Thank you so much Cole for having me on the Armchair Reader! Today I am going to be talking about my new short novella Your Happy End.
So I’ve been trying to keep the subjects I talk about on this blog tour fairly light. This is a serious subject thought that does have a large baring on the book I am promoting, Your Happy End, and so I want to take it seriously.
Bullying is a huge problem that affects people in many different walks of life and for many different reasons. Bullying of LGBTQA people, especially in school setting has become one of the most high profile issues facing the queer community in the United States. It is an issue because a large number of LBGTQA children will be bullied in school often to an extreme level.
“Bullying” is a term we give to what I see as a combination of different kinds of abuse and harassment. Bullying combines elements of harassment, physical abuse or assault, emotional or physiological abuse, and sexual abuse or assault. It can happen anywhere, in work places, at home but it seems to be most troubling to the general public when it happens in schools between minors. Bullying in schools is common and always has been, getting beat up by bullies is such a common image American media with regards to the experience of childhood and school that most of us take it for granted. We don’t think about it as abuse and assault, although that is what it is. Unfortunately bullying can lead to real, serious trauma for the victims. Suicide attempts are not uncommon for people who have been victimized in this way over long periods of time and in some cases these attempts do end in death.
As we become more aware of the cost of bullying on the lives and well-being of its victims we have begun to shine more a spotlight on the problem with, I think, mixed results. Here I want to concentrate primarily on childhood bullying of minors by minors and specifically the bullying of LGBTQA youth.
In Your Happy End one of the main characters, Cooper’s, academic career was fought with almost constant bullying. During his high school years, he was harassed, intimated, threatened and assaulted for having a Southern accent in a private Northern prep school, for being a computer geek, for being slightly overweight and non-athletic, and for being gay. Cooper was also threatened and coerced into having a non-consensual sexual relationship with one of his victimizers – he was sexually assaulted.
Cooper has spent most of his twenties in therapy receiving the professional help he needs to move past the abuse. Even though he is at a point in his life when he is ready to have a healthy, committed relationship with someone, his experience still deeply affects the way he thinks. Throughout the book Cooper’s past impacts his understanding of his self-worth and of himself as a sexual being. Even though what Cooper experienced is not the only thing which defines him or even the most important part of him it still has a major affect on who he is.
I wish I could say Cooper’s experience is completely fictional but it isn’t. What Cooper experienced, the kinds of abuse he was subjected to by his classmates are slightly fictionalized accounts of things which have happened or where said to really LGBTQA people that I know. The way he views himself, the issues he still carries from the abuse, and the way it affects his and Jun’s relationship is also based on real life experience.
One of the things I wanted to be careful of when writing about Cooper’s experience was to take what he went through seriously and not try to excuse those who victimized and sexually assaulted him because of their age. Cooper’s frustration with the fact that there are so very little consequences for those who perpetuate this form of abuse, I think is everyone’s frustration, or should be.
Despite the growing media attention bullying is too often not considered “real harassment”, “real assault” or “real abuse.” Too often people dismiss bullying, especially among minors, as ‘boys being boys’ or a ‘mean girl’ syndrome even as it causes other children to drink bleach, or hang themselves.
Too often as well the perpetrators of childhood bullying when they get older are portrayed as ‘really nice people’ who just made unfortunate mistakes when they were younger, or got swept up in the moment. A long running trope both in the romance genre and in popular culture in generally is in fact for the victim of childhood bullying to fall for one of the perpetuators of it when they have both grown up. The message of course being that bullying is not a serious crime as much as a youthful mistake, easily forgiven by the victim and with no real baring on how the perpetuator will turn out later in life.
Related to this is the belief that when it comes to the bullying of LGBTQ people, the perpetuators of the abuse is often, if not always, queer themselves. This again is a common trope in the way the issue of bullying is dealt with both in fiction and in the media. The underlying message of this belief is that heteronormative society is not to blame for the abused and the death that abuse too often causes, since the bullying is essentially gay on gay violence.
The truth is bullying boils down to people feeling safe, justified and even empowered to victimize those they deem different from the group, the outsiders, the Others. Bullying happens because we live in a world what teaches us it is okay to abuse those not like ourselves. Specifically bullying of LGBTQA people happens because we still live in a world where being LGBTQA automatically makes you an outsider and thus deserving of abuse, harassment and assault. Bullying of LGBTQA youth is not the beginning and end of the problem, it does not exist in a vacuum. It is a symptom of a society in which there is only one right way to be when it comes to sexuality and gender that this is cisgender and straight.
