“Lake Effect” on sale at All Romance!

To celebrate RWA’s 2014 national convention, All Romance has put its entire stock on sale at 30% off.  Which means you can get “Lake Effect” for $1.74.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, just follow the link.

LakeThey Do Effect

When Kyle and Daniel return to their hometown to get married, they find themselves facing an obstacle course of family drama and small-town misadventure in their quest to make it down the aisle. Misbehaving relatives and a reformed high school bully, along with an ill-advised hookup in the wedding party and a weird late-night meal with a cabbie and his ex-wife, leave the happy couple doubting whether they want to get married at all. But a hot quickie before their walk down the aisle helps remind them that the most important part of getting married is being married.

The reviews are in:

“… endlessly engaging, funny, sweet, and full of delightful dialogue. It was a pleasure to read, and I found myself grinning throughout.”- 5* (Goodreads)

“The story is vibrant, with snappy dialogue” – 5* (Amazon US)

“If you like the hilarious minutia of weddings, big families, sojourns back to small hometowns, and adorable M/M romance, you’ll dig this. <3″  - 5* (Amazon US)

“Lake Effect is a sweet, sexy story of a small town, awful families and getting gay married when it’s legal but still awkward. You’ll be surprised by the tiny oh-so-human moments you almost never read about and the sheer honesty of the writing. This is one smart romance.” – 5* (Amazon UK)

“… an entertaining story with lots of funny situations” – Rainbow Book Reviews

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The Awesome Women of Love in Los Angeles, Part 2: Carly Amadahy

starling2Also early on the scene in Starling is Carly. Alex at first registers her mostly as Liam’s girlfriend who stops by the set every week or so just to say hi. Frankly, he’s a little scared of her, which is probably reasonable. After all, she lives in L.A., is consistently employed doing sound editing for commercials, and is remarkably unperturbed by kind of weird life.  Besides, Victor respects her as a peer as far as competence and relationship management go.

She’s also Paul’s best friend thanks to a shared college experience; once he and Alex start dating she quickly adopts Alex into the circle of people she would really like to stay alive, happy, and vaguely functional.  When her people are in danger of failing at that task she has a habit of pointing it out in a manner that is both uncomfortably direct and oddly blase.

We’ve talked before about how the Love in Los Angeles series touches on every letter of the LGBTQ (plus a few more) at some point. It also contains a strong M/F romance. Carly and Liam are that romance, but Carly isn’t just Liam’s girlfriend, no matter how much time she has to spend managing how they conduct their relationship in public and in private.

Carly deals with the challenges of being TV star Liam Campbell’s girlfriend by ruthlessly separating her private life from Liam’s public one. She has her own goals, group of friends, and network of relationships. She is ambitious and loves what she does, and she has no interest in any sort of in-front-of-the-public life, although she does enjoy attending events with Liam from time to time, because, as she likes to tell Paul during their shark-themed movie nights, they do look really fucking hot together.

Because of where the gravitational center of Starling rests, Carly never gets as much page time as we want to give her.  We hope that people will fall for her as hard as we have, as we definitely have a Carly-centric novella on our to-do list.

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So your mom read your gay romance and totally made an awkward beef pun….

yourmomSince Erin and I have avoided any particularly hilarious or awkward incidents with our respective mothers lately, we thought we’d bring you a Your Mom story from elsewhere in the romance community.

Carrie Pack’s Designs on You will be out on August 19th from Interlude Press, but can be pre-ordered from them now.

DoY-coverDesigns on You

If graphic designer Scott Parker has to design one more cupcake company logo, he might lose it. When tasked with retouching photos for a big fashion client, a stunning, lanky model mesmerizes Scott and occupies his thoughts and fantasies long after the assignment is finished.

Scott soon discovers that the object of his desire is nothing like the backstory he imagined. Despite Jamie Donovan’s aloof and dismissive behavior, Scott struggles to forge a friendship with him, all the while trying to keep his attraction at bay.

Will Jamie follow through on signals that he may be interested, or will he forever be the beautiful man in the photograph, an untouchable fantasy?

Carrie writes to us about her mom’s support of her work:

I think I first broke the ice with my mom about sex when I was six. I dragged her into the bathroom with me after dinner one night and said, “So what’s this period thing I keep hearing about.” That’s basically been the tone of our relationship ever since.

When I was 23, I had to explain to her why women of our generation use condoms and take birth control pills. When I was 25, we were making a Halloween costume for my nephew—a black cat—and as she was stuffing the tail, she made a jerking off motion. I started to say something: “That looks like—” and stopped myself because I *knew* she would know what I meant. She replied with, “I’m your mother, Carrie. I’m not stupid.”

