Release day is upon us!

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This is it… tomorrow’s the big day! All three books go live on Amazon for purchase and for reading on Kindle Unlimited! There are tons of bloggers and Tweeters and Facebookers signed up to help get the word out about the re-release and things are well.

Because this blog is being posted in the evening, and I probably won’t have time to blog again before I leave for work tomorrow to welcome any potential new fans and friends, I am going to drop some links, in case you have been directed here from the release party that’s been spread far and wide, and aren’t coming at me from my usual channels (Facebook and Twitter).

The three books are all available for pre-order on my Amazon page, here. You can also check out excerpts that are available on InstaFreebie, here.

If you haven’t already, you can also look me up on Twitter and Facebook (I just have a regular profile for this pen name, but I accept friend requests from anyone!) and Goodreads. (Side note: I’m still trying to get the Goodreads thing squared away – it shows the old covers and blurbs, and Night Shift needs to be merged with the listing for the former title. If anyone is a Goodreads expert, and can help me sort that out, I would owe you a big one.)

Each book is also a part of a Rafflecopter giveaway which you should definitely check out.

As for me, tonight I’ll be curling up with my sleepy puppy, watching the Oscars until I can’t stay awake any longer, and trying to settle my nerves for the release event tomorrow. Pupper is currently snoring at the end of the couch, grumpy because she’s not in my lap, where she prefers to sleep.

If you’re visiting and you’ve chosen to read or purchase my books, please drop me a review either on Amazon or Goodreads or both. As you probably know, reviews make the world go ’round for authors, especially new ones.

Thanks again for sticking with me, y’all. I’m so excited to have you along on this journey with me.

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Re-Release Cover Reveal

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This is it! Today’s the day! I have covers for you! And blurbs!

First, we have Falling Apart – a first-time gay m/m erotic romance novella, 35,000 words.

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?

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Next, we have “Another Shot” – a second chance m/m erotic romance short story, 12,000 words.

Ben’s seemingly perfect life just went down the tubes. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday his boyfriend breaks it off and despite his better judgement he goes with his best friend to a strip club where he runs into the one that got away–or ran away, more accurately.

When his ex, Ian, now a stripper, makes a move and promises things Ben had long given up on hoping for, Ben has a decision to make. Does he get the closure he so desperately wanted or does he trust Ian with his heart…again?

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And finally, we have “Night Shift” (formerly “Nurse’s Orders”), an enemies-to-lovers m/m erotic romance short story, 10,000 words.

When Officer Daniel Haddox wakes up one morning, and everything starts to go wrong, he knows it’s going to be one of those days. Things get worse when he’s sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation and prankster and all around dick of a nurse, Angelo, is on duty and ready to treat his injuries.

That night, a series of events unfolds that leaves Daniel’s head spinning. Will Daniel finally snap and give Angelo what he’s got coming? Or has Angelo got a different kind of fun in mind this time?

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Again, release day is March 5th, assuming everything goes smoothly. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate your support during this process! I could not be more excited!!

So tell me, which cover do you LOVE the most?

Re-release update

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Tonight’s blog post is going to be incredibly short, so advance apologies for that. I just wanted to update you all on my progress.

I have three beautiful covers that I would like to reveal to you this week. I could not be more excited about them. I’ve shown a few people a sneak peek, and they all love them, so I feel a great deal of relief.

All of the blurbs have been rewritten. I’m hoping that the blurbs give less away in terms of story, while evoking more of the emotional impact of the characters.

We’ve decided to shelve “Come Sail Away” for the time being. It needs some work, and that’s going to need to be pushed down the road for a bit, while the Young Spades series comes together.

Falling Apart (which is much, much shorter than I remember it being!) looks great. I’m the most excited about that one, as always. This one is the longest story, a novella at about 35,000 words.

“Another Shot” also looks fantastic. The cover is really lovely, and I’m really happy with where it sits. This is the longer of the two short stories, at 12,000 words.

“Nurse’s Orders” is going to be re-titled, in addition to getting a wonderful cover update and refreshed blurb (which I’m still writing). I’m not sure what the title will be yet – husband and I are working on that as we speak. (He votes for “Fahrenheit 69,” which I vetoed.) It is the shortest of the three stories, at 10,000 words.

All three stories will be released on March 5th. They will be released on Kindle Unlimited for the time being. Also, going forward, I will be looking into making print copies of each title available for print-on-demand purchase.

Okay! So that’s tonight’s wrap-up. See you soon!

