RWA 2019

While pondering possible titles for this blog post, I considered “Misery Loves Company” which might have enticed you to read, but would have started us out on the wrong tone. My trip to New York for the Romance Writers of America 2019 National Conference was far from miserable. It was, in fact, one of the most enjoyable conference experiences of my career.

So what’s that other title about? Writing is a fairly solitary exercise and while I belong to three wonderfully supportive groups up here in the Poconos, none of them are romance focused, so I always look forward to an RWA conference as a way to connect with my peers in the romance genre, and with writers whose books, like mine, feature LGBTQ characters. I’m also looking to connect with writers who are at the same stage of their career so we can swap notes, perhaps commiserate a little, and cheer each other on to the next step.

BadgeThis year, in particular, I was hoping to do all of that and also find a reason to keep going. To, nevertheless, persist. My fatigue this year hasn’t all been due to external forces. As a writer and a romance novelist, I’m also exhausted by what’s happening in the marketplace. Thankfully, I’m not alone. My first workshop of the conference was appropriately named #Tired: Wielding Your Pen When the World’s on Fire and everyone in that room was tired. There are other writers out there who felt as though we now need to take two steps to cover the same distance as one. That everyone else is writing faster and harder and better. That our lives outside of writing hours have become stupidly complicated, meaning that sometimes three steps are required when we are back in the zone. And, we all agreed, the absolute dumpster fire that is social media just makes it all worse.

Our lovely panelists, Kianna Alexander and Synithia Williams, were prepared for us, though, with a number of ways for us to Realize, Reset, Recharge, and Restart.

Next up was the PAN Keynote with Jennifer Probst, who also talked about this overwhelming fatigue, to a wave of emphatic nods from the audience. I walked out of this session with five paragraphs scrawled into my notebook—all five written down at the encouragement of our speaker. Why I came to the conference, my fears regarding my career, my dreams, when my writing felt the worst, and when it felt the best. These paragraphs will slot nicely into the reset phase of my working plan from the first session.

I attended other workshops and sessions, but these two set the tone for my conference by reminding me that I wasn’t alone and that if <insert any author here> could keep going, I could too. I just had to want to.

Another aspect of this conference that resonated was how many authors took a moment to speak to the need for more diverse representation, not only in the awards arena, but in our chapters, on our boards, and in our books. The reminder that this starts at the chapter level is timely, and ties directly into why I’ve always tried to be active in my own chapters. Change starts within, and we will only get out of this organization what we put into it.

KHOn to the social stuff! The social happenings are the highlight of every conference and one of my favourite authors, Kristan Higgins, totally made my day on Thursday by posing for a picture with me. She is as lovely in person as she is in her reader group! I was thrilled to finally meet her.

I also ran into Liz Jacobs and Roan Parrish, both writers I adore! We’d been friends online for years, but it’s totally different to meet in person. I nearly convinced Liz to move to San Francisco, because for some reason I thought she already lived there and had what we agreed was a lovely mental image of her and her wife and cute dog all sitting on a sunny balcony overlooking the water. Roan has the boundless energy I recognize from her books. I was excited to applaud her efforts when the board recognized her fundraising activities.

I met and caught up with several members of the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter, both on Wednesday evening and Thursday evening. One of the challenges of an online chapter is the connectivity that comes with meeting regularly. Hopefully, putting some names to faces will enable our members to feel closer as a group. Robin Covington is going to do a fantastic job as chapter president next year and will need the support of our membership!

Beer drink

Thursday night, I caught my first Uber (after taxi overheated and dumped us on West 9th) to Brooklyn to watch E.J. Russell’s sons dance. Oh, my. Gina Night, Jenna Bayley Burke, E.J. and I stopped by the brewery next door first, then took our seats for three hours of scantily clad beauty. The skin! The dancing. The singing! The music! The show was called Queen of Hearts and performed by Company XIV at their theatre in Bushwick. An amazing show. Even if you don’t appreciate dance, just the experience of so many talented people moving and working together will blow you away. More objectively—so many lovely bodies. I could have watched these beautiful young people move all night.

Friday afternoon, I got together with Judith Utz (A Novel Take PR), Liz Jacobs, Jenn Burke, and Kini (Smexy Books) for a drink. We touched on the subject of industry fatigue and what seem to be the popular subgenres of romance right now. We also enjoyed delicious cocktails and each other’s company.

