Summertime Memories: QTA’s Blog Hop & Giveaway!

qta_is_it_summer_yet_blog_hopThe forsythia is blooming, and so are the daffodils, redbud, and hyacinth. The pear trees have blown most of their blossoms in a flurry of snow-like showers. Cyclists and joggers have magically appeared once more, and my mare has shed out her winter coat.

Is it summer yet? That’s what QTA is asking right now, as part of their “Is It Summer Yet?” blog hop! Participants are invited to share their favorite summer memories and link back to the blog hop, so that readers can jump to the next participant and get in on their chance to win some cool summer prizes, including an iPod Shuffle! Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter on QTA’s page and enter the Grand Prize Giveaway! Comments left here on this post will enter the reader in a giveaway for my combination of two short stories: Summer Fling. So be sure to leave your email address in your comment if you’d like to be considered for my giveaway here today!

You know, I can’t think of one particular summer memory that stands out–rather it was summers in general that were special to me when I was growing up. Every summer, from the time I was about six until I was nine or ten, my parents sent us children to stay with our grandparents for a good bit of the summer. My grandfather was the pastor of a large church which held a vacation Bible school each summer. Now, I know what you’re thinking–I can hear you going, “Huh?” right now. But this vacation Bible school was like no other I’ve ever heard of since. Every morning for three weeks, a school bus would collect us from the church parking lot and we’d drive for what seemed like hours until we reached what was only known as “The Farm.” For the next hour, we’d dutifully attend Bible study as taught by my grandfather, and then we’d be released like a herd of wild horses down to the lake owned by the church. We swam like fishes all morning–in and out of the lake, on the docks, down on the sandy beach, and back in the water again.

happy womanAt noon, we’d tramp up the hill to the large open-air pavilion, where the women of the church had been preparing food for us all morning. We’d fall on it like hungry wolves! For the next hour, we were forbidden to go back into the water, presumably to let our lunches digest. We’d play tetherball if the weather was nice, but most of us couldn’t wait to get back into the lake. From 1 pm until 4 pm we’d swim again, then load back up in the bus to head home for the evening, sunburnt and exhausted, and thoroughly satisfied with our day.

I learned how to swim at the Bible school. I also learned how to play chess, and the card games Rook, Hearts, Go Fish, and Jack-Change-It (which is a lot like Uno). When it rained, we did crafts instead of swimming, making Plaster of Paris representations of The Last Supper, or boiling marbles until they cracked so we could glue them on burlap with fake leaves and call them grapes. I don’t remember any bigotry, or hatred, or politics. A simple Bible lesson in the morning and then hours of the most fun I’ve ever had. It was the best part of the year, and the best part of growing up. My grandparents accepted us for who we were, warts and all. I don’t ever recall a harsh word or anyone even losing their temper with us. I grew up in that church. When I went off to college and tried to find another church to call home, I was struck by how…inadequate…I found most of them to be. I finally found what I thought to be a good one, with a minister that reminded me of my grandfather, who didn’t preach politics or hatred but spoke plainly of how best to walk with Christ each week. Then his wife asked for a divorce–and his church fired him. Fired him because a divorced man was unacceptable to them as a minister. I was shocked and saddened, and began searching for another church to call home. I never found one.

For most of my adult life, I’ve searched for the kind of loving acceptance I found in my grandfather’s church. Perhaps it was naive of me. But the church I grew up in changed when my grandfather retired, and religion seems to have changed as well in the years since my childhood. And while I still have strong religious beliefs, I no longer believe in the Church as an institution, which saddens me. Because most of what I hold dear is an abomination to this new Angry Church, and I can’t hold with the intolerance and enforced ignorance I see coming out of the Church today.

But those summers were sweet. Oh, so sweet.

Be sure to leave your email address in the comments below if you’d like to be entered in the giveway for an e-copy of Summer Fling! Also, go back to the main list on QTA to enter the Rafflecopter and hop on to the next blog!

 

 

Take a Hike! (Or Why Sometimes Writing Isn’t the Right Answer)

Cherry blossom viewMy life has changed quite a bit in the last six months. Even though financially, I took a big hit, what I’ve regained in peace of mind, sanity, and creativity seems worth it to me.

Oh sure, things are tight. Very tight. And I’m facing some rather heartbreaking decisions as a result. But the path I’d been on was killing me, there’s no doubt of that. It wasn’t sustainable, and yet it is *exactly* what the American workforce system requires of the middle-class American. Run yourself into the ground working 60+ hours a week, all for the ephemeral hope that you, too, will succeed in the American Dream.

The Road AheadWell, that Dream was turning into a nightmare for me. And like Marley’s Ghost, I am still dragging the chains of that former life around behind me, trapping me with debt and a house I cannot sell. Oh well. What I have rediscovered, however, in these last six months, is my love for everything that is important to me. My boyfriend. My dog. My horse. My writing.

Me.

Who I am as a person when I am not working myself to the bone.

It took a few months of this new lifestyle for my creativity to return. Thankfully, it was like a dormant seed in the winter, and all it took was a little time, warmth, and patience for it to sprout and blossom again. I’ve written more in the last six months than I’ve written in the last two years, and that feels right to me.

Bradford PearsThis past weekend, I had several long blocks of time in which I could write but I didn’t. I chose to take advantage of the gorgeous spring day instead. I’m not especially heat tolerant, so there is only a narrow window of time during the spring where being outside is a sheer delight for me. I have always maintained that spending a certain amount of time outdoors was fundamentally necessary to my well-being, and that I could tell when I hadn’t been in the forest in far too long. So Sunday, instead of working on the sequel to Walk a Mile (to be released by Dreamspinner Press sometime this fall) or even the fanfic I’m doing for a fest on Live Journal, I took the dog out for a run in the national forest and then headed out to the barn to ride my horse. It was a productive day of a different sort. :-)

Kenya & Pear TreesI’ve also always maintained that I do my best brainstorming for novels when I am doing some sort of mindless task, such as driving long distances, or mucking out stalls. Brainstorming while walking the dog is one of my favorite activities (though it got me into trouble recently as a jogger came upon us without warning and I wasn’t paying enough attention to keep the dog from planting muddy feet on him. *redface*)

Turns out there  is a perfectly good reason for all of this. I ran across this article today on creativity and dopamine levels: and why brainstorming works in the situations I described and why it is incredibly difficult to write when stressed or depressed. It also explains why writing is so addictive to those of us who do it. The article is called Why We Have Our Best Ideas in the Shower: The Science of Creativity. Let me tell you, it explains a LOT. :-)

So my advice? When you’re stuck at the keyboard staring at a blinking cursor, considering getting up and moving. Go outside and feel the warm caress of the sun on your face. Do some gardening. Mow the lawn. Take the dog for a walk. Do something you enjoy. Activate those dopamine receptors and let your subconscious work on the problem stalling you in that story. You can always come back to it later. But don’t spend the entire day at the keyboard, bouncing from one social media site to the next because you can’t figure out a thorny plot problem. You’re going about the solution all wrong.

