Category Archives: works in progress

One Down, Two to Go

draftfinalsigns_stuartmilesYesterday, I finished the first draft of Rhythm & Blues, the first in a set of three novellas. Yay! These are the ones I’m planning to self-publish. Normally that would mean I could work pretty much on my own schedule, but I have an editor booked for all three, so I do have actual deadlines. Which is good, because I generally work better with a deadline!

I’m on to the second novella, shooting to have it drafted by mid-May. I have a few events between now and then, including a family reunion next weekend, the RT conference next month, and a work conference in early May, so I don’t have much time to spare.

I’m still keeping up on my Lenten resolution to write every day, too. I missed two days while I was in Orlando for the Dreamspinner author workshop, but otherwise, I’ve gotten something done every day, even if it’s just a sentence. I’m going to try to keep that up after Lent as much as possible. Hey, if something’s working, no reason to stop, right?

Currently writing: Tongue & Groove, M/M novella (~6%)

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On Goals and “Failing” to Reach Them

I’m at the Dreamspinner author workshop in Portland today. The previous two workshops have been packed with great information and a lot of fun, and I’m sure this one will be the same. One of the best discussions last year, led by Andrew Grey, was about setting goals for our writing.

Now, it’s worth saying here that Andrew is probably not the best example for most of us. Last year, he reported that in the previous year, he had written 1.1 million words. He was still working a full-time office job then, and he’d write a thousand words on his lunch hour every day. The man is a thousand times more dedicated than I will ever be!

One of Andrew’s biggest points is that goals should be things over which authors have complete control. Writing a novel is a good goal; signing a contract with a publisher for that novel isn’t. (But self-publishing that novel would be.) It’s fine to have wish lists (signing with an agent, getting a contract for that series, hitting a bestseller list), but those should be separate from goal setting.

As part of Andrew’s presentation, each of us set down a goal or two for our writing for the coming year. When my turn came, I went for something I considered midrange: 250,000 words, and two novels. I’ve written more words than that in a single year before, and I had two novels fairly well laid out and partially written, so it didn’t seem too much of a stretch.

Shows what I know.

I don’t want to make it sound like I flopped entirely. I did finish one novel, which is huge because that’s only my second one. I also completed a novella and three short stories. So it wasn’t like I sat around doing nothing. Technically, though, I fell far short of my goals. Counting all the stories I finished between last year’s DSP workshop and this year’s, I wrote approximately 114,000 words.

But the exercise was a good one because it taught me a big lesson: I needed to stop tracking word counts on a daily basis. When I do that, I pay more attention to counts than to story. I abandoned that practice early this year, and since then, I’ve written one complete short story (in less than a week) and wrote something over 40,000 words to finish a novel that’s been languishing for nearly two years. I’d call that a success.

What I’m doing now is counting words only in a general sense of accomplishment (“I’m over 55k on my novel!” “Got in 3,500 words today, wow!”) until I have a complete draft of the story. That 114,000 word count includes the three stories I’ve published in the past year, the one that’s on submission now, and the novel I just finished. I worked on several other projects, so my total word count is higher, but I don’t know how much higher, because I’m not tracking it.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what my goals for the coming year should be. Finishing another novel, definitely. But I might skip listing a word count goal and focus on story count instead. I wrote five stories this year; for next year, I might go for five again, but try to make at least two of them novels.

At any rate, the last thing I’m going to do is kick myself for not hitting my goals. Setting those goals taught me lessons that will help me as a writer, and that’s the most important goal of all.

Random Squeefulness

A few things that have made me happy the past few days…

On Friday, USA Today‘s Happy Ever After blog featured the Grand Adventures anthology and its authors.

Also on Friday, I finished the first rough draft of my novel Unfortunate Son. Hoping to have it in shape to submit in late May or early June.

I finally got to read Heidi Cullinan’s new release Tough Love, and it was worth every minute of the wait.

Only three more days until Butt Ninjas from Hell releases!

Making a Few Changes

changeI’ve been a bit adrift, writing-wise, in recent months. I finished writing my story for the Butt Ninjas from Hell anthology on time, and I submitted an out-of-print story for re-publication in another anthology. But my WIPs are languishing, with only dribs and drabs being added here and there, and I can’t seem to focus on much of anything.

So, it’s time to make a few changes.

First, I’m dropping word count meters. I deleted the one that used to appear on this site, I’m filing away the spreadsheet I was using to track word counts, and I’m taking those numbers off the top of any story file I update from now on. Word counts aren’t the point. Finishing the story is the point. If that’s the 8,500 words it took to write my ninja story, the 81,000 words in my first novel, or some number higher, lower, or in between, then that’s how long the story will be. I’ve been getting bogged down in watching those numbers and forgetting about what’s really important.

Second, I’m cutting way back on my travel this year. I have two trips planned: Tampa for RainbowCon and Portland for the Dreamspinner author’s workshop in April (one long trip, since they’re back to back), and Chicago for GayRomLit in October. I’ll also be at the usual two local events, Outlantacon and Dragon Con, and there’s another local event I’m considering. Mainly, what this means is no RT and no RWA. The costs are just too high for the return at this point. I need to get more books out before those meetings will be worth the time and money.

Last, I’m going to start setting my own deadlines and rewarding myself when I meet them. When I have external deadlines (all three of my most recently completed stories had publisher-imposed deadlines), I meet them. It might be on the very DAY it’s due, but it gets done. I need to work on developing the discipline to set and meet deadlines of my own. As the first step, I have a self-imposed deadline to finish one of my WIPs by March 31. I don’t care which story; I have three strong contenders, though one is more likely than the others. My reward if I meet the deadline? Well, I might actually get a new story out in time for GRL, for one thing, but the real reward is more direct: a trip. (I have a specific place and date for that, but I’m keeping the details to myself for now.)

Okay. That’s enough navel-gazing for one day. I have things to do, and some of them might even involve writing. Hope you’re all having a good weekend!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Best Laid Plans and You-Never-Knows

So, I’d been planning to try to finish the novel I’m currently working on before Dragon Con, which is Labor Day weekend. Since I’m over halfway through, that should be doable, right? It’s a month away, after all.

Well, Dragon Con came calling early this year. Starting this weekend, I’m helping the publications director with the bazillion things she has to do to get the program book, pocket program, and other con publications out to the printer in time to make it to the con. I’ll still be doing my regular on-site job (or my boss, Eugie Foster, would kill someone and/or die on the spot), but the pre-con editing and such will be filling up a lot of my time before then.

This isn’t a bad thing, you understand. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do. But it does cut into my time, which means the writing needs to take a backseat temporarily. I have edits for two stories that are still in production, so those will get done, but the WIPs will just have to wait their turn.

OTOH, I’ll probably get some writing time during Dragon Con, so that’s always a bonus. 🙂

Life and Other Complications

As those of you who follow me on social media may have noticed, I’ve been off my feet for the past few days after dropping a flute case on my foot from a height of about six feet. (Protip: put on shoes before you start a whirlwind cleaning effort.) Nothing is broken, but I didn’t stay off it for the first few days after it happened, so now I’m on day three of doctor’s orders to do so. Thankfully, it’s much better now, which is good, since I have three days in the office at the EDJ starting tomorrow, and that entails a walk of about a quarter mile from parking deck to cubicle.

rainbowheartsparkleAfter that, though, I have a long weekend for Independence Day, so I’ll be able to rest up more. I can even watch fireworks right from the comfort of my sofa! LOL

I’ll also be able to spend the long weekend writing. I’m working on two main projects right now. One is a best-friends-to-lovers story about high school football players. It would be the first in a trilogy to take them through their senior year of college. All three books are generally planned out, so now all I have to do is write them. The easy part, right? HA. In an attempt to focus, though, I’ve set an initial deadline of July 15 to have a rough draft of book one, so I’ll have something to talk about (if not actually pitch) at RWA. It will probably be VERY rough, but at least it’s something!

The other story is an erotic novella based around fetish play. So since the trilogy is a sweet romance, this is pretty much a 180-degree shift. It’s based on some observations from my trip to IML in Chicago last month, but since it’s not my kink, I’ll definitely be running it by some friends who are involved in that kind of play. (I wrote the first sex scene yesterday, and boy, that thousand words went by FAST.)

Unlike a lot of authors, I always have two (occasionally more) projects going at a time. I just get too bogged down trying to work on one at a time. I try to mix things up, though—in theme, length, style, content, etc.—so they work like palate cleansers for each other. My last two submissions were a sweet contemporary romance novella and an erotic scifi short story, written mostly at the same time.

Speaking of which, those stories are both in the editing/production pipeline. The short is due out later this summer from Wilde City Press, as part of their Charlie Harding Presents line. The novella will be part of a baseball-themed anthology with Kate McMurray, Marguerite Labbe, and Kerry Freeman, coming in the fall from Dreamspinner.

As far as longer-term planning, in addition to RWA, I’ll be in attendance at Dragon*Con (of course) and GayRomLit here in Atlanta, and I plan to be at both North Georgia/Marietta Pride (last weekend in July) and Atlanta Pride (second weekend in October). I’m also on the case for 2014 already, signed up as an author for RainbowCon in Tampa and with a hotel reservation for the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans next May. I haven’t decided for sure about RT, but it looks very likely at this point. The dates for Outlantacon aren’t final yet, so I’m hoping for no conflicts!

(Speaking of which, I had planned to go to the Folsom Street Fair against this year, because I had an amazing time in 2012. However, a family event may fall on that weekend, so it looks like I might have to miss it.)

