By now you’ve probably heard that the Rainbow Awards were announced over the weekend.
I’m happy to announce that Show and Tell was one of the runner-ups for Best Gay Paranormal. It was an honor just to be a finalist, and I mean that honestly; there was a lot of stiff competition from some really excellent writers.
Also, the Goodreads M/M Group is having their Member Choice Awards voting right now. I’m up for two awards:
for Playing Ball
Details are at the Goodreads group.
…And this is me Snoopy dancing. That’s a nice cap to a great year.
(I know I promised you posts on craft. Consider this a warm-up.)
I can’t remember who coined the phrase, me or one of my critique partners, but we complain about Project ADD. I have this problem where I get super enthusiastic about a new story and can write like a furious beast for two or three weeks—sometimes that’s enough time to churn out a workable first draft, usually it isn’t—and then my interest wanes and something new and shiny comes along. My hard drive is littered with the corpses of abandoned projects, stories that I probably thought had potential at the time but which I have no desire to finish now.
Enter NaNoWriMo. I considered not even participating this year because I’ve got so much else on my plate, but I worked out in October that I could take time out to start this new series I’ve been planning for a while and still meet my other deadlines.
I’ve been splitting November between finishing the as-yet untitled sequel to The Stars that Tremble and starting this new series. And there’s a third book calling to me.
In the sequel’s case, I’m just about done now; I only need to finish formatting the manuscript and come up with a title before I can fling it out of my inbox. It wasn’t a book that was hard to write, but it did take me a long time to work out the ending. That seems like a silly thing to say about a romance novel—they end up together, duh!—but tying up all the loose threads took some time. I’m happy with the results, though. And I’m actually sad to be leaving these characters, especially Sandy, behind, but it’s time.
In the series’s case, I had two weeks of gleeful typing, but now that I’m well into week 3, I kind of want to work on other projects. I’ve got a manuscript that I wrote over the summer but put aside to finish higher priority projects, and now it’s calling to me all, “fiiinish meeee.”
But, no, I want to at least get Book 1 of this series written. I like to let first drafts steep for a little while because the revision process goes better if I go back to them with fresh eyes. So the idea would be to finish this book, then go back to the other manuscript.
But, wow, this one has been hard. Tertiary characters from the series are talking to me. I’ve got the first three books in the series outlined, and the heroes of the other books are telling me stories. It’s been pretty hard to focus on this first book.
But a series is nothing without its first book, and the first book has to be a good one to hook the reader on the series, so I really need to stick with it and not let myself get distracted.
The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it sort of forces you to stick with it. Like, dude, I write year round, I know I can write 50,000 words in a month. That’s cake. (That’s probably actually only slightly more than my average monthly output.) What’s hard is forcing myself to stick with a story.
Like, last NaNo, I actually stopped in the middle of the month and put aside my project—a novel about a young guy who falls for his agoraphobic neighbor—to write Save the Date. I have no regrets, but that novel about the agoraphobic guy never got finished. Someday, right? It’s in the revision queue with, like, six other half-finished projects.
So I keep saying to myself that I have to write AT LEAST 50,000 words of book one of this series. It’s a contemporary series based around an LGBT amateur sports league. The guys in the first book—who have really complementary personalities, in that one is strong where the other is weak—meet when one of them joins a baseball team in this league. Me telling people I’m writing about a bunch of guys in a gay baseball league makes their faces light up, so clearly I’m on to something, even if I’m not totally confident in this first book. Yet. I will edit it later. But in order to get it done, I can’t let myself get distracted by other projects.
So that’s what I’m using NaNo for, to force myself into sticking with a project when I’m getting distracted by other projects. And hopefully, I will have a completely (very) rough draft by the end of the month, and you will see book one of the Rainbow League series on shelves some time in 2015.
I’ve been kind of a blog slacker.
