Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Conquest!

Five years ago, on October 21, 2009, my birthday, my life changed in an amazing way. On that day, I became a published author. I'd had a few short stories out prior, but this was different, bigger, even more special. It was the release day of my very first novel, Conquest.

I had started writing Conquest a few years prior in 2005, but it took time to build courage and polish the story before I really felt confident presenting it to publishers. It's been a wild ride these past five years, many highs, a few lows, but through all this time, all the stories I've written since, Conquest continues to have a special place in my heart and I know it always will.

I've said before that I credit the main character of Conquest, Jesse Alexander, with making me the author I am, and I still do. When I had returned to college to finish my Bachelor's degree in English/Creative Writing, despite having taken some years off from school, I still didn't have a strong focus to become an author. I was dabbling in fantasy, thought that was the direction I was going in, then it all changed. Jesse came to me as a force stronger than anyone or anything I'd ever written about. And with him he brought Evan, Brandon, all those he knew and cared for. He also brought focus and direction, and as I worked on Conquest, I knew then where my heart was for storytelling.

From Conquest came the other books in the series. Then I began other works, the Instincts, the Terra series, some stand alone stories here and there. But it all began with Conquest and it's been the most amazing journey.

Along this journey, I've met some of the most incredible people. Authors and readers who inspire me, and whose kindness and support continue to touch my heart. I'm grateful to everyone who's joined me on this journey. Some of you have been with me since it began, some have joined recently. There really aren't adequate words to fully express how much it means to have you all be part of this journey with me. I'm so very thankful.

So here, on the five year anniversary of Conquest being published, I'm sending out love and gratitude to everyone who has let me share my stories with you. I'm giving my thanks to Jesse who began it all, and every character whose told me their story since. Here's to the journey continuing on.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Update: Ellora's Cave and My Work, Part 2 - Payment

I received a surprise when I went out to the mailbox today after my day job. There was a check inside from Ellora's Cave. I've heard in recent days of checks trickling out to authors, and I kept wondering if one would hit my mailbox. Now, just shy of a week after my initial post, there it was, my payment.

There was something odd about the check, though. Same as many authors have noted, my check was also dated for August 29th and the envelope had an meter mail stamp with no date. Seeing the actual date on the check brought numerous questions to my mind. I live in Ohio, only about 2 1/2 hours away from the Ellora's Cave offices in Akron. Had the check really been lost in the mail all this time? Had the check been cut in August, but sat on for a few weeks...for whatever reason, perhaps until there were sufficient funds to cover it? A troubling thought since it wasn't very large. Did EC's royalty department finally get around to my email they'd previously ignored and realized they hadn't sent payment? Is Ellora's Cave working to get their accounting books in order for their lawsuit against Dear Author? Are they trying to turn a new corner and get caught up on payments?

Other questions came to mind, but all I have are speculations for answers and speculations aren't facts. What is a fact is that they've issued payment to me. I do thank them for that, but it seems there are still many authors, editors, and cover artists still waiting for their back payments. I'm not sure what system is used for distributing payments, but I'm hoping that this is a sign everyone who is still owed soon finds a surprise in their mailboxes, also.

I also wanted to address briefly that there seems to be a misconception that authors who have requested their rights back are doing so to get a book that was edited for "free." For me, that most certainly is NOT the case. In fact, I've had numerous concerns and complaints about the editing with my books published by Ellora's Cave. One in particular, I had even requested for it to be pulled from sale because it desperately needed a re-edit. I hadn't been included on the copy editing or proofreading for any of my works, and this book seemed to have shot through editing to release. Unfortunately, my concerns and requests never went anywhere, and the editing was a point I mentioned in my first request to get my rights back.

But hey, I'm woman enough to take responsibility for the errors in my books. It's my name on the cover, after all. I had gone into Ellora's Cave expecting a higher quality of editing, but had I been aware of things ahead of time, I would've put measures in place to ensure my books were more extensively edited before going to editing...if that makes sense. And that really wasn't brief, but more of a long way of saying, no, having a "free" edited book to then turn around and make a profit on is not my reason for requesting rights back. Should I ever get those books back, they'll have to be entirely re-edited.

The payment issues, the lawsuit against Dear Author, the demand in said lawsuit for anonymous commenters to have to reveal their identity, the lack of communication from Ellora's Cave on many issues, the fact that there's hardly any editing staff left and I have no editor assigned to me, have all equaled to the reason I want my books back; trust has been broken.

In any relationship, it doesn't do either party well if one side has lost trust in the other. To continue to force that relationship does nothing but build animosity. For this, I still hope that in an act of good faith, integrity, and professionalism, Ellora's Cave will revert my rights back to me and to all the authors who want their rights back.

There are still many questions and unknowns regarding the entire Ellora's Cave situation, and as it continues to progress, I'll keep hoping for all the best to everyone involved.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

In Other News...

I'm writing again! So, a while back I had announced I was taking a break from writing. I had only intended it to be about a month, but it ended up being a bit longer. Recently, I fired up my computer, created a new file, and put my fingers to work. Now I'm over 10k deep into a new manuscript, one that will be going to MLR Press, the home of the majority of my works.

I mentioned it on Twitter and I shared the first paragraph of the WIP on Facebook, but now I have a working title for this story, Acting on Love. We'll see if it sticks through the writing of the story and when I turn it in. Since I shared the first paragraph on Facebook, I'll share it here too:

    Brandon held the Suzuki steady with one hand, his other rested on his hip. Now that he was nearly home, cruising slow and easy, he could let relax from the chaos of maneuvering the motorcycle through the heart of Chicago. Entering his home neighborhood brought an instant calm over him and he needed as much calmness as he could get right now.

