Friday, December 20, 2013

Is it research or procrastination? Bump up your word count by getting lazy

I've often had people ask me about my writing process, and I rarely give the same answer. It's not that I'm being evasive, but more that my process has changed over time and even changes day-to-day. Some days I sit down and struggle to write anything at all, and other times I sit down and bang out 10,000 words in less than 24 hours (in a hotel room over Thanksgiving shared with my husband and two young kiddos, no less).

My most successful writing days come when I can zone out and just write. I'm a world class procrastinator, and if given half the chance I will wander way from my manuscript and do just about everything under the sun other than write. So when I really need to get things done, I don't worry about researching specifics or finding the perfect word. I just channel my characters and write.

A peek at notes from my latest WIP, Finding Home.
Will I need to do more work later on those parts? Definitely. My draft for my current WIP, Finding Home, is littered with notes like __need to research terminology on how rowers talk about strokes__ and __insert fancy-sounding craft beer name here__. Sometimes I can't find the right word to flow with the sentence, and I leave myself notes like __a word that means flighty but isn't flighty__. Or I realize that I can't remember some minor character's name even though I know I introduced him at the beginning, so I might write __the dude from the coffee shop from chapter one___ instead of breaking my concentration and going back to find the name itself. It's amazing how much more productive I am when I let the smaller things go instead of following a tangent down a rabbit hole and ending up spending an hour researching the craft brewing process when all I really needed was a throwaway sentence on how microbrews are conceived.

That's not to say that I don't research. I do, like a fiend. When I wrote Island House I didn't know a catamaran from a kayak, let alone how to tie anchor bend. (Now that I've brought it up, you know you can't resist learning the knot. Go ahead, there's the wouldn't be reading about how to zone out and write productively if you could effectively avoid temptations like that one) I let myself get sidetracked by research, and as a result it took me almost three years to finish the manuscript.

I learned my lesson after that. I'm now 3/4 of the way through the follow-up to Island House, and the new outlook I've adopted on writing is definitely paying off. By giving myself permission to leave those places undeveloped so they don't interfere with the writing flow, I've taken away my excuses for procrastination and the roadblocks between me and a decent word count. Of course, there are still those inevitable days where I just can't seem to bring myself to string more than a sentence or two together. Now instead of being frustrated by them, I use them to go back and do the research I skipped and finish the scenes that I'd have gotten hung up otherwise.

This won't work for everyone, especially those of you who write linearly and need to perfect a scene before you move on. But it's a godsend for me, since if I'm not moving forward I lose interest. Or, you know, let a tiny bit of research hang me up so much that I put an almost completed manuscript on the back burner for three years before buckling down and finishing it.

A Dutch author actually hooked himself up to a gaggle of electrodes to monitor his brain function while writing. I have to say that while I'm curious about what goes on in my head while I'm writing, I don't think I'd take it that far. How about you?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Snippet from Finding Home

Buy on Dreamspinner Press
Barnes and Noble
Island House came out earlier this week, and I've been having a blast visiting blogs talking about it. Right now you can enter to win a free copy on Andrew Q. Gordon's blog.

Be sure to check out the posts if missed my release party over on the Dreamspinner Press blog. I shared snippets from the book and the inspiration behind some of my favorite parts of the novel. Don't fret if you missed the giveaways--there will be more chances to win goodies like the metal anchor bookmarks and the ceramic oil warmers from the prize packages on Twitter throughout the month.

I'm hard at work on the second book in the Dropping Anchor series, Finding Home. Here's a sneak peek at some of the dialogue from  today's writing session:

Letting Clare choose where they ate would mean something vegetarian, or worse, vegan.
“Can we stop for something on the way? You know she's not going to let us eat anywhere with actual food,” Ian pleaded.
“The last time I did that she smelled the french fries the second she got in the car. I ended up on a three-day juice cleanse,” Niall said with a shudder that told Ian he wasn't exaggerating.
“I did a juice cleanse once,” he offered.
“A two-day bender where all you did was drink pineapple juice with rum is not a juice cleanse,” Niall retorted.
“Lost six pounds,” Ian continued, ignoring the interruption.
“Probably more from dehydration from all the sex than because of the juice,” Niall deadpanned.
Ian considered it, then nodded. College spring break weeks were a guaranteed good time on Tortola. “Possibly.”
--Finding Home, due out summer 2014

On the topic of beverages, apparently you can get Butterbeer at Starbucks! It's pretty chilly here in Indianapolis today, so maybe I'll treat myself to a magical hot drink this afternoon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Release day!

