2016 Rainbow Awards


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15380790_1466238886743522_9050221161763556811_nI still can’t believe it. The Matchmakers Trilogy was a Finalist in the 2016 Rainbow Awards!

Being Newbie Mr. Nobody in the m/m fiction genre, I thought there was no way my work would receive any kind of recognition in these awards. Receiving Honorable Mention several weeks ago blew my mind. Finding out I was a Finalist left me speechless. I can’t believe my book made it that far, especially amongst a list of so many fantastic books.

Many congratulations to all the winners! My to-buy list of books is about to explode even more than usual. And huge thanks to Elisa and the judges for all their hard work and dedication to making the Awards happen. Such a great experience and I can’t wait to try again next year with a new release!


Moving, Like a Novel


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Everything I own now exists in a 10’x10′ storage space, and I’m seriously freaking out.

When I first set things in motion to become a full-time writer (see this post from September 22nd of this year), I had no idea what a rollercoaster of a ride I was in for. Selling a house is a whole lot of hurry-up-and-wait, so much more than I was prepared to handle. The constant rush to get each step done, then the anxious waiting by the phone to find out when the next step finally gets to happen (when they say ‘waiting by the phone for a guy to call’, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what they meant, but that’s all I’ve been doing lately).

All things considered, this has been a relatively easy process (especially when I compare it to the three-times-delayed escrow when I bought the house, not to mention some of the horror stories you hear about people trying to buy or sell homes), but it still did a number on my emotions and my mental well-being. I broke down and lost it a few times. I can’t even think about writing. I actually even forgot I had my endocrinology consultation coming up so I can finally start hormone therapy — and considering how impatient I’ve been this year for that to finally happen…yeah, I guess there just wasn’t enough room in my brain.

But, as I said, in general, things have gone smoothly. Got an offer on the house within a week of listing it, no repairs requested, buyer’s financing already in order. Check, check, check, done. Right now, there remain just three days until close of escrow (*knock on wood*), and I’m waiting for that next step.

I can’t wait to find a place, get moved in, settled back down, and move on with my life. This whole process of moving has felt…

Well, a lot like writing a book.

I started out with this overall plan [idea for a story], and try to figure out the best way to go about it. I’m excited, but when I try to start packing [writing], the sheer amount of work ahead of me seems so bloody overwhelming. I have to pack up an entire house [write 100,000 words]?!?! Am I insane? There’s no way. It’s too much.

So I procrastinated, and hemmed and hawed, and delayed, not wanting to even grab that first box [write that first chapter], because it just seemed like so much work.

But, eventually, I got started, and packed up one whole room [wrote a whole chapter], and started feeling good about the whole thing. Yeah, I can do this. Just one book, cup, plate, blanket [chapter] at a time.

Then I get distracted, as boxes pile up around me [disconnected scenes stack up in a Word file], and can’t focus on what I’m packing because I’m thinking about how much else there is to do [how many more scenes there are to write], what I need to leave out for daily use [a scene I want to edit], and all the while wonder if I’ll be able to get everything actually packed up and moved out [be able to get a whole story written cohesively].

Ultimately, more procrastination happened, mostly in the form of reading when I should have been packing [reading when I should have been writing…gee, yeah, that never happens], and the mental weight of all the work left to be done, all the stuff yet to be packed [all the scenes yet to be written] was just too much, until I finally got up and got started. And once I got started packing [writing scenes], I couldn’t stop until it was all pretty much done, all the main stuff packed [all the important scenes written], and all that remained were those last few things you just don’t know how to pack, or those last few things that you find yourself stuffing into whatever box they’ll fit in [writing those last few minor scenes that tie the important ones together].

Then…finally…it’s done. The house is packed [the book is written], and everything is moved out, so all that remains is cleaning [editing].

Ugh. Cleaning [editing]. Not my favorite thing. That’s my chore for tonight (or, tomorrow night, if I’m feeling like procrastinating again, especially after working my ass off all weekend to get everything moved into storage). And after all this, once I’m moved into a place and finally get to leave my job and write full time, I think I might actually look forward to editing, for a change, even though it’s the most tedious part of the job.

Because it’ll mean I’m writing full-time. And that right there is the dream.

But there are still a few steps to go. House to clean [editing], escrow to close [uploading that final text], an apartment to find [designing a book cover], moving in [getting that final proof copy], settling down [proofing the final version and having it all be real], and moving on with my life [clicking Approve and having a book go up for sale]. So much to do, and my life feels like it’s been pulled apart and turned upside down, but it’ll all be worth it.

I’ll be a full-time writer. Holy shit. I can’t wait!

Excitement Error


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There’s always something. You go through the writing process, get everything done and uploaded and ready for sale, and then there’s always something that has to be fixed.

You know, that one little spelling error you missed. Or a page layout issue that just didn’t sit right with you. Or maybe the image on the cover really needs a slight adjustment.

The things that wake you up in the middle of the night after a book launch, and have you scrambling out of bed to get it fixed in a hurry, because you won’t be able to sleep until it’s done.