The Planet of Zutar’s Invasion of the Dragons

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Okay, so as you know, coming up with blog topics isn’t my strongest suit. Tonight, as my 7 year old sat next to me eating a day-old cinnamon roll, I looked at him and said, “What should I blog about tonight?” He quickly came up with a topic, as evidenced by the title of this blog. (Incidentally, Zutar is ruled by zombies.) He also picked the image for tonight.

And, I suppose, he hit the nail on the head.

I’ve been battling my own “invasion of the dragons” for the better part of a week now. Granted, I’m not a zombie, but sometimes I feel like one. There are plenty of times that I feel like my day job is turning me into a corporate zombie, though, and that I inhabit a different planet, living off in my own world somewhere. (Hopefully it is not also inhabited by corporate zombies.)

No, my dragon invasion is really a species of dragons known as “the distraction dragons.” I sit down every day in my office, open my laptop, and immediately get to work…checking Facebook, Twitter, my blog, my email, and more. Then I finally open Scrivener and prepare to write. I re-read what I wrote last, so I can pick up where I left off. And then I go check Facebook and Twitter one last time.

Eventually, I start writing. After I get a paragraph or two, I think it’s time for a reward. More checking social media.

But then eventually I get a good writing rhythm going, and soon enough I’ve written a few hundred words. I stop to look something up and notice there’s a little (1) (or more) in each of my social media tabs. Well I can’t just let the notifications go. I have to check them. Right?

Well.

My dear writing friends tell me I need to disconnect my internet.

“No,” I gasp. “I can’t do that. That’s just too drastic!”

Truth be told, they’re probably right. (They usually are.)

I can’t say that’s what I’m going to do, but it’s definitely on the table as far as things I’m considering go.

Typically, after a good 45 minutes of this, I look at the clock and give up.

“Well,” I say to myself, “I’m not going to get any more writing done now, it’s much too late.” So I go watch the news for 20 or so minutes before I have to pack up and head to my day job.

Marie Cole sent me this quote yesterday:

“Work is work. It’s okay for writing to be hard work sometimes. That doesn’t make it “wrong” or “off.” You want what you want (to be successful, to tell stories, to write books, to make money, whatever you want) and if you really want those things, then you have to put in the work. As long as you’re committed to the process of being a professional writer, you’re going to be willing to put in the work.” -R. L. Syme, Write Better Faster Class

She’s right. I need to conquer my dragons, and put in the work.

Truly, my goal is to have the second in the Young Spades series (this would be Liam and Jack’s story) drafted by the end of March, at the latest. That will give me some time to edit it before moving on to book 3, which will be Trick’s story (I haven’t found a love interest for him yet, but rest assured, it will happen). Trick is short for Patrick, by the way. This series has a fondness for people with nicknames – Ari, Jack, and Trick all have given names they don’t use.

I really want to have the first in the Young Spades series, Pulling Strings (Shane and Ari) ready for publication for September. It’s almost March now. Six months to get Pulling Strings edited professionally and two more books from 0 to 100 isn’t much. I will have to send my attack zombies out to slay the dragons, and hope that my writing-zombies can work faster than I imagine “real” zombies would. I can do this. Right?

I also need to start hoping and praying that if my 7 year old asks what happened to the zombies of Zutar in their battle against the dragons, I’ll be able to come up with something good in a hurry. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for the zombie-dragon battle I’ll need to concoct.

Attempting to Reach a Goal

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One of my goals for 2018 was to attend GRL as an author, rather than a reader. There are benefits to attending as a supporting author, including having my name featured on promotional materials and participating in the signing event for supporting authors. GRL stands for Gay Romance Literature, and is the only conference I’m aware of that is specifically for, well, exactly what it says – for readers and writers of gay romance stories. I know that MLR Books goes as a sponsor, as well as several other major publishers. It’s an opportunity for exposure to readers, and especially with my goals and plan to publish the Young Spades trilogy this fall, GRL would be an ideal opportunity to get in front of some readers and meet people in the industry. Besides, it’s practically in my backyard this year, being in Portsmouth, Virginia.

All that said, registration went up on Saturday the 17th, and closed almost immediately after (for authors). It sells out incredibly quickly. There are 80 Featured Author slots (they are invited to do panels, among other things) and 40 Supporting Author slots. There is a waitlist for those who didn’t get in right away, of course, and the reader slots don’t sell out until later (the organizers work hard to allow every reader who wants to be there a chance to get a spot).

So registration went up, and by some miracle, I got in! I’m going to be a Supporting Author at GRL this year!