It's been three years in the making, but release day is here for Island House! Even better, it's debuting with a 4.5 star review under its belt, courtesy of Nikyta at Sid Love.

It's especially awesome because Island House was my NaNoWriMo novel in 2010, and in a nice parallel, its spin-off Finding Home is my NaNo project this year. It's been a challenge to stay on top of the daily word counts while prepping my blog tour for Island House and getting ready for all the awesome release day festivities I have planned, but it's well worth a little lost sleep.

I'll be over on the Dreamspinner Press blog all day today doling out snippets of Island House, insights into my favorite parts of the book, and most importantly, prizes!  That's right, I'll be giving things away all day long to readers who come to my virtual release party at Dreamspinner. Head on over at 9 a.m. EST to enter the first giveaway, a chance to win a free ebook of Island House.

If you can't come play with us today, don't worry. I'll be giving away Island House goodies all month long on Twitter, so you'll get another chance at swag. You can also catch up with me on my blog tour. Last week I talked about where I got inspiration for Island House's setting on Kim Fielding's blog, and today I'm be sharing a steamy prequel scene on Charley Descoteaux's blog in celebration of her Kink Month. Tomorrow catch my Q&A on Andrew Gordon's blog (and check out Island House and other great new releases in his Monday new release round-up today!)

Island House
Available from Dreamspinner Press

Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan's dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he's carved out for himself.

When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life's simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they've begun.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November's here!

The Barnacle playing in the leaves this
afternoon after preschool.
It's finally November! I feel like I've been waiting forever for the calendar to tick over to a new month.

October is usually the month I look forward to most. My two favorite people were born in October (The Barnacle and The Bub), plus my own birthday is in there between theirs. It also contains my favorite holiday--I'm a Halloween enthusiast who loves carving pumpkins and putting together costumes.

This year though, November wins favorite month. Island House comes out in 10 days, and I'm more excited about the release of my first novel than I am about Halloween and Christmas rolled together. You can preorder it on Dreamspinner's site now (ebook or paperback). The first 20 readers who order the paperback will get a signed copy! I'm also gearing up to start a short blog tour promoting the book, which is a nerve-wracking but exhilarating new experience for me. I have some giveaways planned for those, so keep an eye out.

November also marks my fourth NaNoWriMo, which is especially awesome because Island House was my first NaNo manuscript. Seeing it published three years later is nothing short of amazing. It was hard struggling through that first NaNo November, especially since 50,000 words was an incredibly daunting goal for me. I made it that year (and the next two years as well!) and I'm hopeful for this year's endeavor as well.

I started NaNo strong today with 2,500 words of a Finding Home, an Island House spin-off novel that follows one of the side characters from the book, Ian Mackay. It's the second of the three-part Dropping Anchor series. All three books are about men who are adrift and find stability in a partner who shows them what real love and loyalty look like.

In Island House, we meet Ian as Niall's friend, a roguish playboy who you can't help but like despite his glibness. This month I'll be getting to know him a lot better as I write about him coming to the realization that one night stands and carefree island life aren't satisfying for him anymore. Adjusting to actually acting like an adult is a big leap for fun-loving Ian, but he has great friends who help him navigate the pitfalls of real relationships and steady jobs. It's going to be a rollercoaster of a month getting Ian to grow up, but in the spirit of NaNo, I'm up for it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pre-order now for a chance at a signed copy of Island House!

It figures that I'd get my release date and pre-order link for Island House while I was stuck in the wilderness without access to the internet (and with only sketchy access to email and cell service...*shudder*).

I'm still trying to wash the campfire smoke out of my hair and one of my kids had a close call with a skunk, but even that can't dim my excitement to finally be able to share the pre-order link for my first novel, Island House. The first 20 readers who order the paperback edition will receive a signed copy, so if that interests you, go pre-order now! *g*

Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan's dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he's carved out for himself.

When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life's simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they've begun.

You can read an excerpt from Island House on my website. I'm planning a release party on Dreamspinner Press' blog as well as some fun on Twitter and a blog tour, so there will be plenty of opportunities to win book swag for Island House. I'll announce those dates as they're finalized. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Renaissance Bru and book release goodies questions!