That didn’t happen when I released the Matchmakers trilogy. I was so excited about that one, so eager to get it released, that for the first time, I actually slept easily the night after launch.

But, there’s always something.

I stumbled across a bad review of Second Chances, the first book in the trilogy. A lot of it I just brushed off as personal taste, but the reviewer did point out one thing that had completely slipped my mind.

The stories take place in a fictional world, and since all my writing takes place in that fictional world, it never occurred to me that the m/m audience, as opposed to my general fantasy audience, wouldn’t immediately realize that the books took place in a fictional world.

Then another reviewer pointed it out (pre-review, thank you Isa!), and I realized how stupid I’d been.

I’m just so wrapped up in this fictional world that it never occurred to me my readers might not be so. I live and eat and breathe the Shifting Isles, so I forget that there’s an actual reality out there sometimes.

So, yeah, my mistake. Entirely my fault. I should have thought of that. I’ve corrected it now, adding a note before the text to clarify that the stories do not take place in the real world, that there are multiple gods, that the days of the week have different names, etc. All the little things that were throwing readers.

What can I say? Live and learn. Fix your mistakes. And move on to the next thing.

But on a positive note…

honorable-mentionEEEEE! The Matchmakers Trilogy received Honorable Mention in the Rainbow Awards!

I actually screamed when I saw this pop up on the Facebook event page for the Awards. Considering I’m the little guy, the newbie, the nobody, and running amongst so many of my favorite authors, I never dreamed I’d actually get any kind of recognition. Sure, I’d hoped, but never thought it would actually happen. As far as I understand it, Honorable Mention means at least one judge gave the book at least 9/10 in all four ranking criteria, which is just thrilling to me. That someone enjoyed my book that much…

What a feeling!

Box Jumps Make Me Cry


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I swear this does relate to writing. No, really. I promise. Just stick with me here.

box-jumps<–You see this? This, right here, has become a tool of torture. The CrossFit box. Evil, evil, horrid thing. This assemblage of wood has become the bane of my existence, and a metaphor for my entire life right now.

When I first joined the local CrossFit gym back in February (CFPR Family ftw!), I was watching all these amazing athletes jumping up onto boxes, utterly fascinated and envious that they could do such a thing. At the time, I was a total exercise newbie and lacked the strength, coordination, and confidence to try this whole jumping-up-onto-a-box thing, and was firmly stuck in Step-Up Land. Then, one day, I finally managed a box jump. Just a 12″ tall box, but I was stoked. I’d done it. I’d done a box jump.

After that, I LOVED box jumps. They were fun. Exciting. I could do them! Soon, I was adding weight plates on top of that little 12″ box, doing a little bit higher jump, and then a little bit higher. One day, I was going to finally Rx that thing, I could feel it.

Then, it all came crashing down. Almost literally. We were doing burpee box jumps, and partway through the workout, I got so tired that I kept slipping every time I tried to jump. After that, my confidence tanked, and I couldn’t fathom ever getting 15″ off the ground again.

Why? I’d done this. Lots of times. I knew I could do it. But suddenly I couldn’t. I got so pissed off at myself that I punched the wall and almost quit the workout. As it was, my workout time was pathetic because I kept having to walk it off between jumps, just to get my head back in the game.

A few days later, I was determined to get back on the horse, and stayed late after a workout to try the dreaded box jumps again. I jumped and jumped and jumped, and ultimately managed to work my way up to 18″. I was stoked! Only problem was, there was no time pressure. So once there was, once box jumps came up again in a scheduled workout, I froze. I couldn’t do it again. I stared at that damned box and just. Couldn’t. Jump.

Now, any time box jumps show up on a posted workout, I freak. I try to psych myself up for it, and it doesn’t work. I even tried modifying back down to a 12″ box, and couldn’t even do that. 12″! That’s barely a hop off the ground. But my head kept telling me it was impossible. So I keep giving up and walking out.

It doesn’t help that my mental state is not brilliant right now, and my attitude toward box jumps is pretty much my attitude to my whole life at the moment.

In the process of selling my house so that I can afford to leave my day job and try to be a full-time writer, the excitement is tapering off and the reality is setting in. I’m actually going to have to leave my house. Logically, I knew that, but now it’s becoming real, instead of just a plan. I’m going to have to leave this home that I made for myself, and try to find that same sense of home and sanctuary elsewhere.

This house got me through the roughest time of my life. It was my escape from the world, my sanctuary, the place I could run away to when things got to be too much. It was the thing I needed while I was dealing with my parents divorcing, getting used to having a stepmother, and of course going through all the mental trauma of having been raped. Tied to the latter, it was also the place where I started writing. It was in that second bedroom, on my little, rickety student desk, that I opened up my laptop and started writing out the most vivid of my rape memories just to get it out of my head. That one scene turned into a novel, which turned into three novels, which turned into…

Well, now it’s spun entirely out of control, and I have more novel ideas in my head than I know what to do with, and it gave me something I’m passionate about and want to do with my life — something I was sorely lacking all through my school days.

