Book release time should be a happy and joyous occasion, right? Equivalent to the birth of a new child? The first sight of a newborn puppy or kitten, but instead it gives me kittens. Ten of them.
1. Will the buying public like it?
2. Were my friends just being generous in their praise?
3. Will someone see the five stars and immediately search for some reason not to like it?
4. Will someone give away the plot?
5. Or worse still, will it be ignored?
6. How can it compete against long awaited books by J.R.Ward, Abigail Roux, T.J. Klune?
7. How can it compete in a market where hundreds of new books are released every month?
8. How can it compete in a world where people are becoming jaded by having read so many books?
9. How can it compete when the author releases so few that even people who loved their first books, have forgotten about them by the time they release another one?
10. What if there is a mistake that didn't get picked up that becomes a big "fail" moment? ***
All I can say is a fervent thank-you to the people who support me and an even bigger welcome to the new readers, who are intelligent enough to understand what I'm doing and why. Believe me, every word, situation and character reaction was carefully and deliberately chosen for a certain reason. Hopefully, enough will appreciate "Leather+Lace" for what it is and not be disappointed because it didn't meet their expectation about what a book involving a leather man and a drag artist should be like.
My two "official" pre-release reviews have given it 4 stars. But I'm a perfectionist (ask my beta readers!) Anything less than a 5 star is a fail in my book.
Oh well, it has reached best seller status at All Romance eBooks, but books by "unknown" authors still need to be spread by word of mouth. Hint. Hint! :)
*** There was one of those, but thankfully it was picked up early and Dreampsinner changed the files (at a cost to them!)
This story has been bopping around in my head for ages. It contains certain elements that I wanted to explore. But where to start and how to introduce my characters? One thing I did learn from "Leather+Lace" is that my first draft is very much a "tell". It's how I get my story down. See if it works, is logical, and has enough interest to hold the reader's attention.
In subsequent drafts, I can expand on this core material, turn "tell"s into "live action" if the story demands it and splice in scenes that show things I missed to keep the story and character arcs flowing. So, I also don't worry too much if words are repeated or there are other craft problems. They get smoothed out later.
This won't be finished for Nanowrimo, but I hope the discipline of "feeding my journal" helps me get the words on paper.
Liam was late again. Not that Harry felt surprised or anything. Meet me at nine could be anywhere between nine and ten, but half past ten was stretching things a bit.
He should just get up and leave. It would serve Liam right. Harry had only come to the Paradiso because Liam kept badgering him to see what it was like since the new owners arrived.
Pubs in general weren’t his thing and the prospect of drinking at a men-only gay bar had been even less appealing, but Liam thought Harry would like it.
Harry glanced around, noting once more the fact that he was the only person by himself. It wasn’t for lack of trying. A few of the patrons had asked whether the seat next to him was taken. A scowl and muttered, “Yes, he’s in the john,” had worked on most people. Not that he was actually inundated with requests. He wasn’t the sort of guy people usually hit on. Most people found him too big, too hairy and too ugly.
He’d expected the place to be twink heaven, but there was a whole smorgasbord of gay men on tap. One had actually braved his glares and sat beside him for a while, noting when he used his usual excuse that if his mate had been in the toilets that long, he must have a roaring business going on. Either that or a constipation problem and there were pills he could take for that.
The guy hadn’t been too deterred by Harry’s determined lack of interest, saying he just needed to sit down before he fell down. Apparently he was a friend of the two Maori bouncers who were manning the door and he was waiting for them to finish their shift.
Harry listened with half an ear as the guy, who claimed he was a Doctor, told him this cock and bull story of being kidnapped by some hush-hush agency and taken to live on a tiny island in the middle of Pacific, and that he’d only just managed to escape.
The guy, whose name was Miles something, seemed quite happy to chat, so Harry just supplied the nods and the occasional “Wow” when the story seemed to demand it.
At least, while the bullshit artist was around, Harry didn’t have to fend off other patrons boring him shitless with trumped-up tales to make their lives sound interesting. He felt like picking Miles’s story apart and putting him through the third degree, but then the guy might think he was actually interested in him. Not that the guy seemed to care either way. From the way he guzzled his beers, you’d think he hadn’t had any for years. Five if his crazy yarn was to be believed.