Lady Barnacle and Sir Bub had an awesome time.
We've been busy here in the Baker household with the start of school and the weekly October birthdays, but I'm finally out from under the stress of planning an enormous joint birthday party for the kiddos that involved taking twenty children and their adults to a Renaissance Faire a few towns over. Needless to say, the momentous occasion of the Barnacle turning 4 and the Bub turning 7 was feted with appropriate grandeur. For reasons I still don't understand, I found it necessary to not only make elaborate favors for all the guests but also make my own costume. It's important to note that I'm deathly afraid the sewing machine my in-laws gave me a few Christmases ago, so I made my costume with hot glue. And it rained all day. I count myself very lucky that my costume didn't disintegrate...but what a story that would have been, eh?

I've been lazy about blog and website upkeep in between frantic birthday planning. It's hard to type with hot glue burns on your fingertips, anyway. Plus I was busy getting Island House through its final edits, redesigning my web banners, and writing a few new things that are in the submission pipeline now. But think of it this way: radio silence from me usually means more books are on the way! And look, you get a picture of adorable children and me and Hubs making fools of ourselves to make up for it. *g*

On that note, I'm pleased to announce that even though my holiday novella wasn't picked up for Dreamspinner Press' Advent Calendar this year, it was contracted as a stand-alone release in December 2014. Delayed gratification, thy name is Late Bloomer. It'll be worth the wait, I promise! I'll also have a few more future release announcements later in the month.

I'm also ramping up for release parties  and general hullabaloo for next month's release of my first novel, Island House. I'll be doing a release party on Dreamspinner Press' blog and probably taking over its Twitter for a bit, so I'm looking for ideas from you about what you as a reader look for in a release extravaganza. Do you like contests to win a free copy of the book? Do you want book-related swag? Charm bracelets? Gift cards? Post cards and magnets with pretty men on them? Posts introducing the characters? Snippets that didn't make it into the book?

Throw me some ideas for what YOU'D like to see happen during release week for Island House. This is my first book in paperback, and I'm excited to do it up right!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Anniversaries, travel, and rejection

I got a lot of crap for being so bundled up
(that's two coats and two sweaters plus my
scarf!) but what can I say? I'm half Filipino.
Any time it's less than 70 out I'm freezing.
I'm slowly climbing back into a regular writing schedule after taking most of July off for a few oh-shit-summer-is-almost-over-we-need-to-go-somewhere trips. After a week at the beach with the kids in South Carolina, we went up to Chicago for a few days. After that I flew out
to see my best friend Shannon in California for a few days, and then Hubs joined me and we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary a mere one month before our 11th with a trip to San Francisco (without the kids!).

Hubs and I have been together for 16 years, married for 11. We met on the first day of college our freshman year, and the rest is history. Part of what makes us work so well is our shared passion for social justice and our quirky and dark sense of humor. This week he's been in Seattle for business, and his trip got off to a bit of a rocky start when he had to rush a colleague to the emergency room after they went out for a meal together and the guy had an allergic reaction to something and went into anaphlactic shock. He stayed in the waiting room after the doctors took the guy upstairs, and a few hours later a nurse came down to get him. His colleague had given them Hubs' name as his person, and the nurse and doctors made the assumption they were a couple and had Hubs come up to be briefed on his condition and care instructions.

Anyone who's read The Buyout knows it's a very similar situation to the one Parker and Mason found themselves in, and once we knew his colleague was going to be okay, I pointed that out to him. His response pretty much sums up why I've put up with him for 16 years. He just gets me.

Somewhere in that whirlwind of travel I managed to eek out about 19K for my Christmas-themed novella Late Bloomer. It was rejected for the Dreamspinner Press Advent calendar anthology earlier this month, but I'm still in love with the story, so I've submitted it as a standalone novella. Cross your fingers!

After a month of being a nomad, it was a bit of a shock to the system to come home and have the Bub start first grade a few days later. We're back on a brutal (for a night owl like me) schedule of 6 a.m. wake-ups, and I'm not adjusting well.

Being home has given me time to get back to buckling down and focusing on writing. Edits have started on my novel Island House, which is scheduled for release in November. It feels good to be back in the literary saddle, so to speak. The Barnacle doesn't start preschool til after Labor Day, though, and the poor thing just mainlined about sixteen episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates on Netflix while I was in the zone focusing on my first-round publisher edits. Oops.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Guest post: Enter Charley Descoteaux's Christmas in July contest!

I'm heading off on vacation for the next week, but here's something to keep you busy: fellow Dreamspinner Press author (and all around great gal) Charley Descoteaux is having a Christmas in July contest on her blog. More info from Charley herself:
Thanks for letting me invade your space to let your readers know about my Christmas in July contest!
To celebrate my two summer releases I’m giving away 7 prizes, including ebooks, one-of-a-kind swag, and book money!
The book cover key chains were made by the talented Megan at Swagmaster Designs, and the winner gets to choose a little added bling!