And I’m giving up this house just so I can leave my job (that is how badly I hate my work).

But now that it’s real, now that it’s actually happening, now that my house is in escrow and I have the next few weeks to find an apartment and pack up and move and try to get used to a new space, I feel stuck.

I’ve done box jumps, but now I feel like I can’t do them.

I’ve done apartment living, but now it feels impossible.

I’ve done moving, but now it seems like too much to handle.

And I’ve done writing. Lots and lots of writing. But, right now, I can’t write a thing. At all. It just won’t come. And there are days when I feel like I might never write again.

I know that’s not true. Reason tells me that once I’m moved and settled in, I’ll get into a routine and a new comfort zone, and once the day job is behind me, I’ll have a clear head with which to write. I know that there’s just so much else going on right now that my brain doesn’t have much room for writing. I know all that. But I still have this dreaded sense that I’ll never write again.

Just like I have this dreaded sense that I won’t find home again.

Just like I have this sense I’ll never do a box jump again.

Going Galt (Sort Of)


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Well, it only took me ten years, but I’ve finally done it. I’ve finally started the ball rolling that will get me away from my day job so that I can be…


Oh my gods. Holy shit. This is officially the scariest thing I’ve ever done, you just don’t even know. But will it be worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely.

See, I’m one of those people who is so comfortable in the familiar that it becomes a ball and chain, stopping me from going after what I really want because it would mean saying goodbye to safety and familiarity and embracing risk. That’s why I’ve been at my day job for over 16 years now, and spent the past 10 years trying to find the balls to leave, but wound up chickening out each time I tried.

At first, before I had writing, I couldn’t make myself leave because it would mean trying to get another job. That’s something I’ve never had to do. How pathetic is that? Both jobs I’ve ever had were handed to me. The first was a case of: “Hey, you’re 17 now, time for some life experience. Go work part-time for the family business.” Aaaaaand 16 years later, I’m still here. The other job was simply: “Hey, you’re a good, reliable worker. Come work for us.” That job only lasted a year, and I was still at my other job the whole time, as well, but it didn’t teach me anything about how to get a job.

Thirty-three years old and I have no idea how to apply for a job, how to interview, how to submit a resume. I’ve just never had to do it.

But once I had writing to give me the sort of life fulfillment that my day job never did, I kept thinking it would be wonderful to get to the point that I was selling enough books every year to cover my expenses so I could afford to leave my job. I’m nowhere near that, and may never be, so I thought I was stuck here. Forever.

Not that it’s a bad job, per se. It’s a familiar place, with good people, and the conditions are nice, but…

Oh, but.

I’m a major introvert, and have a high sensitivity to sensory input, so working 10 hours straight, 6 days a week, in an environment where there is lots of noise and people’s voices and phones ringing and so much busyness that it’s often hard to get a bathroom or lunch break…

Let’s just say: major brain overload.

After dealing with that all day — and especially now, when the general public think it’s acceptable to treat customer service people like slaves — I’d get home and just do NOTHING because I was completely out of batteries. I’d lock the door, close the curtains, shut off my phone, and pretend the world didn’t exist for a couple hours.

It wasn’t enough.

It’s finally gotten to the point that I’m having a hard time being pleasant to customers. I caught myself almost mouthing off to one, which was so not cool. I finally hit the breaking point that made me realize I simply can’t do this job anymore. Besides that, I want my father to be my father and not my boss. I feel like I’ve lost my father in a way because he’s my boss for so many hours during the week that I have no energy left on the weekend to interact with him, let alone the rest of my family.

And when I really started thinking about it, I realized: if I were to die tomorrow, I’d feel like my life was a waste.

Going along, day after day, in a job I hate, and only staying because it’s safe and familiar…what kind of life is that?

So, after a whole lot of brainstorming, I figured out how to finally afford to leave my day job. It may be temporary, and I may completely fail, but I have to try. There’s no two ways about it. I have to try, just to say I tried. I have to at least attempt to pursue my dream of a writing career, and not having to be at the office every day will certainly go a long way to helping that.

Not having to get up at 5 every morning? Not having to sit at a desk all day and be bombarded with ringing phones and chatty people? Not having to miss meals and skip bathroom breaks because the phones won’t stop ringing and people insist on me dropping everything to research a repair estimate for them right this minute? Not having to go home each night exhausted to the point that I have no social life and never get to have free time to do anything other than chores on the weekends?


So, *knock on wood*, plans are in place. Between selling my house and training a replacement for my job, I’ve got my work cut out for me over the next few (?) months, which means I’m getting no writing done in the meantime, but once it’s all said and done? Once I’ve got a financial buffer under me and no office hours to keep?

Writing all day? Being able to have a life? Being technically unemployed yet able to call myself (for a little while, at least) a full-time writer? HELL. YES.