Otherwise, well, life goes on. The EDJ is still there (and really, not particularly evil, except as jobs generally are). Family is doing well. Friends visited last weekend and we had a wonderful time. The weather is hot. Our apartment still needs work. My to-read list is extensive, and my book spending too high (not that that’s going to stop me). And it’s the last day of the quarter, so go out and buy stuff from your favorite authors so their royalty checks will be nice and fat, and they’ll keep on writing. 🙂

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was tagged for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop by Sui Lynn. I’m supposed to tag 4 people to post a week after me, but so many people have already done it that I don’t think I can find any! So instead, at the end of my post, I’ve linked to some other posts for you to check out. 🙂

What is the working title of your book?
I have several in the works, but with a short story just submitted today, my main focus for the next little while will be a novel, Learning Curve.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The original idea was fanfiction, which I know means some people will refuse to ever read it. Ah well. LOL. Maybe 10% of the final story will match up with the fanfic, mostly some lines of dialogue I saved.

I don’t know where the idea originally came from, though. (Some secret reservoir under a mountain somewhere?) Some stories have specific inspirations, like my last release, En Fuego. Not so for this one!

What genre does your book fall under?
M/M contemporary erotic romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
jakeandianLcJake Gyllenhaal and Ian Somerhalder. Not so much because they’re perfect for the characters (though they’d work pretty well), but just because can you imagine them making out? Yes, please!

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
Ben and David meet as student and teaching assistant, but falling for each other wasn’t supposed to be part of the lesson plan.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?
Neither. I plan to submit it directly to a publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The rewrite took about a month, since I had the basic story structure already in place. I chopped about half the story out completely, rewrote what was left, and wrote the remainder. It’s been submitted and returned as a revise and resubmit, with some excellent suggestions. I’m still working on those revisions, which will also expand it to full novel length.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The characters acknowledge their attraction pretty early, but because of their student/teacher situation, they can’t give in to it for several months. (Yes, it’s another delayed gratification story!) I think Alix Belkins’ “Relationships 201” is a pretty good comparison, both for the student/teacher aspect and for the delayed relationship. It’s also a story I like a lot, so I hope mine measures up!

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The characters from the original fandom! Also the people who read the fanfic version and told me I should have done it as original to start with. Of course, it’s a very different story now, with just the basic plot still intact: older students, each with issues in the past, meet in a situation where they’re forced to be friends, not lovers. I also really like the secondary characters.

What else about your book might interest the reader?
Among other things, besides the obvious college boy-MCs, it has bellydancing (though not college boys bellydancing), an ex-military MC, cooking lessons, a snarky sister, a bit of intrigue, family time at the holidays, and a cherry-taking sex scene. A little something for everyone!

More blog hop posts!
Anna Bosch
Charlie Cochet
Lou Sylvre
Jamie Fessenden

Six Sentence Sunday: Trevor

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but with fresh writing on the page for the first time in much too long (yay!), I thought I’d share a little snippet. 🙂

When they got to their room, Evan didn’t expect anything more than more talking and a decent night’s sleep. He was shocked when, after locking the door firmly behind them, Lucas dropped his duffel on the floor, took Evan’s face in both of his large, rough hands, and kissed him like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Because it was.

That night, Evan learned who he really was for the first time. Lucas taught him everything he knew, even though he admitted readily it was just the tip of the iceberg. But when Lucas slid his fingertips firmly across that spot inside Evan’s ass and sucked Evan’s dick hard, Evan swore he’d found all the answers he’d ever need.

Drive-By Updates

A few very quick updates from a very busy few weeks:

  • Finally broke 10,000 words on my primary current WIP, Trevor. Woot!
  • Working on a short story for an anthology coming out next spring.
  • Finished the cover art spec sheet for En Fuego, my novella releasing in December.
  • Headed to San Francisco this coming weekend for the Folsom Street Fair.
  • Getting together plans for the Atlanta Pride parade next month.

More to come soon! 🙂

Midsummer-y

The last few weeks have been so jam-packed with activity that I’ve barely had a moment to breathe. I’ve had friends in town, gone to New York with friends, worked the day job, and finished some editing work. I’d signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, but there was just no way with my schedule that I’d make any progress. And the next couple of months will be almost as busy, with trips to Ohio, Chicago, and Gatlinburg on the calendar, and Dragon*Con in there, too.

I’m home today for the Independence Day holiday, so I’m playing a bit of catch-up. Laundry is on the list, but more than anything, I’m trying to get some writing done. Trevor is my current big project, but I have two smaller ones with deadlines that are fast approaching. And, of course, I have a full pipeline of ideas waiting after that. The plotbunnies stop for no one!

I hope everyone in the US has a safe and happy Independence Day, and that everyone else has a great Wednesday. 🙂