Days of Not Wine, and Roses

As February draws to a close here in New Zealand we finally have summer. Frankly I preferred it when we had what usually passes for the season. Temperatures in the late 20Cs accompanied by high humidity are nasty especially when trying to sleep at night without air conditioning. Working in a building where we’re having issues with the windows not opening doesn’t help either.

Roll on autumn.

One thing that is nice about this time of year though is being able to dry washing outside, although it is weird looking outside today and not seeing much wind. Wellington without wind is just… wrong.

Originally I had decided to write a post about my love of stationery and notebooks in particular, but looking back I’ve already written one about that here last year as part of my blog tour for the 2nd edition of Shadowboxing, so I had to change direction.

So, what prompted my thoughts of stationery joy?

Aren’t they cool? These Typo notebooks arrived this week in my mail box from a friend who knows me well. I’m looking forward to using them to plan out more stories.

I’ve taken a few days annual leave this week. Hoping to get some writing done, although I’m half expecting edits to show up just because. I swear my publisher checks my diary and then sends edits. But *shrugs* I figure that’s what annual leave is for.

Apart from that, my garden is screaming for attention. I did manage to do a little bit of weeding in the shade last weekend, but it was still far too hot.

Nevertheless I’ve ordered more bark mulch from Zoodoo, and hopefully the weather will cooperate and give me couple of cooler evenings. I figured out a while ago that if I look at the big picture of what I don’t get done, it’s depressing as hell and harder to get started in the first place. So now I just aim for a bit here and there and do what I can, and hope it’s enough.

And try to fit in some down time or I’m doing is working and that’s a sure fire way to get sick and end up achieving nothing at all.

It’s difficult working a day job, and writing—and everything else to do with it—along with family and other commitments. I never get everything done I want to when I’m home, but only chip away at my long to do list bit by bit. Often I swear as I cross one thing off the list two more turn up to take its place.

Meantime one blog post down, a review to write, orchestra rehearsal tonight, and more fun with Marcus and Joel, my guys from The Eros Note.

I’d love to know how others manage life, the universe, and everything.

The Harm in Staying Silent

Back in July, I wrote an article here on the value of giving your opinion. I talked about how it can impact (often negatively) sales and readership when an author insists on pushing their own political views. Back then, I was thinking about candidates and parties, about the basic differences of opinions.

Now? Well, Now I have to go back on that, to a point.

Sure, if it’s just promotion for a particular candidate, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. Issues not involving human rights are probably best left alone. And fiscal issues, even among folks who are generally of the same end of the political spectrum, can have wildly varying views.

But the things we’ve seen since the election (and inauguration) have boggled the mind and beg us to not be silent.

I still have trouble accepting the fact that a man who made fun of a disabled reporter on camera (but now denies it), made it into the White House. But he did. This same man has all but declared the free press as enemies of the state, calling most non-conservative, mainstream news outlets “fake” and even barring several from White House press briefings.

He’s appointed the most unqualified people to head the departments of state. He’s signed executive orders that are both illegal and immoral (at best). He rescinded protection for transgender youth. He banned an inordinate amount of US citizens because of (and let’s face it, that’s what this comes down to) their skin color and/or religion, in order to “protect us from terrorists.” Yet the largest number of terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks came from three of the countries exempted—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates—“coincidentally” three countries Trump does business in.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other things that he’s signed through executive order (that I admit I don’t understand entirely) but that I do know are a nightmare for most US citizens. And even things he hasn’t signed through an EO, he’s “suggested” via memo or other communication that have started (I live in a state where they want to do the immigration raids). While he hasn’t (yet) targeted the LGBT community, I am dead positive we’re on the chopping block somewhere.

And I don’t believe for one minute we’re seeing everything that’s going on.

This is all aside from the entirely horrid international relationship he’s got with our allies—and enemies—and the fallout from those.

With everything going on, I have to go back on what I said back in July. This is when we, as authors, have to speak out. We have a (somewhat limited, yes) platform which we should use when something so wrong is happening. We have a duty to our readers, to the people we write about, to the rest of the country—and the world—to make our voices heard.

Share on Facebook. Blog about it. While we may, to a point, be preaching to the choir, it’s entirely possible that someone might pick up on a new argument that they might be able to use to convince someone else to listen. Maybe it’ll just be enough to show others they aren’t alone. That your neighbor knows you’ve got their back when immigration comes through or that your friend who’s stuck outside the country knows they can call you.

So, allow me to apologize and retract my earlier statement. Speak. Do. And make your voice heard.

We all need it.

 

**Please note the views expressed in this post belong only to Grace and does not necessarily reflect the rest of the authors here at Authors Speak.**

Ch-ch-chaaanges!

