Words is being writ

Okay, so, this will surprise precisely zero people who know me but Deep Screw is turning out to be longer than expected. I’m in the 20-thousands when it comes to word count, and I’m roughly halfway through the story. Of course, looking at my scribbled notes, I could be wrong. I hope I am. The plot points I’ve yet to tackle may turn out to need fewer words than I think. But I doubt it, given my history of gravely underestimating a manuscript’s final word count.

I think in future I should just ignore what any logical part of my brain says and double my uppermost word count limit.

So let’s assume I need to double my current word count:

*thunk*

That was the sound of me headdesking as hard as my skull will allow me.

What’s coming after Deep Screw? Well, I’d like to say “an intense course of therapy” but no. Finishing off a novel I actually began years back, but put aside to deal with other things. I have a cover for it (thanks to Jacqueline Sweet), reasoning that this will encourage me to write faster.

Well I would, but for Cameron and Ryan’s insistence that they want a longer book. Bah!

After that? I’m toying with the idea of writing a three-part serial. There’s a particular thing I dislike in erotic romance so I’m tinkering with the idea of turning this trope on its head, having a bit of fun with it. Why a serial? Because serials are hot right now. Will it encourage me to write faster because readers will be expecting the next installment? I’m not going to release part one until I have the full thing written, or at least the first two and most of three. Don’t want to take too many risks!

But really it’s about experimentation, finding what works. (That’s a more mature way of saying I want to write all the things in all the formats.)

Beyond that, well who knows? I don’t want to plan too far ahead at this point of the proceedings. I’ll save that for when I’m more productive, and more confident of my ability to write to a schedule/deadline.

Also thinking of reading the official NaNoWriMo book, No Plot? No Problem! again. If it kickstarted my adventures in smuttery, it can’t do any harm reading it for the sixth time.

Yes, I said sixth.

For now? Back to work!

Who wants to read an excerpt from Deep Screw?

In an effort to prove I’m still alive and I am writing this book, I am, I am, I swear it, I’m going to publish a drive-by post today; a brief excerpt from the book I’m currently writing, Deep Screw, a M/M sports romance. This one will be self-published and available in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon exclusive, for at least 90 days after release.

I originally thought this would be 20k words long max. As per usual, my characters went “Oh you think so, do you?” The “problem”, if it is a problem, is that I didn’t outline this one. When I outline projects, I use MS Excel, and that gives me a projected word count. As I write, I can adjust chapters and certain plot points to bring down this estimate, which is especially handy if I’m writing to a deadline or on commission, so to speak. With Deep Screw I scribbled a few ideas in my pretty notebook from Paperchase and that was that. Didn’t even have an ending in mind – and that, let me tell you, caused a few problems. I didn’t know what I was writing towards until a couple of thousand words ago. Still, now I have the ending figured out, I should be cool for finishing this off and publishing very, very soon. I’m aiming for “at some point over the weekend”.

So here’s a little smidge from Deep Screw:

* * * * *

He orders his drink, nothing I pay much attention to. But then, it’s hard to pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth when, now that he’s sitting beside me, I’m increasingly aware of the thereness of him.

Running my thumb along my lower lip, elbow resting on the bar, I try to figure out how to break the awkward silence. The room around us hums with other people’s conversation, glasses clinking, laughter. But the foot or so between us seems to suck all the atmosphere out of the room, a black hole of silence and regret. “We should probably talk.”

Ryan stiffens, and I don’t need to speculate about his feelings on the matter of talking. His body language screams it.

“Steady,” I say. “You wouldn’t want anyone else to know something’s wrong, would you?”

The thought of anyone else being able to read the awkwardness between us and come up with anything like the truth obviously scares him, terrifies him even, and I feel momentarily guilty for putting that thought at the forefront of his mind. But for God’s sake, I’m sick of feeling icky, awkward, ashamed, embarrassed, like I have to avoid him. Creeping from this room to that, from the TV studio back to my hotel room…that’s no way for a grown man to behave. And if he’s so worried about discretion, well, he needs to learn to act like nothing happened, because the way he looks right now – pale-faced, like he’s the wrong shape for his own skin – practically advertises that he’s hiding something.

