Change of Plans

Although my original plan was to release Connection in early June and Bully & Exit in August, I’ve had to make some changes to my release schedule.  Connection isn’t ready. I thought it was but as it went through numerous beta edits, a theme emerged. Putting all of the comments together led me to one conclusion: I have problems with pacing.  With the help of my wonderful betas, I created a new outline.

Sifting through the comments and suggestions and putting them into a coherent plan wasn’t easy, but I feel confident that the new outline will fix the problems.  I don’t want to rush it though, and feeling pressured to get the book done wouldn’t have made it better.  Not to mention the fact that the new outline will most likely lead to Evan and Jeremy’s story being two books rather than one.  I want to have both done before I release the first one, and I don’t know how long it will take for me to finish it.

Rather than put myself under more pressure, I decided to swap the releases.  I don’t want to give you an exact date (because that never seems to work) but Bully & Exit will be released soon-ish. Certainly this summer.  It’s on its second round of beta edits and (fingers crossed) will only need a bit of polishing this time around.   I have a cover done, although I am not sure it’s the final, final cover, it’s coming together.  So as an apology for making you wait longer for Connection, here’s a teaser for the book you’ll be getting instead.

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Nathan’s voice was soft when he spoke, gentle like it’d always been. “Caleb Stockwell. I’ve been looking for you.”

Caleb cleared his throat and ignored him, tipping the bottle up for another long drink. He licked the spiced rum off his lips as he debated making another run for it. There was a shrub blocking his way in one direction and a hockey player in the other. Even if he hadn’t been drinking, the odds weren’t in his favor. “Nathan Rhodes,” he managed.

“Damn I can’t believe it’s you!” Nathan leaned in and Caleb pulled back, uncomfortable with him being so close.

Caleb laughed bitterly. “It’s me. Now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can run along now.” He motioned with his hand, encouraging Nathan to leave.

“It’s really good to see you,” Nathan said, ignoring him. He took a seat on the pile of discarded construction materials, his knees brushing Caleb’s as he lowered himself down. Caleb pulled away as if scorched.

“Yeah? Too bad I can’t say the same,” he muttered, his head swimming as the alcohol began to hit him. He eyed Nathan’s long, long legs and the way he was pinned in by them, remembering the way they’d felt tangled with his as they came, panting shallowly against each other’s skin. It brought it all back: the scent of Nathan’s cologne, the taste of his skin, the way Caleb’s heart raced in his chest when Nathan held him close. It brought back the memories, the ones he’d worked so hard to run from. The good and the bad. The sharp, intense happiness of falling for Nathan. The aching, crushing hurt that paralyzed Caleb for months after Nathan was no longer in his life. Everything he’d buried four years ago and vowed never to touch again.

He caught the first glimpse of doubt on Nathan’s face. “Are you okay, Caleb?”

“Oh, I’m mother fucking peachy,” he snarked and took another long drink. “I’ve made it through four fucking years trying to ignore the fact we’re on the same campus and with barely a month left in my senior year, I thought maybe I’d managed to pull it off. But no, Lowell had to drag me to this goddamn party, and of course you showed up too. Just my luck.”

He raised the bottle again, but Nathan wrapped a hand around the neck and tugged. He was stronger than Caleb, so Caleb let go, afraid he’d end up getting pulled into Nathan’s lap if he didn’t. Nathan took a drink and passed the bottle back, licking the taste of rum off his lips before he spoke. “You’re so angry at me.”

“Ya think?” Caleb snarled. “Didn’t it ever occur to you I would be? What the hell makes you think you can waltz in here and pretend like all the shit that went down between us didn’t happen?” He tried to stand, but Nathan’s dark denim-clad knees were on either side of his, pinning him in place. The bottle was pried from his suddenly limp fingers and set aside.

“I don’t think that,” Nathan protested. “I was just glad to see you and I… I wanted a chance to apologize. I didn’t… I wanted….”

Caleb’s lips parted in surprise as cool fingers framed his face and for the first time in four long years, Nathan’s lips were pressed to his again. Involuntarily, Caleb’s eyes closed, feeling a rush of heat wash over him, taking him right back to the first time. Before Nathan broke his heart.

Paperbacks Are Available!!!

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I can honestly say formatting and building a paperback was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I understand why authors go through publishers and pay formatters oodles of money to do the work for them. It is some of the most fiddly, exasperating work I’ve ever done.  And yet, I’m really glad I did it.