Unfortunately Cooper bares the brunt of living in such a society, fortunately for him he doesn’t have to do it alone.
Read more about his and Jun’s story in Your Happy End.
By day Jun is co-owner of a comic book shop. By night, he provides the high tech gear used by superhero team Ghost Hawk and The Spider. Cooper is the computer genius and information specialist behind the vigilante known as The Shadow Avenger.
Attraction and a love of graphic novels make for a good start, but if they want to last Jun and Cooper will have to overcome secrets, danger, Cooper’s past and Jun’s firm belief that people in the superhero business don’t get happy endings.
Give-Away: if you are interested in participating in a give-away to win a copy of Your Happy End, visit my blog http://thisjourneywithoutamap.blogspot.com/2013/08/give-away-you-happy-end.html and leave a comment! The give-away closes on August 17th.
Hello and welcome to everyone who’s reading this, the second stop on the blog tour for The Crimson Outlaw, my historical m/m novella set in Transylvania. If you’re still reading from this point on, thank you for that! And thank you to Cole, my host here on The Armchair Reader. If you’re following the whole tour, quintuple thanks, and you may find it easiest to do so by keeping up with the schedule on this page.
I am on a roll with the interview questions since yesterday, so I thought I’d do a few more today. Here we go:
How long does it take you to write a book?
Well, it very much depends on how long the book is. I write between 2,000 and 3,000 words a day every week day. So I write approximately 10 – 15,000 words a week, with the weekends off. That means that in theory I could write the first draft of a thirty thousand word novella in two weeks, or a sixty thousand word novel in a month. In practice, other things tend to come up. I’ll have to write blog posts, for example 😉 Or I’ll get the edits in for a previous book and have to stop writing my first draft in order to turn those around. Or I’ll have finished the first draft and need to do a couple of my own editing passes to polish it up to a state where it’s good enough to send out to publishers. Or I’ll need to read up intensively on the research. Or someone in the family will be ill, or I’ll be ill, or someone will need to be taken somewhere, or one of my retired family members will want to meet up with me, because working at home = not doing anything they can’t interrupt.
With interruptions, it takes me approximately a month to write a novella from first draft to sending it out, and four to six months for a novel. Part of the reason the novels take so long is that I tend to write very long novels, in the 100 – 150,000 word range. Don’t ask me why! I’m just unable to be succinct.
How do you get past writer’s block?
On the one hand, I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. At least not now that I outline my stories before I start writing them. Now that I start out with a plot plan, I never have a day where I sit there in front of the computer simply not knowing what to write. I have plenty of days when I sit there thinking ‘I don’t want to write this! I want to clean the toilet instead. Surely there’s some washing up that needs to be done?’ which may be one element of writer’s block, but because I know what I’m supposed to be writing I can always sit down and do it, even if I don’t enjoy it.
On the other hand, I do have periods between stories, when I’ve finished one book and really can’t think of anything to write next. For those periods I recommend watching lots of TV and movies. For my part, at least, I never get inspired by the written word but I often get inspired by visual things. So for me, if I can’t think of anything to write, it’s time for a blitz of watching the media and looking at cool pictures.
What is your favorite book from childhood?
It’s hard to choose, but I think it must be The Lord of the Rings. Though A Wizard of Earthsea comes close. With A Wizard of Earthsea, I loved the magical school on Roke, the clarity and beauty of her language, and the amazing perceptual shift when the Master Patterner turns up as a savage in feathers and paint and you remember that everyone in the civilized world is black or brown – for once the white guy is the outsider and you didn’t even notice it happening. But there’s something about the Taoism of it, in its underlying assumptions that didn’t really appeal to me.
The Lord of the Rings, on the other hand shaped the way that I thought and wrote in a way that’s still directly connected to my life now. I wanted to be an elf, but since that wasn’t possible I settled for wanting to know all about the Anglo-Saxons who were the real-life models for the Rohirrim. It’s probably down to Tolkien’s influence that I am a Christian, that my books are full of scenery, that my latest novel (The Reluctant Berserker – look for that in 2014) is about a Saxon bard, and that I recently took up folk dancing. Books are dangerous things, they may end up shaping your entire life!
Which of your books was the hardest or easiest to write?
The hardest were probably the contemporaries. Shining in the Sun and the novella I’m working on at the moment, Blue Eyed Stranger. There’s just something about contemporaries that inhibits my imagination. I think I need to be writing what I don’t know, because if I write what I know I get bogged down in the minutiae.
The Crimson Outlaw was the easiest thing to write since The Wages of Sin. They were both wonderful to write – I was simply carried away by them. They were nice places to be, exciting and exotic, and every paragraph was a new discovery. I wish all my writing came so easily!
