Friday, September 05, 2014

Just another blog hop...

So this lil blog hop keeps on a-hopping.

It's not quite a month since I did the "Fabulous Five Blog Hop", which was actually my last post, because I'm far too busy to write blog posts. So, when Hans Hirschi asked me if I would like to be the next hop from his own post, and the questions were exactly the same, I said, "I'll give it a go."

That might seem a bit of a contradiction - no time to post, but offering to do so anyway. But the thing is, you make time. Like now. It's almost two in the morning, and I'm writing this.

The other part of it is the challenge. "What's the point if you've just done it?" Hans asked. So I told him. Four weeks ago I was working on something different, and that's not the only thing that's changed. My thoughts on my responses to the other three questions have also changed.

I'm a thinker. I'm also a doer (hence time has moved on and so have I), but when it comes to quickfire questions, I'm rubbish. I need time to think, to consider all the possibilities. 

So, without further ado, here are my updated (but not overwriting my previous) responses to the blog hop questions.

 

What are you working on?

I've been working on a few different projects. First and foremost, I'm working on a Beaten Track Publishing anthology of holidays stories that are diverse and positive. I'm not saying there won't be any heartache along the way, but there will be plenty of happy-ever-afters.

I've also been writing a story for the holidays anthology myself, but it's slow-going with everything else.

Note: here was where I finally relented and went to bed, because the other thing I've been working on, or with, is the Goodreads MM Romance Group's Love's Landscapes Anthology, which is heading for its climactic finish :). At the time of writing, I was waiting on a story I'd edited to finalise. The stories become available as they're published, and can be downloaded from the MM Romance Group Website.

In my Fabulous Five Blog Hop post, I explained that I was working on Crying in the Rain - a stand-alone novel/novella that features one of the main characters from Hiding Behind The Couch about to embark on a new relationship. That's currently on hold for the anthology. As well as Crying in the Rain, I'm half done with a second short story for the series, working title: Ruminations. Again, it's written to be completely stand-alone, and takes the reader on a journey back to university with Josh and Sean.

Finally, in my down-time, where I'm waiting on things to happen that are beyond my control but I'm too mentally exhausted to work on anything cerebral, I've been playing with 3D people. I have quite an old computer, and it doesn't cope well with the software (Daz 3D), which makes for ingenious solutions involving Photoshop paintbrushes and wasting hours on choosing background images that kind of work.

Without going "too geek", here is a 2D render of a 3D characterisation of Andy Jeffries, from Hiding Behind The Couch. Andy's the middle brother of three, and is into extreme sports, travel and other adventures. At the beginning of Book One, he's in hospital following a near-fatal car crash that occurred whilst racing against a friend in fast cars on country lanes. He used to be something of an idiot, but the story follows him as he finally starts to "grow up" and become more responsible.


Andy Jeffries from Hiding Behind The Couch - created using Daz 3D.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

The million dollar question, but I know how it differs now. Hiding Behind The Couch is a series that is not easy to pin down to one specific genre, and the reason for that is...life. Think about where you live, the people you live with, what's happening in your local community, the events that make the local press - if we were to attempt to 'genrify' real life, it would be contemporary (obviously) with elements of history (the older members of our community sharing their rich and wonderful experiences), thriller, romance...

In short, life doesn't fit one specific genre, and whilst at certain times it might be predominantly governed by family, or romance, or there may be a terrible crime in the community, at other times it will be about illness, or celebration.

Hiding Behind The Couch is about life. If you want to stick it in a category, it's literary soap, or kitchen-sink drama, but it's such a lot more than that. It's nine friends, living in a relatively small town, going about their daily lives, facing the challenges of mental and physical illness, caring for the young and the old, walking the dog, doing the shopping, going to work. And then there are the murder mysteries, the hidden pasts - the more exciting highlights of our existence.

 

Why do you write what you do?

I had a conversation with another author/publisher about this very thing just this morning. There are those authors who have a daily schedule - start work at nine, write for two hours, coffee break, Twitter for half an hour, Facebook for half an hour...and so on. If this works for you, then great. But, well, I never ever want writing to become a chore. Indeed, as I told Martin Belk this morning, I would rather be a bum living on the beach, writing on leaves (or rocks, but I was ranting at the time, so I went with leaves) than reach a point where I hate writing.

