Whiskey and Wishes

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Today’s the day! Not long ago, I committed to join the Rainbow Advent Calendar, hosted by Alex Jane. The game is, each day from December 1st through 24th two LGBTQ+ authors will post a story – at least 500 words, but as long as novel length – that will be available for free the duration of December. One post will happen each day at 6am GMT and 6pm GMT, and we were sworn to strict secrecy about our day.

And today’s my day!

I’m delighted to share with you Whiskey and Wishes, a 10.5k word short story that takes place in the Young Spades universe and even features an appearance by Young Spades themselves, as well as one of the side characters.

This story follows Jeremy and Kyle, who meet at a bar and jump into a one-night stand. But what happens when neither of them has the heart to say it’s over the next morning?

To read other stories in the advent calendar, visit the masterlist or the Facebook group.

And to find out what happens with Jeremy and Kyle, click on this Prolific Works link!

Title: Whiskey and Wishes

Word Count: 10,500ish

Rating: Explicit

What to expect: professor/student, one night stand, HEA

I hope you enjoy!

WhiskeyWishes (1)

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Pulling Strings Release Day

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It’s here! It’s finally here! Shane and Ari’s story can be found on Amazon Kindle and KU here!

You can enter to win an e-book copy of Pulling Strings here!

And if you’re so inclined, the sequel, Facing the Beat is up for pre-order here!

Have you checked it out yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Review – Dragon Professional v15

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It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged, but I’ve been working hard at getting the Young Spades series read for release, and starting the series that will come after. Young Spades is still slated for a fall release – September 5th, October 1st, and October 31st.

In the meantime, I made a big purchase for myself – I bought Dragon Professional Individual v15. For those who aren’t familiar, Dragon (by Nuance) is speech recognition software, in which you can dictate, transcribe recordings, and voice edit as you go. Here’s my experience with it.

First – the price. It’s not cheap. It’s less expensive on Amazon than from the retailer, so if you’re comfortable with Amazon, that’s my recommendation. I set up a price alert on CamelCamelCamel to let me know when the price came down to something I could tolerate. It emails you when the price hits your goal. Right now it’s high for the disc and much lower for the download, but I ended up getting the disc because it was a few bucks cheaper. The lowest I’ve seen them both is the upper $170s. Camel will also tell you all-time low, if that helps you to set your price alert target.

In any case, I ended up with the disc, and when it arrived, I stared at the box for several hours before opening it. It’s an expensive piece of software, and what if I hated it? Once I opened it, I stuck the disc in the drive and hoped for the best. This was about 6pm.

It took a while. A long while. This is the one thing I wish someone had warned me about Dragon. I knew it’s a big program and would be a set of files. But I didn’t realize it would take SO LONG that I actually stopped the install several times, thinking nothing was happening. I started and restarted my computer over and over. I even tried using the code to switch to a digital download. Eventually, I stuck it in at 9 for about the fourth or fifth time and just figured I’d let it do its thing. And it did.

By 10, it was 1/4 installed. I turned off my sleep settings on my laptop and went to bed. The next day, there it was!

There’s a super user-friendly tutorial that launches upon first use. After that, you’re set to go. I had to explore a little, discover some nooks and crannies, figure out the tricks for the things I prefer, but I think I’ve got it figured out now, about two weeks later.

The verdict? I love it. I’m not at the promised land yet, in terms of production speed, but I can tell that it’s helping.  And I flat-out enjoy the simplicity and ease. The UI is easy to navigate. My ONLY complaint is that I have to hit “Paste unformatted text” to get it into Scrivener, rather than just hitting the “Transfer” button, or else it makes manually typing in the same document format incorrectly. That could be user error though! Either way, it’s minor and not enough to stop me from recommending it.

As I get more adept, I’ll post more details about my experience.

Does anyone else out there use Dragon? Tell us your thoughts!

Young Spades coming soon!

I’ve been toiling tirelessly (like that alliteration?) since November, and the Young Spades series will be launching in September. Phew! It’s on my landing page, but here’s some info for ya:

Book 1, Pulling Strings will be out on 9/5. Have a blurb, shall we?