Well, hello there again and thank you for stopping by my little corner of Authors Speak at Rainbow Gate!

Writing professionally requires certain things and not all of them pertain to the technicalities of putting words together to form a story. Sometimes writers have to make choices about what to write. There is the hard reality that we have to make a living as well as writing what we love.

There is absolutely no reason one can’t do both.

That choices can be difficult if one isn’t willing to expand horizons and change a bit. However, there are a lot of choices and with a bit of thought it’s easy to discover there are other stories that need writing.

I’ve always said I’m a serial offender. I write in series. Series have much to offer in the way of extended plots and character development. It’s my writing as well as reading preference.

However stand alone books have a great deal to offer as well. Some stories don’t need four or six books to complete. There are readers who’d prefer a story be told with the covers of one book.

I decided it’s time to switch gears and write more stand alone stories. Some discussion with Lynn West, Dreamspinner Press editor in chief, helped me decide on a good direction to pursue.

Romantic suspense will still be part of my line-up, though I think the Circles series has come to an end. The next mystery will be a full length novel with more development and probably a more complicated plot. However, my mysteries will be in the same high action/adventure (sometimes in the wilderness) style as the Circles mysteries. I’ll still be working on The Vampire Guard, however it’ll be my ‘written for me’ side pet project stories. Sentries has been completed, though I may offer free stories on my website from time to time.

This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve taken a new path. I’ve always tried to live by the adage “I’m nothing if not adaptable”. Honestly, every change of direction for me has always been a good one. I’m excited over this change.

Coming soon, awaiting contract decision and in the works are two Dreamspun Desires books, a BDSM featuring an ice dancer and a hockey player. Of course there is a murder mystery planned, it will take place in Wrigleyville. There may also be a scifi romance in the future.

I hope you’ll join me in my new writing adventure!

I’m always excited and happy to take requests from readers, so if anyone has a plot bunny bouncing around you’d like to share please let me know!

Elizabeth

PS…you can find all my books on my website, click on the banner below.

There is also a great new repository site for finding Quiltbag/LGBTQ+ books. Check out Queeromance Inc.

Relaunching a Series by Sarah Madison: Why do it?

Sorry, I’m a bit late getting here today. I’ve been working a number of things, not the least of which is trying to put some blog posts in the bag so I can get ahead of my commitments for a change. Among other things, I’m putting together a series of posts about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy last summer, which I plan to share here. As soon as I can decipher my notes, that is!

In the meantime, I’m delighted to share with you the brand new look for the Sixth Sense series!

You might be asking yourself why anyone would relaunch an old series wit a new look? I’m glad you did! On the surface of it, it probably doesn’t seem to make much sense. A little backstory is necessary.

Unspeakable Words was the very first major story I submitted for publication back in 2010. I did it on a whim, really. I had no expectations of it being accepted by Dreamspinner Press or winding up on their bestseller list for over a month! I’ll be honest, when I got the acceptance email I was flabbergasted–and came very close to snatching the story back from them. I was afraid if I did, however, I would blow my one chance to be a published author. I’ve always wished I’d trusted my instincts and held out for the opportunity to flesh the story out the way I saw it in my mind.

There was an unfortunate delay between Unspeakable Words and the next installment, Walk a Mile. Some of it was inexperience on my part,  some of it was as a result of life getting in the way. When I submitted Walk a Mile, I don’t think anyone realized that I’d jumped from a long novella into novel format. I didn’t think anything of it myself–not until I began running into people who didn’t want to buy the paperbacks because the first in the series was only available as an ebook. Truth and Consequences rolled on in the same novel format–it was only Unspeakable Words that didn’t fit the lineup.

So I went to Dreamspinner and asked if it would be possible to expand Unspeakable Words into the story I’d always meant for it to be. They said yes–and then suggested revamping the series look for the revised version. I’m delighted to announce that not only has L.C. Chase done a bang-up job of capturing the essence of these stories–which I was far more capable of conveying due to developing the skills I needed as an author–but you can now pre-order the expanded, revised version of Unspeakable Words! Release date March 10, 2017.

I hope you’ll enjoy revisiting these guys as much as I have–I’m working on the fourth (and final) installment now, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil.

Lou Sylvre on Dickens, Fiction, and Politics (Or when is an author like a bird? Tweet-tweet.)

Lou Sylvre Gay Romance Happy Endings Hi, Lou Sylvre here, switching places with Lou Hoffmann for my February blog post on Authors Speak. I apologize to readers and fellow bloggers for being absent from this blog for a while. I’ve taken to combing the news and spreading the word via twitter and facebook about how the USA and the world are in acute danger, worsening every day. To do that, I’ve let the writing and promoting of books—including blog posts where I usually talk about books, either mine or someone else’s—fall woefully behind schedule.

