Why do I read romance? #167

Maybe one day I’ll definitively answer this question. Today’s attempt ventures onto new ground.

I’ve been listening a lot to Dexys’ 2012 album One Day I’m Going to Soar this week. I got this album shortly after its release and loved it. One of the things I loved about it was that it was a single theme/single story album which is always red letter for me (since I am all about theme, baby). However, in my head, it was a relationship-gone-wrong story and I never really got beyond that. I did as I usually do with it, which is to say I played it death for a few weeks (cause I tend to saturate myself with the stuff I love, you know? Roll in it. Soak in it) but I was pretty much always doing something else at the same time.

Usually writing.

Recently, though, I started walking to work a couple of times a week and I began listening to whole albums with all my attention in a way I haven’t done for quite a while.

This week I picked up One Day I’m Going to Soar and you know what I discovered? It’s not about a relationship gone wrong (though that’s part of how Kevin Rowland shows you what it is about).

It’s actually about a man discovering, and accepting, who he is.

It’s about him answering the question Who Am I?

In his case, the answer is that he’s kind of an eternal outsider who has no desire to be paired up in life or to have a family life. He wants to be free (and the exuberant “Free” at the end of the album is a superbly defiant and joyous two fingers to everyone who thinks that being single is the end if the world).

So anyway, the thing – the big exciting thought – that hit me as I listened to this album, again and again this week, was that I was reacting to this album, this story, the way I react to great romances – even though the guy ends up alone at the end. Like, I was excited by the whole thing and happy at the end and hopeful. And I was identifying, present in my shadowy way in these songs. There but not, like when I read.

It made me think again about why I read romance. It me wonder whether romance –  that core love story  – in some ways is just like setting or plot or characterisation for me? Like, it’s part of *it*( what I’m looking for) but not actually *it*.

Perhaps *my* thing, the thing I am  always looking for, is about realising or actualising the self (something I’ve sort-of blogged about before here)? Discovering – or maybe turning into – who you *really* are?

Perhaps my love of romance isn’t so much about love stories as it is about this essential identity story and it’s just that romance is the best place to find this in its purest form because romance (particularly LGBTQ romance) is so focused on that “Who am I?” question? 

This is a big idea for me and it’s giving me food for thought.

This is my (current) favourite song from the Dexys’ album, Nowhere is Home which is just so great. I particularly love the part where he talks about wanting to be “the man of my dreams” (3:45ish).

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An unexpected pleasure

So I came back from my week away and there was a note that the postman had left a parcel with my neighbour. Inside was this:

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So I looked inside. There was a bookmark:

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I was none the wiser. I flicked around the pages, checked the flyleaf and back copy…

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 Nope.

Then I finally turned to the other flyleaf, and there it was:

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 You see that? The top one: “Eva Clancy”

That’s me.

Now published in paperback in Japan.

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2015: the year of JFDI

 

Alice

I meant to post about my resolution for 2015 before now. But, in keeping with said resolution, better late than never.

I’ve decided that 2015 is going to be my JFDI year.

Just

Fucking

Do

It.

There’s more than one strand to this. Part of it’s about writing – about reminding myself of how (miraculously it sometimes seems to me) I’ve ended up publishing 6 novels and 7 novellas and each and every one has been written in snippets. Writing a little, often.

It’s a reminder, too, to try not to waste too much time on stupid stuff. Especially stuff of the ever-diminishing-returns variety. (Not that I plan on giving up stupid stuff altogether, you understand).

There’s a third thing too, and perhaps this is most important thing – around decisiveness. I can get pretty paralysed by uncertainty at times, and I want to stop doing that – stop wondering myself into a standstill. I want to say more ‘yes’s and ‘no’s and fewer ‘I’ll think about it’s. Act more, think less.

So that’s my resolution for 2015: JFDI.

Just fucking do it.

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2014 in review – the readery stuff

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This post is more about the general shape of my reading in 2014 rather than being a top books of the year list – more general musings on what captured my interest this year with some specific mentions by way of example.

2014 was (again) very much a year of the contemporary for me. Most (but not all) of the contemporaries I read  were GLBT and US set . It’s probably telling that the het romances I read tended towards the realistic (Sarah Mayberry remains an autobuy) and/or exploring less vanilla relationships (Cara MacKenna was an exciting new discovery – I loved Unbound with it’s dynamic heroine). No billionaires round my way in 2014!

In terms of individual authors, I went on a bit of Mary Calmes glom. In all, I read 8 Calmes titles this year, of which my favourite was probably All Kinds of Tied Down. (I’ve still to read any of the Matter of Time books, having been unwilling to commit to such a long series – I’m such an obsessive glommer that I know once I get going I won’t be able to stop till I’ve read them all – however, I downloaded a sample of book 1 last night so it’s only – wait for it! – a matter of time...)