[Insert Relieved, Maniacal Laugh Here]


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You wanna know the absolute worst part of being an indie author?

It’s not the editing, even though editing sucks, especially when you’ve got no one to do it but yourself. The long hours, the endless eye strain, the sheer boredom of reading the same story over and over and over and over and– Well, you get the picture. No, it’s not the editing.

It’s not the marketing, either. And I hate that part. I suck at marketing — it’s not my strong point, and it’s not something I’ve been brave enough to do, until recently — so that’s a part of being self-published that I absolutely never look forward to.

It’s not the lack of money. Sometimes it feels like I’m light years away from being a full-time author (mostly because of that damned marketing thing), and as much as I’d love to leave my day job, it’s just not in the cards, because I’m not selling enough books to come close to covering my expenses, and probably never will (again, that whole marketing thing).

It’s not the formatting. All those tedious hours of wrestling with a computer program to make sure the text wraps and indents just right so as to satisfy my OCD. All that time spent trying to get a footer to appear on certain pages and not on others, and trying to get my computer to keep up with every page layout change I make.

No, the absolute worst possible thing about being an indie author is…


Yes, Post Book Funk. A state of being, after releasing a book, in which the mind cannot even begin to fathom starting another project because it just finished a project and holy hell that was a lot of work and do we really want to do this again and maybe we just need a little break. But wait, now it’s turned into no inspiration whatsoever and now I can’t write and good gods what am I doing?!?!

I. Hate. Post Book Funk. So much. Like you would not believe. Like hate, hate, double hate, loathe entirely. It’s miserable. It’s awful. It’s full of so much unbelievable what-the-fuckery…I can’t even tell you. It’s bad. So bad, I’m going to capitalize it. Because yeah. It’s a thing.

In the past, Post Book Funk would drag me down for a few days — couple weeks at the most — and then I’d bounce back and be on to the next project. No big deal. Life goes on. All is well. But this time? Oh, this time…

I must have really done a number on my brain by trying to do three books at once, because Post Book Funk has been tormenting me for weeks. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even think about writing. Couldn’t even jot down notes or outline or anything at all. It got to the point that I wondered if I would ever write again and maybe my life was over and why was I even trying to be a writer.

Post Book Funk turns me into a total douchebag asshole, too, apparently. I was punching things (bad) and snapping at customers (way bad) and not even bothering to hold my tongue with telemarketers (okay, so I don’t really feel bad about that one at all because, really, in sixteen years of working at this day job, not once have we ever actually needed something someone was trying to sell us, and telemarketers take me away from my customers, so they’re nothing better than a complete waste of time). It got to the point that I was hating myself but still unable to stop myself from being a total douchebag asshole, and quitting time never looked so good.

But today…Ah, today.

Today, something snapped. Today, I actually outlined something.

Alright, admittedly, NOT the book I’m supposed to be working on. I’m still having trouble getting my motivation worked back around to the next book in the Shifting Isles series, but at least my mind is finally on something. Anything. Good bloody effing gods, I will take any inspiration whatsoever right now. Anything but the dreaded Post Book Funk.

So, yeah. Today I started outlining three new novels, and brainstorming yet another new book idea (which could potentially turn into a whole series of its own). Still not making any progress on Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6), which was originally supposed to have been released back in June, and is now looking like it might not see the light of day until December, at the earliest, but at least the dam seems to have finally broken and I’m thinking about something.

Thank. Effing. Gods.

What Matters Most


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So, a funny thing happened on the way to this post. I was all geared up to go into some serious ranting. So much ranting. All the ranting. I had a whole list of people who needed to be eviscerated in print and I was ready to rip into them.

From the guy who got pissed at me because I couldn’t tell him why another business across town wasn’t answering their phones (Seriously? Am I fucking omniscient?) to the SJW morons who don’t know a thing about economics (Hello? Supply and Demand is called a law for a reason, and do you know what happens when you mess with natural laws? That’s right. Bad stuff.), from the woman who let her children run rampant around my office while I was trying to answer the phones and couldn’t hear a damned thing (Discipline, anyone?) to images.duckduckgo.comthe people who get pissed at me for not wanting to work late or on the weekend even after I’ve told them I’ve already been stuck in the office over 60 hours this week and I’m exhausted and can no longer think straight (Apparently I’m supposed to be a robot just because I work in customer service?), from the guy who threw a fit because we charged him for a service he agreed to, signed for, and we performed while he proceeded to tell us we were thieves and must be raking in the dough (What part of “We actually lose money on this service” did he honestly not understand?) to the guy at the parts store who had no fucking clue how to do his job and I wound up doing it for him over the phone (Seriously, what are they teaching kids these days? Nothing?), from the people who assume I’m a Democrat just because I’m trans to the people who assume I’m a Republican just because I shootback gadsend flagpractically run a small business in a conservative town (Actually, if you want to know, I’m neither. I’m anarcho-capitalist, the best of both worlds. I’m more economically conservative than the conservatives and more socially liberal than the liberals.), from…

Well, you get the idea.