Act like you’ve got nothing to hide, and nobody will watch you.

That way, the media will never get hold of anything you don’t want them to know. In theory.

“What’s there to talk about?” His glance darts from the bar to the mirror behind it, to the barstaff, folks wandering around off to his right. Anywhere but at me.

“The fact I’m sick to death of creeping round avoiding you.”

“Not doing a very good job of it, are you?” At last he looks at me, and though there’s dislike – I wouldn’t go as far as to say hate – in his eyes, okay, good, I can cope with that. It’ll just make it easier to beat him next time we play against each other. If we do.

“You’re the one who took the next seat.”

I expect a smart-aleck reply, something snapped back like a whip, and just as cutting. But no.

“You wanna know why I did it?”

“Took the seat?” Or something else. Why did you do what you did, Ryan?

“Yeah.”

“Go on.”

“I wanted to see if I could.”

So hot it BURNs

Hurr hurr hurr…see whut ah did thur?

Right, I’ve re-released another book to which I recently got the rights back. Burn, a M/M short novella (18,000 words) about a one night stand which might develop into something more…

* * * * *

BurnAustin Lombard isn’t into names. For tonight, at least, he’s only up for an anonymous encounter and he insists that the irreverent Scot he meets in a bar not surrender his name. That’s how people begin to get attached, and Austin doesn’t want to get burned again.

* * * * *

Amazon Kindle U.S.
Amazon Kindle U.K.

#DanielFuckingCross has returned!

BytheBookJust a quick blog post to say I re-published By the Book this evening. At the moment it’s only available on Amazon although I may ‘go wide’ with it at a later date if I think it’ll earn me more pennies.

Here’s the blurb:

* * * * *

Two’s company; three’s allowed.

Reece Hutton conducts his life between the covers – of books and beds. A librarian by day, in the evenings he’s a man whose tastes are anything but vanilla. So when local writer Daniel Cross appears in the library one afternoon with the aim of doing some research, Reece has a hard time not noticing how attractive he is, or what feels like chemistry between them. They exchange a few words and Daniel’s business card, an interlude which Reece puts down to networking rather than flirtation.

After all, he has his girlfriend Georgia to go home to and her best friend: a threesome to help his birthday go literally with a bang. Reece, being a gentleman (most of the time), has no objection to returning the favour, especially as his new friend Daniel seems all too willing to be their third for the evening. Georgia sees their triangle as nothing more than a temporary bit of fun but Reece…? He’ll eventually have to own up to breaking the unwritten rules of their relationship or close the book on a growing attraction to Daniel.

* * * * *

Amazon Kindle U.S.
Amazon Kindle U.K.

If you buy it, let me know what you think. Or tweet using the hashtag #DanielFuckingCross :D

All write now

Money. Not one of those things we’re supposed to talk about. Because if we don’t talk about it, we can pretend we’re all working for the aaaaart and because we love the aaaaart and so on and blah.

But, and I wish this weren’t so, but we’ve all got bills to pay. We need to eat. We have to keep rooves over our heads. Roofs? “Rooves” gets a red underline. Oh well.

I took this past weekend off the internet to get some writing down – never get as much as I’d like done, but at least there are more words in Scrivener now than there were on Friday afternoon. Also, this ‘n’ that hs been happening in real life which brings it home to me that I’m not treating writing the way I should if I a) want to be taken seriously and b) make more money from it.

I’ve heard it said that you need to treat writing like a job, which is all very well…but what if you already have a day job that helps you pay the rent/mortgage? Is it okay to think of writing as a hobby? No, because then you get hobby rewards. And I want to be doing better than merely getting by.

So I need to start making better use of the spare time I have, which means not spending hours online, dotting around various fora and Twitter, checking emails every five minutes.

I know there are people who can be online and still come up with the goods – I used to be one of them, after all – but I’m not quite there again yet. I need to train myself back into a disciplined routine of making writing a priority.

There are things I would like to acquire, and things I would like to do, and I can only make these things a reality by knuckling down.

