Sunday Sundries: Sales, New releases, and More

  • From now through midnight November 27, 2014 EST, everything in the Torquere store is 20% off with code thankful2014. This includes Starling and “Lake Effect.” Torquere is also offering a number of free reads at present, so it’s a great time to visit the site and discover some new authors.
  • Starling is on the Goodreads Listopia list for Best M/M Book by a Debut Author of 2014 in the M/M Genre. If you’re a Goodreads user and feel inspired to vote, you can do so here.
  • Also if you are a Goodreads user, don’t forget you can now add Doves, Phoenix, and several of our other upcoming releases to your To Read lists. On December 17, Torquere’s Santa’s Little Kinkster‘s anthology will be out, which will contain our Liam-focused Love in Los Angeles novelette Evergreen. (You can see a tiny version of the SLK / Evergreen covers in our banner, but we’ll officially share the large version of the cover along with Evergreen‘s blurb soon!)
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Want your books on a Cyber Monday LGBTQ+ shopping list?

On December 1, we’re putting up a biiiiiiiiiiiig post on Avian30 for Cyber Monday, linking people to LGBTQ+ (romance) books books for their holiday shopping needs

Want to be on the list?

Please follow the directions below.  If you mess it up, I will try to include it anyway, but it’s harder for me so:

1. Send an email to erin.and.racheline@gmail.com

2. Subject line should read:

Cyber Monday – [book title] – [content groups] – [heat level/audience/genre]

Include the dashes, do not include the brackets.

Content groups (choose as many as you want): F/F, M/M, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, LGBTQ+, Ace, Poly, Kinky

Heat level/audience/genre (choose as many as appropriate): YA, NA, Non-romantic/erotic, Romance, Erotica, SF/F, Mystery, Contemporary, Historical

Example:

Cyber Monday – Starling – M/M, Bisexual, Poly – Romance, Erotica, Contemporary

3. In the email, write your author name, the Amazon URL of your book, and a once sentence description/teaser. If it’s too long for a tweet, it’s too long.

Please don’t add any niceties.  Just the information requested.

Example:

Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae

http://www.amazon.com/Starling/dp/B00NH0MFOO

Can Alex find his own happily ever after when the whole world is watching?

YES, YOU HAVE TO SEND A SEPARATE EMAIL FOR EVERY BOOK. PLEASE LIMIT YOURSELF TO 5 BOOKS PER AUTHOR; I KNOW SOME OF YOU ARE INTENSELY PROLIFIC.  DO NOT SEND ME BOOK COVERS (I will include some, at random, of my own choosing).

AND I MUST GET THE EMAILS BY NOON EST NOVEMBER 29th, if I’m going to code all this.

Cool?  Cool.

P.S. — We have over 60 submissions so far! But we are desperately in need of more books with F/F, bi, trans, and asexual content.  If you know of relevant titles please pass this on to those authors. Although we continue to welcome material from any and all authors of LGBTQ+ content.

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Do the Thing! Even if you’d rather pass out

Do the thingThis past Saturday, I did a reading at Lady Jane’s Salon Silver Spring. It was the first reading I’d done of words that I wrote since my junior year of high school. It was my first public presentation of anything, period, since my first year of grad school. I really, really, really did not want to do it. I am not an extrovert, I am not a loud person, I am not gregarious. I like being behind a keyboard, not a podium.

Racheline took pity on me and made me a sample recording of the passage I wanted to read. I practiced for my cats (they were unimpressed). I spent the train ride to the La Madeleine’s, where the reading was, practicing and trying not to freak out.

And then…it was awesome. I didn’t fall flat on my face. I spoke loud enough that nobody had to shout “we can’t hear!” from the back (Have had that happen.) The crowd actually laughed at a couple of points. I didn’t feel like an imposter, I felt like an actual author who was reading from their actual book and doing a damn good job of it. And at the end, I actually sold books!

If it had gone miserably, though, I still would be writing this post. This post isn’t about how when you get up to do the thing you really, really are scared of doing, that all the terror falls away. It doesn’t. It’s also not about how it’s all totally going to work out because let’s face it — I could have totally fallen flat on my face. It’s not even about how facing your fear makes you stronger (although I think it does, a little; or at least shows you the parameters of your abilities, which is useful if nothing else). It’s also not just about public speaking.

It’s about that, if you have to do the thing you really, really are scared of doing, you are actually going to make it out the other side, more or less intact. It may not seem like it, but that presentation or job interview or performance is actually going to be over, and you can breathe a sigh of relief and say I did it. Which is the other point: It’s probably going to go way better than you think it’s going to.

So what’s your Thing that has got you terrified? We’ll give you a pat on the back and tell you you’re gonna do just fine.