Another big theme (to my own surprise) was college romances. In fact, my current read (which I’m loving) is Amy Jo Cousins’ Off Campus which falls into this category. Other than Off Campus, the best of these has been the superlative Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen but fun has also been had with Anne Tenino’s  frat boys and J A Rock and Lisa Henry’s Versus books.

Westerns too. Z A Maxfield’s series has been superb.

2014 has also been notable as Josh Lanyon’s comeback year following his sabbatical. He put out three superb full length novels this year and I loved every one: Fair Play, Everything I Know and The Boy with the Painful Tattoo. High points, every one.

Turning to  historicals, I’ve read a lot less in this genre this year, and what I have read has been less typical. A stand out read (and a polarising one, judging by the reviews) was Stone Age time travel romance (I know!) Transcendence by Shay Savage. I loved the central conceit of this story which is that the caveman hero is less hung up on masculine posturing than a modern day man. Smart and touching.

Other historical high points include On A Lee Shore by Elin Gregory, another stand out read. I just loved this book. I had a big No Pirates reading rule till I read this. It was rich and vivid and unexpected. Loved it. Other great historical reads came from K J Charles and Tamara Allan.

What else? There wasn’t much that was notable in pnr or sci fi for me, but I loved the Stitch anthology which had a fantastic Pinnochio/Frankenstein theme. Brilliant. Oh, and I really liked Bliss by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau which again had a great central idea – convicts who serve their victims instead of going to prison after being implanted with mind controlling chips. It’s a nice exploration of free will. I also stepped a toe outside the romance genre (arguably) with the compelling Written in Red by Anne Bishop. Fantastic, but I kept wanting more relationship from the MCs which underlined for me how important the romance element is for me.

Another theme in my reading this year has been indie reads – great examples include S P Wayne’s werewolf books and Santino Hassell’s After Midnight. I’ve also read heaps of short stories and novellas this year, culminating in a rash of xmas reads: Eli Easton’s Unwrapping Hank (I also loved her The Mating of Michael), Mary Calmes’ Where You Lead and What Can Be and Rj Scott’s Angel in a Bookshop. All great festive reads I’ll revisit at future Christmases.

Do I have a book of the year? I’m going to go with my gut on this – literally. The boom that got me in the gut this year, staying with me long after, was L B Gregg’s Men of Smithfield – Adam and Holden. It was lovely.

I know I’ll read it again and again.

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My 2014 in review: the writey stuff

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2014 has been a pretty good writing and publishing year for me. I published two novels, two novellas and a (very short) short this year which is a pretty good output for me given my work and family commitments.

The stories were:

  • Enlightened, the final novel in my Enlightenment trilogy (my most ambitious writing project to date)
  • Introducing Mr Winterbourne, a novella in the Another Place in Time charity anthology organised by Susan Lee
  • The Dream Alchemist, my first, um, paranormal-y novel (I struggle to label this story – it doesn’t *feel* like paranormal or fantasy to me, but something else)
  • Rest and Be Thankful, a contemporary set novella in the Comfort & Joy Christmas anthology organised by Josh Lanyon
  • Seasons Pass, a very short story in the Enlightenment series. Although this is only 5k, it’s one of my favourite things I wrote this year

In terms of next year’s output, I have notebooks full of ideas for future projects – some of those are stories I’m desperate to write and others are stories I’m interested in more for the challenge they pose.

When I think about it, pretty much everything I’ve published has had something in it that’s been some kind of challenge. My first book featured a woman masquerading as a man – I began writing that book after reading a few blogs that talked about this being a trope readers struggled with because they found it difficult to believe a woman could successfully pass as a man. My second book featured that most loathed of romance characters, the philandering husband (I genuinely love the hero of that book but he’s been roundly despised by many readers). With the first book of the Enlightenment series, I wrote a romance with no HEA or even an HFN and that really bothered some readers (but I genuinely felt it had to be that way) and across the broader arc of all three Enlightenment books, I set myself the challenge of creating an ultimate HEA for two Regency men that readers could really believe in and have the same sense of pay off as from a het historical. With my more recent stories – The Dream Alchemist and Rest and Be Thankful – the challenge has been in the change of genre. I’ve discovered that paranormal and contemporary genres present vastly different challenges than historical… and that no genre is easy…

In terms of what I’m writing right now, I’m in the luxurious (I think) position of writing something that is both a real book of my heart and a new challenge. This is Captain Iain Sinclair’s book. Readers of Seasons Pass will have briefly met Iain and his love interest, James Hart. James and Iain have known each a long time so I’m trying to tell their story in two interwoven narrative strands – the ‘present’ strand (1824) and a second strand which shows how their relationship has developed between 1808 and 1824. This is not an easy way to write a story, but it gives me lots of opportunities to set up satisfying emotional pay offs – if I can get the tension and the pace if it right (I’m a firm believer that so much in romance is about pace and timing). That novel will come out late 2015.