What was it with people nowadays? Was everyone’s life so boring that they needed to spice it up with tales of excitement and danger? As far as Harry was concerned, waking up and knowing that the day was going to be peaceful was a good thing.
I just got word that "Leather+Lace" has been picked up by Dreamspinner Press for a March/April release.
It couldn't have been done without the help of all my beta's: Christopher Hammel, Kayla Jameth, Jess Candela, Eden Winters, Vivian de la Cruz, Don Schecter, Barry Lowe, Jason Huffman Black, Dusk Peterson and the pals who helped me through its initial stages as last year's Nanowrimo: Melanie Tushmore, Stevie Carroll and Rapidess. And of course Kate from Goodreads who rapped me over the knuckles, as usual, demanding I do justice to the story and my characters.
The story has grown from the 55,000 words written last November to 95,000. New scenes have been added. Cuts have been made. Things switched around. It definitely works a lot better now. But I couldn't have done it without the help of those who encouraged me during Nanowrimo as I posted it here.
If you're wondering why I've been so quiet, it's because I'm rewriting the last bit of "Leather+Lace" and spreading out the time frame. And I've had to put it on the back burner for a while as "Isolation" which was formerly called "Beauty, the Beast and the Betrayer" has entered Total Ebound's editing queue.
They've also finalised the artwork for the cover and done up a banner and postcard for me!
I'm very happy with the models we finally found as they match my hero and heorine really well. They managed to add in some scars which was great.
Here's the postcard with the blurb.
Here's the banner:
Oh, and Stevie... You're mentioned in the dedication!
I'm 16,000 words into my Nanowrimo "Leather+Lace".
I was going full steam ahead, keeping on track and sending off chapters to my primary beta, Kate (who I have a love/hate relationship with - the latter because she's always right damnit!) and also posting them here and in a small critique group on Goodreads.
Both Kate and a critiquer there pointed out that Joe’s voice changed in chapter 3. The sassy smart arse became a victim. I stopped what I was doing and re-examined my GMC for both characters. This meant I had to flesh out the back story more.
Explaining that to her, and working on a couple of points she felt weak, resulted in a more detailed version. Kate now knows where I want to go and hopefully will pull me up if I start straying off the path again. In the good old days, this would have happened when a writer worked with a regular editor and sent them a synopsis of a story before going to contract. This stage in the writing has disappeared for most authors thanks to the evolution of ebooks and it’s a pity. I’m extremely lucky to have Kate (so far – touch wood!)
Incidentally, she helped me enormously with “Red+Blue” but now has never read the final product because she is as sick of it as I am, lol!
Just joking. It’s like having a troubled teenager. You love them dearly, but by the time they grow up and leave home, you feel exhausted. It's only when they get older and come back for family visits that you can start to enjoy them and hopefully their kids (read sales) again.
Anyway, I took the time off from writing new stuff to re-jig the whole of chapter 3 and chapter 4 (which of course had to reflect the changes in the previous chapter then I sent it off to her again. Thank God she is patient.
Her reaction: Looks good to me. I liked this interaction a lot better. It has more depth to it.
But she had a problem with this paragraph: A flush of shame and anger ripped through my body. I shook off both his proffered hand and murmured apology and scrambled to my feet. The rip of seams tearing as my boot became entangled in the soft material just added insult to injury. Gathering my skirt into my clenched fists, I ran up the stairs two at a time and didn’t stop running until I reached the bedroom and locked the door behind me.
Her comment was: Of course I have a niggle. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that part of the scene, but it's such a movie classic. I can see countless leading ladies running off up the stairs, sometimes sobbing their hearts out. The automatic visual makes Joe seem very feminine at that juncture. Somehow I think the scene needs to have the tension of the reader seeing him dressed as a woman, but the mask slipping (torn dress, running make up, etc) to show the very male person underneath. The rest of the scene does that as he turns into anonymous guy but it needs to be there from start. Maybe have him stride off instead of run? It's an unfeminine sort of description.
Which I rewrote to become this: “You fucking cunt!” A flush of pure rage ripped through my body. I shook off both his proffered hand and murmured apology and scrambled to my feet. My face was a streaky mess of runny make-up, cum, sweat and now tears. To add insult to injury, the ominous sound of ripping seams sounded as my boot became entangled in the soft material. Fuck being feminine! I gathered my skirt into my clenched fists, and bounded up the stairs two at a time, not stopping until I reached the bedroom and locked the door behind me.
