Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On Meeting Authors and Expectations

So, recently I went to a signing/book-selling event a couple hours away from me, up in Eastern Washington (We measure distance in time. Don't bring your cockamamie "miles" and "actual units of distance" into this.). I roomed with another writer friend, and that was a good time. Nobody really sold anything, but that's the risk you take when you do these sorts of things.

Now, I'm not a big name author of any sort. I have some modest recognition in my circles, but I'm not approaching NYT or USA Today or even WSJ bestseller status like a good number of the authors who were there. And I don't make a lot of appearances as Raven de Hart… which you may know why if you've seen my posting at all.

See, I'm a guy. Yeah, it's not like it's a massive secret. It's not like I'm the first man to write romance under a woman's name. In point of fact, I deliberately chose to write it under a female pen name because that was the industry standard. Of course, with changing tides in the M/M romance sphere, that's no longer the case, but the die has been cast, so to speak. Can't turn back now without losing all the progress I have with this pen name.

Now, most of the people were very lovely. You could tell they were surprised, which I fully expected. You think of Raven de Hart as a woman, and then you see a very intensely bearded fellow behind the table. I expect some double takes and some questions.

But what I wasn't expecting was the high school drama, where I was excluded by a clique of other writers. Again, this was not the majority, but it was pretty obvious that they weren't into the whole "man writing romance" thing, for whatever reason. I didn't ask, because fuck 'em.

But that's just an anecdote leading to a more salient, widely-applicable point… also I'm kind of catty and enjoy gossiping. See, we all have these ideas about authors, and because we basically only know them through distant means (Books, short stories, curated social media accounts), we can get one picture of them in our heads. I think that's true of anyone with any amount of time in the public eye, but with writers… well, our words come first, and sometimes you won't know what we look like until you meet us. You won't know our actual personalities, because we're probably not like our characters (Or at least not just like our characters.).

I remember a story about a romance author (Can't remember who.) who went to a signing. And she wrote some pretty hot romance, and some pretty intense relationships. A fan, thinking that he was in love with her because of her writing, came and saw her… and like a lot of authors, she was shy, quiet, and socially awkward. Said fan threw a fit because she had been "lying" about herself.

Other times, the author isn’t actually the gender of their pen name. Josh Lanyon? Woman. Perhaps she wouldn't stand out as much at a romance event as the opposite (Namely, me.), but it's still jarring. And other things can be jarring as well. Some people don't like to be photographed, or use a picture that hasn't been current since cassette tapes were the new innovation. Some people are going to be really sweet, even though they write some pretty awful, vomit-inducing horror (Not quite the same thing, but Michael Rooker, who played Merle on TWD, is just the sweetest fucking man alive. He still gets people who confuse him for the character.).

I understand, and so do most of us, that readers know us through the content we've put out there. Could I have been honest from the outset? Sure. Would I have sold as much as I did when I started? I honestly can't say, because the climate was very, very different. And even with changing tides, I'm still writing in a female-dominated genre. Maybe I'd be unique and eye catching if I wrote as Marshall Maddox or something like that. Maybe I would be "that weird guy who writes M/M" and my sales would tank. I don't know.

The point behind this whole thing is this: whatever expectations you have of an author, don't be shocked if they don't fit your mold. Certainly don't be rude about it. We're all just people trying to make a living and be happy.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Release: Prior Affair

Hello again, my lovelies! Another frabjous day, and another book! Come on back to Pryor, Washington with Prior Affair.

Old town, new flames

Garrett Bridge can see the future. Not when it’s convenient for him, of course, but when its important. So when he sees a man getting out of a car, he can’t help but wonder why he needed that information. But when he does, it starts a whirlwind romance full of fun. And full of a lot of nearly avoided disasters.

Smith Meyers has always been intrigued by problems, puzzles, and mysteries. When a young man saves him in the street one day, it’s the beginning of a new enigma for him to try and unravel. Wrapped up in that enigma is a whole mess of lust and other emotions to cloud his inquisitive mind. Which side of him will prevail?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

New Release: Prior Commitment

Hello, my darlings!