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NaNoWriMo: Days 14-15

At 20,551, we’ve kind of painfully fallen below NaNo par for now, but since we don’t think the final story is going to be much longer than 30K, we are (I am) quelling my internal Hermione and not getting hung up on the grade word count for now.

Part of the slow is that we’re still battling various sick/busy/recovering from the sick/busy-ness. Part of it is that now we’re back to being able to look at the story something like full-time, we’re starting at the beginning and doing an editing pass. We don’t normally do this until we get to the end of the story and have what we usually call a “Draft 0.5,” but in this case, with the interruptions we’ve dealt with and the multiple discoveries we’ve made about the stories in the last few days, it seems warranted.

To get an idea of what our editing passes look like: It’s all the notes. Everywhere. In-text and in the margins. Behold the horror (And, yes, we’ve managed to find a new title for it: Half Lives):

image

 

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NaNoWriMo: Days 10-13

Falling down slightly on these updates, thanks to a combination of con crash (the fall was busy) and me reacting really poorly to the time change or, more specifically, the light change, but after today we should be on the ball again with the daily posts. 20,015 words, which puts just a bare 15 above par but we’ve never dropped below it yet!

And now, we finally, finally have the last parts of the plot that were giving us despair worked out (there was a lot of despair) are worked out, so we’re gonna start posting snipped and screenshots etc, of what’s still very much a WIP.

The following are the opening paragraphs of what we still haven’t been able to come with a better title for than The Court Quadrille. It’s still kind of a hot mess but hey, this is what first drafts are for:


 

Chapter 1

“I can’t believe you don’t think this is boring,” Myles says before punctuating his general distaste for watching his sister be fit for her wedding dress by biting sharply into an apple. They’ve been here, in the luxurious encampment designed for their transfer to [kingdom/palace/something] for days.  If he weren’t relatively sure [the lands their parents rule -- some shit that doesn’t sound like a bad faerietale] are strategically valuable, he’d be a bit concerned that they are merely being fattened up for slaughter.  As it is, a wedding still isn’t what he had in mind for their coming of age ceremony.  Wil is at least vaguely intrigued by their moving up in the world.  Myles is just annoyed by the whole thing.  

“Regardless of whether it is boring,” Wil says with all the sharpness of an older sibling that has never let Myles forget that she is seven minutes his senior, “These are some of our first official duties as heads of state.”

Myles glances around at the various staff.  Right now, they’re not heads of anything, and Wil is being something of a twit.  He doesn’t want to point out either of those things with an audience, however.  It’s much more pleasant to watch the bee crawling up his wrist to get the juice from his apple.

At least, until one of the attendants shoos it away with a flick of a fan and a disapproving look at Myles. Myles slumps back on the stack of pillows piled on the divan and sighs.

“I can’t believe we’re only marrying one person.”

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Guest Post: Cecilia Tan’s Confessions of a Fanfic Hipster

MU1_new_cover_400x600One of the really fun things about hosting other people on this blog is the meeting new people thing.  But this isn’t really one of those guest spots. I’ve know Cecilia Tan faintly for ages through the days of Livejournal and Harry Potter fandom, and now she has a new (old, long story, read the post) book out, The Siren and the Sword, which is book 1 in her Magic University series.

Today she has a guest post for us about fanfiction, today’s publishing tastes, and how she got from there to here and back again.  So often, when we talk about fanfiction I feel like that discussion is defensive, fearful, or defeatist — there are certainly incredibly good reasons in the history of fanfiction culture for this to be the case.  Cecilia’s take is refreshing, because it’s not about that at all.  It’s about different ways to tell stories and what it’s like when the world finally catches up with what you love.

Confessions of a Fanfic Hipster
by Cecilia Tan

Yep, these days fanfic is not just considered “cool,” it’s red-hot mainstream. Not only has a former Twilight fanfic (50 Shades) turned the English-language publishing world on its head, a One Direction fic serialized on Wattpad (After by Anna Todd) recently sold to a New York publisher for a six-figure advance, and the romance bestseller lists are well-populated with P2P works. Which puts writers like me in the odd position of being like those hipsters who were doing something “before it got big.”

Unlike those hipsters, though, I don’t complain about people discovering our “secret.” We weren’t TRYING to create an elitist cabal that others would long to join. Fanfic writers are the intersection of two of the nerdiest groups on Earth: writers and fans. I don’t think most of us thought of ourselves as “the cool kids,” we were just doing something we love! But these days even nerddom is going mainstream: certainly fandom is. In New England, where I live, the recent Rhode Island Comic Con sold out of tickets and turned thousands of people away. So did Arisia, the big multi-fandom science fiction convention in Boston. And don’t get me started on how huge events like San Diego Comicon and Atlanta’s DragonCon are. They’re on a different (huger) scale from Woodstock and they happen every year. It’s cool to be a fan these days.