And as I said to her in the email:
thanks for that feedback.
I can see what you're saying I have to make Joe less a victim. He's got over that stage while in Britain, that's why he felt safe to come home. Now he has to prove it.
ie because we both knew better who he was and his motivations, she picked me up when he strayed.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am finding it's best to have certain beta readers for certain things. Kate is brilliant at GMC. Ensuring the characters' goals and motivation remain consistent throughout the story.
Get that right and the story works.
I have another beta reader who I will send the final first draft to so she can look at the finished picture and see if guys with those motivations, goals and conflict are appealing to the reader. This will only be seen at the end when viewed with fresh eyes in one long continuous read. Hopefully, she will also then be able to identify if I repeat stuff/bang the reader over the head with something or more importantly miss something as it might have been in an early version and got cut. (That's what was wrong with my friend Penny Brandon's "Bringing Him Home" - she did major rewrites but a couple of important bits were left behind on the cutting room floor and the editor missed them.) This is why the practice of having different editors during the publication process possibly works better, especially with major re-writes.
The final beta/editor can also see if the cumulative effect of my style is OTT. Too much alliteration? Overuse of a particular word/theme?
On the keeping it right for a male, I have an Aussie gay writer who has been invaluable already on the male aspect and what the Australian scene is like. (He lives in Sydney) But because he’s got his own writing career, I won't give him everything, just places where the story intersects with society and the landscape. I'll keep my other male beta reader/author, an American, for a final viewpoint on the overall thinking and reacting of a male.
Hopefully, yet another author who I have exchanged critiques with will look at the final product for craft issues, picking up passive voice and colloquialisms. He's brilliant at that.
I would dearly love to be able to write a whole book on my own without all this input, but I'm definitely not there yet. I'm still trying to master how to fix the problems that my betas find!
In a perfect world I'd be paying everyone. I owe them all big time! Where possible, I read their stories and critique them. That’s the only way this will work.
Anyway, that's the theory of it all. Being a typical Libran, I like getting different viewpoints. Having too many though can make me feel like I'm writing by committee and then the final product isn't me. So, I'll be interested to see if this breaking up of betas into specific roles and involving them at different stages of "production" works.
Writing evolves so much over time, that I’m not sure whether it’s fair posting excerpts here as already Chapter 3 and 4 have changed. It's amazing what simple word choices and adding a couple of inner thoughts can do. (As seen by the paragraph above). I’m also not sure whether to replace the original chapters with the new versions or post the new versions as separate entries so the changes can be seen for those who want to do a compare.
Any feedback by readers here on whether to repost or rejig would be appreciated! Chapters are classified as "for friends only". Contact me if you want to fit into that category.
If you're wondering why I'm going into this detail, I find that by explaining things here, the situation crystallises in my head. Let's face it. Isn't that what Live Journal is for?
I've decided to do "Leather + Lace" as my Nanowrimo project (Don't tell them I've already written the first 2000 words, lol)
As further research, I went on a Harley Davidson ride yesterday and grilled my tour guide on the finer points of bike maintenance and upgrades. Mostly to know what not to write as much as what to write.
I had envisaged one scene where my protagonist goes off on a ride through Royal National Park at night only to discover that few riders do that because there are so many deer around. So, that will add to my scene....
Also, making both men short means I have to make sure they're on Low Riders as the standard bike's weight and distance off the ground would make it difficult to control otherwise.
I joined a Yahoo online writing course that had info on bikes - still to get to the main lesson, but in the meantime the instructor posted the Harley-Davidson alphabet. For example, the bike I went on yesterday was a FLHTCU: F = Big twin T = Touring C = Ultra classic - in fact his was a TK which was a limited edition L = Hydra Glide Forks H = high compression (103 cubic inch - whatever that means) Back in 2010 the bike we rode cost $41,000 but apparently Harley dropped all their prices around $6000 rcently because of the exchange rate which makes reselling more difficult.
In Australia, members of biker gangs (bikies) call themselves the 1%ers (one percenters) as they like to think of themselves as fringe dwellers, different from the rest and "outlaws" even though (apparently) in their real lives many are law abiding citizens. Their bike magazine has articles on their legal rights if pulled over.