SmackDinner out with Jenn, J. Leigh Bailey, and Shae Connor was another highlight. We found the most amazing Turkish restaurant and enjoyed hours and hours of conversation about writing, publishing, and just being human. Later, we indulged in Schmackary’s cookies as recommended by Amanda Weaver. Nom, nom, nom.

I attended multiple signings and gathered many books. I plan to read all of them. I’ll try to read all of them. I’m thinking of writing a blog series about my attempt to read all of them. I’m always up for a challenge! After my first RWA (San Diego 2014) I dragged 37lbs of books home. I think you’ll agree I was much more restrained this time.

I finally met Vanessa North! She’s as gorgeous in person. I also met Cat Sebastian and Ruby Lang. I cannot wait to read Ruby’s book! I met a dozen other authors as well and enjoyed chatting with everyone about their stories.

BooksI picked the books in this picture for two reasons: I liked the author and wanted to read more, or the cover called me across the room. One thing I did notice this year was a distinct lack of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance. A good thing, as there are fewer books in my haul. But a sad thing as those are among my favourite romance genres. This year, I picked up a lot of light-hearted reads and books that veer more into women’s fiction territory.

Finally, on Saturday, Jenn and I caught the subway downtown for a while, so she could see a little more of Manhattan. I took her to Washington Square Park where I tried and mostly failed to take a selfie of us standing in front of the arch. Then we popped into a few bookshops on our way back up to Union Square and ended our trip with another subway ride back to Times Square just in time to pick up our luggage and hoof it to the bus back to Pennsylvania.

WSP TAT

Back home again, I took Jenn to meet my tattoo artist, Rob, and she got an amazing tattoo! One final dinner out and we all came back to my place and collapses. Sunday officially didn’t happen. I did laundry and gamed.

All in all, it was a great conference. If you’re a romance writer or a member of the RWA, I highly recommend attending at least one national conference near you. If not just for the workshops and signings, but to mingle with your people. Exchange ideas, congratulation someone in person for their achievements, and learn a little more about the people behind the books you love. If you’re a reader, there is always a huge book fair on the Saturday where you can do pretty much the same thing. Meet your fellow readers (many of who are writers too!) and line up to meet the author of the book that changed your life.

My Summer Daze is still in effect. I still have to cover all the vacation shifts at the shop, get my daughter to college, prepare for my father’s visit and mow the lawn (again and again), but I now have some ideas—if not story ideas, then plans—for what I’ll be working on in September. I feel refreshed in regards to my career and, most importantly, as if there is still a place out there for my voice and my stories.

The hardest part of getting back to work is probably going to be choosing which project to work on, but I have some ideas about that, too. ❤

Everyday People

This is one of my favourite posts! It’s all about why I love to read and write queer contemporary romance. ❤

While building a better website (you can check it out here), I compiled a list of posts hosted elsewhere for one of the features. This post was originally written for Queer Romance Month back in 2015, and the host website is no longer active. So I’m reposting it here, on my own blog.

Reading it over this over this morning, I felt no urge to change a single word. This post is as true today as it was four years ago. It’s why I write the stories I do, and why I continue to seek them out.

Enjoy–and let me know if you clicked the link at the end. (quiet, but evil laughter)


Everyday People

Ever since the debut episode of Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, I’ve had this ditty running through my head:

There is a blue one who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one

Doesn’t make a lot of sense, eh? In fact, the whole song is full of such nonsense. But the refrain makes very clear what it’s all about:

I am everyday people, yeah yeah

It’s also very catchy and needs to get out of my head. But while it’s there, I’d going to talk about what this song means to me and, more specifically, the stories I like to read. The song is called “Everyday People” by Sly & the Family Stone and the sentiment isn’t new, but it’s one most of us can appreciate. No matter our race, colour, gender, size, profession, we’re everyday people. No matter who we love, we’re everyday people.

We all start out young and full of hope. We all have dreams. Most of us are looking for love and companionship. We’re looking for purpose. We crave success, and the feeling of being established. Many of us want families. We love our friends. We are heroes, and in need of rescuing. We are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. Sons and daughters. We can be either, or, or other.

We are parents swallowing tears as our eighteen-year-olds leave home for college. They think they’re adults, but they’ll forever be our children. We are moving into our first apartment and think the couch we found on the side of the road will smell better after three separate applications of Febreze. Despite what anyone else says, we believe pizza is a balanced meal. We are charmingly naïve and worldly at the same time. We are human, and we’re everyday people.