Which one of your characters would you date?
Well, I wouldn’t. I mean, all my lead guys are gay, so that would be a disaster. Peter Kenyon from Captain’s Surrender is bisexual, but he’s also frankly a bit self-obsessed for my tastes, and he’s better off with Josh who’s willing to agree with him about how wonderful he is. Besides, I’m a happily married woman. I don’t create them for me, I create them for each other 🙂
I ran something very complicated with my last tour. This time I think I’ll keep it simple. If you would like to win your choice out of my backlist titles (any one novel, or two novellas) comment to be put into the hat. At the end of the tour I’ll draw a name from all those who have commented during the week and post an announcement of the winner on my blog, Facebook and twitter so that you can contact me with your choice and your email address, and I can get your prize to you.
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
Connect with Alex:
Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.
Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.
Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.
You can read an excerpt and purchase The Crimson Outlaw here.
Hello everyone! I just want to take a minute to introduce Harper Kingsley’s first post in her Heroes & Villains Blog Tour today and also to apologize for the post going up late today. That’s what happens when you oversleep! Anyway, on to the post. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!
As this is the first stop on the Heroes & Villains blog tour, I thought I would talk a bit about how the book came about.
I’ve always been a giant comic book fan (read: nerd) and one day it clicked in my brain that I could create my own superheroes and supervillains. The rules were mine to make, and the world was free for me to explore.
Though Vereint Georges starts out as the superhero Starburst, it was the supervillain Darkstar that I created first. A guy wrapped up in purple and black, his body overflowing with more power–metability–than he knows what to do with.
Darkstar is immoral and frightening, acting on his impulses more than he ever pauses to think things through. He has everything he could want, and he doesn’t hesitate to take the rest. He is charming, cruel, and at the end of the day, he’s almost painfully human.
As Starburst, Vereint was desperate to have his role as a superhero validated by praise and accolades. As Darkstar, he effortlessly brings the world to its knees and is left wondering: Is this all there is?
Enter Blue Ice, the superhero Vereint spent his teen years admiring and wishing to emulate. More than anything, Vereint wants Blue Ice to look at him and welcome him as a fellow hero. Instead their first meetings are marked by disappointment on both of their parts as Blue Ice takes an instant dislike to Starburst. Refusing to help the young superhero find his way, Blue Ice takes every opportunity for childish taunts and public derision.
Vereint’s hero name is mocked by the media as he becomes known far and wide as the “candy ass.” Nothing he does as a hero works out for him and things come to a head when he decides that enough is enough. Darkstar is born.
It’s when Vereint embraces the role of the bad boy that he catches Blue Ice’s interest as more than a joke. Things begin to shift and change between them and Vereint meets the man behind the mask, Warrick Reidenger Tobias.
Against a backdrop of heroics, villainy, interpersonal relationships, and the rising threat of a terrorist group willing to set the world ablaze in the name of Darkstar, Vereint and Warrick come to know each other as more than the costumes they wear.
Really, this is the story of two men on different sides making a romantic connection that society wouldn’t approve of. They have to find a middle ground where they can exist together.
At its heart, Heroes & Villains is about the relationship between Warrick and Vereint. A hero and a villain, though sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
I’m giving out an ebook copy of Heroes & Villains at the end of this blog tour. You can earn five entries by following the tour and answering the question after each post.
I’ll be using Random.org to pick a winner the morning of August 19th.
Answer the question in the comments: What superpower do you wish you had and why?
Heroes & Villains at Less Than Three Press.
All Vereint ever wanted was to be a superhero, fight alongside the other great heroes of the city and beat down the villains that plague them. There’s just one problem: he sucks at it, at least according to the other heroes and the majority of the city. Instead of the greatness and glory of which he dreamed, Vereint spends his days alone, exhausted, and depressed. When the mockery and derision finally go too far, Vereint decides he’s reached his limit. If he’s never going to be good enough to succeed as the hero Starburst, maybe it’s time to try the role of villain instead …
Hey, and thanks for having me here! I’m Jaidon Wells, and I wrote Dandy, which, among many other things, is a story about two men, Andrew and Cassidy, who don’t like to make it easy to fall in love. Their first, unexpected—and seemingly impossible given that Andrew had been led to believe Cassidy was dead—meeting in an occult store (which you can read in its entirety on LT3’s website) sets the tone for their entire following romance. And that tone is one of deliberate and (from Cassidy’s side, at least) cheerful antagonism.