Police do harass them and police on bikes are the "worst of the worst" as they have attitude from being a bike rider and a cop. Double whammy.
Steve is a member of the Ulysses club. You can't become a full member until your'e over 50 years old and 40 and up are only admitted as probationary... (opportunity for an "in" joke there) Their motto is "Grow Old Disgracefully" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_Club Members ride anything from scooters up while other groups are exclusively for Harleys (HOG = Harley Owners Group) 99% of the bikes owned in these clubs are Harleys. Steve says not so much because they handle better, but because the company has a great PR machine. They nearly went broke and the company was sold to an Italian mob, but later was bought back by Americans who now use Japanese parts which have improved their performance.
There are some outlaw groups in Australia. For a while, if you were a member of these you couldn't congregate in groups of more than two, however this rule has been rescinded. One of the groups is known as the "Fourth Reich" and has its headquarters at Albion Park. Apparently they run charity events. Their "compound" is pretty high security, so who knows what they get up to inside.
"Choppers" are bikes that have been basically taken to pieces and rebuilt to something quite different. They usually have an extended front fork. These are great in a straight line but "handle like a bag of shit".
A "dresser" is one with all the gear, while a naked bike is just a plain "off the rack" Harley.
The question of tyres came up. If unused for a period of time (my scenario has the bike being locked away in a garage for 5 years while Joe is overseas) the rubber goes hard and loses a lot of its elasticity. This leads to a bumpier ride but they would last longer. Chopper tyres wear out faster because as they mostly go in straight lines, the wear (and heat) is centred in the middle of the tyre making it wear out quicker. He quoted 15,000 km normally for a rear tyre and 20,000 k for a front.
Would you believe the best product for cleaning the bike is Mr Sheen! He carries a can in his panier. After a long road trip (especially if there is a lot of insects around) he needs to use a high water pressure hose on his bike, degreasers, different brushes for getting into crevices, special products for the chrome etc. It could take four hours to clean it properly.
Then the question of servicing the bike came up. Steve, being an ex engineer, does a lot of his own servicing. The professional places charge between $7 and $800 each time.
Some owners deliberately leave their bikes dirty. These are known as "rat" bikes.
We also discussed the racing bikes. Apparently new anti-pollution laws have required then to fit large exhaust pipes. These affect performance which is why the 500cc racing bikes of yesteryear have been upgraded to 800cc and next year 1000 cc. These apparently are not much faster than lap times Wayne Gardner was getting down at Phillip Island with his 500cc all those years ago.
After a long road trip, it's not unusual for the rider to have ringing in the ears and tinutitis can be an ongoing problem
Most accidents are caused by other road users not being aware there is a bike around although some smart asses deliberately move their cars when stuck in lines of traffic to prevent a rider coming up the middle.
Not appreciating the difficulty of certain road conditions causes a lot of accidents, moisture seeping across roads at a bend, wet leaves, diesel or oil slicks especially if mixed with water.
You can now buy jeans with kevlar inserts for added protection.
Even in summer, without a full face helmet, the lower section of my face felt like it was being blasted by icy winds. What I remember best was the smell of the bush. Something you miss completely in a car with the windows up.
Changing gears was done by tapping his left foot. Braking was done with his right hand.
Mind you, Dalla scrubs up pretty well in more traditional garb, too. But I won't go that far in the book....
Finding these gave me the perfect ending of the book as Stevie and Don get up on stage and sing "Leather and Lace", stripping as they do. Stevie to traditional leather and Don to the lacey version as above.
If and when Dreamspinner decides to take on "Red + Blue", this will be part of a series I call "Opposites Attract". It's a theme I love. In real life I suspect we tend to be attracted more to our clones than our opposites, but finding the common thread that binds them together is the trick.
Today, after listening to a podcast by Jordan Castillo Price, I had a light bulb moment. Both my characters are short! Not dwarfs, but definitely not tall. Stevie Nicks is short, so to do her justice drag queen wise, my character has to be short too, so having his nemesis (a leather Daddy) also short works beautifully, so many opportunities for jokes.
Anyway, introducing "Leather + Lace". The excerpt posted previously "Another Joe Blow" becomes the title of the first chapter (for reasons that will become apparent later)
This video clip will be my muse, but my character won't be standing still when he performs it on stage!
