Gay or Not Gay? A Handy Guide

It was really only a matter of time that someone would give Faebourne a low-star review because there is a gay romance subplot. I did try to be clear in the book description, and the novel is placed in a gay fiction category besides, but… Ah, well. Not everyone reads the fine print.

Here, then, is a breakdown of my writing in terms of gay/not gay:

My books that feature gay characters:

  • The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller (main character is gay)
  • Manifesting Destiny (one of the main characters is gay)
  • Faebourne (supporting characters are gay)

Gay-free books:

  • The World Ends at Five
  • The K-Pro
  • Brynnde

Where are the Sherlock Holmes stories? Well, while in my stories Holmes and Watson are not gay, there are hints that Mycroft is. So it straddles the fence, I suppose.

I’m considering publishing a short story of mine called “The Zodiac Clock,” and it has gay characters, too. So if that bothers you, don’t read it.

I hope that clears up any potential confusion. Happy reading!

IWSG: December 2018

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

I have a home office known as Little London due to its decor. Amidst the prodigious clutter on my desk you will find my laptop, a cold drink of some kind (Dr Pepper, iced chai, or water), Kero-chan (from Cardcaptor Sakura), Kylo Ren (in two forms: a POP! figurine and a tsum tsum), and a Dalek.

I actually made a video of Little London once:

I’m a NaNoWriMo Failure

To be fair, I hadn’t planned to even try to do NaNoWriMo this year, but… I had this idea, shiny and new, and found myself logging into my old NaNo account and signing up for duty.

Then the shiny idea fizzled. I couldn’t get any traction, nor did I feel motivated to push it.

In truth, I don’t normally participate in NaNoWriMo because I’m now a full-time writer anyway, so it doesn’t feel as important to me as it did when I worked a day job. However, I happen to be a very slow writer, so the idea of NaNo possibly forcing me to not overthink things and just get words out does have a kind of appeal. Part of me thinks that if I were truly disciplined—or even if I wanted to badly enough—I’d have managed to get my 50k words regardless of obstacles like appointments, chores, holidays, etc. That’s true any month of the year, I suppose. In fact, NaNo seems to be just another way for me to feel bad about myself and my lack of productivity.

Still, I know NaNoWriMo is a great tool for many writers, so kudos to all who achieved their goal this month. (Or will in the next 24 hours or so.) As for me, all is not lost. I went back to that old K-Pro sequel and am now working on that. Who’da thunk it? I don’t even know if there’s still any interest from readers in this book, but I sure am having fun writing it!

My November was not a complete failure after all. Though I didn’t write 50k or finish a manuscript, I did get my mojo back. NaNo or no NaNo, I’ll call that a win.

Vanity Publishing

There seems to be some confusion about vanity publishing, and I totally understand that. With more and more authors choosing to self-publish and use “author services” to help them with that, vanity publishers are finding it easier to slither in and grab the unsuspecting. So let’s be clear:

You should never pay a publisher to publish your book.

If you plan to self-publish, you can expect to pay a cover designer, an editor, a proofreader, an interior formatter… You can expect to pay for an ISBN, perhaps several, depending on how many formats you want to publish in. If you’re doing an audiobook, you can expect to pay the talent (that is, your voice actor/narrator). But—here it is again because it can’t be said too often:

You should never pay a publisher to publish your book.

Never, never, never should you pay someone to put their label/logo/imprint on your work. A successful publisher—and that’s the only kind you want—makes its money from selling its authors’ books. It does not make money from authors paying for editing, covers, etc. If that’s how it makes its money, IT IS A VANITY PRESS. Run far, far away and never look back.

They’ll try to make it sound reasonable. “Well, we’ll sell you copies of your book at a discount.” But then they’ll add something like, “You have to agree to buy at least 100 copies.” They’ll tell you that “this is how publishing works.” It isn’t. Publishing works by investing in books they think will sell and then selling those books to readers. Not back to the author.

Vanity publishers will say that it’s only fair that you pay them for all that work—the cover, the editing, etc. That may sound reasonable to you, but STOP. A publisher’s very job is to provide those things to its authors. Random House doesn’t charge its authors for any of that stuff. No good publisher does. A real, true publisher has a staff of editors, designers, marketers who do all that and are paid by the publisher who, again, makes its money by selling books to readers.

Make sense?

A genuine publisher finds manuscripts it believes it can sell. It invests in those manuscripts and authors. It publishes those books and makes its money from those books. (And the author makes money from those books, too.)

Money comes to the author. The author does not pay.

Self-publishing is a bit different because the author is investing in him- or herself by paying out of pocket for the things a publisher would normally provide. Ideally, the book will sell and the author will recoup that money and make even more over the lifetime of the book. This is the crack that vanity publisher try to exploit. They offer the author all those things—the cover design, the editing—but they charge for it AND they intend to make the author pay for his or her own work. Nor will vanity publishers work to sell your book. They’ve already made their money off you; they aren’t motivated to sell the actual book except right back to the author who already paid thousands of dollars for the “privilege” of having this vanity publisher’s logo slapped on his book.