I would like to be in a place where I no longer have to worry. I don’t know if that’s possible as anxiety has been a part of my life for so long now, but I do know that writing more, and writing regularly, and publishing regularly, will make this goal more likely to come about.

In an ideal world, writing would be my safety net, my “just in case”. You know that saying “work like you don’t need the money”? I’d like to be in a position where if I lost my job and other support mechanisms, it honestly wouldn’t matter because writing would keep me right.

Which all probably makes for a bit of a “Huh?” blog post right now, but that’s where my head’s at after my weekend offline.

There are writers whose career paths I admire and if you do more of what you’ve always done, you’re just going to get more of what you’ve always got. So something’s got to change.

And that thing is my work ethic.

I guess you could say it now has a focus. Now I know what I’m working towards. I know what this is all for.

Oh, right, yeah. It’s 2015 now, innit?

Thought I’d better blog to prove to everyone I’m still alive.

I’ve come up with a method of bribing myself to write. I have a simple month-a-page calendar bought from WH Smith, and some stickers. Each day I write 1k words or more, I ‘earn’ a sticker for that day.

There are too few stickers on January 2015’s page thus far. However, I’ve just earned another one.

I’m in the middle (or, I hope, past the middle) of a M/M sports romance novella. Starting out, I thought 20k words would be a reasonable target. I’m just over 11k words and there’s still been no touching on the front bottom rude bits, and there’s a hell of a lot more story to cram in (heh, I said cram) before we get to The End. At this rate 25k or more wouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

I always do this. I worry that I won’t get to some arbitrary, self-imposed word count target, then I overshoot that scarily massive target in the process of writing.

I’d hoped to release the book by the end of this working week but unless I light a fire under my own arse and do nothing else but write this week – who needs to eat or sleep, right? – that won’t happen. Early next week? More likely.

So that’s where I’m at right now. 11k words into a M/M novella (please, let it be novella-length) which I’m planning to self-publish. My first self-published all-new-material book!

Still trying to figure out whether to put it in KU or to go wide, but I’ll probably seek advice from a few writing buddies and come to a decision later this week.

And I promise to blog more frequently in 2015! I know how fretful yous guys get if I don’t splurt my opinionated opinions all over that there interwebs. :D

Bookmark Wednesdays: L. M. Somerton

I read The Invisible Man, by Ralph Waldo Ellison, as an undergraduate and if it had not been on the syllabus of my degree, I doubt I would have ever come across it. First published in 1952, it is a book about oppression and prejudice and their effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators. It is a book about what happens to a person’s individuality in the face of prejudice. The nameless narrator, or invisible man, is a black American and he explains his predicament in one of the most impactful prologues I’ve ever read:

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids–and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

Over the course of his life–from college and then on to Harlem–the narrator comes up against different experiences that eventually prove to him that people around him don’t really see him as an individual. In fact he isn’t necessarily treated as a human being at all. If a person’s individuality is stripped away by prejudice, it is easier for an oppressor to see that person as no more than an object to be treated and used accordingly.

Although Ellison’s book focuses on the black experience in America, bigotry and its effects are universal. As I write in the MM genre, a history of prejudice is always in the back of my mind along with the knowledge that there is still a long way to go before some parts of our society become truly visible.

* * * * *

L. M. Somerton can be found on her blog and on Twitter.

* * * * *

tarotstouch_800This is book three in the Investigating Love series, see the full series listing here.

Can truth be found in the cards?

DI Alex Courtney and his lover, DC Conor Trethuan are under enormous pressure as their team investigates an arson case and a murder.

It soon becomes apparent that the two cases are linked and the race is on to find a vicious killer. A tarot card is placed with the first victim and the detectives are left to interpret the clues it provides. When Conor receives a note from the killer making reference to another card, the whole team is shaken. Their worst fears are realized when a second body is discovered, along with another tarot card.

Conor suspects he has been followed then a hit and run leaves him injured. Alex wants nothing more than to wrap his lover up in cotton wool and protect him from the world. But is Conor the killer’s target or just a pawn in a much more sinister game? As the clues come together, it seems that the motive for murder might be revenge.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of genital bondage.

* * * * *

Available at Totally Bound.

Cover art and self-publishing news

Some cover art and publishing news now. Last Thursday I received cover art for Bring Me to Life. Why haven’t I posted it before now? Because I’m a lazy bugger, that’s why. I know, I know. I’ll get right on that. While I’m dodging the world of blogging and making out I have other things to do, you have a look at this:

bringmetolife_800Nathan Stephenson died seventy years ago and he’d like the world – or at least one person – to think he stayed that way.

In 1940s London, Sergeant Nathan Stephenson ignored his rank and the expectation that he’d wait for the war to be over and find a nice girl to settle down with, and took a lover. Not only was Cian Ambrose unashamed of his bisexuality, he was also proud to be a vampire. Back then, he was certain that his and Nathan’s relationship would last forever, refusing to take no for an answer.

One evening, Cian went too far in his attempts to persuade Nathan to become a vampire and left a mutual acquaintance, Jonathan Cutler, to deal with the aftermath. What Cian doesn’t know is that Nathan didn’t die – Jonathan brought him back to life, agreeing to keep Nathan’s continued existence a secret.

It’s now the twenty-first century and Jonathan’s back to call in the favour. Nathan’s an honourable man and can’t say no, but the trouble is, wherever Jonathan goes, Cian Ambrose can’t be far behind…

Preorder: 6th February 2015
Early download: 20th February 2015
General release: 20th March 2015

* * * * *

Also, I self-published! I heard from someone I hadn’t spoken to in a while recently, and as we were catching up, she was telling me that she’d self-published on Kindle Direct/Kindle Unlimited. How easy it was. How simple. How lucrative! Well, that got me. I’d been considering self-publishing for a while for reasons outlined in this blog post.

Said friend talked me through it, and I’ve resurrected a book I had sitting on my hard drive. I got the rights back to Long Time Coming a few months back, and now I’m releasing it as a serial, available for 77p each (or your country’s currency equivalent). The first two parts are out, and by the time you read this, the third part should have gone live. Long Time Coming will be complete in four parts, and the 4th should be out by this weekend.

The cover art varies slightly from episode to episode, to enable readers to distinguish between each one in thumbnail form on Amazon. Each part of Long Time Coming has a differently-coloured opaque number behind the title. Here’s the blurb:

LTC

Piper Holt’s only after one thing: a man who’s only after one thing.

Previous lovers demanded either subservience or her heart, neither of which are up for negotiation, so Leo Carson’s attitude makes him her ideal match. Handsome, shameless and equally impulsive, he appears to want nothing more than a white-hot overnight liaison.

‘Overnight’ somehow develops into the entire weekend but come Monday morning, pride keeps her back turned and Piper walks away. Denying her own feelings doesn’t mean that Leo has none though, and if she’s going to atone for hurting him she’ll have to admit the ‘one thing’ she now wants is the man she’s in danger of losing forever.

* * * * *

Part One – Amazon UK – Amazon US

Part Two – Amazon UK – Amazon US

Part Three – Amazon UK – Amazon US

Long Time Coming is, of course, also available in other Amazon territories. Here’s hoping you enjoy it! More self-published projects are on their way. There will be one or two re-releases, but the vast majority of my self-published projects will be all-new material, so keep watching for further news.

Kathleen Hale and the right to privacy

You’d have to have been living on another planet not to have heard of Kathleen Hale revealing herself to be a special snowflake. After receiving a less-than-stellar review, she decided she couldn’t handle it, and stalked the reviewer. Nope, I’m not kidding. Here’s the article that kicked off the internet shitstorm:

Twitter exploded in a war between the fangirls and the sane people who realise that what she did was immoral and more than likely illegal. Other bloggers…well, blogged, surprise surprise, about it, and numerous counter-articles appeared online:

Now, lest you’re still wondering about what kind of person Kathleen Hale is, here she admits to serious acts of animal abuse: Catch Me If You Can, ASPCA.

Ah, but that’s not all. Here she seems to think that her critics have reading comprehension problems:
Hale 1
Why yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I thought when I read that article, that it was written by a bunch of animals.

Wait, no I didn’t. I thought it was written by an unrepentant animal abuser.

But then came this:
Hale 2

Oh. Oh. Well, that’s okay then.

No word of whether this it was all fiction that she poured peroxide over the head of a girl who’d accused Hale’s mother of sexual abuse. I asked, but strangely, Hale didn’t get back to me.

One of her supporters did, though.

Hell Morte 1

And people still ask why an honest person would want to use a pseudonym. After all of the above. Of course, a pseudonym wouldn’t stop a truly determined nutjob tracking you down, but it puts another obstacle in their path, giving you time to either call the police (more on this later) or charge up the chainsaw.

The Dear Author article I linked to above mentions pseudonymous activities and this whole matter got me thinking about the right of authors (or, indeed, bloggers) to “hide” behind pen names.

Now, you might wonder why an honest-hearted person would change their name for online activities, but there are many different reasons, especially when it comes to erotic romance authors. Those who are parents may be trying to protect their children from teasing or even bullying. Some authors write in multiple genres and use different names for each. Others have difficult-to-spell or hard-to-pronounce real names. There may be another author already using their real name.

And me personally? Well, I’ve had an experience that proves if someone’s determined to find you, a pen name won’t stop them. Why use one? I think because it puts up an unspoken barrier of “You are not entitled to my private life. I am a writer, not your property.”

I have no doubt there are breadcrumbs leading back to me. I think those who mean well respect any speed bumps or barriers I put in their path. Those who mean harm advertise their ill-intent by ignoring these metaphorical stop signs. (Kinda like Kathleen Hale and her paying for a background check into the reviewer who didn’t like her book.) This would, one hopes, prove to a court or any investigating body that they ignored my wishes and failed to respect my boundaries.

Yes, I share from my real life, but to the extent that I choose. That’s the kind of line Hale crossed – she didn’t respect anyone else’s boundaries.

And it could be said that pseudonyms are boundaries beyond which another person should not attempt to go without invitation. It could also be said that Scarlett Parrish is merely another character I write about and that relative anonymity affords me the opportunity to be more honest than my real life persona would allow me to be.

So am I acting? Worse, lying? I don’t think so. We wear different clothes for different things. Bikinis to go swimming. Pyjamas for sleeping. A pseudonym for how we present online in our guises as erotic romance authors.

I may not go into excruciating, privacy-shattering, reckless endangerment-level details, but when I choose to discuss something “real”, I always tell the truth. It’s just that I choose what to share. No-one else makes that decision for me, or at least one would desire that to be the case.

Years back, I was on MSN – remember that? – and a guy for reasons I won’t go into here told me to get offline. I had asserted myself in the face of his overbearing personality, let’s say, and he didn’t like it. He ordered me to get offline. “If you get offline now, I won’t do anything.” Oh really? Naturally I refused, asking who the hell he thought he was. The internet police?

“No,” he said. “But I am a police officer.”

“Whoop-de-fucking-doo,” I remember saying, with my usual level of respect when it comes to pomposity.

The conversation came down to him saying he could track me down if he wanted. I didn’t believe him.

Then he told me my real first name, and my exact address. Right down to which flat in my tenement block I occupy.

Now that made me sit up and take notice. Either he was a corrupt police officer putting a trace on me or he had someone with him or speaking to him online, who knew me and was feeding him the information. This latter is a distinct possibility, but as well as my name, address, phone number, everything else, he was able to give me my I.P. address. Something I still don’t fully understand even after years of computer and internet use, but there you go.

He knew who I was and where I was, and he threatened to “Send the boys round for a visit,” to beat me up and gang-rape me unless I did what he said. Failing that, I was to get offline and never use a computer again.

So what did I do? I told him to fuck off.

Oh, and I checked all my doors and windows were locked.

And I said, “You should know I’m keeping a record of this conversation, and I’m currently emailing it to everyone I know. So if anything happens to me, they’ll know who’s responsible. If you think I’ll get offline as punishment for not being obedient to your bad self, you can suck my fat hairy cock.”

Or words to that effect.

Now, I’m not saying I wasn’t scared. Of course I was. But as you’ll know from my tweets and other blog posts, I’m a great one for blagging my way out of a difficult situation.