I’ll tell you why I think fandom and fanfic are such a draw now. It’s not the superhero costumes or the magic spells themselves. It’s because what we’ve been fighting for as a culture–as both writers and as fans–is the right to express ourselves and to wear our hearts on our sleeves. And that right is finally being accepted. A lot of us growing up lived among Muggles, basically, and were told by the Aunt Petunias in our lives to keep our love of “weirdo” things like comic books and “inappropriate” gender expressions and alternative sexuality to ourselves. The pressure to conform acts on anything that isn’t “normal,” including freely expressed sexual desire, fannishness, queerness, and kinkiness. That pressure to conform still exists, but it hasn’t stopped gay marriage from being legalized in more than half the states or 50 Shades of Grey from dominating the bestseller lists (pun intended).

You will see all of those repressed elements–kink, queerness, sex, and fannish love of source material–come bursting out in fanfic. This is why many many fics are not merely continuations of the source material, but seem heavily skewed toward the yearnings in the fannish heart. Unanswered questions in the worldbuilding are answered in fanfic. Slash introduces both eros and homosexuality into texts whose canons may lack them. Even heterosexual fanfic often skews hard toward romance. And romances can skew toward kink (viz: all the many kinky Twi-fics, of which 50 Shades was only one of a horde). And so on.

To put it succinctly: what’s not to love? Fandom is about love, intense intense love, with dashes of deep devotion and maybe even some obsessive need. Fanfic is about expressing that love–which results in some intense intense fiction, incredible emotional rollercoasters–and about satisfying that need. That sounds like exactly the recipe one should follow to cook up a bestselling romance novel, doesn’t it? That’s exactly why fanfic novels and fanfic-inspired works, as well as wholly original works written by writers who “trained” in fanfic, are hitting it big now. Because out there the public is discovering that they like this awesome cuisine that is the food of our people, and there are big companies who are ready to take what we’ve been doing in our hole-in-the-wall speakeasies and deliver it to the masses. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is cool now.

It’s not a coincidence that my career as a writer has taken an upturn since the public tastes have begun to run in my direction. I fell into writing fanfic in the early 2000s when my career was in a slump. In the 1990s I had built up a reputation as a maven of erotic science fiction, combining BDSM and sf/fantasy in my work with explicit, alternative sexuality. I wrote it and I also published it, founding a publishing house to promulgate the genre (Circlet Press). My work was in major magazines like Asimov’s and my collection of short stories was published by HarperCollins, one of the biggest publishers then and now. But by 2002 the tide in both the USA and the publishing industry as a whole was flowing in a conservative direction. Thriving erotica publishers of the nineties were mysteriously closing their doors. Harper turned down my follow-up collection and it took 10 years before I found a publisher for it. Circlet Press (and I) went deep into debt.

I took refuge in fanfic. Although I had dabbled in fanfic before (if you search the Internet very hard you might find a Catwoman/Batgirl BDSM story from 1991 or a Wonder Woman from 1995…) I fell headlong into Harry Potter fanfic in 2006. With my career in a slump it was the best, most addictive way to “keep in shape” imaginable. I found not only a fulfilling way to keep up my writing chops, I found a receptive, supportive community who were not only as into Harry Potter as me, they were also were interested in the same social justice issues I was: erotic and sexual equality, freedom of sexual expression, alternative sexuality, feminism and empowerment of female needs and desires in both fiction and real life. AND writing! The fanfic community was (and is) a community of writers, of word-lovers, and deep nerddom, digging into the minutiae of worldbuilding and character motivation. It was like being a pro athlete whose league folded and despite having nowhere pro to play, finding a gym full of workout partners who loved and supported each other anyway. It’s a world of love.

It was for those my fandom friends that I wrote books like The Prince’s Boy, a gay BDSM high fantasy romance that if you squint hard can be read as a Harry/Draco AU. In the manner of a fanfic WIP, I wrote it as an online serial over the course of two years, to see if I could induce the same level of squee from my original characters and bring the same level of pleasurable addiction to my audience as I did with my fanfic. (Not a spoiler: yes, I did.) The subsequent book edition won Honorable Mention in both the Rainbow Awards and the NLA Writing Awards, so apparently the squee went beyond slash communities to the wider world. I think the love I got from my fanfic readers went right back into the story.

My fanfic friends were also the readers I wrote the Magic University books for. Magic U. grew out of countless fandom conversations about what education after Hogwarts must be like. J.K. Rowling said in an interview she thought there were no wizarding universities: after Hogwarts people were completely ready for wizarding life. That seemed impossible. For one thing, how did Snape become a potions master, then? (By owl correspondence course?) For another, many of the students in the book seem to have poorly grasped the spells they’ve been taught…! But I digress. I not only spent a lot of time thinking about how a magical university might work, I was also thinking about what characters who were 18, 19, and 20 years old might be like. After all, we leave Harry and cohort in the canon just when their love lives and sex lives were about to potentially get interesting. Most of the fanfic I wrote involved them at age 18 or older so as not to be illegal (or squicky) for involving underage characters, so I was writing about that age group a lot. All that thought, along with other criticisms I had about Rowling’s universe (why can’t spells go around corners? why do the Weasleys wear secondhand clothes when there seems to be no limit to what can be conjured?) came together in the magical system at work in Magic University.