Enough of 2015 though, what else happened in 2014?

Well, I was nominated in Dabwaha which was very cool, though I went out after round 2 (albeit respectably, to the eventual winner, Captive Prince 2). Oh, and I attended my first conference, the UK GLBT Fiction Meet in Bristol where I met some fabulous people, such as Susan Lee, K J Charles,  Sam Higson, Liz Whinder, Helena Justina,  Rachel Maybury, Clare London, Jo Myles, Elin Gregory, Johanna Ollila, Jordan Castillo Price, LA Witt, Aleksander Voinov, Charlie Cochrane, Calathea, Jay Northcote – the list goes on! It was a great meet and I hope to be at the next one in September next year, all going well.

I loved doing my two anthologies. It was a thrill to see my stories published with other writers I highly rate. In both cases, I felt very much like the ‘junior partner’ in the line up (which felt quite a luxurious place to be in all honesty). Hopefully, these anthologies have introduced my stories to a few new readers.

Another new-to-me for 2014 has been self publishing, which I dipped a toe into the water of with the Comfort & Joy anthology. Having had my hand comprehensively (and generously) held through that process, I plan at least one self pubbing venture in 2015. I have to say, I love working with my publishers, Samhain, but I would like to put something out before the Iain and James book, hopefully around summer time and self pubbing is the best way to achieve that, given the timetable I’m working with.

Is there anything you’d particularly like to see from me? Genre? Characters? Tropes?

 

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Guess the Author Round 4

Holiday Anthology LBmedium

Josh has organised a cool game to celebrate the upcoming release of Comfort and Joy – four rounds of GUESS THE AUTHOR!

You may be here because you’ve already played the other three rounds, or you may have come here first – if so, you’ll find the other rounds at Josh Lanyon’s, LB Gregg’s and Harper Fox’s places.

This is by far the toughest round, lol! This time you are going to see if you can match the following objects to the correct anthology story. You’ve pretty much got nothing to go on here but guesswork and you’ve got to get all twelve objects correctly matched up.

The first four people to come up with the correct matches win their choice of ebook from any one of our backlists BARRING the new stories in this anthology. ;-)

 

The Objects are:

1 – A violin

2 – Blown-glass tree ornaments

3 – A broken water heater

4 – Tiramisù

5 – NyQuil

6 – A garret

7 – A cop

8 – Thai red curry chicken

9 – Lederhosen

10 – A mouse

11 – A big heavy Volvo

12 – A soft, woolly scarf

 

Your possible choices are:

Baby, It’s Cold

Out

Waiting for Winter

Rest and Be Thankful 

 

Answer in the comment section below. Best of luck!

You can only win once, but you can enter all four rounds – and in this round you can enter more than once because it’s pretty tough.

This is the final round in the grand slam of Choose the Author. You must be cold and exhausted by now, so head back over to Josh Lanyon’s place. Josh is heating up the Irish coffee even as you read…

 

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Another new release…and an excerpt…

I have yet another new release coming out on Sunday, 7 December 2014! It’s called Rest And Be Thankful and it’s part of an anthology I’m doing with Josh Lanyon, LB Gregg and Harper Fox called Comfort and Joy. Here’s the lovely cover for my story (there’s one for each story plus one for the whole anthology).

imageAnyway, the main purpose of this post, is to post an excerpt, and give you preorder links. Please note, these links are only for my story – the anthology’s buy links won’t go live till release day.

Preorders: Amazon and Smashwords

Excerpt:

For about a minute after Cam bolted from the room, Rob stared at the door, unsure what to make of the awkward moment that had just passed.

His comment had been mildly flirtatious, he supposed, but only mildly. It was the sort of thing he’d say to Val, or Kenny even. The resolutely straight innkeeper of The Stag seemed to regard it as practically compulsory to greet any potential double entendre with a camp “Oooh!” And a raised eyebrow. Surely Cam’s reaction had been excessive?

Had he thought Rob was coming on to him? Coming on too strong?

Maybe he was put off by the very idea? There was a bit of a yawning chasm between them after all, in terms of age. And attractiveness, if he was completely honest. Rob had to have ten years on Cam, and even ten years ago he could never have hoped to give Cam a run for his money on the body front. Once again the mental image of Cam McMorrow swaying and grinding on the dance floor of Gomorrah flashed in Rob’s mind.

It was an unproductive train of thought and Rob ruthlessly suppressed it, heading into the kitchen to take an inventory of his cupboards and decide what to cook.