I have a feeling some of you just might know who this is and what series he's from. So yep, it's Brandon Alexander from the Conquest series. I'm working on a novella for him and Shunichi, and I'm loving working with them again.

I know my last post was a bit gloomy, so I wanted to share what I hope will be some positive news for all my dear readers :-)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ellora's Cave and My Work

I'm not happy to write this post and I'm going to be rather quick with it. Honestly, the longer I write about this situation, I fear I'll run the risk of becoming unprofessional as my emotions take hold. So for now, I'm going to not give too many details and just touch on this issue as it pertains to my work with Ellora's Cave.

As many of my dear readers know, I had excitedly announced that I would be writing for Ellora's Cave about a year ago. Now, I'm embarrassed to be associated with them. There's been some gross unprofessionalism on their part recently, and I don't appreciate being associated with any publishing house who feels the need to engage in a lawsuit against a book review site.

I've personally had problems with Ellora's Cave since becoming an author with them. I'm not going to go into details on those...yet, but I will state that at this point, I'm less concerned about getting royalties than I am about getting my rights back to my books.

I've requested rights back on the three books I have published there and the one that is submitted. On the one that I had submitted per contract obligations, it was turned in just before all of this blew-up. That manuscript has been in limbo for two months with no word being given to me on it's status. Not even if its title has been approved. I had handed it in to my former editor there, who was released with many other editors at Ellora's Cave. She had passed it on to one of the remaining editors, who has since resigned, so basically, I have no idea what's happening with that manuscript.

So far, I've requested my rights back twice. The first time, I was refused instantly, though I was extended an offer to buy my books back...of an exorbitant sum of money. At least, exorbitant to me. For my second request, I was told they had six months to consider my request. So, now I wait. And hope. I have so much hope that they'll give me my rights back.

Due to the factors I've said here and others that I haven't spoken of, I've pulled my works that are published by Ellora's Cave from my website and blog. I also will not be writing any sequels to those works, as unfortunately, per the contracts, those sequels would be published by Ellora's Cave. For this, I apologize from the bottom of my heart to all my readers.

It's a very sad situation with Ellora's Cave and I my heart goes out my fellow authors and to the readers, reviewers, editors, and cover artists who have been caught in this mess.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Special Guest: Jamie Lake





JAMIE LAKE -- THE ‘BAD BOY’ OF GAY ROMANCE

A while back, some of you may remember I was interviewed by Jamie Lake and he asked me some great questions. You can see that interview on his blog, here. Now, I'm honored to have him stop by and share about his work! Coming up with a new series that will surprise and delight m/m readers isn’t easy, but author Jamie Lake seems have that in the bag. I had the opportunity to connect with the new author about his series Bad Boy and how he juggles writing so many different book series at the same time.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Bad Boy series, tell us about it. It’s the story of a really hot teacher who becomes desperate for money when his hours are cut and the only choice he has is to moonlight as an erotic masseuse for men. The problem is, he has to keep is profession a secret from the school and it’s right when he meets the guy of his dreams, who happens to be not only one of his student’s dads but also a cop.

You have about 4 different series running right now, how do you juggle all the story lines? It’s not easy. But I try to focus on just one series at a time. I put my whole heart, soul, tears into each novel I write and I try to focus on just that novel. It’s like trying to date more than one person at a time, it can be done but it’s real hard. Believe me, before I met my partner, I tried. If you really want to have a great novel or relationship, you really have to put your everything into that one. That’s what I believe, anyway.

When you come up with an idea to write a novel or a series, how do you go from idea to completed book? Well, lately I take something that’s happened to me or someone I know and sort ask myself what if ….? And I think to myself, what would make this situation even more intense or more emotional for my readers. Then I write a loose outline and start writing. When I say outline, it’s usually just a few sentences about what I think each chapter will be about and I write, typos and all. I don’t look back while I write. That’s why when I do read the entire thing, I think “wow! Did I write that?” then it’s off to my editor or co-writer depending on the story to fill in the details. I love storytelling but other people are much better at prose than I am, so I let them do their job. Then I read the whole thing from beginning to end, making it better along the way and it’s off to the copyeditor and my beta-readers. It’s a system that seems to have worked for me so far.

People have a lot of choices for m/m, at last count, I saw there were something like 25,000 m/m titles out there from years past, what makes this Bad Boy series so different? Well, that’s the thing there are thousands of titles available but there are at least a million or so m/m readers out there and new readers are born every day. There more than enough readers to around for everyone. That’s why I like supporting other m/m authors, we can introduce our readers to each other and each other’s books.

Your style in Bad Boy is very simple but descriptive. How do you decide what type of style or voice you’re going to use for each story. Well, I think a novel sings to me. A lot of times, I’ll take a real long walk and I’ll almost hear how a certain scene should be written. A statement or a question will pop out and I think to myself, “That’d make a great opening line or beginning of one character’s dialogue.”

What is your greatest dream that would happen for the Bad Boy series? Wow. I’d absolutely love it if readers demanded the story continue on past Book 5, if they were emotionally invested in the characters. I’d love to write a parallel series of Chip and his son and his life and what happened before he met Peter. If reader want that, I’ll do exactly that.

Where can we get a copy of Bad Boy? You can get it exclusively on Amazon http://bit.ly/BADBOYNOVEL1 or email me at JamieLakeNovels AT gmail.