The Magic U books first began to appear in 2009, originally published by Ravenous Romance. Because of the book’s strong fanfic ties, I wanted to bring things full circle, and so I convinced them to contract not only the four-book series from me, but an anthology of stories in the Magic U. universe by other writers. Fanfic, in other words. But before I could invite people to participate in the anthology, I began to find Magic U fanfic “in the wild.” So exciting! People were already starting to play in the sandbox without even knowing it might lead to something more. Because they were doing it for the love. I think they felt how much I had poured into the books and they responded. I ended up inviting two of those authors I stumbled across on fanfic archives into the book, and filled most of the rest of the slots with longtime HP fic friends. (And I wrote a few stories myself! Hm. Does that make them canon?)

A lot has changed, though, since five years ago. For one thing, the mainstream interest in BDSM proven by 50 Shades has led me to have a very busy writing schedule for some very big publishers. But I recently got the rights to Magic U back, and so I’m putting the series back in print (and ebook) at last. If you’re thinking you want to jump into the fanfic pool because you’ve heard it’s the hip thing, hey, come on in, the water’s fine. I welcome people playing with my ideas and my characters, even when they diverge from what I would have done. And who knows? Maybe some idea will spark for you that will start off in another direction and become the next bestselling trend. It wouldn’t be the first time, or the last!

~

The Siren and the Sword

Kyle Wadsworth arrives on the Harvard Campus only to discover, much to his surprise, he’s magical. Thus begins his four-year journey to learn where he fits in the world, which ultimately becomes a quest for true love.

Upon arrival at Veritas, Kyle quickly joins a group of peers who become involved in solving the mystery of a seductive siren in the library, while they learn about the magic inside themselves and around them, as well as the secret history of magic and those who practice it.

Kyle’s trials and tribulations range from his need to meet the bisexuality prerequisite before he can study sex magic to the fact that the ancient prophecy he translates for his thesis project seems to be about himself. If Kyle is right, he’ll need to find his true love, or the world as we know it is doomed.

Amazon | All Romance | B&N

Cecilia Tan is the award-winning author of romance and fantasy whom Susie Bright calls “simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature.” Her BDSM novel Slow Surrender won the RT Reviewers Choice Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She lives in the Boston area with her partner corwin and three cats.

Visit her on the web at: http://www.ceciliatan.com/ and on Twitter at @ceciliatan

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Do the Thing! Routines

Do the thingWhen Racheline and I started writing together, our routine consisted of one thing: writing. Then there was editing on top of that, and then marketing, and then all the little things that go into getting a book ready for production — and with so much in the hopper, we were always adding new things on top of projects still in the process.

It took a while, and a lot of not sleeping enough, but we got comfortable with the routine of juggling writing, editing, and marketing. It’s not a “routine” in the sense that we always spend the same chunk of time doing the same thing every day, but it is in the sense that, we have (and meet) an expectation for ourselves that on any given day, we’ll do something in each of those categories.

Now we’re in the thick of NaNoWriMo, and we’ve stripped away all the other stuff and are just back to writing. It’s jarring, in a way — wait, where did the rest of our to-do list go? — and also freeing (All we have to do is write! With some edits on our Christmas short here and working on some other marketing stuff over there; because we can’t stop completely…). But it’s a change in routine. And at the end of the month, when we go full-throttle back to all the things we usually, that’ll be another thing.

Routines are useful. To my expectation-needing self, they’re pretty much necessary to do life. They take what each day, week, or month needs and makes it predictable, which makes planning easy, or at least easier. And the more I follow a routine, the more efficient I get at ticking off the boxes on the to-do list every day.

Stepping outside the routine, though, can be jarring. What do I do? Where do I go? But it’s also freeing. It lets you re-evaluate what you’re doing, and why. It’s a change of calender scenery. It makes things non-boring.

What changing things up really reminds us, though, is how much is possible. There’s a reason the NaNoWriMo challenge is so popular, after all; people make an exception to their daily routines and crank out tens of thousands of words in a matter of weeks. It lets us come at old problems with fresh eyes.

And at the end of a month, when we’ve cranked out our own tens of thousands of words, it’ll be quite nice and comforting to go back to our old routine, for however long it lasts, before it changes again.

So what’s your routine — that you’re trying to get into, trying to get out of, or happily in the midst of? Whatever it is, we’ll cheer you on.

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