If you can’t find a genuine publisher, self-publish. Not only will it cost far less than vanity, but you’ll keep your rights and have complete control of your work. If you aren’t comfortable self-publishing, put that manuscript aside and write the next one. Keep trying until you find an agent or proper publisher. But don’t fall into the desperate trap of vanity publishing.

Not sure about a publisher? Check with Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware.

Library Talk!

A couple evenings ago, I gave a presentation at the Livermore Public Library about how to produce a polished manuscript. Paul Sevilla, who handles Public Services at the library, was nice enough to take some photos:

Thanks to everyone who braved the bad air quality (we’re dealing with smoke from the Camp Fire north of us) to hear me speak! And thanks to the Livermore Public Library for hosting me.

ETA: Video

IWSG: November 2018

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Still a bit nervous about my upcoming presentation at our public library next week. I’ve got my notes written and my PowerPoint presentation done, so I’m as prepared as I can be. Don’t know if I’m afraid a lot of people will be there or that no one will show up. At least a handful of my writing group members say they plan to attend, so I’ll have support!

Question of the Month: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

I’m not even sure I understand this question. I *think* it’s asking whether my creativity as a writer has spilled into the rest of my life? I’ve always been a problem solver, so for me, it’s writing that draws from my natural creativity—my stories are puzzles to be solved via creative means. I put characters into situations and then have to get them back out. The most fun is when my subconscious has planted all the seeds and I don’t even realize it until I’m writing the resolution and everything falls into place.

And ICYMI: Faebourne is now available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback! (Well, the paperback is pre-order, but it comes out next Monday, so it won’t be a long wait to hold it in your hands!) If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can even read Faebourne for FREE!

When mild-mannered Duncan Oliver is abducted by the Milne brothers and taken to their legendary home of Faebourne, his unexciting life becomes much more interesting. Adelia Milne has been cursed, and Duncan is her chosen champion to break the spell. Duncan may not be a hero, but he is a gentleman, and he refuses to leave a lady in distress. He becomes determined to take on the quest on Miss Milne’s behalf.

Meanwhile, an unlikely rescue team forms in the pairing of Duncan’s best friend George and valet Davies. As they set out for Faebourne—and also perchance to learn more about Davies’ obscured family history—what begins as an unequal partnership quickly blooms into friendship… and possibly something more.

Read the first chapter here.

Nope Book Tag

This is an old one that I only recently heard about, but I decided to do it despite it being old news.

1. A NOPE Ending – A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was crappy.

I love, love, love Tana French’s In the Woods, but I recall being disappointed that it left many questions unanswered. It’s been long enough since I read it that I can’t remember specifics, but I do have the lingering sense of having wanted more from the ending.

2. A NOPE Protagonist – A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

I know so many people adore Lila Bard in the Shades of Magic books, but ugh, I can’t like her. She feels like a cliché to me and something of a Mary Sue.

3. A NOPE Series – A series that turned out to be a huge pile of NOPE after you’ve invested all that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.

I read all of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles when I was in high school and college, and I was pretty excited when she went back to writing them a few years ago. But I just could. not. finish. Prince Lestat. So I don’t know if I’ve changed or the writing has become…something… I dunno, but just nope.

4. NOPE Popular Pairing – A ship you don’t support.

You know, I don’t read a lot of the books that prompt this kind of reaction. I guess I do feel like Peter Grant + Beverley Brook is a bit forced, though. That relationship just does not add anything to the stories for me.

And though I know this is a book tag, can I just say that I can’t understand the Sherlock/Molly thing. I just don’t feel that one at all. (Nothing against those who ship it.)

5. NOPE Plot Twist – A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.

I didn’t find the unearthing of Gwenllian to benefit the Raven Cycle very much. I don’t know if that counts as a plot twist, per se, but it was a moment that could be plucked out of those books—the character could be, really—and nothing lost.

6. A NOPE Protagonist Action/Decision – A character decision that made you shake your head NOPE.

Bad decisions make great stories, right? But I think pretty much everything Bella Swan did (and I only read the first two books, couldn’t even go on) just felt like NOPE to me.

7. NOPE Genre – A genre you will never read.

While I hesitate to say “never,” I probably won’t ever pick up erotica. Not my thing at all.

8. NOPE Book Format – Book formatting you hate and refuse to buy until it comes out in a different edition.

I don’t *hate* ebooks, but I tend not to read them. I’ve got so many downloaded that I will probably never read because my first inclination is always to reach for a physical book.

Oh, but I DO hate movie/TV tie-in book covers. I won’t buy those.

9. NOPE Trope – A trope that makes you NOPE.

Alpha males. A gruff bad boy that just needs the right woman to soften him. The overprotective type that comes off as controlling. Nope to all that.

10. NOPE Recommendation – A book that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read.

Well, to be fair, any time someone says I “have to” see or read something, I’m that much LESS likely to do so. I’m contrary like that. But I don’t care how many people recommend Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale to me, I’m probably never going to read it. It just doesn’t sound interesting to me. My loss, I guess.

11. NOPE Cliché/Pet Peeve – A cliché or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

Scenes in which two characters are arguing and then suddenly they start kissing. Arguments are not foreplay (at least not for me).

