Writing Round Up – Taking Stock of the Year #amwriting #2013

Over on LiveJournal, under my fandom persona, I’ve always done an end of the year round up of writing meme. I decided to transfer that here this year.

Number of Books Published in 2013
1. Ascending Hearts with Keira Andrews
2. Love’s Nest with Keira Andrews
3. Training Season

Words Written in 2013
1. Training Season – 60,000 new words
2. Love’s Nest – hilariously, I had 51,900 at the end of 2012, but didn’t actually finish the book until February of 2013, and, after edits, it was down to 51,061. So, I netted no words there. – 0 words
3. Binasco Bakery – 5,630
4. ’90s Coming of Age – novel – 24,000 new words (at least, but I don’t have a good ‘before’ count)
5. Falling – novella – 10,000 new words
6. Smoky Mountain Dreams – novel – 0 new words
7. Everything Is Yes – novella – 10,000 new words
8. Trans* Story – novella – 11,242
9. Sheriff Jackson – novella – 951
10. Lost Souls – novel – 0 new words
11. Bucket List – novel – 1,034
12. Ask Jungle Jason – novel – 2,314
13. Always Naked Men – short – 2,648
14. Heist – 457
15. Stalking Dreams – novella – 9,986
16. Leuka – original novel – 0 new words (poor Leuka)
17. Lost Sea – original novel – 0 new words
18. HertClub – original novel – 0 new words
19. Stalking Novel – novel – 44,777
20. For Reasons – novel – 3,158

Subtotal: 186,197 <–Wow, that is totally not enough! Not even close to enough. I have to do better this year.

I also wrote 75,000 words of pure smut under a different pen name. Nope, not sharing it here, but I did write it and it’s out there bringing in smut money. 😉 So, I’ll count those words toward my total count. (And also make note to decide if these words paid off monetarily in terms of focus, time, effort, etc.)


I’d like to hit 350,000 new words in 2014.

Overall Thoughts:

Looking back, did you write more than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you’d predicted?

I always overestimate what I’m going to get done, so I’d go with less. I’d have wanted to break 300k word count, at least.

What did you write that you would never have predicted in January?

I finished Training Season. That was never in my plan for the year. It hit me in August that I had an old draft of a book about an Olympian and that, hey, the Winter Olympics were coming up. If I wanted to do something about that, now was the time. So, when I started the year, Training Season was not even in my plans.

What’s your own favorite story of the year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you happiest?

Training Season, actually. It is the kind of book I want to write and I’m proud of it.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them?

I decided to finish and self-publish Training Season. I learned that I love, love, love self-publishing. I love having control over when the editing happens, when it’s released, how the cover looks, etc. I love being able to make coupons for the book to provide discounts for special occasions. I love the freedom of choosing if I want to go to print or not. I love it all. At this point, I might need to be sold on why I should return to a publisher. The last one I dealt with offered very little in exchange for their 60% of profits, and they were often rude in correspondence, didn’t seem invested in getting my book out there, and sales were abysmal. So, yeah, I’m not sure where the benefit is, necessarily, except perhaps in access to readership. For that reason, I’ll probably submit a few books to publishers, but I will have to be won over whole hog before I’ll submit every book.

I’ve decided to take a huge writing risk next year. But I’ll save that for later!

From my past year of writing, what was…

My most popular story of this year:

Training Season, for sure.

Story of mine most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion:

Ha! Well, I guess it would have to be poor Love’s Nest. I’m not sure what the problem is with selling the book, because, though the other two fairy tales didn’t fare very well either, they acutally did better. I suspect it’s the pricing, but I have no control over that, since it’s not self-pubbed. (Oh, hindsight!)

Most fun story to write:

I loved working on Stalker Novel [half-finished]. It was a blast. I loved finishing up Training Season. I had fun with the expansion of Coming of Age Novel [also half-finished].

Story with the single sexiest moment:

I write so much sex that I have no f’ing clue! LOL!

Most “Holy crap, that’s wrong, even for you” story:

There’s a lot of that going on in Everything Is Yes [submitted to a press].

Story that shifted my own perceptions of the characters:

Everything Is Yes.

Hardest story to write:

Love’s Nest. I am very happy with how it came out, but there were parts that were like pulling teeth, and we knew sales would be abysmal, so feeling inspired to finish it was quite hard, to be entirely honest.

Biggest Disappointment: Everything about the publishing experience prior to self-publishing. Though, as I said, I’m willing to try another house and see if things are different. But, wow, I didn’t anticipate the complete lack of investment from the house we were with.

