Where do my ideas come from?

Where do ideas come from? How does a singular idea become a book? Before drafting Angel 1089 I knew I wanted to play on the idea of angels and demons, only created with technology instead of something religious.

In the original plan, Jeff was supposed to be a Demon. It would put him in direct conflict with the angel, Gabriel. But I realized I wanted to play with the concept of making deals. Jeff has made a deal with Demons, which puts him in debt to them, and keeps up that conflict. It really changed his character concept completely.

And all this before I even wrote a single word!

Trees in the colors of Fall

I had not planned on writing another Heaven Corp book. That story was told, the trilogy complete. But then, a thought came to me. What if Hank and Ian had a son? One who was raised on Earth, and had no idea of his “royal” lineage?

This was one of the ideas that occurred to me while taking one of my daily walks. I’m not 100% sure it’s going to turn into a full book, but with each walk, the plot is starting to develop. All I need to do now is write the thing.

Where do your ideas come from?

End of the year roundup

So 2020. That was a year.

Despite everything *gestures with both hands* I accomplished a few things.

I wrote two erotic short stories, one of which will be published next year in the Cleis Press Anthology “Coming Soon.” It’s a fun story, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I will let you all know about that second story as soon I hear.

I published Stealing Jennifer! If you like fun threesome romps and heist stories, check this out!

I am halfway through writing the sequel, tentatively called “Stealing Matthew.”

I wrote a contemporary m/m romance novel that I am currently revising. I hope to share this with you all as soon as I can!

I have so many ideas that I hope I can work on in the new year and share with you all!

Stealing Jennifer is out now!

Exciting news! Stealing Jennifer is finally out! This is a fun little bisexual heist story I wrote.

Cover of Stealing Jennifer. Image of a woman with blond hair and dark glasses in front of a computer

Jennifer, Sean, and Maria are jewel thieves—and lovers. When a job gone wrong sees Jennifer in the hands of the FBI, Sean and Maria have to figure out how to break her out. It’s no easy feat, since Jennifer is both their hacker and master planner. But these two thieves will do anything to steal their heart back

You can get a copy at one of your preferred retailers here.

Writing Wednesday – Creating Characters

Welcome to Writing Wednesday where I talk about writing!

Last week I talked about being a panster when it came to creating characters. I often start with a story idea, and then fit the characters into that story. Unfortunately that often results in a lot of rewriting. I know I had gotten a good 20k into Exodus before I had Hank’s voice, and I had to go back and rewrite the beginning.

When I wrote Angels Rising, I had written the entire novel when I realized I had made Raphael the main character, and it really needed to be Uriel. And I had committed the cardinal sin of making Uriel do something assholish to fit the plot. I rewrote that entire book from the beginning, fixing those problems. But it would have been a good thing if I could have figured out my characters from the beginning!Cover of Angels Rising

So I’m changing how I develop characters.

But what method to use? I attended a workshop on the Verbalize method, which I used when working on Stealing Jennifer (out this month! Cover reveal and pre-order links coming next week!). I liked the focus on actions – what the character does defines them.

However, when I tried to apply the method to other novels, it just fell apart. I discovered that I like it when my characters grow organically, and this method didn’t quite let me do that.

I figured out what’s important is understanding the characters and what they want before I start drafting the book. I don’t like doing forms or checklists that go on for pages. I need to know the core heart of my character, and then the details get filled in.

When I started writing my latest work in progress, I figured out what both main characters want and love, and how they are getting in their own way of achieving their goals. As I write, tiny details become apparent to me. I’ve reached the coveted 30,000 word mark, and I don’t feel the need to go back and rewrite the entire book (yet!). These boys are solid, and now I just have to break them apart before they can have their happy ending.

One trick I wanted to share with you from one of my MFA texts – Plot Versus Character – that really worked for me. Before starting writing the novel, write a scene where your character is doing the most in-character thing they could be doing. This really helps solidify your character in your mind.

How do you create characters? Any tips to share? Leave them in the comments!

Wednesday – What type of writer am I?

Welcome to Writing Wednesday where I talk about writing!

In my time pursuing a writing career I have seen over and over that there are two kinds of writers: Pansters and Plotters. Plotters, of course, are those who sit down and plot every little scene of their book before they ever start writing. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants, never knowing what was going to happen next, caught up in the chaos and excitement of their words.

For the longest time I thought I was a pantser, even though I drew up general outlines. Why? Because usually around 30k words into a manuscript, I’d realize something was terribly wrong, and I had to go back to the beginning and start over.

Then, in one of my more useful MFA courses, we read a book called The Craft of Writing. In this book the author proposes there are two kinds of writers: Plot first writers, and Character first writers.

My problem suddenly became clear to me. I was a plot first writer – I had my story idea all figured out. However, I was a panster when it came to creating characters. So often by the time I made it to the middle of a book, I realized I was trying to shoehorn my character into something he wasn’t, merely to fit the shape of the plot I’d sorted out in the beginning.

This leads to a lot of re-writing.

I propose the following diagram for writer types:

I think this is more reflective of my writing style. I believe I fit in the lower left quadrant there.

Now that I know, I’m starting to spend more time with my characters before I begin drafting. If I get to know them first, then hopefully this will mean less re-writing in my future.