The reason I’m doing this isn’t that I don’t think my books can make a political difference. They can, especially if someone reads them who is not already “on the same page” politically.

This is true even though I write genre fiction, not the “literary” stuff, as it’s generally classified. In a New York Times (NYT) “Bookends” discussion from February 17, 2015, Karen Prose quoted a 2013 NYT “study” as showing that “after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence.” I didn’t read the NYT study conclusions or methodology and therefore can’t comment on it. However, Prose then goes on to opine that “Though the novels of Charles Dickens failed to radically improve the lot of poor children in Victorian England, they did raise public awareness of the Oliver Twists and Little Dorrits whom readers might otherwise have ignored.” Indeed, that seems accurate as far as it goes, though I believe there may be more to be said about the overall impact of Dickens on the world of his day, and it of course says almost nothing about his impact on readers ever since. My point, however, is that using Dickens to illustrate the difference of impact between so-called “literary” fiction as opposed to “popular” fiction is in itself questionable.


By all reports Dickens work was wildly popular during the nineteenth century. Many of his novels were serialized, which would suggest it was intended for the masses (at least those who could read and had sufficient leisure to purse the pastime), and he is said to be one of the earliest novelists to produce work with mass market appeal. Popular fiction? Now—now—his works are “classics of literature,” but they wouldn’t have seemed so then, I think. Of course, the pedantic distinction between popular and literary fiction is not about how many people want to read it. Research it a bit and you’ll find two ideas:

First: literary fiction focuses on reflecting society to itself, so that society can figure out the world, whereas popular fiction only seeks to entertain.

Second: literary fiction focuses on character and is character driven, while popular fiction hinges strongly on plot.

To the first, I say pshaw! Read quality genre fiction and you will come away with the feeling that you know yourself, your world, and humankind better. And guess what? Entertainment is engagement, and engagement improves learning.

To the second, because I already used “pshaw,” I’ll begin by raising the ghost of Aristotle, the creator of the seemingly sanctified arc in fiction. To the great Mr. A., fiction and its arc was about plot, though we have learned to apply it to various things like character and relationships as well. So, for starters, if Aristotle liked plot-driven fiction, who are you literary pundits to walk on his grave? Another thing, though certainly Dickens (our man of literary fiction) wrote character foremost and best, his plots were well-planned, twisty, purposeful, and very present. But more importantly perhaps, plenty genre fiction is character-driven, and the fact that genre writers are also good at giving those characters a compelling story, as well as the fact that genre readers prefer fabulous characters to do something, doesn’t mean the writer hasn’t succeeded in doing what all quality fiction does well—reflect society back upon itself!

So why, then, am I neglecting my books to promote awareness of the current political catastrophe? First, I write male/male romance, which means that my readers are by and large people who are already aware and in general agreement with my political outlook. Twitter ad Facebook provide the possibility of reaching outward from that base. Second, and more significant, the progression of political disaster in the Unites States is unfolding rapidly and accelerating every day. Yes, my books address (though I hope not in soapbox fashion because that’s boring) political realities. No, they can’t make people aware of what donald trump and his tribe of white supremacists, plutarchists, science-deniers, and people with poor grammar did an hour ago.

Writers have some skills that come in very handy when it comes to promoting awareness. The job of “Fiction Writer” in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles is rated as requiring an education and skill level of “8.” This is a high value—only advanced scientists, medical doctors, and similar have a higher rating. The level doesn’t mean writers have to all be super-smart, but it means they have to achieved proficiency in skills requiring education (self-education counts!) and lots of practice before they are perfected, and the skill set is broad. One such skill could be described as the ability to assess information, assimilate it, extract or synthesize underlying concepts, and express them in ways that are understandable, meaningful, and impactful.

That’s the skill I strive to use when I write that tweet or Facebook post. I don’t always get it right, but after many years, I still feel I’m learning my craft. If I come close—if I convey my outrage and urgency along with accurate fact, if something I write might make someone more aware of the thin ice they are perched upon, I feel I’ve done some small bit of good. Tweeting and Facebook posting certainly isn’t all I’m doing to resist the disaster that is a trump presidency, but I will keep doing it. I am also returning my attention to my fiction—what writer can keep from writing stories?

But if my time on social media is spent on politics rather than promotion, and if that means I sell fewer books… well, I hope that won’t happen. But if it does, so be it.

Those are my thoughts, for today. Thank you for reading them! Also thank you if you keep reading my books despite everything. My characters will get very lonely without you.