I learned an enormous amount, I accomplished something I thought was out of my reach, I pushed through the moments when I wanted to tear out my hair and scream, and I have some beautiful work to show for it.  I even figured out my business name and put together a logo.

Two Peninsulas Press Logo

I did a ridiculous (if completely necessary) amount of research before I began creating the paperbacks.  Even then, I found myself flying by the seat of my pants with some of it.  Wait, where do I put the section break? How do I unlink from the previous section? I couldn’t have done it without Mr. Vaughn (who put in at least $1,000 worth of work per book, if he billed me what his office bills his clients at his tech geek job).  He’s a whiz with headers, footers, and table of contents pages.  Plus, he took my original cover images and text and combined them into two beautiful covers.

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I went through a number of possible versions before I decided to combine the four novellas into two volumes.  It seemed like it would give you guys the best value for your money.  Volume One (Equals and Partners) is 272 pages (about 90,000 words), while Volume Two (Family and Husbands) are 230 (just under 70,000 words). I perused Amazon and compared my work to other m/m authors with books of similar length and arrived at $13.99 and $12.99 for the paperbacks.

They are available on Amazon and CreateSpace.  Did you know that authors get a larger royalty when the books are purchased directly through CreateSpace? I certainly didn’t. Amazon is certainly easier to purchase through, so you won’t get any complaints from me if you buy the books there, but if you have a few extra minutes and want to buy through CreateSpace it would be greatly appreciated.

Amazon                                                                                Amazon

CreateSpace                                                                          CreateSpace

Oh, and if you want signed copies? Give me a week or so and I’ll have some available.  I’m still working on that part.

Prism Book Alliance Guest Post: Outside the Margins – Writing What You Know

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Join me on Prism Book Alliance’s Outside the Margins column.  Today I discuss research for my novels.

I hope you’ll take a look and please leave a comment.  I’m open to any feedback or suggestions about what you’d like to hear from me in my monthly column.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

Flash Fiction Mondays

After the struggles I had with the holiday novella, I feel blah and uninspired.  Despite the thousand and one plot bunnies and two nearly completed novels waiting for me, I don’t feel like writing.  I had four days off last week and only wrote a few hundred words.  Now, a few days off to celebrate the holidays is good, but on top of weeks of the blahs? Not good. That’s a slippery slope to no writing at all. And being a writer isn’t about only writing when you feel inspired.  It’s about writing when you don’t.  However, a creative kick in the pants can sometimes help.

So when the lovely and talented Helena Stone asked me if I’d be interested in joining her for her Flash Fiction Mondays, I jumped at the chance!  It helped with three goals I set for myself for 2015: more regular blog posts, more free stories, and boosting my creativity!

So, every Monday starting next week Helena and I will post a very short flash fic based on a single photograph.  We’ll take turns alternating who picks the image and each write a brief story based on it.  I’ll be sure to link to her blog so you’ll get two flash fics every Monday! Fun, huh?

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I picked this image for next Monday.  I have my flash fic nearly written and I can’t wait to see what Helena comes up with!

See you next Monday!

“Partners” Blog Tour – Love Bytes Reviews – Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Please join me at Love Bytes Reviews for a guest post about setting and research, an excerpt, and a giveaway!

Partners (Equals, #2) - Brigham Vaughn

Blog Tour Stops:

9/19/2014 Prism Book Alliance  http://www.prismbookalliance.com

9/20/2014 GGR Review http://www.ggr-review.com/

9/21/2014 MM Good Book Reviews http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/

9/23/2014 Smoocher’s Voice http://www.smoochersvoice.com/

9/25/2014 Diverse Reader http://diversereader.blogspot.com/

9/27/2014 Love Bytes Reviews http://lovebytesreviews.com

9/28/2014 The Novel Approach http://thenovelapproachreviews.com/

9/30/2014 Padme’s Library http://padmeslibrary.blogspot.com/

10/1/2014 JP Barnaby http://www.jpbarnaby.com/

10/3/2014 Rainbow Gold Reviews http://rainbowgoldreviews.wordpress.com/

Giveaway:

At each stop, one commenter will win their choice of a backlist title from me (excluding the Dr. Feelgood anthology). In addition, one commenter on the entire tour will win a $10 Gift Card from Amazon. See the stops on the blog tour for more details.

What’s the Opposite of Writer’s Block?

I posted this image on FB today because it made me giggle.  Sometimes my characters DO feel like imaginary friends.

