my kingdom for a typewriter

I come to you tonight from my phone. I just had to drop my poor laptop off for repairs. The Apple Store thinks it’ll take a few days to fix it. What’s a writer to do?

It’s rough. I won’t be able to write much, if anything, until I get it back, and I’ll be scarce on the interwebs for the next few days, not that I’ve been around much anyway. (I’ve been sick on and off. This is also the second time I’ve had to bring my MacBook in for repairs this year. It’s like fate is conspiring against my current WIP.)

Anyway, think happy thoughts for my laptop. I guess this is a good opportunity to catch up on my reading.


So 2010 was a pretty stellar year. My first book came out, and my second, and I sold a third. (It’ll be out January 25th!)

I have a bunch of stuff on the agenda for 2011. One of my resolutions is to do a little more marketing, and I want to make myself as accessible as possible. This means:

1. I’m going to conventions this year. More about that as dates approach.

2. I’m going to try to do more with my existing social networking accounts, which hopefully means updating my LJ and Twitter more than once a week. Maybe.

3. I’ve got a Facebook fan page now. So you can follow me over there. I’ll post updates and things.

4. And of course the writing. I had the germ of a new idea right after Christmas and spent a number of hours feverishly writing this new story, and it feels really great, I have to tell you.

So that’s what’s going on with me. More info on the new release soon!

if nothing else, I am a huge dork

Elisa posted an interview with Ryan Field that I thought was kind of interesting (and a good test of my Italian skills; that is one of my secret talents). Here, I will translate for you (this is the second question):

What kind of readers are you addressing? Those who believe that sex and love are inseparable. And I think that readers are always looking for this union. I also consider that readers are looking for novels with a happy ending that raises them from the stress of real life. Reading a novel, regardless of genre, must help them escape their problems. And from the letters I get, it seems to me that readers are eager to escape reality.

(Italian is not my first language, obviously, so apologies if I goofed anywhere.)

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about my own expectations as a reader and why I like romance novels and what I want out of them and so on. I do like realistic, slice-of-life sorts of novels. I like fantasy, too. For example, I just read Jungle Heat by Bonnie Dee. I had some niggles in terms of things I didn’t think were quite realistic, but I really enjoyed the book as a fantasy, insofar as my thinking was, “I’m not sure this could have happened, but wouldn’t it have been cool if it did?” That’s maybe the crux of historical or speculative fiction. I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the stuff I’ve been writing lately, which has definitely been more on the fantastical end of the spectrum. I don’t really know if ghosts exist, but what if they did? How cool would it be if someone had lived through hundreds of years of human history? If someone from 1850 were plunked into 2010, what would they think of all this? Pros, cons, bad, good, what would happen? These are things I think about when contemplating what worlds and ideas I could explore as a writer.

Romance is a different kind of fantasy, though, often “realistic” in that there are characters who live in our world, characters that make mistakes and have mundane jobs and are mostly like us. But romances also take us to world where everyone has a true love and lives happily ever after. Where we get into the heads of characters who lead different lives than we do, characters for whom good things happen. And maybe, as Ryan Field says in the article, part of the fantasy of erotic romance is that sex and love are the same, that one is borne of the other or is an expression of the other or both. Maybe part of the fantasy of romance is that we read these novels and think, “Life could be this way.”

I’ll tell you what my fantasy is: for the sun to break through the thunderstorm currently raging outside my window, and for a good night’s sleep after almost two weeks of travel (I spent the weekend traveling around New England with my family). Actually, if the orange glow on the buildings across the street from my living room window means anything, it’s that my first wish is coming true. Sleep next!

back from vacation; never say never

I came back from Florida with a burn/tan, and was feeling relaxed enough that it’s been tricky getting back into the groove of my life this week. It’s funny; in some ways, I just fall back into routine because it’s… routine. But it took some self-cajoling to get back to writing after basically taking a week off.

Although, I did some thinking about Noah. I set that novel in Tampa primarily because it was a city in Florida with which I was familiar. I have a friend who lives there, I’ve visited a few times, I knew there was a decent-sized gay community in St. Pete. Last week, I spent time in South Florida and the Keys in an honest-to-God resort just like the one Noah spent most of In Hot Pursuit in with friends (two other women and a gay man). It was sort of interesting to examine that experience in the wake of my recently-published novel, picking apart things I got right in my novel and things I might have done a little differently (mostly, if I had it to do over, I might have included more details about the setting). My vacation involved spending a lot of time on the beach (and getting roasted by the sun while I read romance novels, natch) with the occasional foray into various nearby cities. We even stopped in a gay bar in Key West that reminded me a little of Shanley’s from my novel.

One thing I really love to see in a novel I’m reading is a setting well rendered. I’m in awe of writers who make that setting another character, or who draw it so well that it feels like you’re there. That’s one thing I’m working on, to make my setting more fully realized.

I’m trying some new things now. I think I’m constantly developing as a writer, meaning both that I’m trying to become a better writer in terms of craft and also that I’m willing to take on different genres and topics as I go. When I first started writing seriously, I wrote a lot of thinly-veiled autobiographical stories, but I find that, as I develop as a writer, exploring completely different characters and experiences and worlds is increasingly appealing. I’ve gone from not having any particular desire to wade into the paranormal/fantasy arena to the last couple of months starting to write speculative fiction for the first time ever. And it’s a great amount of fun! Who knew?

I think the lesson is just to be open to everything. I have in the last year or so read and written things I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere near five years ago, but as I develop as a writer, I want to try new things, explore new worlds, do what I can to develop as a writer.

And I have all new respect for spec fic writers who do it well. I mean, on the one hand, you get to make shit up, but on the other hand, you have to make shit up! In some ways, it’s easier to set novels in the real world (especially if you, like me, set the majority of your stories in the city where you live) and you could make the argument that writing fantasy means you don’t have to research, but you DO have to build your world. And that’s a real stretch of one’s creative power.

Anyway, these are just some things I’ve been thinking about. I’m traveling a lot the rest of this month, so I’m a little nervous about squeezing in time to write, but I’m really enjoying the WIPs I have going right now, and that’s kind of half the battle right there.

new writers who rock

I was nominated as a great new author at Jessewave‘s (so those of you who got here from there, welcome!). It’s humbling to be on a list with some other really great writers. (I’m familiar with Mary Calmes and P.D. Singer but haven’t read anything by Heidi Champa or Louise Blaydon… I am going on vacation soon and need things to read, however!)

So thanks to Anna who nominated me and Wave for sticking my picture up there. You can learn more about In Hot Pursuit and also stay tuned because I’ll have a new book out this winter.

mom’s day

Halloweeen ca. 1984

I went digging for a few old photos of my mother in honor of the holiday and came up with this one. It’s fitting in its way; every Halloween since forever, she’s dressed up as a witch. There was a box of old costumes that lived in our basement that had no fewer than 5 pointy hats in it at any given time.

My mom is also a writer, though she writes mostly non-fiction these days. My dad is a scientist. As far as following in parental footsteps, it could have gone either way; I did pretty well in my English classes in school, but I also excelled at math. Still, I became an editor and a writer, just like my mother. Because, as maybe you can guess from the photo, a part of me wanted to be her.

My mom was always trying to further our education. She has a keen interest in American history, so my brother and I got dragged around to reenactments and documentary screenings and war movies when we were kids. I probably got a better education in history from my mother than I did from school. In 10th grade, for example, I was assigned a paper on the Battle of Gettysburg, and I didn’t even have to go to the library because my mom had so many reference books on the Civil War.

Some branches of my mother’s family have been in the US since the late 1600s, which maybe explains the preoccupation with American history and genealogy. My mother told me at our early Mother’s Day dinner last night that her brother has been doing some research and discovered that we had an ancestor who’d been imprisoned at Andersonville, the worst of the Confederate prison camps during the Civil War. My brother and I both exclaimed “Wow, cool!” (And my brother’s fiancée, who was also having dinner with us, gave us a blank stare. Although, she and my brother have been together a long time, and he’s about to go back to school to get an advanced degree in history, so she’s kind of used to this.) My mom had a similar reaction, though; it’s one of those things… Andersonville was, by all accounts, a terrible place. The man who ruled over it was hanged for war crimes after the war ended. My ancestor, in fact, died a few weeks after being liberated. But my brother and I got kind of a giddy thrill to know that an ancestor of ours had been a part of this chapter in American history that we knew something about.

As an adult, when I read nonfiction, I read mostly history. (My brother recently loaned me David McCullough’s book on the Brooklyn Bridge, which is kind of a doorstopper, but I’m enjoying it so far.) I toy with writing historical fiction. I love to write (and read!) it, but a life spent with my mother makes me leery sometimes, terrified to get the details wrong. (Plus, the historical eras I’m interested in are not so universally appealing. I wrote a chapter of a novel that takes place during the Gilded Age and thought, “Geez, would anyone but me be even remotely interested in this?”)

Although the fact that I’m writing romance at all is maybe my little bit of rebellion. My mom was always reading these weighty, academic tomes (although I knew where she kept her secret stash of pulp sci fi novels) so I hid romance novels in my room when I read them as a teenager. One of the fun things about being an adult is that I don’t even bother to hide those anymore; most of my romance novels are in a bookcase in the hallway right next to the front door of my apartment. It’s like a sign that says, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

So there it is. Blame my mother.

chance to win a book

I’m going to be hanging around Ethan Day’s Gay Day again tomorrow, and this time I’m giving away a copy of In Hot Pursuit. Details below!

Sunday, February 28th is Gay Day at Ethan’s Yahoo Group.  Gay Day is the one day a month when the best authors in GLBT Romance stop by to post excerpts of their new and upcoming releases. 
The following authors will be generously offering giveaways you can enter to win:
Z.A. Maxfield  is offering up winners choice of an e-book from her backlist
AKM Miles – Too Keen
Willa Okati – Tomcat Jones
M. Jules Aedin – Can’t Hurry Love – 2 copies are up for grabs!!
A.J. Llewellyn – Wanted
Ethan Day – an autographed Print copy of Dreaming of You
Kate McMurrayIn Hot Pursuit
Trina Lane – Taking the Chance
J.R. Patrick – Only Yours  
S.J. FrostMidnight Dalliance
Jambrea Jo Jones – Stealing My Heart
Sophia Titheniel – King of Damon’s
Charlie Cochrane – an autographed Print copy of Past Shadows
The amazing Authors below will be popping in and out to chat & post excerpts from their latest books:
Lynn LorenzBaymore’s Heir & Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Carol LynneIce Water in Hell
Z.A. Maxfield – Family Unit
Lex Valentine – Where There’s Smoke
Nix Winter – Kai Stubborn
P.A. BrownL.A. Bytes
Sloan Parker – More
M. Jules Aedin – Windows In Time
T.C. Blue – A Game of Chances
Kimberly Gardner – Bound to Please
Andrew Gray – Love Means No Boundaries
Adrianne Brennan – My Big Fat Greek Pagan Lesbian Wedding
A.J. LlewellynFawnskin w/ DJ Manly & Stephani Hecht Stealing My Heart the Anti-piracy Antho
The day will begin from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST in the Ethan Day Yahoo Group where we’ll be posting excerpts, running contests for free books, and chatting about all the new and upcoming releases from your favorite authors.
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. CST we’ll be hosting another LIVE Chat which is pretty much a free for all, anything-goes-chat that’ll inevitably have you uttering the phrase, “What the f**k?” : )
***You will need to have Downloaded Skype in order to take part in the Live Chat.***
Once you’ve downloaded the FREE software, simply add Ethan as a contact: ethandayonline — and he’ll be able to add you to the chat room!
I hope everyone will stop by to catch up with your favorite authors and join in all the fun!

valentine’s day

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. This is not some bitter single lady rebuke, nor will I rant about crass commercialism. No, Valentine’s Day has always been like my own personal Friday the 13th, full of bad memories and bad luck completely unrelated to romance. I was thinking this morning that surely I had some good Valentine’s Days, years when friends bought me flowers or a boyfriend and I had a nice day together, but those aren’t the ones I remember. Instead I’m plagued with, of all things, memories of a segment filmed for local TV gone bad, of coming down with the flu while on vacation, of a package sent to me as a Valentine’s Day gift that got lost in the mail for almost an entire month.