Lots of people. So many people. I had a whole list of people who were two second away from getting punched in the dick. Possibly even myself (even though I don’t have one…yet) because all the noise and stupidity of the day had gone well beyond the limits of my high sensitivity (yes, apparently, it’s a thing – complete mental overload, and boy have I got it) and I was quickly turning into an asshole. Hence, the desire to punch dicks.

So violent, right? Like, so much violence. All the violence. There was going to be blood. So much blood. All the blood.

Alright, so maybe I’ve been reading a bit too much TJ Klune lately…

Anyway, moving along.

So I was in a fully misanthropic state of mind, ready to go on a rage-blind rant, because my life, when I got a phone call.

Let me back up a bit, first.

A few months ago, the outside sales rep for one of our suppliers came in for one of his usual visits. He brought along a representative from one of their manufacturers. This representative (read: Completely Stereotypical Salesman) proceeded to give his little presentation, all the while spewing obligatory compliments and flashing cheesy grins like any Completely Stereotypical Salesman would do. Since I have a little ad propped up on the counter for my first book, BookCoverImageThe Prisoner, he of course had to filter into his sales pitch some gushing remarks about how wonderful it was that I was a writer and self-published and how proud I ought to be of myself. I’ve had lots of salesmen behave exactly like this when they come into the shop, and it always falls flat. No matter how much they gush, it’s obvious they don’t mean a word of it. So I did the polite smile-and-nod thing like I always do in this situation, just knowing he was spewing bullshit (shows what I know), and the conversation went on.

At the end, just as he’s about to walk out the door, he turns back and pulls out his wallet, saying he wants to support a budding author and buy my book.

Now, I was pretty sure he wasn’t actually going to read it, but…hells, a sale is a sale, so I sold him a book and he left.

Then, yesterday, completely out of the blue, I get a phone call.

You probably don’t remember me, but I was in there with Larry…bought your book…finally got a chance to read it…”

I was just starting to get a vague memory of who the guy was when he completely bowled me over.

I just…wow. This book … It’s absolutely amazing. Like, I couldn’t put it down. I just totally got all the relationships between the characters and the tragedy of the guy feeling like he failed his son and how the woman died and it all just worked and…”

Jaw, meet floor.

Please tell me there’s another book out because I have to have more.”

Jaw now permanently married to floor.

The phone call left me giddy and grinning and, quite frankly, a little bit stunned.

And it made me realize a few things.

One, I did exactly what I accuse so many other people of doing: categorizing a person into a particular box just because of a particular trait. I should have known better, and I was wrong.

Two, all that ranting stuff, in the long run, doesn’t really matter. Yeah, stupidity and ignorance and rudeness pisses me off, but life is too damned short to be angry. Why let myself get sucked into those moments when I’ve got moments like this to revel in? Why let myself get mired in despair over the fact that this country is never going to be free and people as a whole are never going to understand how things work (though I keep trying to educate them even when I know better), when I could be enjoying what life I have while I have it? Why dwell on all the negative when I’ve got so much beauty in my life because of fiction?

Three, it made me remember just how great a story The Prisoner is. Not trying to be an egomaniac when I say that, but just reflecting the reactions to it that I’ve gotten over the past year since its release. The response to it, though small so far, has been overwhelming in its intensity. People who read the story call me at work to tell me how much the book meant to them, how great the story was, how much they want more. And it reminds me just how much I loved that story, how much I enjoyed writing it, how many emotions it invoked as I wrote it. The Prisoner is a great story, and I’d forgotten that.

I think I’ve pushed myself so intently on always getting to the next step, the next book, that I’ve lost track of the depth of feeling I originally experienced when I started the series. I got that back somewhat with the Matchmakers trilogy, even if those books did get me completely off-track, but when I try to think of continuing the Shifting Isles series, I get bored, to be honest. I’d lost my love of the series because I’d lost track of the beauty of the stories that I first clung to when the series started.

MatchmakersThat probably has a lot to do with why I got so far off my writing schedule when the idea for Matchmakers came along. The stories in Matchmakers just called to me in a way that the main Shifting Isles series no longer was, because I’d lost touch with the feeling that The Prisoner gave me, the feeling that carried me through to S.P.I.R.I.T. Division (S.I. Book 2) and Return to Tanas (S.I. Book 3), but started to slip away with Broken (S.I. Book 4) and The Five-Hour Wife (S.I. Book 5).

Clearly, I need to dive back into The Prisoner, reconnect with it, and get that feeling back. No wonder I didn’t feel as excited about books 4 and 5 as I did with the first three, nor as excited as I felt about Matchmakers (hells, those three novels went from Idea to Published in just about five months, so if that doesn’t scream passion and excitement, I don’t know what does). Outside of Matchmakers, I lost track of the emotion, the story, the experience. I need to reacquaint myself with those stories and those characters, or the next books are going to suffer, and neither I nor my readers will be happy.