 

I’m grateful that writer’s block is something I rarely have to deal with.  Don’t get me wrong, my creativity (and focus) ebbs and flows.  Some weeks I feel like I can’t find enough hours in the day to keep up with the ideas in my head.  Other time, it’s like pulling teeth.  I do my best to write even when I’m not feeling especially productive, although often I focus on other things, like writing book reviews or blog posts.  Sometimes I work on a story and just re-read what I’ve already written and make minor tweaks or plot out where I want to go next.  There’s always something I can work on.

Avoiding writer’s block is one of the main reasons I have multiple stories going at once.  It’s a very effective tool for me because if I’m feeling blah and uninspired about a particular story, I can work on something else for a while and it sparks my creativity.

Unfortunately, right now I feel like I have the opposite problem. Lately, my imaginary friends have been talking my ear off and I can’t get them to stop! I’m drowning in plot bunnies and I have a difficult time focusing on what I should be working on, namely the holiday shorts and book three of the Equals series.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Russ and Stephen.  I love the characters, I love their story, I love their relationship and the way it’s evolving. But I have so many other characters impatiently waiting their turn and it’s a daily struggle to focus on what I need to work on.

I feel ungrateful complaining about an excess of creativity; after all, it could be worse, right? I could be completely stuck and unable to write.  But it’s hard to feel grateful when the number of projects I have in my plot bunny folder keeps piling up.  I have no idea when I’ll get to them and just thinking about them gives me anxiety.

What am I going to do about it?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I guess, but I’d sure love to know if you have any tips!

What can I do to get my characters to speak a little more quietly or at least wait their turn?

 

 

Updates

I thought I’d give you a quick update of where things are at right now. Partners, the second book in the Equals Series, is available for pre-sale on Amazon.  It will be release September 19.

Partners

I am working on the next book in the series although it’s still somewhat up in the air if I will include a holiday short as part of Book 3 or if it’ll be released separately.  At the moment, I’m leaning toward something separate.  Which would you prefer as a reader?

I am continuing to work on the novel I’m collaborating on.  It’s a slow, steady process but it’s going well and I am very excited about it.

I’m also getting ready for GRL in October.  I am going as a reader not an author this year. It’ll be overwhelming enough to go to without trying to pretend like I know what I’m doing.  Besides, I don’t have any print books released yet and I’d like to have some before I attempt to go as an author.  If you’re going, I WILL have some postcards with coupon codes for a free download on Smashwords, or something of the sort. I’m still working out the details. If you have suggestions, please let me know.

I am also up for Author of the Month for September on Goodreads! If you’re a member of the M/M Romance Group on GR you can go here to my profile.  Scroll to the bottom and vote in the poll there.  If you aren’t a member, you’re welcome to join then vote.  Voting is open until August 27.

And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m working on updating the blog.  New header, new tagline, new layout and slightly new color scheme.  I’m also adding pages like the Upcoming Projects page and I am currently working on a page that will list all of the books I currently have out with summaries/excerpts/covers/buy links.

I’d love to get your feedback on the blog so far. What do you like about it? What do you dislike? I am always open to suggestions so please, tell me what I can do to make the blog a better place for you!

Price Adjustment

Eight months into this self-publishing thing and I’m still figuring it out.  Each release teaches me a little more but in some ways I still feel like I’m floundering and unsure of what I should do.  

Pricing is one of those things.  Because Amazon is my biggest seller, I have to follow their guidelines.  In order to get the 70% royalty rate, I have to price stories between $2.99 and $9.99.  Just so you know, the author is only getting 35% royalty rates on those $0.99 and $1.99 books you buy.   

There are two schools of thought when it comes to pricing eBooks.  Well, probably more than just two, but there are two major ones.  This blog post does a pretty good job at going into an in depth discussion of it.  It’s one of many, many blog posts/articles/discussions I’ve taken into consideration.  One school of thought is that basically the book should be priced as low as possible to bring in the largest number of readers.  The idea is that the loss of money per sale will be made up by the increased volume of sales.  The other is that books should have value and you should price according to that.  Isn’t it worth spending money on something that will take you hours to read?  

