Monday, February 13, 2017

As I Am: Release Day Thoughts on Leaving Wilmington for a While

AS I AM, the third All Saints book, releases today, and it's a bittersweet release day. This book was a happy accident and certainly not one I ever expected to write when I first contracted the series. This series was, like all of my other books with Carina Press, set in my fictional Wilmington, DE, and had interconnected characters and locations. So I knew we'd be seeing familiar faces. I just never expected one particular face.

A few years ago, when I was writing GETTING IT RIGHT (Restoration #1), I wanted to show the main character James as more than just the party guy he'd been portrayed as in the Belonging series. He's also a devoted psychiatrist who is damned good at his job. So in walked a broken teenager named Will Madden. Will was a mess, but James did everything in his power to help Will, and to some extent, he succeeded. And later on, months after the book released, a reader asked about Will. No, I hadn't planned on revisiting him again, but thanks for asking.

And then another reader asked. And another. As I began drafting COME WHAT WAY, the first All Saints, I realized that I wanted to know what had happened to Will, too. The passage of fictional time between his first appearance in GIR and his second appearance is CWM meant Will was now legally an adult. So I brought him into CWM in a small, side role that stole readers' attention right away--even readers who didn't remember/know him from GIR. He popped up again in the second All Saints, SAY IT RIGHT, and it was during that book that I knew I could finally tell Will's story. I could give him the happy ending he so deserved.

In AS I AM, three years have passed since he first began working with Dr. Taggert and trying to put his life together. He's still a mess, but he's trying to get better, to make his life into something worthwhile. Finding a worthy hero for him wasn't easy, but Taz is exactly that: worthy and perfect for Will. Taz is reclusive, bordering on agoraphobic, overweight, scarred, and is positive no one will ever want him. Will is skittish, short, too skinny, and is all mixed up about sex and attraction. Together?

Well, I'll let you readers decide how perfect they are for each other. I'm biased.

I've had a lot of fun building this interconnected world through Belonging, Restoration and All Saints. I'm stepping away from Wilmington for a little while to play in some other sandboxes, but I'll be back. There are characters with stories yet to tell, and I'll always have room for ficlets that revisit your (and my) favorite couples.

Will Madden is healing.

Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he’s taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chatroom, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.

Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.

In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn’t seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love, and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever--until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hot Licks: Some Thoughts on Release Day

My very first m/m/m romance, HOT LICKS, is out today, and I'm both nervous and excited about it. A little less than two years ago, I was contacted by an editor at St. Martin's to write a series for their new-ish digital imprint Swerve. We brainstormed ideas, and we settled on a series about up-and-coming rock stars. I'd never written rock stars before, but hey, what's life without a challenge? We even came up with titles for all three books ahead of time.

BODY ROCKS was always about Dominic and Trey. I told their story exactly as I'd planned in the proposal: two guys from rival bands begin a secret romance. Book two, STEADY STROKE, was always going to be about Lincoln dealing with the fallout of the end of book one. But in the proposal, his hero was vastly different (an adrenaline junkie, I believe). And HOT LICKS, as per the proposal, was going to be about Tyson and a guy named Jordan (who eventually became Emmett in Steady Stroke).

The story for STEADY STROKE changed about halfway through drafting BODY ROCKS. It made more sense for the character of Jordan/Emmett to end up with Lincoln. The conflict was so much bigger once Emmett's secret came out, and while I was writing STEADY STROKE, I knew that the proposal for HOT LICKS was going out the window. Tyson had disappeared and wasn't speaking, and meanwhile, a side character named Van Holt was stealing the show in every scene he invaded. I needed to tell Van's story, but I wasn't entirely sure how.

Enter some stuff going on in my personal life. I few years ago, I accepted the fact that I was asexual, possibly demisexual, and I'd only recently begun being open about that fact on social media. It's a sexuality that is constantly misunderstood or ignored entirely, and there aren't very many ace characters in romance. Particularly in m/m romance. I'd read a handful, but I didn't see me in any of those characters. And you know what they say: write the book you want to read.

I don't remember exactly how the pieces came together in my mind. I remembered the scene where Benji flirting with Van at Off Beat in book two, while Benji and Joshua were on a break from each other. I thought about Benji's open relationship with Joshua, and I started wondering why they had that arrangement. And then Van jumped in with his two-cents and the story flowed came together from there. When I emailed my editor to tell her about the change in book three, she was thrilled, so I forged ahead.

There is more of me and my personal journey in Benji Moore than in any character I've ever written. I was in a relationship with an allosexual man--my first sexual relationship--when I finally embraced being in the asexual spectrum. A lot of my own worries and fears went into Benji: Is there something wrong with me? Will I ever be enough for him? Is it better to let him go so he can find someone who can be what he needs?

Is Benji representative of every ace person out there? Absolutely not. We exist on a spectrum, and I'm not going into detail here. That's what Google is for. But if Benji's story rings true for even one fellow ace, then I've done my job. And if this book helps allo readers understand what asexual is a little bit better, then I've done my job.

Oh yeah, and hopefully I've told a fun, engaging, sexy menage romance tale, but that's for you guys to decide.

Cheers and happy reading!


Benji Moore is living his dream traveling as the lead singer of his band. His life would be perfect if he could get his boyfriend, Josh, to commit to an exclusive relationship.

Even though Josh loves Benji, he has good reasons not to trust in long-term relationships. So Josh decides to take some time to himself and sublets a room at a friend’s beach house. But when he walks into the nearby Off Beat bar, he finds a bartender who may be a good distraction from his relationship problems.

Van Holt doesn’t do anything deeper than sweaty one-night stands. But when Josh sets his sights on him, Van is surprised by their connection. Except Van also doesn’t do complicated, and the situation between Josh and Benji defines complicated. But the more time Van spends with them, the more he’s realizing how hard it would be to let Josh and Benji go.

Can the three of them find a way together, or will they all end up going solo?