My first title was released in July of 2011. Since then I’ve become very familiar with reviews and readers’ reactions to my work. I’ve met other readers clamoring for “different” stuff. I’ve learned there are professional reviewers, neutral reviewers that focus on craft, mean reviewers that make authors reconsider whether they’re cut out for writing or not, passionate readers that offer their opinions in the form of a review, reviewers that have such firm ideas of how a story should go that they pretty much tell us how we should’ve written the book, reviewers that—
I’ll shut up now. I’m pretty sure you all get my drift, and this post is not about reviews. It’s about my personal journey and individual style as an author, but before we reach that point, I need to get back to basics.
I’ve been reading fiction forever. I adore doing so. It’s been my favorite hobby my entire life. If I remember correctly, I discovered the romance genre when I was only eleven. A battered Harlequin copy was mixed in with a bunch of magazines my aunt gave me. I read it and I was hooked. Not to Harlequin, but to reading romance.
As a reader I don’t like gratuitous anything. Books with misunderstandings that go on for at least four chapters, silly bickering written in an attempt to replace real conflict and too stupid to live characters that should not be allowed out of their houses are, in my opinion, a waste of precious reading time and an insult to my intelligence. And boy, don’t get me started on the sex. I mean, I most definitely enjoy a hot sex scene, but it’d better not be the only thing happening in the book, and it better mean something. Porn without plot and stroke stories are not for me. When the only thing growing between the main characters is their erections I cannot help but to feel turned off and frustrated.
I want a solid plot. I want realistic characters and situations. I don’t want to escape the world. I want to see how these guys who become real to me the moment I start reading deal with every day issues. I want to get emotionally invested and cheer on the guys until they find their way to happiness. And you know what? That doesn’t always happen within 50,000 words and fifteen chapters.
If you’ve been following my “career” you know I’m a rookie author. To date I have five published stories: Heatstroke, Southern Winterland, Six Degrees of Lust, Disasterology 101 and Six Degrees of Separation, and if you’ve read my work then you also know I don’t stick to any specific formulas. There are two reasons for this:
1. I write what I like to read, and
2. early on I decided to let the characters do the talking.
Every one of my stories, both published and WsIP, began with just one character. Sometimes he turns out to be the MC, but not always. He’d much rather be in the background and wait until the time is right for him, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have lots to say and things he needs to bring to the table.
He demands his POV is included. Then another character appears with the same behavior. And another. And another. And what they have to say needs to be said on their time and on their own terms. I need to listen because if I don’t, their story won’t be the same. And that, my friends, is how I ended up writing “By Degrees”, an ensemble serial with multiple points of view and unresolved situations at the end of each installment.
Several unresolved situations.
This, of course, will change as the series advances. Sadly, it just could not happen in one book. Not unless I wrote a 2,000-page saga.
Six Degrees of Lust has received wonderful reviews. Some readers loved the format and the build up and appreciated the fact that every character has a distinctive voice. Others readers hate the cliffhangers and would’ve preferred the book didn’t have as big a cast, and focused on Sam and Mac’s POVs. Both opinions are valid and appreciated. It is a matter of personal taste, and to each their own, yes?
But those opinions got me thinking hard and carefully. Should authors not write ensemble novels? Should I find a way to silence all those voices even though I know why their story needs to be told a certain way? Should I stick to conventional formulas so that I don’t upset the readers that know what they want (only the MCs) and how it should be (no cliffhangers or open storylines, please)?
I’ve been advised to stick to a proven, successful formula. I’ve been told I’m better off not including kids in my books. I’ve tried to decide the kind of readers I want to reach: the escapists or the hard-core realists… and I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is to remain loyal to my characters and their journey, however long and bumpy it might be.
But enough about me. :)
I want to hear what you guys have to say about this. Are you willing to read out of your comfort zone, or do you prefer to stick to stories similar to the ones you’ve liked the best so far? Why do you feel that way? Could I change your mind? Just kidding on that one ;-)
Come on, guys. Discussion time. Inquiring minds would like to know, and your comment might win you copies of my books. :-)
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Six Degrees of Lust (By Degrees #1): *WARNING FROM THE AUTHOR:
Six Degrees of Lust is both an ensemble novel and the first installment in the By Degrees serial. This means there are several point of views and the story will continue. Thanks.
New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong he has stuck to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn’t have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men.
Former firefighter Machlan O’Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston and after years of waiting he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud and drama-free. His politically-aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams.
One man is as high strung as the other is laid back. A chance meeting brings the two men together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don’t want to get involved…but will they be able to stay apart?
Southern Winterland (By Degrees #0.5): From the By Degrees Universe meet Christian and Remy, close friends who may be destined to be something else…
Christian Murphy is out, proud and very often loud.
Remy Benoit is an equal opportunity flirt, but he swears guys are not his thing.
Different lifestyles had never interfered with their close friendship, but after too much alcohol and almost kissing under the mistletoe a year ago they’ve started to drift apart.
A special holiday event brings the men together, and this time around they might have to acknowledge that mutual admiration and respect are not the only things making them seek each other out.
60 Percent Proof (By Degrees #1.5): Note from the Author: This is a free interlude to celebrate Mac’s birthday, and will be available for download on May 15, 2013.
Sam Shaughnessy knows what he wants from Mac O’Bannon: monthly, uncomplicated casual encounters.
Mac is on the same page. For two months they have been enjoying each other’s company, never forgetting that their agreement leaves zero room for long-term commitment.
But a visit to a local gay club during a weekend getaway in South Beach tips the scale, and it isn’t long before Sam starts showing how much he really doesn’t like to share.
Firmly placed rules get suspiciously bent, and by the end of the night only two things are clear: body shots are conducive to extreme displays of arousal and possessiveness, and anything can be blamed on tequila.
Six Degrees of Separation (By Degrees #2): WARNING FROM THE AUTHOR:
By Degrees is an ensemble serial with continuing story lines. Six Degrees of Separation is the second installment, and it must be read after Six Degrees of Lust. Thanks.
In the sequel to Six Degrees of Lust, F.B.I. team leader Samuel Shaughnessy and bar manager Machlan O’Bannon are exploring a new phase in their non-relationship. The intention is to take it slowly but power plays are still their favorite activity, and it isn’t long before lines begin blurring. After ending their friends with benefits agreement no rules are left in place to guide them, and soon enough the only thing that’s clear is that neither man is fighting hard enough to reestablish the boundaries.
Their particular situations haven’t improved in the three months since their first encounter. Sam is still focused on his immediate family issues, and everything indicates Mac will have to go to war with his own family before he can reclaim his freedom. The last thing they need is additional complications.
But when the opening of a night club brings Mac to New York City and a break in the Leviticus investigation leads Sam to Houston, they discover how closely their worlds have been connected from the very beginning. Hiding from the life-altering collision is not an option. Will they take the easier road and go their separate ways, or will they come to terms with their past and take a chance on each other?