Diversity …

I read a blog post recently from a fan of Romance (heterosexual) that got me thinking. In the post the reader complained about not being able to find much diversity in Romance; to her, it seemed like every book on Amazon these days features a while couple, typically with the guy being a billionaire, bear shifter, or bad boy. Or all three.

If you look for them, there are romances out there with non-white characters, whether you’re looking at traditional, contemporary heterosexual romances, or LGBT. Still, the blogger is correct; there are vastly more books out there with white protagonists.

I’m so excited that at least one thing has been changing over the last ten years. So many new gay, lesbian, and trans romances are now out there, and they’re becoming more and more popular. Even mainstream–I wouldn’t be surprised if a very successful gay romance is picked up to become a movie in coming years. As a bisexual, this makes me feel validated as a person, to know that the rainbow is really out there and out of the closet.

On the other hand, I too would love to see more diversity in characters. I feel a little ashamed, sometimes, being yet another white writer, even when I’m writing main characters of other ethnicities. For example, in my almost finished m/m weretiger novel, one character is a British-born doctor who has lived most of his life in Southeast Asia, while his love interest is Indonesian, originally from Bali but living in Sumatra.

In my Oddities books I’m trying to bring in a lot of Asian influences, because having been to the Northwest Pacific, I know how big the cultural influences are there. I feel pretty good about having Asian characters because my partner is Japanese American, and I can always ask her or observe her and her family for reference. In my other name I’ve written black and Hispanic protagonists. I’m planning on having the Oddities books 4 through 6 with a main character who is Hispanic as well. Since I live in Arizona, again this is a culture I feel familiar with, even if I’m not a member of this minority.

So what do readers think, I wonder? I’m always excited to find writers who are of diverse ethnicities, because there needs to be diversity both in book characters AND in writers. I keep meaning to pick up an Octavia Butler book, for example. I think all writers, regardless of their own backgrounds, should try to stretch and reach for diversity. You can always talk to people of the community you want to write about, to find out what is real, or at least what feels true to them.

I’m off to read Murder and Mayhem. Oh yeah, and the next Scorpion book by Voinov.

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I’m in an anthology with Hugh Howey!

stories

Yeah this actually isn’t a joke. I’m a member over at kindleboards.com (kboards) and a very wonderful M/M writer, Andrew Ashling, decided to gather up a bunch of indie writers in different genres and do a flash fiction anthology. I submitted my Valentine’s Day flash fic “The Valentine’s Before We Met” and it was included as one of the 101 stories. My flash fiction features two characters who will be appearing hopefully sometime next year in my first M/M novel, Murder One. Meet Elliot Leed, rent boy, and Derwin Bryant, bounty hunter, in a world where demons roam the wilderness and Asian gangs rule the streets of Nis.

This anthology is free, intended as a way to share the works of many popular as well as unknown indie writers.  Check it out!

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Go-Very-Short-Authors-ebook/dp/B00R1GECO6/

Also, I’ve just enrolled my M/M contemporary short story “The Foreman” in Kindle Unlimited! Not only that, but this 7000 word romance is only 99 cents for the holidays. I’ll probably bring it back to it’s usual price some time in January. Check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/Foreman-Hardcore-Gay-Short-Story-ebook/dp/B00MQDHMVY/

Back Camera

Tim’s got a problem with his new job as a carpenter. His foreman, Gary Zucker, is just too damned sexy. With a mustache, hairy arms, and a solid gut, Gary exudes power and confidence, and it’s driving Tim crazy. When Gary notices Tim’s attraction, he figures it’s all over. The foreman will probably fire him for having the wrong kind of wood.

Then Gary surprises him. He shows he knows how to be the boss in more than one way. The question remains if this will be a one time thing, or something more. Tim’s got one chance to show the man how good he can be, before his dream man slips through his fingers.

Playlists and writing

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I’ve often talked with other writers about what music they listen to when they’re writing.

