Done!! Another book turned in.

At last!  Book Two of the Oddities Series, Fraud Twice Felt, is written, has undergone the initial edits, and is off to the publisher. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the first book, Murder Once Seen, which will be on December 12. I have no idea when the second book will come out, but I’m thinking maybe some time next summer, if edits go well.

Now that Book Two is out of the way, I’ll be working on the outline for the third book, A Conspiracy Uncovered. I created a document to organize all my notes about the minor characters in the series, the world, and plot notes. Book Three will delve more into the larger plot arc spanning the entire series, but I have to be careful not to give too much away too soon. That’s always the tricky thing with mysteries. I’m going to try and write this book as quickly as possible, because I ended Book Two with a lead-in. (Not exactly a cliffhanger, but definitely a hook.)

If I’m really inspired (and Halloween tends to be a very inspirational time for me), maybe I’ll write a Derwin/Elliot drabble to post here on my blog. I’m still really loving these boys. (For more about them, see my post about Uke/Seme). Elliot in particular has really come into his own in Book Two, and I’m excited about his journey for Book Three.

In October I’ll also be making some changes to the weretiger novel that I finished months back, after a request for some developmental edits.

It’s a touch early since I’ll still be making words today, but as of now, this is where the various WIPs stand:

Current WIPs:

(1. Fraud Twice Felt [The Oddities Book 2, paranormal M/M suspense], finished at 97,470 words, edited and turned in to publisher.)–done

2. Forest of Thorns and Claws (weretiger M/M). Received the notes back from the publisher, will work on developmental edits in October.

3. Fae Fortunes (YA M/M paranormal), currently at 46,852 words, estimated 65k.

4. Deena and the Professor (Trudy Judd, BDSM romance), Seven out of 10 parts written, first 7 parts published, currently at 4442 words on Part 8 (estimated to be 9k).

5. Fantasy novel currently at 82,821 words, total will be 110k. Right now this one is the lowest of my priorities.

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New Release by Heloise West

Hey, just letting everyone know that a friend of mine has a release coming out next week!  Details are below. Heloise is an awesome writer, and I love everything that she does.

The release date of Send Lawyers, Guns, Roses is April 19, 2016. This is not a standalone novel, but the sequel to Hitting Black Ice (Loose Id December, 2014). It’s part of the Heart and Haven series: https://velvetpanic2.wordpress.com/heart-and-haven-series/

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Blurb:

 

When Hunter and Alex (formally Shawn) are given the vacation of a lifetime, it’s a chance for them to pay attention to romance and get out of the path of danger. The tiny Caribbean island of Saba is gorgeous, the first to have marriage equality, and the Sabans are the nicest people on earth.

There’s lots of rum poolside for relaxing and a room with a mirror on the ceiling for passion. Hot karaoke nights, cold beer, and new friends.

Their new friends Orfeo and Max, and Max’s sister Talisha, share a troubling secret. Alex and Hunter want to help. As a hurricane bears down on them, a dead body surfaces, and a purple backpack loaded with stolen jewels leads a pair of dangerous men to the island.

Alex would rather poke his own eyes out with a pointy stick than call on his old enemy Nick Truman for help; he’d also do anything to keep Hunter out of danger. But even his nemesis can’t reach them now.

Once again, they only have each other to depend on as their paradise is about to become hell on earth.

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Hitting Black Ice:

ER physician’s assistant Hunter guards his heart carefully, but that doesn’t stop him from falling for Shawn, the front desk clerk.  He keeps his distance from relationships for a reason, but just can’t help himself when it comes to Shawn.

Shawn is on the run from the law and love to protect himself and anyone else involved. One man is dead because of him, and his life now is simple and easily thrown into a bag at any hint of danger. Until he meets Hunter, and he no longer wants to run.

Forced into a hostage situation, buried passion explodes in the aftermath, and sex in the supply closet brings their hearts back to life. Tentatively, step by step, they begin to explore a relationship together until the past catches up with Shawn.

FBI agent Nick Truman has finally found his man, but when Shawn escapes, he focuses his attention on Hunter. Shawn returns, even though it means sacrificing himself to save Hunter from the man who framed him for murder.

Buy Links:

http://www.loose-id.com/hitting-black-ice.html

http://www.amazon.com/Hitting-Black-Ice-Heloise-West-ebook/dp/B00QJEJ7VO/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-hittingblackice-1689874-340.html

 

About Heloise West:

Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of 10 years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

Where to find Heloise:

Blogs: https://velvetpanic2.wordpress.com/

Website: http://heloisewest.wix.com/heloisewest

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heloise.west.1

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/heloisewest/

Email: heloise_67@hotmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/velvetpanic

Tumblr: http://heloisewest.tumblr.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8188216.Heloise_West

 

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.

Book Review: Ricochet by Xanthe Walter

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Book:  Ricochet

Author: Xanthe Walter

Published by: Amazon Digital

Genre: M/M Romance (BDSM)

I had to consider whether to list the genre for this as erotica. In some circles, I think it would qualify. But for me, other than the graphic BDSM scenes, this was a romance novel, through and through. This adherence to typical romance plot devices sometimes irked me, but overall I think this was a good book.