The time is finally here! A new book to warm your cockles—or perhaps other parts of your body, too—for this cold, cold holiday season (Seriously. It’s supposed to be -8 this week. -8!).

This is Prior Commitment!

Old town, new flames.

Casey Bridge knows what people are thinking, whether he wants to or not. When he returns to Pryor, Washington, he’s roped into helping with the town’s annual Christmas Carnival—as though they didn’t shun him and his entire family for years. But when he hears something worrying in a stranger’s thoughts, he can’t keep himself from jumping in to help--repeatedly.

Noel’s life is falling apart, and his last possible refuge is in little old Pryor, Washington. When that fails him, he spirals down into depression… and luckily lands in the arms of a local psychic. A very attractive local psychic with a very strong saving-people-streak. Will that be enough to save him or will they be waylaid by a prior commitment?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Death of a Publisher

Hello, darlings! I’ve finally come up for air after finishing quite a number of projects (You’ll see the first one swing through in a couple weeks.), and the world seems to have exploded around me as I was working. Or at least the local publishing world. I’m seeing publishing houses die around me. Again.

I though, both as something of potential interest to readers and potential help for authors, I would talk about my experiences. I won’t be naming any names for a lot of reasons, but we’ll just call the two houses in this article Publisher A and Publisher B, in order of when they sort of collapsed. This is a look at the similarities and differences, the warning signs, and what this could mean for you as a reader waiting for Author X’s books (Hopefully I’m Author X, but I don’t want to be presumptuous.).

So, Publisher A: I worked with them several times before submitting a book. And as luck would have it, the problems started in the middle of production on that book. We got told that they were closing down to outside submissions, which I’ll tell you right now is a pretty nasty warning sign. No outside subs means no new money coming in, so if they’ve made that decision… yikes. It went downhill from there. When I subbed, they were a good house doing god things for their authors. After the book came out? Well, they weren’t so lovely anymore. I’ve been paid once, and it wasn’t nearly what I was expecting. Publisher A just didn’t bring much to the table, all said and done, and I really don’t think they’ll last much longer, which is unfortunate.

Now let’s get to Publisher B. This is a lot messier. I also had written for them for quite a while. They were a well-regarded house and I was very excited to publish with them. But eventually, we started to hear some rumblings. Just some rumors that got passed around with different authors. Payments not on time, some people not getting in touch with the editors anymore. But it didn’t seem widespread. Could just be a fluke.

It wasn’t a fluke. More and more people weren’t getting paid, more emails were going unanswered. Payments and statements were getting later and later if they came at all. Finally, we got word that someone in the company was brought in on legal charges for a bounced check and things really started after that. We were told that money was really tight. Which is code for you’re not getting paid, if you’re an author and hear that. They started handing rights back left and right… until they didn’t. The excuses started pretty soon after things started going downhill, and that’s something I heard at both Publisher A and Publisher B. Every email was accompanied by at least six excuses, it seemed. Migraines, surgery, heart attack, dead pet, family troubles, moving. But this is our top priority.

Of course it wasn’t. Now, Publisher A I’m still on good terms with. I like the people who run it. Heck, if they can get back on their feet then I might even consider writing for them again.

Publisher B lost me on them. They did such awful things, and not just to the authors. Editors were going unpaid, cover artists were going unpaid, and they started taking the royalty money from authors and using it to pay their freelance workers. Not pay them enough, but pay them something to keep them from cutting and running. Which really didn’t work. The editors and such, bless them, left when they found out it was author money going to pay them. That wasn’t okay with them at all.

Mix all that in with threats of libel and a complete cut off of communication (People are having to send certified, insure letters, and even those don’t seem to be getting to them.), and Publisher A is basically not keeping anyone. Period. Those who stay… well, I guess I admire their loyalty? I cut and run as soon as they offered me the chance. I tried to help them, sure. Give them advice on what to do. None of which was followed, but I tried.

It’s unfortunate for authors, but it also sucks for readers. Readers aren’t able to support their authors, because the money from these books isn’t going to them. And if they get taken down, readers can’t read them at all until the authors republish them.

