Back to You

It’s that time again. When I have to step out of my introverted, wallflower shoes and jump on the self-promotion trail.

June 12 marks the publication of my third novel, Back to You. Back to You is a novel of romantic suspense, about a man who returns home to be at his estranged father’s deathbed and reconnects with his childhood friend and possibly first love, Benji. But a twenty-year old secret could spell the end of their budding romance before it even begins. It’s got dysfunctional families, small town secrets, a bit of a mystery, and first loves.

I’m always proud of my work for different reasons, but Back to You really represents the direction I see myself headed—a blend of romance and fiction. I was a little uncertain about how the romance would be received as it is secondary to the plot, but the early reviews have been good so far. Publisher’s Weekly specifically mentioned “the author’s deft plotting and prose, skillful uses of red herrings, and strong character development”.

I always feel I should be more excited than I am on release day. It’s not that I’m not happy, or grateful, or anxious to see how it’s received, but I’ve been carrying this baby around for a year and a half and mostly I just can’t wait for it to be delivered to the reading public.

To give you an idea of how long it takes me from inception to publication, I started plotting Back to You way back in December 2015. That took about two months, and writing didn’t actually begin until February 2016. My internal target was to finish by September 2016, and although my publisher was aware of what I was working on and had reviewed my synopsis, I didn’t sign a contract at that time. I’m always hesitant to contract a book too early in advance in case life happens. To me there is nothing worse than breaking my word and missing a deadline. At any rate, by spring it was clear I was on target, so I signed a contract with Riptide and delivered the first draft of the manuscript in September 2016. That led to an extensive editing and re-write phase between January and April 2017, and then finally release in June! It’s no wonder that by the time a book makes it to market I’ve lost a bit of enthusiasm.

Check out my virtual book tour June 12-17 where I’ll be giving away a $20 Riptide gift certificate. The complete list of dates and participating blogs can be found on the Riptide website:

I’ll be wrapping up the week on June 17 at 1pm EDT with an author take over on the Queeromance Ink Facebook page where I’ll be giving away some signed paperback copies.


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Of writing contests and self-promotion

Generally, I’m not a fan of contests of any sort. Possibly because I have the worst luck when it comes to those types of things, and as someone who’s never been top or best anything there’s likely some internalized, deep-seated bitterness at work too. Book contests in particular make me cringe. For me personally as a reader they do little to influence my selections, but they can hold a lot of sway for others, so as a writer you can’t just ignore them.

Last year I decided to take a chance and enter my gay romance novel Until September (Riptide Publishing) in a couple of contests. I was proud of my effort and felt it was something that showcased me as a writer. And, I won’t lie, there was a (not so) small part of me seeking validation because it never took off the way I hoped it would. The more logical, rational side of my brain said if all else failed, it would be good exposure and I should look at it as a marketing exercise, especially since I’m terrible at self-promotion. Out of three contests entered, Until September reached the shortlist of one, is a category finalist in another, and didn’t place in the third. Which only goes to prove… absolutely nothing.

Along the way, I learned a few things which I thought I’d capture here.

  • Contests can get expensive, so be selective. Most have some sort of fee to enter. The ethics of paying to enter a contest still trouble me, even in cases when I know the money is going to a good cause. I also understand there needs to be a way to offset costs or cut down on submissions. To ease my conscience, I chose to look at it as paid advertising rather than that I was paying for consideration.
  • It takes a lot of work to run a contest, so follow deadlines and instructions and don’t make the organizers chase you. That’s just inconsiderate and reflects poorly on you.
  • Book contests tend to fall into two camps, popular and literary, and if you don’t fall neatly into either it can still be a challenge to get recognized. It’s important to understand who the committee and judges are and how they are likely to receive your work so you don’t waste your time and/or money. If judges are average readers and your book isn’t geared to mass market, perhaps it’s not the best fit. It would be a bit like submitting an indie film to the People’s Choice Awards.
  • How visible or prestigious is the contest? Some are geared toward the publishing industry, while others are more reader focused. How do those fit with your long term goals and objectives? For myself, I’m trying to raise my profile and get into libraries and bookstores which is why I entered the ones I did.
  • Be prepared for hard feelings. No matter how far you distance yourself from it, or how objective you may try to be, it still feels like a rejection if you don’t make it. Of the three contests, there was one in particular that meant more to me than the others. I longed to not necessarily win, but at least make it to the finals, and when Until September failed to place, it was a crushing blow at a time when I was already struggling with a lack of confidence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled Until September has been chosen as a Foreword Reviews’ prestigious Book of the Year Awards finalist in the Romance category! In a competition with over 2200 other entrants, it’s pretty great to have made it this far, and I want to make the most of the opportunity. Despite reigning in my hopes, my fingers are still crossed for the end of June when winners are announced.

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Year Five

It’s hard to believe that 2017 marks my fifth year as a published author. All my major life events, from house moves to jobs, have been based around 5- and 10-year plans, so this year I have some thinking to do on where I go from here. At the moment, I’m in a new job that’s using up a lot of brain power and struggling to stay creative. It’s the first time in five years that I’m wrapping up editing on a project, and I don’t have the next one lined up ready to go. More and more I find myself wondering if writing is worth it.

I never went into this adventure looking to get rich. I knew my limitations from the start; I’m terrible at self-promotion, I have a full time job, I’m slow, and I don’t write what sells. I had no illusions. I can’t compete with an author who pumps out four or more books a year. Money is not what’s bringing me down. It’s the other stuff I find soul-sucking, like:

  • the expanding threat of plagiarism and “pop-up” authors out to scam the system
  • genre drama that brings legitimate writers down
  • the instability of indie publishers and etailers and questionable professionalism
  • piracy and a general lack of value for other people’s work
  • proliferation of readers who will read anything as long as it only costs 99 cents

Do Not Disturb"" sign on hotel room's door2016 was a brutal year in my genre with respect to the above, and I’m not sure 2017 will be better. I’ll explore these areas more throughout the year, as well as my attempts to get my groove back.

In the meantime, looking at 2017, I started out the year releasing a self-published short story collection of erotic (steamy) romances. Do Not Disturb is available at Amazon and Kobo.

backtoyou_200x300And in June, my second novel with Riptide will be released. It’s called Back to You, and is a romantic suspense I’m pretty proud of. It marks a move toward more mainstream fiction for me. More on that to come.

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