisingly plump lips atop that athletic body, and as he removed his hat, he displayed a thick head of wavy blond hair—and he played baseball as well as or better than many of the best ballplayers in the city. He was also, apparently, barely literate and intrigued by the idea of a show like Carmela’s. Walt was fascinated.

Playing Ball will be available September 25th (tomorrow!) from Dreamspinner Press. Pre-Order the book here!

Cover Reveal: Playing Ball Anthology

Playing BallI am thrilled to show off the gorgeous cover for the Playing Ball anthology, which will be available on September 25.

My story is called “One Man to Remember.”

It’s 1927, and in New York City Babe Ruth and the Yankee’s unstoppable batting lineup, Murderers’ Row, is all anyone can talk about. Across town, the Giants’ rookie infielder Skip Littlefield racks up hits, creating a streak to rival the Babe’s. Worried his secrets could get out, he avoids the spotlight, but he catches the attention of lauded sports reporter Walter Selby, a notorious dandy whose sexuality is an open secret. Skip reluctantly agrees to an interview, and mutual attraction is sparked. Skip can only hope the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from his romance with Walt. Otherwise, his career and everything he loves is at stake.

The book is now available for preorder from the Dreamspinner site: ebook or print.

five things on friday makes a triumphant return

Weekly wrap-up!

1. I skipped doing my five things post last week, because aside from the triumphant release of What There Is, I didn’t have a lot going on. Not so this week! I have been so very busy! But, hey, I had a novella come out last week, and that is no small feat. (Check out the story! There are boys. There is Brooklyn. And, yes, there’s even baseball.)

2. I went to Lady Jane’s Salon on Monday and bought two books even though I do not need any more books. It was funny, actually; I almost didn’t go because I was having trouble summoning the energy to drag myself from Brooklyn to Manhattan, but going was definitely the correct decision, because I had a blast. Seriously, if you are ever near a Lady Jane’s, GO.

3. Wednesday, I went to a class at the Brooklyn Brainery (conveniently located right in my neighborhood). It was called Great New York City Buildings Few Guide Books Will Ever Mention. It was fun, basically an architect’s take on which buildings in New York are the most interesting. The choices were all pretty obscure, including this oddball building in Brooklyn.

4. I saw cover drafts for both of my fall books this week. That’s always a fun part of the publishing process.

Oh, and I have pub dates! The baseball anthology Playing Ball will be out 9/25 and my opera novel The Stars that Tremble is tentatively schedule to come out on 9/30. So it will be a Kateriffic September. (And, good news: print copies of both should be available for signing at GRL.)

5. I want to read all the gay historical romances. (I just finished The Gentleman’s Keeper by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon and loved it.) Any recs?

5 things on friday are coming soon

I usually use this space to wrap-up my week, talking about 5 things I’ve been doing or reading or thinking about. Since I’ve had a not terribly exciting week, I thought I would instead talk about 5 writing projects I’m working on. Most of these are not contracted yet, so these are like sneaky-sneaky previews of what you may see in 2014 and 2015.

1. Let’s get the upcoming publications out of the way first. Due out this fall from Dreamspinner:

One Man to Remember—[part of the Playing Ball anthology I’m doing with Shae Connor, Kerry Freeman, and Marguerite Labbe (2/3 of whom I got to see in Atlanta last week!] This is a historical novella set in 1927 (my first published historical, you guys!) in which a talented but media-shy rookie falls in love with a flamboyant sports reporter.

The Stars that Tremble—Here’s hoping readers feel about opera the same way they did about baseball—this is an emotional opposites attract romance between a former opera star and a contractor who renovates kitchens.

More detailed blurbs for both of these are available on the upcoming page.

2. I’ve written here before about how I suck at writing sequels. I often sit down to write one, get 5 or 6,000 words into it, and then lose all interest. Books for which I have done this: I started a sequel to In Hot Pursuit in which one hero is Noah’s police partner and is tasked with tracking down Harry’s infant nephew while also hooking up with a sexy FBI agent; Neal from The Boy Next Door was always supposed to have his own book, but I don’t have it quite right yet; there’s a sequel to Blind Items in which Drew and Rey produce a play together and there’s a subplot about the lead actor. After I kept crashing and burning with the TBND sequel, I swore off sequels, but people were clamoring for something after Blind Items. (And I get it. The book ends at a specific moment and I thought the story was over, but after the fact I regretted not writing an epilogue. Things work out for Drew and Jonathan! I promise!)