Aristotle “Ari” Dineen, Jr. thinks he doesn’t deserve love. Ari has bipolar disorder and parents who don’t understand his challenges. Falling in love isn’t on the playlist for a guy like him, someone running from his past and so uncertain about his future.

Shane Beckett doesn’t have time for things like love. He’s busy – giving music lessons, finishing his senior year, and oh yeah, he’s the lead singer of up and coming indie rock band, Young Spades.

A cup of beer, a music history class, and a pack of cigarettes changes everything.

As Ari and Shane are about to find out, despite having a lack of time or the confidence to believe they can make it work, love has a way of pulling them in and rocking their worlds.

Facing the Beat will be released 10/1, and Tuning it Out will be released 10/31. Below are the covers.

Young Spades Series

If you’re interested in more info, or signing up to receive an ARC, sign up for my newsletter. ARCs will only be available to newsletter subscribers and other reviewers, but I will share lots of info on the blog and home page as I am able.

Falling Apart promo

I just wanted to drop a quick line to let you all know that my first novel, Falling Apart is running free on Amazon Kindle right now! In case you need a refresher, here’s the blurb:
Rising rocker Ryder Sullivan has everything he’s ever dreamed of – a skyrocketing career, a band to support him, and a willing bedmate anytime he chooses. He’s sure something is missing and discovers exactly what it will take to fill the void when he meets an incredibly adorable bartender.
The only problem is that the flirtatious cowboy bartender, Billy Cunningham, is a traditional man raised with traditional values. Fighting against his mother’s wishes for a wife and a house full of babies is tough, but living the Southern straight man values is tougher, especially when a hot rocker is making it very hard for him to resist.
Will Billy be able to give in to his heart before the chance to be with Ryder is lost forever?

You can find it here.

Love, Simon

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I went to see Love, Simon last night. It is a YA rom-com/coming-of-age film based on Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. The book itself was fantastic – I tore through the back 75% of it in one sitting. It was sweet – achingly so – and the mystery of who Blue is was well-concealed until the reveal (at least, it was to me…but I am admittedly not the quickest to pick up on these things). I rooted for Simon throughout the book, and was delighted by the ending. It was, in a word, perfect.

So you could say I had high hopes for the movie.

Now, I will give this a disclaimer: a few years ago, I had a revelation. I realized that movies based on books are just that – based on books. They are not books. So there will be things left out, things added, things changed. And I came to terms with that. I am at peace. I did not expect Love, Simon to be exactly the same as the movie. What I expected was a love story that left me cheering for the protagonist, a love story so sweet my teeth hurt by the end of it, and a love story that did justice to the importance of coming out as a queer teenager in a perfect world. (Because – and it is revealed very early on – Simon’s world is all but perfect. He has very open, liberal parents, super supportive, amazing friends, and is comfortable with most parts of himself, with one glaring exception.) This was definitely going to be an idealized version of a coming out story. I was okay with that.

I am rambling.

The short version of this is that I got exactly what I wanted, expected, and needed from Love, Simon. It, too, was perfect.

Okay, not perfect. I have a few minor complaints. And I’m certain that critics will soon find a way to shred Simon in the way they can often tear apart things. There were some issues – it was, absolutely, a scrubbed-clean version of what it’s like to be queer and to come out as a teenager today. That was intentional, if the director is to be believed (and I do believe him). The movie is portrayed as a sort of callback to the 80s coming-of-age genre. With the obvious difference that Simon is gay.

This is the first teen queer love story to be put out by a major studio. The important thing is that teenagers will see themselves in Simon and know that their stories are being told. That they are worthy of having their stories told.

So what is it about? I will try to do this with as few spoilers as possible. Simon is a regular teenager who lives near Atlanta, Georgia. His school has an anonymous Tumblr, and in late summer/early fall, one of his classmates makes a coming-out post. The classmate attaches his email address, and a nickname (Blue), but nothing else. Simon immediately emails Blue, confessing that he, too, has the same secret.

They begin exchanging emails, and Simon falls in love with Blue. Hard. He spends a good amount of time trying to figure out who Blue is. In his carelessness, Simon accidentally leaves his emails with Blue where another classmate can see, and is quickly blackmailed into manipulating his friends so that these emails aren’t released to the whole world.

It doesn’t go well.