Even with all of her willingness to discuss sex openly with me, I was still nervous to share my fic and the original work that followed because she may be open-minded, but she’s also 65 years old. There’s still that generation gap (see above where she didn’t know about STDs) and she’s so VERY heterosexual, it’s not even funny. I once suggested to her that “all people are more sexually fluid than they would admit,” and she said, “Not everyone.”

But my mom is the most supportive of all my family, and she’d be one of my best friends even if I wasn’t her daughter, so GDI, I was going to share my book with her come hell or high water. She gave me feedback on the early draft, telling me to flesh out my characters and whatnot. She didn’t mention the m/m sex, and I wasn’t keen on discussing it with her at length. (Although, I did have a moment after I sent it to here where I went, “OMG I just sent my mom a book that contains gay sex… and I wrote it!”)

Fast forward a few months, and I sent her a final draft of my manuscript, she read it and said “It’s much better.” When I pressed her for more specific feedback, I got a text that said, “Oh, I like the beef that you added. Pun intended.”

I guess she liked the blow job.

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Doing the Thing! without support, permission, or approval

Do the thingLast night, I had what turned into a really cool conversation on Twitter that stemmed out of @WomenWriters asking about writers had support from their families.

My initial response was pretty harsh. Who needs support? Do men ask these questions about whether they have family support for their creative work? As women we have got to stop asking for permission.

But @WomenWriters was asking a value neutral question. Just a what is your situation like? and I jumped into this place of “Sometimes, as authors, and as female authors, we can internalize these questions in ways that are harmful to us and our work.” Which is true, but is a difficult nuance to get across on Twitter.

A long time ago, I dated a man with whom I had a lot of arguments about my writing, which at the time was mostly creative non-fiction, personal essay, and poetry (which is also work I still do). Some of this was because I wrote about him and our relationship to each other and our social community, which was complex and at times toxic. Some of this was just because my mode of public existence was so different from his.

I always told him I wanted his respect for my work. He would counter that it wasn’t fair of me to ask for his admiration. But by respect, I never meant admiration, more a benign sort of acceptance of its right to exist and my right to do it whatever he thought about it. I was asking for space and an acknowledgement of worth of the work to someone, if not to him.

While we were together, we never really came to a meeting of the minds on this issue. These many years later, we’re good, hard-won, and peculiar friends. The last time we saw each other, I actually spent a lot of time giving him my Do the Thing! speech. You can find 15 minutes a day to write your book if you want to do it enough. Fifteen minutes! It meant a lot to me to be able to say that to him and that he listened, although I don’t know if he’ll ever make the choices he’ll need to do write the book he wants to write. Because we’re close, I understand that (although it doesn’t mean I’m going to let him off the hook easily).

Choosing to write — or to follow any ambition — is hard. It’s personal. It’s scary. And it has repercussions we can anticipate and repercussions we can’t. In our own heads and in our relationships with others.

The most important thing I always want anyone to know about my writing career before they listen to anything resembling advice from me, is that there have been times (and by times I mean years) where I just stopped writing.

I didn’t write because I was afraid of disapproval. I didn’t write because I believed people when they told me no one would care about my stories or that no one would ever love me, fuck me, hire me, or talk to me again if I told my stories. I believed people when they said I didn’t have the right to speak. I believed them when they said that I simply created stories for attention and that attention was bad.  I believed people when they said that my words were a moral harm.

None of those things were true, although let’s be honest:  There have been times people have been hurt in response to my writing and in at least some of those cases the simple answer is that I fucked up.

So when the discussion out there is “Do your family and friends support your writing?” my first answer is always going to be Who cares? followed by a quick admonishment that you shouldn’t care either. Because — as we used to say back on The Well — you own your own words. You also own yourself.

This doesn’t mean don’t discuss your work with your family. This doesn’t mean don’t acknowledge or negotiate how your writing fits into or affects your relationships or other obligations. And it certainly doesn’t mean to be ungrateful if you do have support.

That my mother actually loved a musical about dominatrixes that I wrote the book for is one of the great achievements of my life. That my ex was proud of me for the essay I wrote about my misdeeds in the name of story in high school means something to me that I don’t care to articulate to anyone. And that my partner helps me with my novels as a first-reader even though they are not stylistically or in subject matter her first choice of reading material is an utter (very secular, because she has feelings about this) godsend.

But I value the support and encouragement I have because I have finally come to believe — after writing careers abandoned and more poor choices about myself and my words than it matters to describe — that permission and support just simply don’t matter.

I want you to have all of it in the world. But if you don’t, I don’t want you to let it stop you for a second. And I definitely want you to waste less time seeking it out from places you’re never going to get it from. You are beholden only to the integrity of your stories and to your integrity of self.

This doesn’t mean do whatever you want and damn the repercussions. But it does mean to stand up for your work and to fight for the space you need to create it.