It is my therapy. Hiding Behind The Couch came into existence for that reason. As I've written elsewhere, I wrote my own therapist in Josh Sandison and his friends. Josh decided to break free, and the series became what it is.

 

How does your writing process work?

The creative process of getting the words down works in much the same way for me as is explained in  Hans' blog hop post. It just kind of pours out (from across the incursion). Nor is there any real conscious effort to push the story in a certain direction once it's flowing (sometimes I try, but the characters won't let me). So I just get the first draft down, and then rewrite and refine until it resembles something like an organised plot with a beginning, middle and end.

Finally...
As Hans noted, this blog hop has been doing the rounds, so I'm not tagging anyone, as most have already done it, but you can find out more about the anthology authors, design and editorial team by clicking on their names below.

Thanks for reading. :)

 

Boughs of Evergreen - A Holiday Anthology

Alexis Woods
Amelia Mann
Amy Spector
Ava Penn
Claire Davis
Debbie McGowan
Hans M Hirschi
Hunter Frost
J.P. Walker
Jonathan Penn
K.C. Faelan
Kathleen Hayes
L.L. Bucknor
L.M. Steel
Larry Benjamin
Laura Susan Johnson
Matthias Williamson
Ofelia Grand
Raine O'Tierney
Rick Bettencourt
S.H. Allan
Shayla Mist
Tami Veldura
Andrea Harding

Thursday, August 07, 2014

What’s Next? Fabulous Five Blog Hop

I've been invited to answer these questions by C.M. Walker, author of M/M Romance. Her current titles include Pledge Number Seven and Gravitational Force. Both can be downloaded from her website cm-walker.com.

What am I working on?

I'm currently writing Crying in the Rain - a standalone story (novella, probably, but it's still growing), but with characters that will be familiar to readers of the Hiding Behind The Couch series.

Crying in the Rain explores the romance blossoming between Kris and Ade, who meet for the first time whilst both working on the same radio play. It's told mostly from Ade's perspective, and "romance" is very much not on his agenda. He's recently come out of a traumatic long-term relationship, and is barely getting through from one day to the next, yet finds he can't ignore his attraction to Kris, and the feeling is mutual. But starting a relationship isn't going to be easy for either of them. It's going to require patience, understanding and trust.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I don't really write romance, I write relationships. My published work that is tagged as "M/M Romance" can thus surprise readers, and not always in a positive way, because there are certain expectations that go with the genre, and the stories I write don't necessarily fulfil them. So it's really quite difficult to categorise my work as one thing or another, which means it is contemporary fiction.

Of course, the genre of contemporary fiction is vast, and there's a great deal of diversity within it. I think what sets my work apart is characterisation and realism - I get a lot of readers commenting on how real my characters feel, and I'm told that they evoke strong emotions. I write about the everyday - the good and the bad. I try to get to the root of thoughts, feelings and motivations for why the characters (and all of us) do what they do, and the effect this has on their lives and the lives of other people. In real life, I see people's psychological rather than physical presence - personality, emotions, beliefs - and that is how I write . Thus, a character can be beautiful on the inside, but that beauty is only realised when others see it, or they know it for themselves.


Why do I write what I do?

I just write and that's what comes out. I've tried to force my writing in specific directions (for instance, to fit particular genres/subgenres), and it naturally drifts back to being about what makes us who we are - past events, the people around us, our perceptions; our uniqueness. I love exploring the minutiae of social interaction, and find it's much safer to do this from within the realm of a novel than in a pub in a northern working class town. Ultimately, I write because I must.

How does my writing process work?

I wake up pretty much every morning with ideas - if I'm already writing something, then these will generally be about where the story is headed next. I just free-write, all the while thinking "this is rubbish and it makes no sense", and then at the end of the day I send the document to my Kindle, read through what I've done, come back to it the next day, revise, continue, repeat. When it's finished, I leave it alone for a while, send it to some trusted people to read, then revisit it and edit some more. Only then, after it's been through about four revisions, will I be anywhere near the editor/proofreader stage.

Sometimes I have some notion of where the story is heading, and if a particular scene comes to me, I will write it, but usually I write in a linear fashion and let the story evolve. With Hiding Behind The Couch, the characters tend to hijack the narrative, so I just do as they tell me. That same process happens with my other writing too - once I get inside a character's head, I just "know" what's going to happen next.

