Important Information Regarding the ’90s Coming of Age series (Pictures of You & You Are Not Me)

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For a long time now, I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to make this post and what I wanted to say and disclose. And for an equally long time I’ve put it off. Mainly because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone and I kept hoping for some kind of change that would make it unnecessary. But, truly, it’s been necessary from the get-go because that’s how publishing works.

When I made my initial projections regarding the release dates for We Can Be Good (Bk 3) and We Make It Real (Bk 4), I operated on a central assumption based in prior experience: that the first two books would pay for themselves. See, as long as I’ve been self-publishing I’ve never had a book not pay for the cost of creating it. I’ve had books earn more or less profit, but I’ve never failed to cover my expenses. So, when I set aside the money to publish the four book series, I went with $5,000, thinking that would be more than enough. I was wrong.

See, it’s a rule for me that each book carry itself. It becomes dangerous to my business for me to allow for a situation where Peter pays for Paul. At least during this stage of my career. Maybe when I have many more books out and a steady back catalog income coming in I could take that risk. But at this juncture, I just can’t. It would only take a few books that didn’t sell with a profit for me to have no capital to work with at all.

So, back to Pictures of You & You Are Not Me. They’ve been so well received by readers who took the leap and reviewers that it may come as a surprise for many to hear that they have barely covered even half of their expenses. I put $3,600 into those books (editing, covers, formatting, marketing) and as of the other morning they had earned $1,900. Not each, but both of them together.

Perhaps it’s crass to be giving you guys actual numbers, but I want you to understand that this isn’t a case of the books not earning enough to satisfy me. I never thought they’d make that much of a profit because they are a little out of the box. But rather these books just aren’t carrying their weight financially. This at a time when my day job is precarious and my book sales are down by 1/3 across the board last year.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Well, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get the rest of the ’90s Coming of Age story. I am DEFINITELY writing the next two books. What it does mean is that I need to bend my rules and allow for Peter to pay for Paul. But I need to do that on future books, not past ones. The plan has to change because the outcome didn’t work out the way I’d initially assumed it would. (Humbling? You bet!) I simply don’t have the leeway financially right now to take another $3,600 hit with the hopes it will pay off eventually. (And I do believe these books will pay off eventually! It may take time, but as a back catalog piece, they are going to be a good asset, in my opinion.)

It means that I have to publish at least one, if not two, books that make a decent profit so I can save up that $3,600 with the idea that it won’t be coming back to me quickly. I don’t know that my next releases will provide that profit. I have no idea, frankly, what will sell and what won’t. It’s always a bit of a mystery.

But here are a few things I do know:

  1. I love this series. I’ve been working on it off and on for fourteen years and I won’t let it go until it’s finished.
  2. I will not take fourteen years to finish the back half of it! LOL!
  3. I WILL put We Can Be Good out in 2017 for sure. If I can, I’ll also do We Make It Real, but I can’t know if it will be 2017 or 2018 at this point.

I want to apologize to everyone who is eagerly awaiting Peter’s next adventure. I am sad to know that I’m disappointing you and a little embarrassed to know that there is no way out of it. At this point, even if some crazy generous weirdo (LOL) were to fund the cost of the edits, etc, I’m so far down the path of trying to get this next unrelated release out that I’d need to do that first.

Again, I’m so sorry to let everyone down. I’m not giving up, though. I’m still enthusiastic af for the books and for Peter and for his story! I’m still invested 100% and that’s part of the reason I’m slowing the timing of releases down, too. Obviously, I could forgo editing, etc, to lower costs. But I can’t ask you guys to accept lower quality books for the last two. I’ve waited this long to put his story out, and I’m not going to send sub-par follow-ups into the world.

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I hesitate to call ’90s Coming of Age series a failure, but this Winston Churchill quote does sum up how I feel about the future of the books. I refuse to lose enthusiasm for the books and I refuse to quit on them.

In the meantime, I’m serving up some hot, slow-burn omegaverse for my next release (hopefully in late Feb or early March). I hope you’ll join me for that wild ride! Sending love to all my readers out in the world! Every last one of you makes the difficulties worth it! Every review, every bit of feedback, every email and FB like and Twitter reply.

You make it real, you make it fun, and you make it worthwhile. ❤

ETA: At the urging of a reader, I’ve updated my Patreon site with some goals regarding audiobooks and getting these next two books released. You can become a patron (and access some extras!) by clicking here:

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NOW AVAILABLE! You Are Not Me (90’s Coming of Age, Bk 2) by Leta Blake

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Follow Peter into the summer following his senior year to face new beginnings, new friends, and old baggage.