Anyhoo. Here we are again. I put a character in The Stars that Tremble named Sandy, and he sort of took over every scene he’s in, and I cannot deny that the epilogue is deliberately kind of sequel-bait-y, and… well, you’ll see. And then every single person, from betas to editors, who has breathed near the manuscript has been like, “When does Sandy get his own book? I want that yesterday!” So, fine, Sandy is getting his own book. I’ve written about 10,000 words of it so far. So I broke the 6K wall!

The gist: Sandy is a veteran of the global war on terror. He received a medical discharge from the army after he took some shrapnel to the should when he ran into a car bomb in Afghanistan. (I think. I’m still kind of working out this part.) So he’s got some PTSD but is in deep denial about having PTSD and he uses humor and his sunny personality to deflect attention from the fact that he’s hurting pretty badly inside. He meets a super hot violinist named Everett and they start fucking and it’s supposed to just be fun until feelings get involved. And then we have some sweet, delicious conflict.

I think the world of the Olcott School, where Gio from The Stars that Tremble and Everett from the unnamed sequel are both teachers, could be ripe for stories. There could be a New Adult story involving musical prodigies, for example. Lots of possibilities! So we’ll see about that.

3. I’m finishing up a Jazz Age historical about a vaudeville dancer and a mid-level Mob boss that’s a lot darker than the stuff I usually write. I’m so glad I’m in the home stretch with this one, because I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now. (So much research! Although that’s part of why I was able to write One Man to Remember quickly; I had a lot of the period research in my brain already.) I don’t have a title yet, and this has been the source of much contemplation and agony on my part, but soon, my pretties, soon I will have something more to say about that, I hope.

4. I started writing this crazy contemporary about a month ago that’s an angsty friends-to-lovers set in New York. It has some Unpopular Themes. I feel like this is my, “Just as everyone started complaining about Trope 1 and Trope 2 in romance novel, I got this plot bunny that includes all of them!” novel. So!

5. At RWA, I attended a workshop taught by two of my favorite authors, Eloisa James and Sarah MacLean, on writing series, which I’ve never seriously attempted but very much want to. I mentioned as much to Damon Suede later that evening, and he was like, “You’re the baseball girl. You should write a baseball series.” And then we ran with that. So on Tuesday, I bought a new notebook and started mapping out what I want the series to look like. I think the only way to do this successfully is to actually plan at least the first three books. And because I’m a plotter and NOT a pantser, I plan to outline those suckers first. So I’ve got part of an outline for the first book in a series about a gay amateur baseball league.

So that is the state of my WIPs!

five things? five things!

Hey, it’s Friday. Let’s wrap up the week.

BMMmzbmCUAA7N6N.jpg_large1. What There Is will be available July 31 and is available for pre-order now from the Dreamspinner site. It’s kind of my take on a jock-nerd romance. There’s baseball and cooking and statistics geekery. It’s only 15,000 words, so it’s more a tasty snack than a meal, but I hope you all enjoy it!

2. I hope you Americans all had a fabulous 4th of July. Mine’s pretty low-key, because I have a ton of work to do, but I’m enjoying the four-day weekend. 🙂

3. I like this quote from Mark Twain that I found yesterday:

My books are water: those of the great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.

I think you could make a similar analogy between genre fiction and literary fiction. (Genre fiction is water. Which is still awesome and essential.)

4. So edits for BOTH of my fall releases came in this week so I am DOING ALL THE EDITS. Luckily, the editor seems to have really loved my historical baseball novella, One Man to Remember, which will be available as part of the anthology I’m doing with Shae Connor, Kerry Freeman, and Marguerite Labbe. So that’s been relatively painless. But baseball + the Jazz Age = giddy Kate, so I had fun writing it. Hopefully that shows.

I haven’t looked at the edits for The Stars that Tremble yet; that’s a full novel about a former opera singer who falls for a blue-collar guy and there’s a LOT of opera in it (file under: semi-obscure things Kate is nerdy about).

Tangent: the cable channel H2 has a series called “How Sex Changed the World”; there was a recent episode that had a segment on castrati, or opera singers who were castrated pre-puberty. The lack of testosterone meant these men were quite effeminate—softer features, high voices—but they also were treated like rock stars (in other words, fame and lots of sex) all across Europe. I bet if it weren’t so barbaric, that would still get some mileage today. My mother is on the board of directors for a choir that performed an oratorio last year or the year before that had a solo part written for castrato. They hired this guy who is a high tenor but could still hit all the notes (as far as I know, his equipment was still in tact). All the women in the choir were totally in love with him. Even my mom fangirled a little at the post-concert cocktail reception. So there you go.