I stayed online.

Nothing happened.

(No, I didn’t report the incident to the police. I was scared that he really was a police officer and his brother officers would back him up.)

Would a pseudonym have stopped all of the above happening? No. Remember, he knew everything about me. My genuine, real-life details.

Why bother using a pseudonym if I’m not protected, if no-one is truly protected? Well, as I said, it puts an extra barrier up. Makes it clear this is my public life, this my private.

Respectful people will be okay with that. Bent coppers or special snowflakes like Kathleen Hale won’t, but the reaction she’s currently getting online show the general feeling is that she’s in the wrong.

If my experience with P.C. Plod recurred, how would I react? Likely in the same way. I’d go on Twitter, tell people what was happening. Email everyone in my gmail contacts.

It was a scary experience. And being Scarlett Parrish wouldn’t have stopped it. At the end of the day, writing is what’s important to me, and I wanted to name myself in a way, as well as titling my books. If that guy ever reads this blog post, he could link the “real life” me with Scarlett and cause a whole heap of trouble, but you never know – by going as public as my conscience and legality will allow, I actually might be protecting myself.

Because linking public Scarlett and private me would prove to the world that he was the guy who threatened my life years back. How else would he know my real life identifying details?

After all, if I haven’t authorised someone’s knowledge of my identifying details and they go public with them, they’re kind of advertising that they’re breaking the law, going against another person’s wishes, putting their safety in danger and being an all-round bunglecunt.

A bit like Kathleen Hale, really.

Bookmark Wednesdays: Anais Morgan

First, a big thank you to Ms. Parrish for having me.

Here in the Midwest it’s getting cooler. The leaves are starting to change. It makes me cringe. We get some pretty wicked winters here, and the forecast looks like it’s going to be worse than last year. I’m not a snow person by any measure. If I could skip that season, you bet I would.

I think the best part of the bitter cold is more time to curl up and read a good book. I’m sure everyone has a “go to” book. One that no matter what, you smile. For me, it was the first true adult fiction I’d read. Most of my early life had been reading the Bible and middle grade books. When I got into high school, my English teacher kept at least 100 books at all times. One was And Then You Die by Iris Johansen. My friends and I laughed at the title, although I have no idea why. However, something about the book pulled me in. The blurb sounded good, so I borrowed it.

The rest of the school day I read. I couldn’t put it down. In science class, my partner and I were supposed to do some kind of experiment, but I didn’t help. I just had to find out what happened next. Keep in mind that I’m a slow reader, but I finished the book in two days. It had everything: action, romance, mystery, death.

I went looking for more of Iris’ work. To this day I get every one of her books-money permitting. I even tracked down some of her Loveswept books from the 80’s.

That was my introduction into adult fiction, and I’ve never looked back. That book taught me so much about plot twists and suspense. I hope that one day I’ll be able to write something so perfect or get a reader addicted to my work like I was.

So, I say a big thank you to Ms. Johansen. Her book And Then You Die changed not only my reading habits, but introduced me to a new world of books.

And yes, I have both a physical copy and an ebook copy of said novel.

* * * * *

Anais Morgan can be found on her blog.

* * * * *

B&Gcover1She will feed them or die. Or both.

Just when eighteen-year-old Mary Scott is ready to go to culinary school, she’s captured and held prisoner by The Order-a religious group that sells humans to vampires. Mary is sent to become the blood slave to the Wictreds, a family of three vampires. There’s Deacon, the gentleman with a short temper, Solomon, sarcastic one with some serious mood swings, and Cain, the child-like one that has a problem with self control. Her only hope is to escape, but she has a single chance. If she’s caught she’ll be killed to keep her silent.

As time passes, Mary’s days become numbered. After all, she has only so much blood. The longer she’s in the house, the more time she spends with Solomon. When he’s not toying with her, he’s actually a nice guy and protects her from his brothers. Mary loves his company and soon his presence makes her heart flutter. But humans and vampires must be separate, and Deacon will do anything to keep the family honor intact.

* * * * *

Available All Romance eBooks, Amazon UK and Amazon US.