Who's next on the blog hop?

Larry Benjamin - Bronx-born wordsmith Larry Benjamin is a 2014 Lammy Award finalist and the author of the gay novels Unbroken and What Binds Us and the short story collection, Damaged Angels.
[http://authorlarrybenjamin.blogspot.com]

Rick Bettencourt - Rick originally hails from Boston’s North Shore, and is the author of Tim on Broadway, Marketing Beef, Painting with Wine and Not Sure Boys.
[http://rickbettencourt.com]

L.M. Steel - author of crime thrillers, including the Once Upon a Set of Wheels series. [http://www.lmsteel.co.uk/]

Shayla Mist - author of M/M Romance, including Only You, Doctor's Puppy Love and Love Rivals. [http://http://shaylamist.blogspot.com/]

Monday, June 23, 2014

LGBT Roundtable Week #4: Rick Bettencourt and Lane Hayes

This week, our final Pride roundtable discussion is led by Rick Bettencourt and Lane Hayes.

You can read what they had to say by following the links below:





Our panelists are a diverse group of readers, writers, and supporters of gay fiction, including Larry Benjamin, Rick Bettencourt, Brandilyn Carpenter, Rob Colton, Andrew Q Gordon, Lane Hayes, and Debbie McGowan. Each week, two people will answer two questions related LGBT pride, rights, and related topics.

We will also be giving away free copies of our eBooks and an Amazon gift card. (Enter on the RC on any of the blog posts.) There are special entries for each week of June, so don’t miss out on those.

Please join in the discussion in the comments. You can gain entries into the giveaway, but more importantly, you can be part of a important and fun discussion. Although only two panelists will be posting each week, we will all be joining the discussion.

If you missed the previous weeks' discussion points, you can find them on the links below:


Andrew Q Gordon's Post:

Debbie McGowan's Post:




Tuesday, June 17, 2014

LGBT Roundtable Week #3: Brandilyn Carpenter and Rob Colton

This week, our roundtable discussion is led by Brandilyn Carpenter and Rob Colton.

You can read what they had to say by following the links below:



Rob Colton's Post:




Our panelists are a diverse group of readers, writers, and supporters of gay fiction, including Larry Benjamin, Rick Bettencourt, Brandilyn Carpenter, Rob Colton, Andrew Q Gordon, Lane Hayes, and Debbie McGowan. Each week, two people will answer two questions related LGBT pride, rights, and related topics.

We will also be giving away free copies of our eBooks and an Amazon gift card. (Enter on the RC on any of the blog posts.) There are special entries for each week of June, so don’t miss out on those.

Please join in the discussion in the comments. You can gain entries into the giveaway, but more importantly, you can be part of a important and fun discussion. Although only two panelists will be posting each week, we will all be joining the discussion.

If you missed the previous weeks' discussion points, you can find them on the links below:


Andrew Q Gordon's Post:

Debbie McGowan's Post:




Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lucky Seven Game

I've been tagged in the Lucky Seven Game by the wonderful Hunter Frost.

How does it work?
  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP.
  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentences or 7 lines—as they are!
  • Tag 7 people to do the same. 

It caused me a bit of a dilemma, as my current work in progress is Two By Two - Season Six of the Hiding Behind The Couch series - I'm well into writing the final episode of this instalment, and everything is a spoiler!

Thusly, I'm going with page 77 of the full season, and here are the seven lines:
    “You know when you go collecting tadpoles?” he said.
    Krissi frowned. “Yeah?”
    “And you get the ones with two tails, or the ones that just kind of wiggle and get nowhere?”
    “Hmm?”
    Ade nodded. “That’s what my sperm are like.”
    Krissi giggled. A lot. Then blushed. “I’m sorry,” she spluttered. “That’s so not funny, but the way you said it…”
Oh, and this is the first outing of the cover for episode one!

Two By Two will be out sometime in 2015.

Monday, June 09, 2014

LGBT Roundtable Week #2: Brandon Shire and Larry Benjamin

This week, our roundtable discussion is led by authors Brandon Shire and Larry Benjamin.

You can read what they had to say by following the links below:



Larry Benjamin's Post:




Our panelists are a diverse group of readers, writers, and supporters of gay fiction, including Larry Benjamin, Rick Bettencourt, Brandilyn Carpenter, Rob Colton, Andrew Q Gordon, Lane Hayes, and Debbie McGowan. Each week, two people will answer two questions related LGBT pride, rights, and related topics.