5. I’m sitting on a post about writing, let’s say, unpopular themes. I just churned out 45,000 words of ANGST in about two and a half weeks, and it was tough for me to turn off the voice in my head that was like, “But your readers will hate this,” but I plowed forward anyway, and I really love this story and these characters. Like, I had to finish the first draft yesterday morning before I could move on to working on stuff for my more pressing deadlines.

Given the latest Internet kerfuffle in the m/m world, I thought it was especially relevant to talk about, but I don’t have the time to give it the thought it needs at the moment. Maybe I’ll get that up next week when I have less on my plate. Generally, I think it’s better for writers to push boundaries and try new things and, yes, maybe write books people don’t like so that we don’t just get the same book over and over again.

upcoming projects

BGW400x200My novella, Save the Date, will be out June 4th. I’m taking the show on the road with a bunch of other authors who have also written gay wedding stories for Loose Id’s “I do… unless I don’t” promotion. So I’ll be posting links to all of those posts starting the week after next.

I’ve updated the Upcoming page with blurbs for what I think are probably the rest of my 2013 books, including my next novel, The Stars that Tremble. I also just signed a contract for a historical baseball story called One Man to Remember that is part of an anthology of baseball stories called Playing Ball that will be out in early fall, hopefully in time for GRL. Here are all the blurbs for the anthology:

One Man to Remember by Kate McMurray
In the summer of 1927, all anyone in New York can talk about is Babe Ruth and the Yankees’ Murderer’s Row, the unstoppable batting lineup that no other team can beat. Skip Littlefield, an infielder for the less flashy New York Giants, is happy to let the Babe take the spotlight, even as he starts hitting as well as Ruth himself. Sports journalist Walter Selby has gained a reputation for being something of a dandy. He’s a force to be reckoned with, too, as one of the most dynamic voices in the daily papers. And now he can’t help but notice the talented first baseman helping the Giants race for the pennant. Then he meets the man and is left breathless—Skip is talented, soft-spoken, and also incredibly handsome. And Walt quickly comes to understand why Skip wants to stay out of the spotlight.

Against the backdrop of the lights of Times Square, the excitement of the era, and some of the most incredible baseball anyone has ever played, Skip starts to fall for Walt. But no one can know. Skip’s only hope is that the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from the quite romance blooming between Skip and Walt, or else Skip’s whole career and everything he loves is at stake.

Wild Pitch by Marguerite Labbe
For as long as Ruben Martell has known him, he’s been in love with his best friend Alan Hartner. They played together, traveled together and publicly dueled on opposite teams. Now years later they’re both retired from the Major Leagues, are running a business together and coaching rival Little League teams. And in all those years, Ruben hasn’t given up hope that Alan might return his feelings one day, but now he’s starting to believe that Alan will never chose to move beyond the memory of his late wife.

Alan quit the game at the height of his career to take care of his sons and the one constant he’s been able to rely on is Ruben. In all that time he has tried to forget about the night everything changed, only being with Ruben on a day-to-day basis is weakening his resolve. They’d stepped over the line before and it had hurt their friendship and left Alan with a guilt he didn’t know how to handle. Alan doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that friendship now even if it mean denying the feelings he’s kept locked away for so long.

One Last Road Trip by Kerry Freeman
After the last game of his major league career, Jake Wilson is hitting the road, and he’s making a few stops along the way. He has an ex-wife with a new life in New Mexico, a son following in his footsteps in Oklahoma, a daughter with an announcement in Tennessee, and the gamble of a lifetime in Georgia. In 2,500 miles, his life will completely change, and he can only hope that his visit to his first love will cause everything to change for the better.

Home Field Advantage by Shae Connor
College student Toby MacMillan, grandson of Atlanta Braves owner Ray MacMillan, works with the team’s locker room crew during the baseball season. It’s there that he meets Caleb Browning, who’s getting his first shot at the big leagues, and Toby, who’s been trying to keep his sexuality under wraps, finds himself smitten. An innocent dinner soon turns into a not-so-innocent night together in Caleb’s bed, but Toby quickly calls things off, afraid of the ramifications of their tryst.

Unable to avoid each other because of their jobs, the two men develop a tentative friendship, but it soon becomes more. After Caleb takes a fastball to the head during a game, Toby’s presence at his hospital bedside catches the attention of more than just the medical staff. Their budding romance hits the news, and Toby’s grandfather threatens to cut Toby out of team ownership unless he denies it. Facing a choice between the team he’s loved all his life and the man he could love for the rest of it, Toby has to decide if he’s ready to make a stand.