The Directing Traffic key chain comes with either a shell/starfish for Neil (or both, they’re small ), a flip flop for Ty, or a rose for both of them (or just because it’s a pretty rose). The winner can also choose a stingray for Ray.

Choose a trumpet for Jake on the A Sunday Kind of Love key chain, a clarinet for Mason, or comedy/tragedy masks for DJ. Both of the heroes are musicians so there’s a treble clef to choose from too.

Here’s how to enter:
Find the four Christmas pictures hidden on my blog & send me an e-mail telling me what the pictures are and which page you found them on ( The contest is on until July 31st, and I’ll choose the winners via random number generator to be announced the first weekend in August—just in time for the first snippet sharing of the month!
The prizes!
  1. Ebook of my debut novella, Comfort and Joy
  2. Bundle of two ebooks: Comfort and Joy, and A Sunday Kind of Love
  3. Bundle of three ebooks: Comfort and Joy, A Sunday Kind of Love, and Directing Traffic
  4. One-of-a-kind A Sunday Kind of Love key chain
  5. One-of-a-kind Directing Traffic key chain
  6. & 7. Two $10 gift certificates to Amazon, All Romance eBooks, Dreamspinner Press, or Amber Quill Press! Winner’s choice!
Thanks for playing!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back from the beach, heading to the Bay

The beach, just a few steps from our door.

The beach!
 My blog and Twitter have been a bit dark lately, even though I have the best of intentions (I did, I swear) of updating while I was on vacation. It'll be easy, I thought. I'll get so much done at the beach! The kids will be worn out from playing in the water all day, and I'll get to sit out on the big porch and listen to the waves crash while I finish my latest book.

In a perfect world, my kids would be angels and I'd be done with my Christmas anthology novella submission for Dreamspinner Press. The one that's due Aug. 1. (Oy.) But I don't live in a perfect world, and I don't know why I always romanticize vacation so. The Bub and the Barnacle are hyperactive whirlwinds at home, and they're twice as bad on the road. In reality, I actually lost 2,000 words on my latest manuscript because my laptop battery had a heart attack of some sort (sob), my kids slept about a total of 12 hours the entire week, and I now have first-hand knowledge that the going rate for a hooker at the gas station in OMG-is-this-actually-a-town North Carolina is $20 for half an hour.

Dark and foggy at 1 p.m. Guess
this is why they
call them the Smokies?
("Mom! That guy is paying money to spend time with that lady! Can I ask people who talk to me for money?" "No, son. No.")

Road trip shenanigans.
We also had less-than-perfect weather for our drive. We're Midwesterners, so mountains are a foreign concept. Driving through them in the rain and fog with two bored children who like to try to out-shriek each other with inane noises when they're bored? Not something I'd recommend.

We did have fun, though. And now I kind of want to write something historical with pirates after spending some time out on the open sea on The Black Dagger with a fierce (but tiny) pirate crew.
The Barnacle, who opted for a fierce
pirate mustache with her doo-rag.
The Bub, firing water cannons off a pirate ship.

In a few days, I'm dropping the kiddos off with the in-laws and heading off to San Francisco to visit friends and belatedly celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary (hey, Hubs and I are getting it in before our 11th, which is in August, so it counts, right?). I have every intention of writing, Tweeting, and blogging while I'm gone, but you know me... *g*

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Coming this fall: My first book in paperback!

Time to uncork some champagne!
Photo credit: Niels Noordhoek
A few months ago I posted about submitting my first full novel manuscript to my publisher. It's been a looooong wait, but I finally heard back earlier this week--Island House will be released by Dreamspinner Press this fall!

I'm over the moon with excitement. About eight months ago my first title came out, a short called Traditions from the Heart, joined later by the novelette Diving In. My first novella, The Buyout, will be out July 3. Working on each of those ebooks and seeing them through from idea to ISBN has been amazing, but I have to admit that I haven't felt like an author until now. Maybe it's because I grew up in The Time Before E-Readers, but there's something about holding a paperback in your hands that makes it feel real. I'm not going to liken authorship to motherhood, since I have two kids and I know firsthand that labor is a lot more painful than the writing process. Still, even without the tragically over-used birth metaphor, bringing a new book into the world is something magical. I'm eagerly anticipating the day when I can hold Island House in my hands!