12. NOPE Love Interest – The love interest that isn’t worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

Pretty much any Sherlock Holmes story that puts Holmes in a relationship (but especially if the relationship is with Irene Adler). I nope right on out of books that do that.

13. NOPE Book – A book that shouldn’t have existed.

Did I mention those new Lestat books? Also, with many apologies to Uncle Stevie, but Dreamcatcher was awful.

14. NOPE Villain – A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

I know they’re dead, but the Dane twins in A Darker Shade of Magic were pretty damn creepy. I’d definitely avoid them.

15. NOPE Death – A character death that still haunts you.

One Day by David Nicholls. Movie was terrible, but the book made me ugly cry, and that’s very difficult to do if there aren’t animals involved.

16. NOPE Author – An author you had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.

This is probably going to be somewhat… I don’t want to say “controversial,” because that’s not it, but it’s something I’ll probably get a lot of backlash for. But I don’t read Neil Gaiman anymore. I think he’s a lovely man, and I’ve enjoyed much of his work, but I never could get into American Gods, and I picked up one or two other books now and then, but they just didn’t work for me. And I don’t know if I outgrew him, or if the tone of his work changed, or what. I can’t even say I’ll never read him again. I just haven’t in a long, long time. But I do still admire him as an author.

Books I’ll Probably Never Read Tag

This one is making the rounds, so I’m not 100% sure who to credit for it… Whoever you are, thanks for the blog prompt!

1. A really hyped book you’re not interested in reading.

Just about anything by Kristin Hannah, really. Or Liane Moriarty. I tried one of hers once and could not get into it. There’s something about literary women’s fiction that puts me off. I can’t identify with the characters at all.

2. A series you won’t start/be finishing.

Everything I’ve read about the Court of Thorns and Roses books is just a no for me. I also tried reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and couldn’t get into it, so I won’t continue on that one. Same with the Game of Thrones books. (Yes, okay, A Song of Ice and Fire.)

3. A classic that you’re just not interested in.

Just about anything by Charles Dickens. We had to read Great Expectations in school, and it was excruciating. Though not as bad as Les Misérables. So I won’t read any more Victor Hugo either.

4. Any genres you never read.

I don’t read erotica. Not my thing. Not into westerns or hard sci-fi either.

5. A book on your shelves you’ll probably never actually read.

I’ve had Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on my shelf for a long, long time. Watched and loved the television adaptation but will probably never actually heft the book to read it.

Facts About Faebourne

I was planning to do this as a video, but I still haven’t figured out how to make *good* videos, so I’ll just post this instead for now. May yet to a video later.

The ebook version of Faebourne is out now, and the paperback will be out in a couple more weeks. However, I’ve had a few questions come in, so I thought I’d answer them. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Fun Fact: Davies was originally named Michaels. This was before I decided to write chapters from George’s and Davies’ points of view. At first, the novel was going to be all Duncan. But then I thought it might be fun to follow George and [then] Michaels as they went to “rescue” Duncan. As I began writing those chapters, it became increasingly clear that George and Michaels were falling in love. Well, I couldn’t have George + Michaels. And George is such a George, so Michaels had to give up his name. I think it fits him just as well.

Fun Fact: When I started writing, I thought Edward was the gay one and anticipated Edward and George getting together. The characters clearly had other ideas.

Fun Fact: Without realizing it until the book was finished, I gave the Milne siblings the same first initials as my three children.

Q: If the mirror shows a person’s true self, what did Aloysius see when he looked in it?

Oooh. Good question! I honestly don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just a fox. In fact, I also suspect Richard saw something slightly different from his usual reflection, and I wonder if that might be one of the reasons he broke the mirror? I’d love to hear readers’ speculations on this.

Q: You know that Lord Montcliffe couldn’t just give the title to his nephew, right?

Yes, and I’m sorry I wasn’t a bit clearer in the text. Davies would inherit the title whether he wanted it or not, but he could refuse to use it. And Lord Montcliffe could will his money and other property to his nephew if he wanted to disinherit Davies to any degree. Meanwhile, the nephew’s assumption is that he is heir presumptive because he (like most everyone else connected to Lord Montcliffe) did not know of Davies’ existence.

Q: Will they ever go back to Faebourne?

I sort of have this idea that at some point Faebourne will become George and Davies’ hideaway. When Davies is eventually pressed into marriage and/or when good will turns against their relationship and it can no longer be overlooked. As for the Milnes, none of them seem all that attached to the family home.

Q: But what happened to Aloysius?!

So much love for Aloysius! He went with Adelia and Duncan, of course. He’s Adelia’s guardian/familiar, after all. And probably wiser than Richard.

Q: No romance for Richard?

Honestly, he’s not interested. He’s asexual.

Q: What’s with Edward’s “kaleidoscope” eyes?

Well, remember that the Milnes do have fairy blood in their family line. Odd traits are bound to surface now and then. And no, I wasn’t riffing on The Beatles.

So those were the questions readers had (so far). If you read Faebourne and have questions about it, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer!