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A brief aside from Nanowrimo

Today, I felt like writing!

I really enjoyed the scenes I was working on. They went well and I felt like I was making some good progress, finally.

It’s day six. I’m 23,562 words in. And today I felt like I was making good progress! FINALLY, TODAY.

There’s this notion out there that you need to wait to be inspired, or that all your best writing flows from inspiration, or if you’re not moved to write then maybe it’s not the time.

In my personal opinion these notions are bunk.

The absolute unwavering key to writing–beyond that, to getting anywhere with your writing–is to do it consistently, as a discipline, until you can do as much of it as possible during the moments you have available.

People ask me all the time how I manage to be so prolific. And truly, to me there’s no big secret. Five to six days out of the week, I sit down and I write. For an hour and a half every day. I take my laptop to work, I sit down on my breaks and lunch hour, and I write. If I don’t hit my word count goal with that, I write at home, or I write at Starbucks.

Not every word is going to be wonderful. Not all of it is going to be the best prose or dialogue you’ve ever produced. Some of it may feel awful, or rough, or slapped on, or over-written, or too sparse, or an absolute agony to put one word after another like squeezing blood from that overused proverbial stone. But each word you put down is more words, and for Nanowrimo or a first draft in general, every word counts.

So don’t wait for inspiration to seize you by the balls, and don’t sit around and expect every day of the month to bring you a cascade of glittering word-stars pouring from the sky to illuminate each moment of your manuscript into something brilliant and sky-touched. That’s not going to happen, but what you can do is sit down and do the work. Making it to 1,667 words a day is work, and don’t let it discourage you. Because it’s only the beginning.

What are you waiting for? Go get your write-in on.

Making 50k

Can’t talk; noveling!

Like most writers short on sanity and long on ambition, I started Nanowrimo today. I’ve got the first 3,407 words of my novel off to a decent start but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve set reasonable goals based on when I’m working and my typical writing rate in years past, but I’ll be satisfied if I fall a little short of that.

This year I’m only working on one project, Dragonspire. My goal is to get a significant chunk of writing toward the first draft banged out, but as usual, I probably won’t finish the entire novel in November. And that’s totally normal–a usable first draft of a novel typically takes more than a month anyhow.

I have my own tips and tricks, but for tonight, check out Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things You Should Know About Nanowrimo. His tips strike a pretty good balance of practicality and motivation, in this veteran Nano-er’s opinion.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve put you all on notice. I won’t be blogging this month unless I’m procrastinating from my writing. Have a great month, everyone!

WIP Wednesday: My Sexual Superhero

By popular demand! Today’s WIP Wednesday brings you another snippet of “My Sexual Superhero,” which is very much a work in progress. The title, as I’ve already had to explain twice, is a bit of a misnomer as neither character is an actual superhero, though Jessan certainly thinks Felipe is talented between the sheets. I may end up changing the name just to avoid spoiled expectations!

At this point, I’m definitely fighting to keep the story throttled back under 20,000 words. I tend to do better character work, especially contemporary, when I have more room to stretch out and get under their skin. Will keep at it and see where these boys bring me!

    “Jessan Pierce would rather spend the night with his Doctor Who collection having tea out of the Tardis than go dancing, but his best friend Maria knows what he really needs is to shake off the doldrums and get out of his well-worn groove. Felipe de la Rosa is just his type, short, well-built, and as ready with a smart-mouthed quip as he is to take his shirt off. The chemistry that works great between the sheets seems to fizzle outside the bedroom, though, and Jessan may prove too chicken to take the chance to put himself out there with Felipe, as well as the other big leap he’s facing in his life.”

“Drinks?” Jessan asked, leaning forward to speak right into Marina’s ear. He did better not only with dancing but clubbing in general when he had a few drinks in him.

She nodded, altering course to head for the bar, which was packed and understaffed. There were only two bartenders, a dark-haired man at one end, a blond woman closer to them holding up a silver shaker and looking out over the crowd with a set, almost grim expression, the look of an overworked employee staring into the deep end of a long night.

“This is going to take forever!” Marina did an about face and shoved cash into his hand. “Get me a vodka cranberry, and I’ll find you!”

“Bullshi—” Jessan began to protest, but she was already gone. He cast his eyes up, caught sight of the dim mirror ball that was raised up unused for the evening, and shuffled forward to join the queue with a shrug.

While he was musing over whether he let himself get suckered into things because he wasn’t assertive, or he lacked assertiveness because he was constantly suckered into things, a hard shoulder collided with his and Jessan lurched forward.

“Shit! I am so sorry, man!” Hands reached out to steady him, and Jessan turned, brow gathering in a glare.

His squint shifted to one of instant appraisal. From the impact he’d expected someone taller, more muscular, but his assailant was close to his height, and his type in all the ways he hadn’t seen in a while. He was short, dark, and brown, though his features had a distinctly Asian cast. Jessan schooled himself to disinterest; all of the Asians on campus tended toward aggressive Christianity, clubgoing or not.

“No worries,” Jessan said. “So long as you didn’t do it on purpose.”

Short and Dark leaned in closer, flashing a smile that displayed teeth in stark contrast as his eyes went up and down Jessan. “And if I did?” he asked. His hand remained a warm presence on Jessan’s shoulder. “And was looking for an excuse to make conversation?”

Jessan’s brain was forced to backpedal on his assumptions, and he stood gaping like a flounder as he tried to come up with a response. He shook his head a little, laughed and decided not to accuse the guy of a terrible method of coming onto someone, and managed the very with-it reply of “Uhh …”

“Nice shirt!” Short and Dark complimented him, smoothing right past Jessan’s awkward non-answer. His eyes skimmed from Jessan’s chest and upward until he made eye contact again, and smiled.

That put Jessan on more familiar territory. “Oh?” he said, somewhat wary. People had recognized the pop culture references before, but tended to think they looked cool or missed the thrust of the shirt’s design.

“Yeah, Captain Jack’s my favorite—and having him cosplay Captain Sparrow is about five kinds of awesome. Makes you wonder which would be more slutty.”

Jessan beamed at him. Whether Short and Dark had knocked into him on purpose or not, getting the t-shirt’s visual pun had endeared him to Jessan forever. “Right?” he said. “My friend says I wear too much Tee Fury stuff, but I’m kind of an addict.” He shifted in place, wondering if he should turn around and make sure he maintained his place in line, or introduce himself.

The dilemma was solved when a hand was offered to him. “I’m Felipe.” Warm, dark eyes surveyed him.

“Jessan.” He took Felipe’s hand and shook it, enjoying a glow that had nothing to do with the drinks he’d thought he needed. An insecure corner of his head told him exactly what Felipe was seeing: the skinny half-black, half-Persian kid with cornrows and geek gear, too insecure to wear any of the more flattering clothes his female friends attempted to push on him. He was in a t-shirt and jeans and combat boots, and got mistaken half the time for a butch lesbian. Jessan took the conscious initiative to tell that part of his brain to buzz off; adults were talking. And if he hadn’t misinterpreted the interest, adults might be hooking up.

“Not a fan of club gear, then, Jessan?” Felipe asked, stepping into his space and guiding Jessan along with the flow of the queue shuffling toward the bar.

The move reminded Jessan of dancing, and he was caught between that and the notion he was being subtly derided. There was nothing mocking in Felipe’s face, at least, so he treated it like a question with no mean intent.

“I’m not much of a clubbing person, no.” Jessan waved a hand around to encompass the noisy, dark interior and wrinkled his nose at the cramped dance floor. Before he could go off on a rant, he caught himself and hauled his remarks into politer territory. “Uh, but, yours looks good!” He allowed himself to look.

On Felipe, ‘club gear’ wasn’t doing it justice. It was more like he’d walked out of Jessan’s wet dream catalogue. Besides being in Jessan’s height range, short by anyone else’s standards but perfect for him, Felipe had dark hair gelled up into wayward spikes, brown skin set off to advantage by a silver tank that bared his arms, collarbones, and a glimpse of belly, and skintight patterned leggings that weren’t underwear, but left very little to the imagination. It gave Jessan brief flashbacks to David Bowie in tights and his early realization of where his attractions lay.

“Likin’ the angle of the dangle?” Felipe asked, cocking his head.

“Did you just … quote The Losers at me?” Jessan was stupefied. He’d never known a guy with Felipe’s attractiveness index to have anything to do with that movie; at least, not the gay ones.

Felipe’s faint smile widened. “Yeah, I did. It was a sneaky way of letting you know I noticed you checking me out.”

Maintaining Visibility: How Often to Publish?

Conventional wisdom from authors attending the Gay Romance Northwest meet-up covered the subject of how often an author should publish in order to stay on the readers’ radar. The answer surprised me: there’s a push to publish quarterly to stay on top.

I am a prolific writer myself, but the thought of putting out something every quarter seemed pretty exhausting. After all, the process involves brainstorming, turning out a first draft, going back for the first edit, submitting, doing another, potentially more extensive edit for pre-publication that might involve re-writes, and galley approval. All of that for one manuscript–then the prospect of juggling four (or more!) manuscripts a year can be overwhelming.

That led me to take a look at my own experiences over the past year and a half. I started out submitting three manuscripts right out the gate. By the end of the year I’d submitted two more and gotten them accepted. Fireborn came out last summer, Signal to Noise came out in autumn, From the Inside Out in December. This year, I’ve had the three volumes of Appetite staggered from March to May to July, and Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues made its serial debut in May, and its anthology debut last week. Convergence comes out next week, and The Fall Guide will come out in December. In the meantime, I have Body Option, The More Plausible Evil, and Klaxon at the Core accepted and going through various parts of the editing process. And I’ll be starting Dragonspire next month! Not to mention, I have other short stories planned for anthologies or collections due at the end of the year and beyond.

No wonder it feels like writing is its own part-time job, on top of my already full time employment.

So, without intending to or planning for it, I seem to have positioned myself for that ideal “publish quarterly, or around that” philosophy. At least for the first couple of years!

Now I ask the question: is it really necessary? Are readers so fickle or easily distracted that an author needs to keep up with the demand and publish quarterly, or lose their readers?

When I was younger, I remember waiting years in between books for certain authors. Most notably, I think the longest I ever waited for an author was Melanie Rawn, and her next published title was a huge break from her previous work. It was more of a contemporary urban fantasy, where before she had been working on otherworldly epic fantasy, vast in worldbuilding and political scope and, I think, a trilogy that will remain forever unfinished. That aside, authors worked in the framework of years as opposed to the go, spend, buy consumer culture we have going on today, and I was accustomed to waiting at least two years between books for the “big name” authors.

The landscape of m/m fiction seems to come with different expectations. Regardless of what the big name authors say, I think it’s good advice for someone getting newly established, like myself, to make a push to get something published on a regular basis to get your name out there.

At the same time, in my opinion I think it’s also important to pace yourself, and make sure you and the people you’re working with are satisfied with the quality of the material you’re putting out there. When you rush something to an artificial deadline, no matter the reason whether it’s keeping your name out there or just a determination not to change dates, it’s all too easy to make mistakes in the process, whether re-writes are part of it or not.

When you feel rushed, stressed, or under the hammer to produce, that’s also when the quality starts to suffer. And that’s definitely when it’s time to take a break. Whether you’re getting yourself established or already at the top, telling the best story that you can is what really matters. Everything else falls into place from that.

Happy Release Day! And two new reviews.

First and foremost!

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Are you ready for a rocking good time? Rocking Hard: Volume One is ready for you! My novella, Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues, is sandwiched in between four other tales of music and love, the rhythms that move the world.

Cannot wait to hear what you all think!

Speaking of feedback, this week has been fruitful for The Competitive Edge, which netted 4.5 pants off over at Pants Off Reviews, and 4 kisses and an avowal to check out the other books in the Appetite series from Top2Bottom reviews.

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At Pants Off Reviews, Darien Moya says, “If you are a cooking afficionado and like m/m romance this is a must read!” Check out the rest of the review here!

Over with Top2Bottom, Susan says, “A quite long read, this series is promising. The writing is captivating, and I was fully immersed into the story.” See what else she says here!

And in case you missed my Tweet, Top2Bottom also gave me a lovely spotlight review. Thanks to all the wonderful peeps at Less Than Three Press, too, for arranging the tour!

WIP Wednesday: My Sexual Superhero

Today’s excerpt is the story I just started, My Sexual Superhero, which I intend to submit to the Satisfaction Guaranteed call–that is, if I can rein it in and keep it under the submission limit! Already I’m side-eyeing the outline and wondering if I can manage to fill it in less than 30k.

Without further ado! I have a summary I came up with just yesterday, followed by the first thousand words that I wrote just today.

    “Jessan Pierce would rather spend the night with his Doctor Who collection having tea out of the Tardis than go dancing, but his best friend Maria knows what he really needs is to shake off the doldrums and get out of his well-worn groove. Felipe de la Rosa is just his type, short, well-built, and as ready with a smart-mouthed quip as he is to take his shirt off. The chemistry that works great between the sheets seems to fizzle outside the bedroom, though, and Jessan may prove too chicken to take the chance to put himself out there with Felipe, as well as the other big leap he’s facing in his life.”

“Oh my God, you are such a huge geek.”

Jessan leveled an irritated squint at his friend Marina and raised a hand, casually displaying his middle finger before using it to tuck a braid of cornrowed hair behind one ear. The Tardis-blue bead at the braid’s base clicked against its mates. “Which part of me? What was your first clue?” He covered the mouthpiece of his headset and frowned at Marina. “And why would you bust in making announcements when I’ve got my headset on? I could be taking a call.”