Biggest Surprise: Training Season‘s reception! What is this madness!?!?!

Most Unintentionally Telling Story: Oh, hell. They probably all are very telling. I’m sure the way I had to approach the kink in Training Season or Everything Is Yes is the most telling of all, though.

Do you have any goals for the New Year?

I want to put out ’90s Coming of Age Novel as a serial. I want to finish ’90s Coming of Age Novel, Stalking Novel, and Trans* Story. I also want to start the Bill/Angus companion novella to Training Season. Though, if you look above, I’ve got twenty-one works in progress, so I’m always wary of starting a new book. But, I think if I finish the three I mentioned, then I would be in the clear to go forward with Bill/Angus. I really want to get my het novel, For Reasons, mostly finished, too. I just opened it up to see the word count earlier, and, oh my god, I love it! Ahem. Anyway, that’s what I’d like to do, but I have no idea if that’s possible.

How to Write a Blurb! #writers #help #blurb

Get your best writer friends to do it for you! No, really. Um, that’s the best way.

Ha! But seriously, though, my friend, Jed, has worked out a cool method. First, we researched the average length of blurbs, and it turns out they are about 240 words in length. Another friend told me that her publisher tries to keep the blurbs to 200 words, so somewhere between those two seems to be what one should aim for.

Click on this to read a hilarious post about studying the art of blurbs and ending up buying a ton of books!

The examples I’m going to give you regarding what your blurb should contain are based on the work to get a working blurb on Training Season and a short novella (currently out for submission) called Everything Is Yes. (You can read more about Everything Is Yes HERE.)

Let’s start with Training Season! First, Jed said:

Basically, I think you need

  • a tagline?
  • a paragraph to set up who Matty is and his situation generally
  • a paragraph where the set-up for the book is laid out
  • a paragraph about the challenges and dilemmas
  • a paragraph that vaguely covers the resolution, just the general concepts
  • maybe reiterate the tagline in a new way?

I’m not sold on having a tagline just to have a tagline, though. It does seem to be a romance novel thing, but it’s not done with general books all that often, so maybe you can get away without one if you can’t think of anything, either. I think a bad or clunky one is worse than none at all.

In the end, that translated into the following blurb.

Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don’t come cheap, and Matty can’t afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.

When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.

But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?

It is sans a tag line, because neither I, nor any of my brilliant friends could think of one, and while I feel like it could be a tiny bit better if some blurb genius tweaked it, I’m really quite happy with how it turned out. It is decidedly better than before Jed worked out the above process and basically wrote the rough draft of the blurb for me. Let’s just say that my first attempt a blurb would either make you cry or laugh…or cry with laughter.

Next, with Everything is Yes, Jed worked out the following:

  • Tagline.

  • Second paragraph needs to establish who Alex is. Mentioning his age and that the Missed Connections is in a campus newspaper positions him as young; disappointed in love helps set him up as wanting change; and the description of what he wants is just that. Answering the ad establishes that he is going to meet someone new to satisfy his desire.

  • Third paragraph to set up situation and rules with this new “love.” Think it is good idea to work “everything is ‘yes'” in there, actually.

  • Fourth paragraph gives away that Smith is Hephaestus and a god, but I think you have to give that away. I don’t think you really need to explain a lot about Hephaestus, though. Thought all the questions about humans and gods fit well here without needing to be a separate paragraph.

Obviously, it’s not perfect, but maybe it gives you something to work with.

That rendered the following blurb:

Are you ever more alive than when you think you’re about to die?

Nineteen-year-old Alex, disappointed in love, wants the kind of fierce passion that will take him beyond the mundane world of safe, consensual sex into a realm of white-hot sensation and utter loss of control. When he recognizes himself in his campus newspaper’s Missed Connections, he takes a chance that this mystery man will be the one who will take him over the edge.

From their very first email, Alex is convinced Smith is the one who will push him beyond his limits, but Smith refuses to meet, warning Alex that there may be dire consequences to an in-person encounter. Alex persists, and so before Smith extends a weekend invitation to his remote cabin, he exacts a promise that Alex will obey him in all things once there. As long as he is with Smith, Alex agrees that everything is “yes.”

The sadistic god Hephaestus, also known as the Smith, chooses human lovers from among those who thrive on fear, pain and loss of control, and he knows that Alex is ideal for his purposes. But will Alex be able to keep his promise? Can a human love a god and come through unscathed? Can terror, combined with pleasure, result in transcendence? And, having once experienced such terrible bliss, what would a man risk to experience it once more?

Alex is about to find out.