So the next book, Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) will probably be even later coming out than planned, even though I’ve already pushed back the release date, but I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to dive back into the world, and instead of rushed and forced, it’s going to be good. It’s going to get to people the way The Prisoner does.

Because The Prisoner is a great fucking story. And I need to remember that.

Authoring: You’re Doing It Wrong (Or: Happy Birthday to Me!)


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MatchmakersToday, I turn 33 (finally an adult! … in hobbit years, that is), and I’m celebrating by launching my first m/m romances. Seems a bit strange and backwards to be voluntarily working on my birthday. Then again, writing isn’t really work. At least, certainly not like the day job.

Even through the frustrations and hassles of editing, formatting, writer’s block, and the emotional ups and downs, writing ultimately is all love and no work. I love it. It’s my passion. It’s the only thing I want to do with my life.

And so, I’m celebrating. My birthday present to myself this year is the release of the Matchmakers Trilogy: three gay romances set in the world of the Shifting Isles.

Am I qualified to write m/m romance? Debatable. I read a lot in that genre (almost exclusively in that genre, truth be told), but that may or may not mean much. Will the books go over well? I have no idea. I’ve already sold more books this morning than I have over the entire last year, but that may change over time. I suck at marketing, and I know that. I know I could be selling a hell of a lot more books if I sat down and put in the time to properly promote them, but it’s not what I want to do. Would I like to sell more books? Of course. Who wouldn’t? But is that what I’m in it for? Yes, and no. I’d love to make a career out of writing, but I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the love. So I’m authoring wrong. I could be authoring much better. But marketing just hasn’t ever been a priority for me.

Will people like these books? I don’t know, and I honestly don’t care all that much.

Alright, yes, I do care, but not to the point that it will make or break my day. I do write for my readers, of course, but mostly I write for myself. I write because I have to. I write because I love it. I write because it’s the only thing that gets me truly excited every day. After spending all my school years wondering what the hells was wrong with me, since I had no goals in mind, while all my classmates were off pursuing their future career studies, I’m just grateful to have something about which I’m passionate. That’s all that matters. Instead of wondering what the hells I’m alive for, I’ve got my stories, and that means everything.

I still can’t believe these books didn’t even exist in concept until six months ago. Six months. Just six months from concept to completion. Three whole novels from start to finish in six months. Good gods, I must have been out of my mind to even consider such a thing, but the Muse commanded and I obeyed.

And I will readily admit I love these stories. I love these characters. Even if these books don’t go over well with an audience, I have never been so excited or so proud of something I’ve written. These even surpass my love of Return to Tanas (Shifting Isles, Book 3), and I thought there was no way anything was going to top that writing experience.

Releasing the Matchmakers books is also part of a simple matter of self-validation. After having spent so much of my life hiding and pretending and trying to be what I thought I was supposed to be, this year I’ve finally come to the conclusion that life is too damned short to be miserable. Life is too short to wear a mask. Just the simple matter of being able to say “I read nothing but gay romance” and of being able to write what I want regardless of the reception and to be true to myself in every small way I possibly can, to own my identity and to not be ashamed…what better gift could I possibly give myself than that? What better gift could anyone give himself than the freedom to be himself? Such a seemingly small mental switch, but it makes a world of difference.

To stand up and say, “I am.”

So, today I am 33. Today, I’m not ashamed to be trans. Today, I’m releasing three gay romance novels, just because I can. Just because it’s what I want to do. Just because it’s what I love.

And if even one reader enjoys them, even better.

The Matchmakers Trilogy is now live on CreateSpace and Amazon, in both print and Kindle formats. They are also listed on Goodreads, and I’ve got a small Pinterest board started for the trilogy. The books can be purchased separately, or in one combined volume at a discounted price.

Introducing: Matchmakers (A Shifting Isles Trilogy)


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So begins a (slightly) new venture for myself, one on which I had ultimately planned, albeit not quite so soon.

I’m about to release my first m/m romance novels, set in the world of the Shifting Isles. I had planned to jump into m/m romance with the J.A. Wood series, planned for a few years down the road, but these new books pretty much just jumped up and took over my life for a few months, throwing my writing schedule completely off-track, but I simply had to run with it.

41f+T193FWL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_The Matchmakers Trilogy all started when I was writing Broken (Shifting Isles, Book 4). In that story, there is a minor character, Remy, who appears in all of two scenes and has a mere handful of lines, but somehow he grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go.

In Broken, the MC, Daivid, is working as a stripper at a gay club in order to pay off a debt he owes the club owner. One night, due to a shortage of staff, the boss has Daivid participate in a live pornography stage show instead of his usual stripper act. Daivid, being the Kinsey Zero that he is, freaks out about this, but ultimately gives in, since it’s either that or lose his job, and wind up even more in debt than he already is, and his criminal record is so long that no one else will hire him.

He winds up performing the stage show with Remy, a flamboyant kid who popped out of my imagination on a moment’s notice just to make Daivid’s situation harder (*ahem* Sorry…more difficult). Remy is about as gay as they come, so his flirtatiousness only makes things worse for Daivid when he’s already having a miserable night.