After a tumultuous final year of high school, Peter Mandel needs a break. It’s the summer of 1991, and his secret relationship with his ‘best friend’ Adam Algedi is put on hold as Adam goes away to Italy for the summer. On the cusp of adulthood, Peter has a couple of months to explore who he is without Adam at his side.

Enter Daniel McPeak, a slightly older, out, responsible college guy with a posse of gay friends and an attraction for Peter. Drawn into the brave new world of the local gay club, Peter embarks on a whirlwind of experiences—good and bad—which culminate in a hotel room where he has to make the ultimate choice.

But Adam will come back eventually, and there are promises that have to be kept. As autumn draws near and college awaits, can Peter break free of the binds of twisted first love? And what exactly is Daniel’s role in his life – a brief temptation, or something more?

Join Peter in the second book of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

***

This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.

Book 2 of 4.
Length: 100,000 words, 328 pages

These books contain aspects of: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.

What to expect from the ‘90s Coming of Age series by Leta Blake? Is this series for me? #comingsoon #gay

The Sunsphere! Icon of Knoxville!
The Sunsphere! Icon of Knoxville!

 

What to expect from the ‘90s Coming of Age series by Leta Blake? Is this series for me?

Hello, readers! I’m thrilled to announce a new four book series to be released beginning in September 2016 and ending in April 2017.

Set in Knoxville, TN, during 1990-1992 and focusing on the life and loves of one character, Peter Mandel, this series has lived in my heart and mind for the last fourteen years. It’s finally ready to be released into the world and, let me tell you, this character is near and dear to me. I’ve long called him the character of my heart and so he will be forever.

I wanted to provide some clarity, though, on what you as a reader can expect from this group of books. There are a few things these books are not and many things that they are.

First, these books are NOT ROMANCE GENRE BOOKS. While I adore romance books and plan to write many more in my life, and while there is quite a lot of sex and romance within the storyline of the ‘90s Coming of Age series, it does not qualify for the romance label for several reasons.

Most importantly, it doesn’t hit the anticipated romance storytelling beats. In any given romance book, an individual reader can be relatively sure of a few certainties in terms of the story. While I guarantee no main character death, many other ‘rules’ of romance are not held to and therefore I can’t guarantee a reader a romance genre reading experience.

So what kind of book series is it then, Leta?

It most fits a Coming of Age description, hence the series title. Peter is young, only eighteen when we meet him, and on a journey of self-discovery. He wants to love and be loved, he wants to be true to himself, and he doesn’t always make good choices. In fact, if a bad choice can be made? Peter’s right there making it. But usually with the best of intentions, even if sometimes those intentions are selfish ones.

What can I expect from this series, then?

You can expect to find:

  1. a cast of characters advance readers have called achingly real
  2. new adult levels of sexual interactions
  3. teenage angst and twisted love
  4. a portrayal of the Knoxville, TN I remember from my late teens and early twenties
  5. music references from the time period
  6. an exploration of how the best intentions can lead to painful situations
  7. so much more

I’m so excited (and slightly lightheaded) to finally be able to introduce you all to Peter. I’m hoping that this blog post will allow you to determine if these are books for you. I understand if they aren’t and I’m so grateful if they are.

It’s a journey. And Peter’s worth following on it (in my humble opinion) and I hope you come with us.

Thanks for your readership past, present, and into the future! You make this career possible and I can’t thank you enough.

 

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Growing up gay isn’t easy. Growing up gay in Knoxville, Tennessee is even harder. 

Eighteen-year-old Peter Mandel, a private school senior—class of 1990—is passionate about photography. Peter doesn’t have many friends, preferring to shoot pictures from behind the scenes to keep his homosexuality secret.

Enter Adam Algedi, a charming, worldly new guy who doesn’t do labels, but does want to do Peter. Hardly able to believe gorgeous Adam would want geeky, skinny him of all people, Peter’s swept away on a journey of first love and sexual discovery. But as their mutual web of lies spins tighter and tighter, can Peter find the confidence he needs to make the right choices? And will his crush on Daniel, a college acquaintance, open a new path?

Join Peter in the first of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.

Book 1 of 4. 

Warning! These books contain aspects of: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.

 

 

S’up with Leta Blake? Let’s Catch Up! Part Two!

What do I have planned for the upcoming twelve months? Let’s start with the next thing on my plate!