When I first threw this website up, I wasn’t intending to have an official blog—this was more of a space for Kate-related news such as release dates and public appearances and the like—but I apparently cannot resist the siren call of a blinky cursor and I started blogging sort of regularly. Then I started picking Five Things to write about on Fridays as a way to get myself to actually update the blog on some kind of regular schedule. I’ve been bad about actually following up with that since the summer due to busyness—and, frankly, if I only have an hour to write some days, that hour is going to be spent on a novel and not a blog post—but I think a blog is a good outlet for some of what I want to say.
I have a lot of posts I’ve written but not posted, mostly on craft-related topics, because I keep thinking that How to Write blogs are kind of a dime a dozen, and there are plenty of blogs about craft written by smart articulate people that will teach you more than I ever could.
More to the point, a lot of writing advice is subjective. I almost said, “a lot of writing advice is bunk,” but that’s not really true. I have received and incorporated a lot of great advice over the years. I still buy and read books on craft, even. But not all writing advice is good for all writers. There are very few universals or absolute truths in creative professions. Things I like, processes that work for me, tips and tricks I employ regularly, those things might not work for you. Heck, it’s November; NaNoWriMo is one of those things that is like a godsend for some writers and completely anathema to others. So, basically, if I’m like, “Hey, you should do this thing!” you would be well within your rights to listen politely and then completely ignore everything and go do something else. That’s how it goes. We all forge our own way.
But I do try to improve and learn more all the time. My goal is for each book to be better than the last. I have some sense of my own weaknesses as a writer, so I’ve been focusing on getting better at those things. I’ve attended craft workshops and read books and I read critically all the time to try to discern why some things work but others don’t. What qualities do I consistently find in the books I truly love that are absent from my own work, and how do I fix that? That sort of thing.
But there are some things I have figured out. So I thought that, for the rest of November, I’d throw some stuff up on the blog to see if any of it sticks. You all can feel free to weigh in and discuss things. But, in the interest of sharing information and bettering ourselves as writers, I don’t want to hoard what I know, nor do I want to tell you what to do. Just… here are some things I’ve figured out about writing. Maybe you will find them helpful.
Also, it’s my blog. I’ll do what I want.
So those will go up sporadically throughout the rest of the month. Stay tuned.
I can say, as someone who has been to every GRL, that each one has kind of a different vibe. For me, the six days I spent in Atlanta were busy and intense but also really wonderful and surprising and inspiring.
[I wrote this post Tuesday, and then thought, "I didn't take any photos, so I'll pull some off Facebook later," then kept forgetting to go do that. If you are friends with any gay romance author on the Book of Faces, you've probably seen the photopalooza of the last few days and are totally sick of it, so this will be a texty review of events. I'll paint pictures with words! (Ha, no, what am I, in a college creative writing class?) Here are my impressions as recorded Tuseday.]
This year, I got involved behind the scenes to help run the first ever Writers Workshop. The Workshop was run by Rainbow Romance Writers, for which I am the current president-elect, and it was intended to bring together writers to help share and foster talent. The whole event was a phenomenal success. It went more smoothly than I ever thought possible and we got nothing but positive feedback. Participants seemed to enjoy the classes—even my workshop on setting, although I felt like I got off to a slow start—and the pitch appointments ended up being a great surprise, with many writers doing their first ever pitches. I know some editors asked for partials and full manuscripts, so maybe the next big success will come of it.
I’ve already started talking to the GRL organizers about bringing it back next year, so stay tuned!
Somehow in all this, the Scarf Dance meme was created. Well, Damon Suede told a room full of people that I would be performing a scarf dance at the post-Workshop cocktail party, and people might have been disappointed that I just gave a short speech, but I did wave my arms a bit, and then Damon spent the rest of the week yelling “scarf dance!” at me.
(Phrase memes became a theme of the week. I roomed with Tere Michaels, and by the end, we were so tired, we were basically just speaking to each other in code. “Scarf dance?” “Clown!”)