These are the stories I like to read.

Despite the fact I write science fiction and will read pretty much anything written, contemporary romance is one of my favourite genres. I love to immerse myself in the lives of others, and I don’t really care how ordinary they are, because love makes all of us feel extraordinary. We don’t need to be super soldiers, firefighters, werewolves, or telepathically linked to the Old One in order to save those we love. We just need to be there. In contemporary romance, we just have to love hard enough.

In particular, I like queer contemporary romance. I love the stories about couples who have been married or partnered for over a decade and are battling the same issues every enduring couple must face: growing within a relationship, romantic complacency, aging gracefully and raising children who think ramen is a balanced meal. Pizza is a much better choice, obviously.

To me, what makes these stories special—outside of the fact I can identify with all of these situations—is that it doesn’t matter what gender you are, or who you love. Regardless of our orientation, we’re still going to plan stupidly mundane vacations to the shore. We’re going to get sucked in by that Sunday morning advertisement for the FootLog, only to realise we’ve spent fifty dollars on a roll of Legos—and just about all of us know what it feels like to step on those evil little pieces of plastic.

I want to read about young hopefuls going off to college and/or leaving for the big city. I want to read about househusbands trying out new recipes and setting the kitchen on fire. I want to read about the guy next door falling for the guy next door. I want my sister to be comfortable with who she is. I want her to have her wedding, and—sadly for her—I want her tux, or grass skirt, or unitard emblazoned with a pocket logo of the rings of Saturn to show up wrinkled and maybe in the wrong colour.

Because these are the things that happen to everyday people.

Arguably, one of the delights of reading queer romance is the triumph over adversity—whether bigotry, fear, or a lack of self-esteem and awareness. And I do like reading these stories. There is no greater victory than against the odds.

But what I really love to read are stories about normal people doing normal things. Doing what I have done or might do. Stories I can identify with because I’m a human being. Because I have a partner who is lover and best friend. Because I have a child. Because I burn myself every time I make toast, and forbid my child to use the stairs when I’m not in the house. Because, honestly, while I look pretty “normal”, really, I’m not. We’re all a little queer—some of us more than others. And we all deserve stories, because we’re all…

Yep, I’m going to pull the song title out again…

We’re all everyday people and we’re all more than little bit interesting.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUUhDoCx8zc

Click it, you know you wanna. And I need someone else to have this song stuck in their head.

(featured image created using Canva)

2019

It’s time to make plans and set a few goals! But first, I’d like to take a look back at 2018. It was a huge year for me, career-wise—beginning with a lot of uncertainty and ending with five book releases. Let’s take a look at those first.

 

2018 Releases

 

To See the Sun

Readers had to wait until August for my first release of the year, but the reception for my weird and tropey science fiction western romance was overwhelmingly positive—which made me happy for all the usual reasons: yay, people liked my book! But also for the fact I’d taken a chance on something a little out there—a queer mail-order spouse story, with a pioneering setting, in space—and ended up writing one of my favourite books ever. To See the Sun turned to be one of my most romantic books as well.

Some readers felt the book was too tropey. I took that criticism as “this book is not for you.” I meant it to be tropey. I meant for the science fiction aspect to be incidental as well as inherent, but I never set out to write space opera. To See the Sun is, first and foremost, a love story.

For those looking for more set in this universe—yes, that’s on the list for this year! I’ll talk more about that later.

 

The Complete Counting series and Counting Out

I have never been happy with Dreamspinner’s policy of pricing novellas over 15k at $3.99, so a part of my request to bundle the Counting series in one volume was to make the complete story available at a more accessible price. Dreamspinner agreed to a print version which… wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I won’t deny I’m thrilled to be able to hold Henry and Marc’s complete journey in my hands.

In an effort to continue adding value to the series as well as flesh out their story, I wrote a third “short” as a final epilogue to Marc and Henry’s story. Counting Out came in at just under 20k words, actually making it longer than either of the first two novellas in the series! And it’s available to download and read for free.

 

Building Forever (This Time Forever #1)

The long-awaited Cheez-It book! Or the novel I had no plans to write until I was about a quarter of the way through and Charlie still hadn’t stopped talking. I put so much of myself into this book: my insecurities regarding parenting a teenager, the ups and downs of a writing career, my lifelong interest in architecture, and my desire to see two deserving people find a happy ever after together.