  1. In September, I’ll be releasing Pictures of You, Book One of my four part ’90s Coming of Age series. My current plan is to release it into KU and only put it out at the other retailers once all the parts are out. I have a cover for it already (and for every book in the series!) but I’m not going to share until closer to release dates. A girl has to have some mystery!

    The Sunsphere. Icon of Knoxville, the setting of the '90s Coming of Age series.
    The Sunsphere. Icon of Knoxville, the setting of the ’90s Coming of Age series.

 

2.  TRANSLATION NEWS! For those of you who would like to read my books in German, French, or Italian, more translations will be coming out soon! In September, <strong><em>Vespertine</em></strong> will be released in French and the first three books of the <strong><em>Wake Up Married</em></strong> serial will be released in German, and December sees the release of <strong><em>The River Leith</em></strong> in Italian! Currently available translations are:

French: Saison d’entraînement, Le Retour de Leith, and À l’ombre de Smoky Mountain.

Italian: Training Season: La stagione dell’allenamento

Spanish: Sueños en las Montañas Humeantes

3. Wake Up Married universe news. Healing, South Dakota will definitely see more releases. I have ideas for three books in this universe within the next year or so. I won’t say much more except to say that, yes, we’ll see one new book with Will & Patrick as the leads (though probably not the first to be released!) and two books with side characters from the first serial getting their own stories. For those of you worried about Hartley, hold tight. For those of you curious about Varun, it’s coming. For those of you who want to see Uncle Kevin get his happy ending, that might happen, too.

 

Thank you to all the readers out there! You are my joy and inspiration!

**

crossposted to STEEMIT

Leta Blake’s Writing/Publishing Plans for 2016: ALL THE BOOKS! #amwriting #2016

The Sunsphere. Icon of Knoxville, the setting of the 90s Coming of Age series.
The Sunsphere. Icon of Knoxville, the setting of the 90s Coming of Age series.

As I sit in the lobby of our local ice skating rink, waiting while kiddo and her pal skate, I’m being forced to listen to the most uncool playlist of 80s pop songs I’ve heard in a long time. I think my mother did Jazzercise to most of these, though, and so I have a certain fondness for them despite not really feeling the need to ever hear any of them again

I brought my laptop with me with the intention of getting some writing done, only to realize that I don’t have access to my Dropbox from here. Poor planning on my part. So, instead, I’m going to finally type up my writing plans/goals for 2016. Yes, that’s me burying the lede again. I’m good at that.

Wake Up Married serial. Episodes 4-6 will be released in the early months of this year. Pre-orders are available already for Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings and Will & Patrick Meet the Mob. The final installment, Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending, is not available for pre-order yet, but it has a Goodreads page. We are doing our best to be as timely as possible with them. Each installment of this serial is between 30,000 and 40,000 words in length.

I’m excited by the reception these episodes have received already despite the general consensus that serials aren’t most readers’ favorite way to receive their story. I do think the serialized format fits this particular storyline, though, and these guys. I’m excited to wrap it up and have the entire set out there for readers

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How to Steal a Heart. A stand-alone art heist novel inspired by the movie How to Steal a Million. This book has been building in my head for about four years now. I’ve read tons of books about art thieves, art heists, art con artists, etc, and I feel like I’m ready to finally tackle it. I’m pretty excited for this one! I hope to have it out early in the summer, but it might take a backseat to the next items on this list if necessary, because they are where the bulk of my writing/publishing plans rest for this year. My goal for release is May or June 2016. But if I can’t make that due date, then we’re looking at Spring 2017 instead.

The next set of releases are books made up of pieces of my heart. Their titles are: Pictures of You, You Are Not Me, You Make It Real, and Never Tear Us Apart. Also known as The 90s Coming of Age series.

I started writing these books back before I knew I shouldn’t.

Yep, I started them in 2004, when writing a book set in 1991 didn’t seem like I was writing about a different world altogether. I wrote what I knew and mixed it with what I didn’t know, because that was the advice we’re all given to start. I wrote about a time before 9/11 when a non-practicing Jewish boy in Knoxville, Tennessee could be in love with a non-practicing Arab boy from “all over the world” and the issue of religion/race is the least important problem they face.

I wrote about emotional abuse. I wrote about being in the closet. I wrote about beards. I wrote about a world where first love doesn’t always mean last love. (But it’s me so there is a happy ending for the main character.) I wrote about a world where AIDS was still tearing down any sense of safety gay men might have ever created for themselves. I wrote about graduating high school and going to college. I wrote about all kinds of things that don’t fit what anyone expects from me as a writer or from novels in this genre because I didn’t know any better.