 

 

 

 

A Better Man by Jaime Reese: Spotlight, Interview & Giveaway!

A Better Man Spotlight BannerSynopsis

Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.

Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.

Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.

Buy Now

 

A Better Man Cover

 

AMAZON / AMAZON CA / AMAZON UK / BARNES & NOBLE

add-to-goodreads-button31

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

 

JUNE

 

“It’s going to be another hot one.”

This was the last thing the bubbly radio forecaster announced before Julian Capeletti switched off the radio. It was just too damn early in the morning for that much perkiness.

“Great,” he grumbled as he sat up in bed and tried to rub the sleep from his face.

He hated mornings. Some people heard birds chirping, appreciated sunrises, and saw everything through rainbow-colored glasses in the early morning hours, but that just wasn’t him.

Especially when he didn’t have work.

He just couldn’t muster the energy needed to be as functional as he was in the late hours—when he found his groove and could tackle even the most complex third plane mathematical equation anyone could throw at him. Mornings, well, it was a short list. Wake up, shower, drink coffee. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to get dressed somewhere in between. He didn’t need to have the perky announcer tell him about the weather, he could feel it firsthand as the sweat began to trickle down his chest.

“Fucking gross,” he moaned as he rose from bed and made his way to the bathroom.

He followed the same routine every morning. He stared at himself in the mirror, in search of…what, who knew. He splashed some water on his face and looked again. Maybe he should try holy water or some other miracle that would change what stared back at him. He saw the hint of dark circles under his eyes and he hated it.

Vanity wasn’t the issue, the dark circles were a reminder of the turn of bad luck that had plagued him for almost two years.

Like a series of snapshots, he always ran the images of that day through his mind. The one that marked the beginning of when it all started going to shit with no end in sight. Well, more than usual at least. The day his last steady foreman project ended because the owner faced trafficking charges and fled the country to avoid his impending capture. With assets frozen, the site was closed down and everyone was out of a job and a steady paycheck. He’d left work early to seek comfort in the arms of his partner, an eternal optimist, and found him busy giving comfort of a different type to another guy.

“Asshole,” he mumbled into the towel as he dried his face. Maybe a shower would work. Even if it didn’t wake him up, at least it would wash away the disgusting reminder of the South Florida blazing summer heat and humidity.

Freshly showered, Julian read the classifieds as he sipped his coffee. He closed his eyes and exhaled, enjoying the caffeine and sugar slowly bringing him to life. Finally. He skimmed the want ads searching for anything new that morning, something he hadn’t already called on that week. He grabbed the monthly community paper and spotted the listing with a large bold headline “Handyman Wanted for Repairs”. A long list of requirements followed, far beyond those for a traditional handyman. He exhaled sharply and frowned. He had seen this a lot lately, another potential employer taking advantage of the desperation in the workforce, wanting to hire someone for nothing. The laundry list of responsibilities read like the licensing exam for a contractor, not a handyman’s job description. Cheap bastard. “Contact Mr. Boner” it read toward the end, followed by an address and phone number. He couldn’t resist smiling at the play on words.

“No wonder Boner wants a handyman.” He chuckled.

A knock at the door interrupted his morning read through the ads.

“Hey, Jules, you in there?”

Julian cringed, not just at the nickname he hated so strongly, but at the voice he knew came to deliver bad news. He reluctantly rose to answer the knock.

“Hi, David,” he said as he slowly opened the door to greet the short, paunchy landlord.

“So, you got my rent this month?” David asked hopefully.

“I’ll have some money for you by the end of the week.” He rubbed his hands on his towel and looked away.

“That’s what you said last week.” David shifted to cross his arms in an attempt to intimidate.

Julian looked down at the short man and couldn’t blame him for trying. He knew David well enough to realize that he didn’t have a choice but to push at this point. He figured the guy was getting some unneeded pressure from the boss.

“I gave you some money last week.”

“That was to cover the rent from two months ago. What about last month or this one?”

Julian’s head began to hurt. This had been the ritual almost every day for the last month. He was a creature of habit, but there were some customs he wished would change.

“David, I told you I’d have some by the end of the week. I just need a little time.”

“That’s what they all say!” His landlord raised his arms in frustration.

“Look, I know I’m late, I’m not denying that, but at least when you come knocking, I don’t run and hide from you like your other tenants. I said I’ll have money for you at the end of the week and I will. I’ve never backed down on my word.”

“Yet, you’re late on your monthly payment.”

“And I told you I would be. Fuck, David, I said I was going to be late and you agreed it wasn’t a problem as long as I paid you something each week. I’m doing that.” He rubbed his shaved head roughly.

“How much? Will it be enough to cover the two months you owe me?” David pleaded.

“I don’t know. I’m guessing probably not by the end of the week.”

“Jules, I can’t keep doing this.”

“I know. I just need some time,” Julian said quietly, looking away as he rubbed his wrist cuff.

“Why don’t you sell your truck?”

Julian looked at him as if the burly man had sprouted another head. “Dude, I’m not selling my truck. I need it for work.”

“Please, Jules, I like you, but I can’t have you livin’ here for free. You know that. My bosses are pushing me for the rent. I need two months’ rent by the end of the week or they’re forcing me to kick you out of here.”

Julian could see both frustration and understanding in the man’s eyes. He’d known this day would come. Had dreaded it for the last few weeks. He rubbed his head and looked away. He tried to make an honest living, avoided trouble, and where did that leave him? Standing in his doorway with a towel around his waist trying to think of ways to scavenge up two months’ rent just to be back at square one again. He couldn’t think of anything to say so he simply nodded.

David looked at him and patted him on the shoulder. “Jules, you’re a hard worker and a smart cookie. I’m sure you’ll find a way.”

Ugh. First Jules now cookie. Seriously?

“Thanks, David,” he grumbled, hoping that would give the man the signal to turn and leave.

Mission accomplished. He closed the door and leaned his forehead against it. He blew out a deep breath, willing a new idea to blindside him. He thought of different quickie jobs and crossed each one off for different reasons. Well, he always had the option to sell his ass on Eighth Street, but who was he kidding? No one would give him two months’ rent for his bits. He laughed at himself. He had to. It was the only way he’d remain sane when life gave him the shit end of the stick. He turned to see the newspaper still sitting on the table. He walked over and grabbed his coffee and gulped the little bit of remaining java along with his pride.

If the guy needed a handyman, he was going to be the best damn handyman that cheap bastard had ever seen. If that didn’t work, well, Eighth Street was actually starting to sound pretty damn good.

MeetTheAuthor

GOODREADS / WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / AMAZON

Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by:

EJ Button

Hello, Jamie! Welcome to my blog and thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Thanks for the invitation!