I hoped this book would be a hit with my readers and perhaps gain me a few more fans and it appears to have done just that with the reception being super positive. I figured a lot of folks would like Charlie, but every reader who loved Simon just as much (or more) warmed my heart. ❤

 

Renewing Forever (This Time Forever #2)

As I mentioned in a few of the promo posts I wrote for Renewing Forever, I had no idea how much I needed to write this book until I wrote it. Oh, the longing. I’d always wanted to write a true second chance romance—where the one who got away came back, where a love thought lost was found and rekindled, where the happy ever after felt so well deserved.

The readers who enjoyed this book really enjoyed it—and the reviews reflecting the fact they’d taken the same journey reading as I had writing were incredibly gratifying. Renewing Forever was a stretch in a new direction for me and it’s probably my favourite of the series. Friends to lovers will forever be it for me!

 

Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3)

Brian’s story was the book that stressed me out the most this year—the writing, the editing, the waiting for reviewer and reader reactions—and what surprise it turned out to be, for me as much as anyone else. Readers love this book! They love Brian—the lying, cheating asshole from books one and two.

I felt like I’d nailed his redemption, and I’d tried something a little different with the story arc. My readers know I don’t exactly write traditional romances. I try, but my black moments don’t always happen when they’re supposed to and sometimes they’re not particularly black. My conflicts aren’t always related to the relationship. I tend to write more along the lines of: okay, so these two are going to get together, but they really need to sort themselves out first, and the sorting will affect their relationship, and sometimes it’ll read like a real romance! And sometimes it won’t.

Nevertheless, I’m absolutely thrilled with the reception to Brian’s book and I’m so glad Brian and Mal have fans of their own. They both deserve all the love.

I do have plans to write an epilogue novella for this series, and maybe a spin-off novel for Josh and Ethan. The novella will be this year and will be more a montage of check-ins with each couple than an actual story, but I’m as curious about how my guys are getting along after their HEAs as you all must be.

I don’t think Josh and Ethan will happen this year. I’m aware that the longer I leave their story, the less likely I am to write it, so we’ll just have to see how my writing year goes and where my muse takes me. Fingers crossed!

 

What Didn’t Happen This Year

Purple Haze (Aliens in New York #2)

I originally intended to write Purple Haze in November 2017, but had to back-burner the project in order to fill contractual obligations with Riptide Publishing (namely, write Frank’s book). I started writing Purple Haze in May 2018 and had reached the 75% mark when Amazon announced they were closing Kindle Worlds. As I’d incorporated more elements of Felice Stevens’ world in the second book of the series than in the first, I decided to stop writing and reassess. I then got very, very busy editing all three novels of the This Time Forever series and didn’t get a chance to go back and review and revise Purple Haze until recently. It’s at the top of the list now and will (hopefully) be ready for release around March this year!

I’ll talk more about my plans for this novel and the series in general in just a little bit.

 

My Facebook Reader Group

For those of you wondering when I started a Facebook Group for my readers and why you didn’t know about it: it doesn’t actually exist—and might never. I had plans to start one in the lead up to the release of To See the Sun but kept putting it off because I’m really not sure I have the time to do it justice. I have the greatest admiration for authors who have thriving and active Facebook Groups and I love joining in the discussions. My own social media presence is somewhat more sporadic, however. Sometimes I’ll check in every day. Sometimes I’ll skip a week, checking in only when I’ve been tagged. I just have so much else going on that I’m not sure I can be present enough to run a great group!

If you’d like more Kelly, please friend me on Facebook. Because I write under my own name, I post regularly about my writing. I also post about my hobbies (gaming, reading, hiking, movies) and I’m always happy to chat about anything and everything.

If you’d ever like to chat with me about my books and would prefer a more private forum, ping me on Facebook messenger! I promise to answer all your questions.

I also send out a monthly newsletter that ends up getting quite chatty, and of course, I have this blog.

 

Signed Books

I also had plans to sell signed books through my website/blog. But it’s soooo complicated. There’s shipping and sales tax and stocking and billing and I just can’t. What I can do is send you bookmarks, postcards, and signed bookplates! Best part? I’ll do it for free.

 

What’s Next?

2019

Purple Haze (Aliens in New York #2)

Right now, I’m getting ready to read through what I have written so far. It’s about 48k of a proposed 60k. Everything is about to go wrong (for Dillon and Lang), meaning I just have to write the action-y stuff, and then the resolution-y stuff. These are two of my favourite things to write, so I have no worries at all about finishing this book. I should probably put some sexy stuff near the end too. Done and done.