Marina flicked her pointer finger toward Jessan’s Bluetooth. “It’s not lit up.” She folded her arms and smirked at him. “And, another TeeFury shirt? Really? You know that no one gets those obscure jokes—”

“Except the people who are into that stuff; yeah, I know,” Jessan interrupted. “But I like it. And we don’t have a dress code in the cubicle farm, which is the one good thing about it, so I’m going to wear what I like, and you can wear your clown suits.” He gestured to her immaculate pinstriped pants.

“It’s not a pantsuit!” Marina exclaimed, tugging on the hem of her white blouse and shooting him a mock glare. “It’s dressing to impress, because I’m moving up in the world. And I barged in because it’s time for break.”

Jessan lifted his head to catch a glimpse of the clock. “So it is.” He scooted his chair forward far enough to look up and down the aisle, scanning a wary eye in all directions for their supervisor, Darnell. “He won’t like it if we go at the same time.”

“Balls to what he likes.” Marina waved a hand. “Let’s go. I’ll beg forgiveness—”

“And I’ll be the one who’s sorry,” Jessan muttered, but he pushed up from his chair and fell into step behind Marina with the feeling he was slinking out rather than taking his duly allowed break time.

Behind the call center building, there were two areas for employees to take their breaks: the sheltered haven beneath an awning, right beside the door, and the smokers’ pavilion further out, a mandated thirty feet from the building entrance. In colder weather, people could be seen huddled singly or in groups, shoulders hunched miserably against the elements as they got their nicotine fix. It was a muggy spring evening right then, and everyone outdoors either taking a walk or standing around chatting or checking their phones.

Jessan’s phone cleared his pocket the moment he was out the door. He almost bumped into Marina as she turned to give him an amused look.

“Anything good?” she asked. Her own phone was in her hand.

“Atelier Geek is having a sale,” Jessan said, half to her, half to himself as he considered the benefits of the BOGO against the relative weak performance of his bank account. He had rent, bills, and his stomach to consider, and wasn’t sure if he was up for another month of ramen and tuna fish.

“Jessan Pierce!” Marina exclaimed, and Jessan jerked his eyes up, mouth dropping open to object at her tone. “Why don’t you stow the phone and pay attention to the person beside you for five minutes out of fifteen?”

“What? You were checking your texts.” His tone was defensive, but Jessan slipped his phone into his back pocket.

“Yeah, because I was waiting to hear back from Blanca, but she’s out,” Marina said. She leveled a painted finger in his direction. “So you’re in.”

“In for what? No,” Jessan said. He didn’t need to hear an answer to be sure he wasn’t interested in Marina’s plans. They would involve going out, and he was a ‘staying in’ sort of guy.

“Come on, Jessan; wouldn’t you rather come out and have fun instead of staying in and playing Minecraft all night?” Marina clasped her hands together and aimed wide eyes at him.

Jessan returned the look with a skeptical expression. “I came out years ago, so that’s not an issue. Playing Minecraft is fun for me, even if it’s not for you, so trying to nerd-shame me, again, isn’t going to work.”

Marina stuck her tongue out. “Fine.” She abandoned that line of attack for another. “When’s the last time you got laid, Jessan?”

He slumped and looked out across the pavilion beside the building, not ignoring her so much as stalling for time. It was hard to explain to Marina, so pretty and outgoing, that it was more than introversion keeping him from a night out at a club, party, or whatever venue she had in mind. It was hard for a short, skinny, geeky half-Jamaican, half Persian kid to get a date on a good night, but any place where people were in it for looks and unable to hear witty repartee over the bass reverb, Jessan was out of luck. He would strike out before he got his hand stamped.

“A while,” Jessan replied. He folded his arms. “And it’ll probably be a while longer.”

“With that attitude, you’re damn right!” Marina swatted the back of his shoulder with a light touch. “Come out with me. I need a wing man.”

Jessan sighed, glanced Marina’s direction, and rolled his eyes. She had her lips pursed in what she probably thought was a cute pout, but looked more like a duck-lipped selfie.

“I’ll buy you drinks.” She hung off his shoulder, her tone wheedling. “Come on, I can’t go alone.”

That, at least, Jessan could not dispute. It was risky for any of his female friends to go alone, but twice as worse for Marina, who wasn’t white and was leery not only of overeager fratboys, but getting shaken down if the cops cruised by and were in a profiling mood.

“Ugh.” Jessan refused to make a verbal response that sounded like a concession. “You’ll buy me drinks until you go off with some hot hook-up and leave me at the bar.”

Marina huffed. “Would I do that?”

“If you knew the guy and wanted to get into his pants, yeah,” Jessan said.

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