So, yes, the best way to get a blurb is to have your best friend write it for you. Ha! But, truthfully, what this taught me was how to break a blurb down into the various parts. I feel like I can move forward now with this guidance and write better blurbs for myself. I’m sure she’ll still need to touch them up, but I have really learned a lot from her help on the blurb front. I hope that reading about this process helps you, too!

Training Season can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, ARe, and Smashwords. Coming soon to iBooks.

If It’s Not True, Then Bury The Words – Overcoming A Stuck Scene , Deleted/Edited Training Season Scene #editing #writersblock #writerprobs

In a book where sexual activities promoted and illustrated character growth and, ultimately, the denouement of the character arc, it was imperative that I “stick the landing” for the final, reunion sex scene. The trouble was…that didn’t come easily.

In the first draft of the book,the reunion sex scene was pretty much just a complete fade-to-black. I wanted something warm and intimate, something loving and gentle, and the characters weren’t interested in showing it to me. It was baffling. They’d shown me everything under the sun up until that moment, why were they holding back now?

I hoped that maybe the reunion sex wasn’t really necessary. Maybe that was why they weren’t showing it to me, because no one needed to see it. I sent it off to my beta readers and, without fail, all of them commented that, hey, we really need to see this reunion sex.

So, I sat down and forced my way through it. I wrote and wrote and wrote. The characters just wouldn’t behave, though. They laughed, they joked, they didn’t have hot sex, instead they just had weird-but-okay sex. I’m going to post that sex below because I thought it might be funny or of interest to some people to see the original scene. So, look for it behind the cut.

I sent it off to my chief beta reader, Jed, thinking, “Well, I tried my damnedest and maybe this is okay.”

No. It wasn’t okay. It was just wrong and off and not hot.

So, I sat down again and I asked myself “Where’s the lie in this scene?” Because I read somewhere some pretty great advice by some author–and how horrible is it that I’ve forgotten who said it or where I read this advice?–that if you’re stalled in a book or scene, it’s because you’re making the characters tell a lie.

I went back over the scene and asked myself, “What’s the genuine response of Rob to this situation? What’s he been like in the past when confronted with this kind of behavior/frustration from Matty?” And I realized, yes, I’d been making them lie about their reunion sex–that was why it’d felt so off and false.

That realization meant I had to go back up into the story and change some other key issues so that the activities could take place as they needed to. Then I re-wrote it and all the beta readers agreed, “Yes, this is what happened. Of course it is.”

I’ll let you buy the book to discover what the reunion sex ended up looking like, but for now, as promised, here’s the lie version behind the cut.


Read more

Driving to & Skating On Flathead Lake – Training Season Extras! #flatheadlake #montana #mmromance

I had to do quite a bit of research on Whitefish, MT and Flathead Lake to write Training Season. While I’m sure I got some things wrong, and I know I stretched some of the timing to work the way I needed it to work, the power of the internet has made learning details about an area so much easier.

For example, Matty goes skating on Flathead Lake. I couldn’t have him near the biggest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, where the bays sometimes freeze over, in the middle of winter, without making him skate on it, now could I? But I haven’t been to Flathead County, much less skated on the lake, so I had no idea what that might be like. I did a google search, and lo and behold! Someone had posted to YouTube with a video of them skating on Flathead Lake! For real! And the comments had some awesome information that I really needed to make sure the scene I was writing was feasible and correctly described!

Quotes from the comments:

Em Powers said: “What you can’t see because the I’m skating by it too fast, is that the cracks in the ice show that it is about a foot thick. There were lots of ice fisherman out that day too. It has to be pretty cold for a long amount of time (or really cold for awhile) and there can’t be wind which kicks up waves, or snow or sleet during the crucial time when the ice is forming. That makes bumps in the ice and then it’s impossible to skate on. If we get to skate on it every three years, we’re lucky. There might be some bays where it’s always smooth when it freezes, but I’m not familiar with them. It doesn’t always freeze over, but it is not uncommon. It’s pretty big (30 miles long by 16 miles wide) so sometimes it isn’t completely frozen. The year I took the video (2007), there was a lot of very cold weather and little wind, which makes for a nice smooth surface on which to skate.”

In addition, I found this great video of the drive to Flathead Lake, which allowed me to have a good idea of what it is like to drive around in that area of Montana. I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t find this video all that fascinating, but, man, this was a lifesaver to me! Thank you, Pat, for posting this!

How did writers actually write before the internet? It beats me! Thank God for it!

Click to buy!

Restless for Writing, or How Writing Ruins Everything #amwriting #beingawriter

A friend asked me the other night if I ever experienced a certain kind of restlessness that plagued her. She described it as a “grass is greener” sort of restlessness where if she’s alone, she wishes she had company, and if she has company she wants to be alone.