But I’m a romance writer and I’m a sappy romantic on the inside, so I feel obligated to say it’s not all bad. A friend of mine and I still exchange snarky ecards, a tradition we’ve had for almost ten years. And there are things worth celebrating: my brother and his girlfriend are celebrating six years together and good friends of mine just got engaged.

I spent the day with friends. My usual Sunday brunch group came over to my apartment and I prepared a small feast, with eggs and challah french toast and bacon and lots of fresh fruit. A few friends stuck around all afternoon and we alternated between watching cheesy movies and Olympics coverage. So it’s been a pretty good day, all told.

So, tomorrow I’ll go back to writing romance. I’m working on a short story right now that I’m already thinking might be a longer work. And, of course, my book is out this week. It’s all very exciting.

I hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day. Give someone a kiss for me.

state of the kate

I called out sick from work today. I feel okay saying this on the internets because I am actually sick. The funny thing about sick days when you are actually sick is that, right after you get off the phone with your boss, you think, “Awesome, I’ve got this whole day off in front of me.” But then you realize you are actually sick and can’t do anything. I, for example, fell asleep in the middle of reading a book and lost the whole afternoon. I was thinking I’d get in some cold-medicine-fueled writing, but no. (Don’t pity me too much, though; I’m feeling a lot better now. And there are worse things than spending a day curled up in bed with a down quilt, a cat, and a Kindle.)

I’ve been reading a lot the last couple of days. I haven’t been reading much lately, mostly because of lack of time, but it turns out my shopping vice of late is ebooks, because I’ve bought, like, 15 of them in the last few weeks.

Here’s what I’ve read since I’ve been sick: After eying it for a couple of weeks, I finally broke down and read The Dark Tide. I knew the book would be good, and it was. I just couldn’t face the end of the Adrien English series. I guess I got a little sentimental. I mean, the series is fantastic, but also, Fatal Shadows has the distinction of being the first ebook I ever bought (and I think also the first m/m romance I ever read, although I’d read plenty of things with gay characters before). And it was a good intro to Loose Id, which, hey, is publishing my book in two weeks.

I also read LA Heat, a pretty solid procedural crime novel featuring a closeted cop who falls for the suspect in his murder investigation. It’s heavy on the police minutiae, but we’ve already talked about that, so you know it’s cool with me. And I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned page turner.

I’ve got a murder-mystery work-in-progress that I plan (hope) to finish this month, and all this cop stuff is making me want to get back to it. I’ve been working on this one for the last few months; I know whodunnit but can’t figure out how the characters figure it out, so I’ve been dragging my feet on the ending. It’s lighter in tone than In Hot Pursuit, though it has a higher body count. And I like these characters a lot, which makes it a joy to work on for the most part, except for the ending. (You appreciate mystery writers more when you try to write a mystery.) The one drawback is that one of the characters is a mystery writer, and after I was 20,000 words into the first draft, I had a conversation with a few members of my writers group who were all, “I hate characters who are writers.” Whoops! I’ll tell you, this character is not too prone to discussing his Craft. He’s more a pop writer, more opportunistic and arrogant than flighty and artistic. Plus, I thought it was funny to have a character who writes gritty crime novels with lots of gruesome details who then loses his shit when confronted with the real thing. It’s possible I have a warped sense of humor.

It occurred to me that my book comes out two days after Valentine’s Day, and it’s a romance, so there should be some celebrating? Stay tuned.