We will also be giving away free copies of our eBooks and an Amazon gift card. (Enter on the RC on any of the blog posts.) There are special entries for each week of June, so don’t miss out on those.

Please join in the discussion in the comments. You can gain entries into the giveaway, but more importantly, you can be part of a important and fun discussion. Although only two panelists will be posting each week, we will all be joining the discussion.

If you missed last week's discussion points, you can find them on the links below:


Andrew Q Gordon's Post:

Debbie McGowan's Post:




Monday, June 02, 2014

LGBT Pride: A Roundtable Discussion

This week on my blog, we're trying something a little different. In honor of LGBT Pride month, I am among a great group of panelists who will be hosting a month long discussion about Pride, LGBT Youth, Allies, and more.

Our panelists are a diverse group of readers, writers, and supporters of gay fiction, including Larry Benjamin, Rick Bettencourt, Brandilyn Carpenter, Rob Colton, Andrew Q Gordon, Lane Hayes, Debbie McGowan, and Brandon Shire. Each week, two people will answer two questions related LGBT pride, rights, and related topics.

We will also be giveaway free copies of eBooks by our participating authors and a Amazon gift card. You can enter on the RC below. There are special entries for each week of June, so don't miss out on those.

Please join in the discussion in the comments. You can gain entries into the giveaway, but more importantly, you can be part of a important and fun discussion. Though only 2 panelists will be posting each week, we will all be joining the discussion. 

This Week's Discussion

As the LGBT community gains more rights and acceptance, how has this affected LGBT youth?

It's a very emotional time for me to answer this question, and not necessarily for reasons directly associated with the topic of this roundtable discussion. Back in 2000, I started work in a high school - not my planned career, I must admit, but the job came up, and, well...we all know that story, and it's one for another time.

I was employed to teach in the sixth form, housed separately from the school's main building that I tended to enter and exit via the staff-room door, which meant for the first couple of months of working there, I didn't come into contact with the main body of students. This particular day, however, I decided (for reasons I do not recall) to step into the foyer in the middle of break (recess).

Bam! Wall of sound! The best analogy I can give you is the clacking of a multitude of seagulls - the school's located near Liverpool, which has a very guttural dialect and accent (much more so than any of The Beatles - have a listen to footballer Steven Gerrard, and you'll get the idea).

So, I'm standing there, utterly stunned by the noise and the sheer volume of teenagers. Bewildered, I look to my right, where there is a long corridor, with windows running all down one side. Children are scurrying everywhere, racing to get to the canteen for their break-time goodies, and teachers are yelling, "Stop running! Keep to the left!" And through the midst of this commotion strides a young man, flanked by two young women. He has big blonde hair, spiked and drawn forward. His thumbs are hooked in the pockets of his black, skinny jeans (sooooo not school uniform), and he's swaggering, right down the middle of the corridor, all not-give-a-f**k, king of the school, yet he was only in year nine (14-15 years old), so not yet a senior pupil.

Out. Loud. Proud.

It was just the most incredible thing, and he made so much difference in that school - I don't know if he's aware of that, but he, and other students who took that first brave step, paved the future for others. It's an amazing school for that reason, if nothing else. For there, sexuality is no more of an issue than any other aspect of growing up, and it's...wonderful.

To answer the question, therefore, rights and acceptance mean young people can concentrate on the million other things that are going on - learning, exams, going out with friends, choosing uni places, playing football, having romantic relationships - without worrying about a "difference" that doesn't matter, because it's just one of many things that make them a unique individual. It's not other. It's just...different. Growing up is tough enough already.

As for that swaggering young superstar: these days he runs a theatrical production company. He's an incredibly talented writer, actor and director. He has every right to be as out, loud and proud as he damn-well likes.

What does "gay pride" mean to you?

My answer to this question is really the flipside of my answer to the question above. First and foremost, I'm going to make a point of calling it "Pride" rather than "gay pride", because it's not about being gay. It's not even about being bi, or trans, or straight, or asexual, or any combination therein.