I hate writing about myself :) I’m married to a wonderful man and have a 120lb dog who thinks he’s my son.

As far as underlying themes, I have a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes, and tough guys with hearts of gold. I love happily ever afters and I want to make sure my guys always have one. Sadly, it will never come easy to them for one reason or another. But in the end, they’ll fight for it and cherish their chance at love and life.

I see you write M/M fiction. Would you characterize your stories as M/M romance, erotica, or something in between?

Definitely M/M romance. I tend to write more about the romance, the characters, and how their relationship affects them. I do have sex scenes because it’s part of the relationship, but it’s more about the feelings involved than a blow-by-blow breakdown of the act. No pun intended :)

What draws you to the M/M genre? Have you written in other genres?

Men have strong personalities and are often guarded. When you put two of them together, the result is usually a highly charged mix of emotions which, to me, adds to the relationship and makes you want to cheer for them. I want to be able to give these men their happily ever after.

No, I have not written in other genres. M/M characters speak to me more than any other genre :)

“Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?

I guess it depends on how you interpret the statement. In essence, make sure you know what you’re writing about. Whether it’s firsthand knowledge or research, knowing the topic/subject enriches the story. Most readers will know if you gloss over a subject you’re not familiar with.

With the proper amount of research and creativity, a writer has the potential to create stories, characters, and entire worlds a reader finds engaging. That’s the beauty of fiction. If we all wrote only what we knew firsthand, then we wouldn’t have such a mix of paranormal or sci-fi stories.

Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I’m more a plotter than a pantser. I don’t outline every last detail but I don’t start a book until I have a general idea how I want the story to unfold. I also define my characters ahead of time – that’s a must for me. For A Better Man, I knew exactly how Julian looked in my mind, the sound of his voice, the way he half smiled – every detail – before I wrote the first word. Sometimes, there are scenes that will come up I hadn’t planned, or I’ll write a scene that is smacking me until I get it down, but overall, I plan a general path to the story.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?

Do it. You will always find an excuse to put it off. Pick up a few books about writing and editing. Not enough to stifle the creative process, but just enough to learn about the common mistakes and how to avoid them.  Your editor will thank you :)

Most authors admit to feeling uncomfortable with the degree of self-promotion necessary to be successful. Are there some aspects of social media and self-promotion that make you more comfortable than others? Are there some you avoid like the plague?

Self-promotion is very difficult for me. My hubby says I’m terrible at it LOL

I’m normally a very private person and usually guarded so constant postings in social media are not a common thing for me. I’m working on it :) That’s why it’s easy to write under a pen name. I will rarely take the initiative and go up to someone and strike up a conversation. However, if someone comes up to me and starts chatting, I can easily talk their ear off.

The good thing is, the M/M community is relatively small so it’s a little easier to establish friendships with others. Readers will actually send me a message and I gladly respond (I love it!).  I don’t think that would happen so easily in a mainstream environment.

How often does your real life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?

I think there’s a sliver of me in my characters and stories. Not true 100% matches and I’m not open enough to memorialize my life in a story, but I do incorporate life experiences, things I’ve witnessed, people I’ve met and more. I find it helps me feel comfortable enough writing about the emotions and reactions with a certain level of reality.

Editing: love it or hate it?

I actually like the process, LOL.  I think I’m a glutton for punishment :)   All kidding aside, I think it’s the only way to improve as a writer. I’ve learned a lot and find myself asking questions so I understand what I’m doing wrong. I do get frustrated at times and question how the heck I missed some things, but overall it’s a positive experience for me.

How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

I do know many people who buy a book simply for the cover :)

I believe both are important. The cover stops the reader and gets them to read the blurb. It’s the blurb’s job to get the reader interested in the story.

Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?

It’s tough putting yourself out there for others to pick apart. Some people will love my book, others will want to slam their ereader against the wall after reading it. I accept that. It’s part of the artistic process. If it’s constructive, I welcome it because it gives me the chance to see the characters or stories from a different perspective. It also allows me to potentially gain some insight I can apply going forward to add depth to future stories.

Thank you, Jaime, for your thoughtful responses here today, and congratulations on your new release! We hope to hear more from you in the future!

 

 

Down the Rabbit Hole: Rabbit Wars by Whitley Gray

WG_EB_RabbitWars_coverlg

 

Hey everyone! I’m delighted to have Whitley Gray here today with her new release, Rabbit Wars published by Loose Id. Currently on the bestseller list at ARe, this one is definitely worth checking out!

After two months in Dubai supervising a construction project, architect Jefferson Fontaine returns home to find his boyfriend boffing the dog walker. Reeling, Jeff grabs his dignity and departs. The arrival of a mysterious wicker box and a letter requesting Jeff’s presence for the reading of a local entrepreneur’s will sends Jeff to his hometown of Crooked Creek, Colorado. The last thing he expects is to encounter an old flame who disappeared fifteen years ago.

After high school, Ashton Eiker hoped to start a future with the boy he loved, but his world crashed when Jeff refused to bring Ash along with him to college. Ash ran from the rejection, but returned to Crooked Creek a year ago, bringing his confectionery talents and opening a chocolate shop. When the great uncle of a childhood friend names Ash in his will, he could hardly anticipate getting a helping of his past in the mix.

Jeff and Ash jointly inherit the historic Jeremiah Rabbit House, and are forced to work together to meet the terms of the will or neither will have the mansion. It’s a battle of opinions, shared personal history, and present attraction, but the true prize isn’t the Rabbit legacy. It’s the chance at something better.

Here’s what people are saying about Rabbit Wars…The Romance Reviews says “Rabbit Wars is a beautifully written story with lovely descriptions of Crooked Creek and the places that make it special, and you can almost picture it in your mind, smell the pine trees and definitely the fragrance of the chocolates.” Full review by Susan Mac Nicol here.

An Amazon reader review states: “Sweet, romantic, not too much angst, and great chemistry between the main characters – Ash and Jeff.”

Hello, Whitley! Thank you for joining us here today! Tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write.

I’m Whitley Gray, and I write male/male romance. Most of my stories are set in Colorado—goes with the “write what you know” thing. I’ve lived other places, but Colorado still gets the most play in my books. Since I work in the medical field, a lot of my stories have one or more characters involved in healthcare. Again, “write what you know.”

What draws you to the M/M genre? Have you written in other genres?

I have written in other genres, but M/M is my favorite. I’ve always gravitated to the male protagonist in books of all kinds. Having two male main characters is even better. The dynamics between guys is completely different from a man relating to a woman, and I prefer that male/male interaction.

How often does your real life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?

Weeell…it does figure in. My mind has so many scenarios stored up from years of work that it’s literally a resource for pulling plot lines and character traits. Medical scenes/events in the stories often have happened, but the details have been changed. For characters, I have used bits and pieces of real people (probably myself more than anyone) to build characters, but none has been based solely on a single person.

Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?

I’d say not intimidated so much as discouraged by unfavorable reviews. It used to be a bad review could make me physically ill. Then a writer friend gave me some great advice: reviews are for readers, not writers. And don’t read your reviews; move on to the next project.

That sounds like excellent advice to me! But you know, I have to ask… what is the story behind Rabbit Wars? :-)

“Once upon a time, there was a family named Rabbit…”

This was the idea on which I built Rabbit Wars. The story is set in a fictional small mining town in the Colorado Rockies, a town built on gold and chocolate. Instead of the Easter bunny, I created a chocolate dynasty established by a family named Rabbit. Of course, such a family would have to be eccentric and known by few. What would happen to the estate if there were no heirs? What would the last survivor do in the name of love and chocolate?

Ash, a man who knew the Rabbit family years ago returns to establish a chocolate store. Jeff, who was also part of the Rabbit inner circle is lured back by chocolate and circumstance. Toss these two men together with a serving of conflict, and voila! Rabbit Wars was born.

The story is part of the Eostre’s Baskets collection from Loose Id. A mysterious basket plays a role in each story, and figures into the tale of love and war that is Rabbit Wars.

Thank you so much for coming by, Whitley, and sharing with us a bit about your new release. Be sure and let us know when the next in the series is out!

BIO: Once upon a misspent youth, Whitley read and wrote stories under the covers at night. At some point, real life intervened, bringing with it a career in the medical field. After years of technical writing, Whitley took on the challenge writing romance. Inventing characters and putting them in interesting situations turned out to be addictive, and having two heroes is twice as nice. A pot of coffee and a storyline featuring a couple of guys makes for a perfect day. Stop by www.whitleygray.com and feed your fix for heat between the sheets and M/M romance.

Rabbit Wars is available through Loose Id and Amazon.

You can find Whitley Gray online:

CONTACT:

Website: www.whitleygray.com

Blog: http://whitleygray.blogspot.com/

 

 

Let It Go: How One Song Has Inspired So Many…

Frozen_GOT Mashup

Frozen_GOT Mashup

My friends and I have been discussing Frozen lately. I’m frankly obsessed with it, as I’ve mentioned before, but I’m finding that many of my friends are equally entranced. The movie itself has generated a lot of talk about some of the messages it sends—in particular I appreciated the fact that Princess Anna didn’t need a Prince to save her—she ended up saving herself. I also appreciated the message behind the “Fixer-Upper” song—in how none of us is perfect, and more importantly, we aren’t going to change the person we love. Love itself, however, will temper how we view perceived failings.

We’ve also discussed the ludicrous accusations of the Far Right that this movie somehow promotes the mythical Gay Agenda. Funny, I didn’t see that. I saw how the love that two sisters had for each other was more important than anything else in their lives—a testament to family. My guess is that the people crying ‘foul’ here are bothered by the real message: that a woman doesn’t need a man to be a whole person. There’s only one thing that scares the conservative Tea Party more than gays. That’s an independent, free-thinking woman. Why? Because collectively, we make up a very large minority. Big enough to take them down come next election time. This frightens them so much—which is why we are seeing more and more reactive legislature on their part: birth control and abortion restrictions, striking down laws for equal pay, killing programs that would benefit working mothers and help them get off welfare, etc. However, they can’t directly attack women without shooting their platform in the foot (again). Hence, the implantation of the idea that being an Independent Woman leads to becoming a Lesbian. That is a chain they can safely rattle, or so they believe. Keep your girls at home, don’t let them get an education. Isolate them from the world so they stay ‘pure’. Brainwash them into being the proper little women you want them to be.

Frankly, one of the many reasons I am so pro-marriage equality is that I’ve never met a homophobe who wasn’t also extremely misogynistic. I also believe that we don’t fight and win our civil rights battles once—they are an ongoing battlefield that must be protected every day, or else someone will try to strip us of those hard-won rights.

But that wasn’t what I started out to say here.

What I really wanted to talk about was how the song “Let It Go” has taken hold in the hearts of so many people. Everywhere I go, I hear people singing it. Jimmy Fallon does a rendition with Idina Menzel and the Roots on the Tonight Show. Type in ‘Let it Go’ on Youtube and you’ll get dozens of covers, from an Africanized tribal cover to one in multiple languages to a completely (and stunning) instrumental version by The Piano Guys. Why? Why has this song taken the world by storm?

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that is speaks to so many people on so many different levels. I think most of us have something we hide from the rest of the world, something that it is Real Us that we are afraid to share with the rest of the world because we’re afraid no one will like us, or that they will judge us. And truth be told, we fear with good reason. Most of us have been judged. Because we’re nerds who like Doctor Who and Star Trek beyond all reason, or because we are smarter than most of the people we know, or because we think we’re ugly, or we’re afraid to admit to our sexual preferences, or scared to follow our dreams. Because we’ve been taught to hide our real selves. We’re ashamed on some level of being who we are because who we are isn’t like everyone else and above all, we have to be like the crowd, right?

Wrong.

Who we are is what makes us unique. It’s what makes us interesting. It is where our power originates. The look on Elsa’s face when she finally releases the magic within her is truly glorious. I can watch that sequence over and over again as she remakes herself into her own image, stripping herself of the trappings laid on her by society. “The cold never bothered me anyway” has become my personal mantra.

We all have something that we need to let go. Past hurts and resentments. Fears and failings. The idea that if only we’d done ‘x’ differently, our lives would somehow be magically better. We forget that every decision made brought us to this moment in time, in contact with the people we know and love now, positioned to take what is being offered to us if we’d only take off the gloves holding us back. If we’d only stop letting fear control our decisions and instead, we embrace the uniqueness that is us.

Let it go.

A contract, a review, and some excellent writing advice…

Pop A CorkIt’s been a banner day here at Chez Madison today!

Last night, I signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press to publish Walk A Mile, the first of two planned sequels to Unspeakable Words! Estimated release date sometime in Sept-Oct 2014! I can’t tell you how delighted I am–I’d been dragging my feet working on the second sequel (tentatively titled Truth and Consequences) while I held my breath waiting to hear back from Dreamspinner. But yay, all is well, contract has been signed and returned, and today I feel as though I could tackle such problems as world peace and global warming. Or maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. Either way, it’s all very happy-making!

I’m also the author spotlighted today on Jamie Lynn Miller’s Friday Feature! My blog post is on the True Secrets of Successful Writers–you should check it out! It might not be what you think! :-)

Spitfire in the airAnd the icing on my very large cake is that 3chicksafterdark reviewed The Boys of Summer on their site today–I got stilettos! Comments left on the review post will enter you to win an e-copy of The Boys of Summer, so head on over and drop me a line or two. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments there so we can find you if you’re the winner!