Island House Blurb:
Niall is a British ex-pat who left the UK for the sunny skies and beautiful scenery of Tortola after his partner Nolan was killed four years ago. Living in the Caribbean had always been their dream, but the reality of it leaves Niall desperately unhappy. When a new client shows up at his real estate firm looking for a home, Niall sees an opportunity to make enough money to change his life—but he gets a lot more than he'd bargained for with Ethan. They make it through a hurricane together, but then life keeps throwing curve balls their way that are harder to weather.

On sale today: The Buyout

My new novella, The Buyout, is on sale today. It was mentioned in this week's Happily Ever After romance novel round-up in USA Today, which was incredibly exciting for me. I hope you'll pick up a copy!

All Parker Anderson has ever wanted is to take over as CEO of Anderson Industries when his father retires. But when his father is ready to leave the company, he doesn’t plan to pass the reins to Parker. Instead, he plans to sell the company, jeopardizing not only Parker’s job but hundreds of others.

Parker finds an unlikely ally in Mason Pike, the company’s resident IT guru. What starts as a flirtation takes them from coworkers to coconspirators in a plan to forcibly buy Anderson Industries out from under Parker’s father. While they focus on the buyout, their budding romance has to be put on hold, but that doesn't stop them from flirting and teasing each other to distraction—and once their master plan comes to fruition, nothing and no one can keep them apart.
ISBN-13: 978-62380-775-7
Pages: 125
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Categories: Novellas, Contemporary
Book type: eBook
File Formats Available: .epub, .mobi, html, pdf

Purchase The Buyout directly from Dreamspinner Press 
or find it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

The Buyout

Friday, June 21, 2013

Red Slushie tragedies and a giveaway winner!

The Barnacle and Bubba, taking their
anonymous name-drawing duties
very seriously.

It's June 21, which means that we've finally made it to the official start of summer! Here in the U.S. Midwest, we're off to a warm start with a brutally sunny 90 degree Fahrenheit (that's 32 degrees Celsius for you Continentals...) day for the summer solstice.

It also means that today I'm giving away a copy of my summer pool read, Diving In. I had a great time reading through the entries and seeing what exciting (or not-so-exciting) plans everyone has for the summer. True to form, I've already had a popsicle dropped on me today. (Well, a red Slushie dropped on my you know how hard that sticky shit is to get out from in between your toes? Or how hard it is to console a child who is distraught at the loss of her treat while you have sticky, cold red Slushie between your freaking toes?

Once we got the Slushie cleaned up (and my foot and flip-flop washed), the kids were happy to be my lovely assistants and help draw a winner for the Diving In giveaway. Yes, that's a big plastic bear that was the former home to animal crackers. What can I say, we're high tech here.

Congrats to winner Inosha_w. Hopefully this perks up your rainy summer! Inosha_w, if you're reading this, please check your email.

To every one else, thanks for entering! Don't be too bummed you didn't win, because Dreamspinner Press is running a big sale this weekend. You can get Diving In and all other in-stock titles for 30% off now through Sunday!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Diving In giveaway

Reviews are starting to come in for my latest novelette, Diving In, and I'm ecstatic that the consensus is that Max and Everett are adorable--and that Everett's friend Nikki steals the show with her snarky wit.

Sunscreen? Check. Sunglasses? Check.
Comfy spot? Check. Steamy book? Check.
Haven't had a chance to pick up Diving In yet? Then here's an opportunity to get a free copy from me! Just leave a comment here with a note about how you're spending your summer for a chance to win my steamy pool book.

(If I could enter, this would be my comment: "I have a six year old and a three year old, so my summer will be spent pushing swings, drawing with sidewalk chalk and being perpetually sticky from opening popsicles.")

I'll choose a winner at random at 12 p.m. EDT Friday, June 21, to celebrate the solstice and the official start of summer with a bang (or a splash, which would be more appropriate for Diving In). Anyone who Tweets this link (and tags me, @bru_baker) will also receive an entry into the giveaway contest, so that's a chance to get your name in there twice!

Please do not enter if you're under 18. The book contains explicit sexual themes. I'll announce the winner on my blog and the winner will have 24 hours to claim it or I will draw another name at random and award it to that person. Leave your Twitter username (or email) with your comment if you like so I have another way to reach out.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Musical inspiration: 'We're not Young' and '32'

Proof for my editors that despite what it seems like,
I *do* actually own a Chicago Manual of Style...
I almost always write to music, and that music usually flavors the tone of whatever I'm working on. I try to match up my character's mindset with what I listen to, which sometimes drives Hubs crazy. (When I wrote Island House, I listened to a few sad Weepies songs on repeat for months because Niall, the main character, is in a bad headspace. Hubs still flinches every time they come up on the radio.)