I’ve always had a weakness for love stories that start out as rivalries, so it comes as no surprise to me (or likely anyone who really knows me) that my first published novel would be composed of exactly that: two boys who love to be difficult with one another. I couldn’t tell you exactly where my personal love for that particular trope came from, but, bottom line, it has a lot to do with the kind of interaction rivalries produce (or can, anyways). And one such symptom happens to be my favorite thing to write: banter. Nothing’s quite as enjoyable for me as snappy back-and-forth conversation between romantic leads, and, with Dandy, I got to write it in near every scene between Andrew and Cassidy.
That was one of the biggest appeals of writing this book for me and, I think, a large part of its charm. The relationship starts out as pretty much pure antagonism, with (at least from Cassidy’s perspective) all the enjoyment of it coming from needling the other person into extreme irritation, without any deeper feelings behind it. The story is a fairly slow build and that antagonism remains threaded through the whole novel, but the tone and the meaning behind it changes. The constant back and forth goes from simply something to gain irritating enjoyment out of, to flirtation, and, eventually, a way to express some deeper feelings that have developed without appearing to express them. Although, I’ll admit, Cassidy never actually stops enjoying needling Andrew. It simply becomes another way in which they communicate, and one that I hope is enjoyable for the audience.
Relationships can be portrayed in a near endless number of ways, and character interactions can be played out in just about as many. My favorite path for romance, though, remains the one that isn’t smooth, that maybe takes a few sharp twists and turns, but remains fun the whole way through.
Andrew is a little overwhelmed, between grad school, his bookstore job, crazy friends, and a roommate slowly turning criminal. The very last thing he needs is more stress, but it’s what he gets anyway, in the form of Cassidy, the frustrating, intriguing, and supposed-to-be-dead brother of his law-breaking roommate.
Throw in a flamboyant campus hero, a series of kitchen fires, a slanderous romance manuscript, stoner music shops, an arguably-mad scientist, a terrible indie band, and a blue period, and Andrew realizes that being overwhelmed is easy. It’s the rapidly spinning out of control that’s a bit difficult to handle.
You can buy it here.
If you’d like a chance to win an ebook copy of Dandy, just comment below. One commenter will be chosen using random.org to receive a copy in the format of their choice. The give-away will close at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 11th.
About the Author
Jaidon was born in South Bend, Indiana, and spent some time in Michigan, before settling down in Dalls, Texas. He sometimes regrets this because of the god-awful summers and the fact that he’s picked up a bit of a southern accent. Y’all, it’s unfortunate. In Spring of 2013, he received a degree in Psychology from the University of North Texas, which is problematic only because now everyone he knows seems to have developed a psychiatric disorder. Weird.
Jaidon has been an avid reader since childhood and wrote his first short story at 7 (which has, fortunately, been lost to the ages) and attempted his first novel at 13 (which, unfortunately, has not been lost to the ages; he still has a copy on his computer). He started out writing stories with the full intent of breaking the reader’s heart, and, now, has somehow ended up writing all comedy and romance with happy endings. Go figure.
You can find Jaidon online at:
Hello and welcome to Day Three of my blog tour! I’m Mina MacLeod, and I wrote Some Rules for Success in the Music Business. It’s a short story about an indie band that doesn’t quite fit into any preconceived genre–and neither do its members. Thanks to The Armchair Reader for having me. For today’s stop on the tour, I’m going to talk about musical instruments.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my family is very musical. Or rather, one half of it is; the other half is tone-deaf. So I can play music, but don’t ask me to sing. Trust me, it’s better for all of us.
When I was a wee lass, I used to play the piano by ear. This was before I learned how to read music beyond FACE and EGBDF. While this method was great and allowed for creativity, I was limited to songs I already knew. I couldn’t sight-read–couldn’t just pick up a piece and have at it. My parents eventually got me piano lessons, but I didn’t like my teacher so I stopped.
I’ve dabbled in the ukelele. I played it for three years and don’t remember much. I learned chords and strings and frets, but retained very little after setting it aside. Part of me always wants to pick it up again, but most of me is just too busy. Still, I’ll always love its jaunty melody; it remains one of my favorite instruments to this day.
I chose the clarinet because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to constantly flex my mouth muscles for the trumpet (turns out I could.) I figured, look at all those keys! No complicated mouth work! Instead, what I got was complicated fingering work. Also, try explaining fingering to a teenager and expecting them to keep a straight face. All the same, the clarinet and I would not part for seven years. My parents bought me my own when it was evident I wasn’t stopping anytime soon. Together, the clarinet and I had many adventures, and I took meticulous care of it. I eventually sold it to pay for university textbooks, ending our saga on a sad note.
