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What’s going on, you ask?

Oh, summer, you take up so much time! So much travel, so much editing, so much everything…

In July I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time – I was lucky to be in a great cabin with some determined ladies, and while we didn’t reach our cabin goal, we all did our best and now I have my first mystery novel completed. Pinning down the right category for it, though… that’s a tough one.

It’s a mystery, but there’s just a touch of romance, and oh yeah, the main character is a psychic and at least one of the other characters is a shape-shifter, but, as the title tells us, “Not a Werewolf”. And it’s humorous, but not quite cozy because there’s some cursing, some f-bombs, and a couple of joints get smoked. So, if that’s not your thing, it’s cool.

And what’s up with the cover for “Saving Grapes” you wonder? I got a professionally made cover, and I thought it looked great, but a lot of the feedback that I got after publication was not so great, sad to say. Also, when I got the Createspace proof to review, the red was so intense it looked like someone had bled all over it. People were confused and thought it was an inspirational/religious romance, which it is definitely not. So, I dialed it back a notch, which it pained me to do.

And that’s what’s going on.

Saving Grapes – Now Available!

The first book in my new Cable’s Bend series is now available at Amazon! Right now only the ebook version is out. The paperback will be available in a couple of weeks. I have enrolled Saving Grapes in Kindle Select, so it is available for KU download!

I’d put the steam level for this book in the medium range – it’s more about the characters and their stories this time.

Writing/Cable’s Bend Update

The first book in my new series is on track to come out in June! I’m so excited! It comes from an idea that I first started toying with a few years ago, then put aside to work on other things.

About the series: The series is set in and around Cable’s Bend, a fictional town in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

About the first book: I had so much trouble coming up with a title, but finally decided on Saving Grapes. Here’s the blurb:

Thom Caldwell was used to being on his own, working his vineyard and dreaming of the future. Against his better judgment, he agrees to hire his friend’s nephew for the summer.

Ben Loomis heads west to the Willamette Valley to get his life together. He never expected to fall for his uncle’s friend, the shy and sexy vineyard owner he now works for.

Thom can’t let himself fall for a man ten years his junior who’s only passing through. Ben refuses to let Thom shut him out and just needs one good reason to stay.

Between long-lost relatives, over-sexed contractors, exploding homebrew and natural disasters, Thom and Ben have their hands full. But if they’re going to save the vineyard, they’ll have to save each other first.

What’s next: I’m already working on Book 2, which will be about the long-lost relative mentioned in the blurb. It’s coming together great, and I’m enjoying writing this one.

What’s distracting me now: There’s another story I’ve been trying to get a handle on – the untitled paranormal mentioned on my Works in Progress page. I swear, I wasn’t even thinking about it and a brand new opening popped into my head. It was awesome, and it takes the idea in a completely new direction. I’ve got a couple of scenes and a skeleton outline down, but I need to learn more about writing mysteries before I go much further with it. If if comes together the way I’m hoping, I think it’s going to be the start of a light paranormal/humorous/mystery series. There will be a slow-burn romance that develops over the course of the series between the main character and a police detective who the main character is convinced is a werewolf. He is NOT a werewolf.

Cats Can’t Write

They try, though. My cats constantly tromp back and forth across my keyboard, but nothing they come up with is worth saving. Not even with extensive, aggressive editing.

Some days I can’t write, either, no matter how much coffee I drink or Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers I stuff in my face. Those are the ones that are crumbly and a little sweet. I can’t stop eating those.

The first Cable Bend book is moving along. I’m about two chapters away from a complete first draft. I keep coming up with new ideas as I’m writing – enough to keep me in this little town until 2017 so far.

I’m not really focusing today. I’m giving serious thought to just lying on the sofa binge watching Archer or clearing out the DVR. Some days you just gotta go with the flow.

Pollen, Breezes, and Notes from the Office

My home office is in the north-east corner of the house with four big windows. I get beautiful light throughout the day, and right now the fruit trees outside are going nuts. We have six citrus trees and the aroma is amazing through the open windows. As is the pollen. The cats are beside themselves watching the birds and squirrels.

My husband also works from home, but uses the big dining table that overlooks the street. Yep, I got the nicer setup. I am not going to feel bad about it!

Some Updates:

I am awaiting the proof copy of the paperback edition of Just That Easy. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do a print edition, but then I decided to go for it. Why not? Just That Easy has been on the Amazon Top 10 Gay Romance list for about a week – I’m having trouble believing that’s real, and ever so grateful for all the readers who have downloaded it and left kind words for the book. I wrote it to be a feel-good story for an afternoon at the beach or lazing in a hammock, and it looks like I hit the right note there, so I couldn’t be more pleased.