What kind of writer are you? Let’s chat in the comments!

Tuesday – Character I love

Things I Love Tuesdays is a weekly feature on my blog where I talk about things I love. Books, movies, it’s all good. Keeping things light and fun.

This Tuesday I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite characters in my books: Hank Abraham. Hank made his debut as a side character in Angel 1089. He was meant to represent everything about downside that Gabriel would hate. He was a hedonist, a masochist, and he had a secret past. But Hank grew beyond that symbolism.

Hank was one of those characters that sprang to mind fully formed. I wouldn’t say so much that I created him as that he just started talking one day and wouldn’t shut up. That doesn’t always happen to me. This was one of the rare cases where it did. And of course, he needed his own book, hence Exodus.

In Exodus we learn about Hank’s past, how he was once one of the pampered elite living in the floating city of Heaven. He starts out incredibly immature and privileged but we grow with him as the book concludes. Despite his immaturity, Hank has always had a good heart, and when he sees the injustices of his city, he ultimately can’t live with them.

Hank is also one of the two characters (His partner and Dom Ian is the other) who appears in all three Heaven Corp books. He steals the show in Angel 1089 (more than I meant him too), and gets to implant some good advice in Raphael’s ear in Angels Rising. I guess I couldn’t let him go completely, so we get that glimpse of how he and Ian are doing.

Cover wise – I think the first edition of Exodus had the best cover of Hank. It’s quite intense, but I really think it does him justice. So when I was re-releasing the book, I thought it was a good opportunity for Ian to shine instead. Which cover do you like better?

Have you ever had a character show up your head and demand his time in the sun? Tell me about it in the comments!

Tuesday – Boardgames

Things I Love Tuesdays is a weekly feature on my blog where I talk about things I love. Books, movies, it’s all good. Keeping things light and fun.

When most people think of boardgames, they might come up with something like Monopoly or Checkers, or even these days Settlers of Catan. I started out with many of the same. However, about 15 years ago we began to get into boardgames that took up a lot more time and, well, space.

My first foray into such complicated gaming was with the second edition of Arkham Horror, which pits the players against the game itself. You play as a team of investigators, and from the very beginning the game is stacked against you. We rarely won, and when we did, it was an incredible sense of victory. And remember when I talked about space? Well this game took up our entire dining room table with two leaves, and we had to store the component pieces in two separate plastic boxes that hardware stores sell to keep nuts and bolts in.

As my son has gotten older, we’ve gotten him into more and more complicated games. Some of his favorites include Clank!, Quacks of Quedenburg, Space Base, and Everdell.

But the idea of boardgames conjures up images of groups of friends gathered around a table, sharing food and drink as they play. Right now, that’s not possible to do in person. But we have found a way to have virtual game night.

There are two main digital ways to play games (that I am familiar with! I believe there are others!). Tabletop simulator, which is available on Steam for about 20 bucks, and Board Game Arena, which is a browser based system. Sometimes we even play online when the three of us are home together – it makes it a lot easier to clean up (Clank! Legacy, for example, took a good twenty minutes to setup and just as long to break down).

And while it’s not the same as having a game night with friends, right now I’m enjoying our virtual games and conversation.

Would you like to check out virtual game night? Let me know in the comments!

Christmas in July!

I usually really enjoy Christmas in July. They decorate the boardwalk. Some poor dude dressed as Santa Claus is on the beach having kids sit on his lap. They pump Chrismtas music through the loudspeakers. It’s all very jolly and fun. And usually 90 degrees.

But no boardwalk for us this year. However, if you are itching for some sweet, fun Christmas stories to escape into, I have a bunch!

A Christmas Yarn

Librarian Gavin MacCauley isn’t expecting any surprises this holiday season. It’s the usual rush of helping patrons, and knitting items to donate to the local hospital. But his world is turned upside down by the cutie who walks into knitting club looking to learn how to crochet a scarf.

Jonathan Mercier has just moved to town and is desperate to find a new craft for his traditional, handmade gift for the aunt who adopted him. When his elderly neighbor strong-arms him into attending the library’s knitting and crochet club, he falls hard for the kind (and hot!) librarian running the class.

But with Christmas coming, and time running out to finish the gift, will these two find the time for each other?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | All Vendors

The Puzzle Box

Elementary school art teacher Cole Peters is expecting a lonely Christmas this year while his longtime boyfriend, James Carducci, is on deployment with the Army. However, a box from James contains puzzles that lead Cole on a scavenger hunt through the greatest moments of their relationship. Together with his best friend Liz, Cole works his way through each clue.

The final puzzle could lead Cole to a gift beyond his wildest expectations

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Lost and Found

Two lonely men, a lost teddy bear, and a sprinkle of holiday magic!

On a snowy night before Christmas Eve, Tyler Martin finds himself stuck in a Chicago airport, unable to get home to his family on the East Coast. After missing last year due to his jerk of an ex-boyfriend, the idea of not making it this time hurts. When he finds a lost teddy bear in the waiting area, his night changes for the better.

Aaron Klein is a bored airport worker, taking the Christmas shift because he’s Jewish. He doesn’t expect to hit it off with the hot guy who brings a lost teddy bear to his desk, but it might end up being everything he didn’t know he was looking for.

Originally published as Teddy Bear Christmas.

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