After the show, Remy pops off with the following comment:

Hey! Maybe next time I’ll get you all out on display like that again, and I’ll ride you. What do you say?” Daivid choked and took a step back, but Remy pressed right up against him and dropped his voice to a husky murmur. “My boyfriend just loves to watch me bottom. Makes him so friggin’ hot. Mmmph. Yeah. Next time. Totally.

Now, what kind of guy would have a boyfriend who actually enjoys watching him have sex with other men? This question teased me for the longest time. I mean, it felt like such a Remy thing to say when I wrote it, but as a strict monogamist myself, I was having a hard time wrapping my head around that as a real situation.

So that got me thinking: Who was Remy’s boyfriend? And why was he so easy-going about Remy’s job? Why wasn’t he jealous? Was he always like that, or did they have a hard road to get to that point?

Second ChancesBam! There you have it. The makings of a new story: Second Chances. Once those questions started popping up, I couldn’t stop. A minor character who appears in two scenes suddenly had his very own novel.

And Remy … *sigh* Remy, Remy, Remy …

The more I wrote him, the more I absolutely adored him. Remy is the kind of character you want to just wrap up in your pocket and keep safe. By night, he’s a porn star and a stripper who absolutely loves his job. But by day, Remy is an intelligent, sophisticated, responsible young man who likes to wear nothing but suits and ties, and all he really wants in life is to settle down and be loved, to have someone for himself.

So along comes Chance Whitaker. And yeah, alright, spoiler alert, they get their HEA, of course, since they’re still together during the events of Broken, but it’s not an easy road. (And, as it turns out, Chance really does like to watch Remy bottom on stage…)

While I was working through this story, I was also discovering Queer as Folk. I know, I know. I’m only about 15 years too late. That’s apparently how I operate when it comes to TV shows. But I got sucked into the show and completely fell in love with it…


*sigh* Alright, fine. Yes, I agree, that is exactly how the show should have ended, considering their characters. It totally made sense, but a part of me hated that it made sense, because I was so rooting for that big, romantic HEA.

So, of course, I had to fix it.

I needed a story where the guy who refuses commitment (Brian) comes across a man he simply can’t live without, even if he has to learn it the hard way. I needed Brian and Justin to have that big, happy ending.

The story wound up taking a different direction than I originally expected, but as I was finishing Second Chances, I was suddenly well into mentally outlining the sequel, Second Drafts.

Second DraftsShain Ahren, Chance Whitaker’s brother, flat refuses to settle down, and won’t even sleep with the same guy twice. A writer and a major control freak (that doesn’t sound familiar at all … *ahem*), Shain simply won’t let anyone in.

Until he meets…

And here’s where the story really threw me for a loop. I needed a counterpart for Shain, someone to shake up his world and mess with his control, and the first (and only) character who came to mind to fill that role was Elliden Crawford.

Elliden also appears in Broken, as the unstable artist who is the brother of Daivid’s love interest. Elliden inherited an extreme chemical imbalance from his mother which leaves him prone to violent outbursts. When he has one of his fits, his sister literally has to wrestle him to the floor and hold him down until he works the fit out of himself; otherwise, he carries pills that can quickly sedate him and stop the violence before it starts, but they leave him lethargic and unmotivated to do anything whatsoever. His volatility forces him into a very sheltered, isolated existence. In some ways, he’s really not much more than a child, though he has the intelligence and rationality of any other man his age.

I really struggled with this character choice at first. Right off the bat, I knew there was going to have to be a sexual element between Shain and Elliden, and I had the most impossible time trying to picture Elliden as a sexual being. Straight or gay, I just couldn’t imagine it. To me, he always came off the page as not only a virgin, but as someone who would probably never have sex in his life. I just couldn’t see it ever happening.

What I could see, however, and see so easily that I knew he was the perfect choice for this book, was his need to be dominated. What little I’d written of him in Broken translated perfectly into his interactions with Shain. Elliden knows he’s dangerous, and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. However, he’s also lonely, but thinks he can’t ever be close to someone because he’s unstable. Still, he does manage to succumb to his sister’s control, and even to the authority in Daivid’s voice, so pairing him with the domineering control freak, Shain, just made perfect sense. Elliden knows he needs someone not just stronger than him, but someone with enough presence to get through to him when he’s having a fit. He finds that he actually craves that outside control.

This whole book is really about control: taking it, needing it, and letting it go. Not to mention, an element of shame attached to it all. Apparently, the Writing Muse was trying to teach me a lesson with this book. I kept trying to get back on track with writing the Shifting Isles series, but the Muse wouldn’t let me, insisting I work on Second Drafts instead.