Cable’s Bend Book 1 is coming along – I’m up to about 23,000 words as of today, and shooting for 60,000. I’m excited about this one, and really pleased with how it’s coming together. I love my characters, and am enjoying the things I’ve been discovering about them as we get to know each other. I’m shooting for an early June release, but don’t hold me to it!


Practice, Practice, Practice

You’ve probably heard that old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Click the link – it’s a cool little New York Times story about Jack Benny and the origins of the joke.

But I digress, which seems to be a problem today as I am getting no writing done. Bleh, Mondays.

Anyway, I was toodling around on some message boards this morning, and there was a question from someone who was getting ready to publish his first book, and then I got an email from someone, and then I started thinking about a blog post I read the other day about self-publishing, and now my mind is wandering so I need to do a brain dump so I can make room in there for what I need to be doing. Whee, run-on sentence!

There was another thread on the message board from someone who was complaining about 1-star reviews on a couple of short pieces they had published as free downloads. As far as I could tell, this person’s beef was that these were practice pieces and s/he didn’t want any reviews on them because they weren’t very good. Sorry, poppet, but once you’ve got something out there, someone’s going to have an opinion about it, and you won’t always like it.

Self-publishing is here, and it’s working for a lot of people. It’s easy, which is good, but it’s also bad. Now anyone with an internet connection can publish. Again, obviously, both good and bad. The thing this author did, that I can’t understand, is put something out there that s/he wasn’t proud of and didn’t want people to read.

Self-publishing is easy, but it is also a little tricky and fiddly. You have to get everything formatted just so, you need a cover that’s the right size, you have to navigate the forms and make choices and so on. I can see how someone would want to practice before taking the big plunge.

So practice, by all means. But do it with your best show piece. Keep those practice pieces to yourself. If you’ve ever visited a university music department, you’ve seen that the practice rooms are soundproofed. Think of your writing this way – practice behind closed doors, and then perform your best work for your audience.

When you’re ready to practice the mechanics of self-publishing, do it with your show piece – put it out there when it’s ready, not before. Chances are that after it’s gone live online you will find some things that need to be fixed – you can do that easily on Amazon by uploading a new file to overwrite the old one. It’s a learning process, no doubt, but don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be!

Writing Update – Cable’s Bend #1

I’ve been plugging away at my vineyard story this week, and I kept coming up with side stories and new characters, so I finally had to admit that we’re looking at the start of a series here.

The setting will be the fictional town of Cable’s Bend, and Thom (the vineyard owner) and Ben (a home-brewer) will be the first installment.

The inn-keeper story I had been planning will now be a Cable’s Bend story. I had originally pictured it in New England, but the more I think about it the more it starts looking like it should be in Cable’s Bend.

There are a couple of characters in the first story that will also get their own stories. I’m even thinking about a kind of prequel – a historical about the founding of the town. There are so many possibilities!

But back to the matter at hand – the vineyard story. Still trying to come up with a title, but I’ll be honest – the title for Just That Easy didn’t come to me until I was writing the blurb on the day I decided to publish it. I am so, so rubbish at titles. I’ve got about 13,000 words drafted, and shooting for 60K. This will be a more developed story than Just That Easy, with more conflict and challenge for our guys before they get their HEA!

I blame the manga…

It’s no mystery that a majority of M/M romance readers and writers seem to be women. For some reason I found myself thinking about this today as I was toodling around on Twitter.

My gateway drug? Manga – specifically yaoi and boys’ love manga. I don’t read it as much as I used to, but I still have some favorite mangaka whose work I follow in scanlation and whose books I buy when they are released in licensed English-language versions – Yaya Sakuragi, Hyouta Fujiyama, and Hinako Takanaga are all in my top 5. At one point I was even proofreading and editing for a yaoi scanlation site – I was working from home and had some down-time during the day. Also, the clumsy grammar and incorrect use of homophones in many of the translations was driving me nuts – I had to do my bit!

Just like here in the US, boys’ love and yaoi in Japan are mainly read by women. I don’t know why so many people find this strange – no one bats an eye about men getting off on lesbian porn. Boooo double standards!

Anyway, if anyone out there is interested in dipping their toe in the manga waters – yaoi, boys’ love, straight romance, or giant robots – here’s a great place to start: You can set up search criteria, and when new manga matching your choices shows up on the daily releases list it will be highlighted. You can even keep track of which chapters you’ve read. If you enjoy something, you can go to that mangaka’s author page and find a list of their other titles, and those that match your search criteria will be highlighted there as well!