I just wanted to touch on what happens when publishers die. There are things you’ll see in almost every case, and you can just hope they go down with grace and the band still playing. Unlike Publisher B seems to be doing.


Monday, November 14, 2016

New Release: Going All In by Kristine Cayne

Life has been tough on Harry Cooper. Rejected by his best friend, abandoned by his family, Harry spurns relationships, settling instead for backroom hookups and one-night stands. Out and proud, he scrapes by selling drinks in gold lamé trunks while struggling to make a name for himself as a musician. Desperate for a change, he and his roommate take a trip to Vegas, where Harry finds himself getting more than he’d bet on.
Fragrance chemist Ashton Montgomery is the man behind the Ashton George line of perfumes and colognes. He is also a gay man hiding behind the façade of one of New York City’s most eligible straight bachelors. After a failed paternity suit against him, he sneaks off to Vegas to celebrate his freedom. But is he really free, or is he locked into the future his parents have mapped out for him—CEO to the family business and married to a society woman of their choosing?

A chance meeting at a rock concert in Sin City catapults Harry and Ashton into an adventure where each man comes head to head with what he fears most. Can they learn to trust each other as a couple, or is undeniable lust all they have? When all the cards are on the table, they each must decide whether to fold or go all in.

Keep Reading for a free sample!

Harry Cooper burst through the door of his room at the Hard Rock Hotel. It closed behind him with a dramatic clang. “Girl, you will not believe—”

Spotting his best friend Melissa Kincaid half-asleep in a pile of pillows on the massive bed they’d had to share to get the special “Getaway to Vegas” deal, he gasped and slapped her boxer-clad ass. “Seriously? We’re in Sin City, and all you can do is sleep?”

“Yeah, yeah,” she muttered, rubbing her butt cheek as she sat up. “Did you get tickets to something good?”

“Yes.” He sucked in a deep breath. “You won’t fucking believe—oh my God.” He waved a hand in front of his face.

Melissa rolled her eyes. “Please tell me this isn’t another Madonna drag-show revival thing. I had enough of that last year.”

Harry scowled indignantly. That show in Portland had been a blast. But no. “This is a million times better.”

“Better than Madonna? Well, in that case…” She rolled her hand in a go-on motion.

Harry sighed. Melissa just wasn’t in the spirit of their holiday. Her boyfriend of two years had broken up with her right after Christmas, announcing that he was going to London to complete his Ph.D. She’d begged him to continue their relationship long distance, but he’d been adamant. This was going to be a new chapter in his life, and one he’d be writing alone. Yeah. Dick, much?

But that was exactly why they’d left soggy Seattle to come to Vegas. To soak up the sun and the booze and forget about the fact that Valentine’s Day had just passed, and they were both hopelessly single.

“Come on, sweetie,” he coaxed. “Try to guess.”

“Okay, okay.” She shifted around on the bed, adjusting her T-shirt, which had slipped off her shoulder. She was just so cute with her big green eyes and auburn, shoulder-length curls. If he weren’t gay, she’d be the girl for him.

She tapped a long nail against her chin. “Celine?”

Barely able to keep from blurting out his secret, he pressed his lips tightly together and shook his head.

“Cirque du Soleil?”

“No, but that would have been awesome.”

“Hmm.” She shoved off the bed and pushed aside the curtain, probably so she could see the show billboards out on the strip. Cheater.

She glanced at him over her shoulder, her eyes wide and hopeful. “Phantom? I’ve always wanted to see that.”

He laughed. “You know Gerard Butler isn’t in the play, right?”

“I can pretend.” She shot him a sassy smile.

“This is better anyway.”

“Nothing is better than Gerry as the Phantom.”

He sashayed across the room and got in her face, grinning like a loon. “This is way better. Guess again.”

Her gaze returned to the strip. When she spotted the sign, he heard the hitch in her breath. She whipped around and grabbed his shoulders. “The Red Hot Chili Peppers?”


He said it much louder than he’d intended. Okay, he’d shouted, but could you blame him? They were going to see the freaking Red Hot Chili Peppers, and he’d get to hear Flea, the best bassist in the world, live!