My latest project is a short novella about a couple in their early thirties who have fallen into the rut that a lot of long-term relationships fall into--they're too comfortable with each other and their (lacklustre) love life has taken a back seat to their careers. I usually write about characters that are just falling into a relationship, so it was a fun challenge to take a look at a couple whose love life was getting stale and help them get it back on track. (I've been with my husband for almost 16 years, married for 11 of those, so I know stale and the fight to beat it! *g*)

While they weren't what I listened to as I wrote, I definitely took some tongue-in-cheek inspiration from two great parody songs that poke fun at life as a thirty-something.

The first is the Yahoo! SketchY "We're Not Young," a parody of F.U.N.'s "We Are Young" and the second is Fuse's "32," a parody of Taylor Swift's "22." Enjoy!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Soggy soccer games and steamy summer fiction!

This has been a busy week here in the Baker household. The Barnacle's preschool let out last week so it was the start of her summer vacation, and the Bub's last day of kindergarten was Tuesday. It's been stormy and gross here, which means I've been stuck inside with grumpy kiddos who had gleefully been awaiting the arrival of summer for weeks (there were charts and a video count-down diary involved...the Bub is very thorough).

All kindergartners read apocalyptic classics, right?
Luckily, the Bub is a bookworm like me, so he's been amusing himself by getting a start on his summer reading. I bought him the abridged version of War of the Worlds thinking it would get him through the summer as a reading project. It's 150 pages (and he's 6 with the attention span of a gnat) so I'd planned to spend the next two months cajoling him into sitting long enough to read a page or two at a time. He plowed through it in two days. He even snuck it into bed with him so he could finish, as I found out when he started yelling "It was the germs!" at 11:30 p.m., hours after I thought he was asleep. Hubs and I had to promise him we'd have a book club discussion about the end of the book over breakfast the next morning just to get him to shut up.

It was still pouring this morning when I dutifully marched over to the soccer fields to watch the Barnacle and the Bub play and Hubs coach. Seriously, they play in the rain. It's not like they're in a feeder system for the Premier League...this is U6 rec soccer! Let's be honest: They're primarily in it for the snacks afterward.

Maybe the smile was just on the inside...
Anyway, despite being soggy and frozen, I had a smile on my face because Diving In released today! It's part of the Dreamspinner Press Make a Play Anthology, which is filled with a lot of steamy sports action to start your summer on the right foot.

I loved writing this piece, and not just because it meant I got to watch YouTube videos of water polo matches. (Hubs wandered in during one session, looked at the laptop, shook his head, and walked back out of the room. What? It was research!)

Diving In has Speedos, hot sex, and a hint of angst and pining--everything you could ask for in a pool or beach read. (Or the in a I-wish-I-was-at-the-pool-or-beach read for those of us who are land-locked and/or stuck in the eternal misery that is a Midwestern spring.)

If you pick it up, I'd love to know what you thought of Diving In. You can find me here, on Twitter, or on Goodreads. *g*

Diving In

Being the pool boy makes it easy for Max Jansen to ogle his long-time crush, water polo player Everett Caldwell. Never mind the fact that Max owns the company and is extremely overqualified for the task of monitoring chlorine and cleaning skimmers. He's just happy to watch his unattainable dream play—until one day Everett invites him over and suddenly Max is his platonic plus-one for everything from movie nights to racy industry parties. Then Max learns the one-time Olympian isn't as straight as everyone assumes, and he isn't sure how long he can hold out before his crush grows much deeper.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Safe sex: Should characters in M/M fiction wrap it up or not?

I'll start this post with the disclaimer that not only am I a woman, I've been in a monogamous relationship for the last 16 years. And while I read a lot of M/M fiction, I'm definitely not an authority on gay sex. I research my scenes to ensure that positions and reactions are realistic, but one sticking point for me is condom usage.
Colorful condoms
Photo by Qxukhgiels

Should contemporary M/M fiction promote safe sex? I posed the question to a group of authors and got varied responses. Most agreed that safe sex was important. I also posed the question to a group of readers and got a very different response--nearly all of them thought it didn't matter, since it was fiction.

When I'm writing a scene, I often dither about whether or not to include a condom. When do the MCs reach a point in their relationship that it's okay to bareback? And where do blow jobs--not to mention rimming--come into play in the scope of safe sex? Since unsafe sex does happen in the real world, is it all right to write it or as authors, should we be using our writing as a means to gently educate readers about safe sex practices?