So, what has you grinning from ear to ear this weekend?  Or is it just the fact that it’s the weekend? :-)

 

A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger: Book Review & Interview

MinorInconvenience-A72lgBook: A Minor Inconvenience

Author: Sarah Granger

Genre: M/M Romance, Historical

Publisher: Samhain

Rating: Five Gold Signet Rings. (I’d rank it higher if I could)

Call it Jane Austen meets Horatio Hornblower–in a story that Jane would blush to tell!

Blurb: Duty, honor, propriety…all fall in the face of love.

Captain Hugh Fanshawe returned from the Peninsular War with a leg that no longer works properly, thanks to a French musket ball. Now his fight against Napoleon is reduced to quiet, lonely days compiling paperwork at Horse Guards headquarters.

His evenings are spent dutifully escorting his mother and sister to stifling social engagements, where his lameness renders him an object of pity and distaste. But his orderly, restricted life is thrown into sudden disarray with the arrival of Colonel Theo Lindsay.

Theo is everything Hugh is not—a man of physical perfection and easy yet distinguished address. Surprisingly to Hugh, Theo appears to be interested in making his acquaintance. Lindsay turns out to be a most convivial companion, and Hugh finds great pleasure in his company. Their friendship deepens when they become lovers.

In spite of himself, Hugh falls desperately in love. But when a French spy is suspected at Horse Guards, Hugh discovers nothing is as it seems…and the paper he shuffles from day to day could be the instrument of his lover’s death.

Earlier today, I was on Facebook, chatting with Lisa from The Novel Approach Reviews. She mentioned how sometimes writing a review was like writing a love letter to a set of characters and I had to chime in. “Yes! Yes! I know exactly what you mean!”

High Perch Phaeton_wikimediaBecause that’s what this is going to be here: a love letter to Hugh Fanshawe and Theo Lindsay from Sarah Granger’s A Minor Inconvenience. Let me begin by saying that I do not consider myself a reviewer. I think writing reviews is an art form that requires a certain amount of finesse and skill to share an opinion of a story without giving too much away. This isn’t a review as much as it is a gushing love letter. It is rare that one finds an author that truly understands the genre in which she is writing. Sarah Granger masterfully captures the essence of the Regency Romance as perfected by Jane Austen and imitated by every Regency writer since. In A Minor Inconvenience, Sarah weaves in all the tropes we’ve come to know and love: the effervescent and headstrong debutante, her shy wallflower friend, matching-making mamas, and the social maneuvering of the ton, which is conducted with a deadly intensity every bit as serious as Wellington’s campaign against Napoleon. As someone who has read a lot of Regencies, Granger’s knowledge of history and her familiarity with her subject rang true to me. Mantua-makers and high perch phaetons, Almacks, and the terrible threat of being ‘ruined’ were easily absorbed as rich background detail, the kind that makes you feel as though you’re recognizing landmarks as you arrive closer to home.

The genius of the story, however, lies in Hugh Fanshawe. On desk duty after receiving a crippling injury in the Peninsular War, Hugh is quietly soldiering on. His family, and in fact, society in general, looks upon him as less than whole, as damaged goods, even though his brother dismisses his debilitating pain with the label of ‘a minor inconvenience.’ Duty is all Hugh has left–duty to his country and his family obligations–while quietly accepting his life of pain and disability. He is also aware of his preference for men over women, something else that isolates him from the rest of society.

It would be a mistake to think that because Hugh is reserved (and somewhat resigned) that he does not feel deeply. The fact that this story is told strictly from Hugh’s POV means that we get a somewhat circumspect recounting of the impact Theo Lindsay has on his life–perfectly appropriate to the character, the time period, and the tone of the story. Like Theo himself did in an unguarded moment, I found myself also saying, “Oh, Hugh! What am I going to do with you?”

Vauxhall Garden_wikipedia commonsTheo remains a bit of a mystery throughout the story, but Granger brilliantly allows us to see what kind of man he is through his actions, rather than his words. Like Darcy, who comes to Elizabeth Bennet’s aid when Lydia has disgraced herself and her family, Theo doesn’t hesitate to use his ‘friends in high places’ to square things for Hugh in similar circumstances. Though his motives may be unclear, his love for Hugh comes shining through, even if Hugh himself is too dense to see it at times. :-) It is absolutely essential to the story that Theo’s intentions are unclear at times–that’s what makes the climax of the story all the more satisfying.

Then there is the lovely, gradually developing relationship between the two men–following the rules of society until it suddenly goes off the pages into territory of its own. While Hugh might have been reticent about sharing with the reader everything that went on behind closed doors, he was not shy with Theo. He gave himself unreservedly to the man who introduced him to everything he’d been craving and more.

I can’t leave off this review without mentioning the wonderfully developed secondary characters, in particular, Lady Emily. Oh, Hugh! How could you be so blind? Lady Emily is a marvelous character–a woman smart enough to know she can’t get what she wants–and strong enough not to let that sour her. She is far more than the token female friend in a M/M romance–she is a true friend in every way while still abiding by the rules of the day.

homecooked dinner flickr commonsI really can’t say more without giving too much away. There is so much about this story I love–the ways in which Theo make Hugh feel like a whole person, someone worth loving. The ways in which Hugh sheds his negative self-perception to risk all for a love he can never openly declare. This is an utterly perfect story, and one of the best ones I’ve read all year. It is not a beer to be chugged at a party and immediately forgotten. It is a fine wine to be savored and revisited again.

Interview:

Hello, Sarah! Welcome to my blog! I am so excited to have you here!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Thanks for having me, Sarah, and for your (definitely discerning!) questions.  I like to write and read M/M romances, and haven’t yet met a sub-genre I haven’t liked. I’m not sure whether there are underlying themes across my stories, though one common thread in my writing is the need for each person within a relationship to retain their autonomy, even when they’re as snuggly and happy a couple as can be.

I see you write M/M fiction. Would you characterize your stories as M/M romance, erotica, or something in between?

I’d say romance first and foremost. The erotic content varies enormously depending on the characters. In A Minor Inconvenience, Hugh just doesn’t talk sex in detail, even though he’s not at all retiring when it comes to doing it, whereas in another story I’m working on, the point of view character is insistent about sharing every last detail of his many encounters.

What draws you to the M/M genre? Have you written in other genres?

I stumbled across the M/M genre for the first time when looking for fan-fiction about a minor character on a TV Show (Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, for anyone who remembers that triumph of cheesiness and oiled male torsos). I liked it, finding two attractive guys to be even better than one. While that aesthetic appreciation hasn’t faded in the least, I’ve found I also enjoy writing about relationships that have different societal pressures and expectations from those placed on M/F relationships.

I haven’t written M/F for many years and can’t see it happening in the near future, but never say never.