He settled on Thai red curry, hoping that Cam liked spicy food, and got started. While he pounded the paste ingredients together, he could hear Cam moving around above him. Creaking floorboards and the rush of water filling the bath. Everyday, domestic sounds that he’d grown unused to, after living alone for so long.   The sounds conjured up unhelpful images of Cam’s big, glorious body, naked and wet and no matter how hard he tried, Rob couldn’t banish those images—with every creak and splash they would replay in his mind, over and over.

The truth was, he was intensely curious about what Cam looked like beneath his clothes. Some parts were obvious of course. His broad shoulders, long legs and lean waist were all perfectly evident without him needing to take his clothes off. It was the smaller, subtler details that Rob found himself wondering about: how hairy that superb chest was, whether his nipples were small or generous, whether his belly button was a divot or a nubbin. The precise tone of those hidden stretches of skin…

As he pondered these fascinating details, Rob gnawed at his lower lip, uncomfortable. These questions weren’t the sort of standard sexual thoughts that his mind processed a hundred times a day—those could be boxed neatly away without any difficulty. No, this was different. This deeply personal and helpless curiosity about Cam went deeper than just wanting to fuck.

He wanted to look.

He wanted to paint.

Upstairs, the bath gurgled as the water drained away—Cam must be getting out. That thought provoked another image, this time of Cam stepping out of the bath, water droplets lazily running down his pecs…

Rob swallowed.

Jesus.

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Upcoming excitement and nail-biting anticipation

I have a new book coming out on Tuesday next week… It’s totally crept up on me!

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I’ve got a blog tour happening next week (organised by the lovely Susan Lee, without whom I would have done nothing). These are the dates and times:

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Monday, Dec 1:

The Blogger Girls (Guest Post)

The Kimi-Chan Experience (Exclusive Excerpt)

Tuesday, Dec 2: Release day!!!

Prism Book Alliance (Interview)

Love Bytes (Exclusive Excerpt)

Wednesday, Dec 3:

Boys in our Books (Guest Post)

Thursday, Dec 4:

The Novel Approach (Guest Post)

MM Good Book Reviews (Spotlight & Review)

Hearts on Fire (Exclusive Excerpt)

Friday, Dec 5:

The Jeep Diva (Spotlight & Review)

Monday, Dec 8:

Joyfully Jay (Guest Post)

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Check it out and look out for prizes/ giveaways next week!

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Free story and latest newsletter!

You can access my latest newsletter here. It includes details of my upcoming releases on 30 November (Comfort and Joy) and 2 December (The Dream Alchemist) as well as my new freebie Enlightenment 1.5 story, Seasons Pass, which you can read now!

The lovely cover is courtesy of Susan Lee (fank you, Suzy-Su).

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Another Place in Time anthology now released

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It is out at last!

I am very, very tardy, as this released on Wednesday, however, better late than never, I always say.

There has been a blog tour – my post is still to come at Joyfully Jay’s tomorrow – and commenting will grant you chances to win some fine prizes. See the links below.

Oh, and all profits from this anthology will be donated to AllOut.org in celebration of LGBT History Month, October 2014. Hurrah!

Included in this anthology:

“Office Romance” by Tamara Allen
“Introducing Mr. Winterbourne” by Joanna Chambers (Me me me!!)
“The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh” by KJ Charles
“Unfair in Love and War” by Kaje Harper
“Carousel” by Jordan L. Hawk
“Deliverance” by Aleksandr Voinov

And the foreword is by Alex Beecroft – it’s not a story but it’s better than a poke an eye with a shitty stick, I think you’ll agree?

Prizes! Les details:

  • A backlist ebook from ALL of the authors participating in the anthology (one each from Tamara Allen, Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles, Kaje Harper, Jordan L. Hawk, Aleksandr Voinov, and Alex Beecroft)
  • A $25 Amazon giftcard
  • A $50 donation in the winner’s name to AllOut.org (all proceeds from the sale of this anthology will also be donated to this charity).

How perfectly lovely! To win these goodies visit the below…

Blog tour! Les details:

* Monday, September 29 – Sinfully Sexy (Guest Post – Aleksandr Voinov)
Rainbow Gold Reviews (Spotlight)
* Tuesday, September 30 – Elisa Reviews (Guest Post – Jordan L. Hawk)
Cup O’Porn (Spotlight)
* Wednesday, October 1 – Boys in our Books (Guest Post – KJ Charles)
The Blogger Girls (Spotlight)
Book Pushers (Spotlight)
* Thursday, October 2 – Love Bytes (Guest Post – Tamara Allen)
Attention is Arbitrary (Spotlight)
Smoocher’s Voice (Spotlight)
* Friday, October 3 – Prism Book Alliance (Guest Post – Kaje Harper)
Boy Meets Boy Reviews (Spotlight)
* Saturday, October 4 – Joyfully Jay (Guest Post – Joanna Chambers)
MM Good Book Reviews (Spotlight)

 

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