Archive for the ‘author babble’ Category


I write! But not a lot of blog posts, so you might not see activity here for months on end while I’m working on the story-writing instead, and when I’m consumed with the day job. In a genre where many writers publish a new book every few months, I’m the slowpoke whose output is about one novel every two years. I’ll always try to make that one novel worth the wait.

I’ve recently self-published a Rome-based erotic romance serial called The Knife of Narcissus. Two other stories in the same setting, but with different characters and at different places on the timeline, are in the works.

A few short stories have been published under other names, and I worked on a choose-your-own-darned-path adventure set in ancient Rome, because I just can’t get enough of those Romans.

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Saturnalia food

I’ve had something flu-like for the past week, so I haven’t had much appetite for either eating or cooking. I’m going to take a look at the ancient cookbook and see what it advises for knocking out a cold and revving up the appetite when Saturnalia season is starting and constant feasting is required. I’ll post some recipes tonight 🙂

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It’s about two days to the release of the seventh and final part of The Knife of Narcissus on Monday, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the readers and reviewers who have been following the saga feel about the whole thing—both about the resolution for our heroes, and about the experience of reading the story in installments. Boy Meets Boy Reviews has some thoughts already.

One thing a reader might wonder about here at the end of Lucius and Trio’s tale is: why send a story out into the world as a serial, if the entire thing will be available eventually in one volume? I go back to my thoughts about serials in the guest post on Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews way back in August when this all began:

Some tales can be limericks. Some can be the epic of Gilgamesh. Ebooks also make it easy to send installments to readers—no more hanging around on the docks waiting to grab the latest chapter of David Copperfield. Which is great for the way I write. When I saw other romance writers using the serial format, it was as if someone had unlocked a door and said it’s all right to step through too.

At a workshop an awfully long time ago, the main critique for the story I brought was that, instead of following a traditional three-act structure, readers counted four, five, six, seven acts…and the story wasn’t even finished. It wanted to be nine acts. Maybe eleven. It wasn’t sure. I stuck it in a trunk and shut the lid so I wouldn’t have to hear it complain anymore. It took years of struggling against my instincts to realise that what I was writing were episodes in a story of many parts that didn’t easily fit the classic structure….

In all, it’s been an interesting experience to publish a serial, and I’ll have much more to say about it after I’ve had a chance to absorb and reflect. The novel I’m working on now won’t, I suspect, be published in parts. It’s more compact, a more tidy narrative. It is, however, also set in ancient Rome, because I cannot get enough of the place. And there’s more to tell about Lucius’s world.

Did I say above that this the end of Lucius and Trio’s story? I misspoke.

Alas, there will be no gladiators.

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Chicken tomorrow

Both too late and too frozen! But the experiment will continue tomorrow 🙂

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3 days and counting

MandWIt’s been a little hard to get completely excited today about the upcoming release date for The Knife of Narcissus Parts 1-2. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been caring for an ill pet, and, honestly, things look pretty bad today. Just when I’m gearing up to enjoy being a self-published M/M Romance author, it’s almost a certainty I’ll be closing the cover on a huge era of my life.

Seventeen years ago I had just moved to a new city, planning to go to grad school, had a perfect housemate who loved all the same crazy things I did, and I had all sorts of plans. (I was absolutely going to decorate the house Roman style…saner heads prevailed.) I didn’t pick out the funny-looking tiny tortoiseshell kitten–she wasn’t even, technically, my cat–though I did carry her home in my lap, curled up in my baseball cap, on a long ride back from (what I sketchily remember as) a farm in the middle of nowhere. But I inherited her later when my housemate moved out of state and this cat absolutely did not get along with my housemate’s big tom.

M2The cat I inherited was smart, daring, a little wild, would rather be outdoors than indoors, left me gifts of the choicest half of multiple geckos, insisted on going on walks with the dog (and complained loudly if we walked too fast for her), was always talkative, and fierce. All through the long process of creating The Knife of Narcissus, she batted at my hands while I wrote (because I must be wiggling my fingers around as a game, right?) and tried to get my attention by lying on the keyboard or pushing the laptop off her previously assigned human parking space. In these later years she changed from cranky, independent beastie to cuddler. She always ran to meet me at the door. When she stopped doing that a couple of weeks ago, I knew something was wrong, and it’s scary how quickly she’s gone from vivacious to completely sapped of energy.

It’s not like she can sit and reminisce with me about the other pets who have come and gone and the times we’ve shared, but it has always been nice to think that, somewhere in that cat-size memory, she knew all the things we’ve been through together. It’s just too hard celebrate the big pub date when it’s so unlikely she’ll still be here. I’m a grownup, I’ve lost pets before….Never gets easy, though, does it?

Obligatory cat photos included. She’s a funny-looking cat, and I’ll miss seeing her funny-looking face.