Hercules and Iolas! I remember them! I was a big Xena fan, too. :-)

Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? Why does this character resonate with you?

My answer would probably vary depending on when you asked it. At the moment, it’s Hugh in A Minor Inconvenience. What I love most about Hugh is the way that he just keeps going, with quiet dignity and courage, no matter what life throws at him.

With so much taken away from him, back in the ambit of his family who regard him with fondness but without a great deal of respect, and forced into social situations where he feels uncomfortable, he’s retreated somewhat from life. And then he meets Theo, who doesn’t treat him as anything less than a man and fellow officer, and begins to rediscover his self-determination. I suspect I feel a particular resonance with him because, having been struck down by chronic illness some years ago, I relate to the temptation to withdraw and become resigned that this is how life will be from now on.

Hugh is a treasure! I can see why he would be a favorite. I can also understand how you can identify with him as well. I think the best characters come from some part of us within.

Research: love it or hate it?

Love it, love it, love it. In fact, entries on my blog are almost all about fascinating (truly!) things I’ve discovered when researching. I have to be very strict with myself or I’ll find myself spending hours reading about the reproductive habits of the Surinam toad, with no recollection of how I got there from eighteenth-century racehorse bloodlines.

Same here! In fact, I’m contemplating setting a story in the 1950s and I’m nearly giddy with the influx of research materials coming my way. If I want to get any work done, I have to set a timer on the research. :-)

Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?

I miss them horribly at first, and visualize their lives long after the last page just to ensure they’re happy. But once another set of characters comes along, I can let them go to forge their own way through the world. I haven’t yet had the impulse to write a sequel – there has to be enough story to tell rather than me simply indulging my love for the characters. But that doesn’t mean I never will. :-)

I’m so glad to hear that! I know sometimes there simply isn’t another story to tell about a set of characters, but it’s always nice to know there could be. :-) Thank you so much for coming here today, Sarah! Be sure to stop by again, and keep us apprised of your upcoming work!

 

Bio

Sarah Granger is a sucker for a happy ending. She believes, however, that characters will only fully appreciate their happy ending if they’ve suffered along the way.

Cotswolds_Landscape_Cottage_wikimediaSarah lives in the Cotswolds, an idyllic part of the English countryside with gently rolling hills, dry stone walls of golden stone and fields dotted with sheep. She has shamefully broken with local tradition by not having a rose growing around her front door. When she isn’t writing, Sarah enjoys walking in the countryside with her elderly and affectionate black Labrador.

Her contact details are:

E-mail: sarah.granger01@gmail.com

Website: http://sarahgrangerfiction.wordpress.com

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.granger.311

A Minor Inconvenience buy links:

Samhain   Amazon   All Romance eBooks   Barnes and Noble

 

Always by Kindle Alexander: Scavenger Hunt, Rafflecopter, Interview, & More!

Are you excited? I am! Kindle Alexander is here today to talk about her latest, hot-off-the-presses release Always. This is a HUGE book tour that you don’t want to miss! There’s also an awesome Scavenger Hunt and some pretty cool prize baskets up for grabs! You have to check it out!

Always Blog Tour Banner

Synopsis

Born to a prestigious political family, Avery Adams plays as hard as he works. The gorgeous, charismatic attorney is used to getting what he wants, even the frequent one-night stands that earn him his well-deserved playboy reputation. When some of the most prominent men in politics suggest he run for senate, Avery decides the time has come to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. With a strategy in place and the campaign wheels rolling, Avery is ready to jump on the legislative fast track, full steam ahead. But no amount of planning prepares him for the handsome, uptight restaurateur who might derail his political future.

Easy isn’t even in the top thousand words to describe Kane Dalton’s life after his father, a devout southern Baptist minister, kicks him out of the family home for questioning his sexual orientation. Despite all the rotten tomatoes life throws his way, Kane makes something of himself. Between owning a thriving upscale Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Minneapolis and managing his long-term boyfriend, his plate is full. He struggles to get past the teachings of his childhood to fully accept his sexuality and rid himself of the doubts brought on by his religious upbringing. The last thing he needs is the yummy, sophisticated, blond-haired distraction sitting at table thirty-four.

Buy Now

Hello Kindle! Welcome to my blog and thank you for answering my nosy, discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

First off I’d like to thank you for letting us be here with you today.  Kindle Alexander is a writing team; actually we are best friends, live in the same town and met through our children’s sports activities.

Well, there is absolutely no underlying theme …unless you call hot guy on guy action with deep seeded, soul igniting love a theme.

 What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?  

 We live in the suburbs of Dallas not too far from where we grew up. I’m sure you’ve all seen the TV show Dallas and caught a few episodes of the TV reality show Big Rich Texas – well our lives are exactly like that ….ten gallon hats, big hair, cowboy boots and the home of the thirty thousand dollar millionaires. Nah, not really, we live in a quiet little town outside of Dallas.

 How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

We started writing about five years ago, so we started writing much, much later in life…. the passion we feel is about our boys and their stories, not about the writing.

What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?

We were just too dumb to know we needed courage, and should have been intimidated.

 I see you write M/M fiction. Would you characterize your stories as M/M romance, erotica, or something in between?     

*Nods* All of the above…  

What draws you to the M/M genre? Have you written in other genres?

We got our start in fan fiction. It’s a long and complicated answer so let’s just say it’s surprising to be here. And we wouldn’t want it any other way. If you would have told us we would be writing in the M/M genre 5 years ago we would have laughed at you. We didn’t even know it existed.  But once we found it we were completely hooked. And now it’s the only thing that exists in our world.

City Girl or Country Mouse—and why? 

Little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll – lol!  Nah, depends on the day and my mood. Today I’m a country mouse. Saturday, I might be a city girl.

 “Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?

Absolutely nothing!  If you write a school text book or a manual you should probably know what you’re writing about. Hahahaha! Just joking. I know a lot of those people who write text books don’t know what they are talking about either!

 Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

We talk about it and talk about it and then outline it and if the characters want something changed along the way…we change it.

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

Sleep and quiet.

 Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? Why does this character resonate with you?

We have two and all our stories start off as these two boys, and then evolve.

Of the stories you’ve written, which one do you like the most? Which one would you recommend a new reader begin with?  

We can’t choose just one, remember all of our stories start off as these two boys that live in our heads. If you’re new to M/M start with Texas Pride, If you’re into sex go with Double Full. If you’re into intrigue The Current Between Us has it. If you like sweet romance read Up In Arms. If you like something that stays with you and pulls at your heartstrings then Always is the book for you. (We hope!) 

What are the three most important things in your life—the things you can’t do without?

Lindt Sea Salt chocolate truffles,  Starbucks Carmel Macchiato,  Lindt Key Lime Truffles  

 If you could have one super power or magical element from popular science fiction movies or literature, what would it be and why?