“Oh my God. Are you serious? Those tickets have to cost more than our whole trip.”

He shot her a wink. “I may have done some wheeling and dealing with the concierge.”

Her eyes swept over him and narrowed. “Please tell me no sexual favors were exchanged in this transaction.”

Shooting out his hip, he slapped a hand to his chest. “Moi? I’ll have you know, Miss Melissa, I do have other talents.”

Waving her hands in front of her face, she ducked her head. “I really, really don’t want to know.”


Kristine Cayne's books have won numerous awards and acclaim. Her first book, Deadly Obsession, was an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and won Best Romance in the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards. Her second book, Deadly Addiction, won two awards at the 2014 eFestival of Words and 1st place in the INDIE Awards, Romantic Suspense Category (a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Contests).

Her book Under His Command won Best BDSM Romance at the 2012 Sizzling Awards and was a finalist in the 2013 eFestival of Words and 2013 RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) Awards, and her book Everything Bared was a finalist in the Erotic category of the I Heart Indie awards.

Going All In is Kristine’s second gay romance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Writing Story

I hear this question a lot from readers, established authors, aspiring writers – people seem to want to know where authors they like got their start, what the process was. So, I thought I’d share it here. It isn’t the most boring story ever-written, but I won’t say that it’s as thrilling as American Horror Story or anything like that (I’ve finally been watching to get all caught up – so far Coven is by far the best.).

This is something I have spoken about before, but you might not have heard it. I started in high school. I know that seems a little cliché, but I was essentially publishing erotica in high school, all on my own. I would write, edit, format, and print it out, and then distribute it. And I earned myself a fair reputation for it, as well. Guys who weren’t out yet would wait until they saw me going off on my own for the bathroom or whatnot and ask me if I had “any more stories.” The ones who were out didn’t wait for me to be alone, of course. It was a minor, underground sort of fame, but I was the only one daring to do this thing, and the stories spread all around. I think there are still some out there that I haven’t ever gotten back.

After that, I went dormant for a good bit. I started writing and publishing science fiction/fantasy as Voss Foster, but I eventually started back into the erotica writing. It started, well before newsletters were dominating the author marketing scene the way they are now, with me sending my stories out to people for free via email (This is the reason everything attached to my author self is de Hart’s List.). Eventually, I moved into writing short stories for various anthologies. I can’t remember for sure what the order on these are, so bear with me on that, but I’m pretty sure the first one I got into was Roboterotica from the now defunct Pill Hill Press. Several others followed. Geek Lust, 12 Days of Kinkmas, Pay for Play, Beach Bums, Blood in the Rain. I was reliably publishing short stories that I sent out.

And at that point, I tried my hand at something longer. Now, even though Wild Ride ended up picked up by a house… well, it’s crap. It’s an awful book, and I’ll admit that openly. But I got better. I wrote Street Magic, which got picked up by Storm Moon, and I wrote Silverfall and started the Hearts of Madijak series. Which is where I am today, as I sit here writing this. I’m a Loose Id author and nearly done with the first draft of Hearts of Madijak Book Two (Heart of Absolution). I have submissions with most of the major M/M houses as we speak.

That’s my authorial story, in a four-hundred-ish word nutshell. I hope it wasn’t too dull for you. If so, I apologize and will provide sexy-ass men at a later date to compensate.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reboot and Update!

Hello, my lovelies! It’s been a bit of a busy, harrowing time for me lately, which is why I haven’t been around posting. I’ve been traveling to different conventions and workshops across the state, trying to wrap up this three book series for my publishing house, and dealing with some personal tragedies that came up unexpectedly, as they tend to do.

But the books are finished and under contract, so keep your eyes out for some new ones around December. Small town paranormal romances set in Eastern Washington, if you’re interested. I’ll also be writing a short story or two for some intriguing calls (Don’t want to say a lot about it, but if you’re interested in pot smoking… well, I’m aiming up your alley.).

But more than anything, I just wanted to pop in and let you all know that I’m still around and working and all that good stuff. I’ll be back a lot sooner than I have been in the past.