The sex was very well done including the BDSM elements. I believe I’ve read Xanthe’s work before she began releasing original material, and she’s always been good at writing BDSM. This being said, I think she was a little over the top in hammering into the reader what they were supposed to be learning about submission and domination. I swore that if she wrote “he found new depths to his submission” or “I’ll catch you if you fall” one more time, I was going to hurt someone, and not in a good way. I think if the book had been edited to remove a lot of this repetition, it would have been stronger overall.

I did like the characters, and I liked their little quirks. I liked Karl enough to feel some urgings to get the next book to find out his story, but I don’t think I can slog through another D/s 101 lesson in the next book. I guess that’s one of the things that makes finding good D/s stuff hard to find, particularly when you’re active in the lifestyle. I don’t need the explanations. I just want the story. I think actually that most people could get the whole D/s and protocols and RACK and everything else with far less explanation. Trust the reader to read between the lines a little.

So yes, my review is ambivalent. I applaud the serious use of BDSM and D/s in an m/m novel. I liked the world. I liked the characters. I just felt the book was heavy-handed at times, to the point that it lessened my enjoyment.

I give it three and a half stars.

Titles are Such Trouble

So the writing is going well, overall. I’ve written about 17,500 words so far in the m/m novel, and about 1100 in a short gay erotic piece as well. I have ideas on the burner for my next Het Tale erotic short story, a lesbian story out making the rounds, and another plot bunny for a lesbian mystery novel.

I’m also trying to read a lot more, particularly in the m/m romance genre since I’ll be playing a lot in that field. I was dismayed to find that a friend of mine who also writes in this genre stole the title I’d come up with–well very nearly, anyway. I was going to have my first book called “Breaking and Entering” because it all starts with just that, as well as a murder. But I really like her book “Break and Enter.”

So what’s a writer to do?

I’m also having issues with the series name. One of my main characters is a bounty hunter, so currently I’m calling this “The Bounty Hunter Series.” But that’s not really what it’s about. They’ll be solving murders, my sadistic bounty hunter and an object reading psychic. Their powers label them as Oddities in this world.

So what should I call it?

The Oddities Series? An Odd Mystery? (hmm, I kinda like that one, actually.)  Or I could go to the old standby in mysteries of naming it for the characters. Derwin and Elliot. Or last name–Bryant and Leed.

I’m going to be asking for feedback from my crit group. Meanwhile, I think I’ll change the name of the first book to “Murder One.” Yes, it gives a little hint about the murder (that it’s premeditated) but I don’t keep that a secret for long, so I think I’m okay with it.

Anyone else have this trouble?

Book Review: Break and Enter

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Book: Break and Enter

Authors: Rachel Haimowitz and Aleksandr Voinov

Publisher: Samhain

Genre: m/m sci fi/thriller (gay romance)

So I’m a teensy bit biased since I know the writer and I’ve always loved her stuff. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.

This isn’t a long read–I’m estimating here, but maybe 50,000 words? Though it wasn’t long, it did feel like a complete story. Cyke, a human with cyborg implants (including his eye–ouch) is rescued repeatedly from near death by an EMT named Bear. There’s a lot of hurt/comfort, some good tension in breaking into a high security building, and even a torture session.

The violence is fairly graphic, including details of broken ribs and digging into a broken arm. The sex is graphic as well, but is actually more tender, particularly in contrast to their violent lifestyles. I liked the sci fi elements and futuristic feel. Cyke in particular has a good inner voice. There’s a lot of sarcasm and irony, and a little bit of humor. I’m curious to know more about his history and background, much of which is left in shadows.

I’d recommend this to those who like their m/m with a harder, more masculine edge. I imagine this appeals to both the two main audiences for gay romance, the bi/straight women as well as gay men.

The classic Seme/Uke of M/M Romance

In all genres there are clichés. In the m/m romance genre, one of these clichés is from the Japanese tradition of yaoi–the masculine, dominant Seme, and the submissive, more feminine (or boyish) Uke.

Like all tropes or clichés, there’s a reason this one exists. A lot of readers like it.

Does that make it bad?

Shouta

 

I personally don’t think so. I know in m/m and gay romance there are many options, from both men being strong and dominant (and muscular) to both being twinks, bears, etc. There’s a lot of criticism about men being depicted in a “womanly” way in m/m, but I believe this is a separate issue. To a lot of people, the big strong top and the weaker smaller submissive is appealing. It’s the whole rescuing a damsel in distress, only this time it’s the lovely prince. There is nothing saying that a small man who may be physically weaker must therefore be feminine or womanly. He in fact could be the stronger one mentally, emotionally, socially, etc. So is all that negated by lack of physical strength? Are we that tied to physical appearance?

It’s a good question.

On top of the appeal of physically strong vs. physically weak, for those in the BDSM realm I think there is an added pleasure in seeing the big manly dominant physically outmatching the smaller submissive. (Otherwise, why would there be so much more call for male Dom/female sub? or Daddy/boy, for that matter?)

I think in the end we don’t have to run from tropes like this, but just find ways to expand within them. I’ve written stories between two equally fit, equally strong men. They’re fun.

And sometimes having one smaller and younger is fun too.