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As of today, it’s a 7-day countdown to the publication date for book 1 of The Knife of Narcissus. Stand by for news, giveaways, and links to reviews!

Am I nervous about potential reviews? Yes, absolutely! But my hope is that even a negative review will give me something to mull over, things to improve…and maybe I just won’t agree with the reviewer’s assessment, and that’s OK too. Moreover, sometimes even a negative review will give specific readers a reason to read a book. For example: take an Amazon review that says something like, “I thought this would be a sweet Regency romance, but it turned out to be full of men being non-stop naughty with each other!” (Send me the sampler for that book forthwith.)

And in the meanwhile, what’s next? I’m at work on the sequel novella, currently titled Saturnalia; the “Sherlock Rome” mystery; and a couple of non-romance projects. And some articles for a review website. Staying busy is great for keeping the creative energy building.

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It was great to wake up this morning and see pre-orders for The Knife of Narcissus at All Romance! Thank you to everyone who made the first day so exciting.

It’s now exactly one month to the release of the first part of the serial. My editors and I have worked hard so far to bring it all together, and I look forward to adding a few polishing touches as each part goes live–plus adding in the bonus novella in part 7, Saturnalia. That’s not reflected in the current book length listed on All Romance or Smashwords, so expect an extra boost to the word count.

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Dear Author has links to a couple of articles about the current wave of interest in the “below-stairs” part of upstairs-downstairs stories here and here, with a little bit of discussion in the comments on the American intersection with British portrayals of a servant class, and the high interest in historical fiction (in books or on TV).

It sent me into a nostalgia about various moments and missteps of the past. About umpteen years ago, I was intrigued/surprised/amazed when I found out that a very young guy (whom I had an enormous crush on) had trained to become a butler with one of those extremely butlery, old-school butlers (the consultant on one of those butlery movies–I’m going to say Gosford Park). It hadn’t occurred to me that there would be young men aspiring to the profession and with the same sort of air about them as you’d see in someone from a previous generation, and even if so, I didn’t expect I’d ever meet and get all starry-eyed over a butler. I mistakenly thought he was starry-eyed over me too. Said young guy had been hired by a family in the US and took his butlering very seriously, with an almost OCD level of attention to detail. He took what I considered enormously nitpicky tasks from his employers in stride.

Crass young idiot that I was, I often found myself thinking (though not saying, thank goodness), “Why do you have to do that–don’t you just hire someone for that?” Of course, when I thought of hiring someone, it meant looking up someone in the phonebook or online, not having staff. My family’s aristocratic days are a long, long time past. Although I still only vaguely ever know where the vacuum cleaner is.

The crush fell apart when he expressed surprise that there were actually women in the US (not me) who were refined (apparently not me) by going to finishing schools and who had a high level of class and sophistication (unlike, if I’m honest I should admit, me). Ironically, my high school was originally one of those finishing schools for ladylike refinement, but by the time I got to it they must have been leaving us ladies rough edged and half baked.

If I had been a proper Romance reader back then, I think I’d have handled the whole thing better, or at least would have had a good quip in reply. And it would be something better than “I’m classy! I don’t know where the vacuum cleaner is, or how to use that nozzle attachment thing!”

I may also have wondered if this was the part of the novel where the couple has the Misunderstanding.

But instead, the experience enters the “maybe it will inspire a novel someday” idea book. The heroine will  have a good quip–and if she’s coarse and unrefined and says unintentionally insulting things about a respectable and hard-working profession and reacts to having a crush by drinking herself silly at a party and obsessing over vacuum cleaners…that’ll all be part of her appeal.

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Girl cooties

I haven’t been very posty the past couple of weeks, which I’d like to blame on being consumed by NaNoWriMo, but which is mostly due to a heavy workload at the day job. But I’ve been babbling in the comments sections of other blogs, and there’s an interesting conversation going on at Jessewave’s about female characters in m/m. It broadened in the comments into a discussion about f/m scenes in m/m (and vice versa). Angela Benedetti wrote an insightful reply bouncing off one of my comments—reposted on her own blog—about staying true to a story versus compromising on content in order to reach more readers, and it’s well worth a read. It certainly left me feeling more inspired to finish the NaNo project and less fretful about the potential audience/market for The Knife of Narcissus.

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My NaNoWriMo project is moving along non-sequentially (word count 2,522! whoo? today’s target should be 5,000 words). Since the story currently consists of snippets here and there, planning the outlines of the chapters, it’s going to be a little bit hard to post excerpts from it for now. Instead, to fill up the “free reads” section, I think I’ll post in serial format a novel I wrote in my teens and early twenties, and you can judge whether it still has legs. I even printed up/published-online part of it, way back in the days before doing eBooks was so easy. I just have to decide if I want to link my juvenalia with my current wanton erotica fic 🙂

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