But my beta readers tell me they love these characters and this world. They tell me I have to put the books out. And to be honest, these books have taken up space in my head long enough. If I don’t publish them and let them be free, if I don’t let them go out in the world to face readers who will love them and hate them and whatever other reception they get, then I’ll feel like I let them down. I don’t want to do that. I want them to have their chance. So, yes, Peter, Adam, Leslie, Daniel, Minty, Renee, and all the rest will be out this fall. Releases expected as follows:

August: Pictures of You
September: You Are Not Me
October: You Make It Real
November: Never Tear Us Apart
December/January 2017: Box Sets of the above books

Middle Grade Christmas Book: I promised my ten year old daughter to write a Middle Grade book for her, and I intend to keep that promise. Her present for next Christmas will be the book she and I planned/plotted together. I’ll release it under another name, obviously, but I’ll let my readers here know about it when I put it out.

My last tentatively planned book of 2016, one that I’d love to release in December if possible, is an unnamed Christmas story. I honestly have my doubts that I’ll get it done in time, and if I don’t feel like it’s going to happen, I’ll probably shift my focus from it to the Mail Order Bride story that I hope to have out in early 2017. We’ll see how it goes. I always like to bite off a bit more than I can chew. It keeps me constantly striving. I have a terror of being lazy, so planning for more than I can accomplish is one way I keep myself from slacking off too much.

 

These are the books I’m looking at putting out for 2016. I hope you’re as excited by this list as I am and I hope you can make room in your heart to give the 90s Coming of Age series a try even if it’s different from what you might otherwise expect from me. 🙂 Here’s to a publication packed year!

 

SMP, Harmony, and What To Do? To Expand Trans* Story Or Not? #publishing #help #amwriting

Earlier this summer, I saw an anthology submission call on Storm Moon Press’s for a Trans* story. The call was due October 30th and I had a very long percolating idea that I believed would fit it fairly perfectly. Feeling excited and inspired,and finding myself with an unexpected free day earlier in the summer, I banged out around 9k of a rough draft, knowing that I’d need to flesh it out, slow scenes down, etc, by about 10k more words to make the story work.

A few weeks ago, SMP announced in a blog post that they were reorganizing anthology submission calls. Their reasons were understandable and sound, so I support their decision. At the same time, I looked at my little story and thought, “Now what do I do with you? It was on my calendar to have you ready to submit by October. Now the due date has been pushed to June 2014. Do I really want to just put you aside for that long?”

I decided that I would do just that, focusing on what I am supposedly committed to finishing this year: ’90s Coming of Age Novel (real title to be revealed when it’s, ya know, done).

But then a week or so ago a friend asked me, “Hey, you know your Trans* story? Do you think it would work to turn it into a Young Adult book? Maybe expand it out to 45k instead of just the 20k originally planned? Because Harmony Ink is looking for YA Trans* novels/novellas, and based on what you’ve told me about this particular story, it seems easy enough to age them down a bit, de-sexify it in terms of how hot the single sex scene is, and expand the scope.”

So, I took a look-see. And, yes, I could do that. It would be a completely different story in some ways. She’s right that I’d have to tone down the sex scene, but there is only one, and that had been something that concerned me about whether or not SMP would accept it, because (I could be wrong!) I think they are usually a little more heavy on the erotic material.

Part of me thinks, “You should do this. What do you have to lose?”

The other part of me answers, “Time on ’90s Coming of Age Novel for one.”

After all, there is a big time commitment difference between a 20k short and a 45k novella. And, well, that sex scene I’d be toning down is kinda hot and I’d hate to kill it. But it might be for the best. Hmm.

But, here’s another thing to consider, if Harmony turned it down, which, you know, let’s keep it real, is likely to totally happen, then SMP does have a YA imprint, right? Oh, except they’ve closed their doors to unsolicited submissions at this point, I think. Does that apply to their YA imprint? I should email them and ask. That might make a difference for me. If I’m going to expand this thing into a YA novel/novella, then I would want to make sure I had multiple options for submissions. I’ve got self-publishing plans for other books but this particular story was never intended for that and so, as much as possible, anyway, I’d like to keep it in the “to be submitted” pile.

Oh, and that brings up the whole pen name thing. Would I need a new one for YA books? Lord knows the sexy fairy tales aren’t targeted to teenagers. So many things to consider! So much priority juggling if I do this!

Thoughts? Opinions? Personal thoughts you’d like to share about your experience with either press? Feel free to email at “leta dot blake dot author at the mail of g” if you want to share anything privately.