See, for every swaggering superstar in the world, there is at least one shrinking violet, who is simply too shy, too introvert and too self-conscious to be out and loud, however proud (or not) of themselves they might be. For those of us who fit this mould (yes, I am an introvert, contrary to what people might think), drawing attention to ourselves is not something we welcome, and being non-heterosexual, or not fitting the binary male/female gender categories does precisely that. We don't want that. We just want to get on with thinking, and creating, and philosophising, because that's what we do. But it's like having an enormous spot on the end of your nose. However great a conversationalist you are, you just know that the person you're talking to is thinking, "Look at that spot!" and even if they're not, you're thinking, "They're looking at my spot."

The point I'm making is that pride is an inner state of being, whereas Pride is a political endeavour.

Pride is the celebration of progress, affirmation, solidarity. It is about a safe space, raising awareness, and it is about drawing attention, so in some respects, the measure of its success will be its demise, inasmuch as it's characterised by garish carnivals, partying and entertainment. And who says you can't have fun whilst being political?

On the other hand, pride is self-affirmation, being comfortable in one's skin. It's about being true to oneself, and it's political on a deeply personal level.

To return to the question of what "gay pride" means to me, I get that it's politically important, I really do. But I worry about the separatism. I've heard and seen too many times the questioning by gay people of the motivations of straight people to join the fight for gay equality - why should they care? There's an implicit assumption that straight people only care if they have seen for themselves the damage that "phobia" has caused to a loved one, and I don't believe that's the case. So for me, it's not "gay pride". It's just pride: standing up for what is right, regardless of who or what we are.

Andrew Q Gordon is also hosting this week. You can read his most excellent roundtable blog post here: http://andrewqgordon.com/2014/06/02/gay-pride-month-virtual-roundtable

 

About our Panelists

Larry Benjamin: Bronx-born wordsmith Larry Benjamin, is the author of the gay novels, Unbroken, and What Binds Us and the short story collection Damaged Angels.
Larry will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014
 Twitter: @WriterLarry
Website: http://www.larrybenjamin.com 

Rick Bettencourt: Rick Bettencourt is the author of Not Sure Boys, Painting With Wine and Tim On Broadway. Rick hates to cook, and can often be seen eating out. He lives in the Tampa Bay area, with his husband and their dog, Bandit.
Rick will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014
 Twitter: @rbettenc
Website: http://rickbettencourt.wordpress.com 

Brandilyn Carpenter: Brandilyn is the odd duck in this group. She owns an LGBTQ fiction focused review blog, Prism Book Alliance, and is the married mother of 3 young children. She is an advocate for equal rights and tirelessly promotes the gay fiction genre.
Brandilyn will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014
 Twitter: @BrandilynRC
Website: http://www.prismbookalliance.com 

Rob Colton: Rob Colton is a software developer by day, and avid reader of romance novels at night. A romantic at heart, he loves stories that feature big, burly men who find true love and happy endings.
Rob will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014
Twitter: @robcub32
Website: http://robcolton.com

Andrew Q Gordon:
Andrew Q. Gordon lives in the DC Metro area with his husband and 2 year old daughter. While he enjoys most types of fiction, his current works include MM Fantasy, Paranormal and Contemporary Fiction.
Andrew will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014
Twitter: @AndrewQGordon
Website: http://andrewqgordon.com

Lane Hayes:
Lane Hayes is a M/M author, 2013 Rainbow Award finalist for her first release Better Than Good, designer, reader, lover of chocolate, red wine and clever people.
Lane will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014
Twitter: @LaneHayes3
Website: http://lanehayes.wordpress.com

Debbie McGowan: Debbie McGowan is based in Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven fiction, runs an independent publishing company, and lectures in social science. Sometimes she sleeps, too!
Debbie will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014
Twitter: @writerdebmcg
Website: http://www.debbiemcgowan.co.uk 

Brandon Shire: Brandon Shire writes fiction about human intimacy and interactions. He loves chocolate and is a staunch advocate for homeless LGBT youth.
Brandon will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014
Twitter: @thebrandonshire
Website: http://brandonshire.com

Giveaway

Prizes (4 winners):
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Listening to Dust by Brandon Shire, and eBook Not Sure Boys by Rick Bettencourt
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Painting with Wine by Rick Bettencourt, and eBook from Andrew Q Gordon's backlist
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Unbroken by Larry Benjamin, and eBook Champagne by Debbie McGowen
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook from Rob Colton's backlist, and eBook from Lane Hayes' backlist
a Rafflecopter giveaway