Felice Stevens has graciously allowed us to keep any elements tying our stories to her world, but because Uncommon Ground (Aliens in New York #1) had such a tenuous link in the first place, I’ve decided that part of getting Purple Haze ready for publication will be moving it further from her world, which is going to mean some series editing. I’d actually set it more deeply in her version of New York, drawing in more of her characters with an idea of making one of them an alien in disguise.

Although I have planned for Purple Haze to complete the story of Dillon and Lang, giving them a happy ever after ending, I’ve decided edit out all elements of Felice’s world so that the series can remain open-ended, meaning I can either revisit Dillon and Lang (send them on another adventure), or spin-off another character. I really enjoy writing science fiction and contemporary and this series is a perfect blend of the two and fairly unique. I don’t want to say it’s done!

So, the plan: Review and Revise Purple Haze. Get it written and off to the editor ASAP. Meanwhile, I’m going to edit Uncommon Ground slightly. The story will not change! I’m merely going to change a few names and edit one encounter (with Felice’s characters) to take it out of her world. I will then commission new covers for Uncommon Ground and Purple Haze and publish both books in March/April. I also plan to make both of them available in paperback!

All details regarding the rerelease and new release will be in my newsletter and here on my blog.

 

“This Time Forever” (This Time Forever #3.5)

The setting will be Frank and Tom’s wedding, with all main characters and several side characters from the novels in attendance. The story will jump from character to character as I check in with each one, examining their headspace and heartspace. I’m really looking forward to revisiting these guys. They’re all still in my head and I love the idea of seeing where they’re all at six months on from the end of Brian’s book.

This project is up after Purple Haze and will hopefully be ready for publication late spring/early summer. The story will be novella length, free to read, and made available to newsletter subscribers first!

 

The City Without End (Sun #2)

The City Without End will be set entirely on Zhemosen (I think) and will be Price’s story! For those of you who haven’t read To See the Sun, Price is the friend who helped Gael find the contract with Bram and travel from Zhemosen (also known as The City Without End) to Alkirak where Bram was homesteading.

Price’s story is going to include the arranged marriage trope and lots of shady crime family/undercity dealings. His opposite number is a character I’m super excited to write. I’m also looking forward to delving more deeply into Price’s character.

The plan is to deliver The City Without End to my publisher sometime in the spring. I have no details regarding possible publication dates at this time. But when I know, you’ll know. 🙂

 

Out of the Spotlight #1

Out of the Spotlight #1 will be the first book of a new contemporary romance series featuring older characters. I don’t have much more to share at this time, except that I have three novels planned and that the books will have a similar feel to This Time Forever in that I’ll again be focusing on mature heroes and found families. The settings will be very different, however, as will the tropes and stories.

I’ll have more to say when I start writing this one, but I am really excited about the concept for these books!

 

Best in Show #2

This book has been on my wishlist for a number of years now and I’d really love to write it. The reality is that the farther I get from the first book, the less likely this is to happen, however. But, if I do find the time this year, it could. No promises to you or me, but if it doesn’t happen in 2019, it probably isn’t meant to be. I would like to write more paranormal fiction, though. I had a blast with this story and had plans for the world. Hopefully, I’ll find the time and inclination.

 

Going Forward

I was supposed to write Purple Haze, The City Without End, and Out of the Spotlight #1 in 2018. Life had other plans. As always, though, as I dug myself out from under a seemingly never-ending pile of work, I learned a few things: namely, that I prefer to write/edit/write/edit than write/write/write then edit/edit/edit. Editing is the hardest part of the process for me and editing four books back to back as I did in 2018 nearly killed my desire to continue writing. It took several months to even imagine writing a story again—for the ideas to spark, for me to feel creative.

So—and I share this will all apologies—my output is going to be slower going forward. I published seven titles in 2016, six in 2017, and five in 2018. I may only get two or three out there this year and plan to strive for two or three the following year. I’ve learned I cannot sustain the pace required to put out six or seven titles every year. Not even five, really. Not and love what I do—and for me, loving what I write is an essential component. I’m not a book factory. 😦 I wish I could write more, faster, and there may come a day when I manage to write more than promised! But I’m all about managing expectations, for better or worse, and would rather we all be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed.