My father’s side of the family was more musical than my mother’s. We’re a large crowd, too, so any celebration or house party always ended with the family band getting up on stage. Literally; my grandparents’ house had a bar and a stage, that’s how often we all played together. They owned a house on the lake with lots of waterfront property, so we would move the production outside if it was a nice night–fire off our own fireworks and play until the sun came up.
Instruments require care and feeding like any tool, and the right one for you makes beautiful music. I picked DnT’s signature instruments after consulting my husband, who plays guitar, bass, and drums. I knew I wanted Stephen to tour with both a keyboard and piano. It didn’t take us long to settle on signature instruments for each band member. All of them were drop-dead gorgeous, beautifully crafted, and durable. Ben’s Fender needed to be especially tough, heh …
Stephen can hardly believe it when he lands the gig of a lifetime: keyboard and lyricist for hot new sensation Dewdrops in Thunderdome, headed by twin frontmen Alex and Ben McMaster. The dream job, however, proves to be almost more than Stephen can take, between learning new responsibilities, the pressures of the industry, the dangerous lure of countless parties—and finding himself right in the middle of a complicated relationship between Alex and Ben.
Some Rules for Success in the Music Business comes out July 31st from LT3 Press.
You can contact Mina MacLeod at her website, her Goodreads page, Twitter, or Tumblr.
Last day of my tour, seems apropos to end with where Dance verse began. :3
It’s probably hard to tell, but all of Dance verse actually started with me wanting to tackle an entirely different premise. At the time I came up with it, there’d been a spate of ‘person falls in love with ghost’ books, and they always end one of two ways: Person dies and they’re together as happy ghosts, or ghost is reincarnated. You’d also have the more heartbreaking ‘ghost departs, person moves on,’ but you don’t see that particular end as much in romance books.
My idea was ‘why the fuck can’t he just stay with the effing ghost? What would come of that?’
And lo, Christian White was born, and everything else spun out from him. How do a ghost and a living woman have a kid? Magic, obviously. But I’m not big on the whole ‘oh, it’s magic’ shrug and run away. I want my magic systems to work. Magic, though, is like anything in fantasy – too little and it’s confusing, too much and everyone cries tears of bitter frustration or boredom from info dumping.
The first step was fleshing out the world. I didn’t want another series of just, or predominantly, vampires and werewolves. I wanted LOTS of supernatural creatures, with their own rules and traditions and problems. So in addition to the wolves and bloodsuckers, I’ve got demons, imps, goblins, witches and sorcerers, alchemists, elves, black dogs, dragons, and plenty I either haven’t mentioned or have yet to appear (or reappear, for those who remember the stories I’ve yet to rewrite).
After that, it was sorting out what all the different creatures do and their weaknesses: demons are fuck-all powerful, but they’re bound to a territory. After them come beings like djinn, imps, fox-spirits, and angels, but djinn and angels have to be summoned, imps all the power is in their horns, and fox-spirits it’s all in the tails. Onward down through the line.
But demons were my main concern when I started DwtD because Sable. He’s about the only being who can keep up with Chris and enjoys doing it. Somewhere in sorting those two out came the bit that accidentally became the series theme: Dancing.
I went with it because dancing has a long history in pretty much every culture. Everyone likes to get some music going and shake it. And I really really like dancing, even if I can’t do it for shit. So a demon’s most powerful spells (those that manipulate souls, or what demons call energies) must be done by way of dancing. The dance varies from demon to demon; there’s no one dance they have to perform.
It started out a small thing, but has become an underlying theme that ties the whole series together—even Midnight has a bit of it in there. In Dance Only for Me, I could not resist a fun nod to this theme by way of where Jackie winds up living :3
Any questions, feel free to ask, I am happy to answer. ^__^ Thanks for reading, peeps! All the love to Cole for having me.
Jackie Black is a cowboy and sorcerer and proud of both. He spends his days breaking curses and locating items of interest for other abnormals. His pride and joy are the alchemy-enhanced pistols at his hips. The love of his life is Roman, a businessman and witch. Tired of living several states apart, Jackie decides to surprise Roman by moving closer.
But instead of being a happy surprise, Jackie finds himself the victim of an unpleasant one. Alone in a strange city, with nowhere to go and his world in pieces, Jackie is taken in by an old man who says he is a paranormal detective and could use someone of Jackie’s power and abilities to catch a killer.
You can buy it here.
And in honor of its release, all this week paranormal books at LT3 are discounted 20%, so check those out too :3
Megan is a long time resident of m/m fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found lurking in various corners of the internet.