I don’t have that kind of restlessness, no. What I have is Writing Restlessness, and, unless I make a concerted effort to tame my thoughts and emotions, it can ruin almost anything. Basically, any time I’m doing anything that isn’t writing, there is an undercurrent of “should be writing, should be writing, wish I was writing, want to write” that burbles and churns beneath the experience.

Whenever a friend asks me to take a weekend to come visit them, I think, “I’d love to do that but should be writing, could be writing, will miss precious writing time, won’t be able to write that week, will have to pay for childcare for something other than writing, writing, writing, writing.”

Whenever a friend says, “Let’s have dinner!” I think, “That’s an evening I won’t be writing, that’s an evening husband will be watching the child and I won’t be writing. Maybe I should say no so that I can write.”

Whenever I’m on vacation, I’m thinking, “These are days of no writing. An entire week that is lost from writing.”

Writing is a demanding thing, an addiction, a driving force.

I have to take a breath and say, “This moment with my daughter is more important than writing. Put it aside.” I have to carve out a space in my mind and say, “You love your friend dearly, you’ll visit her on this weekend, and writing will wait.” I must tell myself, “My marriage is important to me and these hours with my husband are vital for maintaining it. Writing will be patient.”

That’s a lie, by the way. Writing is never patient.

I, however, can be, but I have to work at it.

So, no, I don’t have a restlessness of wanting to be with people and wanting to be alone. I have a restlessness that is always writing, writing, writing rushing in my veins, pumping through my heart, stirring up my brain. It’s constant and it can undermine my ability to enjoy my daily life unless I am strong and demand more of myself.

I guess that’s part of working to become a better human being, too.

No way! We’re on USA Today? Crazy! #mmromance #erotica

Cover by Dar Albert.
Cover by Dar Albert.

Apparently USA Today is hosting a blog called Happily Ever After and Love’s Nest was featured as a new release. They didn’t provide a buy link, so allow me to provide it for you now!


It might be an associated blog, and it might not be a review, and it might be that many other releases were also featured, but, dude, I’m still excited. *twirl* So, yay! That was super cool! I’ll definitely take it and call it a win.

In other news, this weekend was eaten up by swim team and that’s that. I am making progress on ’90s Coming of Age Novel. I’ve also determined how I want to release it and that has freed me up emotionally to start getting excited about it. Of course, it’s probably another nine months from a release, but slow progress is still progress.

I always look like a woman about to run a bunch of miles in the early morning sun when I’m writing. I’m just that determined and eager and open to the plodding step-by-step that it will take to progress from here to there, and open to the beauty that can be absorbed with each stride forward, too. Okay, so not always, but on a good day, for sure.

Release Day! Wed, July 17!

Here we go, babies! Everyone who is always coming to this blog looking for “sex with fairies” (yes, I see you in my stats! 14 to 20 of you a day!) are in for a treat! The next book is about…dun, dun, dun! Fairies! And, yes, sex is had with the fairies! Whoot! 🙂

Cover by Dar Albert.
Cover by Dar Albert.

The blurb:

Part of the Tempting Tales series
There’s no greater mystery in the kingdom than how Prince Mateo’s sisters wear out their shoes each night while locked away in their chambers. Using old magic, Mateo discovers their secret and follows them through a portal to an enchanted world of fairies and lusty delights. Ópalo has waited years for his male human, and he knows Mateo is his destiny. Mateo soon succumbs to the pleasures of the flesh, but as their worlds collide, Ópalo has to risk everything to win his man forever.

A Romantica® male/male erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

This story is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but has an entirely different feel, and not just because of the fact that it has two heroes. We have been notified that this upcoming Wednesday, July 17, will be the day, folks! So check back then to find out more!

90’s Coming of Age Novel? You’re It, Baby.

So, here’s the thing. I’m not a monogamous writer. I’ve always got between eight and twelve works going at any particular time. Eventually, a time comes when I choose one to focus on and make it happen for real, for better or worse. The others drift along during that time, and I come back to them when I get the current favorite in the can. Sometimes that focus shifts back and forth for awhile, but eventually I do focus on one book until it is finished.