After a long hiatus, I've decided to start using this journal properly. I was inspired to do so after listening to one of Jordan Castillo Price's podcasts in her "Packing Heat" http://packingheat.net/2007/10/09/packing-heat.aspx (Use the archive link on the side to track through episodes). She finished writing these in March 2011, so there's lots of material to go through.
Lately, I've been spending too much time doing anything except write. I've been doing a lot of reading and reviewing and that has been productive in a way, but it's really been a form of procrastination for starting my own writing. Part of my problem has been to work out exactly which one I should write first.
So, for starters, I'm going to list all my WIPs which currently are no more than notes in files. Admittedly, some of those "notes" are over 20,000 words long. There are all sorts of excuses as to why I'm not writing that particular book. Needs more research, not sure which publisher it is suited for, one of the characters hasn't quite jelled yet, I can't picture the character, I don't have a name, I can't quite hear his voice yet.... Yeah, I'm desperate for excuses. But perhaps by putting them down on the page, I will get the incentive to cross that first hurdle and start writing.
Mind you, there is another avenue of opinion that says don't write anything down as a) someone might steal you ideas. (No-one reads my journal so there is not much chance of that hapening!) or b) you look a prat if nothing ever gets written. And that differs from the norm, how???
So here goes....
1. "Choice" the follow up to "Isolation" (formerly entitled Beauty, the Beast and the Betrayer"). "Isolation" is due out in March and currently, I'm waiting for the edit stage to begin with Total Ebound. TEB will be incorporating a chapter from another book at the end of each book they publish now. I'd dearly love it to be this one, but as I haven't started writing a word yet, that makes it difficult. I have a pretty good idea of how the book will progress. It deals with "Nature" vs "Nurture" and whether who we are is a choice or hotwired into us. The main protagonists are Astrid Dreher and Ethan O'Reilly. 'How' you ask, as one of those died in the last book. Simply because when they reach Saa'ar, they discover the inhabitants made replicants of any members of the expedition who were maimed or killed. Only one of each person can remain, so the earthlings have twelve months to work out what to do. Do they pick the twenty year old perfect physical specimen or keep the disabled veteran counterpart and what to do with Astrid, the young version of the mission's leader who caused the deaths of so many Saa'ar and Abu, their mission doctor.
2. "Bound" the follow up to "Caught". I have this one largely plotted out. The action takes place a year after the first book and is told through Taylor's persective as he starts having doubts about whether he trapped Daniel into the relationship and whether by getting involved so quickly it weakens it. I have a photo I want to use for the cover. Again I have all the scenes mapped out, though I do need to do more research on Chinese restaurants and Shibari. The first is easy, I just need to grill my daughter, the second I have some material.
3. "Pride+Prejudice". I've decided to see if I can get "Mardi Gras" back from NRP and rewrite it, or rather finish it by following them through the next week of the Mardi Gras festivities. I think the title throws a lot of Americans who don't equate Mardi Gras with Pride parades. If (and it's a bif "if") DSP picks up Red+Blue, this could then become one of the "Opposites Attract" series. More on that later.
4. "Devils+Angels" the second book in the OA series, featuring Jason and Vince. For this I need more Harley research and I'm currently doing that. Also as there is a BDSM angle, this is my excuse (and I'm sticking with it) for all the reading in that genre I've been doing lately.
5. "Another Joe Blow" In some ways, this is the book that I want to write first. It's the Drag Queen meets Leather Dom scenario. Again, the Harley research and BDSM research will fit with this as will the drag scene.
6. "Not a Good Idea" is one that's been playing in my head and gradually taking shape. It's a young guy hitting on an older one in a small town where they are the only gay guys who are out of the closet. Age difference, personality difference. I've actually got more dialogue for this one than many of the others.
7. "Who Raped Cock Robin" This idea stemmed from the rape scene which was in my initial draft of R+B. A guy wakes up awith a huge hangover and realises that during the night he's had anal sex, but he NEVER bottoms. He has no memory of the occasion, doesn't know who he was with but there are no signs of a struggle, so he becomes, in essence, a private detective trying to solve the mystery of his own rape.
I'm sure there are some others with short outlines, but these ones are really all ready to rock and roll. The question is which first. Eeeny, meaney, miney mo!