I couldn’t be more excited! I am hoping to have some of my material back from MLR by then, but if I don’t, Pulling Strings will be out, and I hope to have print copies of that. I may also have some bookmarks drawn up by then as well.

For those of you who have attended this or any author event, please let me know any tips or tricks I need to be aware of. Is anyone I know going? I’d love to see a friendly face!

Making Changes

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So another part of the VRW workshop that I truly enjoyed was having lunch with Marie Cole, another romance writer and a friend of mine. I’ve mentioned her on here before, as a matter of fact. We had a cozy little lunch at a Mexican place in the city and I enjoyed every moment of it. I learned a lot, and as a result, I have a lot to think about.

Marie has been publishing for about as long as I have, and has close to the same number of books out (she has a few more than I do), but has a grip on the publishing world significantly better than I do. As a result, she’s teaching me a lot, and she’s convincing me that there are better ways to do this thing. What that means is, my 2018 plan is changing.

My new goal is to publish a trilogy for you this fall, the Young Spades series. It will follow a group of college-aged men who are in a band together (was there any doubt?), and their romantic experiences. We will start with Shane and Ari. Their story was written during NaNo last year. Shane is the lead singer and bass guitarist of the band, Young Spades, an indie rock band in Boulder. Following Shane’s story will be Liam, the lead guitarist of Young Spades, and closing out the trilogy will be Trick, the keyboardist. (There is a drummer, but she’s a woman, so her love stories are not particularly my genre.)

I am still working on my enemies-to-lovers story, but that will be put on the back burner for now. It may get worked on after the Young Spades series is finished. And of course, my sequel to Falling Apart is still in progress, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on that one, so it, too, will be taking a backseat. (As I type this, I realize that every novel I’ve mentioned involves at least one musician… I guess I have a type!) I may also do some work with my existing titles in terms of re-releasing them, and I’ll keep you as updated as possible as that unfolds.

I still hope to attend GRL this year if it’s in the cards, and continue my own professional development, but I will be seriously focusing on getting this trilogy ready to be published in the fall, and continuing a tight publication schedule thereafter. (I’ve discussed on this blog before my struggles with not publishing as prolifically as I’d like.)

So that’s my update for you today. Things are seriously changing in my grand plan, and I hope to take my readers along for the ride with me!

Grab the Machete

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I had the pleasure of sitting through a workshop called “Grab the Machete” this weekend, presented by Madeline Iva. It was a look at the five-act structure in the morning half, and a talk about the various types of arcs in a story for the afternoon half. The basic concept behind the workshop title is that writing a novel is like hacking one’s way through the jungle. (Rather, I’d argue that the editing phase is more like the hacking, and that the drafting phase is more like planting seeds, but no matter.)

I wasn’t particularly familiar with the five-act structure so it was a lot of new information for me. Of course I’m familiar with Aristotle (I mean, vaguely familiar), and I’m definitely familiar with the three-act plot structure, but five acts? Seemed like a lot of work, to be honest.

But the more Madeline explained the five-act structure, the less overwhelming it felt. The first act is getting the action started. The second act is unpacking some backstory, and ending on a “turning point.” Both of these can be bundled into the first act of a three-act structure. Then there is the “picking up speed” act where everything is climbing quickly towards a crash. Act four is the metaphorical car accident, where everything goes to hell. And then act five ought to be a satisfying resolution – staggering away from the wreckage, she put it.

There was also a brief mention of Gwen Hayes’ Romancing the Beat, which I have used heavily for my two current works in progress, so I was happy to hear it get a shoutout.

She also talked about how the end of act five should have at least one of the three Rs: revenge, recognition, or a reversal. Sometimes all three are involved.

Another interesting concept she introduced was the “change purse” or “coin bag” for the readers. The readers begin the story with a certain number of coins in their bag, and as they are required to pay attention to the story, they are spending these coins. The author gives coins back to the reader in little revelations and tidbits. The importance of the coins is that if the reader spends all of their coins before the end of the novel, they no longer have any attention to expend and will put the book down and walk away. We definitely do not want that to happen.

In the afternoon, we discussed different types of arcs: character arcs, narrative arcs, and action arcs. I’ll be honest – I’m still not totally clear on the difference between a narrative arc and an action arc, but what I did gather from the arc discussion was the importance of character arcs. I’ve been working hard to start with character and build plot from there, so I felt validated by this part of the workshop.

All told, the workshop was helpful but not the most illuminating thing in the world. It was my first Romance Writers of America chapter meeting, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

How about you, friends? Have you ever been to a writing workshop that was particularly helpful?