January 12, 2015
And now the big reveal… the ebook of Unfortunate Son goes to Missy1980! Please send me an email at email@example.com and let me know what email address your Dreamspinner account is under, and I’ll get the information over to them to add it to your bookshelf. Congratulations!
Happy reading, all!
January 12, 2015
First, I owe huge thanks to Travis Irons, for being a fabulous cover model and super excited about the book project. I get to see him this weekend for the book release party, and I’m super excited about that!
Second, thanks to Burkhart’s Pub here in Atlanta, which will be hosting the release party, and which served as the basis for the bar in Unfortunate Son that hosts the drag show during which Evan’s friend Cory performs as Coco Lamé. Thanks also to the Armorettes, the Infamous Camp Drag Queens of the South, who inspired the Stilettos, the troupe with which Coco performs.
And last but never least, thanks to my editing team, D. M. Grace, Tia Fielding, CJane Elliott, Charley Descoteaux, and J. P. Barnaby, and to my Senior Editor, Jane, and all the other editors, proofreaders, designers, and production staff at Dreamspinner. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of folks to work with.
One final question: What one thing about the information you’ve seen for Unfortunate Son makes you want to read it more than anything else?
Check back in after 5PM for the contest winner reveal!
January 12, 2015
Okay, I know what you really want to talk about—that cover art!
We had the photo shoot for the Unfortunate Son cover two and a half years ago (!!), and the only reason it had to stay under wraps for so long was because I was so slow in writing the book. Travis was amazing, as was the photographer (who has asked to remain anonymous but for his website, www.feedyoureyes.net).
And I am so, so happy with Paul Richmond’s work on this design. It’s simple but powerful, highlights the gorgeous image, and evokes exactly the mood and style I was hoping for. The basic design will also carry through the other books in the series beautifully.
I’ve always been very happy with my cover art from Dreamspinner. I’ve got a background in graphic arts myself, and that makes me pretty picky about all things design related. Dreamspinner is a winner every time. I especially like the ones that are different. I understand that readers have certain expectations, especially when it comes to romance books, but I prefer something that stands out from the crowd. One of my favorite covers is Visible Friend by K.Z. Snow, which was designed by Anne Cain (and won the Rainbow Award for Best Overall Cover in 2011).
What are your favorite Dreamspinner book covers? What do you like about them?
January 12, 2015
So as I said up front, Unfortunate Son is the first book in the Sons series. At this point, that will be three books total. Book two, Wayward Son, is about to head into editorial production and will be out in May/June. I’m writing book three, Nobody’s Son, and will have it submitted by the end of March (come hell or high water).
Each book in the series ties into the previous one, though I’ve worked to make them stand alone. Wayward Son will focus on Mikey, Riley’s friend who moves to Atlanta during the events in Unfortunate Son, and will be a ménage featuring Evan’s friends Cory and Jimmy, who are an established couple. Nobody’s Son focuses on Shaun, who works for Jimmy at his resort, and Jimmy’s old porn buddy Con.
As you can tell by the series title, the books each focus in part on a son and his relationship with his parents. Things turn out differently in each story, but in Evan’s case, his parents have already lost a son—Evan’s brother Charlie died while Evan was a teenager—and that helps drive their efforts to reconcile with Evan. A lot of books in the genre have dealt with relationships between sons and their parents, in most cases because parents can’t come to terms with their son’s sexuality.
But some stories have had wonderful parents in them. I mentioned Strawberries for Dessert in another post, and Jonathan’s father is a great example. He doesn’t necessarily understand his son’s sexuality, and it takes him a while to warm up to Cole, but he loves his son unreservedly. What are some of your favorite relationships between main characters and their parents in gay romance?
January 12, 2015
I think it’s time for an excerpt from Unfortunate Son. In this snippet, Evan and his parents have had a confrontation over them hiding things from him, and his mother was injured in the process. They’re in the emergency room, and Evan is overwhelmed by everything that’s been happening over the previous couple of weeks.
Evan stood just outside the curtain that hid his mother’s emergency room bed. The doctor had arrived a few minutes earlier, and the tiny space hadn’t allowed for Evan to stay during the examination. To his relief, his mother had roused briefly when the paramedics arrived at the house, and though they’d still taken every precaution, strapping her to a backboard before moving her to the stretcher, she’d been able to answer a few questions as they took her to the ambulance.
There had never been a question of who would ride to the hospital with her. Evan had given his father one hard look, and Charles Day had backed away toward his own car.