I’ve seen the comparision to fancy-shmancy coffee drinks saying that since people are willing to pay $3-5 for a latte that they’ll drink in 15 minutes they should be willing to pay for a book will last them 6.5 hours.  Those numbers don’t really apply to me personally.  I bought a frozen latte with a raw sugar and extra shot of espresso in it for $4.87 this morning.  It’s been 45 minutes and I’m only halfway through with it and it’ll probably take me the full hour and a half to drink it.  An average novel takes me 2 hours to read.  I won’t pretend most people are either that slow at drinking coffee or that fast at reading, but it does point out the way people assign value.  Most days I try to bring coffee from home anyway (so I can save money to buy more books!) but I do enjoy the occasional latte from my local coffee place.  The baristas make killer lattes and are cute and sometimes flirty.  There are times that having someone remember my face and order and give me a big grin is worth $5, especially first thing on a Monday morning!

I thought the image above was interesting though. Time invested is something to consider.  My next release is Partners, the follow up to Equals, and will be roughly 41,000 words.  I’ve been working on it since July and it will release in September.  In order to create that book, there’s planning, research, writing, feedback, editing, blurb writing, cover image making, marketing, etc.  Yeah, I don’t even know how many hours go into a story like that.  And the novels I’m working on right now are nowhere near done and I’m at least a year in, so the two year mark for a novel isn’t so far out, especially for ones that require a lot of reasearch.

My short stories were priced at $2.99 for around 10,000-15,000 words and the Wine Tasting Series is a collection of three of them and comes in around 36,000 words.  If you buy all three individually, they cost $8.97 so pricing them at $5.99 seemed very reasonable.  When I released Equals, I priced it at $5.99 as well which seemed logical for a 48,000 word novella.  Equals did well.  Very well.  I sold nearly twice as many eBooks as I had in previous months, even taking into consideration that I didn’t release anything in June.  

But when I thought about what I should charge for the novels I will release eventually, I realized $7.99 did seem a little high for something that will probably be in the 80,000 word range.  If I scaled back and charged $6.99, $5.99 for a novella at half the length seemed a little bit high.  So I am giving it a try.  I dropped the prices of the Wine Tasting Series and Equals to $4.99 and will price Partners the same when it comes out.  

Hopefully the roughly $3.49 I get in royalties for each sale (instead of $4.19 I have been getting) will be made up for in increased sales volume.  I don’t really know.  It’s an experiment.  

The advantage of going through a publisher is that they take care of all of that.  They set the prices and save you the headache.  The beauty of self-publishing is that I can discover what works best.  I have the flexibility to explore my options when I want.  

My question to you is, what do you consider a reasonable price for a short story? For a novella? For a novel?

Race and M/M Romance

Thousands of demonstrators peacefully march down a street with members of the St. Louis County Police and Missouri Highway Patrol Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The tension is beginning to ease in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Michael Brown.  But because of the events that took place there I’ve been thinking a lot about race.  It’s a complicated, tricky subject that can be very divisive.  I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of something so complex.  But it is something very personal to me.

When my husband and I bought our house it was because we loved the hardwood floors and trim, the original windows, and the fact that at nearly 90 years old it needed enough fixing up to be a good investment but was still liveable.  We didn’t think a lot about the neighborhood other than liking its proximity to the capitol and noticing that overall the houses were beautiful and well cared for.  Last night as we went for a walk we passed a house proudly flying a rainbow flag, stopped to chat with an elderly black gentleman and admire his landscaping (he’s lived in the neighborhood since 1972 so I feel better about the fact his looks so much better than mine!), stopped to talk to the Hispanic owner of a roofing company and ask if he could get us an estimate on re-roofing our house, and idly wondered if the delicious smelling grilled food was coming from the house across the street where an interracial gay couple lives.  It makes me happy to live in a place with that kind of diversity.  Of course I’ve noticed the looks I get when I say the name of the neighborhood where I live.

They’re condescending, almost pitying.  Over the years I get more and more angry at the reactions, more vehement when I tell people how much I love living there, what a great place it is. Fuck you for looking down on where I live.  You see that diversity as a negative thing? I sure as hell don’t!

Today while I was doing research on the area/neighborhood I was astonished to find that according to this site it has, “the distinction of housing more same sex couples living together than 98.9% of neighborhoods in the U.S.”  I never knew that! For comparison, the Castro district in San Francisco has “a higher proportion of same sex households than in 99.9% of the neighborhoods in America.”.  Well damn.  

In general, Lansing is a fairly diverse city and I work at a place that hires a variety of people.  The public I see on a daily basis are from all over the world and come in every shape, color, gender, ability, and orientation. I like that about my job.

This past weekend, we had a family reunion.  A good portion of my dad’s side of the family is black/bi-racial.  Looking back, it occurs to me that at that reunion I was actually in the minority as someone who is white and completely of Western European descent.  They’re all kind, intelligent, hard-working people I’m proud to call family but I know there are people who would never take the time to see that.

One of my second cousins spent a good portion of the time geeking out with my husband over tech stuff while they talked about their nerdy jobs.  Much like my husband, he grew up poor and worked to put himself through school.  Unfortunately, unlike my husband who grew up in a safe, rural area, my cousin lived in a rough neighborhood in a suburb of Detroit.  While he was working to pay for school and help out his family, he was aware of a constant threat of gun violence, and woke up one morning to find a bullet lodged in the porch siding from a driveby shooting.  He got his mother and sisters out of there as fast as he could and they now live in a much safer suburb.  He said it took a while to get used to how quiet it was and when he had a flat tire he was shocked to have a passerby stop and offer to help him fix it.  Shocked by kindness, isn’t that sad?

The statistics on gun deaths and race is sobering.   It breaks my heart to know that my cousin could have been headed home from work or school and shot, not because he was doing anything wrong, but because of his race.  He could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and killed before anyone knew what a truly amazing person he is. It saddens me to think that anyone has to worry about something like that, much less my family, co-workers, or neighbors.

What does this have to do with M/M romance?  Well, there’s a distinct lack of racial diversity in books.  There are notable exceptions, Amy Lane’s phenominal Bolt Hole for one, where one of the main characters is black.  Rhys Ford writes a number of incredible books with Asian characters.  MM Good Book Reviews has a list of reviews tagged with GLBT Interracial Romance but that’s a handful in a sea of thousands.  

Last weekend, I finished Partners, the second in the Equals series and sent it off to my betas.  It follows Stephen and Russ as they go to the small town in Southern Georgia where Stephen grew up to bury his father.  Although I had an idea of where I was going with it, the plan for the story was fairly open ended when I began writing.  In particular, I hadn’t decided much about the one person in town Stephen is still close to, an elderly woman named Miss Esther.  As her character developed, I realized in my head, I was picturing her as black.  For all of the inclusion in the LGBT and M/M romance communities, there are problems.  Some (and I emphasize some, not all) view female writers-particularly the straight ones-of gay romance as interlopers.  As a bisexual, white woman writing about a black character in a M/M romance, it can be intimidating.  Will I get it right? Will I offend someone?

But you know what? Miss Esther spoke to me.  I modeled her a bit after one of the patients who comes in for appointments on a semi-regular basis.  Over the years she’s introduced me to her grandson, told me about her daughter who died, and shared her health woes.  She calls me baby and gives me a huge smile every time she sees me.  She’s a sweetheart and I bet she’s a wonderful grandmother.  She reminds me a bit of my own, actually.  So Miss Esther is near and dear to my heart.  I hope if you read the story you’ll enjoy her character.  I hope I “got it right”.  But if I didn’t, I’ll learn from my mistakes.  It’s what writers do.

Our world is imperfect and there’s a hell of a lot of work that needs to happen so the events that took place in Ferguson don’t happen again.  So people like my cousin never have to fear for their safety because of the color of their skin.  I believe that diversity of every kind is something to be cultivated, not shunned.

What can we do as M/M romance writers and readers to make our world-and hopefully the rest of it-a better place?

 

“Equals” Blog Tour – GGR Review – Review and Giveaway.

Come check out GGR Review for a review of “Equals” and a guest post I wrote about transitioning from short stories to novels!

Equals Cover 1 Final

 

Blog Tour Stops:

7/11/2014Prism Book Alliance  http://www.prismbookalliance.com 

 7/12/2014Love Bytes Reviews http://lovebytesreviews.com

7/14/2014The Novel Approach http://thenovelapproachreviews.com/

7/16/2014GGR Review http://www.ggr-review.com/

7/19/2014The Blogger Girls http://thebloggergirls.com/

7/21/2014Kimi Chan Experience http://www.kimnsarah.co.uk/

7/23/2014The Hat Party http://raineotierney.blogspot.com/p/the-hat-party.html

7/25/2014Rainbow Gold Reviews http://rainbowgoldreviews.wordpress.com/

In addition, next Sunday, 7/20/20, join me on Facebook at 2:30pm EST for a half hour chat on the Rainbow Gold Reviews FB page to celebrate Pride!

Giveaway:

At each stop, one commenter will win their choice of a backlist title from me. In addition, one commenter in all of the tour will win a $10 Gift Card from Amazon. See the stops on the blog tour for more details.