Because when you realize you’re not doing anything wrong by having a story to tell, you will, among other things, be so much less likely to act the villain. You’ll treat yourself better; you’ll treat other people better; and you’ll probably get a lot more done too. For that it will be better, more honest work, even if it is fiction.

Need support? Or need a reminder that support can just go fuck right off? Either way, we’ve got you. Do the comments!

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Story Process Sunday: The Philly Office

IMG_20140719_110220We’ve mentioned, from time to time, our writing office in Philadelphia. We were there yesterday, where we realized we hadn’t actually told the story of how the Philadelphia office came to be.

Racheline lives in NYC, I’m in DC, and everything we write (unless we’re working on publisher edits) we do in Google Docs, so most of the time we can work just fine remotely. But when we had finished the first draft of Starling, we wanted to sit down in the same room and flip through a physical copy of the story in order to do an intense editing pass.

So we found an office in Philadelphia, which is halfway between our two cities, and had the first of what would become bimonthly trips to work actually face-to-face. We made a lot of jokes about our Secret Literary Affair, because we didn’t talk about Starling before it got accepted, so we were basically sneaking up to another city to work on our stuff for several months. (We’re still not sure if anyone actually thought we were having an affair – Racheline did once have an affair in Philadelphia, a few blocks from our current office, but years ago and not involving me!)

Having the office space, even just two days a month, is great. There aren’t any distractions (frankly, even though we usually work in a tiny side-office with a door we can close, we’re probably the most distracting things in the space, since we tend to forget how loud we’re talking when we’re breaking stories and trying to figure out where the sex goes. So uh, sorry, fellow office people.) There’s a whiteboard we can do brainstorming and visual story-mapping on. We can talk with our hands and convey the meanings and weird complex concepts to each other that we haven’t quite figured out the words for yet but [hand flap hand flap hand flap], you know?

There’s also something about being in a tiny room for an entire day, focused on a story or a world, that generates a kind of creativity we don’t really get elsewhere. And we are immensely creative over email and in google docs, but there’s something about Philadelphia that really is magic. Stories that we’ve struggled over putting the last pieces together in email for weeks, suddenly come together. Last night at dinner we had the brainwave that solved an entire novel outline we’d been stuck on.

Technology means we can do magic things while never being in the same space. But when we are in the same space, we can do magic we couldn’t do any other way.


Posted in books, Cowriting, Love in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Starling, Story Process Sunday, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Romance @ Random – True Blood Seasn 7, Episode 3 and 4 Recaps

I’ve been slightly remiss on posting links to my True Blood recaps over at Romance@Random.

The shining lights of the last two weeks of True Blood have been the Eric and Pam backstory about the birth of Fangtasia and the unresolved sexual tension between Lafayette and James.

Read all about episode 3 and episode 4 while the blood’s still warm. There’s major character death all over the place.

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Do the Thing! – Fighting off distractions: No, not that kind; the other, crappier kind

Do the thingWe all know that distractions are huge obstacles to getting done whatever it is we need or want to get done — whether that’s writing a book or doing the laundry.  After all, I’m writing this and you’re reading this on the Internet.

But when it comes to procrastination distractions, I can’t offer you a lot of help.  It’s a demon I wrestle with because I love deadlines and eventually I get done what I need to do by the moment I need to do it.  It’s stressful and weird and another challenge for another day.

Because there’s another type of distraction out there, the one that comes in the form of self-doubt and criticism. Now, it would be easy for me to just tell you that you are awesome and to get over that right now.  I have before, and I will again.  But let’s get real, sometimes we have long-standing worries and we need regular infusions of pep-talks and reassurances to get past them.

The problem is those aren’t always available to us. So, for me, labeling as a distraction self-doubt or negative obsession with stuff that isn’t really for me (i.e., reviews, which can be useful to me as a writer whether negative or positive, but are geared to the needs of readers), let’s me figure out a way to get past the problem quickly while I do the long-term work of self-confidence bit by slower bit.

Because a distraction, I can dismiss.  I can say, it’s unimportant and not worth my time. I can give myself permission to indulge it or five minutes, take a walk to get it out of my system, and then I can declare it beneath my notice to get done what I need to get done.

Is this a solution that will bring you or me one step closer to healthy living?  Maybe, maybe not.  There’s certainly something to be said for at least sometimes deprioritizing self-hate, impostor syndrome, or just plain over-reacting to legitimate but not-for-you criticism, even when you should probably spend some time examining the origin of those feelings.

So while lots of time here we focus on a sort of Go Go Gadget Go that can be a little brutal, this one is sort of the opposite.  This about handwaving and saying that doesn’t matter at all so you can get the work done versus chewing on your literal or virtual nails.

Got some stuff you want us to tell you to blow off?  You know what to do.  Got some tools to help with that other form of distraction, procrastination?  Let’s face it, we probably need those too and they are more than welcome in the comments.

Posted in Do the thing! | Tagged | 2 Comments