The ability to time travel. That way I could go back and fix everything I screwed up.

Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full time writer at some point in the future?

Writing keeps me sane so wherever that falls then that’s the answer.

http://giphy.com/gifs/dHJ9xB2ETONi

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author? 

Just do it!

Most authors admit to feeling uncomfortable with the degree of self-promotion necessary to be successful. Are there some aspects of social media and self-promotion that make you more comfortable than others? Are there some you avoid like the plague?    

Completely comfortable in all forms of social media.

How often does your real life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?

I cannot talk my husband into kissing the neighbor man no matter how hard I try.

Research: love it or hate it?

I love it! My writing partner hates it!

Editing: love it or hate it?

I find it very interesting. My writing partner HATES it with a passion!

How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

95%

Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?

We try not to read the negative reviews. You can’t make people like your book if they don’t. Everyone has different tastes and sometimes we aren’t their cup of tea.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, do you find what you listen to influences the story at all?

Sometimes and I have no idea if music influences the story. That’s a really good question. I’ve never even considered this. I’ll have to be more observant next time I write. :-) (I can tell you one thing that influences writing, that’s hot male models!)

Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?

My writing partner says editing has a way of beating the characters out of you.

 What are your writing goals for 2014? Your personal goals?

We have three maybe four books we would like to put out in the next year. And out personal goals are to stay around that long.

 

Always Cover

 

add-to-goodreads-button31

Teaser

Always Teaser Day 2

MeetTheAuthor

FACEBOOK / GOODREADS / WEBSITE / AMAZON

Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is an innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next!

I live in the suburbs of Dallas where it’s true, the only thing bigger than an over active imagination, may be women’s hair!

Usually, I try for funny. Humor is a major part of my life – I love to laugh, and it seems to be the thing I do in most situations – regardless of the situation, but jokes are a tricky deal… I don’t want to offend anyone and jokes tend to offend. So instead I’m going to tell you about Kindle.

I tragically lost my sixteen year old daughter to a drunk driver. She had just been at home, it was early in the night and I heard the accident happen. I’ll never forget that moment. The sirens were immediate and something inside me just knew. I left my house, drove straight to the accident on nothing more than instinct. I got to be there when my little girl died – weirdly, I consider that a true gift from above. She didn’t have to be alone.

That time in my life was terrible. It’s everything you think it would be times about a billion. I love that kid. I loved being her mother and I loved watching her grow into this incredibly beautiful person, both inside and out. She was such a gift to me. To have it all ripped away so suddenly broke me.

Her name was Kindle. Honest to goodness – it was her name and she died a few weeks before Amazon released their brand new Kindle ereader. She had no idea it was coming out and she would have finally gotten her name on something! Try finding a ruler with the name Kindle on it.. It never happened.

Through the course of that crippling event I was lucky enough to begin to write with a dear friend in the fan fiction world of Facebook. She got me through those dark days with her unwavering support and friendship. There wasn’t a time she wasn’t there for me. Sometimes together and sometimes by myself, we built a world where Kindle lives and stands for peace, love and harmony. It’s its own kind of support group. I know without question I wouldn’t be here today without her.

Find out more by visiting www.kindlealexander.com or email me at kindle@kindlealexander.com

GiveawayNote: The Rafflecopter and Scavenger Hunt are two different ways to win prizes! Double the fun!

PicMonkey Collagea Rafflecopter giveaway

Always_ScavengerHuntPhotos

**Scavenger Hunt Rules US ONLY PLEASE**

Each day 1 blog will showcase 1 of the above photos somewhere in their blog posts. Your job in order to win 1 or 2 prizes is to successfully find the picture and collect all 13 photos and tell me which blog showcased them. 1 blog per day ONLY will have the photo. You need to successfully have all 13 photos with blogs in order to be entered to winner the prize. There will be 2 winners: 1 winner will receive a gift basket that is all things Italian and the other winner will receive a gift basket that is all things naughty! Happy hunting! Bonus Prize: If you can answer a question about one of the graphic you will win a custom Rubick Cube with everything Kindle Alexander on it…..

Note: Not every blog in the tour will have a hidden photo–but at least one blog each day of the tour will have a hidden picture for you to identify–so make sure you check out the other blog posts each day!

Prizes Logo

Basket Graphic

Bonus Graphic

Question: What is the reason behind picking the Rubick’s Cube as a graphic and bonus

prize in the Scavenger Hunt?

Scavenger Hunt Entry Form (Click Here)

FollowthTour

(Click Here)

Hosted by:

EJ Button

Pen Names & Gender: What Romance Readers Want

books_roxiconsAnd the survey says…

First I have to preface this by saying the vast majority of participants in my not-very-scientific poll read M/M romances. Well, that only makes sense, as most of my contacts are fellow authors in this sub-genre! I think it is important to states this because in general, I have found readers and writers in this genre to be incredibly open-minded and supportive, and far more willing to take a risk on a romance that might be outside their comfort zone. I have no doubt that many readers of M/M romance made their way to the genre as a reader of traditional M/F romance. I remain unconvinced, however, of whether a reader of traditional romance, who’d never dipped a toe into the waters of M/M (come on in, the water’s FINE), would take a chance on a new-to-them author who also happened to write M/M romance.

108267663_8As many of you may know, this is a topic that has interested me for a while now. While M/M romance is gaining wider acceptance (even to the point of being mentioned in such major news outlets as USA Today), it is still very much a niche genre. And while mainstream Big Name romance writers are starting to cross into that territory, it is with the knowledge that they already have an established name as a romance writer–and a devoted fanbase.

My concern stems largely from the fact that, while I have my eye on writing a traditional M/F romance, I am known for being a M/M author. I think that’s a different kettle of fish. And so I’ve polled people again and again: should someone who writes in two very different genres have different pen names? Most of the time, the numbers fell pretty evenly between YES and NO. I’ve heard all the arguments. I’ve made a few myself, including a post on the topic fatuously titled A Pen By Any Other Name Would Still Sell? at Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House. In it, I start out being very pro multiple pen names for different genres, only to have some compelling arguments from the opposite view almost change my mind. Almost.

Separate pen names for separate genres is entirely different from the other question that goes around and around in this genre: namely, should women even write M/M romance in the first place, and if so, would it be smarter to take on a gender neutral pen name? I’ve written about that topic as well–more than once. What I find the most frustrating is that it keeps coming up. I suspect that has much to do with the lack of respect women writers get in general, as opposed to writing ‘outside their sphere of knowledge.’ Everyone has heard the justifications for writing what you want, regardless of your gender. Tolkien never actually met a hobbit or a wizard, after all. I find it both interesting and frustrating that no one challenges sci-fi megastar David Weber on his ability to write strong female heroines–and yet the ‘controversy’ of whether women should be writing M/M romance never seems to die. Today I read a wonderfully thoughtful post on Sid Love’s blog by Sue Brown called Defending My Presence. You should check it out.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image8700774But back to my real question: could an author known for writing M/M romance successfully move into the M/F market without changing pen names? Would they lose potential readers if they *didn’t* use different pen names? Which is why I felt the need for another poll. A larger one. One that I could mine for some sort of definitive AH-HA! moment and point to as my reason for doing what I chose. That didn’t happen. :-) I got some interesting results, however, some that surprised me.