And no wonder. I was having some major control issues of my own. Some parts of my life in which I needed to take control, but thought I couldn’t (like Elliden does when he first moves out on his own). For instance, standing up for myself and seeking out the health care and procedures I needed in order to embrace my trans identity, rather than suffering the misery of constantly pretending for the sake of not upsetting others. Just like Elliden felt ashamed of wanting to take control and have his own life, I felt ashamed of wanting to take control and embrace my identity. Through my own character, I learned a lesson.

…Some parts in which I needed to let go of control but didn’t want to (like Shain does when Elliden starts to affect his life). For instance, not getting myself so worked up about things being done just precisely the right way (I might be a little bit OCD), and learning to let go and ask for help when things get beyond my power or ability (something I’ve never been good at because, hang it all, I want to be able to do things myself).

…Some parts in which I needed control, and was ashamed to admit it (like Elliden craving Shain’s presence to keep him in line). For instance, I’ve learned that exercise requires another’s presence. I can’t seem to motivate myself, but if I have someone else there pushing me, telling me what to do, I love it. Just as Elliden felt ashamed of wanting that controlling presence to keep him in line, I felt some shame in wanting the same thing in the gym, and we both had to learn to let go of that shame and embrace what we needed.

And through both of these stories, there is the matchmaker himself, Danny Berringer. Through Danny’s interference, Remy and Chance are brought together, then Elliden and Shain. Only fair that the matchmaker get his own love story, right?

Second PlaceThus, rounding out the trilogy (and, as it turns out, delving into more of my personal life), is Second Place.

Danny is still in love with Bryan, even after they’ve been apart for years, even though Bryan is married to someone else. But Bryan’s marriage seems to have fallen apart, and as much as Danny would give anything to have a chance to get back together with Bryan, he’s also dying to know what went wrong with Bryan’s marriage, considering he matched up the pair, and he never gets couples wrong.

This story centers heavily around death, guilt, betrayal, and moving on. Without even realizing it, this whole story exploded out of my own grief over losing the family dog. It was a year ago yesterday that we put her down, but it feels like it just happened. Even after a year, I still struggle with the guilt I feel over her last day. She spent her last day at the vet’s office, a place she hated, and when we went to say goodbye, she clearly thought she was finally going home, but instead we all cried over her while she was put down.

It felt like we’d killed her. She spent her last day away from her family, and then we killed her.

That thought tormented me for the longest time. Still does, to some degree.

And even though she was just a pet, I’m not quite ready to move on. I thought I was finally getting to that point, until my father started talking to a breeder about getting another dog, and I burst into tears, thinking, “You can’t replace her!” Stupid thought, but there it was.

So all these feelings — the grief, the guilt, the struggle to move on — came out in this story. Once again, the Muse was leading me where I needed to go, rather than where I wanted to go (namely, sticking to my writing schedule).

Hmmm, there’s that control thing again…

Despite all the difficult feelings that arose in these stories, I am so completely in love with them, and I can’t wait to share them with the world (well, my small readership, as it is, but it feels like sharing them with the world). As I sit here, eagerly awaiting my final proof copies to arrive, I’m counting down the days to their scheduled release date.

July 24th. Giving myself a birthday present this year. Writing what I want to write and not caring what anyone thinks about it. Trans guy writing gay romance. *shrug* That’s just who I am.

The Matchmakers Trilogy will be available — separately and in a combined edition at a discounted price — on Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com starting July 24th. I can’t wait!!!

Self Care, Deadlines, and Sanity


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After weeks of struggling, I’ve finally accepted the fact that my self-imposed publishing schedule is not going to be met.

I know. Self-imposed. Not exactly a big deal, right? Not like there’s a publisher out there to drop me, or like the world is going to end. But for someone who loves deadlines, who hates disappointing people, who will beat himself up one side and down the other rather than let someone down, it was a hard pill to swallow.

But, for the sake of my sanity, and the long term quality of my product, it has to be done. Consequently, I’m pushing back the entire publishing schedule of the remaining Shifting Isles books. There’s just no way I can put out Betrayal (Book 6) in time for its projected release date of June 30th and have it be any kind of good.

Besides life happening (sometimes a ten-hour day at a desk job just kills the muse), I’ve been so absorbed in writing the Matchmakers trilogy over the last few months that I’ve just not been able to focus on getting Betrayal written. I tried dragging my focus away from the trilogy so I could keep myself on schedule, but that only resulted in me getting nothing done at all, so I finally gave in and let the words flow where they wanted to, even if it took me off track. Then again, in the long run, it was probably a good thing. Sometimes a book idea comes along at just the right time, and I’ve been learning a lot about myself in the midst of writing this trilogy. In conjunction with therapy, this was just something I apparently really needed, mentally and emotionally, so I’m slowly getting to where I’m grateful for the derailing rather than stressing over it.

‘Self care’ has been the new mantra I’m trying to adopt, and in this case, it means going where the muse wants to take me, rather than where I think I ought to be.

So Betrayal won’t be available in June, as promised. However, it’s looking very much like the entire Matchmakers trilogy will be available sometime this summer. Maybe I’ll do a special release on my birthday in July.

Then, back on track.