It's a lot to think about while you're in the heat of the moment, so to speak, and I'll admit that I usually omit the condom on the first draft of a sex scene. They haven't been a part of my own sex life for over a decade (has it really been a decade since college ended? Yikes), so it's difficult for me to work them into a scene naturally. I do think it's important, though, and that's why I always try to make my characters as safe as possible, even though it often involves editing condoms in during revision.

That can happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes it's a committed, long-term relationship and I can throw in a comment about how glad they are that they made the decision to stop using condoms. When it's a first-time encounter, condoms are always discussed, even if they don't use them. But is that "I've been tested recently and I'm clean" discussion a cop-out?

What's your opinion on safe sex in M/M fiction?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Editing and the EDJ

Things are plugging along for me, despite the Evil Day Job's best attempts at getting me off track. I'm a freelance journalist, so most of the time after a long day of interviews and writing the last thing I want to do is write more, but I'm trying hard to get past that. Having the daily word count goal I set at the Dreamspinner Author Workshop in April has been a big help.

The Buyout
I just finished the first round of edits on my latest novella The Buyout, which will be published by Dreamspinner Press later this year. My first instinct when I see one of my manuscripts all marked up is to cringe at all the mistakes I made and all the plot holes I left (or the number of times I changed a character's eye color or the city they lived in or, on one memorable occasion, getting the character's name wrong...not misspelled, just flat out wrong).

As a journalist, I'm used to having my pieces torn apart. What I'm not used to is having those ripped up pieces sent back to me, asking me to sign off on the changes and revise in areas--we journos usually work on a tight deadline that doesn't allow for that kind of dialogue between writer and editor. To be honest, I kind of prefer it that way.

This is the third story I've taken through production at Dreamspinner, and I have to say that my experiences with the editors has been top-notch. Their comments are insightful and they never fail to make my stories tighter, clearer, and better when we come out the other side of the editing tunnel. That said, the editing process is still a nerve-racking one, and my conversations with authors who are much more seasoned than  me leave me to believe that the initial roller coaster ride of self-pity and horror that accompanies getting that first edit back is never going to change. 

It's not that I'm not open to the criticism, because I am. The editors ultimately have the same goal I do--to make that story the best it can be. And like I said, once I've reworked paragraphs in accordance with their notes or changed the wording or sentence structure the way they've suggested, I always walk away from it feeling like that story is better for it.

But any feedback that isn't open gushing about your story--your baby, the piece you've reared from infancy and spent many a late night with--is hard to hear. I think that experience makes us better writers, though. And the work editors do with us definitely makes the books better in the end, and that's what should matter.

How do you deal with the editing process? Do you have any tips to share with a newbie?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Turn that frown upside down...dealing with rejection

I'm fully aware that as a newbie author, I've been incredibly lucky. I spent months trolling internet discussion boards, blogs, and publishing resource sites trying to pump myself up for that first submission, armed with all of the publishing horror stories about how many rejections it takes before you finally get that successful bite. When I did take the plunge and submit to a publisher, the surge of nervous anticipation right after hitting send felt like every birthday-Christmas-night-before-the-tooth-fairy eve I've ever had. (I'll be honest, I've sent off four more since that first one, and the feeling is the same every time.)

My first three submissions were accepted, which I'm over the moon about. Every time I send something off, I feel like a small part of me holds its breath until I hear back. (For my upcoming novella, The Buyout, that wait was six weeks. That's not a really long submission lead-time in the publishing world, but damn, that first full breath after its acceptance was a nice one!)

This time, though, the much-awaited email was a rejection. My submission for an anthology didn't quite fit the bill, and I'll admit I had that heart-crushing moment of self-pity. But the editor was compassionate and professional, so the self-pity didn't last long. The rejection was sandwiched between a "I really liked it, but..." and a "You could try to re-write it and submit it as a novella," so I decided to turn that frown upside down and make it a smile. Or rather, turn that short upside down, add a few thousands words, and make it a novella. There's no guarantee that it'll go over better this time, but at least I've tried. And I love these characters, so spending a little more time in their world is a pleasure, not a hardship.