 

So that’s it! If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading. If you’re a fan of my books, thank you for taking the time to share the lives of my characters from time to time. Here’s to a happy, healthy and productive 2019 and more journeys taken together. ❤

 

 

Brian’s Story

Brian’s story began two and a half years ago when I realized I’d been naming all the cheating exes of my characters “Brian.”

Poor Brian

I didn’t know then that Building Forever would become a series. I simply wanted to tell Charlie’s story. But Simon came equipped with a best friend and a dastardly ex, so when one of my first round readers asked for Frank’s story, I began to wonder if Brian might have a story too.

Obviously, he did. Everyone has a story tucked back there somewhere. I wasn’t sure I could do Brian justice, though. Redemption stories are difficult to do well and I wanted not only to give Brian a good story but for my readers to fall in love with him—or at least forgive him. That meant figuring out why. Why he couldn’t commit. Why he was having so much trouble settling down.

One of the most interesting things you can do as a writer is to take a secondary character from one book and give them a book of their own. I put a lot of effort into making my secondary characters feel real and I get a lot of lovely compliments about them! Turning them into a lead requires a fair amount of work, though. You have to retain the personality traits that make them such a good support character in the first book and meld them with who this person turns out to be.

In Frank’s case, this meant that the party boy persona he presents in Building Forever turns out to be something of a cover. I actually loved this, because it gave Frank as a man a much deeper texture. I don’t really talk about his sexual identity in Renewing Forever, other than confirm the fact he is gay. But when I sketched out his life, his love-life in particular, no relationships popped up. And he’d only had a very small number of “affairs,” Simon being the most significant. Surely having his heart broken at nineteen didn’t ruin his life?

It did and it didn’t. Frank never quite got over Tom, but not because Tom is his one and only (even though he is). Frank is demisexual. He loves to flirt and he loves to make others feel good but has to really care for someone before he wants to go there. When you consider his story with this information, a whole lot more about him makes sense.

So when I considered Brian as a lead character, I knew I had to come up with a good reason for his serial non-monogamy. My readers would need to know why he couldn’t commit. I sketched out and rejected a lot of reasons before eventually deciding that like Frank, Brian’s “course” had been diverted at a very young age. But again, I don’t outright state that what happened to Brian when he was fourteen is the root cause of his inability to commit. I hint at it, and his secret is definitely a source of angst and pain for him. It’s also something he’s never shared, which is one good reason why his relationship with Simon failed.

But I also hold Simon up to a little more scrutiny and suggest that maybe he wasn’t able to give Brian what Brian was looking for. This is partly Brian’s fault. He is unable to be “wholly Brian” with Simon—for reasons that may never be clear. But it’s also Simon’s fault for holding on to something that wasn’t a good fit—because it was comfortable enough. For not realizing that he also needed more.

Relationships are hard work, even when they’re good, and one of the themes of this series has been second chances. These stories are about men who have loved and lost and think that’s it, they’re done. So when they do fall for someone else, they have half a lifetime’s worth of experience—and hurt, and joy—to offer, which changes the stakes. Brian’s story is at once the most dramatic of the three in this series, but also in a way the easiest. His happy ever after is mostly a matter of finally finding the right guy—but to keep that guy, he needs to make the right moves. He also needs to finally, at long last, be himself.

I loved writing this book. I loved getting to know Brian and seeing him happy at last. I also enjoyed introducing him to Mal, who gives perhaps the greatest speech I’ve ever written in the epilogue of any book. Mal talks about living out loud, and his message is one that resonates through Chasing Forever, the entire series, and perhaps all of my contemporary novels.

So it’s my hope that readers will not only forgive Brian but rejoice in his happiness—and the happy ever afters I’ve given to all of the characters in this series. ❤

 

Chasing Forever

ChasingForever_500x750Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

Coming December 10, 2018
Preorder at Riptide Publishing

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Publishing is a Journey

Last month I promised my newsletter subscribers a story. Here it is…

Publishing is a journey that requires a lot of patience. Books have to be written and revised, submitted, accepted (hopefully), revised again, edited to within an inch of their precious lives, and then, finally, made available for purchase. For me, on average, eight to eighteen months can pass between typing “The End” and seeing my book in readers’ hands.

Then there are the books that take a more circuitous route to publication.

Shortly after my first book came out, I submitted a second book to my publisher, one I thought was much, much better than the first. They declined it. I was understandably hurt, but not truly devastated, as I was still new to publishing, and figured that because my first book hadn’t been that big a seller, the publisher might not have much confidence in me. Besides, I had a backup plan. Jenn and I were writing something fun.