I don’t always get to listen to music–sometimes I’m hurrying to get a paragraph or two written during my breaks at work on my Surface tablet. I also don’t always want music, particularly if it is a difficult scene where I have to pay attention to details rather than emotions.

However, on some projects I do create playlists to help me get into the mood to write emotionally packed scenes. I’ve noticed some characters more than others seem to demand their own music.

That’s the case with my latest project First, I’ve renamed it–the series will now be called “The Oddities Series” and the first book will be named “Murder One.” Each book will be titled with a different crime, but that one fit the first book perfectly. I’ve already shown my visions of what the two main characters look like, but now I’m learning their musical tastes as well.

Elliot seems to like Emo and Punk. Derwin, on the other hand, tends to go for solid 70’s rock. He also likes musicals like Les Mis, of all things. Go figure.

So among some of the songs I’ve been downloading lately, here are several:

  • Soundtrack to Moulin Rouge (that was Derwin’s fault)
  • 17 Crimes by AFI
  • Bulletproof Heart by MCR (actually I love them anyway so I bought the album, “Danger Days”.)
  • My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark by Fall Out Boy (I also have another album by them)
  • Dream On, by Aerosmith (Derwin again)
  • Angel, by 30 Seconds to Mars (full album on my wish list)
  • Little Girl, by Green Day (Already have this–I have every Green Day song ever made because they’re my favorite band)
  • Thunderstruck by AC/DC (Derwin)
  • Black Betty by Ram Jam (Derwin)
  • Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas (Derwin)
  • Resistance, by Muse (already had this one but I want their latest album)

So how many others out there create playlists, I wonder?

Chapter hooks

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Yesterday I ran into the end of a chapter rather unexpectedly.

I typically start with a very rough outline of chapters, just jotting down notes of what I see happening and whose point of view the chapter will be in. (I like to keep to one viewpoint per chapter when possible. Less confusing for the reader.)  Beyond outlining, I then like to visualize the action, just letting the characters act as their personalities dictate. I may run a scene in my head several times in different ways, inside different character’s heads, to find what I like best. Then I start writing it.

So yesterday’s chapter I had in my head going to a certain point in the action in one character’s point of view–Elliot’s. And then suddenly as I was writing, I wrote what would be a perfect break point for a chapter. Breaking there wouldn’t change what would happen next, but it would change whose point of view it was in.

So what do you do when this happens?

Listen to the muse. Your subconscious. Your instincts.

You want to listen to your inner voice, whatever you may call it. A good chapter hook closes a chapter but also pulls the ready to turn the page and keep reading the next chapter. This can be a cliffhanger, or it can just be an action, description, or dialogue that leaves the reader with a question that demands an answer. Actually a question isn’t a bad way to end a chapter. Or a revelation that opens up new possibilities.

There may also be the question of chapter length–what is too long or too short? The answer here is whatever length you need it to be, but be aware that longer chapters will feel longer to the reader (like long movies with long scenes you just wish would hurry up) while shorter chapters tend to move readers along. (Have you read Stephen King?  He’s a master of the one page chapter or sub-chapter.)

So length again may also determine where you break off things. I used to write longer chapters (in my other pen name) but I’m learning to cut some of the longer chapters in half, and I’m finding it makes it much more fast-paced.

In the end, though, you just want to leave them yearning for more.

Excited about beginnings

I love starting a new book.

There’s just something to me about that first chapter, diving into a new story that I find exciting. The book is full of possibilities.

Now understand that I just don’t sit down in front of a white screen and start typing–well not quite, anyway. I always create a notebook first of all the details about the world, the characters, plot notes, a basic outline, and anything else I think I might need once I get writing. When I leap, I have all that supporting me, guiding me. That’s when the fun begins.

So I’m writing a romantic suspense novel, which means I get to start right in the middle of a crisis, an action scene.  That’s particularly fun. A chase scene. A murder. A broken heart.

See why I love beginnings?

My first two paragraphs. (Be aware this is fresh from my head, unedited):

Derwin Bryant never quit in a chase.