Connor and Jake have been together since college and their relationship has fallen into the rut that many longterm relationships do. They take each other for granted. They work overtime, they miss dinners. They slide into bed at night and keep to their own side because they're so damn tired that all they want to do is sleep. To make matters worse, they have a roommate, so their love life lacks the spontaneity of kitchen sex or even just the wanton thrill of being as loud as they want to be when they do find time for sex. When Connor becomes secretive and pulls away even more, Jake starts to worry that their relationship is in trouble. He even begins to suspect that Connor's having an affair. Just as Jake is sure that Connor is pulling the rug out from under him and sending their stable relationship crashing to the ground, though, Connor surprises him with a romantic weekend that puts all his fears to rest.

(See? Would you be sad about having to spend more time writing with these guys? With all this angst-turned-sweetness, my rejection frown is definitely turned upside down now!)

I'll be finishing the novella up this week and sending it off, so think happy thoughts for me. I'm also waiting for the submission editors to review my first full-length novel, Island House, so I'm a big ball of nervous angst right now. And while that's bad for my blood pressure, it's great for my house. I'm an anxiety-cleaner, so things are looking pretty spotless around here right now. (It makes up for how neglected things get as I finish up a manuscript!) *g*

Friday, May 3, 2013

What's coming up

I was lucky enough to get to attend the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop last month in Chicago, and I came home super-charged and ready to write all the things. Of course, that only lasted a day or two before the realities of shaping my writing schedule around two young kids and a my freelance writing gig.
Driving into Chicago for the Dreamspinner Author Conference

First, can I just say how impressed I was with Dreamspinner Press? The workshop was awesome, and I really did feel privileged to be there. As a newbie author, it was amazing to get to meet some of the authors I really admire, like Amy Lane, J.P. Barnaby, Andrew Grey, B.G. Thomas, Shira Anthony and so many others. Just being in the same room as them was a bit panic-inducing, I'll admit. And there was swag! (I'm using my DSP ear buds to rock out to the new Fall Out Boy album while writing this!) *g*

Meeting the Dreamspinner editorial staff and about 70 other authors was a really motivating experience, and I've been trying to incorporate some of the things I learned into my daily work flow. (Like Tweeting more and blogging more often...) I also committed to a goal of writing 300,000 words this year. Daunting but something I'm excited to try!

To that end, I'm happy to announce that I was able to (finally!) finish Island House and get it submitted to Dreamspinner. It's the story of Niall Ahern, who left the U.K. for the British Virgin Islands four years earlier when his partner died, and Ethan Bettencourt, the man who makes Niall realize his life didn't end with Nolan's. They meet when Ethan arrives on the island looking for a vacation home. He chooses Niall as his real estate agent, and the two begin a flirtation that spans a hurricane, several misunderstandings, and two countries.

Those of you who've been coming to my fiction site for awhile might remember my Connor and Jake series. Their angsty love story was too fun not to expand on, so I indulged and put them through a little more hell before they finally got a chance at their happily ever after. That story, Better than Okay, is a short I submitted for Dreamspinner's cuddling anthology. Still awaiting news on that front, but I'll let you know if they make it into the anthology!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Diving In release date: June 1, 2013

Diving In
Release date: June 1, 2013
Dreamspinner Press Make a Play anthology

Being the pool boy makes it easy for Max Jansen to ogle his long-time crush, water polo player Everett Caldwell. Never mind the fact that Max owns the company and is extremely overqualified for the task of monitoring chlorine and cleaning skimmers. He's just happy to watch his unattainable dream play—until one day Everett invites him over and suddenly Max is his platonic plus-one for everything from movie nights to racy industry parties. Then Max learns the one-time Olympian isn't as straight as everyone assumes, and he isn't sure how long he can hold out before his crush grows much deeper.

Read an excerpt from Diving In here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cover reveal for The Buyout

I'm thrilled to finally be able to share the cover for my upcoming book with you! Lou Harper at Dreamspinner Press did an amazing job putting it together--I really couldn't be happier!

The Buyout
Release date TBA
Dreamspinner Press

All Parker Anderson has ever wanted is to take over as CEO of Anderson Industries when his father retires. But when his father is ready to leave the company, he doesn’t plan to pass the reins to Parker. Instead, he plans to sell the company, jeopardizing not only Parker’s job but hundreds of others.

Parker finds an unlikely ally in Mason Pike, the company’s resident IT guru. What starts as a flirtation takes them from coworkers to coconspirators in a plan to forcibly buy Anderson Industries out from under Parker’s father. While they focus on the buyout, their budding romance has to be put on hold, but that doesn't stop them from flirting and teasing each other to distraction—and once their master plan comes to fruition, nothing and no one can keep them apart.

Read an excerpt from The Buyout here.

Best Blogger TipsBest Blogger Tips