Of the readers who completed the survey, the vast majority of them chose romance as one of the main genres they read. 94% of those polled stated they read romances, with science-fiction unexpectedly coming in second with 73% of readers. I say unexpectedly because though I *adore* sci-fi, I’d always been under the impression it didn’t sell well, particularly in M/M romance. 61% of readers stated that they read general fiction, while mystery came in the next highest with 59% of readers polled.

When restricted to selecting only one genre as the mainstay of their reading, 48% of the readers chose romance. Sci-fi again was second, but this time at 24% of the readers. The remaining categories (historicals, non-fiction, horror, thrillers, etc) garnered only a fraction of votes for being the primary category for readers. So yay! A LOT of people read romances! Only two percent of the readers polled stated that they did not read romances at all (and were excluded from the rest of the survey).

Here’s where things started to get interesting. The vast majority of respondents listed M/M romance as their number one go-to choice for romance reading (which leads me to believe the results are skewed to the M/M reader) at 92%. Within that genre, contemporary (71%) and sci-fi/fantasy (59%) ranked highest. Historicals came in next at 57%. I’m surprised by this because my observational experience would seem to indicate a large interest in paranormal/shifter stories, larger than was reflected in this poll, as shifter stories came in at 50%. According to the poll, more people read traditional romances (57%) than M/M shifter stories. That number was even lower for M/F shifter/paranormal stories, which ranked at 34% in reader interest. Not what I would have expected!

Man in Tranquil Sea at SunsetWhen restricted to only one genre, 64% of readers polled selected M/M romance. I would have loved to have gotten a larger cross-section of readers, though I am very grateful to everyone who participated and spread the word. Still, I have to conclude I’m looking a niche response that might not reflect the overall romance reading population.

When asked if the gender of the author mattered to the reader or not, 6% of readers said that it did, compared to 94% that said it did not. The question did not state if the author’s gender mattered in a positive or negative way to the reader, so the results here reflect the poorly worded question.

When asked if authors should use multiple pen names for multiple genres, the majority of readers polled (69%) said it didn’t matter to them. Of the remainder, it was evenly split between Yes and No!

When readers were asked if they would read something in a different genre from a writer known for a certain type of work, not a single respondent said no. The results were evenly matched between ‘yes’ and ‘maybe, it depends’.

100% of the readers polled said that they would not boycott an author who sometimes wrote in a genre that made them personally uncomfortable. Yay! :-)

98% of the readers said that if they preferred M/F romance, they would read a M/F romance story from someone who also wrote M/M stories. 2% of the readers said they would not, which doesn’t reflect the results on the boycott question. I suspect the word ‘boycott’ has some pretty strong connotations for some people, and again, poorly worded questions may have skewed the results. Interestingly enough, almost 25% of the respondents skipped this question, but because of how it was worded, I cannot be certain if this is because they *don’t* prefer M/F romance or chose not to answer for other reasons.

ink pen_wikipedia_orgWell, there you have it! Not sure what to make of it, except that the M/M audience is a great bunch of people and that I should probably go with my gut on this and take on a second pen name for more traditional romances. I don’t want to shock anyone with very different stories–and by keeping my pen names separate, a reader can quickly distinguish between types of stories to select the one they really want to read. :-)

 

 

 

Giveaways, Updates, Reviews & More: What’s Coming Up Next For Sarah Madison

Whew! I’ve been a little negligent lately on updating what’s going on right now.

Pop A CorkFirst, The Romance Reviews is celebrating their third anniversary with a month long party! Over 450 authors and publishers have donated prizes and the Grand Prize is a $100 gift card! You can find out all about it by clicking on the party banner over to the right or on the link above. On my books page, you’ll find the answer to my question that will be posted later this month at The Romance Reviews: up for grabs is a copy of The Boys of Summer!

The Boys of Summer400x600Speaking of The Boys of Summer, I received a smashing 4 star review for it from Christopher Stone over on Queer Town Abbey. If you haven’t checked out this online magazine for the LGBT community, its friends and supporters, you should really give it a try! It’s introduced me to some fabulous artists and authors with their in-depth interviews, weekly book recommendations, and Author of the Month spotlights. If you’re an author, there are author pages for you to post your works, and they post reviews and new book releases, too. And if you’re an avid reader, they’re looking for book reviewers right now!

Christopher had this to say about The Boys of Summer: “Here is where the story could have stumbled badly, “stranded on a desert island” plots are frequently sand traps for storytelling. But Sarah Madison’s skillfully avoids the sinkhole clichés of the sub-genre. The author succeeds where others sink by crafting fresh character and plot shadings – by using unexpected turns of events that steer character and their situations clear of clichés.”

For the entire review, read it here.

dreamspinnerpressI spent the evening working on the first round of edits for my short story for the Not Quite Shakespeare anthology to be released by Dreamspinner Press sometime in June. I’m really excited about this one! I drew heavily on my memories and impressions from my visit to the UK last year and I had great fun writing the story. The editor had some really lovely things to say about it, too, which is always nice to hear. Dreamspinner is also currently celebrating their second year with their YA imprint Harmony Ink by offering 30% off all titles from authors who published with Harmony Ink in their first year–now through March 17th!

I’ve also been working a bit on some new stories. Perhaps not as hard as I should have been–I’m still struggling a bit to take off with the next story while I’m waiting to hear on the one I just submitted. It’s stupid, I know, to hold my breath until I hear something back. A) It’s unproductive. B) No one can hold their breath that long.

In the meantime, I’ve mastered the vocals for “Let It Go” from Frozen, which is a deceptively difficult song. I can say with all honesty, however, no one can belt it out in an empty riding arena quite like me. :-) The day that DVD is available, that movie is *mine*.

BluebirdThe weather is being unpredictable, as it usually is this time of year. Yesterday we had flocks of bluebirds in the yard, and I could hear spring peepers. This morning I woke to two inches of snow on the ground. The weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, however, so I’ll have to make sure I step away from the keyboard and spend a little time outdoors while I can.

Oh! I almost forgot! I’m doing a poll on romance writers and pen names! If you want to get in on the poll, check it out here. I’m going to tally the results this weekend and post them on Sunday. What I want to know is whether or not the gender of the author influences you in any way when choosing a romance novel within specific genres, and how you feel about multiple pen names when authors write in two (or more) very different genres. There’s still time to let me know what you think! Thanks!