One book has been the book of my heart but also the book “least-likely-to” for quite a long time. Almost ten years in fact. At first, it was because there was simply no place to even begin to imagine submitting it to for publication. It’s a m/m coming of age novel featuring a lot of graphic sex. When I first started writing it, I was told time and again, “This would be a great Young Adult book if you took out most of the sex.” I was told, “This isn’t really publishable because it’s not a typical romance formula and people don’t want that.” I was told, “This is too long, no one wants to read a book this long.” I’ve been told many things over the years about this book by many, many, many people. Some of those people had incredibly helpful comments and the book is so much better for their input. Some other people’s comments mainly just stymied the book’s development because they led me to believe the book would never have a place in the world.

I still sometimes think this book won’t ever have a place in the world.

This brings us to my situation currently. Every year for the last three years I’ve gone to NYC to sit on my friend’s sofa in Brooklyn to work on 90s Coming of Age Novel for a week. Every year for the last three years, I’ve thought, “This is it! The final push! I can do this thing!” And every year the edits needed on the first half of the first draft have been extensive enough to preclude me ever getting to the second half of the first draft. (Yes, I have a completed first draft, but it needs work.) I’m finally incredibly and immensely satisified with the the first half of the book and am ready to focus on the second half.

Cue the Goodreads Love Has No Boundaries Event. I chose a prompt about a young man who has a history of being stalked by a stranger. I’d intended to write a short story for the event, but, holy smokes, it took off like wildfire and before I knew it, I had half a novel written. A novel I knew I’d have no way of finishing before the event deadline. So, I went back and wrote a short story set in the universe of the novel. It doesn’t fit the prompt exactly and that disappointed some people, but I knew I couldn’t get the book done in time. I didn’t want to return the prompt unfulfilled just because I knew there was no way I could get the novel done, so I compromised the best that I could. I’m happy to say that the prompter was satisfied, I believe.

All in all, I was very happy with how that story was received and people expressed a great deal of interest in the novel based on the prompt. That thrills me! The idea that there are a few people out there who are eagerly awaiting River’s full story really gets my heart going and makes me feel a bit verklempt! In the wake of this, I looked at 90s Coming of Age Novel and I said to it, “Baby, maybe you’ve got to wait a little longer. I think I need to write this book instead. It’s got an audience, you see, and we all know that the biggest problem with you is that…you don’t.”

So, I resigned myself to the fact that it still wasn’t 90s Coming of Age Novel’s time. It was apparently Stalker Universe’s time, and I told myself that I was okay with that. It was the smart move. It was the wise choice. It made the most sense. Why keep readers waiting? This was obviously the right decision to make. It still seems like the right decision to make.

But here’s the thing.

I can’t do it. I was driving back to the office after my lunch break and I felt like my heart was going to break. 90s Coming of Age Novel, Peter, Adam, Leslie, Daniel, Minty, Renee, and Barry were all just there looking at me with this betrayal on their face. They’ve been so patient, you see. They’ve let me take a really long time with them. They’ve waited while I had a baby and wrote nothing for three years. They’ve waited while I wrote fanfiction and they’ve waited while I wrote fairy tales and they’ve waited while I wrote half a post-apocalyptic novel, and while I wrote half of six other books, and four short stories, and, damn it, now I wanted them to wait again.


They sat there in my head staring at me, but you promised, and yeah. I can’t do it to them. I can’t go to NYC and work on Stalking Universe when I’ve asked them to wait so many years. I promised them at the beginning of the year that this was their year. I promised them that 2013 was it and they wouldn’t have to wait anymore. No more being patient. No more waiting for just one more thing to come before them.

So, okay, 90s Coming of Age Novel. Okay, baby, this is it. Next week, it’s me, you, and NYC again. Don’t fail me. I’m counting on you to come through for me. If I’m making this choice, you’ve got to play your part, too.

Let’s do this thing.

In My Blood Like Holy Wine



As a writer, there is no doubt that parts of people I’ve loved, if only momentarily, pours out of me in the lines that come out of my fingers.

The other day, I wrote a line in my most recent work in progress about a woman’s ankles. It was written instinctively, it came out of the character’s mouth as easily as breath, and yet my mind went back to a woman who taught British Literature when I was in college. I no longer remember her name or her face, but I remember her captivating ankles. If I had been gay or a straight man, I’d have attempted a move on her due to her ankles alone. Most of her has vanished from my  memory, but a part of her poured from my soul in the moment I wrote the lines for my character. She touched me. Or her ankles did.

This is a superficial example. I have characters who suddenly spout off a version of my father’s position in our last argument, or my good friend’s confession about her desire for babies, or start to eat pepperoni slices out of a massive bag a la The Pepperoni Lady at my prior job.

If I know you, if I’ve loved you, part of you will pour out of me in these lines from time to time. When and where and what there is no telling or any way to plan, but it will be happen. Because you live in me, some part of you, forever.