Monday, April 30, 2012

The Prince of Winds Takes Wing

Good news!  Dreamspinner Press will be publishing my gay male fantasy novella, The Prince of Winds!  The ebook will be out in September.  Can I dance around the room?  Can I?  Too late . . . I'm dancing!  This is the same publisher that will be releasing my novella, Sorcerer's Knot, later this summer.

I'm especially happy about Prince finding a good home because it was the first story in which I combined gay male erotic romance and my love for heroic fantasy-adventure.  My goal was to create a sense of wonder while building an exotic, magical world around my lovers: Rimmon and Melkor.

For those who didn't read the shorter version of this long novella during its brief stay on Literotica, here's the blurb from my query letter to the publisher:
Rimmon, a young warrior, finds himself on the losing end of a war.  Wounded and feverish, he and his eagle, Ayet, become captives of Melkor, a charming and mysterious enemy prince whose plans for Rimmon are decidedly sexual.  While healing his young captive, Melkor gives Rimmon his first kiss and his first sexual experiences—and the two form a passionate, gradually unfolding love threatened by the secrets each man withholds.

One of three demon brothers doomed by their mother’s curse to conquer the world and kill its gods, Melkor can command the winds, but not his own heart.  One of the gods has cursed him and his brothers to never be loved.  But Rimmon is Melkor’s perfect match and the Prince of Winds is determined to overcome any curse to win Rimmon’s heart.
This is such an exciting process and as I know more, I'll share it here first.  Look for meaty excerpts in coming weeks.  When the book is published, I'll make some free copies available here on the blog.  Until then, I'm dancing on this here cloud . . .

Friday, April 20, 2012

Novel or Novella

While loading up my Kindle today (yes, I refuel the Kindle more often than my car), I noticed that most of the books catching my eye weren't novels. They were novellas. Naturally, I mentioned this to my husband, who is the person who buys the second most books on the planet, but in different genres.

"How long were the last few books you bought?" ask I.

"I don't know.  I can't tell.  Kindle doesn't give page numbers, just a percent.  I hate that.  But they weren't very long.  A week on the subway."

Subway length, okay.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo took him three weeks.  So I got the titles . . . and sure enough, seven out of ten were novellas.

And then we talked about why we bought novellas, instead of novels.  And the results:

  • We had no clue what length of book we were buying. (This is important.)
  • We bought books that sounded "interesting" and fit our genre preferences.  Only I ventured out of my comfort zone and that was because I had heard the author was good.
  • I would buy a book for the art (if I could, but my Kindle doesn't show the art, or if it does I have yet to figure it out).  He wouldn't.
  • Two of his books were free.  He went back and paid for two more books by one of the authors, but the price point was low ($2.99).
  • One of the books I bought was free and I regretted buying it. I paid as much as $6.99 for one book, the novel by the author someone recommended (turns out it's really good!).
  • He won't look at books priced higher than $5.99.
  • I will look at, but not buy, e-books priced higher than $8.99.

In sum, the reason we ended up buying novellas was mostly because they didn't cost over our price points, so we looked at them.

Anyway, now that I have scratched my analytic imp for the month, back to writing!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Brand Me

My publisher said one thing I could focus on was building my brand. This caught me by surprise because I wasn't aware I had one. Brands in my world are for things like soup, or cars. I'd like to think a writer is more like a car than soup. So I'm sitting here trying to figure out the branding thing.

And what I'm coming to realize is that branding really isn't completely about the writer.  It's really about the reader. When a reader encounters one of my stories, what can they expect?

Like most writers, I hope my writing is distinctive, that there's something about it that sets my stories apart from those of other writers. Maybe the kind of something that will bring them back looking for more. For example, I write a fairly deep kind of fantasy, with layers of world-building. Not all of my worlds are completely invented (I just wrote a story set in modern day Bolivia) but most are, and there is always a fantasy element involved. I'm enamored with the exotic, and want to take my readers on a journey into different worlds. My characters may be gay or straight, young or older, but they are going to connect sexually in ways that will be erotic, passionate, usually monogamous and occasionally disturbing.  I like happy endings, so hand them out liberally.

And that's me in a nutshell.  If you read one of my stories, that's what you get.  If I'm right.

But what if I'm wrong?  What if readers are coming to my stories for something else?  How would I know?

So I'm still figuring out the branding thing.  Maybe once I figure out what my brand actually is, I can figure out how to build it.  This blog is part of that process, so bear with me.  And if you have any insights, please share. I could use the help. In the meantime, I have stories to write!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Writing Romance

Okay, so I cut my teeth on fantasy and science fiction.  I love the process of invention, of creating new worlds and societies and populating them with creatures and characters.  My first published work was a science fiction novel and I ran, not walked, to join the Science Fiction Writers of America, a group to which I'm proud to say I still belong.  Oh, sure, I enjoyed other genres, historical and some kinds of romance in particular, but I have always considered myself a science-fiction writer.

What I find, though, is these days I'm writing more romance . . . and I'm having some success at it.  The only person surprised by this is me.

My husband has been telling me for years that I should try romance novels.  No one knows better than he how much I thrive on the combination of drama, love, adventure and . . . well, sex.  Gotta have sex.  People having sex is so much more interesting to me than people killing each other, no matter how creatively they slay their fellow humans.  Falling in love is so wonderful I think everyone should do it. And in my books they do.

Of course, Mike the Conqueror, my eldest son, pronounced me a true romantic years ago.  "You like happy endings," he reasons.  "How many science-fiction novels do you know that end well?  Half the time, the bad guys win or the planet blows up!  When you write a romance, doesn't that mean the good guys win?"

In my worlds, it does.  The good guys win and chances are they will save the world while they're at it.  Heck, they also fall in love and have lots of sex.  Romance involves all those parts of us that are complicated and hopeful and easily battered by the world, which is what makes the characters who take a chance on it so fun to explore.

So that's why these days I'm writing romantic fantasies and science-fiction.  I still want the science and history in my stories to be accurate and my fantasy worlds to have rock solid foundations in some kind of reality, but what I love writing the most is about people finding each other and falling in love.  And somewhere along the line, if they're meant for each other, they end up in bed.

And have lots of sex.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ebooks on the Rise

I found this interesting report from the Pew Research Center on the rise of e-books.

It doesn't surprise me at all.  E-books represent a sea-change in the publishing industry.  E-publishing is in its infancy.  In fact, it's still finding itself, and readers are still sorting out their options as consumers.

Some people say this throws the door wide-open to self-publishing, though I disagree.  Self-publication has always been with us.  It's with us still.  And just as they always have, readers will find ways to sort out the gems from the dreck.  The real financial boom is already taking place with e-publishers.

Back in the 1960s, a similar change occurred: mass-market paperbacks.  Traditional publishers put out hardcover books.  In the 1950s, paperbacks were used to issue reprints.  What happened in the 60s, though, was that paperback publishers started putting out original titles.  A book could go straight to paperback first and never see life as a hardcover.

With the rise of the paperback novel, a whole generation of new publishers arose, among them companies like Harlequin (originally a reprint house, but started publishing original medical romances), Avon, Bantam and Dell.  Romance and science fiction publishers emerged.  Paperbacks fueled the reading public's voracious hunger for romance, science fiction and fantasy, westerns and other niche genres.

Those paperback publishers eventually started putting out titles in hardcover and today they are . . . traditional publishers.

I think it's happening again.  A new generation of publishers is rising to package and deliver content to a strong market for e-books.  Some of these publishers will fail, but many will succeed in carving out a nice niche.  In order to succeed, they need writers.  Hey, I'm a writer!

And here's the thing . . . I'm also a reader.  My Kindle is fired up and loaded with fun titles. For the first time this year, I bought more e-books than paperbacks.  One person does not a trend make, but the Pew report tells me I'm definitely not alone.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Seventh Sacrifice Snippet

Snippet from a m/m WIP.

Marisol had told him the shop he must look for, that it would have an orange awning with a sign proclaiming it to be the house of guardian angels.  Two angels flanked the words, she’d said, though the beings depicted looked more like winged serpents.  In fact, they looked a bit like demons.

Beltran thought them fitting.  Angels had little enough to do with the native religion.

He angled his way through the street’s milling crowd of colorful cholas and photo-snapping tourists until he reached the shop entrance.  Two stone steps flanked by tables of packaged, prefabricated charms led to the narrow hole in the wall that constituted a store.  Every spare inch of space was packed with arcane objects.  Fully-furred llama fetuses with huge black eyes and grimacing teeth hung from a pole over the doorway, while more of the same, mummified and without fur, lay piled in baskets.  The dried husks of armadillos, toads and starfish held sway among racks of cheap beads, brass bells, and trays of colored powders.  Beltran hoped the powders were herbs, but at least one looked like dried blood and he knew the others could be anything from antlers to hooves, teeth or bones.

But what caught his eye next, and took away his already scanty breath, was the man sitting on a stool just inside the doorway.  Black hair, straight and shining, framed a brown face with strong features and high cheekbones.  The heavy mane then cascaded behind broad shoulders and a red poncho of alpaca wool.  As the man noticed him also and rose to his feet, Beltran saw that he was taller than most native men, with a wiry, powerful frame.  The shopkeeper’s eyes commanded him most of all: deep and black, they locked onto his with a hunger so fierce the compulsion in them made him quiver.

Holy Mother of God, Beltran thought, forcing himself to breathe normally.  Marisol never told me her shaman would be gorgeous!