The skip he was pursuing was an Oddity, which was particularly annoying in this case because the guy could read minds and knew he was being pursued. Derwin figured his own unusual strengths wouldn’t be able to compensate for that, even though he’d powered up before heading out to apprehend the fugitive.

A light rain fell on the streets of the city of Nis, making the neon lights of the local porn shops and drugstores into pretty reflections on the asphalt. Derwin avoided a puddle as he ran down an alley, narrowly avoiding an overturned trash can. He grimaced at the smell of rotting food and old beer, as he checked the grip on his billy club. Up ahead he knew the alley ended in a dead end. No way that ole’ Jack was going to escape this time.

New short story out soon!

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I’m currently working on the cover for a new erotic short story that was previously published in Excite Books anthology, Ultimate Sex 2. I’ll be offering this short erotic tale for the bargain price of $0.99 on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. Expect it out either Thursday of this week or Tuesday of next week, depending on how smoothly things go!

Below is an excerpt:

I’d seen them a few times at Dracula’s, a local Gothic/fetish club, where they liked to strut around and tease the men, giving them a flash of thigh, of pierced navels and tongues, of honey cream cleavage. The guys both loved and hated them. Look, but don’t touch, was their motto.

Meanwhile I was just getting back into the night life. Tried the normal marriage, the jealous husband, the American Dream. It sucked. I’d left it, because in the end, I’d faced a few hard facts. I liked women as much as I liked men. And at the moment, perhaps even more. Nice girls in my family weren’t supposed to have such thoughts.

Now I consider myself to be attractive–auburn hair, hazel eyes, a few freckles, petite, and with what guys call ‘a great ass’. But these girls were beautiful. Their leader, a dark olive-skinned amazon with black hair falling over her perfect breasts (natural of course) and dark eyes done up with eyeliner to look like Cleopatra; well, she was a goddess. She called herself Yves. How appropriate. Young, not more than twenty-five, I was certain, which meant that I was probably too old for her, probably ten years her senior. And yet when she looked at me, I felt as if our ages were reversed. I was a wide-eyed girl, with an anxious burning between my legs.

She was sitting in the courtyard outside the club with four of her friends (all beautiful, all dressed in black: silk, leather, lace, vinyl), sipping a drink. She looked relaxed and in her element, legs crossed, showing off the fishnet hose, making her vinyl skirt ride up just enough to reveal a garter strap. She caught me staring at her. I knew I should look away, that I was only going to make a fool of myself if I continued staring, but there didn’t seem to be any malice in her face, no disdain. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would say she was looking me over as well. She turned and glanced at the girl sitting next to her, as if considering, and then waved me over.

I’d dressed well for the evening–black satin pants so soft they felt like they were airbrushed on, red silk corset with a Japanese print, and eyes done up in flames, matching the flame of my hair. I walked up–now with guys, I’ve always been a flirt, outgoing, assertive. I know my way around the bedroom and a man’s body. But women now . . . this was a whole new language. I didn’t know how to flirt, what to say, what worked. I smiled. When in doubt, compliment. “That is an amazing outfit.” Translation: you are amazing.

“Thank you,” she replied graciously–and then she did something I’d never expect. “Those look so soft,” she said in a low voice, and began to caress my leg, and then my ass, through the satin pants. I was only wearing a thong; she ran her finger down the strap. My eyes widened. My face burned.

She licked her lips, seeing my reaction, and turned to her friends. “Oh my God, her pants! You have to feel them.” And just like that, two of the girls with her reached over. The first was a brunette with a heart-shaped face wearing a lacy corset and the other a tall blond in latex. Now I had three pairs of hands rubbing me. I stifled a moan.

The blond stopped after a moment, going back to her drink, but Yves kept going, moving her hand deliberately around to the front. She found my clit with amazing accuracy and speed. I clutched her chair. “You know,” she said, looking at me, “Now that I’ve started, I’m not going to be able to stop.”

I had no idea what to say. Things like this just didn’t happen to me.