Thursday morning, I went to the supporting author signing. I grabbed the sampler of stories by the supporting authors and carried it around to get signed by everyone. Putting that book together was a fantastic idea and gave me a good excuse to talk to all the authors there. I can’t wait to flip through it and read.
I volunteered to moderate, so I spent all of Thursday afternoon at the pub for readings. I moderated the very first session—Anne Tenino, Lloyd Meeker, and Shannon West, who were all fantastic—then I stuck around for Damon, Heidi Cullinan, and Deanna Wadsworth, then finally I read from The Stars that Tremble after readings from Jade Buchanan and Anna Zabo. (I heard later that while I was reading, TJ Klune proposed to Eric Arvin. Congrats, guys!)
Thursday night was the neon-themed Juke Joint party, a blast as always.
Friday morning, I did a storytelling panel on sports romance with Devon Rhodes and TA Chase, who are awesome and amazing and now I want to read their athletes series. (Obscure sports from around the world!)
Friday afternoon was the Fun Fair, including Scrapbooking with the Rainbow Romance Writers, which seemed to be a big hit. After doing all the prep work for that, I could go a while without seeing another glue stick, but we’re already talking about doing it again next year and extending the event to 2 hours instead of just 1 so readers have time to hit up every author.
At Dine with an Author, I wound up at a table tucked in the corner with Mr. Suede, but we had a fun little bunch of people. This was followed up by the Dreamspinner cocktail party, which was super classy! I really enjoyed seeing everyone all dressed up.
Saturday morning, I moderated the first session of readings—Jordan L. Hawk, P.D. Singer, and Angel Martinez, who, again, were all fantastic—then I crashed Tere Michaels’s panel on cop romances, which she did with Hank Edwards and Sylvia Violet. (Poor Tere had no voice by then.)
Saturday afternoon was the big book signing. Three hours is a lot and I had a terrible headache through most of it—not to be whiney—but it was great to see fans and talk to people I hadn’t been able to talk to up to that point in the convention.
Then there was a cocktail party and the Heaven & Hell Masquerade. I’m not really into wearing costumes, but I appreciate when other people do, and I really loved that party and how great some of those costumes were. My halo and angel wings were apparently not convincing, though. I can’t imagine why people weren’t buying the angel act. O:-)
There was brunch Sunday. I was busy trying to figure out how to ship leftover scrapbooking stuff and missed the photo booth, something I regret in retrospect. Then I flew home.
I worked yesterday, which wasn’t as bad as I expected, but today I am tiiiired.
My takeaways? I love this community of writers and readers so very much. I am SO EXCITED to get back to writing as soon as I have enough energy to do it. I have a towering virtual TBR pile on the Kindle with books written by authors I met and adored, so if I could have a week off to just read, that would be awesome. (My boss does not seem to like this idea.) And finally, I left with a lot of optimism for my tenure as RRW President in 2014. (I’m about 80% happy and excited and 20% abjectly terrified about taking over as president. I have some, er, big, loud shoes to fill. Perhaps my reign will be more understated but we’ll still kick ass and get a lot done as a chapter.)
I have started 3 separate GRL-related posts and then not put them up, partly because I’ve been so busy that I keep starting them without finishing them. But here is a quickie with some info about what I’ll be up to:
The Saturday Book Signing is open to the public, so if you can’t make it to GRL but are within travel distance of Atlanta, you can come by and meet a lot of awesome authors.
I’ll be at the Writers Workshop all day Wednesday. I’m teaching a workshop about setting and have come up with enough to talk about to fill an hour. There’s a hand-out. I may tell a few jokes. It’ll be fun.
I’m reading from The Stars that Tremble on Thursday.
I’m doing a storyteller spotlight on Friday with TA Chase and Devon Rhodes in which we will discuss sports romances and give away lots of cool prizes. I made plushie baseballs, guys. They are really cute.
And on Friday during the Fun Fair, you can come get your craft on at the Rainbow Romance Writers scrapbooking event.