In the spring of 2014, Jenn and I sent a manuscript and series pitch to Carina Press, which they accepted, and you all got to meet Felix and Zed in the five books of the Chaos Station series. Buoyed by the success of our ragtag crew and their rust bucket of a ship, I submitted a book of my own to our publisher, only to have it declined. This time I was a little more devastated because I LOVED the book I’d submitted. So I contracted a freelance editor, revised it, and sent it to Dreamspinner Press. They snapped it up, and you all got to meet Max and Jake in Block and Strike, which will forever be the book of my heart.

A few months after the release of Block and Strike, I submitted a proposal for a three book series called This Time Forever. I’d already written the first book, Building Forever, and I loved, loved, loved it (I love all my books). Although science fiction will always be my first love, I adore sweet contemporary romances that take ordinary people and challenge them to find love. In every way, Building Forever felt like a natural follow up to what I’d started in Block and Strike—more opposites attract, more family dynamics, more struggles with identity and purpose, and more sweet romance. The book and series were declined.

Enter the darkest period of my publishing career to date. Rejection happens for all sorts of reasons, many of which are beyond an author’s control—or scope. But it still hurts. And the more you love a book, the worse it feels. But despite my propensity for flailing and entirely useless panicking, I’m actually a very optimistic person. When things start to darken, I’m the first to look for a new source of light. So I did a lot of soul searching and then sketched out three options.

One was to self-publish, two was to send the proposal to another publisher, and three was to seek representation with an agent. After talking all three options over with family and friends, I decided to go with option two and sent my manuscript and proposal to Riptide Publishing. They loved the book. Tweeted about it the day they got the proposal and called me with an offer seven days later. I was absolutely elated, as I had previously considered Riptide Publishing beyond my reach. I had the idea my writing might not be good enough, and that my audience might not be big enough.

While hammering out the details of my contract with them, I mentioned that I was currently writing more science fiction (To See the Sun) and they literally contracted that on the spot. Then March happened.

I was horrified by the revelation of what had been going on behind the scenes at Riptide and once again had to consider the direction of my career, and the fate of a book (and series) that I felt was my next big step. After much back and forth, I decided to honor my contracts and stay with Riptide. You can read my post regarding that decision here.

So here we are—over two years after Charlie first spoke to me through a mouthful of Cheez-Its—on the eve of the publication of Building Forever. I’m enormously proud of this book, and I hope you all enjoy meeting and spending time with Simon and Charlie as much as I did, and that you go on to meet Frank and Tom in Renewing Forever (November 12), and find it in your hearts to give Brian a chance in Chasing Forever (December 11) as he pursues my wounded hero, Mal.

I’m not entirely sure what’s up next for me, but getting these three books out into the world has been an incredible accomplishment! I feel like these are my best books to date and I’m proud of the fact I was able to knuckle down and write each one despite various challenges. I’ve been exhausted and many, many times I’ve felt like quitting. But over and again, when the darkness threatened to descend, I kept looking for a window… and kept finding one.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my husband and I just bought a bagel shop. So far, the upside of the venture (and there is only one right now) is that I’ve been so busy learning how to clean the bagel kettle and baking oven that I barely have time to fret over the ratings and rankings of my books. Although I’m exhausted in a different sense, this has been a really cool development. I’ve been trying for five years now to care less. I want to love my books—as they are—and be able to release them to others who may or may not love them, and to be happy with that. Now, I’m too tired to worry about it for the most part.

This is not the end of my writing career, however, only a much needed slow down as I come off of editing four books back to back and promoting five to publication in the space of five months. Next up I’m treating myself to a book I’ve been thinking about for three years. I’ll be returning to my first love, science fiction, and combining it with elements that pop up in nearly every book I write: a journey to self, unexpected attraction, and lots of adventure.

Given the pattern established in my career, I’m understandably nervous about submitting another book to my current publisher (:D), but I do have an outline for a follow up to To See the Sun, and plans to publish it sometime next year by any means necessary.

And, of course, I have more contemporary ideas brewing. Obviously I’m going to have to write a romance set in a bagel shop at some point…

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope I’ve inspired other writers to keep going, and readers to keep reading. ❤

Building Forever

BuildingForever_3DcoverCharlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Preorder Building Forever at Riptide Publishing for early access—meaning you can start reading at midnight tonight (EST). The book will be available everywhere else on Monday.