Evan didn’t know where his father ended up after that. He tried to tell himself he didn’t care, but he looked around anyway. A few dozen feet down the hall, he could see the edge of the waiting room, mostly deserted at midafternoon. His father sat in the first row of seats, looking like a washrag that had been wrung out and tossed, crumpled, into a corner.
Despite everything, Evan felt a stab of empathy. He knew his mother’s fall had been an accident, a stupid accident, but the image of his father’s hand striking his mother would not leave his mind. He couldn’t forgive and forget, not yet. Maybe not ever.
Evan focused on the young woman who stood holding the curtain open. He didn’t know if she was a doctor, a nurse, or some random person off the street, and at that moment, he couldn’t care less. “Is she okay?” he asked, taking a step closer. He felt someone else step up next to him, probably his father, but he didn’t shift his focus.
“The bleeding stopped, but she’s in and out of consciousness. We’re having a portable X-ray brought over, but you can see her for a minute if you want.”
His father took a step forward, and Evan almost reached out to stop him on pure instinct, but he managed to hold back. Yes, he was still pissed as hell, but the fact was that this was his wife in the hospital, and Evan couldn’t actually stop him from seeing her.
Instead, he followed behind. The young woman, apparently a nurse, warned them not to touch her or jostle the bed, since they were still concerned about a possible neck injury.
His mother looked tiny in the bed, her skin pale even against the stark white sheets. A stabilizer had been wrapped around her neck, an IV inserted into her arm, and a clip-on monitor attached to her finger. Machines beeped, and the noises of the ER drifted in, but the sounds faded as Evan watch his father bend close, careful not to touch, even as Evan could see him straining to hold himself back.
More of his anger drained away. He still didn’t know why they’d hidden the money from him, and he couldn’t think about forgiveness for that until he knew why, dammit. But he knew his parents loved each other, even if he wasn’t so sure how they felt about him. He couldn’t hold that against them, could he?
I sure as hell can, he thought.
Something bubbled up inside him, a well of emotion so tangled and dark he couldn’t sort it out. Anger, resentment, and frustration swirled together into a blackness he couldn’t fight. Didn’t know if he wanted to fight.
His skin crawled, and he had to get out of there right that second or the top of his head was going to blow right off his body.
He spun on his heel and fled.
January 12, 2015
Evan’s love interest in Unfortunate Son, Riley Yeats, is the black sheep of a high-profile, old-money Atlanta family. With his slight form, blond curls, and youthful looks, he’s the epitome of the gay male type known as “twink.” Riley is totally not Evan’s type—he likes Latino men, a trait that came from the inspiration, Travis—but Evan can’t help but be drawn in.
Unlike Evan, Riley isn’t based on anyone in particular. He has some aspects that were drawn from people I’ve met, or characters I’ve read in other books, but he developed mostly on his own as I was writing. In some ways, he ended up reminding me of Cole Fenton from Marie Sexton’s Coda series. As Marie knows from all the times I’ve said so, Cole and Jonathan’s story, Strawberries for Dessert, is one of my all-time favorite books, and Cole one of my favorite characters. So it’s not surprising that a glimmer of him would eventually end up in one of my books.
In fact, let’s talk about that a little. What are some of your favorite characters from gay romance books? Sam, Mitch, and especially Randy from Heidi Cullinan’s Special Delivery come to mind immediately for me (I’ll talk more about them when it’s time for Wayward Son, the second book in the series.) Aaron and Spencer from J.P. Barnaby’s Survivors series hold a special place in a lot of hearts. Who are tops on your list?
January 12, 2015
Unfortunate Son tells the story of Evan Day, aka Trevor Hardball, who was kicked out of the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and then shunned by his parents, both for being gay and for his discharge. His friends Cory and Jimmy helped get him back on his feet and get him started in gay porn, but after five years, Evan’s a little disillusioned and looking to change things.
The character of Evan is based (loosely) on the cover model, Travis Irons. At the time I conceived the book, nearly three years ago now, Travis had been a gay porn model for about five years, and like Evan, he was looking toward what came next. We met through mutual friends, and after a couple of conversations, I knew there was a story to be told there.
As an author, you never know where a story idea is going to come from. Sand & Water was based on the Beth Nielsen Chapman song—a single parent raising a child alone after the other parent’s death. My novella En Fuego was sparked (pardon the pun) by an image of a firefighter rescuing a kitten after a fire.
Have you heard interesting stories for where your favorite authors have gotten inspiration? Have you ever inspired anyone to write a story?
January 12, 2015
Hi all! Shae Connor here to celebrate the release of my novel Unfortunate Son (Sons Book 1). This is only my second novel, and I’m super excited to finally have another one out. My first novel, Sand & Water, came out way back in August 2011, so it’s been a while!
I’ll be posting throughout the day today, and I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of Unfortunate Son (available through your Dreamspinner bookshelf). Just comment with an answer to my question from any of my posts here today, and I’ll use a random generator to choose a winner. Feel free to comment as much as you like, but just one comment per post will count as an entry. Comments must be in by 5 p.m. Eastern US time, because that’s when I’ll choose a winner.
(I’ll also be taking over Dreamspinner’s Twitter account from 6:30 to 7:30 tonight, so be sure to check in there, too!)
To start things off, let’s talk about 2015. I cannot believe it’s here already. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Did you keep any resolutions in 2014? Have you gotten used to writing 2015 for the date yet?
December 26, 2014
Whoa, would you just look at the time! My time taking over the Dreamspinner Blog is nearly up!
I’d like to thank you all for stopping by today and helping me celebrate the release of Playing Hard To Forget! It’s been a real pleasure from start to finish getting this book out to the world. Dreamspinner has been amazing and they are a Florida based company, so it was great getting to work with a local company to help to support our economy!
And I’ll be making more rounds in March, when my second Dreamspinner story, tentatively titled “Something To Die For,” comes out!
Be sure to check out Playing Hard To Forget, my debut novel with Dreamspinner Press, out TODAY, December 26, 2014. I hope I’ve given everyone some insight into the story and some interesting tidbits on how it came to be.
I’m going to open up this posts for any questions you may have about me or my book or what I’m working on next or even random questions like “where should I eat on my trip to Orlando next February?”
Don’t forget to comment on the music post for your chance to win a copy of Playing Hard To Forget!
December 26, 2014
It all started with Peter Murphy.
Now, wait a hot second, Piper. You said it started with Doctor Who.
Just go with it.
Playing Hard To Forget all started with Peter Murphy.
I adore 80s music. I really do. But, like most people my age, my knowledge of 80s music came from two places: vague memories from early childhood and VH1’s I Love the 80s. There were large gaps in my education of 80s New Wave. A few years ago I was driving around when an awesome sounding song came on my satellite radio. Indigo Eyes. I’d never heard it before but it immediately struck a chord with me (get it? Chord? Music? Ok moving on). I’d been struggling with the characterization of my two mains in Playing Hard To Forget. They weren’t as easy to create as the characters around them. They needed a depth I hadn’t found yet, but as soon as I heard Indigo Eyes, my Ethan had a new layer almost immediately. I ran home and downloaded the song and played it over and over as I story boarded Ethan’s journey.
And about the same time I had my “Don’t Forget Me” revelation, I was dragged by a dear friend into that terrible, awful 5th circle of hell conveniently located in every suburban mall in America: Hot Topic. It was there I heard the voice of the goddess Siouxsie Sioux singing a cover of Bob Dylan’s This Wheel’s On Fire. And suddenly everything became so clear. “If your memory serves you well.” It was life-changing. Why the fates decided to pause the System of a Down long enough to play some good music that day, I’ll never know.
The third song with a large hand in the plot comes to us from Canada (Now, if you know me well, you know Canada is important in our family. I birthed two French-Canadian children, made with my French-Canadian husband whose Canadian roots go back over 400 years. Our last name is Canadian, forged in the fires of a Tim Horton’s hot oil fryer. He is part Scottish, but, for the most part, I’ve broken the Scottish bloodline. Go me). It’s by an indie band called Folly and the Hunter–Moth in the Porchlight. The song is incredible. And it’s Ethan and Liam…and Fiona, Ethan’s sister. Hearing it for the first time was, like, boom, cancel my meetings for the rest of the day. I have to go home and write.
Other songs had a hand in the creation of Playing Hard To Forget. I’m posting the list here and a link to a YouTube playlist. If any song here appeals to you, I heartily encourage you to check out the band and support them by buying tons of their music.