If you end up at my Dine with an Author table, I’ve got some cool New York-y items to give away.
I have agonized over outfits and am still not totally sure which outfit I am wearing to which party. If anyone wants to play wardrobe consultant, the position is available.
Also, confidential to anyone who sees this: I found 2 copies of In Hot Pursuit when I was packing yesterday, and I will happily give one to whoever gets to me first.
Well, not quite. But you CAN meet me at the Dreamspinner Goodreads group tomorrow afternoon (10/5) during my snazzy Meet the Author event. There will be excerpts and prizes and things, so drop in. We shall discuss The Stars that Tremble and why opera is pretty cool and maybe I’ll post photos of Swag City, which is what my dining room has become as I get ready for GayRomLit. Go here from 12–3pm EST.
I’m thrilled to announce that my paranormal romance Show and Tell is a Rainbow Award finalist in the gay paranormal category. It also won an honorable mention. It’s in some pretty amazing company, with a lot of other fabulous books. Winners will be announced in December—wish me luck!
Giovanni Boca was destined to go down in history as an opera legend until a vocal chord injury abruptly ended his career. Now he teaches voice lessons at a prestigious New York City music school. During auditions for his summer opera workshop, he finds his protégé in fourteen-year-old Emma McPhee. Just as intriguing to Gio is Emma’s father Mike, a blue-collar guy who runs a business renovating the kitchens and bathrooms of New York’s elite to finance his daughter’s dream.
Mike’s partner was killed when Emma was a toddler, and Gio mourns the beautiful voice he will never have again, so coping with loss is something they have in common. Their initial physical attraction quickly grows to something more as each hopes to fill the gap that loss and grief has left in his life. Although Mike wonders if he can truly fit into Gio’s upperclass world, their bond grows stronger. Then, trouble strikes from outside when the machinations of an unscrupulous stage mother threaten to tear Gio and Mike apart—and ruin Emma’s bright future.
You’d be forgiven. My mother, a classically trained singer, was constantly trying to get us kids to listen to opera when I was growing up. I resisted. It was foreign-sounding and boring, I thought. Then, when I was in high school, I went to a performance of Puccini’s Turandot and suddenly I got it. My mom joined an opera company at the same time, so I went to all of her shows and that was the gateway drug, I suppose.
So here, I’ll show you a few of the key arias from The Stars that Tremble. Maybe you’ll still hate opera, or maybe I’ll convert you.
Giovanni Boca was once a great opera singer. His best-known performance was as Calaf in Turandot. It’s kind of a weird opera; the plot is complicated and stops making sense if you think about it too long. But Puccini’s music is brilliant. The third act opens with “Nessun Dorma,” an aria sung by Calaf in which he basically declares victory because he is confident he will win the Rumplestiltskin-esque challenge he has issued her (and thus her heart—I told you it doesn’t make any sense). The first line (translated) is: “None shall sleep, not even you, O Princess, who sit in your cold bedroom watching the stars that tremble with love and hope.” It’s probably one of the best known opera arias, so maybe it’s an obvious choice, but it still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. It’s just a beautiful piece of music.
Here’s Luciano Pavarotti performing it:
There’s a scene in the novel in which Gio teaches his class about coloratura opera. He plays “Der Holle Rache” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, also known as the Queen of the Night’s aria. This is the part Emma McPhee most wants to play. It’s an incredibly difficult piece to sing. My mom had a tape of Mozart opera highlights that she kept in her car when I was growing up, so this was a piece of music I heard all the time; we called it “the crazy aria” for a long time.
This is from a production of The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan opera:
Some of the other arias Emma sings over the course of the novel include:
“Si, mi chiamano Mimi” (“Yes, they call me Mimi”) from La Boheme (Puccini):
“Ah, Fors’é Lui” (“Ah, maybe it’s him”) from La Traviata (Verdi):
The Stars that Tremble is out September 30. See the trailer and read an excerpt.