Eventually, Simon’s secret is revealed, in less of a rip-off-the-bandaid way and more of a rip-out-your-heart way. Things just get worse from there for poor Simon.

Of course, this being a romance, things do work out, in the best way possible. In my theatre, people applauded at the romantic crescendo.

My friend, who attended with me, cried during some heartfelt moments between Simon and his parents. I can understand why she identified so strongly with the parents. But I was laser-focused on Simon. I wanted his story to be my story. It wasn’t, and it never will be, but it gave me such an overwhelming sense of hope, optimism, and joy.

Love, Simon is the love story that needed to be told, and I’m so, so grateful for it.

Please go see the movie. Do yourself a favor and see it. Support this endeavor. Show the world, and the studios, that we support queer teen love stories. The more we support them, the more studios will make them. And if you can’t go, buy tickets for the teens in your life who need to hear these stories told. Who need to hear, in the words of Simon’s mom, “You’re still you. And I still love you.”

I could say so much more, but I’ll leave it here. Marie and I are headed out tomorrow night for another viewing (her first). I hope you’ll tell me how you felt about the movie once you see it!

Workshop with Kimberly Kincaid

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So it’s been a quiet week! I didn’t blog on Wednesday because life got in the way. Well, to be perfectly honest… sushi got in the way. A local all you can eat sushi place had its grand opening last week, and we went, but it took us 3 hours to get in and out, and by the time we were home it was way past my bedtime.

That said, I would count my re-release blitz last Monday as a great success. I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve had quite a few new readers join my newsletter (ahem), and follow me on social media.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on the Young Spades series, hitting up some marketing strategies with Marie Cole, and (drumroll please)… this weekend I attended another Virginia Romance Writers meeting! This one was with Kimberly Kincaid, and she covered a TON of material. I’ll do my best to sum it up.

The first part of the day covered the “building blocks of writing.” Basically, the things we all need to do to make sure our books are successful stories. I’ll confess, even though I’m mostly a plotter, I don’t do all of these things, and I definitely need to work on them.

One big thing she talked about was making sure that as a writer, we know who ALL of our characters are (primary and secondary), before we start writing (or, for pantsers, by the time we’re editing). Especially if one is writing a series. (I’ll confess – I didn’t know that I was creating a series when I did NaNo this year, so I didn’t do this before I started writing Pulling Strings, Young Spades book 1. Ah well… into the editing phase we go!)

Another thing she really stressed is making sure their personalities are unique, compelling, and organic. That characters should change as the story goes on, definitely. And that things about them should be unique in a way that makes them not just a stereotype, but also not so outrageous that they are unbelievable.

The afternoon session was called “marketing like a boss” and was more about how indie authors can market themselves. The first, very most important marketing tip was: Write a good book! Without a good book, it doesn’t matter how you market yourself, nobody will care.

Then, of course, she talked about social media platforms. What’s hot, what’s not, and what a writer is good at – all different things, but something every writer should consider when marketing themselves.

Of course I have my Facebook profile, but I’ll also be creating a fan group soon, so that you guys can follow my goings-on without having to “friend” me. And of course I’m on Twitter as you probably know.

You may or may not know that I have giveaways going on at InstaFreebie pretty much always.

She also recommended Instagram, which I’m not yet on, and Pinterest, which I have an account on but it’s been so long since I’ve used it that I can’t remember the password. I’ll work on both of those soon. And of course there’s the aforementioned newsletter. I plan to send that out once a month, around the beginning of each month, with giveaways, news, exclusives, that kind of thing.

So that’s the workshop in a nutshell! It was great – lots to digest and learn!

Another bit of news is that I’m working now on turning my website into a static landing page with a blog as a click-through. I’ll still Facebook and Tweet out my blog posts, but this way there will be something up for everyone to see when they visit, without seeing, “Oh, she hasn’t blogged in HOW long?!” if that happens. Also, that way there’s less pressure on me to blog 2x a week (or so), and that means more time writing the books you guys want to read!

How about you guys? Any of my writer friends have brilliant marketing tips? For those of you who are “just” readers (not that there’s any such thing as “just” a reader!), are there marketing tricks that authors use that make you annoyed? Or that you love?