Indigo Eyes–Peter Murphy
No One Knows–Queens of the Stone Age
Rather Be–The Verve
The Passenger–Siouxsie and the Banshees
Never Let Me Down Again–Depeche Mode
High on a Riverbed–Toad the Wet Sprocket
The Sweetest Drop–Peter Murphy
Never Tear Us Apart–INXS
Born To Ruin–The Wildlife
Space and Time–The Verve
Sick, Sick, Sick–Queens of the Stone Age
Under the Milky Way–The Church
Skin on Skin–Queens of the Stone Age
Burn the Witch–Queens of the Stone Age
Hope–Toad the Wet Sprocket
This Wheel’s on Fire–Siouxsie and the Banshees
Moth in the Porchlight–Folly and the Hunter
And now it’s time for an excerpt!
The distant snap of a twig from about ten yards back confirmed his suspicions, but he stayed on his own target and squeezed off the last shot of the round and it effectively left him unarmed. He stood and turned toward the sound, but the dense pine and oak did not afford him the best view. He bent back down to lock the safety and left the edge of the clearing to venture deeper into the forest.
He did not have to walk far before he heard it—the smooth, snarky tone and now familiar voice-over of his new and very explicit fantasies. “Looking for me?”
Ethan whipped around to find Liam leaning against a tree as if he owned the goddamned forest. He put on his best nonchalant face, which of course was going to fool absolutely no one.
“I thought it might be a bear.” Immediate and total regret washed over him. Stupid answers were beneath him. He was twenty years old, damn it.
Liam moved like a cheetah, and he was inches away from Ethan in the span of a breath. “Now, now. Ethan. Ignoring the fact that I can hear your heart and smell your hormones, why would you go after a bear unarmed?”
“I—I wasn’t looking for you, I….” Stammering was also beneath him. How could he let this guy—this wolf—do this to him?
Liam looked amused. “Come on, Ethan. You think I haven’t seen you all week? Walking twice a day through the field where we met? Taking wild detours through the forests? You’ve been looking for me all week. And here I am. And you left your weapon behind. I’m flattered, Ethan, really.”
“You’ve been following me?” His chest was tight, but it was not from embarrassment as much as it was anticipation.
“Yes.” No lies. No stammering around the truth. Liam was unapologetic.
“All this week? Everywhere?” Ethan blushed at the thought of what Liam might have seen in that week.
Liam snorted. “Now, Ethan. I do have a life.” He leaned in close to Ethan’s ear, and Ethan silently blamed the heat coming off Liam reacting with his cold sweat for the long shiver.
“But I’ve followed you enough. Tell me, are you thinking of me when you’re alone in your bedroom? God, I hope so, because that face you make when you come, I’d really like to see that face when you’re under me. I’d like to make you come myself instead of watching you think of me from a distance.” He backed up and blinked slowly, and watched Ethan for a reaction.
Ethan tried to shake the fog of confusion and arousal and opened his mouth to speak, but not before he heard Fiona in the distance yelling for him.
Liam rolled his eyes and sighed. “I guess that’s my cue, isn’t it, Ethan? Can’t have daddy and little sister knowing about our little secret, can we?”
He turned to leave, but stopped short. “Still, it isn’t fair leaving you this way.” Liam smirked and raised an eyebrow as he surveyed Ethan. “No, you need something new to think about tonight.”
And before Ethan knew what was happening, Liam’s lips were on his. It was hot—literally and figuratively—and Liam’s lips were soft and tasted of the same earthy tang Liam smelled of on the day they’d met. Ethan relaxed into it faster than he liked and he let Liam’s tongue explore his own. He didn’t need Liam to tell him his heart was racing. He could feel it kick against his rib cage, and it served to spur Liam on.
Liam’s hands wrapped around the back of Ethan’s neck and he lifted his jaw slightly so Liam could kiss his way down to a spot Ethan’s shirt barely hid. Liam didn’t bite hard enough to break the skin, but there was certainly going to be a mark, more so because Ethan jerked up into it and he did not even care about how weak it made him seem or the noise that escaped when he felt sharp teeth.
Liam came away smiling and admired his masterpiece: red and purple and, in a few minutes from then, in dire need of a quick explanation from Ethan if he couldn’t find a way to cover it up. While Ethan adjusted his shirt as best he could, Liam disappeared beyond the tree line.
I know, right? I’m simply dying to find out what happens next!
Music is such a gigantic part of my life. My next story with Dreamspinner, due out in March 2015, also has a soundtrack with similar revelatory moments behind each song. I was struggling with a plotline for a potential number three the other day when I heard Le Pyromane by Karkwa and my brain went crazy with ideas.
My favorite song ever–my favorite song always–is Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. I cannot imagine a more perfect song existing. What is your all-time, hands-down favorite song of all time? My favorite wins a paperback edition of Playing Hard To Forget!